After the disbandment of his previous band The Crypt Alive, Walker Glenn continued to write melodic death metal on his own. He recorded with his former TCA bandmate Parker Long, who excitedly agreed to play bass for his new project. Parker recruited former TCA bandmate Jay Woodall to reprise his guitarist role, and the lineup was finished with former Cauterize The Soul drummer Shelby McMullen. Later on, Walker had decided to step down as lead vocalist, and so a fifth member, Michael Rocha, was added to the lineup. After opening for The Browning, and new material being written, Walker decided to depart from the band, and Steven Aprea (also former CTS member) stepped in to fill the position, however also departing shortly afterwards. Guitarist James Garcia came in with his shredding skills and filled the hole created. With the departure of Shellby and Michael, the positions of drummer and vocalist are now open.
The Isdal Cadaver is prepping to record and release their first LP “Leviathan”, due out by Winter 2016.
“The Isdal woman (Norwegian: Isdalskvinnen) is the subject of an unsolved case involving an unidentified woman found dead at Isdalen Valley in Bergen, Norway on 29 November 1970…”
Listen to their 2014 release ‘Ruin’:
The guys were nice enough to do an interview with us.
When did you guys form The Isdal Cadaver?
Parker (bass/backing vocals): The Isdal Cadaver was formed roughly in August of 2013. Walker Glenn (the original founder and mastermind behind the music), Jay Woodall (guitars), and myself, had all played in a melodic death metal band before called The Crypt Alive. That band broke apart for conflicts in direction between multiple band members, and due to the fact we did that band in highschool, so we anticipated everyone moving out of the city to go to college. Walker didn’t end up leaving, so the EP he was going to take with him to his college home became our first release, “Ruin”, with Jay and I reprising our roles as guitarist, and bassist and backing vocals, respectively, and Walker performing guitar and lead vocals. We found a drummer, Shellby McMullen, who had played in a band with Cauterize The Soul back with The Crypt Alive, and started rehearsing and playing shows.
Where does The Isdal Cadaver come from?
P: We hail from Houston, Texas. Members past and present have lived all over the city.
How did you guys come with the name?
P: To quote Wikipedia, “The Isdal Woman is the subject of an unsolved case involving an unidentified woman found dead at Isdalen Valley in Bergen, Norway, on 29 November 1970.” She was a very mysterious unknown woman who was found murdered in a valley in Norway. There was evidence of blunt force trauma to her neck, carbon monoxide poisoning, and that she had ingested something like 50 sleeping pills. Apparently also partially burned. If you read the Wikipedia article, it will pretty much tell you all that is known about her case, period. Not only was it an interesting unsolved case, but Norway and Scandinavia in general is where a lot of our favorite bands come from. However mostly it was chosen because nobody had picked it yet, which is quite a rarity especially in death metal, haha.
Can you guys list some of your favorite influences?
P: On a broad spectrum, a lot of European bands. At The Gates, Children Of Bodom, Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Behemoth, Stormlord, Carcass, pretty much all very easy to hear in our sound. However most people will attribute us to the very obvious example of The Black Dahlia Murder, who happened to be influenced by At The Gates and Carcass in particular. Obvious, if you were to listen to one of our tunes, and then their music. Down to the tuning, haha. Take something good, make it your own I guess. That was Walker’s doing and I’m so glad he got me hooked on those bands. For the symphonic stuff, since I compose all of that, I take most of my inspiration from film scores, as well as classical composers and game composers. Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, John Williams, Kow Otani, Samuel Barber, Jeremy Soule, Mozart.
Jay (guitars): Keith Merrow, Johan Söderberg, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Michael Keene, Marc Okubo, Paul Waggoner, and Mark Holcomb.
James (guitars/backing vocals): Jeff Loomis, The Black Dahlia Murder, Behemoth to name a few.
Cole (lead vocals): Behemoth, wintersun, moonsorrow, belphegor, and of course Nirvana. (Cole is the NEW lead vocalist that will be making his debut at the Abigail Williams show!)
For new fans and readers, could you describe The Isdal Cavader as a band?
P: Musically speaking, I would say the term “Symphonic Death Metal”. I could list the different subgenres we could constitute as endlessly, but that one basically does the trick. Apart from maybe, say, Melodic Death Metal, which is what we were before. Because saying “Symphonic sometimes-Blackened Melodic Death Metal” is just ridiculous.
You guys recently released a pre-produced song titled “ Spawn of Ungoliant”, from the album “Leviathan”. Could you talk bout the track?
P: The song, like much of the material off “Leviathan”, was penned by Walker long before he decided to part ways. However using just the demo name he assigned to it, “Spiders”, I wrote lyrics regarding the giant spiders from Middle-Earth, such as Shelob, that Frodo and Sam fight in The Lord Of The Rings, or more specifically the spiders of Mirkwood from The Hobbit. All the spiders that we see in those books and in the films are the result of a spirit named Ungoliant, who took the shape of a spider, who gave birth to them. I have an obsession with dark, creepy forests, so I set the story in Mirkwood of some unknown party being captured and devoured by these spiders. I had to do research actually, because I hadn’t really thought about how a spider actually eats. Turns out it’s pretty brutal and painful, and all while you’re paralyzed from the toxins they carry. We chose this song to put out primarily because it was the first song we had lyrics done for. It’s also the opener of the album, and really a good way to show what we’re about. Nice built up intro, techy verses, big melodic choruses, a good solo, and orchestra all throughout. Sort of a snapshot saying “this is The Isdal Cadaver”.
When will the official mastered version be out?
P: Shooting for a winter release. We’ve been trying to get the ball rolling on this for a long time, but with over a year and a half of delays, it’s time to get it out there.
Who is producing Leviathan?
P: I will act as the main producer, though for things such as guitars and guitar tones, as well as making adjustments right at the end of the mixing stage, I will get the rest of the bands input and opinions. We will be recording drums with Nathan Richie of Like Monroe and Sleep Labs. He will be the engineer and help with choosing drum tones, so I suppose you could say he would be the co-producer for drums as well as engineer. My drummer for my other band Aegis (as well as drummer for Await The Desolation, Apocalyptic, Baptized By Fire, and session drummer for Day Of Reckoning) Adrian Galindo will be the session drummer for the album, as we are currently searching for one. Everything else will be self-recorded at my home studio setup. Tracking DI, running re-amps, tracking vocals, doing final compositions and arrangement for the orchestra and synths, and mixed. I more than likely will have someone else master it, as mixing is my strong point as an engineer.
You guys recently had a few members leave the band, what were their reasons behind it?
P: Without naming names, and purposefully mixing up the historical order of departures, I will say the following. Some people won’t bother trying to lessen their short-comings until it is far, far too late. Some people decide they want to do different things in music. Some people decide they’re unsure of what makes them happy and allow the demands of others to dictate their life for them. Some people would rather play music as a hobby and dedicate their time to other things.
Will you guys be doing any shows soon before releasing the album?
P: We are opening up for Abigail Williams here on May 23rd. We also are playing Battle For Summer Slaughter Tour, where you compete in front of a judge to play the local date for Summer Slaughter. That was supposed to happen back in April, but the day of the show the city got hit with massive flooding, I believe it is rescheduled to June 11th.
Could you compare Leviathan to your other previous work?
P: The core melodic death metal sound is still there. Just it gets a little more diverse. A lot of the same style of riffing and drumming, just added upon.
What will be different?
P: Primarily we are going symphonic. Adding orchestral and choral elements as well as synthesizers. We sort of tested this on the chorus of “This Cursed Lineage” on “Ruin”, and despite what some reviews have said, we decided we wanted to incorporate that fully instead of just having it for that one song. Really adds an entirely different feeling and element to the songs. We are also introducing a little bit of clean singing on two of the tracks. One of the songs requires a lot of singing, which was originally to be sung by Walker. However, as I spent some time with him in his current punk Four Letter Language, I developed a singing voice and ability as I had to harmonize with him, as it is all clean singing in that band. However, I have a much lower voice than him, and with the range of notes I wanted to use, I couldn’t sing that song in that key. We had toyed with the idea of using 7 strings for some songs (since we tune to C standard on 6 strings) before, and I revived this idea. We started at standard and just kept changing it until it felt right. After initially settling on a half-step down, going down to step-and-a-half just gave it a darker feeling, regardless of the lower tuning. We have even newer material to be put out on future releases that utilizes this tuning, and it helps keep my brain fresh. I have multiple tools to use when writing and I don’t get burnt out as easily. So in sum, this album shows we are adding symphonic elements to the entirety of our sound, we might throw in some clean vocals here and there, and we also will start using 7 strings in G# standard in conjunction with our C standard 6 strings. It’s also putting out the last of the material Walker wrote, meaning that after this album is out, everything you will hear going forward will (hopefully) come out of this current lineup (plus a drummer, haha).
When you guys are not playing shows or recording, what do you find your selves doing?
P: I play in an extreme metal band named Aegis. But I do all that with them too. So, apart from that, I work for FedEx in their sorting facility local to me. I really don’t do much else, haha. Sometimes when I’m in the mood I work on my 40K army but that really hit the backburner. I usually just sit all day on the internet with my DAW open mixing stuff though, really.
Jaay: I’m either working, hanging out with friends, or playing games/practicing at home. I’m a giant nerd.
James: I work a lot. I’m in the oil and gas industry so I’m there all the time. I balance that with spending time with my 4 year old daughter and, you guessed it, playing my guitar!
C: Practicing for shows, writing stuff to record.
What would be your ultimate dream tour?
P: Hitting Europe. Opening for Amon Amarth. I would probably retire after that, there’s not much else I’d ever ask for if that happened.
Jay: All across Europe.
James: I’d love to tour Europe! I feel like our sound would be received the best there.
C: Asia. And not because of my fetish.
What are some of the crowds favorite songs from you guys when you play live?
P: I have personally been told “1692” is a favorite. But people also seem to react to “Spawn Of Ungoliant” really well, as soon as they hear those strings. I think we actually had a genuine mosh pit once for “Bloodwatcher” at this really tiny venue called The White Swan that pretty much everyone in Houston has set foot in. Playing with a bunch of super energetic Thrash guys.
What are some of your favorite songs to play live?
P: One of our new ones “Confirmed” has this bass tapping dealio in the chorus that requires a lot of attention, but also the rhythms in it are just great. Also probably “Bloodwatcher” because it has that Amon Amarth-y feel, and they are without a doubt one of my favorite bands, if not the most influential band on me as a metal musician. There’s a new one we are going to be playing live soon called “Felo De Se”, and I just can’t help but go ham at the practice space. I am confident that one is going to be the heavy hitter. Like “Spawn” but wayyyyyyy darker.
Jay: “Felo De Se”, “Bloodwatcher”, “This Cursed Lineage”, and “Spawn Of Ungoliant” are my favorites.
James: My favorite has to be “Confirmed”, it’s so fast and full of energy. Very difficult but fun! I also get to do back up vocals during the second chorus.
C: My first show with Isdal is next week [May 23rd], so we will see which one really gets me going loco.
What would you want listeners to get out of when they listen to “Leviathan” What was the inspiration behind writing the upcoming album?
P: I’ve been waiting for this question. I finally get to talk about the theme! While we sort of just wrote and revised tunes near endlessly. But lyrically, there is a present theme, reflected in the title. Every song discusses something, well, big. A big monster, an overwhelming emotion, a significant historical event, large locations in the world, mind-blowing inevitabilities, important human subjects. I spent a bit of time thinking of the right word to use for the album title, and came up with “Leviathan”. I couldn’t name it “The Notorious Big” for obvious reasons, haha, and “Behemoth” is already a band we draw influence from. “Monstrosity” is the first word on the album, so I thought that’d be kind of lame. I have a love for the ocean, so “Leviathan” was the one. Plus it meant I could have a sea monster or Cthulhu on the front cover. I would hope people can appreciate the blend of technical, yet melodic death metal on there, as well as the scoring and composition of the classical elements and perhaps elements maybe people are used to associating more with a metalcore or hardcore sound instead of a death metal context. But yeah, while it isn’t a concept album, it does have a unifying theme of immensity, similar to how “Ruin” has a theme of desecrating, corrupting, and destroying that which was something else with all of the lyrics.
Jay: I want listeners to be able to see the story of each song in their heads when they listen to it.
James: I want listeners to feel the music as we did during the recording process. I want them to experience the emotion and love we put into our craft while listening. I’d also love for listeners to get audio satisfaction, an ear-gasm if you will, from the kick ass tracks we put together! The album was actually written prior to me joining but I try to capture the story of each song I’ve written a guitar solo for.
C: High quality metal I would hope. At least that’s the plan. I will start writing lyrics for many of the songs after our upcoming show. I believe most of them have themes already inspired by the music. For those, it should be easy to find inspiration, as the guys are great at capturing a setting/mood with instruments alone. The lyrics then would flow naturally.
Can you describe each member with a silly adjective?
P: Cole, sculpted. Jay, soggy. James, handsome.
Jay: Parker: Wet, James: Moist, Cole: Damp
James: Parker: Perfect, Cole: Beatiful, Jay: Mechanical
C: Parker: Heroic, James: Muscular, Jay: Genius …yep, that’s about as silly as it gets.
Lastly, what would you like to say to new and current fans?
P: It’s going to be big. We are refining every aspect about us before we start pushing the album cycle. Expect a much more professional The Isdal Cadaver. Buying a CD, a shirt (when we have them), coming out to a show, all of that supports us and helps us keep doing this. Anything anyone has ever done for us in the way of support, advice, or help, is life-time loved and thanked. We will be having a guest solo from Parker Jameson of Starkill on one of the songs, and it’s pretty shred-tastic. If you don’t know that band, look them up now. They used to be on Century and are working on a 3rd album. Also see if you can find their older stuff under the name Massakren, it’s all fantastic, and Parker is a super cool and nice dude.
Jay: Not much, just come hang out with us at shows and support the scene!
James: Thank you, we’re up and coming but at wouldn’t be without y’all. Don’t hesitate to socialize with us, we’re all about the fans. Matter of fact I’ll buy a drink for any fan that does! Fan appreciation at its finest!
C: Appreciate your support. Now is actually an opportunity to step out of those fan shoes and be in the band. Just got to work on them chops. But seriously, we need a drummer who isn’t me.