Part of the early 90’s death metal scene, Morpheus Descends of Middletown, New York released their sole studio album, Ritual of Infinity, in 1992, taking the metal scene by force with their crushing atmosphere, dark tone and memorable riffs. Though the band broke up without gaining a wide audience, the band has developed something of a cult following among metalheads.
The band reformed in 2013, performing a surprise show under a pseudonym at the Sounds Asylum in their hometown, and are set to release a new album and are set to play Maryland Deathfest in May. I recently caught up with Ken Faggio, the bassist for Morpheus Decends as well as vocalist and bassist for the stoner metal band Rooms of Ruin and author of the manga Tantric Stripfighter Trina to discuss the band’s revitalized career, among other nerdy topics.
What made you guys decide to comeback after such a long period of inactivity?
After the band split up we fell out of touch for a while. I think we had all burned out at that point for various reasons and nothing was really done with the band. Sam and I reconnected about ten years ago and formed Deadspeak with guitarist Ed Winner, who now plays in Blast Furnace. Jeff Riemer, Morpheus Descends’ second vocalist showed up at one of our shows and that’s when we started talking about possibly reforming the band. Around this time Sam started playing with Mortican and he met a lot of people expressing interest in Morpheus.
We had a few offers on the table to re-release all the old stuff and even some offers to play live, but I think the real catalyst to get us all in the same room and talking about reforming the band was the Martyrdoom festival in Brooklyn put on by Signature Riff. That really got us together and was the trial run to see if we still had what it takes to work as a band again. Once we started jamming it was like we never stopped. We’ve spent the time since then putting together the Anthology with Dark Descent and The Crypt. We’re planning a doing a decent run of shows after MDF and then working on a new full length CD. I don’t think we said all we’ve wanted to say with the band yet.
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming studio album? Will it be a continuation of the 90’s sound or will it be something completely different?
It’s actually a CD/DVD box set called From Blackened Crypts that’s being released through Dark Descent Records. The box set contains everything Morpheus Descends has put out over the years; It also includes a DVD with a lot of old school footage of the band performing live, as well as some newer footage, interviews and some unrecorded songs we used to perform live. The Crypt will be releasing all the original albums on individual vinyl.
There are two brand new songs included with the set titled; The King’s Curse and Oozing from the Urn that are the first songs the band has written in a long time. I think it’s a natural progression of our sound and very close to where we would be if we never stopped playing. We’ve managed to update our sound while still staying true to the essence of what he were when first put the band together. We have a lot of ideas floating around and a lot of riffs, so I wouldn’t rule out a full length album in the near future. These two songs are a prelude of what’s to come.
How did you guys get the offer to play Maryland Death fest? Are they any bands on this bill you are stoked to be sharing the stage with?
They asked us to play and we were more than happy to oblige. Honestly, just about all of them, but I’m personally stoked to see Triptykon, Sodom, Serpentine Path, Vallenfyre, Suffocation, Obituary, Napalm Death and one of course Neurosis.
Will there be a tour that bleeds into this MDF date or any shows to prep for the fest? Or, is this show just a one off?
MDF is by no means a one off. The band has taken time since the Martyrdoom reunion to assemble and remix our back catalogue for the CD box set, but we are back together and there will definitely be shows after MDF. We’re in the planning stages right now, but we will be doing some shows in the states and looking to do a few festivals in Europe in the near future.
When I was reading the comic series Sandman I noticed a part where the main character Dream, who is also sometimes called Morpheus, descends into hell. Any connection between your band name and this?
We formed the band right around the time Gaiman’s Sandman had come out and Rob, Sam and I were big fans of the comic. The subject matter was dark and horror driven, similar to what we wanted to do with our music and lyrics, so we thought the name Morpheus would be a perfect fit. When we were set to release Rituals of Infinity we ran into problems with a techno band that had an EP out on a major label and we wouldn’t have been able to get distribution useless we changed our name. The story line where Morpheus descended into Hell was a particular favorite of ours, so when we had to change our name we thought adding the “descends” to it would be appropriate and we wouldn’t have to completely change our name.
How do you feel the state of death metal today compares with the state of death metal in the 90’s?
Death Metal was still in its beginning stages in the 90’s, everything was new. A lot of those early bands set the tone and the style for many of the bands that came after. Some of the newer bands were a little more obvious with who their influences were and I think for a time it made the scene stale. I have seen a resurgence in creativity, bands are experimenting with the music and the vocals more and mashing up different styles. There are still the carbon copy bands out there, but I think if you look passed those you’ll find the scene still has a lot to offer creatively. If anything, I think Death Metal has proven the test of time, it has longevity and is as valid a form of music as any other.
Do you ever plan on writing a follow up to your manga Tantric Stripfighter Trina?
Not as a manga, no. There is more to the story and I’ve been messing with the idea of doing the whole thing as a series of short stories broken down the same way as the manga. Its something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but recently I’ve been working on a web comic with artist Ed Watson called B-paths To Chaos and that combined with jamming in Morpheus Descends and Rooms Of Ruin has taken up most of my time. It’s something I’d like to do eventually, but for now I’ve moved on to other things.
Any advice for young metal bands starting out?
Play the kind of music that you’d want to listen to and don’t be concerned if anyone is going to like it. Do your own thing with conviction and people will take notice.
If you were trapped on a desert island and could only bring one album which would it be and why? Cannot be a compilation, an EP, live album, or mix you made.
It’s hard to narrow it down to just one, but off the top of my head I’d say Dimension Hatross by Voivod. They’ve always been one of my all time favorite bands and this album was them at their peek; amazingly unique and original songs and a very cool story concept that carries through the entire album. Some great stuff to get lost in between fishing and building a raft
I see you are a fan of H.P. Lovecraft. Which Demigod would you worship and why?
Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos. There’s just something that appeals to me about a deity who spreads chaos and unrest and contributes to the total breakdown of society. Ia! Ia!