úterý 18. června 2024

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Interview - SEVERE TORTURE - Honest and real death metal from the old school, polished to perfection, that crucifies you upside down!

Interview with legendary death metal band from Netherlands - SEVERE TORTURE.

Recenze/review - SEVERE TORTURE - Torn From The Jaws of Death (2024):

Ave SEVERE TORTURE! Greetings to the catacombs of Holland! When I was preparing for this interview, I found all the albums I have from you over the weekend. I found out (and a friend confirmed it) that the first demo that came to us was the 1998 recording "Baptized". You know what's interesting? I haven't found a single weak record in your entire discography. How is that possible? Do you have a recipe for that? You've kept the bar of quality so high for so many years.

Wow, thanks, that's good to hear! And indeed the 1998 demo "Baptized" was our first recording in a proper studio. All analog and totally old school! I don't have a recipe for not writing shit records and for me personally I can still find some flaws in our discography but I guess we just try to make what we would like to hear ourselves and we're pretty strict in that. We throw away a riff or a piece if for one of us it doesn't feel right. So we throw away a lot of stuff, haha!

For this year's full-length album "Torn From The Jaws of Death" we had to wait a long fourteen years (if you don't count the EP Fisting the Sockets, which contains only three tracks). You released it on Season of Mist and I must admit I was very impatient. Why did it take you so long? Was it because of money? Time?

None of those things to be honest. I think that after we released "Slaughtered" in 2010 we just didn't have the inspiration to write new material. We did play a lot of shows but after we played Maryland Deathfest in 2016 we decided it would be best to stop booking shows and all step away from the band for a while. After a year or so original drummer Seth announced that he was quiting the band. The rest of us decided we would give it one more try with a new drummer and in 2018 Damien stepped in as the new drummer. Of course it took some time to get used to eachother and after we did our first shows together we started writing again and all fell into place so to speak. Soon we had enough material for a new album but because we hadn't released anything for such a long time we thought it would be quicker to first record 3 songs and release an EP. After the release of the EP we wrote a couple more songs and started recording all the other songs. We finished recording & mixing in 2023 but due to the busy release schedule of Season of Mist we had to wait till 2024 with the release.

Anyway, the album "Torn From The Jaws of Death" is out and immediately became one of my most played albums. Listening to it, you feel like you've stepped back on a timeline to the 90s. It is excellent! How was it made? And how does SEVERE TORTURE create new material?

Thanks, that's very much appreciated! We also like it a lot and we had a lot of fun creating it! Usually a song starts with a riff or a couple of riffs, mostly from Patrick or Marvin, sometimes by me. We then start jamming it in the rehearsalroom and one song can take only 1 or 2 rehearsals to be perfect and other songs take 6 months to get finished. We are fortunate enough that our drummer has his own rehearsalroom/studio and everything is mixed up and we can record every idea or part we write. Our metal roots are in the 90s so it's not strange that hear you that in our new album.

I always liked the sound of your albums. "Torn From The Jaws of Death" is no exception. Where did you record the album, was it again at Torture Compound Studios? How did you achieve such a dusty and dense sound? Does it look to me like it was recorded in analogue or am I wrong? Interestingly, I find the sound of the recording very similar to the previous record "Slaughtered". Do you have a lot of say in how the record should sound or do you leave it up to the sound masters?

Yes, it's mainly recorded in our drummers studio which we named Torture Compund Studios. Some of the guitars and bass parts are recorded at home to save some time though. Our drummer engineered the recordings and then it was mixed and mastered by Mendel bij de Leij who you might know from his time as guitarplayer for Aborted. Sorry, it's not analog but we didn't use plug-ins for the guitars, everything is re-amped through 2 EVH 5150 Stealth III amps, one with 6L6 tubes and the other with EL34's. That's also very close to our live sound and that was our main goal, to get close to our live sound. We had a big say in the final mixes because we knew what we wanted and our EP was a good testcase to check out Mendel's mixing. I do think it sounds way better than "Slaughtered", those guitars are too muddy in my opinion and the bass is too dirty. But every record has it's own sound and that's the charm of it.

I'm an old school fan and I'm very big on record covers. The man behind "Torn from the Jaws of Death" is the always excellent painter Pär Olofsson. The motif is so cool to me that I put it on my desktop on my computer. Can you tell us how the motif relates to the music on the album? How did you get together and how did the cover for the album come about?

Man, we also love it very much! Our bassplayer came across a black&white sketch of this skull on Pär's website and he immediately forwarded it to me. We both felt this was meant for us but at that moment we didn't know if it was already used or not. We contacted Pär and he said it was unfinished and unused so we could have it and let him finish it. We took both versions, the sketch and the finished color version and if you have the actual album you'll find the color version on the front and the black&white version inside which makes a beautiful pair. We already had the album title so it's not intentially related to the cover. But it matches perfectly in my opinion.

For a band that has been playing since 1997, you have a pretty stable lineup. Respectively Patrick Boleij and Thijs van Laarhoven have been in SEVERE TORTURE since the beginning. Dennis Schreurs joined in 1998. That's not very common. Have you never had submarine sickness? For example, has your opinion never changed about how your music should sound? You know, some people like blondes, some people like brunettes. Then all you need is a few more pointed words. Someone once wrote that a band is like a family. How is SEVERE TORTURE?

Pretty close to a family indeed. But I think our strength is that we don't do this for a living and we all have our personal lives besides the band. In the first 15 years of the band we toured a lot but if we continued that I think we wouldn't exist anymore. We have a nice balance and we only do things we all wanna do. Of course our musical taste differs and most of us have a pretty wide musical taste but for Severe Torture it's clear to us that it has to be death metal. In another interview someone pointed out that since Dennis joined the band 25 years ago only 1 member left and that's pretty unique!

The good thing about today is that we have the internet. I mean, I don't know about that, but at least I can watch your shows remotely. It's not the same, the sound on youtube is always so weird, but from all available information - you guys mainly perform only at big festivals? I'll be honest, I'd really like to see you live, but there's no place. You're not going on tour? I would imagine you, ASPHYX and maybe you can take AUTOPSY. It would be a dream come true. No, seriously - what about SEVERE TORTURE and concerts? What would you say about a trip around Europe with a stop in the Czech Republic?

Well, we're playing in Czech Republic in a few weeks at Brutal Assault but that again is a festival. We're not touring really and to play a show a 1000 km's from the Netherlands is only gonna work flying and then it's most of the times a festival because they're bigger and have budget. It's not gonna work for 1 small clubshow abroad. Touring isn't that easy for us, we all have good jobs and some of us have kids so getting on the road for 3 or 4 weeks isn't gonna work.

Just yesterday I was talking to a friend in the pub about how crazy everything has changed in the last few years. Everyone has the internet in their pocket, young people are more influenced by pictures and videos than music and lyrics. Nobody reads much, we agreed that a lot of things are more superficial. Maybe it's different in Holland, but here in the Czech Republic I see it every day. It's no different in music. How do you perceive the changes in society as a musician? We have a lot of new technology, recording studios are better equipped, ideas can be sent over the internet.

I also have mixed feelings about it. In potential internet or social media sounded like a good thing that could connect everyone and gave everyone easy access to information. But it turned out to be a monster which polarises everyone. People developed a very short interestspan and only wanna see pictures or short videos which need to be funny or fake. Or both. I like some of the new technology and having googlemaps on your phone or protools on your laptop can be really nice but since I'm born in the 70's I often think back of the times before the internet. But now I sound like a old analog man in a modern digital world, haha!

It's a different world, also in terms of labels, publishing houses. SEVERE TORTURE are a band that for me is synonymous with underground death metal. We have bandcamp, youtube, labels can spread your music faster and it reaches more people. But you know, vinyl is vinyl, cassette and CD has its charm too. Have you had to change your approach to releasing your music in any way? Or are you still going old school and the new stuff leaves you cold?

I'm old school and I still buy vinyl and cd's. You can't compare listening to Spotify with putting on a vinyl on your record player and drop the needle on it! Of course streaming is easy when you're on the go or when you're in the gym but I really enjoy playing an actual record and checking out the artwork and the booklet while listening. And less romantic but also worth mentioning, financially it also changed a lot for bands. Back in the day we sold quite an amount of albums which we got royalties for and nice budgets for recordings and videos and even toursupport. For streaming you get 0,00..cents which is close to nothing, which means you have less to no budgets for all the aforementioned.

You started the band in 1997. But all of you were once at the beginning of something new. I love the old death school. I like that it's so dirty, raw. What was the '90s and your beginnings like? Please reminisce for us. What bands did you like to go to, for example? Who were your role models? Feel free to add a funny story, I'm sure you have plenty of them.

I started listening to death metal in the early 90's and I also fell for the rawness and the brutality. The first bands I got into were the ussual ones; Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Entombed, Suffocation, Death, Incantation, Immolation, etc. I used to work a paper route so I was starting every morning with 1 hour of death metal on my walkman 6 days of the week. And back then you didn't have that many different albums so I listened some of those early albums more than 1000 times probably. We were very lucky being in the Netherlands with shows every weekend so I started going to concerts, already with our bassplayer Patrick, got drunk a lot and some bands which we later toured with remembered us from being drunk fans at their shows, haha!

I ask this question to every band and I'm really interested in your opinion. What does death metal mean to you? How would you define it? On SEVERE TORTURE records you can hear a lot that you put everything into your music, that it is played with heart. As a fan I feel that way. So death metal means to you...?

Death Metal defined my life for a big part the last 30 years so it's really important to me. I don't stick to one genre and within other genres I also find a lot of pleasure but I keep on getting back to death metal. It activates the caveman inside of me so to speak, haha.

Finally, a classic but important question. What is SEVERE TORTURE going to do in the near future? Possibly, and I firmly believe in this, will we finally see you somewhere on a club tour in Europe?

Well, you keep on trying, aren't you, haha! Who knows, if we get a good offer and all the stars are aligned it might happen. Of course we would love to play a clubshow in Czech Republic, we never had a bad experience in your country! But first let's all go to Brutal Assault and check out our show on Wednesday!!

Thank you very much for the interview. I really appreciate it. I'm an old SEVERE TORTURE fan and you actually made one of my dreams come true. I wish you a lot of sold out shows, let your fans rip your hands off with merchandise and I will be looking forward to more of your music. I hope to see you live as well. May your personal lives prosper as well. SEVERE TORTURE RULES!

Many thanks for the interview and same to you!!

Recenze/review - SEVERE TORTURE - Torn From The Jaws of Death (2024):

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