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Death metal dubstep

Sound guru and Malakai frontman Chris Forsythe brings the noise


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While he's best known these days as lead singer for Colorado Springs' favorite thrash/metal band Malakai, as well as its grindcore cousin Tree of Woe, Chris Forsythe has something new for you up his sleeve: "Our next project is a dubstep remix album," he tells me. "It's gonna be great."

OK, he's kidding. But in his nighttime day job as the Black Sheep's sound guy, the viking-visaged musician has had plenty of opportunity to develop a love/hate relationship with the wobbly electronic dance genre. (Actually, it's mostly hate, although he does have an appreciation for the sheer heaviness of the sound.) So he's suitably amused when I ask if mixing so many dubstep shows was subliminally responsible for the stuttering effect found on Malakai's "Crack Never Sleeps," a track from the newly expanded Monday album that the band will celebrate at Friday's CD release show.

"We put it on there and I was, like, wow, that's cool, and we'll never be able to do that live," says Forsythe. "And it's really funny, because now there are all these dubstep guys, and they don't either. So I guess we could pull it off by just going out onstage and playing our CD."

Think he's exaggerating? Guess again.

"I don't remember which show it was, but we had a guy who went onstage, flipped open his laptop, and told the crowd, 'I have a new album coming out next week, do you guys wanna hear it?' The whole crowd goes 'YEAHHHH,' he says, 'Sweet." Then he pressed play on his laptop, he opened a PBR, and he did his entire 40-minute set with one hand just holding his beer and the other hand in the air doing the 8 Mile up-and-down, hand-gesture thing. And the only time it would change is when he would stop the laptop to ask the crowd, 'Are you feeling that?'"

Night to forget

Unlike bartenders who can mentally tune out an unfortunate performance, sound engineers actually have to pay attention. So what was the worst act Forsythe's ever dealt with?

"The worst, I would have to say, is Falling in Reverse. First, it's a horrible band. But also, their singer is just a nightmare to deal with, it's like he's the second coming of Axl Rose. It almost turned into a riot after the show. There were like 400 14-year-old girls there to see him, and apparently his sound guy didn't mix his monitors the way he liked them. And so he stormed offstage and refused to play anymore. And then he came back onstage and he got 400 kids to start screaming, 'The sound guy sucks! The sound guy sucks.' What they didn't understand is that the band has its own traveling sound crew, so I didn't mix them at all. But for like a week on the Internet, 14-year-old girls all over town were saying I should be fired and held accountable and everyone should get refunds back out of my paycheck."

On the other hand, Forsythe's favorite shows range from metal favorites like Cattle Decapitation to new-breed soul artists like Allen Stone and Fitz & the Tantrums. In fact, Malakai will be trying its own hand at the blue-eyed soul thing at next Halloween's Monsters of Mock show. "Malakai's gonna be Hall & Oates," says Forsythe, who sounds serious this time. "When I was in the fourth grade I went to our school carnival and threw a dart at a balloon, and I won a Hall & Oates eight-track. And that song 'Maneater' has just stuck with me ever since. I'm definitely gonna be Hall, man. It's in my soul."

Bonus tracks

Forsythe is also partial to a band called Malakai, whose sonic assaults have deservedly kept the group at the top of the local metal heap for the better part of eight years. With Jon Saultz on guitar, Brian Voorhies on bass and Todd Morrison on drums, Malakai's songs are bludgeoning yet precise, like a brain surgeon with an occasional tendency to run amok.

While the original version of Monday was released last year, the CD being unleashed this week includes the band's two previous recordings: The debut Chasing Demons, and its follow-up Funerals.

"We'd sold out the last copies that we had, and we noticed that you can fit 80 minutes on a CD and we were nowhere near that. And people were always asking us how they could get a copy of the old stuff, so we just kind of figured we'd throw it all on there."

And while Forsythe's guttural vocal delivery might make it hard to tell, the band also continues to indulge its more introspective side. Take, for instance, a newer song like "Haddonfield."

"That's the town where Michael Myers comes and kills everybody in the Halloween series," notes Forsythe.

"But honestly, the title has nothing to do with the song. It's actually just kind of about life in general not going at all the way that you planned it. Like, back when I was in my late 20s, I was married, and had the house, and had a great job. And by 35, I was divorced and living in a shack, driving a Ford Fiesta. [Laughs.] And you kind of sit back one day and go, 'Holy shit, how did that happen?'"

Of course, post-American Dream living does have its consolations.

"Oh yeah," says Forsythe, "you get to write about it, and it makes good metal songs."


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