Deathcore is either regarded as taboo within the world of metal music, or as a misunderstood genre baying for recognition as a valid form of metal music. Either way the fact remains it's an unrelenting force that continues to enthral and dominate in both the underground and mainstream realms of metal, from the high-fliers of Bring Me The Horizon, Thy Art Is Murder and Whitechapel to the newest practitioners of the genre; in this instance Denmark's Hanging The Nihilist. However despite the genre's viral appeal, it has on numerous occasions fell flat as becoming 'generic' through bands using the basic formula of riffs, breakdowns and nothing else. So, how does one escape that ever-growing void of unoriginality? It's simple, experiment and tinker with various sounds to create something people will dub as a 'signature tune' (think Whitechapel's frontman Phil Bozeman and his rapid-fire vocals, or BMTH's Oli Sykes's raspy screams, etc). For the Danish sextet in Hanging The Nihilist, this is exactly what they have done and are on course to bring to the fore the sound of 'Danecore'.
The band agreed to embrace hygge and speak with GMA about their forthcoming EP 'The Crow', the Danish Metal scene and how they aim to avoid the clutches of 'generic Deathcore'.
"The scene is small and most of us know each other in one way or another, however, it seems to be constantly growing"
For those who do not know of Hanging The Nihilist, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"Jon, Berna and Emil (guitar, keys, drums) played in a band before Hanging The Nihilist (HTN) that broke up because of creative differences. They decided to not stop writing music and were joined by William (bass) in early 2016. Marc's old band had just gone on a hiatus, so he joined during the summer of 2016 after being persuaded by Jon for almost a year. We played without a second guitarist for a long time because we couldn't find the perfect fit, so we decided to write 'Crow' with just one guitarist. Right after we finished recording Crow, we found the perfect fit in Casper (guitar), who has been a a HTN member ever since."
How do you distinguish yourselves from the already over-saturated genre? What makes your style of music not generic Deathcore?
"We're naturally very inspired by the international Deathcore scene and the hype that's been built around it. We do try to add different elements that aren't as common, such as the piano (which is responsible for the creepy vibes), as well as the way Chris has mixed and mastered our EP which definitely makes it stand out. We're inspired by the way bands such as Lorna Shore add a horror "feel" or vibe to the music using a guitar, and we're trying to give our music a similar feel with the use of a keyboard rather."
You must be stoked to be releasing your 'Crow EP' next year, will you be touring in support of it?
"If the opportunity strikes. For now our focus is on making sure "Crow" will be well received, and everything past that, we'll deal with as it comes. "
Could you give us a brief breakdown as to what each song title means?
"Marc says:- lyrically...
How strong is the Danish Metal scene lately? What is the current scene like? What challenges are there?
"The scene is small and most of us know each other in one way or another, however, it seems to be constantly growing. People like Mirza (CEO of Prime Collective) does a wonderful job of furthering our scene and making sure that the Danish metal scene is taken serious internationally as well. A challenge for us, especially being a Deathcore band, is that we're one of few Deathcore bands here, which means that it's difficult to get a lot of shows going, without it being the same bands and line-ups every time. However, positively, geographically-speaking Denmark is in a great spot in-between massive metal countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany."
How did you get into playing metal music? Who did you grow up listing to?
Most of us seem to have either metalcore or heavy metal backgrounds at least.
Berna, do you feel that more and more women are engaging with metal music and that it's becoming less male-dominated?
"I think that it is kind of balancing out and I think that it is great. Women are being more and more accepted in the metal scene now more than ever. Since I was a kid I have always had big female idols in this scene such as the vocalists from Nightwish and Arch Enemy, and now seeing that it is becoming more accepted I also become more confident with my music and live performance and way more motivated than before."
For metalheads visiting Copenhagen and Hillerød, what sights and attractions could you recommend?
"All metalheads that visit Copenhagen must check out our friends in Cabal and their live-show. They're not just incredible musicians, they're incredible performers."
What plans do you have for the year ahead and the rest of 2018?
"For the rest of 2018, our plans are to play a show on the 14th December, as well as releasing 'Endless Crime' on the 7th December. We're working on merchandise and the release of 'Forgotten' as well as "Crow" in its entirety in 2019. We're mostly just looking forward to hearing what people think of "Crow", and we've already begun working on new material."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out?
"Thanks to you guys for reaching out, thanks to Prime and Chris Kreutzfeldt for the work on Crow, last but not least, thanks to everybody who checks out Hanging the Nihilist.
We're looking forward to seeing what you'll make out of this!"
Forever Still are a young Danish Alternative Metal band who have without a doubt came out of nowhere, having released their debut album 'Tied Down' and then end up signing with Nuclear Blast; 'Tied Down' was then re-released', to then secure a slot on the Ronnie James Dio stage at Bloodstock is a tremendous achievement given the band has been around 7 years... well actually it's Maja Shining and Mikkel Haastrup who lead the front-line and are supplemented by live musicians (who include Rune Frisch).
Despite their seemingly sudden explosion onto the metal circuit, they've been around since 2010 and have released 3 EP's prior to their big break. Denmark has had a decent record of metal exports from Artillery to King Diamond and from Mnemic to Raunchy and are still delivering more and more top notch metal bands like Akoma and of course Forever Still.
Mikkel was up for the task of informing us what makes the band tick, the state of the Danish Metal scene, Mikkel's music tastes among other things that make Forever Still as equally if not more important than Denmark's biggest exports besides metal... bacon and Lego.
"In Denmark, we have this 'jante law ' which says that you can't think you're anything, it's just a weird concept [regarding the lack of Danish music exports'.
How long has Forever been around? What does the band name mean? What style of metal do you play?
"We released our first EP ["Breaking Free"] in 2013, and have just been going on from there.
It's a long explanation [meaning behind the band name], Maja came up with it, we talked about it and it's just the feeling of being stuck, you feel like you're forever standing still but also the feeling of when you feel at ease, you're 'forever still' - so it's a double meaning, Maja is apparently very poetic I guess :)"
It's definitely melodic, so it's like we're one of the softer bands at this festival [Bloodstock], if not the softest. But we've always been into these pretty huge choruses, that's what we really focused on the first album [Tied Down]. Maja played a concert with another band, I was like wow she's just amazing and I wanted to focus really on the vocals, so that's what we did on that.
The new one we're writing now we're trying to focus still on the big choruses, but we want to do heavier riffs cause we're really into that, and our new drummer is really really f*cking cool... I love playing with him I play bass myself so you like love him with the drums so... it's going to be like heavy riffs and big huge choruses."
So Mikkel how did you get into metal music?
"Ah, I had just started when I was really young, I started listening to... I can't even remember, I think I started off with softer bands like Placebo and then I just went into liking Nine Inch Nails, and then I got into heavier stuff like Marilyn Manson... it's just a gateway into heavier stuff and it's been an upward slope like heavier and heavier, but still I think this band [Forever Still] is into softer things as well... I enjoy listening to all kinds of music, I've been listening to a lot of electronic music lately and I really enjoy that. For me it's just melody and that's what I sometimes miss in metal right, for me at least I miss the... like if it's only screaming I get a bit bored so I like a combination."
So as a band you're Melodic Metal, but have different sounds going on at the same time?
"Yeah yeah, on the new album we want to like focus on... like I said I'm really like into electronic music so I want to make that a bigger part of the next album, but like I said still focus on the riffs and I'm into really interesting rhythms at the moment so we do a lot of songs and try to play in different time signatures that are really weird but try to make them sound easy to listen to"
Is the Danish Metal scene still as strong as it has been? Would you say it's the smallest in Scandinavia?
"Nah I think it's getting better, but like we're really focused on getting out of the country because there's not a lot of like... the audience there is too small so we really enjoy in playing outside Denmark especially in the UK, you've got such a strong community for metal.
Yeah I think so, Denmark didn't used to be that much into metal, I think when we started there was like this feeling that you had to sound like an 80's metal band to be anything big in Denmark and it just doesn't work outside the borders. But in Denmark, we have this 'jante law (Janteloven)' which says that you can't think you're anything, it's just a weird concept and I think that's the reason why you don't see that much music coming out of Denmark"
So what do your parents think of metal music Mikkel, what support do you get from your family / friends?
"My parents aren't into music, actually my mum really hates music so she's like if there's any kind of music... when I grew up she was like 'can you f*cking just turn that off!'. My dad is really into jazz and stuff, but really doesn't like heavier music so yeah I didn't get anything from them heh.
The way we built this band it's just Maja and I doing everything ourselves without any support from anyone else and that's how we started, I think the first album has quite an isolated sound as well and that's just because we were like 'we can do this'. We just do everything ourselves, so we recorded it and mixed it, shot our own videos and everything. I think that it worked out really well"
Having just finished your set, opening the main stage at Bloodstock, what plans have you got for the rest of the year?
"We're playing Sabaton Open Air next week [was 19th August], then we're going back to the studio to just record and write, so that's the plan for the rest of the year and then hopefully the album will be out early next year and we'll start touring a lot. We've been on some amazing tours at the end of last year and at the start of this year with Lacuna Coil and Children of Bodom, so hopefully we'll get some great support for us and then do a headline tour as well"
Aside from the core Scandinavian countries, would you play in the Faroe Islands? What do you know about the metal scene there?
"Yeah I would love to, they've got the G! Festival up there, I would love to play that and I would love to see the nature up there. My best friend is from the Faroe Islands, so yeah, we'd love it.
I don't know a lot about the music from up there actually, they've got all these strange names as well because they call themselves something from their own language [Faroese]"
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Yeah I would just love to thank Bloodstock for letting us play this festival, it's been amazing!"
'Tied Down' is out now via Nuclear Blast.
_With Crash Mansion I spoke to (L-R - Chris Jackson, LJ Hardwood and Sammy Scarlett; Kidd was not present at this time (far left)) outside Southend Chinnerys at The Dead Lay Waiting gig w/ Scarred By Beauty, Silent Descent and Crash Mansion.
With Silent Descent I spoke to Tom Callahan (far left) outside Southend Chinnerys at The Dead Lay Waiting gig w/ Scarred By Beauty, Silent Descent and Crash Mansion.
With Scarred By Beauty I spoke to Jonathan Albrechtsen (centre) _outside Southend Chinnerys at The Dead Lay Waiting gig w/ Scarred By Beauty, Silent Descent and Crash Mansion.