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Interview

Katafalk – “People are getting tired of all this MTV crap and go and look for the real deal”

Katafalk is an aggressive Dutch death metal band that already has been operating since 1995. Since then they’ve did quite a lot of gigs within Holland, gaining lots of goodwill and building up quite a reputation, and they’ve only recorded one real official release, which was there “Promo 2001”. In 2002 the nice people of Cold Blood Industries realised what quality Katafalk had and they offered them a record deal. The result is their debut album “Storm Of The Horde”, which is a debut one can be proud of! Guitarplayer Christiaan gives you the low-down on Katafalk…(DannyB)

Hello there Chris. As probably lots out there might not know you (shame!), can you tell us the story of Katafalk?
Katafalk started out in 1995. After a demo in 1997 and some line-up changes we released a promo in 2001 which did really well. God Dethroned invited us to tour with them in support of their Ravenous album and Henri (frontman God Dethroned) offered us a record deal for his label Cold Blood Industries afterwards. Then again some line-up changes but we got signed anyway, recorded our debut album ‘Storm Of The Horde’ late 2002 and it’s out now!

What does the bandname “Katafalk” mean?
Katafalk is a Dutch word and means hearse. It’s coming on wheels and it’s bringing death, exactly like we do when we come and play somewhere! Death on wheels, Rock ‘N Roll!

You excist for almost eight years now, but you’ve only recorded two releases, of which one is your “Promo 2001” and your debut “Storm Of The Horde”. Why did it take so long for Katafalk to record it’s first release?
Like I said, we’ve been through a couple of line-up changes. At the end of 2001 some guys left the band so replacements had to be found. Also we wanted to be sure of a record deal  before actually recording a whole album. Some bands spend a lot of money in the studio and don’t get signed after all. We made sure we got signed first and we did.

How did you get in touch with Coldblood Industries? Probably because of your promo I think…
Not only because of the promo, Henri knew Katafalk for some years. He saw us live a couple of times, liked us, invited us to tour with GD and decided us to sign us, because he had started his own label.

Are you satisfied with the work they’re doing for Katafalk, and can you name a few examples?
We’re very satisfied, they’re doing a great job.’Storm Of The Horde’ is distributed in Europe, U.S.A & Canada and CBI has arranged a lot of interviews for us worldwide. Right now we’ve done over 40 and we’ve got reviews in all big zines. All great.

It seems your album has been delayed a few weeks. First it was coming out the 10th of January, then it became the 28th. Can you tell us why this is? Just a regular delay, that happens all the time?
This was because of press-releases. The date of release was delayed so it would match the release of big magazines such as the Dutch Aardschok. Apparently something went wrong cause our review wasn’t in the supposed edition of Aardschok but shit happens. Some stores had the CD for sale a week earlier than the official releasedate, for instance in France.

Just recently you have a new vocalist. How come? And while you’re at it, introduce the new guy.
The vocals on the CD were done by former singer Wokkel, who also appeared on our demo and promo. He helped us out for the album, but had already left the band. Our new singer’s name is Niels and he’s also known as the guitarplayer in Dutch death/grind band Prostitute Disfigurement.

For as far as I know, up to now you only received (very) positive reviews on your “Storm Of The Horde” album, including of me! What are the most remarks/credits/praises you’ve gotten so far?
In general all reviews were very positive indeed, an average of about 80 points or higher. Most people like the energy and intensity of the album and the live feel of it. Also the songwriting (riffs, melody, choruses) is often appreciated, as well as the mixing of extreme styles like death and thrash. Some negative remarks (mostly from people who aren’t into extreme metal) were that it’s too fast or too alike. But there’s enough variety in it and this debut album was supposed to be fast and brutal in the first place!

Are you all satisfied with the result? And why so/not? Can you tell what you would have done different looking back, or what will be done diferent the next time?
We’re very satisfied with this album. It’s got a great sound with a cool live feel to it. All good songs and recorded well. Of course there are always little things bit you can’t change them anyway, so not worth mentioning! One takes learning from every step so next time things will be even better. Maybe our next album will be more varied, we’ll see about that when we’re ready.

The cover reminded me of a movie, namely “The Lord Of The Rings”, and then I mean the Nazgul. Is this cover chosen to represent these entities because you all like the story or ’cause it’s a popular movie at this time, or is it a total coincidence? What’s the story behind the cover?
The idea was chosen by the band and painted by singer Wokkel. Our American friend Rodney (who wrote three lyrics for the album) came up with the title ‘Storm Of The Horde’, also the title of one of the songs. We all liked this title as it is very fitting for this album. We could pick a ready-made cover but those didn’t fit so we decided to design it ourselves. Of course we had all seen the Tolkien movie and the Nazgul were a perfect example of a horde storming, so we used that idea for the painting. The painting turned out blue, and with the horses and ‘Storm’ in the title it’s reminding of Dissection too.

Can you tell us what kind of lyrical subjects Katafalk uses in their music? Is there perhaps a red line to be found?
The lyrics of the album have both fantasy and reality subjects. Wokkel wrote mainly reality lyrics and they’re mostly about the desire to be free, being yourself and not taking shit from anyone. That’s the red line in some of the lyrics. Songs like “Birthmark 666”, “Baptized In Fire”, “Succubus” and “Storm Of The Horde” are fantasy stories of course and have the tradional metal subjects.

One thing I noticed, is that you have quite some chorusses in your songs, something you do not find that often on death metal releases anymore. I think this worked out pretty cool. Is this done on purpose, or is this just Katafalk’s way of writing songs?
Yep, this is Katafalk’s way of writing songs. I like real songs and strong choruses and are cool indeed (me too; DB)! The ones in “Redeemer” and “Storm Of The Horde” turned out great, very metal!

And how exactly does the writing process go with your band?
I wrote ten songs of the songs on this album, our old bassplayer contributed two songs and our new bassplayer wrote one too. Basically I write the songs at home. In the rehearsalspace we work out the drumlines and cut and paste some parts if necessary. Everyone has their say so the whole band is involved in the final result.

I discovered that your main influence comes from aggressive death metal bands, not really the brutal American death metal, am I right? I also found that you usethrash as well as black metal in your music. Can you tell us what is of great influence to Katafalk, and how close comes this to your personal preferences?
Well I grew up in the eighties with all those thrash bands and later the early death metal bands. I’ve never been much into the gory stuff. Some influences are Slayer, Kreator, Dark Angel (Hell yeah!!!; DB), Possessed, early Death and Morbid Angel. Later bands such as Dissection and Emperor. You can hear all those influences in Katafalk and even some traditional metal stuff too!

You said to have done a lot of gigs. Can you give us an estimate on how much?
Last year 2002 we did 15 gigs in 8 months. We didn’t have an album out back then, so that’s pretty okay for a Dutch band. Also we had just replaced members, as three of them had quit 4 months earlier. We did about 20 gigs before 2002.

And can you name some memorable gigs, with cool crowds and/or bands, or lotsa beer and groupies?
One of the gigs on the God Dethroned tour was in our hometown Groningen. The venue was packed and the crowd was really loud, it was great! Playing in 013 Tilburg with Hypnosia was great too (yeah, that was a cool gig indeed!: DB), too bad they broke up! But almost every venue was cool, there are always these maniacs who go crazy and we really appreciate their support! So if you maniacs read this: thanx! you guys rule!

You are yet another example of the ever growing Dutch death metal scene. It seems like one quality band follows right after the other. Do you have any explanation why this is, why there are many good death metal bands in our small country and why the scene is so big nowadays (compared to several years ago for instance)?
No I don’t know. Maybe because the standards are getting higher, bands are getting better. There are many bands and so if you want to get somewhere you have to push real hard it think. Also metal is more popular in general compared to a few years ago. People are getting tired of all this MTV crap and go and look for the real deal.

The region you are from isn’t known to my knowledge for spawning a lot of bands. How is the scene up north in Holland? Can you tell us some more about that?
The scene is pretty good up here in Groningen. We have a strong local scene with good bands such as Seizure, As It Burns, Winter Of Sin, Obtuse, Monastery etc. There’s an organization called Grunn Metals Combined which arranges stuff like festivals and compilation CD’s. Check out www.metalscombined.nl

Now that your debut album has been released and you got your cd presentation awaiting you, what more can we expect from Katafalk in the future?
We hope to do a lot of gigs, get on some big tour or something and of course record another album! We have some new shirts too.

And here it ends. Thanks for the interview. If you have anything you haven’t said and really want to mention, you can put ’em down here, no censorship whatsoever…
Thanks for the interview! A message to the readers: Go buy and listen our CD ‘Storm Of The Horde’, check us live whenever you can, drink beer and bang your heads! Check our website www.katafalk.com for news, tourdates, mp3, merchandise and other stuff. Cheers!