Expect the unexpected
Enslave the Creation
Nineteen-year-old Shell-bee Blicker has an unassuming presence. She’s polite and has a speaking voice befitting her youth and her 5-feet-1-inch frame. But get her up on stage as front woman for Enslave the Creation, and she turns into a different person.
“She introduces us and her voice is so, you know… and then she starts singing, and it’s so unexpected,” says Eric Marks, bass player for the progressive technical death metal band. Marks says Blicker’s singing has been compared to Chris Barnes from Cannibal Corpse, a pioneering death metal band.
Having a young female singer is definitely an element of surprise for the band. Not many groups in the death metal genre are fronted by women, let alone a teenage girl who sounds like a full-grown man when she performs.
The band is comprised of five musicians of diverse backgrounds and ages. Marks, who is 40 years old, started playing bass with Mike Stewart, who plays guitar and is 26 years old. The two played music together for nine years before they decided to record some of what they had written. In the process, they found Cris Portugal, a 21-year-old guitar player from Mexico. The three of them played and wrote music together for a while until they finally found their current drummer, 20-year-old Jared Klein, who joined the band in January. They played a few shows with various other members and a different singer. It was at one of these shows that they met Blicker, who was in another band that was playing the same show. She was asked to join the group in July.
“The broadness in our age really adds to our musical diversity; we have five decades of musical influences,” says Marks, who grew up listening to progressive rock in the ’70s then started listening to big hair bands in the ’80s.
Portugal says the first time he heard anything heavy was on MTV in Mexico. When he moved to the states, a friend introduced him to death metal. “The thing that did it for me was the solos,” Portugal says. “I wanted to shred like that.”
Enslave the Creation considers itself a progressive technical death metal band. Members come from death metal roots but base their writing and playing on music theory.
“Progressive means it’s constantly changing,” explains Klein. “It goes into different time signatures and tempos, and it’s technically based.”
“The focus of this band is to redefine the genre of death metal. There are a lot of talented musicians in Reno,” says Marks. “So we want to put Reno on the map and make our mark in death metal.”
Stewart and Portugal are the primary songwriters for the group. It’s intense music and one thing is for sure—they play really fast.
“I’ve had people tell me that we need to move more on stage, but it’s hard because it’s so technical,” Portugal says. “You want to be as clean as possible with this kind of music.”
“I didn’t really know about progressive technical death metal,” explains Blicker. It’s impressive to watch. You have to have a respect for it even if you don’t like it. It’s really difficult to play.”
Members practice as a group three to five days a week, and it’s obvious that they enjoy what they do and that they enjoy doing it together. There are no spouses to mess things up. Jobs and drugs don’t get in the way. They all talk about how the best payment at a show is when the audience applauds, or they get compliments from other musicians.
“You’ll never get rich in death metal,” Marks says.
Ultimately, they would love to get signed to a label that can support them financially so they can continue to play and go on tour.
“Getting paid to do what we love to do?” questions Blicker. “That’d be awesome.”