Spawned in the sweltering heat of Florida, the true spirit of technical death metal is alive, well and now living in Munich it seems – as Over Your Threshold have demonstrated to scintillating effect on their debut album, Facticity.
The German outfit, formed in 2006, set new standards for the genre with their first full length and critics (including Rushonrock) have lapped up the band’s fusion of virtuoso musicianship and songwriting nous.
But with two new members now on board, this is just the start of their journey, as guitarist and founding member Lukas Spielberger explained to Richard Holmes.
rushonrock: How much of a progression was Facticity from your first EP, 2008’s Progress in Disbelief?
Lukas Spielberger: The songs on Progress in Disbelief were our first musical steps and our first experiences in songwriting. I would describe the style as a kind of melodic death/thrash metal. But later we grew as musicians and started to prefer the more progressive way. We began to set our personal level as high as possible to improve our skills.
rushonrock: The reaction to Facticity has been on the whole, very positive – have you been surprised that your debut full length has been so well received?
LS: Right before the release of Facticity we were really sceptical. Sure, we were totally comfortable with the album, I think most musicians are after recording a new record. But you never can predict the reactions of the listeners, so we were more than surprised about the positive reaction.
rushonrock: What have new members Kilian Lau (guitars) and Ludiwg Walter (vocals) – who joined after the recording of Facticity – brought to the band?
LS: Ludwig has, compared to our former singer Leo (Leonhard P, who also played guitar), a more brutal and lower voice. Due to the fact that he’s only a singer, future tracks will contain more vocal lines than Facticity.
Kilian brought a bunch of great new song ideas into the band. I would describe his style as solid old school death metal, turning into crazy rhythmical stuff! I’m really looking forward to our new songs which will have the input of Ludwig and Kilian.
rushonrock: You decided to release Facticity with the original line-up, rather than re-record it with Kilian and Ludwig, why was that?
LS: We decided to release Facticity with the old line-up because we worked really hard on this record all together and observe it as an end of the era with our former singer and friend, Leo. We are also already working on new stuff, so our new members had no problem with that decision and prefer to bring their own influences into the new songs instead of re-recording an already finished album.
rushonrock: Steffen Kummerer, of Obscura and Thulcandra fame, and Hokum/ex-Obscura bassist Jonas Fischer both had guest slots on Facticity – what did they bring to it?
LS: Steffen contributed a guitar solo, Jonas a bass solo. Due to the fact that we met them when they both played in Obscura, we thought it was a great idea to bring them in for the same song (Abdicated). In the middle of the song is a jazzy clean interlude fading into Jonas’s bass solo, followed by Steffen’s guitar solo. Finally a long instrumental section ends with a third solo by myself. I think both contributions fit very well in the song’s structure.
rushonrock: One of the most impressive elements to Facticity is that unlike many technical death metal albums, all of the instruments are allowed space to breathe. Did you push for this from the start or is it something that (Dark Fortress/Tryptikon’s) V. Santura, who mixed and mastered the album, pushed you towards?
LS: It was our intention from the beginning to produce a transparent sound in order to hear each instrument clearly. But we also knew V. Santura’s production work so we were sure he was the perfect man for this job.
rushonrock: How much inspiration do you draw from the first wave of technical death metal – bands like Atheist, Cynic and Death?
LS: Sure, those bands are a big influence. They always inspire us to make music – to a certain extent you can say they build the basis for our songs. You can hear their style in our songs frequently.
rushonrock: There are plenty of ‘non-metal’ influences on Facticity, too – which musicians do you admire outside the death metal scene?
LS: In general we are very open-minded towards all kinds of music styles and we’re very into jazz/fusion stuff. Rob Martino, a great chapman stick artist, really inspires me, especially for instrumental and clean stuff. But that doesn´t mean we are going to have a chapman stick on our next album! Julian (Matejka, drums) is a big fan of old school rock stuff. He also did a great guitar solo on (Facticity’s) Self Exhibition. His ‘rock’ style is a nice contrast to my solos and fits very well.
rushonrock: What kind of lyrical themes are explored on Facticity?
LS: The theme of Facticity is humans’ ambivalence between terrestrial life and transcendental beliefs. Some people aspire to God, whereas others focus upon the life on earth. The two-split figure on the front cover is an allusion to Raffaello Santi’s painting, The School of Athens. Basically, it’s the same topic but in a modern style and with a clear emphasis on the factual condition of human existence – thus ‘Facticity’.
rushonrock: Your music is very complex – how do you approach playing it live?
LS: All songs on Facticity are arranged to be playable live. We don’t like recording songs which can’t be realised on stage. Ludwig and I are alternating vocals or I use a guitar harmonizer for a few solo parts. Due to our new line-up with a vocalist and guitarist instead of one guitarist/vocalist it is easier to realise the tricky parts without losing tightness.
rushonrock: What are your own highlights of the new album… and which tracks do you think work best live?
LS: My three favourite tracks are Desolation Row, Contextual Fluctuating and the title track. Abdicated is great for fans of instrumental songs at live shows. It contains some nice clean parts and I think that’s a great alternative in live shows.