With great pleasure, We here at MoshPitNation present an exclusive track stream from the upcoming album Panopticism: Belong/Be Lost by UK artist Feed Them Death. The track Lotusbluthen III is a slow burning nightmare of destruction. Read on after the track for a review of the full album and an interview with Void, the man behind the madness.
Band – Feed Them Death
Album – Panopticism: Belong/Be Lost
Country of Origin – UK
Genre – Avant-Garde Grindcore
Release Date – April 17, 2020
Label – I Voidhanger
Author – Hayduke X
Panopticism: Belong/Be Lost starts out with a bang. Void’s barked vocals rock you back in your chair over a maelstrom of dissonant chaos. Waves of sonic terror wash through your freshly parted hair, twisting your brain cells into new DNA strands, and obliterating all of your cool, calm collectedness. Syncopated rhythms disorient you until up is down and down is sideways. And that’s just the first track.
In all seriousness, this sophomore release of one-man (Void) project Feed Them Death is a tutorial on weaving together otherworldly strangeness and the immediacy of unrepentant violence. Building on a foundation of grindcore, Void weaves everything from Theramin, to drone, to sludge, to experimental noise into the mix of chaos. He weaves all together in a way that makes no intellectual sense, but all of the visceral sense in the world. Over the course of eleven tracks, Void leads us down the road less taken, to our darkest fears and deepest desires expressed in musical form.
Prior album No Solution. Dissolution. is a much more straightforward grind affair, with hints of where the project may be headed. An excellent album in its own right, it doesn’t take as many twists and turns, nor does it deviate the norm. On Panopticism, deviation is the norm. Thematically a study in individualism and isolation, as is discussed in the interview, the new album sets up musical barriers to understanding, mimicking the barriers caused by forced isolation or individualism by choice. Patience and perseverance wins a break through and the satisfaction of a deep dive into a complex reality.
Undeniably intense, Panopticism requires determination and strength, but rewards the listener who takes up the challenge. The gauntlet has been thrown down. Will you take it up?
Hayduke X:. First of all, let me congratulate you on an intense and dissonant masterpiece. How happy are you with Panopticism: Belong/Be Lost?
Feed Them Death: Thanks so much for your feedback, and I particularly appreciate the fact that you have used words like intense and dissonant for my latest release. If I trace back my steps to find what ignited the spark of my creative process during the gestation period of the writing of “Panoptocism”, I can see that most of the unwritten rules that I have broken (think adding theremin or other disturbing frequencies to a grind-core song, or incorporating elements of drone and harsh noise) and all the boundaries I think I have pushed, came to be because of one particular type of limitation that I have encountered time and time again over the years when it comes to fast music, and that was that it usually tends to lack of a clearly definable tragic and dramatic undertone. In a way, I find that most of the time speed defies depth in an attempt to bring brutality to the table. I have been giving a lot of thoughts on ways I could have played with my sound and frequencies to add a dramatic element to it, so that it could have gained intensity without compromising on speed, and I think that the final result portrays exactly what I was after. This album represents a precise phase in the trajectory of growth and experimentation that I intend to pursue with Feed Them Death -in fa ct much of the next release has already been written as we speak – but I am very happy with how Panopticism sounds, and it’s a very accurate time stamp of where I wanted to be as a musician and composer.
HX: Panopticism is your second full length. In what ways is it a continuation of what you did with No Solution / Dissolution?
FTD:. I feel that the dividing line between my new album and the old one is thin if measured against standard worldly unities like time and space, as it came not long after the release of “no solution” and indeed I started working on Panopticism when the first album was yet to be released; so I was vastly unaware and uninterested in feedback. However that dividing line is also wide enough from a metaphysical standpoint to place Panopticism in a completely different plane of existence. I still very much like the first album and I am proud of what was achieved there. It has memorable tracks, a good flow and some quirks, however I think that I had been perhaps a bit timid with innovation. Although the album presents very interesting ideas, to a distracted ear it might sound slightly derivative and a bit too homogenously death-grind. With the first album I felt it was as if I created something old-school for an audience that, due to the sheer amount of albums being released daily, have developed a short attention span, whereas most of the interesting and even avant-garde elements of that album require few listens before surfacing: it was as if I had asked people to decode something, and I wanted to rectify that with Panopticism, cutting the chase and pushing the boundaries more unapologetically.
From a lyrics standpoint too, much of the inspiration for the first album came from “One-dimensional man” by Marcuse, however I did not make it obvious but I think it adds value when an extreme metal band has got something more to say than just talk about either Satan or homicide.
The new album is a lot more experimental and on many different levels: it has a lot of layers yet it somehow manages to maintain a good flow.
Production is also different, and in terms of execution and mix I cut down the number of guitars from 4 to 2, and asked a sacrifice of sort to the bass player in me to sustain a sharper rhythmic session compared to the first album. In general, I focused more on mixing low and hi-fi to achieve a rougher type of sound, however maintaining a good punch.
HX:. What is your writing process? How does it vary from work you’ve done writing with a band?
FTD:. I was born a bass player and started playing bass in 1993. I only decided to up my game on guitars 4 years ago, mostly motivated by the fact that I tend not to get on with other musicians and I like things done my way. That, paired with the fact that I had experience in drum programming, voice and noise/frequencies manipulation, in a way made me less of a conventional musician and more like a rounded experimental type of composer. For Feed Them Death, the writing process is never the same for each song. Sometimes a new tune starts from the lyrics, some other time from a noise or frequency I hear and want to try and replicate, some other time again could be starting with me playing guitar, or bass, or from a completely decontextualized sample that I want to use to build more content around it. Goes without saying that this could hardly be possible if I had a permanent band to share my entire vision with – essentially because although I am aware and in control of the overall trajectory of this project, I deliberately want to ignore any pretense of knowing what the final destination will be. I haven’t been sharing my creative process with other band members in a long time, however I always like to involve friends and musicians and give them as much freedom of movement as possible, within the boundaries of what I am set to achieve. It happened on more than one occasion that I trusted people so much that I would not have wanted to hear or know what they were doing until after recording – and so it happened with most of my collaboration in the new album.
HX: Panopticism is really dense and layered. With every listen, I find new things, musically speaking. Can you comment on the different influences/styles you have woven into the album?
FTD: I think that “Panopticism” is a very different type of album, and perhaps not quite aimed specifically at one prototype of listener: there is a lot going on in this record, yet despite it being so heterogeneous, it also shows where its coming from by being indisputably grindcore on most parts. As mentioned, I was interested in exploring a way to make fast music dramatic, and found that absorbing certain elements from other extreme music subgenres could have worked well – the difficult part was to make sure that I could maintain an overall flow and protect the “grind-ness” of it all. It might surprise some but I personally tend to dislike most of what could be traditionally defined as metal music, and have developed eclectic tastes over the years, particularly liking hardcore punk, drone, noise, doom, old black metal, even post metal on occasion – and of course have a special relationship with grindcore – although I am short tempered towards things that are not daring or innovative to an extent. The name itself “Feed Them Death” comes from a Bad Religion song and I particularly like the fact that it does not borrow from the usual death metal vocabulary. So yeah, I think that there is really a little bit of everything I like in Panopticism.
HX: Lyrically and thematically, the album delves deep into philosophy, particularly the writings of Michel Foucault. What is it about his thinking that speaks to you? What parts of his philosophy are present lyrically on the album? How does he show up thematically?
FTD: The album is a concept based around two particular books, “Discipline and Punish” and “Madness and Civilization”, and expands on the way society has pushed the outcasts away from the daylight, depriving a vast spectrum of our civilization of their right to exist whilst sustaining a mechanism of exclusion of the diverse for the greater good of the wealthy few. My aim was to explore the correlations and differences between what could be defined as isolation by design, therefore imposed upon people by either prejudice or ignorance or law, and isolation by choice, thus pursuing emancipation as a way out of the pressure of having to belong to feel safe.
Moreover I was interested in how this could have helped me substantiate my musical journey and new experimental chapter, metaphorically pointing to my new north and away from the barrier of traditional death metal.
HX: How are these themes important to the modern society in which we live?
FTD: I think the importance of Foucault thoughts, especially that concerning the panopticon on one side and the great confinement on the other, is extraordinarily relevant in a day and age where surveillance technology is available for all to misuse, and the distances allegedly eliminated by an interconnected world of information has paradoxically made us all more ignorant, ill-informed and isolated within our own world of phobias and imposed solitude.
HX:. In the promotional materials I received, you are quoted as saying: “Those who don’t belong are lost: for those who don’t belong we raise our voice in a solitary chant of discord and praise to their individuality.” Is this a tribute album to the disenfranchised, the solitary?
FTD: I guess it is my way to show an empathetic closeness and support to those who were pushed away in the dark, whilst at the same time paying tribute to those who refuse to adapt and conform. Belong / Be Lost, the subtitle, plays with the meaning of the statement it represents and offers a dual interpretation, signifying both that some of those who don’t belong are lost, but also that by forcing yourself to belong you lose your real identity.
HX: What changes would you see made at a structural/societal level to deal with the shortcomings you speak of throughout the album?
FTD: If we are talking about the imposed confinement of the diverse, be it because of mental illness related conditions or not, I think that the world has not evolved one bit since the middle ages when the madmen were kicked out of the city walls and let wander the forest away from the sane: we still live by the same stigma, and the only difference is that we have perfected a way to exclude the diverse whilst at the same time using them as cheap labour to keep building wealth for the few, or have them used as lab rats for investigation and classification, provided they are kept away from the public eye. In all this, we are also being force-fed the chimera of progress, both in terms of free thinking and technological advances, whilst what is really being served on the table is a society where everyone is controlled and at the same time controlling one another, sustaining the exclusion of the others and making the link between people feeble and precarious – I think that this corresponds to a precise design apt to revert the number game, ensuring that the few can govern the many whilst the many count zero. I don’t believe that a structural or societal change is possible if even desirable, but believe that people should start thinking with their own fucking head and not be afraid, stop bearing the scorching weight of indignity silently on their shoulders and make themselves be heard.
HX: Tell me about the cover art. Who are the artists and how does it capture your overall vision for the album?
FTD: The artist who took upon himself to create the overall artwork concept and cover art for Panopticism is a very good friend of mine, Guglielmo Rossi and his design studio Bandiera, based in London. I liked their work, and adored the fact that they have mostly done work for printed books and magazine as opposed to music related things or digital art of sort, because I knew I wanted something different from the usual death metal art covers or grindcore collage, both thematically but also from a colour palette point of view, and I wanted to make sure that we would create something worth owning. So we brainstormed a lot and they proposed that we took a different angle and created this obsessive and kaleidoscopic grid of intersecting gazes, many overexposed and blurry, to convey the uneasiness of being constantly observed and under scrutiny. I think it gels well with the wider musical purpose of the release, which was and is creating something new by borrowing from different and seemingly unrelated sources. There are a lot of incredible visual elements on all touch points of the A5 digipack CD edition, including references to both Foucault and Bentham in relation to the Panopticon.
HX: We are premiering Lotusbluthen III with this interview. Can you give me more specifics about the lyrical themes of that particular track?
FTD: Lotusbluthen III is of all tracks the best to encompass everything that the album aims to unfold thematically in its entirety, and manages to synthetize and cover most of what present throughout the length of the CD from a lyrical standpoint, however on a more elevated plane of thought. As the rest of the album deals with the concept of isolation, this one track deals with it by calling it a different name and referring to that as “division” which I think metaphorically bears slight yet significant differences: isolation as said can be tackled sociologically as something imposed upon the individuals, either by external factors and instances or by themselves, however never negates the existence of the “whole” – as if to say, you are alone but you are not diminished. In contrast, I think that the term “division” opens the question as to whether that wholeness could be maintained in isolation or if we become in fact less of what we are or should be.
The way the lyrics of this track are structured represent various digressions around the concept of madness, borrowing from not only social theory and philosophy like in the rest of the album, but often from mystical and metaphysical sources like Magik and the Tarots, however cyclically returning to a sort of negative disposition for the concept of separation, saying that we are one thought away from division and nothing can deviate our trajectory and so we will be lost, for 3 times. Thematically, this is one of the reasons why Lotusbluthen is numbered and given the numerical value of 3: musically, there are other reasons for it and will expand on those later.
HX: Argento of Spite Extreme Wing performs guest vocals on the track. Tell me a little about his band and how that collaboration came about.
FTD: Argento actually does not sing in this particular song but in another song in the album called “Dead is Better”, where he agreed to improvise on vocals and together decided to keep whatever was recorded without editing. We have done this together another time, in 2001: we were both drunk and we recorder together in the dark on one song of his debut album with Spite Extreme Wing: the song was “Lotusbluthen I”, and I also had not listened to that song before recording.
That’s also one of the reasons why I decided to call my song in Panopticism “Lotusbluthen III”: I am to this day immensely proud to have contributed somehow to the first release of what I consider being not only the band of my best friend, but one of my favorite bands as well. On Magnificat, the first album by SEW, Lotusbluthen is divided in two parts, the first where I sing, and the second that was instrumental, and for me it has always represented absolute black metal perfection: one riff only, for about 3 minutes – a minimalistic masterpiece. It was a big challenge, that of taking one self sustaining riff and use it as a starting point to create a brand new song, because I wanted to pay my respect to that band however avoiding just making a cover version, or adding too much complexity to their sound.
We discussed at length with Argento about the possibility of me using a sample from SEW in my new album with FTD, and considering my emotional attachment to that song we both thought that it was the right thing to do. SEW were a great band, even greater in the way they decided to retire back in 2007: they left an outstandingly rich heritage and opted to stop not only when they were at the apex of their “career”, but also in a period when due to the boom of social media as we know it, a lot of other bands unwittingly decided to reform, showing much creative squalor in many cases if you ask me.
I always admired when a band has such a clear vision of themselves that understand when its time to move on to other things and leave their name behind, and its something that of course I am planning to do with FTD when my time will come. But for now, I really just wanted to pay homage and respect to one of my favorite bands and I am grateful that my brother Argento gave me the green light to do it, and proud that he is happy with the result as well.
HX: What do you hope listeners gain or understand by listening to Panopticism?
FTD: It would be paradoxical to say that I wanted to indoctrinate anyone whilst delivering a concept album based on solitude and isolation; therefore, I don’t expect or hope that people would gain any understanding around the main theme of the album, at least not directly from me. But I respect and praise individuality, and with the lyrical theme of the album including a few necessarily references to social theory, philosophy and even esotericism, my hope is that there will be people willing to investigate things by themselves and form their own opinions. Musically speaking, I think that the album features a number of things that haven’t quite been attempted before; therefore I don’t have a precise expectation on people’s reactions as such, other than hoping that, as it happened with you, the intensity and the dissonant tragic undertone won’t go unnoticed. I don’t care about fame but selfishly hope and think that this album can stand the test of time.
HX: Is Feed Them Death strictly a studio project or will you have a live lineup to plays shows/festivals at some point?
FTD: Feed Them Death was born as a studio project but over the last year and a bit I have been toying with the idea of bringing it live, and recently had the pleasure to announce that I involved and collaborated with a couple of great musicians, and decided to book a few gigs starting from mid March. I will be playing bass and vocals, and with me on stage there will be Davide Ambu, who plays guitar for London based blackened death metal band Cogas, and Joe Burwood, drummer for mighty Antisect and who has also been playing with a ton of other bands and touring with people like Extreme Noise Terror. After the first few gigs together we will see and decide whether this will be something worth doing again or not, and of course I hope we can come across the pond one day for a few dates.
HX: Any final thoughts? What else should we know?
FTD: I am immensely proud that Panopticism represents my first collaboration with I,Voidhanger, a label that I have always admired a lot. They have been constantly putting out great records throughout the years, and have a strong vision and identity that somehow permeates all of their releases, which is even more remarkable considering the fact that they cover a very broad spectrum of dark and unusual sounds; so I invite people to check out all their other releases as well. Thank you for and MoshPitNation for your time and great questions – it was nice chatting with you guys.
Biography: Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. Beginning in 2018, he also began writing for VM Metal Underground. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B Productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.