Dawn of Disease – Reaching for the CloudsTuesday, 26th November 2019
Dawn of Disease has made some big jumps in the last few years, but their recently released Procession of Ghosts is easily their most impressive to date. While still retaining their more brutal death metal roots, they’ve gone ahead and upped their melodic arsenal, incorporating some elements of sorrow and melancholy as well. It really gives them a refreshing edge that previous albums only began to hint at. We spoke with Lukas Kerk just after the album was released, as the band was also hitting the road alongside Månegarm and Einherjer for a brief stint. We caught up with plenty of chat about the new album, the band’s evolution, and a particularly amusing tour story.
Dead Rhetoric: The album just came out Friday, how has the response been so far?
Lukas Kerk: It’s really great – we have been having a good time as well. We did a release show on Friday and now we are on tour. We have played three dates, and we are now sitting in the backstage area and enjoying ourselves. We are really happy that the album is out, and we are looking forward to some feedback from the fans. From the press, we’ve already gotten some feedback and it’s all been pretty good. It’s a good feeling.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you say of the band’s evolution in regards to Procession of Ghosts?
Kerk: This album is another step in our evolution. I would say that we are a band that is constantly developing. We aren’t going to stay on one level. We always try to develop in different aspects. This album is a huge step for us and we have some different elements. For example, we have more melodies but we still have blastbeats. It’s still old school, but there are some newer elements. This is the first time we have had keys on an album to create some atmosphere. The whole production is also very different. We worked with Jens Bogren from Sweden. We also had someone new make the cover.
On this album, we really found our own style. We really developed the style so that you can hear it and say, “This is Dawn of Disease.” The reviews we got as we started out, were like many bands, where they say, “oh, it sounds like this or that.” Now the press are writing that we have developed our own sound. When we are compared to bands now, it’s usually like Amon Amarth. I could be worse – Amon Amarth is one of the biggest bands in death metal, so that’s really great.
Dead Rhetoric: You were saying that the band has found its sound – how would you define that particular sound?
Kerk: Our sound is a mixture of mainly two elements: we have relentless brutality and blastbeats. That old school riffing. On the other side, we have melody, melancholy, and atmosphere on the album. These are two things that we like to combine. They are a bit contrary and bringing them together is really a great thing. You have the blastbeating spirit in there, but you also have catchy hook lines and things like that. I also have to say, I really like the music that we are doing. If I was not a part of the band, I would buy the album. I really like it, and it’s really great to have the opportunity to live out our creativity.
Dead Rhetoric: Was there anything specific that you were trying to achieve with this album?
Kerk: We really tried to go one step further. We wanted to make our music accessible to more people. I think that we have an opportunity to reach new people with this tour. Normally, we would drive to Hungary and have just one show. We want to draw more attention to the band. Having you interview with us is really great – having the opportunity to reach people in the United States who are interested in us. It’s great for us and we really appreciate it.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you discuss the meaning of the cover artwork for Procession of Ghosts?
Kerk: On the previous two albums, we worked with Mark Cooper. For this album, we had Michał “Xaay” Loranc, who also works with bands like Behemoth and Nile. We just gave him some ideas about what we would like to have and he did it. It’s simply awesome. It’s really open to different interpretations. We didn’t give it a fixed meaning – you can interpret the procession of the ghosts walking in many different ways. That’s also what the lyrics are about. We don’t give a fixed meaning to the lyrics, and we work with things that are more metaphorical and things like that. It’s good to read between the lines when it comes to our songs, and that’s what the artwork is all about.
Dead Rhetoric: Knowing that you are trying to leave some things open to interpretation, was the “Shrine” video made with any sort of concept in mind?
Kerk: It’s really hard to find a good place to shoot a video. You can’t just go to an old building and shoot. It’s locked or you can’t get inside. So we really searched on the Internet and found this place two and a half hours away. We could rent this old church for one day, so we shot the video right there. It would have been even better if we had more time, but I think the video turned out quite well. This video also has a lot of metaphorical elements and is open to interpretation. In the chorus it says, “Open the shrine, the key to your mind.” You can interpret that in any direction that you want. Everyone has a key inside of themselves, in order to get to a deeper sense of knowledge – I could go on for a while about that concept.
It’s something different I would say. It’s a fast song, and you might have expected something that would have fast cuts or something. We really worked with a lot of slow-mos and things like that. I think it’s also a combination of the fast music/slow video, and some atmosphere in there. We really had a good video shoot I would say. When we are shooting videos, we eat a lot, which is also great! Afterwards, we all weighed like 5 kilos more [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: With five albums in, what continues to draw you towards death metal?
Kerk: I think death metal is one of the most intense types of music. You also have a lot of opportunities to create [different] music – death metal reaches from the blastbeat-driven stuff like Cannibal Corpse to the more melodic side like Insomnium. I really love that there are so many elements to use in the music. We are really open-minded and use different elements – some old school stuff, some crust, some catchy melodies – that’s not just Dawn of Disease but many other bands as well. Death metal is just great music. I listen to other forms of music, but death metal is a good form of expression for us. We really like it.
Dead Rhetoric: Being in the band for a while now, are there any memories that spring to mind?
Kerk: [Laughs] I’ve got one of those tour stories! It was quite a funny thing. Last year we played at a 2 day indoor festival and our lead singer [Tomasz Wisniewski] had a headache, so he took a few pills. But of course, he also wanted to drink some beer. In the evening, I had also had some beer. The rest of the band had drove to the hotel so we decided to stay there. I had some sort of blackout or something and the next thing I remember was I saw Tomasz sleeping next to me, snoring. We were in the lobby of the hotel, so I figured we didn’t make it back to the room. The woman came by and apologized, because she didn’t want to wake us up, so we both got up and decided to eat breakfast.
Our bandmates wrote us and asked if we wanted to meet up for breakfast and we agreed. So we walked over there and text our drummer to ask where they were. So he asked for our location through WhatsApp, and we then realized that we were in the wrong hotel [laughs]. We were 5km away from them, and somehow we got to the wrong hotel and slept in the lobby. It was a really funny situation. Without having a room there, we also had breakfast. Afterwards, our bandmates picked us up and we couldn’t stop laughing.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you do outside of the band?
Kerk: I’m actually writing my Ph.D. in archaeology. I’m working at a university, so that I can become some sort of scientist later.
Dead Rhetoric: Oh cool – my background is in biology and I teach for a living.
Kerk: That’s great! My wife is actually a teacher so I know a bit about it. I guess teaching is not very easy. Every day I hear about stories, and it seems like it’s getting harder and harder than it used to be. But being a teacher is also a great thing.
Dead Rhetoric: Obviously, you are on tour right now. What do you have planned for 2020?
Kerk: We are in the midst of planning stuff. We have two shows confirmed but we are planning to play some festivals as well. It would be great to do another tour, and we are in the middle of trying to plan. It would also be great to come to the US. That would be really great, but there’s nothing planned at the moment. But with this album coming out, I really hope that we could manage to come over.