(In this week’s edition of Andy Synn‘s series devoted to lyrics in metal, he presents the responses of Chris Gebauer, lyricist/vocalist of the Australian post-apocalyptic black metal band Deadspace.)
Having the platform I have here at NCS is both a privilege and a responsibility, and one I don’t take lightly.
The best thing about it, of course, is being able to introduce our readers, whoever and however many of them they are, to new bands, new albums… new music in general… that they might not have otherwise stumbled across or thought to check out if left solely to their own devices.
In the case of Australian Black Metal crew Deadspace I think I’ve definitely done my part to raise their profile (on this website anyway) as I have, over the course of the last two years, written about the band no less than five times, covering five different releases (two EPs and three albums).
And so, with their most recent full-length record, The Grand Disillusionment, being released just last month, now seemed like the perfect time to make contact with the band’s frontman, Chris Gebauer, to find out exactly what fuels the group’s prolific output and how their story, and their message, has evolved as a response.
I didn’t want to go to school when I was younger, so I stayed home writing lyrics and learning to play the drums.
Deadspace was really conceived off some lyrical ideas that I felt the need to express, as was playing drums in Death Metal bands and doing session work and found myself becoming more and more frustrated.
Art was becoming more a tool for self-expression for me and I was realising that I was not empathising with the lyrical content presented by the vocalists of these bands. All great lyricists, but their stories didn’t mean enough to me to keep me lugging drums around at shows and train precision or mechanics to execute somebody else’s ideas.
This is how I started, with a message. The band has slowly grown into a family, but I am still at the helm of what we want to say and how we deliver our message.
Our first record, The Promise of Oblivion, was inspired by a film called Stay. It’s about a man who confesses to a counselor who is substituting for his own that he is going to commit suicide.
It explores a man living in his own reality of a world bound by legal and social structures that he loathes. It is concerned with not escaping the world through an act of suicide but rather, creating an alternative perspective to live through as a mechanism of freedom.
Gravity, the EP that follows, was an outward examination of the world this character was trying to avoid, exploring four stages of a life cycle – birth, life, death, and rebirth.
It tries to find a meaning in existence but falls short, falling into nihilistic and absurdist ideology.
Birth is possibly the darkest track as it is the first account of dispossessing autonomy. Death is similar, as we have no choice but to die but it stands as a better alternative to the narrative beforehand, life. Rebirth stands as a final defiance to being completely consumed by darkness as human life can be equally hideous as it can be beautiful, exploring that the inner beauty of humanity is found within spiritual freedom.
The Liquid Sky was inspired by a severely unhealthy relationship to alcohol and recklessness that the entire band and myself embraced during this time of a heavy touring cycle.
I have mixed feelings about this record as it really does not feel like Deadspace to me but something we had to get out to move on. I do not relate to any of the themes in the record any more as I do not drink, but it serves as a short history lesson, reminding me that my life is now better and so is the art that the band creates.
Dirge was created while undertaking a bachelor of philosophy and is a philosophical and theological exploration of good, evil, triumph, integrity, and the occult.
It is a story of a man who is born cursed with the burden to become a ruler. He understands that to reach his destiny, he must walk on the bones of those before him. He embraces this truth after struggling with his own humanity, only to lose sleep due to his conscience.
He eventually attains his place as ruler and realises that he has killed everything else in the world, turning the world into a mass graveyard. This becomes a living hell and thusly he becomes a satanic god.
Libido Dominandi was a revolt against conventional values held to relationships against human beings. It explored a standpoint I held at the time that love and relationships were two different things, with the former being a result of Judeo-Christian propaganda.
The track “52” is named after the 52hz whale, known as the loneliest whale in the world. It speaks at a frequency unheard by other whales and fails to connect to any other being in result. This piece really balanced this EP for me, and the lesson that I learned was to follow my heart and not let logic dissolve opportunities to be happy.
The Grand Disillusionment, our newest record, is the first heavily politically inspired album in our catalogue. I started to write this album in response to Australia voting the Liberal party back into power as a hypothesis of a post-apocalyptic dystopia that it would eventually incite.
There really isn’t much to say about this record that the lyrics don’t directly state. The cover was supposed to be an almost tacky representation of a human being that has been completely stripped of their humanity. It represents an execution where the person has made themselves a target (shown by the use of corpsepaint) for Orwellian oppression.
The saddest thing about this album is that this hypothesis is eventuating in reality. The big inspiration for the literary poetics used comes from changing my studies from philosophy to an English literature major. I have been engulfed by abundant works of literature throughout the last year and I’m finding that I learn more about the world through great works of art rather than philosophical enquiry.
This is why we used the quote from Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ at the beginning of ‘As Time Moves Backwards’ and concluded the record with me reading a poem I wrote for the last track that combined influence from romantic, gothic, and modernist literature.
I think it all resonates with me in different ways. Lately I’ve really enjoyed the honesty of my lyrics. In my opinion, Dirge, Libido Dominandi, and The Grand Disillusionment are my greatest lyrical constructions to date.
I respect that other writers resonate particularly with their own work, and of course I take some inspiration from others, but my work is mainly driven by my own mind. I also understand that other writers may not resonate with my work, but that is the nature of literary criticism.
These days I have really just been focussed on different things. We call ourselves Post-Apocalyptic Black Metal because we really don’t fit under the traditional DSBM umbrella and our work has always been more dystopic in nature than anything else.
My work lyrically addresses different aspects of a dystopia that I either perceive within the world or predict it becoming. In recent releases, these opinions have become more so convictions than observations. I am getting older, as we all are, and I am finding my own justifications for my morality and existence.
I’d like people to think of my work as observations shaped by context as opposed to didactic literary fascism, as Deadspace, at its foundation, is a band that actively advocates human individuality and expression.
I feel like the descriptions I provided above for each album should serve as sufficient portals to understanding the nature of our work.
I do, however, invite anybody who may have any specific questions to contact us through our page. We are always happy to talk about art.
One thing I can say is that the evolution in the lyrics also follows the evolution in our sound. I am a massive Post Rock fan, but lately I’ve felt the need to separate my Post Rock influence from my Black Metal projects.
This is also influenced by line-up changes and the development of our live show. The guitar section of our band, Tom, Dan, and Theuns, get instant satisfaction out of heavy riffs. They call them ‘riffs that fuck’. I didn’t identify much merit in this in the early days, but I have since embraced this energy due to how it delivers in a live arena.
As the music has been stripped back to a more primitive and aggressive nature, there was a call for the lyrical delivery to follow. Of course I want to try and incorporate more atmosphere in certain parts on our next record, but instead of taking away the heaviness, would like to do so by leaving more room for the melodic sections to develop and crush in a way that the ‘Carpathian Forest’-esque riffs cannot.
We wrote an ambiguous post on our Facebook fan page lately stating that the future is uncertain for the band. By this we didn’t mean there may not be one, we just meant that the future is boundless and could take us anywhere as a band.
We have a European tour coming up and a festival booked, and we finish our final Australian dates this year. We may not be playing on this continent for some time, if ever, as we lose an incredible amount of money doing anything in Australia.
There will be another album, but our output has become so high that we are really forcing ourselves to take some time off before writing again. Three releases in a year is huge but it has stapled us thematically exactly where we wanted to be.
If you enjoy our lyrics I would suggest you check out some works from Milton, Eliot, Shelley, Kundera, Lovecraft, Morrison, and Roy.
Also, some inspiration has been taken from Nietzsche as an exploration of anthropological perspective, but not as sound philosophical statement.