|It would seem, old school style thrash metal is making a bit of a comeback here in the north east US.
This is something we can appreciate.
How well it is being recieved in other parts of the world is something we haven't really been able to guage.
But we are sure what goes around comes around.
In this article we talk to members of DEATHNIR.
They tell us they are New Zealand's ONLY original 80s thrash style Heavy Metal band.
Having never been there and having heard any other band make this claim, we'll take thier word for it.
Undisputed until it's disputed. In our opinion, it's a noteworthy title.
What influenced your start in metal music?
The band was started by Adam Johnson and me, Andrew Carter (bassist and
vocalist/guitarist respectively). I have a fascination with Viking culture which
we both have ancestors from and wanted to base our band on the idea of
heavy metal Vikings without going over the top. At the same time we didn’t
want to be “Viking Metal” we wanted to lean more towards Thrash so we
needed a name with a bit of attitude. Adam came up with the name Deathnir
calling it “The Weapon of Death”. This was referencing Norse (Viking)
mythology because the suffix –nir is used when referring to mystical items or
beings in that culture (i.e. mjollnir, gungnir, sleipnir, etc.). We thought it was
cool and rolled with it.
How did you come up with the name 'Deathnir'?
The band was started by Adam Johnson and me, Andrew Carter (bassist and
vocalist/guitarist respectively). I have a fascination with Viking culture which we
both have ancestors from and wanted to base our band on the idea of heavy
metal Vikings without going over the top. At the same time we didn’t want to be
“Viking Metal” we wanted to lean more towards Thrash so we needed a name with
a bit of attitude. Adam came up with the name Deathnir calling it “The Weapon of
Death”. This was referencing Norse (Viking) mythology because the suffix –nir is
used when referring to mystical items or beings in that culture (i.e. mjollnir,
gungnir, sleipnir, etc.). We thought it was cool and rolled with it.
Your Facebook Page says you are New Zealand's ONLY original 80s
thrash style Heavy Metal band? Is this still true?
In short, yes. While New Zealand has a variety of hard core, rock and metal bands
most of these are closer to a sub-genre of Extreme Metal than Thrash.
There are a few bands that cover thrash songs by Megadeth,
Metallica, Slayer, Pantera and even Sepultura, but they don’t really
do originals in these styles. This was something I realised after
years of watching and performing with other NZ metal bands. Even
in the rare occurrence of another “Thrash Metal” band these are
usually based on more modern styles and not the 80s styles.
How well is this style received?
Generally pretty well. The upside to being one of a kind is that
there is a bit of a starving for our kind of music so when we
have shows our turnouts are generally pretty good. That said,
we couldn’t do it without all the other bands we perform with
because everyone contributes to the outcome of the night. As
for our albums they have sold pretty well, our latest record sold
out of stock within a week of its release.How well is this style
What is the metal scene like in your area?
It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, when it’s high it is real high and when it’s low it can
be pretty low. That seems to be the nature of the beast though. Deathnir is
based in Hamilton, NZ right now and the general word is that Hamilton has one
of the best scenes in the country, possibly only second to Christchurch which
is in the south island. There are tons of bands here that are generally pretty
active and Hamilton has a reputation which is sometimes referred to “the
bogan capitol”. Bogans being long-haired, heavy metal listenin’, black wearin’,
V8 drivin’, cigarette smokin’ tradesmen who love their drink and love their
music. Hamilton also has an official Dr. Bogan and houses NZ’s biggest
current hard rock band, Devilskin. So yeah, the scene here can be pretty lively.
Looking back on your early beginnings. Tell us about how you
collectively came into metal.
The band was started by Andrew and Adam who got into metal after being
introduced to the sound of Metallica at about the age of 8 and 10 (Adam is the
older brother). Back in the day all the kids at school would be listening to the
latest pop songs and we’d be like “This music sucks! Play some Metallica!”
which we got into from listening to mix tapes.
Needless to say we got a lot of flak for it, haha, but we stuck to our guns. We would even bring a CD player into
middle school so we could listen to Iron Maiden and Megadeth in the lunch break.
How did you come into the instrument of your choice?
We got into music with a passion and would listen to our favourite bands’ shredding guitar solos and thrashing
drum beats and be like “Whooooooa!” This was the main reason we got into our instruments ‘cos we really
wanted to be able to play like all our idols. Adam actually started out on lead guitar and he played that for a few
years in the beginning. He switched to bass when he was about 20 because we had difficulty finding a bass
player after finally forming a band. He invested in the gear he needed and then never looked back.
How was the journey from beginning to gigging?
It took a lot of commitment. When you start learning your instrument it takes a few years to start getting good at it.
Our schools were supportive and we all did music as a subject when we were kids. Back in those beginning days
we’d get involved in our schools’ battle of the bands, that’s kinda’ where we started, and once we got old enough
we all got into playing pub gigs. The vision and the intention was always there it just took a while for “Deathnir” to
form and get on its feet.
What is the songwriting process like in Deathnir? Is there a key songwriter? Are there specific roles each member
plays in the process?
The songwriting process can be quite different from song to song. Most of our songs are written by Andrew and then those songs
may get changed here and there by the rest of us. It’s about taking something good and enhancing it to be the best it can be.
Sometimes we work together in the band room to bust out some new riff ideas and then those riffs might develop into something a
bit more serious which can eventually become a song. Generally we write the guitar parts first, then the vocals and then the rest.
Is there a message or theme in your music?
Sometimes we’ll have a message in our lyrics which might address things important to us as individuals. Our song The Mark of Man
from our first album talks about how the modern world has become a bit chaotic, some people tend to get swept away by wealth and
revel in sin and debauchery while others people struggle just to put food on the table, and things like that. Some of our songs are a
bit more personal (like The Void which describes the depression epidemic through poetry) and others are more fantasy based.
Regardless of the theme or message of our lyrics we always try to paint a picture and deliver it through the music which can be
anything from misty ballads to sulphuric thrash.
Craziest thing you have done or seen as a band?
When we were touring in 2016 we went to a town called Levin for a show. After it was over we went back to a mate’s place for the
after party and while we were there we got a visit from the cops! Now in our country there are like no guns because of laws and shit
but this policeman rocks up to the door with a loaded pistol and demands to be let in. Turns out he was looking for a guy who lived
at the residence that was last seen stealing rifles.The cop tells us if the guy comes in they will be watching from outside and then he
left. Sure enough, just 5 minutes later, this crazy motherfucker comes in acting all paranoid and it was the dude the police were
looking for. He pretends everything is all good but you can tell he’s freaking out. One of the guys signalled the cops through the window and they came in and arrested the guy
right in front of us. Put him in cuffs, read his rights and everything. As the police left they said they’d come back in the morning to get statements from us. Was pretty bizarre man.
Andrew Carter - Vocals, Guitar
Brad Ion - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Adam Johnson - Bass, Backing
Luke Elliot - Drums