We’ve been chatting back and forth with Malcolm Pugh of The Artisan Era and Inferi for a few months now, picking his brain about all the cool stuff he’s been doing for extreme metal. In addition to his riff conjuring with Nashville, Tennessee melodic technical death metallers, Inferi, not to mention spearheading an entire record label (The Artisan Era) with a dynamite roster, Malcolm is also the new bassist of Nashville trio, DEMON KING – a blackened technical death metal outfit also now recently signed with The Artisan Era after the release of their debut EP, The Final Tyranny, in February of 2021. Over the past week, we’ve been chatting up Matt Brown (guitars, vocals, concept) of DEMON KING to get a feel for this other unique project Malcolm Pugh will be cramming down our throats via label promo and sick merch designs. Let’s check it out!

1. First and foremost, what is it about Nashville, TN that just BREEDS sweet, melodious technical death metal bands?! As a follow-up, aside from the three of you coming from closely related, separate bands (Inferi, Enfold Darkness, A Loathing Requiem), how did Demon King first come to be?

Well, it is Music City, ya know. 😉

However, I’m not sure that Nashville breeds this sort of music, per se. I wish it did, as it would make searching for musicians to play this music with a little bit easier. You’d think since this is Music City, USA, that we’d have plenty of able musicians, but it’s just not the case. Most want to play slam or deathcore, I think.

Demon King first came to be, at least conceptually, one afternoon as I was contemplating my future on Aug, 2019.

2. How did you first come to meet Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, The Artisan Era)?

We met in early 2006 when Enfold Darkness and Inferi played one of our first shows at The Muse — Nashville’s now dead underground metal venue. It was one of Inferi’s first shows as well, I believe.

3. Has Demon King had a relationship with Inferi prior to signing with TAE?

Yes, of course.

4. Who are your top influences for black metal and technical death metal? Are there any bands or songs in particular that sparked your desire to form Demon King? As a follow-up, who are some of the artists chiefly responsible for your picking up a guitar and screaming into a microphone?

I really dig the sound of bands like Naglfar and Necrophobic. They capture a sound that is “quintessentially black.” Of course, you can’t forget bands like Dimmu Borgir… or even Cradle of Filth. I’d say Cradle of Filth influenced me just about as any of them.

On the tech side of things, who can forget Necrophagist? I don’t think I would be doing what I do today if it weren’t for them.

5. What inspires you the most to write lyrics?

Probably myths and legends.

6. Is there a concept behind The Final Tyranny?

Yes… but nothing too profound really. The subject matter is typical of metal. I talk about my perceptions of who or what the Anti-Christ is in The Final Tyranny.

7. Talk about a few Demon King riffs or songs you are most proud of having composed as a musician.

To me, writing “Tyrannical Reign of the Deceiver” was a “breakthrough moment” for me as a musician. I feel like I had been trying to write that song, at some level, ever since I started writing extreme music.

Here’s something interesting: “The Watcher, Wreathed In Flame” began its life as an Enfold Darkness song back in like 2008, I believe. For one reason or another, I wasn’t ever able to finish the song back in those days, but with the birth of Demon King, the song was given a new lease of life, you might say. I’m pleased that it was resurrected and made to be a whole song. I always loved playing the earlier versions of it.

8. How did you arrive at the name DEMON KING?

When I decided I wanted to return to making music, I thought that this would be a striking name. I had a few band names that I had written down over the course of a few months, and this was the one that seemed to fit best. Not to be arrogant or anything, but this one seemed to say, “The King is back, baby!”

9. Discuss the gear you swear by. What are the ins and outs of your guitar and vocal setups? Any cool home studio advice to share as well? (I’m also asking for myself.)

EMG 81 pickups ran @ 24 volt! I didn’t use them on The Final Tyranny recording, and I regret it. They have the best sound for extreme metal, in my opinion. I’ll definitely use them for the next release though!

As for my studio setup, it’s as basic as it gets. I record guitar and vocals through a small Focusrite Sapphire two-channel preamp, and I like to record with a large diaphragm condenser mic for vocals. If you’re looking for a takeaway, one might be that you don’t need much to make professional level recordings. You can make some really great sounding stuff nowadays with basic/entry level gear!

10. What does your timeline look like for Demon King’s first full-length album?

That timeline is ever evolving at this point, but if I had to guess, it might be something like 2023. We are constantly working on new music though, and recently we decided that we will have enough material to release a second EP next year (2022) as a means to close the gap between the release of The Final Tyranny and the LP.

11. What is one of the greatest obstacles Demon King has both faced and surmounted so far?

Just getting back into the music game has been a challenge, but I’m proud to say the comeback is in the making!

12. I could be completely off, but you seem like a sci-fi/fantasy novel connoisseur. What are you reading right now?!

I love sci-fi and fantasy, but I don’t know that I’m a connoisseur really (laughs). I wish I was more versed in the genre actually. I am in the process of reading the classics, though. Lord of the Rings, Dune… The Silmarillion.

DEMON KING are (left to right):

Jack Blackburn – drums

Matt Brown – vocals, guitars

Matthew Pugh – bass

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