Monthly Archives: December 2016
Spectres Over Arnehm
So, I guess it kind of shows that variety of the Fresh Blood programme that we can have a band like Wederganger, a band which in most underground circles needs no introduction. Formed in 2013, in Arnhem, Netherlands, the band is composed by ex-members of Heidevolk, Mondvolland and Fluisterwoud amongst other bands, yet sounds like none of their ex-endeavours. A unique band in the treaded and retreaded waters of the Metal scene, Wederganger’s music can most closely be described by the adjective ghostly. Their music, while heavy and innovative, hits a listener differently than most Black or Death Metal band. It’s more ethereal, more drab, and in a way, less simple and easy to understand than your average boom-bam-blast beat affair. So, with my full support, I set out to interview this strange new entity, and along the way, I encountered a one sir Botmuyl, who handles harsh vocals in the band.
Bulldozer: Hey Botmuyl, so Halfvergaan ontwaakt has been out for about a year, how do you feel about the record?
Botmuyl: It captures the atmosphere that we want to evoke. It’s dark, gloomy, aggressive and -above all- it breathes the atmosphere of a medieval Gelderland. We still stand fully behind it as it would be pointless to release an album that does not meet the creator’s expectations.
Bulldozer: The musical concept behind the record is unique, the mix of those special cleans and growled black metal vocals, how did you guys come upon the idea?
Botmuyl: It is a natural thing for us. Alfschijn sings about the inevitable impending doom and the end of time. With my vocals I spit fate’s horrid reeking breath in the face of the listener. The combination is the finishing touch to accompany the riffs that lay the foundation of the tale we want to tell.
Bulldozer: The name of the record literally means “Awakened Half-Perish”, though i’m guessing that’s not a good translation. What does the title mean? and why did you choose it? how does it represent the content on the record?
Botmuyl: That’s more or less an adequate translation I guess. It’s the essence of a revenant, one that is cursed and returns from death to haunt the living. It also symbolises our awakening, this is just the beginning of our hymns of Undeath.
Bulldozer: What are some of the lyrical themes the record touches on?
Bulldozer: The unique artwork is done by Karmazid, why did you choose to go with him?
Botmuyl: Karmazid has the remarkable talent to draw our visions in a way that is perfectly fitting with the atmosphere that we want to evoke. He has really outdone himself with the dotted cover artwork, we are very pleased with his creations.
Bulldozer: The artwork itself is both very clean and very dirty at the same time, with the decomposing human on the front, how does that tie in with the themes of the record? What does it represent?
Botmuyl: It represents everything we stand for. It’s a decaying revenant in all it’s decomposing g(l)ory.
Bulldozer: Why did you choose Wederganger as your band title? How does it connect to the spirit of the band?
Botmuyl: It goes against the order of things. When someone or something is dead, it should stay that way. But if the cemetery spits out this poisonous corpse to send it tormenting the living, it’s a horrendous anomaly. The grip of those that hold dear to order and nature’s laws loosens. It can’t be grasped or tamed. That is Wederganger.
Bulldozer: Recently, in an interview I had with Urfaust, they mentioned that you guys are doing a split together, what can you tell us about it? Why did you choose to work with Urfaust in particular?
Botmuyl: Urfaust are brothers. We share history and a label, and highly respect each other’s music. A split release was inevitable.
Bulldozer: You guys are all obviously very experienced and rather high profile musicians, but what would you say you learned from making Halfvergaan Ontwaakt?
Botmuyl: It all went quick and smooth, it was a very productive process. We have the luxury to have some very talented people within and outside of the band to assist us in recording our funeral chants.
Bulldozer: Are you already thinking about what to do for the next full length? Is there anything you can tell us?
Botmuyl: We are working on it. Expect no style changes or experimental wanderings, it will be an immersion in pitch black Gueldrian Undeath Metal.
Bulldozer: So, what’s in the immediate future for Wederganger? Any shows planned? Tours? Videos? Books? Comically oversized list of items for artists to cover all bases? 😉
Botmuyl: Seances are always unfolding. Physical releases will emerge from ancient Gueldrian gates. All will be known when the time has come.
Bulldozer: Any last words?
Botmuyl: A revenant knows no such thing as “last words”.
Interview: Benek Astrachan
Photo: Niels Vick Esq
Of False Idols and Relevant Plagues
Valencia is an interesting cradle of Metal civilization in Spain. Situated on the eastern coast, and hosting south of only 1 million people, it is kind of the insiders secret of Spanish Metal. Many of the important bands, promoters and people within the scene hail from Valencia, yet outsiders eyes tend to focus very heavily on Barcelona and Madrid (for the person hoping for a football joke, prepare to be disappointed. In second though, fuck!) One of the bands that I personally think should definitely stop being a secret and definitely ought to be exported is the relatively new Whoredom. Though young, Whoredom are one of those bands that transfer their name and ambience perfectly with their music. It is grand, but it is dark. It is disgustingly monstrous, but it is also incredibly human. Live equally, they transfer these feelings very well. They play in a way that makes you understand the music and in a way, understand the thought that goes into it while retaining the…well, for lack of a more Metal word, fun of going to a show. So without further adieu, here is my chat with Zenon of Whoredom!
Bulldozer: Hey Alex, what’s up?
Zenon: All’s good, what about you?
Bulldozer: Good, good, same old shit. So, Old Plagues For The New World has been out for a year now, how do you feel about it?
Zenon: Well, I still like to hear it which is telling. I’m still proud of it and I think I will always be, especially considering our lack of experience in recording and producing, etc etc. We still enjoy rehearsing the songs, though they don’t sound 100% perfect yet, there are a lot of things to improve. Things we are doing right now, but we are still proud of it.
Bulldozer: What would you say are some of the main take aways and things you learned from doing this EP?
Zenon: Honestly, we have learned a lot of tune ups. A lot from the mistakes in recording, about exercising patience. Endurance. We did rush some of the things on the EP, we entered the studio with a few songs that weren’t properly rehearsed. But again, the result is good, so it’s good with us.
Bulldozer: What’s the meaning of that title? does it relate to the Columbian exchange?
Zenon: No, it doesn’t relate at all to the Columbian exchange. While it could fit in relation to the concept, it isn’t what we were thinking of or is in the contents of the EP. We came up with the title after dealing with other choices we have come up with, this one sounded good enough for us. Powerful enough for us. It has more than one meaning but the main one would be a stance against the modern standards of mankind. We have this materialistic, egocentric, pseudo-egalitarian view of the world of mankind. All in the name of “progress” and “tolerance.” In the end, there are still wars, conflicts, and the “quest for happiness.” An unending turf war for man to endure. We have moved forward in our abilities and our comfort but human existence is as void as it’s ever been. We may live in a golden era, but the ghosts of the past are still here. “Old Plagues For The New World” it’s the same shit as it has ever been for mankind.
Bulldozer: What about these last few years brought to you to this title and theme? What made you think about this?
Zenon: I’ve been reading a lot about anthropology, cultural anthropology and as a matter of fact, I’ve just started studying it on a regular basis. Some authors and some books made me masticate a lot on this kind of stuff. Authors that reflects a lot of violence in mankind. In the character of mankind. Nothing really personal but my own thoughts and recollections regarding the state of the world. A growing disenchantment with the state of affairs right now. When you’re in a kid, you live in a golden bubble, everything is great, your parents are here to help, then when you’re thrown into the world, you have this youngster phase where you think you’re going to eat the world, the world is your oyster, but as you grow it fades. You grow cynical and sardonic with mankind.
Bulldozer: The artwork is also quite striking, beautifully conveying the name in a way, who did the artwork? and also, why did you choose this particular piece?
Zenon: It’s a classic paint by a great master, Hieronymus Bosch. Dutch painter. It’s a painting called “The Temptation of Satan.” You always have the classic painting, the “Garden of Earthly Delights” which is his classic. We were looking in that direction but we looked for something less known and more adequate to our lyrics. The inside illustrations are parts and we tried to make all the decisions match a little bit. The feeling, the lyrics and the content needed to be mirrored by the illustrations.
Bulldozer: So why did you go with this one in particular? you said it connects but in what way? why Bosch in particular?
Zenon: Hieronymus Bosch was a great painter, he painted for for Catholic churches but he also painted really dark and twisted visions. There was a lot of cynical contempt in his drawings. There was a part which was surrealistic, with criticism of the society in which he lived. He painted for example, pigs with human hats and this kind of stuff. It’s a good balance between imagination and reality. It’s what our lyrics aim towards as well, a fantastical representation in our minds of something real. Part real part surreal.
Bulldozer: So the band’s name is Whoredom, why did you guys choose that name? how does it appeal to the band?
Zenon: As you may know, choosing a band’s name is as difficult as choosing your child’s! We considered a lot of names but eventually, the last proposal was Whoredom. It was short, easy, a mouthful and twisted in the right places. The old meaning of Whoredom is to worship false gods or idolatry, it fit our concepts. It reminds one of the earlier things we discussed, always working towards wrong priorities, wrong directions and losing money and time to man made gods and idols. Obsession is another focus represented here that is also very widely represented in the lyrics and in the artwork. Of course, it has the word Whore in it! Which is enough to draw the attention of the children (laughs.) It’s kind of obscene, it fits really well with the lyrics and our dark sense of humor.
Bulldozer: Something that struck me is the Whoredom symbol, with the two axes, the fire in the middle and then the triangle, what does it mean?
Zenon: That’s part personal and part that I can’t remember it (laughs.) I made the symbol when I was really drunk! It was kind of “lets just put something between the logo and the artwork.” Of course, it has the axes and the spears which are symbols of war. The symbols inside of it are symbols of putrefaction and death. Cool stuff (laughs.) I did this many years ago, but like anything else in music, you can find and give it any meaning you want. In the end it’s just something that came from inside but not for any particular reason.
Bulldozer: You of course, are a Belgian national, how did you come to join a Spanish band in Valencia? it’s kind of interesting! (laughs)
Zenon: To be honest, I grew up in Catalonia. My parents are from Belgium but I was raised in Spain. About my heritage, yeah my culture is Belgian but I grew up here. I live here. So joining a band was the most natural thing. I listen to a lot of Belgian bands, Ancient Rites, and Ostrogoth etc etc. But I never experienced Belgian Metal, I never really lived there. I can’t really relate to it except for my heritage. The fact I ended up in Spanish band rather than Belgian one is because I live here, simple as that. I grew up with my hometown scene in Girona and the Barcelona scene but I never really became a part of another circle.
Bulldozer: Also I noticed that interestingly, with the exceptions of you and Julkarn (who was absent on the record,) most of the members are relatively new to recording Metal, how has it been like mixing the old blood with the new?
Zenon: You mean having senior people in the band and newbies, right?
Zenon: Well, we’ve learned a lot from Julkarn and his dealing. I myself have been in bands since I was a kid, since I was 16 or so but never with the level of accomplishment that Whoredom has seen. So I consider myself quite new too. I had a few other bands but never with the same airplay as Whoredom. Nefarial (couldn’t find a real name) also played in a few local bands before Whoredom. But in the end it’s ok. There are a lot of things that new blood and old blood do differently. For example, when Julkarn and I learned every song by rehearsing it to death and crushing it in the rehearsal room. While other younger members of the band tend to record and practice it in their home, then come to polish it up in the rehearsal room. Either way is fine and both have pros and cons, like anything else. It really doesn’t matter if the guy is young or old. Anyway, Julkarn is not only a great musician and a friend, but a source of knowledge. We turn to him a lot for the senior advice of “what to do in Metal” (laughs.)
Bulldozer: Do you feel that the mix of oldschool and maybe, newer tendencies contribute to the band’s sound?
Zenon: It’s kind of difficult to say. Some of the members in the band listen to a lot of Behemoth and this kind of stuff, but we listen a lot to some friends of yours (Alex is referring to the fact i’m a Polish national)! Voidhanger, Infernal War. A lot of Polish stuff, we also like stuff like Hail of Bullets. When we write stuff, there are no restrictions. We don’t come out and go “we’re going to write an oldschool Death Metal song.”We just come up with the riffs and if it’s ok to us, it’s ok to us. What I can guarantee you is that you won’t hear damn Deathcore riffing or Djent riffing on the record. We do incorporate newer bands with an oldschool style and it benefits our evolution. New flesh, old blood! But with that said, we don’t try to rehash anything. We don’t want to be some regressive band that only copies. One of the keys to writing great music is not putting any restrictions on yourself.
Bulldozer: What was the recording process like for this record? what’s it like being an upcoming band from Valencia? The Spanish scene, while consisting of many bands and having even a few breakout acts such as Avulsed, Angelus Apatrida and Wormed, is still rather small in the European sense of scale
Zenon Not really different from being an upcoming band from any other country except for the fact that the scene is smaller in Spain. Fewer gigs and fewer people attend the gigs. It’s just smaller. You get more airplay in country like Germany, Poland or Sweden but for us, of course, we came from this kind of country. It doesn’t bother us so much. It’ll be more difficult for us to grow large as a band coming from Spain than if we came from Germany, but that’s more power to us. If we make then that’ll be more impressive than if we were a bourgeois band from Berlin.Now a days, being a band from Spain, you have to pay big money for a chance to play live and go on the road. We will only do that if it’s wanted. If we have to stay in the Spanish scene forever, so be it.
Bulldozer: Would you say the Spanish scene is supportive? competitive?
Zenon: When you go play a gig, people are supportive, more so than say in Norway where people just stand around and yell between songs. There are some great bands and some great people in the Spanish scene but it’s still too small and divided. Everything moves in little groups, sects and often in ridiculous battles of ego between them. You find a lot of people who listen to some kind of Metal, be it Death or Thrash or whatever, who won’t go to a show because that particular band isn’t a part of their circle or isn’t a part of their niche. That one of the guys is an “asshole” or a “retard.” It all has this churlish attitude, for fucks sake, it’s just music, not a soap opera. Get over it. But overall if you see it from the outside, it’s a rather warm scene. Small but warm. We stay away from the aforementioned type of shit, especially because we’re not big enough to generate any kind of controversy or to engage in these stupid films. We stay out of it and try to be at our best, regardless of our crowd.
Bulldozer: So my friend, what are the plans regarding the debut or upcoming material?
Zenon: We are rehearsing new material of course, and when we finished our gigs with Deströyer 666 we already started rehearsing this material. As a matter of fact, the process of writing never stops. Every week and every month we come up with new riffs and ideas, so it’s not like we’re choosing a thing to do and go into writing. It’s just putting different ideas into practice. We write new songs with all the material we have already. We could have enough material for two albums if we wanted to record them, but that’s not the point. We are rehearsing the songs that feel right and putting the right ideas into practice. We don’t know yet if the next release will be an EP or an LP, but we are definitely looking to record something soon.
Bulldozer: What direction are you choosing to take with this one?
Zenon: Well, we never thought of that. We just write and whatever comes up, plays. The new tracks have a little bit more traditional Metal influences, a little bit more Death Metal influences but nothing that obscures the Black Metal. It’s pretty diverse, it’s in the same eclectic style we’ve started with the EP. We can’t tell really until we decide which tracks to record, and it also depends on the production sounds and techniques, but it doesn’t really bother us. As long as it’s dark and violent, it holds up.
Bulldozer: Is there anything you can say as far as themes? concepts?
Zenon: The lyrics that I already wrote for the new record follow the same destructive path of the first EP. Maybe more in a post apocalyptic way, not dystopian but after the disaster kind of way. The last one was more of a refection on the state of things, but the new one is aimed on a way to get out of the chaos. Kind of a Phoenix coming from the ashes. I haven’t really decided it yet though, it’ll come through naturally. I haven’t put that much thought into it, but many lyrics are written. But when we choose a concept for the album, the artwork, that stuff and we match it all together. The lyrics are as diverse the songwriting.
Bulldozer: Is there anything in the Immediate future? any shows? anything you’d like to announce?
Zenon: There are a couple of shows coming up for the beginning of next year. One in northern Spain, in the Basque country. Also there’ll be another show in Valencia sometimes soon, in the next 4 to 5 months. We don’t really have any big plans but we just keep doing our stuff, writing, rehearsing and if a gig comes up we hope to do it. We don’t really have tour plans yet. We all have our steady jobs and our families , we’re not rockstar band. Whatever comes in the end is fine by us. If we make it, that’s great but that’s not the point. The point is to enjoy what we do and play music for the sake of it. If there’s a gig then the point is to have a good time, drinking, playing and enjoying our band.
Bulldozer: Any last words?
Interview: Benek Astrachan
Photo: Antonio Cano