Circle of Dead Children

Last updated
Circle of Dead Children
Origin Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Genres Deathgrind, grindcore
Years active 1998–present
Labels Willowtip Records
Members Joe Horvath
Drew Haritan
Matt Francis

Circle of Dead Children is a deathgrind band formed on October 24, 1998, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [1]

Deathgrind is a fusion genre of death metal and grindcore. Along with pornogrind, it is related to the goregrind subgenre. Zero Tolerance described deathgrind as "grindcore and brutal death metal colliding head on." Dan Lilker described deathgrind as "combining the technicality of death metal with the intensity of grindcore."

"Like death/thrash and death/black, the name death/grind undoubtedly stems from the importance of specialist mail order catalogues and their related 'zine scenes in proliferating extreme metal music to an audience whose tastes, as the '90s progressed, increasingly crossed over the traditional line between death metal and grindcore - that of lyrical content. [Death/grind e]mphasis[es] overall musical brutality with a specific focus on speed-soaked fury and the firm retention of grindcore's traditional abruptness."

Pittsburgh City in western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and is the county seat of Allegheny County. As of 2017, a population of 305,704 lives within the city limits, making it the 63rd-largest city in the U.S. The metropolitan population of 2,353,045 is the largest in both the Ohio Valley and Appalachia, the second-largest in Pennsylvania, and the 26th-largest in the U.S.

Pennsylvania State of the United States of America

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.


After a self-titled demo in 1998, Circle of Dead Children signed on with Willowtip Records to release their first full-length album, Starving the Vultures , which comprised the demo tracks as well as several new ones. Since then, Circle of Dead Children has been signed to S.O.A. Records, Robodog Records (now called Robotic Empire), Necropolis Records, Deathvomit Records, Martyr Music Group, Earache Records, Displeased Records and Candlelight Records. They are currently signed with Willowtip once again, having passed on deals from larger labels on several occasions. Since its debut, the band has undergone numerous lineup changes; only one of the original members, Joe Horvath, still remaining.

Willowtip Records record label

Willowtip Records is an independently owned and distributed heavy metal record label headquartered in Zelienople, Pennsylvania.

<i>Starving the Vultures</i> album by Circle of Dead Children

Starving the Vultures is the first studio album by Pittsburgh's Circle of Dead Children.

Robotic Empire is an American record label based out of Richmond, Virginia. They specialize in hardcore punk, heavy metal, and alternative rock. Some of the most popular bands signed to the label over the years have been pg.99, City of Caterpillar, Crowpath, The Red Chord, Circle Takes the Square, Cursive, Versoma, Daughters, Isis, Kayo Dot, Cave In, Red Sparowes, Torche and Hot Cross. Robotic Empire was known as Robodog Records for their first 14 releases.


Formation and early history

Circle of Dead Children formed after Joe Horvath and Jason Andrews previous band, .blackwel. had broken up. They joined with John Kubacka, David Good and Jon Miciolek who had been playing in various punk bands at the time. Following their tenth practice they recorded their first and only demo cassette, which was self-titled. The band focused on playing around the Pittsburgh area for its first couple years of existence. Each of the live concerts during the first couple of years had seen vocalist, Joe Horvath, commit to self-battery and bloodshed, adding to the shock value. [1]

Self-titled demo cassette

Following their tenth practice in 1998, Circle of Dead Children self-financed a self-titled demo cassette which was sold, and subsequently sold out, at their first two live shows. There were one-hundred copies made for distribution. The demo contained four tracks and had a total playing time of just 5:45. [2]

Starving The Vultures

Shortly after releasing a demo cassette, Circle of Dead Children signed a deal with Willowtip Records and developed their first album, Starving the Vultures. It contained the four tracks from their demo cassette in addition to ten more songs. They recorded this release with Todd Doehring at a makeshift studio inside of a now condemned (and now demolished) giant warehouse building, called Plus/Minus Studios, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Todd had little experience recording 'death-metal' at the time, having mostly recorded/produced jazz and avant-garde groups/bands, but he quickly realized that this was some incredible, powerful, and sincerely awesome songwriting and performance talent. Many interesting discussions between Joe Horvath and Todd Doehring resulted in a fantastic recording that will likely stand 'the test of time' as possibly the best metal (deathgrind) to emanate from Pittsburgh. The album was released in 1998, on compact disc through Willowtip Records. A limited edition vinyl LP version with a pressing of 500 was released through Italian record label, S.O.A. Records and has long since been sold out. The album received positive reviews, praising the band's unique approach of extreme metal. The fourteen tracks have a total playing time of 24:18.

Exotic Sense Decay [EP]

In 1999, Circle of Dead Children were originally approached to do a split 10" record with Ontario, Canada metal band, Maharahj. [1] Within two and half weeks, CODC had written and recorded 7 tracks for the proposed release. [1] It was recorded at Plus/Minus Studios, in Pittsburgh, PA, with Todd Doehring. The band recorded with all lights shut off and only a few tea candles lit and scattered through the warehouse. After several setbacks with the other band and proposed record label, Circle of Dead Children made the decision to release the songs as a CD-EP on Willowtip Records. They also released the songs on a limited-edition 7" picture disc record, on Robodog Records, with a pressing of 500. Each side of the picture disc featured unique artwork. Vocalist, Joe Horvath, painted the art that became the album cover for this release, after having difficulty finding suitable artwork that they could commission. He titled the piece, "The Cost of Impatience". [1] Following the release of 'Exotic Sense Decay', CODC parted ways with original bass player, David Good. This release featured seven tracks and a total playing time of 12:19.

Maharahj was a metalcore band from Oakville, Ontario. Their name originated from a modified spelling of the East Indian term maharaja. This now defunct band was founded in 1997 by Garren and Clay under the original name One Winged Angel. Over the course five years, the band released one demo and two full length studio albums. After heated discussion about the viability of full-time tour support, they disbanded in 2002. Members went on to start bands Explode the Airwaves and Silverstein.

The Genocide Machine

Following the success of 'Starving the Vultures' and 'Exotic Sense Decay', Circle of Dead Children was approached and offered record deals from several larger metal record labels. After turning down several of the larger contract offers, CODC made the decision to sign a contract with Necropolis Records newly formed subsidiary label, Deathvomit Records. They recruited friend and former bandmate of Joe Horvath and Jason Andrews, Alf Kooser to play bass guitar. The release was the band's last to be recording at the old warehouse with Plus/Minus Studios. It was recorded in the dead of winter while temperatures were in the single digits outside and not much higher inside the weathered, nearly condemned warehouse where Plus/Minus Studios was located. The album contained seventeen tracks, four of which were all electronic, industrial-influenced noise tracks, two of which featured Horvath's vocals. The closing track, "Ctrl * Alt * Delete", is a slow dirge track highlighted by an eerie spoken word explanation of what the band views as "the genocide machine". Artwork was done by Michael and Mark Riddick.

'The Genocide Machine' sold out of its 3,500 pressing in the first month of its release and received numerous praise and accolades, as well as ranking No. 9 in the College Music Journal hardrock charts at one point, the highest any Necropolis Records bands had garnered at that time. Circle of Dead Children embarked on a tour with California grindcore pioneers, Phobia, in support of 'The Genocide Machine'. Circle of Dead Children's relationship with Necropolis Records quickly soured after the label was unable to recoup the band for the recording costs. Circle of Dead Children terminated their contract with Necropolis Records / Deathvomit Records and ordered a cease and desist upon further pressings of 'the Genocide Machine'. Bootleg copies of 'The Genocide Machine' have been discovered throughout the world.

Willowtip Records released 'The Genocide Machine' on a limited-edition vinyl LP which was packaged in a silver static-bag. There was a pressing of 1000, with 250 hand-numbered copies available on transparent blue vinyl with different, but complementary artwork. This album has a total playing time of 28:44.

Following the release, CODC parted ways with guitarist Jon Kubacka, bassist Alf Kooser and original drummer, Jon Miciolek. [1]

Human Harvest

In 2003, Circle of Dead Children released 'Human Harvest' with only three members. This was their first and only release featuring no bass player. Drummer, Mike Rosswog, helped to provide CODC with a faster and more intense element of sound, which has since stayed in place. 'Human Harvest' was recorded at Austin Enterprise, in Massachusetts, with Steve Austin, founder of Today is the Day. Circle of Dead Children agreed to a one-off licensing deal for 'Human Harvest' with Martyr Music Group in the Americas, and Displeased Records for Europe and Asia. Displeased Records also released a limited-edition vinyl version of 'Human Harvest', featuring different but complementary artwork. The album received a great deal of positive reviews and press, often citing the new level of brutality and intensity found within the music and vocals. Artwork was done by Mark Riddick. The final track, "Alkaline", includes a bonus track at the 9:07 mark, which is actually part of a vocal segment from the song "Mother Pig", slowed down. This album features 19 tracks and has a total playing time of 32:01.

Following the release, CODC parted ways with drummer Mike Rosswog. [3]

Zero Comfort Margin

Released in 2005, 'Zero Comfort Margin' followed a hiatus of over one year in which CODC added former Sadis Euphoria drummer Mike Bartek, and former Sadis Euphoria guitarist, Drew Haritan, to the lineup. Drew played bass guitar. The band was invited by engineer/producer Steve Austin to his home to record what was initially intended to be demo tracks, prior to their new drummer having to undergo wrist surgery which would set the band back while he recovered. In a notorious recording session in which Steve Austin told Metal Maniacs Magazine that he barely recalled, the band recorded 15 songs. The decision was made to release the songs as an Ep, through Willowtip Records in the Americas and Earache Records for Europe and Asia. A limited-edition gatefold vinyl version was released by Arclight Communications with a pressing of 500. It featured complementary artwork and black and gold or white and gold splattered vinyl to honor the sporting colors associated with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 'Zero Comfort Margin' featured the only cover song that CODC has recorded to date, a cover of 'Playdumb' by local 1990's grindcore band, Hideous Mangleus. Artwork was completed again by Mark Riddick. This release features 15 tracks, four of which are electronic noise tracks, and has a total playing time of 20:19.

Following the release, CODC parted ways with drummer Mike Bartek.

Psalm of the Grand Destroyer

Prior to drummer Mike Bartek's departure in 2006, [4] Circle of Dead Children had written twelve new songs, but had never recorded them. The band again found themselves in an extended hiatus while they looked for a new drummer. Matt Francis, from Binghamton, New York, was brought into the band in 2007 and eventually moved to Pittsburgh to be closer in 2008. [5] In 2009, the band recorded the music for the twelve songs they had previously written plus three additional new songs at Mr. Smalls Studio, in Pittsburgh, PA. [6] Due to serious illness and other setbacks, Joe Horvath did not record his vocals for the album until several months later. [7] 'Psalm of the Grand Destroyer' was mastered and produced by Scott Hull [8] at Visceral Sound, based in Bethesda, Maryland, and released by Willowtip Records [9] in the Americas and Candlelight Records [10] for Europe and Asia in June 2010. Willowtip Records also released a limited-edition vinyl LP pressing of 500 copies, with 250 being on gold splattered wax and 250 on red wax. It featured alternate, but complementary, artwork done by Alex Eckman-Lawn. [11] This release features fifteen tracks and has a total playing time of 31:47.


The band generally play a varied style of extreme metal, combining grindcore, death metal and crust punk with black metal and doom overtones and atmospheres appearing in the writing at times. Song writing utilizes some traditional grindcore and deathgrind format in writing very short songs: six seconds, for instance, for the track "White Trash Headache". Other tracks develop into much longer pieces: 5 minutes and 45 seconds, for instance, for the track, "Germinate the Reaper Seed". Metal Maniacs Magazine, in 2005, published an article written by Wade Gosselin, where two "modern grind acts" were chosen who he believed had pushed the bar the highest in the modern grindcore scene. The article was titled "Suffocate Mediocrity / Expanding Grindcore" and featured "Circle of Dead Children" and "Antigama". [12]


Current members
Former members
Circle of Dead Children


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