Local guitarist/producer/engineer/promoter Augustine Ortiz is kind of blowing my mind right now. Between writing, performing and recording duties with his full-time metal band, Carrion Kind, riffing with his joke band Strangled by Strangulation, promoting metal shows under the name Kronos Creative and providing a sort of mentorship desperately needed within the scene, one wonders how the man has time for it all. Or, to be more specific, one wonders how this all came to be.
"Going back to the '80s, I grew up on Michael Jackson and pop, but then I found my dad's eight-track collection, which happened to contain Black Sabbath, and I was hooked immediately," Oritiz says. "Metal just seemed so natural and so open…I'm not really an aggressive person, but I like the aggression and I like the technical proficiency."
This is an odd statement for a guy who claims he hated music classes in school. Ortiz says that though he always loved listening to music, he cared little for how it worked.
"And then there was this turning point when I was around 16 or so, and I actually started out playing drums," he says, laughing. "I suck at drums now, but back then none of my friends played guitar, so since we wanted to start a band, I kind of had to do that, and I never looked back."
Ortiz would go on to play with legendary Santa Fe metal bands like Insight and The Seventh Circle before getting married and moving to St. Paul, Minn., in 2006. There, he worked in database and web development remotely for Los Alamos National Laboratory and, during this time, he cut his teeth working sound for concerts and gleaning as much information from the audio world as he possibly could. When his marriage dissolved in 2010, he returned to Santa Fe and joined forces with local producer/engineer Jesse Albright. The two would record bands like Grinkai, Savage Wizdom, Chango and many more. The operation eventually became too expensive to maintain and in 2012, the two would part ways professionally just in time for Ortiz to form Carrion Kind alongside some Santa Fe metal vets.
"Grinkai was on the brink of destruction, and Gabe [Vigil] and Vince [Apodaca] were looking for something new," Ortiz says. "We got together to jam and the chemistry was there, so we cut a demo shortly after and then started looking for vocalists."
They would hire Jayson Grace, formerly of Fallen Hope/CassoVita and begin to slay without remorse. Carrion Kind's inception was not only a great addition to the local metal landscape, it would wind up being a shot in the arm for many others within that community.
"When we first started, the metal scene was hurting and even though we were ready to play shows, it was hard to make that happen, which is how Kronos Creative started," Ortiz says of his promotion company. "The thing about this town is that there's a ton of talent, but there's no good way for bands to get their product out…studio time is expensive and there was a time when there weren't a lot of venues for metal, so the idea was to provide a way for bands to play shows and to promote them right, and now I can help handle the booking, the artwork, the recording, the promotion, etc."
This year, Carrion Kind released their debut album, The Collapse of All to Come, through Los Angeles indie label Entelodon Records. At just nine tracks, Collapse showcases Carrion Kind's dense and brutal songwriting chops in a non-stop barrage of crushing drums and intricate riffs. Ortiz' guitar work is nothing short of fascinating and makes one wonder how he remembers everything he's supposed to do. Especially of note, however, is Grace's seamless transition between the guttural growl of death metal and the high-pitched shriek reminiscent of hardcore bands like Converge. It is a must for metal lovers and a testament to Santa Fe's love of metal.
And should you wish to see Ortiz and Carrion Kind in action, take a quick trip to the Dave Cave, a DIY metal venue here in Santa Fe. The boys will be playing alongside Ohio thrash act Nekrofilth as well as up-and-coming Santa Fe metal outfits Sleeptaker and Yare (pronounced Yah-Ray). It's a metalhead's dream and the kind of show that larger markets would flock to in droves. Damn.
Carrion Kind with Nekrofilth,
Sleeptaker and Yare
8 pm Sunday, Aug. 31. $5
The Dave Cave
1226 Calle de Comercio