ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Algid Funeral, It Is Dead

It Is Dead.

A powerhouse night of heavy music took place at Cactus Club Saturday night featuring local bands Algid Funeral and It Is Dead in addition to Chicago-based metal bands Nequient and Ready For Death.

Algid Funeral comprises of vocalist/synth player Trevor Keay, guitarist Dillon Briggs, bassist Maria Froman and drummer John Karnowski. Formed in 2018, their sound can be described as atmospheric black metal. On the band’s name, Keay explains, “We workshopped a few different ideas and I love big words; I was in AP English and “algid” is a word for “cold” that I found and really liked. We started off originally playing more lo-fi black metal so I felt it made more sense in context than the stuff we do currently, but it still works for us.”

The band’s debut album “Winter’s Furor” came out in 2019, followed by an EP titled “Elysian Forest” in 2021. “It was us trying to be creative and do stuff that we don’t usually do,” Karnowski said about “Elysian Forest.” “The song “Thraldom” was just a church organ piece I made that was like two minutes and then Trevor cut it up and we made it into that song. Other songs were ones that we didn’t feel really fit on “Winter’s Furor”.”

“We experimented with some noise elements on “Winter’s Furor” such as “Voice Ov Snow” being like a noise transition piece between two songs,” Keay added. “I’ve always been a big fan of dungeon synth and we had fun putting that on there too.”

Keay tries to tell abstract stories with his lyrics. “I don’t want to be too upfront with the messages behind the songs. I like to let that other-worldly escapism take the front seat and let the words and the patterns and the harshness of the vocals carry it through.”

Algid Funeral are currently sitting on their sophomore album. In June they will be traveling to Madison to play The Crucible.

It Is Dead consists of vocalist Seann Page, guitarist Kevin Pappas, bassist Cory von Bohlen and drummer Jesse Zuniga. Saturday’s show was von Bohlen’s first show with the band. Their sound incorporates black, sludge, and doom metal from an antifascist lens. The project began in 2019 as Pappas’ solo project, as he explains. “Last January Seann, Jesse and I jammed for the first time as a three-piece so that’s what we were all last year. Cory just joined about two months ago.”

The band’s name stems from when Pappas and his wife attended a Pixies show at The Rave. “Frank Black just started screaming “it is dead” over and over again at one point during their set and I thought that it was the perfect name.”

Page’s lyrics are heavy on anti-capitalist and anti-American themes. “That’s not going to change,” he said. “It feels good to be acknowledged for what the fuck we’re actually doing.”

Pappas adds, “The mindset is, if we’re going to be a band and have any kind of platform, we might as well be using it to speak about issues that we think are important.”

The band’s most recent album “Hell is Now” came out last August. “It was four months of nonstop work from us from January till April,” Pappas said about it. “We recorded with Shane at Howl Street and it was kind of a grind; we were practicing like two or three nights a week. When the guys joined the band, I told them that we’re not only playing with Bongzilla in two weeks but also recording a full-length in April. We really pushed ourselves in order to get everything done.”

“I wrote two of the song’s lyrics in the parking lot of the studio.” Page added. “That’s how fast we do our stuff.”

Last week the band released a split self-titled EP with Brazilian blackened crust duo Void Me. Pappas explains how it happened, “Void Me hit us up on Bandcamp like seven or eight months ago right before “Hell is Now” came out and said that they liked what we were doing and wanted to do a split with us. This was before Cory was in the band; he actually hooked me up with two of the labels that put us out. It turned into a really cool international release that we were able to do.”

It Is Dead play Local/Live on WMSE this Tuesday. They have a tour EP coming out in March on Halo of Flies Records and then embark on a two-week tour through the Midwest in April. They won’t be having any more local shows till summer at the earliest.

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