Interview: Graves Of Valor looking to make an impression with audiences on Relapse Contamination Tour

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The Relapse Contamination tour has served as the career launching pad for multiple bands that went on the audience acclaim. Mastodon and Nile were introduced to metal fans through the tour, and High On Fire and The Dillinger Escape Plan also spring-boarded off the tour into the metal spotlight.

Damon Welch, vocalist for South Carolina’s Graves Of Valor, knows this year’s Contamination tour – which stops in Owensboro May 1 –  is an opportunity for the band to infect cities both large and small with its extreme death metal sound.

“It’s definitely more important,” Welch said, during a phone interview a day or two before death metal band embarked for the first date of the tour. “It’s not nerve-wracking. I’m glad we have a chance to do this. We’re fortunate enough that Relapse put us on this (tour).

“A lot of the tours we’ve done have been more of a hardcore crowd … this is more of straight metal, so it’s going to put us in front of a lot of new people,” Welch said.

Gates of Valor was formed in 2006 by Dayton Cantley, Jeff Springs and Richard Turbeville, who had all played together in Through The Eyes Of The Dead. Welch and bassist David Hasselbring rounded out the line up, and the band released its first EP, “Famine,” in 2007.

“Famine” was vicious and extreme enough to catch the attention of Relapse Records. Next month, the band will release its full-length debut, “Salarian Gate.” Welch said the plan is to tour extensively this year in support of the album.

“Hopefully, we’re going to do a lot of touring between July and Christmas,” Welch said. ” … It’s kind of like a vacation for us. We always have a good time.

“Before and after the show, we’re always hanging out, watching the bands and talking to people,” Welch said.

For “Salarian Gate,” the band went to Mana Recording Studios in Florida – the state were death metal was born. Welch said the band was given the time it needed to craft the songs and hone the performances.

“The structure is a lot better on the new album, with definite choruses and a lot less breakdowns,” Welch said. “There’s more of a traditional metal feel to it.

“We were able to spend a lot more time in the studio and (on) the writing process,” he said. “Everything seemed to flow really good.”

The Contamination Tour will take the bands through both large cities and towns – like Owensboro – where metal package tours are rare. Welch said the band perfers playing smaller venues.

“We love tours where we go to small towns, when it’s all craziness and packed,” Welch said. “Just come party with us. It’s going to be a night of a bunch of good metal.”

To hear songs from the “Famine” EP and the forthcoming “Salarian Gate,” visit the band’s MySpace page.

The band, along with Obscura and Abysmal Dawn, will perform at 7 p.m. on Friday May 1 at The Brothers in Owensboro. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. To purchase tickets on line, visit www.theticketrumba.com

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