Hypnotic psychedelia and sludge metal collide on God Root’s sophomore full-length offering, Salt and Rot. This Philadelphia-based quintet creates a dense sonic atmosphere through four sprawling tracks of kaleidoscopic color and insurmountable aural weight. Equally meditative, introspective and crushing, Salt and Rot presents a unique take on the sludge and doom genres, and is sure to be the first of many promising releases to come.
Svbterranean recently caught up with bassist/vocalist Ross Bradley to discuss the new album, band beginnings, music as a therapeutic tool and more.
Could you please introduce yourselves and your roles in God Root?
I’m Ross, I play bass and Vocals in God Root
How did God Root come to be?
I was a fan of Fred’s [Grabosky, drums/vocals] other band Sadgiqacea and when they went on hiatus I basically cold-called Fred, who I’d never met before, with a bunch of riffs to see if he wanted to do something. We actually had like half of Philadelphia jam guitar in God Root before we finally found Joe [Hughes, guitars/vocals], Keith [Riecke, guitar], and Jordan [Stiff, electronics].
What was your first exposure to the doom, sludge, etc scenes and what drew you to these particular sounds?
This is kind of a weird story but, truthfully, I got into this really awful relationship in high school where I wasn’t going out to see friends or shows or really doing anything ever. I spent basically two years obsessively researching the most fucked up music I could find. I got really into SWANS and Destroy All Monsters and other artsy shit first. Somewhere in my quest I discovered the song Boris by the Melvins and I couldn’t believe anything could be that slow and heavy and tense. That’s the one that did it for me.
How do you feel writing and performing with God Root has pushed you as a musician?
Playing with these guys has honestly been one of the most rewarding things I’ve gotten to do with my life. This music has really pushed me personally to be open and raw and vulnerable with art. I always was in bands that had some kind of sarcastic ironic edge and that shit is so easy to hide behind. This has been really emotionally and physically taxing on me to perform but it feels very worthwhile.
What can you tell us about the new record, Salt and Rot? Writing, recording, etc?
Recording this album took a lot out of us emotionally. We tried to kind of channel some of the really dark shit we had going on in our personal lives into this record. We asked some close friends and family to record little personal pieces about something they wanted to “let go” of and we processed them into one of our songs to charge it with a sort of cathartic magical energy. A lot of us are art school kids and we do our best to try to make what our our music represents a little bigger than just a sick mp3 on your phone.
How do you feel it compares with your previous self-titled debut?
I think it’s a lot more mature. Definitely darker. The first EP was just kind of an instant explosion of music we wrote and recorded in the course of a month. This one we spent a lot of time refining. This record is actually structurally a mirror to the first record. They’re both linked thematically- they both sort of explore what it means to be alive and the forces that try to control your existence.
According to a press release, the record aims to help people “escape”. How do feel Salt and Rot helps others do that?
We worked pretty hard to construct atmospheres that take us far away from life’s bullshit when we play it and I think if we did our job right we can do the same for the listener. We consciously write things that sound as alien and crushing and purifying as possible.
Thematically, the record deals with the frailty of human life, facing one’s mortality and letting go, in a nutshell. How do you feel the music of Salt and Rot fits its themes and helps tell its story?
I think it’s all about honesty. You have to really dig deep and make sure you’re writing what is true to yourself and not just what might get a great review score. I think we were all feeling a lot of that dread ourselves and we really embodied those themes in the lyrics and hopefully the music itself.
In the track “From Hounds to Silent Skies”, you recorded the voices and read the writings of friends and family members who wanted to “let go” of something and processed them into the track in some form or fashion. What was the genesis for this idea and how was it put together?
We just met a lot of people through this band that we really genuinely love and wanted to work with in some way. With everything going on in the world we kind of decided that this might be a semi-anonymous way to give something back to all these artists we admire and love.
In general, how do feel music helps others heal or “let go”?
I think music, more than a lot of other art forms, has power to change your physiology even if you’re not totally engaged with it. I think because of how abstract music and rhythm can be, it’s something you can understand from the moment you’re born. Some people use calming sounds to fight anxiety and depression and it works wonders. Our band prescribes to a more tension/release approach to that. Its what got me through alot of terrible times. I like to be part of the larger cannon of “healing music”
What do you want listeners to take away from Salt and Rot?
I just hope we make a connection no matter what they decide that means. They can be carried away or meticulously pick apart the sounds. There’s no wrong way to listen to music. I just want to be worth their time.
What is next for God Root in the near future?
Right now we’re on a US tour with our friends Sunrot, who just released probably my favorite album of the year. We’re fucking honored to be on the road with these guys and we’re excited to play for some new folks in some new towns.
Any final words or thoughts?
we love all you guys. Hope to see y’all on the road.
Salt and Rot is available now via the band themselves and Horror Pain Gore Death Productions. Purchase/stream here.
Follow the band on Facebook.