In "Freshly Baked," we feature promising young bands or bands that are otherwise lacking the attention we think they deserve.
By Andy O'Connor (TX)
"Only death is real."
Uttered by Hellhammer. Lived by Encoffination.
Vocalist, bassist and guitarist Justin "Ghoat" Stubbs is surrounded by death on a daily basis - he makes his living as a mortician. Death metal is preoccupied by, naturally, the other side of life, but with Stubbs' career experiences as a inspiration, Encoffination intently focus on the rituals that surround man's final descent. The atmosphere is unrelenting and, given the themes expressed, ceremonial. Bells, organs, and choirs make what's already unsettling downright terrifying. Stubbs' riffing, combined with the economical drumming of Wayne "Elektrokutioner" Sarantopoulos, make for a sound that recalls dISEMBOWELMENT with less leanings of grandiosity and an ever bigger low end. If all this entices you and O' Hell, Shine In Thy Whited Sepulchres didn't make it onto your doorstep last year...well, I guess even the nearly dead can be saved.
I spoke with Ghoat, where he gave insight into the band's sound and professional advice on why you shouldn't try to get your kicks off of embalming fluid.
Crustcake: How did Encoffination come together?
Ghoat (guitars, bass and vocals): We knew each other from other bands and basically just wanted to do something together. Started as a late night jam session and thus Encoffination was borne. We wrote and recorded the Temples Descend Below the Earth demo/7" the first night we played together.
Crustcake: The sound of Encoffination is characterized by very low-tuned, slow, cavernous death metal. How did y'all arrive at your sound?
Ghoat: The original direction was to really have no sound at all, no influence, and this is just what happened. From there we just rolled with it. The sound was a nice fit for the ideology and name.
Crustcake: Some of the songs on the latest record, O' Hell, Shine In Thy Whited Sepulchres, refer to congregations and rituals, for example “Crypt Of His Communal Devourment” and “Ritual Until Blood.” Where does ritual fit in our society, and what about them is appealing from a songwriting perspective?
Ghoat: A ritual can be described as any holy or solemn ceremony consisting of rites. We are surrounded by rituals everyday. The record is directly inspired by my career as a funeral director and every song deals specifically with some facet or tenet of the funeral process.
Crustcake: On the topic of initiations, how were you initiated into death metal?
Ghoat: Morbid Angel's Covenant given to me on a mixed tape when I was 12 years old, haha. It was scary as fuck then and I was weary of it but it stuck. 18 years later and it's still my favorite DM album.
Crustcake: What other themes are present throughout the record?
Ghoat: Death. Only death and dying. Ritualization of death.
Crustcake: One thing about the album I appreciate is that it's uniform in sound – not to say that all the songs sound the same (they definitely do not), but the album is consistent. How is maintaining this vital?
Ghoat: It's extremely vital. I hate albums that are all over the place. And some reviews say this sounds like one long song, but I'd disagree. If you listen to it more than once there are many, many layers to uncover. There are little things going on all over that place. One review managed to pick up the fact that there is synth and organ in a couple of songs. It's buried but it's there. That kind of progression was not on the first album. I like to be able to move forward sonically without sacrificing our genuine sound.
Crustcake: “Ritual Until Blood” features a droning organ in the middle of the song, and “Elegant In Their Funebrial Cloaks, Arisen” and “Annunciation Of The Viscera” feature bells. How do these flourishes shape the record?
Ghoat: Haha, I should have read ahead because you just nailed what I was talking about. These small flourishes are vital. They speak volumes for the atmosphere of the record. They add the texture I want to be there. I want our music to be more than just an album to listen to - I want it to set a mood.
Crustcake: On Encoffination's Facebook page, there is a proud display of not-exactly-pro gear – an Epiphone Les Paul and a Peavy amp. The production of the record is also unabashedly unpolished. What about these aesthetic choices are important for Encoffination?
Ghoat: It's just what we have. That amp is a 20+ year old workhorse. It has such an amazing death metal tone. I have been playing that Les Paul for 15 years. It was the first actual left-handed guitar I bought. We both own nicer equipment, but we started with these items and they now define our sound. As for the unpolished sound - it represents us fully. Our sound is not pretty and less is definitely more, haha. To juxtpose that, I record everything on a $6000 G5 Macintosh, haha.
Crustcake: How long did it take to record the record? Was a quick bash-it-out affair or was it a little more involved?
Ghoat: The Elektrokutioner spent a day or so on the drums - not sure if you're familiar with our MO, but all drums are written and recorded by him FIRST, before I ever touch a guitar. I probably spent another two weeks writing and recording the guitar. bass, and vocals to his drum beats. It goes pretty fast, actually. And since we both work alone (aside from the demo, which was written/recorded traditionally), there is no stepping on each other's feet getting shit done.
Crustcake: O'Hell sounds heavier than the debut, Ritual Ascension Beyond Flesh. What pushed y'all to make a heavier record?
Ghoat: I wanted it fuller, more textural. A slight bit of an improvement on the sound, but not much, as I illustrated above. I wanted it to fully suffocate the listener.
Crustcake: How did the split with Grave Upheaval come about?
Ghoat: It was presented to us by the label, and I was already a fan. So it just worked our great that way. GU is a great fucking band, total support!
Crustcake: Finally: why should one not attempt to get high off of embalming fluid?
Ghoat: Haha, that shit is brutal man. Formaldehyde itself is a colorless, odorless gas dissolved in a solution. It's toxic as fuck though. But the fumes of embalming fluid come from all the additives (phenol, alcohol, etc.) and if you get a good whiff of it, it burns. Makes your eyes burn and your eyes water. Burns like gas on your skin too.
Encoffination will play the Martyrdoom festival at Public Assembly in Brooklyn June 30 with Dead Congregation, Father Befouled (who Ghoat and Elektrokutioner also play in), Grave Miasma, Prosanctus Inferi, Evoken, and more. Addtional information about the festival can be found here.