Of Feather and Bone Isn't Afraid of Death

Denver death-metal trio Of Feather and Bone unapologetically embraces death.
Denver death-metal trio Of Feather and Bone unapologetically embraces death. Courtesy Of Feather and Bone
Spending a moment in the morbid mind of Alvino Salcedo is not for the faint of heart. The bassist and frontman of Denver death-metal trio Of Feather and Bone is quick to share his philosophical worldview, particularly on how the perils of widespread Christianity and the finality of eternal rest inspire his lyrics and the band’s music.

“Embrace death. I think most people are afraid of death. I think most people don’t understand it. I think religion, especially Christianity and Catholicism, has taught us to be afraid of death — to fear it and be sad about it. For us, it’s like, 'No — embrace death, because that’s the only thing certain coming for every single one of us, whether we like it or not,'” he says. “Death is around us at all times. It’s part of us. For us, it satiates knowing it’s here.”

Salcedo’s ethos isn’t rooted in teenage angst or half-baked nihilism, but in real-life tragedies and experiences, including holding his mother as she transitioned off this mortal coil fifteen years ago.

“Some people think about death but fear it because it hasn’t hit them close to home yet. For me, I sing about death because I watched it take my mom when she was in my arms. It took my mom from me. At the time, it was very sad, depressing and scary. ... We sing about death because I know about death,” Salcedo says, adding that such an untimely death “strikes you differently.”

Of Feather and Bone’s music is the soundtrack to such sorrow, an outlet for Salcedo and bandmates Preston Weippert (drums) and Dave Grant (guitars and vocals) to turn those innate pains of existence into a cathartic release.

“I think it’s what people feel inside but don’t know how to express,” Salcedo suggests. “To be able to express what you feel about life and existential dread — knowing that death is around the corner for each one of us, maybe even sooner now, the way the world is going. I think most people have a hard time embracing it. For us it’s like, let’s love it, let’s indulge in it, let’s sing about it.”

The band’s most recent record, 2020’s Sulfuric Disintegration, is the epitome of that drive: a blend of blast beats, dive bombs and raw-throated growls that can only be described as chaos incarnate.

Chris Bruni, founder of Canadian label Profound Lore Records, knew Of Feather and Bone was on to something sinister when he first heard about this Denver band playing music that was crossing over in the grindcore and death-metal scene. Intrigued by the unique sound, Bruni decided to put out 2018’s Bestial Hymns of Perversion on Profound Lore before working with the band again on Sulfuric Disintegration.

“I can tell you right now, with the band being a trio, there is no death-metal trio that is as punishing and devastating on the live front as Of Feather and Bone,” he says. “What I like most about the band is just their drive to continue pushing their sound even further, going darker and even more intense with each succeeding release.”

But the fact that Of Feather and Bone hasn’t played live in seven months, let alone properly toured Sulfuric Disintegration, is the scariest part of this story, and Salcedo is eager to remind everyone that one of the scene’s most unsettling bands hasn’t lost any of its vomit-inducing edge.

“We’re still as vicious as we’ve ever been; we didn’t go anywhere. It just lays dormant for a while, like most things that the world doesn’t look forward to, like a plague. It lays dormant, and then one day it comes out and wreaks fucking havoc on everyone around it,” he says. “I think that’s what we are. We’re a band that nobody wants to unlock and let back out, but when we do come out, it’s a wreaking aura of shit, and we’re here to ruin everything around it.”

Partake in the public execution on Friday, August 12, at the hi-dive, with ORYX, P.S.Y.W.A.R. and Prowler also on the bill. When asked what audiences should expect during an Of Feather and Bone show, Salcedo pauses long enough to make us wonder if the call dropped before answering in a low tone unlike the nonchalant delivery he’s displayed up until this point.

“Chaos and madness and being uncomfortable. That’s how it should feel. Like, what the hell is happening?” he says. “Live, it should sound like a whirlwind. We don’t talk. We don’t make statements from the stage like, ‘Hell yeah, party on.’ We’re going to walk in the room, we’re going to kick you in the face, leave you for dead and walk out before you know what happened.”

In preparing to play a heavy dose of Sulfuric Disintegration live, Salcedo has revisited the lyrics and the reason that he creates art that may be too intense for those who aren’t familiar with the no-holds-barred approach of underground metal.

“For me, it’s rooted in knowing that my ancestry was wiped out by Christianity,” he says of his Mexican heritage. “All of my traditions where I came from, my origin, was wiped out for a Bible. So my hatred for Christianity doesn’t come unwarranted. It comes due to the fact that my ancestors, my great-grandmothers, my great-great grandmothers, were all killed by the Christians, the Catholics, who came here and told them that they were savages and traded all their great knowledge for a book. So, yeah, my hatred runs a little bit deeper than just blasphemy or being satanic to offend people.”

As much as the music itself is abrasive, Of Feather and Bone is creating a brutal art form that has resonated within the Denver scene and beyond. Bruni says that the first time he heard the Bestial Hymns of Perversion mix, he knew the band had reached another level of harshness.

“I was pretty floored from what I heard and how much more brutal and darker it was than the previous iteration of the band that I had heard,” he says.

The dizzying relentlessness of Sulfuric Disintegration throws listeners headlong into the maelstrom for thirty minutes and 22 seconds across six songs. The overarching theme of madness permeates each track, Salcedo explains, as he twists tales of how the world has a way of leading us into some dark places, including depression, suicide and “just existing in this fucked-up society that has so many problems.”

“It’s gritty. It’s grimy. We’re not meant for the big stages. We’re meant for a murky basement — that’s where we fit in. That’s where we’ve always known we fit in,” he says. “But rather than lashing out at the world and taking out my grief on everybody else, it’s like, let’s channel it. Let’s make it cathartic. Let’s make it something that stems from that. Hopefully when people hear the music or see us live, they feel that it’s real. The pain I feel in some of the lyrics that I wrote is real shit. That’s how I feel.

“I hope people see that it’s genuine. It’s real. We put our hearts on our sleeves. We really do put ourselves out there in putting this music out," he adds. "It’s super vulnerable, but I hope they know our vulnerability comes from a place of pain, anguish, depression — but a total embrace of death.”

Of Feather and Bone, 9 p.m. Friday, August 12, hi-dive, 7 South Broadway; tickets are $15-$18.
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