Division Speed may not be the quickest when it comes to attacking, but they strike deadly.
Formed in 2008, the band so far have only come up with a couple of promos and splits; now gracing the High Roller roster, Division Speed have finally completed their first full-length album. The four-piece plays fast energetic Thrash Metal reeking of war and all its deadly concomitants, with lyrics that pleasurably exploit the atrocities of reciprocal human slaughter. Drummer Aggressive Perfector elaborates a bit on the formation and the history of the band: “Division Speed was founded by Venomessiah and me from the appetite for some uncompromising Speed/Thrash Metal. First song ever written was “Sturmbataillon”, and several singers were tried out for the demo recording. None of them really had the right feeling (even so, one cool version sang by Rezet’s singer Ricky was given out to some friends). When the first live appearance was set up, from the desperate need for a singer we asked Hunter to do the job. Tailgunner was engaged to play the bass live and since then the line-up hasn’t changed. The atmosphere between these members was quite the right one, and Hunters barking vocals came in very well and gave a different edge to the more traditional Speed Metal-like instrumental base of the songs. More gigs were played by this union of individuals, only with different fellows on second guitar, and therefore the decision was made to determine the four of us as “Division Speed”.
You all play in several bands, e.g. Venenum, Black Salvation and Nocturnal Witch, all of which are quite different. How do you manage all these commitments? And does playing in these bands have any direct influence on DS? “We all live in different parts of the country and that’s also the reason why things go a bit slower in the Division Speed camp. For all of us, Division Speed isn’t our main band, but that does not mean that we are not 100% committed. But maybe that’s the most direct influence playing in these other bands has on DS – we don’t rehearse on a regular basis, and that makes it quite easy to manage the commitments.”
The underground welcomed the Thrash Metal division with open arms, while the bigger media didn’t get it quite right: “Each release had quite good reactions. Most of the underground scene loves the songs. We only heard from a few people that they didn’t find the songs diversified enough or that they didn’t like the vocals, but most reactions were very pleasing. The biggest and also most memorable media reaction was an interview for a special on German Black/Thrash in RockHard 2011. Even if the thing got shortened a lot and the questions weren’t that profound.”
Given that Division Speed have been around for some years now, it has taken quite long to release the first full album – how come? Aggressive Perfector explains: “Division Speed is not a really active band and despite our name things work a little slower with us. As I said above, we barely rehearse with Division Speed, and so song-writing and recording also took their time. That’s all that is behind it.”
Being your debut full-length, what does this album mean to you, and how important was it to have it out on vinyl? “Everyone of us is happy to finally have the material with a proper recording on a full-length record. We all are vinyl record collectors – so there was no alternative than to release it on vinyl. And I think you will agree when I say oldschool metal records are meant to be released on vinyl.” That’s for sure. But once we put that precious vinyl on the turntable, what do we hear?
What about this: 80’s thrash/speed with some black and death metal elements, reminding of Hellish Crossfire, Nocturnal, Witching Hour and the likes – does that nail it or is something missing?
“I think our roots reach way further, but you are right if you say we share some influences. I think in the beginning bands like Nocturnal or Hellish Crossfire influenced us very much and encouraged us to make no compromises in playing oldschool music.”
About half of the songs on “Division Speed” are brand new, among them Schwarze Scharen; Thunderer, Monarch, Conqueror; Rule Britannia; Blazing Heat; Freezing Cold; Solemn Vigil and Outlaws, while the other tracks have already been released on your demos and splits. How do the new songs differ from the older ones? “Maybe the song-writing for the newer songs was a little more sophisticated while still being 100% Division Speed. Two of the mentioned tracks are in some way different, but that will be a surprise for the listener.” Great, surprises are always welcome! Most of the recordings for “Division Speed” were engineered in Leipzig by bassist Tailgunner, only except the guest vocals which were recorded somewhere else – everything was sent to
Patrick W. Engel of Temple of Disharmony-fame who also recorded the drums on Division Speed’s ground zero at the HMSS Headquarter in Neustadt an der Orla before doing the basic mix (which was finalized together with the band) and the mastering.
Aggressive Perfector: “We are very contented with his work, and even if we as a band weren’t that easy to handle, it was a pleasure to work with him as a long-term comrade and friend.”
But isn’t there something missing? In the above-mentioned interview with Rockhard the band said that the album will include the At-War cover “Ilsa (She-Wolf Of The S.S.)” Looks like the song didn’t make it on the album? “This was a mistake Rockhard magazine made. We never said that this cover version would be on the album. It was only recorded in the demo sessions for the 2010 promo as a bonus track for that tape and was never meant to be on the final record.” Thanks for clarifying! There is still a lot of other stuff on the album that deserves a closer look: Where did you take the spoken samples from, e.g. the ones in the beginning of “Schwarze Scharen“ and “Sturmbataillon”? “These spoken samples are historic recordings, which we discovered through research in several archives. The introduction to “Schwarze Scharen” was spoken by Otto Wels (Chairman of the Social Democratic Party) in 1933, and the sample of “Sturmbataillon” is taken from the “Deutsche Wochenschau” in 1941 some days before the battle of Moscow.” And what was the inspiration for “Rule Britannia”? Sounds like this was your version of the famous British patriotic song based on the poem "Rule, Britannia" by James Thomson? “It’s not really a version of this song but it is inspired by it. In the first place the song is about the Battle of Jutland, the biggest sea battle of World War I. For the chorus we borrowed some words from the original song and brought them into a different context.”
Earlier this year High Roller released the Division Speed EP “Blazing Heat”, which includes the two songs “Blazing Heat” and “Wacht am Rhein”, on the B-side. “Wacht am Rhein” was already released on the demo from 2010, while “Blazing Heat” is a new one. Tell a bit about “Blazing Heat” – It’s a great song with its ripping high speed riffs, the frequent tempo changes and a blazing solo – and I like the gang shouts very much. What are the lyrics about? What part of it did Iron Tyrant take over?
“We wanted to have something special on the single, so a different version of this song was the first choice. Since we have quite a long history together with Hellish Crossfire (first gig ever together with them and a lot more to follow) we wanted them to be part of this album and asked Iron Tyrant to sing the second verse and parts before and after it, which turned out very nice. The lyrics of “Blazing Heat” and “Freezing Cold” have the same theme. “Blazing Heat” deals with the occupation of Crete in 1941. The Wehrmacht’s 6th mountain division left Crete shortly after to fight in the Finnish tundra, which is the theme of “Freezing Cold”. Did you change anything about “Wacht am Rhein” for this new version? Why did you decide to leave it out on the album? To do collectors a favour?
“We haven’t changed a lot on this song. Maybe it’s played a little better and surely better recorded, but as a whole it’s quite the same. It’s mostly a collectors’ favour, we wanted to have a B-side song and furthermore we think the album has the perfect length without it. We had different songs in consideration and decided for that one.
Besides that, the Promo MMX was not widely spread, as we just sold it during our short Italy tour and it was given away to some close friends of the band. ‘Wacht am Rhein’ didn’t really fit into the album but makes a great B-side track.”
One thing that’s obviously special about Division Speed is your choice of lyrical topics. You usually sing about WWII and war in general; please tell a bit about that – why did you make that choice, what fascinates you about it and what is the main message of your lyrics?
“We thought it would be a little more fascinating than the usual Satanic poetry or stuff. WWII is a symbol of pure hate and aggression, which slumber within mankind. A horrific memorial of what man is actually able to do. The sheer aggression fits perfectly to the sound of Division Speed. Unfortunately we have to fail all Antifa kids who think that Division Speed propagates Nazi shit. We sing about a historical event to keep it’s cruelty alive in everybody’s minds. Current political activities show that some shitheads around seem not to remember the things right.”
You just explained very well why you made the choice to sing about WWII, but for those you are still sceptical: How do you make sure that people do not get you wrong and perceive you as a right-wing band? By the change of perspectives between the individual songs?
“The change of perspectives is one aspect that shows it, but mostly we think if one really reads and thinks about the lyrics it’s very obvious that we’re no right-wingers. Maybe the use of strong German words is a little alarming and controversial for some, but for us it’s more a stylistic device in an artistic way, which fits really well into the whole concept of the band. Furthermore our lyrics treat the topic WW II in a passive and narrative way without glorifying or degrading any of the actions and crimes while mostly reporting of the harsh feelings and situations soldiers had to experience. If you are willing to really deal with our lyrics you’ll see that it’s not our goal to glorify nationalism. If you are open to the political Right there are like hundreds of bands who are dealing with nazi / xenophobic topics much more insensibly, and doing that has never been our intention. Besides that we are sure that with an objective understanding of history, which should be brought to you by school, you’re able to differentiate between mindless Nazi attitude and topics picked up by our lyrics. On the album we make a clear statement with ‘Schwarze Scharen’.” So to all those still doubting Divisions Speed’s intentions, listen closely to the lyrics – at least this once.
Now to get back to less serious stuff: Just like Nocturnal Witch. Division Speed hail from Neustadt an der Orla, Thuringia (a place even Germans will hardly have heard of). Is there anything else going on that’s important to know? “That’s actually only half of the truth. Even if founded in Neustadt (and everyone of us will always have a part of his heart buried there) we are all living in different parts of Germany now and Hunter and Tailgunner have always been based in Leipzig. In the area that lies in between these cities there is a whole lot going on! Next to Nocturnal Witch, Neustadt still has Sanctifying Ritual, A sadistic Death Metal band, where Venomessiah also handles the guitars. They played at this year’s edition of “Raging Death Date”, a very good, real underground metal festival also taking place in Neustadt an der Orla. Leipzig has a lot to offer thanks to the circle “Into Endless Chaos“. Each band involved is worth checking out, not just for fans of Black Metal but also beyond that.” Sounds like a good place to spend the holidays. Talking about going abroad: What has been the highlight in the history of the band so far, touring-wise? You played a lot in Germany, England, Scandinavia, together with Aura Noir, Antichrist, Attic, Nocturnal…so maybe one of these gigs? “Our gigs are at most of the times highlights for us as we always have a lot of fun together. Especially the tours through Italy, Scandinavia or France with our friends in Hellish Crossfire were great experiences.”
Now what’s left to say about the Division Speed debut?
“If you can’t buy it – fuckin’ steal it!” (Ian Fraser Kilmister)