Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Engorged back for benefit...and maybe beyond

What began as a two-off reunion last year is shaping up to be something a bit more long-lasting for the band Engorged.

“Within the last few weeks we started writing a new song, and it’s almost finished. That will be our first new songs since ’94,” reports guitarist Matt Smith.

Smith, singer Jesse DiGioia, guitarist Erik Thurston, drummer Steve Provost, and bass player Keith Mallet reunite as Engorged once again Saturday, June 16, for a show at The Raven in Worcester. The concert is a benefit for Stop the Bleeding, a grassroots organization that raises funds for services that aid the homeless, such as shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens.

Stop the Bleeding’s Metal Fest 4 at the Raven, 258 Pleasant St., Worcester, begins at 6 p.m. with The Quantum Mechanic. The line up then proceeds with Wrenchneck, Carnivora, Betrayed by Prophecy, Sorrowseed, Engorged, and Obsidian Tongue. Admission is $10, and all proceeds go to the Lighthouse Mission in Worcester.

Chris Schramm founded Stop the Bleeding seven years ago and has produced more than 30 benefit shows. A musician himself, Schramm uses a variety of bands for his events, covering rock, pop, and reggae. More info on the organization can be found online at

For his latest metal escapade, Schramm turned to a band whose two-show reunion last year left the local metal scene wanting more.

Engorged formed in 1992, right when death metal was coming into its own as a genre, and the band was among the first in Central Mass to put a local spin on the sound.

“We were lucky enough to catch the wave of death metal in its infancy, especially when Florida really exploded in 1990/1991. We were already in other bands at the time, but it was through that wave of death metal that we found our niche and found each other. It was actually a Suffocation/Dismember show somewhere back in 1992, if I remember correctly, that our paths crossed, and we were jamming together within a couple weeks,” DiGioia says.

The original lineup also included guitarist John Russell. The band was active until 1995, though only recorded a four-song demo, leaving behind little of its legacy.

Perhaps being so purely focused could only last so long. Smith departed in 1994 to explore other musical avenues_ metal and non-metal alike_ before wending his way back into heavy music first with Warhorse and now Faces of Bayon. DiGioia started the black metal band Blood Stone Sacrifice. Thurston, Mallet, and Provost are in Fires of Old.

But the sort of focus Engorged demands can also be inspiring.

“I started Faces of Bayon in the fall of 2008 and headed into a doom direction. When the call came to do Engorged again, I had to start shredding, and I found it was exactly what I needed to do. It really motivated me and challenged me,” Smith says.

DiGioia says the reunited Engorged is sticking to its original format of old-school death, even as the genre itself has blossomed with the work of a new generation of bands committed to the style.

“We follow the format from the early days of death metal. Very stripped down. Fast. Brutal. With pummeling, short breakdowns that really get things going. We like to get our point across like a fist to the face. I believe our longest song is about four minutes. It's a very pure and intense form of music. We prefer not to water it down, and we don't have a particular formula. If we feel it in our guts, and it gets us excited, then we use it,” DiGioia says.

The approach not only fired up the band, but fans responded too. Last fall’s performances at Bobfest in Allston and at Ralph’s in Worcester drew responses that DiGioa describes as overwhelming.

Smith says it was also fun to enter a scene that looks reborn with young bands.

“I thought it might be kind of cool to show the kids how it’s done,” he says, but more seriously adds, “I was really blown away when we saw how revered the band was when it came back. What we’re doing now is what we did in ’93 and ’94. When you’re in the middle of something, you have no real perspective on the impact it has.”

And now not only is there fan interest in seeing Engorged stay together, but the band members themselves think there is reason to carry on.

“When we’re together, it’s what it was like at the beginning,” Smith says. “Within the first hour of getting together to just hang out, you felt the same energy we had when we were first together.”

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