Faith, at least how it’s practiced by a large swath of the world, is a cancer on our society. Think about some of the worst abuses of power in recent years, from pedophile priests to apartheid states to the vicious and obsessive persecution of trans individuals across the U.S., faith in a higher power has been the common denominator between these and a myriad of other horrors of the modern world. To be fair, that higher power doesn’t even have to be divine. How many weirdos out there are willing to inflict pain and suffering on others just because their political messiah gave the clarion call to get it done? Either way you look at it, modern society would probably be a lot better if certain strains of faith were, at the least, toned the fuck down.
Faithxtractor, the Cincinnati death metal band, might be the answer to shake the faithful out of their various sects. Founded in 2005, Faithxtractor has been pumping out venomous and blasphemous death metal tunes across a variety of releases, including four killer full-lengths. The most recent, Contempt for a Failed Dimension, sees the band launching into more of the vitriolic and punishing death metal that has garnered them a cult following over the years. I recently talked with Ash Thomas about the new record and his band’s creative process.
How did Faithxtractor get started? How did you guys meet and what made you want to start a death metal band?
Ash: The band started as a studio project in late 2005. The demo was tracked & recorded solely by me and shortly after I asked my brother Marq if he wanted to collaborate on a full-length. We’ve been heavily into death metal since the late ’80s, & have played in death metal bands since the early ’90s. Faithxtractor, especially at that time, was to be a stripped down, fuck-it-all take on the metal we love.
What got you into extreme metal in the first place and what appeals to you about death metal specifically? Who are some of the bigger influences on the band?
Ash: I’ve always been into music. It started very young with rock ‘n’ roll, then branched into hard rock, heavy metal, thrash and into death, doom, and black metal. The brutality and heaviness of it all just pulled me in. I was always curious for more. It went from Twisted Sister to Metallica to Slayer to Kreator to Morbid Angel, Carcass, Entombed, and so on. It was very natural and I’ve always loved it.
What’s the local scene like over there in the Cincinnati area? Is it pretty active and do you feel like it’s had an effect on the band?
Ash: I’m an older guy at 46, so I’ve seen many facets of the Cincinnati scene. In the ’80s there were some great heavy metal/thrash metal bands…then Pantera ruined everything [laughs]. The ’90s were awful with the worst of groove metal bands. Of course, there were a handful of good bands still, but it was always the same faces. The early 2000s were bleak as well, but then a new generation came along with a will to play great metal. The last ten years have been much better for Cincy metal. Wouldn’t really say it’s affected me musically, but it’s nice to have a variety of quality bands.
What’s the writing process like for the music side of things? Is there a set process or does it just depend from song to song?
Ash: It’s all over the map really, but most of the time riffs come first and a lot of times these days I’ll hum riffs into a recorder and work them out on guitar. Then I’ll build the song, arrangement wise, and go from there.
What’s the writing process like for the lyrics? What interests you as topics to explore with the band and do you turn to anything particular for inspiration?
Ash: My mind is always working on lyrical ideas. These days my main interest is the great unknown. I have a place in the city I go to when writing lyrics. It’s open & quiet minus the sounds of nature. I have my most productive lyric days when I’m there. It’s been like that for years.
Your lyrics hit organized religion pretty hard, which I always dig since I was raised in a religious household and saw the ugly side of christianity frequently. What draws you toward turning your lyrical crosshairs on religion?
Ash: I had a similar experience with religion. Some of the worst people I’ve ever encountered were Christians. I pretty much got all that out of my system over the years and particularly on the first album. I tend to find most “groups” to be a joke. Anything with a hive mind mentality becomes problematic over time. The meaning of the band’s name is the dismantling of any belief system…not solely religious…could be political, personal, anything.
You and Zdenka [Prado, bass] have been two constants in the band for some time. How did you two meet and what makes you two work so well together? In general, how do you keep a healthy band dynamic?
Ash: We met through a mutual love of music. We also play in Estuary together. We’ve always had a solid relationship and are likeminded…therefore working together is easy.
Your new record, Contempt for a Failed Dimension, is a killer addition to the discography. What was the writing/recording process like for that one? How happy were you with the final result?
Ash: I’m very pleased with the record. It’s definitely my favorite of the bunch. I wrote most of the music from 2019 through 2020 and started tracking in late 2021. I recorded everything on my own in my personal Frequenscream Studios.Then I sent all the tracks to Mercinary Studios where Noah Buchanan mixed and mastered the album. He did an unbelievable job and brought out the best from the songs with his sound production. I look forward to working with him again.
I wanted to ask about the inspiration behind the music and lyrics for some of the songs on that one. What’s the story behind “Vomiting Proclamation?”
Ash: It’s a reaction to the constant whining and crybaby antics of the human experience. Everyone is a victim and this tune is a spewing of malice on that philosophy.
What about the origin of “Relative First Occurence?”
Ash: Lyrically it’s about how things go in cycles and how humankind is in many ways on repeat creatively. A new generation often finds the regurgitation of old ideas to be god tier quality and innovative…that isn’t always the case.
How about the story behind “Revenge Void Asphyxia?”
Ash: This one is about a murderer who kills a like-minded death-obsessed person. At the point of death, the victim curses the killer through a dying stare. Then, during sleep, the killer is tortured through violent dreams by the victim and prior victims. It’s endless pain through sleep which carries over into fearful and exhaustive waking hours.
What’s the origin of “On Every Breath…A Curse?”
Ash: I think that’s my favorite track from the record but it’s honestly hard to pick. In short, this existence is essentially Hell on earth, a distorted view on the “gift” of life.
This is your first record on Redefining Darkness Records. How did you end up with them and what has their support meant to the band?
Ash: I’ve worked with Thomas before. He was a part of the reissue of the first album on vinyl. Originally, I had intended to release this record with Reaper Metal Productions, but after some time, Thomas offered to put the record out and we all agreed it was the best option. Thomas is a great dude and I really enjoy working with him. It’s a good, easy experience as he is thorough on the promotion front and all aspects of running a label, really.
Lastly, what’s next for Faithxtractor? What are your goals for the future of the band?
Ash: Already working on wrapping up the next album in the studio. Then I will send it to Noah at Mercinary once again. Although it won’t be out until 2024, I’m excited to have it nearly completed. It will be nice to avoid the five-year release gap that usually goes with our album releases. Other than that, we hope to get back to playing live again soon. We’ll see.
Thanks for the interview and support!
Photo at top: Contempt for a Failed Dimension album cover.