Soulburn: Band Of The Day

By on 11 June 2014


In the mid to late ’90s the death metal scene was at its lowest ebb, and old school death metal in general had been in decline for quite a few years and had gone back underground after the 2nd wave of black metal exploded and stole the media spotlight –  but there were some bands emerging at that time with a raw, stripped down sound who were staying true to the old ways of death metal.

Soulburn is one of those mid ’90s bands that had their roots firmly planted in the ’80s and the very early ’90s, but that is not surprising since the band was formed by ex-Asphyx drummer Bob Bagchus and his former Asphyx bandmate, guitarist Eric Daniels. The original line up was completed by Wannes Gubbels from Pentacle (who has also served time in Asphyx), all of whom had remained true to the death metal cause throughout the tough times. The band’s debut album ‘Feeding On Angels’ was released by Century Media in 1998 and is a hellhammering doomy dark blackened death metal assault coming across like a more black/death sounding Asphyx overall, which should appeal to fans of both that band and Pentacle as well as bands such as Hellhammer, early Celtic Frost, classic Bathory, Messiah, Desaster etc., forsaking technicality in favour of primitive but very powerful riffs, topped off with rasping vocals, pounding drumming and an organic production.

The band’s debut album was reissued a little while ago and the band are currently hard at work recording the follow up album, so I thought it was a perfect time to send drummer / founder Bob Bagchus some questions to find out more about the new album, new line up etc.

WORDS: Kat Gillham

WHO ARE THEY: Soulburn
WHERE ARE THEY FROM: Oldenzaal, Overijssel, The Netherlands.
FOR FANS OF: Asphyx, Pentacle, Hellhammer, early Celtic Frost, early Bathory, Messiah, Crimson Relic, Divine Eve, Desaster
LATEST RELEASE: ‘Feeding On Angels’ (Century Media, reissued 2009)
WEBSITE: Facebook

Hi Bob, Ok please tell the readers how the idea for Soulburn was initially conceived for all those who are unaware of the band.
Bob: “Well that is a pretty weird story, it was a Saturday afternoon in 1996 and I was thinking about doing something with Eric again in the old Bathory style, a band we always adored. Then my girlfriend came upstairs with the Phone in her hand saying it was Eric on the line… and asked me if I was into the idea of playing music together in the old Bathory style… I was like “what the heck! I was just thinking the same!!!” That was strange.

Back then you released a demo/promo tape and then a full length album ‘Feeding On Angels’ which was released by Century Media and recently reissued by the label for a whole new generation of fans of hear/discover, are you still satisfied with that album all these years later looking back on it now, or is there anything you would change on it?
Bob: “Yes,we did 2 songs on the promo namely ‘Hellish Entrapment’ and ‘Behold The Funeral Candle’ and CM released the album ‘Feeding on Angels’.That album will be also released on vinyl now again on Soulseller Records. I still like the album a lot and playing those songs again. Although it sounded a bit too much like Asphyx with Black Metal in it, I would not change a thing. It came out the way we wanted it back then,all things happen for a reason.”

How was the album recieved at the time? How were the reviews etc and the overall response from the scene? It was released in a musical climate where old school death metal was not so popular and had been driven back into the darkest depths of the underground.
Bob: “It was received good, actually, although press and fans wondered why it was not released under the Asphyx name since the sound was identical, only this time there was a bit more black in it. The blacker side of Asphyx. But yes,the musical climate was not good for death metal at all at that time, unfortunately, so although we got good press the album went under and got buried. We did, however, some good shows and one at Wacken O.A.”

You are currently working on recording the follow up album, please tell us a bit about this upcoming album and what the readers can expect from it in your own words? Can you reveal the title or any song titles for it? When can we expect this to be released? Will it be coming out on Century Media?
Bob: “The new album should be finished by the end of next month (July) when all vocals and bass recordings are done. Right now the working title is ‘In Suffocating Darkness’ and maybe that will end up being the actual title as well. It describes the atmosphere and grimness on this album just perfectly. What people can expect is a very dark album, our darkest one since Asphyx’s ‘Embrace The Death’, with lots of old Bathory/Venom/Celtic Frost love in it. This is the album we intended to make with Soulburn, the first one still had alot of Asphyx in it which was only logical then but now Soulburn evolved in the grimm beast from deep below we want it to be.
Some tracks are ‘In Suffocating Darkness’, ‘Wielding Death’, ‘Under the Rise of a Red Moon’, ‘The Mirror Void’, ‘Circle of Slithering Serpents’, ‘Claws of Tribulation’ , ‘Black Aura’. It will be released by Century Media again.”

How has the recording process been going for it? You are recording at Harrow sound where you did the debut album, why have you chosen this studio again? You have used this studio for various Soulburn and Asphyx recordings, what appeals to you about this studio?
Bob: “The recordings of the new album went very good, although I had to play 2 tracks like 4x over again which got pretty annoying in the end, but I’m glad we did that and everything sounds really good now. Exactly how we want it to be this time. Well,we wanted to record this album with full power from the SA speakercabinets, so that we get the right dynamics in the sound. Also I could record on my own Pearl Export drumkit which is always a good thing. We have been recording in the Harrow Studio since 1990, albums like ‘The Rack’, ‘Last One On Earth’, ‘God Cries’, ‘Feeding on Angels’, ‘On the Wings of Inferno’ and ‘Deathhammer’ we recorded there as well. We’ve known Harry since 1987 and the vibe is always good there as well, which is essential for a good recording. Besides,our rehearplace is in the same studio as well.”

What would you say are the main differences between Soulburn and Asphyx, the previous band of yourself and Eric? What bands fuel and shape the sound of Soulburn?
Bob: “Well,with the debut album from 1998 ‘Feeding on Angels’, there was no big difference, it still was very much like Asphyx which was no surprise since that was were Eric and me came from anyway. But now,with the new Soulburn album the differences are huge, while Asphyx is doom/death the old school way, Soulburn 2014 is black/doom with a huge old Bathory/Venom/Celtic Frost vibe, the bands we adore. This time those influences are clearer than ever without losing our Soulburn sound. Also the vocals from Twan (van Geel) make a big difference this time. Instead of the typical deathgrunt he sings in the more aggressive way like Dissection/Watain kind of vocals which fit our music 100% perfectly.”

Have you any concept or ideas about the cover art for the new album yet?
Bob: “Yes, a medieval drawing done by Timo Ketola for the outside cover. The drawing has the middle ages style and fits the dark atmosphere of the album 100%. Bob Toderico will be taking care of the inside cover. It will be very minimalistic and only use 1 or 2 colours at most. The concept is everything unknown to mankind and occult themes like we had in the far past with Asphyx.”

Wannes from Pentacle/Asphyx did vocals and bass on the debut album, but he is not involved in the new line up/ How come? Please introduce the new line up of Soulburn to the readers and who currently does what in the band. Why did you specifically choose the new guys? What do they bring to Soulburn circa 2014?
Bob: “Wannes is too busy with his family(he has very little kids) and with his own band Pentacle. But it was actually Wannes who came up with our new vocalist/bassplayer Twan van Geel. The line up for the new Soulburn is:

Twan van Geel-vocals/bass
Remko Kreft-guitar
Eric Daniels-guitar
Bob Bagchus-drums

“The new guys fit in perfectly and Twan’s extreme aggressive voice really suits the new songs since we have a lot of old style Black Metal in the new album. Everything fits like a glove. Twan brings in a lot of occultism and mystic to the band (what Wannes did on ‘FoA’) and could be compared to original Asphyx singer Theo Loomans (RIP) when it comes to those themes.”

Lyrically what inspires you to put pen to paper? What do some of your lyrical concepts on the new album deal with?
Bob: “Well, Twan is very attracted to dark, occult related themes and matters and when he hears a song he gets that vibe right away and a story starts to unfold in his head. He’s hearing the riffs and tempos and starts to think in “that kind of dimension”. He has alot of creativity going on.”

How does a typical Soulburn song come together? Please tell us a little bit about the writing process for the upcoming album
Bob: “Eric sends me riffs by mail and then we go to the rehearsal place and start making a song out of it together. The song writing for this album went very fast since Eric had a lot of riffs coming out at once. Sometimes we did 2 complete tracks at 1 rehearsal.”

Will you be playing live much in support of the new album, maybe even touring? Or will you just stick to selected gigs/fests?
Bob: “Soulburn will do shows, but not that much.We think aprox 10 this year. But we will support Bolt Thrower on 4 shows on their upcoming tour.”

You recently left Asphyx, why did you decide to step down from that bands drum stool? Are you still involved with Grand Supreme Blood Court?
Bob: “Yes,I did. Although Asphyx is my own band I just had to quit. Some people cannot understand that, which is ok. But Asphyx is a “big” name in the world of doom/death and I was fed up playing shows all over the place and I wanted to be home alot more for my wife and 2 kids. For example, this year Asphyx has a full schedule which I just could not do any longer. But it was my own decision like it was also the decision to find a replacement and get Asphyx going. The other guys still enjoy it a lot and even though they were really sad that I was going to leave they still wanted to continue which is good for the band. In the end, everybody is just a puppet. I am still involved in Grand Supreme Blood Court,but that band hardly plays live shows at all.”

Describe Soulburn in 2014 in 5 words only.
Bob: “Dark, grimm, heavy, epic, relentless.”

Why the name Soulburn, to you what does this name represent/mean?
Bob: “It represents the fact that this kind of metal is in our hearts/soul and that flame will burn forever.”

What is your opinion on A) the current worldwide death metal scene compared to how it was in the mid-late 90’s B) the current dutch death metal scene, and C) the continuing old school death metal revival?
Bob: “A)The current death metal scene is a lot better now than it was in the late 90’s when there was a change within the scene. Bands started to play a lot faster and a 100x more technical and the old straight forward playing got buried by it. These past 7 years old school death metal made a huge comeback bringing forth a lot of great bands as well. I think this will always be the case in the music industry, trends come and go, but true music will survive in the end.

“B)The current Dutch death metal scene is very good. We have new killer bands like Bodyfarm, Entrapment, Winter of Sin, Funeral Whore.

“C) Well, the other side of things is that we also have an overload of death metal bands, but we also had that in the late ’80’s and beginning of the ’90’s as well. Only the good will survive… I hope.”

After all these years playing death metal, what keeps that fire burning inside of you to continue playing such music? Have you ever thought of retiring at some points or do you think that is still a long way off from happening?
Bob: “I started Asphyx in 1987 and am still active, although I had several years of not playing in between (2000 when Asphyx split up till 2006), but for the rest of time I always played in death/doom/black bands/projects. It is something I need to do. But there will be a point somewhere when you just must quit, but that time is not now. We still have alot of ideas in our heads.”

What current/newer bands could you recommend who are playing death the old school way and also what currently active bands do you feel an “affinity” with?
Bob: “Well, it is not new but Necros Christos is surely one of my faves and I really love Vallenfyre a lot!”

Thanks for answering this short interview Bob, the last words are yours!
Bob: “Thank you, Kat,  for doing this interview. Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming Soulburn album later this year if you are into the obscure metal.”

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