On a recent Saturday evening, I sat down at 12 West Brewing Company in Mesa to talk to Nick Schellbach and Sebastian McGinley, vocalist and bassist, respectively, of local death metal band SaintBreaker.
I’ve been a fan of SaintBreaker for a while. Soon after arriving in Arizona, I made quick work of discovering a local metal scene, and found among these audiences a common love for the thrashing, moshing, head-banging, high-energy shows the band put on.
But don't take my word for it: You can catch SaintBreaker tonight, Friday, April 28, at Pub Rock in Scottsdale.
Officially formed in 2013, SaintBreaker’s members came with a diverse array of tastes in heavy music and unified in their love for Slayer and Metallica. Joining later in the band’s development, Schellbach brought a passion for grindcore, powerviolence, and other “stupid fast, stupid aggressive stuff,” as well as a diversity that lends SaintBreaker’s music a unique freshness.
This punk-infused amalgamation of styles has grown into a stable maturity of sound that simultaneously excites and anchors the feeling of their particular brand of heavy. They’ve gone through some membership changes, but had solidified their current lineup by the release of their first full-length record, Beaten Into Belief
, in 2017. (The lineup also includes guitarist Jacob Williams and drummer Vance Eastland.) In the time since, they’ve built a considerable following and toured around the continental U.S.
Being well established in the local scene, they reminisce on the toll that the recent pandemic took on live music, but assure me that everything is back in full swing and that the healthy and supportive music underground in Arizona deserves many thanks. Not least because of the accessibility of venues — they do enjoy the stage — but the prospect of playing a good old-fashioned party.
SaintBreaker released their second full-length album, Unrelenting Violence, on April 1
, and it showcases their experience. The album’s sound strikes a delicate balance between clear articulation and noisy grind to great avail. It’s fast and it’s heavy, with tasty licks and a healthy dose of basso thump that could easily spark a living room moshpit.
According to Schellbach and McGinley, the three years it took to develop this album gave it a weathered feel. This lengthy period of time saw the musicians coming in and out of tastes and moods. McGinley explains that the movement away from focusing on complexity or difficulty in their songwriting and toward “what we want to hear and what we like to hear” provided a sophistication and sonic diversity that demonstrates the band’s versatility, and that’s a feature worth exploring when listening to this album.
Overall, it’s still apparent that their music is live-oriented and thrives in the company of an audience. Schellbach and McGinley say "the live feel is definitely what SaintBreaker’s about,” and once you hear the album, you’ll understand what they mean.
Lyrically, the record keeps to SaintBreaker’s form: Topics like war, religion, subjugation, and impending doom all culminate into an unforgettable rage that drives their massive energy. As far as politics go (and true to the genre) they try not to exclude or alienate and don’t explicitly attempt to push political messages in their music, creating space instead for freedom of opinion. But according to Schellbach, if there is a message to be taken away from their music it’s to “try to approach life with a humanitarian perspective” and, as Nick astutely summarized in the words of Bill and Ted, “be excellent to each other.” To that I say, “party on, dudes.”
SaintBreaker Album Release Show. With Witchaven, Sorrower, Hard Luck, and Misanthropic. 7 p.m. Friday, April 28. Pub Rock, 8005 Eaast Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale. Tickets are $13 plus fees