NEVERUS: "You could say the artwork represents not only the elements of the songs, but also the way in which they are presented as “distinct pieces of a whole”"
During last year's Progpower Europe, a Dutch band called NEVERUS played their first show ever, and caught the audience by storm with their powerful music and entertaining performance. Nevertheless, we had to wait 6 more months for the release of their debut album, which will be unleashed on April 21st, 2023, and is called "Burdens of the Earth".
Glad about the opportunity to welcome them on our journey, read more about their musical background, the cover artwork and the band's name here:
Hey, thanks for making time to answer my questions today. Could you please introduce yourself and NEVERUS to our readers?
We’re a four-piece from Eindhoven, Netherlands, and announced our existence to the world in 2022. Neverus plays what we call “Majestic Death Metal”, and I’m Jack, the frontman and songwriter.
You’re set to release your debut album “Burdens of the Earth” on April 21st. How do you feel about it, and how was the reception so far on the first singles?
Honestly, it’s gone amazingly well. We were really careful about our song choices for the first singles (and in what order to release them!) because we wanted to give a really solid indication of what the band was all about, and what we sounded like. The feedback has been fantastic – people have been really enjoying every twist that each new track has brought!
Great to hear :-) Let’s take a look at the spacy cover artwork: What can you tell us about its origins, and does it reflect the album thematically?
Okay, so there’s a fair bit to unpack here! The first thing to mention is that there’s LOADS of art to accompany this album. In fact, each song has its own specific artwork, giving a glimpse into each individual story. We had a great time working with Phil (of Luminol Illustrations), and made sure we gave each song a perfect visual representation... But this made it difficult to know what the album cover should be, because we’d already depicted so much!
We ended up with a great solution though: The album is sort of an anthology, combining lots of different stories that share similar themes. So for the album cover, we took different visual elements from the songs' artworks, and used those as the building blocks to create our main piece. The black hole is from "Lazarus", the old-school diver is from "Mournful March", the punching figure is from "Send My Spirit High", and the shattering portal between them is a sort of representation of the “portal viewpoint” that all of the individual artworks are drawn from.
So you could say it represents not only the elements of the songs, but also the way in which the songs are presented as “distinct pieces of a whole” ;-)
That's awesome! Could you dive a bit into the record’s topics with us, please?
Yeah! The general theme is about the balance of control between people and their surroundings – whether these are people, landscape, mother nature, and so on.
Each song takes a different perspective on this. Some are “pure fantasy” ("Lazarus", "Towards the Surface"); some are … sort of a historical tale, or at least maybe a dramatisation of real history ("Mournful March", "Calderian"); some are a bit of both ("Banish and Burn", "One for Blood"), and then for example "Temptation" is based on my personal thoughts about my emigration from the UK to The Netherlands… so there’s quite a variety in there.
In terms of how the balance of control is portrayed… "Banish", "Temptation", and to an extent, "March", all cover “humanly-influenced” control… mass hysteria, personal decisions, choices about how you live your life and so on.
And then in the case of "Lazarus", "Towards the Surface", and again, "March"… it’s about pitting yourself against the elements, against Mother Nature, seeing what you can change and what you can’t, maybe noticing how insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things. "Send My Spirit High" also fits in here, but it’s a bit of an outlier in that, it’s more about accepting the outcome than experiencing the struggle itself.
Listening to your music is some serious fun :-) which means for me the songs being powerful, accessible yet diverse, presented with a mighty sound, great musicianship, and an infectious joy in your playing. What is your musical background, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
That’s great to hear, thank you!
Thanks to my parents, I had classical guitar lessons from when I was around 9, switching to electric guitar when I was a teen. So my guitar-playing was what drove my desire to play in a band, which eventually led to me also learning how to scream, and then later how to (properly) sing, after being inspired by “guitar-wielding frontmen” like Jari Mäenpää, Alexi Laiho, Petri Lindroos etc…
Inspiration is a tricky one. For sure I’m swayed by the bands I listen to (recently Wilderun, Brymir, Fleshgod Apocalypse), but some of my best writing has happened after a period of deliberately not listening to music for a few weeks, and seeing what happens then. In those cases, maybe I’ve been drawing from much older influences as well, say maybe Eagles or The Beatles. Songwriting is something that takes a very long time for me, long enough that the “band I’m currently listening to” may change multiple times before a song is finished.
Could you briefly describe your writing and recording process, please?
Well, guitar is my primary tool there, though I’m starting to use orchestrations more and more as the “sketching instrument”. In any case my writing is quite chronological – I tend to have each section complete for each instrument (including the orchs and at least an idea of the rhythm of the vocals) before moving on to the next section, so simple sketches get fleshed out very quickly; I find that helps me judge the flow better.
I demo as I go, recording guitar/vox and sampling drums/bass/orchs. Having good demos is something I find incredibly useful not just for songwriting, but also communication – it really helps when discussing song direction with the other band members, who tend to have a sort of “do more of this and less of that” role.
To get from “demos” to “finished product”, we recorded Joris’ drums with Tommie Bonajo of Tomster Studios, I re-recorded my original lines as necessary, and then pulled out most of my hair while trying to mix the subsequent puddle of audio. Julien Huyssens (of Nomad Studio) swept in at the end and did a fantastic job on the mastering, and as a result we’ve ended up with a production that we’re really happy with!
It's great indeed! Let’s make a little time trip: When and how did you guys get together?
Joris, Roman, and I are all ex-Shadowrise members. Shadowrise came to an end when co-founder and principal songwriter Daniël Boomsma left in 2019, leaving Joris, Laura and me working out what we wanted the future to look like. Laura was busy with Burning Witches (and still is! She’s having a great time I think), and I wasn’t keen on being the only songwriter for a band I hadn’t formed, so Shadowrise disbanded.
Joris joined me and we started what would eventually become NEVERUS; Roman joined soon after and then Robin completed the lineup in around 2021. Having good demos helped us out in that respect, because that’s how we caught Robin’s attention!
How did you come up with your name, and is there a deeper meaning behind “Neverus” for you?
Well, we found it after several weeks of going around in circles, combining all sorts of different words we thought might be somehow relevant to the band. We liked the sound of “Neverus”, but there was no underlying meaning assigned to it when we made our decision.
Nowadays I like the fact that it feels like a nod to the phrase / mindset of “it’ll never happen to us”, which links into the whole chance / mother nature theme of "Burdens of the Earth". Nothing like a bit of ret-conning ;-)
Awesome:-) Let’s talk about NEVERUS live: What was your most memorable show so far?
Every show we’ve had so far has been fantastic and memorable! But the standout gig has to be our set at ProgPower Europe, which happened to be our first ever show! We were incredibly lucky to be trusted, as a sort of “unproven” band, to play a festival like that. Even better, ProgPower really has its own culture and kinship; there’s a really inclusive, supportive mindset there, so even though we were the first act of the Sunday, we played to a full room!
We certainly had a great time that day and I think the audience did too. In fact we asked them all to film us with their phones towards the end of the set, and we ended up using the footage to make our music video for "Lazarus". Couldn’t have gone better.
It was a blast! and I actually couldn't believe you didn't even have an album out at that point... Let's stay in The Netherlands: How would you describe your local rock/metal scene, and is there anything special about it? Did you notice changes over the past years?
COVID definitely gave the whole scene a bit of a kick in the guts, but I think it’s starting to recover now. My own perspective has always been to try and make personal connections with the fans who listen and come to the shows, and in that regard, I think the scene is full of energy, with a real desire to “live” – and it’s been that way for a while.
As such, we try to do more than just “play the music” at our gigs and I think people really appreciate that. Robin has been suffering from tendonitis here and there, which has meant that he’s not always been able to play a full set with us – our solution to that has been for him to switch out his real guitar for an inflatable guitar, so it’s obvious when he’s not actually playing… and people connect with the fact that we’re honest about being human I think, and we’re very glad that they’re so understanding. It’s also led to us bringing audience members up on stage and giving them a go on the inflatable guitar as well! That always goes down a storm.
Haha, yes! What can you tell us about your future plans?
We’re really looking forward to our release show on April 28th at Popei! It’ll be with our good friends Vanaheim, with whom we’ve already had a couple of fantastic gigs, and also Sisters of Suffocation, who also put on really high-energy shows. NEVERUS has its own light show which we bring to each gig, and that’s something we’re continually upgrading and tweaking… so we’ll be showing off the latest generation of that, too.
Alongside the album release there are of course more goodies on their way, and you’ll know them when you see them! We’re booking more shows with other bands as well, so those should be online soon too. But I can’t say more right now ;-)
So we better keep an eye on your socials ;-)
Do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
Just to say that we’re really looking forward to the release and can’t wait to hear the thoughts of everyone else!
Absolutely! Thanks again for your time and these amazing insights into your work :-) All the best for you and the release \m/