Oryx on Why Human Progress Is Wrecking the Earth

Oryx has evolved from a married metal duo to a trio.
Oryx has evolved from a married metal duo to a trio. Alvino Salcedo
The married couple Abbey and Tommy Davis were the sole members of the prolific Denver sludge-metal band Oryx throughout the production of their latest album, 2018’s Stolen Absolution. Now they have added bassist David Saylor to fill out the low end and create an even more massive sound.

Oryx has garnered acclaim in recent months, opening for metal behemoths like EyeHateGod. On June 11, the trio will play with Primitive Man and Sleep at the Ogden Theatre.

Westword sat down with the couple and talked about the addition of Saylor, the group’s new music video and how a genre as grim as doom can thrive in a beautiful city like Denver.

Westword: How will adding a bass player allow your music to open up more?

Tommy: We have tried to make a concerted effort to not let that change our style, musically. But, yeah, it is nice having that freedom to explore more melodies. I think one of the biggest things is just having more of that “stereo feel” live. I think that heaviness live is something you just can’t do as a two-piece, having two different guitars or that bass guitar — especially when they’re pursuing the same riffs or the same notes. I think that really does something to enrich the sound. We’ve already been exploring new melodies, but also just really trying to enhance the riffs that we already have and make them really, really ironclad and super-aggressive.
Abbey: We’ve been a two-piece for the length of this band, and as of the release of our latest album, we sat down and talked about what we wanted to do and what we envisioned for the future, and we wanted to see how we can expand our music or push ourselves further.

We were feeling kind of limited as a two-piece, so we just kind of thought about it for a while and then just thought we’d start jamming with David, who’s played bass in another really well-known band that we’re big fans of, Terminator 2. So we just started kind of playing with him, and after playing with him a couple times, we’re like, “Yeah, this works. This is awesome.”

You just released a video for “Blackened Earth” (from Stolen Absolution). It appears to address mankind’s negative effect on the world. Did I get that right?

Tommy: That’s one of the underlying themes that kept rolling around in my head for that song, and what I hope came through lyrically. It was kind of that [for] anything that man aspires to build or grow, there has to be a toll. Essentially we take that toll on the Earth. I think that “Blackened Earth” is essentially about our growth as humans — but having no connection to its source, and not realizing the void that’s created, and that it’s a permanent void; it’s not being replenished. If we were to stop now, it’d still take decades, if not centuries, to get back to where — resource-wise — the Earth was before us.

On that note, how do you, and other metal bands from Denver, continue to thrive and write such dark material in a town as beautiful as this?

Abbey: That’s hilarious to think about! There was a big metal scene before Tommy and I moved here four years ago from Las Cruces. But we came here, and there was still already a big metal scene going with Primitive Man and a lot of others. There was a ton of stuff going on. So I think it’s been going on here for a while. And I don’t know — I think the people who have lived here their whole lives just don’t want to leave, and there’s a lot of anger toward the people moving here. It just feels like there’s something brewing with the writing of the music, where it’s kind of like there’s some anger here.

Tommy: I mean, part of it is that rapid growth. Denver right now is completely under construction, and I think that level of growth and that disconnect is kind of what I’m talking about. You know, all of these people just move in here, and they can just create a city out of nothing, even though that new city being grown has no identity right now. I think we have really strong DIY roots and really care about Denver retaining its identity and having something where it’s not like everywhere else.

With Sleep and Primitive Man, 7 p.m. Monday, June 11, Ogden Theatre, 935 East Colfax Avenue, $25-$30, 303-832-1874.
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Andy Thomas is a music journalist who hopes other music journalists write nice things about the music he performs. He lives in Denver with his wife, their two cats and a massive pile of unfinished projects.
Contact: Andy Thomas