We wanted to make plain death metal with some doom influences,” says Chapel Of Disease singer Laurent Teubl matter-of-factly. “We wanted to make the sort of music that we would listen to at home and that only few still do. We missed that old Tampa sound, where death metal was still very close to aggressive thrash and it didn’t have to be clean or technical. [We wanted to] summon the ancient gods of death metal.”
It would seem that Cologne, Germany based death cult Chapel Of Disease are not only using their sound to summon the ancient gods of death metal, but also their moniker, which appears to be a mash-up of Morbid Angel’s “Chapel Of Ghouls” and “Angel Of Disease” – arguably two of the greatest death metal songs ever written.
“I think it isn’t to deny that somehow we threw those two song titles together,” Laurent laughs. “But I think it’s a good band name, since it is nothing complicated. It gets stuck in one’s head easily. ‘Altars Of Madness’ is an all-time favourite for the whole band. It’s an amazing album that easily beats the aggression and madness of many later recorded black metal albums… It simply is and always will be a masterpiece.”
However, when listening to the band’s new album ‘Summoning Black Gods’ Morbid Angel’s influence is not readily apparent unlike say, early Pestilence, Death and Possessed (which is openly channelled via Laurent’s uncanny Jeff Becerra-like growl).
“Those sounds of Morbid Angel are definitely a big inspiration for us, although I wouldn’t really say that one hears their influence in our music. But it’s there somehow. If someone can teach me to play guitar in such a fucked up way as Trey maybe then we’d have more Morbid Angel in our songs.
“Our influences are a bunch of bands and sounds thrown together. Of course you can take all those huge death metal names from the late ‘80s to the early ‘90s. Then again, you can take quite a lot of thrash bands as well and mix all that shit with classical doom sounds. We’re not the kind of guys that stick on only one sort of metal. I have a lot of different albums spinning around in my room. The day could start with ‘Leprosy’ and move to ‘Born Too Late’. I might listen to some Repugnant tunes, throw in a Misfits mash up, and go insane on Nifelheim while wondering about the genius of ‘Focus’ by Cynic. Later I will get shitfaced with Rigor Mortis, daze away with Pink Floyd and end the day with Mogwai before having a midnight snack with the ghost of Peter Steele.”
Chapel Of Disease formed in 2008, “around February or March,” Laurent recalls. “I’d just moved to Cologne where my brother Cedric [guitars] lived. He’d been living there for some time and so through him I got to know David [Dankert – drums]. We were a three piece in the beginning until we met Christian [Krieger – bass] in early 2009.”
And so begins the journey into the Chapel Of Disease, another entrant into the growing legions of younger bands plying the “old school” death metal sound. But while most of his cohorts shy away from admitting their love of the ancient ones, Laurent is as outspoken about the connection of his band with the “old school” tag as he is admitting the wide range of bands on his stereo.
“Why talk around it,” he says. “It is old school death and it’s not like I would feel misunderstood or even insulted if one would call it that. Maybe there are some doom elements and some other stuff there, but if one would ask me what kind of music we play, I’d definitely answer with ‘old school death’.”
In what has become cliché, the moment you mention a new(ish) band playing “old school” death metal influenced by the vaunted “Golden Era” the groaning starts. “Not another one…”! But let me ask you, faithful reader, would you rather hear a band playing “old school” death metal exceptionally well as evidenced on ‘Summoning Black Gods’ or a new wave of bands attempting to resurrect nu-metal or some other nauseating sub-genre? Think really hard about that. Then again. So okay, maybe some out there would enjoy a rap metal resurgence because it would give you something else to complain about on your favorite elite underground Internet forum. We at Iron Fist cannot foretell the future, so we embrace all the current death emerging from dank, moldering graves around the globe be it Germany, Scandinavia, North or South America. Laurent understands this, but he also recognises the limitations.
“I think history keeps repeating itself and that’s something more than normal. We pretty much went through all the possible sounds of metal. Of course there are always some bands that manage to create something unique, but let’s leave those aside. Now we’re simply redoing and maybe reinterpreting those single metal waves. Sometimes I also think it’s getting too much with the whole ‘new but old school’ death metal sound. Then again, in that huge bucket of those new bands doing an old school sound, one can always find some groups that are killer. I don’t think it was any different back in the day.”
And it’s not just music driving this band, like many before them and many more that will certainly follow, other dark influences are at play. With regards to the lyrical content, H.P. Lovecraft’s influence is strong throughout as evidenced by the album’s title ‘Summoning Black Gods’ and song titles ‘Dead Spheres’, ‘The Nameless City’ and ‘The Loved Dead’. This, of course, provides the proverbial “hook, line and sinker” for horror literature geeks like us at Iron Fist.
“All of ours lyrics are based on early horror or fantastic literature,” reveals Laurent. “Most of our lyrics are written by Cedric. A lot of the stuff on the album is based on stories by Lovecraft. Furthermore, we got some stuff based on E.T.A. Hoffmann [German Romantic author, 1776-1822)] or Novalis [the pseudonym of German Romantic poet and author Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, 1772-1801].”
Thus with ‘Summoning…’ successfully under their bullet-belts and currently emanating unnamable nightmares from the beyond what does Laurent hope to accomplish with Chapel Of Disease in the long term?
“I don’t like to look too far ahead with plans concerning Chapel Of Disease,” admits Laurent. “My biggest wish at the moment is that the album will get as much positive feedback as our demo ‘Death Evoked’ [F.D.A. Rekotz, 2012]. The next thing would be that our tour in late January 2013 in the UK goes over just fine. I’m looking forward to crashing the Queen’s home a lot.”
Originally printed in Iron Fist #3
Copyright © 2023 Iron Fist Magazine. All Rights Reserved.