When Morgue Whore bassist Ted Anderson talks about the beginnings of his three-piece heavy-metal band, it becomes clear that the trio has always thrived on darkness and exclusion.
“Metalheads are hard to find up in the ski country. It’s hippie land," Anderson says of Morgue Whore’s early days playing shows to crowds that would rather gently sway than head-bang.
Morgue Whore’s menacing, sin-fueled sound drew plenty of ire from Colorado’s mountain-hippie community in Winter Park before the musicians decided to pick up and try their luck in Denver six months ago.
“We were doing magic shows instead of playing metal shows: making hippies disappear,” Anderson jokes. “It was great discovering our alchemy in the mountains. The cold, the — I don’t want to call it 'hate,' but just the frustration of unacceptance and no understanding — it pushed us. We played a bunch of stupid, silly gigs up in Winter Park where no one really gave a fuck, but it was fun and it was good for preparing us.”
Morgue Whore’s early shows were played at small, Grateful Dead-loving venues that would rather have had no band than a metal band with lyrics that dealt with the dark arts and the occult, according to Anderson. The indifference in Winter Park only threw gasoline on the fire for Morgue Whore, leading the band to record its self-produced, self-titled debut album in a grimy DIY basement studio before leaving the mountain life on a quest to find metalheads in Denver.
“Personal situations arose where we all pulled the trigger and moved together to Denver — to Salem Street, if you could imagine,” Anderson says.
Since arriving at its Aurora home, Morgue Whore has been playing its growing catalogue of black death metal to metalheads all over Denver, with a few difficult venues thrown in to feed the fire.
Drummer Chris “Pops” Popovich says the bandmembers are constantly creating new music and now play a set composed of songs they're working on for their next album.
“Really, we’ve been taking it more seriously [since moving to Denver],” Pops says. “We went from playing one day a month, practice one day a week to now, where we all live together and the living room is our practice space. We practice four days a week and we play a show every other week.
"I feel like since we moved to Denver all of our musicianship has greatly increased. We’re to the point where we’re writing the songs and we can barely pull them off.”
Pops says the band plays at the edge of its ability on stage and in the studio.
“I like to play with something that’s right out of my comfort level as far as technicality and skill. I think a lot of what we do is right at the top of what we can physically play.”
Anderson says the band’s musical abilities allow them to each create something individually and combine it into something new. “The way we have to approach music is that this is all on us, there is no canvas, we have to create that canvas. There is no paint, we have to create that paint, and we don’t hold anything back. We’re not afraid to be something out of the box. We don’t know what we are, and that’s the cool thing about our music. It is what it is.”
With influences like Dissection, Iron Maiden, DRI and Celtic Cross, anything that Morgue Whore creates is bound to be brutal and twisted. Anderson says the bandmembers incorporate the darkness of the world around them — everything from horrific local news stories to Salvador Dalí paintings to mythology — into their songs.
“We make the music that we make because that’s what comes out of us, that’s what flows,” Pops says. “The riffs that [guitarist Aleister Krustwaaf] creates or the drumbeats that I create, it’s just like it has to be. We have to play heavy metal. There’s no other choice, you know.”
Morgue Whore plays Black Sky Brewery at 2 p.m. on Sunday July 24, with Nocturnicon.