In the relentless pursuit of discovery, Pulse of the Maggots offers a unique platform to showcase the kind of talent that merits a bigger stage, a broader audience, and the attention of the heavy music community as a whole.
The first very Pulse of the Maggots Festival remains about nurturing emerging talent and giving artists from across the globe the ability to connect with fans the world over and amplify their voice during a time when touring and the live transition of music seems so far away.
The first crop of artists participating in this week's virtual festival serve as a fitting example of the diversity that exists within the circles of aggressive music. From hardcore and progressive metal, to death, thrash, and even the second era of Nu-metal, the following contributors are among a thriving community of practitioners that are moving the culture forward while continuing to perfect their craft.
Meet the Maggots.
156/Silence HOMETOWN - Pittsburgh, PA PERFORMING SINCE - 2015 FAVORITE VENUE - Voltage Lounge in Philadelphia, PA BIGGEST INFLUENCES - Daughters, Poison the Well, Deftones
The hardcore culture and aggressive music in general seems to have some very strong roots in PA. How has being from Pittsburgh influenced the identity of the band? Pittsburgh has a smaller scene compared to some of the bigger cities but it really drove us to build our own scene and to get out there and tour as much as possible. It's impossible not to mention Code Orange, also from Pittsburgh, who really showed that you can do what you want and make a living writing weird heavy metalcore.
The band has openly embraced their affinity for both hardcore and metalcore in their influences. Was there ever a culture clash bringing these different worlds together live? We mostly play metalcore oriented shows but smaller scenes where the scenes aren't as separated are where we play the most mixed bills. These days the hardcore and metalcore scenes are so intertwined that for the most part shows are more inclusive than they've ever been. All of the big hardcore festivals are stacked with metalcore bands so things don't clash as much as you would think.
In four years, the band has done very well in staying active with releases between LPs, EPs, and singles. How does Irrational Pull stack up among your catalog of work? Like any band with their newest release, we think Irrational Pull is our best work. For us its the culmination of everything thats come before it. Our earlier EPs were a bit softer but as we fully embraced our metalcore and hardcore influences we wanted to find a way to create our own unique mix of it all.
The band has been included among the likes of Vein, Jesus Piece, Employed to Serve, and Code Orange. What do you think about this emerging class of bands that blur the lines between metal and hardcore and do you feel the comparison makes sense? We definitely hear this comparison a lot even though we believe we don't necessarily sound like those bands. We take it as a compliment though because those bands all have a unique sound and don't get lost in the hundreds of other metalcore bands out right now. You hear Vein or Jesus Piece and you know its them immediately. We strive to be like those bands and can't wait to continue to further develop our sound.
Irrational Pull has been praised for it’s heaviness but there seems to be a sort of post punk darkness accent throughout the album. Like hardcore kids that listened to Joy Divison - is that far off? For the most part that darkness comes from our affinity for Daughters. Their most recent album, You Won't Get What You Want came out just before we began writing for Irrational Pull and it was definitely something that influenced us alongside their earlier material.
For fans just being introduced to 156/SILENCE through Pulse of the Maggots what should they expect on November 13th? We hope you like loud annoying feedback and weird guitar effects in your metalcore.
VCTMS HOMETOWN - Chicagoland PERFORMING SINCE - 2013 FAVORITE VENUE - Bottom Lounge BIGGEST INFLUENCES - Veil Of Maya, Linkin Park, Underoath, My Chemical Romance, Slipknot, Led Zeppelin, Periphery, and Blink-182.
VCTMS has managed to gain a foothold in the sphere of heavy music with just your own DIY work ethic. Is it tough to balance the business of being a band with the creative element of being in a band? I think being involved in both the business side & creative process of being in a band gives you a better understanding of your overall vision. Nobody should know or be more invested in your “product” than you because when you believe in what you’re doing, other people eventually will too in many cases. When I learned more about marketing it pushed me to get more creative with what we’re doing here. Which is why you’ll see us consistently push out content; whether it be a new merch drop, new music, new visuals, etc; people don’t always know that the creative process is more than just the writing / recording portion.
The band has put out a succession of singles in 2020. Is the band’s fourth LP in the works? Yes! The writing process for the fourth installment started immediately after “Volume III Halfway Happy” which was released back in 2018. We completely finalized “Volume IV” this past summer & already have an idea for a release date; so that’s exciting.
Writing, touring, and performing for almost a decade how has the band’s sound evolved from Sickness Vol. I up until now? Well I started this band when I was 16 years old and this was the first real musical project I had ever been apart of, so when we initially formed our music tastes were vastly different than they are now. 'Sickness Vol. 1' was written when we were teenagers & it was our first time tracking a full release together, in which case we experimented a lot on those songs cause we didn't have a clear cut direction. It took 3 years to finalize our second installment 'Volume II Inside The Mind' & by that time we were more confident, more sure of ourselves in terms of musicianship, and we had switched vocalists at the time. I believe having John step up to be the frontman has really helped mold our sound & what has given us the ability to add all these different elements without ever straying away from what makes us VCTMS. Leading up to now we’ve shaken up the lineup & have been a trio from Volume III - on. Musically we all work seamlessly together & with every release we seem to progress further which makes me very intrigued by what the future holds for us. Don’t ever expect the same record twice.
VCTMS embrace different styles ranging from hardcore to metalcore to nu-metal. How has that diversity worked with building a heavy music fanbase that can sometimes be too purist for genre mixing. Shockingly so far it has seemed to work; of course not everyone is going to be fond of the sound, but we’ve toured / played with a wide variety of bands at this point & most times we’ve been perceived pretty well. Ranging from bands like Veil Of Maya to Angelmaker to Pierce The Veil then to a band such as Black Tongue; a lot of their fans were pretty receptive.
For fans just being introduced to VCTMS through Pulse of the Maggots - what should they expect on November 13th? Well since everything was performed in a live setting you can expect a more raw sounding VCTMS than on the records. We switched up our setlist & a lot of these songs will be the first time we’ve played them.
Thank you for letting us be apart of this; I think what Knotfest is doing is not only great for the metal community, but the music community in general. It’s an honor.
I Revolt HOMETOWN – Helsinki, Finland PERFORMING SINCE - 2017 FAVORITE VENUE – On The Rocks, Helsinki BIGGEST INFLUENCES – Pantera, Lamb of God, Slipknot
I Revolt has managed to gain a big audience in a relatively short amount of time. What do you attribute to the band’s popularity given you have only been together since 2017? Right from the start we've always had a good picture of what we would like to achieve next. Never settle and never stop to grow as a band and as an individual. We have also been marketing and spreading our stuff like a mad man. Music is the most important part of this, but if no one hears our songs, what does it matter? Success in band competitions like Emergenza Festival and Tuska- Festivals own Tuska-Torstai also gave a good kickstart at the beginning.
What is the metal community like in Finland? Is your sound nurtured there or is your style of music more the counter culture? Finland is a country with most metal bands per capita in the world, so metal is doing pretty well over here. Even though our influences mainly come from non-Finnish music and bands the culture and community surely has an impact on us too.
I Revolt seems to take some influence from the groove elements of bands like Pantera, Lamb of God, Devildriver, and Gojira. How do you feel about that kind of comparison? We've been listening to all four since we were teenagers. For us it's always a compliment if someone mentions us in the same sentence with those kinds of bands. We're here to keep the metal alive!
For fans just getting introduced to I Revolt for the first time through Pulse of the Maggots Festival, what should the audience expect? Honest, riff driven, kickass metal as it's fullest! Besides intro tape, all the sound in our live shows is always coming straight from us. No backing tracks, no tricks.. just us, the audience and a hell of a show.
Thrown into Exile HOMETOWN - Los Angeles PERFORMING SINCE - With this lineup since 2017 FAVORITE VENUE - It's a tie between The Regent in downtown LA and Brick by Brick in San Diego BIGGEST INFLUENCES - Sepultura, At The Gates, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Machine Head, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Soilwork
Your sophomore LP Illusion of Control debuts later this month. What was the thinking in releasing a new record in 2020. We actually been sitting on this record for a while, the original plan was to make a 4-track EP in 2017 to release in 2018 but quickly shifted into writing a full length instead, releasing it during this whirlwind of a year was almost a must due to the fact that we don't know when live shows will come back so lets release and continue making content during the down time.
The band debuted with Safe Inside in 2016. How has the subsequent four years of immersion in the metal culture shaped who Thrown Into Exile is now? What Thrown into Exile was in 2016 and what the band is now are two different animals, It's much like a person's personal development, you grow older, you find out more of what makes you, you see things from a different perspective. Same enthusiam, hunger and conviction but more refined and sharper blades on hand. This applies musically and lyrically. Our goal has always been to be a metal band on our terms and do what feels right for us while being influenced by all sorts of metal and music all together.
The band seems to understand the balance of progression while keeping the sound classic. Is there a conscious effort to bridge that gap or is that something organic? Yes and no. The way 'Safe Inside' ended was a clue of where we were planning to go with the next record musically if you go back and listen to songs like "Nothing Else Is Real", "Song for the Lost", and "Fear Takes Control" you can hear it. It's weird to say because on one hand you want experiment and see where the song takes you as I feel every song has its own personality but on the other hand you have be honest with yourself and know when to pull the plug. Good cop and bad cop or mental gymnastics with your own songwriting. (Laughs)
For fans just being introduced to THROWN INTO EXILE through Pulse of the Maggots - what should they expect on November 13th? We are coming at you with the same intensity that you would get from us at a live show feeding off of each others energy, full force nonstop, so join us remotely in headbanging and moshing from home! Just don't get evicted.
Diamond Construct HOMETOWN - Taree NSW PERFORMING SINCE - 2014 FAVORITE VENUE - The Metro Theatre, SYD BIGGEST INFLUENCES - Korn, Slipknot, Architects, Meshuggah, Northlane, Ghostemane, Linkin Park, Scarlxrd, NIN
DCX2 is a healthy mix of genres. How did Trap and EDM influence the creative process when the band got to work on the songs for this current EP? We kind of started to listen to a lot of more electronic and trap music when the self-titled was coming out so it was natural for us to feel like we wanted to experiment. Along the way writing some new music we were excited about the fact that it really fit on DCX2 so we dived fully into it. For us it was all about the blending to make it new for us and new for fans. Definitely paid off.
How do you feel about being included in resurgence of Nu-metal? What do you think is the difference between the first era of the subgenera and the current one? I guess we feel like people can put us in whatever subgenre they like because it’s going to happen. We accept it and we love Nu-metal, some of our biggest influences came from that. Back when Korn came out with the first album and people were calling them a metal band they didn’t really think they were just metal. So the name Nu-metal was kind of coined around that era of bands making new things. I guess when you fast forward to now and we have metalcore. It’s a fusion of both of those great genres.
Australia has really become an epicenter of heavy music culture. There are lots of bands of various styles that are all emerging out of Australia. What is the community like there and what do you think is nurturing such talent from the country? It’s crazy to think that because we always look to other countries for our inspiration including home in aus so we see a lot of great potential everywhere in all genres but we definitely notice all the comments on our music saying that some of the best metal comes from here! We are stoked to feel a part of that. It’s based on the fact we have a relative small population to the rest of the world so it’s super competitive in our local scenes and mid to high tier scenes. You have to be new and exciting or bring a certain energy live that people want to come back to your shows. I think that makes for a really good community of bands striving to make the best out of our likeable scene.
Other than adding a permanent DJ for DCX2, how was DCX2 showcased the band’s creative evolution? We noticed early on in writing that we’d have to get a permanent DJ involved for playing everything live. We always want our music to be really played and it was a must for that to happen. It’s also really cool to have that as a difference these days. Sort of a throwback I guess.
DCX2 has shown has that working hard in experimenting pays off and people really accepted it and loved it as a follow up to our debut album. So we want to explore more and at the same time give everyone what they love from us which is heavy hooks and breakdowns with crazy vocals and riffs along with some unique layers and sections now.
For fans just getting introduced to Diamond Construct for the first time through Pulse of the Maggots Festival, what should the audience expect? It’s different because we are so used to having crowds feed off the energy and then we feed back of that until it usually spirals into a pretty chaotic set. With this stream we wanted to focus on how tight we can get the songs and play them to the best of our ability. People can expect new music to roll out next year, international tours when that comes back up and running. Follow our socials for more on everything coming up.
dEMOTIONAL HOMETOWN - Gothenburg/ Växjö PERFORMING SINCE - 2009, complete band 2011 FAVORITE VENUE - Maybe Cosmonavt Club in St Petersburg BIGGEST INFLUENCES - In Flames and Killswitch Engage
Sweden is such a profile region for metal music. How difficult is it to stand out considering the kind of talent that comes from the country?
Surprisingly easy actually. Just by mentioning that you're from Sweden makes people interested. And Sweden is a small country so over here everybody knows each other.
The band released their first album in 2013 and is set to release their fourth sometime soon. How has dEmotional’s sound evolved in that time?
We would dare to say that we have matured alot during this journey. We still create the same kind of music we love but with a more professional touch. Same energy, just better packaging.
Melody seems to be a defining characteristic of Swedish metal's signature. Is that the case or is that just what seems to resonate for the bigger global audience?
That sounds about right. Though we pump out some pretty aggressive non-melodic death metal too. But yeah, melodic music runs in our veins, and we blame ABBA for that.
Your Most recent singles “Cornered” and “Don’t Wake Me Up” are a healthy mix of symphonic and progressive metal Are these singles indicative of what your new album will sound like?
No, not really. You´ll be surprised in how diverse the album will be. We want to show our range and let nothing hold us back, so we mix it up a bit.
For fans just getting introduced to dEMOTIONAL for the first time through Pulse of the Maggots Festival, what should the audience expect?
100% genuine joy for music and a down to earth attitude. Don't hesitate to chat with us after the show, we love to talk with the folks that enjoy our music.