Meet ForChristSake, the Christian Death Metal Group
'We will all have to answer for our time on this earth.' Meet the Christian death metal band who believe that the Northern Irish rock scene is 'on its last legs'
The mixing of Christian beliefs and death metal – a genre more usually associated with the darker side of spirituality – may seem somewhat contradictory, but it is a recipe for success as far as Northern Irish outfit ForChristSake are concerned.
As the band put the finishing touches to their forthcoming debut album, bassist Mark Payne discusses the band’s career to date, the perks of signing for an American Christian label, and the state of the Northern Irish rock scene.
Tell us about the formation of the band.
ForChristSake was formed a number of years back by our drummer, Rab. It only really started to take proper shape in recent years following several line up changes, but we have settled on the current incarnation. We have a strong and common bond galvanized by our love of the same music and our faith.
You are Christians who play extreme metal: to some people that might seem a bit of a contradiction. Is it important to you not to put people off by seeming to be too ‘in your face’ when it comes to presenting your faith to your audiences?
We have our faith and yes, we are Christians, but there are people who have faith and like heavy music: be it listening to it, attending gigs or playing it. We don't want to preach to people. We have a message built into the core of the band and what we sing and play about. Our message addresses various world and local issues with a faith background.
It’s not hard to see that this world is falling apart and, like it or not, there is a day coming whereby we will all have to answer for our time on this earth. The signs are all around us; we are trying to educate people who want to hear. Of course, there are people who don't want to know but, remember, the door is only open for a very short time.
How accepting has the Christian community been of the type of music you play?
The local Christian community has not had much interaction with us. Again, there is a contradiction. We are too heavy for churches and probably snubbed to a certain degree locally because most punters see us as a threat or a preachy band, which we are not.
We have been getting great responses outside Northern Ireland. We have played gigs in the Republic, the UK and on mainland Europe. We have been asked to try and get to the US, so we feel our future and our music is getting great feedback from all over the world.
It’s fairly obvious where your lyrical influences come from. Musically, what kind of music do you listen to?
We have a wide variety of tastes and styles. Generally heavy music, and some light stuff.
You self-released your debut EP, Death Is But A Breath Away, in 2010. How was that received?
It was received really well, and we got reviews all over the world. Again, great feedback from the States. We went out to a lot of fanzines, independent radio stations. We even managed to get into Terrorizer magazine. They were really supportive and very open minded about us. Above all they got the heaviness of our music.
Since then you’ve signed to Roxx Productions, a US Christian music label. How did that partnership come about?
The process was very worthwhile. We had negotiations back and forth for nearly a year, which was mainly down to the distance factor. Our label owner is a really good guy who really cares for the bands on his roster. He is well respected in this genre and has a vision for each band. We are really excited to be associated with Roxx and the pedigree of bands they have produced and continue to produce and support.
You’re recording your debut album, Apocalyptic Visions of Divine Terror. How is that coming along?
It’s coming along really good. Basic tracks are done. Anyone who appreciates heavy music will relate to this album. It’s a progression from what we have done on Death is But A Breath Away. We've debuted some of the new tracks in our sets, and we played a near full set of songs that will be on the album at Meltdown this year.
The songs deal with a lot of issues facing mankind (and womankind) at present. One of the songs, ‘Shadow’, tackles the thorny subject of suicide: it’s a real problem, and we felt we needed to talk about it. There are other songs addressing issues far and wide, including government corruption, end times et cetera. We are hoping for an early 2013 release.
You’re playing some big European festivals next year. Where should people look out for you?
We're playing Elements of Rock in March 2013. This is a well known Christian metal festival held in Uster, Switzerland. We're playing with Drottnar, Sacrificeum and many more. We are also playing Meltdown Festival in May 2013 in the UK, so we are pretty busy at present.
When can fans next catch you live in Northern Ireland?
Our next gig is a Shizznigh Promotions gig on December 28 in Auntie Annie’s, alongside Dead Til Friday, Death of a Salesman, Cursed Sun, Red Six and Stand With Heretics.
Finally, what is your assessment of the local rock and metal scene?
The local scene, we feel, is probably on its last legs. It's common to see the same bands playing the same circuit. I think this is part of the problem, the lack of variety on offer. We need to shake it up a little and not rely on the same names over and over again. New bands should generate more fans, or you would like to think so. Our advice is to support your local metal band now – or whatever band for that matter – or else the scene will stagnate and die.