Get your fix of fast-paced, no frills metal with the deliciously frantic thrash meets hardcore sound of Belgian band Basement Critters.
As frontman Thomas Marijsse explains: “The 90s vibe and groove is Basement Critters signature. We all grew up in the H8000 hardcore area when all hell broke loose with bands like Congress, Liar, Regression, Blindfold.”
The band started out with guitar players Sven Caes and Glenn Labie in 2012, who quickly added to the pack with vocalist Thomas, bassist Steve Ruysschaert and drummer Frederik ‘Fiwi’ Vanwijmelbeke.
And Thomas told us: “We are in the corridors of your basement, creepy and scary. We are a metal combo from Belgium, five different characters with a different taste of music but we embrace music as a collective mind.”
The band just released latest single Lucifer, which opens up with stabs of guitar answered by calls of “Lucifer,” then launches into a fierce opening verse with Thomas’ intense vocals supported by lively guitars and drums.
That drops into spoken vocals over more melodic guitar licks, then intensifies by shouted vocals over a nice guitar lick over stabbing guitars. There’s a mini guitar solo, which feeds into a verse of shouty vocals over chugging guitars. Then the lively chorus feeds into more intense vocals, followed by a section of guitar riff answered by stabbing guitar and bass, which continues as the drums enter alongside cries of “Wake up… shut the fuck up.”
The spoken vocals return again over big crashing cymbals and little guitar licks, which continue over stabbing guitars to bring the track to a close. Check it out below:
On the track, Thomas told us: “Correct, Lucifer has been released; we do not worship the devil… The song is about the fact that there is a form of evil in everyone, we are all able to commit murder when conditions are right. We chose for a ‘preacher’ look because of the priest scandals (child abuse). We cannot shed more light on this, our religious leaders are the ones with a very dark edge. Religion is the problem not the solution.”
And on the song’s inspiration, he continues: “What do we expect from people who believe in fairy tales? There is no upper creature… Religion is the solid stanchion of the established order, good for nothing but the ideology of the dominating class.
“Believers still see religion as the people’s opium and still today most violent conflicts contain religious elements linked up with ethno-national, inter-state, economic, territorial, cultural issues. Religious extremists see radical measures as necessary to fulfilling God’s wishes.”
The track was preceded by Point, which was released at the start of this month. It opens up with a cool jumpy riff over drawn-out guitars and feeds into lively vocals “Do you know the feeling when a woman turns you down, Does she know your heart is bleeding? Lights out. Too much time has passed, We’re at the end of the road, You left me for dead now. Uncontrolled.”
High-pitched guitars support a more singalong chorus of “Blow me up, On this devastated day, You’d better kill me now, And forget my name” and drop into the stabbing guitars that support a second verse. Then a second chorus feed into a fast-paced lick over doomy drums, then winds down into heavier guitars and a sinister high-paced guitar noise that continue under Thomas’ vocals.
A little “bleugh” sound gives way to booming low-tuned guitars that continue under the shouts of “What’s the point of being on this planet, What’s the point if you’re drowning in shit, What’s the point if the hand tries to grab you, What’s the point if you’re living in the mist. What’s the point, Tell me, you’d better tell me.”
The faster riffs take over in support of another verse and chorus, before the track closes on high-pitched guitars over a darting riff. Give it a listen below:
The two tracks give us plenty of reason to be excited about Basement Critters’ debut album God Save Us As .JPEG, which is out on Friday (1 May) via WormHoleDeath Records.
On the album, Thomas explains: “We are thrilled to release our first album; we are proud about the result. Jonathan Mazzeo of the Mathlabrecording studio is a true recording/mixing wizard. We cover various topics in our songs and hope that our listeners start thinking before taking a cheap populist stand. If you don’t like to think about it well then you better dance on it!”
Basement Critters’ members all have varied musical tastes but share a common ground of bands like Machine Head, Prong, Helmet, Heaven Shall Burn, Killswitch Engage, Rage Against The Machine. While Thomas list his vocal influences as Henry Rollins, Mike Patton, Walter Schreifels, Zack de la Rocha, Nathan Gray, Page Hamilton, Tommy Victor, James Keenan Maynard and Jesse Barnett.
And on the band’s inspirations Thomas tells us: “Music is still our first love, it started out as a bunch of friends playing together but has been developed as a band with statements. We do not longer lay nice and lazy in the sofa; it is time to protest again.
“Topics are religion, love and death, technology and gadgets… we are smartphone slaves, we do not longer connect, we much prefer to liquidate people online.”
We haven’t met too many Belgian bands, and this may well be our first Belgian metal band. However, it certainly sounds as though we’re missing out. As Thomas tells us: “Well, you should consider coming over, Belgium has a big rock/metal scene! Bands like Ostrogoth are still playing and more bands are joining the family.
“A small selection on what our country has to offer: Hexa Mera, Hope Erodes, Growing Horns, Off the Cross, Bark, Carnation, King Hiss, Ashturn, Royal Jake, Spoil Engine, Dyscordia, Arson, Fatal Move, Fat Bastard, Fractured Insanity, Marche Funébre, Loose Liscense, Signs of Algorithm…
“Sorry for the other ones that I forgot but we have a lot of talent running around here. We are like one big family and everyone supports each other… Every weekend you will find rock and metal gigs across the country.”
Basement Critters’ debut album is out this Friday (1 May) and the band are planning for a release event soon after the lockdown period is over. As Thomas tells us: “We are in contact with our Italian friends of Bleed Someone Dry to organise a small tour in Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany and who knows even the UK. But for now we keep it safe and stay at home.”
And, speaking of lockdown, Thomas told us what the band have been up to during this period: “We are all starting to write new songs, the idea has risen to create another video clip for our album God Save Us As .JPEG. Others have started to collect toilet paper as their new hobby. I like to dress up like a gangster when I am going to the supermarket and our drummer finally found time for gardening…?”