A “bands we like” section on an artist’s social media profile can often serve as a helpful indicator of what to expect from their sound, but for San Luis Obispo outfit Corpse Thrower, the group’s “bands we hate” section is just as informative. It features just one name – Dream Theater. Indeed, Corpse Thrower’s strain of metal is about as far removed from prog wizardry as metal gets. Instead, the Calinfornians’ death metal sound is direct, intense and antagonistic, informed by the anarchic spirit of punk and early grindcore. It’s a simple combination but one that’s so effective, a rabid unification of Anti-Cimex’s scathing extremity and the hefty hammerblow riffs of Bolt Thrower.
When we speak to vocalist Oskar Pelayo after the release of the band’s recent split with Toxic Wizard, it’s no surprise to learn that the band members have all played, or are currently playing, in punk bands. The raw energy of punk shines through on everything Corpse Thrower have released thus far, which includes their debut demo in July 2019 and the follow-up Nazi Slaughter demo in January of this year. With Covid it feels like years have passed since the latter’s release, and though lockdown threatened to quell the band’s growing momentum somewhat, their new split offers enough to tide listeners over until the band can get back on the live circuit and into the studio.
“Originally we wanted to do a split with our friends in Burlesque but due to Covid, they couldn’t jam and write new music,” Pelayo explains. “So we decided to do the split with Toxic Wizard because that was easy to set up since we share members. Hopefully we can do something with Burlesque in the future.”
It may not have been the initial plan but a split with Toxic Wizard definitely works. Though the bands differ in style, with Toxic Wizard generally favouring powerviolence to death metal, there’s a shared ferocity that ensures the split flows seamlessly from their tracks into Corpse Thrower’s three offerings – two new tracks and a cover of Discharge’s ‘Protest And Survive’. These three tracks may just be the band’s best to date too, brimming with delectably filthy riffs, Swedeath grooves and infernal growls so grimy that you have to wonder whether Pelayo’s microphone is caked in mud.
It’s the sort of style that suits the band’s gritty lyrical topics. Whilst their last demo was openly anti-fascist, with the searing title-track ‘Nazi Slaughter’ featuring a section where literal chainsaws replace the guitars, the new split continues to confront sociopolitical problems with irreverent bile. This time, Corpse Thrower are taking aim at America’s needless and callous Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and their barbaric border detention camps, the band holding no punches as they do so.
“It’s important to be vocal about organisations like ICE and their cruelties,” says Pelayo. “As someone who comes from an immigrant family, I definitely write lyrics from a personal place. The fears I have are for my family and for my people. ‘Mass Grave’ is about how these camps could evolve into something like an extermination camp. If given the opportunity, I have no doubt that our government will not hesitate to enact more cruelties on ‘illegal’ immigrants. ‘Brutalization Of The Innocents’ is specifically about children having to go through the horrors of going to these camps and being separated from their families.”
Speaking out against these issues is essential in a world that seems to be getting worse with each passing year, but Pelayo doesn’t address them out of a sense of obligation – instead his lyrics come from a more personal place, informed by his own experiences and beliefs. The Nazi Slaughter demo, he tells us, is a reflection of his own opinions more than it is a statement about the metal scene and NSBM. “I don’t necessarily think that metal music harbours racists and the far-right but I think racism is a human problem and is a part of every aspect of human life. Metal music is by humans so you can’t avoid it,” he says. “If we are willing to take a stand against it in our everyday life, I think we should also speak out against it in our music culture.”
We’re expecting more of the same both lyrically and musically next time out. Their latest offering is a blessing during this bleak year, but one that only has us salivating at the thought of a full EP or album. “We definitely have a few things planned for the future!” Pelayo thankfully reveals. The band want to put out an EP, he tells us, but also have plans for a compilation featuring other local bands, aiming to spotlight their scene’s underappreciated talents. “It’ll be bands in the SLO area that play genres that aren’t as popular in our local scene. We want to do a comp similar to the Cry Now Cry Later ones by Pessimiser Records from the ‘90s, but metal themed.”
The Toxic Wizard/Corpse Thrower split is out now. Check it out here.
Words: George Parr