From the land of Kierkegaard and King Diamond comes Dead Instrument, a grindcore four-piece that peddles perfectly blistering blasting. Think the hyperactive razor’s edge of Discordance Axis meets the turbo-charged attack of Yacøpsæ, duking it out in forty-second bursts of sharp-shot slicing and shrieking.
Though their debut EP Maksimal Destruction was markedly more rudimentary by comparison, 2012’s Violent Death honed in on the band’s potential, and delivered the goods in spades. This year’s See Through Negative proves that DxIx hasn’t missed a step in the intervening two years, using the time to sharpen their attack to an even finer blunted point. The snarling death-tinted riffs of “Streetwalker Crosshairs” are carving and killer, while ragers like the title track and “Chain and Pavement” leave little standing in their wake.
To quote Ian Chainey’s recent round-up of overlooked gems, “…In the time it took you to read this, you could’ve spun See Through Negative in its entirety. Why aren’t you on an order page? Get your shit together.” As usual, Ian’s right — Negative is positively destructive, and all grind lovers should find the necessary eight minutes to get their necks snapped. Dedicated fans that we are, Ian arranged for me to find out more about Denmark’s finest grinders, and this is what vocalist Jacob and guitarist Philip had to say. Five questions, five answers, starting…
The latest Dead Instrument EP, See Through Negative, was released in January 2014 on Raw Birth Records. So far, like Violent Death, See Through Negative has (rightfully) garnered positive praise in the press. It’s a sharp, focused grind record, with great production and a relentless violent energy — just how grind should be. Now that I’ve told you how I would describe it, can you tell me how you would describe See Through Negative? What were the band’s thoughts going into the recording process: Was it grind business as usual, or were there any specific changes you were trying to make in regards to the new vs. the old material?
Jacob: Thank you for the kind words! When comparing the two releases mentioned, I would definitely describe the new EP as more focused, to the point and slightly less “metal” than our 2012 release. Our individual efforts have begun to grow from a greater sense of urgency, and we are now a much more disciplined unit than back in 2010 when Violent Death was recorded. I feel that this comes across on the new release. I also think that the production has progressed, and gotten closer to what we want.
Philip: Well, like Jacob says, the recording was more focused this time, and we had had the chance to perform the songs live every night over a week when we toured with the awe-striking Meth Drinker, a few weeks prior to recording the 7”. Playing the songs live before we actually go into the studio seems to be a major help for the recording process.
There’s not much information on Dead Instrument floating about the internet. Can you give us a quick history of the band — how did you four come together? What are your biggest influences, both musically and lyrically?
Jacob: Yeah, we’re super mysterious… [laughs] Here goes the bio: Emil and I got together through a “musician seeking musician”-type message board. We started playing with a couple of other guys, but it didn’t work out. We then got together with Philip and a new bass player, and formed a band called Stalk of Death (playing some very gritty deathgrind). We played some shows and recorded a couple of demos. Emil, Philip and I then (in 2007 or 2008?) decided to part with the bass player, change the name to Dead Instrument and play as a three-piece. Not too long thereafter we met Sebastian and teamed up with him. After recording Violent Death in 2010 we went through a bit of stagnation. We had trouble getting the record released, and we started focusing on other projects. Then in 2012 Nikolaj and Victor (of Raw Birth Records!!!) released Violent Death, and things fucking rock now! With regards to lyrical influences, I would say that overall human ridiculousness plays a huge part. My perspective and execution is of course shaped by others (Marx, Nietzsche, Céline…) in various ways.
Philip: Musicwise, we all listen to lots of really different stuff, and our sound sort of had a schizophrenic vibe (although more heavily embedded in metal) in the Stalk of Death days, and beyond. From a “grind” perspective, the inspirational starting point for us was mainly early Pig Destroyer stuff and Discordance Axis above all else. Also bands like The Kill, Flesh Parade and Yacøpsæ probably played their part in shaping our sound. Throughout the years we’ve increasingly tried to make our grindcore as “pure” as possible.
Raw Birth releases their records only on vinyl and cassette, and thus there’s no CD or digital release of See Through Negative available. What are your thoughts on physical media vs. digital distribution? Is there any concern that limiting the ability of fans to purchase your records digitally might also limit the band’s reach?
Philip: Hmm, not really. I mean it’s so easy to discover new music and download it through YouTube / Facebook / Bandcamp / whatever these days. I don’t think it makes much of a difference if you add digital releases as an option. If you want it, you can get it. (Albeit, ripped vinyls and YouTube doesn’t sound that great!) Probably the easiest way to get your band out is to play tons of shows, the way it’s always been. We have never really been too active on that account, but are making up for it now! I think digital releases are kind of icky, and I would always prefer having a physical copy myself. It’s not like we make any money off this thing, and if people like it or want it, they can download it, for all I care, and then come to the shows and support us that way. Maybe pick up a vinyl [copy] then! That being said, we’re not averse to CDs. We have been in contact with Roby (Blastasfuk / The Kill) about doing a CD comp later this year, which will hopefully come to fruition, being that Blastasfuk is a grind label to be reckoned with!
Denmark is generally more known for its contributions in other realms of extreme music than it is for grindcore. (See: Mercyful Fate, Artillery, Pyramaze, Pretty Maids, Panzerchrist, et al.) In an interview with Grind To Death, Denmark’s earliest grinders Sardonic Death stated they were ridiculed by the metal scene and, though they were somewhat embraced by the crusties, they never felt at home in the punk scene. Has the Danish grindcore scene changed? Or is there a scene at all?
Jacob: I don’t know that there is much of a grindcore scene. There are only a few bands. (For instance, Swarm in Aarhus, who fucking kick ass.) As far as a genuine scene (albeit one that spans / encompasses many different takes on aggressive rock music), it seems most fitting to count DxIx with the other bands and people (visual artists, engineers and other movers and shakers) involved with Raw Birth Records. I feel that we all share a common attitude towards music and D.I.Y. culture.
According to Facebook, you’ve got an upcoming show with Brutal Truth on their goodbye trek across Europe — clearly you’re excited about that. What other plans does Dead Instrument have for 2014 and beyond?
Jacob: We’re really excited about a lot of stuff at the moment. We are hitting the road with P.L.F. (fucking stoked!!!) from the middle of May to the middle of June. A split will be released in connection with the tour, and together we’ll play a ton of shows all over the European continent. When we get home we’ll have about one week to decompress before entering the studio to record a new EP (again with Lasse Ballade at Subversive Studios!). We’re playing Bloodshed Fest in October, and then more split shit, and the Blastasfuk discography release mentioned above… And the plan is to record a new full length next year…
Thanks for your time! We really appreciate it, and we’re definitely looking forward to new EPs and LPs…
Jacob: Thanks for showing interest! Keep it greeeezy…
Philip: Yeah man! Thanks a lot for the great questions, hope to see you somewhere with P.L.F come May / June!