MOLDER “The Sweet Stench of Decay”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Some of us are just attracted to the sickness. The gross things that repel the typical humanoids are a source of keen delight to these depraved beings. Filth, decay, mutilation to them are like the ringing of a dinner bell. I know, I’m one of them. And so are four deranged individuals who comprise MOLDER!

These guys bring the gruesome to their hometown of Joliet, IL, which festers in the shadow of Chicago. They are following in a proud tradition of Chicago death metal that includes MASTER, CIANIDE and CARDIAC ARREST. Their first album “Vanished Cadavers” was an announcement that some new fiends were in town. But it’s the recently released followup “Engrossed In Decay”, their first for Prosthetic Records, that’s the real wakeup call. It’s one of the best pure death metal releases of the year.

I can demur no longer! Time to have a pow-wow with these grisly ghouls...specifically, frontman Aaren Pantke. Herewith unfolds the tale of MOLDER…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to MOLDER and congrats on the new record “Engrossed In Decay”. You’re now signed to Prosthetic Records! How did this union come about?

AAREN PANTKE (vocals / guitar): Cheers and thank you! To put it simply, we were just fortunate enough to have been considered by Prosthetic for a contract! We busted our asses in the local and underground circuit, and luckily those efforts did not go unnoticed. It took some back and forth revising the final deal, but we were able to come to an agreement both the label and band were satisfied with.

WC: Were there other labels in the running or was Prosthetic always the first choice for the band?

AP: We had several offers, but nothing that really sparked our interest like Prosthetic. We were honestly content working with labels like Headsplit Records, Rotted Life, and Goat Throne, but the opportunity arose to work with Prosthetic and we of course had to at least consider it. So far it seems we made the right choice.

WC: Your debut effort “Vanished Cadavers” was pretty acclaimed itself. What were your goals with “Engrossed In Decay”? Was there a conscious effort to turn everything up a notch or was the feeling more to “go with the flow”?

AP: Thank you, we are very proud of that release, and are thrilled so many people took to it. With "Engrossed In Decay" we'd say it was more so a “go with the flow” situation. At our core we aren't a "reinvent the wheel" type of band. We really just enjoy playing music that sounds like music we enjoy. While the writing process is pure and full of passion, we don't really have any "creative aspirations'' aside from simply maintaining "our sound". Of course without blatantly ripping off our influences or even ourselves. So you could argue "the goal" was to write a continuation of "Vanished Cadavers".

WC: There is a very particular edge to Chicago area extreme bands like CIANIDE, USURPER, IMPETIGO and MASTER. Did you want to strive for that right from the start or was it just kind of “bred in the bone”?

AP: We don't know if we are worthy of being mentioned in the same category as said bands, but sure! Every last one of them has influenced this band heavily, and we think it's pretty apparent in our music. It's not necessarily something we strive for, but it's more or less a natural result of the influence those bands bring us.

WC: Some influences like AUTOPSY and IMPETIGO are obvious. Are there more obscure or lesser known bands or sounds that MOLDER is influenced by?

AP: We suppose it really just depends on what you would consider obscure or lesser known! Bands like DISRUPT, REPULSION, INFERNAL MAJESTY, SLAUGHTER, BLOOD, or RIPPING CORPSE for some of the classic stuff. But we also really dig new bands like MORBIFIC, STRESS ANGEL, CIST, CHURCH OF DISGUST, or PHOBOPHILIC. And we're of course heavily influenced by the heavy hitters like DEATH, MORBID ANGEL, OBITUARY, PESTILENCE, CARCASS, etc.

WC: Is MOLDER the only band for you guys or are some of you involved in other acts? If so, what are they?

AP: Currently the only "active" side project is CRYPTUM. Kyle and Carlos both play in that. Aaren previously played drums for MELTING ROT, and is working on new material for GRANULATED.

WC: Is it safe to say MOLDER is your first serious band?

AP: Yes, we'd say so.

WC: Of course horror movies are a big source of inspiration for you? What are the movies that influence you the most? Based on the new album’s cover art, I’d say “Street Trash” has to be one!

AP: Love “Street Trash”! Some of Aaren's go to for lyrical inspiration are “Reanimator”, “Dead Alive”, “I Spit On Your Grave”, “Motel Hell”, and “Cannibal Holocaust” .

WC: Is it pretty much vintage horror (pre-2000’s) that inspires you? I have to say I have no interest in modern horror for the most part.

AP: Bingo! 80s and 90s smut please! Not to say the 2000s haven't brought anything sick to the table, but the Golden era is referred to as such for a reason!

WC: The band is very honest about the sound they are going for and don’t seem obsessed with being particularly unique or original. Is that kind of a load off your back that just allows you to enjoy what you’re doing?

AP: Absolutely, this band was started on the basis of enjoying ourselves and having fun. While we still try and push ourselves with our writing in some senses, we do stay in our comfort zone; writing ‘less is more’ death metal. It's not necessarily a load off our backs, but something we don't have to think about as much as others might.

WC: What has the live side of things been for the band? I was lucky enough to see you crush at the Blades of Steel Fest?

AP: That seems to be our bread and butter. If you don't dig us on record, chances are you'll change your mind after seeing us live. If you like high energy/fun sets, we are the band for you. We've been super fortunate to open for some crazy great showcases, and are happy to say we seem to "deliver the goods".

WC: Any interest in the band from Europe, where this type of old school death seems real popular?

AP: Tons!! We'd love to get over there some day and play live! We'd also love for heavier European distribution as shipping costs from the states are absolutely insane.

WC: Is there any particular song on the new album that stands out and is a special favorite?

AP: Funny enough, we all seem to be on a different page with this one. Each of us like certain tunes for certain reasons, but some "standouts" or "favorites" would probably be "Unsubstantial Hallucinations" or "Glutinous Remains".

WC: Any up and coming bands you can recommend to us?

AP: Totally! Not all "up and coming" per se, but certainly worth your attention!! CARDIAC ARREST, MORBIFIC, ORGAN FAILURE, OBSCENE, PHOBOPHILIC, SADISTIC RITUAL, ROTTED, MAUL, PHARMACIST, SADISTIC DRIVE, DRIPPING DECAY, and WRAITH to name a few!

WC:. If you could have dinner with any 3 people from history, who would they be?

AP: Paul Baloff, Charles Bronson, and Albert Hofmann.

WC: Has MOLDER ever had any Spinal Tap experiences where things went haywire that you could share with us?

AP: Nothing too crazy, just gear malfunctions on stage, our rotating door of drummers (hopefully closed) and bad luck at the airport!

WC: Last words for the fans?

AP: Thanks for taking the time to check this out! Check out our new record "Engrossed In Decay" available now from Prosthetic and Headsplit Records! Cheers, freaks.