Our style of Death Metal is very recognisable it’s that old style Swedish Crunch you only get using a Boss HM-2 distortion pedal turned up to a Spinal Tap 11! Ok accuse us of worship and cloning….But we do it well!!!”…Did somebody say Swedish Death Metal? Well, they’ve said it themselves, it’s not like to reinvent the nuclear bomb again, but I really enjoyed their 2 track cassette. Let’s read what Rik Simpson got to say! (Ricardo)
Hey!! Well let’s see – this was a long fucking time ago!! 1990 we formed,myself and Steve “Critch” Critchley were only 15 years old. We were at high school together. We called ourselves Perpetual Infestation back then. We were part of a small group of kids that back then were getting into more and more extreme music. We’d been into thrash metal but the whole Death Metal thing was exploding, it was exciting being part of a cool scene (you have to remember that back then it was still a very small scene though – there were not many of us!) Critch had been active in the scene for quite a while already. Tape trading etc, he had an impressive CD collection. Him and a mutual friend introduced me to Death Metal. I was already in bands including an Iron Maiden tribute band and big into thrash metal. But when I first heard Autopsy, Nihilist, Death, Morbid Angel, Carnage, Napalm Death, Carcass and Blot Thrower I knew I had to play this type of music! Critch was the obvious choice to be in the band with me as he was the guy who knew all about it! He was brought in initially to do the vocals. I wrote some songs and on a friends 4 track recorder recorded the “Dead” demo. It was very poor, but was heavily influenced by bands like Autopsy and Sepultura. I played all the music and also did the vocals! Critch had joined by then but I only had the 4 track for a limited time so did the whole thing on my own in a few hours!!
As a band your musical activities started 20 years ago, at first as Perpetual Infestation but quickly changed the band name into Godless Truth and playing the UK Doom/Death style. Which bands / albums inspired you back then?
The truth was back then I wasn’t a great guitar player! I was ok but limited in my abilities. Paradise Lost had released their Lost Paradise album, Anathema were doing Demos and My Dying Bride had released a demo. I liked the fact they played slower, more melodically. And this allowed my limited ability on guitar to not hold me back as I could play things slower! We changed the name of the band to Godless Truth because it seemed to fit the music better! And in 1993 recorded the “Visions Of The End” demo at a “proper” studio! We also got some friends in to session on these songs Karl Price (an amazing drummer) and John Ashton (an amazing all round musician and keyboard player) I played all the guitar and bass parts and Critch did vocals! This demo I still love to this day, even though we ran out of time and money to finish it! It still was a great slab of Doom/Death and showed some real potential! I was progressing as a guitar player and the songs were long and complex. But had some really beautiful and melancholy melodies! The two songs on this recording were “Visions of the end” and “Sing out the prophets”. The whole demo had a loose concept around suicide and tried to tell the story of a fictional love pact suicide! A kind of Romeo and Juliette story except the “prophets” told them to kill themselves – so it also touched on schizophrenia as the voices were the prophets! I’m still proud of this very rough unfinished demo, the songs were good!
In 1996 and after several demos, Godless Truth laid disbanded. You mentioned you got many label rejections, do you still know the reasons why they rejected Godless Truth?
Yes! There were many! But the main two were 1. We could not get a line up – the band was still really only myself and Critch.
And 2. We missed the boat. By ’96 Death Metal was dying. No one was signing DM bands then. And why sign us when the British Doom/Death sound was already becoming saturated? Paradise Lost, Anathema and My Dying Bride were already changing their musical styles. The whole Doom/Death was becoming stale! If Visions Of The End had been recorded in 1990 instead of 1993 things may have been different? Possibly!
Years go by and you all have the urge to jam together again, getting the old vibe back, re-recording old tracks, yet you were not satisfied with the recordings, the style you played etc.. Can you tell us why?
By now we’ve fast forward to 2007. We are now called Austerymn! We decided to re-record old material and use up left over riffs to make new songs! Obviously they were in the Doom/Death style we had be playing back in the early 1990’s. My recording studio was also up and running. We did the “As Silence Drowns The Screams” demo. These re-recordings though suffered. I had the ability to record them how I’d always envisaged them in my head, adding strings and synth layers! But it sounded TOO symphonic and pompous – it lost all of it’s rawness! The drums were too fat and the whole sound was huge! It was leaning towards gothic/symphonic music and loosing it’s DEATH edge. Totally over produced! Sadly I find it very hard to listen to this demo now!
After that you experimented and changed styles, searching for the right one. How come it was so difficult to find the right style for Austerymn?
In my head we were still a Doom/Death band. But I wanted that rawness back that we had lost! So I experimented with a Funeral doom style. But I was getting bored of playing slow! I could play guitar now and I’d progressed as a musician! Then I did some mid tempo death metal – it sounded quite mid period Morbid Angel. Sadly Critch hated it, so I shelved that! I then got quite progressive and did a kind of Opeth/Katatonia type song which was good, but not Austerymn. We needed to do something we could agree on. And I really wanted to play faster!!
The following passage is from your bio: “Then in a band meeting it came down to “What do we like? What makes us rage? What’s fun? What is the DM album we all wish we’d recorded?” “Left Hand Path, Like An Ever Flowing Stream, Dark Recollections, Into The Grave, etc etc.” But we’d be accused of being a clone band? My answer – “Who cares? I’ve spent the last 20+ years doing original music trying to be different! I’m 37 years old, I wanna have fun, put out some CD’s and 12” vinyl, play some shows and above all have FUN”. Why didn’t this happen earlier in the history of Austerymn?
I don’t honestly know! I guess I wasn’t competent enough of a musician is the honest answer! Back then I was not capable of writing these songs to this standard!
Was it important for you to create music that is different?
In the end, not really! I know that Austerymn sounds very much like Swedish bands from the late 1980’s early 1990’s we use the Boss HM-2! However we also have lots of other old school influences.What became more important was that if we play this way we should do it justice! Like we said we wanted to have fun! I’m now 39 and so I have no ideas of being some rock star and earn millions. You realise this will not happen playing Death Metal. This is for fun, to play a style of music that we really love and grew up with! That’s why it’s important, this music is part of us, our adolescence to music!
Were there still discussions after some rehearsals if this was the right style for the band?
Yes! We needed to be happy in our own skin and be happy with our decision. We know people will accuse us of as a copycat and a rip off! But like I said if you bother to listen beyond a guitar tone you may find that we are making original music! But I also won’t lie obviously you can tell who our main influence’s are! We just need to ensure we do it well and with class in order to be credible! And by being good pay tribute to the music and bands we grew up with!
Speakin’ about the certain Old School Swedish Death Metal style…why does it attract you guys? Is it the crunchy and fuzzy guitarsound, the groove or the fact that you don’t need tons of blastbeats to be brutal?
I’ve always loved the guitar sound! It’s huge, and ugly! That said its a bitch to control the HM-2 without getting squealing! But it’s such a dirty sound it suits Death Metal perfectly! I love blast beats but they should be used to complement the music. This is a personal thing – I’m old fashioned to me a song should be a song. It needs some sort of verse/chorus and some melody. I love brutality but that said I start to find songs that are just blast beats dull after a while! Don’t get me wrong I really appreciate the musical abilities of some of these bands! I’m in total awe of them, but it becomes hard work for me after a while! There are some bands that do it well, but they usually also have cool dynamics to. Immolation is one band that springs to mind! They are awesome!
What does Swedish Death Metal means for you? Also, can you give us an insight about your favourite albums and bands of the golden era of Swedish Death Metal?
Swedish death metal is dirty and rotten. It’s not just about a guitar tone, it’s much more than that! At The Gates do not sound like Entombed. The Swedish bands mixed thrash punk doom and heavy metal and mixed in melody as well as brutality. They didn’t all blast at 1000bpm but they were still excellent musicians. As far as albums/bands there are so many but I guess…
Nihilist – all their demos!!
Entombed – left Hand Path, Clandestine,
Dismember – Like an ever flowing stream, Indecent and obscene, Pieces
Carnage – Dark Recollections
Nirvana 2002 – demos
God Macabre – The Winterlong
At The Gates – The red in the sky is ours, With fear I kiss the burning darkness
Unleashed – where no life dwells, Shadows in the deep.
Would be the main ones!
Besides the known acts like Carnage, Nihilist, Dismember and Entombed, do you also enjoy the more unknown acts like Wombbath, Excruciate, Darkified and Mega Slaughter?
Yes all of them Hetsheds to and many more! Of course some were better than others, but they all had a vibe of adolescent anger, and putrid death!! A way of focusing anger into something positive by creating extreme music! And it’s cool most of these bands have their albums re-released and available so you don’t have to pay £300 a disc! My most expensive CD I bought was Necrony – Pathological Performances cost me about £150!!! Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhhhhh
What is your opinion on the bands that are playing the style nowadays? Bands like Paganizer, Entrails, Revel in Flesh, Icons of Brutality etc.
They are great, they are all putting their own slant on it which is cool! Paganizer and Revel In Flesh are great but Entrails are awesome!! Some hail them as the new Entombed! I’m not sure about that! But they are great!!!
You recorded 2 tracks for the “In Death…We Speak” demo and released it yourself. Later on it also made available digitally and on cassette by Goatprayer Records. Tell us more about the conversation between you and Goatprayer Records…did they offer you the deal for the cassette?
Yes, Terry emailed me via Facebook and said would we be interested in an all cassette release? And we were like Hell yeah!!! We grew up on cassette demos, so for our first “official” release to be on cassette was very cool! The Artwork was done by our mysterious friend only known as Wolfie! And the artwork is killer! Any one who’s not seen it should check out our Facebook page’s photo’s – it’s sick!! Thanks to both Terry and Wolfie for their time and effort!!! A little plug here but both Goatprayer records and Wolfie (Wolven Claws Artist) can be found on Facebook. The cassette is still available!
How were the reactions on this release?
Immense!! We’ve been in Terrorizer mag in the UK! And Rock Hard in Germany! People really seem to like it. So I’m well chuffed! We’ve had radio play! It’s been an incredible year!
Can you tell us more about the new material? Is it in the same vein?
Yes, but I’m a total perfectionist and I want the songs to be better! I want an album of no fillers! I actually spent today in the studio writing a new song and it rips your skin from your face! It’s fast heavy brutal and OLD SCHOOL!!! The debut album we want to be about 40 minutes long – so it’ll need to be about 12 tracks! Nikk flies to Greece to start work drum tracking December 27th at DevaSound studio with Fotis (Septic Flesh) doing drum production. Work will then commence on tracking the rest of the album with myself and Dan (Cruciamentum) at the helm! The album will “hopefully” have a couple of guest appearances. This depends on the schedule, but if it comes off will feature a former Carcass member doing a guitar solo and a current Rotting Christ member doing a solo.
What are your expectations for the (near) future for Austerymn?
Take it each day at a time! Enjoy it! Play some more shows! Keep working on new songs, and record the album and maybe an EP to!!!
If I’m not mistaken you have a new drummer, right?
Yes Nikk Perros. He’s an amazing talent! And totally into what we do. A great guy! I’m writing faster songs now as I know he can cope!! Ha ha
Our line up is now
Nikk Perros – Drums
Stu Makin – Lead Guitar
Critch – Bass
Rik – Guitar & Vocals.
Stu Makin joined us last year but also went to the same school as Critch and myself which is very cool! I’d not seen the guy for over 20 years! But he’s still mad thank god!!!
Also, you have signed a deal with quality label Memento Mori from Spain. Can you tell us more about that as well?
Wow you’ve done your homework! Ha ha! Yes just a few days ago. Raul has been a friend for a few years now! What can I say? He liked our stuff, could see we were serious about doing an album, offered us the best deal, and so we said yes! We were thrilled! We were hoping he would as it’s a label we really respect!!! We all have CD’s in our collection from this label! Also they were one of the few with an actual distribution (via Plastic Head) – so you can buy the labels music from a record store to! (Remember them??) ha ha! Joking aside I miss record stores! It’s cool you can get stuff on line! But a trip to a record store was an all day event when we were young, troweling through every CD Vinyl and Cassette in the shop, and coming home with armfuls of goodies to annoy my parents and neighbours with!! Ha ha!!! Great days!!
Thank you for spending some spare time to answer all the questions. Anything to add?
Just to say Hell Yeah and Thank You for the interview and support! The cassette is still available and please find us on Facebook and join us for this putrid ride of death!!!! We have two UK Memento Mori showcase shows in february 2015 one in Newcastle Upon Tyne and the other in Manchester. these will be along side Memento Mori bands Solothus, Uncoffined and Horrified. And all the very best with this issue and future issues of the Zine! (I love the Netherlands and tons of bands from there!!!)