My first introduction to this band was way back in 1992 via the "Peaceville Vol 4" compilation when I was a spotty 15 year old underground death metal newbie who was just starting to discover a lot of bands in the scene who were not signed to the bigger labels via various compilations, tape trading, friends etc and that song made an impression on me back then, I later got hold of their debut album "Engraved In Black" via a friend on original cassette tape and I consider this album to be an underrated forgotten gem of the early 1990's Death metal scene.
The bands profile in this country was no where near as high as fellow Dutch death metal bands such as Pestilence, Gorefest and Sinister due to various reasons, which I personally think is a real shame as their debut album in my opinion is up there with the best death metal album exports that country has produced.
This album was a heavy doom infused death metal beast filled with a good mix of tempos making for a very dynamic album, plenty of Autopsy, Trouble and Sabbath style slower doomy parts fused with more furious paced death metal aswell as plenty of crushing mid paced sections which was topped off with the impressive brutal deep throated growls of Corinne Van Den Brand who was one of the only significant female death metal vocalists of that time and also a crisp powerful Colin Richardson production but the albums initial release (on Modern Primitive) was delayed for a while after the recording meaning the band where left lingering in the shadows whilst peers in the Dutch death metal scene were having albums released to critical acclaim and enjoying worldwide success .
The band followed up the debut with a more thrashy offering "Sentenced" which went in a different direction and never quite captured the same spark that "Engraved In Black" managed to ignite and a little while later Corinne left, line ups changed and the band mutated into a complete different entity altogether called Outburst. A little while ago Acrostichon became active once again and started gigging so I decided I would send some questions to Corinne and Richard who were both part of the original line up to probe them about the decision to become active again, what happened first time around with the band aswell as their thoughts on various things and here is what they had to say :-
Hails! Please give the readers a brief background history on the band and who currently plays what?
Corinne: We started out in 1989 with Richard- guitars, Jos-guitars, Vincent- drums and myself on vocals and a few months later also on bass.Vincent was replaced by Roeland but he also made the decision to leave and he was replaced by Serge. We recorded two demo`s that did very well resulting in a cd called Engraved in Black. Richard left the band and was replaced by Michel and we recorded an EP called Forgotten and the second full-length, Sentenced. Acrostichon split up in 1997 I guess but we re-united in 2009 with Richard (guitar), Jos (guitar), Serge (drums) and myself (vocals/bass) again.
Richard: I left the band in ’94 because of musical differences between me and the rest of the band. I was more into the -what we now call- oldschool stuff and especially the doom material. As the band progressed it changed into thrash, a style I wasn’t that fond of so I decided to focus my attention on my doom-metal band Black Melody (later to become Robotmonster).
Your debut album that was released back in early 90s "Engraved In Black" is a dutch death metal classic in my opinion, but it never got the same recognition as albums by Pestilence, Gorefest, even Asphyx in this country...and to me is an underrated gem of the early 90s scene. What are your thoughts on this album looking back? Do you think the label back then could have done more to help it get promoted?
Corinne: I still like the album although I would do things different now but it`s always strange to listen to yourself. I`m very critical at my vocals. I could do better now than I did back then. The record company fucked up our release date. It was released a year after we recorded it and by then bands like Gorefest , Sinister had their albums released months earlier so we completely missed the boat.
Richard: I’m still quite satisfied with the album. Colin Richardson did a great job with the production, resulting in an album that still doesn’t sound dated. The only thing I would have done different now is the tuning. We were always tuned in B and since the album was recorded in C sharp it didn’t fully represent the band’s live sound which was much more extreme.
The label didn’t promote the album at all and I’m still very grateful to UK distributor Rough Trade who took the initiative to place some adds and stuff like that. They totally rocked!
This album has never been re-released yet to my knowledge, are there any plans for it to get the reissue treatment?
Corrine: Oh yes. Memento Mori will re-release Engraved in Black with a lot of extra`s like live tracks etc and Badger records will release a double vinyl with our complete reunion gig, the Prologue demo and tracks never released.
Your 2nd album "Sentenced" followed in 1995 what are your thoughts on this album looking back, it was a bit different to the debut.
Corinne: Yes it is quite different. Richard left the band and was replaced by Michel who is more into thrash metal and you can hear that. But I really like that album although I don`t like my attempt to sing `clean`. What was I thinking !!!! And we don`t like the drumsound either but I totally love those songs !!!
Richard: I already left the band at that point. It does contain a couple of my songs. I listened it again recently and although I think it’s a good album (despite production, and Corinne’s non-grunting parts, Sorry Krin) I do still hear why I left the band. It’s not “my” Acrostichon anymore.
Corrine: I don`t like the`clean` vocals either Richard but I totally dig the songs on Sentenced. Jos and me were always into 80`s thrash metal more than Richard.
Now fill in some blanks for me what happened to Acrostichon after that album, I know you changed name and members...when did you decide to resurrect the corpse of Acrostichon?
Corinne: We did a lot of gigs but the spirit was gone after a while due to shit happening in my personal life. The decided they were better off without me and I was replaced by Tjerk. They decided to change their name into Outburst and became a thrash metal band. They still exist. But a friend of ours organized a festival and asked us if we were interested. And we all were so we rejoined and it was so much fun again. We picked it up very quickly and were louder than ever !!! And we are a team again.
Richard: Yeah, our friend, Mario, asked us for this for a couple of years but for some reason this time everything seamed perfect and we were all excited to do it. We did a try-out rehearsel to see if it would work out and we all felt really good about it. It clicked right away.
What have you been doing since you reactivated the band, much new material written? Played many shows?? Is there a new album in the pipeline?
Corinne: We did a few gigs but we only play occasionally. We don`t want to play every week again. We want to keep it special . We are not writing new songs. Everybody wants to hear the old stuff anyway and those songs still work. They are not outdated at all.
What does the name Acrostichon mean?
It’s a Dutch word. An acrostic (Greek: ákros "top"; stíchos "verse") is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message.
What are your thoughts on both the current Dutch and worldwide Death metal scene...there seems to have been a resurgence and more interest in the old school style in recent years. Any fave bands from the current crop that stand out?
Corinne: There is a revival of the old bands. The more obscure, the better it seems. Don`t know where that comes from. New bands are struggling to get attention. The scene is still good though. Death Metal is still alive and kicking over here.
Also how is your local scene these days compared to the old days? Any new local bands that have got you excited?
Corinne: Well, still lots of bands and a few very good ones. My personal favorite is Fuelblooded. More technical death/ thrash with a very good vocalist. There are a lot of good musicians in my area. It seems the youth are playing there instruments much better than in the old days. I think the first thing a drummer learns is a good blastbeat or something. LOL
Richard: I think most of the new bands lean a too much on technique. They’re missing some of the hardcore/punkrock vibe that made the late eighties-early nineties bands stand out.
This Q is for Corinne. Back when Acrostichon first became active there wasn't too many females playing in extreme death/black metal type bands, there was yourself, Derketa ,Jo Bench and a few more women actively involved in bands now there seems to be a lot more females playing in extreme bands why do you think this is?... What are your thoughts on women becoming more prominent in such a male dominated scene as musicians?
Corinne: There are a lot of good female musicians nowadays. I don`t think that`s strange at all. My only concern is that some of them are selected by their looks instead of their skills but hey…if it works, it works.
Do you think females are finally getting more equality within the extreme music scene? What was it like being a female playing in a band in the early 90s male dominated death metal scene?
Corinne: I often got that question of course but I never gave it a second thought. I always was a bit of a tomboy anyway. I was accepted by my male colleagues right away. I got along with everybody and I never played out my femininity . I always was one of the boys.
What is the current plans for Acrostichon, where do you want to go with the band in 2011/2012?.
Corinne: We want to do occasional gigs. So if anyone has a nice offer, let us know !!! We will release the things I talked about this year and what happens in the future….we will see. As long as we are enjoying ourselves we will keep going.
Richard: We would like to play special events in countries that never saw Acrostichon in concert.
Corinne- I have always been a big fan of your death growls! When did you realise you had the ability to do such vocals?!
I always could shout very loud, I knew that and when I was 14 or 15 I tried to add more `distortion` to my screams just for fun. And after a few years death metal became more popular when albums of Death, Obituary were released and I tried to do that too. When Jos and Richard started a band I wanted to do the vocals because I was sure I could do it. I was quickly accepted :-D
also what can people expect from the new Acrostichon material?
Corinne : I don`t think we will ever write new material . It won`t be the same anyway . If we will write something it will be for our other bands / projects.
Richard: We’re not too anxious to write new material. As Corinne said, times have changed. Our individual styles have changed too. I think could write cool stuff, but it probably wouldn’t sound the way Acrostichon should sound.
What bands fuel and shape your overall sound? Have the influences changed much since the early
Corinne: We were influenced by great bands like Autopsy, early Paradise Lost, Repulsion etc. Old doom/death metal and a touch of grind/hardcore. The second album is more thrashmetal but Jos and me are still into 80`s thrashmetal. We (Jos and me) even have a 80`s thrashmetal coverband with all of the bands we like.
Richard: In the early days my major influences were Autopsy, Repulsion, Terrorizer, Death Strike, Abomination, Trouble, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Macabre, Deviated Instinct, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost with a touch of DRI and Cryptic Slaughter. I’m still into these bands but I’ve added a lot of other influences too. If a band sounds intense in a doom, rock or extreme way, I’ll be into it.