Tell us about the formation of GUTVOID in 2019. What brought you together?
Sometime in 2018 Dan and myself (Brendan) were driving on Lake Shore and he was showing me some of the newer music he’d been listening to at the time – which included Krypts, Spectral Voice and Mortiferum. I’d fallen out of death metal for a bit, and so hadn’t really kept up with any new bands, but hearing those albums really grabbed me. We started talking and came up with the idea to write a new project in that style of doomy death metal (we have been playing music together for nearly twenty years, but hadn’t done anything musically together at that point for a while). Initially Gutvoid was going to just be a studio project, but after seeing that people seemed to like the EP “Astral Bestiary” we figured hey why not put an actual band together? So we reached out to Justin (who was an old high school friend) to see if he wanted to play bass and then met Den from him replying to an ad we put out for a drummer, jammed a few times and then officially formed Gutvoid (unfortunately about a week before the first COVID lockdown…)
The first GUTVOID full-length, “Durance of Lightless Horizons“, came out in September 2022. What are you most enjoying about these tracks now, a few months after the release?
For me personally, it’s been great starting to relearn them as a band and throw them into the set rotation – playing these songs as a cohesive unit and conjuring them up together always gives a new viewpoint to them. Most recently we played “Coils of Gas-hewn Filament” live and it was great, so we’re definitely going to integrate that one into more live sets (and hope to learn the last two tracks soon enough!) But aside from that, hearing that people are still enjoying the album and specific tracks is a true gift and means so much. Writing music and putting out your creative endeavours into the world is always a big risk, and just knowing that it’s connected with people the way the music I listen to and love has connected with me means the world.
How did you connect with the Swedish label, Blood Harvest Records and what made you choose them to release your first full-length album?
Rodrigo (at BH) emailed us shortly after we self-released our first EP and said he really enjoyed it and was interested in putting it out. After talking to him it just became apparent he would be a great person to work with going forward, and it’s been fantastic ever since. He did a great job with both the EP and the LP release, and when his band toured Canada last year we got the chance to meet him and he’s just a great genuine person.
Yeah that show was amazing and we were very fortunate and appreciative to have gotten to play it! ASM are incredible (really great guys too) and they put on an amazing live show – still can’t believe it’s just two people getting that sound! Shows are always hard to compare though – each one has its own unique setting and feel. That show is definitely one we will remember though, just from how packed it was and the excitement and vibe (plus it was a warm March day in Ontario, which charges the day with its own kind of positive energy haha)
Why the focus on sci-fi/Lovecraftian themes as opposed to gory/gruesome stuff (or is it a bit of both?) – what particular stories, books or films do you tend to draw on for inspiration?
That’s a great question, as I’m definitely a fan of both! When it comes to the vibe of Gutvoid – both in the lyrics and the music – to me it feels like it has more of that occult, esoteric horror feel about it rather than the visceral or gorror aesthetic. Usually before I start writing lyrics (for Gutvoid or otherwise) I need to have the full song written or demoed first, and then I sit back and think of what the music is trying to convey to me. For Gutvoid, a lot of the time I get the sense of that kind of mystical sci fi/horror coming out of the feel of the tracks; things that are bit veiled and mysterious, maybe even a bit more somber than explicit. But it still has that horrific influence, just not as direct as some of the bands we’re inspired by or share commonality with. It also goes in hand with the band name – Gutvoid being the void of outer space but as if it were made of guts.
Inspiration wise, a lot of it ties back to sci fi/horror books (HP Lovecraft is the obvious, but others like Stephen King, Tade Thompson and even Cormac McCarthy) or video games/media that give off that same vibe (HOMM3, Diablo 2, Eternal Darkness, the Soulsborne games and Darkest Dungeon to name a few, though none of the lyrics are actually about them, just used as launchpads for the songs themselves). And I can’t speak of inspiration without noting Rush: the lyrics and vibe of songs like The Fountain of Lamneth, the Necromancer or Xanadu are huge inspirations and essentially the goal that I’m trying to achieve when tying the lyrics to the music.
Did those themes have some connection to the cover art, done by Adam Burke/Nightjar Illustration?
Yeah they definitely did! After we had written the album and I had finished the lyrics I saw that there was a tying theme throughout the album of some form of imprisonment – be it physical, mental, or historical – and thinking about that helped come up with the general idea of the album cover. We wanted something that conveyed the desolation and hopelessness that captivity and isolation can bring, and that fit with the overall mood of the album musically as well. When we spoke with Adam we had a very rough idea of what we wanted, but being the absolutely gifted artist he is he turned it into something far beyond what we could have imagined! It’s also great as there are easter eggs hidden in the art that essentially represent each of the tracks of the album (blame our love of prog rock for that!)
Most people have a distinct memory of the first time they heard something that was really metal, a kind of awakening to heavier sounds. What was that experience for you?
Although it isn’t my earliest memory of being fascinated with metal or heavier music, a pivotal point for me was an old friend of mine introducing me to Meshuggah back in grade 10. At first I didn’t get it, but then something clicked for me (specifically the song Transfixion) and it all started to make sense. After that I was hooked and it started my path into appreciating, understanding and writing death metal.
What are some other Canadian bands you would recommend?
Contemporary wise, I would definitely say Thantifaxath (especially since their latest album just came out and very well could be my AOTY) as well as Chthe’ilist, who are a definite inspiration for Gutvoid. But for non-contemporary bands (at least when they formed) then I’d have to say Gorguts (another big influence on us), Augury, Martyr, Obliveon, Voivod – bit of a Quebecois pattern!
You have a show coming up with Last Retch/Human Compost/Phantom Crawl at the Hard Luck, what are you most looking forward to about the gig?
Aside from playing with some fantastic bands and getting to create music, I’m a big fan of interacting with people after the show, hearing what they thought of the set and just seeing everyone have a great time.
Where do you hope to bring GUTVOID as a band in the future – places or festivals you’d like to play in, bands you’d love to share a stage with?
Right now we’re going to start focusing on learning some new music we have in the works and trying to get a next release out in the not too distant future. But insofar as next steps playing wise, we’d love to play festivals like Killtown Deathfest (or even just play some European shows!) and keep playing more shows here in Canada. Sharing stage wise, I personally would love to play with Mortiferum or Krypts – they’re two of my favourite death metal bands and big influences on our music – but I can speak for all the guys when I say if we were to play a show with Gorguts then that’d probably the pinnacle for us!
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers at Hellbound.ca?
For all the fans reading this we just want to say we appreciate the amazing support you’ve all shown since we started, and like I mentioned earlier we hope to get you some new material soon! Otherwise we all have some side projects with releases recently or coming out, so be sure to check them out in the interim!
Gutvoid – Death metal from Toronto, Canada