Death Squad: The Deathcore Round-Up
Which hardcore guitarist most influenced your style?
McKENZIE I didn’t listen to a lot of hardcore growing up because death metal covered everything I liked about music. But the first D.R.I. record [Dirty Rotten LP] really affected me. I was intrigued by the fact that they had such short songs. And I loved that they were so fast.
What non-metal guitarist most influenced your style?
McKENZIE Stevie Ray Vaughan was a huge influence on my playing. I have a pretty decent SRV bootleg collection.
What technical skills are needed to play this music?
McKENZIE I employ all kinds of techniques, like sweep arpeggios, speed picking and fast alternate picking. But songwriting is so much more important. I don’t care if you can shred circles around a John Petrucci/Al Di Meola mutant-hybrid guitar beast—if you can’t write a good song, who cares?
What guitar technique makes you stand out from the pack?
McKENZIE I have a strange habit of up-picking everything. I up-pick faster than I down-pick, so I up-pick all of the chugging riffs. It allows me to rake the strings a bit, which makes the riff sound a lot thicker.
What about deathcore is catching the kids’ attention?
McKENZIE Honestly, I don’t really know. I never thought I would see the day when 14-year-old girls post videos on YouTube of their revolting pig squeals. Where were those girls when I was in high school? Being born I guess.
What guitar are you playing, and why is it right for your sound?
McKENZIE I am currently playing an LTD EC-1000 with EMG 81s. It’s great for our tone because the EMGs are really hot and combining that with the Peavey 6505+ gives me a really saturated, but controlled, tone.
How much time do you spend on MySpace, Facebook, etc. to promote your band?
McKENZIE We use our MySpace to let people know where we are playing and what our plans are, but we don’t really get in everyone’s face about it. Having a million “friends” doesn’t mean a million people will show up to your show. We owe any success we have to busting our ass on the road for years, not how many virtual friends we have.
What’s the future of deathcore?
McKENZIE I think in a few years deathcore will have the same fate as every trend in music. It will fizzle out and be replaced by another overly hyped 18th-generation subgenre. Then only the bands that remained independent of the classification will be left standing. The entertainment industry is fickle, and people grow tired of trends pretty quickly. Maybe all the deathcore bands will start playing zydeco-core next.
While Suicide Silence may call California’s sunny Riverside their home, their sound is anything but upbeat. Instead, the five-piece indulge in downtuned riffs and half-time breakdowns on their debut, The Cleansing, which struck an unforeseen chord with the public—the record became the highest-selling artist debut in label Century Media’s history. On The Cleansing, SS axmen Chris Garza and Mark Heylmun demonstrate an impressive ability to abruptly change gears from galloping death metal to dirty sludge, without ever sounding contrived. Word is that SS will be heading into the studio with producer Machine (Lamb of God) this February to begin recording their follow-up.
What the hell is deathcore?
MARK HEYLMUN It’s just a good way for people to generalize a new spin on metal, but I can say it’s become part of my balanced breakfast. I need a bowl of deathcore every morning before I start my day.
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