Besides "xoxo" and "snälla, säg att det här är ett skämt", one of the most common comments we'll pick up next to a down-watered jpeg of the Going Postal artwork is the fact that we "incorporate old-school 'rock riffs' within our music." (Occasionally followed with YEAE or even more "xoxo".)
And yes, that is true. Deathember always strives to span as a timeless beast of wonder, stringing the old and new together in a superb vacuum beyond time or genre. Or that's the ambition - the reality being more like letting Elias blast over some lousy-ass 'twang' riff.
I think the pin mark of the 'rock' approach was the song "Scapegoat" on Flatlines. Staffan would drop in and prowl on about "modern metal meets classic rock, fuck yes" and would jam on the off-beat verse. I think my song "Crash and burn" also bears some 'rock' resemblance, although my ambition was less 'blend influences in an innovative way', than of just scram some good shit together so I don't get kicked.
The thing I love about 'rock' (what defines this is very hard, hence the quotations. In our music, I'd like to pin just the Chorus of 'Scapegoat' as well as songs like Unending Thirst and Repeat and Remind off Postal) is that it has that kind of no-nonsense attitude that seems to get thinner the further down the brutality scale one travels. No matter how much my brain enjoys to be neanderthalized by Cephalic Carnage or Man Must Die, some of the self-spoken skullcrushness of the music gets lost in the sheer amount of raging BPM's. There's a human heart and some kind of more natural anger in bands like Metallica that the likes of The Faceless ever could dream of.
No less is this evident than in the sheer stage presence - James Hetfield can roar, headbang and be king on stage as much as he want - since his well-crafted right hand is just not busy with inane tremolo picking.
That's why I go so keen on 'Scapegoat' and 'Repeat and Remind'. The rockiness on these tracks just speaks to a certain part of me that other types of metal and aggressive music seems unable to reach. Just like a certain album from a certain Canadian rock band..
Protest The Hero does the thing that neither Metallica nor The Faceless nor Deathember (so far) does; both.
They manage to combine mind-melting insane technical riffing with the warmth and, sometimes, humor, that stems from 'rock' music. They make you want to calculate measures and headbang insanely at the same time. The heart and organity they perceive their music with is inspiring, to say the least.
And more so than ever - counting the rather bleak follow-up 'Scurrilious' - is it on 'Fortress'. It's an album captivating the pure essence of Protest's cocky attitude - expressed both through simple yet effective groove rhythms and sick yet understated displays of pure KARLN ÄR SINNESSJUK - is here caught on tape in 11-track excellence. From the stellar 'Bloodmeat' all the way down to the brilliantly named 'Goddess'-duo, pristine production does it's best to show the world what Protest is about - that one-of-a-kind-band that just does whatever the fuck they want - squeeze a harmony shred or breakdown next to a falsetto ride, or any other place where a harmony shred or breakdown ought NOT to be - to create something unique.
And beards. Lots of beards.
A large number of bands out there enact their music as a kind of balance - whereas it may be the balance between hardcore and pop-metal, between old and new schooled metal, or between jazzy metal end metalsy jazz. Protest The Hero's case is that between simple attitude and complex skill, human warmth and technological chill. And with 'Fortress', they do not only act as the balancer, staying perfectly on the rope as a pillar of steadiness to the one who lingers it's shadows, but as the rope itself.
'Fortress' serves as a reminder. Reminding us that it's not about playing the most badass riffs that cause the most impact - what does is playing the softer riffs, but in a badass way. Badassery, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Or the riffer, in this case.