In the early 1990s, guitarist James Murphy was revered within the death metal community. Between 1990 and 1992, he played lead guitar on multiple classic albums - Obituary's Cause of Death, Death's Spiritual Healing, and Cancer's Death Shall Rise all featured his brutal riffing and searing, intricately melodic solos, and he made guest appearances on Gorguts' Considered Dead and Malevolent Creation's Retribution during the same period. But he never stayed with one band for very long, and ultimately he decided to make a go of it with his own group, which he dubbed Disincarnate.
Recalls legendary Roadrunner A&R man Monte Conner, "I remember being very interested when James told me he wanted to form his own band because prior to that he was known as a nomad that went from Agent Steel to Death to Obituary to Cancer...So it seemed logical for him to finally step out on his own and be the boss."
In 2004, Murphy himself explained the genesis of Disincarnate as follows: "I just wanted to have an outlet for the new music I was coming up with. By the time I was in Obituary I had started writing in a whole new direction...It just happened naturally, from my perspective, but it was coming out like a cool mixture of extreme technical death metal, catchy melodic riffs, and all-out doom. It was way too far removed from what Obituary was doing at the time and they felt it didn't really fit their style. As soon as I realized that, Disincarnate was born."
One of the most surprising aspects of Disincarnate was its lineup. Most people would think that a guy with Murphy's reputation and connections would have high-profile extreme metal musicians beating down the door to play with him, but the players he chose were virtual unknowns. In the same 2004 interview, the guitarist said, "The core of my band came as a package deal. [Singer] Bryan Cegon and [rhythm guitarist] Jason Carman were playing together in a really young new band called Infernus. I really liked their ideas, and they fit my mental picture of what I wanted to hear with my music very well. The drummer, Tommy Viator, approached me at my work, the once world-famous Ace's Records, and handed me a tape. It sounded like the best I had gotten to that point so I quickly set up an audition. Tommy worked out great and his playing fit the music very well."
The band (with Murphy handling bass as well as guitar) headed to Wales to record their debut album, Dreams of the Carrion Kind, with producer Colin Richardson. The result is one of the best death metal albums of the 1990s - its blend of progressive precision and exhilarating melody with brutal, downtuned riffing and even some doom-laden heaviness combined the best aspects of the bands he'd worked with, adding in touches that were uniquely James Murphy. The other three members of Disincarnate, particularly drummer Viator and vocalist Cegon, proved that they were ready to step up to the big stage.
Unfortunately, that never happened. The band only played a few shows (you can watch a clip above of them playing "Deadspawn" in Raleigh, North Carolina from August 1993) and the album didn't sell all that well out of the gate. Murphy moved on to work with Testament, and the other three got regular jobs or went to college. But over time, the album's reputation grew, even while it was out of print, and we reissued it in 2004, newly remasted by Murphy and with three bonus tracks from the band's demo tape appended.
Disincarnate's Dreams of the Carrion Kind is available everywhere now - get it from Amazon or on iTunes, or stream it on Spotify below! It's a crucial piece of death metal history, and it turns 20 tomorrow - the original release date was April 27, 1993!