On July 22nd Big Ass Metal Fest took place in dB’s, Utrecht. Bloodgod opened the evening, followed by Illusionless and Altar. After Bloodgod’s gig, DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen interviewed their drummer Johnny and bass player/vocalist Frank. Photos of Bloodgod’s gig are made by Lisa Raisa Ferrari.
Hey, how are you?
Frank: We are slightly tired, but happy. It was a nice gig, had some fun, saw the audience enjoy themselves, which is a good thing. Now, we will enjoy heavy metal beer and see the legendary Altar.
First of all, for people not knowing Bloodgod yet, how would you describe your music and can you tell us a bit of the history of Bloodgod so far?
Johnny: We started as a side project from another band around 2011, then we had a lot of changes in the lineup. After a while we decided to start all over again, new songs, the only things we kept were basically the band name and band logo. Frank joined us in 2013, finally we got a basic lineup again. So we started writing new songs, recorded a demo and recently we released another one. Five brand new tracks!
About our style musically, since there is a lot of grunting involved, I would say death metal, but the riffs are quite melodic. There are also some influences from thrash metal, Pantera-kind of groove and a bit of black.
Frank: The basics are old school death metal, with a lot of influences of the Pantera-style and a little bit of black metal, but it’s not really a static style.
Frank, you are also in another band.
Frank: It’s even worse, I’m in three bands. I am bassist/vocalist in a Slayer tribute band, Player, so I am the Tom Araya of the band. I am also in Disquiet, bassist/backing vocalist, a melodic death/thrash metal formation of The Netherlands and Bloodgod.
Johnny: And? Your 4th band?
Frank: What? Oh, that! Since I was young, I played the tuba and still every year when it’s Carnival in the south, I join them and I play the tuba the entire week in Brabant. It’s my guilty pleasure and secret band.
And you Johnny?
Johnny: Well, I used to be in another band, but now it’s only Bloodgod.
Frank: You should name it, it’s legendary!
Johnny: I was drummer in Nuestros Derechos, delivering thrash metal with a hardcore punk attitude. We played for nearly ten years all over the country and abroad. After Nuestros Derechos broke up, Bloodgod transformed from a side project into my main band. I also used to have a small neo-crust project named Agents of Entropy, but we only recorded 2 songs and then we broke up again, so it’s hardly even worth mentioning.
Frank: And Daan (guitars/vocals) is currently in a Rotterdam-based deathcore band in which he is the drummer.
So, I will ask the following question to you, Frank. How do you combine those bands?
Frank: Well, you can sit at home in the evening and watch stupid television programs or you can go into the band practice room, have a good time with your friends, playing the music you love. So, three bands, Player, the Slayer tribute band is not weekly, it’s more project-style. So two times a week I am here in Utrecht practicing with my band, the other days I am at home with my girlfriend and that way it goes pretty fine. Sometimes it’s a bit busy in the weekends, especially when gigs combine, that can be a challenge. I love playing music, I love metal.
Johnny: And you love free beers.
Frank: And a lot of free beers. It’s all pretty good, it sounds harder than it is.
In March you released your second release, Catharsis. How are the press and audiences reacting so far?
Johnny: The responses have been very positive so far.
Frank: Yeah, only positive ones. With the demo it was either positive or like, I don’t know what to do with this music, but with this one is all pretty positive.
Johnny: It’s another step forwards, we recorded more songs, we thought more about the lyrics, we entered the studio better prepared, we took more time to record it, there was a very decent mixing, it was mastered by Jacob Hansen, which is a quite known Grammy-nominated master engineer. He’s done a ton of bands including Anvil, Evergrey, Amaranthe, Destruction, Volbeat, Mercenary, Pestilence, and Invocator among others.
How was working with him?
Frank: Well, the emailing went pretty good! We just had email contact with him but he was quick on the uptake of our wishes regarding the sound we were looking for.
Johnny: It’s one of the benefits of modern times, you can use the internet to hook up with someone who has the right capacities and the right knowledge.
Frank: We sent him the songs, got a master back, gave some feedback, and Jacob adjusted accordingly to our wishes. It was actually very good.
Johnny: There was a small hiccup in the mix of one of the tracks that was painfully exposed after the initial master version. So we sent Jacob a new, corrected mix of that particular song. Meanwhile he had upgraded some of his mastering software. When Jacob wanted to finish our master, he had to roll back the version. But all credits to Jacob; he never complained, took the time and did a great job.
When you compare Catharsis to your first EP, released in 2013, Pseudologia Phantastica, what do you hear?
Frank: A simpler album title, haha. The songs are more mature, the structure as well as the lyrics. The combination of spending more time on the recording and mixing, and doing an external mastering also made it a more mature album.
Johnny: We grown on all levels, even on the artwork.
Frank: It’s simply the next step in the evolution of Bloodgod.
You just mentioned it, the artwork, it’s based on the song ‘t Schrickelik Tempeest. It’s created by Lisa Röttjers, how did you met and what made her the right person for this job?
Johnny: Well, she is our guitarist’s girlfriend and she’s very creative. She was eager to make something, she was quite inspired by the song. ‘t Schrickelik Tempeest can be translated as the horrible tempest. Tempest is another word for storm and it’s all about the horrible storm that destroyed our cathedral, de Dom. In Utrecht you have this exposition called DOMunder and you can enter the ancient catacombs and get a tour. What you will see there is 2000 years of history, basically from the time the Romans built the castellum Trajectum, trough the Dark Ages to the collapse of the cathedral in 1674. I really like history and I got quite inspired by it. It’s amazing that a storm destroyed a church, it was at the time when people were very religious, so they tried to make sense of the world from a religious point of view. So, they probably thought it was either a sign of God or a mark of the beast. I tried to imagine how that must have felt. Basically that’s the story behind the song, with the artwork we tried to imagine how this tempest got its claws on the cathedral.
What does the city of Utrecht mean for you?
Frank: I am not born here, but I was living nearby for a long time. When I turned 19, I bought a house here in Utrecht, got a lot of friends here, a lot of people in the metal scene I know. The cool thing about Utrecht is it’s a big city, but it feels like a small village. When you go to Amsterdam, everyone will speak English to you, a lot of tourists there. Utrecht is big but intimate at the same time. Its center and the canals are pretty awesome. I also appreciate the metal scene here getting back on its feet. dB’s is a big part of that, with, for example, Big Ass Metal Fest. Metal is back again, especially in Utrecht.
Johnny: I totally agree, it’s a city but with the atmosphere of a village. I can go from my home to another place and almost every time I see at least one familiar face.
In your press release you said that your style of music is not new or unique, but a classic dish that’s cooked with skills and love can still make your mouth water, right? With that in mind, what’s your opinion on the endless subgenring in metal?
Johnny: Well, you got these metal memes on internet and one says all metalheads are united by metal but divided by subgenres. There is an endless arguing. The benefit of a genre is that you will get some idea of what to expect, but if you get 100% of what you were expecting, it becomes boring. Then there are no surprises at all. The music you will love most contains enough elements you’re familiar with, but also needs to have some surprise elements.
Frank: I definitely like all the subgenres, in the 80’s bands like Anthrax started adding rap to their metal. Back then it was pretty unique. Another band, Anaal Nathrakh, which is playing here in August, it’s death/thrash/industrial/hardcore/whatever, but that’s the cool thing. It’s very creative, the vibe is still the same, the metal is there, but it’s with very much creativity. However I hate all the naming of it, I remember buying a CD from Rhapsody when I was young, the label on it said “Hollywood Symphonic Epic Melodic Metal”, it doesn’t make sense. I like all the creativity but the naming really sucks. There is a band in America, Allegaeon, they had a pretty cool song about it, in the videoclip they had the wheel of subgenres, that song actually went from black metal to thrash to melodic 80’s hair metal. It doesn’t matter what subgenre it is, as long as it is awesome and you want to bang your head, it’s nice.
Johnny: There are only two genres of music: either it’s good or it’s bad.
The last track on Catharsis, Satan’s Smile, is about crimes committed under the cover of religion and religion spreading dogmas of hatred, which is of course a much-discussed topic nowadays. What do you think about the way people react on those thing happening recently?
Johnny: This is a very hard question, it’s a complex issue, too complex for a good, short answer.
Frank: You can discuss the entire evening about this, it’s too complex.
On another track, the title track, you sing about catharsis using metal. One sentence of it is “Raise your horns and scream along, forget about all daily shit”, which sums it up perfectly. Recently there were also some negative happenings in the music world. For example the concert shooting in Paris, the recent happening in Manchester, Rock Am Ring being evacuated. It seems like forgetting about all daily shit by going to a concert or festival is getting more difficult by these recent events and the security measures that followed. What’s your opinion on this?
Johnny: About this I have a very clear opinion. Going to a concert now is safer than ever compared to, for example, the 70’s. Back then terror attacks in Europe took more lives than the recent attacks we’ve seen. It may not feel that way, but statistics will proof it. You had the IRA, RAF, those guys in Italy, the ETA in Spain, the RARA in The Netherlands, Belgium. Basically all over Europe. So there were a number of terror groups, some of which the perpetrators never got caught. Now, of course, it’s very severe many people died in Paris and Manchester, it left me with a huge impression, but when you look at it rationally you still can go very well to a concert and have nothing to worry about.
What do you think of the Dutch metal scene?
Frank: It’s getting back on its feet. It was pretty huge in the 90’s, had a small dip, but now it’s getting back. Stick your fingers on the government stopping all the subsidizing, that’s really hard. The bands are really good these days, the metal scene is getting back.
Johnny: You can choose from a long list of things to do when you like to spend an evening out. There is plenty to do. In this respect, competition between different music scenes, as well as within the metal scene, has increased.
I really believe we all make the scene together. Playing as a band is just a small aspect, but visiting shows, running a zine, writing reviews, organizing shows, doing light or audio engineering, whatever you help with, we all build it together. I really believe in this DIY concept as Doing It Together.
Frank: Doing It Together as DIY, it would be DIT, you just made up something new.
There are a lot of metal gigs you can choose to go to, which is awesome, because there is a lot of choice, but when you have to play yourself, it kind of sucks, because there is a lot of competition. And of course, the festivals are getting back, Dynamo Metal Fest, Into The Grave, you name ‘em.
You just played here on Big Ass Metal Fest, how went your show?
Frank: Pretty well. We were the first band of the evening but there was ample audience and they seemed to enjoy themselves, so it was pretty good.
Johnny: I don’t necessarily like it when bands play technically perfect, but I really like to see people putting their heart and soul in it on stage, and not just going through the motions. We always try to give everything, I hope it showed off.
I think it sure did.
Frank: I remember seeing Death on Dynamo, still a legendary band but it was such a static performance. A friend of mine, who loves Death, became so bored he went to The Misfits who played at the same time and gave an awesome show. Of course you want to play perfectly, but it’s impossible if you want to play a good show.
Johnny: In the end it’s all entertainment, the audience decides. It’s not for us to decide how well we did. If you’ve enjoyed yourself, we did a good job.
I sure did. Can we expect some more Bloodgod shows soon?
Johnny: I think the next one will be at De Koornbeurs in Delft on August 21, so come see us!
Any other plans you can already tell us about?
Johnny: To tell you the truth we take it a bit slow, we are like a diesel. We don’t sprint. We aim to improve with small steps and getting better over the years in our own tempo.
Frank: Pretty much the usual: play more gigs, write and record new songs, etc. But no surprises, huge world tours or something.
Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to DutchMetalManiac’s readers?
Johnny: Thank you for coming over, seeing us, for taking the time to interview us. Keep up the good work with DutchMetalManiac!
I’m Tim van Velthuysen and I started DutchMetalManiac back in 2014. I’m 29 years old and I live in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Of course, I like metal, but I can also appreciate other musical styles.
In addition to DutchMetalManiac I also have a personal website on which I’ll post various things that won’t fit on DutchMetalManiac, but might be interesting for you as well. It’s in Dutch though.