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The best kept secret in music


"Feature: Conceived by Art"

A hand grenade with wings adorns the cover of bydeathsdesign's brand-new EP Only Hits. Is it just a cool image, or is it a mixed metaphor (primed to explode and poised for flight) predicting the Las Vegas hardcore band's rise to fame and glory?

Whatever the image symbolizes, it's permanently tatted on guitarist Josh Edwards' arm, so the band better learn to love it. Which shouldn't be a problem, at least for a while. See, bydeathsdesign, after being together for a little more than a year, is quickly making things happen.

First and foremost, the band recently signed with local start-up indie Embryo Records, releasing the aforementioned EP (currently available at Balcony Lights Books & Music) before recording a full-length album that's set to drop in the spring with national distribution. In addition, both and deemed the Vegas hardcore "band of the month" in the fall. All this and opening for bands like Superjoint Ritual at the House of Blues this weekend make it seem like bydeathsdesign is, like, actually getting somewhere in the general nowhere of the local music scene.

This is no easy task, especially if you consider the hardcore genre, which goes down about as easy as a chainsaw sandwich.

Listening to Only Hits, you're instantly smacked down by savage screams, gut-wrenching guitars and bloodletting beats, making the band's name more of a sonic manifesto than a nod to the horror flick Final Destination. The opener, "In Reverse," rips a hole in the time-space continuum with a weird speech about "the Teutonic gods of war" before rocket-launching into a two-minute taste of WWIII. From there, things just get uglier, with songs like "The Result of Tragedy" and "Conceived by Art" showcasing bydeathsdesign's refusal to submit to conventional subject matter -- namely girls.

In this light, the title Only Hits becomes a joke. After all, what kind of hit songs have so much sound and fury signifying such reshaped myths as "Icarus"?

"It's funny," explains frontman Sean Delanty, "'cause they're the only songs we've ever recorded. It's not an album, really, and we didn't want to title it. Embryo pressed 'em, put their logo on 'em. They kinda wanted [the EP] for themselves."

Soon the band will be sharing its music with more than its record company, at least if everything goes well in the studio, which is where bydeathsdesign is spending countless hours in an effort to assemble 15 kickass tracks.

"We put our brains together," says Delanty, regarding the studio experience. "We don't want [our music] to be heavy all the way through. We practice and kick the songs around until we get something decent. We don't say, 'We're gonna write a song today,' 'cause that never works. It's just a real collaboration on everyone's part."

Delanty takes his job seriously, refusing to compose lyrics at the last minute. "I write it all down beforehand," he says, "so all the songs have a personal meaning." However personal the words are, Delanty's not above collaborating in this regard, either. The lyrics for "Icarus" were co-penned by second guitarist Matt Amundsen. Asked whether such tactics can make a song sound inconsistent, Delanty replies: "In the end, it's just a song, and you'll be able to understand it on its own."

Indeed, nothing's gonna slow down bydeathsdesign -- at least not any minor aesthetic concerns. After all, this is a band that boasts a bruising track called "Conceived by Art."

Speed is key to understanding Delanty and Co. (Amundsen, Edwards, bassist Jarod Mirowski and drummer Matt "Spanky" DeCarlo), and Spanky is the man behind the drum-crazed plan, pushing every song into overdrive, careening alongside, into and through bydeathsdesign's gauntlet of hardcore guitar-riffs.

"Spanky is an amazing drummer," Delanty confirms. "We just love the way he plays, and his playing is important to the band. When we mixed and mastered [the new drum tracks], the bass drum sound was absolutely crucial. With him on board, we've gotten better, tighter, as a band. Now that we're recording, the songs have more slower tempo breaks, and as a result, the guitars have gotten more sophisticated."

This sophistication is in stark contrast to an earlier band called Spilltowne that included Delanty, Edwards and Mirowski. By everyone's account, it was an effort that yielded mixed results.

"It was a mess," confesses Delanty, "mainly because everybody was getting used to each other's individual styles."

Those varied styles had a lot to do with the band's geographical make-up, as each member hailed from a different part of the country. Delanty, for example, got into hardcore in Virginia, where outside of D.C. bands like Minor Threat and Dag Nasty birthed the hardcore genre. But Delanty was and remains a huge Cure fan, while Mirowski continues to adore the Smiths and Morrissey. As a result, there was very little edge to the band.

"Spilltowne wasn't nearly as heavy-sounding as bydeathsdesign," says Delanty. "But it was fun and an experiment. We played here and there in town, but we never took it seriously."

Now things are serious. And unlike a lot of other hardcore musicians, Delanty sees the all-ages scene in Las Vegas as one segment of a larger audience. True, most of bydeathdesign's fans are under 21, but he doesn't want to limit the band's audience -- which is why he's not above rocking the liquor-serving House of Blues or the Joint on any given weekend night.

"I have a stupid theory on [the all-ages scene]," he says, reflecting on the prolonged yet supposedly temporary remodeling of the Huntridge, Café Espresso Roma's closure and Skate City's noise-ordinance woes. "This town mostly caters to adults. Other cities, though, are more prepared for when an all-ages venue goes under. I mean, it's unheard of here for an all-ages place to last more than six months. Look at [the now-defunct] Tremorz: It was getting decent shows, and the next day it was shut down. I think people are scared of the hassle, because it's too much of a headache to run an all-ages place."

There will be plenty of headaches to go around Dec. 12, when bydeathsdesign unleashes hell with Superjoint Ritual. But these headaches will be "the good kind."

"Matt [Amundsen] is gonna get his tits autographed by [ex-Pantera frontman and current Superjoint singer] Phil Anselmo," promises Delanty.

For more info on bydeathsdesign, check out and
- Las Vegas Citylife

"Fear and Lounging: Designer Deal"

Bands only call us when they have a Monday night gig at the Cooler Lounge. Not when they, you know, actually, like, sign a record deal.

According to By Death Design's manager, the local hardcore band signed with local label Embryo Records in late September. It's a one-album-plus-options affair, and the band (Sean Delanty, vocals Josh Edwards, guitar Jarod Mirowski, bass Matt Amundsen, guitar and Matt DeCarlo, drums) enters the studio, Tom Parham Audio, this week to start laying down basic tracks. Chad Peterson, bassist of SoCal hardcore band Strife, is slated to produce the record, which is set for a late January/early February 2004 release.

Another local band, Psychic Radio, has been signed to Embryo for more than a year. But, for various technical and legal reasons, the band has yet to release an album.

For more info on Embryo Records, check out For more info on By Death's Design, check out

--J.K. - las vegas city life

"Review: donttesttheuniverse"

Just for a second, try to forgive Bydeathsdesign for omitting spaces and proper capitalization from its name. Or at the very least, reserve judgment until you hear Don't Test the Universe--a seething ball of twentysomething angst turned into a 34-minute onslaught of fire-belching fury. Anchored by Sean Delanty's larynx-shredding bark, the Las Vegas quintet turns in a full-length debut that's as technical as it is--gasp!--smart, which is saying a lot for a local hardcore band. But look no further than "Icarus," the third track on the album, to see the band's brains. An updated retelling of the ancient Greek fable, "Icarus" sees Delanty wax melancholic over the hyperactive interplay of Matt Amundsen and Josh Edwards' guitars: "These wings are meant to burn, to test my strength, to watch me fall." Add a kick-ass bridge and "Icarus" has all the makings of a metalcore anthem. Also noteworthy are "The Great Fashion Disaster" and "The Result of Tragedy," both of which hint at the band's musicianship without compromising any of its rage. Unfortunately, like most hardcore albums, Don't Test the Universe sounds a little familiar by the end, but it's got more than enough oomph to keep you headbanging long after the originality ends.--Newt Briggs - las vegas mercury

"Review: donttesttheuniverse"

Embracing what is considered good music would be characterized by bydeathsdesign's new album "Don't Test the Universe." Their unique guitar melodies, powerful vocals, and high-paced tempo really have mixed well in their latest album. I was amazed by their guitar rifts and how they were able to manipulate a typical slow-tempo beat into a high-paced, hard hitting hook that didn't throw off the song's rhythm. (Wow that was a mouth full.) Another thing I loved about this album was how Sean (lead singer) would maintain his energy throughout each track. Not only is he an excellent screamer, but his unique singing voice has something in it that will attract an audience. Great album, I would highly suggest picking this album up.

FTP's Favored Tracks:
1. blurring the lines between good and evil
6. destiny was a hoax
9. same page
11. in the arms of achievers -


the passing hour ep - 2002
varying degrees of the worst day of your life ep - 2003
only hits (compilation of both prior ep's - 2004
don't test the universe full length album - 2005


Feeling a bit camera shy


Bydeathsdesign has cultured their sound to be unique, yet with similarities akin to the sounds of Thrice, Rise Against, and Avenged Sevenfold. This style of aggressive music with its passion-filled screaming has been slowly sneaking up on the front of what is now deciding the fate of hardcore.

With this militant force striking on the anvil of underground music, bydeathsdesign forges ahead to meet their bright future. Bydeathsdesign has earned their veteran stripes from its members' previous bands in cities like Richmond Virginia, Syracuse New York, and here in Las Vegas Nevada. The mix finally came in the early spring of 2002 when Josh Edwards, Sean Delanty, and Jarod Mirowski - having already preconceived the band - recruited Matt Amundsen on guitar and drummer Matt DeCarlo. With this new group ready for combat, they charged ahead once more with an acute understanding of what it takes to conquer.

Battle born and soaked in fury, bydeathsdesign has achieved maturity in Las Vegas' exploding hardcore scene by earning their scars and stripes on the stage. When on stage, expect an explosive live performance with members all over the room, rocking out with rabid fans singing and clapping along. With passion in one pocket and a road map in the other, bydeathsdesign enters the streets with a wanton abandon of rules and a chaotic consumption of all.