You might not be familiar with Integrity, but in the punk and hardcore/metal worlds, the band is legendary. Since forming in Cleveland in 1988, the group have had countless lineups with the one constant being the band’s charismatic frontman, Dwid Hellion.
Technically, ex–Pulling Teeth guitarist Domenic Romeo has been a member only since 2014, but his relationship with the band spans decades.
“Dwid and I have been close friends for over 20 years and he’s like my older brother,” Romeo says from a festival date in the Netherlands. “I put out records for Integrity and booked tours for them, and they’ve been my favorite band ever since I heard [1995’s] Systems Overload.”
Being a fan of a band and actually being in the band are two very different things, of course, and Romeo had to reconcile that fact on the band’s 12th studio album, Howling, For the Nightmare Shall Consume. “It was tough because I definitely wanted to honor the past members but also put my own stamp on the album,” he says.
Romeo grew up worshiping guitar gods like Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen, a fact that is evident on shredding solos throughout songs like “Burning Beneath the Devil’s Cross,” which introduce an Eighties metal vibe to the group’s brutal brand of apocalyptic metalcore.
The album also features a lot of firsts for Integrity, ranging from homemade instruments to a gospel choir and a trilogy of songs that hover around the seven-minute mark. “The crazier it got, the more excited Dwid got, so I just ran with it and layered tons of guitars. There’s some solos in the title track that I’ve been trying to put into a song for over a decade, so there’s a lot of history here.”
Ultimately that history helped inspire Romeo to push his limits as a player, and he couldn’t be prouder of the end result. “At the end of the day, even if everyone hates this record, I still love it so it doesn’t matter,” he says. “I feel like we made the coolest Integrity record we could have.”
● GUITARS B.C. Rich Mockingbird with Lace Drop & Gain pickups
● AMP Ampeg SVT-VR head with Marshall and Krank 4x12 cabinets
● EFFECTS Danelectro Back Talk Reverse Delay, Red Panda Particle Granular Delay, Lastgasp Misty Cave, Boss CE-2 Chorus, Boss DM-3 Delay, Morley Bad Horsie Wah, DigiTech XP300 Space Station, Ibanez Tube Screamer, MXR EVH 5150 Overdrive
● STRINGS Ernie Ball Skinny Top/Heavy Bottom .10–.52