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Red rot: coping with the discomfort

Davide Tiso has always been drawn to discomfort. Best known as the only constant of avant-garde Italian metalworkers EPHEL DUATH, he’s spent the last two decades pushing the notion of what should and shouldn’t “work” in extreme music – both with this band and a host of other respected projects. For Tisothere’s a lot to be gained from looking into what’s bothering you, and in the case of his latest project RED ROTthis rings true in more ways than one.

“Pushing myself is one of the reasons I keep writing albums,” he explains. “It delights me to be constantly engaged and eager for new doors to open. Start RED ROT I basically had to reinvent my approach to the guitar. I like to learn new things but I’m more fascinated by why certain aspects of life discourage me. Discomfort is fascinating to me, especially if it’s not so easy to understand why that specific person or experience is such a negative matter. What I mean is that there is always a lesson behind a blockage: I am naturally inclined to understand this lesson.

In RED ROTIn the case of , the initial blockage in question was relatively minor: a particularly thick guitar plectrum that Tiso found in his practice space. “My game was badly affected by that choice and that factor became a matter of pride at that time,” he thinks. “Instead of throwing the pick away and forgetting about it, I kept going. When finally I tried downpicking, something clicked. I had never before tried a pick more suited to such a technique. This n t was only a matter of days before I was completely obsessed with this new revelation. After writing the opening riff for Dualism I felt that a possible new direction was opening up to me. So I bought 50 of these picks and RED ROT was born.”

Of course, the next step was to find something that few artists can live without: collaborators. Having lost touch with many of his former bandmates since moving to the United States in 2009, Tiso offers that the pandemic offered him a chance to “freeze” and reflect on who really mattered to him. “In 2020, I contacted EPHEL DUATH members I hadn’t spoken to in years. lucio and I started talking regularly, sharing music, talking about collaborating on something new. We set out from the start to create an old school type band and we were very keen on RED ROT be grounded in extreme metal. After writing some riffs, we felt we had a clear direction and the excitement grew, positively affecting the writing process. The songs came at an avalanche pace.

Of the, Tiso explains that “everything happened quite quickly”, recruiting his friend and former BOTANIST group mate Ron Bertrand to the battery, who in turn suggested contacting Ian Boulanger for bass functions. Their complete line-up, Tiso points out that what followed was largely the product of a collaboration, in which no voice was more important than another. “One of the defining factors of that first album experience was letting go of creative control,” he suggests. “I write the guitars and the song structures, I help with the drum parts but I let the other members of RED ROT come up with what they think fits the songs best. The more I am surprised by the result, the better the songs sound to me.

“Isolation is a very dear thing to me,” he continues. “I just need that to be creative. What I’ve learned from RED ROT however, it’s about dropping the songs once my part is done and letting collaboration and an open mindset do the rest. The result is vital and dynamic, it is the sound of an idea formed more than an intuition imposed on others – a chorus of different voices rather than the same multiplied.

Working in this way, the four members of RED ROT produced in their early days Unhappiness a record that defies easy categorization, instead taking its hat off to everyone from CONVERGE and MORBID ANGEL at Voivode and LOST PARADISE while really looking like RED ROT themselves. Returning to this theme of discomfort, it’s a dark and dreary record, its visceral ferocity an ideal vehicle for Tisoexplores mental illness, psychological deviance, rage, sadness and paranoia. Once again however, Tiso would like to remind us that embracing discomfort can produce far more nourishing fruits than one might expect.

“The darkness of RED ROT should be approached as a purge more than something contagious,” he concludes. “Our music is not seen as a depressing element on the listener’s mood, but rather as an opportunity to have a kind of cathartic release, a physical workout for the mind. I want the listener to type fist against his daily problems through these songs and then have a crazy, freeing laugh. The daily problems will remain there after a few rounds, but I hope that by releasing a little anger and sweat, these problems could be seen in “a more neutral and less committed point of view. It’s a way to gain personal insight through a purging process, to steal some weight from day-to-day issues. Good heavy music does that to me and I hope that RED ROT might offer that to some.

Mal De Vivre is now available via Svart Records.

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