(Comrade Aleks has brought us this wide-ranging interview with Alwin Roes, one of the original members of the resurrected Dutch death-doom band Dead End, who released a first album through Vic Records in 2016. As discussed in the interview they have a new album coming later this year, and many other plans in the works as well.)
Dead End is a relic of a past epoch. The band was formed in 1988 in North Brabant, Netherlands, and was one of those few first bands who explored death-doom metal. They managed to record two demos Tales (1991) and Purity (1992) that lead them to the EP Wartime In Eden (1993), and then Dead End was disbanded.
None expected it, but the band was resurrected in 2014, and their debut full-length Reborn From The Ancient Grave saw the light of day two years after this return. The details of Dead End‘s early years, the reasons to continue spreading death-doom bliss, and future prospects for the band are covered in this interview with Dead End’s original bass-player Alwin Roes.
Hi Alwin! Dead End was started in 1988, and the band is known as one of the first death doom bands in the Netherlands. How did this story start for you?
Hey man, well, I joined the band in their second year, somewhere in 1989. Misha (vocals) did bass until then but wanted to focus more on singing, and that’s where I stepped in. And yes, we were basically a death metal band, but when I stepped in I brought the Doomy side into the band.
Did you consider Dead End as death metal back then, and what were your musical influences and reference points?
As said, from the moment I joined there was a slight change in the music. Formerly it was more of a Dismember, Unleashed, Entombed kinda style, and I brought in the Anathema, My Dying Bride, and Candlemass influences. The band then got some Paradise Lost vibe also… and that’s where the new-style Dead End evolved.
The late ’80s – early ’90s seem to have been very active years for local death metal and the death doom scene. How did you spend this period with the band? How often did you play gigs? Did you feel the media’s support?
Well brother, the scene was WAAAAAYYYYYYYY more different back then. We did not play very often but always great gigs, with Pentacle, Achrosticon, Gorefest, Pestilence, Asphyx, and so on. The atmosphere was very good back then, and most bands still active from those days are successful to this day. The media was different but cool; we made our own copied flyers and posters, and we really went out to hang these everywhere… media support was not like we know these days, the internet and such stuff was not even in sight… some local newspapers did some support sometimes, but that was that. The pen-pal / tape-trading thingy was however very big in those days, and that was really cool.
Dead End – Angelthing
Did your path cross on gigs with bands like Delirium, Mourning, or Spina Bifida? I mean those old bands that were disbanded almost at the same time as Dead End.
No, not that much. We did a gig with Spina Bifida last year… that’s kinda cool… I’ve known William a long time now (vocals, SB) but we were more in the circle of Gorefest, Asphyx, Pentacle, Achrosticon, and Pestilence back then. They were also just making a name for themselves…
You recorded the demos Tales and Purity in 1991 and 1992 respectively. How did you work over this stuff?
I myself just joined with the Purity demo, and the later Wartime in Eden EP (which is now re-released as a demo as well, hahaha). We just wrote with the whole band; Misha did the lyrics and we went to a studio to record all of it.
Were you the one who put all the doom ideas on the table? Or did you share song-writing duties equally?
Eh, no I think it’s safe to say I was the man who put the doom side in Dead End. The writing was mostly me and Eef (Riet – guitar ), where he came up with the Death side and I threw in the Doom.
How would you describe the lyrical concept of the band? Did you have a message or something?
Nah, not really a message, it was more a state of mind thing (and still is) — feelings such as depression, anger, disillusionment, betrayal and deception, and those kinds of topics.
What influenced Dead End’s material back then? How were these influences reflected in the band’s first official EP release, Wartime In Eden?
I think we kinda developed our own “influences”. We created our own kinda style I think, in all that we did, music, logo/artwork, and all
Wartime was a monument for us, but sadly it rang the bell for our splitting up and farewells. We overachieved ourselves there I think, the best songs I was ever a part of.
I would say that Wartime In Eden is both straightforward and a manifold record; it really has some authentic vibes. Were you satisfied back then with the result?
Yes, Wartime is the most awesome thing we did back then; it was a start and an end of a new era. Sadly, it was our goodbye for then…
How did you record these songs? How much time did you spend at the studio?
We went to an old skool studio with 8-track tape, hahahaha, but back in those ancient times this was not old skool, hahaha. I believe we did some three days on every demo..
What were the reasons that lead to Dead End’s disbanding soon after Wartime In Eden‘s release?
Actually the songs on that farewell EP were written for a first album. We received some offers from a few major labels, but along with that came touring obligations, and because three of us had just started university study, we decided not to sign because they wanted to do skool. Me and Misha wanted all or nothing with the band, and this is what we worked so hard to achieve… so we mutually agreed on quitting the band and going our separate ways… sadly enough.
Alwin, you resurrected Dead End with Günther and Jeroen in 2014. What drove you to start it anew? And did you try to reunite with the original lineup?
In early 2014 Roel from Vic Records contacted Jeroen, asking him if it was okay to re-release all our old songs on CD, the demo’s and the EP songs. Jeroen contacted us and we all were kinda bedazzled but honoured someone wanted to do this.
Imagine that we did not see or speak to each other in 25 years… so, we agreed, and Misha said to open a FB page, so the people from the old days could see the release of this was coming… ok cool.
Then this went sky-high. From all over the world we got contact from old fans, very pleased that they could finally order Dead End on CD… we did not expect THIS big attention, but then people asked for live shows too. I was on board right away… Jeroen and Gunther joined for a few shows, just for nostalgic fun. After that, we got a CD offer for new material from Vic. The guys did not want to go on, but all of the old band members gave me their blessings, so I found new people and Dead End was Reborn…
Did they also give you some ideas for songs or did you compose Reborn From The Ancient Grave already when they left?
No they did not work on the new album, as they already told me they did not want to go on with the band, so, Reborn… was written by me and Arjan, the new guitarist already.
Dead End – Reborn From The Ancient Grave
You also played with Günther and Jeroen in Into The Arcane. What’s with this band? What didn’t work with it?
When they left Dead End again, they told me they wanted to keep making music, and I liked playing with them, so I joined this project. We wrote and recorded 4 songs which we released also at Vic Records, but I had to leave before the first live shows. I was too busy to keep up with 2 bands… sadly enough, because I really like the ITA music as well
You recorded Dead End’s first full-length Reborn From The Ancient Grave in 2016. How did you gather the new lineup with whom you recorded these songs?
Gieps was my band-buddy for a few years already, and we quit the band we had and he joined first. After a few auditions we found Harald, Arjan on drums and guitar, and through an ad we found Bryan.
We started writing songs and the chemistry was awesome. We wrote, recorded, and released this album in a total of 3 months!
Did you use some older material in this album or is it absolutely all new stuff?
We made a new version of “Weakness (Another Weakness)”, an old song that was only recorded live in 1988, and we thought it was cool, so we keep on doing this on our regular albums. On the new album you will find a new version of “Marked ( Marked again)”… cool to do these things…
What do you think — did you manage to fulfill the spirit of old Dead End in Reborn From The Ancient Grave? What was your main goal when you entered the studio?
I watched like a pit-bull on the writing process, and on the recording process. I wanted it to have the old Dead End vibe for sure, and we succeeded I think. We even looked for a studio to record old skool style, with headphones and one-take songs. No triggers, no metronome or any kinda of that stuff… old skool all the way, and also this gave the old Dead End vibe.
Alwin, how was it to work with new lineup in the studio? How did you organize that session?
All went very natural… the guys respected my wishes and they loved it… Dead End was reborn and stronger as a team as ever… it did not feel like a new band or like ME from Dead End with some other musicians. No, Dead End was what it always was…. Dead End.
What are your plans concerning a new album? Do you already have some new songs?
Actually we just finished it. After summer we will release A Mind’s Asylum and we think this is the best work we ever did.
But there are many more things to come. We will be part of the Raw Skull Records Demo split releases… together with Fleshcrawl… and on FattAss Records we will release a split LP with Master by the end of the year, so we are writing new songs already. Also we start writing on the new Dead End, for it will be a 2-CD… one disk with total Doom Dead End style, and one disc with total Death Dead End style… and man, I am really looking forward to recording this one… but that’s a future thing J
What are the main features of A Mind’s Asylum? Will it continue the line of Reborn From The Ancient Grave?
It was actually meant as a concept album. It’s about the 7 deadly sins, but we made it in a Dead End way, so the lyrics are still open for everyone’s own interpretation.
From what side should we expect it coming? Who will release the album?
We did all our work with Vic Records and he is a cool guy and does awesome stuff, so the new album will also be with Vic Records, but we have a lot of freedom with him, so, as mentioned, we also going to do a tape session thing with Raw Skull Records, and later this year we are going to release a split vinyl 12” with Master on FattAss records… so yeah… we are on a roll!!
And that double album – it sounds like a great plan. How many songs do you plan to put there? Why did you decide to do two different CDs as one edition?
We look at it as some kind of mirror, still working on the details, but it will highlight the influences of Dead End in a split way… one hand will be the death metal side, and one will be the doom side… and all with an extra glance to it…
New albums usually mean new gigs. How often do you play? Does the way of playing with Dead End nowadays differ a lot from how it was back in early ’90s?
Well, we are very bizzy actually — ’til the end of the year will be some 3 shows a month, with some nice trips to Iceland, Italy, Malta, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, and Belgium on the list too..
No, there is not so much difference, only the lower show-up at shows, but that’s just the scene nowadays, I don’t think it has something to do with Dead End.
Thanks for the interview Alwin! I hope that we’ll hear more news from Dead End really soon… and that double album… Killer idea! So thanks again, and do you have few more words to conclude this conversation?
Thanx for your interest and support, The metal scene is as always a brother thing, and we all need those guys who take the extra step… and so will the bands
…. Stay Doomed…… Alwin