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Thy Art Is Murder

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Thy Art Is Murder

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Homegrown metalheads, Thy Art Is Murder is back on Aussie soil and thrashing around the country on their Death Sentence Tour. And the biggest surprise of all? Much revered original frontman, CJ McMahon is well and truly back with the band. After his unexpected appearance with the band at the UNIFY Gathering earlier this year, McMahon has shown he’s overcome his battles with addiction and is in top form. Where animosity was stirred and tensions tight, guitarist Andy Marsh says the band’s dynamic now is certainly not like it was. “It’s renewed, I’d say it’s better than it was.”

With new album Dear Desolation set to drop in August, Thy Art Is Murder weren’t without caution in considering McMahon’s return. “CJ mentioned about a year ago after we started talking after a few months apart, ‘Oh, you know, I’m kicking the drugs and everything’, and we were like, ‘That’s great man, good for you’ – we didn’t even contemplate the idea of him coming back. And then kind of about this time in 2016, he was like, ‘Well, if I can get my shit together, I’d kind of like to come back to the band’. And it was like, ‘Nah, you’re a crazy person, we don’t need the stress anymore,’” Marsh says with a chuckle.

“Then we saw him a year ago – we ran into him, and he seemed quite a bit better. He just kept going down this path and keeping us up-to-date, and eventually, we talked a lot more about it – it was self-prescribed family counselling. We did UNIFY, and he was great, [he] came to the studio for a couple of weeks and recorded – he was a different person. I mean, he was like CJ, but he was the best version of CJ I’ve known. Having the relief of him not being an addict around us all and all the drama that comes with that has gone. It’s made the band a more enjoyable place to be; everyone’s stoked now.”

While fans are certainly experiencing the band at their utmost best on the current tour, McMahon still treads on the fragile ground. Old wounds are hard to heal, and there’s still a part of Marsh, and the rest of the band, who feel that if they become too relaxed, McMahon’s demons could take advantage of that. “In the past, we were more lenient because he’d have a hissy fit,” Marsh says. “I feel a responsibility to help keep him on his path of sobriety, not just as a business partner but as a friend as well.”

In coming together to write their barbarous fourth album, Dear Desolation, Marsh says that writing privileges weren’t particularly extended in any special way to McMahon. “He was as involved as he normally is, that is to say, the music takes place then I write whatever else we need.

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“I write the lyrics and CJ will then refine the lyrics to suit how he’d deliver it – kind of like a scriptwriter preparing a script for an actor. An actor has his idea of how he’ll play a role and can make suitable suggestions to change, and it’s the same with CJ. I’m just giving him a script; he’s the performer. Sometimes he’ll change stuff, he’ll have ideas for lines, but generally, he’s the last one to have an input.”

Given Marsh’s extensive work on Dear Desolation, it’s only natural that it would reflect his thoughts and observations. Musically very dark, Marsh’s reflections surpass the shadowy events of the band’s past. Without falling too far into a political tangent, Marsh says, “Lyrically, the last album was a very outward album, observed from the outside world. This album is more introspective and focuses a lot on basically the anxiety of dying, basic existentialism – just a conversation with myself really about mortality, faith, how peoples basic fear of dying dictates so much how a person will live their life.

“People are so afraid of dying, they’ve invented these wonderful religions that ensure they never really do die – it kind of dances around that concept.”

Bleak, morose and brooding, such pensive and philosophical ideas came for Marsh from what most people would perceive to be the most delightful of events, but for Marsh, was the most unlikely and unexpected. “I had a daughter two years ago – I never wanted to have children, I don’t think people should be having children unless they have to, because of the state of an overpopulated planet we live on. But unfortunately, or fortunately, I had a child who I’m very much in love with, and it did generate a lot of separation anxiety between her and me, not in terms of me going on tour but just the finality of death.

“It also gave a new urgency to the way I feel about preserving the planet that we live on because now I’ve left something behind that has to live with it – which was the genesis for the song, ‘They Will Know Another’. It’s more self-discussion on that song, which was the first thought that occurred to me when I first had my child, and two years down the road, it’s gotten darker the more I think about it. It’s a difficult pill to swallow but one I do swallow as an atheist.

“So much of that battling and dissonance throughout the ages is what has to lead us into secular and non-secular portions of society: is that basic fear of death and what happens to everything else after you die.”

Written by Anna Rose

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