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“So run away from me, Demon in the shade,” sings Cory in “The Way the World Looked at Me”, the final cut on his latest ZOMBIESHARK! LP, I Will Destroy You, Myself, and Everything I’ve Ever Loved. A reference to the “Blue Devil”, this demon is the abstract manifestation of every creative passion Cory harbors. Its reptilian eyes, awash in a digitized azure, forever lurk from computer screens beyond. Watching. Waiting. Ever-present. However, its omnipresent gaze embodies a most poignant self-reflection that Cory’s artistic undertakings, while expanding, metamorphosizing, and forever converging toward a scalpel-refined edge, will ultimately spell his end.
This realization, particularly the “You” in the album’s title being a reference to the Blue Devil, did not begin to cross my mind until a day before this in-depth chat with Cory transpired, and it is through our conversation that he expounds further upon this ghoulish specter.
ZOMBIESHARK! sprouted from the digital oasis of Myspace-era deathcore, cybergrind, and Nintendocore—the second and third genres of which, when melded together, form a new style known as “cyber-death”. An illustrative and graphic design artist first and foremost, Cory’s interest in bands from this vein began to blossom as he became obsessed with their vibrant artwork and its contrast against their often violent and grotesque—and sometimes experimental—auditory onslaughts. What graced the deepest nerve of intrigue in him, however, were the solo and duo projects of this caliber that concocted cerebrum-cudgeling tunes and performed them live to backing tracks. Though Cory admits that he had no clue how to compose songs of this flavor at the time, his flourishing fascination with the scene in its heyday did not impede upon his desire to take a stab at expressing himself through this medium.
What started off as primitive as creating blast beats by mashing keys on his keyboard as rapid as possible in Garage Band, ZOMBIESHARK! became more well-produced as a close friend of Cory’s, Jeff Brown (A Scent Like Wolves), showed him sharper audio and bedroom production techniques a few years into his project’s then relatively nascent existence. This transformation in mixing, audio fidelity, and song-writing are most apparent when comparing his quintessential releases A Sinking Ship (2012), Bridge Burner (2013), and the Self-Titled EP (2014) to The Digital Sea (EP, 2017) and I Will Destroy You (LP, 2020). Marked by more subdued Nintendocore influences (e.g., sprite-laden eruptions akin to Mario getting murked by a Goomba), there began to permeate a palpably retro-futuristic ambient haze that conjured heady vistas of a destitute world in The Digital Sea. During this period too Jeff assisted not only in The Digital Sea‘s production, but he also contributed riffs, drum programming, and song ideas. However, with the ascent in quality exhibited within The Digital Sea there came a reciprocal decline as shortly after its production Jeff departed from song-writing duties in ZOMBIESHARK!.
Cory then found himself at a creative impasse. Fueled in part by the stratospheric rise in audio quality and his crisper approach to constructing songs, Jeff’s exit left Cory feeling that it would be nigh impossible to achieve a comparable level of polish attained in The Digital Sea. ZOMBIESHARK!’s fate verged on collapse for a span of time, but in the months following its production, Cory recruited Sam Carlen to beef up his riff ideas and imbue his tracks with electronica-tinged auras, of which both share a common love. Then in 2018, Cory commenced an arduous two-year undertaking to mutate I Will Destroy You from concept to reality.
Without spoiling too much of the conversation that lies ahead, Cory ports us from ZOMBIESHARK!’s days of yore to the present. The writing and piecing together of I Will Destroy You is a large focus of this interview, however, he spends a good deal of time chatting about some of his earliest influences, his love for and inspiration drawn from horror games, and the various headspaces that fed the concepts underpinning his new album. There is much more to unpack in the two-plus hours I spent with him, and I sincerely hope you find this conversation illuminating.
Just last Friday Cory dropped a new music video for the final track on I Will Destroy You, titled “The Way the World Looked at Me”. You can watch it in the embedded video player below or on the ZOMBIESHARK! YouTube channel. Thank you so much for tuning in.
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You can peruse all of ZOMBIESHARK!’s work via Bandcamp. You can also stream The Digital Sea and I Will Destroy You via Spotify. Be sure to follow the project on Facebook and Instagram to stay in-the-loop about new merch drops, singles, and everything else ZOMBIESHARK!.
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Coming up this Thursday is a fresh track review episode, followed by an in-depth interview next Monday with the zany mathcore/djent outfit ZILF.