DAVID VINCENT Talks The Magic Of Spontaneity And Extreme Metal 'Singing' In VLTIMAS: 'There Are No Rules'

January 15, 2024

By David E. Gehlke

If former MORBID ANGEL frontman David Vincent had his way, then VLTIMAS, his semi-new supergroup with ex-MAYHEM guitarist Rune "Blasphemer" Eriksen and CRYPTOPSY drummer Flo Mounier, would be his priority, and not his MORBID ANGEL offshoot I AM MORBID or the reactivated TERRORIZER or even his outlaw country gig. It's a notable admission from a guy who could easily tour the wheels off MORBID ANGEL's back catalog or his lone TERRORIZER outing, 1989's legendary "World Downfall", of which he played bass. But after two top-notch long-players starting with their 2019 "Something Wicked Marches In" debut and now their forthcoming "Epic" sophomore outing, one starts to make sense of why Vincent wants to give VLTIMAS most of his attention. It's one of the rare extreme metal supergroups that lives up to its billing.

Rather than being a horserace between Eriksen and Mounier, "Epic" is all about the "song," a happening that emerged when Eriksen and Mounier joined Vincent at his Texas ranch to assemble the album. And Vincent has a few new tricks up his sleeve, particularly a new style of death metal "singing" that puts a twist on one of the most enduring and familiar voices within the genre. With the release of "Epic" coming around the bend, BLABBERMOUTH.NET and Vincent caught up to discuss its ins and outs.

Blabbermouth: You said in the album bio for "Epic" that you're not a "short attention span guy." Can you elaborate on it?

David: "Sure. I'd be happy to. I'm old school, as anybody who knows me knows. I just recall when I used to listen to records as a child, I would get a record that I wanted to hear and I would sit down in front of my record player and I'd start with song one on side A and go all the way to the last song on side B, all the while looking at the liner notes, photos and cover. I was giving it my full attention. If it was something I liked, then I wanted to be absorbed by it. I wanted to be taken on the journey and hear the story that the artist was trying to tell me. That was important to me. These days, it seems like when I watch the younger generation listening to stuff, one person will come up and pull out their cell phone and ask, 'Have you heard this new track?' Then they'll play 10 to 15 seconds of it. Then go, 'Check this one out.' There's no investment from the listener's standpoint into what's being played, the songwriting, the depth behind it, the meanings behind things. That's very foreign to me because if something is worth even a second of my time, it's going to get every bit of the attention that it deserves unless it's simply not worth it, and in this case, you move on. It's the same with the movies or if I go to a show. I'm trying to watch the band and people are asking me for a photo: 'I'm here to see the band. Wait until they're done. That's rude. My attention is on the band, so should yours.' It's this general kind of surface-surfing that folks seem to do so much these days that has never been important to me. If I care to do something, I care to do it right. My definition may be different than someone else's, but that's my definition."

Blabbermouth: Do you, then, buy into the idea that there are too many options to the point where things are disposable?

David: "I agree with your sentiment, but I don't agree with it in practice. If something is worthless, then it should take no time. If I'm watching a television program and if it's something I really like, I don't answer the phone. I may put it on pause for a second to use the facility or what have you, but I want to be absorbed by things. It spawns imagination and breaks the mold of so much incoming. It's funny — pretty much everyone knows that virtually everyone has a cell phone. You send someone an email and they give you an out-of-office reply — I don't know what that means. If you work for yourself, you're always in the office or simply don't reply or don't answer the phone. It's okay to do that too. You give the time to the things you feel are important and cancel the rest of the rubbish. But this surface-surfing and just getting a small glimpse, whiff and taste of everything seems so incomplete to me."

Blabbermouth: You, Rune and Flo all got together at your ranch in Texas to write "Epic". How fulfilling of an experience was it?

David: "This is always the way I've done things. Not to say, Rune may come up with some amazing riff and send me a small snippet of it over Messenger, like, 'I came up with this the other night. What do you think?' I'll listen to it, and more often than not, I'll love it. It starts spawning some ideas from me and vice-versa. The magic, the true magic and the art involves being in a room together, working on music, spending quality time with one another and talking about everything but music, and really finding ways to bond and get the team in the same sort of mental magical sphere. Sometimes, you don't have spontaneity when you're trying to organize everything over the Internet. The magic happens when you're literally in the presence of those who you are working with, for me. Now, other people do things completely different than that, and if it works, god love them. But that doesn't work for us. We like the magic of close proximity and the bonding that takes place."

Blabbermouth: Do the varied backgrounds of each of you, namely Rune being from Norway, Flo from Montreal, and you from America, help with that? It's like you each come together for a common purpose regardless of your background.

David: "I would agree with that. It all sounds romantic being a 'worldwide band,' but trust me — it becomes less romantic when organizing how to get together. That's where the heartache comes in with all these flights. But it's part of the job. I've never looked at locale, where somebody chooses to live, as being necessarily a predeterminant as 'Are you able to get together and do stuff?' It can be an obstacle at times, but you work through it for the greater good."

Blabbermouth: You are doing a type of death metal "singing" on the title track and "Miserere" that you haven't done before. Where did it come about?

David: "I've always done what I felt. Putting one hundred percent of my emotions and my personality into stuff has always worked for me. I always try to add more tools to my toolbox, if you will. On this record, I pushed a few things a little further, but there's plenty of everything. There's no directional change. It's just adding more to the rest of me."

Blabbermouth: Did your outlaw country project rub off at all on your vocals?

David: "No, sir. Everything I do, I have a state change. I want to look at things differently. I want to have a different approach. Look at it like Clint Eastwood. Sometimes he's the 'Man With No Name' and sometimes he's 'Dirty Harry' and sometimes he's the grumpy old dude who is getting ready to give his car to somebody when he dies. I look at music the same way. It's not just, 'Okay. I'm showing up and I'm doing this here and I'm doing that here.' I really take the time to invest the type of emotion that I feel is appropriate for what I may be working on."

Blabbermouth: You've been a chorus guy, even if we want to go back to songs on (MORBID ANGEL's) "Domination" like "Eyes To See, Ears To Hear" and "Dawn Of The Angry". You've continued that on "Epic". What's the draw of composing extreme metal that way? Does it go back to the "attention span" thing?

David: "Part of it has to do with what I want to listen to. This record is a bit more direct than the first one, but, again, I'm telling stories and what works to tell that story and one reference may be in a different approach for something else. There really are no rules other than, at the end of the day, it needs to be something I want to listen to. It needs to have longevity for me when I listen to it for a few years. When I go back to 'Wicked', I love the record. Are there things I could have improved? Yeah. It was a moment in time. Are there things on 'Altars [Of Madness]' I could have improved? Yeah, but it is what it is. Any improvements or changes can come on the next thing, not reliving the same 15 minutes over and over again. That's how I look at life. The day I wake up and I haven't experienced something new, smelled something new, heard something new or learned something is a day that I've wasted. And who knows how many days we have left, right?"

Blabbermouth: You referenced the last record, and the song that jumps out is "Last Ones Alive Win Nothing", which is a slow song. "Epic" takes on a similar feel, even though you have guys like Rune and Flo in the band who have made a living off of playing fast.

David: "That's the point. People are capable of doing all kinds of things, but is that making a song better? I mean, it could. There are all different kinds of ways to masturbate within the music. I've played with a number of players whose go-to thing is to overdo it. Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes more is more. There's not really a rule when it comes to that. My choice would always be that I would sacrifice something that I may feel compelled to do personally if it's not something that would benefit the song as a whole. It's maybe more of a mature attitude on my part. I don't know. Back in the day, I don't know that I used to think this way."

Blabbermouth: That's what I was going to ask. Did you feel like this during "Altars", "Blessed Are The Sick" or "Covenant"?

David: "The mind frame was always to go in and create and be as honest as organically as possible. The more years we have under our belt, the better at things we get. Let us hope, anyway. It's a process of evolution and moving through it. I love everything that I've done. There's not anything that I've done that I don't love in its own way. I'm happy to be able to say that."

Blabbermouth: Do you still find writing lyrics as much of a challenge?

David: "It's not necessarily a challenge to me. I can't tell you how organic it is for me. I get in my zone and just go. I have a lot of stories. Sometimes, I have pages and pages of stuff that I've written. Sometimes, there are portions of it that I can add to something new. Sometimes, the whole thing is done. Sometimes, I've started from scratch. When you have this proximity in the way we work, it's easy to be inspired by the moment. I don't want to work things out so rigidly because when I do that, I get blinders on and I don't see the forest through the trees. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I get really close to a couple of ideas and I have to step back and rely on our producer [Jaime Gomez Arellano] to rein me in. I'll keep going and going and I'll miss the point. I'll listen to it while our producer is working on the mix, and in my mind, I have all these things because I'm so close to it, and I've been living with it for a lot longer, and he hasn't. He may have passed on things that I attached a lot more importance to and maybe he didn't see that. As he's mixing, I listen back and go, 'Alright. That's not what I would have done, but I'm fine with it.' Once you get somebody so close to stuff, like we are, like, I think all musicians have that problem. I love Gomez. He's got a great ear. He really knows what he's doing and he picks up on things. In fact, on this record, he was not part of the actual tracking other than making sure that the drums were miked a certain way and the levels going in. He worked a little bit with us on that, but other than that, I didn't want him in the room at all. I didn't want him sitting there as we were having our discussions and arguments and trying new things because then, he would be part of that conversation. When it comes down to mixing, I don't want him to be part of those conversations. I want him to walk in with fresh ears, like, 'How does this strike you? Where would you take this recipe? How long would you cook it and at what temperature?'"

Blabbermouth: Touring for the "Something Wicked" album was thrown off by Covid. How will you approach it for "Epic"?

David: "As organic as possible. I'm excited. I'm anxious to be able to perform the new stuff live. I'm really looking forward to it. We all are. Some things will be different live than they are on the CD, which is a good reason to see it live. We don't use backing tracks. We get up there and do what needs to be done on an evening-by-evening basis."

Blabbermouth: Can you lay out 2024 between VLTIMAS, TERRORIZER, I AM MORBID and anything else you have going?

David: "With this new record, VLTIMAS will be a priority. I cannot and will not let other things die on the vine, but this is getting, perhaps, the most amount of my attention. I would love for it to take all of my attention. It takes a while; like we talked about, we got sidelined with this stupid 'pandemic' like everybody else. We lost a fair amount of momentum. It also created a situation, as we're talking about, the way that we work and being able to get together; we started working on new material prior to the lockdown. Then, it got to the point where no one was allowed to fly. I was like, 'What do you mean I can't fly? Of course I can.' It was, 'No, you cannot. You cannot travel. You cannot fly to this country. You have to take this medicine.' I've been around too long. I don't take being told what to do very well. I'm not very good at it. I don't plan on becoming very good at it. It was a depressing, mulling-around time for us. We were all anxious to get back after it. Sometimes life gets in the way of living, right?"

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