Diving into the band's forthcoming, Seagrave-illustrated outing.
Consisting of Marc Grewe (MORGOTH, DESPAIR), Silenoz (DIMMU BORGIR), and Shane Embury (NAPALM DEATH), Norway's INSIDIOUS DISEASE are ready to follow up on 2010's Shadowcast with their forthcoming full-length, After Death. Arriving on October 30th via Nuclear Blast Records, After Death harnesses from the trials and tribulations of the decade since their debut (including the passing of Grewe's father), resulting in a death metal juggernaut to keep on your radar. Just take a gander at Dan Seagrave's signature cover artwork and tell us otherwise for the music embodied within resembles the same deadly qualities.
We talk to frontman Marc Grewe about all things After Death ahead of the release:
A decade from ‘Shadowcast’ and you’re back with ‘Insidious Disease’, which marks a complete step up on all levels. As veterans in the scene, is the pre-release excitement still as high as it was for ‘Shadowcast’ or any of your older releases with other bands?
Grewe: Thank you very much. Well yes, of course! It is always exciting to release a new album and see how people will react to it. Of course, you run the risk that it might not be as relevant down the line if people don´t like it. I guess that´s a matter of 'the older you get, the more relaxed you handle criticism'. But in general, yes!
We're confident that won't be the case. The record is long in the making, first taking shape right after the debut album’s release cycle and evidently undergoing a lot of change given the personal experiences in your respective lives. With the record now seeing the light of day in October, where does it stand in the contemporary, pandemic-ridden world?
Grewe: Yes, the record has been long in the making. We started with the first songs in 2012 and even played the first song from "After Death" (Divine Fire) at a festival in Bergen in 2012. Songs have of course developed over that period of time and we have gone through some personal depth in these years as well, which lead us to the album title actually. For example, I lost my father during the production, so comparing the whole lyrical atmosphere around the album to these weird times we are living in now hits it like a nail, without (of course) knowing what would happen in 2020. It feels very bizarre, but in the end, maybe we were kind of foreseeing...
Musically, ‘Insidious Disease’ is truly refined and concise, blasting away with excellent musicianship and attention to detail. Tracks like ‘Divine Fire’ and ‘Nefarious Atonement’ immediately stood out as highlights for they reshape the old school in such a crisp manner. That said, what did you look to achieve with the record?
Grewe: Well, it´s not so much that we are seeking for the reinvention of the wheel with our music. We are all just fans and our roots are for sure the OSDM sound/bands. That´s what we grew up with and what suits us mostly. It´s just great to create the music we love ourselves with having no boundaries of band members that want to "progress". It's much more fun playing in this band now than it than it was in the previous years (at least in the last few years, haha).
Jumping into the visuals, you went from a twisted Kjell Lund photograph to art by the legendary Dan Seagrave. From seeing the cover art trailer that Nuclear Blast shared, it would seem that there was no other choice but Seagrave to take on the project for ‘Insidious Disease’. With him having illustrated so many iconic death metal releases, what does it mean to you to have his artistic blessing on this release?
Grewe: Well, it was a great coincidence. We met Dan during the Inferno festival (Oslo) in 2017, where he and other famous artists held an exhibition during the festival. Dan came to our show and like what he saw and heard, I guess.
After the show, me and Silenoz (guitars) had a great talk with him and he was asked us if we already found someone doing the cover. We said that we hadn't yet, so he offered his work, which of course let our jaws drop. It was absolutely not expected that this would happen!
We told Dan that we had this "working title" of 'After Death' in mind (with having these before mentioned circumstances of losing loved people, relationships, etc.) and only 2 weeks later, he came up with a first sketch, which is what basically ended up as our cover artwork. He totally hit the nail!!
As you mention, there’s a personal connection with your father having passed away during the record’s writing process. Visually, how did you look to interpret that when approaching Seagrave with your themes and concepts?
Grewe: It was something we were talking to Dan bout. like losing someone within the production of this album, so we would like to have a certain connection to that. As I said, I think he totally understood what we meant and transformed it visually into something dark (a feeling that was surrounding me around that time).
He totally understood what we were talking about in the first place. He sent us a sketch, which we thought was already perfect, and then added lots of details to it too.
There’s a massive amount of hidden details scattered throughout the cover, which can be missed at first glance. Was this intentional, as if to engage listeners in a more interactive manner? Or did this all happen organically?
Grewe: I personally love looking at covers (remember doing this as a kid when I was totally into Iron Maiden) while listening to the music. The same happens if you listen to our songs and look at the cover. It is such a great piece of dark art, but so are our songs, and I think both go together just perfectly. It just feeds your personal imagination! Therefore of course, I think its great to get the album on vinyl.
Having spoken to Seagrave in the past, I’m aware that he crafts a variety of initial sketches and adapts them to the band’s suggestions, if at all. Was the concept agreed upon early on or were there elements that needed revision?
Grewe: Nope, all he came up with was already perfect. I wouldn't even dare to tell such a great artist what to do. He has his own vision, and as an artist, I know how much a pain in the arse it could be if a non artist wants to tell you what to do better. It would honestly be perfect in whatever way he drew it!
Mandatory question for us here at Heaviest of Art. Do you recall a time where an album cover made you pick up a record or even changed the way you engaged with it?
Grewe: Yes, definitely Iron Maiden with their record Killers (1981). I think I was 12 when I saw that record in my local record shop. Back then, I didn't even know the band nor could I read the Iron Maiden logo, haha. I just bought it because of the cover and ever since then, I have the connection to what is called Metal I guess ;-)
Not a bad place to start your journey, eh? Jumping into your record though, 'After Death' presents itself as yet another fantastic entry in what we’d like to consider an ongoing death metal renaissance. Where do you see the genre now compared to where it was decades ago?
Grewe: It´s great to see that there are so many young bands having a crush with OSDM! As a veteran, these new bands could be my kids...but I think the bands do it in a fantastic way without spoiling the heritage of the old bands. I hope this will go on further and further. Great to see!!!
After Dark arrives on October 30th via Nuclear Blast. Order your copy of it HERE.