Guitarist Trey Pemberton talks working with Adam D of Killswitch, the health of the Texas scene and bright future of heavy music.
To preface the kind of impact Texas aggressors Creeping Death have had since the release of their lauded 2021 EP, The Edge of Existence, the band’s touring resume offers clear evidence.
From stints abroad with the likes of Venom Prison, to domestic runs with genre mainstays including Cattle Decapitation, Revocation and Carcass, Creeping Death have become the go-to practitioners of new generation brutality.
The band’s competent meld of classic sound combined with modern execution ensure they standout every time they step onstage. 2022’s festival slate offered another example of such. Creeping Death would take on defining festival sets at both the hardcore-centric Sound and Fury in Los Angeles and the extreme metal pilgrimage of Psycho Las Vegas. Despite the differences of each world, Creeping Death delivered highlight sets at both.
The common denominator that works for Creeping Death is the kind of conviction the band exudes live. Embracing a DIY, blue-collar hardcore ethos, along with a real reverence for metallic heft, the result is a visceral live set that feeds off the audience they are in front of – anyone.
Whether they came to see Creeping Death or not, by the end of the set, they will remember the band – if not for their pummeling sound, surely for their volatile style.
Currently finalizing the details of their next studio release, the band earned the cosign of Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage to serve as the project’s producer. The level up in personnel, reiterated Creeping Death’s climb in rank and their commitment to refining their craft. The news also doubled down on Creeping Death having one of the most anticipated heavy releases of 2023 in their holster.
Ahead of the band’s appearance at the Pulse of the Maggots x SXSW showcase, guitarist Trey Pemberton assessed the last two years of Creeping Death. He offered some insight to the invaluable studio work with Adam D, weighed in on the promising future of heavy music and explained the self-reliance of Texas metal that makes Creeping Death built to last.
Coming up on two years since the band has released The Edge of Existence. That EP seemed to propel the band to a new level in terms of visibility. What was the x-factor that made those songs seemingly get better with time?
We had a lot more free time because of the pandemic so we tried to make the best of an awful situation and write as many new songs as we could in those early days. That made us sit with the songs a little longer and bounce more ideas off of each other then we probably would’ve normally.
Your touring commitments have been pretty lengthy over the last couple of years. In terms of personal accomplishments, what were the shows that felt surreal to be a part of? What were the highlights that stick out from the live cycle of The Edge of Existence?
Playing Sound and Fury was pretty wild. Psycho Las Vegas at like 2am was crazy because it’s Vegas at 2am and everyone was wasted. Wrecking Ball Metal Madness was a sick home town fest put on by the homies. Our first time playing overseas earlier this year. Banging in the Rock Fest in Little Rock. Touring with Carcass the list goes on and on. We’re definitely fortunate.
Creeping Death is often included when discussing the future of death metal. Do you feel like that kind of praise comes with any responsibility to the sound, the culture?
We obviously appreciate such high praise but In my opinion there’s such a strong wave of bands going right now it doesn’t put too much responsibility on just one group. I think collectively the future of death metal is bright.
You guys worked with Adam D of Killswitch for your next release. What was the level up like going into the studio with someone as meticulous as he is? What did that experience help you discover as a songwriter?
Adam is awesome, we had an absolute blast while he busted our balls take after take. One of the funniest things he said to AJ and I was “you know if you combined AJ’s left hand and your right hand you’d have one good guitar player in this band” which seems harsh on surface level but it was truly all love and his funny way of letting us know what we should work on. He pushed all 5 of us past what we thought we could do and it made us all better musicians in the long run.
Seriously though, how much longer do we gotta wait for that first sample?
You’ll know more before the end of March for sure.
Texas really seems to be at the forefront of contemporary metal. So many bands – all with their own style – all making an impact and bringing a unique awareness to the region. What about Texas nurtures heavy music that the scene is so healthy?
Most Texas bands starting out only play within the state because it’s much easier than making a trek to either coast. I think that creates a culture of self sufficiency, coupled with the willingness to take influence from both past and contemporary bands from the state that leads to such a unique and healthy scene.
How has the new material evolved from The Edge of Existence, more importantly, how has it maintained that same signature that so many fans got turned onto from that EP?
Some of the songs on the LP were written at the same time or even earlier than Edge so they are similar in that way, but since we’ve had a much longer time to sit and tweak and rework things, it became a lot more with the extra layers we were able to incorporate.
Ahead of this play at SXSW for the Knotfest Showcase – what feels promising about this next generation of heavy culture and where do you feel your space is in that?
Feels like there’s a bit of everything going on right at the same time and most people are down for it. I’m a “variety is the spice of life” kinda guy so seeing ppl be somewhat open-minded towards other genres and styles is dope. Whatever your preference in heavy music right now, there’s probably something interesting that’s popping off.
Catch Creeping Death live at the Pulse of the Maggots x KNOTFEST x SXSW showcase on March 18th along with Militarie Gun, Soul Glo, The Callous Daoboys, VCTMS and Escuela Grind.
Access to the official SXSW x KNOTFEST x PULSE OF THE MAGGOTS Showcase will be for SXSW badge holders with an allotment of tickets available at the door, depending on venue capacity.