JEROEN WECHGELAER Dives Into HALIPHRON’s Debut Album Prey – “Everyone Had Their Own Freedom to Express Themselves”

May 9, 2023, 11 months ago

By Dillon Collins

feature heavy metal black death haliphron

JEROEN WECHGELAER Dives Into HALIPHRON’s Debut Album Prey – “Everyone Had Their Own Freedom to Express Themselves”

Dutch supergroup Haliphron have stamped their claim to album of the year contenders with their bombastic and visceral debut studio album, Prey.

Featuring Marloes Voskuil on vocals, Ramon Ploeg and Jeroen Wechgelaer on guitars, Jessica Otten on bass, David Gutierrez Rojas on keys & choirs and Frank Schilperoort on drums, the combined forces of such projects past and present as Izegrim, God Dethroned and Bleeding Gods thread the line between chaotic extreme metal and lush symphonics on their much acclaimed debut.

Jeroen Wechgelaer sat down with BraveWords for a deep dive into the origins of Haliphron, his personal introduction to heavy metal, plans to continue the group’s momentum and much more!

BraveWords: Obviously this has been a massive month for you guys with the album drop a couple weeks ago. You have the album release show coming up, with big festival appearances. It's going to be a crazy couple of months. So the big question, how are you feeling?

Jeroen: "Pretty good. It's like being on a rollercoaster, you know, just like you mentioned. The album came out a couple of weeks ago. We got reviews earlier because the magazines got the album before the release date to do the review. So yeah, it's a total blast. I mean, just positive reviews. Just a few single pretty bizarre negative reviews, but I'm happy to have a completely negative review because someone really doesn't like it, you know? So that's okay, and then the wrong person got the cd to review. But I think 89% was a total blast. So it really is a rollercoaster of interviews, doing promotion. Next week we do our first show, so pretty excited to be on stage again. Hope I'm not too rusty. So we'll see. We'll see." 

BraveWords: Haliphorn seems to be a band with a lot of different influences. You can really feel like there's a lot of things coming at you. So you could potentially see where maybe someone would get, I don't want to say overwhelmed or confused, but you’re really throwing a ton of things at the wall and a lot of it sticks.

Jeroen: "Yeah, it sticks. And what we also hear is a lot of influence, correct. But it's all pretty well balanced. You know, it's not like just keyboards and just orchestrations. It's also got a lot of raw, simple guitar riffs and some melody solos. And our singer is doing some pretty bizarre things. Yeah, I really think that the whole balance is good." 

BraveWords: If you think of the genesis of this band, obviously being friends within the scene and setting about deciding what your sound would be. You've got a lot of different influences and different backgrounds in metal and rock music. Combining those to come up with, I guess you could say, almost symphonic black/death metal, if you will. What was the template of what you guys wanted that sound to be?

Jeroen: "Good question. I have to go back to the first phone call I had with Ramon, our guitar player. That was in 2021, and he's basically the founder of the band. I have known him for years, so we are good friends and we toured together with our former bands. And he called me and said ‘listen, I've got some guitar tracks with MIDI drums underneath it and some bass.’ It was really basic, you know, it was almost listening to old heavy metal. Old Metallica inspired guitar riffs, pretty basic. And he told me his plan that he wanted to do keyboards and choirs and orchestrations on top of it, and that made me very interested. 

"So from that point he started to get our people that he already knew because the band consists of members Izegrim with me and Marloes, and David, our keyboard player, is from Bleeding Gods and Ramon is from Bleeding Gods and our bass player is from Bleeding Gods. So they all know each other and that’s how Ramon knew what David, our keyboard player, is capable of. He can make great orchestrations and almost like you were listening to movie music, you know? So that's when we started to develop, not really the style, because the style was pretty set in the blueprint of the guitar. The whole soundscape was made by all of us ... But in the end we always get feedback, the balance is not totally overwhelming. That was the basics of our soundscape, but it took a lot of work, actually."

BraveWords: You know, between the writing, recording and getting to this stage where you’re playing live, is there juggling schedules? You guys have so many things going on, lots of different projects you all are separately working on. Is that kind of a balancing act?

Jeroen: "Not really. I mean, our basic focus was when we started this whole band, because it's not a project, it really is a band, was we wanted to, what do you call it? Pick the cherries from the pie. I've been in bands for like 20 years and I've seen every small venue in Europe and we all are getting older. So when we started it, we made a promise, we don't have to play every weekend. We want to play good shows. It might sound like arrogance, is that correct? But we've been in all the small venues. I don't think the schedules will interfere with each other. I mean, Izegrim totally quit. Before Corona I pulled the plug on Izegrim and Bleeding Gods, where the other three members are from, yeah, it's basically on hold, so they don't have any schedule. Our drummer is a session drummer and he's also playing in God Dethroned. They are pretty busy, but so far so good with the schedules. There's no interference at all, actually." 

BraveWords: In the recording or songwriting process, was there a conscious effort, or maybe it just came organically, or maybe combining the calm and chaotic and highs and lows? Because I really feel like the record from top to bottom runs the gamut of punishing extreme death black metal with moments that are almost kind of tranquil, serene and beautiful. It really threads that line pretty fine.

Jeroen: "Absolutely. We don't have a concept album. There’s a main theme, but it's not like we want to tell a story from A to Z. But the music is composed and in the running order it’s a story. We want to make it like a curve. I'm a metalhead, but some albums for me, I have to put off like three songs because, Okay, I know the songs right now. We really wanted to make it like the old King Diamond. You listen to something, you can visualize things. That was intentional, and during the writing process we changed a lot of stuff. 

"We had acoustic guitars that were skipped and David, our keyboard player, made an orchestration from it and we were like, ‘okay, we don't need guitar in this part, this is brilliant what you made.’ So everyone had their own freedom to express themselves. And yeah, it was very bizarre to see what the final result had become. From the blueprint that Ramon sent me to the final product, it's totally different and it's really cool to see this whole process."

BraveWords: Kind of a generic question, but for you personally as both a metal fan and as a musician, what were some of your earliest influences or bands that really brought you into heavy metal or introduced you to electric guitar?

Jeroen: "Yeah, well, for me I'm 50 right now, so I've seen the first gigs with Ozzy Osbourne. For me things like Entombed and stuff like that really got me going. The raw, pure and I'm like what the fuck is happening here? And the old Pantera, Machine Head Burn My Eyes and obviously the first Iron Maiden records and stuff like that. I'm really into that old, old, old Black Sabbath."

BraveWords: Sometimes when you start a new band like this it feels like there's so much enthusiasm. You're really itching to get going. You know, you have this album just released and you have lots of momentum. I don't want to put the horse before the cart, but are you guys already itching to get back and write more material? 

Jeroen: "Yeah, well actually we are writing again because like I said in the introduction of your first question, Ramon, the other guitar player, actually made the whole blueprint for the whole album. All guitar tracks were actually eighty to ninety percent ready, and then he called me. In the basic writing process, I wasn't involved. But now we are working on a new album and we are writing together. So it will be even more interesting, I guess, because now we can interchange our ideas immediately instead of ‘here's the blueprint, make some corrections.’ It's a totally different way of working, so I'm pretty curious what this new album will sound like. I have an idea what the soundscape will be, but stylistic, yeah, I'm pretty curious." 

Haliphron’s Prey is available now worldwide via Listenable Records.

(Photos: Sonja Schuringa)

Featured Video

KELEVRA - "The Distance"

KELEVRA - "The Distance"

Latest Reviews