Photo: Nicholas Edmond
For pure caveman ferocity and guttural brutality, no genre goes quite as hard as death metal, but the genre’s crop of cosmically-minded practitioners take things to a new level, weaving in the otherworldly imagery of sci-fi and the existential dread of cosmic horror, all set across the backdrop of an infinitely expanding universe.
If you need convincing, just look to CosmoSteelBlood Trinity, the latest mind-bending EP from San Fernando Valley group Greenwitch. The release spans six ruthless bouts of guttural death metal, blending the grit and groove of early Swedish death metal with the more labyrinthine insanity of modern cosmically-minded bands like Blood Incantation, Outer Heaven and Tomb Mold. Instead of cheesy sound effects or superfluous synths, Greenwitch channel the cosmos by forging metal so devastating that it simply has to be from a dimension beyond our own.
But CosmoSteelBloodTrinity is more than mere sci-fi escapism, in fact the EP is littered with themes that resonate profoundly in the current climate. An overarching concept involving celestial overlords and interdimensional aliens explores themes of oppression, whilst standout track ‘From The Nothing’ takes on predatory priests and also gives TERFs a well-earned kick in the teeth.
We missed this thunderous release when it dropped back in November, but we’ve been making up for lost time in recent weeks. So, eager to find out more we reached out to vocalist Galax, who shed some light on the band’s history, as well as the sci-fi influences that inspire her lyrics and why the band is fighting back against metal’s overly masculine and elitist nature.
AN: Hey! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. First up, can you tell us a bit about the band, who’s involved and how you came together?
Yo! Thank you for hitting us up! We are from the San Fernando Valley, and our friendships go back as early as freshman year. Harley [guitar] met Jeff [bass], Brandon [guitar] and Josè [drums] in high school and I [Galax, vocals] didn’t move into the valley until I was 15. I went to a different school than all of them and didn’t become total friends until we all barely graduated. Brandon was doing vocals for a punk/hardcore band with Harley and Jeff at the time, I was playing bass for a punk/thrash band, and Josè was playing for a djent band as well. Brandon had to get his wisdom teeth removed and they were bummed that they would have to miss a show so I jokingly offered to cover for him. Coincidentally Brandon didn’t wanna do vocals anymore anyway so I just became the vocalist. Eventually, we wanted to move into a heavier sound and knew we needed Josè, being the best and coolest metal drummer we know.
What can you tell us about the creation of CosmoSteelBlood Trinity? Did Covid cause any issues in the process?
All of the songs for this EP were written over time while we were playing shows and things before Covid. We then recorded with Taylor Young at The Pit Recording Studio in November or December of 2019. We asked Dayan from Dipygus to do the art for us, we really fucked with the Warp Chamber art and his style in general just felt right. Unfortunately because of Covid closures in early 2020 everything got delayed. It took us months to find someone to put it out with us. Thankfully Mike at Horror Pain Gore Death Productions was down and helped us out! So almost a whole year later the EP was finally out.
Who would you cite as influences on your music?
Blood Incantation, Necrot, Obituary, Captain Beefheart, Show Me The Body, Xibalba… and so on. Honestly each of us would give you a different answer and none of them sound alike.
The Bandcamp page for CosmoSteelBlood Trinity hints at an epic sci-fi tale. Is there a concept and narrative to the release? What’s it about?
So, when I wrote lyrics for bands in the past it was more punk and hardcore. With this project I wanted to push myself into different areas. Magic: The Gathering is a MAJOR influence on not only my life but writing style as well. I also love surreal artist like H.R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński. So when writing the lyrics for these songs I wanted to make something that had ethics of a hardcore record but in a surreal environment. So, CosmoSteelBlood Trinity on the surface is about the nine Galactic Lords. Ancient creatures who once dominated our plane are resurrected from their Celestial Tombs. They are resurrected by beings I call the Tenth Plane God Walkers or reference as interdimensional beings. The God Walkers need Galactic Lords to absorb energy from physical realms to become tangible to all planes of existence. While doing the bidding of the God Walkers the consumption of energy has re-awakened the Galactic Lords. They choose to confront the interdimensional beings and amongst the battle the Galactic Lords absorb all of the light and energy from the surrounding stars into a blade and execute the God Walkers.
With all that being said, if you just want to take it at face value that’s perfectly fine. I hope you enjoy it! But if you did enjoy it, I encourage you to dig into it a little bit. For me these songs have a lot to do with being transgender, and self-actualisation. I was also working a really shitty job at the time, and had just come from two other even worse jobs. So I just had this overbearing feeling of being controlled by other people who couldn’t give a shit about me. So I just took all of these emotions and jammed them into these tracks.
Where do the cosmic influences come from?
The cosmic influence has always been with me honestly since I can remember. The infinity of space is a fun place to put your imagination. It’s not spirituality but putting yourself beside the universe puts a lot of things into perspective.
Looking at the lyrics it’s clear some of them are also about our own world as well as the sci-fi setting of the release, perhaps most noticeably on ‘From The Nothing’, but are there also any wider metaphors to be drawn between the sci-fi concept and real life? That idea of being “under the boot of the universe”, for instance, seems like something a lot of people would relate to in some sense.
‘From The Nothing’ is the least connected to the lore of the EP and is also the oldest out of all the tracks. It’s the most literal, about abuse from religious figures and detaching yourself from it. ‘From The Nothing’ is supposed to feel like a term of solidarity. The lyrics “Meek / Putrid slime / Underneath the boot of the universe / Of what use are you to us?” [from ‘Cellar Dweller’] are written from the perspective of an oppressor. Although we come from nothing, and cannot prove a value to a system that has discarded us, it does not mean we are not of value and are not deserving of love and acceptance. I intentionally kept ‘From The Nothing’ lyrically outstanding than the rest because queer people, especially transgender people, have a hard time in the metal world. It can be an un-welcoming place, it’s hyper-masculine and can be very elitist. Hopefully things will continue to progress for the positive and maybe if I talk about being trans and ripping priests skulls out, I can help out. Honestly, if there’s anything to take ultimately from my lyrics it’s that everyone has a lot going on in their heads, please be fuckin’ kind to each other.
What can we expect from Greenwitch going forward? What have you got planned for the future?
We already have something lined up and it’s our heaviest shit yet.
Two new tracks on cassette and a bonus… SOON.
Words: George Parr