Katafalk

interview by - Tomasz Osuch
Everything took place almost eight years ago when Chris, the guitarist, formed a band named Katafalk. Every year his camp have had some kind of problems with line-up. During that time they recorded only one demo tape and one promo cd. This promo and a number of gigs played with God Dethrond made Cold Blood Industries sign a deal with them and release their debut album entitled "Storm Of the Horde". Chris told me almost everything that concerns Katafalk. First of all, I have to congratulate you on a very good debut album! The widespread magazine reviews of "Storm Of the Horde" are very positive. I guess you must be really happy about this successful response. Did you expect it before the album was released?

"Thanks a lot! Well we thought we made a pretty good album but the reactions have been overwhelming so far! We're very happy with that indeed."

What is your current status back home in Holland? Dutch metal bands are very active, and usually produce a lot of great albums every year. Do you think that Katafalk is highly appreciated on the Dutch metal scene?

"We're currently making a name for ourselves within the scene and the fact that we have this album out surely helps a lot. We already have played a lot live over here, so a lot of people already knew us. Most bands in Holland play US-style like Cannibal Corpse, while we have a more European sound and also incorporate some other styles like thrash, black and heavy metal. That's refreshing for a lot of metalheads and our liveshows are always appreciated!"

Christiaan, you are the only band member left from the original line-up. You founded this band 8 years ago, but the debut album was just released a few weeks ago. Have there been any reasons for the seemingly long delay? Is it true that "Promo 2001" was a critical moment in Katafalk's career, a turning point of sorts?

"Yep, I founded Katafalk way back in 1995. After the first demo ("Through The Storm", 1997, still on cassette) we had a lot of line-up changes and we never recorded anything new until that promo in 2001 with all new members except for me and singer Wokkel. The first demo was never really promoted, only 200 copies were made and they're all gone. Of the 2001 promo CD we eventually made 800 copies. It was a kind of marketing thing cause we sold it real cheap and also put it on the internet for download. So that was great publicity. Henri of God Dethroned already knew us and invited us to tour with them. He offered us a record deal on his label CBI afterwards. At the end of 2001 though, 3 members quit. We replaced members, signed the deal and recorded "Storm Of The Horde" in late 2002, which is out now."

Chris, could you tell me something more about previous recordings of Katafalk?

"Through The Storm" (1997, 5 track cassette) and "Promo 2001" (2001, 3 track CD) are the only official recordings before "Storm Of The Horde". On the "Through The Storm" demo appeared the song "Rise Now", which was re-recorded for the album. Also all tracks of the promo were re-recorded: "Birthmark 666", "Hatred" and "Operation Mindloss"."

What is the main difference in the music, between this promo and the debut album? How would you describe the music on the promo, for people who haven't heard it?

"The songs on the first demo were a similar mix of death/thrash/black but more midtempo and melodic (except for the fast songs like "Rise Now"). The demo had a lot of heavy metal influences, which Katafalk still has of course (like "Empty Life" or "Blind Envy" on the album). But in general you can say that Katafalk's music got more fast and brutal."

Promo sold out, a total of 800 copies, and was a success of sorts for you. Are you planning to re-release some of this stuff, for fans who might have missed it the first time?

"There's no need for it cause all promo songs ended up on the album and sound much better now. Maniacs can still find those songs on mp3.com. But better download "Cannonfodder" from our website first if you haven't heard Katafalk before! Perhaps I will re-record some material of "Through The Storm" later on, just like we did with "Rise Now", we'll see about that. There's still a great epic song on it which I haven't used for this album."

Cold Blood Industries signed a deal with Katafalk, and this led to your debut album. What caught their attention, and made them want to sign you? Did the promo have anything to do with their decision? How big a part did your numerous shows with the Dutch death metal masters, God Dethroned, play in this also?

"Well Henri already knew Katafalk for quite some time. He saw us live a couple of times and the promo was doing well so he decided to take us on tour with God Dethroned. This was a little testcase how we would do before different audiences. We did well so he decided to sign us for his label Cold Blood Industries. I think the liveshows with God Dethroned made more impact than that promo which had only three songs, but of course, all things helped."

A lot of debut bands from your country have signed with Cold Blood Industries, for example, INRI, To Elysium and now you. What is the main reason that bands decide to be released through CBI? Did Katafalk have any others offers?

"We got some decent letters from Osmose and Relapse but Cold Blood Industries was the first to offer us a real deal. Cold Blood Industries is a small yet excellent label with a huge distribution all over Europe, U.S.A. and Canada. When you sign to a bigger label, you get less priority because of all the big bands on it. We're very satisfied with Cold Blood Industries, they do a lot of good work for us."

In the song "Cannonfodder", there is a solo, which is played by Henri from God Dethroned/CBI. Chris, was it your idea to ask him to make an appearance?

"That's correct. "Cannonfodder" has a great Slayer-feel and I planned some alike solo's on it. Henri is the (serpent) king of guitarwrecking so I asked him to join us in the studio when we were recording the soloparts. He did great and we had a lot of fun in the studio trying to make the most craziest solo's!"

Moreover, on "Storm Of The Horde" there are a few guest appearances. Can you introduce these musicians, and tell me a bit about them?

"All bass on the album (except for one song) was done by our old bassplayer Jurjen because our new bassplayer wasn't ready for studio yet. Some keyboardchords on top of the guitars (on three songs) were done by Gert Plas, a good friend of mine who plays in Dutch bands As It Burns and Winter Of Sin. Some backingvocals were done by Rodney, an American friend who wrote three lyrics for the album and also came up with the album title. He has been Katafalk's singer for a while and did ten shows with us in Holland. And like mentioned above, Henri did some solo-ing in "Cannonfodder"."

You recorded "Storm Of the Horde" in Sing Sing Studios. Could you tell me how the recording session was?

"Great, the studio is at about 45 minutes driving from where we live so we didn't have to stay over. We recorded the first guitarline as much as possible right away with drums, in a live setting. We didn't use clicktracks or computercorrection, and there are many one-takes. Then the second guitarline and later on solo's. Bass and vocals were done after that, as well as some keys. Then came mixing and then mastering. In total we spent about nine or ten days. We could have done it even quicker.

When I listen to "Storm Of The Horde", it seems to me that Katafalk's musicians are greatly inspired by God Dethroned. This is only my opinion, but would you agree that your debut album is influenced and affected by their second album "The Grand Grimoire"? Despite this influence, and some similarities, I think that your music is faster, more intense and more brutal than God Dethroned. Do you think so as well?

"It's a great compliment to be compared with God Dethroned, but I don't see them as a direct influence. We did tour with them of course, and I like all of their work. I guess both bands got the same mix of death, thrash and black metal, inspired by a lot of the same bands (Slayerish thrash, old death metal, some Swedish metal). The new God Dethroned album is more moodier and slower in pace, so 'Storm Of The Horde' is definitely more fast and intense."

Chris, do you think that extreme metal is the best way to define your style? It's really hard to focus on a single kind of metal music when we are talking about your musical style.

"That's right. Katafalk is a mix of all kinds of extreme metal music indeed, so you can easily label it as extreme metal. That's thrash, death, black, maybe even some grind. We use some traditional heavy stuff as well."

Wokkel recorded vocals, but he decided to leave the band shortly before the album was released. Niels from the death/grind band Prostitute Disfigurement is his replacement. What was the cause of Wokkel's departure? Is he still a member of Obtuse, Winter of Sin and Pooier 666?

"Wokkel already had left the band earlier, but still recorded vocals for the album. We found Niels after the album was done. Wokkel is still in Winter Of Sin (black/doom), Pooier 666 (punkrock) and Obtuse (experimental grind). One of the reasons Wokkel didn't rejoin the band on a permanent basis again was that he wanted to concentrate on other things. Of course there were also other reasons but Wokkel is still a good friend."

A bit more about Wokkel for a moment: the band's logo and the cover of "Storm Of the Horde" were both done by Wokkel. Is he a professional graphic designer?

"Wokkel is a professional painter. We came up with the idea for the cover and Wokkel painted it for us. If you want to see more of his work check www.wokkel.nl ."

I would like to talk about your band's name. I'm guessing that "Katafalk" is taken from one of Tolkien's stories. Am I right? Can you explain for me what your name means?

"Nope, wrong guess! Katafalk is a Dutch word meaning hearse. It's coming on wheels and it's bringing death, exactly like we do when we come and play somewhere! Even in Holland they don't know the word, while it's in any dictionary. The album cover does has something to do with Tolkien, the idea of the horde that comes storming came from the Nazgul because they fitted the album title perfectly."

Despite the fact that your first album has only just been released, I‘d like to ask you if you have any plans to record a second album yet, or any thoughts about what it might be like?

"Of course we would like to record another album! We're already writing songs, again all real metal of course! On the debut album we wanted to do all fast and brutal songs, for the second there might be some more variation."

Chris, thanks so much for your answers. Would you like to add something at the end?

"Thanks a lot Tomasz for this interview! Everybody take al listen to 'Storm Of The Horde', drink beer and bang your heads! If some tourpromoters want to get us over, book us! Also check our website www.katafalk.com for news, tourdates, merchandise, downloads and other stuff!"

Tomasz Osuch


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