Good evening, readers! As I mentioned earlier today, local RPG-nerd-metal band Dethlehem are headlining The Pittsburgh Scene‘s second birthday extravaganza at Stage AE tomorrow evening.
Preparations have been underway for this show for quite some time — the Dethlehem guys have been sharpening their swords and patching their chain mail, as well as rehearsing their music. But during a recent practice, they were kind enough to allow me exclusive access to their underground lair to sit down and chat, and to find out what’s been happening with the band.
First of all, I had a hell of a time even finding the place — a messenger on horseback delivered me a hand-drawn map with all sorts of cryptic symbols and ancient-looking writing on it. While following the instructions, I found myself well out of cell phone (or GPS) range, so if I had gotten lost, I would really have been out of luck! But eventually I came across some earth-shattering sounds emerging from behind a giant stone wall, and figured this must be the place.
As it turns out, the band’s practice space, as well as the place where they spend most of their time hanging out, is inside an ancient tomb. They explained that it used to be the resting place of an army of undead soldiers — which were reanimated and controlled by an evil dragon-shapeshifting goblin called Yagolith. Apparently the band released the warriors’ souls, but then once the space was vacant they decided to hang onto it for their own use rather than let it go to waste. (This all would make much more sense if you had listened to their debut album, The Ghorusalem Codex, Vol. 1: Enthroned Upon A Spire — but more on that later!)
But anyway, once I was finally inside, the guys offered me a seat near the fireplace (and a mug of something, I never did find out what it was, that smelled pretty terrible but after a few sips I was in a far better mood than I had been in a long time!), and we started talking. Guitarist Bovice had to excuse himself to go to the little knight’s room during our chat, but the others were more than happy to answer a few questions for me…
For your reading enjoyment, here’s what they had to say:
Valley of Steel: For those readers who might not already be familiar with you and your history, would each of you mind introducing yourselves?
Overlord Brom: I am your future Overlord, master of the sword, champion of your wife, and conquerer of realms. Sounding the war drums is my favorite past-time.
Hank the Guy: Me, Hank, 200-year-old barbarian. Hank plays bass-axe and maidens.
Brutalitus the Bloodbeard: AYE, I am Brutalitus the Bloodbeard, a Psychic Warrior. I am the War Cry of Dethlehem! I enjoy drinking, maidens, and drinking maidens…..if ya know what I mean. EH! EHHHHH!!!!???
Hildor: I am Hildor, the Assassin, and slayer of maidens. I’ve also been known to beg for coin… on, occasion. It is my secret way of stealing from the common folk, I’ve seen some on the street have also learned my technique.
VOS: I understand that recently there’s been a few changes to the personnel within the band. [Brutalitus and Hank each joined within the past year, replacing departing (or departed) adventurers Lord Bonecrush and Davidicus the Black.] How are the new guys getting along? I’ll assume that by now all the hazing, and that sort of thing, is over with?
HTG: At first, warriors not kind to Hank, but Hank eventually win over guys with special handshakes after dusk. Now brothers, we are!
OB: Hank gives a good handshake… I have witnessed this first hand many eventides. Brutalitus the BloodBeard isn’t so good at them, but we had combine parties if we ever wanted to make it back to Dethlehem. (This story will be contained in the Ghorusalem Codex 3, in which our scribes are working on as we speak.)
BTB: When first meeting these fellows in the Realm of Shadow….I was merely using them to retrieve my lost weapon. Now, it appears I am stuck with them. They tried to get me to do some sort of “handshake” …..but there was only ONE HAND involved! I clearly misunderstood their ways, but as long as they keep me out of their strange traditions I have no quarrels with them.
VOS: So I heard you guys had spent quite a bit of time over the past few months on tour — oh, excuse me — on a quest to far-off lands. What was that like? Do you feel like your campaigns have been successful so far? If there are any mishaps or humorous anecdotes, or anything that happened along your travels that might be of interest, please feel free to share!
HTG: Not really, just the usual conquering Soul Hags, destroying Death Adders and beheading Beholders. Well, we did go on that one side quest to slay Kayluuk, a two-headed beast of burden with an appetite for peasants and children. What are those quests called in your realm? Ah, yes, a ‘Tuesday’.
BTB: The questing involved much ale consumption! From what I remember……the battles were all glorious! The warriors of the east coast were valiant and courageous! Many of the goblins that were slain put up almost NO fight! Plus, they dressed rather strange….. never before have I seen so many goblins in what you call “high heels” with “purses”….and such a funny shade of orange they were. Earth goblins I suppose? They seemed particularly vulnerable to our sword attacks!
H: Many a 3DS was played while riding the saddle. We drank mugs of fresh ale, and played songs around many a campfire. Twas a good time indeed. No maidens would lay with us by the fire though, no matter how much ale was drunk. In our lands, our mighty armor is a sign of great strength and sexual fortitude, but alas in this realm it only beckons strange name calling and uncomfortable laughter. I cried alone on those cold nights, quite cold.
VOS: And you guys are performing this Saturday at The Pittsburgh Scene’s second anniversary party — your first headlining appearance in Pittsburgh since you were at Stage AE way back in February. (Congratulations and good luck, by the way!) Beyond that, where do you expect the future will be taking you? Do you have any more voyages planned?
HTG: We choose not to gaze too long into the Chasm of Future Tense, but what we dare to glimpse are headlining acts at Rockforlife Rocktoberfest (05 October), a big show opening for Alestorm and Epica (03 November), a bunch of shows on the road and then a regathering of minds to plan the next assault against evil: The Ghorusalem Codex, Vol. 3.
OB: Hank may not have the ability to fathom what will happen past lunchtime today, alas, future voyages will be planned through 2013. However, before the questing happens, we will be locking ourselves in a dungeon for the cold, unforgiving winter, to finish writing the next album.
VOS: Since we keep mentioning your next album, which will be the third part of the Ghorusalem Codex, could you briefly summarize the legend of Ghorusalem, so far, for folks out there who might not have been following along?
OB: The Ghorusalem Codex 1: Enthroned Upon A Spire tells the well-known tale of the birth of a shapeshifting-dragon goblin named Yagolith. He is visited by 3 wise demons who share with him some evil powers (you know, mind control over ancient undead warriors, soul hags, frost giants, etc.) We travel throughout the realm of Ghorusalem, to the capital city of Dethlehem (our namesake) to slay Yagolith by pulling the goblin skull from his eye while he is in dragon form. Bovice does this by reaching Insanity – level 10, which gives him incredible power.
In The Ghorusalem Codex, Volume 2: Of Magick & Tyranny an evil warlock, Dregmour, rises to power now that Yagolith is slain. He is trying to open the Hypergate of Infinitude, an ancient gate to an unknown realm, to unleash unspeakable evil into Ghorusalem. After hunting him down, we stop him, but not before he banishes us into the Hypergate, where our leader, Lord Bonecrush, is lost forever. The rest of us make it through to the other side, into a shadow realm with unseen horrors.
The Ghorusalem Codex, Volume 3 will pick up here… the scribes are tirelessly translating the ancient texts as we speak.
BTB: Yes, Volume 3 will go over how Hank and I joined what was left of the warriors after they were sucked through a portal and landed in our realm. A glorious tale indeed!
VOS: As long as there’s been heavy metal music, it seems like wizards and dragons and that sort of thing have always played an inspirational role — from the earliest days where Led Zeppelin had songs about Mordor and the stories from the Lord of the Rings, through the works of Dio and Manowar, not to mention the bands from all corners of the globe who are incorporating their regions’ traditional music and tales into a blend of folk metal. Now, I wouldn’t compare Dethlehem’s songs to any of those other bands’, because obviously you guys tend to write about things that have actually happened in your homeland, rather than fantasy and fictional stories. But stylistically or musically speaking, what (other music, or literature, etc.) would you guys say has inspired your material?
OB: I find slaying a dragon is very easy when listening to 80’s pop, and/or melodic death metal. Also, I find your non-fiction/biographical “video games” like Skyrim, Diablo, Guild Wars, and Dragon Age very informative and excellent sources for accurate representations of my younger days.
HTG: We tend to gravitate towards the more cerebral works from your realm, such as Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Tufnel and Seuss.
BTB: There are many bards from this realm that I enjoy! Black metal, power metal, and every inane genre and sub-genre your realm gives to these sounds in between. As long as I can wade in the blood of my enemies to it….I will most likely enjoy it.
VOS: On a related subject, during the course of your recent travels (or anytime, really) have you come across any other bands (live performances, or recordings, or whatever) that you guys really enjoyed and you’d like to share with the people reading this? Or, in a broader sense, what are you guys listening to nowadays?
OB: When I cast audio spells, I listen to a lot of progress metal and melodic metal. Lately, Gojira, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Be’lakor, Nekrogoblikon, Ihsahn, Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, and about a plethora of other bands.
BTB: All of the bands we did battle with on our quest this summer were great and very worthy opponents/party members. Lords of the Trident come to mind as one of the most formidable enemies we faced on our journey!
Otherwise I have been enjoying the tales of our brothers in A Band of Orcs and Nekrogoblikon! I hope to do battle with them someday soon!
Blind Guardian/Demons & Wizards as well as the guttural battle sounds of The Black Dahlia Murder are some of my old faithfuls though. Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s “Agony” has been on heavy rotation as well.
H: We shared the battlefield with The Protomen, not many moons ago. Their formidable armor and magical weapon arms impressed me. I would do battle with them again.
VOS: Well, if there’s anything else you guys would like to say or share, please feel free… but otherwise, once again thanks a lot for taking the time to answer these questions (and letting me hang out with you for a little while)! Good luck to you this weekend, and in wherever your adventures might lead you thereafter!
OB: Next time, bring more naked maidens that we can convert into wenches. Thank you!
BTB: Thank thee for spreading the word of our adventures! A noble warrior you are indeed!
For more Dethlehem goodness, here are the Bandcamp players for each of their first two albums… listen, enjoy, then plan to catch the band at their performance on Saturday!