Beaten to Death – “People Still Don’t Want To Pay To Listen To Noise”

Wednesday, 30th October 2013

Intended as the “fun” outlet between five veterans of the non-black Norwegian metal scene (yes, these types actually do exist), grinders Beaten to Death have capitalized upon the rousing critical success of last year’s Xes and Strokes with the similarly-styled Dødsfest! The two are nearly identical in some sonic respects; that bare, stripped down guitar tone is the overriding determinant, while out-of-nowhere melodies drop in to seal the grind deal. Is it one of the more innovative takes on grindcore? Abso-freakin’-lutely. With good vibes omnipresent, we tracked down guitarist Tommy Hjelm via electronic correspondence.

“You wouldn’t believe how refreshing it is to play in a band with good friends that are seasoned musicians and know how stupid all these rules are,” he begins. “The feedback we’ve gotten from reviewers so far tells us that they agree. Rules suck, music shouldn’t be that limited. We have the same prerequisites. The same people with the same instruments and same tastes rehearsing at the same time. The rest is just about pushing your comfort zones.”

Indeed it appears the band operates without much of a rulebook, cuing up some hilarious song titles in the process: “True Norwegian Internet Metal Warrior,” “The Flesh Prince With Swell Hair,” and “Aspen Hellweek” each striking a humorous chord. Comedy is no stranger to grind, but what about those “true Norwegian internet metal warriors” we wondered. “That would be Martin [Rygge, guitars] and his hatred towards the angry internet bully hating on everything,” carries on Hjelm. “If you look a little closer, the internet warrior usually turns out to be a puny pimpled 15-year-old with too many thoughts in too little a brain. We see a lot of that with Beaten, too. Metal has always been about not conforming to rules, but take a look at the Blabbermouth comment section. I promise you, the third comment is always about ‘How much this and that sucks.’ Get a life!”

Like its Xes and Strokes processor,Dødsfest!, can be found going off to the grind races, with fervent, reckless blasts, as well as the hawk-eyed screams of Anders Umgod. While there are intrinsic elements to the grind sound, it’s the band’s distinct (and very useful) guitar tone that ultimately sets them apart, along with the not-so-common use of melody, something similar bands are allergic to. Not Beaten to Death.

“The thing that stands out the most is our guitars,” adds Hjelm. “They’re homemade Baritone Telecasters. They make the twangy sound that is so pronounced on Dødsfest!, a guitar you usually hear in country and western…may that genre burn eternally. Then it’s all about turning down the distortion as much as we dare, and let Mika [Martinussen, bass] do all the low end himself.”

As for the never-ending debate over a non-black metal band making inroads to the general metal populace (which is often spurred by semi-annoying journalists like DR), Hjelm responds with a fast “No!” But at least those in his inner-circle seem to enjoy the band’s sound. “I have noticed that friends that would never ever listen to something as violently noisy as B2D tell me that they enjoy,” he relays. “So there’s obviously something with the mix of melody and intensity that people seem to enjoy.

Even with all sorts of critical praise heaped upon the band, Hjelm remains quite certain Beaten to Death will continue to do what it is (whatever “it” that is), regardless if anyone truly catches on. The ensuing calendar year should see yet another recorded output from the band, but their priorities and standing within the Norwegian metal scene remain as same as they ever were, which oddly suits them fine.

“You’d be amazed, but booking shows haven’t changed all that much since our 2011 debut,” he concludes. “People still don’t want to pay to listen to noise.”

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