In the world of Heavy Metal, the Netherlands is usually associated with bands such as Epica, Within Temptation and Stream of Passion, i.e. female fronted bands that, although metal, are far from the kind of stuff that makes you headbang for hours.
Enter Legion of the Damned. Started in 2004, and releasing their debut album in 2006, the band has become well known for its flawless mixture of death and thrash metal.
Recently they re-released their debut album, “Malevolent Rapture”, in memory of former bass player Twan Fleuren, who committed suicide in May 2011.
Legion of the Damned showed up at the Neurotic Deathfest, together with Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth, as part of their Full of Hate tour. Bassist Harold Gielen, guitar player Twan van Geel and (occasionally) singer Maurice Swinkels, talked about these and other topics in the interview below:
Metal Blast: How was your experience as part of the “Full of Hate” tour?
Harold Gielen: It was a very good tour, with a very good attendance. I think that our smallest audience was of about 600 people; we also had some sold out venues. We had a great time with great people, like Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth.
MB: The popularity of the band has increased dramatically in the last few years. Why do you think this has been the case?
H: Well, we tour every year, we’ve put out albums that have been very well received by the press. Our last album was named as album of the month in several magazines so…
MB: Did you feel that the fans reacted well to “Descent into Chaos”?
H: Some people were disappointed that we went to another studio, but we wanted to do something different. Some people, however, preferred the sound our former producer ,Andy Classen.
Twan van Geel: Yeah, before it was more metal-based, with the drums being compressed, while the new album has a more open sound. Maybe that’s why some people like it while others not… it’s just a matter of taste.
MB: Speaking of Andy Classen, how was it different to work with Peter Tägtren?
H: Peter would let us just do our thing. He’s the kind of guy that does everything once we have already finished, he’s not that involved in producing our music; Andy Classen, on the other hand, had more ideas, like “let’s try it this way” or “let’s try it that way”. Peter was more like “this is your music, you play it”, and afterwards he’d come with ideas or effects for the song.
MB: The band is known for releasing new material very often; are you already working on something new?
H: Not yet. After we finish the tour.
Maurice Swinkels [off camera]: Tomorrow!
T: We already have some riffs and ideas, but we haven’t tried them with all four of us yet.
MB: Speaking of riffs, what’s the writing process for the band?
H: Normally we just come up with riffs and then join in the rehearsal room. We just jam together and when some cool ideas come up we record them and, afterwards, we try to finish it as a complete song. Sometimes it takes a month, sometimes two rehearsals.
Everybody is involved in creating the songs.
MB: Why did you choose to re-release “Malevolent Rapture” as a way to honor the memory Twan Fleuren?
H: This was the first album in which Twan was involved, and it was sold out, so we had to do this anyway. But we wanted to do something different for the fans and also for Twan.
Maurice: Harold joined the band when Twan left, so he didn’t know him that well, I knew him for several years. He had small kids, his daughter was around 4 or 5 when we started.
When Twan died, when he committed suicide, she was 11 years old. My idea, as well as that of the drummer, was to give something to the kids. To keep them from remembering their father as “yeah, our dad committed suicide”, and to give them something they could hold in their hands, so that when they’re 20 or 30 they can remember that he was more than that, that he was in a well known band. It’s something for them, that’s what makes it special for us. Many people say that it has to do with money, but actually some of that money will go to his kids.
That was the whole idea; something for the kids and for us… a nice remembrance. Twan was a person who really wanted to stand in the spotlight, but he never really got to experience the full Legion of the Damned, and in this way he can be everywhere. He’s in every magazine, he’s in the big posters… if he’s up there, he can look at all of this with a smile.
MB: Any messages for your fans?
H: We’re looking forward to writing our new album, we’ll go to the studio in march 2013, we’re going to write another killer album and, that’s it, we’ll be back!