-- The Curse Of Millhaven gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
In August 2015, during the first edition of Paul's Metal Fest, I laid my eyes on the Curse of Millhaven. Like so many bands I saw at the time, I quickly became a fan just by watching their live performance and bought the band's album right afterwards.

And a year later, during the Evil or Die Fest (October 15, 2016), Hardlife Promotion invited me to talk with the Curse of Millhaven. So while the guys were waiting for Charon to bring them back across the river Styx we talked about the band's origins, the Divine Comedy, Vestibule of Hell's production, the Deadly Sins and the Kids of Millhaven. You want to read more? Than pay the ferryman and join us on this trip through Hell.

BMS: It's good to see you again, cursed folks of Millhaven!
Tell me how your band got started. Jeroen: The Curse of Millhaven rose from the ashes of several retired bands. Those were thrash metal act In Chaines and the deathcore bands Fatal Recoil and At World's End. Bart and me were part of Fatal Recoil for more than nine years.

Kurt: Jasper and I belonged to In Chains wherein we did the same job as we do with Millhaven today. So vocals and guitar respectively. And Jeroen was part of At World's End. Originally we intended to revive Fatal Recoil but eventually both of Fatal Recoil's original guitarists retired from the band and that resulted in a completely different sound. So we made the decision to create a new band from scratch with an emphasis on classic death metal rather than metalcore.

BMS: How did you come up with the idea to base your debut album, Vestibule of Hell, of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy?
Bart: The story of Dante travelling through the nine circles of Hell was an idea originally intended for a Fatal Recoil concept album. We felt the dark themes of the poem fitted perfectly for an extreme metal sound. Although Fatal Recoil was no more we still wanted to write an album about the Divine Comedy, so we made it our first Curse of Millhaven album.

Jasper: I was very interested in this project as well. So much in fact that I regained my motivation to pick up the microphone again after I had retired from both Fatal Recoil and In Chains a couple of years earlier.

Jeroen: And so after Dan Brown wrote a book and EA Games made a videogame about the Divine Comedy, we composed an album about it. And since there's a movie coming up based off the Dan Brown novel, the infernal circle is complete!
BMS: Well, I both read Dan Brown's book Inferno played and EA Games' Dante's Inferno and they were both pretty good. Although the latter was more like a cheap God Of War rip off! If only they had replaced Dante with Kratos from the God Of War games. He would've torn Lucifer to shreds!
Kurt: Yeah, that would've been awesome! But to return to the sound of the album, since we transitioned from thrash metal and deathcore to death metal our album Vestibule of Hell became more melodic and sophisticated compared to how it would've sounded if it were a Fatal Recoil album. Overall, however, we're very satisfied with the final product

BMS: I personally feel that Vestibule of Hell's sound fits very well with the album's overarching theme. The riffs and beats give the album a dark, mysterious yet epic atmosphere. Plus I love how the album's artwork folds open to make it look like a descent through Hell with one song for each circle. Well done! I had a lot of fun listening to and discussing your album for my website. How was the album received by other reviewers?
Kurt: Thank you for your feedback. Well, our album received very positive reviews with many critics noticing similarities to Morbid Angel which is one of our main musical inspirations.
BMS: How did the overall production of Vestibule of Hell go?
Kurt: We had a great time producing the album. Over the course of nine months we had all songs fully written and in early 2014 we went to the CCR Recording and Mastering studio in Zulte (not to be confused with Creedence Clearwater Revival) where we had already recorded material for In Chains and Fatal Recoil in the past. We also did a lot of work at home. For instance Jeroen and I recorded our guitar riffs at home and we did some reamp in the studio. It helped save us plenty of money in the process and gave us the chance to direct the album the way we wanted to.

Jasper: The only setback we experienced was that printing the album suffered some delay, which caused us to play at Ieperfest 2014 without our CDs available for purchase. Too bad, since Ieper is our hometown. However, we later did a release party for Vestibule of Hell which was a huge success. Many people showed up to see us play and they bought the album afterwards.
BMS: That's great! Since this album is about the Deathly Sins, what sins would you associate with your band?
Kurt: Anything expect greed so that's a whole lot. Good old Lucifer will have his work cut out when we'll be leaving this mortal existence! But I mean it, we're not money hungry. We just want to have fun with our band and play wherever we are allowed to. And all money we earn from our shows and sold merchandise all gets put into the Curse of Millhaven. It's our life's work!

BMS: What are the future projects for the Curse of Millhaven?
Kurt: We're working on new material that we will be releasing as an EP in the near future. Unlike Vestibule the songs on the EP will be separate stories although we still go for a heavy, morbid atmosphere and equally dark themes. We will also be doing things differently from a practical standpoint, this time we're going to record the material first and then look for a label willing to distribute our work unlike during the Vestibule sessions wherein we did things the other way around.

Jasper: Another change in Millhaven's work rate is the fact that many of the band members became fathers in the past three years. Bart recently got a child, Jasper also has a kid and I'm a father of two myself.
BMS: Congratulations!
Kurt: Thanks! Given time our offspring will eventually replace us as the Kids of Millhaven! Anyway, since many of us have children that means less time for rehearsals and writing. However, we still have our drive to perform!

Jeroen: The problem is that we don't get as many gigs as we would want to. We are an independent band and nowadays many festival organizers seek out bookers to search and arrange bands for them. And obviously everyone wants to book the most popular bands they can afford because they know they will draw crowds. We understand that, but we hope some festivals dare to take a little risk and book some emerging bands.
BMS: If I were to organize a festival I would balance a couple of popular names with some local, yet to be discovered talent. And then I would promote the festival and all the appearing bands to death so that when the first band plays, the venue will already be packed!

Bart: Another issue we face is the cliché that metal acts who rename their band typically still keep many elements from their previous band into their "new" sound. Many people assume that the Curse of Millhaven is just a rebranded version of In Chains or Fatal Recoil but that's not true! For us, the Curse of Millhaven is a truly new chapter in our musical careers! Different name, different attitude, different atmosphere and a different, much more refined sound!

Kurt: Yeah, we refuse to play songs from the In Chains or Fatal Recoil catalogue so that we can clearly show to the fans that we don't capitalize on earlier successes. We're working hard on making the Curse of Millhaven a band that can stand on its own merits!
BMS: I like your philosophy. Back in August last year I saw you play for the first time but I didn't know about your past projects so I came to your show with an open mind. And I liked your show a lot so buying the Vestibule of Hell album was a no-brainer.
Jasper: Yeah, the CD sells nicely and we're very thankful for that. Hopefully our next album will be just as successful and that we can play more shows in the near future.
BMS: I'll see what I can do to further promote your band. You deserve it! Is there anything else you wish to say before I leave you guys to rest?
Kurt: I want to thank Dieter Willem for allowing us to play here at the Evil or Die Fest. We've had a great time here!
Jeroen: I also want to thank Dieter for teaching me to play guitar. He was my bandmate during my time with At World's End and I'm also very grateful that he invited us to his great festival.

Jasper: We as The Curse of Millhaven are at our best when we're live on stage! So I hope that more people will be interested in booking us! Trust us, we can provide a good draw!
Kurt: We love our drummer! Last Monday was international Hug A-Drummer-Day and we owe much of our success to Bart's drum work! And thank you Stijn, for reviewing our album and spending time with us today!
BMS: You're welcome, folks! Now let's hug and take a photo!

The Curse Of Millhaven - Depression Through Value