"the water... was real and so cold that we had to stop in between shots to try and warm up... I remember at some point I was like 'OK I'm going to pass out'" (on the 'Charles Francis Coghlan' music video)
In truth the Dutch Metal scene is as complex as it's train network - remember that a 'Sprinter' train service is slower than 'InterCity' and oh that most trains are double decker, the quiet zone at the top and the trains as quiet as Black Metal... anyway moving on from the differences in train services and onto one of the most prominent metal exports in Carach Angren, who are gearing up to release their latest offering 'Franckensteina Strataemontanus' on 26th June 2020.
But what is it exactly that makes this band run along smoothly, is it their inept ability to conjure up songs that are designed to make you sweat profusely or make you lose sleep at the rate of a thunderstorm's lightning strike? Whatever it is, it works and their own 'Horror Metal' style is not one for the faint hearted as Ardek explained to GMA.
We spoke to him about how Carach Angren got to where they are now, the forthcoming album (guts, bones, the lot), the eloquency behind the outfits and the torture the band endured in filming 'Charles Francis Coghlin'.... prepare for some serious goosebumps reading this.
Carach Angren has been going 17 years or so, what is it that has kept the line-up so strong?
"It always has been very natural, I remember when I started I played in a couple of bands and I started to write the composing part which was more than anything else, so with other bands I had to compromise of which sometimes would lead to really great stuff. But with Carach Angren I had my place as a main composer where I could make up compositions and Seregor, is really good at the guitar when it comes to the melodies and coming up with his act on stage; visuals, lyrics, but my brother was good with rhythm so all these things together were a natural combination; like a machine without discussion of who's doing what.
This developed and I remember when we made the first release it would be cool to make one story and build everything around that - this stuck with us whenever we did research for a concept album. Unfortunately he (my brother) decided to leave this year, it's sad but I always say you have to like what you do, especially when it comes to music."
Focusing on the lyrics, were these all researched or were some based on stories you heard / learned over time?
"It differs per album I know that, for example "Lammendam" is a story that actually took place near Seregor's place where he lives in Schinveld, it's a very small town and the legend was really unknown, but it always has fascinated him, he even wrote one song about it in previous bands. So when we got the opportunity to sign with a record label in 2007 (Maddening Media), the idea of a full length came up immediately and this story was right in front of us; that's why we picked that one.
After that I read about the story of Van Der Decken (Death Came Through A Phantom Ship) which came through on a completely different album, it felt completely liberating to do something different and so with all of our albums they connect with us through maybe a movie, or a book or an idea and that's the cool thing about our band - we can do whatever we want within the ghosts or horror genre, story-telling of course and sure it's not easy, because you cannot just pick something random and do it, it has to connect with you and focus upon something inside ourselves as a band.
This echoes with the new album 'Franckensteina Strataemontanus' whereby Frankenstein has been done so many times in so many different ways, it's so popular that for me it wasn't the case of 'lets do an album about Frankenstein', you know? That's not going to cut it. But through a really great way, I found a connection to the story via a nightmare where I was floating in a house and I heard distant piano sounds so I walked towards what seemed to be a portrait of an old-looking man, he was really angry (laughs) and then I woke up and I wrote that down, I was fascinated by this dream; I even made a drawing of the face that I saw and basically ignored it, until later when when I started to read about Frankenstein and was fascinated by it.
So much so I researched it and came up with this theory that Mary Shelley originally was inspired by Johann Conrad Dippel, so I googled this guy and a portrait showed up in google images of him and he looked exactly the guy I dreamt of (haha). So that for me and Seregor became a lead, you need a lead that pulls you instead of pushing yourself, this was something interesting what we had - no one knew who Johann Conrad Dippel was, so we started making up stories connected with Frankenstein. This is usually how it happens with every album, but I have to say every album becomes a bigger challenge as you've already done so much and it's easy to go in the same direction, so I like a challenge (haha)."
Arguably with Carach Angren you've created your own sound in 'Horror Metal', do you hope that other bands will follow the same style?
"That's a good question, I don't know but I see sometimes people are inspired by us and do covers, stuff like that which is really cool. The reason we choose 'Horror Metal' is because we didn't feel completely good with the 'Symphonic Black Metal' genre because especially to me, that genre has always felt like a big container of different kinds of things and bands. I felt we do several different things so 'Horror Metal' isn't really a genre in that sense, but if you have to give it a name then it's 'Horror Metal', but yeah we were inspired by bands and so we hope we inspire other bands and people, be it music, art, paintings, photography - there was no ultimate cause or effect, we invent all the time - art in that sense."
Arguably bands say their next / latest album is their best or favourite, out of all of Carach Angren's albums, which is your favourite?
"It's cliche but it's the upcoming one (haha) because it feels closest to your personal development as a musician, because we always give everything when we write. When I was working with the music for 'Lammendam' I was a different person, I was like 23 years old and now I'm 36. I'm proud of every album and I thing that we've really done everything we could possibly do at that point, but of course when you listen back you will always do things differently; but that would be wise things because probably you would f*ck up and I think that every album has it's charm. "Death Came Through A Phantom Ship" was nautical, it has an adventurous tone to it and so the production was more film-score like, "This Is No Fairytale" is much more in your face-like, complex and raw but they're super different in that sense.
But yeah what makes me proud of the new one is that basically, we took almost like an extra year to work on it, because usually it's a two year cycle - play play play, writing an album, releasing it and now I felt like this is too soon, it would not be fair to hurry an album... I felt like I need that extra time as sometimes you feel that you've lost that perspective, sometimes you need time away from it to gain new ideas."
Given that extra year, did that help you in researching ideas for the song titles too? How was the process?
"It was a really in-depth process with what I did in 2018 and 2017, I started reading the book and other gothic novels and got fascinated by Frankenstein, the funny thing is in 2018 it was exactly 200 years ago that Mary Shelley wrote the book, so I found it to be my investigation. I went to a museum called Boerhaave Museum in Leiden, it's like a science museum and they had an exhibition about Frankenstein in an historical context; it was written in about Mary Shelley and also about the future of robotics, basically a projection of Frankenstein in this day of age and there was also a little exhibition of a woman called Ana Maria Gomez Lopez, she's a scientist but also a performing artist and she was planning an art performance of taking an organ out of her own body and bury it.
This fascinated me so I wrote down her name and contacted her, had an interview with her discussing all these kinds of things and I got on a really deep trail; I started investigating laboratory experiments where they decapitated mice to find out brain functioning in the moment after death and I definitely found out that the separation between death and life is something that is mostly cultural, medically we say that the moment of death is when the heart stops beating and yet we see some cells in organ systems multiply after death; that was kind of fascinating that there's no clear line and that inspired me in the song-writing process in that I started writing some ideas, some fictional ideas - some ended up on the album like 'Operation Compass' and it was in that time that we slowly started gathering musical ideas and these ideas, but I never at the time had an idea of what this could become."
Are you surprised about how global metal has become and seeing bands from the likes of Syria, Botswana, Indonesia emerge?
"I think that's really great that we are as a world, since the internet and everything going to more globalisation, it has some worrying sides maybe, but there is a very good side and music... if you see how accessible music is these days from bands in difficult regions, who are outreaching to global audiences, it's really great. So I'm excited about that and it's a fantastic thing."
The new album 'Franckensteina Strataemontanus' is to be released on black and glow-in-the-dark vinyl, was this your idea or Season of Mist's idea?
"We worked together on these things and we will have a silver one on our web store, we also have a limited edition vinyl where we hand make little bottles of oil and I always try to come up with ideas to give the release something special, almost a four-dimension like we did with the last album - pitch black box, so we really try that but it's like an exploration because everything is possible, but not everything is a good idea, I think I have very good ideas but the label is like some of these aren't going to work commercially - we always have to find some kind of balance, but I am very happy what we have come up with altogether. By coming up with a great album it enables teams around us to come up with great ideas to match it - such as the artwork which is done by Stefan Heilemann, he's a brilliant guy and artist - I emailed him the entire concept story and before we even started recording he came up with this artwork."
Some people on YouTube have commented that Carach Angren should do their own horror movie, or music should be included in one, what are your thoughts on this?
"Well the cool thing is that it already happened, there was a Canadian horror film called "Pyewacket" and they licenced one of our tracks 'There's No Place Like Home' and it's in the movie, so that's really cool; there's also some key visuals from us in the movie, so that's something to definitely check out, so what you see is it's already happening. Some Dutch people ask us do you want to make your own movie and to be honest I really like what we do, I like to make sound for non-existent movies in our heads and to make a movie would be something completely different, so why not, but it's not something that we are trying to do."
On the topic of videography, how demanding was it to make the music video 'Charles Francis Coghlan'?
" (laughs) I want to forget about this, it was extremely demanding for everyone, we did it with Rick Jacops who is a film-maker from The Netherlands and a really great guy. But he is like us in his field, a perfectionist, it never ends with him nor us and basically we had to build everything ourselves; what you see there is built by the band, we did have some help from friends and family but besides that we did it over a period spanning 2 months. Literally the recordings you see we are in the water, that was actually real and was so cold that we had to stop in between the shots and try to warm up... I remember at some point I was like 'OK I'm going to pass out', like what are we doing here, we're crazy.
To give you an example we had these shots like all day and then in the afternoon I was going to the other scene, to bury a hole for the grave because we needed to put a coffin and water in there and was also recorded in May - the weather was really nice and we only had very little time to record because we had to record at night as it was outside, so we were literally recording from like midnight to like 5am, stop and sleep for the next couple of hours and then wake up because we had to rebuild the set - it was basically horrible, I was dead at the end from sleep deprivation and all the crap. But I mean we were very proud of the end result, I don't know if we would do it again though, looking back at it it was too extreme, like a movie with a couple of people."
It seems with each new album comes new on-stage outfits, what inspires you each time?
" (laughs), I could come up with a very elaborate story but a lot of things we do in the band happen naturally, I'll give you two examples like first we have a story in The Netherlands where we love to go to check out clothes... which we have done since the beginning as we go there, we check out what's there and for some reason there's always something really cool and during the latest years Seregor has been getting better at customising some of the clothes that we get, so his touch is definitely on there. What is really funny is that people always contact us asking where do we have it made, where do you get this stuff? The funny thing is just it's commercially available, but we know very well what we connect with.
I remember when Seregor and I once went to the store and there were these PVC / latex pants and we looked at each other and we were like 'I think this could be cool' but at the same time we said we wouldn't have done this four years ago, we would be like 'this is too much' and for some reason we tried them and felt like OK this is weird and not a Black Metal purist look, but it worked with what we were doing and that also made us move in different ways live... like almost Michael Jackson kind of moves. But it all happened in a natural way, another example is like last year we needed something to promote the headline tour - something for an instagram video.
I had no idea and was literally out of ideas and Seregor called me and said well come over and let's try something, so I came over to his and he had a couple of masks and was fooling around and also said he had this fake tongue, so I said yeah why don't you just cut it or something and so we were just goofing around and filming with my phone and it turned out to be really something strange. So I took it home and made it a little bit darker, adding sound effects and it turned into this gross kind of thing, I put it online and it went viral. I said why don't you do that live, everyday you cut your tongue on stage, OK so we ordered like 38 tongues (laughs) and we had ordered the wrong ones because they were too sticky and so had to order different ones - nowadays like the mouth piece crisis we had a tongue crisis."
Regarding the masks we see around the 'Lammendam' and 'Death Came Through A Phantom Ship' era, are they still being made?
"Yeah Seregor makes them and has his own web store, he sells them there and makes all kinds of masks - usually horror and that's like a little side business. He's extremely good at it and always comes up with new ideas in life and for the band as well sometimes, in the visual area he's very talented"
Given the COVID-19 situation, looking towards the back end of 2020, what plans do you have?
"We're working on touring plans for the Autumn, USA hopefully after that Europe, we already have Mexico's Metalfest confirmed so with the virus it creates a lot of uncertainty, but we have really great booking agents and management who would try to be on that; making plans which I am really happy about, because that was the initial plan, we are really lucky that the album is coming out. But some bands had tour plans which they've had to cancel which is really bad, but music is now a secondary problem and sits behind personal welfare, societal health, etc., but our tour plans are definitely being drafted right now and hopefully we can be a bit more precise when this is all over."
For those metalheads visiting Landgraaf, what sights / attractions could you recommend?
"This is actually a funny thing, Landgraaf is a town where we used to have rehearsals and our previous band, none of us actually live there. So somehow that name made it onto our Wikipedia page. But we are located in the province of Limburg. In general you have the town of Maastricht which is nice to visit, it's a nice town, that is something I would recommend."
Where there any ghost / horror stories you were told as a child?
"Well I always remember our father would tell us fairytales and stories, but I have a funny memory as a child, I was sitting in the bathtub and I called out to my mother that someone was under the water by my feet; I have a vague memory of that so it was a cool ghost story."
"Franckensteina Strataemontanus" is out 26th June 2020 via Season of Mist on CD, vinyl and tape.
No one could have imagined that 30 years ago in the small village of Bielen in The Netherlands, that a very successful Black / Death Metal band would emerge. 30 years on and God Dethroned unleash a barrage of hellish brutality with their 11th album 'Illuminati' having completed their 'War Trilogy' (Passchendaele, Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross and The World Ablaze) with such aplomb, especially with the latter album being a struggle as Henri went on to explain in our interview with GD's front-man, he divulged into the challenges of music recording, the Dutch Metal scene and customs checks they had to face, when visiting the UK...
[The] 'Illuminati' were basically a secret society fighting for freedom, it's not so mysterious as it looks to many people."
Given God Dethroned's longevity and line-up changes, what in essence has kept the band going?
"It's because I like to play live and of course make new albums, but for me especially nowadays the reason to make new albums is to be able to play live. Recording an album is OK but it's not the thing that I like the most, I like to go out to play at festivals and shows at the weekend, some cool tours here and there... yeah that's the main motivation and that's still there after all these years"
Having completed the 'War Trilogy' (Passchendaele, Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross and The World Ablaze), what convinced you to shift away to different lyric topic entirely?
"Hehe well you know, back in the day I decided to write a concept album about WW1. I came to that idea because our guitarist Isaac Delahaye lives in a part of Belgium where a lot of the fighting went on; there's a museum, war cemeteries and monuments and things like that, it really intrigued me and so I decided to write 'Passchendaele'. That album was received very well by the media and fans alike, so I made the 'stupid' mistake to announce the fact that I would write a trilogy about WW1 and it all seemed to go very well. We did the second one 'Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross' and then I discovered it was a lot more difficult to write lyrics about WW1, because as you know most of the time people were just shooting from trenches to the enemy's trenches, so not much was going on.
So by album two I covered most of the topics that I could find and then I still had to do album number three, so it was really difficult to write lyrics for 'The World Ablaze' and I was really happy that I could finish that album... but in the mean time our fans started requesting that we would go back to the dark side so-to-speak, to write lyrics about religion, occult themes, etc, so it was a no brainer to do that again and it felt like a relief, to be able to write lyrics about said topics; one topic per song instead of one topic per album, let alone three albums."
With respect to your new album 'Illuminati', could you give us the backstory behind each song title?
"The track 'Illuminati' refers to the organisation from Germany, they were basically a secret society fighting for freedom, it's not so mysterious as it looks to many people. They were a society who wanted to read certain books that were forbidden at that time by other religious organisations at the time, they secretly fought against those religious organisations in the name of freedom in order to read those books that were forbidden, that's basically who the illuminati were. I created a story where it takes a mastermind to infiltrate and replace a new world without religion and that's the story I created around the illuminati."
What was it like working with artwork designer Michal Xaay Loranc (Nile, Evocation, etc), engineer Ortrun Poolman and Hugo Alvarstein?
"Oh yeah pretty good, I mean Ortrun is our live sound guy so he basically did the setup for the drum recordings. Michal Loranc is the Polish guy who did our album cover, the management sent me a list of artwork designers and I liked his the best, so I contacted him and he wrote back to me saying that he is a long-time God Dethroned fan... what an honour it is to ask me to do the album cover. So he came up with this album cover right away which is really beautiful and said 'Henri, this is possibly the most beautiful artwork that I have ever did in my life' and then Hugo is the guy who did the mastering, he is also one of our live sound guys and has his own studio which is really good; the mastering turned out really great."
Focusing on the track "Eye Of Horus", did you dabble in Egyptian mythology for it?
"Yeah I did, I read about the god or half-god Horus and basically the story is about the battle between good and evil, from which I made my own version of it. This is the song that our guitarist Mike Ferguson wrote and when I listen to the composition, it gave me this Egyptian feeling and I thought OK I'm going to write some lyrics that fit the feeling of this song that it gives me, that's how I came up with the 'Eye Of Horus'."
Out of the whole album 'Illuminati', was there any tracks that you could consider challenging and / or ambitious?
"When it comes down to recording drums, bass and rhythm guitars, all of the songs are really doable, I mean when we record the basics, they are finished within a couple of days no problem. But usually when it comes down to trying different things with the vocals, like this album we have of course my main vocals, Jeroen's backing vocals and then we have the choirs (something I did myself together with some other people); that was challenging, along with the grunting and singing at the same time which was challenging. So you have to try different things and that it's not that you don't know how to do it, but if it's something you haven't done before on the songs and you are trying so many different things, then it takes a lot more time.
It's the same with the keyboards, we decided to put a lot of keyboards in the music but not in the foreground, it's all in the background so to lift up the atmosphere and add more layers to the music; making the songs more interesting to listen to in the long term because you will discover more and more things in the music, again those are the challenging things because you're trying something and then you're trying something else here and there, and then decide what you're going to use, this takes a lot of time because this is something you cannot prepare beforehand."
Was the music video 'Spirit Of Beezlebub' easy to create and what is the story behind it?
"Well we wanted to do something different instead of just a regular band video, so we looked at the lyrics and looked at the songs... lyrics that would be easy to put into a music video, so we chose three songs: 'Illuminati', 'Spirit Of Beezlebub' and 'Book Of Lies', all of these have been released with the latter in conjunction with the album release.
What you see in the music video is a short movie which represents the lyrics of the songs and 'Illuminati' was already discussed earlier; in this case you see a priest who shows he wants to abuse children so we bring back to life a mummy who is going to kill the priest. 'Spirit of Beezlebub' is about trying to change and kill evil, but then it comes back to kill you. 'Book Of Lies' is more of a band video but features aspects of the illuminati and is more so about the bible."
Most bands form in either towns or cities, but for God Dethroned's origin is in the village of Beilen, what was it like in the beginning and what can metalheads do there?
"Haha, there's nothing to do there at all. I guess that's why it was so worthwhile playing in a band because nothing was going on there and yeah I found my first musicians back in the day in the area. Nowadays I have to drive all across the country because everybody lives in a different corner of the country, but that's what you get when you get bigger, you get better musicians who live in different places. But for me it was a relief to play in a band back in the day because for the rest, you have just a few pubs and that's it. You just start a band and are not that good in the beginning, finding musicians who are on the same level and from there it develops and along the way you find better musicians; resulting in travelling a bit further."
Regarding the Dutch Metal scene, would you say it's strengthened and grown over the years?
"Yeah I mean there are a lot of bands that are big, back in the day there was us, Asphyx, Sinister, Severe Torture and probably Pestilence, some of those bands sort of disappeared, are still on the same level or have gone up in the world. But in the meantime we have a new wave of bands such as Epica, of course they existed for many years but they grew slowly and steadily and now are a huge band. Another big export band so-to-speak is Within Temptation who are also huge, we have other bands like Carach Angren who play Symphonic Black Metal and are getting rather big at the moment internationally. So I guess we're doing quite well in this country and there's old bands and new bands, but luckily those new bands are getting big as well because one day they will need to fully replace the old bands. Overall I guess we have a pretty strong scene."
With regards to Brexit, are you concerned about the challenges you may face coming to the UK?
"No I'm not, I mean OK we will be checked by customs but that's also the case now, even though the UK is still a part of the European Union (EU). Last year when we visited the UK on tour with Belphegor, we had to go through customs so it was already the case. I guess if we were to go again after Brexit, nothing's changed and I'm not worried about you guys, I'm pretty sure that the UK will manage to get new trade deals with all the other European countries again, the USA and places like that. I think you guys will be fine, of course it will feel like a new beginning but after that it will be business as usual."
Are you surprised about the global impact heavy metal has made, seeing bands emerge from far-flung countries?
"No I'm not, you know in the past you wouldn't know if there were bands in Iran, Iraq, Indonesia or some other far away country from us. But of course there are people there who love to listen to and play metal, maybe for them in the past it wasn't a natural type of music to play... they have become modern societies, they listen to Western music and I guess as there are people who like to play metal, that's what they like now. I think it's great! Why not? You know the world has become smaller because of the internet and so I guess it makes sense."
Outside of God Dethroned do you have any other hobbies or interests?
"Yeah I build guitars through my company Serpent King Guitars, that's what I do most of the time I don't play (The song 'Serpent King' was taken from Henri's company name). One of my friends always called me 'serpent king' instead of Henri so he would be like 'hey serpent king how are you doing', this is what he has said to me for many years, so when I founded my guitar company I thought 'OK what am I going to call it?' and then I thought 'of course, I am the serpent king so it's going to be 'Serpent King Guitars'."
Are there any guitars that you have made that you're specially proud of?
"Basically all of them, but I have made some really special ones: one is called 'The Anubis', which is a really beautiful one... I play them all every once in a while and build a new guitar for myself, which I can show off by playing live and people see that, check out the website and give feedback and say they want to buy a guitar like that and that's how we do it."
Any finals words? Greetings you wish to send out?
"I just want to thank the fans in the UK for following God Dethroned all these years and hope they will check out the new album and hopefully we will be able to play in the UK soon again."
Interview Interrogation: Iris Goessens & Steven 'Gaze' Sanders from Spoil Engine (Belgium / Netherlands)
Spoil Engine have been rampaging in the Belgian Metal scene for 15 years and yet it's only in the recent years that they caught the attention of the more well-known labels, Arising Empire (owned by Nuclear Blast) in this case.
Their unique slant on the Melodic Death Metal / Metalcore crossover has made them distinguished guests in the world of metal and yet despite their original vocalist leaving in 2014, they've maintained their brutality through Dutch vocalist Iris Goessens. Word of warning, don't let the fact being the new vocalist is a female overthrow you or undermine this new instalment of Spoil Engine, because her vocals and charisma is ferocious enough to leave you spit-roasted inside and out.
Here Iris and Steve spoke to GMA about their crushing new album 'Renaissance Noire', it's meaning and origins. How they come to meet at their rendez-vous point of Antwerp (as Iris and Matthijs both live in The Netherlands), the Dutch and Belgian Metal scenes respectively and why the single 'Riot' has arguably come at the right time for the band...
"I think music is a beautiful way to make people aware of important topics."
You must be stoked to release your fifth album 'Renaissance Noire', could you tell us about the meaning behind the album title and give us an overview of the album topics?
"Yes we are! We’re very proud of what the album has become. The title translates as “Dark Rebirth”. After our last “Stormsleeper” shows Bart had to make the decision to leave the band (work & family were too difficult to combine with SE). We decided that we would move on as a 4 piece band and started writing. This whole process was a “rebirth” for the band. Also we felt inspired by the “Renaissance” age, which you can see in the artwork. We think this album is darker than the previous one so that’s why we added the “Noire” in the title. The song topics are very diverse but they are all about evolving (as humans and/or as a society) so it basically became the overall topic though the album."
Iris, having come from Maastricht would it be OK to assume you moved to Belgium instead of travelling to and from The Netherlands?
"No. I still live in The Netherlands. Our drummer Matt is also from The Netherlands. For rehearsals we meet in the city of Antwerp which is in the middle of where all the band members live. Before we do this we arrange as much as possible online & everyone rehearses and writes songs at their home studio’s."
Steven do you feel the Belgian Metal scene is often overlooked by the music industry as a whole? Iris the same for the Dutch Metal scene?
"I think there are many Dutch bands and musicians who made it big in the international metal scene. So I don’t think we’re overlooked… It just takes lots of time to build a brand."
"Well, I guess the scene wouldn't be overlooked if we had bands who really get all the promotion. We have some great Belgian bands (Aborted, AmenRa, Evil Invaders, Carnation,...) but these boys must work very hard to get something done in the global scene. If you compare with our Dutch friends (Epica, Within Temptation,..) they get much more support and credit from the bottom-up, meaning from their own country and their promo channels like BUMA. Dutch bands tend to help each other more where Belgian bands are more lone warriors. But it's good to see the Belgian scene is rising!"
Do you feel your single 'R!ot' has come at the right time when climate change protests, social unrest across the European Union and hatred towards the Trump administration is rife? Is the single a political statement?
"Yes, it just came together like that. We wrote this song at the beginning of 2019. I think music is a beautiful way to make people aware of important topics."
With that in mind, do you feel metal music offers itself as a way of venting fury, anger and discontent in a constructive way?
"For sure. Metal has a great energy to spread messages. I think most metal fans are conscious people who think for themselves. So it’s nice to spread messages through our music for a better world. "
For metalheads visiting Maastricht, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any good bars, clubs?
"We got some nice pubs here in Maastricht. Most of them are overflowed with students though. Same for the “clubs”. I’d rather recommend Maastricht for day visiting than overnight partying. We have many nice restaurants and a beautiful city centre."
What plans have you got for the rest of 2019 (along side the album launch) and into 2020? Do you have any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"We’ve launched the album and we’re ready to hit the road! Thanks for the interview. And to all the fans who read this: We hope to CU soon on tour!"
Metal music is unmistakably global, we've seen the rise of metal bands from all corners of the globe, from Brazil's Sepultura to New Zealand's Ulcerate and all the countries in-between and... basically everywhere. However it's multinational bands and projects that just show the solidarity this music brings irrespective of religious, cultural, political or societal traits... Metal is the Mecca of open-mindedness. Akheth, a project generally central to Canada features members from American, Dutch, Iranian and Mexican backgrounds and as they drop their debut single it's only right that they get all the attention they deserve because Akheth are not just a band, they are a prime example of 'metalisation' (a portmanteau of metal and globalisation; I just made it up); that is the power of metal music bringing different nationalities together under one roof.
Akheth gave us an insight into their world, their new single, their paths to metal and the challenges of being a project separated by vast lands and open seas.
How did Akheth come about? What does the band name mean and how did that come about?
"The band started from the first demo of 'The Asylum' we did back in 2015. It was a song that I had written in 2011 for my band at the time. When I saw a few YouTube videos of Mahafsoun singing I asked her if she'd be interested in recording vocals for the song. We finished that demo but didn't create Akheth as a band until late 2016. The name of the band is an Egyptian hieroglyph that represents where the sun rises or sets. I chose this name for the band because I was looking for something original and short and Akheth was the name of the first song I ever wrote back in 2006, so it has a special meaning."
Seeing as you all live in four countries, do you send recordings over the net or do you meet up on occasion?
"Mahafsoun and I have met a few times but most of the work we do is through the internet. I send the guys complete demos with guide vocals or just the skeleton of a song when I'm still working on it. From there they learn it and add their own thing to it. There is also a new song that we are working on for the EP on which Mahafsoun wrote the main piano parts, it is the first song we are writing together. Next month (April) Mahafsoun and I will meet and practice the vocal lines for the new songs."
What (apart from the previous question) challenges do you face as an international band?
"Sometimes communicating ideas over the internet is difficult, you can't really explain for example a melody or a complicated section over an e-mail. Besides that recording everything separately, specially with a low budget is hard because you have to take all those different tracks recorded in different places and make them fit together. Of course with the technology we have these days it's a bit easier but some of us are still learning and getting more experience as we work more on recording music. Lastly the cost of getting all of us together in the same place, every time we want to do it one of us has to get a flight somewhere."
Mahafsoun, what was it like growing up as a metal fan in Iran? What does your family think of metal music?
"During the time I lived in Iran, I was only eight years old. Because of this I never got to experience what it's like to be a metal fan growing up in Iran. However my mum and dad nowadays enjoy some metal. In the beginning they didn't really care about it, but after I showed them the different sub-genres of metal, they each found one that they really enjoyed listening to. I believe that for each of them, they enjoy metal more nowadays especially because they know that I have such a strong connection to the music and the culture."
You released your debut single 'The Asylum' this year, what has the reception been like and how did you come up with the single title?
"At the time of writing The Asylum and other songs I had the idea of making them all fit together in a concept album. The story is about the human mind and how insane it can sometimes be. So at the beginning of the story everything is somewhat abstract but getting to this song, The Asylum, you start to figure out what it was all about. At this point we aren't even talking about the full length, since we are working on the EP, so we'll have to see if we keep the same subject.
So far the reception has been great! People from all over the world ordered our CD's and merch, as a new band we didn't really expect that so we are very thankful for the support. Not only that but people also liked our music and we were lucky to have Mark from Epica as a guest on the song!
Will the single be included on your impending EP / debut album in the future?
"Our EP will contain 5 new songs and we will include 'The Asylum' as a bonus. Although for our first full length album we talked about re-recording the song because this single was basically home-made and we had some comments about our production quality. So yes! we will have a much better version of 'The Asylum' but it'll have to wait until we record our full length."
How would you describe your style of metal? Who influences you?
"Right now we only have that one song out so it is still too early for people to really know what our style is. However in a review for Metal Injection they called us Progressive Symphonic Metal and we really liked that term because it doesn't limit us to play the same thing all the time. We have so many influences that go from Progressive Rock all the way to Black or Death Metal and everything in between. I think our music will definitely reflect that. Also each one of us has different tastes and styles of playing our instruments or singing.
The good thing is that we are all open minded and so is most of the metal community, our core will always be metal so I think most people will find something that they enjoy in our music. For our EP we are working on a ballad, also other longer songs with middle eastern vibes and instrumental sections. Some songs have more orchestra and others are more riff oriented so you guys can get an idea. The beauty of Symphonic Metal is that you can do so many different things with it and when you throw in the progressive part you get even more variety.
As far as specific bands that influence us I'd personally say Opeth, Dream Theater, Tool, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Evergrey, David Gilmour, Steven Wilson to mention a few. Mahafsoun likes Deftones, A Perfect Circle, Septicflesh, Moonspell. There would be too many to mention them all!"
What plans do you have for the year ahead and are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Our plans for this year besides the EP are making our first official videos together! We'd like to thank you and everybody for supporting Akheth and we hope you keep an eye out for our EP towards the second half of the year!"
Without a shadow of a doubt, God Dethroned are veterans of the Dutch Metal scene despite having split-up twice (1993, 2012) and whilst some might have cast them off as just 'hanging around', it goes without question that the quartet have arisen once again with newfound vigour, a sense of passion and pride, but above all the feeling that they have left business unfinished.
Starting off back in the old days with Satanism as the core topic of their lyrics, God Dethroned mid-career switched to a more death-orientated stance which transgressed into their modern self as a band who sings about war, specifically the First World War; as shown on their 2009 album 'Passiondale (Passchendaele)'.
26 long years down the line and God Dethroned are set to deliver their 10th opus titled 'The World Ablaze', ending the WW1 album trilogy. In promotion of the album God Dethroned have released three blazingly brutal music videos:-
Fending off the aggression of this Dutch horde, GMA came into calling truce with frontman Henri Sattler who laid out the band's battle plans for the campaign ahead, speaking of their local division, politics and their latest weapon 'The World Ablaze'... prepare for mortar fire.