Semi-disbanded Houston doom-meisters Sanctus Bellum
The horror began when Corbitt’s friend and collaborator, Mike Scaccia, dropped dead from a heart attack onstage at Corbitt’s 50th birthday celebration in 2012. The pair were riding high at the time, having just recorded a Rigor Mortis reunion album, the excellent Slaves to the Grave. There had been no signs that Scaccia was ill, and his sudden death was a huge shock not only to his friends and
It was also a major wake-up call. After years of carrying on in the typical, unhinged way that death/thrash provocateurs are wont to do, Corbitt changed his habits, quitting smoking and considering his health seriously for maybe the first time. Imagine his terror, then, when his heart began racing out of control two years ago.
“I was just sitting here one afternoon on a Sunday, and my heart started going, like, 170 beats a minute,” the singer says as he relaxes at home earlier this week. “It definitely wasn’t normal, and I couldn’t breathe right. So I went to the ER, and after a night in the ER they finally got my heart rate back to normal, and I had to go see cardiologists and found out I had a condition called atrial flutter.”
To combat the illness, the singer was put on a health regimen that included diet,
“I thought I was doing good, and then around December, unfortunately, something went wrong with my heart again,” Corbitt says. “It was similar, but a different kind of feeling. So, I went to the ER and found out it was symptoms of atrial fibrillation. The two are kind of like brothers; they’re different, but they’re similar.
“I’ve since heard that after you have the atrial flutter ablation surgery, half of ‘em get
Once again, diet,
“It’s going to be a lifelong battle,” the singer says. “As scary and as bad as it sucks for me, I’d rather know instead of walking around not knowing. I think about it now when I’m walking around at a metal show. There might be 25 percent of the other people at the show who could have heart disease and not know it, either. That’s why I’m pushing for so many who are over a certain age and might be at risk to get scanned.”
With his health taking priority, the singer wasn’t even sure he could continue on as a
“You can try to be cool and say, ‘I’m not scared to die and I’d love to go out doing what I love,’ but the truth is, when it comes down to it and you finally get to that point, I’m scared,” Corbitt says. “What I do with Warbeast is a very strenuous style. There is a good chance that I’m risking my life if I’m not careful and I keep pushing my luck. But I have tried to continue, because, obviously, that’s what I love to do.”
Making Warbeast work again has required some considerable adjustments. Corbitt simply can’t devote the kind of time to screaming and sweating that he used to—not if he wants to keep drawing breath. Essentially, he’s been forced to learn a whole new way of performing.
“I’m trying to go onstage as calm as possible now and not be as riled up as I used to be,” he says. “I’m trying to sing in a different manner where I’m trying to sound like myself, but not using as much energy and force. It’s something that’s taken a lot to figure out and get used to, and it’s pretty weird, to be honest. But I’m making the right adjustments and I think I’m getting better at it. For now, I’m going to continue and keep being careful for as long as I can.”
After defying death, Corbitt is still rocking harder than men half his age. Warbeast recently finished up recording a new album with ex-Pantera
“With Philip, you’re always going to be serious, but he's going to make you feel comfortable and put you in your element,” Corbitt says. “It’s a perfect environment. We’ve done this thing four times with him, and I look forward to it more every time. They’ve been some of the greatest times of my life, and it’s an honor to work with somebody like Philip who is not only a great front man and
“He is the epitome of a metal producer,” he adds.
Fans will hear many of the new tunes in Houston on Saturday. Having faced his own mortality several times over, Corbitt says he and the rest of the band are savoring every moment of heavy metal invincibility.
“The new album is going to be called Enter the Arena, and you’re probably going to hear about half of the new album in Houston,” he says. “We can’t wait for the new release. It’s always great to play in Houston, man, especially with Ben and Sanctus Bellum. We have a lot of friends there and it’s a great metal scene.”
Sanctus Bellum and Warbeast perform Saturday, March 18 at Rudyard’s British Pub, 2010 Waugh. $14; 21+; Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
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