In its short tenure, New Jersey’s tech-progressive death metal unit, Uncured, has generated a notable buzz among fans and the industry. Fronted by teen brothers Rex and Zak Cox, who serve as the band’s vocalists and dual guitar wizards, Uncured got its feet wet in 2016 with the release of its Spontaneous Generation EP. Next To None’s Max Portnoy served as drummer for the release. This spring, the band released its debut full-length album, Medusa, with Jon Kita joining on bass and Liam Manley on drums. The group recently wrapped a tour with Katatonia, and this summer they will share the stage with DevilDriver, followed by a fall run with Children of Bodom. This week, Metalholic chatted with the Cox brothers about the band’s history, debut album, and future.
The Uncured sound encompasses several styles. Some of their inspirations are easier to catch than others.
“We’ve been influenced by a wide variety of bands,” admits Rex. “The first band we always reference would be Opeth, primarily because of their ability to combine very heavy, brutal parts with softer, melodic parts. Their writing philosophies carry over into a lot of ours, even though musically we don’t sound totally similar. Also we’re very inspired by Jeff Loomis and John Petrucci, because we see them as the two best guitarists in the metal scene today. Watching their playing and seeing how technical they are, that’s really inspired us to push ourselves to become more technical. You’ll hear a lot of that in our music as well.”
Spontaneous Generation was released as an instrumental EP and featured Mike Portnoy’s son Max on drums.
“When we first wrote our EP, it was written over the course of a few years,” shares Rex. “My brother and I were always throwing riffs at each other; ‘How do you like this? How do you like that?’ When we decided we actually wanted to record our EP we had sequenced drums on it, and we thought that we needed real drums to really pull it all together. There’s something about real drums that you just can’t accomplish with sequenced drums. So we contacted Max and Mike Portnoy and they were more than happy to have Max fill in on our first EP.”
Between the EP and the Medusa album, the band added vocals and solidified its line-up. With that, there has been a notable evolution in the quartet’s sound.
“When we initially started we wanted to have vocals on our music,” notes Rex. “We didn’t have any intentions of putting vocals on the EP, which was a little bit of a sampler of everything that we set out to accomplish musically. I think it’s a logical progression from the EP to Medusa, which is heavier, and we added vocals. Even though a lot of the stylistic choices are similar, I think that Medusa takes a step towards where we want to go as a band from the EP.”
“For most instrumental bands there sort of is a limitation on a wide appeal to a larger group of people,” adds Zak. “We would like to have as large an audience as possible. When we were writing Medusa, we wanted to think; ‘What’s going to translate the best to a live performance setting?’ Which is what we think is the most important part of being in a band. You need to have an amazing live show. That’s why we wrote a lot of Medusa how we did, because we knew we wanted harsh vocals, and we knew we wanted it to translate well live. I think we accomplished what we set out to do. We’re very pleased with our final product.”
Since the release of Medusa, the band has reworked its track “Stygian Pit”, adding vocals, and releasing it in new form as “Stygian Valley,” which the band has released as its latest single.
“What we were thinking with ‘Stygian Valley’ is we needed a heavier version of ‘Stygian Pit,’” offers Rex. “Obviously to make it heavier we could, a) add vocals and then, b) we restructured the song without losing any portions, cause we knew what we wanted to keep. We had to cut out parts that repeated and things like that. That process was a unique one for us because we’ve never actually redone a song that we’ve made previously. But it went very fluidly, and on ‘Stygian Valley’ we had time to do a bunch of extra vocal tracks to make them sound better than Medusa because we had, a) more experience and, b) the ability to really produce the vocals in a unique way.”
You can check out the full interview with Rex and Zak Cox and check out the video for “Stygian Valley” below. You can also find Uncured on tour this year with DevilDriver and Children of Bodom.