Keyboardist Jan Hein: "It Wasn't Our Goal To Be Super Special"
Band Photo: Kambrium (?)
Kambrium has been navigating the sea of bands in the bursting German scene for a couple of years now. In 2010, they self-released the stunning EP “A Silent Moon.” In 2011, the band released “Shadowpath,” which brought an overwhelmingly exciting and refreshing sound of epic progressive death metal. At the same time the band can blastbeat with the best black metal bands they could stand alongside such symphonic greats like Epica (see Metal Underground's review of "Shadowpath"). The sound drew the attention of Massacre Records who quickly signed the quintet and issued “Shadowpath” worldwide.
Keyboardist/songwriter Jan Hein checked in with Metal Underground to talk about “Shadowpath” and how a bunch of untrained musicians spawned the idea of Kambrium during a party over a couple of beers in 2005.
CROMCarl: First off, most times I consider myself up on all the new acts that are rising in the world of metal, but I have to admit that I missed the boat and came late with Kambrium. When I first heard “Shadowpath,” I honestly hadn’t heard anything that exciting since I first heard Epica. The varying styles make the album so interesting it is hard for me to turn it off once I start. For the benefit of those other American fans who haven’t caught onto what Kambrium has achieved thus far, tell me how the band came about?
Jan Hein: Thanks to you for these big compliments!! Most of us knew each other, before we even started of thinking to create a band. At some point, more precisely a party in 2005, while drinking a few beers, we got that idea without being too serious in the first place. None of us could play an instrument properly. But it didn’t take us too long to play as often as we could, and we started to play songs of Amon Amarth, Lordi, In Flames and Sentenced.
CROMCarl: Where did the idea of the name “Kambrium” come about?
Jan Hein: The name “Kambrium” just refers to the geological era with the same name. It sounded catchy. ;) And also it’s kind of a majestic era, because it’s where the whole variety of life began.
CROMCarl: With “Shadowpath,” it is easy for me to see the bands influences at work here. At the same time the album is incredibly melodic, it also is extreme, punishingly heavy and ultimately a beautiful piece of music. When people who haven’t heard the band ask what your sound is, do you find it hard to actually pinpoint an exact way to describe it? Does the band try to avoid the stigma of labeling themselves to a particular musical sound?
Jan Hein: If you are playing in a band, you always have got that problem with labeling: You see that it’s necessary, but there’s no complete satisfaction with whatever category people may come up. Usually we are described as Epic Death Metal or Melodic Death with Keyboard, and it’s much like we view ourselves.
CROMCarl: The band self-released “Shadowpath” in June of 2011 and then was able to secure a deal with Massacre Records. How did the deal with Massacre come about?
Jan Hein: Actually, that story is simple: We sent our recordings to Massacre Records, just to see what a possible response could be. It may not be exaggerated to say, we were surprised as fuck to get back a contract proposal
CROMCarl: Take me on a tour of “Shadowpath” and some of the subject matters of some of the songs. Obviously, I recognize “The Eye of Horus” as an Egyptian theme. How about some of the others?
Jan Hein: You’re right, “The Eye of Horus” and “Arming for Retribution” refer to themes of ancient Egyptian mythology. Some lyrics just mark simple unspecified stories that we created to create some sort of atmosphere (like “Thanatos” or “Among the Lost”). Others refer basically to personal feelings or problems and make up a way to deal with them (like “Hollow Heart” or “Feuer Gegen Feuer”). You could say there’s no overall concept.
CROMCarl: What was the most challenging thing in the creation of “Shadowpath”?
Jan Hein: The most challenging things in the creation of that album were the recording sessions. Sometimes we thought that this would never end, haha. But it was really fun for us!
CROMCarl: What was the most challenging song to write?
Jan Hein: Well, the most challenging song to write was definitely “A Sinner's Remorse.” It was difficult to combine all these elements, so that they sound sexy together! But it worked and we are very satisfied with the result.
CROMCarl: Speaking of "A Sinner’s Remorse," did that result from a couple of different song ideas or was it always one song that was just added to over the writing process?
Jan Hein: That one was always conceptualized as one song that should have a more complex architecture. We love the various elements of that song, and think it’s a quite suitable counterpart for straight songs like “Dewfall” or “Among the Lost.”
CROMCarl: Do you think that with a ton of bands coming out of the German metal scene that it is a little harder to get noticed these days? Did this factor into the band’s development of a different style which would ultimately stand out?
Jan Hein: It sure is hard to get outstanding attention inside the constantly growing (German) metal scene. But it wasn’t our goal to be super special in the first place. Of course, we wanted to play our own style of music, but we didn’t force ourselves into any direction. In the end we are astonished that people consider our style as that outstanding and it feels extremely well to get that feedback! We take much affirmation from that to what we do, and we want to continue just that way.
CROMCarl: Since the album has been recorded and released for a while, has the band started any writing for a follow up to “Shadowpath”? When can we expect the band to release the next full length?
Jan Hein: Our song-writing process is constant! We didn’t even record everything that would have been available for “Shadowpath.” As soon as we have studied enough new songs, we will enter the studio again, and we are looking forward to that more than ever!
CROMCarl: Has the band been noticed by any bigger named acts who might have approached you guys for a tour? What are the touring plans for Kambrium?
Jan Hein: Not until now. We love to play every gig we can, but there’s also that big time problem of our individual careers. Anyway, we are really looking forward to take some bigger opportunities that may occur in the future!
CROMCarl: What can fans expect from Kambrium live?
Jan Hein: You will experience our songs coming to life - With all euphoria that we put into playing. Most of our gigs have been a brilliant experience and also, a big party! We are thankful for all you nice people that support us!!
CROMCarl: Excellent. Best of luck with the album!!
Carl Frederick is a staff writer for Metal Underground.com. From the early to mid-90's, Carl published his own fanzine called C.R.O.M. In 1997, he released a compilation entitled "CROM: The Resurrection of True Metal," which featured songs from bands from around the world, including the first U.S. release of any kind for bands like Italy's Rhapsody (n/k/a Rhapsody of Fire) and Brazil's Angra. Follow Carl on Facebook and Twitter: @CROMCarl.
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