Thrash metal isn’t thrown around a lot these days on the radio, and you most certainly won’t see them mentioned on MTV (not that much music is to begin with). It’s a brutal, often considered abrasive, subgenre of heavy metal made popular by legendary titans such as Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax in the 1980s. Over the years, times changed and trends shifted which resulted in thrash metal staying underground for the most part.
Keeping that in mind, I’m happy to say that thrash metal is alive and well in Bangor, Maine thanks to the three-piece juggernaut that is Holy Filth. In the six years of their existence, you may have seen this trio perform at popular local venues Queen City Cinema of Bangor or Geno’s Rock Club of Portland. Currently, Holy Filth is made up of Ryan Curry on vocals and guitar, Justin Hamm on bass, and Ethan Henderson on drums. Over the weekend of Oct. 25 the group released their second full-length record, titled “Defenders of the Realm” and I had the opportunity to speak with Justin Hamm on the band’s past, present and future.
The group has a tight relationship and have known each other for years. Justin explained, “At the time of the formation of Holy Filth, Ethan and I were playing in a hardcore band that played a lot of shows with Ryan’s prior band.” The three shared an interest in thrash metal and began playing together, six years later we’re seeing the release of their sophomore album. The album takes inspiration from quite a few newer bands in metal such as Tribulation, Horrendous and Martydöd but Justin went on to add: “A huge overall influence will always be Metallica, you just can’t top their madness!”
“Defenders of the Realm” marks an end to a three-year gap from their previous record titled “Enter the Realm of Eternal Dark Riffery”. Justin was very optimistic about the material, going as far to say “In that [three-year gap], we’ve probably written three albums worth of material but we’ve really whittled it down to make a record that is quick, hard hitting and has a really great flow.” The album runs 36 minutes over eight tracks with each song delightfully punching the listener in the face with pure, raw power. If this were an album review, I’d gladly give it a four out of five. After multiple listens, it holds up and moves at a great pace.
The band is progressive in that if you do happen to catch them live, you’ll most likely be seeing newer material. “We are always pushing new material and don’t really look back as far as old songs go,” stated Justin. The band’s material is for the majority composed by Ryan who brings fully written songs to practice. The band will jam on a piece until it feels right by them. Justin went on, “It works out well because [Ryan’s] an impeccable songwriter.” Justin elaborated that the writing for the next record has already commenced and while touring may not be a priority at the moment, it’s not off of the table.
The band, while active in the metal community, doesn’t play live very often. Justin made it very clear that this is a passion project more than anything. The members all work day jobs, with Ryan being an electrician and Justin working in the mental health field, as well as maintaining families of their own. They don’t let the band disrupt their everyday lives with the motto of families always coming first. Justin went on to add “Plus, trying to pretend to be a rockstar at a local level is just kind of, well ya know, embarrassing.” The band is very selective about playing shows and try to only play for people with a similar agenda; simply playing because they love to.
With all of the celebration of the new record coming out comes some sadness as their drummer, and founding member, Ethan Henderson is moving from the area and will be stepping away from the band. Justin went on to explain that while line-up changes aren’t ideal, the band isn’t going anywhere, “I don’t think there will ever be a time where Holy Filth won’t exist, unless one of us kicks the bucket, as long as Ryan and I are here the band will be. It comes down to the sole fact that we love heavy metal, we are dedicated to it, we live and breathe it, that need to create will always be with us.”