Interviews > Accuser
Interview by Athena Schaffer
Photo by Tom Rom for Front Row Images

Thrash legends Accuser are back with their 11th no-holds-barred album, The Forlorn Divide (Metal Blade Records). Ferocious vocals over impressive musicianship abound on this excellent album, as dangerous and potentially lethal as a proverbial game of Russian Roulette.

Check out the video for the album's first single, "Tribulation".

Hailing from Siegen, Germany, Accuser are: vocalist/guitarist Frank Thoms, bassist Frank Kimpel, drummer Olli Fechner, and guitarist Dennis Rybakowski (who joined the band during their 25th Anniversary in 2013, when his predecessor -- Uwe Schmidt -- left the band for health and time reasons). The Crowgrrl recently caught up with Frank and Dennis to delve deeper into this fantastic album and other Accuser news.

I know that Metal Blade has put a video on Youtube for "Tribulation" that advertises the new album, but are you going to do an official video for that or any other song on The Forlorn Divide?

Frank: We don't have any concrete plans at the moment but it's certainly a possibility. We've recorded some live video footage which could be used for something like that for example. We'll see what happens.

There are so many excellent songs on The Forlorn Divide -- how was "Tribulation" picked for the first single?

Dennis: During our time in the studio it was pretty difficult deciding on the singles for this album. I think this was because of the fact that we were so deeply involved with every little detail of each song that it became almost impossible to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. So instead we waited a bit until mixing and mastering was done and then approached the songs again with a fresh perspective. And the song that struck all of us as a perfect first single at that moment was "Tribulation". It's the melodic aspects of the song and the build-up which comes full circle at the end that really makes it a self-contained song and a fitting single in my opinion.

"Unreal Perception" is stellar! Can you tell us anything about the inspirations for this song?

Frank: Musically, I wanted to write a very direct and fast song that slows down a bit in the middle to set up a brutal finale. The lyrics deal with our perception of media. Take video games for example: the more you dive into a game, the more it can take over your perception of reality. I've also included news media into the lyrics which have a huge influence on all of us and our opinions in today's world. I feel it's important to always look at this kind of external information critically and to think before forming an opinion.

"Impending Doom" is fabulous! Tell us more about this one as well?

Frank: My goal for this song was to start with a slower and more atmospheric feel and increase the pace and the tension at the middle point more and more up until the very end. Lyrically, this track examines the constant fear of bad things that could happen. Often times it's unclear when something horrible is going to happen and I've symbolized this looming danger in the form of a vampire, ready to strike at any moment. It's a fitting metaphor for our most primal fears in my opinion. I spent a lot of time researching and reading different song lyrics about the human psyche, fear and anxiety while writing and it's definitely been an influence for this song.

What's your personal favorite song on The Forlorn Divide?

Dennis: That's a tough question to answer because it changes almost daily for me. I guess right now it's a toss-up between "Unreal Perception", "Arbitrary Law" and "Perish By Oblivion" but that could (and most likely will) change anytime.

Who does most of the songwriting for the band?

Dennis: Frank Thoms does most of the writing but he mainly provides a general framework for each song and changes it based on the feedback of the rest of the band. Each band member contributes their input and is responsible for their respective instrumental details. To my surprise, I was given ample opportunity to bring my own ideas to the table despite this being my first official studio album with the band. So I collaborated with Frank on some songs, rearranged some songs and wrote the song "Lust For Vengeance" and the intro piece "Predawn".

Do the lyrics come first? Does the music come first? What is the songwriting process like for you?

Dennis: It always starts out with the music. Frank Thoms or I will record a demo of a full song at home and share it with the other guys. They then give their opinions and suggestions on what to change and if these get substantial enough, a different version of the song gets recorded and shared. This process continues until everybody's satisfied with the result. After that, Frank writes the lyrics and vocals lines. When it comes time to hit the studio, we bring our demo recordings for reference and finalize the details during the recording process itself.

Any stories behind the cover art?

Dennis: The cover was created by Verena Achenbach who did all the artwork for the band since "Agitation" in 2010. Every Accuser cover in the past featured some kind of central character or object as a focal point so we decided to do things differently this time and instead depict a vast, desolate landscape. The general idea was to have a literal interpretation of the album title in the form of a foreboding mountain range, the titular "forlorn divide" and to establish a dark and oppressive atmosphere. We then told Verena about our idea, showed her some reference material for inspiration and from there it became an iterative process of building the whole scene and adding more and more details until we felt happy with it. The concept of a landscape cover also fit with our conscious decision to not have a title track on this album. We wanted to shift the focus away from specific songs and more towards the album as a cohesive whole, just like the cover shows a fleshed out location instead of just one single thing.

I know you're confirmed for some of the festivals this summer including the Summer Breeze Festival and Metal Franconia Festival. Any other touring plans?

Dennis: We'll be mostly playing festivals this year but there are also plans to support specific bands. Definitely stay tuned for further announcements!

Will your live set list contain mostly songs from your new album, or your other albums?

Dennis: We're currently going for a mix of both old and new material and we'll be adjusting this ratio based on the responses we'll get. Although the focus will definitely be on the new songs.

Is there anything that I didn't ask that you want to tell our readers?

Frank: We're very thankful for all your support and hope that you're enjoying our new record. See you soon.