Primitive and Deadly – Host and Aldrahn of The Deathtrip

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Since its controversial rise to prominence, in the early ‘90s black metal has continued to engage and challenge listeners’ preconceptions by mutating into challenging new forms. Acts like Arcturus, Borknagar and Dødheimsgard have pushed the limits of the genre by incorporating techno, opera and folk into the mix but while DHG’s Aldrahn provides the vocals on The Deathtrip’s visceral Deep Drone Master (Svart) that is where the similarity ends. Arising from the ranks of black metal legends Thorns, The Deathtrip is the brainchild of Host (A.K.A. Paul Groundwell of pioneering UK label Peaceville) who has sought to plough a more atavistic and primitive furrow.

Host explains how this elite meeting of minds, lead to one of the genre’s most invigorating debut records. “Kvohst (A.K.A. Mat McNerney, ex <code> Graven Pleasures, Hexvessel, Ex DHG) was going to do vocals for The Deathtrip, but he played some of the instrumental demo songs for Aldrahn, as they were in touch at the time. Aldrahn was really into them and ended up taking over the vocal duties instead. The Snorre [Ruch] connection came about because of Aldrahn’s involvement in Thorns. Aldrahn played Snorre some of the demo songs with his vocals and Snorre loved what he heard and has been a great supporter since. In regard to putting the band together it didn’t make a difference as they weren’t people I knew through Peaceville. The band grew simply from people hearing and liking those old raw demo tracks. It feels like only the music did the talking, and for that I am most grateful. The very origins of The Deathtrip though, go back to around 2003 when I made some songs just for myself to listen to, as I heard barely anything at the time which brought much magic to these ears compared to what came before.”

Founded on hypnotic, repetitive riffs and beats Deep Drone Master, may not be a throwback to the genre’s origin’s but Host maintains that keeping the sound primitive was key to recapturing some of that old magic. “Well I’m sure there was some Burzum and Darkthrone in the early days as far as creating and maintaining a ‘feeling’ goes.” Host agreed. “Some of it was also simply because when programming drum beats I didn’t want to take too much time on that, so I made a primitive pattern, looped it, and made the riffs over the top. As the tracks unfolded I just thought that maintaining that same pace and beat brought a good hypnotic element, so why mess it up for the sake of ‘creative diversity’? It’s about having time to digest the riff and fall into the monotony of the patterns.”

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To some Deep Drone Master may sound like a homage to the past but as Host explains the album contains some extremely uncomfortable personal moments:


“The song ‘A Foot In Each Hell’ came about because of somebody’s suicide, but the song isn’t concentrated on or about the act itself. It is more about the fabricated kingdoms we invent to fortify the self and the powers of human control and persuasion.”

Mostly they deal abouta sentimental relationship between myself and my own subconscious mind. As well as the subconsciousness of humanity.”

Vocalist Aldrahn clarified. It is the connection between myself and humanity as well as the disconnection. It would be easier to answer for each song, but still it’s emotions and thoughts on paper. Many of these thoughts and feelings are difficult to describe, as they belong to my own perception of time and space an dare thus very personal.”

“Making Me” for example, deals about the complete absence of love, the total isolation from all warmth in life and then becoming it, like wearing it as an entity. A lot of them deal about journeying through the darker aspects of the mind, facing up with all sorts of ugliness inside and then forcing through it until it’s done.”

This all-star Norse/English act also feature the drum work of sometime My Dying Bride and Thine sticksman Dan ‘Storm’ Mullins and bassist Jon T. Wesseltoft. Host clearly valued the input of friends who brought his vision to life! “Well it was great to have Jon involved as he was another person who was a big appreciator of the demo tracks from early on, which he heard from Snorre I think. Bass was non-intrusive, so was sitting underneath nicely, keeping the pulse. It was the same for the drums. The idea was to keep the beat simple and keep it running. No prog rhythms for us thanks! ha-ha!”

The icy minimalistic approach does well to convey a harrowing sense of isolation. Much speculation surrounds the question of if The Deathtrip will continue to function as a studio project or if live ceremonies are on the cards. “I see it as more of a band.” Host cautiously approached. “There will be much more music regardless. We have had some interesting offers but it depends on many things such as DHG’s schedule.”

 

The clandestine nature of its creation and the pleasantly unexpected re-appearance of DHG to the live circuit this year, it will come as a surprise that a second record from The Deathtrip may not be that far away. “Well I had made quite a lot of songs and they were going perhaps even more trance-like and simplistic, but since then, the new riffs I’ve been making have reverted back a little more towards what was being done on the earlier demo tracks, with a bit more ‘attack’. It’s certainly not just replicating the old style though. There is more depth and feeling to the formation of the riffs. Some songs will need to be re-arranged but there is easily an album’s worth of ideas to focus on.” Host exclaimed. “A new album for this year seems rather optimistic even though I’d originally hoped it might’ve been possible. Will just keep writing, and maybe start some of the recording later in the year, as it is a busy year for Aldrahn anyway.”

WORDS BY ROSS BAKER