After the two EP’s Ethereal (2014) and Solitary Martyr (2015) the dark metallers of Deathwhite soon release their first full-length album called For A Black Tomorrow. It will be released on February 23th via Season Of Mist. DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen spoke with Deathwhite about the album, their first live shows among other things.
How would you describe Deathwhite’s sound to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
That’s always a tough question since people hear music in different ways. To best encapsulate our sound, we have put Deathwhite in the “dark metal” bucket, which, if you think about it, is a pretty large one. Since we’re now at the point of having to give everything in metal (and music) a tag or descriptor, we felt this was the easiest, most convenient way to do so. Beyond that, we employ exclusively clean vocals, of which are often the focus of our songs. Behind them are largely melodic, minor-chord riffs and busy, but not complex drumming. Our concoction is by no means a new or revolutionary one, but we try to present something different and fresh to those interested in listening to us.
When you announced the release date for this album for the first time, it was February 24th 2017. Now, apart from one day a year later, on February 23th 2018 it will finally be released. One of the reasons for this was your signing to Season Of Mist records. What makes Season Of Mist the perfect record label for Deathwhite at this moment?
We’re long-time fans of Season of Mist, going back to the late ’90s and early ’00s when the label was starting to get its bearings. Today, it’s one of the go-to labels for underground metal. We actively sought them out due to their work with a myriad of bands, from Drudkh to Deathspell Omega, from Rotting Christ to Sylvaine, all the way to Abbath and Cynic. You’d be hard-pressed to find a label with such variety and top-notch bands, plus, we knew they would understand our approach. Luckily, they took an interest in us and we signed literally a week before For a Black Tomorrow was to be released independently. We subsequently had to pull the album and refund those who were kind enough to pre-order the album, but, it was worth it in the end. They’ve been an absolute pleasure to work with.
Since you already finished this album for a while back, did the feeling you have about the album change compared to when you just finished it? If yes, in what way?
Yes, somewhat, only because we’ve now had the necessary amount of reflection that is often required upon finishing an album. Only recently have we started to rehearse as a full band in preparation for our first live shows, so, this means none of us have actively played the songs off For a Black Tomorrow for roughly a year. In that respect, it means we haven’t had the time to get tired of the songs, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t listened to the album since it was completed — we have. Ultimately, we feel very confident in For a Black Tomorrow, not to mention, we are pleased with the results.
When you compare For A Black Tomorrow to your earlier released EP’s, Ethereal (2014) and Solitary Martyr (2015), what is it you notice?
Ethereal was recorded with a different lineup and can be considered the entry point to our sound of today. We weren’t a fully-developed entity at that point in time, although we do stand behind the songs. It’s your typical first release – rough around the edges with a few promising moments thrown in for good measure. It was a band finding its feet, so to speak. We subsequently changed members right before entering the studio for Solitary Martyr, a risky endeavor in itself, but its dividends were remarkable. With the new members, the songs on Solitary Martyr took on a life of their own and the songs became more realized. The fact it turned out so well still surprises us since we barely rehearsed leading up to recording the EP and did several things “on the fly.” Solitary Martyr set the table of For a Black Tomorrow, which features a lot of the same elements, but a greater variety and maturity.
You got two guest musicians on For A Black Tomorrow, Joe Bonaddio and Shane Mayer (who is also the producer of For A Black Tomorrow). How did you met them?
We have known Joe for a considerable amount of time. He has been a great friend and supreme confidant for many years, not to mention one of the most talented guitar players we’ve had the pleasure of coming into contact with. He can literally play anything you give him, so when it became apparent we needed a solo on Death and the Master, Joe was the right man for the job. Coincidentally, it was Joe who introduced Shane to us. Shane is a rising star in our region and also happens to play guitar. We had a part missing on the album’s title track, so he offered to chip in a quick solo.
As mentioned above Shane Mayer also produced your new album, what made him the best for this job?
We were set to record with the same gentleman who produced Solitary Martyr, but for reasons not worth discussing, that fell through. We quickly got in touch with Shane, who was able to fit us in at a moment’s notice. It was a bit of a sticky situation, frankly, as we had planned the recording of For a Black Tomorrow well in advance, only to have things change on us at the last minute. Shane has proven rather capable at capturing all styles in metal, including death metal, hardcore and classic metal, so it made perfect sense to work with him. His patience, reliability and flexibility were greatly appreciated by the members of Deathwhite, not to forget his low-key personality and sense of humor. It made for a rather pleasant recording experience.
The artwork of For A Black Tomorrow is made by Jérôme “Pyrogas” Comentale. What is the story behind the cover and why was Jérôme “Pyrogas” Comentale the best match for this?
We worked with Jérôme on the Solitary Martyr cover and much like the recording of that EP, it was a situation where the final result exceeded our expectations. Jérôme is based in France, so we’ve yet to meet him in person, but we saw his work on a variety of art forums and came away impressed. Since the cover for Solitary Martyr turned out so well, we asked Jérôme to handle For a Black Tomorrow’s. He was given a blank slate, although we did provide some lyrics and song titles to guide him along. The cover, at least to us, is meant to represent a decaying and dying world, one that has been ravaged by humanity’s never-ending stupidity and carelessness. For all the great strides humanity has made, it seems like it’s always taking multiple steps back, therefore, “tomorrow,” to us, appears to be bleak. The cover depicts the last remnants of a dying and decaying world, a lone figure and tree at the top of a hill. It’s meant to display all that once was and what we have to look forward to if we continue on this rather baffling and disconcerting path.
What is the reason that you don’t say who you are?
Deathwhite started as a basic studio project that was never intended to be serious. It was determined pretty early on that we would take a different approach and not reveal who we are primarily because we wanted the music to be the focus, not the bands we were previously associated with. Since we never intended to play live, we saw it as a unique angle to the band, but we are quite aware of the number of bands who have taken the same route. Nevertheless, we’d like to be judged on our music and nothing else, which is somewhat of a difficult thing in this day and age, but is something we hope to maintain. The music, above all else, is what is important. Nothing else.
In the past you didn’t play live shows, you recently announced that you are working on your first ones. Does this mean we get to know who are the people behind Deathwhite or are you going to find a way to fix this?
We will play — in some form or another — with our identities concealed. It would be unnatural for us to play as a bunch of “regular guys,” but like all things in life, that is subject to change. For the immediate future, we have been working on the appropriate stage attire to maintain our anonymous image. A sneak preview, if you will, can be found on the video for Dreaming the Inverse, although we have been discussing ways to either change or enhance that particular image. Our onstage appearance could very well change from show-to-show.
What can people expect at a Deathwhite live show?
We are of the belief that we may sound heavier live than on record, which isn’t out of the ordinary. We will learn more about the band (and songs) during rehearsals. Since we have, for the first time, a complete lineup (we added a second guitar player and bass player for live purposes), we can now fully embellish, if not flesh-out the songs to their fullest potential. Aside from that, we have been discussing the idea of adding a visual element to the proceedings, whether via lights or projection. We hope to be playing live by the summer.
Also coming to The Netherlands?
It is one of our goals to venture over to Europe. It may take a few years, but it is certainly something we would like to do. It may take some time and some hard work on our part, but we are up for the challenge.
Since For A Black Tomorrow is already finished for a while, do you already have plans for any new material? If yes, can you already tell us something about it?
As of this writing, we have nine new songs already complete, such is the benefit of being primarily a studio band. Writing for our proposed second full-length began in early 2017 and carried on through that year, for, as For a Black Tomorrow was recorded in late 2016. The new songs — if we can view them objectively — are heavier with a more prominent doom influence, but with an ample amount of melody and vocal hooks. The idea is to take everything we felt we did properly on For a Black Tomorrow and simply magnify it, while adding new elements. We have yet to develop a timeframe for a return to the studio, but we hope it will be later this year or early next.
Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Sincere thanks for the interview and interest in Deathwhite. It means the world to us.
I’m Tim van Velthuysen and I started DutchMetalManiac back in 2014. I’m 27 years old and I live in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Of course, I like metal, but I can also appreciate other musical styles. However, metal is what I mostly listen to. I also like going to concerts, meeting with friends and watching movies (especially arthouse).