SUMMONING THE LICH “United in Chaos, Death Metal and Fantasy” 

By Theron Moore

In full transparency, the name of this band drew me right in:   SUMMONING THE LICH.   I knew there had to be a gaming connection with this band.  I checked out an advance copy of their new record ‘United In Chaos’ which dropped February 26 and it was everything I expected it to be and  more.   Killer,  crushing, modern sounding death metal with  a twist:   There’s  a  fantasy element attached to the band conceptually and lyrically. When I spoke to lead growler Dave Bruno he confirmed it all and more.  Check out our conversation below…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Bring us up to speed regarding the origin of SUMMONING THE LICH.

DAVE BRUNO: The band was created late 2016, but we didn’t really announce ourselves until 2017.  The band wasvstarted by our guitarist Ryan Felps who came to me and asked me if I wanted to do somethingvwith him, a death metal band with fantasy elements.  A lot of our influences have been gaming, books like “Lord of the Rings” or “Dune”, or anime or whatever, and I found that interesting. Little did I know that he was also approaching other artists in the area and trying to assemble a group of like minded individuals.  All of us have different backgrounds regarding our fantasy and gaming interests, but we all united in the fact that we wanted to form a death metal band with a heavy fantasy element, that was something we all wanted to do.  

Our goal musically was, we wanted to create death metal that we’d like to listen to, something that had a modern sound, as well as more accessible, traditional songwriting structure.   We’ve been pushing and writing since.  The songwriting for this new album was finished in 2018 but due to a bunch of different factors, the record is just now getting released through Prosthetic Records on February 26.  We recorded the album on our own and when we had it finished, we shopped it around.  

We’ve been playing in and around the St. Louis area now for the last 15 years and have basically built up a large network of people over that time in the industry.  One of the promoters here, Collin Reagan, turned us onto PinUp Artist Management and Collin was the one that forwarded Joel and PinUp Artist Management our EPK page. It wasn’t long before he contacted us and wanted to bring us aboard and shop our record around and that’s how the deal with Prosthetic happened.  We had interest from a few labels but Prosthetic really matched up with us on the business side of things and met a lot of targets we were looking for. They also really loved the fantasy angle regarding the death metal we were doing, they thought it was great, and that helped a lot because at the end of the day, it’s cheesy, because fantasy’s inherently a little whimsical. I think, sometimes, death metal takes itself pretty seriously and that can be a turnoff to some people at labels but the people at Prosthetic were right on board and although it’s gritty and it’s death metal it’s also going to be the fantasy that we all love and enjoy and bring that magic and silliness to it with witches and goblins and liches and since day one they’ve been onboard and a lot of help and just behind us with what we’re doing.

WC: Let’s take a trip in the way back machine.  Do you remember when you discovered heavy metal?

It was between 5th and 6th grade. That summer, I was hanging out with some kids and someone had a ZAO album and I thought it was the coolest thing, just the next level of heavy.  I had listened to LINKIN PARK and P.O.D. before that but ZAO blew me away.  Then I bought “Frail Words Collapse” by AS I LAY DYING and that was great, so, it was that era, 2003-2004, when you could still buyCDs at a store. For me it was FYE and the metalcore – hardcore genre.  My introduction to straight death metal was a local band called WITH BLOOD COMES CLEANSING, a deathcore band, and then I saw SUFFOCATION with SHADOWS FALL, IT DIES TODAY and STILL REMAINS – I lived in Atlanta at the time.  And nothing seemed as heavy to me as the death side of the metal scene. 

WC: Tell me about the Lich concept behind your new album, “United In Chaos”.

DB:  That’s definitely a gaming reference. At first, the idea was that we’d be a fantasy inspired band with elements from other fantasy properties and I know a lot of people might insist on being wholly original but the way I see it, I like to pay homage to all the writers, etc. that  inspired me, however, just   as a nod to these awesome authors and creators with my own original work. 

 At first the record was going to be a bunch of songs that were kind of like disjointed tales, sort ofCcomparable to, say, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but as I continued, it started becoming much more, and I’m a sucker for concepts and such.  As for the name, originally it was going to  be VERMITHRAX but that was already taken. I’m a huge :Adventure Time” fan, I can’t speak enough volumes about how much I love that show, and unfortunately I’ve probably spent more time listening to Dan Harmon play  “Dungeons and Dragons”  than I will ever actually play D&D.  There was an episode of “Adventure Time”, Season 4, about a Lich,  so we came up with our name.  We’re from St. Louis, so the acronym for SUMMONING THE LICH wasSTL and that fit.  

Everything just kind of fell together and I knew I had to write something about a Lich. That writing happened over about a three-month period, where the record went from disjointed songs to an entire concept and to be honest, I’ve already got a trilogy in mind for this. That’s how I approached the band with this idea.  But the challenge in all of this, was writing from a fantasy standpoint but still keeping the material digestible and catchy, getting the hooks in there.  Lyrically, I think what works in our favor is that the songs aren’t linear stories per se. All the songs support the main storyline but differ in the sense that some might be about world building where events are happening in other places as well as   songs that are stories, tales, and   fables happening inside the universe of the Lich that may or may not be true but have been passed down over generations.  From a musical standpoint, that also allows us to change up what we’re doing from a musical perspective to match what’s going on inside the song itself. It’s a good way to break things up and stay fresh.

WC: Does SUMMONING THE LICH intend to tour behind this record once the pandemic is over at a safe enough place to do so?

DB: Oh yeah, we definitely intend to tour.  Our business model is kind of based around touring and even before the pandemic we were considering delving into a lot digital aspects of streaming which even after the pandemic is over, I think will just be part of the new normal anyway. I don’t think that’s a bad thing since bands have a lot to offer and a lot of content to bring through these various streaming services that have been championed and have really come a long way in such a short amount of time due to the circumstances.  We have discussed doing a pay per view thing but we’re on the fence about it right now.  We do intend on doing an event, we’re just not sure how to do or deliver it to everyone.  We do intend to do streams we’re just not sure if it’ll be on Twitch or YouTube at this point.  We’ll also do popup streams on Facebook, that kind of thing; right now a lot of time is being eaten up on getting the record released and once that happens then we’ll be streaming quite a bit.