VIOGRESSION “Decay To Survive”
By Dr. Abner Mality
There was a time when Wisconsin was known for more than cheese, beer and the Packers. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, it was a pivotal state in the development of the then burgeoning death metal movement. Florida and New York seemed to hog all the publicity, but Wisconsin boasted death metal bands that took a back seat to nobody, including the likes of MORTA SKULD, DR. SHRINKER, ACCIDENTAL SUICIDE, LYCANTHROPY and more.
Maybe at the top of that list was VIOGRESSION, the subject of this piece. Their debut “Expound and Exhort” was a prime platter of downtuned filth and the band seemed set to be the kingpins of a strong DM scene. But somehow, their planned second album “Passage” never saw the light of day. And then grunge hit, and we all know what happened then.
Now in the third decade of the 21st century, VIOGRESSION has risen from the Sheboygan swamps to stalk the land with a brilliant new album “3rd Stage of Decay”, which reveals them playing on a whole new level than their old material. Honestly, this album will be high in my year end list.
So I dug drummer Duane Timlin out of storage and set about picking his brain about the return of VIOGRESSION...
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to VIOGRESSION, thanks for talking to us! First, if you could give us a rundown of who is currently in the band.
DUANE TIMLIN: For sure and absolutely in these modern times and days filled with adversities and what not’s, we are not immune to change. Currently Brian Deneffe is still holding down the vocal duties, myself Duane Timlin beating it down on the drums, Jason Hellman, on the bass, Matt Holtz on guitars, and Jim Potter on guitars. This is the running group that recorded the “3rd Stage of Decay” album.
WC: What made the time right for VIOGRESSION’s return? How did things come together to cause the reformation?
DT: I would say time itself made it the right time. The band was obviously low-key for quite a while. If you are familiar with the history of the band both Brian, and Bryan Jaegar have been tinkering around working on riffs and recording songs as early as 2004, taking their time. They finally made it into the studio to record the “Pure Formality” Ep. Fast forward to 2014 and thats when I enter. We played a handful of shows with most of the original guys before we had to go through lineup changes and whatnots. The goal has always been to knock out albums and visit city’s playing our new songs.
WC: How recent are the songs on “3rd Stage of Decay”? Have you been working on them for a long time or did they come together pretty quickly?
DT: Not long at all. Once we got our lineup sorted things came together pretty quick actually. Then getting it done and out was another story with the Covid mess and whatnot. It’s been slow moving on that end. With that said, and events working out the way they have, we are now sitting on a pile of material which we will be firing off at rapid pace.
WC: The new album is really ambitious and has a great sound to it. Was the intention always to push the band’s sound into new areas or did that just happen in a natural way?
DT:Thanks for that. We did work hard and put much thought into all of these efforts. The answer to the second half of the question is a little bit of both. A lot of it happened naturally. However, there were moments where we were overthinking things. Stylistically everyone has their own individual ideas and a need to evolve. Nothing is off the table for us creatively.
WC: The doom aspect of the band has always been there but seems emphasized on the new material. Are you comfortable with VIOGRESSION being labeled a “death/doom” band?
DT: No, our goal is to be artistic and not really shackle ourselves to any category or genre. Sure, there have been elements there but none of us would consider ourselves a Doom band. In fact, there really isn’t any of that on the next album really so I’m sure like this one the next will be another surprise.
WC: What is the meaning behind the title “3rd Stage of Decay”?
DT: It’s an actual event during death, the 3rd Stage of Decomposition. Basically in short, it’s our 3rd full length album. It just made sense to us. So we played it off of the lyrical content, Artwork, musically and where we were mentally at the time... it just all fell into place.
WC: Could the album be considered a concept album? Is there a theme uniting the songs?
DT: No, there’s no concept. What Brian writes lyrically can mean one thing to him but is always open to interpretation. That, I must say, is the beauty of it...we like mystery.
WC: “Cipher” has to be the most progressive song you’ve ever attempted. What’s the story behind this epic?
DT: “Cipher” is a song Matt had been holding on to forever since he was like in Middle School or something like that. A song that got passed on by his previous band since it didn’t fit their style so he dropped it on us. We liked it and chaos ensued ... we definitely went over board with it, the end result is amazing but Holy Hell, was that one a chore to create! I appreciate the usage of the term “Epic”!! That tells me we did it.
WC: Another epic tune is the “Sisters of Iris/Taurian” combo. Who are the Sisters of Iris and how did the bass solo of “Taurian” come about?
DT: Damn! You’re killing it with the epics, I love it Again Matt with the Sisters there was something behind that in which we were going for but can’t really remember what it was. I believe that one really just happened. Matt is more of an emo writer, and totally writes based upon how he is feeling or what kind of mood he is in. He’s not very emotional personally but channels it through the guitar. “Taurion” was a total “Old School” move. Our original intentions were in between songs have the classic acoustic breaks and things like that. Instead we got wrapped up in the epics. However Hellman had his bass piece “Taurion” which I had already recorded so instead of tossing it we used it. While working out the order it just made the most sense to me to pair it up with the “Sisters”. Which I think has the best flow for the album.
WC: The cover art to “3rd Stage of Decay” is striking. What’s the story behind this masterpiece and what it represents?
DT: The art is amazing, yes. It has more of the little details we are constantly after. In short, though, it represents everything about the songs as a whole as it was made to the music. Summed up, it’s an image we like to think of as the cover for a murder mystery.
WC: How did the deal with Moribund come about?
DT: Putin did it, actually! Ha! We originally signed with Satanath records from Russia who partnered up with a couple other labels from Europe and Dark United here in the states. When things hit the fan in Ukraine, my old friend Odin was asked to step in and basically do what he could to save our asses. And we thank him for his efforts because the whole deal has really been a pain for us. Having everything we worked so hard for held up in Russia...it’s been a mess i’ll just leave it at that. A lot of those details are still being worked out.
WC: What are the live plans for the new album? Any notable shows or tours coming up?
DT: Absolutely. We just wrapped up a short East Coast run a few weeks ago and are looking to keep on keeping on and booking as much as we can anywhere and everywhere. While we have the momentum that has been a struggle for us to achieve, we have no intention of letting up like we’ve been forced to in the past.
WC: VIOGRESSION is one of the fathers of Wisconsin death metal. Tell us about the great days of bands like MORTA SKULD, PHANTASM, ACCIDENTAL SUICIDE, DR. SHRINKER and the rest. What do you miss most about those times?
DT: Better times and better days for sure! The shows, the turnouts,... all of it was stellar. Our area of the Midwest was a haven for great bands. Home of the Metal Fest, Day of Death and so on. Things are not what they once were around here so we appreciate all the memories from those times.
WC: I see mention was made of an “unofficial” second VIOGRESSION album. Any chance of this ever getting an “official” release?
DT: Are we talking “Passage”? Or possibly the follow ups to “3rd Stage”? (Yes, asking about the “Passage” album that was never released.-Dr. M) I’m not sure how to answer this. So I’ll say i did some work on the “Passage” audio with the intention of putting it out this year so that is still a possibility. If we are talking new stuff, we have piles, literally. We are going to steadily be pumping songs out.
WC: Any “Spinal Tap” stories of things going crazy from the band’s history you could share with us?
DT: Everything in our lives seem Spinal Tap to us these days… Smell The Glove!!!
WC: Any last words for the faithful?
DT: Thanks to everyone who has checked us out ,bought a copy of the new album, has come out to a show, bought some merch and supported us in any way. We appreciate it more than you know. Thanks for the kind words on the new album from me to you it was and has been a battle to get back to where we are now and again we refuse to let up. Keep an eye out for us and come out when we do and we will reward you with a classic Old School ass whipping. Last but not least, thanks to Wormwood Chronicles for the questions, it’s been a pleasure answering them. Cheers Y’all