Dew-Scented are one of the many staples of the continental thrash scene. Big riffs, killer grooves and a cutting sound has made them one of the first choices for many European shows, especially on the thrash and death metal touring scene. Having initially experienced them supporting Nile and Melechesh a few years back and being kind of familiar with them but not overly so, I got my hands on the latest release, “Interminantion” which made me realise I needed to hear a lot more of this band.
Being offered the chance to pick the brains of vocalist Leif Jensen, the mastermind behind this fearsome thrash act, I was lucky enough to get the lowdown on this great release. Talking tracks, evolution of the band, covers and other important matters like which of the Teutonic four is his ‘pick and just what is it with the band and the letter “I”. I found out quite a lot and all I can say is that I hope we get a lot more from this great band over the next few years.
AN: First up, I have to say congratulations on the album. It’s a real hard hitting release full of power and intensity. How was the whole process in terms of coming up with the material for it and then going into the studio? Was it a protracted affair or was it relatively smooth-going and straight forward?
LJ: Thanks a lot for the kind words and happy to hear you dig the album! It was actually all a pretty smooth but very focused process …from the beginning of the writing sessions to the actual recordings and mix/mastering. We started out with the first ideas somewhere in early last year after we had already finished two songs for the “Insurgent” anniversary release in 2013. Initially our guitarist Marvin (who wrote all of the material on “Icarus”) presented his first few rough versions for tracks and then also Rory (guit.) and Joost (bass) ended up presenting tracks as well. We took all of 2014 to write stuff, on and off. We wanted to make sure it turns out being the best album we can do. Since we decided to self-record the release (and only have Dan Swanö mix/master it), we sort of had a schedule on our own and things obviously took their time to fall in place with the recordings. I finished the last vocals in April of this year and then we moved ahead with the final mixing. It was a really interesting project all together and we learnt a lot about ourselves, to be honest. I think the band’s new line-up has grown together a lot since 2012 and you can easily hear that on the album.
AN: You’ve been the core of the band since its inception. The one constant throughout a shifting line-up but one thing has always remained the same – the cutting edge approach which rides the tides of thrash metal and death metal. Have any of your former band members had any long lasting impact on Dew-Scented’s sound apart from the musical legacy of your releases?
LJ: Yeah, I happen to be the “sole survivor”, haha. Well yeah, obviously on the first 3 albums we did in the 90’s, we were still looking for ‘our sound’, or sort of whatever formula in writing works best for us. Dew-Scented has always been mainly a live-band, so we needed to see which tracks of our catalogue work the best for shows and which ones would stand the test of time. I think “Inwards” (2002) was a very important album, because it didn’t only give us more international attention because of better promo/marketing/distribution via Nuclear Blast, but it also sort of established a trademark approach for the band. I think the follow-up release “Impact” (2003) is sort of like the blueprint of our style and it shows by how a handful of tracks from that album still remain and integral part of our live set. I think our guitarist Florian Müller (who I still have regular contact with up to these days) was very important to establish that sound, but also all other members added their qualities into the mix. An album is always a reflection of the shape and vibe of a certain point of time or a certain chapter for a band. I think that was 2001 – 2005 was a very creative and energetic period for the band, especially since we also worked very hard on making a step further on all levels.
AN: How does’ Intermination’ hold up to your previous records? I know most people throw the description “Form of their career” and “Best album yet” around rather liberally these days in music reviews and music magazines, and I know you may have some bias given it is your band after all, but is this the best album you have released to date?
LJ: Well, I would obviously not be neutral enough to give you a fair answer because I am too close to things and can’t have proper perspective. What I am seeing is that people seem to dig “Intermination” and that they are very understanding of what it was that we were after with this new release. Dew-Scented is in a new/next chapter of its existence since 2012 and I believe we managed to craft an album that showcases what we have in us right now and also it’s some of the most determined and hard-hitting material we every wrote. I think it will be an entertaining album for everyone who likes the band or the style in general. And that’s as much as I can really say, without sounding too pretentious. We are extremely satisfied ourselves, so that is a good beginning for the campaign and the bottom line will always remain that we only choose to continue moving forwards when we are sure we have something else and better to add to the band’s repertoire and catalogue. It’s pointless to strive for anything else than the best. And I think it’s audible that we still have a lot of energy and inspiration in us, even after so many years… 😉
AN: I noticed there were some real heavy groove driven moments on the album, especially in tracks like “Affect Gravity” “Reborn” and “Living Lies”. Is this a newer element to your sound? I’ll be honest, aside from the occasional track and catching you on tour with Nile on the “Those whom the Gods detest” tour with Melechesh, I am not very familiar with your material.
LJ: Well, maybe we are exploring the groove part a bit more than before, but I really think this has always been a valid and important element to our sound as well. It’s just that in thrash/death metal one has to be a bit careful with how to insert groove parts, as it oftentimes takes away from the aggression. We wanna sound razorblade sharp all of the time and never allow dull moments in our songs, so we have to be careful we have we season the tracks. I think “Intermination” offers a good combination of things and showcases a lot of varied details, which keep it interesting from beginning to end, even despite its extreme nature and overall heaviness. The tracks you mentioned are some of my faves on this release and those 3 you mentioned were written by Marvin. I think part of what you refer to has to do with how the melodies for the songs are exercised and I really dig that “suave but deadly” (hahaha!) style of writing for the riffs. I think it will be interesting to see where we take things for a next release…
AN: How have the new songs been received in the live setting so far if you’ve recently played? If you’re yet to debut them, how do you think they’ll be received?
LJ: Oh, the new tracks are mixing in great! We have played 4-5 tracks live so far and they are a lot of fun to perform. I also think they seem to have a good catchy flow and work out well between the older tracks that area solid constant for our set. The good thing about “Intermination” is that all tracks were written and rehearsed in a way that they can all be played live, so we will experiment some more with these tracks and see which ones we will add in to the set for upcoming live-shows. The reactions to the album have been very encouraging so far (apart from a casual complaint by people who don’t get what we are stylistically after anyhow…), so we couldn’t be any happier…
AN: I was surprised to find out that “Radiation Sickness” was actually a cover of a song wrote by the legendary Repulsion. Your version of it made me believe that it was actually your own material given how it fitted in so well with the overall sound of the album. Are Repulsion a big influence on your sound? If not, who would you say are big influences?
LJ: Oh wow, that is interesting to hear. We actually thought it would be a pretty clear cover song tribute and a great way to end off the album. I mean, that track rules and it’s about the most powerful riffing ever. I always liked that track since I first heard it via tape-trading and think my “Grindcrusher” compilation LP is mostly worn out on that spot for Repulsion, hahaha. It was a lot of fun to rehearse and record that track…which is why we mainly did it. We have also already played the song live at times, which has been fun as well. Not sure if Repulsion were a direct influence on our sound, but since they were so pioneering for Grindcore and the first generation of extreme Death Metal, I guess it somehow always would have an effect on us, even if via a detour of generations. Our main influences are the mid-late 80’s Thrash bands (mainly Bay Area) and then some of the first wave of Death Metal from the early 90’s. You know, Death, Morbid Angel, Dark Angel, Testament, Slayer, Vio-Lence, Kreator, Forbidden, Metallica, etc. We also dig some Hardcore and other styles of Crossover-Metal, which you will always somehow see shining through in our sound or at least in the choices of cover-tracks we decide to do. I guess everything you like to listen to has a certain influence on you, somehow…
AN: Out of the “Teutonic Four” – Destruction, Sodom, Kreator and Tankard… If you could only pick one, who would you pick?
LJ: Wow, that is a tough question because all of the mentioned 4 bands are different and very relevant in some way. Also, we have played live with all of them at different occasions, and even did some shows as opening act for the Kreator/Sodom/Destruction tour package 10 years ago when. I think Kreator are probably the leader of the pack somehow, as they are the biggest and most internationally active band. I also think they have managed to do some really strong albums recently and “Phantom Antichrist” (which was their 13th studio album) sounds a fresh and vibrant as ever possible, after so many years around. That impresses me and I also like the guys in the band a lot. I see some of the Sodom guys regularly too because they, just like Kreator, are from the same area where I live. Destruction are awesome…very original style (because of Mike’s riffing!) and we always had a great time playing and partying with them. Tankard are a special band…I have seen them do a lot of great shows. Not all of their “fun themes” are something I can connect with, but I never saw them put on a bad show. I think we need to play with them again sometime soon…
AN: You have a small European tour coming up this autumn. Are there any plans to hit the UK in late 2015 or 2016?
LJ: Oh, we would love to. But it’s been historically difficult to come over, not sure why?! We have been doing a ton of shows in the UK since our first longer tour over there with Vader in 2001 but somehow didn’t manage to be in the focus of festival promoters so far. We will try and come back in 2016 somehow, but need a strong package or suitable thrash/death-band to support. Let’s hope something good will pop up….
AN: What next for Dew-Scented? Back to the drawing board to work on the next album or more touring?
LJ: Well, we have the “Thrash mercenaries” tour in October and then we are also working on a split 7” EP release together with our friends Angelus Apatrida from Spain. WE also just shot a video clip for the new album and will be hopefully launching it in the next weeks. Apart from that, we are currently looking into some first festival options for next year and remain available for good touring opportunities in the next year as well. We might also start writing some new songs whenever the time and inspiration feel right…
AN: Finally, to close this off… I have to ask. What is with the naming your albums using words which begin with the letter “I” ? Has this always been intentional from your first full length release or is it something you decided to do after two or three releases?
AN: Haha, I have heard of that question before! It was a conscious and intention decision around the time of the debut album and its follow up. “Immortelle” (1996) and “Innoscent” (1998, see the play on words…?!) were meant to be “one word, catchy, similar to each other” to give them a sense of unity.- Then the thread just happened to continue and we simply never split up. I guess the concept took a life of its own. We were always open to the idea of dropping it along the way again, but we somehow managed to always find a new idea and overall album content/artwork concept that fit well with a next “I”-based title. Well yeah, this was an idea crafted before the whole “Apple” mania started, haha. Anyways, thanks a lot for your time and support – we truly appreciate it and hope to be able to return to the UK for shows soon. Until then, check out band page links for upcoming activities and remember to always keep it heavy!!!