Not all too long ago I stumbled upon a great demo tape that blended all of those tasty elements of Hellhammer and Isengard. It was a no-brainer to imediately order this first Dungeon Keeper demo and while reviewing it I realized there was very little information available on the band. An excellent demo from an obscure band? Reason enough, when I did order that demo tape to take advantage of that opportunity and ask the band some questions right away…
Something that has to be taken off my chest first, tell me, is the name Dungeon Keeper indeed taken from the computer game from the late 90’s? If so, what did make you choose this title?
Hey Felix, first of all, thank you for your interest in Dungeon Keeper as well as having us for this interview.
The combo had existed for some time and we had already written a bit of music when we were pondering over a name. At some point we came up with “Dungeon Keeper”, obviously borrowed from the computer game. The idea was not really meant that seriously in the first place, but seemed fitting after all. Being surprised that the name was not yet occupied by another band, we grabbed it. Other than that we see no connection to the game or its contents. We think the name stands for itself and supports the general style.
Musically you seem to be delving even deeper into history, ‘Fortress Of Evil’ bears a distinctive and unmistakable resemblance with Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost – I love those trademark high pitched screams! I am quite sure that it was a deliberate choice to make Hellhammer an integral part of your musical identity. Can you tell me something about your musical drivers?
We cannot deny Hellhammer and Celtic Frost as prominent influences. It seems that not many bands tend to make music of this kind at the moment. We saw a chance for self-expression without overflooding the scene with music that has already been created a hundred times better.
Another unmistakable influence seems to be those legendary Isengard albums, two recordings I personally absolutely cherish. Especially the “semi clean” vocal parts do remind me much of Fenriz’ most primitive works. Can you take us into your personal world of appreciation for Isengard?
As you have mentioned, Isengard is an important influence for Dungeon Keeper, especially for the clean sung parts.
Fenriz tended to often support his vocals with riffs that follow the vocal lines (think “Neslepaks” from the legendary Høstmørke album for example). This makes the overall feel of a song a little more playful and folklore-like, if you will. As for us, when it comes to instrumental work, we try to not overcomplicate riffing and drumming.
Neither are we into folklore as a way to deliver ancestral stories, nor are our lyrics aimed at referencing such things but clean vocals in Black Metal sound fucking sick, so why not?
While ‘Fortress Of Evil’ sounds really familiar, you do blend in some elements of your own, so it doesn’t sound like Apocalyptic Raids or Warhammer. So, besides Isengard I believe you have mentioned Carpathian Forest as a musical reference, what else can you add to this list? Are there any other bands or genres that you do like to listen to?
Well, Occvlta of course. What we find differs the style of Dungeon Keeper from the bands you have mentioned in terms of vocal work is that we have two people singing in different voicings. Bestial Bonecrusher usually does voluminous shouting parts with those high pitched screams while Archaic Tormentor does more of a mid-range voicing. We try to combine these voicings for choruses or in the clean parts for more depth.
While we’re at these topics… Personally I always love to peek in everyone’s record collection. So, let me browse through yours… What were the last records (or CD’s/cassettes if you prefer those) that you have played and purchased?
Bestial Bonecrusher: Kriegshög – Self titled
Battle Druid: Молчат Дома – Этажи
Archaic Tormentor: The self-titled EP by Dolchstoß. Also live an absolute recommendation.
Due to the quality of the recording, not only in its nice and crunchy sound but also in the strong song writing, it is highly unlikely that you guys have not been active in different bands before – or maybe still are. The internet doesn’t tell me much about the band’s background, can you tell us something about your (musical) backgrounds?
Referring to the sound of the EP, we have to give credit to Poison Drinker from Minenfeld. For some time, he has been like a fourth member to the band, recording the EP as well as mixing and mastering it, taking photos and doing what not to support us.
Other than that, all of us have been involved in several projects over the years. In terms of genre, these range from thrash over death to black metal and grind. Panzer Squad, Misery Vortex, Gorge, Karst, just to name a few.
Two of us are also currently together in the war metal combo Prehistoric War Cult, as well as Bestial Bonecrusher playing in the sludge project Baerus.
By taking a quick look at your song titles it seems that you have mostly been inspired by the dark side of things, no Post Black Metal topics here. Human abominations, satanic evil and even cannibalism. Can you enlighten us with your views on such topics? What is the main force of inspiration when writing lyrics? If they are important to you at all…
Well, there is actually not too much to say. We feel that our lyrics are to support the overall feel of the music and what comes with it. This means that we do not dwell on complex factual contexts of current day politics, nor do we dissect historical occurrences in elaborate treatises.
A strong base for our general musical expression – not only with Dungeon Keeper – is a worldview that is founded in anti-fascist and anti-oppressionist thinking. We reject all forms of intolerance and elitist behaviour and stand for an open and unpretentious scene. Other than that, we are happy to just fuck around with whatever comes to our mind.
Your first effort, the ‘Fortress Of Evil’ demo tape was released last month through Kellerassel Records. I haven’t seen any other reviews of the demo so far, but I guess the reaction must have been positive since all 100 copies seem to have been sold out. Can you tell us something about the reception of this first demo tape?
As far as we can tell, the reaction was quite positive. We do not use Facebook, Instagram and other social media, except Bandcamp to distribute our music and to list our shows. Of course, this also means that you don’t get many immediate reactions from the public. But we have received some concert requests, will play gigs in Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia and Austria in the coming weeks and months and are of course looking forward to getting feedback from the music scene in this way. On a side note, we have just received the second pressing of the tape and can offer another 100 on our next gigs. What won’t be sold there, will find its way to our Bandcamp page.
And, as a whole, how do you look back to the whole process of writing, recording and releasing ‘Fortress Of Evil’?
We wrote Fortress of Evil as a duo over the course of 2022 but when recording came closer, we found that Dungeon Keeper was supposed to be a three-piece band. Battle Druid, who we have been friends with for quite some years now, joined to play bass for the recording sessions and stayed as a full member. Other than that, we can only give credit to Poison Drinker for designing the artwork and to Mogel for releasing.
How did you guys end up with your label, Kellerassel? And, if I am right the label is closely working together with Fucking Kill Records too and they are releasing some great vinyl releases, can we wait to see the demo to be released on vinyl as well?
Kellerassel Records is run by our good friends Mogel and Jana. They usually focus on more obscure music, like small noise core releases or grind, and we are very happy that they have decided to release Fortress of Evil on their label. At the same time Steffen from Wolfsburg-based label Lycanthropic Chants provided us with buttons to accompany the release (thanks a lot!).
In Osnabrück and the surrounding area there is a quite small but dedicated community that supports each other and from which different combos have emerged. Mogel and Poison Drinker, who recorded the EP, for example, play together in the death metal band Minenfeld. Everyone puts their heart and soul into it and helps each other out with releases, gigs, etc. In addition, we are all united in the organization of shows with our concert initiative Kellerassel Booking. Only in this way can the underground exist.
Following on from the previous question, now that the demo is out, it is safe to say that I am pretty curious what will be next. So, what can we expect from Dungeon Keeper in the remainder of the year? Or even beyond.
We are currently writing new songs and plan to release a full length, maybe at the beginning of next year. Other than that, we have several shows planned and look forward to playing with other bands, meeting people and supporting the underground. Feel free to check out our Bandcamp page for tour dates and upcoming releases.
I’d like to thank you for your time in answering these questions. If you feel I have not covered everything, feel free to take these last words.
Thank you for conducting this interview. And thanks a lot to VM-Underground for the great support! We are always looking for new shows and opportunities, so if you are interested in having us, just reach out!
- Country: Germany
- Style: Black Metal
- Links: Bandcamp