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Broken Hope
Mutilated and Assimilated
Special Edition CD+DVD Digipak, Ltd. Gatefold black LP+CD, Ltd. Gatefold transp. red LP+CD, Digital album

Damian Leski
Jeremy Wagner
Mike Miczek
Diego Soria
(Bass )
Matt Szlachta
(Lead Guitars)

If the four-year gap between Broken Hope’s comeback album, 2013’s relentless Omen of Disease, and new splatter platter, Mutilated and Assimilated, left fans in a gore-soaked quiescent quandary, well, the Windy City purveyors of putrescence were busy scouring the world, gearing up—six of the late Jeff Hanneman’s guitars were acquired by primary songwriter and author Jeremy Wagner in 2015—releasing the group’s first-ever live DVD, Live Disease at Brutal Assault, and, of course, writing new, punishing music. Certainly, four years is an eternity to Broken Hope devotees, but it goes by quickly when things are running in the right direction. Though time is more precious now than it was when Wagner and team birthed the beast in 1988, Broken Hope remains committed as ever to death metal.

“The spirit remains the same,” Wagner affirms. “We’re still out to crush the world with sick death metal, have fun doing it, with the passion that we have for this music. We’re still hungry! When it comes to the ‘feel’ being different this time around, I have a pretty good idea why that ‘feel’ is what it is. It’s a feeling and vibe that harbors a new strength and positive delivery in the brutality. It’s the new blood in the band making the ‘feel’ a ferocious and serious thing. Matt [Szlachta; ex-Chimaira] and Diego [Soria; Disgorge] brought a true passion for their instruments and for death metal into Broken Hope—and they brought brotherhood and that positive delivery I mentioned. I’ve never experienced this in Broken Hope before, and am I ever grateful for this lineup and genuine comradery.”

With the lineup reconfigured for the better—Szlachta and Soria joined Broken Hope full time in 2014—it didn’t take long for Broken Hope to start killing (audiences) and brutalizing (fans) again. The focus, however, was on Mutilated and Assimilated. Written primarily by Wagner and drummer Mike Miczek, Broken Hope’s sanguine seventh full-length became a total team effort as the album was fleshed out. Described by Wagner as “really cool and easy,” the songwriting sessions and quality control—in which only the sickest riffs and wickedest blasts prevailed—went guts-out good.

“I’m really proud of ‘The Carrion Eaters,’” beams Wagner. “It’s super-sick and catchy and it’s the first song that Damian [Leski; vocals] and I wrote together as guitarists collaborating. I’m proud of ‘The Necropants’. It’s very special to me because it’s the first song of all the songs and riffs I wrote for the album with one of Jeff Hanneman’s guitars. Though I wrote and recorded exclusively with Hanneman’s guitars, ‘The Necropants’ was the first tune that came out of me when I plugged in a custom Hanneman USA ESP—the same ESP he used on the God Hates Us All album. When I plugged in and started to riff out with Mike, ‘The Necropants’ just fucking flowed from my hands. I wrote that song in 5 minutes from start to finish! One other tune I love is ‘The Bunker,’ which has some of the most ferocious drumming Mike has done and one of the greatest leads that Matt has done on record. It’s fair to say I love the whole album.”

Clearly, Wagner’s stoked. And he should be. Mutilated and Assimilated is a monster. Both literal and figurative. Its warped DNA could only be death metal. And lyrically, well, the themes aren’t for the faint of heart or light of stomach. As with albums like 1991’s Swamped in Gore, 1995’s Repulsive Conception, and 1999’s Grotesque Blessings, so too with Mutilated and Assimilated. From opener ‘The Meek Shall Inherit Shit’ to closer ‘Swamped-In Gorehog’, it’s a font of blood-curdling, spine-tingling horror. Two songs—‘Mutilated and Assimilated’ and instrumental ‘Beneath Antarctic Ice’—are direct tributes to John Carpenter’s classic The Thing and John W. Campbell Jr’s short story Who Goes There. The rest of the lyrics were informed by terrible things Wagner’s observed from the real world.

“The Thing concept hit a nerve in me like no other tale—written or on film,” says Wagner. “The movie is my favorite horror film of all time. It’s very unsettling every time I watch it. There’s not a more original idea in horror to this day and there’s no better practical FX on screen since, either. Therefore, I felt compelled to write a song/lyric about it. And it’s pretty cool that it turned out to be the title track. I’m proud to pay such tribute to this amazing film and to John W. Campbell Jr. Other than that, no other songs are based on horror movies, but many are based on reality. For example, these songs are all based on true events: ‘The Bunker’, ‘Outback Incest Clan’, ‘The Necropants’, and ‘Russian Sleep Experiment’.”

Even the cover of Mutilated and Assimilated is disarming. Executed by renowned artist Wes Benscoter—returning for his fourth Broken Hope cover—the piece depicts a colossal creature in a state of transformation. From uglier to ugliest and nastier to nastiest and deadlier to deadliest. It’s the type of cover—with its perturbing palette of reds and blues—that immediately sets off alarm bells. What is this thing? Where did it come from? What will happen to me? Visually, Broken Hope show no signs of getting lighter with age.

“You better believe it!” Wager asserts. “Wes Benscoter returned to do this album cover for Broken Hope, and he went above and beyond with his vision and talent. When you see the album artwork, it’s like you have stumbled upon The Thing beneath Antarctic ice while it’s in the midst of transforming into a thousand different things. It’s horrifying and brilliant!”

Recorded over a three-month period at Rustic Pube Studios with co-producer Scott Creekmore (Putrid Pile, Earthburner) in one chair and Broken Hope in another, Mutilated and Assimilated sounds absolutely skull-crushing. Wagner and team then continued Creekmore’s tenure by enlisting him to handle the mix and master. One spin of key tracks like ‘The Bunker’, ‘Malicious Meatholes’, ‘Russian Sleep Experiment’, ‘Hell's Handpuppets’ and the title track and there’s no question the Chicagoans spent the better part of the Mutilated and Assimilated sessions in ravage mode. There’s nothing weak in what Broken Hope are offering in 2017.

“I didn’t want this album being bounced around to three studios like last time,” says Wagner. “That was a nightmare. We had too many cooks in the kitchen. I’m satisfied with the production and mix of Omen of Disease, but it’s also something I wasn’t content with as a daddy to Broken Hope. This time around, the mission was to use my new studio (Rustic Pube Studios), not be on someone else’s clock, and be able to take time with every instrument tone, vocal patterns, dialing in the maximum audio quality possible, and nailing the ‘Broken Hope sound’ that we’re known for, and, that I personally love. Tone and the right sonic treatment are paramount to me. I’ve always strived for quality while retaining the ‘sound” I love to play and convey. There’s a reason Slayer sounds like Slayer. They’re very comfy with their guitar tones, vocal style, and not fixing what isn’t broken. I respect that and embrace that. I still love my formula and how it makes me feel to play my sound.”

While Mutilated and Assimilated will be heralded as one of the top death metal albums this year, there’s also an important milestone in the band’s history to be celebrated into next year. That’s right, 2018 will represent three decades—30 years!—of Broken Hope. Wagner’s likens the group to perpetual underdogs, but like severed survivalists they’ve persevered. Seven full-lengths, four different labels deals, the untimely passing of age-old friends and ex-bandmates Joe Ptacek (2010) and Ryan Stanek (2015), a 10-year hiatus, and more would end most bands indefinitely. Not Broken Hope. Like Jason Voorhees, they never die.

“It’s definitely a crazy thing to think about,” Wagner ponders. “There’s a realization that time flies fast. I feel like it’s only been a day gone by. I’m in Ryan Stanek’s basement with him and Joe Ptacek in 1988, writing our first demo and trying to get shows. I still feel like I’m a young man, hungry and ready to do whatever it takes to get signed, make albums, and tour the world. I’m both amazed that I’m still here, 29 to 30 years into Broken Hope, but, I’m also not surprised. I say that because I honestly have always felt that Broken Hope would be one of my greatest creations and that I’d be writing and playing Broken Hope music for most of life. It’s a real deep and strong feeling I’ve had. Kinda like I had blinders on and only saw Broken Hope existing as long as I was going to breathe oxygen. From age 18 to the grave…”

Broken Hope are Jeremy Wagner (guitars), Mike Miczek (drums), Damian Leski (vocals), Diego Soria (bass), and Matt Szlachta (guitars). And they want you to know they play true Chicago death metal exclusively!