By John Showalter
Sick riffs, extreme vocals, chaotic energy: all these and more are among the reasons that people listen to metal in all of its countless subgenres. The Fargo-Moorhead area has no shortage of both fans and talent when it comes to banging one’s head. The band Maul has been making waves in this pool of talent for the last several years and shows no sign of slowing down. Recently I had the opportunity to interview Garrett Alvarado, the vocalist, lyricist, and manager of the band.
Maul comprises Alvarado as well as Anthony Lamb and Alex Nicholas on guitars, Robby Anderson on drums, and Jake Schultz on touring and fill-in guitars. Lamb, Nicholas, and Anderson are also involved in song arrangement and Griggs contributes vocals. Alvarado, Anderson, and Lamb’s in particular have had a long friendship.
“So Anthony, Robby, and I actually go way back to high school days, from football and backyard wrestling to other various small-town shenanigans we won’t mention,” said Alvarado. “Anthony and I also started our first band together back then, A Day of Plague, which spanned from 2008 to 2012. We somehow all linked back up in Fargo around 2016, where Robby found himself wanting to learn drums and venture into music with us. Anyone involved with music knows that drummers are the hardest position to find when starting a new venture, and that all brings us to the official start of Maul.”
The group started practicing as their new band in spring of 2017 and had their first show in October of that year. In November they would go on to record their first three songs, released in January of 2018 as the “Midwest Death” demo.
In November 2019 they would go on to record their first EP, “Monarchy of Mold,” released in February 2020. It was here that Alvarado says the true growth of the band’s reach and sound began.
“Now five years into the life of this band, we’re touring the country pretty regularly,” said Alvarado. “Anywhere from 10 to 20 days out on the road so far with some bigger tours in the works. Death metal and the underground community have been absolutely thriving and beyond supportive, something I’ve personally been searching for in an art community for like fourteen years, so it’s amazing to be able to call this niche space our home away from our personal homes. We’re very grateful to be a part of this new resurgence and focused hard on working for us and bringing any bands and friends we meet up with along the way.”
In fact, the band just left the road not too long ago. “We most recently wrapped up an eight-day run around our appearance at “Bangin in the Rock Fest” in Little Rock, Arkansas on December 9 and 10,” said Alvarado, “which was an incredible time that had a massive family reunion vibe while also rubbing shoulders with some of THE bands that influenced our beginning like Xibalba, Fuming Mouth, and Creeping Death.”
He continued, “We’ve toured four different times in 2022, a total of 68 shows throughout 24 states. I’d say the plan for this band was always to get out as much as possible and to be in front of new faces to support our music. It’s easy to see that North Dakota isn’t necessarily a hub for death metal or touring musicians so we had to be willing to put in the work and extra road time to get from coast to coast. Thankfully, we share a van full of solid open camaraderie and work well together while traveling and enjoying ourselves with this passion, a recipe for a ‘well-oiled machine’, you could say.”
That go-getter attitude has really worked out well for the band. On top of extensive touring, Maul has had several releases, both self-released and through labels. The self-releases are their 2018 demo “Midwest Death,” another 2018 demo called “Soaked in Penance, Solicit the Torture,” a split in 2019 called “Adoration through Annihilation,” a 2020 EP called “Monarchy of Mold,” and two 2021 splits called “Funerary Exhumation” and “Myxophobia.”
On top of these, they released two demos called “Deity Demise” and “Extractions from the Tomb” in 2020 and their first full-length LP “Seraphic Punishment” in 2022 through Redefining Darkness Records. The cassette release of “Seraphic Punishment” was done through Gurgling Gore Records. A reissue of “Funerary Exhumation” was done in 2021 through Life After Death Records.
When asked how he would describe their music, Alvarado said, “Visceral, raw, and groovy metal shifting through spectrums of different tempos and emotions. Blending sludged out doom passages, danceable d-beat, and 2-step sections, and old school, thrashing tremolo riffs for the headbangers.” With regard to influences, he said, “Maul brings all its influences together, balancing traditional American death metal brutality abd blackened/doomy atmospheres, delivering it with hardcore passion and energy.”
Those who are interested can listen to “Seraphic Punishment” anywhere that you can stream music. People can also support the band directly by purchasing vinyl records, CDs, cassettes, and digital purchases; visit maul701.bandcamp.com.
August 24th 2023
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