As it comes to female fronted metal bands, I take proud to say that we Dutch have the finest of them all. Within Temptation, Epica and Delain to name just three. And a new generation is already knocking at the front door. Take for example BEYOND THE PALE, a death metal band from Utrecht raised in the middle of the Covid lockdown. They are releasing their debut album Monument In Time, an homage to their deceased founder and guitarist Jeroen van Donselaar, on April 27th. We spoke with singer Janneke de Rooy about Jeroen‘s death and the new album.

Interview by: Henk van Nieuwenhoven

“Of course, it had a huge impact on all of us. We lost our friend and were heartbroken. But the beauty of this is that it also brought us even closer together. We mourned together and we remember him together. It didn’t take us long to realize that we had to keep going with BEYOND THE PALE. Of course this was really difficult in 2022. The first rehearsal we did, we only rehearsed one song and then just talked for the rest of the evening. It was hard to be back in that same rehearsal room and not have Jeroen there. But we faced our fears and grief together. And now, with “Monument In Time”, we can finally eternalize Jeroen’s legacy that we dubbed as JeroenMetal.”

“Monument In Time” will be released on April 27th, two years to the day since Jeroen passed away. Are you going to do something special that day?
“Coincidentally, it so happens that we will be playing that day as well. dB’s in Utrecht is our home base and they are moving to a new location. They are organizing one last festival/show at the old building, so we are very honored for many reasons to play there that day!”BEYOND THE PALE bandwJeroenb15On the album cover art we see a lot of topics that have to do with this monument in time. The clock, the guitarist with the Flying V on his back… Please tell us in our own words what they all mean.
“Like a photo visually captures a moment frozen in time, this release is an aural monument, a tribute to our lost comrade Jeroen. We tried to capture and eternalize Jeroen‘s songs as best as we could. The monument is visualized by the clock tower, and the time shown on the clock is the moment of Jeroen‘s death. The figure standing next to it is indeed reminiscent of Jeroen, also because of the white flying V. Whether it’s really him is up to you, the viewer. The tower stands in a bit of an urban wasteland. When or why it happened is not clear, but civilization has obviously collapsed. That’s partly because we are concerned about today’s state of the world, and those concerns are reflected in our music and lyrics. And it’s partly because it’s how we felt after Jeroen’s death: like something was broken in the world. As if everything around us collapsed. Jeroen was a huge fan of graphic novels and comics, so Boudewijn (de Kraaij – guitar) designed the artwork with a similar vibe. Overall the artwork symbolizes Jeroen’s legacy being caught in the eternity of time. He may be gone, but he is never forgotten.”

Since it is a relatively short time ago since Jeroen died and the guitar riffs came from his hand, the credits for most or maybe all the songs on the album go to him. Are there any other co-writers?
“That is correct. All the guitar music was written by Jeroen. Of course, Boudewijn and Geoffrey (Maas, guitar) gave their little signature touch to them, but in its essence, they are very much JeroenMetal.”BEYOND THE PALE JeroenFormer Martyr guitarist Geoffrey Maas stepped in to replace Jeroen. That must have been a hard call for both the band and Geoffrey, as you can’t just replace Jeroen.
“It was difficult indeed. In the beginning, we weren’t even ready to replace Jeroen. So we just kept on rehearsing with only Boudewijn. Later, we realized we did need to take that sound up a notch and we got Michael Schoemaker from Monster (and formerly of Warchitect) to rehearse with us on a couple of occasions. It was already clear from the start that he would not join our band permanently. A few months later, Geoffrey came across an interview I did and shot me a message via Facebook, asking if we were still looking for a second guitarist. We were and he came for an audition, mainly to see if he would fit within the group. Musically, we were sure he could do it. It turned out he was a good fit and has been with us since.”

Let’s have a look at the six songs on “Monument In Time”. Just like Pandora’s Key from Breda did with “De Bockereyder” on their debut album “Yet I Remain”, you dared to put a Dutch song “Storm En Drift” on yours as well. But it’s a re-recording from 2023. Why?
Johnny (Derechos, drums) and Jeroen had created a tradition (I believe it dates back to the time they were in Nuestros Derechos) that with every release at least one song would be in Dutch. When they formed BEYOND THE PALE, it was around the time that dB’s was in dire straits. The lockdown due to the Coronavirus was already causing a difficult time, and to make matters worse, the neighboring building caught on fire. This also affected dB’s with quite a lot of smoke and water damage, destroying a lot of the equipment and such. Johnny was part of setting up a crowdfunding for dB’s and, with a bunch of other bands from the Utrecht metal scene, they created a CD, of which all sales went to dB’s. At the time, BEYOND THE PALE was just Johnny and Jeroen and they had to act quickly. So they called Frank (van Boven), our bass player, to do the vocals, while Johnny was still finishing up the lyrics the moment they stepped into the studio. The reason we decided to re-record it for this album, is because now Frank and I both do vocals on that song, making it sound even more epic.”BEYOND THE PALE NL border

Titles like “Liberation For The Damned”, “The Age Of The Pariah”, “Walk The Plank” and “Payback Is A Bitch” all sound very interesting. Please tell us a little about each song.

BEYOND THE PALE mill border““Liberation For The Damned” talks about narcissists and how they act like they own the place, as if they were kings, manipulating those around them in any way they feel is necessary. But when push comes to shove, they are nowhere to be found.
The Age Of The Pariah” is about how confused the world seems to be these days and how, more importantly, nobody truly listens to one another anymore. Everybody has an opinion and feels like they are entitled to voice that opinion, no matter what. With the downside of not listening to others and nobody else listening to them. Resulting in everybody believing that they are right and the rest of the world is wrong.
BEYOND THE PALE album borderWalk The Plank” is our only pirate song. And it is based on a Marlies Dekkers lingerie collection, hahaha. I wrote it around the time I needed new bras and I didn’t know where to shop. Somehow, I stumbled upon Marlies Dekkers and ordered two bras from there. When they arrived, a beautiful catalog was also in the box, showing the entire collection based on female pirates. That’s when the inspiration hit me to write “Walk The Plank” and it is still one of my favorite stories to tell. In addition, I used to joke with Jeroen about the intro of this song and that it took forever. A memory I will always hold dear whenever we play it.
Payback Is A Bitch” is about a former band mate who really screwed myself and other former band mates over (different band, different time). About someone who promised us the world, made us believe that this person was genuine about his intentions of where to take the band, only to find out afterwards that those intentions were fake and all this person wanted to do was to stick it to another band. I am not as pissed off about it nowadays as I was before. Writing this song also helped me in the process of letting go of the anger and just focusing on the future. Better to leave the past where it belongs, in the past.”
BEYOND THE PALE fire borderThe one we didn’t mention yet is “Facts And Figures”, but that one sounds like a very boring song, as it deals about your annual tax return and how the Tax Office screws you every year. Unless I got it all wrong… 🙂
“Hahaha you did get it wrong indeed. This song talks about the pandemic and both sides: the ones saying it was a hoax and the ones saying it wasn’t. We were presented with facts and figures daily. I recall they even set up a website that showed how many people in which country had caught the virus, how many had died from it, etc. But even these facts and figures weren’t believed by everyone.”

If you had to pick one song from the EP that you would label as “this is us, we are BEYOND THE PALE!”, which one would that be?
“Oh, that is a tough one to answer. I think all songs contain those little earworms that Jeroen was so amazing at writing. And I think our sound will change somewhat with Geoffrey being part of the band now. Even though we do intend to stick close to JeroenMetal, but of course, it will never be the same. But were you to ask me which is my favorite, I would say both “The Age Of The Pariah” and “Payback Is A Bitch”. “The Age Of The Pariah” has such a catchy chorus. It makes me smile every single time. And “Payback Is A Bitch” has the most epic outro ever, where I had the freedom to experiment with my vocals and being able to extend my range as a death metal vocalist. I often complimented Jeroen on that outro, as it gave me some My Dying Bride vibes.”

In an interview one of you said that the new songs are now mainly written by both guitarists Geoffrey and Boudewijn. Since they’ve heard what Jeroen was capable of as it comes to riffs, you are in good hands. But the lyrics, that’s something completely different.
“Ah yes, the lyrics are my department. And of course, the guys can always give their input. Once I’ve written lyrics for a song, I always share it with them and ask for feedback. I think they are quite content with not having to write lyrics as well, hahaha. And besides, writing my lyrics also adds to the authenticity of the songs, as I’m able to put my own raw emotions into the songs. It becomes a bit more tricky with other people’s lyrics. I need to understand the song in its emotions and how it makes someone feel.”
BEYOND THE PALE single borderAre there plans to launch a single and video before the release of “Monument In Time”?
“We have just released our first single along with a music video! “The Age Of The Pariah“! And It is one of my favorite songs as I mentioned earlier 😉 We also have two music videos lined up to be released between now and April 27.”

You did a special release show at De Vorstin in Hilversum, Holland on March 9th. That must have been extremely emotional. Where can we see BEYOND THE PALE live this year?
“Yes, it was. Although I didn’t expect it to be so emotional. I think that is why there were a few hiccups in our set, but it’s a process. It’s only been our third show since we lost our friend, so we also still need to get used to each other on stage. For example, during live shows, whenever there is just music and no vocals, I tend to step off the stage, because I have nothing to do there. That was something Frank had to get used to, hahaha. All of a sudden, there was more room on stage for him to shine, hahaha. But we are getting better every time we play, so we hope to get more shows coming in. The energy is there, as we have so much fun on stage and with the crowd. As I mentioned earlier, we have a show lined up on April 27 at dBs, which I’m certain will also be quite emotional. But it will be the party of the century, so we hope to see a lot of people there! We were also recently booked for No Sleep Metalfest on August 24th! And there are a few more shows in the pipeline. To all those bookers, venues and festival organizers out there, get in touch with us for bookings!”