Euro death metal band God Dethroned are no strangers to controversy, with the bands label refusing to release their debut album due to the graphic nature of the artwork – a dissected rat.
However, despite some initial setbacks the band landed a deal with Metal Blade and have been releasing quality death metal albums ever since. God Dethroned just released their new album ‘Passiondale’ (out now on Riot!) and new guitarist Susan Gerl was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
Can we start by getting your name, your instrument and your all time favorite metal band?
Susan: Hi, my name is Susan Gerl and I’m the new guitarist of God Dethroned. My all time favourite metal band is CARCASS.
What inspired you to start a band?
Susan: When I listened to all these great death metal bands when I was about 14 years old I wanted to do the same. A friend of mine played the guitar and I saw what he could do with this instrument and wanted to be able to do the same. A couple of years later I bought my own guitar and amp.
What would you say the main influence for God Dethroned is?
Susan: I think we all mix our musical influences combined with how we feel about everday life situations and it’s a combination of these elements that we try to express through our music.
You guys started as a straight up death metal band, then shifted towards the more black/death style and more recently to melodic death. Would you put the change in sound down to a natural progression or something else?
Susan: Both. It has to do with progressing as a band, but I think one major factor that brought about that change was when both Arien and Isaac joined the band. They had both graduated as professional musical college students and therefore had a very different approach when it came to writing and composing music and songs and both of them contributed a lot to our previous album ‘The Toxic Touch’, which therefore sounded much more melodic than the previous ones.
You guys released your new album ‘Passiondale’ just last month. Tell us a bit about the writing/recording process for this record?
Susan: This album was written in a very short period of time and the band was well prepared when they entered the studio so the entire recording process went really quickly and smoothly which left the band much time to experiment with the sound and work on the final product more.
The lyrical content on ‘Passiondale’ is based on World War 1. Although you guys have stated that you don’t see God Dethroned as a political band, what was the reasoning behind the World War 1 reference? Is it just something that you were interested in and find fascinating?
Susan: For this album Henri got his inspiration from a few trips to Ypres (Belgium) where our former guitarplayer Isaac lives. He was so impressed by all the WW I monuments, cemetries and British people that still go there every weekend that he decided to do more research into this and write an album about it.
How would you compare ‘Passiondale’ to previous God Dethroned releases, especially 2006’s ‘The Toxic Touch’?
Susan: This album sounds much more God Dethroned like again. I mean this could have easily been the follow up album on ‘ Bloody Blasphemy’ as far as the entire atmosphere and style is concerned, obviously with a tighter and more modern sound.
The band had some problems early on in your career. Specifically when trying to release your debut album ‘The Christhunt’. The label you were on (Shark) refused to release the album with the original artwork that featured a dissected rat and once released did not promote it at all. Did this discourgae the band in any way, as far as wanting to continue?
Susan: Well as you might know Henri put the band on ice for a while after the period you just mentioned, but when he went touring with his other band at that time he was recognised as the singer / guitar player of God Dethroned by so many people who all asked him why he had stopped etc, that he decided to re-form God Dethroned again, and well, we’re still here, haha!
How did your deal with Metal Blade come about?
Susan: The demo tapes for ‘The Grande Gromoire’ were sent to 5 labels of which one the band expected to be signed on and indeed the same day the demo was sent they phoned the band for signing a contract with them, but it took so long before they had arranged everything that Metal Blade came along in the meantime and offered them an even better contract.
Is God Dethroned an anti-Christian band?
Susan: No, but neither of us are that fond of religion in general.
And following on from that, do you think having such firm anti-Christian beliefs has in any way held the band back from potential fans/popularity? I know that Behemoth was threatened with being banned in 2007 from playing in their own country due to similar beliefs.
Susan: We have had the occasional pro-christian group being shocked by the lyrics on our previous albums but since that’s been quite some time behind us we don’t see any problems there anymore.
What does God Dethroned have planned for the future?
Susan: A lot is going to happen! First we will start off with our “Storming the Balkans” tour in June / July together with Fleshgod Apocalypse and Sacramental Blood, then we will play a number of summer festivals and then from September on we will embark on a three month tour: first through South America, then for three weeks through United States together with Abigail Williams, Woe of Tyrants and Augury in October and after that tour we will straightaway hit the road again for a 3-week European tour late October / November.
Who are some of your favorite bands to play with?
Susan: I couldn’t mention one band in particular, but the band you’re on the road with should be simply relaxed and behave respectfully towards the others, that’s very important. I know that the band had a really good time touring with Bolt Thrower.
Most memorable tour experience?
Susan: I couldn’t say so as I hardly have any experience in touring whatsoever, but that’ll change soon, haha!
Best way to kill time on tour?
Susan: Bring my laptop along, read a good book, try to see some of the surroundings if that is possible at all and chat with other people.
Thanks very much for your time and good luck with the new album!
Susan: Thanks to you too!