Something strange happened earlier this year. I was handed something that looked quite obscure to review for Voices From The Darkside, as no one else wanted to touch it without a contamination kit. After the first couple of spins I started to curse the editor of said ‘zine to My Little Pony land, as the music didn’t speak to me. The release was put away, though as the whip started to crack over my head as the deadline was crossed, I had to play the abomination again. After some spins, the music opened up and let me into the obscure and wicked universe of STRANGE FACTS IN THE SCALPEL CASE and gave me a roller coaster ride I’m not likely to forget. The dark and atmospheric Death Metal contains a lot of twists and breaks, dark seances and utter horrifying moments, damn, how could I have missed out on this at first? I tracked down one of the main men of the Belgian duo, Fynnbrenn Ó Torcklàn who handles the drums, to hear what STRANGE FACTS IN THE SCALPEL CASE are about!
As you, yourself said when I asked to do an interview: “You might wanna know the story behind our bandname” And indeed I do, how did you end up with STRANGE FACTS IN THE SCALPEL CASE?
Hehe, I knew this was going to be your first question, it always is. When we first came up with the idea of forming the band, we started off with plain SCALPEL. Strangely enough this wasn’t used by any metal band at the time… imagine that! The word seemed a fine ‘tool of the trade’ but… as more and more lyrics started to flow, merely ‘Scalpel’ didn’t quite cover the package. I’m a huge fan of Victorian age fiction, ghost- and detective stories (say Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes or Blackwood’s John Silence series). The SCALPEL project shifted towards a darker concept and became known as STRANGE FACTS IN THE SCALPEL CASE. Not the easiest choice from a commercial point of view – then again, we tend to shape things our way and that includes the band name and lyrical concept.
I can hear some inspiration from old NECROPHAGIA and CARCASS, is that completely off? Which bands do ou see as the masters of Death Metal and what bands have inspired you to create the sound and ambience you have?
Skullator (guitars & live bass/vocals) is a Killjoy-fan, no doubts there. I think you can’t ignore CARCASS’ influence either so you do have a point. People usually throw in INCANTATION, BLOOD or ASPHYX as well. Personally I’m not that influenced by Death Metal at all. I write drumpatterns and arrangements after (or usually during) seeing a 70’s Eurotrash movie (both Skullator and I are die-hard VHS collectors, so if you want to get rid of those old horror tapes, don’t hesitate to contact us!) or reading a Lovecraft dreamcycle short story. As for Death Metal, I always considered CELTIC FROST to be my kind of ‘Death’ Metal. I guess if there are any bands or individuals that influence my playing it would be MANILLA ROAD’s Randy Foxe, Neil Peart, NOCTURNUS’ Mike Browning and for example the 70’s rockdrums on speed the way ABSU’s Proscriptor does it. Soundwise – I’m very much into DEATH, BRUTALITY, MASSACRA, LOUDBLAST and IMMOLATION. I’m avoiding the cliché-bands here, you all know who they are and to some extend they all have an influence.
When did STRANGE FACTS IN THE SCALPEL CASE start its venture into Death Metal and how did you end up playing the exact style of music that you do?
Actually, this is a though question. I think at some point, me and Skullator needed a project alongside our other bands to be able to play exactly what we wanted without having to compromise with others. I was t(h)rashing the drumkit in WAELCYRGE & went on to do live and studio drums for DARK AGES, URZAMOTH, TARANIS and CLOCKWORK BLACK, while Skullator made his hands dirty with his very own horror metal project called BURIAL GROUND (yes, it is taken from the Bianchi-movie). Ideas for STRANGE FACTS IN THE SCALPEL CASE go back as far as 2005 but I consider the official starting point to be around late 2009. We didn’t set out to ‘play Death Metal’ pur sang – I’m not a fan of Metal-classification. A Metal band to me is either good, or sucks.
Simply as good Metal. We create a darker concept, but it’s a setting we draw for ourselves. I think our material needs a few spins to digest and open up, you’ve already mentioned this in your review for Voices From The Darkside ‘zine and I believe you’re right. The material we are working on right now is equally complex. I’ve heard all sorts of descriptions for the kind of Metal we put together, if it sounds like overwhelming spine tingling graveyard business to you – I guess it is then.
How do you work when writing music and where do you find inspiration?
Basically, me and Skullator start by laying the foundations of a song. I tend to have a few keywords in mind which inspire me to certain drumpatterns and vocal sounds, Skullator adds his riffing and we put it all together in what seems a solid base for us. These raw versions are finished by session guitar-player Frederik who provides us with a second guitar track and lead guitars. Some of our work isn’t ‘your average Metal track’ but explores the boundaries of what is possible when it comes to patterns, rhythms, mood and atmosphere. I like to think of it as if order and chaos are constantly being altered, sometimes resulting in a creation that isn’t easy-listening nor typical ‘old school Death Metal’ as we are being categorized. Not every band labeled as old school needs to be an ENTOMBED-copy!
Do you have to be in a special mood to create music or does it just flow?
I can speak for myself as well as for Skullator if I say ideas just flow. No lack of inspiration here. ‘Music’ is all around you all day long, everyday. I pick up rhythms in the strangest places, speed them up and mold them into drumpatterns I can use for the band.
What do your lyrics deal with and how do you come up with them?
Death, added with themes of forbidden knowledge, hauntings and weird fiction. I take care of the lyrical concept in the band, again this is ‘an everflowing stream’ of ideas. I had an obituary-collection as a kid (NOT the band ;-)) so you can say the subject has always fascinated me. Combine this interest with all of the influences mentioned above and you get a KING DIAMOND-inspired approach to writing lyrics. The typical splatterconcept as used by CANNIBAL CORPSE or EXHUMED isn’t really my thing – I like to keep my coffin tales darker, more Ashton Smith-orientated.
How has your first release “Unearthed” been received?
Very well. In the UK, Germany and Eastern Europe reviews are really good. The first offers and interviews are coming in. The title track of the EP is playing on online streaming radio-shows in Portugal, Australia and in October on Kam Lee’s ‘From The Crypt’ podcast show on Brutal Existence Radio.com. The same track will appear on a compilation for the Polish ‘Antichrist magazine’, as well as on the Belgian ‘Face Your Underground’ sampler. Sales are as high as can be expected and the EP is distributed in both North America and Europe so there’s absolutely no reason to complain.
We don’t hope, we stick to the plan. Next month we start promoting “Unearthed” with live shows. We are given the chance to open the Belgian date for MASTER’s ‘The New Elite European tour 2012’ so we’re off to a great start!
When will we see a label pick you up for a nice vinyl release of “Unearthed”? and more material from your hands?
That would be very much appreciated. I rarely buy CD’s and am a vinyl addict so I’d like to see this EP get a proper release on black gold! Until then we keep on recording & releasing our material ourselves. After the live promotion this year we will hit the studio again to record a full-length CD. We are always in writing mode so there’s a lot of (un)finished material yet to be released. We are quite busy rehearsing. This way, we can focus on live shows without having to endanger the writing process for new material.
The band is consisting of 2 members, do you plan to assemble an army and do some live gigs, or is it a studio project?
A band is not a band if it’s only a studio project. Playing live has always been our goal and we will take any chance to do so with both hands. We’ve done so for the past 10 years with other bands, now we’re taking this strange case to the stage. The ‘official’ line-up consists of myself and Skullator, live and in studio we rely on two extra guitar-players Frederik and Jonas. As said, Frederik writes the lead guitar tracks and helps out both in studio and on live gigs. Jonas is our session-rhythm guitar player and is also active on bass in the brutal Death Metal band PUTRID INBRED.
How is the Death Metal scene in Belgium, it isn’t something we hear a lot from up here in the cold North, we get some Black Metal and Grindcore/Hard Core, too be honest I can think of other Death Metal bands from Belgium than BLASPHEREION, what have I missed out on?
I don’t think many people remember BLASPHEREION. In today’s Belgian (Death-)Metalscene, people tend to panic if they see a Death Metal band WITH bullets & studs and WITHOUT caps and baggy shorts. Bullets & studs are associated with a ‘Black Metal’ image… fuck that. In-your-face necro-styled metal is our thing, it doesn’t matter if you like a scream or grunts. I guess every scene has it’s trends which come and go but quality Metal (with studs!) always floats to the surface. I’ll skip the Grind(core) scene but certainly worth mentioning if it comes to haunting Death Metal are EMPTINESS! Also, FRACTURED INSANITY, CADUCITY and LEPTOTRICHIA are doing well, the brutal way! You can check out the rest of the Belgian Death Metal scene on www.deathmetal.be, though I don’t think their style can be compared to ours.
What five albums have changed your life?
Too many to mention, but if I have to narrow it down:
GUNS ‘N ROSES – Appetite For Destruction
ABSU – The Sun Of Tiphareth
W.A.S.P. – The Last Command
MOTÖRHEAD – Ace Of Spades
Also the works of KING DIAMOND, RUSH and JOHNNY CASH are of great influence.
Thanks a ton for answering my questions and to make some good music, please close the interview with manner!
That would be with shameless self-promotion! The “Unearthed” EP is still available for 5,00€ excl. postage through firstname.lastname@example.org and we have released a limited quantity of ‘Other temptations than those of the Devil’-shirts as well. Check out our official website on www.strangefactsinthescalpelcase.com and read all about death & the undead. Learn how to crack coffins and loot graves. Want to see what we are grinning about? Well… we have a keg of what passes for Amontillado, and we have our doubts…