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One of the strongest death metal releases of Dutch soil in recent months is without a doubt the debut album '11:11' from death metal veterans Neocaesar. Founded in 2013 by singer Mike van Mastrigt and guitarist Bart van Wallenberg, founding members of Sinister, the band soon was completed by ex-Sinister members Michel Alderliefsten (bass) and Eric de Windt (drums). The result of this renewed collaboration is '11:11', a monster of a death metal record, that would fit perfectly in line with old school Sinister albums 'Cross The Styx', 'Diabolical Summoning' and 'Hate'. In other words, a release not to be missed by old school death metal fans. Eric, Mike and Michel were kind enough to answer some of our questions regarding their new album.

By: Dennis | Archive under death metal / grindcore

Hi Eric, I was totally blown away by the debut album '11:11' of your new band. The death metal you guys play has a lot of similarities with Sinisters’ 'Diabolical Summoning' and 'Hate' and the album could actually have been a follow up on those two classic death metal releases. It comes as no surprise that all of the bandmembers used to play in Sinister back in the day. Can you tell us something about how Neocaesar was formed?
(Eric) Hey Dennis, thanks man. I'm here together with Mike and Michel.

(Mike) Way back Bart and I wanted to make music together but due to private situations the time was not there. So a few years ago I asked Bart again if he had time to write music together. Now we didn't want to sound as our early work. What we tried, due to the combination of Bart’s guitar sound and my vocals it ended up in the old Sinister sound. So we decided to continue and follow our old path. Next step was calling Eric and Michel. To inform that they had a new band. Neocaesar was born.

What was the main goal when you formed as a band? All of you have played in different bands before, so what was the reason to form a new band?
(Mike) The main goal for me was to make a good album and again to work with Bart. Of course he is a killer musician. But mostly it's great to work with him and he is a good friend. The reason this band was formed is actually two reasons. This is the closest you get to the old Sinister. But mostly we are a band of friends.

(Eric) We are good friends, for a long time when the question arose, it was a no brainer, of course... let’s do this!

After the departure from Sinister Michel and Mike formed Houwitser, a death metal band with which you have released seven full lengths over the years. Has the band been put on ice now that you have Neocaesar running?
(Mike) Yes and Yes…. There is a reason. Houwitser finished recording a new album. There was a burglary at the producers place and the recordings, together with lots of equipment were stolen. There is a backup, but not of all the recordings are on there. At this moment Houwitser is a three-piece. For now Michel and I will take our time for Neocaesar. Possible re-record our latest album when we will have the time.

(Michel) Neocaesar and Houwitser are separate entities. Both bands will follow their own path in
the future.

What can you tell about the writing and recording process of the new album '11:11'?
(Mike) Bart and myself started writing with the songs. When the others joined we started arranging these songs at the rehearsal place. Other songs were partly written by Bart and then finished with the whole band in the rehearsal place.

(Eric) The writing was done by the band, the recording/engineering was done by Bart (start to finish) A big salute to him for all the crazy hours in-between everyday life getting the product to what it is today...a major sacrifice he has made ..but he fucking nailed it ,,/

The album is titled '11:11', what does this stand for?
(Mike) This means among others a new beginning. Which is what this album is to us for.

(Eric) 11:11….it is a number of higher sequence, it’s a higher plain of consciousness, a number of synchronicity. Connecting to other dimensions, many explanations will follow when you search. We like the connection to our music and the way it was written, somehow it was evident all the time ..11:11 was everywhere obviously it became the title.

What are the lyrics on '11:11' about? Where do you get the inspiration for the lyrics from?
(Mike) The inspiration for my lyrics I get out of everyday life, things I read when I search answers from the unknown, visions and occult texts. The lyrics I write are stories which can create awareness. Sometimes you must stop and observe what is happening around you. The small things but also the bigger picture. Lots of things are hidden from us due to religion or just to keep the people stupid to follow. Others got lost in time. It’s a very large puzzle with very small pieces.

band image

The album has been released by yourselves in February of this year. How have the reactions been so far? Pretty good, I guess?
(Mike) So far the reactions are awesome, from fans as well as from all kind of magazines.

(Michel) We already got quite a big base of loyal fans who try to be at as many of our shows as possible.

(Eric) Yes,, the reactions have been great! Live shows have been great so far, it just took a little while but it's quite some work getting the stuff out there. Everything self-financed, produced, artwork, layout etc merch. But it’s all worth it, now we got the shows coming and deliver a solid brutal show to those in front of the stage. Backed by an album… We are here…..

Has there already been any interest from any record labels?
(Mike) There where multiple labels interested. At this moment we're negotiating with a label about a contract. So far it looks good. It will mean our album will be released worldwide.

(Michel) For now the album can be ordered through the band or at the Nuclear Blast webshop.

So it took three years to compose and record this album. Are you already working on a follow up on this album?
(Michel) Of course! Bart already came up with new riffs while we were recording 11:11. We got plenty of ideas for new songs laying around.

(Mike) The release of a new album is depending on the amount of shows we will do for this album. The more time we need to play live the less time we have to compose new songs. But it most certainly won't last another three years for our next release.

(Eric) Yes indeed the writing has begun again. We plan on a follow up pretty soon. We'll keep you posted for sure!

I see that your touring schedule is pretty empty at the moment. Do we have a chance to see Neocaesar perform live soon?
(Mike) Our live schedule is getting filled. We recently started working with a booking agency, Doc agency. For September we have a mini tour planned with Hypnos through Czech Republic and Slovakia. From October there are multiple shows scheduled in the Netherlands. This time also in the eastern part of the country.

Eric, only three years ago you recorded 'Orchestrating The Apocalypse' with Steve Tucker’s Warfather. What can you tell about this little adventure?
(Eric) It is what it was. Not quite what it could have been though, if things were better organized/communicated it could have been a lot better. The album got done, a few shows and that was it for me. I had seen enough.

What do you think of the death metal scene nowadays? What releases have impressed you lately?
(Eric) The death metal scene is decent I would say, I heard a couple of good tracks recently. Still those with that old-school vibe/production you know. I’m still in early 90 mode, probably always will be. Impressive albums? The last Immolation is a superb album. For the rest I haven’t checked a lot out recently. I’m getting around some new stuff every now and then but when I’m in the process of writing our own music... when I need inspiration I usually open the old box. Unless I encounter something that presents itself in a certain matter.

How is the relationship with the current line-up of Sinister? Neocaesar sounds more like Sinister, then current Sinister does…
(Michel) Sinis who? Hahaha! Just kidding! I sometimes talk to Toep and for the rest? Who are actually playing in that band right now?

(Eric) The relation is all right between some members and between some not so much. We leave it were it is. Don’t bother with it, we both have our own bands. We are Neocaesar, that's where our focus is. Yeah we heard it a couple of times that we sound more like Sinister then Sinister, but with Bart on guitar and Mike on vocals, it’s hard not to get some oldskool stuff boiling up from the speakers hahaha. They have their own sounds, very distinguished and many recognize it from the old times. As Neocaesar is a complete new entity, it is something we acknowledge.

(Mike) Yes, Neocaesar members really know how to play a Sinister tune.

So, the album is released now for a while, what are you guys up to next?
(Mike) Preparing for holiday.

(Michel) I should put new strings on my bass.

(Eric) Doing lots of shows and writing new material.

Any last words for our readers?
(Mike) Thanks for your time. Go and get our new album. If you already did thanks for the support! See you somewhere on the road.

(Eric) See you guys on the road!!! Come check us out or hit us up when you feel like playing a few shows. Hope you guys dig the album!! Cheerz!!!

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