In a mere 14 minutes Cyclopean Blood Temple’s debut release, Unholy Union, slaughters everything in its path. Weaving together furious grindcore with blackened sensibilities, elements of sludge, and all things gritty and grimy, this Floridian quartet is one of the newer acts to give the genre the ugly face-lift it deserves.
In this recent interview with Svbterranean we sat down with 3/4 of the band to discuss their new record, grindcore and more.
Could you please introduce yourself and your role in Cyclopean Blood Temple?
Kendrick, I play guitar.
Vidge, aka Uncle Buck – drums.
René, bass and vocals.
How did Cyclopean Blood Temple come to be?
Vidge: Gainesville is a pretty tight musical community fortunately so there’s always a lot of projects going on. Gainesville is the perfect city if you’re into extreme or experimental music. I knew Kendrick from some of his previous bands and thought his style would pair well with writing some thrashy, dissonant shit. I had seen René play with one of his past hardcore bands, and just by how he was playing I knew he grew up listening to all the same noisy ass hardcore and metal I did. Kendrick and I reached out to him to join us and he was game luckily. Bobby is a Gainesville celebrity and all around beautiful person. His vocals are gruff as fuck and more of a hardcore punk style which is what I was going for. Put all of us in a blender and you got a really gross shake!
You all have spent time in vastly different musical acts that range anywhere from blackened doom to hardcore punk. What made you gravitate toward the grindcore side of things for this particular project?
Kendrick: After playing in a doom band that had some pretty-sounding clean guitar parts, I was stoked to try writing more nasty, dissonant riffs when Vidge brought up the idea of getting together to jam on some more grind-oriented stuff. Plus we all like fast heavy music like that so getting to play in this band is just a lot of fun.
Vidge: I’ve always been a huge fan of grind and hardcore, and I feel like most extreme music crosses paths in one way or another. I had a hankering to play fast, violent shit.
As previously stated, you all have dabbled in a wide range of styles with your other projects. In what ways do you feel each of your musical backgrounds influenced the sound of Cyclopean Blood Temple?
Vidge: I’ve always played crazy shit and feel I have an ok knack for “song writing.” I give my best input to make our arrangements dissonant and heavy yet memorable. I guess if you can call our stuff memorable.
Kendrick: I feel like all our influences make our song structures interesting and a little unpredictable. We might come out of a fast grindy part into an off-kilter repetition, a sludgy melodic jam, a bludgeoning death metal riff, or an aggressive hardcore part. As long as we like it, anything is fair game.
How do you feel writing and performing with Cyclopean Blood Temple has pushed you as musicians?
René: I haven’t seriously played bass in a band in over a decade. Even then I was just playing in a beatdown hardcore band in Miami. I’ve filled in for bands from time to time but never my own material. Kendrick writes some wild ass chromatic riffs that are completely different from anything that I would normally play on my own accord. Writing bass lines for this band has been interesting and rewarding.
Vidge: I used to play fast shit primarily, but I’ve been in a blackened doom metal band for a few years now. I kind of had to “dumb” myself down to play slow shit. Playing fast again has made me realize how truly fat I and out of shape I am. I’m always pushing myself to see how much I can ruin my body with parts we write. Everyone brings some crazy shit to the table and I couldn’t be more pleased. All of us have definitely pushed our limits and comfortability musically. I will say, after starting CBT, playing doom metal has never been easier!
Additionally, how do you feel the Florida scene has influenced you as musicians?
René: South Florida has always had a diverse local DIY scene out of necessity. Big shows do happen because of the hard work of a few key people but the reality is that it’s expensive as fuck to go all the way down there as a touring band. Mixed bills are pretty standard down there, generally stacked with great locals and everyone is usually into everything. Bands like Shroud Eater, Torche, Shitstorm, Maruta, Antifaces, Wastelands, Capsule, Consular, Holly Hunt, xBishopx, Homestretch, Centuries, Blistered, Mehkago N.T., Reapermancer and Nunhex. Gainesville has been a perfect fit for me since it shares that same spirit. I feel like the constant exposure to different bands has helped shaped a style for me that is fluid and not confined to a certain genre. That’s the excuse I’m using to justify my ridiculously obnoxious, noisy-ass bass tone.
Vidge: I’ve been into heavy music since I was a young buck, and Florida during the 90’s had so much good shit. I grew up outside of Tampa. People always equate Tampa with death metal, but I feel like that’s somewhat of an embellishment. Death metal was somewhat prevalent, but most heavy bands from Florida defy definition and are usually wild and noisy as fuck. I would hit up 403 Chaos (RIP) and get records and see shows like Assuck, Combatwoundedveteran, Reversal of Man, Omega Man, Scrotum Grinder, Dragbody, Scrog, Cease…those are a lot of the bands that stuck with me and help mold me as a musician. Florida has such a strong scene right now and I’m always delighted to be a part of it. I should mention that the sun and heat has boiled most of our brains.
Could you tell us a little about the writing and recording of your debut release, Unholy Union?
Vidge: Nothing too whimsical unfortunately. A lot of crunchy riffs, practice, and reworking shit till we felt like it was what we wanted.
Kendrick: As far as recording, we recorded with John Howard at Warhouse here in Gainesville, who all four of us had actually recorded with in other previous bands. He’s great and I think we were all really comfortable working with him since we were familiar with his process and trusted his work. We decided to have Rene’s friend Aric Meerbott at Ironhead Recordings mix and master everything since we liked his work on Shroud Eater and Crud recordings.
What are some of the themes explored on the record?
Vidge: Life, death, drugs, and weird shit pretty much.
What do you want listeners to take away from Unholy Union?
Vidge: Hope y’all like it!
René: Someone will like our album enough to name a Magic: The Gathering card after us or feed us snacks.
What’s next for Cyclopean Blood Temple?
Kendrick: We’re playing a dual album release show with local death metal dudes Rot in Coffins in Gainesville on May 25th, then playing St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, and Orlando with our buds Burn to Learn in June. Other than that, just working on new material for the next release and trying to get out there and play more shows anywhere we can.
Vidge: I’m stoked to work on new material! We keep it short so hopefully that means we can be prolific (maybe).
Any final words or thoughts?
Zach de la Rocha: Fuck you, I won’t do what you told me!
Thank you for your time!
Kendrick: Thanks for having us!
Download Unholy Union here.