There are interviews being realized literally in a few hours, and there are interviews that last a little longer, for example a couple of years. We first contacted DEATHRONATION from Germany an already quite way back, a few years ago, but still there has been somewhat complicating on band's side. Finally in between the guys released "Hallow The Dead" debut last year under Ván Records, so we changed and a little bit arranged some questions of the interview. Finally, due to workload the band answered just now, what I am delighted with. What other than obscure old school Death Metal from these death bringers can we wait for? The album took quite nicely but more you will find in the interview with Stiff Old (guit, vox).
Hi, how did you start with Metal? Have you been listening to music more seriously also before you heard first Metal band? Which bands have you heard first and what feelings left it in you till today?
The first time I realized about metal was, when I saw the cover artworks of “South of Heaven”, “Mortal way of Life” and “Leprosy” in my brothers room, where he was hiding these records from my parents. I was about ten years old and when listening the Sodom live recording I just realized when Angelripper spoke to the audience, that it were humans doing this noise. I couldn't recognize any music, but the metal cover artworks deeply fascinated me. Especially “South of Heaven”, which is one of the best and most occult cover artworks ever. So it was first the visual attraction, the music came a bit later. I started with Punk Rock, but soon a band called Helloween got my attention. My neighbour – who is playing the drums in Deathronation today - gave me a tape. On A-side was Helloween “Live in the UK”, on the B-side was Running Wild – “Death or Glory”. This tape (which I still owe) was much important for me. It was my entrance to metal music. It already showed another special thing. I realized, that even when I first preferred the very melodic Helloween stuff, the Running Wild part was somehow darker and with an own atmosphere. “Death or Glory” is for me still one of the ultimate metal albums and it's still a main influence even for my work with Deathronation. Unfortunately in post “Death or Glory”- times Running Wild became more and more shitty...
Can you describe how did DEATHRONATION start and what purpose you put this unholy band together for? Was the reason worshiping your idols bands or you had the need to get something special from yourselves?
Starting in 2004 we just had some simple impact in mind: to create dark and brutal music, including an atmosphere which was lost in this time. The Death metal which attracted me in the 1990s wasn't existing anymore and the modern death metal bored me as fuck with it's focus on technical skills, shitty trigger sounds and all that shit. So for us it was necessary to do an own thing, to bring back the feeling we had when listening Death metal in the early 90s. It was not about to worship any special band it was just that we wanted to play the music we prefer to listen too.
Could you briefly introduce individual members of DEATHRONATION such as band's post, most favorite bands, the characteristics of temperaments and jobs?
Goathammer is running a punk/metal bar in Nuremberg called Bela Lugosi. Best place for a full-time alcoholic.
S. Muerte – working for some telecommunication company. Part time alcoholic.
Freeze: works as a male nurse with alcoholic people, drug-addicts. Quarter-Alcohoholic
Stiff Old: I work on my doctor degree in history. Full time cannabis addicted and part time alcoholic.
Your first official recording was "A Soil Forsaken ..." demo. How long did it take to create this material? Are you proud of the stuff till today and what the responses did the material leave in the underground? Have you got specifically negative criticism as well? What were you criticized the most for?
Most critics were about the sound quality. Well, on the one hand it's really a harsh sound, on the other hand, fuck off, I was used to listen to demos with bad sound quality for many years. So compared to my die-hard tape trading times the sound is still medium. But for people who grew up in times of modern „high quality“ sounds, it's really low. I don't care, we did it our self with no experience and many people love the atmosphere of the demo. That's what it is about.
The songs on „A Soil...“ are still good, we even put „Realm of Shadows“ on „Hallow the Dead“. So we still like the stuff. The demo was important to spread our name in the underground and we got contacts in this time which last until today. Thx to the people who believed in us all the years. You know who you are!
Between the first and second "Exorchrism" demo was quite a big time delay. What was the reason? Were there some personal changes?
Yes, we had massive line-up problems and fights within the band about the future path. When our former drummer left the band the never-ending discussions stopped, but we had to do a break until Freeze joined Deathronation. The band gathered momentum again...
Your second "Exorchrism" demo is full of old, maybe Thrashing Death Metal with dark or occult atmosphere. How would you compare your two demos? Can you see there some progress or regress? Do you think your second demo is the best what you have recorded so far?
„A Soil forsaken“ was recorded by our own hands in the rehearsal room. You can hear our unexperience, but also the feeling we put into the recordings. „Exorchrism“ was recorded at a friend's studio, just using analog equipment. This was an interesting experience to work with that stuff. But we were not prepared very well, so on this recording are many little things which could have been made better. But what the fuck, it is like it is. We made a progress as we have another line-up for Exorchrism, especially the drums are now more tight. Before recording „Hallow the Dead“, Exorchrism was surly our best recording.
Your songs are quite memorable, catchy as it was in Death Metal of years 1989 – 1994 for example, but still, your harmonies and melodies are very dark, wracking, devouring and scary. What role does the melody play to you?
Thanks a lot for your words about our music. Melody plays a big role, as it's important to create the special feelings we want to show. With pure rhythm and brutality you can create really hard and aggressive music, but that's not enough for us. Atmosphere is important to create dark art at all.
How do you perceive such music elements as atonality and disharmony? Do you think your music contains these elements?
Yes, surly we have these elements, especially as we are lousy lead guitar players ha ha. Listen to our leads, it sounds similar to crying cats. Well but we use atonality in some rhythm riffs too. It's an element of metal riffing.
I perceive Death Metal as negative music, of course, ultimately it is a positive feeling to me, but I think it's hard to talk about this kind of music as a positive, because of so much amount of aggression and brutality. In addition, feelings of darkness, haunting and horror belong to this style. How do you perceive Death Metal from this perspective? Personally, I think your music contains all the elements that Death Metal had, has and will have.
Thanks for your words again, it's great that people can hear/experience these things within our music. It is always a way of balance to involve many elements into the music but to take care to avoid an overload of the music.
I think it's like you described it right in the first sentence. This music is living from the “negative” vibes and the result is a positive thing in the end. Seems paradox on the first view, but In the end of course it's a positive thing, as we can transfer own emotion and experiences into our music. It's a kind of ventile and self expression. If you touch people with that in a deeper way you are able to share, not only the music but the whole thing.
What does the sound of your band mean to you? Do you find sound of the band as some characteristic and individuality? How do you perceive your sound?
The sound is very important. It's the kind how you present your songs. People have different opinions about the question what is a good and what a bad sound. So you have to find something which sticks to you. For my ears a sound has to be honest. This means no die-hard trigger and stuff like this. So if your sound is based on the instruments and amps you play, then you get your individual sound. Try to sound better in the rehearsal room and your whole sound will be better. But don't start to create your sound in the studio and desperate when you have to play live and it sounds different.
You use enough height tuned guitars, sometimes I find it more like Thrash sound, but I noticed several bands from Germany use similar sound and tuning. Was it your intent to sound as this from the guitar viewpoint or it is simply a natural guitar sound, a certain kind of effect and so on?
Well our guitars have a Cis-tuning. This means we have a higher tuning that many Death metal bands. We use this tuning as it gives good opportunity to play Death metal riffs even as thrash stuff. As we have many fast parts we preferred this tuning most, as we tried out deeper tunings too.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music from? Can you mention some bands that are interesting to you? Do you find some inspiration also in the non-musical, perhaps spiritual spheres?
Well, of course we get inspiration from bands we like as old Death, old Morbid Angel, Slayer, Sadistic Intent or even Cathedral, Master's Hammer, Unholy. There's many music, even not related to metal which can give inspirations, be it for a melody or just a special mood. The non-musical inspirations are many. First you need some kind of anger inside to play brutal music in a true way. Inspirations for lyrics and topics to write about can be found in religious, historical and many more topics.
I'm not a too spiritual person, as I'm lead by rationality (which I know, has it's limits). I'm more interested in philosophy than in spiritual enlightment. I don't deny spiritual power, but I believe in neuronal reasons. Taste some magic mushrooms and you'll see how close connected spiritual feeling and the chemistry in your brain is...
Could you write something about your lyrics? Which themes are most important to you? Overall, seems that theme of death is prevalent in this genre. What does the death mean to you? Do you believe death is the ultimate end of existence or a way somewhere else, continuation in another form of existence?
As written before, our lyrics are often inspired by historical topics. Mankind has made so many bad things, you will never run out of topics. Death is a main thing in the concept of Deathronation. And it's even my personal believe. There's no after-life, no resurrection and nothing like this. I believe in evolution and this shows me, that we are just animals with a somehow bigger brain. There's no masterplan or god. We are a line in evolution, and will disappear one day. So death is eternal and stands above all. We come all from one source in universe (let's call it the big-bang), we will maybe go back to it at the end of time. But surly not as individuals as we are now. So the topics are about Death and Decay. Be it the decay of a realm, a city, a culture or whatever. All is doomed to decay.
Seems that old German Death Metal scene was best in the 90s, bands like PROTECTOR, MORGOTH, ATROCITY, ETERNAL DIRGE, INCUBATOR, PURGATORY, FLESHCRAWL, TORCHURE, OBSCENITY... say for it all. Then remained abysmal silence, but in recent years your scene re-awakens and there are arising fantastic bands as PHILOSOPHER, NECROS CHRISTOS, DROWNED, VENENUM, BEYOND, NUCLEAR MAGICK, ABYSSOUS, HATESPAWN, OBSCURE INFINITY, CHAMBER OF DISEASE, CHARON, SULPHUR AEON, KREON... and probably many many more. Do you watch what is happening on German scene today?
Well of course we watch and see how the German scene was growing the last years. We experienced the early 90ies and the following time of waste and decay. We like to see that many more people are attracted by this sound again and that strong bands of this genre come from Germany. We have a healthy underground scene nowadays. I don't care for the big bands and festivals. The true metal life happens in fucked up little venues, where people organize shows out of passion and bands and audience are celebrating the mass together.
Let's come to your current album released last year in late October, it's still relatively fresh work, but half of the album consists of the old songs, new ones are therefore Deathchant Assyria, Spiritual Relief, Ghostwhipper and Steelpanther's Fist. Why did you decide to use old songs?
The album is a mirror of the last ten years of Deathronation's existence. This means we wanted to give every period a place on the album. And by the way, we thought, that the old songs deserved to be recorded in a professional way.
On the other hand I have to admit all the new songs are the best you have created so far, especially the first two tracks Deathchant Assyria and Spiritual Relief. I would say your style remained largely unchanged opposite past, you put even more natural course of the composition to the new songs and they sound even more complete. Which new songs appeal to you most?
Thanks for your opinion about the new material. Well, I personally like Deathchant Assyria a lot, as this song includes many elements I admire in metal. On the other hand, I wasn't sure when writing it, if it would fit, as its a long song. I also like the other new ones a lot as I do with the old ones.
Could you write what your Deathchant Assyria a Spiritual Relief tracks deal with in lyrical side?
Deathchant Assyria is about the rise and fall of ancient Assyrian Empire. Even the most powerful realm will disappear one time. It should be a warning for all who believe that their military and economic power will last forever...
Spiritual Relief is about to tear down religious believes, the hypocrisy and crimes of organized religion and the sad fact, that these things will exist as long as mankind does. Fuck esoterics, fuck religion and even fuck the come-back of religious believes in (black) metal music. Believers are weak as they are too blind to see that we will all decay. They believe that their poor, non-existing shitty soul will have an afterlife existence, what a bullshit fairytale.
Many fans today claim there is nothing new Death Metal can coming up with and the best things originated in the 90s. What do you think about these statements?
Well, it depends who is into this opinion. Is it somebody who grew up in the 80/90s, then I can understand that point of view, even if I don't share that opinion in general. Of course many things have been done many times, but there are nowadays bands which create new stuff. See Necros Christos for example. On the other side, who needs the next band copying well known styles... but even in this case, I have to admit, that sometimes the young bands have more fire in their asses compared to the established ones. Many of the established bands are not able to top their albums from the 90ies.
Your booklet of "Hallow The Dead" contains ossuary photo which is something like the gate of death, it feels really scary, as if a portal to your music. Where you got this picture and who is the author?
Great that you get these associations when watching our cover hehe! This cover art work was done by Chris / Misanthropic Art. He is a really good Artist and we talked a lot how the artwork should look like in the end. Well, you see the result. Chris became more popular the last two years, so now you can see his art more often.
What is your view at your debut now. Is there something you would change if you could?
We are really satisfied. Especially, as we didn't knew before how the sound will develop. We had to improve the sound a lot but to avoid to sound too „clear“. We wanted to stay rough but get a more different sound. I guess we succeeded with that. There are many little things still on the recording which could have made better, but we don't care so much about that. It is like it is.
Ok, that would be all on my part, if I forgot something important, you have the space, alternatively you can greet the fans and bait them on your debut album. Thank you for this great interview and wish you a lot of energy to spread the message of death!
Thanks to you a lot for sending us this in-deep interview. And please apologize our really long delay in answering! Thanks for supporting Deathronation! Keep the flame burning!
Stiff Old 30. 10. 2015 Mortuary
Realm of Shadows