Napalm Flesh: Heidevolk Interview

Posted March 1, 2012 in

Welcome to Napalm Flesh! This week we have an interview with guitarist Reamon Bomenbreker of Dutch folk metal crew Heidevolk. We discussed their new album, Batavi, the inner workings of the band, and even the possibility of an American tour. Also on tap, we have reviews of new music from Corrosion of Conformity, Dyscarnate and Wykked Wytch, as well as your weekly event rundown.

A few shows for your picking are happening on Friday March 2:

Out in Ogden, Kamikaze’s hosts Necropsy, IX Zealot and Odium Totus. $5 gets you in (21+), music at 9 p.m.

5 Monkeys in Salt Lake City,hosts Downfall, Meat and Colonel Lingus. $5 gets you in (21+), music at 8 p.m

Burt’s hosts Maraloka’s LP release party with Cornered by Zombies and Eagle Twin. $5 cover (21+), music at 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 3, Raunch Records hosts touring band Seas Will Rise with local support from Jesust and Rebellious Cause at 7 p.m. Bring some cash for the touring and local bands!

Monday, March 5, Burt’s hosts Stalemate Flesh making their live debut with Nevertanerza, $5 cover (21+) music at 9 p.m.

On Tuesday, March 6, Dwellers, Backwoods Payback and Top Dead Celebrity will play at Burt’s (21+). $6 gets you in.

Interview with guitarist Reamon Bomenbreker of Heidevolk

What first inspired your interest in the history and mythology of Gelderland?
Reamon Bomenbreker: The reason for this is that we all grew up here. So we all feel a connection with this province of the Netherlands. This is the area of the Netherlands with the most nature of all the provinces. It's also known for its very down-to-earth thinking—sort of the opposite to the West. We started thinking about doing something with folk metal 12 years ago, so it was only logical to look at our own history. For the last album we chose to go 2000 years back to the rebellion of a tribe called Batavi over here, but we also have songs about the dark ages and stuff.
SLUG: What initially attracted you to playing folk and pagan metal?
Bomenbreker: When Heidevolk started, I believe it was Joris [den Boghtdrincker] who wanted to do something with a viking choir, sort of a choir thing but more manly. Sebas [Bloeddorst] was working around with the idea to do something with folk and metal, and they met each other in a local pub, started talking about what they wanted. For me, I came to the band about ten years ago, they'd already been playing for two years. I saw them at a local club because I knew the drummer, he was a good friend of mine. After the show, I was just blown away by this powerful way of playing and the folky themes that they used. I told the drummer to give me a call if any of the guitar players quit, and luckily for me, that was two months later. I don't think that we're into folk metal that much, it's more that we like heavy metal, but we also like folk music.

SLUG: Your website very clearly states that Heidevolk is not intended to be a political band. What sort of problems do you see with bands that are more political?
Bomenbreker: That one sentence is just for anybody who questions our beliefs or our ideals, just to let them know there are no deeper thoughts or anything like that. We just sing about history, we sing about nature, we sing about artistry, our region. There's no hidden agenda, or anything like that. We saw on the internet there were a couple of bands we were friends with had some problems with gigs because people thought they were right-extremists or something. I know the bands, I knew the guys, so I was sure that that was not the case. So we talked about, “okay, we're going to put this one sentence on the website and that's it.” People should make up their own minds.

Batavi sounds a little more mature and focused than your previous albums. What changed about your approach to this album?
Bomenbreker: Our writing process [involved] the whole band. The first album was mostly written by Sebas and Joris, the two founders. Maybe it's as simple as getting better. However, the whole of Heidevolk is alpha-males, who have already had their own bands, and we're all sort of lead people. This album was really a team effort. All six of us put something of ourselves in the album. Sometimes it's hard because you've got a song that you think is finished, only to come to the rehearsal room and everybody puts their thoughts in it. The whole song gets scrambled, and new riffs appear. But I think it works out pretty good with us.

Tell me about the recording process for Batavi. Where did you record the album, and who did you record it with?
Bomenbreker: After the last album, we started thinking about a new sound. When we came together we'd be playing some songs and starting to talk about some new riffs, and thought it was more aggressive so we started thinking that direction. Why don't we make an aggressive album? Let's find an aggressive producer and a darker production. We found Peter Tägtgren, he was also in Hipocrisy and a band called Pain. We just listened to his productions, and thought, “This is the guy.” Also I knew a friend of mine Ask, the drummer of Kampfar, who just recorded his new album there and had fantastic stories about the guy. [Tägtgren] had never done folk metal before, so he wanted to try something new.

SLUG: You guys are touring Europe again this March and April. What are some of your favorite destinations on that tour?
Bomenbreker: Italy. They are very optimistic and fun. Crazy, even. Last week we played there and from the first notes, people started headbanging. We have some good memories about them. Germany's always fun because that's a real heavy metal country.

SLUG: You guys still haven't gone on a North American tour. What are some of the obstacles in the way of Heidevolk touring in the States?
Bomenbreker: Well, the biggest obstacle is that we're not going to cross the ocean for a few shows, you know? If we come to America, it has to be something like two or three months. The biggest obstacle is that we all have jobs. Some of us have mortgages and stuff like that. It sounds really crappy, but the money issue is the biggest obstacle. We have to take time off of work for three months. We are talking about it with the record company, and the booking agency. We hope for this year or next year. We hope to figure it out and come to America.

SLUG: It seems natural to sing in your own language, but Dutch is a very uncommon language in metal that sets Heidevolk apart. What made you decide to sing in Dutch?
Bomenbreker: When we started talking about the history of our region, it sort of felt logical to sing in Dutch. We didn't start this band out because we wanted to make money or be rock stars or anything like that. Because then we would make totally different music and especially sing in English. No, it just felt logical. We just tried it out and it took a little getting used to it, because there were not many metal bands that sing in Dutch. We still have some people who won't listen to Heidevolk because we sing in Dutch and they can't stand it or something. Conservative metalheads. They want everything in English. I can think of two or three metal bands that sing in Dutch, and they're pretty underground.

“Valeda” is a beautiful acoustic track. How does your writing process differ for your acoustic tracks?
Bomenbreker: “Valeda” was mostly written by Sebas, the guy who left the band. Which was on good terms, by the way. He was just ready for something new and moved to Germany, so he had to ride to the rehearsal room every Thursday, which is pretty hard. I know how he does it. He writes everything at home on his guitar, and starts thinking, “Okay, wait a minute, this is something for the violin”, and so actually, if you hear the first version, it sounds pretty crappy because he has the feeling of a violin in his head, but you can hear that acoustic guitar playing it. You know, it's just a basic version.

SLUG: So Sebas is leaving the band? You mentioned it was on good terms.
Bomenbreker: Well he actually told us before Batavi. One reason was because for him, that chapter was finished, and he was ready to start something new. I think he's starting a new band now in Germany. I think we're going to hear something from him. He's a really good songwriter, I don't know what he's going to do. The other reason is that he found someone he wanted to live with in Germany. Like I said, we are a group of friends, but we need to rehearse with each other, we need to give each other ideas straight to the face. That's how we work.

SLUG: Are you guys looking for another guitarist?
Bomenbreker: We have a replacement already, Kevin. He's a good friend of mine. I've played with him in bands before, so I knew he was a great guitar player but also a really relaxed and down to earth guy. So I introduced him to the band, and he even played a few solos on the Batavi album. I asked him if he could come to the studio, and I showed him some stuff and said, “You should do a solo here.” He came up with some great solos. It was cool, no awkwardness or anything. Sebas was there and he thought it was pretty cool too.

SLUG: You guys have been working together for quite some time now. Can you tell me a little bit about your working relationship?
Bomenbreker: We're still friends, you know? Sometimes you hear of or see on tour you see band members all sitting in their own place. One's sitting in the front of the bus, the other chills in the back because they can't get along and stuff like that. I'm pretty happy to say that's not the case with us. We even hang out every week when we're not playing, so there's really a good bond between the different members of Heidevolk. That's very important. When we don't have fun, we have to stop. We have jobs aside from the band, so we're doing it purely for fun, and for ourselves. The moment that we can't be friends and play together, that's when Heidevolk will break up, I think. But that's not the case.

SLUG: Did you guys start off as friends? How did you come to meet each other?
Bomenbreker: Just the local metal scene. It's not that big, it's really scrambled, you know? That guy plays in that band, but also in that band with the brother of... yeah. Sometimes, we say in Arnheim, our home city, everybody is playing in different bands with each other, so it's almost impossible not to know somebody that's into metal. So it's based on friendship. For instance, the new guitar player, Kevin. I don't care how good he is at the guitar, he could be the next Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen, but if it didn't feel right, he wouldn't have gotten the job.

Exclusive CD Reviews

Corrosion of Conformity
Street: 02.28
Corrosion of Conformity = Recent Entombed + Late Black Flag + Animosity era C.O.C + Blind era C.O.C
I'm not one of those smarmy dorks who thinks Pepper Keenan "ruined" C.O.C. I love the dude's voice, and when I rock my America's Volume Dealer longsleeve, I willingly accept every thumbs-up headnod from ever bleary-eyed redneck who looks my way. C.O.C fandom tends to divide into two "camps" (the 80's thrash camp and the Pepper camp), and I like 'em both equally...because I'm a poser who actually likes music. Still, with Pepper sidelined to focus on Down, the band's back to power trio status, Mike Dean's at the forefront and they've been playing some of the Animosity stuff live to rabid acclaim. 80's thrash-heads needen't get all their hopes up for a complete crossover throwback though, as Corrosion of Conformity cuts a heady swath through their entire sonic hisotry, pitting a gritty cuisinart of the blitzkrieg days of 'core ("Leeches") and the turgid southern groove that made 'em unexpected darlings of headbanger's ball ("Psychic Vampires"). The album's obvious highlight,"The Doom," deftly blends their Jekyll and Hyde in a couple o' nasty riffs and and instumentals (like "El Lamento de Las Cabras") summon upon Wiseblood era yowling (This reviewer ain't complaining. Punk sucks. More solos!). Bolstered by Woody Weatherman's guitar work, Reed Mullin's weighty pounding and Dean's Ozzy-Cum-Tom G. Warrior bellowing (seriously, anyone who had doubts about his vocal chops...really?) render this a potent amalgamation of the band's strengths, and fans willing to look past all the tangled context, lineup changes and stylistic shifts will quickly rank Corrosion among the band's best work, if not for its competence, then its uniqueness. –Dylan Chadwick

And So It Came To Pass
Siege of Amida Records
Street: 02.27
Dyscarnate = Dying Fetus + Cephalic Carnage + Behemoth
Hailing from Britain, three-piece Dyscarnate has been gathering notice across the Atlantic for their utterly powerful brand of traditional death metal, which is out in full force on this sophomore effort. And So It Came To Pass is heavy and dirty, and catchy as all get-out. Conceptually, the album is riddled with mythology and religious iconography, giving the brutality of the music a distinctly pagan charge, a feeling of older gods and darker hells. That mood is also beautifully present in the tribal punchiness of Matt Unsworth’s drumming, which, true to their overall sound, is void of fancy fills and proggy time-changes, opting instead to simply cave your chest in with its speeding double-bass and blastbeats. The contributing vocals of both Henry Bates and Tom Whitty are impossibly deep and grating, demanding attention and respect and certainly power from the vicious music beneath. These three know how to build a commanding sound through and through, meaning every song leaves you full of satisfaction like a cigarette after Thanksgiving-day sex. This is a can’t-miss for traditional death metal fans. –Megan Kennedy

Wykked Wytch
The Ultimate Deception
Street: 2.14.12
Wykked Wytch = Cradle of Filth + Anorexia Nervosa
Had Wykked Wytch just started, I could just laugh 'em off like retro metal sycophants sporting a deliberately mis-spelled name and be done with it. Sadly, they formed in 1994, they're not European, and their sound is agonizingly "modern" so this condescending shit-talker is at a loss. Horrid terms like "Gothic metal" get bandied about, but The Ultimate Deception operates under a distinctly death metal M.O., and does most damage when sticking to swedish riffing and guttural throatiness ("Eyes of the Vulture," minus one goofball lyric, is a raging banger, and easily the strongest cut). Unfortunately, 'Wytch seems hellbent on sullying any of Deception's coolness ("Prayers of the Decapitated" has so much potential!) with sanitized symphoni-mall metal tomfoolery and overworked tunefulness. You know when Marianne Faithfull starts yowling during "The Memory Remains" like a sonic headfuck dampening every good riff like serpentine alien creatures bursting through torsos in a Ridley Scott movie? Like that. Hidden in Deception's 10 tracks is 65% of a good album...the rest is just...well, if you're a 'Tallica fan (good Metallica mind you, none o' that Lou Reed nonsense), you'd best steer clear of that "Fade to Black" cover. All I'm saying is the doofusy melodic singing, faux-european accents, constant mid-song diversions ("Ecstasy"'s minute-long instrumental, is as unnecessary as it is laughable) and the general vibe of namby-pamby douchery ("Abolish the Weak" and "Serpents Among Us" seem tailor made for black-nailed trailer kids phasing out of nu-metal and moto-cross and into the next thing to moderately annoy their religious authorities) congeal into a turd sandwich worthy of only the Hot Topic tent at yesteryear's Ozzfest. Oh, and your "Jesus is a C-word" shirt isn't offending anyone. -Dylan Chadwick