Nov. 2008—by Tony Anderson
ALTAR OF FLESH
An interview with Jason Santos

Altar of Flesh formed back in 1999 in Tallahassee, Florida as a
gore-influenced death metal band. Over the years they have
released four demos and have had many line-up changes. Now
with a strong line-up, the band is more focused and have
abandoned their gore-soaked lyrics for darker, more realistic
lyrical content. This is an interview with vocalist/guitarist Jason
Santos, who's brother Matt is also in the band and handles the
drums. Their first full-length is due out in 2009 so definitely keep
an eye out for Altar of Flesh!

Jason thanks for talking to ANCIENT DEATH Magazine.
ALTAR OF FLESH are not newcomers to the Metal
Underground. But I'm still gonna ask you to introduce the
band to the readers. What is the history of Altar of Flesh ?

Jason:
First off, we'd like to thank you for the interview. Altar of
Flesh is a metal band from Tallahasse, Florida, we've been
playing out since 1999. In that time we've released 4 demos,
played with some of the biggest bands in the genre, and have had
more line up changes than we can count.

What can you tell me about the new Full Length? And what
is the current Altar Of Flesh line-up?

Jason:
The upcoming album will be our first full length cd, and we
should be finished recording by the end of the year. We have
some new songs, some old that we plan to put on the album. We
are going to stay clear of our older gore stuff, which we will
release, eventually. Our newer lyrics are a bit more enigmatic,
purposely vague, and alot darker so the theme of the album will
follow suit. But nothing is finalized, we are planning to release it
early next year.

The current line up consists of Matt Santos-Drums, Stefan Friday-
Bass/backing vox, Jason Santos-Guitar/Vox, and when schedules
aren't conflicting, Joe LaChapelle-live guitar and vox.

Is there a title for the next record and can you share a few
track titles?

Jason:
The current working title is 'Of Wraiths and Forfeit Souls',
we may decide to change our minds prior to the release..we'll see.
Some of the track titles include, 'Venomous Tongues of
Riteousness','Vilified', Wrath of Divine Plagues', and 'Havoc's
Keep'.

Where are you recording the record?

Jason:
We are self producing the album, but will probably have it
mastered elsewhere.

Now why the change in your lyrical focus on this release?
And will we hear a change in the bands sound also?

Jason:
Back when I was writing lyrics for tunes like 'Fetus Kebab'
and 'Sex on a Slab', I was also writing irreligious tunes like 'Angel
Grinder', and socio-political lyrics for tunes like 'War of Ages'.
We've always wanted to avoid silly labels like being a "gore band"
or a "Satan band". At the present time, the lyric I'm writing are
based on and inspired by real life. It's more honest than the
tongue in cheek gore stuff we've written in the past (being as
we've never actually killed anyone). Musically, I feel Altar of Flesh
have always done away with the "rules" and done shit our own
way. To this record, we have added some "melody
enhancements" like harmonies, keys, acoustic geeters, and some
cleaner vocal parts, but fundamentally, we haven't changed our
sound.

I know personally you are a Metal fan does it surprise you
at all how watered down the Metal fan in general has
become? What I mean by that is when I was a kid I knew the
history of the band, the lyrics in and out, who played guitar
with my favorite bands on certain records, etc..?

Jason:
There was more commitment to the music, sitting up all
night to watch the headbangers ball, special ordering heavy stuff
from cd stores full of rap cds, and the good old used bin. There
was a real challenge to find something cool, and when you found
it you loved it. With bands getting signed through the merits of
their myspace pages, it seems like a band who intends to reinvent
the wheel will have a hard time getting noticed against fifty other
bands who have jumped on board with the latest trend. The
internet has helped bands get their music out but has kinda made
the scene complacent, the "underground" has gone from being a
hidden city of gold to a subway terminal.

With myspace and related sites, everything is so in your face. I
have a personal myspace page with some 2000 friends, 3/4 of
them are bands I have NEVER even listened to. That may play a
role.

Would you agree that too many bands are too worried
about staying true to the underground. And in result their
music never grows?

Jason:
That could possibly said about a number of bands, but I
think the underground, itself, refuses to grow. Maybe we'd be
twice as successful if we were to become one of the nine million
and a half Suffocation clones or another one of those death/grind
bands, or the mainstream's favorite metal, "metalcore". That's why
we chose to call ourselves a "metal" band, and not side with some
sub-genre label garbage. By refusing to label yourself, you refuse
to limit yourself.

Do you feel the lyrics are just as important as the music to
Altar Of Flesh?

Jason:
Of course, as the lead vocalist, I'd like to think so.
Perhaps when the album comes out and people can get more
familiar with our songs the lyrics will be equally important, but in a
live setting people are going to be more focused on the song
overall, the structure, the riffs, the drum beats, moshability, etc..

What is your personal opinion of the Florida scene?

Jason: I think the Florida scene is pretty strong, Of course, there
are factions who are stuck on the cheesy trends like death/grind
and metal-core, both of which have run their couse and are dying
out.

Tallahassee is a college town, so we never have a consistently
strong or weak scene. Right now it seems like more of the heavier
local bands are doing better in south Georgia than here.

Now back to the new record who will be handling the cover
art? And how important is the artwork to you and ALTAR OF
FLESH?

Jason:
Currently, I am planning to do the cover art. I have a few
different concept ideas, with corresponding title ideas. I've done
our cover art on some of the demos, but this time, I plan to
experiment with oil paint. We'll see how things go. To me, some of
my favorite album covers add so much to the music, so I hope to
add a visual to our music the same way.

What are a few of your personal favorite album covers of
all time?

Jason:
Emperor 'Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk', Immolation
'Close to a World Below, Dark Funeral 'The Secrets of the Black
Arts',and Sacramentum 'Thy Black Destiny' are some of my favs,
but there are too many to list

Now will the new cover art stray away from the themes you
went with on "Raw Meat" and "Upon The Altar"?

Jason:
The art for the new album will be VERY different from
those covers. The concept, rough drafts, and title ideas we have
on the table are much darker than the gore focused covers from
those cds. The art will be a bit more in tune with the lyrical
direction of the songs on the cd. Taking a page from my
afforementioned favorite covers, we plan to give the cd a very
dark vibe, which matches the musical direction the band has kind
of taken.

Now for those who don't know Matt is also your brother. Is
it a fact that you introduced him into the world of Extreme
Metal?

Jason:
Yeah, as mentioned, when we were kids, like many who
grew up in the 80's, we were into the 80's pop metal and thrash.
But he had a harder time getting used to the growling vocal styles
of bands like Sepultura and Morbid Angel. As my cd collection
grew, I would make him check out some of the death and black
metal and everything in between,... it proved to be infectious.
Some of his favs are Suffocation, Arch Enemy, and Devil Driver
(whom I hadn't actually heard until he got their albums--the
student becomes the teacher sometimes)

Do you think that the writing chemistry between the two of
you is just natural?

Jason:
Absolutely! When we go to put a new song together, it
seems to just manifest with very little effort. Obviously, once the
transitions are tight, we go back and work out drum accents and
whatever the song needs.

I
know you have a gig in Tallahassee with Hate Eternal
coming up? What else is in the future for ALTAR OF FLESH
and is there a release date for the next record we can look
for?

Jason:
We have a show booked in Orlando with Victory records
artist Corpus Cristi. We haven't played much through out 2008,
due to our focus staying on recording the album. In 2009 we plan
to hit the road as much as we possibly can. If possible, I'd like to
set up a gig or two per month around the southeastern U.S., or
possibly put together a small tour this summer. We do not have a
diffinite release date for the album yet, but we plan to have it
released no later than March.

In your words what fuels ALTAR OF FLESH?

Jason:
Well, Altar of Flesh has been around for nearly 10 years,
we've had a number of line up and style changes over the years.
A few times, we thought we had come to the end of the line, only
to open a whole new chapter of the band. So, possibly
stubbornness is our fuel. A never say die attitude. At this point,
Altar of Flesh is stronger than ever both in line up and with the
current songwriting direction.

If someone wants to find out more about ALTAR OF FLESH
where can they go?

Jason:
Currently, our website, www.altarofflesh.com, is very out of
date. I plan to update and re-do every part of it when the album
art is done. Right now, however, our myspace is where all our
business is being conducted. www.myspace.com/altarofflesh666
there you can check out some of the rough mixes from the
upcoming album (as well as a bonus track from our gore daze!).

Any last words for the ANCIENT DEATH readers?

Jason:
Thank you for conducting this interview, and thank you
readers for taking the time to read up on us. Visit our myspace for
updates for the new album, and for upcoming shows, again,
www.myspace.com/altarofflesh666. Thanks again!!

ALTAR OF FLESH