Masters of Florida death metal, Monstrosity blast back after a long absence with their crushing new album The Passage Of Existence, their first since 2007s Spiritual Apocalypse. The wait for new material has left fans hungry for fresh material from the band and Monstrosity definitely don’t disappoint with this new record as it is death metal at its most brutal. We caught up with Monstrosity drummer and founding member Lee Harrison to hear all about The Passage Of Existence, the bands absence from the death metal scene and how it feels to be back, the Florida death metal scene and his favourite death metal albums and the possibility of live Monstrosity dates.
LEE: It took a while, but it did go as planned other than the timing. We are definitely happy with how it turned out as a whole. It was a different way of recording, but there were advantages to doing it the way we did. The way we did the drums was different since on our previous album we would do block out days at the Morrisound studio. This time with Jason, it was more like a set price and we worked without time constraints. We spent 2 days on getting drum tones alone. Usually we spend six hours or at most a day getting those tones.
The new album is the first Monstrosity album since Spiritual Apocalypse which we released back in 2007. What have the band been doing up to that time?
LEE: We did some touring for Spiritual Apocalypse until about 2010. We didnt really start writing until 2011. We spent some time on the writing and had some shows here and there including the 70k cruise and the Barge To Hell cruise. Plus, we released a DVD in 2013. We did Hellfest and some others shows as well, but I didn’t really want to be out there again until the new album was completed. I just didnt think it would take that long.
How does it feel for Monstrosity to be back in 2018 and what can fans expect from the new album?
LEE: Things are going good so were just awaiting the release of the album so people can finally hear what we’ve been working on for so long. We put a lot of time and effort into this one just like we do all of ours, but this one we’re really happy with.
Is the album in a similar style to Spiritual Apocalypse?
LEE: I’m sure there are similarities, but to me, it’s just a continuation of where we left off on that album. We wanted to make sure the production was there as well as the songs. If an album “sounds good”, then it sounds good. Thats the starting point for me. It was a little painstaking, but in the end we are happy with it so “whatever it takes”.
You worked on the album with noted metal producer Jason Suecof who has worked with Deicide and Death Angel and Monstrosity on the Rise To Power album. How was the experience of working with him and what did he bring to the album and the Monstrosity sound?
LEE: Most of our albums have been recorded at Morrisound studios in Tampa which is like 20 minutes away from where I live so it was nice to have a convenient world class studio right around the corner from me. Morrisound was sold to Transiberian Orchestra mainman Paul O’Neill who has since passed away. So there really wasn’t an option to go to Morrisound. Its a little farther to go to Sanford, Florida which is where Jason Suecof’s studio is; but he had showed us some mixes he was working on and it just sounded amazing so that helped with the decision too. There’s not a lot of other options around. The other studios in the area just don’t meet our standards or the engineers have tin ears so I am just glad we were able to get back with Jason. Plus, Jason has been a good friend of mine so he understands what I am trying to do and the sound I am going for.
How do you feel that the death metal landscape has changed since you’ve been away?
LEE: Has it? I dont know. It always has a certain ebb and flow of people coming in and out of the scene. There’s the die hards that will be with you no matter what and of course the “casual” fans who just check in periodically. Its mostly been the same I would have to say. There is some new bands coming and going, but more or less it just seems to keep growing.
This is your second album for Metal Blade. How does it feel to be on such a legendary label?
LEE: Actually this is the 3rd album we’ve licensed to Metal Blade. We did Rise To Power and Spiritual Apocalypse on Metal Blade for Europe/UK. For this album we delivered the album to Metal Blade Europe and the American division made us an offer for “worldwide” distribution. We worked out a deal and it seems to be going great. My label, Conquest Music will continue on though, we have all of the back Monstrosity catalog available and handle the merchandise as well. We also have our previous releases like Diabolic and Underthreat. We have been putting out the final works of former Crimson Glory vocalist Midnight too. We’ve released a 3 cd package of original songs of his (deceased in 2009) and we’re working on putting out some covers Midnight did, and other things as well. So Conquest Music definitely stays busy and we’ll be celebrating 22 yrs.
What are your live plans when The Passage Of Existence is released?
LEE: Well I had really hoped to time a big tour with the release of the record, but unfortunately our singer couldnt commit to doing the tour so right now there is nothing booked but we’re hoping after the new year we can get back out in Europe.
Will you be making it over to Europe for live dates?
LEE: Nothing is booked. I love to tour so we will see what happens in the future but its not always up to me. The other guys have their schedules too so we will have to see for the future.
Who have been some of your favourite bands that Monstrosity have toured with and what made it so memorable?
LEE: One of the coolest tours we did was in 1999 with Dimmu Borgir and Samael. We’ve had some other good runs as well. Vader, Dying Fetus, Deeds of Flesh etc so weve had some good some good runs.
Who would you love to tour with in the future?
LEE: Anyone who could broaden our fan base and that would make sense. There’s no one in particular but lots of bands we wouldn’t mind touring with.
Your debut album Imperial Doom was released back in 1992. What are your main memories of the early days of Monstrosity?
LEE: It was fun times but still always having to struggle to make things happen. The scene was already blowing up when we came out so it was hard to stand out amongst the pack. My thing was just to keep going and I knew eventually we would get to a higher level.
Did you think that Monstrosity would still be going and releasing such killer albums in 2018?
LEE: Not sure about 2018 but yes. Weve always tried to keep it going. There were some tough times like in 2004 we had a tour where the promoter, a guy named Jens, just totally dropped the ball and we got the bad end on that. That almost brought the band down but a guy named Dave from Canada wrote me this long message and convinced me to keep going.
What are your favourite memories from the early days of the death metal scene in Florida?
LEE: There are many, but we were just younger then and still trying to learn things. To me, I just wish I had known then what I know now.
Why do you think Florida was such a hotbed of death metal creativity with influential bands like yourselves, Deicide, Death, Obituary and Morbid Angel?
LEE: I think having Morrisound studios right there in Tampa helped things. There just became a spotlight on Florida which we didnt really see coming. I sorta presumed we would have to go to California or something to ever get noticed. With bands like Death and then the Obituary and Sepultura albums right after it seemed like the doors were opening for a new scene.
There was the massive scene in Florida with the bands just mentioned as well as in New York with bands like Cannibal Corpse, Immolation, Incantation , Suffocation and Mortician. Was there any other scenes across the States with such killer bands?
LEE: Texas had a pretty brutal scene at one time and there is some other “hot spots” here and there, but nothing like the 2 scenes you mentioned.
What is the death metal scene like in Florida today and are there any bands you could recommend to us?
LEE: Its still going for sure. It seems like Tampa is where the bands live and theres a solid crowd that continues to support so things are good.
What are some of your favourite death metal albums of all time and why?
LEE: I like Death “Scream Bloody Gore” just because Chucks vocals were so brutal. I liked the drumming and the evil riffs of Morbids Altars of Madness. I liked Entombed Left Hand Path. Just the hooky riffs and LGs vocals.
What have been some of your favourite memories of your career in Monstrosity so far?
LEE: There are too many to list really. I just like to focus and keep looking ahead. I dont sit around and dream of the old times. I would rather look forward and concentrate writing new stuff, playing more shows etc.