After nearly fifteen years leading one of deathcore’s most popular bands, Thy Art Is Murder
frontman Chris "CJ" McMahon has mastered the demons that froth from his throat and continues to expel them like one of the Seven Trumpets of Revelation.
“I pride myself on crushing every style of a scream and a growl, vocal tone and accented scream,” he proclaims. “I want to fucking master everything. I don’t just want to do two or three vocal techniques and be like, ‘Cool, that’s me.’”
McMahon even names the voices of his bronchial brood — there's Georgie Boy, Scary Voice, Pissed Off CJ — and each one gets its own identity at inception. And if those aren't terrifying enough, more are being born on Thy Art Is Murder’s current Back From the Gulag North American tour. Co-headliners After the Burial
and Brand of Sacrifice
are also on the bill. The tour stops in Denver on Tuesday, June 14, at Summit Music Hall
“I’ve developed three new voices for the new record just from this tour,” McMahon says while talking about the band’s plans after returning home. “It’s just come from, ‘I can do this with my voice and this, so maybe I can try to do this.’”
While the Australian band is primarily promoting its 2019 record Human Target
, which didn’t get a proper American tour because of the pandemic, Thy Art Is Murder is also looking ahead and has some plans that may surprise the fans of its brutal brand of deathcore.
“I think the next record is something that we’re going to deliberately change stylistically. There will be a lot more different genres and styles of writing that aren’t deathcore. We kind of want to move away from that vibe,” the singer says, adding that the bandmates will take six months after the tour to focus on writing and recording their new album.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to work or how it’s going to sound yet, but what me and [guitarist Andy Marsh] have suggested to each other and how we’re feeling, it’s going to be a bit different than previous stuff. I think a change needs to happen for us to grow and extend our careers, as well,” McMahon says. “I think Andy definitely has his work cut out for him, but he’s pulled rabbits out of hats for years. I’m sure he’s going to do the same for the next record.”
Formed in 2006, the band has consistently blended elements of death metal and hardcore to become a pioneer of the deathcore subgenre, which rose to popularity in the late aughts. The current lineup — McMahon, bassist Kevin Butler, drummer Jesse Beahler and guitarists Marsh and Sean Delander — isn’t afraid to bring different influences to the table, which is something McMahon says he’d like to lean into more, including challenging himself vocally to conjure up another new voice or two.
“It’s more so like finding what else I can do. ... I’m going for more emotional-driven vocal things, like super-depressing vocals,” he adds. “The problem with me is that everything has to be technical. I can’t just make a sound and it not be technical, too. I have to look after my voice. I have to make sure that I can do it every night when it needs to happen. I need to make sure that the new voice can be linked to something else I’m already doing. I think my voice gets more brutalized than most because I’m hitting super, super highs [and] I’m hitting super, super lows.”
Battling a sinus and chest infection at the onset of the tour, McMahon didn’t miss a date, pushing through the congestion and accompanying side effects.
“That kind of sucks to play with that, but I’m still giving it everything. I walk off stage spitting and coughing like a crazy person. I want to do it. I love playing. Doctor’s orders would probably be staying put and resting up for a week and not play shows. Fuck that. I’m going to play,” he says. “My voice needs to accompany what our music is doing, and our music is changing all the time."
Thy Art Is Murder, Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake Street, 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14. Tickets are $25-$45.