Burden of Grief is a German metal band that believes in going for the jugular. Some people have characterized their blistering work as “melodic death metal,” a term that has been applied to Scandinavian bands like At the Gates, In Flames, and Age of Ruin. Burden of Grief don’t really sound like the Nordic bands that are considered melodic death metal and/or symphonic black metal. Instead, Burden of Grief — whose albums are best described as a combination of death metal and thrash metal with power metal references — get most of their inspiration from American and British bands. Those bands range from the seminal Slayer to Megadeth to Iron Maiden (although Burden of Grief generally favor a thrash-filled and faster approach than Maiden and other old-school power metal outfits).
This is a brief overview of what is truly a very talented band formed in 1994. These guys are not new to the music scene. Like all bands, they have had some member changes over the years. Moving forward to present day we get a chance to talk with them about their most recent release “Unchained” and to talk with them about what’s next in the pipeline and what the future holds for Burden Of Grief and their loyal fan base.
First of all I would like to thank BOG for taking the time to talk with Metalheads Forever Magazine. It was a pleasure and a treat to get to ask a few questions with BOG and to have them take the time out of their very busy schedule to answer them. So with that being said, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of what is “Burden Of Grief”. I hope all is well with you guys and without further adieu let’s begin.
BURDEN OF GRIEF have been around since 1994, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves how you started? And where did the name derive from?
I think the beginning of BURDEN OF GRIEF was pretty much similar to the formation of so many other bands. We were just friends and schoolmates back then connected by the love to metal. More or less randomly we found out that we were also playing instruments. But none of us had ever played in a band before. So we met us as soon as possible in the basement of our drummer and spent the next few months playing cover songs of Metallica, Sodom and Paradise Lost. The mid-90s were pretty much the time of gothic bands like Paradise Lost, Type O Negative, Tiamat and so on, and we discovered the term BURDEN OF GRIEF in an old My Dying Bride song. That’s the origin of the band name. But when we speak of the formation of the band 22 years ago you always have to keep in mind that we were absolute beginners back then. So the first years were pretty much a time of apprenticeship. We really started at point zero without any experience in any ways.
You guys have such a unique sound, who is responsible for the creativity? Is it a collective effort?
Since I am the only remaining founding member along with our singer Mike you will recognize my musical handwriting on all BURDEN OF GRIEF records. I am responsible for half of the music which means that the other half is written by the other guys. Since 2006 we have the longest lasting line-up that we ever had and we wrote 3 albums together. Thereby we know all the strong but also the weak points of each other. And we developed a way of songwriting where we pay much attention to that, more than we did ever before. We try to concentrate to our strengths and that makes our music stronger.
Speaking of unique sound, would it be fair to say that you guys have been influenced by other bands along the way? If so who can you say were your biggest and most important influences to the band since its conception?
Actually every musician is influenced by other music. That’s the reason why we create songs, because we love to hear and we love to play music. But we are 5 very different individuals in the band with very diverse influences. So it is really very hard to name just a few bands that we were influenced by. Our music is a combination of powerful and fast thrash/death metal riffs, massive and heavy grooves and harmonic twin-guitar leads. Each of these elements has its forefathers. If we speak about twin-guitars we obviously have to name Iron Maiden. Our thrash influences are rooted in bands like Metallica, Kreator and Machine Head. But I could also show you some parts in our music that are based on other bands that you would never recognize. So it’s really not possible to name just a few bands.
Can you tell our readers a little information on each band member and their respective roles within the band?
As I mentioned before there are only 2 founding members left in BURDEN OF GRIEF, our singer Mike and myself. He is responsible for the lyrical side of BURDEN OF GRIEF but also for all craft works around our rehearsal place, since he is working as a carpenter. Our drummer Robb and our other guitarist Joe are the youngest guys in the band and responsible for the other half of our music. They are very strong musicians and very creative and the main reason that our music sounds so tight especially live. Our bass player Florian has been a supporter of the band long before he joined BURDEN OF GRIEF. For many years I was the only guy in the band who cared for all the organizational stuff beside the music. But since he joined the band he took over a lot of this works as well.
Your latest studio release was 2014’s “Unchained”, such a fantastic album. Can you tell our readers what inspired this album and what can they find inside of it?
The older the band gets the more we consider each next record to possibly be the last one. So it has to be an album we could be absolutely proud of in the case that we would split up afterwards, and each new record is pretty much a reaction to the previous one. We try to reflect the positive but also the negative aspects of the prior album in order to work on these points. I think that we have achieved to make our best sounding album so far along with some of the strongest songs we have ever written. Since our singer Mike wasn’t really happy with some of his former vocal performances, we actually spent a lot of attention to his vocals on this album. One extraordinary aspect of that album is the creative contribution of our drummer Robb. There are many parts where he developed the main structures based on his drumming, and our guitarist Joe evolved the music to that. That was a pretty new way of songwriting that we had never done before. So there are a lot of new elements that you have never heard of BURDEN OF GRIEF before.
I love the album cover artwork. Can you tell us who designed it and are you planning on working with them on future projects?
The artwork was done by brazilian/portuguese designer Gustavo Saves, who worked for many great bands like Arch Enemy, Morbid Angel and so on. He also did the artwork for our previous album “Follow The Flames“. On these 2 particular records we wanted to put our band logo in the main focus of the cover without any other distracting elements. Since he did an outstanding work it is very possible that we will work with him on the next album artwork.
It’s been a few years in between releases, are you guys working on some new material for the near future? If so can you tell us a little bit about that ? Any release dates in mind?
Right now we are pretty busy writing the songs for the upcoming record. Actually we have almost written half of the songs and our aim to release that album in winter 16/17.
Working creatively in the studio on a album is a tremendous amount of work and effort to make the finished product. Do you guys enjoy this part of the process? How do you deal with the pressure and stress of deadlines and personal creative differences?
Although it is so exciting to witness our music coming to life during the process of recording, I am very relieved every time when we have finished the recordings. We all have our full-time jobs and actually we do a lot of the album-production by ourselves. So it takes a lot of time and also a lot of energy doing the recordings besides our regular jobs. I wish we could spend weeks in professional studios being creative and not thinking about the money but times have changed pretty much over the last 2 decades.
How does the process of creating new material and have it injected into your live performance go over, is there a transition period? Or does it flow naturally?
During the process of songwriting we’re pretty soon getting a feeling of the songs regarding the following live performances. There are certain songs that are predestined for live shows on the basis of their structures and groove. And on the other hand we’ve got a lot of songs including too many different guitar tracks which makes it too difficult to reproduce it on stage. After we have finished the recordings of a new album most of the songs are pretty much ‚in our veins‘, so usually it’s not a problem to put them into our live-setlists right away.
How do you guy’s prepare for each show? Any superstitions or routine rituals?
Not really, except for some warm-up exercises… so no arm-in-arm shouting or anything like that, ha,ha.…
What does the future hold for BURDEN OF GRIEF? Where can your fans see you next? Any festivals, where in the world will you be touring in 2016?
Coming up next is a 3-date mini-tour with our friends of SOUL SACRIFICE from Istanbul and our German friends of BLOODSPOT during the Easter weekend. Afterwards we will concentrate to our songwriting again before we will hit the roads in summer for some open air festivals. Actually we don’t want to spend too much time on live-shows this year in favor of the production of our new album.
It was a pleasure to speak with you guys, there are a thousand more questions I would like to have asked you. Maybe another day we could chat and continue our conversation. Thanks again guys for your time and patience. With that being said do you have any final words for our readers and fans?
I thank you for your time and you’re interest in BURDEN OF GRIEF.
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