Dead Neanderthals Conducts A “Blood Rite” (Album Stream + Interview)
A slow, crawling, eldritch horror, direct from the nightmare world. Dead Neanderthals has been known to craft otherworldly "heavy free jazz" atmospheres in other releases, but Blood Rite is something different and older in a… different sort of way. With Otto Kokke ditching his trademark wailing saxophone for crushing, heavily distorted synthesizer and Rene Aquarius slowing his usual blast to a slow plod, Blood Rite is far from Dead Neanderthals' usual "New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz." No, Blood Rite is minimal, destructive death/doom metal, a 27-minute venture into the darkest recesses of horror-music and pitch-black tones.
Parallels can be made between this Dutch duo's frantic jazz musings and Blood Rite's minimal lumbering -- the names of the game here, much like with every other Dead Neanderthals album, are energy and atmosphere, which Blood Rite oozes in spades. Though this isn't your average, or at least partially expected Dead Neanderthals release, Blood Rite's anti-mania crushes the listener all the same. Lose yourself in an exclusive stream of this single-track album and read an interview with the band below
Though Dead Neanderthals has always flirted with a more metallic side to free/avant-garde jazz, Blood Rite is a more overt embracing of metal -- in this case, synthesizer-led death/doom metal. What led to this change for this release?
Simple answer: Roadburn Festival. We wanted to create something harsh and loud exclusively for the festival and surprise everybody. Guess we failed miserably due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Having said that, we were playing with the thought of something loud and slow since our early days (2012 or so), but we never sounded the way we wanted when playing in the rehearsal space.
Having bridged the gap between aggressive metal and even more aggressive jazz on previous recordings, do you feel there is a unifying factor between the two?
There seems to be some kind of a connection between the two as we are certainly not the only ones trying to bridge that gap. Just look at Imperial Triumphant or the majority of I, Voidhanger's catalogue. One factor is that the more you travel towards the edges of a genre, the more open you get to others. Genres meet at the edges.
Do you feel that Blood Rite exists at that proverbial edge or fringe?
Well... It's a 27-minute long, single track album that moves along at a glacial pace and has a super lo-fi aesthetic. It's a safe bet this exists at the fringe of doom, drone and death metal. Haha, go convince your one neighbor with a Ride the Lightning CD that this isn't beyond the edge of anything!
Fair enough, I guess we've been spoiled by experimental music for a long time at this point.
I noticed there is a significant lack of saxophone and other woodwind instruments on this release. What led to Otto switching to keyboards/synthesizers for this release?
That's the side-effect when listening to truckloads of experimental albums. Nothing sounds weird anymore.
And yes, no saxophone on this one. Just like the Twin Sister album, no saxophone on that one too. We always carefully evaluate our options when working on new music. Nothing is sacred, the end result is the only thing that counts. If the record will be better with saxophone, we will use saxophone. For this record, that was not the case. It's always a big part of the process for us. Sometimes we make big decisions very late in the process: by replacing acoustic drum sounds with samples for example. Delivering the best possible album is always our main goal. In this case it's the instrumentation we had up in our rehearsal space at the time. The idea, sound and execution just clicked. We went with it and this is the result.
The postcard Utech Records sends out with the tape very prominently features a Rat distortion pedal -- would you say this recording is an ode to the Rat?
The RAT kind of represents the cheapo eighties distort-it-until-you-can't-hear-it's-crap sound. On this recording we aimed for that overly distorted RAT sound; the original instrument sound was killed as much as possible. The RAT poster was label boss Keith Utech's idea, it's like the cheezy old ads in music mags. It fits the overall tone and atmosphere of the release.
What kind of tone were you looking to achieve with this release?
Would it be cliché to say: "the heaviest tone we could conjure up with our gear"? Probably. So let's spice it up a little, it should also have a gory/putrid sound, if that makes any sense. The sound of the early Carcass days, when every instrument had this weird gooey quality to it, as if it came out of a David Cronenberg movie. After some demos, we were convinced we would only get there if we recorded the album as loud as possible, in one take in our rehearsal room. Synth, drums and vocals all blend together into an amorphous blob. You could also describe that as 'crappy', recording the vocals through the PA monitors and all, but we've gotten kind of good at recording this way. The hi-fi of lo-fi.
With that in mind, what should listeners take away from this recording?
Yeah, this is where it always necessarily gets a bit vague. I guess the best way to put it is 'atmosphere' or 'a feeling'. This is not about smart songwriting, instrumental prowess or lyrical content. Just being immersed for a small half hour. In the end we just hope people like it as much as we do. That's what we're always aiming for. Curious to see whether they will embrace or reject the inclusion of vocals. And if they'll play it at their funeral.