End Reign, the metal project featuring members from Integrity, Pig Destroyer, and Bloodlet, have unleashed their full-length debut offering on July 14th, 2023 with The Way of All Flesh is Decay, via Relapse Records (order here). Metal Insider caught up with guitarist Domenic Romeo to learn about the record, their style, and plans that are on the horizon.
End Reign features an impressive lineup of from renowned bands such as Integrity, Pig Destroyer, and Bloodlet. How has this diverse background influenced the band’s musical direction and creative process?
I would say it has, but not in the way one might expect. Seeing as my favorite qualities from everyone’s respective output inevitably seeped its way into the band’s DNA before they even heard the songs, one could definitely call it a premeditated influence.
How has the response been so far for the new album, The Way of All Flesh Is Decay?
It’s been awesome! I hoped it would connect with people like me who really enjoy dissecting songs and digesting an album…that has been my favorite type of response so far. The people that notice the one riff that only appears once behind the solo…stuff like that. That being said, it makes me happy to hear from anyone who enjoyed the record in whatever shape or form.
What was the writing process like for the record?
During the pandemic I would try to write a song a day which totally deviates from how I usually operate. Usually my approach is cinematic and I’m building a big storyline. I wanted the E/R songs to all have traditional verse/chorus bridge structures…kind of a more barebones AC/DC type structure to what is usually a sprawling AD/HD mess.
What songs were more challenging to write?
Serpent Messiah for sure. I had been kicking that idea around ever since Integrity was demoing ‘Howling’ songs. The problem was, I could never get the riff to resolve the way I wanted it to without changing the key. I had to leave it alone and come back to it many times over the years before ultimately finding the answer to this old book I have called ‘The Guitar Grimoire’. It’s pretty wild, it looks like the satanic bible but it’s just exotic scales etc. I was finally able to find something to box my riff into and was finally able to make the song make sense…to me at least haha.
The record features guest vocals by Dwid Hellion, Dylan Walker, and Ed Ka-Spel. How did these collaborations come about, and how did each guest artist’s contribution add to the overall vision of the album?
They are all vocalists and artists I admired and wanted to include on the album. I released the first Full Of Hell albums on my label (A389) and have been friends with them for years (fun fact Dave Bland played drums on some Integrity recordings with me). I always wanted to do something with Dylan, and when the time came up to do ‘Chaos Masked As Order’, we were failing miserably at executing the guttural vocal part. Like laughably bad. I sent the track to Dylan and he turned it around quickly and saved the day.
Dwid and I have an even longer history of collaborating on songs since the late 1990s. We’re usually in the mix with each other in some shape or form and ‘Giving Life To Tragedy’ was totally a musical homage to my favorite band (Integrity). He told me once that he really liked the demo version (which was like a Neil Young ‘Harvest’ era sounding acoustic song) and when it came time to do the song for real, asking him was a no-brainer. I like to imagine ‘Hunger Strike’ by Temple Of The Dog but with Dwid and Score instead.
Ed Ka-Spel is definitely the most unexpected of collaborators. I’ve loved Legendary Pink Dots and Tear Garden since I was in high-school and always fantasized about devising a way to do a song with him. I decided to write to him out of the blue and explain my idea to him, which he was totally into and graciously agreed to do with us. The idea was a deranged yet sedate announcement being made over the intercom in a psych-ward. Nothing too heavy or dark. Just weird. Something that might have appeared in the movie ‘Bedazzled’ which is something else we both bonded on. Getting him to contribute is definitely a feather in my cap.
What can listeners expect from the debut album, and how do you hope it will resonate with fans of extreme music and beyond?
As with any record I make, personal satisfaction is usually my main motivator, but I also hope that there are other people like me looking for the same thing. The press release mentions it being like a roller coaster ride in a theme park made up of all my favorite extreme music. I think that summed it up perfectly.
Now that the album is out, do you have any plans for this year you can share with us?
When we finished the album we decided we weren’t going to play shows unless all of the members are available to do it. This complicates things as some of the guys are career musicians in other bands…and the rest of us are career guys with families. If the opportunity arises though, I’d love to do it.
Is there anything else you’d like to say or add about the new album?
Thanks to everyone who checked it out and thanks for the interview!