Alxs (read “Alexis") Ness, frontwoman for local death metal band Without Mercy, has gotten a lot of attention for her YouTube vocal covers, where she provides her own homemade interpretation of blood-and-guts classics by the likes of Autopsy, Torture Killer, and Cannibal Corpse, with individual recordings getting as many as 60,000 hits.
One of the more piquant is her version of the Swedish band Bloodbath’s “Eaten”, which she introduces as a “freakin’ awesome song with creepy-as-hell lyrics," sung from the point of view of the willing victim of German cannibal Armin Meiwes. The chorus—catchier than many in its genre—goes: “Carve me up/slice me apart/ suck my guts/and lick my heart”¦ My one desire, my only wish is to be EATEN!”
Ness has an amazingly convincing growl, as throaty and fearsome as any of the (usually male) vocalists she emulates, but drops into a casual, recognizably human, recognizably female voice once the song is done. “If anybody sees the irony in a chick singing that song,” she quips, smirking, “then 10 points for you.”
More seriously, the issue of consensuality raised by the German cannibal case fascinates Ness, she tells the Straight on the phone. “People assume because the guy consented to have his penis chopped off and cooked and eaten with him, he obviously had mental problems, but what I find fascinating is, how do you know? Is it maybe human nature to be a little twisted like that? How do we know for sure, just because it’s something that not many people do, or want to have done to them?”
Consensuality comes through again in the songwriting for Without Mercy’s 2009 self-titled CD, for instance in the song “Slit”, which Alxs describes as also being about “consenting to being murdered, being in a relationship where someone is torturing the other but it’s completely consensual. I don’t know why, but I gravitate towards that in my lyrics.” She's attracted, generally, towards “introspective themes,” she says, which—somewhat more progressively than your average death metal band’s themes du jour—also take in the wrongs of enhanced interrogation and “battling inner demons.”
Does it disturb her, as a woman, that so many death metal songs have themes of violence against women, as well as abundant murder, corpse desecration, and general gore? A bit, she admits. “But I mean, that’s always the struggle with writing death metal lyrics, because a lot of them, like Cannibal Corpse, or Suffocation, or Dying Fetus—well, mostly Dying Fetus’ old stuff, they’ve kinda gotten away from it now—but a lot of it is gore. Or Necrophagist, they’re a prime example, too, opening up dead bodies and taking in the smell. I like the lyrics for those bands,” she explains, likening them to watching a horror movie, “but for me personally, it’s not something I want to write about, because I don’t relate to it on a personal level. You want to write about something you believe in, and I’ve never dug a grave or slept with a corpse or anything like that!”
Good to know!
Alxs is working on putting up a Deicide cover on YouTube, which she hopes will happen before the June 29 Without Mercy tour kickoff at the Red Room. Look up Alxs under the name Alxxxs on YouTube to find her videos. Hear her own songs on Myspace
Check out Alxs doing "Eaten" by Bloodbath