Dead End’s death, well, let’s just say it came far too soon. Luckily, though, there is such a thing as resurrection in metal.
Formed at the end of the ’80s, the band released a couple of demos, but despite a groundswell of popularity in their home country of the Netherlands, the promise of a proper full-length turned into an EP, and Dead End called it a day in the early ’90s. When Vic Records reached out and requested the old songs in 2014, it created a spark, and in 2015, those songs were released as Forever Is Not Eternal (read our review here), and the band regrouped, albeit with a new roster. They have kept the momentum going, and on September 16, they will release Reborn from the Ancient Grave on Vic Records (read our review here). Thanks to the Internet, contributor Jason Zins hooked up with bassist Alwyn Roes, the only original member of Dead End playing in the band today, and vocalist Bryan Boorsma, for an email interview as they prepare for the release, touring, and, yes, even another album.
Your new album, Reborn From The Ancient Grave, is coming out in September, how does it differ from Forever Is Not Eternal?
Boorsma: The obvious reason is that most of the band members are new, everyone with their own inspirations. But we all knew what Dead End was about, and we’ve put that into the new album. You will hear something different; a different sound, different riffs, different transitions. But it’s still Dead End.
Roes: I think it’s like a natural evolution, even though we are an almost complete different line-up it’s like Bryan says, just Dead End. The main change is 23 years in between these two albums, and of course you can hear that.
Basically, this is a completely different band, other than Alwin, who remains the only member from the early days. Alwin, how is it performing the old songs with a different band?
Roes: Well, surprisingly solid actually. We did the first year with old songs, and for the last four gigs we added some already new songs. But the most important thing is that the chemistry within this new formation is so very good that it feels like this was Dead End all along. Nothing feels weird, and it’s been like that from day one … (I) didn’t expect that, but it really is. This Dead End is as strong as the band will ever be!
How was the recording process on the new album with the new members?
Boorsma: Pretty fluently. We did “one-take” record sessions to keep the sound as pure and real as possible; no metronome, no triggers or any “modern day“ tricks. We went into the studio, plugged in, and played like we would rehearse, all together as a live band, except for some vocals and solo guitars we did later, but the rest was like a real live performance … and it turned out better than we even hoped for.
Roes: We’ve being seeing this whole reboot of the band like it was a new band with a certain legacy to hold up, but as I said, it has been a natural trip all the way. I insisted on doing the album the “old school way.” That was kinda new to some band members, but hearing and seeing the reviews now, we (know we) made the right decision, we are getting extra credits for the great sound, clear and heavy “in your face“ like in the early nineties. Never old-fashioned or kicking back the easy way by repeating an old trick, I think that’s the best compliment we can get, ’cause that exact feeling is what we aimed for.
You guys released “Nails Of The Martyr” first. How has the response been? It’s such a kick-ass song!
Boorsma: Very great actually. People like the dynamic between the fast and hard parts, and the soft melodic parts.
Roes: It was a tricky one, and we were very anxious and curious how the fans would react. It is the first thing Dead End did after 23 years of silence. Upholding the Dead End feeling was important to us, so we were kinda nervous, but that changed quickly. The reactions on this clip were overwhelmingly awesome!
You play a very eclectic blend of doom and death metal styles. Who are your influences?
Boorsma: … when it comes to Dead End, I really think back to the old Paradise Lost, the Gothic-era. When I first heard Dead End, it took me right back to those days and it gives me the energy to use that into our own music.
Roes: I think the same influences were preserved as 25 years ago. Dead End is a blend of old school styles (of) Scandinavian death, like Unleashed and Entombed, and doom bands like Candlemass, Paradise Lost, Anathema and MDB (My Dying Bride) who inspired us (me in particular) still have their roots in the new stuff. But I have to say, the death side has taken more space on our latest work compared to the songs from the Wartime in Eden EP.
What do you see different in the metal world versus the early years of Dead End?
Roes: Well, the whole scene is very different. For one, the scene is overcrowded with bands, and it’s more difficult to play good attended live shows, because there are so many gigs every weekend. But the good thing is that the scene is still true and dedicated. Good, hard working bands still find their way to the crowd.
What does the future hold for Dead End, and will you be touring internationally in support of Reborn From The Ancient Grave?
Boorsma: Our future looks bright. As of now we would like to visit as much places as we can, play a lot of gigs, meet a lot of new people and see where we can take this. And of course internationally!
Roes: I myself do our bookings, and I can tell you we are going to hit some awesome countries soon. Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Sweden, Slovenia. Contacts are already made.
What are your future plans for Dead End?
Roes: As eager as we are to hit the road with this cruel new album, we are already thinking about our new album, hahahaha! Plans are to make a concept album, me and (guitarist) Arjan (Jansen) are already exchanging some riff ideas and Bryan is working on a story to tell in the Dead End style. For sure we can say that we are reborn, and the scene has to count on Dead End not leaving any day soon now.
Boorsma: To continue the path that we are walking now and see where it takes us. What we can promise is more shows and more music. This show isn’t over!
Reborn from the Ancient Grave is out September 16 on Vic Records. Pre-order it here!