Death Shroud hail from Blacksburg, Virginia. Founded in 2007, the by-now-trio (more of that later) of musicians deliver sharp and menacing black metal à laWatain, 1349 and Averse Sefira. Their EP Pavor Nocturnus (trans: “night terror”) is a very serious example of what black metal in this decade is open to when the band show dedication, diligence and a spark of creativity. With new material rapidly accumulating for their next release, Zero Tolerance contacted founding member, mastermind, guitarist and vocalist Sterthanas to find out more about the status quo in the band’s camp.
ZT: Can you give us a brief bio of the band? Sterthanas: Death Shroud started in Blacksburg, VA as a two-man studio project in December 2007. It consisted of myself on all instruments and Jotun on backing vocals/lyrics. Drum lines were programmed first and the riffs were written second for ease of recording. Two songs were tracked that month: The Beckoning and Blacken The Sky, which were promoted online and received a positive response. In August 2008 I resumed recording material as a solo project, and by January 2009 a total of five songs were tracked and a self-titled EP was released. In January 2011 a new track Our Will Be Done was recorded using the same method. Later that year I entered the studio to record a full length using live drums, still adhering to the formula of tracking drums first and writing the riffs last, with the exception of Funeral which I had written previously in 2004. By the end of the year At Dusk We Rise was finished and released. A few well-received live shows were played incorporating the members of the band I drum for, The Ziggurat. Around 2012 I met Holz from Pathogenesis and he expressed interest in playing drums and making Death Shroud a full-time live act. By December 2012 we began writing new material and incorporated a few older songs I had written from 2004 to 2006. In March 2013 Malevictus joined on bass having played guitar in the previous live incarnation. We entered Hideaway Studios that summer and recorded the Pavor Nocturnus EP which was released in August 2013. We have been gigging in support of it up to now.
ZT: How would you describe your style? S: Grim, dark and furious black metal.
ZT: What’s happened in your camp since your last release, 2013’s Pavor Nocturnus EP? S: Holz relocated to Norfolk last summer. This slowed the writing aspect a bit, however we are committed to touring as a live act whenever worthwhile shows arise.
ZT: What are your main influences and sources of inspiration? S: Nature. The Night. Death. The Cosmos. Philosophy. Psychology. Mysticism. Musically, Scandinavian bands like 1349, Nattefrost, and Dissection and certain US black metal bands like Imperial Crystalline Entombment and Bloodthrone.
ZT: What are your lyrics about? S: Darkness. Death. Despair. Nature. Occult Philosophy. Dreams. Mankind’s unavoidable self-destruction.
ZT: Your songs combine brutality with technical artistry and cold atmospheres. Which of the three is most important? S: They are all equally important in Death Shroud. There must be a balance between those elements, otherwise the music is just brutal, just technical or just atmospheric. That’s when things become boring. However there is always a cold feeling and intensity to the music we write.
ZT: You opted for a clean production, compared to the majority of black metal bands out there. Any particular reason for that? S: I feel that is what our music deserves. Never over-produced to the point of sounding unnatural by any means, but not so lo-fi you can’t distinguish what is being played.
ZT: How do you compose? Do you jam songs in the studio or do individual members come up with whole songs? S: Originally I wrote all the music after I had recorded the drum tracks. Then it moved towards jamming and creating the songs together. Now that Holz has moved, Malevictus and I mostly track new song ideas and send them via email to him where he then develops the drum lines.
ZT: You opted for an EP after a full-length – not something so many bands do. What are the reasons behind this? How different are EPs to full-lengths? S: I prefer EPs honestly on the premise of ‘all killer, no filler’. Full-lengths within the underground tend to drag on and only contain a few good songs separated by tracks that are more mediocre. This happens often with major label bands as well. I believe every song should stand on its own two feet and not rely on the rest of the album to carry it.
ZT: Future plans? S: We will continue to play shows in new states and spread our music to the people who would appreciate it. Our stage show and live energy has been welcomed with great enthusiasm thus far. We also have 90% of the material written for our next EP to be recorded in the coming year.
You’ll find a blazing track from Death Shroud on the covermount CD of Zero Tolerance issue #70, out in time for Christmas!
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