Interview – ‘Blood Division’

Blood Division is a blackened crust band from Singapore featuring former and current members of bands like Impiety, Absence of the Sacred and Draconis Infernum. A review of their debut album, Traitors to the Gallows can be found here. The following interview was done in January, 2017.

Hails! What was the reason for the formation of Blood Division and what is the message behind it?

M: I was always influenced by both Punk and Metal growing up in the mid-to-late 1990’s (started out bouncing/ticketing at Punk and Hardcore shows as a teenager) and wanted to form a band with like-minded individuals such as my friend C. who likes similar bands that I do and who can contribute ideas to the songs and who has put out releases before like myself. We had drum sessionists like H. and Z. who played in notable bands in the Singapore scene as well who contributed their skills to the band. The message behind Blood Division is simple: Right or Left, All Must Die. True reality is nihilism manifest. Politics is all posturing and puppetry to the actual shadow governments that keep us blind and binded to a reality that is of their making; the complete adherence to the systems that they have established. We oppose such manipulation and dominance by the hidden agenda of subjugation by the one percent that dictate our lives from behind a veil.

How would you describe your music to those who haven’t heard it before?

M: Definitely a mixture of Thrash Metal, D-Beat/Crust Punk, Doom and Black Metal. We have been compared to bands such as IMPALED NAZARENE, AURA NOIR and ABIGAIL.

Could you give us some info about the current line-up as well as your other respected outputs that you’re currently, or were involved in?

M: C. (bassist/backing vocals) has his own solo project called HELVETTE and was the former vocalist/lyricist for DRACONIS INFERNUM. H. (session drums) still plays in DRACONIS INFERNUM and his own band HELLUCINATE and a new band called BREATHING HELL (featuring members of VADER and INFERNAL WAR). I was a member of IMPIETY (recorded releases, live tours), ABYSSAL VORTEX (featuring members of RUDRA and current MEGADETH/ex-SOILWORK drummer Dirk Verbeuren) and my own band ABSENCE OF THE SACRED which has released three full-length albums, the last of which (“Come Hither O Herald of Death”) featured Kevin Talley of SIX FEET UNDER, DYING FETUS and MISERY INDEX with guest appearances from members of CHTHONIC, DAWN OF AZAZEL and SPEARHEAD.

In one interview you stated that Blood Division aligns itself more with the crust scene than the metal scene, why is that?

M: We were quite sick of the pettiness of “Metal Politics” and it has sadly become the genre that lives up to the stereotype. I am not insulting the scene that I grew up in, but the little cliques, backstabbing/gossip and posturing became incredibly toxic over the years. I don’t like being labelled as a “Metalhead” or “Metaller” although I was and still am heavily involved in the scene. I identify more with Punk ethics and the DIY scene and this is why I said that we aligned more with the Crust scene rather than the Metal scene. We didn’t play any shows with Metal bands aside from opening for KVELERTAK in Singapore and headlining Trendslaughter Fest III in Bangalore.

How would you define a band of your nature in terms of appealing to fans of various sub-genres?

M: To be honest, we do not really care to appeal to anyone. We just play what we want to and if people like it that’s cool.

Tell us about your cooperation with Cyclopean Eye Productions and why you decided to work with them? What do you think about some of the other bands on their roster? Also, have you received any other offers up until now?

M: Sandesh of CYCLOPEAN EYE PRODUCTIONS and I first met through a mutual contact in Singapore and we have always kept in touch and became close friends/confidants. I also do graphic design work for his label. It was a natural choice to work with Sandesh and he really believes in the band, our message and our music. We have also seen the way he promoted bands like GENOCIDE SHRINES and SERPENTS ATHIRST and we know he will promote the release well. We had offers prior to his but their terms were not satisfactory at all. We would rather work with people we know personally, especially when it comes to labels or shows.

As I understand it, you were invited to headline the Trendslaughter Fest III. Perhaps you can tell us something about the overall experience and turnout? Which other bands did you play with?

M: The entire experience was incredible, thanks to the immense hospitality shown by the Trendslaughter Crew, namely Sandesh of CYCLOPEAN EYE PRODUCTIONS, Vikram and Pritham of DYING EMBRACE, Kiran Munipalle, Vamsi Kanagovi and Srikanth Panaman who have made our stay and show a fantastic one. It was a great experience playing with the legendary DYING EMBRACE as well as WITCHGOAT, NECRODEITY, SHEPHERD and SOLAR DEITY. The turnout was over three hundred people and we were blown away by the crazy response and we sold pretty much all our merch that night.

On an international level, how has your music been received? Do you try to promote your music on a large scale?

M: Well so far the international responses have been positive and people seem to dig the new record quite a bit. Some people like the music but don’t like the vocals and that’s okay, everyone’s got their own preferences. CYCLOPEAN EYE RECORDS is doing a great job promoting the record and we tend to leave the PR stuff to Sandesh as he does his best for the band.

How do you define the term “sellout” which seems to be largely associated with bands who sign to major labels?

M: It’s a very juvenile term.

Let’s talk about your debut album, “Traitor to the Gallows” – what does the title/artwork represent and how long were you working on the material?

M: The title represents the hanging of the traitors towards humanity that torture, rape and kill each other for religious and political beliefs, beliefs that only serve to benefit those who manipulate and puppeteer the strings towards their own twisted goals of power and greed. The artwork is representative of this as well. We are all for destruction of this elite class of politicians/religious leaders and “businessmen” who seek to make this world a hell for everyone else. We took about 6 months to prepare the material for the record. In all honesty the record was already done by early 2015 but CYCLOPEAN EYE PRODUCTIONS had quite a back-catalogue to stuff to release before they could put our album out. We didn’t mind waiting though as we know that it will be worth the wait.

I must say, the production on your debut album is quite solid. What kind of sound were you going for and how do you feel about the final outcome?

M: Production-wise we wanted to go for a more WOLFBRIGADE or DISFEAR sound but it turned out a bit more polished than we expected it to, but that’s fine. We are happy with the mix and mastering work by IPAB Productions in Singapore.

You seem to take an anti-political stance in regards to your lyrics. Could you further elaborate on your themes and where you draw inspiration from?

M: The lyrics are generally very dystopian and definitely anti-political. Thematically we are representative of an anarchist collective that is against the modern imperial state and the social and religious ideals imposed by the state as well as the ramifications of sedition and the wresting of humanity from those with selfishly insidious intentions who have the power to control. Inspiration comes from people such as Penny Rimbaud, George Orwell, Guy Debord, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Bertrand Russell, Denis Diderot and Henry David Thoreau. To be very clear: we are against fascism, socialism and any political system or movement as they only seek to serve their own agenda. There is no such thing as incorruptibility when it comes to governments.

You’ve shared the stage with some rather killer bands in the past, including Nuclear Death Terror, Warthreat and Kvelertak. What was the experience like playing with these bands and how was the attendance?

M: Definitely a blast playing with those bands, we definitely like the folks in NDT and WARTHREAT but we didn’t get to hang out much with KVELERTAK as we had to leave half-way during their set to support our friends at another show. We were scheduled to play with HAVOK in 2014 but had to pull out due to logistic reasons (I moved to Cambodia from Singapore and our session drummer H. relocated back to Indonesia) and it was hard for us to practice.

How regular do you get to see good shows in Singapore? I know bands like Absu and Archgoat has played there before.

M: Well I would say pretty regular. I mean bands like NAPALM DEATH, MORBID ANGEL, MAYHEM, DARK FUNERAL, DESTRUCTION, OPETH, CHILDREN OF BODOM, MEGADETH, METALLICA, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, SLAYER, EXODUS, TRAGEDY, THE CASUALTIES, DOOM, MISERY INDEX, RUSSIAN CIRCLES, MONO, etc have all played in Singapore. There are tons more if you include the underground bands like ARCHGOAT, NUNSLAUGHTER, SABBAT (JP), ABIGAIL, INFERNAL CURSE and so on. This was all even before I moved to Cambodia.

Give us a list of some your favorite punk and metal albums.

M: DANZIG “Danzig” to “Blackacidevil”, all SAMHAIN records, all MISFITS records from 1977 to 1983, CELTIC FROST “Morbid Tales” to “Into the Pandemonium”, all MERCYFUL FATE records, KING DIAMOND “A Fatal Portrait” to “The Eye”, BLACK FLAG “Damaged” to “Slip It In”, CRASS “The Feeding of the 5000”, “Stations of the Crass”, “Reality Asylum/Shaved Women”, DISRUPT “Unrest”, SEPULTURA “Morbid Visions” to “Chaos A.D.”, DARK ANGEL “Darkness Descends”, SLAYER “Show No Mercy” to “Divine Intervention”, MORBID ANGEL “Altars of Madness” to “Formulas Fatal to the Flesh”, DEICIDE “Deicide” to “Serpents of the Light”, all MOTORHEAD, SODOM, KREATOR, CARCASS, NAPALM DEATH, INCANTATION, DEATH, NEUROSIS, THE STOOGES, DARKTHRONE, CRO-MAGS, FROM ASHES RISE, TRAGEDY, DISFEAR, BAD RELIGION, IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST, JOY DIVISION, HIS HERO IS GONE, RUDIMENTARY PENI, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, lots more.

Any recent bands caught your attention as of late? What have you been listening to lately and which other bands do you support?

M: I’ve been listening to a mix of bands like BELGRADO, VERMIN WOMB, HEXIS, CODE ORANGE, TRUE WIDOW, YOUTH CODE, PERTURBATOR, CARPENTER BRUT all of which I really enjoy as of late. Basically I support the bands I’ve played with/worked with and/or bands who I know personally and friends, which all adds up to way too many for me to list down here.

I think that just about wraps it up. I could ask a million more questions, although I’d rather let you work on the next material. That said, feel free to end this interview in any way you like and perhaps add some details about the future of Blood Division. Thanks for your time!

M: Thanks James and Underground Siege. Very interesting questions and I enjoyed doing this interview. We currently do not know what the future holds for BLOOD DIVISION but remember this: the nature of your oppression is the aesthetic of our anger. TTTG.