A chat with the creator of one of the year’s most savage EPs thus far.
From the savage sound to the gnarly album cover, Snorlax‘s aesthetic is true to the imagery of extreme metal through and through. There’s just one problem – the name. Taken from a particularly hefty Pokémon, the name stands in stark contrast to the genre’s dedicated do-or-die attitude, which has long assured that metal is serious business, thank you very much. It’s the smallest of indicators that this project isn’t quite as bothered about sticking to the rules as you might first expect. Though Snorlax’s sound is first and foremost about heads-down brutality, sole member Brendan Auld is happy to drift across genres, soaking in only the most extreme elements of metal’s various depraved subgenres and mixing them into an infernal cocktail of dynamic brutality.
Auld, a prominent musician in the Australian underground, forged the project a few years ago, releasing the enticingly macabre Splintering demo in 2018 before teaming up with Lord of the Rings-obsessed black metallers Drugoth for a split the year after. Last month, though, Snorlax dropped II, a ferocious bout of blackened death notable for its chaotic energy. It is a release that refuses to embrace monotony, finding the perfect middle ground between bleak atmospheres and full-blooded instrumentation, ensuring one never impedes the other and thus allowing both to excel in unison.
Adhering to the old adage that less is more, II is a tantalisingly short EP that only has us salivating at the prospect of a full-length, so we got in contact with the man behind the noise to find out more about the project’s past, present and future.
The project’s name seems to be the first thing people point out when they come across it. How did you decide on it?
I’m very aware of how silly the title is for the style of music I’m making. It doesn’t really have much to do with Pokémon at all to me. But it definitely seems to grab people’s attention. I gave it that name so I would never take it too seriously. I could definitely have come up with something a little more fitting… but I think it’s more likely to get noticed and stick in your mind if it’s an unusual name.
You’ve been present in the underground for a few years now, lending your talents to a variety of projects. What made you want to undertake this new endeavour, is it providing something creatively that you don’t get out of your other projects?
Sometimes ideas that I have for riffs or drums beats don’t fit into one of my other bands, Snorlax was essentially me just soaking up all those good ideas from the bin and turning them into something to make sure the good ideas got their chance to be heard. But II is more of an effort to try and make something better than the demo – something vinyl-worthy. Snorlax is not my main musical focus but I’m always playing music, so why not record the music I’m playing just by myself for fun too? It’s by far the most organic music I’ve ever written in terms of my ideas being translated to audio.
At 22-minutes, II is a remarkably efficient release, managing to fit in a variety of styles despite such a heads-down approach to brutality. Did you set out with the intention of making the music dynamic, and if so, was it hard to pull off?
I’ve played in only “heavy” bands for the past ten years. All of which have their own style of mixing punk, grind, hardcore, black and death metal elements to create a unique sound. I’ve always taken influence from the people around me and whatever I’ve been listening to a lot will always shine through. I don’t have much interest in doing clean vocals so II was an effort to be as dynamic as possible within the guidelines of the music I like to play. It was hard to learn the songs on drums and even hard to record them alone but I think I’ve managed to somehow pull it off.
Do you think it’s important to try and stand out and do something new in the genre right now?
No, I see a lot of great bands kicking ass using just guitar, bass and drums. Can’t really push anything too far if you stick to just those core elements. It’s very hard to do anything new anymore without stepping out of that formation. I think if your music is truly good it’ll get noticed one way or another. But I’m just glad there is no more boring ass, trend-hopping, jogging on the spot, recycled riff post-metalcore bands. I mean there’s some still around but no more are needed in my opinion. The current era of death metal I’m seeing is very cool and everyone seems to be pushing each other to keep things progressing in a fresh direction that is constantly getting more creative without adding any new instruments. It’s very motivating for me.
II is the second full EP from the project. How do you think your sound has progressed since the Splintering demo, and where do you see it potentially going in the future?
Yeah, I recorded the demo with no intention to release it until the very end. I think II feels more mature and my drumming got a little better *laughs*. I have no idea what I’m going to do next, maybe push it a little further towards grinding war metal and really test the limits.
Who (or what) would you cite as influences on your sound?
For Snorlax I was probably listening to a lot of Weigedood, Knelt Rote, Of Feather & Bone, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Lord Mantis, Dead Congregation…
How would you personally define your sound?
It’s basically just all the shit I like in new and old metal mixed together. Each song is different but I think at the end of the day it’s mostly blackened death metal. Personally, I’d rather it stay undefined so I have the freedom to do whatever I want with it in the future.
What are some of the lyrical and conceptual themes present on the release? Is the brutality a reaction to anything going on in the world right now, or purely a means of escape or personal catharsis?
All of the above really, it’s an expression of frustration in most cases for vocal inspiration. Each song has a different source for the aggression that comes out in my voice. Generally I write lyrics based on how I want the words to sound in a particular section and then I’ll choose suitable words dark enough to fit the energy of the music. Sometimes it will just simply be a word I want to say and other times a metaphor about my disdain for humans who do not respect the earth they live on. Although the lyrics to ‘The Resin Tomb’, for example, are a basic code of ethics for touring with your mates and I’ve written songs about weed, so it’s all about as random as the music is I guess *laughs*.
What can we expect from Snorlax’s future?
I have almost no plans to write or record more Snorlax yet so if anything happens before 2021 it will be very spontaneous. I’m going to stay focused on recording a new Descent LP and getting a few of my other bands’ releases out before I write any more for Snorlax. I feel like I should put my energy into those bands first because other people are putting energy into them too. I guess once there is no need to write for any of my other bands maybe I’ll challenge myself to write a proper full-length Snorlax release. But until then, keep an eye out for new music from Descent, Resin Tomb, Feculent and Necroseptic.
Words: George Parr