A while back Graham, from Deepsend Rec told me to ck out his newest signed band from Denmark, Deus Otiosus. I picked up their first cd Murderer and was blown away by this killer band. Rather than go for the chunky/blast/groove of other Danish amazing bands, Deus.. were opting to go for a rawer, older school sound that was a marrying of sorts that I would call blackened death/thrash metal. The album latched onto me quickly due to the tunes being really catchy and reminded me of some of the greats from the late 80’s/early 90’s. The band furthered their sound on the 2012 Godless. Simply an extraordinary piece of brutal music, that retained the raw feel of their debut, but went further in the song structures and it is an amazing album, making my best of last year. Simply put this is one of the best young bands in the scene as of now and another fine addition to Deepsend Records. I can praise this band all fuckin day, that is the reality. Their guitarist, Henrik, had some killer answers to all the questions and was genuine in his responses, even to the non musical questions. After reading this, go and order their albums, do not hesitate or the little reaper dude, from their logo, just may appear threatening to lop off your head!
Interview with Deus Otiosus guitarist Henrik
By Frank Rini
1. Tell us your name and your role in the band? How long have you been doing this for and what gear do you use?
“My name is Henrik Engkjær, I play the guitar and compose music for Deus Otiosus. Deus Otiosus has been active since 2005, but I’ve played metal music ten years before that. Currently I use a Marshall amp and a Gibson guitar.”
2. Your 2010 debut Murderer is outstanding and I noticed last year’s 2012 release Godless was not only just as killer, but had more blast beats/faster parts. What made you decide to go this route and is this something you will be expanding on in the future?
“Thanks for your words. Maybe “Godless” it has more faster parts. But we’re not really going for more fast songs as such. We’re going for more overall variation and dynamic on each album. On our next album you’ll hear that each song has it’s own dynamic and pulse, there’s fast, slow and many things in between. We’re using the pace and the pulse as one of the means to give each song it’s own character, so every song adds a new side to the album, while still following a red line.”
3. Is Godless a conceptual album, focusing on the Devil, or that man has left to fend for himself? What made you decide to do this, also your debut was conceptual in nature as well, following the Jack the Ripper story, will each album have a conceptual approach?
“We work with concepts in different ways, sometimes following them, sometimes breaking them. For example the orphan mankind in a godless world is the main concept of the band, and meaning of the band name. But there are other things like the black and white artwork, one-word titles and so on that have been returning. We try to both have many different concepts and links between our records, but also do new things. Each album will be different, but still keeping some of our traditions. Repetition and renewal.”
4. Your sound is pretty original, I have to say, which is really tough to do. How did you develop this sound and how difficult is it to maintain originality in this genre?
“Thanks, man. That’s cool to hear! Of course it is difficult to be original. Especially today with so many bands out there. But the first step is simply not trying directly to be unoriginal. It seems like many bands play death metal by numbers. Turn down their guitars, set their amps to max bass and treble and no mid-tone, try to mimic the riffs and drumming of their idols. Our sound comes to us naturally without thinking about any rules or norms of the genre. I’m from a school of death metal, where every band sounded like themselves, and we will do that too. To me it seems very strange that you can be Morbid Angel-inspired by copy-pasting their sound. Morbid Angel was never about mimicry!”
5. How did the contract with Deepsend Records and will your next album be with them? Speaking of new material, are you developing any new material and how does it compare to your other albums?
“We sent Deepsend Records an advance CD, and they got back to us as the first label. We didn’t hesitate to sign with them, and we are happy to be on that label. They are well-known in Denmark as they have released a bunch of Danish bands. We don’t really have a good national metal label in Denmark, so I think Deepsend is the closest you can get to a label that supports the Danish scene. If the next record will be released by them is up to them, as they have an option for another album. We are indeed writing new material with more creativity and more focused than ever before. Half the songs are finished and are being rehearsed. And the other half I’m writing on and are in different stages of completion. I’m writing on many songs at once, as I have the vision of how each song must be to create the right overall dynamic and flow of the album anyway. This way each song also gets a longer creative process and can be fine tuned more. I think you will see the same development you saw from our debut to “Godless”: Character, meaning and memorability will course stronger through the songs. There will be more ideas and details and more dynamic and variation between the songs. Just a better and more thorough songwriting level on all counts.”
6. More than 75% of your country are members of the Church of Denmark. Were you raised religious and how do you feel the religion affects your societal structure/politics?
“No, the membership number is high because it’s active withdrawal rather than active enrollment. Christianity in Denmark is relaxed and not something with impact on people’s lives, save for a few places perhaps. In fact I would say that Islam fills much more in our society today than Christianity does. I didn’t have a religious upbringing as such. Maybe Christianity has been a fundament for the values of society, but I would say that today things such as relativism and social constructionism are more central.”
7. Have you ventured to other Scandinavian countries, such as Finland, Sweden or Norway? What are the big differences regarding the music scenes and how do you feel Deus Otiosus fits into the Danish scene? Are you a supporter of it and friends with the other bands? What are the shows like and what is the largest crowd you have played in front of?
“Yes, we were in Sweden just last week and it was a great show with Sonne Adam in Malmö. We hope to come back to Sweden again this year, and Norway would be great too of course! There is no doubt that metal is bigger in the other Scandinavian countries than in Denmark. I sometimes think that metal is bigger in any western country than here. Sure we have friends in other bands and I like to hang out and talk when the chance is there. But to tell you the truth, I’m not the most social person in the world, so I’m not
out drinking with metal heads every weekend. We haven’t played any big shows as such, maybe 250 people in Copenhagen. But we will play Copenhell festival this week. That’s the biggest metal festival in Denmark, so maybe we’ll have a larger crowd there.”
8. Since the 19th century Denmark has been a constitutional monarchy, does this have a positive impact on your culture/society? Do you believe in it? What would you like to see it replaced with or changed?
“I don’t know if it has an impact on the people, some do seem to enjoy it. But the monarchy doesn’t have any real power, so it’s insignificant to me. Also the expenditure for the monarchy is a drop in the ocean of public expenditure in this Danish Kafkaesque society. The monarchy is not something to concern the mind with.”
9. What does the name Deus Otiosus mean and who came up with the name? Who came up with the simple, yet killer band logo? Other than Danish bands, what are your influences and other types of bands/music you listen to?
“Ustumallagam from Nox Graphics (also in Denial Of God) did our logo and he came up with the look. I really like the logo and I think it’s some of the best stuff he’s done. I’ve heard that from others too. It’s very readable and recognizable. Influences are a big topic! I’m inspired by all greatness: Morbid Angel, Deicide, Pestilence, Slayer, Metallica, Dio, Black Sabbath or David Bowie. All good music can inspire me. I mostly get inspired how to make good music. I don’t want to mimic anyone else’s style and have never tried to do so. I also get a lot of inspiration from books like Nietzsche or Lovecraft, architecture, paintings etc.. All creative greatness!”
10. Where do you want your band to go in the next 5 years? How tough is it to maintain the band and a full time job? What do you do outside the band, for work/fun?
“In five years? I have no idea! In one year from now we probably have another record out! We’re working hard on new material. Like most of the other guys I have a full time job and a girlfriend and child. The band is the only thing I do besides this. I’ve had to cut everything else out. Arh ok, I do find a bit of time for reading or seeing friends.”
11. If you could tour with any 3 bands, who would they be and why?
“Current bands? Absu, Morbid Angel and Macabre, because they still represent the pinnacle of human creativity and some of the last standing within great metal music.”
12. Any final thoughts/comments?
“Thanks a lot for the cool interview and interest. It was a pleasure!”