Interview by Demitri Levantis
Interview with: Cam Pinkerton, rhythm guitar/bass, and Alec Cordero, lead guitar
Following the release of their debut EP: “Lair of Xenolich”, I caught up with sci-fi themed death metal outfit Black Hole Deity to discuss their work, what inspired their formation and what they have in store for the coming months.
Hi, and thanks for joining us, let’s start with the band’s sound: your music is science fiction themed, can you tell us what authors/films/art influences the band?
Hi, and thanks for the interview. Aside from the usual suspects (Lovecraft, etc) and the obvious bands that influenced us, science fiction and horror films such as Event Horizon, The Alien films, 2001 Space Odyssey, even some newer films like Life, Arrival, The VVitch, etc
What is Xenolich, for all readers who aren’t familiar?
Xenolich is a word I made up because it sounded cool, primarily, but it is a fictional character/deity/cosmic entity that is the basis of the concept of the EP.
Is there an overarching concept or story to this album?
Yes. The EP loosely follows the “Xenolich mythos” for lack of a matter term….this is an extra-dimensional entity that operates on motivations and laws of physics that are unknown to man, who commands hordes of creatures as well as sentient mechanical beings to do it’s bidding. In this case, it is the destruction of Earth.
What inspired the band’s name and why did you choose it?
I used to be in a band called Chaos Inception, and there was a song I wrote called “Ancient Ways Prevail,” and the phrase “black hole deity” was in the lyrics. In the back of my mind (this was back in 2011-12) I thought that would make a cool band name someday….
People who enjoy the likes of Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel and Mithras would really dig your work; what makes Black Hole Deity different from other death metal giants?
We like to combine the straightforward/catchy songwriting style of bands like Morbid Angel and Slayer, combined with more flashy elements more often found in tech death bands, but without all the tech-death “wankery”…..Alec’s solos have a pretty unique vibe and Mike’s drumming helps elevate the overall feel as well.
What brought the band together, why did you choose these other veteran musicians for your lineup?
Chris White (vocalist) and I were in the aforementioned Chaos Inception together. After that band broke up it was natural for Chris and me to continue to work together. Alec actually reached out to me as a fan of Chaos Inception, just to say hello, and I was impressed with his work ethic, youthful outlook, and skill. So I asked him to join the band (really just an idea at the time) and he ended up introducing me to Mike because they play together in a band called Cruelty Exalted out in Los Angeles. I approached Mike about joining the band and the rest is history.
Are any of you guys involved in any side projects similar to Black Hole Deity in music and style?
Chris is in the black metal band Blood Stained Dusk, Alec has a number of bands, Cruelty Exalted, Calcemia, Warseed, and Mike is in more bands than I can count, namely Malignancy, Fear Factory, Abigail Williams, etc
Your drummer, Mike Heller, did the mixing and production for Lair of Xenolich; is this something you’d like to continue with going forward?
Yes, we plan for Mike to mix the forthcoming full-length album. We also plan to use Lasse Lammert for re-amping and mastering again. Also, I presented this question to Mike and he contributed the following: “Mostly it’s just about capturing the sound of the band… there were no tricks or anything, it was just about recording the sound of the band playing the songs… the drums were recorded incredibly well, and there are NO triggers or samples on the drums (not even the kick), and they are also not quantized to death… which really helps to retain the natural feel and sound of the drums… when drums aren’t fixed and replaced, that automatically at this point sounds old school to people… another thing that helps is that the drummer played really tight the whole time (if I do say so myself), so the other instruments playing really tight to them allows the music to sound the heaviest and cleanest it possibly can… but the guitar sound itself is really ugly and dirty, which sets the tone for the entire mix.”
What inspired the inclusion of Ally Storch’s violin on track “Hypersleep Dementia”?
That idea just occurred naturally. That song started out as just a simple guitar melody, and as I added layers, I just thought a violin would sound cool. I initially had someone else lined up to do the violin part, but they ended up moving to Alaska and did not have time to work on it. Our mastering engineer Lasse recommended Ally. She did a fantastic job and I can’t wait to work with her again for the full length.
Which of the five songs on the EP would you call your personal favourite?
It’s hard to say, but I think Railgun Combat is my favourite overall.
How have you found working with Everlasting Spew Records to get your EP out to fans?
They have been amazing. Giorgio and Tito are consummate professionals when it comes to running a label and promotions. We really couldn’t be happier.
Your artwork and logo was done by Chris Kiesling, why did you hire him for the job?
I randomly came across the art he had posted for sale and it immediately clicked with me…..I thought to myself “That’s what the Xenolich looks like.” I was lucky to grab it before anyone else. He is also doing the art for the full length.
How has the covid-19 pandemic affected you, did you have a lot of things cancelled?
As far as me personally, obviously covid totally sucks but I have had the good fortune of keeping my job going and I haven’t really missed out on any work. I know many people have been ruined financially because of it and I feel really bad for them., not to mention the people that have died/suffered from the virus itself. And of course, it completely sucks about live music being cancelled. We look forward to hopefully moving past covid in the near future…..maybe…..hopefully
When touring and gigs begin again, where would you like to start: festival or city?
It would be cool to organize a short west coast US tour since half of the band is located in Los Angeles. I have daydreamed a lot about the live future of the band, obviously, it’s anyone’s guess at this point.
How has death metal changed in your eyes in all the years you’ve been making it?
Alec: Well, I first started actively listening to death metal when I was 13 or so. Back then, death metal was incredibly captivating to me since it defied all traditional rules regarding composition, technique, note choice, and an overall artistic attitude that completely blew everything else out of the water. In fact, it was probably the most forward-thinking and progressive out of all musical genres to me at the time. For most of my teens and early ’20s, I frantically listened to just about anything and everything related to extreme metal that I could get my hands on. Bands like Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, early-Cryptopsy, early-Decapitated, early-Sepultura, Disincarnate, Dying Fetus, Hate Eternal, Obituary, Asphyx, Pestilence, Death, Atheist, Gorguts, Immolation, Incantation, Necrophagist, Spawn of Possession, Origin, Anata, Psycroptic, Decrepit Birth, Malignancy, Disgorge, Deeds of Flesh, Demilich, Convulse, Nihilist, Entombed, Vomitory, Bolt Thrower, Autopsy, Crematory, and so much more were on constant rotation day in and day out. I went to shows as often as humanly possible and met plenty of awesome friends that I still am very close to nowadays. Plus, playing in death metal bands was something I badly wanted to do for many years.
However, I ended up getting pretty burnt out on both listening to and playing death metal by my early to mid-’20s. I’m admittedly not that passionate about discovering new death metal bands or starting new death metal bands of my own. Everything just started to sound exactly the same and I no longer felt the same rush of excitement that I used to feel when hearing it. I do, however, enjoy creating art with people that I’m close to or that I see a lot of artistic potential with, which is why bands like Black Hole Deity are so fulfilling to me. So even though I’m completely out of the loop with the subculture, I do strongly believe in creating exciting new art that pushes boundaries of creativity and hopefully will stand the test of time. Despite how I might feel about it now, I think there will always be at least a little hint of nostalgia or magic from the old days that keeps me going artistically.
What’s been the best gig Black Hole Deity has played in its existence and why?
We have not played any shows.
What bands are you guys listening to most and would recommend to anyone at the moment?
Fractal Generator, Ad Nauseum, Devangelic, Skeletal Remains, Hideous Divinity…..I also listen to a lot of rap, and even some pop and country. I love death metal but I must find inspiration elsewhere on occasion.
Alec: I’m pretty all over the place when it comes to music I listen to lately. A few highlights include Allan Holdsworth, Pat Metheny, Greg Howe, Victor Wooten, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Igorrr, Marty O’Donnell, Harry Gregson-Williams, Grimes, Purity Ring, Sade, India Arie, Erykah Badu, Burial (UK electronic artist), Thundercat, Squarepusher, Drab Majesty, Carla Kihlstedt, Andy Stott, Ralph Towner, Weather Report, and Chick Corea. As a side note, the few metal bands I can absolutely recommend are Fates Warning, Watchtower, and Spastic Ink.
Do you have any fun stories of your times with BHD or other bands you’d like to share with us?
Too many to name, opening for Cannibal Corpse a few times with Chaos Inception was a highlight for sure.
What is the one thing you enjoy the most about being a musician above all other things?
Primarily, I enjoy the challenge of the songwriting process as well as the actual recording process. And it’s cool to create art that is both a reflection of my inner self, as well as something that other people enjoy.
Alec: I enjoy creating new art that pushes as many creative and personal boundaries as humanly possible. All of the other stuff like pining for likes on social media and doing art that isn’t a genuine reflection of the self is completely lame to me and I have no respect for it at all.
Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thanks for taking the time to read this interview, and stay posted for updates about the band. The current plan is to release a full-length album in early 2022 on Everlasting Spew.
Alec: Thanks to any and all people that have supported Black Hole Deity in all ways, big and small. I think it’s pretty crazy and awesome that things have been blowing up as quickly as they have. It sounds cliché, but the fans and people behind the scenes really are everything to us, so thank you so much.
Thank you so much again for joining us, I wish you all the best for the future.