DEATHWESTERN. An arcane combination of words that brings to mind lurid and blood-drenched images of crumbling pulp magazines from the 30’s and 40’s. It’s also the second full length album from Las Vegas’ SPIRITWORLD. Set in singer and multi-instrumentalist Stu Folsom’s apocalyptic, Horror Western vision of the American West, DEATHWESTERN picks up where their crushing 2020 debut, Pagan Rhythms, left off. Think Slayer and that stompy ass Pantera breakdown from “Domination” getting into a bar fight while gunslingers battle demonic entities amidst tomahawk like riffs.
DEATHWESTERN is the next chapter in Folsom’s cycle of weird tales that began with Pagan Rhythms, which Kerrang! Magazine described as: “A soundtrack combining galloping thrash, pummeling hardcore, swinging rock n roll and lyrical preoccupations with the American frontier and Native American mythology.” Drawing inspiration from Folsom’s first literary endeavor, the brutal collection of Horror Western stories Godlessness (originally self-published, now set for re-release through L.A.’s Rare Bird Press in late 2022), the album continues SPIRITWORLD’s descent into musical and lyrical depravity with this newest batch of sun-bleached yarns. “When Pagan Rhythms was finally done and I had the final mixes, I needed to bear down and complete the writing for my novel, Godlessness, to go with it. Instead, I bought a new guitar and found myself locked in my studio pounding out a bunch of new riffs. I wrote eight of the songs off DEATHWESTERN in one big creative burst in the midst of finishing the short stories, so this album has this cool dynamic where things are happening at the same time as the events of Pagan Rhythms and Godlessness. That also allowed me to introduce some characters and plot points that are happening in the novel I am writing now that will complete this massive multi-medium concept I have been sucked into for the last few years!”
Produced and mixed by Sam Pura (The Story So Far, Hundredth), DEATHWESTERN is a sonic breath of fresh desert air from the Sin City posse. The album bucks the trends of reverb soaked 80’s thrash worship productions and delivers a sound that is nothing short of classic. It’s punchy, heavy and utterly pummeling. Tracks like “Relic of Damnation”, “Ulcer” and “Moonlight Torture” (which features a guest appearance from Integrity mastermind Dwid Hellion) embrace hardcore, old school death metal and thrash with lyrical bloodlust and unrepentant abandon.
“I love huge 80’s drum productions,” Folsom states, “and knowing that I could write the nastiest, hardest shit ever and Thomas Pridgen (Mars Volta, Trash Talk) was coming back to track all the drums, gave me that extra push to take it to the next level.
There are drum performances on here that I saw him do in the Panda Studios live room, that I have had to rewind and loop just to wrap my brain around. It is pretty special to be in the position to collaborate with world class players on my songs.”
The result of Folsom’s work-shredding is extreme metal at its most feral and cinematic. “After Pagan Rhythms and writing Godlessness, I had this crazy fiction world built to draw from lyrically and another opportunity to flesh out these characters with DEATHWESTERN. “Pagan Rhythms was very dark and apocalyptic, where DEATHWESTERN touches on the survivors of this world wrestling with their faith as the end approaches. It’s a rogues’ gallery of unlikely heroes; gunslingers, necrophiliac preachers, Comanches and a train hopping, serial sodomite demon slayer.”
SPIRITWORLD emerged in 2017 as a musical outlet for Folsom’s love of punk, outlaw country and metal. SPIRITWORLD’s earliest efforts took a decidedly outlaw roots punk bent. Yet, it was with the full-metal direction taken on the initially self-released Pagan Rhythms, (re-released in 2021 through SPIRITWORLD’s new label home, Century Media) that won the band international acclaim. Daniel Carter, BBC 1 DJ and curator of The Rock Show with Daniel P. Carter, as well as the likes of Exodus/Slayer guitarist Gary Holt and former Sepultura/current Soulfly leader Max Cavalera sang the album’s praises on their social media, discovering the band on word-of-mouth alone.
Folsom and his gang (which includes WritstMeetRazor front man Justin Fornof on samples and backup vocals) and Randy Moore (Dan Andriano and the Bygones) debuted their live show at Decibel magazine’s Los Angeles Metal and Beer Festival in December 2021, and immediately followed it up with a run in the States with Obituary, Municipal Waste, Gatecreeper and Enforced. Next up on SPIRITWORLD’s trail of riffs and murder ballads is Seattle’s Northwest Terror Fest, Bloodstock Open Air, Knot Fest’s Pulse of the Maggots, Brutal Assault and Psycho Las Vegas followed by a US tour in August/September with Creeping Death and 200 Stab Wounds.
The stage is set. DEATHWESTERN has arrived in a haze of dust, blood and Ennio Morricone grandeur somewhere South of Heaven and West of Hell.