Authentic Man Spotlight - Monstrosity's Mike Hrubovcak

It's no secret, the Lockhart's lab is frequently banging some very loud
music. Gutteral vocals, grinding guitars, and smashing percussive assaults
have scared a fair share of delivery men as they've dropped off packages
in the workshop. I've recently had the privilege to begin collaborating
with one of my favorite current metal album cover artists and current
vocalist of the brutal death metal band “Monstrosity” and has been a
member of many bands in the past such as Vile,  Hypoxia, Azure Emote and
Abraxas. His artwork can be found over at so be sure to
go and check it out. That project will be released in the near future so
keep an eye out for it. Today we get the chance to go inside the twisted
gore obsessed mind of the madman we know as Mike Hrubovcak.


Steve Lockhart - First off Mike, thank you for taking the time to chat. Tell us a little
about yourself.

Mike Hrubovcak - I’m pretty simple. Just a guy who loves death metal music and dark
illustration artwork. I’ve been growling in bands since 1995 and have been
creating artwork for bands since around then too.

Steve - The Death Metal art scene is one that is notoriously famous for it's
depictions of violence and brutality, what drew you to this form of art

Mike - I guess the early Metal album covers I’d come across when I was a kid. I
Started taking art classes at age 7, but once I got into Metal around 10
I’d stare at those covers forever analyzing them.. Pushead, Ed Redpka,
then later Dan Seagrave, etc..

Steve - You work in several different mediums in your artwork which seems to
lend to some very vivid pieces that are very complex and (IMO) beautiful
(in a gorey sort of way). When approaching a new piece, what is your
process? How do you come up with such violent scenes? 

Mike - A lot of times i’ll come up with a concept off the album title name or
song titles.. a lot of times the band would tell me what image they were
looking for. Sometimes i just have this vision in my head of what would be
sick, then it’s just a matter of figuring out how to actually make it come
together. It usually evolves as I go along which is why I don’t normally
like doing sketches for bands first, it may change so much to something
better as i’m working I wouldn’t want them getting stuck on something too

Steve - What is your favorite subject when designing a new piece?

Mike - I actually like the more surreal or atmospheric type pieces, the gore
stuff is cool but sometimes its gets redundant, which makes me want to
break the mold by putting the scene into something different, like on a
beach, in the woods in winter,  instead of the standard madman in a room
full of corpses haha. I enjoy working on pieces that give me the full
freedom for me to play around with it and give it a dark spin on it that
might tell an obscure story or stand out from the rest.

Steve - If there was one dream band out there that you could design an album
cover for who would it be and why?

Mike - Hmmm, hard one.. Cannibal Corpse maybe.., Megadeth, Suffocation, Morbid
I guess any band I grew up on haha, might be fun trying to top those first
few Cannibal covers…

Steve - Speaking of Cannibal Corpse, you're now the lead vocalist of George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher's old band "Monstrosity" and keeping the ferocity alive. Of course you've also been apart of many other prominent death metal bands in your long discography. What's the craziest story that you have while on tour?

Mike - Funny, not sure what I feel comfortable telling haha. Always crazy times
though for sure. One thing comes to mind though while doing a tour down in
South America was pretty much having a riot break out while playing and
having to be escorted by police off the stage and out of the club before
things got out of hand.


Steve - I've heard many people say that Death metal growls are easy and anybody
can do it... I've done vocals in a few projects and I know that is not the
case (especially if you don't want to horribly thrash your pipes). Can you
give some pointers on how to do growls and screams?

Mike - Yeah it’s definitely not for everyone. I mean a lot of people can growl
but the thing is adding in the diversity of super highs, several mids, and
super lows and keeping it up for a 2 hour gig. I would go watch this dvd
“the zen of screaming” that Relapse Records put out a while ago. Good warm
up techniques in there.

Steve - Since you've been on tour all around the world, I'm sure you've had
some great moments on stage. What is the most satisfying thing that can
happen while performing?

Mike - Some of the best shows are actually the smallest shows in intimate clubs
that are packed to the brim but going totally crazy. There’s nothing
better then feeling the energy of the pit and seeing them go wild, crowd
surfing etc, right in front of you. Alot of the bigger festival shows may
have thousands of people but usually your so far away from the crowd that
it loses that intimate feel.

Steve - Every musical artist has played gigs that were total duds. When I was
in high school I accidentally got an entire show cancelled the night
before (and kind of screwed over a bunch of bands) because it was booked
in a church for whatever reason so I designed the flyer and put pentagrams
and inverted crosses next to the location details where it said the
churches name. Also, the first show we ever played was opening for a band
that would go on to become Kingo810 (formerly known as Ares Letum) and we
were all so nervous that we couldn't even look at the crowd, laaaame show.
Do you have a particular story that you'd like to share where the show was
just a total flop? (perhaps booked for the wrong type of event, nobody
showed up, sound guy sucked, power went out, etc.)

Mike - Yep! haha definitely. Shows when you have 2 people there but you still
have to play / make it a practice… One show we had fog machines going but
it was too much for the small club and set off all the fire alarms, so
everyone had to leave the venue while waiting for the firefighters to come
shut it all down. I think the show was cancelled I can’t remember, i just
remember the super loud annoying alarm that seemed to go on forever haha.

Steve - What's Mike like outside of the metal world? Any particularly odd
hobbies that your into? 

Mike - No time for hobbies really with so much music and art going on… if i’m not
working on art or music you can usually find me trying to hit the beach or
go camping or just going to parties / shows.

Steve - I bet you there are some metal heads reading this blog post right now
who are in bands and thinking that you're artwork would be killer for
their next t-shirt or album cover. Will you work with them and where
should they contact you?

Mike - I’m always open to work with anyone usually, my problem is time, because I
always take on too much and it’s hard to juggle it all.
If anyone wants artwork though, just email me and i’ll see what I can do :)


For any of you metal heads that want to check out more of Mike’s work or if you’re in a band that needs some badass artwork, head on over to and hit him up! If you’d like to check out some of the killer music from Monstrosity, head over to their spotify here: Monstrosity Spotify

Subgenres in metal and why they matter

This is a guest post from the mighty Joe Koza from If you enjoy this post be sure to go check out his site!

Heavy.  Death.  Black.  Thrash.  Progressive.  Power.  Doom.  The list goes on.  Ask any metalhead if subgenres matter; chances are, they have an entire thesis fully equipped with diagrams and flowcharts ready to go, proving their necessity.  Although this is a bit of an exaggeration, the premise holds true.  To outsiders not familiar with metal and its various subcultures, it’s all the same.  If there is one experience all metalheads share, it’s that we’ve all been asked the quintessential “how do you even understand what they’re saying?” question or told the typical “it’s just so loud” claim.  However, as one begins to develop an interest in the genre and dive a bit deeper to discover just how vast metal is, subgenres and their associated conventions become integral to understanding the style as a whole.  Let’s dig in.

metal meme.png

Before discussing subgenres and why they’re important, deciphering whether or not an artist fits under the often-debated, somewhat ambiguous metal umbrella to begin with is key.  Although the genre’s reach is far and wide, many bands often considered “gateways” into metal (Disturbed and Korn types- I’m looking at you) are hardly metal once dissected.  This is a conversation for another time, though it’s crucial to understand that common aspects of the genre, such as distorted guitars or shouted vocals, do not necessarily constitute a metal label on their own.  It has been said that an artist is most likely defined as metal if they can somehow trace the roots of their sound back to Black Sabbath in some way.  While this does make some sort of sense, one could argue that the mighty Sabbath’s influence reaches beyond metal bands, extending into other heavy music subcultures, making these claims somewhat unreliable in the grand scheme.  A trained ear will soon be able to pick up on the subtle differences through prolonged exposure to different forms of heavier music.

Assigning a subgenre to a band is undoubtedly beneficial.  Often times, metal fans will choose to identify with certain subgenres more than others for a variety of reasons.  Each comes with its own style, mood, and imagery, making it that much easier to discover new bands within the confines of a particular sound and style.  In the age of the internet, fans will often post to forums such as Reddit’s popular “/r/metal” asking for recommendations for a particular mood, opening up discussion with other users interested in similar subgenres.  These classifications are essential to organization and serve as a road map for what to expect.  While black metal enthusiasts can usually count on some sort of tremolo-style guitar picking, thrash fans embrace the same punk-tinged, two-step drum grooves time and time again; characteristics that come with the territories.  The barriers are often gray, but with time listeners begin to gravitate towards their selected styles and expand from there.

Black Metal band Immortal Live at Hole in the Sky Festival source:

Black Metal band Immortal Live at Hole in the Sky Festival source:

While some consider this to be tedious and unnecessary, assigning multiple subgenres to an artist is often appreciated and results in an enhanced dialogue surrounding them.  A prime example of this is Virginia metallers Arsis having been assigned the label “Technical Melodic Death Metal”, describing the various influences that make up their sound to a T.  The music, as one would guess, is full of technicality, yet contains choruses melodic enough to hum along to in a most evil fashion.  Again, for the sake of classification, subgenres become increasingly beneficial.

            If you’re a self-proclaimed metalhead, you probably already have your subgenres of choice.  For those just breaking into the scene, play around with different subgenres and see what sticks.  For the sake of oversimplification, here are some quick notes.  If you’re looking to bridge the gap between rock and metal, it may be helpful to start with traditional heavy metal.  Bands such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Motorhead helped define the genre at its core and are considered essential listening by many.  Play around with thrash, speed, and power metal when looking for a swift kick in the ass, then slow things down by exploring doom metal.  Death and black metal are often considered two of the more extreme varieties and may take a bit longer to digest.  However, like a fine wine, it is with time that these styles and their intricacies are truly appreciated.  Do not limit yourself; you may be surprised by which sounds you end up settling on and enjoying the most.

Article written by Joe Koza.  For more information, visit