Uncovering Buried but Breathing

. December 3, 2013.

Toledo native Chris Kohlenberg may seem quiet and mild mannered—maybe you've seen him running the grill at The House of Eats—but he's got the voice of a demon. For three years, his band, Buried but Breathing has made Toledo a little louder, with their groovy, sludgy brand of death metal. As a vocalist, Kohlenberg has opened for several major recording acts, such as Battlecross, Between the Buried and Me, Converge and Job for a Cowboy. Now, the five-piece has prepared their own album, In the Lair of Leviathan, to be released on Saturday, December 6. In anticipation, the City Paper grilled the grillmaster for all the gory details on his band's first album.

How hard is it being the best death metal band in Toledo?
I wouldn't know! [laughs]

Why is the album called In the Lair of Leviathan?
Mostly because of the last song, “In the Water.” I have an obsession with H.P. Lovecraft, so I wanted to do a song about someone praying into the water and this giant water demon comes and engulfs the Earth.

How did the band start?
Mike Rains [lead guitarist] and I started the band. We were both going through hard times and needed a creative release. We both love to eat, so we would go to his house, fire up the smoker, and write music until we were too drunk to play. Then we would eat.

What were those early sessions like?
We'd be up all night, him playing guitar, me screaming, with no drums. Mike lived in a duplex the size of a postage stamp, above a pair of teachers. They'd leave for work at six thirty in the morning and see us on the porch, eating ribs, like we were a pair of maniacs. We kept them up all night and they didn't have the nerve to say anything. They thought we were crazy.

How was your first show?
It was Halloween at Woodchucks in 2010. We never thought we'd play live, ever. And we really never thought people would like us, but at that first show people got into it. There was moshing, a table was broken. We tried to apologize to the bar owner and he said “No man, it's good, that was sweet!”

Let's talk about your bandmates. Tell me about Steve Klunk [drummer].
Steve is going for his masters in Performance Percussion at BGSU. We joke that he's the only one with talent in the band. He was very particular about his drum takes when we recorded the album. He wouldn't sample anything, he wanted it to be all live drums.

Craig Neuman? [bass]
The age range in our band is pretty drastic; Craig is freshly 22. He's probably the most easy to get along with person you would ever meet. But when you get him onstage he's kind of a maniac. He's whipping his hair around—he has a lot of stage presence.

Scot Free? [guitar]
He's a passionate guy. He brings a lot of writing to the table, and he comes from a more hardcore background. He wrote the majority of “Goat” and “Endless Sea of Fire.” He's also very good at picking up what's important in Mike's riffs and embellishing it. Other times, he's taken charge with the heavy guitar playing. They have a good give and take, as a guitar duo.

And Mike? [lead guitar]
We go way back. He's the oldest in the group, and he grew up with a lot of the classic metal bands like Slayer, Testament, Metallica and Anthrax, with fast, melodic hooks, which really comes through in his playing. He looks like this big, imposing man, but he's the kindest person in the world.

Buried but Breathing's album release
party will be Saturday, December 7,
8pm, at Frankie's. 148 Main St.
Entry is free.