You're a new band consisting of some old souls. Can you tell us a bit more about the formation of Icons Of Brutality in 2009? Was the musical direction completely clear from the start? Most of you have been or still are in other bands too. Can you tell us a bit about that too?
Appe: Swedish death metal has always been the inspiration and direction of the band, I haven't been with the party from the start so I'll let one of the founding members tell the story of the beginning.
Jeunis: Well I'm into music for quite a long time, with my first band, Absorbed, we played old-school death metal Swedish style. A couple of bands later, we're talking mid 2009, Jimme, Knolle and I had some good drinks and we decided to start a new band with one goal; making 'OSDM'. Via an advertisement on the internet we've met drummer Robert, he played in hardcore-band Real Hate, and he also wanted to start up an OSDM-band. So we jammed a couple of times, created about five or six songs, and added Soulless (Grave) in our set. In January 2010 we played our first gig, in Epe, and after that we played the pre-round of the Metal Battle. Our style was a mixture between hardcore and death metal. After the second gig Robert decided to quit. We asked Bakvet (ex-Grindminded) to replace Robert and Knolle asked Appe, his colleague, to be part of Icons of Brutality. So we started up completely over with reaching our one and only goal: playing old-school death metal. Besides Absorbed I also played in The 8th Sin (later Chaos Rising) and some project-based bands.
Jimme: You are absolutely right about this...All the members Icons of Brutality are indeed veteran-musicians. We all have been in the metal-scene since the early / mid-90's and we all know each other for about fifteen to twenty years now. During our teenage-years we all were constantly busy with jamming and playing in several projects/bands and spend so much time at the rehearsal-rooms in Hoogeveen's metal-venue "De Box" (now it is called "Het Podium"), that we almost lived there. It is a remarkable and funny fact that back in 1992, Bakvet was the guitarist of the first band I jammed with! From 1994 till 1997 I joined Unauthorized (death/thrash) and after this period I was asked to be a part of Absorbed (1997-2003). After the split-up of that band, I continued playing with Jeunis. I think that during all these years we all have acquired enough experience to know what it means to be a part of a band. The musical preferences of the band members are similar for 90%, so we luckily never have to fight or argue about the musical direction of the band :-).
I think you have also done a couple of gigs doing covers of other bands besides working on your own material. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Appe: We started by playing a lot of covers to bring tribute to our icons. Ever since our formation we were also writing songs on our own. When we were playing covers we now and then snuck one of our own numbers into the set list. Seeing people react to songs you've written yourself is an even better feeling than when it happens to someone else's music so nowadays we play mostly our own songs with a cover here and there.
Jeunis: An additional note sets its place here. We were asked to perform at a local cover-night, so we took the chance to pay homage to our favourite bands. It was also a chance for us to improve our combined action. And it also improved our skills as musicians. As I speak for myself, by covering songs I learned to get more in to control with playing solos. I might not be the best solo guitarist, but I get more understanding about playing solos.
I assume your album 'Between Glory And Despair' is the first material you recorded? I couldn't find any info on a demo or anything like that?
Appe: Yep, the first time we went into the studio and this comes out (ha ha). We had a great time in the Dirty Bird studio with Fredde Kaddeth. We liked it so much we're constantly busy writing new songs.
Jeunis: True, we had written about 6 songs, and we really wanted to record them for an EP or something. So we contacted Fredde and he had some spare time late December 2011. So the time went by and there was some progression in song writing. In December we had more songs to record, so our goal turned into recording a full-length album.
Your style is definitely old-school death metal and it's obvious you're influenced by both Swedish death metal as well as Bolt Thrower. Can you tell us a bit more about your inspiration and is it mainly the old bands or is the current scene as well? I mean there are a lot of newer bands delivering death metal in the ancient way.
Appe: We all listen to quite an array of different metal/music styles and of course something from those styles will seep into the music. That being said the biggest influences would definitely be bands like Dismember, Vader and Bolt Thrower. There are some very cool current bands that have some influence on us, bands like Hail of Bullets.
Jeunis: As main composer most riffs came out of my sickened mind, the arrangements were done together as band, more or less. Personally I'm influenced by a lot of bands, not only death metal, I listen to punk / crust, and other obscure directions in the rock / metal spectrum. Bands like Skit System, Nasum and even Amebix, gave me input for creating groovy crust-riffs. Also old bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd and AC/DC affected on me in my musical creations. And sure, most inspiration was put out of the 'old' bands, but also bands who are in the current scene made their contributions. Like Entrails for example. But writing music doesn't only depend on musical examples, one important ingredient is ambiance. For me I get inspired by reading books, watching horror movies, war movies and documentaries and even cartoons like Transformers.
You recorded the album at the Dirty Bird Studio. Why did you chose for this studio and can you tell us a bit about these recordings? I assume Fredde was overseeing the process? Did he mix the album too?
Appe: Mister Kaddeth was the production master for our album and I think he did a great job. We chose his studio because we feel he understands our style, he made a lot of valuable attributions in the recording process.
Jeunis: Fredde and I (and also Jimme) were part of Absorbed. So we were familiar with his way of recording stuff. He's capabilities are very wide, he has great knowledge about creating a fat sound and besides that, he's just a cool guy, a friend. The recording process went quite relaxed. We arrived at a Friday afternoon, we started drinking some coffee with Fredde, and we discussed how we manage the recordings. The same afternoon we started recording the drums. The Saturday and Sunday we used for recording the guitars and bass, and a week later we did the vocals and solo's. In about 4 days we've completed the recording, due to Fredde's recording techniques. Maybe we better call him 'Fast Fredde' haha. So yes, Fredde was overseeing the process, it did help us a lot. Fredde also mixed and mastered the album.
You recorded ten songs. Was this all you had written or did you decide to record the best songs for this album?
Appe: At the time this was all the material we had written.
We felt that all of the numbers were up to the same standard, there are naturally some personal favourite numbers but we like to think that all our songs are brutal.
Jeunis: We indeed recorded ten songs, one song did not make the final selection. It's an instrumental song, meant to be the opener of the album. But it wasn't found heavy enough hahaha. The fun stuff is, Battalion 666 was written only about one month before the recordings started. We worked damned hard to get the song tight. It was also our first song down-tuned in A. And there was one song, which wasn't recorded because we were not satisfied about some rhythm parts. We also considered recording a cover, but unfortunately for the fans, we decided only to record our self-written songs.
You ended up signing with Cyclone Empire. I assume this was based on the finished album? Did you contact many labels or was it a select few you thought might be interested?
Appe: After we finished the CD we listed a lot of labels but we had made a selection as to which labels we thought might be suited to our style. We sent them an inspired letter and promo-CD, and happily we got an enthusiastic response from a cool label like Cyclone Empire.
Jeunis: And we are very satisfied with Cyclone Empire. They have great bands in their roster, even some Dutch bands, Bodyfarm and Onheil. I guess this is the label we needed, they are working very hard to give us as much media attention as we need. They have worldwide connections. Just browse the internet and you'll find thousands hits when searching for our album. That's so cool, we don't need Monster Energy anymore to get a boost.
I guess with the new album out, now it is time to spread the word even further. I suppose it's going on the road now and crush the audiences with your sound? What are your immediate plans for the future?
Appe: We would like to play as much as possible but at the moment it's quite hard to get a lot of playtime. We're hoping that all the positive media reviews get us a lot of gigs. Cause there nothing like being on the stage.
Okay, that's all from my side. Anything else you'd like to add?
Appe: We would like to thank Cyclone Empire for bringing our CD into the world, and of course everyone should come see an Icons of Brutality show. Take it easy.
Jeunis: And of course we want to thank you Pim, and LoM magazine of course. This site is in my bookmarks for quite a long time. And a big Dankewohl goes to Jan of Sure Shot Worx. And now we're talking about thanking people, I guess we should thank all guys and girls who are banging their heads off, and keeping the metal-scene alive.