“I would say preparing for the tour after three years was a little nerve wracking,” says Santa Cruz native Matt Sotelo. “When you’re touring more often, you’re more in the zone.”
The guitarist is referring to the three-year hiatus that his band, local death metal act Decrepit Birth, took after 2014. Earlier this year the metalheads hit the road again, hyping their first new record in seven years, Axis Mundi, to be released on Nuclear Blast Records on July 21.
“The reaction to our new songs live has been more positive than any other in the past,” he says. “They were written to be more live-friendly anyway, so that doesn’t surprise me.”
While the band officially started in 2001, the origins of Decrepit Birth can be traced back further than that. Locals might remember seeing them play house shows on the east side of town as far back as 1995, before blast beats and technical guitar riffs in metal went mainstream. In 2003, the band dropped its debut album, . . . And Time Begins, a brutal release of straight-up death metal with crunching songs and guttural vocals. But after the release of their third full-length, Polarity, Decrepit Birth decided a break was in order.
“My wife and I had our son right after Polarity, so that was a big factor,” Sotelo explains. “But even then, we continued to tour for four years after Polarity came out.”
For Axis Mundi, Sotelo, singer Bill Robinson—also a Santa Cruz native—drummer Samus, and bassist Sean Martinez, knew they wanted to do something different. The result is a hybrid of what Decrepit Birth has done in the past with chaotic and experimental technical death metal riffs, and a return to the genre’s roots with songs like “Epigenetic Triplicity,” a 250-beats-per-minute assault on the senses. As with the band’s previous work, the cover art is by renowned metal artist Dan Seagrave, who has worked with other heavyweights like Morbid Angel and Entombed.
So does this mark the official return of Decrepit Birth for the foreseeable future?
“There are a bunch of options on the table for us, but we haven’t decided on anything yet,” Sotelo divulges. “As for more hometown shows, that’s up to Santa Cruz.”
INFO: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 4. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $22/adv, $25/door. 429-4315.