Rick Scythe has been playing blackened death metal and thrash metal for quite some time now as part of the band Usurper. When Usurper broke up, Rick continued to play music and eventually formed the aptly named Scythe. Scythe, while not too far removed from Usurper, is still its own beast with heavy, crushing songs and an old-school vibe. The band recently released the album Beware The Scythe which can be streamed in its entirety below. Here’s how my chat with Rick went.

Hey Rick, congrats on your album Beware The Scythe! Can you first of all go over how the band came to be?
Rick: Scythe basically evolved organically. After Usurper broke up in 2007 I had a lot of songs and ideas recorded. I wanted to properly record and release them one day, but wasn’t sure if it would happen. From 2007-2009 I got involved with another project which was more experimental, not really metal, but just heavy, melodic experimental music. I really wanted to stop a moment and distance myself from the metal scene. It just felt too weird after 13+ years with Usurper to just continue with a new band doing the same style of music.

Once this new project got going is when I met Dan Geist (bass) and Tim (drums). We kind of clicked, due to having similar influences; so as that band went on we started getting less experimental and more straightforward metal, just naturally. That band eventually broke up before it ever really got any momentum, so in the fall of 2009, I formed the original version of Scythe. It was with another guitarist named Joe Martinez and a drummer Ben Mulvey. We needed a bassist so Dan contacted me and offered to play. I showed him the songs and right when we were ready to roll, we lost our jam spot and I eventually lost contact with Joe and Ben.

2010 was spent kind of wondering what I would do next. I would meet up with Dan to go over songs, but we needed a full band. At one point I was considering just retiring, because it just seemed like it wasn’t going to work. By late fall of 2010 Dan said that Tim would be interested in playing drums. We met up and decided to start rehearsing in January 2011. I figured we would need a second guitarist, but the more we jammed, the more right it felt to remain a 3 piece. So by April of 2011 we began recording. We would just record one or two songs at a time, right when they were fresh. By June 2011 we played our first show. It went really well, so we just continued rehearsing and recording songs.

How has the reception to Beware The Scythe been so far?
Rick: Excellent. It’s really hard to judge sales since it just came out and not too many people actually buy CDs and records these days. The reaction has been great, people seem to dig the tunes and we’re just going to plug away at what we do best, which is delivering the best molten metal!

As someone who has been with fairly major independent labels in the past, do you find it has been easier doing your own thing without label support, or do you find that being with a label did in fact make life easier?
Rick: We do have label support from 2 smaller independent labels. We have R.I.P. Records in the USA who just released Beware The Scythe on vinyl and Primitive Reaction Records from Finland who just released it on CD and will release it on vinyl soon. Yes, it’s true these are not major independent labels, but that is how I want to keep things. I would rather own my own recordings and be able to put them online when I want to and really take care of things from a ground level perspective. It makes things easier for me personally not to worry about being a worthless cog in a big machine. Will we miss out on some opportunities and exposure? …Perhaps. But I much prefer a slow burn than a big combustion that is here today, gone tomorrow. When something kicks ass, people will discover it.

How was your recent show where you played all of Beware The Scythe?
Rick: It slayed! We were amazed by the amount of people who came out. The place was pretty much sold out. We had a 50 minute set with 2 great bands opening up (our buddies Stone Magnum went on right before us), which got the energy level pretty high, so people were primed and ready to go when we hit the stage. We had enough rolling fog and a decent light show to add to the atmosphere, and the audience was headbanging, fist banging and singing along the entire time. I’m sure we offended some people too. Dan Geist likes to hurl insults at the audience… But it’s all in good fun. Ultimately we feel we are at the same level as the audience, we just happen to be the ones on stage. I feel like we are all banging together, having a good time in the name of underground metal. There is no elitist attitude or pretentious rock-star bullshit. If you’re at a Scythe show, just bang away and have a good time or be sacrificed to the gods of heavy metal!

Can you go over the concept of Beware The Scythe a bit?
Rick: Beware The Scythe is not a concept album, but most of the songs deal with the occult/hidden side of reality; from past, present and future as well as various conspiracy topics (check out Rick’s full and exclusive track-by-track right here).

Check out the album: ‘Beware The Scythe’

As someone who’s been around playing death metal for some time, what are your thoughts on the genre nowadays with all of the deathcore and more “mainstream” black metal bands that have been cropping up recently?
Rick: Meaningless, whiny drivel created by emo, frat boys and fashion stars who shop at Hot Topic. Neither has anything to do with real metal. It is music to appeal to the mainstream masses. About as dangerous and compelling as a wristband made out of nerf spikes.

How come Scythe isn’t going to be embarking on a tour?
Rick: I want to concentrate on one or 2 big shows a year either locally, in a different city or different country. In the next few months we are trying to expand our stage show. We want to get more stage lights, more smoke, more fire, bigger backdrops. This stuff can’t be done playing “Pete’s Pub” on a Tuesday night in the middle of Nebraska playing for 12 people. It simply only works at a certain level. A Scythe show is not typical. We want what we do to mean something, not just be some music going on in the background when you shoot pool.

Ever think of branching out and playing something other than metal?
Rick: Yes. I wouldn’t mind doing some soundtrack stuff sometime, or some instrumental stuff… But that is nothing I am pursuing at the moment. Scythe is the only thing I am doing for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for the interview, anything else you would like to say?
Rick: Thanks for the support. Check out Scythe online [links just above]. Look for our releases through iTunes, Amazon Mp3, Spotify, Rhapsody. Check out primitivereaction.com and restinpeacerecords.com to buy actual CDs and vinyls. Remember kiddies, free speech doesn’t just protect the speech you like, but also the speech you hate.

Check out the song: “Beware The Scythe”