Norwegian death metal band Blood Red Throne has been one of the most consistent acts out there when it comes to delivering one killer old-school record after the next. Though they’ve been through a considerable amount of lineup changes since forming in 1998, founding guitarist Død has kept things going and each lineup has been able to impress. 2013’s self-titled effort saw the band debut new vocalist Bolt, who was a perfect fit with his versatile range of high shrieks and low growls. However, life got in the way and Bolt departed last year due to personal reasons, leading to the group recruiting new singer Martin.
The resulting album ‘Union of Flesh and Machine’ was set for release on Candlelight Records last fall, but in a turn of events Martin decided to leave the band and Bolt returned. Blood Red Throne decided to keep all of the lyrics and vocal lines Martin had written, but delayed the album to let Bolt record his vocals. Now the finished product will finally be available on July 15th, and it’s definitely been worth the wait. If you’ve heard any of the group’s previous albums you probably have an idea of what to expect, but damn do they do it well. The riffs throughout ‘Union of Flesh and Machine’ come in full of brutal grooves and sheer weight that feels like it’s going to crush you like a compacter. Meanwhile Bolt sounds even better than ever, delivering the guttural growls and high shrieks with ease and coming off as more maniacal and deranged than before.
With ‘Union of Flesh and Machine’ due out next week, I had the chance to send some questions over to Død to find out more about the new album and the vocalist switch-up. If you’re a fan of anything old-school death metal, you must check this one out as Blood Red Throne has written one of their strongest efforts yet. Grab it next week on July 15th via Candlelight Records (which you may see listed as Candlelight/Spinefarm given Spinefarm’s acquisition of the label in January).
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): The release of ‘Union of Flesh and Machine’ is fast approaching. You’ve revealed quite a bit of material prior to the official release, what has the response from the fans been like so far?
Blood Red Throne (Død): The reviews have just started ticking in and they are all good man. People should not worry when a new BRT album is released. We provide quality and classic death metal!
TO: You signed with Candlelight Records in 2014, and I remember you saying they approached you. Since that signing they were acquired by Spinefarm in January of this year. Tell us more about working with these labels and what it means for the band as you head towards your twenty year anniversary in 2018.
Blood Red Throne: Sevared Records did what they could, but they were a too small label for BRT. We had to step it up again. Luckily, Candlelight Records saw the potential and signed us. It’s a bit early still, but we have high expectation that they will promote the band heavily and bring us further in our career.
TO: When I saw you guys at Maryland Deathfest you had Martin on vocals, which was a bit of a surprise. Since that time Martin left and Bolt returned, and you chose to delay the album so Bolt could record vocals. However, rather than starting over he used all of the existing lyrics and vocal lines Martin had written. Can you tell us more about this sudden roster change and Bolt’s return?
Blood Red Throne: Bolt had a hard time back then and simply couldn’t fit BRT into his calendar. Looking back, we probably should have given him some time. However, we wanted to maintain our 2 year cycle releasing a new album and we’d already recorded all the instruments for the album. I simply asked Martin, who played bass in my other band Zerozonic and was also the guy who mixed the two last BRT albums, to put vocals on one of the new songs for fun. I really liked it and thought it was a natural thing to ask if he wanted to do the whole album. So he did, and before we knew it, he was the new singer and frontman of BRT, hehe. He did Maryland Deathfest + a European tour supporting Cryptopsy. After a while though, Martin had second thoughts about the whole thing and this, combined with some personal issues and Bolt finding time for BRT again, led to us simply switching back. Martin spent all his time writing lyrics, recording and mixing, so we decided to keep all his lyrics and vocal arrangements.
TO: With the album delayed to re-record the vocals, did you make any additional tweaks to the instrumentals at all with the extra time?
Blood Red Throne: There was never any need for that. The focus was to re-record the vocals and make a killer mix. Instruments were recorded a long time ago and we’re already far into the next album as we speak.
TO: This is one of your longest full length, coming in only a few minutes short of ‘Altered Genesis’. How would you compare the songwriting for ‘Union of Flesh and Machine’ to the self-titled album, which was one of your shortest albums? Were there any different approaches to how you wrote material this time?
Blood Red Throne: I never thought about this. The song writing was the exact same. Meathook contributed with three songs and we record everything in my home studio.
TO: The song Patriotic Hatred opens with a sound clip from the video game Hatred, and at one point last year you released a video that I believe used clips from the game (it has since disappeared from the Internet). How did the collaboration between Blood Red Throne and Hatred’s developers Destructive Creations come about?
Blood Red Throne: Martin and Ole Bent are the gamers in the band and Martin asked me if it was ok to approach Destructive Creations to see if they wanted to work with BRT. To Martin’s surprise, they were big fans of BRT and saw it as a win-win situation to use five of our songs in their new game Hatred. These are instrumental versions, and the Patriotic Hatred version featuring Martin’s vocals, is made by Martin himself while playing Hatred.
TO: You’ve used different artists for the last few albums. This time around you worked with Jobert Mello, who created cover art that has a very Terminator feel to it. Tell us more about the artwork and how it ties into the album as a whole.
Blood Red Throne: The album title and lyrics are very futuristic and we wanted a front cover portraying this. After an announcement on the internet, Jobert Mello and Sledgehammer Graphix soon turned out to fit the job best.
TO: Cover songs aren’t something new for Blood Red Throne, but I believe Leather Rebel is your first cover that isn’t from another death metal band? You guys did a great job of adding a death metal edge to this classic Judas Priest song. Whose idea was it for this particular cover?
Blood Red Throne: Except M.O.D’s Hate Tank, our cover songs have been of other death metal classics. This time we actually didn’t have any idea what to do and the deadline was getting closer. I just decided to record Leather Rebel in a hurry and it turned out great. Nice to do some heavy metal stuff as well.
TO: After splitting with Earache Records, ‘Brutalitarian Regime’ and the self-titled album were released on Sevared Records. Sevared is a bit smaller than some of the other labels you’ve worked with before, but definitely know their death metal. What made them the right label for these two album cycles?
Blood Red Throne: Believe it or not, they were the only label at the time showing some interest in BRT. They keep an underground style and sign obscure bands. I don’t think we fit there in the long run, but we appreciate the time we had.
TO: Bolt has a management/booking agency called Agent: Bolt that you recently signed with. What advantages are there to working with an agency that is run by one of your band mates?
Blood Red Throne: I don’t know, cause he haven’t booked any shows for us yet, haha. Regardless, he has a pretty big network now and together with Flaming Arts Booking Agency we should be covered.
Norway will never be famous for its death metal. Still, one of the best death metal albums ever made originates from here; ‘Soulside Journey’ (Darkthrone)
TO: Norway still isn’t quite as well known for death metal as some of the other countries, but I can think of plenty of great established and new bands from the country doing the genre justice. I know Død contributed guitar work to a song on Killing for Company’s debut. What are some other death metal bands from your country our readers should be paying attention to, and how has death metal in Norway changed over the years?
Blood Red Throne: Norway will never be famous for its death metal. Still, one of the best death metal albums ever made originates from here; ‘Soulside Journey’ (Darkthrone). Anyway, I don’t think Killing For Company is death metal, but people should know about my friends in Zyklon, Horizon Ablaze, Among Gods, The Sickening, The Allseeing I, Hideous Deformity to name a few!
TO: With the support of a bigger label, do you think you’ll be able to return to North America to tour in the next year or two?
Blood Red Throne: The label doesn’t support the live part anyway. But we’ll most likely sell more records this time and returning to both North and South America is part of our plan for 2017!
TO: What are your touring plans for the rest of the year?
Blood Red Throne: We only have some single shows, festivals and weekends booked, but there will be tours for sure later on to support the new album.
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Union of Flesh and Machine’ or Blood Red Throne?
Blood Red Throne: Blood Red Throne will always give you quality death metal. No surprises. Great songs and kick ass on stage. That’s what we can. Cheers!