The German Death Metal underground is a hot melting pot lately and one of the most promising bands to emerge from it is without any doubt BEYOND, whose debut full length "Fatal Power Of Death" even ended up in the top ten of our "Best Of 2013" readers poll. Their display a ferocious aggressiveness, combined with the necessary power of darkness fits together just perfectly and should easily turn every underground devotee into a BEYOND addict rather quickly. We already had plans for a bigger feature for quite some time, but due to reasons beyond our control it took a bit longer than originally intended. But hey, better later than never, right? So, here it is after all. Guitarist / vocalist and founding member Roland kindly answered our questions…
Greetings Roland, and welcome to Voices From The Darkside. I hope you’re doing fine and I caught you in a good mood for a bunch of band related questions?
"Cheers Frank, yes I’m of course totally fine with a bunch of questions."
The first time we heard about you guys was back in 2008, with the origin of BEYOND’s predecessor band SHAPELESS… Have you been involved in the underground in any way before that already or was SHAPELESS your first serious band?
"Listening to extreme Metal music since around the age of 14 I used to jam with my colleagues back around 2006 in their basement (one of which would later turn out to be our drummer in SHAPELESS). Except for a riff that actually ended up in ‘Definite Decease’ off our debut album, nothing worth of mentioning ever came out of it… until SHAPELESS emerged."
What actually got you into the extreme underground scene? Has there been a special event, a certain band or whatever that impressed you so much that you decided to form a band on your own?
"Just like any average "METALLICA / SLAYER – affine" kind of kid I used to search for way more violent music that would be able to send shivers down my spine, so eventually, I stumbled across the monstrosity known as the Black / Death – swamp in my very early teenage-days. From there it went the natural way, digging myself downwards the chronology of atrocity, stumbling onto the usual bands such as MORBID, INCUBUS, NECROVORE, DREAM DEATH, TREBLINKA and what not. Everything that was unknown and obscure of course captured my mind and took my whole interest. So the natural canalization of all these feelings involved in that kind of interest was SHAPELESS / BEYOND. It might sound pathetic to some, but I think that "Fatal Power…" is a summarization of that period of life to me. It was a certain lifestyle for sure, and I think every devotee to old (Death) Metal knows what I mean. So it’s all pretty much no big surprise that a band like SHAPELESS / BEYOND would emerge."
Have you been involved in any other activities before or besides SHAPELESS already, like booking shows, running a fanzine or whatever?
"No, but I was about to release some zine back in ’09, glad it never came out though, I think that’s the "business" of other individuals doing that pretty good."
I suppose the band was formed by yourself (on guitar & vocals), so please tell us a little bit about the early days and how you hooked up with drummer Silvester Stillborn and bassplayer Nico W., who seemed to be the band’s original members (if I did my homework right)…
"As I elaborated earlier, I used to hang out a lot with Andi (drummer) back in those days, and it was just natural to start a band, considering the both of us being into violent Death / Black / Thrash Metal. Andi didn’t even play drums before that, so he had to attend lessons. Nico was just a session bass guy back in the SHAPELESS era. He used to only record the bass for the demo, he never rehearsed with us or anything back then."
Have you been writing your own music right away or have you first of all rehearsed a bunch of coversongs with SHAPELESS, like many other young bands do?
"We did start with our own stuff right away without compromises. Even though we used to jam some SODOM or MERCILESS songs from time to time, I think it was really important for us to evolve a style of our own, in a already quite limited spectrum like primitive Death / Thrash, that we played with SHAPELESS."
Even though SHAPELESS was a rather shortlived unit (and only existed from 2008 to 2010), you still managed to record and release two demos: "Promotional Desecration" in April 2010 and "Repellent Ascend Of The Abhorrent" already couple of months later in July 2010… Please tell us a little bit more about these two releases. Have you recorded them in a proper studio environment or was it more rehearsal room type of recordings?
"It was the latter, totally. I literally had no experience with recording at all, it was all just do-it-yourself mentality. But I think that adds to the raw charme of these recordings, it was just chaotic and unprofessional for sure… but whose demo era was not?"
From what I’ve read, you spread the "Promotional Desecration" demo for free as a CD-R release at the "Raging Death Date" 2010… Please tell us a bit more about this. I suppose you played there as well, didn’t you?
"Sadly we did not play there because we didn’t have enough songs anyway. Well, we spread that first demo there because that festival was a gathering of people with quite similar Metal taste."
Talking of live shows: do you still recall when and where you played your very first gig and how it turned out?
"Actually, the first real live show that I ever did was in February 2012 with BEYOND. That was a gig in Metz, France with BESTIAL RAIDS and some others."
When and why did you re-start the band with a new name? I mean, musically there’s not much of a big difference between SHAPELESS and BEYOND, apart from improvements in your musical skills and stuff like that…
"I think you can see analogies with the rechristening process of HELLHAMMER into CELTIC FROST. In my case I felt like SHAPELESS was a great primitive first era of my musical career, but I wanted more on all fields. So I felt a renaming was very much necessary… one day I just thought BEYOND stands for everything I search(ed) for in Death Metal."
There’s a shitload of line-up changes throughout the entire history of SHAPELESS and BEYOND, so would you mind telling us a bit more about this in general? Have you often worked with session members only or have all those guys been real band members?
"Yeah, well… it’s hard to find a good staff these days. Especially when you have certain requirements when it comes to the skills. Not enough people learning drums these days. Or play in really really bad bands. Other than that I don’t want to go into detail too much, you know, personal conflicts occur everywhere… And yes, a lot of the members involved have been on a session member basis."
Before you recorded your debut full length with BEYOND, there’s been the "Relentless Abomination Vortex" demo (in July 2011) and the "Enter Transcendence" vinyl 7" EP (in September 2012) via Iron Bonehead Productions… Where do you see the biggest improvements in these two releases if you compare them to the two SHAPELESS demos?
"On all levels. Technically. Songwriting. Vocals. Production. Everything, as I said. And it always has to evolve… which is the only way for us."
When I listen to these releases it seems to me that the definite BEYOND sound really started to take shape with the EP. Is that maybe part of the reason why you re-recorded two of the demo songs (‘Appearance From Beyond’ and ‘Whirlwinds Of Chaotic Carnage’) for the album? To do them more justice? Or have they simply been crowd favorites that had to be on a BEYOND full length in their definite versions?
"Yes, we wanted to put these already very good songs into a new soundshape and transform them into superior songs. Comparable to what Trey Azagthoth had in mind with some of the "Abominations…" songs later on "Altars…“ (even if some still prefer "Abominations…", whatever)."
A big trademark for your sound is without a doubt the use of reverb on the vocals… What inspired that and could you imagine a BEYOND recording without that?
"Hm, don’t think that’s too much of a trademark for me personally. It was just coincidence, it went nice with the flow of the record, but on the next record I want to lower the reverb by far. But it fits "Fatal…“ the way it is, I think."
Talking of re-recordings: is there a connection between the SHAPELESS song ‘Undeniable Power Of Death’ and the title track of your debut album "Fatal Power Of Death"? What made you change the title around a bit?
"No connections, really."
By the way: why did you already record ‘Undeniable Power Of Death’ on both SHAPELESS demos?
"Because the versions differ a lot, and on the second demo we became better, so a natural step here again."
How did you hook up with Iron Bonehead Productions for the release of your debut album and when and how did Necroshrine Records come on board for the CD edition of it? Did some other labels show some interest in the band as well at that point of time?
"After Jerry’s Label Detest Records faded away we got in contact with Iron Bonehead and we just decided to release our next two releases there. Necroshrine is his wife’s label I think, so he was able to put out a CD version as well. Yeah, there were, and there still are a lot of interests of some high caliber labels… but we have something different in mind. But some co-operations are not impossible."
There’s almost no information on the album mentioned, so would you mind telling us a bit more about its origin? Like how long you have been in the studio, who "Avenger" is, who worked with you on the production and also played some keyboard parts and which line-up was actually part of the recordings? It seems you had to work with a session drummer again since there’s no picture of a drummer in the booklet…
"We recorded the drums on one weekend in Mainz, the guitars and vocals were recorded during a week in spring of 2013 with Daniel of NOCTURNAL, who is said "Avenger“. He did some guest screams on ‘Appearance From Beyond’, also composed the intro(s). There was no sessiondrummer on the album, it was our actual steady drummer from back then."
Is it possible that KREATOR’s ‘Riot Of Violence’ and POSSESSED’s ‘Twisted Minds’ had a certain influence on part of the riffing in ‘Merciless At Heart’ maybe?
"I don’t know what songs or bands influenced me for that song, but what I do know for certain is, that both, these songs and the early works of these bands influenced me for sure, especially ‘Riot Of Violence’, one of the 5 most extreme Thrash songs ever I guess."
"Fatal Power Of Death" got mixed and mastered by Patrick W. Engel, who’s become a very experienced guy in that department over the last couple of years, so was he your own personal choice or was that a suggestion from the label maybe?
"Own personal choice. Just perfect in what he does."
The album cover was created by Comaworx… Was it a piece of artwork they already had on offer or was it exclusively created for you, based on your own thoughts and ideas?
"He created the artwork completely like demanded from me, containing all ideas and thoughts."
Even though the album got a tremendous feedback from the underground (and ended up on very high positions in polls and stuff), I haven’t really noticed much interviews with BEYOND… The only one I actually can recall was in Germany’s Rock Hard magazine and you didn’t really seem to like that too much in retrospect, did you? Please tell us a bit more about your relation to the press…
"I think it was entertaining to piss the mainstream media off a bit, even if they wanted it to come off as "self ironical“ or whatever (subcommenting some statements). We just can’t stand all these "all of a sudden“ underground hype of these mags for evident economical reasons. I don’t really care if they boycott us now, our name spreads among those that should be into it, and that’s it."
What about the BEYOND Facebook site? It is officially labeled as a fansite, but you seem to be involved in it as well somehow, aren’t you?
"It’s run by a good friend, but we advice him to spread some concert flyers there. However he has the control over it, so we all decided to name it a "Fanpage", because that’s what it is, but I think that’s pretty much irrelevant. If we find the time, I think a regular webpage would be the best solution (web-programming cracks are welcome to write us: email@example.com)."
What about BEYOND live shows… I noticed that you played a bunch of them already. Any standout shows you remember? Or shows you’d like to forget because they turned out very shitty for one reason or another?
"I think the worst show was on Hell’s Pleasure 2012 where everything went bad that just could have gone bad. The best gig was in Rüsselsheim 2014."
Isn’t it difficult to establish an own band identity when you are forced to work with session members very often?
"I don’t think we need a band identity in terms of line-up and with that associated characters or looks, but rather in sound only."
Not too long ago there was talk about a CD re-issue of your "Relentless Abomination Vortex" demo together with the 7" songs via Power Shark Records.. what happened to that?
"It will happen for sure, we still have to sort out some pressing decisions etc. So, honoured listeners, it is going to happen, but have a bit patience, start-up’s take more time than planned."
Ok Roland, I guess we covered enough for now. If you have any band releated news that you would like to share with our readers, you’re welcome to do so now. Otherwise I’ll leave it up to you to end the interview in any way you like. All the best and thanks for taking the time.
"Look out for the label Power Shark Productions in the future, we want to release high calibre releases exclusively, BEYOND being only one of them. There is a SHAPELESS (pre – BEYOND) compilation in the pipeline too, by the way."
Interview: Frank Stöver
Live pics: the-pit.de