5Q5A - Sacrificial Blood

Ding! True School Is In Session

posted on 3/2014   By: Last Rites

New Jersey's death/thrash warriors, Sacrificial Blood, are skilled in the martial arts of the elders. It's grown-people stuff. The trio's fighting form is a little dustier, a little more Occam's Razor than wiz-bang modern borkers armed with auto-targeting systems. Spotless robotic chugs? Nah, they're simply not wired that way. In fact, they're not wired at all: Sacrificial Blood is an analog soldier in a digital time. Because of it, their mass popularity potential is, well, low. Like they said about Marv in Sin City, "He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He'd be right at home on some ancient battlefield swinging an axe into somebody's face."

Yet, listening to SoulS for Sale, Sacrificial Blood's recently released sophomore LP, you get the feeling their flying berserker frenzies aren't about obtaining all the dollars. It's about sniffing out the one person in the crowd who also believes in a bygone age of honesty.

Honestly. See, to combat their timelag — of having to deal with The Fates' smoke break — the fellas learned their moves from the original sources instead of fourth-hand, thirft store genre mods. They bought the old records. They played the old records. They unwrapped and cataloged every inch of those old records. And, in case you were itching to verify their legitimacy, they cite all of their senseis. Check their YouTube channel and you'll step into an Alexandria for a certain subset of metalhead. Click 'em. Only then will you find the thread stitching it all together: This trove of teachers buzz on a similar frequency. Put your ear next to SoulS for Sale and you'll hear the same hum. Hmmmmmmm. That waveform? The ancient art of roar. Look it up and down. Get in the gums. Run your tests. It is legit. It ain't dress-up, an on-the-weekend LARP-off. Sacrificial Blood did it the hard way. The dedication paid off. SoulS for Sale is "it" in the flesh: prime, primal, heavy gosh darn metal made in the image of the old guard.

That said, you could've helped yourself to a slice and figured all of this out within the first riff:

Of course, we had to know more. We got in touch with growler/drummer Mike Keller. We asked five questions, he gave us five answers.


Mike, thanks for doing this, we really appreciate it.

To start, I wanted to see how you guys would describe SoulS for Sale. I hear a ton of different threads weaving through your sound, from speed metal, to Deceased, to thrash, and on and on. But, was there a certain aesthetic you were shooting for? Or, is it more about just writing great songs, no matter the root, no matter the influence?

Indeed, thank you for hitting me up!!!!! I guess I would describe the new album as "true metal" for all intents and purposes. When people hear that term they automatically think about Manowar (who we like very much), or black metal (which outside of the '80s bands we don't like very much), but I really don't have a better term to describe it, haha.

Our sound encompasses just about every single style of old metal. Really the only death metal element is my vocals (and that's simply because I can't actually sing, haha), but, yes, bands like Deceased are very influential to us musically because they kinda did/do the same thing: take influences from where ever they see fit and apply it to their own sound. There wasn't really a particular sound or vision we were going for, just whatever riffs the guys brought in we would work on until they were songs. We're all huge fans of all the styles of old metal so a little bit of everything found its way in there. People who like the same kinda stuff we like will understand, and maybe we can turn a few heads who are not familiar with anything outside of the scary. But you are correct, great songs are the only thing we're interested in, not being brutal, faster than everyone else, more evil, or anything else. Great songs live on long after the gimmicks have subsided, nothing else counts in the long run.

So, your Youtube channel is a blast. (Stunt Rock! Ripper!) What is it about the older forms that strikes a chord? I definitely hear the amalgamation of many deep crate digging sessions in your music. Is there just something purer about a NWOBHM banger? In what way has this shaped your music and, well, your life?

Ha, right on, I'm glad you enjoy it!!! Unfortunately Gmail forced me to link my email to my YouTube and I can no longer access my account, which is why the vids haven't been as frequent as they once were. But yes absolutely, I feel the metal of the '70s and '80s was from a far more honest place. It may seem goofy or silly by today's standards to some but I think the bands back then definitely had more heart and you can tell from listening to it all these years later. Maybe it was youthful innocence, maybe there was something in the genes of that generation of people that has been lost all these years later.

Haha, who the hell knows. It was also a more creative time, as bands, whether they were trying or not, were creating their own sounds and ideas even within the confines of their particular genres. You listen to those old bands and outside of the basic aesthetics, most of them really didn't sound like each other, they generally had something that made them different. The retro revival bands by and large seemed kinda like a joke to me, the bands who became the most popular out of it were the ones who sounded EXACTLY like popular old bands that everyone likes, and they were shameless about it at that.

Most of the bands also were just doing it for the irony factor (we've crossed paths with many of them in our years, heard 'em say it, know it for a fact, regardless of what they or their fans might say or believe), and the others seemed to believe that a denim vest, white high tops, and tight jeans automatically made them old school. (I remember reading an interview with Joel Grind in some zine we were both in a couple years before he actually got out there and he was claiming he wrote to Voivod in 1984; he was like 2 years old).

So really, when you break it all down, there's no particular genre of music you can listen to, new or old, that will automatically qualify you as true. "True" to me simply means you are true to yourself, the people you know, and the things you do in life. Most of the people I knew years ago who were hardcore into thrash and NWOBHM are now into crust punk, black metal, or god knows what else, haha. Now that's not to say people from the younger set aren't cool people, but it really all depends on why they're there, I guess. I tend to get along with people who aren't afraid to be who they are, good or bad, and know themselves and aren't going to change every time a new thing comes along. Others call this elitism, I call it having your own mind and knowing who you are.

To piggyback on the last question, do you ever feel like you're a band out of time? Or, do you ever feel a sort of higher (or lower) calling to be one of the groups keeping the old flame alive?

In a way, yes. I was born in 1980 and got into music when I was like 3-4 years old, then metal when I was about 7-8. From that age, I always wanted to be in a band, play music, and by middle school I had formed my first band which was already kinda after the fact, haha. I do feel like we don't really fit in with the modern age in general, which is probably why we didn't get signed to a big label or anything during the retro craze few years ago; our sound is too hard to pinpoint and people generally don't like that, they want something safe and within the comfort zone.

Whether or not we're keeping the old flame alive, I can't say, my preferred target audience are the older people who were around in the '70s and '80s and have held on to those ways, and we do very well with that crowd, so I suppose you'd have to ask one of them. I'm happy enough to have a stable lineup, a position on the east coast that allows me to travel around and play with bands I either love or respect at the very least.

When the guys from Cianide tell me my album rules, that makes me feel very good. Things like that, basically. I'm not sure if there's a grander scheme to all of this, I just take it as it comes. One thing for certain, in 11 years now, we're constantly moving forward. We've had lots of breakups and setbacks, but every time we reconvene, it's right where we left it, and we usually excel to a higher point than we were previously. Either musically or our status or whatever. So that anyway kinda reaffirms for me that the band is good, though I'd think I'd be doing this regardless of the circumstances.

As someone who always wanted to learn how to turbo pick the crap out of a riff, I have to ask: How...how long did it take to be able to achieve those kinds of speedy riffs? Any tips? Practice regimen?

Ha, I'm a drummer so I really can't answer that. Arnie's a hell of a player that's for sure, haha. I do know he took lessons for a while from a blind guy so he could learn to play on instinct without looking at the guitar, but I really can't tell you technical nonsense, I'm more or less self taught so all that's a bit of an alien world to me, hahaha.

What do you want out of music? What are your goals? And, what sacrifices have you made to keep doing your thing?

Like I say, to make tunes that we and the real old school diehards enjoy, and if other people like it that's OK, too. No goals other than to keep going regardless of the situation, and hopefully get to travel to more new places and play with more cool bands, haha. I have sacrificed friendships, relationships, jobs, all kinds of things for this band, and I will never stop. Hopefully the other two I got in the band now will stick around for a while, and we will just carry on doing what we do. I would like to get a drummer and second guitarist one day, just to see how it would be with a full lineup like that, but there's no rush with that, it'll come when it comes or it won't. Regardless we'll be around, look for us, thanks again for the interview man, and I'm glad you like all we do. Cheers!!!!!


Sacrificial Blood's SoulS for Sale is available now through Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.