Interview: Blasphemer

blasphemer live

Hi guys. Thanks for taking the time out to have a chat with your biggest Aussie fan ha-ha, nah. I happen to know that you guys have a fair few fans down here, so that’s a big thanks from all of us. I have been a bit of a UK Death Metal kick for a while now since finding you guys and Pemphigoid, which in turn has led me to discover a boatload more! Great times indeed, so let’s get into it get some more info about you lot out there to the punters shall we?

I grew up listening to a lot of the early classic UK Death Metal like Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Decomposed and Paradise Lost, not to mention My Dying Bride and Anathema, and I have covered this in the review of the new one, but just for the readers sake please elaborate on just how long you guys have been around as I am sure some of them may think you only appeared yesterday figuratively speaking!

Arno: The band was originally formed by me and Mass in 1990. The band in its original incarnation ran between 1990 to 1995. Following a 19 year break we decided in 2014 to restart the band and continue from where we had left off in the 90’s. Pretty disgusted at the state of what so called modern metal had become we thought it needed a good kick up the arse. Growing up listening to classic early 90’s Death Metal we felt that a lot of the ethos and vibe of the music from back then had been lost. It was time to get back to no nonsense in your face music. No studio trickery, no gimmicks or fakery and scare the shit out of people. Hopefully we are succeeding at that.

Do you think that the environment in the area that you live in had anything to do with so many bands, including yourselves, of such a grim nature springing up in the area? Maybe it’s something in the water? What do you guys think.

Arno: I think so yeah. We hail from Dewsbury West Yorkshire England. It’s an old industrial town so there are loads of former mills and factories that lie dormant. The weather is grim as fuck most of the year; grey skies and rain. We had a lot to be pissed off about, there were several people that didn’t like us or what we were doing. It’s probably no coincidence that bands like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride are local West Yorkshire Bands as well. As they say. It’s grim up north.

Dan: I think the scene as a whole has always been vibrant with many different types of bands, which in turn has spurred a rich musical and artist flow throughout the years. Certainly, the setting of some grim northern woodland & the bleak nature of which the British weather can be certainly sets the scene. Not to mention the famous dark satanic mills we had looming over the skyline on a daily basis.

Dale: Wholeheartedly agree. In the same way other UK bands like Napalm Death, Fen, Old Corpse Road, My Dying Bride, Afternoon Gentlemen etc. really took from their grim surroundings, injecting that bitterness and harshness into what they were doing, and I think Blasphemer went the same way in that respect.

Mass: Our Local area is a real hot bed of musicians in general spanning a lot of genres. A huge spider web has evolved over the years, particularly in the metal bands of the area, swapping members about or borrowing people from other bands to fulfil recordings or touring commitments. The water round here must have something to do with it, if you have ever supped from the River Calder only Hell Awaits.

Surely you have some awesome stories about your earlier times and some of the tomfoolery you got up to with some of the other old legends. Care to share any with us, promise we won’t call the cops ha-ha.

Dale: Nothing to contribute to this one, being born in 1992….

Arno: We used to hang out a lot with Duncan who played Bass in Anathema I remember going to a party that the guys from Drug Free America hosted. Once we arrived we were promptly given a mug like you would drink tea from and directed to the kitchen where there was a huge pot on the stove which contained magic mushroom punch! We had a gig to do the following day, so the idea was not to get too fucked up. I think myself and Mass had about 2 hours sleep and were absolutely high as kites. The gig the next somehow went really well, but it was really funny watching all our friends turn up from the party tripping their nuts off. I have no idea looking back how we played that gig haha.

Mass: A lot of bands would come through Dewsbury back then and do sessions at Academy studios, and we would often go and loiter and get to know the bands if we didn’t already know them, it would usually get (very) messy.

Dan: Dewsbury has served as a focal point for many years and I think this was to do certainly with the Peaceville records location and that of the studio used by many bands of the scene (Academy Studios). Having close ties since an early age (15) I have had the privilege of seeing Cradle of Filth, Anathema, Paradise Lost, The Blood Divine, Abysoss, Demoniac (members of which went into to form DragonForce), Bal-Sagoth & My Dying Bride to name but a few…This also includes Blasphemer and the Dominion line ups for myself personally, who knew! Haha.

All the bands were partial to drinking on nights out whilst being here and I’ve been party to those, a lot of tales too numerous to speak of, but let’s just say everyone had a good time and got on with making some killer albums and playing some quality gigs.

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Line-ups have been an issue I am aware, another subject we touch upon in the review, but can you give the readers a brief rundown in terms of who is there now and who has been around the longest?

Arno: Mass and I have been there the longest we have been on every Blasphemer recording from the start. The current line up with Dan Mullins on Drums and Dale Brown on Bass has been the most stable line up we have had. Both Dale and Dan joined the band in 2015 pretty much at the same time and I would like to think it’s the definitive Blasphemer line up. In the 90’s we had much more line up changes. The constant in the 90’s was Andy Miller our original drummer who was with us until 1995. We also on our first Demo had a Vocalist called Rich Wilson who left in 1993. Jason Wright played bass for us in 1994 and featured on the “Dominion” demo. I am happy to report though we are back in touch with the original members and most have come a long to our gigs and it’s always great to see them. We will I am sure be having a Blasphemer Alumni night out at some point soon. Basically, a good excuse for a drinking session with our friends.

Mass: To be honest line ups have never really been a problem so to speak, the core nucleus of the band was myself, Arno and original drummer Andy Miller. Together we put in a fuck load of groundwork and rehearsal time in back in the 1990s.

We had some friends help us out on Bass here and there, Jason Wright played in the band for about 18 months prior to us doing the 2nd Demo “Dominion” and did several shows also. And we had Danny North in the band for a few stints on Bass in maybe 1993 and 1995, Danny would probably have stayed in the band but went to live in America and study for a year.

Dale: As Arno mentioned I joined in 2015 under the recommendation of the guitar player of the Death/Grind band I was playing in at the time (Masochist). The guys thought this was a little off as we were still recording/playing live at the time and thought he was trying to unload his bass player onto Blasphemer haha!

You recently re-released your first two demo’s, the aptly titled ‘1992 Demo’, and 1994’s ‘Dominion’ on cassette for the die hard’s to get their hands on once again. How was the reception to that?

Arno: The Reception to that has been amazing. We have had in the past few years quite a number of people who kept asking us would it be possible to get the original demos on tape still! As luck would have it Mass found he still had a load of the original inlays we had printed in the 90’s for both Demos. Therefore, due to demand we decided to remaster both Demo’s and add the bass to the 1992 demo which I think as I recall we didn’t have the money to put originally. The great thing about these re releases is we were able to get all the former members involved in those. That was great for everyone to be involved.

Mass: I’d seen a rising of bands putting stuff out on Cassette again, so after finding 2 boxes of original inlays I thought it was a no brainer. I recorded new bass tracks for the 1992 demo at home and got Dan to remaster them and give it a bit of edge. I think they stand up really well compared to the slight reworked versions on our 2017 album.

I like to listen to the roots of songs on past demos, I think you get a better grasp of the songs. From a fan point of view, I always liked hearing the HellHammer demos and hearing riffs from them songs appear in later Celtic Frost songs for example. I had some friends comment how they like to hear these transitions over different versions, be they 20 odd years apart.

The latest album ‘Blasphemer’, released last year, is an absolute ball tearer, and I keep finding new stuff on it with every listen. One thing I would like for you to share with the listener is just what the bloody hell the song “Sutcliffe” is about, and what the bloody hell inspired it!

Arno: Sutcliffe is about the Yorkshire Ripper, the serial killer Peter Sutcliffe. His murder spree between 1975 – 1981 inspired the song. He was arrested in Sheffield and brought back to Dewsbury due to having stolen plates on his car that he had stolen from a Car Scrap yard in the town. He admitted in Dewsbury Police station that he was the Yorkshire Ripper and was the person responsible to the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of 7 others. Once the news broke of this in 1981 the entire town descended on the Magistrates court baying for his blood with chants of “Hang the Bastard” been screamed everywhere.

I was five years old and I was in this crowd on my father’s shoulders. So, I have a real vivid memory of this. Fast forward to 1990 when we formed the band and we wanted to write a song the dealt with the subject of a serial killer it made perfect sense we wrote it about Sutcliffe as it was what we knew about. The Idea behind the song is we had read that he had claimed he had voices inside his head to commit his crimes. I wondered if there is a voice inside someone’s head instructing them to do this then what would this voice be saying? The lyrics are based on what my 15-year-old self-imagined what the voice inside his head would be saying to him. I hope that explains what the song is about.

Mass: The legacy of Peter Sutcliffe had a real effect on our childhood, this was on our doorstep at the time, my memories of the media at that time was it telling you your Mother or Sister was about to be hammered raped and murdered by the Ripper if they dared walked to the local corner shop for milk and bread when it got dark in the evening

Fan made clip here – and a damn good one.

I found myself at the beginning of the album that the songs started out with a more US Death Metal slant at times in terms of sheer aggression, but gradually over the course of the album the old sure but steady overall massive crushing vibe of classic UK Death Metal came through more and more. I suppose being around for so long you would pick up a bit of everything really yes?

Arno: You have to remember we grew up listening to all the Death Metal from the early 90’s from both the USA, Europe & the UK. Bands from the States such as Morbid Angel had a radically different sounds to say Entombed from Sweden. Furthermore, bands like Cancer from the UK sounded very different to both. We loved it all and it was all so new we just absorbed it all like a sponge. It makes sense al of these things influenced the way we played. I would like to think though we sound like a band from the UK all we do is be ourselves and first and foremost is make the kind of music we want to listen to.

Dan: A lot of influence comes from the many Death Metal bands worldwide that were about, more so the Roadrunner and Relativity releases. Yet, as the sounds of Peaceville began to emerge and you had labels like Metal Blade pioneering this style of music; it’s hard to not be caught up in something that’s new and becomes personal to you as a music fan. Ultimately you want to play like these people as a musician and emulate their style, which with a mash up of many influences becomes your own after time to the point that people begin to recognize individual merit to the musician or the bands sound.

After waiting so damn long in the scheme of things to finally release your debut album, are you happy with the end result? I most certainly think it is of the highest calibre, but then I haven’t had to go through all the ups and downs associated with releasing anything at all!

Arno: From the reformation of the band to the recording of our Debut album happened quite quickly, as it was actually recorded in the back part of 2015. Dale and Dan had only been in the band a few months at that point in time. It took the best part of a year for it to be released from actually starting the recording process. It should have come out in 2016 but there was delays with the artwork and it took time as well to find a label that had the balls to put it out! I am personally really happy with the whole thing sonically and the way it’s been presented with the artwork and layout. It’s an evil sounding album and it was very well received so it’s a real sense of achievement for all the band.

Dan: For me, it was a personal achievement not just behind the kit but behind the recording console also. I was there when the band were starting out and evolving, and to be drafted in years later made sense as we are all good friends and we have grown up in this kind of music. The fact it HAS taken this long to do so tells me that to all things there is a time, and this is it for Blasphemer!

The chemistry of the band and what we’ve achieved to date is what I’ve wanted in a band since day one. We were all pleased with the first full length release as its exactly what we set out to do, and how we wanted to sound.

Dale: For myself personally it was great to jump straight in to ‘recording mode’ and working towards that 1st album. I’m extremely proud of everyone’s performance on the record. It is what it is, and we couldn’t have given anymore to get to where we did with it. On my side It was an eye opener playing bass like a bass player…and not the brutal death/grindcore like the bands I’d played in before. Straight up old school death!

Death Metal wasn’t the only influence one could detect in your tunes, some traditional old school Heavy Metal vibe is hanging around in there too for mine. Can you maybe give the readers a mention of a few of your favourite bands and/or influences?

Arno: There are other influences in there too, yes. We were always massive fans of early Slayer (especially their first 4 albums). We were completely obsessed with Hanneman & King and that’s never changed. When all the Death Metal bands came out in the early 90’s it was really pushing what bands like Slayer did in the 80’s that one step further. Maybe younger people may not really grasp Is early Death Metal was influenced by thrash and a lot of that comes across in the early classic albums we know form the 90’s. No one was turning up with 8 string guitars and stupid dropped tunings or fake things like sample replaced drums.

I think a lot of people miss the point these days in that respect. There are also bands like Celtic Frost that were a big influence on us and had a huge influence on early Death Metal and on Black Metal. Also, bands like Iron Maiden influenced especially from the albums they put out in the 80’s. Great song smithery, great imagery and brilliant players. So, what’s not to like?

 

Mass: When we and Arno first started playing guitar whilst at school together we were trying to play stuff like Black Sabbath riffs and the like. Some local guitar guys we sometimes hung around with would be playing stuff way beyond us at the time, but that’s how you pick things up. We would soon be playing quite a lot of songs in Arno’s room with just me and him doing guitars and vocals. A lot of Slayer/ Metallica/Celtic Frost/Bathory/Iron Maiden and too many to mention.

I think the earliest death metal stuff we were playing was Cancer “Sentenced to the Gallows”, Celtic Frost “Return to the Eve”, Massacre “Dawn of Eternity”. We cut our teeth on the old-style Cherry Red tablature books you could get back then, we had all the Slayer and Metallica tab books up to the early 1990’s, and we both consumed them big time, “hey look what I’ve just learnt last night, I can play Master of Puppets” and then its oh wow show me…” I’ve just learnt Necrophilliac also lets knock heads”

Dan: There are many musical influences on all our releases that are made up of each individual, and there is the traditional heavy metal vibe present as we all share a love of classic heavy metal, rock and other genres. Can’t blast and grind 24/7 ha-ha.

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And now for the usual question about the state of the music scene in this day and age, it always has to be asked ha-ha. How do you find the industry at the moment, are we all just flogging a dead horse and should give up or is worth pushing on through for the greater glory of Heavy Metal?

Arno: I think the music scene and the industry are quite different. The Scene in terms of people attending gigs and having accessibility to your music is very healthy. I am happy to say we have had good attendances pretty much everywhere we have played. The response and reaction from people have been very healthy indeed. In terms of the Industry and I take it by that you refer to things like sales of physical sales of music? That obviously is nothing like what it was when I was a young kid.

I think the music industry as a whole dropped the ball in failing to see what file sharing and things like streaming would do to physical sales. I remember when Lars Ulrich got loads of shit (and probably still does) over the Napster thing. But at the end of the day he was proved right. I think again people missed to whole point there. People got caught up in the ‘he’s a rich greedy rock star wanting to make more money he doesn’t need’ mind set. They forgot about the much smaller artists who would be making nothing because of things like streaming and file sharing.

Very few people now make any money what so ever out of music and probably put much more money in to it than they get out of it. I can speak from our personal experience. I think the best thing you can do these days if you want to support a band is where possible buy direct from the band. At least you know that way any money you are choosing to spend is going to the artist and not some suit in a record company that couldn’t give a fuck about em..

I don’t think anyone I know’s primary reason for getting in to making the kind of music we play was geared around money what so ever. We will always push on for the glory of Metal as that’s what we all love. All I will say is when you spend money on music make sure you’re giving to the artist.

Dan: I think the general state of the music industry is a little out dated and yet also has allowed a degree of direct control to the bands themselves through media outlets such as iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify and YouTube, it’s all content driven now, or was as I see a shift again towards straight talking no messing or frills metal!!

The current generation are actually getting out and supporting real music by buying CDs going to gigs and procuring merch. As a genre we should never give up, be true to ourselves and do what we want to do, if people like it that’s cool, if not? That’s cool as well.

Where as there were gimmicks and image driven campaign bullshit, people are seeing through the fakery that has controlled and steered this industry and now people with the power of the Internet have direct feed to the bands of their choice rather than been spoon feed by some cooperate money grabbing cunt behind a desk. Fuck the industry and all its fake wankery, Metal will always prevail

Dale: There will always be heavy/extreme music as long as there are people listening to it and passionate musicians making it.

The scene has never looked stronger in my opinion and I feel like that when I see the standard of bands we tour with. I mean, you only have to see the amount of great underground extreme metal; Unfathomable Ruination/Mordhau/Live Burial/Repulsive Vision/Omnipotent Hysteria/Deus Vermin etc. to know that the extreme music scene isn’t going anywhere. The unsung heroes of all of this are the local promotors/zine writers pushing all of this as far as they can.

To tie in with the above question, how do you find the competition from other smaller bands, do they try and outdo you at every turn? Do they have a large level of respect for you due to your longevity? Are you all like one big giant cuddly bearded brotherhood?

Arno: I would say generally the bands we have played with Live since 2015 have shown us nothing but respect and likewise from us to them. We are very lucky in that respect, most of the people in other bands we have come across have been really cool people. I would like to think we are all quite approachable guys and we’re definitely not an egotistical bunch at all, we hate cunts like that. We like playing having fun and getting leathered afterwards as I am sure some of the other bands we have played with can testify to.

Mass: You would have to ask the other bands about that. I don’t see us as anything different from all the bands we’ve played with, there is a lot of hardworking bands here in the UK that will start to get some recognition before too long. The majority of bands in the UK death metal scene all tend to share bills at some point and most help each other out.

Dan: There actually is a really almost overwhelming amount of respect and kinship within the scene I am humbled to say, we try to inspire cooperation and the spirit of heavy music that we are all in this together as one!

However you will always find in life, not just music… A prick is a prick! We don’t concern ourselves with their shit. We are going in the direction we want to, if people don’t like it. Fuck em.

Dale: Any level of competitiveness that exists is done so in a respectful way, everyone wants to put the best show on they can. Which is a good thing because whilst we and the other bands we’re playing with are pushing for that, the audience get the killer fucking gig they deserve!

What exactly in the name of Bejesus is it that has made you guys want to stick to your guns through all of this? Are you totally insane or just totally obsessed with Metal or music in general?

Arno: I would say we are all totally obsessed with music like we always have been. In terms of us sticking to our guns what I would say has spurred us on there is our total disgust of what passes off as metal these days. There are so called metal bands these days who are putting out pop music and marketed as such. That makes me want to vomit. If you want to watch Katy Perry with guitars then fuck off, Slayer never won a beauty contests and didn’t sing radio friendly songs for the masses. Metal should be nasty and fucking evil not fucking pop music.

Mass: We have always played in bands over the years, I can’t really recall not playing in one since when we started in school. So I guess I must be Insane and obsessed with Metal and Music in general. So many amazing talented musicians I’ve been in bands with have just given up totally and stopped, such a waste.

Dan: All of the above!! Ha-ha, We love heavy music and music in general yes, however it’s our life’s blood. Always pursue your passions!

Dale: Yep! Since I could, I’ve been playing silly death metal and made-up to be playing the old stuff. Great timing and coincidence that led me to playing with these 3 degenerates haha!

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So here comes the other standard no brainier guys. Hear that chanting outside the window? “Wadda we want – NEW STUFF – when do we want it – NOW” that’s me and several thousand others who want an answer to that question asap! What are your plans for your next release, and please do tell us you have them!

Arno: Funny you should ask that. I am happy to report the follow up to the debut has been recorded mixed and mastered. All the artwork and layout are done and currently the whole thing is just about to go in to production with the label that is going to put this out. I can’t say too much about what label is releasing it at the moment as they have not yet announced our new album is being released though them. In terms of when to expect it to land hopefully it will be out in November 2018. Expect an album that’s eviller in every respect than the debut. We are really happy with the new album and can’t wait for you all to hear it!

Mass, you and I have spoken once or twice about a few things, and one that stuck out for me was that you are a follower of Rugby League not only in your own country, but also in Australia. You must be enjoying the current finals series for sure. Any other interesting hobbies or passions amongst the lot of you that you may care to share with the readers?

Mass: Yeah Rugby League is a huge passion of mine, I try to watch as many games as possible, we all know its the greatest game of all! I see a huge comparison between Rugby League and the Heavy Metal Scene, both have huge hardcore followings, but outside of its initial fan base the media or average Joe Bloggs haven’t a clue it exists or choose to ignore it because it is a working-class game.

I’ve followed the ARL / NRL since around 1986, State of Origin and Kangaroos vs. Lions Tests always a highlight. Nothing better than smashing the Convicts on your patch of turf, even though its few n far between Ha-ha.

I follow all the English Rugby League, Leeds Rhinos are my Team but have always watched a lot of Aussie Games over the years with a keen eye on the Pommies that do the business in Australia such as the Greats like Ellery Hanley, Garry Schofield, Adrian Morley, James Graham. Mal Reilly and the likes to list but a few.

And let’s not forget the Burgess brothers (Sam, George &Thomas) at South Sydney Rabbitoh’s, they all come from Dewsbury in the UK our Home Town, so I have followed their careers at the Bunnies more than others because they are Dewsbury Lads as well as total beasts of players. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Canberra Raiders too next year, as they will have John Bateman and Ryan Sutton coming from Wigan to join up with Hodgson and Whitehead. Rugby League all the Way for me and Fuck Off to Rugby Union!!!!

Arno: I am really interested in History (particularly World War 2 history) and also current world affairs so I watch a lot of documentaries on those.

Dale: Big time fan of horror movies and underground metal, I collect a ton of shit from both haha! I spend time away from Blasphemer playing in a modern tech-death’y band ‘Descendance’ and we’re working on our 1st EP at the moment. Aside from that, the usual passion for good ale and evil curry!

Well that just about wraps it up. Thanks a ton for your time, as previously stated I am a huge fan, can’t get enough of the band. Hanging around this article somewhere too will be the review of the album, or a link to it so everyone please go and check that out too, then go buy the fucker!! Anything else you would like to add lads?

Dale: Cheers for the support man, big time.

Arno : I would like to say a big thank you to all our fans Down Under for your support. The album will be landing very soon so I hope you will look forward to that. Hopefully one day we will get the opportunity to be able to come to Australia and play for you. Cheers and remember ‘Our World Is Dark’ !!!!

Well, there you have it, a great bunch of guys. One wonders if the last little comment about the their world being dark could be alluding to an album title perhaps? We shall all have to wait till approximately the 30th of November to find out! Double awesome because that is The Great Mackintosh’s B’day so it’ll be plenty of Beer and a shit ton of Death Metal!

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Follow this link to a load of Blasphemer related goodness!

https://blasphemeruk666.bandcamp.com/

Review right here.

https://themetalwanderlust.com/2018/10/12/album-review-blasphemer-blasphemer/

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