When we last spoke with Greenville’s Dallas Toler-Wade, he had just left Nile, a popular Upstate death metal band that has charted albums all over the world. Toler-Wade, who handled the guitars and vocals for Nile alongside founding member Karl Sanders for 20 years, talked about being burned out after constant touring, and how he’d gotten into a violent confrontation with a member of another band that made him rethink his priorities and head home. He also spoke of his other project, a band called Narcotic Wasteland, but wasn’t sure if he could commit to any long-term plan when it came to playing music.
Seven months down the line from that conversation, Toler-Wade says now he regrets some of what he said.
“When we did that interview, I was a little bit emotional still,” he says. “I wanted nothing more than to be home with my family, and I didn’t answer the way I wanted to. I still want to do this. I still want to make music.”
Even if he hadn’t said that, the new album by Narcotic Wasteland, “Delirium Tremens,” would’ve made that point clear. Taking the dizzyingly technical death metal that Nile became famous for and stripping it down to an aggressive, intense core, the album is largely brutal, triple-time death metal, full of relentless rhythms, buzzsaw guitar riffs, and guttural, growling vocals. There’s no fat on these 12 tracks, even if there’s the occasional quiet or haunting passage to break up the onslaught.
It’s impossible to believe that the musicians who wrote and played this punishing album are anything less than 100 percent committed to it.
“Musically, I put everything I had into it,” Toler-Wade says. “Music has been my life since I can remember, and I wanted to put something out that’s moving and gives people chills or goosebumps or whatever you want to call it. Music is one of the strangest thing about humankind, but there’s a connection with people if it’s done right.”
When Narcotic Wasteland’s first album came out in 2013, it was essentially a side-project for Toler-Wade; now it’s his main focus. But he says that not much changed about how the band made this record compared to the last one.
“This project started with me getting back into what I was doing in the early ’90s, particularly the kind of sound I had as a guitar player,” he says. “[Second guitarist] Ed Rhone and I jammed together a lot and talked about the songs a lot. It’s kind of getting back to my roots in a lot of ways.”
Those roots stretch back to the late ’80s, when death metal was evolving at a fast pace. “I’ve always gravitated towards the aggression that’s in that music,” he says. “The first time I heard any really aggressive metal, I was blown away. That was back when that palm-muted, crunch-crunch guitar really started to take off. It was a game changer; there were so many other things you could do with it.”
That guitar crunch is present in spades on “Delirium Tremens,” which was released on MegaForce Records on Oct. 13, but the band balances it with some quieter, more intimate moments that create a sense of balance.
“There’s a depth to it,” Toler-Wade says. “Music is supposed to not just be about how well someone can play. That’s important, but sometimes you can play a single note and it’s the best thing ever. I was going with what felt good, and seeing where that took us.”
The band, which also includes bassist Chris Dupre and drummer Phil Cancilla, is playing a show at The Radio Room in Greenville on Saturday, and Toler-Wade says he’s ready to dive back into the touring cycle… with a little careful planning this time around.
“Almost everyone in the band has kids, so we’re going to make sure we spend as much time as we can with our families,” he say. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t do this, as long as we can keep control of it.”
Narcotic Wasteland, w/ Your Chance To Die and Thermostat
Venue: Radio Room, 110 Poinsett Highway
Date: Saturday, Oct. 21
Showtime: 9 p.m.
Info: 864-629-4441, radioroomgreenville.com