Horns Up To The Locals: Nijmegen

Hey everybody,

I sometimes get the question why DutchMetalManiac contains the word Dutch.

Some examples of what people may think are that we only write about Dutch metal or that DutchMetalManiac is meant for Dutch readers only.

For your information, both examples aren’t true. DutchMetalManiac is there for everyone that likes to read our stuff and write about metal from all over the world.

We even have some writers that are not living in The Netherlands.

The only reason for having the word Dutch in DutchMetalManiac is because I started it in The Netherlands.

However, the Dutch metal scene is of course important for us, resulting in us writing about it regularly.

For that reason we started with a new feature on DutchMetalManiac: Horns Up To The Locals.

This feature will be all about local Dutch metal scenes, including interviews with people from that particular scene.

Let us know what you think about this feature and also be sure to let us know which local scene you would want to read about in the future. You can do so by Facebook, Twitter, email or by leaving a comment below.

The first part of Horns Up To The Locals will be about Nijmegen, simply because I live there myself.

Nijmegen has a lot of history. For example, it is one of the oldest Dutch cities, got a lot of damage during World War II and has a big past with squatters. So, a lot of big historic events in the history of Nijmegen.

In Nijmegen’s musical history there is one event that stands out for sure: the birth of guitarist Eddie Van Halen on January 26th, 1955.

In my opinion Nijmegen is a city which is very focused on culture, including music. On musical level this for sure can be seen in Nijmegen’s various venues. Of course, Doornroosje is the most important one, especially since they moved to their newer, better accessible location right next to the train station.

Read our interview with metalhead Jorgen Lodenstijn, who is also one of the DJ’s of Doornroosje, below.

Hey Jorgen, how are you?

I am fine, busy at work.

What’s your favorite release at this moment?

The latest album of Integrity. It’s a band that exists for quite some time now and I always liked them. In my opinion, the latest album is the best one they’ve ever done. It’s a great mix of ’80s old school heavy metal, thrash metal, hardcore and punk all together, without sounding like standard metalcore. They really have a unique sound.

Can you tell something about yourself?

I am Jorgen Lodenstijn, 48 years old, I’ve been listening to metal for quite some time now. The first time metal really got me was when I saw a broadcast of a metal festival in the Westfalenhalle, Dortmund with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Scorpions and some other bands. It was 1982. It was broadcasted live and I watched it with my brother and sister. My parents were already asleep. I started with listening to rock and hard rock. My brother listened to metal before I did, but he doesn’t like it anymore. At one moment, my brother made me listen to Iron Maiden’s Powerslave and I really liked it. The album that really got me into metal for 100% was Ride The Lightning from Metallica, which he borrowed from a friend. After that I started discovering more metal. Besides metal I still really like the (hard)rock bands that I used to listen to. My favorite band is still Van Halen.

You also are one of the DJ’s at metal concerts in Doornroosje and Merleyn in Nijmegen. How do you look at the crowds coming to those shows?

It’s funny that you ask. I play metal/hard rock, which is of course a wide spectrum of styles. There are many subgenres and every subgenre has his own typical audience. For example, in my opinion the audience at female fronted metal shows is completely different from other metal-audiences. When they enter the venue, they start running to the stage to get a first row spot. I think it’s funny, but you won’t see that at other metal concerts. It’s very typical, you won’t see that when, for example, Testament of Slayer is playing a gig. Another difference in audience is at black metal shows. The post-black audience is very different compared to the traditional black metal audience. It will be a big difference when comparing the audiences at a Harakiri For The Sky show and an Inquisition show.

What was the most memorable show in Nijmegen for you?

It wasn’t a phenomenal show, but it’s more because they are a very special band for me. It was the Van Halen show at the Goffertpark. Another one which was really special for me was my first time Morbid Angel at the Altars Of Madness tour, when they were the support act for Napalm Death in the old Doornroosje. I liked Morbid Angel for a long time, but now I don’t like them that much anymore, also because of all the issues around them. However, until their Domination album I was a big fan. I also really liked the Suicidal Tendencies show during their How Will I Laugh Tomorrow tour in 1988. That album is, just as Altars Of Madness, still one of my favorite albums ever.

What makes the metal scene in Nijmegen special?

To be honest, I am not really into the metal scene in Nijmegen. I go to concerts with friends, but I don’t hang around in the scene. I don’t go to Rockcafé Backstage for example, where I also DJ-ed for some time. Of course, musicians do meet each other, but I am not a musician myself. In the past, there used to be a metal scene, at Staddijk. That was a real metal scene, but after Staddijk closed, the real metal scene in Nijmegen disappeared a bit.

For metalheads coming from outside Nijmegen, what are some nice places for them?

For going out I would say Rockcafé Backstage and Doornroosje/Merleyn when there is something playing there that you like. Talking about record stores, Kroese has quite a lot of metal.

What are some bands from Nijmegen you would recommend?

It’s not really metal, more like alternative hard rock, but I would very much recommend Navarone. I got their latest album and it even got into my top 10 of 2017. They are also great when playing live. In my opinion, the latest really nice metal bands from Nijmegen were Pure Breed and Iscariot. The first line-up of Iscariot were already making symphonic black metal with keyboards in the 90’s. At some point their drummer Chaos, who sadly passed away, got a very punky drumkit contributing to their very unique sound. When they got another drummer and vocalist, their music turned a bit more to more average metal. It was better, but in doing so, they lost their very special sound. Iscariot with their first line-up, with Pieter as vocalist, was very special, especially at that time. Nowadays I don’t know many metal bands from Nijmegen anymore to be honest.

Which already confirmed shows in Nijmegen would you recommend to go to?

I really look forward to Amenra. I would also say Golden Earring, because I listened to them during my youth. The last time I saw them was in 1988 and now they are coming to Doornroosje, hopefully I can be the DJ at that gig. Another one is of course FortaRock, which is something I always look forward to. I really like many different kinds of metal and I know FortaRock got a lot of criticism. I think FortaRock is a broad mainstream metal festival with something for everybody. That’s how I look at it. The line-up for 2018 is a super line-up. Not all bands interest me, but looking at the line-up quality-wise it’s super line-up. Personally I am not really into Nightwish, but I think it’s a perfect headliner.

Which band on FortaRock 2018 do you look the most forward to?

A lot. Body Count, Igorrr, Meshuggah, Thy Art Is Murder, Death Angel and Kreator are all bands I really like. Personally I am not into Alestorm and Avatar, but I saw both their club shows and they were perfect. Musically, Alestorm is not my kind of band, but I didn’t get bored at their show, not for one second. Fantastic live performance and a euphoric audience, so they did a good job. Same story for Avatar. Of course, a band can be not to your liking but it can still be of good quality. Everybody has their preferences, so do I. For example, since Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater, it’s not really a band I dig, but they are still good musicians. I would never say that they are nothing. I think they lost their spontaneity when Mike Portnoy left, he brought that rock ‘n roll feeling. It’s still good, but more clinical.

So, what do you think of Sons Of Apollo with, among others, Mike Portnoy?

I still have to check that one, it’s also with Jeff Scott Soto, right?

Yes, it is.

I was a big fan of Yngwie Malmsteen, especially the albums with Jeff Scott Soto. Something I really appreciate is Dynamo Metalfest booking Sons Of Apollo.

Thanks for your answers! Is there something you would like to say to our readers?

Yeah, of course we are a community as metalheads. Luckily metal is still alive and it’s still very relevant. I think we should look more at metal as one big family and should be less intolerant to subgenres we aren’t into within metal. Be tolerant, also to subgenres you don’t like. Diversity only makes the metal scene stronger. That will keep it being relevant.

Nijmegen’s smaller venues Merleyn (which is part of Doornroosje), Maddogs (in nearby town Groesbeek) and Rockcafé Backstage (pub with some gigs) are also very interesting. However, the most interesting venue in Nijmegen’s metal-past is for sure Staddijk, but unfortunately it doesn’t exist anymore.

Read our interview with Theo Thijssen of Rockcafé Backstage here.

Hey Theo, how are you? What’s your favorite release at this moment?

Sons Of Apollo, with Mike Portnoy. In the past Dream Theater was my favorite band, when Portnoy left the band I lost my interest in the band. For me, this release is his comeback.

It’s a great release. Can you tell something about yourself?

Together with Astrid, I started at an illegal radiostation, Radio Rattenplan, with a metal show. I did that for eight or nine years. We worked with quite a few people, for example Walter Hoeijmakers from Roadburn and Johan Vosmeijer, who does a lot of things in the music industry. I also worked at Staddijk for 13 years, for 8 years of which I did the booking. We got some pretty big bands for a small youth center at that time. For example we got Obituary, Sepultura, Amorphis, Moonspell, Tiamat, My Dying Bride, Skyclad, Annihilator, Nevermore and Sacred Reich playing there. I also founded a magazine, together with Johan Vosmeijer, which was called Meltdown, which was the predecessor of Watt. Later we started one of the first webzines, Rock ezine. One of the nice things we did with Rock ezine was one of the first live reports. That was at Dynamo Open Air and we typed reviews and uploaded photos live from the festival through a dial-up connection. That was very experimental at that time.

You are the owner of Rockcafé Backstage. Can you tell something about its history?

Last December we existed for 26 years. We started in 1991 and we started it as a hobby, metal. In the beginning I worked for the owner, Astrid. We know each other from teacher education and were both interested in metal. We had a show on the illegal radiostation at that moment. At the end of the 80’s Nijmegen lost its rockcafé, GS 9. We searched for almost 2 years to get a good location and through our brewery we found Rockcafé Backstage. At that time it was a student café, we thought it was suitable as a rock café and some live gigs. That was what we searched for.

What is it that makes Rockcafé Backstage special?

The atmosphere, we also have some customers who don’t like metal, but still come here for the good atmosphere. It’s open, free and we make sure that girls can also come in alone without getting bothered. We are an open bar but are very strict with customers who cross the line, who drink too much or misbehave. We also don’t allow drugs.

About the interior, I see some pretty nice things. Can you tell something about it?

The painting on the wall (see photo) is made by five regular customers for the five-year anniversary of Backstage. It has a lot of metal references in it. It was a gift and we didn’t know before we got it. When we were organizing a party at Kolpinghuis, they got it here and revealed it to us. It still is our eye-catcher. We also got an illustration of Eddie van Halen, because he’s born in Nijmegen. It is made by a regular customer. In the back there are some band brands on canvas made by our DJ. There are also some guitars on the walls, one of them is from Astrid and the others are donated by guitarists who played here. A customer designed a t-shirt for our 25th anniversary, which is also on the wall, accompanied by the original sketches. Above that, there is the old Backstage logo made of moped parts as well as a little Saxon eagle made by Crusaders, the Saxon tribute band of some of our customers.

Sometimes, you also have gigs in this café, which one was the most memorable for you?

A lot. Every year our Iron Maiden tribute from England, Hi On Maiden, is very important for us. They have played here for 11 years in a row now. The most memorable gigs are of course the bigger bands we got. We got Skyclad, Tygers Of Pan Tang and recently Raven played here. For me, it’s unbelievable that we got that kind of bands in our pub and on a small stage. When there is a gig only 80 people fit in.

Which band is on your wish list to book in the future?

Personally I would like to book Parris, a Thin Lizzy cover band from The Netherlands, but they’re too expensive now. From the old bands, Diamond Head would be really cool. Maybe it would be possible in the near future. You never know.

Five years ago, or something like that, would you’ve thought you could get a band like Raven playing here?

No, I wouldn’t have thought it. But, as it is often in metal, we got them through friends. Friends told them about our pub and they contacted us.

Are there any other special activities in Backstage you want to tell about?

We had a lot in the past. Every year around Christmas we have a lottery, which is different in metal than usual of course. Every year the Vierdaagsefeesten in Nijmegen are very important to us, we also have some gigs during that time. We used to do a puzzle-ride by car. We did a gig outside Backstage in the Kolpinghuis twice. There were more than 300 people inside, that was unbelievable. Personally, every Tuesday I choose one DVD or blu-ray and an album of the week, which is new or trending. Then we play them here and sometimes there are also some gifts from record companies. We also do a Top 50 every year. Our customers can choose a Top 10 and out of those, we choose a Top 50, in February. Most times, the list is very surprising.

What makes the metal scene in Nijmegen special?

The variation in styles. Most people think Backstage is more of an old school metal bar, but we also got some other styles playing here. In Nijmegen every style is represented, not only old school. With the new place for Doornroosje we got a great venue here now, which is also very important. It’s a pity that a small venue like Staddijk is gone. And of course a festival like FortaRock is very important for a city like Nijmegen. FortaRock also does some club shows in Doornroosje so they are very important for the metal scene in Nijmegen.

How do you look at the metal scene in Nijmegen?

I think it is a healthy scene, otherwise a festival like FortaRock wouldn’t exist. I think it’s a pity that sometimes the older fans aren’t very open to new, upcoming bands. We and Merleyn are the only ones in Nijmegen who book smaller bands as a headliner. The scene in Nijmegen is not as big as it used to be in the past. There used to be more bars, venues, bands in the 90’s. When we went to Dynamo Metalfest with a bus from here, there were 100-150 people from a bar like ours attending it. That probably wouldn’t be possible nowadays. There are also more young fans coming to the shows nowadays, which is great.

For metalheads coming from outside Nijmegen, what are some nice places for them to go?

Backstage of course. Besides that, in my opinion Nijmegen has one of the best venues in The Netherlands, Doornroosje. When looking at bars, besides Backstage there aren’t really any metal bars anymore, but I would say De Bijstand. Of course the record-stores Kroese, De Waaghals, Vinylarchief and Obscuur. It’s a pity that there aren’t any more record-stores, but that’s how the music industry is developing. Hernandez is also really cool, it’s a comic store, but they also got some music.

What are some bands from Nijmegen you would recommend?

There is a new metalcore band called Apollo Rising, which played here for the first time this year. It’s not my style of metal, but they’re really good. There are some great cover bands, Crusaders, who played here a few times. Dead Man’s Walk played here last year and it was their first time playing Nijmegen, but they are from here, which was really strange. However, it was packed that evening. The black metal scene in Nijmegen is really big, you have, for example, Misanthropia. Another black metal band who come from a nearby place, Groesbeek, is Asgrauw. The Unslain is partly from Nijmegen, a young band, who supported Raven here. There is also a great prog metal band called Armed Cloud. Then there is an old school death metal band Obeah, a more modern metal band Intero and for me one of the best bands from the region is Diggeth. They play a more stoner, Black Label Society kind of metal.

Which already confirmed shows in Nijmegen would you recommend to go to?

On February 3rd we have a Black Sabbath tribute in Backstage and on February 13th Ram, Portrait and Trial are playing in Merleyn.

Thanks for your answers! Is there something you would like to say to our readers?

I hope they still come to metal pubs, in regular and not only to big shows. In my opinion youth is not used to go to the pubs anymore. That can be a problem in the near future. I see it here, youth only comes for the live shows and not on a regular night, which is a pity. Otherwise metal pubs will become extinct.

We also interviewed a regular Rockcafé Backstage visitor and metalhead Jeroen Knippers, which you can read here.

Hey Jeroen, how are you?

I am fine.

What’s your favorite release at this moment?

It will be difficult to name just one. After listening the new Morbid Angel album a few times now I keep discovering good tracks on it. It is the first album with Steve Tucker I like. Speaking of older releases I would say Survive by Nuclear Assault. Furthermore I really like Avé by Venom Inc. and Gods Of Violence by Kreator. For now, at this moment, it would be Morbid Angel.

Can you tell something about yourself?

I am Jeroen, 44 years old. I come from Nijmegen and I work as a mailman for 10 years now. I lived in Cuijk until I was 10 years old. Around 25 years ago I got my first experience with metal and rock. From that time it mostly kept that way. There was one period of a few years in which I went to less concerts and was less active, but the past years I am fully metal-minded again. A lot of listening to cd’s, going to gigs, going to Rockcafé Backstage and talking about metal.

What are the metal subgenres you are most comfortable in?

My entrance in metal was in the beginning of the ’90s. My first concert was a thrash metal concert in Staddijk, Lääz Rockit with Evil Death as support act. That was the first time I saw a band live on stage and it also was my first metal concert. It was awesome and exciting. I immediately met other people there and some of those contacts I still have, which is really cool. When I started listening to metal, there was a lot of death metal, Obituary, Sepultura, Entombed, Grave, Morbid Angel. Of course also quite some thrash metal, Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies. In the 90’s also some hardcore, Sick Of It All, Slapshot, Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front. I also liked crossover, D.R.I.. The more recent years I discovered quite some classics for me, got to see Iron Maiden a few times. Raven is a band I really like, as well as Van Halen. I listen to a lot, the only exception probably being the recent black metal. The earlier black metal, the earlier Norwegian bands, like old Enslaved, Emperor and Dimmu Borgir, was something I liked but I don’t listen to them anymore. In almost every subgenre I prefer the old school way.

Having said so, are you still open for new bands?

I try to, but it’s not always easy. I listen to everything on cd, listening to it digitally is not my kind of thing. Sometimes I forget it, but when I hear a new band which I really like, it’s great. I had that with, for example, Vektor and Kryptos (India). Recently I saw a band I didn’t know as support act for Channel Zero, Bark, which was really nice. Orden Ogan was another band I really liked.

What was the most memorable show in Nijmegen for you?

Looking back on everything I’ve seen, that would be Motörhead at De Vereeniging in 1993. It was absurd, very loud.

What makes the metal scene in Nijmegen special?

I think it’s special that there’s a metal pub like Rockcafé Backstage in a small city like Nijmegen. There are also some people here that are very music-minded and have been active in music for a long time. Of course, Nijmegen is a city for students, which makes some people stay here. Nowadays the metal scene in Nijmegen is small, but luckily it’s still here, despite being it a bit less visible.

How do you look at the metal scene in Nijmegen?

I think it’s more divided than it used to be. The old school metallers are in Rockcafé Backstage and the younger fans listen more to black metal, for example. It’s less a unity and more divided by subgenres. People are also more sticking to their subgenres. Something I really like about Nijmegen is that a lot of people you see on the streets are people who play music. It’s not only metal, but also rock or punk. Nijmegen is a pretty music-minded city. We have Doornroosje, Merleyn, some pubs booking bands, FortaRock and De Zomerfeesten (with, unfortunately, less metal during the past years). There were a few really nice editions of De Zomerfeesten with metal gigs at the Voerweg and De Affaire. That is something I would like to see coming back, especially because it’s mostly outside at a time when the weather is good.

For metalheads coming from outside Nijmegen, what are some nice places for them?

When you are visiting Nijmegen I would recommend combining it with a nice gig in Doornroosje, Merleyn or Rockcafé Backstage. Sometimes there are also some nice gigs at De Onderbroek. We also got a few great record stores, for example Kroese and Het Vinylarchief. When you are a musician, there is a nice bass guitar shop, Paul’s Bass Matters. When you are visiting during summer, you can go to De Zomerfeesten, when there’s something for everybody. Last but not least, you can of course go to FortaRock and Rockcafé Backstage.

What are some bands from Nijmegen you would recommend?

There used to be a band called Emperors, a stoner band, but they don’t exist anymore. Crusaders, A Saxon tribute band is nice, as well as Apollo Rising. Another band I really like is Dead Man’s Walk, which is a bit underrated in my opinion. Of course there is Bambix, old punkers hailing from here and The Barleycorn Bastards who play folkpunk.

Which already confirmed shows in Nijmegen would you recommend to go to?

At this moment there aren’t any shows in Nijmegen I really look forward to, hopefully there will be in the near future.

Thanks for your answers! Is there something you would like to say to our readers?

Stay active, keep going to gigs. For people coming from Nijmegen I would say come have a drink at Rockcafé Backstage. Support your local scene and support people who want to start something. Having negative critics while doing nothing yourself is easy, but not something I see as good.

Nijmegen also has it’s festivals. At the beginning of the summer holidays there is a four-day walking event, called De Vierdaagse. Around those four days Nijmegen has a week full of music in all forms, called De Vierdaagsefeesten or Zomerfeesten. On some earlier editions there also was quite some metal, especially at the locations called Voerweg and De Affaire. Unfortunately, this became less during the last years.

However, don’t be disappointed! Nijmegen also has its own metal festival, called FortaRock. This year’s edition of FortaRock will take place at the Goffertpark on June 1st and 2nd. The lineup has Nightwish as its headliner and closing act on Saturday June the 2nd. FortaRock’s lineup is very diverse and almost every metalhead can find something to their liking for sure.

Read our interview with Freek Koster of FortaRock and Doornroosje below.

Hey Freek, how are you? What’s your favorite release at this moment?

Hi, doing well thank you. My favourite release…mmm, multiple I think. The City That Never Sleeps by Biblical, Nightmare Logic by Power Trip, Mass VI by Amenra and Necro Deathmorth’s Overland are albums that are played frequently lately, but I listen to a lot more music. I’m an omnivore if it’s music related.

Can you tell something about yourself?

Freek Koster, from Nijmegen, 42 years old, working as a promoter in Doornroosje and FortaRock, starting in 2003. I’m responsible for the heavy tunes in Doornroosje, Merleyn and the FortaRock festivals.

You do the bookings of FortaRock. Can you tell us a bit about FortaRock’s history?

FortaRock started in 2006 doing clubshows in Doornroosje. Since then we have done over 175 shows in Doornroosje, but also in Merleyn. In 2009 the first outdoor festival was organized in Park Brakkenstein. The idea behind all this; to bring more heavy live music to Nijmegen and its fans.

What makes FortaRock’s festival special compared to other metal festivals?

Well, to stand out between the rest of the festivals you have to be very, very special. We don’t claim to be just that. What we try to accomplish is to present new artists for the first time, together with already arrived artists in the heavy music genre, not metal only. First bands to be seen on an outdoor festival in the Netherlands were for example; Ghost, Gojira, Steel Panther, Babymetal. All this combined with an atmosphere that is not too uptight for the audience. People should feel relaxed, enjoy live music and be with friends.

Which shows under the FortaRock-banner did you already announce and which one are you looking forward to the most?

For next year’s festival we have announced Nightwish, Parkway Drive, Opeth, Body Count, Kreator, Meshuggah, Satyricon, Alestorm, Avatar, Baroness, Death Angel, Thy Art Is Murder, Igorrrr and Death Alley. More to follow. Always looking forward to ‘new’ artists and their performance. Igorrr, Avatar and Thy Art Is Murder are in that category.

For people who haven’t gone to the FortaRock festival (yet), what can they expect?

A festival with great bands, rock and metal. A festival that is not overcrowded, located in a beautiful setting, especially this year. The mainstage will be at a different location compared to other editions. Great food and a wide variety of beers.

Any special things on the 2018 festival?

As mentioned, the lay-out of the festival will be totally different from other years what people might expect. We hope this will contribute to a great festival.

What makes the metal scene in Nijmegen special?

I don’t know if it is any more special than other cities in the Netherlands.

How do you look at the metal scene in Nijmegen?

I don’t have an distinct opinion about the scene at the moment. Nijmegen doesn’t have a rock academy like Tilburg which contributes greatly to a vivid and lively scene, but there are some great new rock and metal bands coming up.

For metalheads coming from outside Nijmegen, what are some nice places for them to go?

Doornroosje and Merleyn for the best venues in town, but also metal and Rockcafé Backstage. If you like great (locally brewed) beers, you have to visit Stoom or Café Jos.

What are some bands from Nijmegen you would recommend?

Galg, MNHM, Mt. Echo, Bismut, Rectum Raiders, Dead Man’s Walk to name a few.

Which already confirmed shows in Nijmegen would you recommend to go to?

I am extremely looking forward to the double show of Amenra with guests next week in Doornroosje and the Stevenskerk. Anciients is also a band to watch, they play March 4th in Merleyn. A great Canadian band for those who like Mastodon, Baroness and such. Fans who like folk- and symphonic metal should check out Ensiferum (May 13th) and Leaves’ Eyes (april 29th), both in Doornroosje.

Thanks for your answers! Is there something you would like to say to our readers?

My pleasure. Stay heavy and keep open-minded. There are still a lot of great new bands and records to discover…

Of course, Nijmegen also has its metal bands in various subgenres.

Within black metal a few examples are Asgrauw (hailing from Groesbeek), Sammath (not Nijmegen-based anymore) and Misanthropia.

Below you can read our interview with guitarist Dennis Schoenmaker and bassist Pepijn Heilbron of Misanthropia.

Hey Dennis and Pepijn, how are you?

Dennis: I am fine.

Pepijn: Combining work and music as much as possible and trying to find a good balance in that.

Dennis: That is something which is often underestimated. We are continually busy with this and as long as that is possible, we are doing great.

Pepijn: The outside-world often doesn’t realize how much time someone can spend on being in a band and how important it can be for someone.

What is your favorite metal album at this moment?

Dennis: The new album of Testament, Brotherhood Of The Snake, is a great album. I also really dig the latest album of Slayer, Repentless, especially now that Gary Holt is part of them. I also discovered another band recently, Rocka Rollas from Sweden. They play classic heavy metal. Nowadays I am not very easily impressed with, to me, new bands. However, they’re phenomenal. Megadeth’s latest album, Dystopia, is also really nice. The latest of Behemoth is also very nice. I am a big fan of Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth, but also of, for example, Iron Maiden. For example, Pepijn is also a big fan of classic thrash metal. I think all those elements can also be found in Misanthropia’s music.

Pepijn: I think it indeed sure does. The latest albums of Behemoth and Testament are indeed really nice. Nowadays I also watch a lot of music clips on Youtube. Recently I discovered Expander, a thrash/death/grind band from Texas that way. I also dig the latest album of Septicflesh, Codex Omega. Speaking of death metal, I think Bloodbath is very brutal, with Holmes on vocals. I also like the latest album of Paradise Lost, Medusa. Another album I really dig is Napalm Death’s Apex Predator, with a fantastic intro.

Can you tell something about yourselves?

Pepijn: I have a job of 4 to 5 days a week and in the meantime I have a few hobbies I am busy with, my girlfriend and music being the most important of those. My girlfriend gives me all the space and time to make music, that’s very important to me.

Dennis: That is very important indeed. I also work 5 days a week, as a truck driver. Of course, my family is number one for me, but the band and making music is something which is always in my thoughts. It’s a lot of giving-and-taking in the home-situation.

You’re both in Misanthropia, can you tell something about the band?

Dennis: Officially we exist since December 2004. Before that time I already played together with Bram (Koller) at the end of the ’90s. At that time we were an old school death metal band called Mephisto. We were very fanatic, but also very limited. Internet wasn’t very big at that time. I still remember the moment our drummer left, I had to call everybody I knew to find someone who knew a drummer. Later we continued with a female vocalist, a keyboardist and a drummer hailing from Den Bosch. At that moment we called ourselves Throned By Tyranny and played a style which nowadays would be called female fronted metal. A year later Bram and I asked ourselves whether this was what we wanted or not. It turned out it wasn’t. We changed our name to Misanthropia and found a drummer who lived in Tilburg. At that time we went rehearsing in Tilburg, because of the fact that he had his drumkit and rehearsal space there. We did so for almost nine years and we also recorded two albums during that time. The first one, Rise Of Necropolis, was recorded in 2005 and was released in January 2006. We did a release party for that album in Staddijk, together with Shadowlord. The other album, Slang Des Doods, was released in 2010 and after releasing that one the misery with all the lineup changes started. First, our drummer at that time, Sarban (Grimminck), left in 2012. That was really difficult for me because of us having been a solid group for years. However, with the internet which got bigger, it was easier to find other musicians. Sarban was replaced with the drummer of Victimizer, Romeo (Gerrits). After a while he had to quit because of his back, but before that our bass player Maurice (Aalders) left because he suffered from rheumatism and his motivation had become less. As a replacement for him we contacted Pepijn. First he said he would only help us temporarily because of his other 2 bands. However, that was five years ago.

Pepijn: I wanted to help them, because they already booked a few shows, were arranging a time in the studio and almost finished a full-length album. We will see where it leads to, was what I thought. Then, we also recorded the album Omerta, which was mixed and mastered by Mike Wead in Sweden.

Dennis: We also recorded the drums in Sweden together with Mike Wead, guitarist of King Diamond. I became friends with him ten years ago. We always kept contact with each other. He also mixed and mastered our previous album, Slang Des Doods. So, he did the same with Omerta, which we all really liked.

Pepijn: All the recordings went very well and from that moment on things started changing. Our keyboardist, Thijs (Mulders), couldn’t combine Misanthropia with his work anymore. He seriously thought a lot about it and eventually he left the band. He is a great keyboardist and a really nice guy. We still have contact with him and there are no hard feelings towards each other.

Dennis: Thijs also had a lot of responsibility when writing music for the albums, partly due to his dominant style of playing. Again, we went searching on the internet and finally got to David (Gutierrez Rojas). We called each other and he asked us to meet each other, because he thought it was important to also have a personal click. We also agreed on that being important, so we went to meet each other. He came to our show in Bibelot, Dordrecht. We also spoke with each other a bit, he turned out to be a really nice guy. So, we had a match and due to his videos on Youtube we already saw his quality of playing was great. Two weeks later, we played our show together with Carach Angren in P60 in Amstelveen. We had been looking forward to that show for quite a long time. Our idea was to play that show without a keyboardist, with the keyboards coming from the backing track in the laptop. However, David told us he knew the tracks and could join us already. That was one of the most bizarre moments I ever experienced with a musician. This was during the past summer. I still remember the most fun part of it all, which was with Pepijn. One week before that show we had our only rehearsal with David, but Pepijn wasn’t there, because he was still on holiday. So, everybody but Pepijn knew what David was able to do. We entered the stage in Amstelveen and did our sound check with Omerta. Pepijn immediately started laughing out loud, because David’s playing was perfect and he didn’t expect that. His stage presence was also really great. It was insane.

Pepijn: So, almost everything in the lineup changed, except the guitar and vocal positions. Those stayed the same.

Dennis: It’s not always easy, but there aren’t hard feelings towards any of them.

Pepijn: It’s like a cocktail. You remove something, add something else and get another taste.

So, the lineup as it is at this moment stays the same for a while?

Pepijn: Yeah, I think we are all very motivated and everybody has time and energy to stay for a while, also focusing towards creating new material.

Dennis: In my opinion this is the best lineup we ever had so far.

In which subgenre would you put Misanthropia yourselves?

Dennis: I think it is melodic black metal.

What is it that makes Misanthropia unique in the subgenre?

Dennis: The concept of it. Almost every black metal band is mostly Satan, witches, graveyards, death and destruction. I think it mostly is not very nuanced. I once saw an interview with Gaahl from Gorgoroth. The interviewer asked him what black metal means to him. His answer was Satan. When the interviewer asked what Satan means to him, he answered that it means freedom for him. When people create music they often cling to something, they don’t want to deviate from it. In my opinion that happens a lot in black metal, a few examples being Mayhem, Burzum and old Immortal. It is great music but I always got the feeling that they cling to something which they don’t want to deviate from. With Misanthropia we didn’t do that, musically. That is something you’ll definitely hear. Speaking about the concept it’s again about freedom. Personally I really like gangster movies and those people got a very big level of freedom. Their level of freedom was so big that even the government listened to them. They oppressed everyone. In my opinion that is the top of Satanism, freedom-wise. When we went watching interviews about true stories on YouTube I saw things that really startled me. Those are things people don’t talk about anymore, but we may not forget those things. All of those things are part of Omerta, all true stories. It is very unbelievable people could do those things to each other, that also was the feeling I got during writing the album.

What is your personally favorite track on Omerta?

Pepijn: It is one story, one concept.

Dennis: I really dig the title track. My personal favorite is Il Pasto Sanguinario. However, when speaking about the lyrics, I dig The Infinite Winter the most, which was written by Pepijn and Thijs. It’s about The Iceman, also a true story. He is a family father with two children of Polish descent, raised in a very religious way and also strongly abused. He worked for the Gambino-family. He got a call and a picture and had to kill that person. He did that type of work for years, but nobody knew. When the cops finally arrested him, they interviewed him and when he was asked how many people he had killed he didn’t know exactly but thought 200 people would be close to it. Nobody, including his own family had known about it. One thing about that story really surprised me. He killed someone in a car and the next morning he and his family were sitting at the table reading the newspaper. It seemed he killed a police chief who was very loved. His wife said the world was turned insane and he just sat there calmly. He was freezing his corpses so the cops couldn’t define how long they’ve been dead.

You already mentioned you are creating new material, can you already tell something more about it?

Pepijn: We almost finished four tracks already, they just need some lyrics. We also want to write a few more songs. It will take a while before it’s finished, also due to a lot of gigs. It will probably be another collaboration with Mike Wead.

Dennis: He also understands what we want.

Pepijn: We are very busy with the new material. We have a lot of parts of music and sometimes it really fits with other parts, sometimes it doesn’t. As a band you create a lot of music, but you also have to scrape a lot.

Dennis: That also takes a lot of time.

Already any idea about when it will be released, or not yet?

Dennis: I hope to have all tracks finished in 2018 and hopefully we also get to record some of it this year. So, I hope to release it in 2019.

On February 17th you play at Veghel Blackfest in Willemeen. Can we expect some more Misanthropia shows in 2018?

Dennis: For sure. We play in Hoogeveen at Thomas Bulten’s Birthday Bash, November 24th. We also play at Cayen in Enkhuizen, April 14th. In July we will play at a festival in the Czech Republic and probably also in Austria.

What was the most memorable metal show in Nijmegen for you, personally?

Dennis: I enjoyed Victimizer at the Valkhofpark. Another show which really impressed me was my first time seeing Septuagint, in 1991, when I was 13 years old. I think Septuagint is still one of the best metal bands from Nijmegen.

Pepijn: I was also in the audience at that show. The power/thrash metal they played wasn’t a style many bands in this region played.

Dennis: I also really enjoyed the gig of Keep Of Kalessin, who I didn’t know before, when they were the support act of Enslaved. Another show which was really nice was Gorgoroth with Shadowlord as support act in Staddijk. I also went to King Diamond a few times and saw Metallica in 2004, those shows were also awesome. I also went to Rammstein in 2013.

Pepijn: I saw In Flames in Staddijk, which was amazing. There were a lot of very great gigs in Staddijk. Iron Maiden in the Goffertpark was also very nice, especially with the lightning added to their light show.

What is it that makes the metal scene in Nijmegen special?

Pepijn: I don’t know if it is special compared to other cities.

Dennis: I don’t know whether it is special or not, but I like the fact that we had a lot of bands hailing from here. Throughout the years every band has been through its share of lineup changes. Many people already knew each other for a long time and ended up being in the same band.

Pepijn: One thing I noticed is that there is very few hatred and envy towards each other. Most people do not begrudge each other.

For metalheads coming from outside Nijmegen, what are some nice places to go to?

Pepijn: Doornroosje, Merleyn, Backstage, Maddogs (in Groesbeek) and De Bijstand are some nice places you can go to.

What are some metal bands from Nijmegen you would recommend?

Pepijn: All of them.

Dennis: Yeah, all of them. I think Bullhammers is very nice.

Pepijn: We (Bullhammers) play here in Rockcafé Backstage in June.

Dennis: Nice! In my opinion it’s a band that is nice to watch performing. All of them are 100% musicians. I also really like Pepijn’s other band Dead Man’s Walk.

Pepijn: Of course I also like those bands, otherwise I would leave them. I only play in bands I really have some link with.

Dennis: Obeah is another really nice band. A reputable band from this region is Sammath from Jan Kruitwagen.

Which, already confirmed metal shows in Nijmegen would you recommend going to?

Pepijn: FortaRock is going to be really nice and I would say keep an eye on the agendas of Maddogs and Backstage.

Dennis: FortaRock is indeed very recommend. Also keep an eye on Doornroosje’s agenda.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Pepijn: Speaking about the earlier mentioned freedom I would say that music and every other form of art is a form of freedom. Another thing that seems to be forgotten very often is that it isn’t a contest.

Dennis: The fun part of creating music is that every musician understands the language of it, no matter the genre they usually play.

On death/thrash level Dead Man’s Walk is one of the biggest bands hailing from Nijmegen.

You can read our interview with Dead Man’s Walk members Dennis Melkert (vocals) and Jeroen van der Grift (guitar) here.

Hey Dennis and Jeroen, how are you?

Dennis: We’re fine, just had quite a few shows after a period of getting used to each other with our new drummer. Now we’re in a flow again. A little too much maybe because we also want to record some new stuff.

What’s your favorite release at this moment?

Dennis: For me it still is At War With Reality by At The Gates. It has already been released a while ago, but I still play that one very often.

Jeroen: I think it is the same for me, still not many albums can top that one.

Can you tell something about yourself?

Dennis: I am from Nijmegen and I am always busy doing something. Of course, playing music is one of those things. My home has a basement with a drumkit, guitar and bass guitar in there. Just playing music, it can be different styles within heavier music. Furthermore doing things in and around my home, doing stuff with motorbikes and hanging with friends.

Jeroen: Most of my time goes to my wife and child. Of course I am also busy with the house. Besides that of course our band, festivals, shows and sometimes a bit of gaming.

You are both in Dead Man’s Walk, can you tell something about the bands history?

Dennis: Way back we were called Septuagint. I joined this band just before they changed that name. When I joined the bassist Pepijn was also already part of the band. Beside us there were 2 other guitarists and another drummer. We then changed our name to Aftershock, but after one year we knew that wouldn’t be our future band name. At that moment we came up with Dead Man’s Walk. After one of our guitarists left, we kept playing as a quartet until the other guitarist also left. At that moment we decided we wanted to have 2 guitarists again. At that moment Jeroen joined us, when was that, Jeroen?

Jeroen: That was around February/March/April 2011. A few months later Petra also joined us.

Dennis: Yeah, we had just finished two tracks and then Petra joined. From that moment on things went really well, writing songs, recording an album and playing a lot of music. Petra also is really good at planning gigs. Two years ago our drummer, who was with us since the beginning, left. He had other things he wanted to do and we parted ways without any hard feelings. I still have contact with him and he is also still busy with music, but not in a band. Our new drummer Rob is with us now for one and a half year. After a period of getting used to each other, we had some shows and got to know each other more. We are ready to create new material and to do a lot of gigs.

How would you describe Dead Man’s Walk music?

Jeroen: A mix between Bay Area thrash and Göteborg-sound with a little bit of groove. That is how I would describe it in general. Sometimes we also have some more death metal parts, a bit of black metal and a few progressive parts.

Dennis: We don’t completely fit in a subgenre, that isn’t what we want to be.

Jeroen: We enjoy approaching each track different. Someone comes up with a part and the next time, when someone else got another part, it can go in a completely different direction than we thought before. Of course each track has an idea behind it, but it grows in time. Sometimes we end up with something good, but sometimes we also end up with something we still aren’t completely satisfied with.

Dennis: We approach writing music as a full band process, not as a one person event. It happens in our rehearsal room. When someone comes up with something, everybody gives their own interpretation to it. We write a track as a full band, we don’t write the music before.

What is it that makes Dead Man’s Walk Dead Man’s Walk?

Dennis: Within the heavier metal, that would be our variety. That’s our power. I also think people enjoy seeing us play, there is something happening on stage.

Jeroen: The diversity in our tracks, but also some surprising twists in them. Sometimes we hear that we do things people didn’t expect. Not being a regular band could be our motto.

Dennis: We also play serious music, but we don’t take ourselves that serious. I think we also are a bit more accessible for some people with that attitude.

Jeroen: It doesn’t matter what style of music you like, our music has parts to everyone’s liking.

Dennis: Also for Britney Spears fans?

Jeroen: You don’t know, but they are all Dead Man’s Walk fans now.

Of course, this was a extreme example, but are there boundaries in your music?

Dennis: Yeah, it must be metal.

Only the more extreme sides of metal or isn’t that necessary?

Dennis: Sometimes I thought about doing some clean vocals, but every time I try doing so, it’s not what I want. I used to sing clean vocals in other bands, but in Dead Man’s Walk I don’t do that, it doesn’t fit well enough. Even when we have a more melodic part in our music where clean vocals could fit, it still doesn’t feel good, a bit too polished. That stops me from doing so. It has to have something brutal in it, especially for me as the vocalist. However, that can be pretty diverse, from black metal to brutal death metal, sometimes even more a growl instead of a grunt. I think that are our boundaries.

Jeroen: We also didn’t do something with a clean guitar sound. Maybe that time will come, but for now it is distortion on and go.

Dennis: Of course we also have more doomy, melodic parts but it still has that touch of metal in it. Power metal is another thing we don’t do. We like those boundaries, it’s very clear and gives us a frame to work in, because we do everything together.

Jeroen: Everybody is fine with that frame, we see it more as an addition than as an obstacle.

Your latest release is the 2014 EP Life Denied, you already mentioned you have plans for new material. Are you already writing it or is it just a plan for now?

Dennis: Our plan is to go into the studio this summer at last to record a full-length. We already wrote a big part of it.

Can you already tell us something more about it or not?

Dennis: We will go a different direction, again. It will be a bit more extreme, with a few black metal parts but also a bit more Göteborg-touch with more melodic parts and rippers. It will be more diverse, more brutal but also will have a more melodic side. We also have some more accessible tracks, but that is relative. It won’t be sing-a-longs or something like that. We worked out our sound a bit more. We got a more matured sound and we did of course grow as a band. Since we released that EP a lot has happened, also musically, with us. I think that can be heard as well.

The line-up also was a bit different back then, right?

Dennis: We had another drummer. Ingmar was a drummer with a very own style. For example, he was very good with his arms, which made him creative in his very own style. Now we also have a great drummer, but he is very good with his legs. He is also good with his arms, but different. Writing tracks is easier this way, but it is very different compared to earlier with Ingmar.

Jeroen: Everybody has his own preferences and ways. That was why we needed a period of getting used to each other. We all knew Ingmar very well, now Rob is only with us for a year and a half. For that matter it’s a bit like starting over again. Musically you all have to start thinking in a new way.

Dennis: When he joined us, he learned the set we would play at Occultfest in 6 weeks or so, with even a holiday within those six weeks. He had to hurry there, after that we started looking at what we all wanted together. Things change, but that is a good thing. Of course our sound will be a bit different because of this, which also can be heard on the upcoming album.

Do you expect to release it in 2018?

Dennis: I don’t know that yet. When we will release it, we want to do it in a complete way. Everything must be perfect, everything included. We are very busy to develop that. When it’s possible we will release it in 2018, but it depends on when we have the last few tracks finished and whether we will make choices or not in the tracklist. However we strive to release it in 2018, but we don’t know how things will go.

You already confirmed five shows for 2018. Can we expect some more Dead Man’s Walk shows soon?

Dennis: For sure, we will announce some more shows, but we also want to focus on the album. That is something we’ve decided to be our top priority for now. Of course, we will still do some shows, there will be more than those five we’ve already announced. It would be nice to do a show per month, so we can also stay in the flow of doing shows. That is something which is also important.

What was the most memorable show in Nijmegen for you?

Jeroen: For me, that will be back in the days of Staddijk in the ’90s. The most awesome show I saw there would be In Flames during their Whoracle-tour with Borknagar as support act.

Dennis: The period of Staddijk is for sure a very special period for me. I saw a lot of bands playing there, I can’t describe that with one band or show. It is truly disappointing Staddijk doesn’t exist anymore. It was a very special place, at a distant location, but it was a bit obscure because of that. Staddijk also was my first experience with Nijmegen when I went here as a 17-year old. Since that time I saw a lot of bands there, including the scene around Staddijk itself with bands like, for example, Pure Breed and Victimizer. Something else I really liked was FortaRock when it started in Park Brakkestein.

Jeroen: I just wanted to say that, FortaRock in Park Brakkestein. It was not very big and had a nice atmosphere. It didn’t matter which bands were playing, there were a lot of people you knew, so you just went there for the atmosphere.

Dennis: You could indeed go there on your own and you would see people you knew for sure. Furthermore Backstage is also nice, as was Genesis in the past. Nijmegen always has been a nice place when talking about the scene here.

What makes the metal scene in Nijmegen special?

Jeroen: The fact that a lot of people in it know each other. It’s a shame Genesis doesn’t exist anymore, but Backstage still is and is also still organizing shows.

Dennis: The scene in Nijmegen also supports itself. There are a lot of new things going on from people who start something because of their enthusiasm. Some great things started that way. That is what makes the scene great, the things that come from the people themselves. I also think it’s great that a venue like Doornroosje also supports that scene. De Roos Van Nijmegen also used to be a great stage for new metal bands. Now it is a bit bigger and more commercial, so it’s not how it used to be. However I have this feeling that it’s changing back again for a bit. I think metal is becoming a bit more interesting for Doornroosje again, especially now that FortaRock is working together with them. Of course they also organize some smaller gigs in Merleyn. I like that things can also come from the audience.

Jeroen: There also is room for that. Metal has a platform in Nijmegen. Culture in general is very important in Nijmegen, I really like that. For example, it is always nice at the Zomerfeesten. There is a lot happening here culture-wise, also besides metal. That was what made me move to Nijmegen when I was 19. I still think it is that way, culture-wise Nijmegen is doing a great way.

Dennis: There is a lot to do indeed. However I have a feeling there was a period in which it was a bit less, but it can also be that way because I was a bit less part of it back then. What disappoints me is that the only place doing metal gigs during the Zomerfeesten nowadays is Backstage. There used to be a stage for metal at the Valkhof-park, but at one moment it disappeared. It would be nice if that would come back.

I completely agree with that. How do you look at the metal scene in Nijmegen nowadays?

Dennis: There are a lot of new bands. Merleyn and Backstage are some places new bands can still have a chance, but besides those there isn’t that much platform for new metal bands. As a local band from Nijmegen you won’t play FortaRock very easy, so that also isn’t an option. Speaking about FortaRock, it’s great to go to a complete metal festival and go to your own bed afterwards. That’s awesome . What makes me happy is that there still happens a lot at Backstage.. I think that is what keeps the scene alive, there are still new people getting attracted to metal. Maybe it is on a bit different level than it used to be, but it still is alive for sure.

Jeroen: It raises the expectations nowadays, when you are a new band Backstage is the place you want to be. Unfortunately a venue like Staddijk isn’t there anymore.

Dennis: Compared to the past the rehearsal rooms did improve. There used to be a musty basement at Doornroosje, you have to leave that place before you got breathing issues. We also rehearsed in De Onderbroek for a while.

Jeroen: De Koopvaardij was another musty place. I also rehearsed in the parking boxes besides the Augustijnenklooster with another band. Someone got us that space, but at one time everything inside it was stolen.

Dennis: The rehearsal rooms are better now. Musicians who want to rehearse somewhere can easily do so now. Of course, the prices are also a bit higher, but it is all facilitated in a good way.

And how do you look at the metal fans in Nijmegen?

Dennis: They’re awesome and enthusiast. In my opinion Maddogs in Groesbeek is also part of this scene. When we play here, which we don’t do that often, there’s a great audience to play for. Good atmosphere, great response and very enthusiastic, those evenings are always nice. I really like the scene.

Jeroen: Last year we played in Backstage and it is always nice. Especially when it’s a place you go to regularly for a long time and everyone you know shows up, that’s great.

Dennis: I identify with everyone from Nijmegen who went into the metal scene. I am proud of that. That is what makes it different for me when I play in Nijmegen compared to other places.

You already mentioned it, you don’t play that often in Nijmegen, is there a reason for that?

Dennis: Two times Backstage and a few times Maddogs indeed. Relatively not much. It’s just the way it went.

Jeroen: Petra plans a lot of our shows, she lives in Arnhem. Sometimes you have quite a full schedule of shows and you don’t think about the fact that you have to play in Nijmegen once in a while. Things go as they go. When people ask us if we want to play somewhere, we won’t say no because of the fact that we didn’t play in Nijmegen yet.

Dennis: It isn’t a must for us or it just didn’t fit into our schedule. In my opinion, when we play in Nijmegen, it must be our evening, not opening for 2 other bands or something. Only if it fits in our schedule, is set up in a good way and when it feels good.

For metalheads coming from outside Nijmegen, what are some nice places for them to go?

Jeroen: Of course Backstage and De Bijstand.

Dennis: Doornroosje is awesome. Other nice places are for example the pub we are now (Café In De Blaauwe Hand). It isn’t metal of course, but it is the oldest café in Nijmegen. It is a few hundred years old and has a really great atmosphere.

Jeroen: You also have great beers here, just as in De Hemel, Cafe Jos (in Nijmegen-Oost) and Samson.

Dennis: Sometimes Merleyn also has some great shows. Not that big and known bands but it can be surprising sometimes. De Vierdaagse is also really great and chilling at De Kaaij is also pretty relaxed. You can just go there, bring your stereo with metal and make a camp fire at the beach.

What are some bands from Nijmegen you would recommend?

Dennis: Of course Bullhammers, I also dig Obeah. Of course also all the bands from the past. Unfortunately Victimizer doesn’t exist anymore, but I have to mention them. It was one of the most awesome bands from Nijmegen back then.

Jeroen: Misanthropia is great. Another one is Asgrauw, which we shared our rehearsal space with. Besides that of course Intero.

Dennis: Misanthropia is a great band for sure indeed, they are going full speed now.

Which already confirmed shows in Nijmegen would you recommend to go to?

Dennis: I would recommend going to Monster Magnet in Doornroosje, at May 5th.

Thanks for your answers! Is there something you would like to say to our readers?

Jeroen: Sure, February 23rd we play in Willem Twee in Den Bosch. During Ascension Day we also play at Hemelvaart Metalfest in Brigant in Arnhem. It’s a festival organized by Petra (our guitarist). She used to organize it in Cafe 545 in Ede, but nowadays it is in Brigant in Arnhem.

Dennis: Keep the scene alive and when you are capable of setting up something new, be sure to do so and make sure Nijmegen stays on the map of metal. The local new things make the scene in Nijmegen, the other things will follow.

Jeroen: Go to the local bands, keep the local venues open. It is also very important for new bands that all those new things are accessible. Of course it is also great that people show up. The step from locals pubs to venues like Doornroosje is very big and you don’t go to those venues without the support of local pubs and fans showing up at those small shows.

Dennis: The metal scene in Nijmegen is very great and I hope it keeps that way!

Another great band is the folk/viking metal band Myrkvar, of which I interviewed drummer Roel Steijvers here.

Hey Roel, how are you? What’s your favorite release at this moment?

Mmmm, speaking for myself of course… I would say Urn by Ne Obliviscaris. But soon Arkona will release a new album, as well as Heidevolk. And our singer/keyboardplayer Faber has composed and orchestrated all the folk elements in this Heidevolk release.

Can you tell something about yourself?

Sure, my name is Roel, but in Myrkvar I call myself ‘Arbudon’. I joined the band in 2007, when former drummer Hugo decided to join Shadowlord, also from Nijmegen. My first gig with Myrkvar was at Occultfest in Hoogeveen and since then I’ve played a lot of venues. I studied in Nijmegen from 1994 to 1998 and lived there from 1997 to 2001. Now I live in Westervoort, I’m married and have two children. I teach at a primary school in Apeldoorn and play the drums in various projects. In Myrkvar I am a kind of ‘regulator’. I manage the e-mail, Facebook, finances and web shop for the band.

You are in Myrkvar, can you tell something about the bands history?

Myrkvar was started by guitarist/vocalist Pieke Schoonbrood in 2003 as a black metal formation. After the first demo On Broken Wings, some band members left. A new guitarist, Rik, joined the band and shortly after, Faber as well. They began to change the musical style to a more folk/pagan subgenre. Klaartje then joined the band, playing the violin and in 2006, bass player Karel completed the band. They recorded the first album Als Een Woeste Horde and a contract with the Belgian record label Shiver was signed. In 2007 I joined the band and Pieke left. We decided to let Faber do the vocals. In 2008 the first album was released and a lot of shows were played during the following years. In 2012 we released the second album As En Bloed, a concept album about the Ragnarok. We received a lot of positive reactions and the album sold very well. But unfortunately, time became an issue for the band members. New jobs, new projects and parenthood resulted in that we weren’t able to put as much energy in Myrkvar as before. But even though we played less shows, we were able to create a new EP. There was no new contract with Shiver, so in 2016 we released Plunder & Brand independently and played a few shows with Walter on bass, because Karel had moved to the USA. In 2017 no shows were played, but last week we had a new show in Westervoort. We realized that we had missed playing together, so maybe some new activity can be expected in 2018…..

How would you describe Myrkvar’s music?

Folk/pagan/viking with a hint of black metal. Fast blasts, funky melodies, dark tunes, grunts and clean (Dutch) vocals in a heavy mix. It’s like Finntroll meets Turisas, clashing with Heidevolk and Arkona.

What makes Myrkvar special compared to other bands in the subgenre?

The mix in grunts and clean vocals in combination with a lot of violin, piano and other classical instruments. And we make a lot of fun during our shows.

Your latest release is the 2016 EP Plunder & Brand, do you already have any plans for new material?

Not a concrete plan, but some ideas to work on 😉

Can you tell us something about it? How will it be compared to Plunder & Brand?

Too soon to say…

In 2018 Myrkvar exists 15 years, how do you look back at the past years with Myrkvar?

Exciting, heavy, fun, creative… just some words that come to mind. All the members from 2003 have left the band. Rik, who joined in 2004, is now the only ‘semi-original’ member… I think we’ve grown, from students trying to play as much as they can to an adult music project. We played a lot of shows, had great reviews internationally and made a lot of fantastic friendships during all those years.

Anything special planned for celebrating this?

No, the ‘new’ Myrkvar exists since 2006, so we celebrated our first decennium in 2016 with the release of Plunder & Brand.

You recently played at No Sleep ‘Till Wieleman II at Zalencentrum Wieleman, Westervoort, January 13th. Can we expect some more Myrkvar shows soon?

Hopefully, we can be booked via this emailaddress.

What was the most memorable show in Nijmegen for you?
We played a lot in Nijmegen, but in 2008, at the Vierdaagsefeesten, we had the honor to support Heidevolk and Finntroll at the open air stage ‘Valkhof Affaire’. The field was packed with metal fans and the cheers were amazing, you can check it here!

What makes the metal scene in Nijmegen special?

None of us live in Nijmegen anymore. So, that’s a bit hard for us to answer. It’s small but strong that’s for sure.

How do you look at the metal scene in Nijmegen?

Same answer… sorry.

For metalheads coming from outside Nijmegen, what are some nice places for them to go?

Well of course there is Rockcafé Backstage. And now and then great bands can be seen at Doornroosje and Merleyn. And you can also visit Maddogs in Groesbeek (village nearby, where we shot our video for Gjallarhoorn).

What are some bands from Nijmegen you would recommend?

Misanthropia (with former Myrkvar drummer Hugo) and Crusaders (Saxon tribute).

Which already confirmed shows in Nijmegen would you recommend to go to?

Fleddy Melculy, VUUR and Ensiferum. All of them play in Doornroosje soon. And of course FortaRock Festival in July!!

Thanks for your answers! Is there something you would like to say to our readers?

Thank you for supporting the Dutch metal scene. Please visit our website for more info and links to Myrkvar \m/

Armed Cloud is also a band hailing from Nijmegen which is definitely worth listening to. This band plays more symphonic-focused metal.

Below you can read our interview with their keyboard-player Remco van der Veen.

Hey Remco, how are you? What’s your favorite release at this moment?

I’m great, thank you. There are so many great releases this year. Currently I’m really enjoying the new albums by Elvenking, Beast in Black, Wintersun, and TDW, when it comes to metal at least, but I always try to listen to as much new albums as possible.

You take care of the keyboards and backing vocals in Armed Cloud, a band from Nijmegen. Can you tell us something about Armed Cloud’s history?

Sure. I think it is now almost seven years ago that Boris Suvee (bass) and Wouter van der Veen (guitars) joined forces to start what would become Armed Cloud one year later. When they moved to Nijmegen it really took off. One year later we recorded our first EP Shroud of Rain and entered various band contests, one of which we won. Our first album Obsidian Desert was released in May 2015 and it was received quite well actually. Now we just released our second album called Master Device & Slave Machines and we’re still kind of awaiting people’s responses to it, but so far it has been very positive.

How would you describe Armed Cloud’s music?

I find this always a tough question to answer. We try to market ourselves as symphonic metal, but there’s no denying that we have influences from progressive rock/metal, as well as hard rock and even pop music. I suppose if you’d throw bands like Fates Warning, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Rainbow and Savatage in a blender, you would get Armed Cloud anno 2017 as a result.

Recently, you released your second full-length album, called Master Device & Slave Machines. When you compare this new release with its predecessor, Obsidian Desert (2015), what is it you notice?

Something that we feel strongly, but what people also tell us, is that the new album is more mature than the debut. On Obsidian Desert, I think you can hear more influences from 80’s metal and power metal, whereas the new record feels more modern. We’ve grown as musicians, songwriters, and we’ve grown tighter as a band. I think the new album was made more consciously as an album, whereas Obsidian Desert was a collection of songs we used to play around that period.

You just had the release party of this new album. How was the audience’s response?

It was unbelievable. The whole promotional cycle of the album before its release was hectic and stressful, but the response of the audience was worth it one hundred percent. Merleyn was filled to the brink with people and the reactions were very positive.

Can we expect some more Armed Cloud shows soon?

Definitely. We have a confirmed gig in Arnhem’s Willemeen on February 23rd, together with prog giants Knight Area, but there are many ideas for more gigs in the works. People can follow us on Facebook and Twitter if they want to be notified about it.

What makes the metal scene in Nijmegen special?

It’s very diverse. I distinctly remember this night organized by the great people from Rockcafé Backstage, where six local bands were asked to play a short set in honor of the café’s anniversary. We opened the night. Stylistically, it went from symphonic metal to heavy, from sludge to death, and from thrash to a little bit of black. There was something for everyone there.

How do you look at the metal scene in Nijmegen?

I never really got a good look at the actual metal scene in Nijmegen, since it’s hard to pinpoint an exact place where most local bands play. I guess it’s hard to find a venue here that offers a stage for many local bands, maybe with the exception of Backstage. From what I’ve seen, though, it seems that people are very open.

For metalheads coming from outside Nijmegen, what are some nice places for them?

Definitely Rockcafé Backstage, which is a real proper metal café with a great ambience. Alternatively, Doornroosje and Merleyn book some great metal bands from time to time.

What are some bands from Nijmegen you would recommend?

I once saw Intero live and they were absolutely amazing, and very heavy. I’m not sure if they’re still active, but we once shared the stage with Erazer, which was some great 80’s-inspired heavy metal. Also, Diggeth is very worth checking out.

Which already confirmed shows in Nijmegen would you recommend to go to?

Doornroosje is going to house Steak Number Eight, Amenra, and Septicflesh in January.

Thanks for your answers! Is there something you would like to say to our readers?

Stay metal and support local bands! 😉

A band that can’t be left without mention is the partly Nijmegen-based Stentorian. Unfortunately this band already broke up a while ago.

We interviewed one of their guitarists and metalhead Paul Hendriksen below.

Hey Paul, how are you?

I’m fine, busy with music among many other things. I work as a sound engineer and I also play guitar again since a few years. I recently joined a southern rock band called Memphis Belle. We play southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd, but also a few more melodic kinds of things. A bit like The Allman Brothers, the old music from the ’70s. I do that for fun, but of course we want to deliver good quality. First of all, we are now focusing to getting used to each other playing together and getting a good sound. That’s why we mostly do covers now, but we’ll work with our own songs in the future. For my job I still work a lot with music, I am a sound engineer and theater technician. Since 9 years I am the music-specialist at De Lindenberg. I also do pop and jazz there, unfortunately there isn’t that much metal there. Before that job I worked as a technician at Doornroosje for 15 years, which got a lot more heavier music. However, now I am very satisfied with my job at De Lindenberg. Due to getting older the dance-nights at Doornroosje also got more difficult to do. Now, at the theater, my work is still varied and at different times, but it rarely takes the entire night. Writing and playing music is mostly a hobby for me nowadays.

What is your favorite metal-album at this moment?

It’s an album which is a bit older, Youngblood by Audrey Horne. It’s not their latest album, but their album from 5 years ago. It’s been a while since it’s released, but it still is the album I listen to the most. Furthermore I listen a lot to the latest album of Mastodon and I really dig Baroness. Post-metal is something I really like. Speaking about death metal, I often listen to Gruesome.

Why is it that you still listen the most to Audrey Horne’s Youngblood, despite it being a bit older release?

That is because they combine some things I don’t hear that often. Within metal most times it’s a band with good riffs and melodies, but with less song-quality or it’s a band with good songs, but then I miss the great guitar-parts. I am a guitarist myself and I like it when guitars are headlining in a band. In my opinion Audrey Horne has a really great combo of good compositions and very strong guitars without getting too technical. The only thing that probably could be better is that it sometimes sounds a bit outdated.

So, it’s better than their two later released albums, Pure Heavy (2014) and Blackout (2018)?

Yeah, for sure. Pure Heavy is very commercially produced. It still is pretty melodic, but the choruses have a high sing-a-long content. For me, Youngblood is their best album.

A while ago, you also was part of a metal band called Stentorian. Can you tell us something about that band?

It was a second wave doom/death band from Nijmegen and Arnhem. We started shortly after Pestilence started and after the first Gorefest-release. It was at the end of the ’80s/beginning of the ’90s when a second wave of doom/death bands was occurring in The Netherlands. It was a very big scene with 8 a 10 sub-top bands. We were one of those. It was a very big scene inspired by the Göteborg-scene and the UK-scene at that time with bands like Paradise Lost and Cathedral. When we started our music was really slow, like the first Paradise Lost-tracks. After a while we put more speed in our music. We got some great reviews in the Aardschok and someone from DSFA Records put our music on a compilation CD. That was what brought us further. We got the second place at the Gesel van Gelderland-contest and started playing with bigger bands like Gorefest, Napalm Death and Therion. From that moment on we were also able to headline the smaller venues. It all went pretty well, venues like the old location of Doornroosje were very busy when we played and we sold out venues like Willemeen. We did it that way for 10 years, then we broke up because of musical differences. Looking back, wanting to do something different musically wasn’t maybe not the best choice back then. Another reason, which was a reason for the scene in general, was the uprising of nu-metal. The more complex metal, which we often played especially at the end of our career, gained less interest of people. When you go through a lesser period, after a long successful period, you should have the power to keep going. The bands who did so, later got their extra boost. The best example of that is Asphyx. They already existed at that time, kept going and now they are more known than they’ve ever been, especially outside The Netherlands. After The Rack, their debut, nobody expected it to be this way. With Stentorian we released 1 album, Gentle Push To Paradise, via Displeased Records. Without promotion, it sold very well. It was beyond our expectations. It was very well-known in the underground scene, we still don’t know exactly why. At one moment I went to the biggest record store of Europe at that moment, Tower Records at Piccadilly Circus in London. There was a special section for us, that was amazing. It was a very nice period with a surprisingly big impact in this area. People still talk to us on the streets because they enjoyed our music. That is amazing, especially after such a long time. I also taught Paul Baayens, guitarist/songwriter of Asphyx, too play the guitar. He immediately was the most eager student and I am proud he got so far. It is nice to see that his music brings him much further than me with my music.

When did Stentorian break up?

We broke up in 1999. We tried to do something different as 3 Years Laundry, after Stentorian broke up. Without grunts and a little bit calmer, a little bit like Faith No More, but suddenly I couldn’t play guitar anymore. Suddenly I suffered from chronic RSI. I was playing the final of De Roos Van Nijmegen with a stoner rock band, but I had to quit, which was sad. It was caused by playing guitar too much and having too much bands at the same time. At that time I played in five bands. Stentorian was my main band, but I did a lot of different things besides it, one of them being that stoner rock band. I started to dig stoner, which was caused Gorefest’s Soul Survivor. It got a lot of stoner rock influences. The stoner rock band I was part of was together with Peter Onstein, who organizes Oranjepop nowadays and Michel Spruit. Together with Michel, Marcel van Hal and Peter Dragt (of Bambix and Pure Breed) we started a Kyuss cover band. After 6 or 7 years that Kyuss cover band became the band called Emperors. The longest time I played in a Nijmegen-based band was with them. I was part of Emperors for 11 years, they broke up a year ago. I started Emperors together with Simon Snel (Black Bottle Riot), Ralluf (Intero), Marcel and Noel. Simon was the first one who quit Emperors because Black Bottle Riot started doing well.

So, Memphis Belle is your only band at this moment?

Yes. Besides that I am searching for people to start a good metal band with. I got many great ideas.

And how about a possible Stentorian-reunion?

I don’t think that is going to happen. A few things should change first. We didn’t break up in a bad way, but practically I don’t see it happen. Another reason is the drummer having a very busy schedule. He is a professional musician and is doing very well. At this moment he has a job in a big musical and he also drummed a few years in Stream Of Passion. I don’t completely exclude a reunion, but I don’t see it happen soon. We once had a reunion, after 10 years. It was very successful, got some great reviews, but I think that was the end. I don’t exclude working with some of the members of Stentorian by the way.

You already said you like doom/death and stoner. Are there any more styles in metal you dig and, if so, which styles?

Sure. I already sort of mentioned it when talking about Audrey Horne. I am a great fan of the older, two-part things. I love things like Iron Maiden. I also like a lot of doom and death metal. Post metal is something very interesting for me because a lot is happening in there from a musician’s perspective. Musically, I don’t like post metal all the time, but it is very interesting. I hear where it is coming from and I think it’s interesting how they embed that into their music. Mastodon is a perfect example of that. I don’t like all their albums equally much, but what they do is interesting. Recently I saw them in Berlin and their show was quite impressive. Their recent albums might be a bit less compared to the earlier ones, but they perform in a very nice way at a live show. They also have a very good additional live musician since a short while, Neurosis’ vocalist Scott Kelly. He really is an extra, because he is singing much better. I like many styles of metal. However I can be very clear about what I don’t like, which is nu-metal. The main reason for that is because it doesn’t have much melody in it. I really like melody, which makes me also listen to a lot of things outside metal. Of course a lot of more extreme metal also has a lot of melody as counterpart in the music. I really like that. Death metal is something I like almost all the time.

Even the more ramming, old school death metal with less melody?

Yeah, I also like that. However the reason I like that is different, it has more to do with nostalgia. So, that is why I am a bit more forgiving to that style. Of course there are some great exceptions in the more ramming, less melodic styles. For example, the older thrash metal bands got less melody, but I also like that very much. Another big exception for me is Obituary, I really love that band. I think I really like a ramming style band when it is very filthy, because with that they make a statement.

What was the most memorable metal show in Nijmegen for you?

There’s not one particular show my favorite, but the early 90’s shows from Annihilator (Doornroosje), Obituary (Staddijk “Cause of Death” tour) and the first Neurosis show at the old Doornroosje venue were pretty impressive.

What makes the metal scene in Nijmegen special?

In my opinion there is a bit of lack in unity. It seems like there are little groups of metalheads at many different places, but there isn’t a real coherent scene. Of course there is a pub like Backstage. It’s a place I visit regularly, but I don’t see many younger people there. Back in the days all metalheads went to Staddijk and all other music fans went to Doornroosje. Of course, Doornroosje also got some metal bands on stage regularly, but the people from Staddijk didn’t go there. I didn’t get that, because the bands were great. Sometimes they literally said “it is in Doornroosje”, which was for them a reason not to go to that show. Of course, the fact of Staddijk not existing anymore is a tragedy for the metal scene in Nijmegen. The heart of the scene is ripped out. I really appreciate the way Doornroosje and Freek (FortaRock) try to fix this. They do a great job. Of course an annually returning festival like FortaRock is awesome.

Are you also going to this year’s edition of FortaRock? Which bands are you looking forward to the most?

For sure. Speaking about the bit older bands I really look forward to Death Angel and Kreator. I am a big Kreator fan. One of my all time favorite bands is Opeth. Meshuggah is amazing live. Baroness is another band I really like. I also like one of their latest additions, Dool. Something I am curious about is Igorrr. I saw them once, which was the worst performance I ever saw at that time. After that show I listened to their music a few times and it made me curious again.

For metalheads from outside Nijmegen, what are some nice places to go to in Nijmegen?

Doornroosje, the quality of the sound is phenomenal at their new location. They are clearly number one at my list of venues when it comes to the quality of the sound.

What are some metal bands from Nijmegen you would recommend?

Unfortunately Obeah still don’t get very much attention. I think it is the greatest metal band in Nijmegen nowadays, their style is little bit like Obituary, they also got some Pestilence influences. They released a demo and it is very nice. Another upcoming band I like is with a guitarist coming from Nijmegen. It is the new band of George Oosthoek called Shinigami. Another nice upcoming band is Bismut. They just signed with Pink Tank Records. Their style is a mix of metal, mathcore and stoner. Bismut is a band with members of Bandito, Emperors and Geiser. They only exist for a year now and they already got their record deal. Their first full-length will be released in October. Another band I really like is Mt. Echo.

Which already confirmed metal shows in Nijmegen would you recommend to go to?

FortaRock of course. Lonely Kamel is also a really nice band, they play in Merleyn, April 16th. Another show I would recommend going to is Anciients and Black Wizard in Merleyn, March 4th. Fleddy Melculy and Rectum Raiders in Doornroosje, March 23th and Monster Magnet and Monolord, May 5th in Doornroosje are also nice gigs to go to.

Thanks for your answers! Is there something you would like to say to our readers?

Keep the metal spirit alive, because it is an very great genre. We make the scene together, so keep going to concerts. That way bands can keep touring and doing the things they’re good at.

When you are in Nijmegen and are looking for some nice metal-albums, be sure to pay a visit to Nijmegen’s record stores: Kroese, De Waaghals, Het Vinylarchief and Obscuur.

As said before, let us know what you think about this feature (and this first edition) and also be sure to let us know which local scene you want to read about in the future.

Mentioned bands (partly) from Nijmegen:
Dead Man’s Walk
Armed Cloud
Memphis Belle
Van Halen
Pure Breed
Apollo Rising
The Unslain
The Barleycorn Bastards
Mt. Echo
Rectum Raiders

Venues/cafés in Nijmegen:
Rockcafe Backstage
De Bijstand
De Onderbroek
Café Jos
Café In De Blaauwe Hand
De Hemel

(Record) stores in Nijmegen:
De Waaghals
Paul’s Bass Matters

Festivals in Nijmegen:
De Roos Van Nijmegen
De Kaaij

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