DETONATION -Melodic Detah Metal From Holland
Melodic Death Metal From Holland
- Tekst: Even Knudsen, 19.05.2003 -
Holland is probably not the country that delivers the highest quantity of metal albums, but when it comes to quality the Dutchmen are always a force to be considered. That is also the case with Detonation, which started out as a black metal band in 1997 but who later converted to melodic death metal. I spoke to singer and guitar player Koen Romeijn to learn more about the band.
First of all it would be nice with a short briefing trough the Detonation history. From the very beginning and up to now? Well, we started the band under the name Infernal Dream in ’97. Thomas (drums) and I came up with the idea to start a band with the sole purpose to play metal in whatever style we felt like. Thomas and I already played together several years in our school-period, playing covers and stuff. We met Mike and asked him to join our new formation, and so he did. We rehearsed a couple of times just for fun, mainly in a sports-cafeteria, in between the tables and bar! We wrote our first song in ’97, entitled “Through the Eyes of God”, and it turned out to be kind of a black metal song. Meanwhile, all three of us were playing in our own main band, but after rehearsing for about a year we decided to make Infernal Dream our priority band. It was at this point that we encountered Otto, our bassist. He was only 16 years old when we met him, but made a serious impression on us. So he joined us, and we started rehearsing on a more regular basis. Shortly after, we decided to change our name to Detonation. Our first recordings were in ’98, when we recorded 2 songs for the Crushed Skull Compilation CD, released by SkullCrusher rec. from our hometown Utrecht. These 2 songs are clearly black metal orientated, in the vein of “Through the Eyes…”.To our surprise, we received a lot of positive reactions regarding our songs, and also got a nice number of gigs offered. Meanwhile, the writing-process continued, until the point that we’d written 4 new songs to record for our 1st official release, our MCD called “Lost Euphoria”. We stormed the studio, the same as before, in 1999, and released the CD through SkullCrusher in 2000. Again, we gained good responses, and again we played a shit load of gigs throughout Holland, by then we decided it was time to think about our 1st full-length album. In July we booked the Excess studios in Rotterdam, and we started to record the drums and bass. Within 14 days “An Epic Defiance” was finished, including the mixing and mastering part. A total of 12 songs were recorded. The result was absolutely great, and then a thing crossed our minds; what are we going to do, release the album ourselves, or wait until a record label would grab the bate? We eventually decided to release it ourselves on the 19th of October 2002, and send it to all labels that might want to release it for a worldwide distribution. And so we did…we received some pretty interesting offers, and were almost ready to sign with one of them, until Osmose contacted us in January this year. The last couple of months we’ve been extremely busy preparing the worldwide release for the 19th of June. This means the album will be in the stores and available around the world soon!
You started as a melodic black metal band, but today your style is more melodic death. Why this change in style? That’s something that occurred along the way. We never deliberately changed our style, but as our instrumental skills improved, we automatically started to play more technical, as a challenge for ourselves I guess…At first, our music was quite simplistic, as with most black-metal without keys. But we think it’s important to enjoy your own music, and have fun in what you do, so that’s the main reason we maintain our current style. We are all into melodic music, metal or none-metal, so for us it was a logical step to take!
In my opinion your music has much in common with bands like In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. Are those bands your main source of inspiration, or are there other bands that have inspired your songwriting? Those bands used to inspire us in the beginning, yes. But nowadays, we actually do not have a source of inspiration coming from those artists. And yes, we do have a lot in common with the old work of Dark Tranquility and In Flames (The Gallery in particular), but the only resemblance with In Flames is in my opinion the melodies. Listening to our album, you must have noticed that our songs are a lot faster and more brutal! We are not ashamed to admit to be huge fans of Dark Tranquility, but I absolutely think that we do have a style of our own, and we try to distinguish ourselves as much as possible.
I’ve noticed that Niklas Sundin did the artwork for ‘An epic defiance’, how did you get in touch with Niklas? Well, we contacted him through mail in (I guess it was) April 2002, long before we recorded the album. We asked him if he would be interested in designing the artwork for our debut album. He was pretty busy at the time designing the artwork for Arch Enemy’s “Wages Of Sin” and had very little time, so we decided to send him a CD-r with some rehearsal recordings of our songs so he could check it out and create something suitable to match the music. After a few weeks, he came up with several examples, and we all decided to go with the same design, the artwork that’s used for “An Epic Defiance”. The whole concept is about the subject “time”. When looking at the cover, you’ll notice the head that represents a pendulum of a clock, as well as the film diagrams on the side, and the numbers and scales of a clock on the outside. I personally think this goes hand in hand with the lyrical concept, our defiance against time and social happenings. Niklas turned out to be a really cool person, and it was a pleasure dealing with him. He was very open-minded, and reacted swiftly and with great accuracy towards our demands. I’m pretty much certain that we’ll ask him again for the next album! Also important to mention here is that Martijn Kalksma, our drummer Thomas´ elder brother, completely designed the inner booklet and layout, as well as the inner sleeve for the LP version. He deserves as many credits as Niklas does…
‘An epic defiance’ will be released world wide through Osmose in May, but it has already been out for almost a year in Holland. What kind of reactions have you got on the record from the media in your home country? Actually, it has been released in Holland on the 19th of October 2002; about half a year ago…We only made 500 copies for promotional goals, and sold about 300 of them, and gave away the remaining 200. The reactions have been great, and quite overwhelming, and it was in January this year that we received the offer from Osmose. At first we were trying to get signed by a label before we were going to record the CD, but it took too much time, so we decided to bring the record out ourselves, limited within the Dutch borders. Looking back, we’re happy we didn’t release it on a larger scale ourselves, because it would have cost us a lot more time and money! But to get back at your question, the reactions have been really great. A lot of internet ‘zines stated us as the most promising Dutch band of the year 2002, and most reviews were given at least an 8 or 9 “out of 10”!!
As already mentioned you have signed a deal with Osmose. Why did you choose them? Was there any other labels showing interest in Detonation? Well, we received about 5 offers from different labels, and Osmose was obviously the one with the best potentials for us. They’ve been doing business in the underground scenes for many years now, and have a lot of experience with bands and distributors. The other labels that wanted to sign us weren’t that bad either, but had significantly less experience in the business, so we figured it would be the best choice for us to sign with Osmose. I also found out that I have a lot of CD´s at home, released by Osmose, including several of my favorite albums, like the Gallery from Dark Tranquility for example, that was actually one of my personal reasons to sign with them.
What kind of expectations do you have to ‘An epic defiance’ when it’s beeing released world wide? I don’t really know actually! I hope the people will react to it with the same enthusiasm as they did in Holland and Belgium! If so, our success is secured, ha ha!! But we’ll see. This is our debut album, and I think it’s wise not to expect too much of it, let’s just hope we can sell a few copies in the stores, and perhaps tour Europe this year. That would be absolutely great!
Do you have a tour planned to support the release? Not quite, but we do have a small tour planned for England in June. We will be playing some festivals, about 4 in a row. And we’ll continue with playing as many shows here in Holland as possible, hopefully booking agencies will pick up our name and arrange something for us elsewhere in Europe.
Since the material for ‘An epic defiance’ has been ready for at least a year, I guess you must have started writing some new material, or am I wrong? No, you’re right! We are currently very busy writing new stuff, and we got a shit load of riffs ready to be used for new songs! Till now, about 3 songs have been finished, and I can tell you they sound really killer! The songs kick off where we ended on “An Epic Defiance”, but they sound more mature and also slightly faster! They will definitely not disappoint people who like “An Epic Defiance”. Mike and I are also busy with new lyrics, so we’re definitely working towards a new album. This is actually the way we like to write our songs, first completing a basic song and then later on finish the song of with extra leads and small adjustments.
It’s still possible to hear elements of black metal in your music, especially in the way the drums are played. What direction will your music take in the future? Hard to say, it could go any direction, but one thing is for sure; Melody will always be part of our music, and I’m also pretty sure our style won’t change that drastically. The next album will most certainly be as fast and brutal as “An Epic Defiance” only better structured and more mature, like I said before. But we will try to develop our own style as much as possible, to distinguish ourselves from the mainstream.
Where are Detonation in five years from now? Dreaming…Huge villa on a mountain, 3 sport cars, loads of money, hot girls… But seriously, hopefully we’ll still be together as a band, and recording albums! As long as we’re able to write music that enlightens our soul, we’re happy!
How is the metal scene in Holland these days? In Scandinavia we see that metal starts to receive a bit more attention again, do you see the same back home? Metal is doing well lately in Holland! Metal-orientated music is played more often than before on TV stations, and I noticed that more and more young people on the streets are wearing metal shirts and stuff, which is a good thing! A few years ago, almost every young kid was in to hardcore house, or other crappy dance music, but there have definitely been some changes going on the last few years. Also, a lot of new bands have been founded in the Dutch metal scene, some with great potential. I actually have good hopes for the future metal scene here in our little country.
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