One of the Netherland’s finest, Dangerous Times for the Dead, are releasing their second single of 2022 entitled “As the Iron Curtain Falls” and you can pre-save it HERE for streaming. The single will be available on all streaming platforms March 11th. The band will also be pre-releasing the single early on Bandcamp March 4th. The single is a lightning fast follow up to the single “Scuttlers” that was just released February 11th, a single that has already compiled thousands of streams and ran it’s way up to being the band’s second most popular song on Spotify as of right now.
I’ve followed this band since 2019 and the first memory I have of encountering their music was our radio station receiving an EPK for this new band coming out of the Netherlands submitting for airplay. That was when I heard “Fairytale” for the first time and I have been hooked ever since. To this day, it is still one of my favorite songs and I think is a great introduction to the band and what you get with their sound if you aren’t familiar with them already. Everything they have released since then has been solid and I could probably go on and on about the whole catalog. However, that would be a wider scope of what we have lined up as a very special review today. I’ll leave it that I would also call out “Queen of the Night” to be one of my personal favorites. It’s been great to watch this band continue to define their sound, release new material, and grow to amassing nearly 2.3k monthly listeners on Spotify.
I would go as far as to say that I think my current level of appreciation for Power Metal in general is actually large in part to this band. I mean, what kid when first learning guitar doesn’t gravitate right away to trying to learn the riffs of “The Trooper” or “Holy Diver?” I had that baseline appreciation, of course. However, hearing DT4TD was like a gateway drug into seeing what’s happening in Europe with that traditional heavy metal sound. Super interesting. A lot of it is “in the underground” in terms of what their top 40 or mainstream culture references, but it’s also an undeniable observation to note all the packed festivals happening over there right now are in huge support of this classic sound. Through this band, I was able to discover other great music rooted in traditional heavy metal like Burning and Divine Anger. And of course, as anyone who reads my blog would know, I am huge on lyrics. DT4TD‘s lyrical content touches on “fantasy” and “lore” like other Power Metal acts, but stands out to me as also being quite grounded at times and embedded in deep, heavy, concepts. Similar to what I appreciate about Iron Maiden‘s work and a bit rough around the edges at times like Guns N’ Roses. I’ve included the lyrics to “As the Iron Curtain Falls” at the end of the article.
And now the part that makes this review a very special one. Bjorn Ciggaar, the band’s front-man, was gracious enough to chat with me about his musical history, the band’s plans for the future, a little about business, and other things:
AMS Radio: How did you end up becoming a musician?
I guess I always was an entertainer. I joined a theatre group when I was in college and after my graduation I joined a band, just some other guys that were playing music I liked, which was mostly classic rock and hard rock. They introduced me to metal. And basically we played what is now more commonly known as New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal.
AMS Radio: What inspires you to create music? Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Biggest influences for me personally would be The Who and Ronnie James Dio. But it can be about any hard rock or heavy metal musician before the 90’s. There’s a lot of great music, but for me personally, the whole music culture scene of that era seems to be more to my taste. There are some great bands around right now and awesome music being made, but sometimes I think that music-wise, I was born in the wrong era (I was born in 1980). And that music inspires me. So I guess that’s also why our music kind of has that classic, traditional sound.
AMS Radio: Tell me a little bit about your recording process, how does the music make from concept to final product?
It starts with someone coming up with something. Most of the time it’s either our bass player Gerrit, or guitar players Dave and/or Thijs. It’s a riff or a melody line, or maybe even a bit of a base of a song and we work from there. Usually a recording of it is shared. And if I can’t come up with lyrics within 20 minutes, my experience is that it gets binned. But I think 90% of the time I can come up with something. So then we go into the rehearsal studio and lay out the base of the song. Sometimes it really goes fast and we have a song completed in a night. Sometimes it takes a few sessions. And sometimes we won’t work on a specific track and then about a year later we bring it up again, come up with some new ideas and we’ve got a song. I think that’s our magic, our mojo. We work on something with a positive drive and if something isn’t working, we’ll just focus on another track that is working. We’ve always got something lying around to work on. It’s also a democratic process; we all agree into what direction we want to take a song. So we have this song and as always, drum and bass are the foundation of the recording. Gerrit our bass player does our mixing, mastering and artwork. Jeroen our drummer lays down his track, together with Gerrit. Jeroen records his drums at his studio at home. This process is something I stay out of so I can’t really say what magic is happening there. Then usually Gerrit invites the guitar players at his home for dinner and a recording session. Dave now also started to record more at his home studio. And after that I can lay down my vocals. Unfortunately not at his home with the dinner, but in our rehearsal studio because I get a bit too loud for the neighbours. *Laughs* Technically I could also record at home, but Gerrit really gives good feedback while recording. The good thing about doing the recording and mixing ourselves, is that a few weeks later Gerrit can say we’d have to do another take for something. And we’ll just do that there and then in the rehearsal studio. Gerrit has mixed and mastered most of our songs so far, but we also hired some different professionals, just to try it out and see what it does for our sound. And to have someone else have a listen with fresh ears. However, I think because this is such a band process, it is very tough to let go of the ideas we had created together and let someone else (“an outsider”) have their take on it. I think that in the future if we’d work with someone, it would have to be someone close to us, or someone to get involved from start to finish and not jump in when something needs to be mixed. So… We’re almost there… Gerrit cooks up an awesome cover (this is a multi-talented guy if you haven’t already noticed that) and I get to work on promoting it and getting it out to the world…
AMS Radio: You know that I’m fascinated by the business side of music, which PRO are you registered with? What recommendations or advice do you have for independent artists figuring all this stuff out?
None. We release our music through DistroKid and that’s it. I know in the past, in my first band, I was more business (and copyright) oriented. In the end it didn’t really matter and I don’t believe it will for us, right now at this stage. I’ve looked into registering and basically it wouldn’t make sense for us, yet. It would actually make it more difficult to get our music heard and out there, because we are a part of the metal underground. I’d be very glad if our music would get heard in the world. And maybe, if we really get successful then we’ll sign up. One example of why we are not doing this is because we were approached by an independent film company that wanted to use our song “The Cats of Ulthar” for a movie by the same name. That would be an excellent promotion for our song. We even shot a professional music video together. We couldn’t have done that if we were registered because it would have been too expensive for the film company. So even if this movie will get international success, win awards and will be shown in cinema’s all over the world… We will earn nothing from it… But everyone will know our song and it will be stuck in their head. And they’ll be introduced to our music
AMS Radio: What is “As the Iron Curtain Falls” about?
When I heard the riff the first words that came up in my head were “secret service undercover”. I wanted to make a song about espionage. It evolved into the fear of the eruption of war and the use of nuclear assault weapons, about the doomsday scenario. Not too make it too gloomy, the second verse compares the threat of war with the threat of the break-up of a relationship. The threat is that hand that hovers over the button, that can send all of mankind to doom. And Gerrit created the awesome artwork of the hand hovering over that button. And as I am answering these questions of yours suddenly a song that reflected on the cold war of the past, now also reflects on current events. So the song that was intended to be more about an exciting espionage story, might get some political significance. I didn’t write it like that. The weird thing is that this is the second time this has happened. Right after we released our track “Storm the Castle”, the Capitol was stormed. This was also not a song written to reflect on current events, but on medieval times. We promise our next song will be about drinking beer and partying all night!*laughs*
AMS Radio: When is “As the Iron Curtain Falls” going to be released?
It’s going to be pre-released on BandCamp Friday the 4th of March and on all major streaming services on the 11th of March. BandCamp is always the best place to go follow us, we also release more material there then we do elsewhere.
AMS Radio: How do you define success? Has it always been that way, or has it changed?
It first started out with the idea that success was measured by the money you made from sales and performances. That idea changed. I think because of how I looked at it that way I didn’t see the first band I was in being successful, but we were regionally. Right now with Dangerous Times for the Dead I can say we are more successful then we have thought to be, especially because we started out and then the pandemic and lock downs happened. We shifted all our attention online and into recording instead of playing live. We made the best of it. And now I measure success by what I get back from people telling me they love our music.
AMS Radio: Tell me about the music scene where you are from. What’s it like in the Netherlands right now? What’s popular, what interesting things are happening?
To my taste, the music scene in The Netherlands is not that rock-oriented. It seems to be more focused on current popular music. There are times when I suddenly hear great music on the FM radio channels I listen to, but then I hear that’s because it’s a 60’s, 70’s or 80’s special going on that week! At the end of the year we’ve been having a TOP2000 each year (since 1999), where everyone can vote on songs to be in those charts. Now that one is filled with good music and I really enjoy listening to that. Over the last few years there’s also a lot more metal in there, but classic rock is always well represented. Number one is almost always the Bohemian Rhapsody which is the last song they play just before midnight.
AMS Radio: Van Halen or Van Hagar? No wishy-washy answers or pulling punches. You must pick one!
I was in a classic rock cover band briefly and we opened our gigs with “There’s Only One Way To Rock” and that was the first I heard of Sammy Hagar. That’s what I mean with how our music scene isn’t rock oriented. Up until then I didn’t even know there was a Van Halen without David Lee Roth. If you want to know more about rock or metal, you really need to dive into it, because there is not a single proper media outlet here introducing you to it. You have to go underground; to the internet radio stations and podcasts. And to the metal bars and clubs. The guys I was in that cover band with, they knew Sammy Hagar’s music because they were 20 years older than me, they grew up with this music. And it’s a disgrace of course that I didn’t properly know Van Halen because these guys are Dutch too! So yeah, if you’d ask me 10 years ago I’d say Van Halen, but to gain up on lost years I will answer Van Hagar now *laughs*
AMS Radio: What plans are in store for the band? What is next for Dangerous Times for the Dead?
We’ll have to see what will materialize but after this release we intend to bring out an album featuring all of our previously released material, remixed, remastered and maybe some re-recordings. On CD and Vinyl, maybe even on tape who knows. No idea how yet, with a label or self released, we’ll first go and see if we can find a label that really fits with the band or else we’ll do a self-release. Besides that we really hope to do some proper live gigs. We really want to bring our material to the stage.
Lyrics to “As the Iron Curtain Falls”
Secret service undercover
Finds himself in dire straits
On the run he’s being hunted
Urgent military aid
Underneath the iron curtain
Sleeps a giant atom bomb
When it wakes it is uncertain
It can target anyone
Time stands still
Take your aim
Shoot to kill
Pass the blame
While a hand hovers over the button…
That can send all of mankind to doom
Discontented jealous lovers
All the gruesome mediation
Cannot save a sinking ship
Breaking down in devastation
Burning bridges left and right
A broken heart, a silent cry
An empty soul steps in the night
Time stands still
Take your aim
Shoot to kill
Pass the blame
While a hand hovers over the button
That can send all of mankind to doom
Special thanks to the band for chatting with us and letting us listen to the tune early. Want to hear “As the Iron Curtain Falls” early too? Tune into AMS Radio 7pm to 9pm Pacific Standard Time Tuesdays thru Thursdays during our “new singles” segment of “Indie Anarchy” for a chance to hear it as well as the best new indie from all over the world.