8 albums, 23 years in business and still on the run, these are Obscenity, Germanys brutal Northern Lights. In celebration of the new release “Atrophied In Anguish” I have talked with founding member Hendrik Burns.
Hi Henne, how are you? How is the surf weather in the far North?
Hi there! Thanx, everything´s going well. Surfing weather isn´t good at all. It´s Springtime and fuckin´ cold outside in Northern Germany. Only a few sunny days in between.
This month your 8th Album will be released. It seems the press loves it already. Are you excited about the reaction of the fans?
Yes , of course man! Until now we only had good reviews , reaching from 80 up to 95% in the most mags and online reviews. But the most important thing is how the fans are gonna accept the new one. I guess we ´re gonna win a lot new fans who love the old school side from Obscenity. But we have a lot of technical stuff to offer, so it depends on the listener. I am sure they will love this piece of metal, otherwise I quit! hahaha
Are you afraid that the fans could be confused about the more filigree structures on it?
I don´t think so. It is not really filigree at all. CBM was more in this direction. AiA sounds truer as the older stuff. In the older days we were 5 guys writing one song and on the actual album it was me who wrote 90% of the stuff , so it sounds more compact.
Tell me something about the development of “Atrophied In Anguish”!
It was a long process. First of all the other guys left the band and I was standing alone. So it was a hard time to realize after all these years. But I was composing some stuff this time and I had a lot of older riffs inside my head ,and within 6 or 7 month I wrote a few songs and recorded them at home. Beside it I met my new band mates and of course Sascha our former drummer who also rejoined the band. We looked for a new rehearsal room and Obscenity was born again! A few month later I had finished 9 songs and we had to practice them on and on. Later on Tomasz, our label boss asked me if we ´re interested in a deal with Apostasy Recs. We ´re looking for a new label at this time and was perfect! We inked the deal with Apostasy just a few days later, because we all have been agreed in all terms.
I hope you were not atrophied in anguish during the writing process. In fact it sounds totally relaxed (in a brutal way, of course) or am I wrong?
Hahaha, no of course not. It was an exciting time at all. But the mood was very relaxed. Chris had the idea for the title. I don´t really know why he had this idea, because he had some private problems. But that’s another thing and very private to ask him about.
More melodious, more technical and classic metal elements, is this the dawn of a new era?
Of course! What should I say? AiA is gonna show people the way Obscenity sounds in the future. In 1 or2 songs u can recognize the direction of the next cd. But every time I was in the studio I had an idea to change something for the next time. I guess the next one will sound a bit more aggressive. We have already a few ideas for some new songs. But have a little patience , that will last a year or 2.
I think all this elements were part of Obscenity the whole time, but the new musicians have wide open the door for it, right?
Yes , that´s right in fact! All these elements have been in the Obscenity songs since a long time. We always wanted a good mixture between aggressiveness and harmony with catchy vocal refrains. We all play our instruments for a long time. One more the other less, but in common it is important to play the maximum of what the band can give.
This album can be named a reborn, I think. But what have you taken along from the other albums?
Like that what I answered a question before. The mixture is very important. And not sounding like band X or Y. But it is very difficult not to compared with other DM bands. There’s always someone who compares a band with another one. The DM scene worldwide is very huge. So many styles in so many countries. I have noticed a huge scene in Indonesia and other east countries like for example Japan.
Was it the right time to give Obscenity a new face without losing the brutal roots?
It was a normal dynamic development what we did. 90 % new members means a new face for a band, that´s for sure. But I will tell u a secret. I really had the worry to sound a bit wimpy, because the tracks I’ve recorded in the demo version were sounding very polished.
After the break in 2009, you didn’t really get a long rest. Tell me how you found the new team!
I have been waiting for a decision of the former guys for a long time. It lasts a long time until someone had the balls to say” I quit!”. It was a hard time for me after the break, believe me! But in this mood I started to write the new stuff. Beside this time I met our first drummer Sascha here in my hometown-city. He heard about the rumors and wanted to keep the fire burn. He was hot in fact and left his band who haven´t been done activities for a long time. Jeff is from Tampa Florida and has been suggested by a friend o mine. She knows him for a time cause of their relationship. And the wanted to get married if he moves to Germany. So he came here in the beginning of 2011. Chris has been in some nameless bands her in Oldenburg and we met because we have the same friends. Jörg is a well-known bass player in East Frisia. He had a long time experience with his former band Tears Of Decay.
Are you a stubborn pighead or are it just your massive balls that have kept you with Obscenity since 1989, while the other fellows have left the frigate?
I was deadly bored so I kept the band alive, hahaha. No, I am a musician who was thinking in musical patterns. Always beating and riffing in my head. Can´t stop this! Sometimes I had strange feelings and I don´t know what they are meaning. But they ´re turning into music, so I can translate. I always have guitar riffs and ideas in my head. It is my form to express myself. I think other musicians will understand.
“Where Sinners Bleed” and the time after seemed like the last chapter for many folks. But you are not ready to close the book, right?
Oh of course not. I am doing this for over 23 years now. We have been playing around on many gigs and festivals. And sometimes I have the feel to say stop! What are u doing, guy. U´re 42 years of age and always have been playing in small clubs for less than nothing. Recording a new cd every couple o years. But what for??? I don´t know. Always on the run? Sure, I have a job what is very important but Obscenity is more than a hobby. It is a really Heartwork!!
You have got your new/old drummer on board. Is this something like the return of the old spirit?
Yes, his style of drumming. Old drumming vs new riffing! Hahaha, no, not really. Every body was working hard on his instrument. Also Sascha did. He is more an oldschool drummer with technical influences. But he tries to play and sound more like Obscenity did in the last years.
Give me some details about your singer. Is he sick and dorky enough to be the berserker on stage?
Of course every singer is a frontman and has to act like an entertainer, talking to the audience etc, and also Jeff does . He is very concentrated in the shows. But I noticed an increase and development in his acting. So he will slowly rise up to a real berserker on stage!
If each bandmate has different musical tastes, how does the songwriting work? Are you a democracy or a despotism?
Normally yes, but in this case I had the finished songs written on my own. But we re-arranged one or 2 in the democratic way. I think the next album will be sounding a bit different, but always in the law of Obscenity!
Do you like to play with the stereotypes (lyrics) of brutal metal or are you real Gorelunatics? Or what are your songs about? Does brutal music need songs about rape, dismemberment etc? How serious do you take them? Why are jokes with sex and violence the focus of many bands?
With the lyrics Jeff tries to stay in the way of old Obscenity while incorporating his own sickness. It is difficult to pinpoint the main theme of the songs but generally anti religion think for yourself with some good horror bullshit thrown in.
More than 2 decades in business. Do you actually miss the right appreciation in Germany?
I think we still get a good appreciation. A lot of people comes around the last weeks and said, they are very happy by hearing the news Obscenity is still alive! So many of them has been declared Obscenity for a dead band and it is hard to get a good reputation as for example 10 years ago, but we are still working on it.
What started the motor of Obscenity back in 1989 and what pushes you forward nowadays?
Our former Singer, Sascha and me were playing since 1988 together in a band. One year later we created Obscenity firstly as a thrash metal band. But after a few month we were crazy for the new Florida DM generation and that´s it. I don´t know what keeps us pushing forward, but it is a kinda passion in us that is still burning!
You have played a lot of shows on a lot of places, what was the most remarkable? And what was the pure essence of horror?
We had a few hundred shows in between. I like remembering the No Mercy Festivals with the Malevolent guys, Vader etc., we shared the busses, the stage and the alcohol together. Or for example the little tour with Six Feet Under... all these experiences I ´ll never forget. The biggest show was the With Full Force in Eastern Germany with a few thousand guests. It was really amazing! A huge stage and lots of stage hands, and the crowd was fantastic!
Last spot is yours!
Ok guys, thanx for Interviewing. And of course check out the new Obscenity album “ Atrophied in Anguish” coming out on September 14th via Apostasy Record’s, for a real piece of technical oldschool Death Metal..! Stay obscene!