Recently returned from a European tour, hometown Houston boys Desecrate the Faith play the kind of music not only your mother warned you about, but your youth pastor did, too. Don’t let the name scare you — their sound is both technically concise and brutally crushing. Anyone who has been within earshot of their practice room at Sound Check Music Studios can tell you the same, too.
“Are you sure you don’t want some earplugs?” asked guitarist Jonathan Bayliss before a recent rehearsal, practicing a set the quintet has only arranged that evening. Noise-blocking headphones in place, I hoped for the best.
In a corner studio room under a lamp light, old Halloween decorations and ample centerfold porn, I prepared myself for heavy-hitting metal from otherwise unassuming and polite young men. I was not disappointed. After a few measures, I realized my senses were in for a delightful beating.
There’s metal that moves you and metal that inspires mosh pits, and then there’s metal that leaves you begging for mercy. DTF play the heaviest of your worst nightmares imagined. Drummer Mike Caputo ripped through songs with a percussive gymnastics across the kit that can really be appreciated only in person.
Arriving home from their inaugural foreign tour this past Sunday, DTF is collectively happy and understandably tired. Yet this is the kind of exhaustion bands long for — the satisfaction of returning from a successful first long-distance tour full of not just memories but the promise to do it again.
So...how did these hometown boys find themselves such a fortunate proposal anyway?
Like this: DTF lead singer John Hull was contacted by a friend who also organized a European tour for Houston band Uncleansed (for whom Hull plays bass); the friend asked if Hull would be interested in taking DTF on tour as well. The band jumped at the offer; who wouldn’t? Europe is a far more metal-friendly musical atmosphere, and embraces extreme styles that leave most Americans uncomfortable.
Yet DTF, who are signed to local label Ossuary Industries, aren't concerned with current musical trends. It’s that kind of unapologetic confidence in their music that keeps the band playing prominent shows and providing support for some of the biggest bands in the death-metal scene. They've recently opened for the likes of Suffocation, and this tour is the kind of gig that bands can only dream of.
The opportunity to tour was a long time coming for the Houston group. Originally formed in 2012 with just Bayliss and Caputo, DTF have been ritualistically delivering blasphemy for four years now. The current lineup is a result of want ads, luck and the summoning of the Dark Lord, as they playfully explain the need to find like-minded musicians who have a fondness for blast beats, gore and anti-religious sentiment.
Bassist Coleson Cowden found the group through Craigslist; second guitarist Tyler Shiery joined after moving to Texas from California. About six months later, Hull filled in last minute for a show and from then, joined as permanent vocalist.
The pairing between Hull and DTF couldn’t be a better match. At their last stateside performance, at Eastdown Warehouse earlier this month, Hull brought a new level of vocal destruction that far exceeded what I expected from just hearing a recording.
It was clear from the onstage ease of showmanship that these boys are not only tightly bonded bandmates but friends. In a room filled with black-clad fans adorned in deviant symbols, horror-scene depictions and illegible band T-shirts, DTF felt at home and felt an affinity toward not only the death metal scene but the other Houston musicians who inhabit it. As they joked with one another and tossed back some much-deserved cold brews after a set, I witnessed the ease with which the band interacted not only with themselves but with fans.
Unpretentiously accessible and willing to take their extreme musical tastes in stride, DTF welcomes new fans with the kind of familiar ease that they’d use with an old friend.
“Yes, we partake in ritualistic sacrifices every Tuesday. Come hang out!” Shiery teases. And by “sacrifice,” he means forget about hearing anything for at least two days. Well, a ringing, but that’s it.
And if there’s ever a continent that enjoys tinnitus and operates under a healthy appreciation of experimentation and fusion within metal, it’s Europe, and summertime is the prime time for a European tour. From Germany’s Wacken Open Air to France’s HellFest and every tiny tour in between, the continent that brought us Rammstein, church-burning and blackened death metal (yes, that’s a thing) is also a summertime playground for touring metal bands.
“Our vision for the tour is to get our name out there, find a whole new audience and melt some faces with blasphemy.” Hull explains. That whole new audience includes not only more fans, but more tours. The idea is a simple one: Make touring a regular gig and maybe even one day reach their dream European tour, Obscene Extreme.
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And DTF is willing to travel. The band, currently working on new music, says their best show yet was last year’s New York Deathfest. Playing with Dehumanized and Soils of Fate of Sweden, DTF found themselves clicking on all cylinders and realizing that in the right environment, they’re able to perform beyond what they’ve ever imagined.
“The crowd [at Deathfest] was amazing, with tons of energy, and sound was killer," Shiery explains.
That sound must be impetuously and painfully amplified. “Loud” isn’t quite the correct descriptor word to explain the destructive decibel level DTF employs, which once drew police attention to a small bar in Port Arthur. Midway through the set, the cops even tried (unsuccessfully) to cut the PA and stop the show.
“But we didn’t come all the way from Houston to stop short," Hull says. "So we kept playing until they cut the power on us.”