In some circles, no genre holds more disdain than death metal with its themes and images of brutality and horror. Seldom do those unacquainted with the genre think of the differences between death and black metal, and Loveland’s Tierkrieger thrives on blending the two genres all in an effort to create something truly brutal.
Originally named Mortuary Whore, Tierkrieger was summoned in 2013 by guitarist Red and drummer Horn, who have been playing metal for over 20 years with various acts and musicians. Throughout the years, musicians have come and gone under various band names before the two stumbled upon guitarists Matt and bassist Zach, each preferred to go by their first name.
It was the same day that Red and Horn posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a guitarist that Matt posted an ad as a guitarist looking for a band. It seemed fate had spoken, and a year later bassist Zach joined the band. In 2014 the group began playing live shows.
“I think this is the best lineup we’ve ever had,” Red said. “It’s certainly the best I’ve ever played with in years.”
Red and Horn are no strangers when it comes to the metal scene, as both have been avid death metal fans since the time the genre started. In 1994, Red played his first show in a metal band, the same year that Matt was born.
“It seems that the old guys get older and they start dropping out of the music scene so we knew we needed some new blood,” Red said.
While Matt’s talents are used as the main vocalist and lead guitarist, he and Red usually uphold the responsibility for songwriting. It is a process where Matt’s past of jazz playing in high school comes in handy as both genres are similar in their lack of defined rules or structure.
“It’s one of the only kinds of music you can literally do whatever you want,” Matt said. “There are essentially no limits because if you can physically play it, you can manifest it.”
This characteristic of metal has largely given way to Tierkrieger’s take on the genre as the band is a mix of black and death metal, two genres whose fans sometimes have resentment toward one another. This type of duality is present through their playing as well as their namesake coming from Norse tradition, as it means animal warrior.
“Animal warrior is a duality and I try to combine the old with the new, the black with the death,” Red said. “There’s always going to be a duality with what we do.”
When it comes to combining both genres, Tierkrieger’s process goes far beyond just weaving genre conventions into one another. To tastefully combine the two, it takes a good portion of music theory and knowhow.
“We try to have riffs that hit heavy but have more melodic kind of harmonies that add the flair of black metal into the mix,” Matt said.
Yet despite all the freedoms of the genre, there is one thing that still remains and that is the unholy trinity.
“As long as you got woodpecker drumming, ‘Jaws’ riffs and Cookie Monster vocals then you’re good,” Red said.
The kind of playing Tierkrieger excels in is high in intensity and brutal in its execution, the mark of any good metal band worth their salt.
“It takes a lot of work and practicing as you got to work to keep your stamina up,” Horn said. “The goal of it is to always make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and evoke a reaction out of the listener.”
In many ways, a stigma still surrounds black and death metal and often the genres are antagonized in mainstream culture in addition to villainizing the musicians and listeners apart of it. It is a genre that is often misunderstood and one that brings continual good to the people’s lives who love it.
“It brings people together, maybe people that don’t necessarily come out of the woodwork for another reason get to come out and be around like minded people,” Red said. “As a musician, it’s always been a positive outlet for me because it keeps me from causing trouble.”
It is the structure of the songs and the power of the instruments that allow for some true catharsis to occur for musician and listener alike. It is a chance to channel the aggression that people encounter every day in a healthy way and a release from real life.
“A lot of people see the appearance of metal and think people like us are bad or that we’re Satanists,” Red said. “What they don’t know is that we are a bunch of hard workers.”
It is this side that people do not often see and the good in metal is often covered up by the grotesque and horrific aesthetics of the genre. To make metal, one does not have to be an evildoer.
“We’re all calm, mellow guys,” Horn said.
While some stigma may remain, a lot has changed for death metal in the Fort Collins and Loveland area. As property values have skyrocketed, the demographics have seemed to shift in both cities and different genres have garnered popularity. Metal has historically been seen as the genre of working class cities and while Fort Collins enjoys a high rating for quality of life, it does not always bode well for metal.
“Maybe there’s less people who enjoy the genre or they can’t afford to go to shows because it’s getting too expensive to live around here,” Red said.
In recent years, Fort Collins has also been able to boast a bustling music scene. However, it is still pretty fractured as far as bands go. Jam bands have become popular among music seekers and the Aggie regularly sells out hip-hop shows.
“Fort Collins has kind of garnered a reputation for being more hipster-y and hip-hop oriented,” Matt said.
While musical tastes often fluctuate, the shows Tierkrieger played in Fort Collins have been a hit with fans and the merchandise table as well. Along with some contemporaries, metal has been able to hold and intrigue among those who are willing to seek it out.
“Whenever we do play in Fort Collins it’s always good, and we sell a ton of merch,” Zach said.
This week, Tierkrieger plans on releasing their first full-length album and will be playing a show at the Devil’s Backbone Event Center on Glade Road in Loveland April 29 at 9:20 p.m.
“I just want people to hear it, even if they don’t like it,” Red said.
Tierkrieger shares a message with fans and readers alike: Keep it brutal.
Collegian reporter James Wyatt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jwwyatt2295.