I first encountered Coffin Torture when Sludgelord released their ‘Dismal Planet’ LP, and deemed it enjoyably vile. A few years have passed since then, but the duo have returned in an even more hideous state. Their new record, ‘Blennoid’ is just savage: a noxious, skin-crawling and thoroughly invasive mix of sludge and death metal that makes you want to vomit up your soul while cackling wildly with delight.
Alex Thorfinn place guitars, bass, theremin and sings. Blind Samson plays drums, percussion and keyboards. Both of them play sword and death whistle (more on that below). Both of them were kind enough to answer some questions about their music.
Can you start with the obvious stuff: how, when and why did Coffin Torture get started?
Blind Samson: Alex and I have been friends since high school. We started as Tsavo in 2006. Tsavo became Cave Dweller and Cave Dweller finally became Coffin Torture around 2008. As far as why, it was just to see if we could. We wanted to try and write music like the bands we looked up to.
What was the initial idea for the band, and how has this changed as the years have worn on?
Alex Thorfinn: We started jamming together in high school and things just morphed from that point forward. We’d been into projects ranging from funeral doom, sludge, goregrind, technical death metal, and ambient noise/synth. We like to craft things in ways that scratch all those creative itches.
What can you tell us about the new record, ‘Blennoid’?
Blind Samson: We spent the last half of 2018 to Spring 2021 writing it and planning out what we wanted to do on it. We would have recorded it in 2020 but with everything that happened, we just used that time to think about it and try to get everything just right before we went to the studio. We never write things about current events, but I think all that insane stuff that was going on subconsciously got into the music and made it more hostile sounding.
Alex Thorfinn: I like to think of ‘Blennoid’ like an action adventure/horror video game. In the vein of something like ‘Metroid’. Each song is a level that one must complete to reach the next level of horrors therein.
It seems even more ugly and sick-making than ‘Dismal Planet’. How would you say your music has moved on (or regressed?!) and how have the intervening years changed you as humans and as musicians?
Blind Samson: We’re both older and sicker, haha! We wrote ‘Dismal Planet’ in our twenties when we were younger and more optimistic I guess. All kidding aside, we both learned a lot in the years between ‘Dismal Planet’ and ‘Blennoid’. I really tried to get better at drums. Not to show off, but so I could pull off fill ideas I wanted to steal from other drummers. Alex spent a ton of time working on his amp and pedal settings and getting the riffs really tight and locked in with the drums.
I really felt that with ‘Dismal Planet’ you were doing something left-of-centre when it comes to heavy, sludgy metal and ‘Blennoid’ takes things even further. There are a lot of bands out there content to be a third-rate Grief or Noothgrush, so I was wondering whether you specifically set out to be different / aberrant?
Blind Samson: We definitely wanted to do our own thing, but when we started, we had no idea how to go about it. We just kept trying different things and constantly listening to a bunch of different bands until somehow we began to develop something like our own style (or at least mash a bunch of other bands’ styles together into an unrecognizable blob, haha). You can still hear the bands that influenced us all over our songs, but I hope one day we have a sound that when you hear it, you know it’s Coffin Torture and nobody else.
Alex Thorfinn: I think we just stay in our own lane for the most part. We derive lots of inspiration from everywhere but we like to apply it to what we like to hear and play. It’s nice being thought of as an aberration. That’s a compliment to me. Not exactly part of the river but one of the stones that diverts the flow.
Did you specifically set out to be a two-piece band, or is this just the way the chips fell? What do you think you gain / lose from the more limited set-up?
Blind Samson: We started out as a two-piece and we have had bass players in the past, but sometimes we like to change things up on the fly live and that is so much easier with a two-piece band. Also it is much easier logistically with shows. If we get offered a show, we just have to work it out with two work schedules instead of three or four.
Alex Thorfinn: a) We have had iterations of Coffin Torture with three members but it has never worked out long-term. We both work full time jobs. It’s just easier as a two- piece with our weird scheduling and other commitments outside of the band. b). I don’t think of being a two-piece as being limiting at all. It’s more of a freeing experience actually. We still make an awful lot of noise for just two dudes.
Both of you are credited with ‘sword’ and ‘death whistle’ on the new album. Please explain yourselves.
Blind Samson: We used replica Aztec death whistles in a pause between riffs on ‘Yateveo’ and two real, sharp swords on the bridge section of ‘Ukhsen Üul’. Wanted to do something different on this one, haha!
It struck me as very apt that one of your songs is based on Stephen King’s ‘The Raft’, since the tale revolves around a sentient, oily, amorphous sludge-pool that dissolves human flesh at contact. Why did this one in particular grab your imaginations?
Blind Samson: That was pretty much it exactly, haha! It got us both thinking “What if instead of it being in a pond, it was a whole river of slime that lured people to their deaths? AND what if it jumped out and grabbed people off the banks?” Then I found that word blennoid, which means mucoid or mucus like and it went from there.
There’s a lot of nastiness going on in ‘Skeleton Crew’, and it always struck me that it featured some of King’s more unkind stories. Are there any others that you think would make for particularly good Coffin Torture numbers?
Blind Samson: I always thought ‘The Langoliers’ would make a cool song. Maybe twisted around and obscured to the point that it was only loosely based on it. That or ‘Cujo’.
Are there any other horror authors you think would be ripe for a Coffin Torture adaptation? Can we expect a concept album based on Shaun Hutson’s ‘Slugs’, for example?
Alex Thorfinn: I like Dan Simmons pretty good. I read a bunch of science fiction. Been on a Craig Alanson kick lately. He’s got an enormous series called Expeditionary Force. I’m on book seven now. It’s more adventure/suspense/ thriller than dark abject horror.
‘The Crawling Spleen’ is a brilliant, brilliant title for a gruesomely slow-motion metal song, and I was surprised/intrigued to learn that it was inspired by a kids cartoon. Please explain!
Blind Samson: ‘Crawling Spleen’ was one of the earliest songs we wrote. We both grew up in the late 90’s and there was a cartoon that used to come on called ‘The Angry Beavers’. Fast forward ten years to when we first started the band…we were hanging out one day and trying to come up with a title for this song and Alex said “You remember that episode of ‘The Angry Beavers’ when they were watching that horror movie? It was called ‘The Crawling Spleen’… let’s call it that!” and it was perfect, haha!
I love how lurid the band’s album art is: it makes perfect sense, but at the same time it’s quite atypical for a genre that often decks itself out in monochrome imagery or more muted shit n’ snot hues. What’s the thinking/inspiration behind the artwork?
Alex Thorfinn: For this piece I wanted to illustrate the Blennoid creature creeping up to devour a plasma-being trying to cross its mucosal stream. A predator laying in wait and stalking its prey like some horrifically dangerous angler fish drawing in its next meal with bright flashing colours. It’s pretty much my approach in how I designed the covers to draw people’s eyes to it. You know it’s disgusting but you can’t look away. Akin to aposematic colourings in nature in insects, fish, frogs, etc warning of lethality or toxicity if tampered with.
Do you provide art for other bands / artistic endeavours, or this purely an ‘in-house’ thing?
Alex Thorfinn: I have done a few art projects for others outside of Coffin Torture but for the most part, all that I do is focused around the band or own personal enjoyment and relaxation.
Pathetic dweeb question: is the album likely to come out on vinyl?
Blind Samson: Yes, we have actually just got on the pressing schedule for a company out of Asheville, NC. Our friend Franklin that owns a record store in Greenville, SC called Pharmacy Records is helping us get them. We’re on the schedule for February. It will be on clear yellow vinyl and the first 100 will have a custom print of some of Alex’s artwork.
What’s next for Coffin Torture? What are your immediate plans, and what – if any – are your long-term goals for the band?
Blind Samson: We have the next album 80% written, so that’s next on the horizon. Long-term goals… just try to keep getting better at songwriting and self-editing. I think we definitely improved on that from ‘Dismal Planet’.