CUT UP – A Butchery Improved
Cut Up (l-r): Tobias Gustafsson, Erik Rundqvist, Anders Bertilsson and Andreas Björnson
On February 20th, 2013, it was revealed that Karlstad, Sweden-based death metal outfit Vomitory would disband following a 24-year career which spawned eight full-length studio albums, the band’s swansong performance taking place on December 27th of that year at Metal Clüb / Nöjesfabriken in Karlstad. “There were a lot of reasons for Vomitory’s split,” Tobias Gustafsson shares, longtime drummer for the assortment. “The band was active for 24 years non-stop, and of course that takes its toll. For me personally, the last couple of years were quite heavy. I still enjoyed it, but it was a bit cumbersome. The band was becoming more of a burden more than I thought it was fun, and I also felt that the level of motivation wasn’t the same in the band. That was also something that brought my will to continue down a bit. There were different life situations for everybody, so it was getting more and more difficult to get everything working with our jobs and daily lives in general, and our families and so on.
“I think that Vomitory had reached the end of its life so to speak, so it was definitely time to call it a day. I think we did it at the right time, because we were still a great band when we split up. Our final album Opus Mortis VIII (April 2011) was a really good album that we can proud of, so I think we did the right thing. We decided to stop while we still enjoyed it, and there was no bad blood involved in this decision; we split up on good terms with everyone. So yeah, that was it.”
The musical partnership of vocalist / bassist Erik Rundqvist and the sticksman has continued within the ranks of fellow Karlstad-based death metal ensemble Cut Up. “As you know, me and Erik of Cut Up played together in Vomitory for many years,” he begins. “We disbanded Vomitory by the end of 2013, but during the last few months, me and Erik were talking about maybe wanting to do something together again after the Vomitory split. I think it took us maybe two months after the Vomitory split, and then we started to talk again about maybe forming a new band. Both of us were very excited to start something new, so we decided to do so.
“We were talking about which people we wanted to have in the band and so on, so everything went pretty fast. Actually, we knew Anders Bertilsson the lead guitar player. We knew him very well from before, from his previous bands like Coldworker and another band called Ruin. We had been playing at the same venues, so we have some mutual friends as well. Also, Anders filled in as a live guitarist a few times during the last couple of years for Vomitory, so we knew that he was a great guy and that he was a great guitar player and so on, and so that was a very natural choice for us.
“Then we wanted a fourth member. We wanted a guitarist who was also a lead vocalist, because that was something that we decided quite early on – me and Erik – that we wanted to have two lead vocalists in this band to be able to have some more diversity to our sound, and have more to work with musically so to speak, and also bring up the intensity and so on. We knew this guy from our area, namely Andreas Björnson. We have seen him live a couple of times with his other band, Fetus Stench. We knew that he was a great vocalist, and a really good guitar player, and a great songwriter, and so on. We asked him, and he wanted to try out. After the first rehearsal together, we felt that this was the line-up that we would go for.”
Cut Up’s moniker was inspired by a composition penned by a defunct death metal outfit who resided in California from the late 90s until the early noughties. “We wanted something that was straight in your face and that was very memorable and easy to understand, and I think we found that,” Tobias explains. “I got the idea from the song ‘Dead, Cut Up And Ready To Fuck’ by The Ravenous. I thought it was a cool band name. It’s a violent name which represents our music pretty good I think, although the words themselves are not very original. ‘Cut’ and ‘up’ are two very common words, but I think it’s still quite an original name for a death metal band, so I think it stands out from the rest. Besides, all the other shitty names were already taken (laughs). No, seriously. I think it’s a cool name.”
Debut offering Forensic Nightmares arrived in June 2015. “When we started the band, I brought one song,” the rhythmist divulges. “It was actually the last song that I wrote for Vomitory, which we didn’t use, and that song is the album opener ‘Enter Hell’. I took that one to Cut Up, so we could have something to play in the beginning. We thought ‘This song fits us good.’ Also, Andreas brought one song that he already had, which was ‘Burial Time’, so then we already had two songs. After that, Andreas got really inspired and wrote a lot of songs in a very short time. He wrote most of the music himself, and Erik wrote most of the lyrics for his songs himself. Then we rehearsed everything together in the rehearsal room, and worked on the final touches together to make final versions of the songs so to speak. Yeah, that’s how we do it. We work mostly by ourselves when we write songs, and then we present it to the other guys. Then if there are any changes that need to be made, we do that together.”
Tobias personally authored the music for two numbers, namely ‘Enter Hell’ and ‘A Butchery Improved’. “Those are my songs,” he confirms. “It’s straight ahead death metal, no frills, the way I usually write. I think ‘Enter Hell’ is more typical Swedish death metal; with that opening riff and also the middle section, in my ears it’s very early 90s kind of Entombed-style riffing. Also, I think it’s a great album opener for many reasons. ‘A Butchery Improved’ is maybe a bit more diverse, because it has this heavy mid-section where there’s some room to catch your breath and bang your heads. I don’t know. There’s not much more to say, I guess.”
Cut Up performs death metal of the more traditional variety. “That’s always very difficult to describe, your own music, but I think we have one foot still in the old school,” the percussionist admits. “Our music is based in the old school death metal, but I definitely think that we’re a contemporary band with a modern production. We play brutal, grinding, groovy death metal from Sweden (laughs).”
A wide range of groups influence Cut Up’s overall sound. “Speaking for myself, I come from the old school with old thrash bands and that early death metal wave – the beginning of the 90s,” Tobias cites. “I still listen to that kind of death metal. I also listen to newer death metal too of course, but I like the old Entombed stuff, old Grave, old Bolt Thrower, Napalm Death. Those are bands that are always in my head somewhere when I write music. Also, Vader, Exhumed, a lot of bands – Terrorizer, for instance. I think we have slightly different sources of inspiration in the band, but we have many in common too.”
Forensic Nightmares’ lyrical content is typical death metal fare. “Yeah, I would say that,” the sticksman agrees. “The lyrics deal with horror and gore, which I think is very appropriate. We play violent, brutal death metal, and the lyrics should be accordingly. In the beginning, I think it was meant that Forensic Nightmares should be a bit of a concept album. After a couple of songs though, Erik ditched that idea because the lyrics took a slightly different turn. In a way mind, the lyrics are basically more or less in the same vein anyway. It’s gory, it’s brutal.”
Recording sessions for Forensic Nightmares took place at Big Balls Production Studio in Karlstad, Sweden during November 2014. “It went really, really smooth,” Tobias remembers. “I don’t remember how many recording days there were, but maybe between ten and 15 recording days, and then we were done with the recording. It went really, really smooth and we were very well prepared, because all of the music…
“All of the songs were more or less completely finished when we entered the studio. There were just a few things like some of the guitar solos, which had to be worked on in the studio, and also some lyrics had to be reworked – maybe just a few lines, and so on. Basically though, everything was finished when we started recording it, and that felt great. But yeah, for being together in the studio for the first time, I was really amazed about how well it went and how good it sounded. So yeah, I’m really happy with it. Then we sent the recording to another guy for mixing, and that went really, really smooth too. The album was actually finished around the New Year – that’s when we had our master.”
Polish artist Łukasz Jaszak designed the cover artwork for Forensic Nightmares. “He’s also the guy who did the last Vomitory album for us (Opus Mortis VIII), the cover artwork,” the rhythmist credits. “The cover portrays a pile of human body parts, so the idea is that that pile of human garbage is a forensic nightmare for the forensics to take care of. That’s basically it.”
A music video was filmed for the track ‘Burial Time’. “It was done in one day, in an old industrial facility which was not in use,” Tobias informs. “We decorated it with black sheets on the walls, and just a few spotlights. We wanted to make a very clean and simple video as the first video from the band, to present the band that way, so it went pretty smooth. It was quite easy, but it always takes a lot more time than you think it will. It worked out good in the end though, and we’re happy with the result. It’s just a straight up performance video of the band, so there are no special effects or anything.”
On April 2nd, it was revealed that Cut Up had inked an album contract with Metal Blade Records. “Actually, there were other labels interested in Cut Up,” the percussionist reveals. “We were considering working with them too, but Metal Blade gave us a very good offer, so we thought it was a good idea to sign with Metal Blade. It would also make sense, given mine and Erik’s long history with Metal Blade through Vomitory for many years before. We know what they can deliver and we always worked well together, so we decided to sign with Metal Blade, and it’s nothing that we now regret. We’re very happy that we ended up with Metal Blade. So yeah, it feels good.”
Forensic Nightmares was released on June 26th, 2015 in Europe and subsequently on the 30th in North America, all via Metal Blade Records.
Interview published in July 2015. All promotional photographs by Soile Siirtola.
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