– Hi, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to? How is everything doing right now with BURDEN OF GRIEF?
The release of a new record is always a very busy time, doing the promotion and all that stuff… but we are pretty much enjoying the feedback that we get for the new album “Unchained”. During that last 2 weekends we’ve played 2 very special shows here in our home region, it was a celebration of our 20th anniversary as well as of the release of that new record. We’ve met many old friends there, we’ve got very positive feedback for our new material and we had a fantastic time. So right now we are doing pretty well…
– First off, even though you’ve been around for a while, could you please make some history of the band for all those who aren’t familair with you yet?
As I mentioned before we are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. But when we formed BURDEN OF GRIEF 20 years ago we were nothing more that absolute greenhorns. So the first 5-6 years were just years of learning and doing the first kind of baby-steps of a band – writing the first songs together, recording the first demos and playing the first shows. Our first record-deal we have signed in late 1999 and our first full-length album came out in 2000. So this was the first important turning point for us. From that time on we’ve worked on a much more professional level and played bigger shows and festivals all over Germany. During the next 5 years we have released 2 more albums and had several line-up changes. The next important turning point was early 2006 when we had a massive line-up change with 3 new members joining the band. That was a very necessary decision and from that time on we have a constant line-up. Our new album “Unchained” is the third record that we have released with this line-up, and in my opinion, these 3 records are by far our best ones. So check it out.
It doesn’t matter if you are a young band releasing your debut-album or if you are a 20-year old band releasing your 6th album. It is always a very special moment. You have worked for months on that new record. And we still try to get better and better with each album. And in our personal opinion we have reached it. The new album “Unchained” has the best production we ever had and some of the best songs we have ever written. Of course we enjoy the positive feedback of our fans and of the magazines, but we really don’t care if they wouldn’t like the album. We know for us that we have reached our goal to make a record that we can be proud of.
– And do you think the band has been through some kind of evolution throughout these years?
Of course, each new record is always some kind of reaction of the album before. We don’t really analyse the old songs but especially during the live-shows we are getting more and more a feeling about the strengths and also the weaknesses of the song. So we always try to concentrate more of our strengths of each member. And you don’t have to forget that we had some massive line-up changes throughout the years. Especially our previous drummers were much more hardhittin’ blastbeat drummer whereas Robb is much more groove-oriented which fits to our music nowadays way better. Also our guitarist Joe, who is in the band since 2006, brought in a lot of fantastic songs which are totally different to the songs his predecessors wrote. So all kind of evolution in our music came up very naturally without any masterplan. When we are writing new songs we never come to a point where we discuss whether an extraordinary idea fits to our band-history or not. If we like it, we use it. So we’re never setting us any musical limits.
– «Unchained» is a quite telling album title. Could you say with this record you have breaken the chains and created your ultimate opus?
As I mentioned before with every new record we try to surpass the previous ones in terms of the songs and the production. I know of course that every band has these aims. But there are so many bands who released their ultimate opus, as you call it, many years ago and since then they are nothing more as a shadow of themselves. But we know for us that we have always achieved to get better with each album, even if there might be some fans who prefer one of the older records. That is quite normal. Right now we are convinced that “Unchained” is our ultimate opus by now. But the next album will be out in 2016 hopefully and that record has to be even better, haha…
– I personally think this is your most diverse effort to date, with really heavy tunes, more catchy ones. Was this something you actually focused on while creating «Unchained»?
Yes, definitely. With reflecting the last record “Follow The Flames” we came to the conclusion that some of that songs could have been stronger with better hooklines. We will definitely never work with clean and catchy vocals as many other bands do it. But within our vocal-range there are also many ways to make a song catchy and remarkable. The term “catchy” might be a little bit conflicting within the thrash- and death-metal scene, but a great hookline always helps to make a song strong and unique.
“Fearless Heart” is one of the songs that are based on drums-ideas by our drummer Robb. He came up with this cowbell-part that reminded us of bands like Guns’n’Roses. So initially we weren’t sure if it fits to our style of music. But I had also written a lot of more groove-oriented hardrock-riffs and I always wasn’t sure how to use them in our songs. So one came to another and in the end it ended up in this cool rock-vibe song which is one of my personal highlights of that album.
– You have even done a cover for BLACK SABBATH’s «Neon Knights». Why did you choose this song and what changes have you done to it?
Actually we hadn’t intented to do a cover song at all, after we had released a bonus-CD with 8 covertunes with our last record “Follow The Flames”. But 1 week before we have entered the studio we’ve got a request by our record-label if we were interested to do a contribution for an upcoming tribute album for Ronnie James Dio. And since I am a huge Dio- and Sabbath-fan I had this idea for “Neon Knights”. You’ve got to have always in mind that Dio was the greatest singer ever, so we were actually looking for a more riff-oriented, straight-forward song. And “Neon Knights” was one of the very few that we dared to choose at all.
– And what other songs would you like to cover someday?
After we did a lot of cover-songs in the past I am not sure if we will do another one in the nearer future. But I always like to pay tribute to our heroes, and I could imagine a lot of interesting song. But all guys from BURDEN OF GRIEF have a pretty diverse musical taste, so it is always very hard to find something that we all like. One the few coincidences that we all have are Kreator. So that might be a possible band to cover in the future.
– Lyrics deal with real life and human feelings so, are they autobiographical? Where do you draw inspiration from to create them?
If you take a look to our lyrics from our older records, you will see that they were much more fictional and story-telling. We were just young kids. But the older we get the more experiences we’ve made in life. That’s a normal process. And therefore also the lyrics become more and more personal, based on own experiences and emotions. But besides these more personal lyrics there are still some crazy stories about some insane killers, haha… These are topics that we have always written songs about as well. So in my opinion our lyrics are as diverse as our music is.
– In fact people can easily relate to them. Is this something you strive for?
Not really, to be honest. We write our music completely for ourselves. We absolutely don’t care about any possible expectations from fans, the label or any magazines. That’s one of the biggest advantages if you are a non-fulltime band. If there are people outside who like our music and our lyrics and can find a relation to them. That is the best thing that can happen to any band.
Since we’ve got a pretty exceptional band-logo we are always looking for a cool way to present it. We even though about to change our old logo against a new and modern one with a more simple approach. But on the other hand I personally hate it when other bands change their classic logos. So we decided to keep that logo and to put it even in the spotlight of the cover without any other distracting elements beside it. That was the simple idea behind it. So it isn’t related to any lyrical themes at all.
– All this about «Unchained» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Much-more-than-just-melodic-death-metal! Sorry, that’s 7 words. But I absolutely don’t like it if we are reduced to the term melodic death metal. There are so much more elements in our music that are worth to discovered. So I invite also all non-melodic death metal fans to give it a try.
– Finally, what are your near-future plans?
Right now we are booking the shows for the upcoming months and the next year. Next year there will also be a special re-release of one of our older records. But I can’t say anything more detailed about it at the moment, because there are some record-label issues that we have to discuss before,
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Check out our new album “Unchained”, you won’t regret it!