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Architects of the Aftermath: Serious Thrash Metal, Without Dignity

Apr. 27, 2010
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The members of thrash metal band Architects of the Aftermath don’t just claim to be true Milwaukee thrash: They back it up in person. During one of their first shows, singer Justin Tilley began a furious case of headbanging and demonically rolling his eyes to the back of his head. When the frontman felt a strand of snot start coming from his nose, he had two options: Be civil and wipe it away, or continue.

“I had a millisecond to decide: Do I either maintain some dignity and wipe it away, or say, ‘Screw it,’ because I’m from hell and I don’t care and just go for it,” Tilley says. “So I just said, ‘Screw it.’ When you’re up there, especially in this industry, you can’t have any pride or dignity. You can only be primal.”

It is with this philosophy that Tilley and the rest of Architects of the Aftermath—Dathan Lythgoe (guitar), John Gehring (guitar) and Dave Koehnlein (drums)—handle music. They try to hone it to its truest form without any of the cartoony, ’80s feel.

“I think it’s interesting taking the thrash genre of the ’80s, using those same tools, and use it now,” Tilley says. “Thrash went to death metal and got all mutated. We wanted it to be just undiluted, straightforward and focused, not mixing it up that we’re kind of this and kind of that—just straight to the point and no gimmicks.”

When it came to picking a band name, the band didn’t want to fall into the trappings of the typical thrash metal name.

“We [would] tell people that we have a metal band but don’t have a name, and they [would] say name it Necro this or Satan that,” Tilley says. “No, we’re actually going to try to be serious about this. The point was not to have something too stupid, but not too clever that people would say, ‘Oh you’re better than us?’ or, ‘You’re trying to have ironic distance from the genre?’ It’s important to not have a name that’s distracting.”

Metal fans expect more in 2010 and the band hopes they can help deliver their own spin to the genre. For Gehring, who originally got the idea to form a hardcore/thrash band in 2007 with Koehnlein, giving the audience something original but true to the genre merits special attention, especially with a tough audience like the metal one.

“We have to gear it and apply it with more modern tools or aspects that help make it relevant and fresh even though it’s a pretty classic metal genre,” Gehring says.

With the release of their debut album this weekend, they have physical proof of their almost yearlong recording process. The album comes in CD and cassette formats and features a set of songs that originated mostly in Gehring’s basement. The music is frantic, wild and roaring, but somehow it manages to keep from falling apart.

“The music’s so fast that I think it will collapse at any second; it’s just on the verge of reaching some kind of critical mass,” Lythgoe says.

While the band takes what they play seriously, it’s important to note that the band is all about giving their audience a good time.

“We take the music that we do seriously, we take the genre seriously, but we in no way take ourselves seriously and I think that’s the most important thing,” Tilley says.

Architects of the Aftermath play an album release show at Club Garibaldi on Saturday, May 1, at 9 p.m. with openers Death Dream, Mother Orchis and Centipedes.


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