Deathrite are Beff, Andy, Tony, Tom, and Anton. But that wasn’t always the case. As with most bands lineups change, but the original core—Beff, Andy, Tony—started jamming together in Dresden in 2010. Informed by punk and hardcore’s pissed off mentality, inspired by the sounds—namely, the buzzsaw guitar tone resulting from the Boss HM-2 pedal—of early stage Entombed and Dismember, and totally in awe of the opposite ends of grindcore and sludge, Deathrite’s style was unlikely but stabbed strongly at the heart of it all. There was no pretense in Deathrite. Only a bunch of likeminded Germans bonded by things hard, fast, slow, and heavy.
Across three full-lengths—2011’s Deathrite, 2013’s Into Extinction, and 2015’s Revelation of Chaos—Deathrite ripped hard and long. They toured Europe, playing with bands like Napalm Death, Toxic Holocaust and Ramming Speed to throngs of metalheads eager for their own Deathrite experience, while the press proclaimed Deathrite’s victory over the genres they were influenced by. To wit, Metal Hammer proclaimed the Germans’ Revelation of Chaos to be “wonderfully raw, deeply accented” and Metal.de simply said, “Revelation of Chaos is an old-school DM [death metal] banger.” This much was clear: an encounter, whether on record or stage, with Deathrite wasn’t to be taken lightly.
In January 2018, Deathrite signed a label deal with Century Media Records, where they now hold court with bands like Napalm Death, Morbus Chron and Death Alley. The covenant between the Germans and label also brings change not only to sound—“musical development”—but also to lineup, with bassist Anton and second guitarist Tom joining Deathrite to form a new dynamic. That new style—both a distillation of and an extension from previous albums—makes its mark on the new album, Nightmares Reign. Deathrite found new paths to darkness, strangeness, and intensity on songs “Devil’s Poison” and “Appetite for Murder,” both conceived in otherworldly awesomeness and filth mere months after the Where Evil Arises 7-Inch saw sunlight in 2017. Then, when “Invoke Nocturnal Light” and “Temptation Calls” followed as if born out of the grave and empowered by the spirits of the night, the Germans knew they were well on their way. Not only is Nightmares Reign raw and impulsive, but it’s also very different. It’s true death metal with angles alternate and unhinged.
Conceptually, Nightmare’s Reign isn’t a metaphor. Deathrite write about death and darkness—literally, the consummation of two themes—most of the time, but on their Century Media debut, the lyrics tackle the topic of nightmares and their powerful influence. The Germans are keenly interested in the force of nightmares, what they’re capable of inside and out of dreams. Songs like “Appetite for Murder,” “Bloodlust,” and “Temptation’s Call” were written about the powerful and frightful conditions brought on by nightmares, and how they might influence real-life decisions. Whereas Motörhead’s “Like a Nightmare” scratches the surface, Deathrite’s “Demon Soul” and title track delve deep into the darkest corners.
Nightmare’s Reign was produced, mixed, and mastered over a 10-day span—“blood, sweat, and beers,” they say—by Richard Behrens (Black Salvation, Evil Spirit) and Emanuele Baratto (Kadavar) at Big Snuff Studio in Berlin, Germany. Under the cover of a flat, tin roof and in the midst of a sweltering German summer, Deathrite, Behrens, and Baratto twiddled knobs, pulled levers, and other studio magic to put Nightmare’s Reign to actual tape. That’s right, Deathrite’s Nightmare’s Reign was engineered and recorded to put Big Snuff Studio vintage gear and analog recording devices to work. The result: Nightmare’s Reign is warm and fleshy yet packs a powerful punch to the digital perfection of the present. While Autopsy’s Mental Funeral, Entombed’s Wolverine Blues, and Voivod’s Dimension Hatröss weren’t the model, what Deathrite achieved on Nightmare’s Reign is of similar sound and spirit.
After almost a decade of noisy, blast-ridden savagery, Deathrite are ready to groove on, weird out, and unnerve on Nightmare’s Reign. While it’s true only death is real, it’s also true only Deathrite’s Nightmare’s Reign is real, underground death metal. Beware… revenge is sweet and the end will be bitter.