Having just released his blistering debut album, Entrapment’s Michel Jonker kindly offered to talk to Ave Noctum about his band, its influences and the death metal genre in general. Based on the crazed lunatic evident on his album, ‘The Obscurity Within…’, one might have expected some kind of incoherent, deranged person to respond to my questions. Instead, Michel proves to be a typically laid back and affable death metal obsessive; one who also happens to be a master craftsman of the genre at its most savage and primal.
AN: Hello Michel. May I begin by thanking you for creating exactly the album I want to listen to!
Michel: You’re welcome!
AN: From listening to ‘The Obscurity Within…’, it seems that older death metal bands such as Autopsy and Nihilist are at the core of Entrapment’s sound. Would that be an accurate take on where you are coming from or do any other bands play a fundamental role in inspiring what you do?
Michel: When I started to record the demos I was heavily inspired by the old Nihilist and Autopsy demos for sure. At the time I was writing the songs for the ‘Crawling Morbidity’ 7” I listened a lot to the ‘Abominations of Desolation’ LP from Morbid Angel and Slayer’s ‘Hell Awaits’ too. Sometimes it’s almost a copy/paste kinda work haha.
Michel: It’s great, everyday I receive replies, reviews of people and they’re all extremely positive about the album. So far it’s been worth all the work for sure!
AN: I have to ask about the cover art. As mentioned in my review, it brings to mind classic early 90s death metal artwork like that of Dan Seagrave. Firstly, I would like to ask who is responsible for creating such outstanding work, and secondly, was the image commissioned especially for the album?
Michel: The artwork is painted by Mattias Frisk, singer and guitar player for the Swedish death metal band Vanhelgd. He did also artwork for Maim, Vanhelgd and more. I met him at the Kill Town Death Fest. We kept in contact and I asked him to paint the artwork.
AN: Although my review was based on an mp3 version of the album, the awesome music combined with such great artwork still managed to bring across ‘The Obscurity Within…’ as a ‘complete package’. Given the way music is consumed nowadays, do you feel that some younger fans are missing out when they download music instead of buying vinyl or CDs?
Michel: At the moment this New Wave Of Traditional Death Metal is full of music collectors so everybody wants to buy the album, cassette, 7” or shirt in every bloody color it’s printed. Even the youngsters are that fanatic to relive the old days! For the mainstream music lover I don’t feel any pity. The music industry created a kind of “fast food listener” by deforming their own product into a worthless piece of shit like an MP3. It’s a logical step; consumers will become mindless zombies.
AN: As far as I can tell, Entrapment has always been a ‘one man project’. What are the reasons for this, and were there any other artists who inspired you to take this approach?
Michel: The time I started Entrapment I didn’t play in any other band, I had no time to rehearse or show any commitment. I was more or less learning how to record some tracks on my computer just for fun. After a while I created a few songs which were the songs you can hear on the ‘Infernal Blasphemies’ demo. Just for fun I asked a friend to record me playing the drums in the rehearsal room and that’s how I recorded the first songs. I put them on myspace and Detest Records was interested to release it on tape.
AN: One aspect which leads from the previous question is the subject of playing live. Do you ever perform live with backing musicians, and if so, do you have any touring plans in support of the album?
Michel: Yes, Entrapment is doing live shows. I think we did about 15 so far. I asked some friends to help me out and we did our first show at the Wolfsbane Festival in 2011 with Necrowretch, Urfaust and more.
AN: Is there any one of the instruments that you enjoy playing most?
Michel: It seriously depends from one moment to another. I like playing drums but I hardly practise these days. A guitar is much easier to handle at home.
AN: I have not yet had the pleasure of checking out your demo releases. How do they compare to ‘The Obscurity Within…’, and are they still available?
Michel: Both tapes are sold out for a while now but Godeater Records from Germany released a digipack with both the demos, the 7”, some rare recordings and seven well recorded live songs.Two demo songs are re-recorded on ‘The Obscurity Within…’ actually!! The demos sound more raw and were recorded pretty hastily compared to the album. The album is more pounding and has got more variety in the playlist.
AN: What were the circumstances leading up to your contract with Soulseller Records, and how does it feel to be signed now?
Michel: I knew Soulseller Records from bands like Maim and Repugnant so it was great that they contacted me for a deal. I had just released the ‘Crawling Morbidity’ 7” on Detest Records and they didn’t release any full length albums so it was not a hard decision. I have to say it works out very easy so far.
AN: It’s probably a bit strange to talk about your next album, but when the time comes, do you envisage taking a similar approach (i.e. terrifyingly brutal) or could you imagine adding different elements to the world of Entrapment? (For the record, I am hoping for more of the same!)
Michel: Actually I recorded a few new songs already and I was inspired by Autopsy’s ‘Mental Funeral’ album. With some very slow parts and almost clean sounding guitars. But still very raw and brutal!
AN: Now, a question I have always wanted to ask a Dutchman. How do you explain the amount of death metal brilliance which has emerged from your country over the years? (Pestilence, Asphyx, Thanatos, Sinister, God Dethroned, Severe Torture, Hail of Bullets to name a few…) And what has their impact been on you personally?
Michel: Well most bands you mention I grew up with and I love their debut albums. The Dutch style is not particularly recognizable by specific aspects; maybe that’s the strength of it. A nice fact is that God Dethroned bass player Henke is handling live bass duties for Entrapment. The sheer brutality and melodic parts of Asphyx’s the Rack album are a big inspiration for the slower parts of the Entrapment album.
Michel: From the Netherlands I would recommend Funeral Whore, Nailgun Massacre, Paradise of Steaming Cadavers, Icons of Brutality and Massive Assault. International bands I really enjoy are Skeletal Remain, Bone Sickness, Sonne Adam, Torturerama, Obliteration, Diskord, Nekromantheon, Venenum, Pyre, Bombs of Hades, Maim, Vanhelgd, Winterwolf, Undergang… too many to mention.
AN: Finally, is there anything you would like to share with the readers of Ave Noctum?
Michel: Cheers guys and thanks for the support!
Thanks, Michel, for taking the time to answer these questions, and also, restoring my faith in inhumanity with ‘The Obscurity Within…’!
Interviewed by Jamie Wilson