Millennium - 1996 - Conquest
In Dark Purity - 1999 - Olympic
Live Extreme Brazilian Tour 2002 - 2003 - Mutilation
Rise To Power - 2003 - Conquest
Spiritual Apocalypse - 2007 - Conquest
S= Corpsegrinder>>Corpsegrinder [George Fisher]>>Cannibal Corpse, Paths Of Possession, Infernal MÃ¤jesty - Eulogy>>Jason Avery>>Eulogy - Sam Molina>>Terrorizer - Eulogy>>Jason Avery>>Eulogy - Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Abraxas, Azure Emote, Divine Rapture, Vile>>MIKE HRUBOVCAK>>Azure Emote, Divine Rapture, Vile
G= Malevolent Creation, Hateplow>>Jon Rubin>>Malevolent Creation, Hateplow - Wynjara, Alas>>Jason Morgan>>Wynjara, Alas - Eternal, Lovers Of Sin, Morbid Angel, Fleshtized>>Tony Norman>>Lovers Of Sin, Morbid Angel, Fleshtized, Belligerents - Infernaeon>>Sam Molina>>Infernaeon, Terrorizer - Caphar Naum>>Jason Suecof>>Caphar Naum - MARK ENGLISH - Fleshtized, Lisiya Gori, Chaos Inception>>MATT BARNES>>Lisiya Gori, Chaos Inception
B= Malevolent Creation, Cynic, Solstice>>Mark Van Erp>>Solstice - Death, Pessimist>>Kelly Conlan>>Vital Remains, Fires Of Babylon, Infinity Minus One, Pessimist, Temple Of Blood, Sargon - Capharnaum, Eulogy, Vile, Lecherous Nocturne, Serocs>>Mike Poggione>>Capharnaum, Eulogy, Vile, Lecherous Nocturne, Serocs
D= Atheist, Malevolent Creation, Hellwitch, Midnight, Terrorizer>>LEE HARRISON>>Hellwitch, Midnight, Terrorizer
Monstrosity, on paper, was destined to become one of the giants of death metal. In practice, the band’s material, inconsistency of output, comings and goings, reliance on cover versions and label problems held the band back. The band was formed in October of 1990 in Margate, Florida, USA at the height of the Florida death metal boom. A Finnish Monstrosity was also founded around this time. The band would immediately move to Tampa and in the process recruit Jason Morgan replacing Jon Rubin. Corpsegrinder and Harrison came together via mutual acquaintance Ted Hartz of Exmortis.
The group was signed to Nuclear Blast and obtained production services from Jim Morris and Morrisound Studio and artwork from Dan Seagrave. Moreover, the members had record industry connections and experience pretty much without fail having served with Malevolent Creation or elsewhere at some point. Mark and Jon had played on the Malevolent Creation demo. It just was not to be.
The band’s 1990 demo was called Horror Infinity and was released in December. Lee Harrison was on drums, but was also responsible for the lyrics. Jon Rubin was guitar, Mark Van Erp was on bass and a Corpsegrinder was on vocals. House-mates Harrison and Van Erp had jammed in 1988, but then Harrison had drummed for Malevolent Creation and then Atheist - even playing one show with the band - before the latter band’s drummer had decided against leaving and retaking his position. Corpsegrinder had left a band with the same name in Maryland to travel south and be in Monstrosity. Prior to the demo, Monstrosity had played its first show as opener for Massacre. In late 1991, Relapse issued a 7” EP for the band with two of the demo songs. The group played show with Deicide, Hellwitch, Obituary and even opened for Malevolent Creation. Nuclear Blast, which Relapse distributed in North America, had picked up the band in March of 1991 a mere six months after formation. The debut album, Imperial Doom, was less doom and more death metal and appeared in the winter of 1992. It was a competent showing enriched by the above-named facilities. Cynic guitarist Jason Gobel guested on Imperial Doom and was available for touring. The band opened for Pestilence in the USA (alongside Death) and open for the Dutch band in Europe as well. While on tour the band shot a cheap video for the song Final Cremation. The band and label ended up disagreeing, something which was instrumental in band leader Harrison founding his own label, Conquest Music. The band claimed Nuclear Blast had failed to honour its agreement. When Van Erp was arrested on drugs charges and could not travel Cannibal Corpse guitarist Rob Barret was hired to play bass for the band in South America and Canada. Van Erp was on the lam. A Brazilian band called Imperial Doom would later appear on the scene.
In 1994, the band issued a demo called Slaves And Masters before issuing its sophomore record on its own. Before that, the band had flown to Mexico City for headlining shows, as well as opening for Overkill in Mexico City. Album two was still issued by Nuclear Blast in Europe and Conquest in the USA. Nuclear Blast had finally promised to pay the band for Imperial Doom. The band was unsuccessfully negotiating with Pavement Music earlier. Just prior to signing Pavement dropped the recording budget in the contract. Scott Burns recorded it at Morrisound Studio. The band flew to Peru and played with Kranium and Mazo. Jason Morgan was on guitar and Kelly Conlon was on bass. Jason Avery was on vocals. Corpsegrinder had defected to Cannibal Corpse replacing Chris Barnes in 1996, but stayed on to record the album thus offering Monstrosity a lifeline. Corpsegrinder’s timing was unfortunate as he left four days before recording of the new album. Van Erp would also be bummed and thus left the band. Monstrosity would now be two people and Harrison - the other member was Morgan - would term Cannibal Corpse, “the CC rock stars.” The band had sent a legal notice regarding its (former) singer to Cannibal Corpse’s label, Metal Blade. Having joined Cannibal Corpse, Corpsegrinder still honoured a Monstrosity commitment to play a show in Montreal despite being in the midst of recording Vile. The band drove up to Montreal with its (former) singer despite even having a van accident. Millennium initially had a cover by Canadian artist SV Bell, which was rejected by the group. It was also partly re-recorded. Later, guitarist Pat O’Brien would do the same and head to Cannibal Corpse. The group toured with Vader and Broken Hope. For Avery’s arrival Harrison was quick to point out he had buy-in from the rest of Eulogy in order to avoid comparisons to Corpsegrinder’s manner of defection. Earlier Harrison had contributed lyrics for Suffocation’s Pierced From Within album, but Roadrunner or the band had only given him album credit as “Harrison.” Later on Harrison’s Conquest Music would release records by Vader and Darkside.
The line-up persisted for In Dark Purity, which was issued by Conquest/Olympic Recordings. European distribution was handled by Metal Age. This record was self-produced at Morrisound Recording in Tampa, Florida. Tony Norman contributed guitar as well. The Japanese version of this record featured a cover version of Bathory’s Total Destruction. The band headed toured the USA in 1999 with Dimmu Borgir, Samael and Epoch Of Unlight. The band further shattered to pieces at this point. Only Lee Harrison was left standing by the time the Enslaving The Masses compilation disc was self-released in 2001. During the summer of 2001 Monstrosity headlined the Bloodletting North America Pt. 2 tour over Deeds Of Flesh and Pyaemia with Odious Sanction and Sabbatic Feast skipping certain dates. The band next played with Dying Fetus, Vader, Krisiun and Houwitser for the Intervalle Bizarre European tour during autumn of the same year. The band toured Brazil in 2002. A limited batch of records was released the year after commemorating this trip. The live album featured Monstrosity’s cover of Slayer’s Raining Blood, which along with Angel Of Death by Slayer had become a live staple for the Floridians by now. Sam Molina was on guitar and partially on vocals for Rise To Power. Jason Avery was on vocals in 2003. Mike Poggione was on bass. The band had mastered the record at Morrisound, but recorded it at Audio Hammer Studio in Sanford, Florida. The group played at a Bogota, Colombia festival to thousands of people. In contrast, a European tour with Dark Disciple was soon aborted mid-term due to weak attendance. Prior to the next record the death metal band toured with Marduk. It would be four years before another record would be issued. Mike Hrubovcak was signing Spiritual Apocalypse. Mark English was on guitar. This record was licensed to Metal Blade for Europe. The group toured the USA in July of 2009. The proposed US tour featuring Monstrosity and Thornafire lost the latter act. Apparently, the Chileans were unable to obtain a US working visa. The 2012 Live Apocalypse DVD featured footage from the latest studio record and live footage from the Brutal Assault Festival in Czech Republic. Monstrosity was booked for the Hellfest on June 22, 2013 in France. The band was working on a new record in 2013. Kelly Conlon was back on bass. Harrison was also in Terrorizer albeit on guitar. Sam Molina was also in Terrorizer.
MONSTROSITY - RISE TO POWER - CONQUEST
The year was 1992. Monstrosity, the Florida-based musical abomination, released its debut album Imperial Doom on Germanys Nuclear Blast Records. Roughly a year old, the band very quickly and painlessly established itself as one of the brightest hopes of death metal.
The album was released to relative acclaim, the band ventured to Europe to successfully tour with Pestilence, appeared on the Death Is Just The Beginning II compilation album and video and... everything goes wrong! Now with the release of an official three-song demo and on the eve of signing a new record contract, drummer Lee Harrison takes up the story:
“It all started when we got our first royalty statement,” he recalls as to why their deal with Nuclear Blast went sour. “It didn’t make any sense. They told us one thing, then the statement said another thing. On top of everything, Nuclear Blast took my signature off a merchandising agreement and forged it on a publishing contract. That ended our contract and relationship with them.
As far as you know, how much did Imperial Doom sell? “Best I can tell, around twenty-five thousand,” reflects the drummer. “I think we’ve sold more, but I don’t know for sure.”
It is that uncertainty, and several other factors, which resulted in the band’s ensuing prolonged absence. “First, we moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa. Then John Rubin (former guitarist) quit and joined Malevolent Creation; we were auditioning guitar players for a year. We had a friend help us out for local shows, but he wasn’t permanent. Then we received a tape from our current guitarist whose name is Jason and is from Tennessee. He sent us four Monstrosity songs note for note! He knew our songs beforehand. He’s a great guitar player. The newer songs will have elements for guitar players.”
Jason’s playing can be heard on the new self-titled demo; reviews for which, according to Lee, have been very positive. “We’ve gotten a lot of very positive reviews. Only Metal Maniacs didn’t like it too much, but you know how they are. They don’t like anything with growling or grunting vocals!”
In the context of the new tape, how successful has the band been in attracting a new record deal? “Well, the first thing was Borivoj Krgin at Century Media,” confides Lee. “But Nuclear Blast told Century Media that they are still interested in us! So Century Media backed out. Pavement Records is now interested; I’m psyched because they are an American label. Pavement has Malevolent Creation, too — which is good.”
Which naturally makes me ask about the band’s forthcoming sophomore onslaught. “Well, (until now) we’ve been playing a waiting game,” sighs Lee, referring to the ever-frustrating delays. “But now we’ve got all the music written and we will be entering the studio shortly. You will hear really intricate guitar parts, yet it will still be very heavy. Mark, for example, has written a very fast song called Manipulation Strain. We also have a really slow song — almost doom — which is a first for us. The three songs on our recent demo will also be featured.”
As for the title of the album, “I will not tell you the title because I still have to discuss it with the other guys”.
Since the ‘other guys’ are the aforementioned guitarist Jason, vocalist George Fisher and bassist Mark Van Erp I wonder if the quartet are looking at adding a second guitarist. Not imminently according to the drummer. “Not for the recording, obviously, but perhaps later for our live shows. However, we don’t know anybody who can keep up!”
Ha! And so what is your perception of today’s death metal scene? “Labels like Roadrunner are all about money. Labels are so money-oriented. They are not into the bands for their music. But heavy music will always keep going.”
Aside from the above-mentioned recording session, Monstrosity has a full Mexican tour planned. The band, nevertheless, is replying to their mail, so for all correspondence or demo orders please contact Monstrosity at: P.O. Box 1343, Englewood, FL 34295
This interview initially appeared in Pit Magazine No. 14.
It seems almost a 'millennium' since our Florida heroes released their classic debut album, Imperial Doom. The quality of the band’s impact prompted many to predict a rapid ascent to the top of the death metal heap. However, a combination of business and internal problems took the band by the jugular and handed them a shake-up which has taken four years to resolve. The band, though, has not thrown in the towel and is back with its second full-length. Ali “The Metallian” has drummer Lee Harrison on the phone with many new developments to discuss. - 1996.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Last time we talked you were negotiating with Pavement Music. Why didn’t the deal go through? I heard rumours that you fired your lawyer because of negotiation difficulties.
LEE: We had a bunch of terms we wanted as a band and we gave these to our lawyer and told him we wanted these in the contract. He sent out the contract and when we got it back Pavement hadn’t changed it. We were like, 'what the hell!' It took the lawyer forever - he obviously had better things to do. So, I finally took charge and got on the phone with Pavement. They were like, 'we’ll call you in two weeks.'They never did.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: What made them change their mind?
LEE: I honestly don’t know; I never called them back to find out. The lawyer probably drove them away. At the time, we were bummed about it, but now I am glad. It worked out for a reason.
ALI “THE METALLIAN": What is the band line-up now?
LEE: There is myself on drums, ex-Eulogy singer Jason Avery is on vocals, Kelly Conlan, who played on Death’s Symbolic, on bass and Jason Morgan, who was on our demo ’94, on guitar. Mark Van Erp, our former bassist, is not with us anymore because he was caught trafficking drugs. He was convicted and when he got out of it he seemed to be getting back into the music again, becoming interested again. But he got into trouble again and instead of surrendering he fled. No one is sure where he is now, but the guys from Malevolent Creation said they saw him in New York! We are auditioning second guitarists now. Most people can’t cut it, so we are weeding them out.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: It’s a very changed band, especially with the departure of vocalist George Fisher. Knowing that he had joined Cannibal Corpse, why did you proceed to record the album with him?
LEE: We spent all those years working on the record with him, and there was no real disagreement with him. Cannibal Corpse are in a better position than we are and it was a good opportunity for George to take. The songs were written around his voice so, in the end, the product is the best it could be.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: I understand that George is under contract with Conquest Music. In which case, what is his status? Additionally, is the rumour that you are suing Cannibal Corpse accurate?
LEE: George’s status is still to be worked out; it’s all kinda up in the air. Basically, a letter was sent out to Brian Slagel (owner of Cannibal Corpse’s label Metal Blade) sating that George is under contract and that’s about it. It’s written in legal terms so they jumped the gun and thought that we are suing them. That’s not the case.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Your Conquest Music has expanded from the American home of Monstrosity to a label signing bands. Is this a new business venture on your part?
LEE: I’ve got financial help from members of my family - my sister, who is an accountant, my mom works with the computer and faxing; and a friend, pat, who is helping out in general. We haven’t gotten any American distribution secured yet, but Monstrosity is going through Nuclear Blast in Europe. We have licensed Vader and Darkside from Germany’s Impact Records. We do a bunch of different stuff. We just got a tape from Master.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: How did Monstrosity end up on Nuclear Blast again? You have been vocally critical of that label’s handling of Monstrosity over the last three years.
LEE: Basically, it follows their admitting their fault and paying what they owe us. They admitted that what they did was wrong and apologized. Now we’ve got a new publishing deal with them and a very good recording deal too. Even before their promotion was very good. It was only their accounting that was screwed up.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Let us move on to the current album, Millenium, and the cover artwork.
LEE: What happened was we contacted SV Bell in Canada. I had an idea revolving around the concept of the album: devastation and the destruction of civilization. Then he comes up with this concept he calls the pollution machine, or whatever. It kinda looked like a salt and peppershaker. It wasn’t that bad. But it needed something. And we told him that, but he wouldn’t change it. Now we’ve gone with some artwork we’ve found through the Internet. The artist, Rick Dunn, has done some artwork for Geffen. It’s not as brutal as I like it, but it’s very good and will catch your eye.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Tell us more about the specifics of the album. For instance, who recorded it?
LEE: We recorded it at Morrisound with Scott Burns. When we sent it to Germany, Nuclear Blast’s Markus Staiger felt that the drums could be punchier. We talked to Scott about remixing it, but he didn’t want to do it. We ended up going to Criteria in Miami - which is incredible - as Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Black Sabbath et cetra had recorded there. Malevolent Creation have recorded there and they said they’ve see Julio Iglesias pass by. So, we remixed and re-edited it there. Then we had mastering problems. Some of the markers were put in the wrong place. So, we had to correct these problems for the end product, which means that everything has taken longer than we wanted it to.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: And the reason for this interview is none other than Monstrosity’s music. Why don’t we get into that topic?
LEE: It’s hard to describe the music, but there is a spectrum there. Manipulation Strain is a fast song and Fragments Of Resolution is slower. On Imperial Doom we have these doom elements mixed with the fast stuff, and on Fragments”¦ we wanted to expand on the doom elements. That, actually, is one of my favourite songs, but I can see how many purists might say the song is too slow.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: One thing I noticed that a couple of the songs, Devious Instinct for example, sound like Cannibal Corpse while a couple have that Slayer feel to them.
LEE: I think I can see that in the case of Devious Instinct. That song’s main riff was written by Van Erp and our guitarist Jason completed it. Other than that I don’t hear too much Cannibal Corpse. As for Slayer, hopefully it’s the good Slayer and not the shit Slayer.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: How would your drumming nowadays?
LEE: I think it’s tighter and faster. One our first album the snare was so loud that when it came to playing live, in order to sound like the album, I started hitting the snare harder. It has become more snare-dominant now as a result. It’s still pure Monstrosity though.
This interview initially appeared in Pit Magazine No. 18.
If you enjoyed this, read Facebreaker