Monday 9 January 2012

NP1: An Interview With Deus Otiosus

Deus Otiosus are a Danish Death/Thrash Metal band fromed in 2005. They are one of the numerous Old School Death Metal revival bands, but choose to play in the vein of Dutch masters like Burial and Asphyx, stepping away from the usual choice of Incantation or Entombed worship. After a 2007 demo, the band released their debut album in 2010, titled "Murderer".

Murderer begins with a a very Burial-esque, Thrashy song titled "I Have Seen Him Slay". The song sets the mood for the rest of the album, as the band indulges in no unnecessary build-ups or intros, reflecting the straight-forward nature of the record. The set intensity rarely drops, and the band engages in consistently catchy riff-work, combining it with blazing guitar solos, indicating that these guys are a lot more inclined to Thrash Metal. The addictive, groovy riffing is a headbanger's delight. The drumming is relentless, with double bass pounding away at all times, and the snare is precise, with no sign of sloppiness around. There are no frenzied sections with blast-beating and hyper-fast riffing like Ripping Corpse or Merciless, but that certianly wasn't needed here. The band rather engages in slower, doomy sections - as heard on the song "Whore Limbs" - and keeps up an evil vibe throughout with them, and the tremolo riffing. The bass guitar is very clearly audible, and that is always a big plus in metal. The vocals are demonic, monotone growling with a very "commanding" sound. They aren't insignificant, but never distract from the rest of the music. There is enough variation in the album, which eliminates monotony, but some songs, eg. "Ash World" can seem to drag on too long, but the more interesting songs like "Wall of Violence" and the title track more than make up for it. Each song has certain memorable moments, but that makes it hard to distinguish one song from another, but considering the genre, it is completely normal. The sound and production of the album are perfect. Everything is clear, each note is distinguishable, each instrument audible, and everything is mixed well, yet, the sound is old school, like a mid-90s Death Metal album. The band definitely succeeded in what they were attempting in terms of sound, as well as musically.

 In short, the album is an onslaught of mid-paced Death/Thrash metal which will compel you to headbang your brain out of your skull. Do not miss this if you are an Old School Death Metal worshipper or a Thrash Maniac. This album was especially made for true fans of the genre that do not need unnecessary technical wankery or jazzy noodling, and want Metal in it's pure, unadulterated form.  - Rohit Chaoji

We caught up with Henrik,for an exclusive interview.

NP: Across countries, continents, pervading oceans, the love for extreme metal unites us all. Greetings from Nuclear Paradise.

Henrik: “Greetings to you at Nuclear Paradise!”

NP: The probity of your music, your polemical stance on true extreme metal is commendable. What makes you stay true to your roots?

Henrik: “We just play what we like, this is the style of music we grew up with. We try to make some good death metal music and that is all there is to it really.”

NP: A myriad of influences can be felt in your music. Most notably, hints of the malediction that is Asphyx. What are you major influences?

Henrik: “I like that everybody seem to have their own references and bands they compare us to. That probably just means that we have a diverse sound that is not too close to any single band. I’ve been listening to metal music for so many years, I don’t even know if I have that many conscious influences anymore, just all the stuff I’ve listened to through the years. I am sharpening my notion of what makes music good or bad, and try to place us on the good side. If you’re looking for band names I would say that for example  Death, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Obituary and Pestilence have meant a lot.”

NP: 'Murderer' inundates everything in its path, intrepidly progressing from a strength to next. A brilliant album. We would like you to elaborate on the song writing, recording, reception, and the 'behind the scenes' aspects related to it.

Henrik: “Thank you very much. We tried very hard to give every song it’s own character and strength to give the album a strong and diverse whole. The music is written by myself and so are the lyrics with the exception of “Ye Pigs of Little Faith” by former bass player Jens Nepper. The album was actually recorded very early when we had just gotten together as a band, as I had the music written beforehand. Things went very quickly and we recorded the album in 8 days in the local Earplugged Studios, then we talked with a few labels and agreed that it would be released by FDA Rekotz and American Line. The reception from listeners and media has been very good up till now!”

NP: What is the lyrical concept behind your esoteric take on death metal? What are a few recurring themes you have build your songs upon?

Henrik: “Our concept is the world, where humanity is without god and guidance and the horrors that man inflict upon one another. That means we have a somewhat broad lyrical spectre, and some of the themes are death, murder, war, torture, undead and the beyond. Some lyrics can perhaps also be interpreted to be about completely other things behind the metaphors.”

NP: Growing up in an era, mainly dominated by extreme metal, how would you define the change in the atmosphere of the metal community world wide? While we still have bands like Burial Invocation, Deus Otiosus, Disma and others, who swear by their roots, you also do see a lot of people coming up with farce hybrid genres. What is an ideal response to the parasites feeding on something established by our pioneers?

Henrik: “There are a lot more bands today, and a lot more releases. However the creative level has not been lifted accordingly, so there’s a lot more stuff sounding the same. That’s the biggest problem, I think. Of course there are also a lot of bands playing a style that I never really saw as metal, but I think the greatest problems are lack of creativity and songwriting. Most of the releases today don’t stand out in any way and simply crowd the scene. Otherwise you are right, there are still some cool bands around – for example Burial Invocation.”

NP: Extrication of hybrid genres like core, djent and the like has come to be an essential part of the new wave of old school death metal. What new bands in your opinion, are at the forefront of this movement? What new bands in your opinion, are worthy of re establishing the good name of the art form, that is extreme metal?

Henrik: “I’m sorry, but I don’t know so much about these core and djent genres. I think a lot of these bands have gotten lost. Somewhere a lot the way other things became important besides playing good music. Too focused on technique, speed, style, image whatever. I don’t most of these bands have actually given thought to creating music that’s good. The very best bands within extreme metal today are actually still some with some years under their belt like Macabre, Melechesh or Absu. Of good Danish bands I’d mention Strychnos and Undergang.”

NP: India, although in limitation, has considerable affinity for extreme metal music. Deus Otiosus, has built up a niche fan base here among the metal elite. We are waiting for your next releases with alacrity. What comes next for Deus Otiosus?

Henrik: “Really? That’s good to hear. Right now we are working on our second album, rehearsing and arranging songs. It is our clear goal to record it in 2012 and hopefully release it that same year! So hopefully you guys will get another album from us this year. More info will follow of course.”

NP: Europe's ambivalence is well known. How is the scene back home in Denmark?

Henrik: “Denmark is probably the European country with the smallest interest in metal. There is not much of a scene here. Even though there are a few good bands, and we do get quite a bit of metal concerts here too. With the internet album availability is not an issue either, so things could be a lot worse too.”

NP: What according to you, is symbolic of a perfect death metal record? What attributes does an album require, to come good in your opinion?

Henrik: “A perfect record is one that goes from strength to strength. That means that every song is good in itself. A good song holds strong and inspired riffs and elements that come together in a coherent, meaningful and characteristic whole. Besides that, for the album to be perfect there would have to be a certain variation and dynamic in between the songs, so it doesn’t feel the same song over and over throughout. Those are the ideals we write our music after.”

NP: 'Thousand Arms of the Dead' really enthralled me. 'Down below, in the deep where bones are scattered far, drenched in flame, the rotten flesh, in this chasm hell...'. What is implied in this particular song?

Henrik: “Cool, man. The lyrics to this song are probably the most straight forward on the album. It’s simply a vision of hell and the tormented souls therein. It’s a journey through hell where the damned are depicted in a very carnal way with rotten hanging flesh. Perhaps subconsciously inspired by the quite carnal hell in Dante’s “Divine Comedy”?”

NP: Is Deus Otiosus a katharsis of your feelings?

Henrik: “Yes, very much so. Deus Otiosus is my creative medium, so it’s very natural for me that I would express what I think and feel through the music and lyrics of the band. That also means that it sometimes crosses the boundaries of what you normally do with the borders of death metal, but it’s much better this way, I think. Every great artist have always done their own unique thing.”

NP: What in your opinion, are the strengths and weaknesses of Old school death metal? How do you overcome the weaknesses, if any?

Henrik: “The strengths and weaknesses of old schooled death metal are the same as any genre I think. The strength is that we stand on the shoulders of giants. We don’t have to invent guitar distortion or the basic instrumentation of the genre. We have the classic bands who have already shown us the greatness of this music. But this strength is also the weakness, or at least danger of this music. Many bands simply rest on the shoulders of the masters of old and are quite satisfied by sounding like a cloning of for example Entombed. But a clone will never have the same impact as the original. And a band that can be contended by belonging in a niche genre, will never be as inspired as those who carve their own path. It is therefore important to do your own thing. Do not listen to underground rules and norms. It’s the music that counts and great artist do not sound like artists that have already been before them.”

NP: What are a few noted bands you have had the fortune of sharing stage with? I have gathered from what I have heard, that you have played with Burial Invocation, who happen to be a personal favorite of mine. if true, how was the experience?

Henrik: “Yes, you are right, that both us and Burial Invocation played on the Kill-Town Death Fest 2010 in Copenhagen. There were plenty of other names on that festival too of course like Dead Congregation, Strychnos and Miasmal, and besides that we’ve played with bands like Undergang and Nocturnal Graves.”

NP: Thank you for this interview! We at Nuclear Paradise appreciate your dedication for the furtherance of extreme metal. Any message to your Indian fans? What would you like to advise the kids who want to form bands, to keep the torch alight?

Henrik: “Thank you very much for this interview and a chance to speak with you guys in India. Watch out for our next album, which will hopefully be out this year. For those who want to form a band: Don’t do it just for the sake of it. Play music only if you have something to say with it. Don’t mind what the others do, but go for your own vision.”

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