There are many excellent Death Metal bands coming from Germany. But SLAUGHTERDAY, this duo from the northern shores developed to be an outstanding landmark when it comes to old school Death Metal, played with a very own and unique style. Did their previous album “Ancient Death Triumph” already recieve great responses, their new longplayer “Tyrants Of Doom” is again enlargening the whole thing once more. Without any exaggeration, this might be one of the Death Metal albums of this year. So it’s an honour to welcome singer and drummer Bernd and guitarist Jens to a little talk.
The record catches the listener once more in the typical way, those both sympathic freaks are used to write their songs. Exactly nailed to the point with lots of obvious influences ankered into the sound. Obvious enough from time to time to remember the listener several records one has not been playing for a longer time. Bernd, the drummer admits:
“Of course we are influenced and inspired by the Death Metal classics from the eighties and early nineties. But it really makes me happy when our music inspires people to listen to old and classic records again. Besides from all the influences I would say, SLAUGHTERDAY have grown to a band which is recognizable amongst others. I mean the ingredients may be the same – but we cook our own Death Metal soup out of it, in which also elements out of other genres are flooding in. Classical Heavy Metal and Doom always had an immense impact on us. In the end, it is important for us to write songs with a high recognition value.”
In keeping with the word ‘Doom’ in the title, it seems as if the proportion of hidden melodies and slowly dooming moments has increased. The songs appear darker, which fits very well with the cover artwork. He does not really agree with that:
“The proportion has not increased! As far as the melodies on the new album are concerned, we have become much bolder and didn’t think about if it still sounds Death Metal or not. Melodies are an important stylistic device, they simply make classic Death Metal riffs sound more brutal. The dynamics of the songs, the interplay of harsh and melodic parts is exactly what defines the typical SLAUGHTERDAY style.”
Guitar player Jens adds to it:
“CANDLEMASS, other Doom bands and Finnish Death Metal like XYSMA or old AMORPHIS have always been a part in our sound. With each record, the center of gravity always shifts slightly in one direction or the other, depending on the momentary feeling. Maybe it’s also my very own style to play guitar which makes these melody-lines sound like they do.”
Bernd doesn’t want to explain the oppressive drawing that adorns the cover of “Tyrants Of Doom” in detail, so as not to destroy the magic when listening to the record.
“The artwork was made exactly according to our ideas. It forms a unit together with the music and the lyrics. However, I think it’s great when the listeners have completely different associations. I used to love looking at the covers and the band photos while the record was spinning on the plate. Back in those days there was still real mental cinema announced. While nowadays everything has become very fast-paced and you are able find out everything about a band, their music and the meaning of their cover artwork on the Internet.”
A clear point for him. In terms of content, SLAUGHTERDAY have already chosen the path away from Lovecraft and towards other – not less morbid – inspirations on the last album “Ancient Death Triumph”. Bernd has to intervene to improve:
“We already said goodbye to Lovecraft with the “Abattoir” EP. That’s why we changed our logo and threw the Necronomicon symbol and tentacles overboard.”
Okay. Nevertheless, there is the question coming up, how will the path continue? Do “Ancient Death Triumphant” and “Tyrants Of Doom” even correspond with each other in any way?
“The lyrics have become more abstract and apocalyptic – from then on, in addition to old horror films and demons of different cultures, I was fascinated and inspired by real horror stories. I don’t feel like describing only striking violence in the lyrics. That is something which is not inspiring me too much, to be honest. I also don’t want to tell stories, like for example KING DIAMOND does. First and foremost, it’s about creating a morbid mood together with the music. “Ancient Death Triumph” was about demons and the apocalypse. In terms of content, “Tyrants Of Doom” is also a very apocalyptic album: it’s our view of today’s world through a morbid veil.”
The image of the riders and the rising dead on the cover of “Ancient Death Triumphant”, you could have the feeling that this takes place in a fictional Death Metal world, but it also has a connection to the everyday life around us. With “Tyrants Of Doom” the band transports this feeling even more clearly. We have quite a few tyrants and despots working towards doom in the world.
“Unfortunately, you’re right. What happens in the world today is more and more remembering those apocalyptic and morbid images we describe in our lyrics. Even the oppressive atmosphere during the corona pandemic and the associated lockdowns has had an impact on our music and lyrics. The fact that inflation, energy shortages and even war with nuclear threat scenarios are now being added does not make things any better. We live in really apocalyptic times.”
According to that, the title track is building up dangerously before it breaks loose. How does songwriting work for both of you? Is there a precise link between words and musical effects that then underline the words? Especially ‘Tyrants Of Doom’ plays with many changes, but always remains threatening – the number reminds one a bit of a thunderstorm that piles up uncomfortably in front of you. Bernd, who also is responsible for the lyrics, explains:
“I don’t write my lyrics until the songs have already been composed. That makes it possible, to adjust the words to the music in a most perfect way. At this time, I already have a phrasing in my head, which often becomes quite a tinkering with words. This can take many hours for one line of text and several days for a complete one, even if it actually seems to be short on paper. What was new was that this time the titles of the songs were already fixed before the lyrics were written. We assigned each song the appropriate title and worked out the choruses together.”
An almost marching element that drives ‘Coffined Saviour’, which is characterized by pleasant twin lead guitars in the melodic middle section and towards the end. A dreaming doomy tenacity with which ‘Pestilent Tombs’ rolls forward like lava. Every now and then there are wild, sharp-edged SLAYER riffs. The musical variety of the band appears larger than ever before. Which leads of course to the question whether this is natural development or whether you grow into it as a musician?
“It’s hard to say, I think a lot of things simply develop naturally during the time. But we also have high demands on the riffs and the songwriting and we try to give every song of an album this special touch. Since the early days, we have relied on a high musical range so that we can jump back and forth between doomy parts, Thrash riffs, Classic Metal and brutal Death Metal.”
Jens tells about the guitar player’s point of view:
“The riffs are always the most important thing. If we are not convinced of the pure reef, we leave it! With vocals, drums and appropriate production you can make everything sound good – but it has to work without that. Since we actually write our songs together during rehearsals in the rehearsal room and not, like many nowadays do, on the computer, where files are sent around, this might be easier for us. We make sure that a song is quickly recognizable and that the beginnings of the tracks are sounding differnt. So one starts with bass, the other with fast and furious stuff and yet another with a melody.”
The step from ANVIL last time to CARNIVORE this time is huge. The traditional cover version at the end of the record, however, shows: they also accomplish this with flying colors! When asked why the choice turned out the way it did, Bernd says:
“The selection of cover songs is intuitive. One criterion is whether we can imagine the song in SLAUGHTERDAY style! The first CARNIVORE album contains some Death Metal elements as well as doomy and dark parts, especially due to the extreme vocals. That’s probably because Peter Steele was a big BLACK SABBATH fan which influenced us, too. In our sound, the song sounds like one of our own. The biggest compliment for us is when the listeners don’t recognize the song as a cover, which is not uncommon.”
That was really happening several times, as Jens tells hearable amused:
“With ANVIL or AMORPHIS, really many people didn’t get it. There were reviews that showed that the writer did not realize that it was a cover. In my opinion, this shows that we are finally not so wrong with our choice. The main thing is to treat the song with respect. I always think it’s unfortunate when the riffs are inappropriate or when it turns out that a song doesn’t really fit the band.”
The end of the CARNIVORE song including the burp suggests that the band would undoubtedly be able to cover ‘Die You Bastard’ or something else from MOTÖRHEAD! Ever thought about it?
“MOTÖRHEAD is a band that sounds so distinctive and charismatic through Lemmy’s voice. So we would definitely stay away from it. That just wouldn’t work with the SLAUGHTERDAY sound, because it would always sound like a MOTÖRHEAD song. There are several other bands we would never cover, like IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH, DIO or SLAYER. We would never succeed in putting our own stamp on them. And then it doesn’t make sense.”
Strictly speaking, SLAUGHTERDAY are a duo always strengthening itself with a few musicians for live gigs. When asked whether, in view of the well-stocked musical landscape in northern Germany, they had ever thought about increasing the whole thing to a complete band, Bernd says:
“Definitely not. That was an option at the beginning, but already after the first album it was clear that we wanted to continue the band only as a couple. I think that’s the main reason why we are now East Frisia’s oldest band with the biggest discography. We are team players, definitely – but we simply work faster and more effective as a couple and relevant decisions are easier made also. Without doubts, there are many skilled musicians in East Frisia, but they all play in different bands, which are sometimes more or less active. In addition, musically you don’t always have the same ideas and after more than ten years, we are just perfectly adjusted to each other. However, we are very lucky to have with Tobi, Bünne and Tom not only three wonderful people on board, but also talented musicians who support us live. They belong to the band in a way. Tom is active in KARLOFF and HALLUCINATE, Bünne makes TEMPLE OF DREAD and Tobi also has his own band with MANTRUM.”
Jens agrees with this and tells his view of things:
“In my opinion, we are a complete band. There is no difference when we are on the road with the boys. Only songwriting and recordings we do as couple. Bernd and I are good friends who have a lot in common. We always agree on everything and know exactly where we want to go with the sound, how the songs should be structured and so on. Let’s not kid ourselves: with most bands it is the case that one or two people are setting the direction. After all the time, why should we try anything else? I also think people have all gotten used to our beards by now!”
The ZZ TOP of Death Metal, so to speak. While Jens is responsible for all the guitars in SLAUGHTERDAY, the fantastic TEMPLE OFDREAD have him as singer. Both bands are not so much different from each other, so you wonder what one has that is not possible with the other?
“TEMPLE OF DREAD is clearly Bünne’s band. He writes all the songs, plays all the guitars and bass and Jörg drums to it. I’ll get to it at the end when the songs are in the box. The lyrics are written by a friend of him. I get them and only change some passages here and there, rewrite things or add verses. The phrasing is completely up to me, which often makes the mentioned changes necessary. Musically, there are certainly similarities, but also big differences. I think that TEMPLE OF DREAD are much thrashier and the riffing is clearly different. In addition, everything is played on click-track so the band looks a bit tidier. With SLAUGHTERDAY, Bernd and I play live, which results in a completely different dynamic. Another difference is, that TEMPLE OF DREAD are a studio band. I can’t imagine singing the stuff live yet – because I am afraid of the sore throat, I always have after every singing session! Unfortunately, I have no technique for my singing, besides from screaming my soul out of my body!”
Jens also has an update out of the TEMPLE OF DREAD camp:
“The new album is already completely finished and in my opinion has become very powerful again, maybe it has a little bit more atmosphere than the ones before and a great cover artwork. Unfortunately, I can’t give a date yet, it’s just a thing with the record pressing factorys these days.”
Last question, how about a tour of TEMPLE OF DREAD, SLAUGHTERDAY and PHANTOM CORPORATION? Saves space in the tour bus, I was told. Bernd has to laugh:
“Humanly it would of course harmonize great. We probably wouldn’t even need a tour bus and could travel in a van.”
Jens states with amusement and audible shock at the same time:
“That would be cool, but in all respects my death!”
It’s called Death. It’s about Death. Death fuckin’ Metal…
Live pics: GPT Pictures
Interview: Wedekind Gisbertson