Over the course of the last year, Germany’s Endseeker found themselves in the entirely not-unique position of sitting at home after having all their touring and live plans for the year cancelled. And it was too bad because the death metal quintet from Hamburg had a big year planned in support of their then-latest and second album, The Harvest. Instead of sitting around with their depressed thumbs up their depressed asses, or at least after a couple of confusing and miserable weeks sitting around like that, the band got right back into the rehearsal room and took advantage of the time afforded to write and record a follow-up full-length, Mount Carcass.
It was time well spent as the band’s take on the classic Swedish death metal sound blossomed given the opportunity to pay deeper and more attention to the details of riffing, melodies, solos, and all that songwriting jibber-jabber bands often don’t properly address in the rush to get in and out of the studio and back on the road. Guitarist Ben Liepelt proudly recounts the details of how the band turned the frown of 2020 upside-down in order to issue their greatest work yet.
How was the new album impacted by COVID-19? Was it already set in motion before the world went to shit or was Mount Carcass completely written and recorded within the last year?
Ben Liepelt: “Without the pandemic, this album just wouldn’t exist. We were set to tour throughout 2020 with our previous record The Harvest when COVID hit and all our shows got cancelled. After a short period of frustration, we decided to be creative instead of sitting around crying. All of a sudden, we found ourselves in the middle of a highly creative writing process which was so much fun and such a relief from all the shit. So, without any distractions from shows and tours, we just focused on the songwriting and were able to go into studio by November and here we are now. It wasn’t planned to come up with a new album so fast; it just happened.”
Was there anything that was done differently in terms of the way the album was written or recorded when compared to what you had done in the past? What were you looking at accomplishing with this new album and do you think you achieved the goals you set out for yourselves?
“As mentioned before, the main difference in songwriting was the lack of distraction by other things like touring and playing shows, but we were also missing all private activities like going out, partying, etc. There was nothing else to do other than write songs, which was a great experience. It gave us the opportunity to get lost in the process and dive very deeply into the songs which made the writing actually quite easy. The record somehow wrote itself. We’re super happy with the result, think the album has a great vibe and is breathing our very heart and soul at every moment. We’re very proud of it. Our goal was just to write the best songs we’re capable of at this moment and I think we’ve achieved that. We’ll see what else is about to come now that it’s released!”
What is the significance or story behind the album’s title? Does it have anything to do with the absolute mess and piles of garbage and crap that climbers have left on the top of places like Mount Everest? The underlying theme being about how humans leave a shit stain of destruction wherever we go and are killing everything, but still have little respect for the finite nature of our surroundings?
“It deals more with the hundreds of frozen corpses from failed climbers that are lying in the death zone of Mount Everest, left and right along the path to the summit. With too many licenses sold, every year climbers find themselves stuck in traffic jams in very high regions and each year several people collapse and freeze to death while the other climbers have to step over the corpses to reach the summit to take their selfie or whatever. This is a great metaphor for our modern society and capitalistic economy. Growth, wealth, higher, further, to the top, no matter the costs – that’s the global mentality. It’s a sick system when you think about it and we thought the title and the artwork is a great image for this.”
Did experiencing and watching the events of the past year changed your approach to lyrics and topics you wanted to tackle on the new album? If so, in what way? If not, why not?
“For sure it did. We’re all very interested in politics and everything and we talk a lot about all this stuff. So, of course, all the shit that went down last year had a big impact on us and also found their way into the songs. Not only musically, but also on the lyrical side, at least for ‘Merciless Tide’ and ‘Count the Dead’ which are the two most political songs on the record. They are inspired by the massive rise of conspiracy theories and stuff like civil unrest, oppression, police brutality and all the sick shit we have to watch on the news every day like people hating each other and the decline of democracy. This is all very scary and we needed to put our thoughts and feelings about this into songs. But there’s also enough other stuff on this record like cocaine-munching bears, mouthless moths, zombie apocalypse and the trading of shrunken heads.”
How would you characterize Mount Carcass against your previous two albums?
“I’d say it’s straighter, more focused and easier to access for the listener. We tried to keep more of a punkish/organic vibe this time and not to overthink everything. The songs are more on point and the lead melodies are probably a bit more catchy than on The Harvest. It’s always hard to compare your own albums since the newest one is always the one you like the most, but we live all our records and every album is a snapshot of where we were at back then.”
In an interview I did with a prominent Swedish death metal dude a couple years back, he praised a good number of German metal bands, saying that in recent years bands from your country are doing the Swedish death metal style better than most Swedish bands. Agree? Disagree? What are the differences you hear in your sound when compared to other bands of this ilk? Basically, what sets Endseeker apart from the glut of HM-2 pedal-loving bands everywhere?
“Well, I’m not sure if I can agree with that. Yes, there are a bunch of very good German death metal bands that play the Swedish style like Fleshcrawl, Revel In Flesh, and Liveless, to name a very few. But there are also so many great Swedish bands… Lik, to be named first since they’re probably the best HM-2 band out there in my opinion. But also Baest from Denmark became pretty big during the last years. There’s good stuff coming from many countries and I don’t think that Germany somehow sticks out that much. We’re all lucky enough to choose from a wide variety of HM-2 bands these days which is a good thing. Keeping the spirit alive!”
What has a year off the road, not being able to go to shows and basically live life the way you have since you were a pimple-faced teenager taught you about yourself? What have you been doing to keep sane? What has the pandemic taught you about what the band means to you and its place in your life as we all get older and sands fall through the hourglass?
“First of all, it taught me that I miss concerts, both attending and playing, more than I ever thought I would. The lack of live shows is actually hurting very badly. Once this crap is over I will go to every show possible! A life without shows is miserable, and well, we wrote a record to keep sane. Trying to make music in the only possible way. Setting a new goal. That was super important for us. And it showed us again how much this band means to us and how much we need this in our lives. Without the band, it would have been even much more worse. I’m very thankful to be in this band and have had the opportunity to spend the last year creating this record with my brothers instead of sitting around in pure boredom.”