Metalcore outfit VOIDEMOLTION have recently released their latest single Haunting, the year before they released their album Sanity. It touches upon different aspects of mental health from insomnia to anxiety. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to lead vocalist David Dannenberg about the album Sanity, in particular the content of the music and mental health.
First of all, how would you introduce Voidemolition to those who haven’t heard your sound before?
That’s an interesting question. The core of our sound is based around your typical metalcore. It’s modern metal, we used to have a clean sound that wasn’t too dirty. It’s very modern, straight forward with punchy drums, heavy guitar and bass. The vocals are pretty clean, there is a little tuning with the reverb but it’s not super spacy like in post metal as that uses a lot of back layering. We’re really about being at the front and in your face.
Who would you say your influences are?
We started covering Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium and Slipknot so Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine are the roots where we started. However, we had some line up changes and they brought in new influences. Now, our influences are based heavily around Bury Tomorrow, Jinjer and little bit of Bleed Within. Our lead guitarist is influenced by Avenged Sevenfold. The UK Metalcore scene is a strong influence for us.
You released your album Sanity last year, it touches upon mental health topics. A lot of the tracks keep you on your toes pretty much like the mind when it’s going through ill mental health, was this the intention with your album?
It wasn’t our goal to create music that is like this, we aren’t writing music that is to be played in the background. You can listen to say Black Metal in the background whilst you do something else. We want our music to be heard actively, the lyrics really sinking in. That is really interesting you touch upon that, it wasn’t our intention but it’s an interesting response.
When it came to writing the songs, did you already have in mind what songs were going to cover which topic or was it case of jamming and seeing where it went from there?
Sometimes not always. So for example, the song Against Myself; that’s a song as a vocalist I wrote, I also wrote the instrumentals for that song. Later on my band mates came and fine tuned it. Usually the music comes first and then I write the lyrics but with that song, it was a situation where I felt all of that and I needed to get it out so it’s an autobiographical.
I read the lyrics for Against Myself and having went through it myself, the lyrics were hugely relatable.
That’s the most important thing. We had some songs where the idea was there, we want to cover this part of mental health and let’s write a song about it. But then there were some instrumental ideas where I then said, this will be about this aspect. For example, we had the instrumental for Set Me Free and we knew this should be our ballad. I told my rhythm guitarist to write a ballad, I want to have a groovy but really toned down soft emotional song that slowly gets heavier that indicates burnout and mental breakdown.
Does Set Me Free also look at the point beyond burnout as in you feel like giving up all together?
It’s about being overwhelmed by everything. There is an evolution within that song, it’s starts really slow and soft it then develops after the first chorous when it captures some energy and then after the second chorous there is a part that’s really depressive and really sad. It’s the progression from when you start to feel at your limit and slowly but surely getting closer to the edge and falling into that pit.
Do you have in mind what tracks are going to contain growls or is it case of seeing what works when recording the tracks?
Nowadays, our songwriting works like this; we have an instrumental idea then we work on this idea until we are happy with it. I then start to write the lyrics, sometimes I develop an idea of a topic of the song and then lyrics slowly come in. With this process, I mostly feel into it. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want in the song, for example Set Me Free, that song was pretty much planned out. I was aware I wanted a soft song with less screaming and more singing so you could feel the emotion and then when the screaming hits, it should hit hard.
On the other side, we have songs such as Chainless where the screaming is in the majority of the song. Chainless is about trying to break free, trying to fight off your inner demons and this fight is symbolised with all that screaming. There’s a heavy Bleed From Within influence within the lyrics.
With albums that focus on aspects of mental health, there is usually a song that looks into rising above things and living with ill mental health. Is that what Holding On touches upon?
Holding On actually touches upon anxiety. Within that song, I tried to add a sense of hope in there. The song isn’t about anxiety kicking and everything goes wrong, it’s more about holding on. It touches upon how you can’t see the anxiety but it’s still there yet I still try to push through it. There’s this very energetic and wild breakdown in Holding On where all this anger and frustration about society views someone with mental illness or anxiety. This anger of being misunderstood had to be in the song. I felt it needed to be a message not just to those who feel that and can connect but also for those who don’t feel it and makes them more aware.
Sanity is a brilliant album and with mental health becoming a big topic now, albums like yours are hugely important for keeping the conversation going.
Thank you, we wanted to create something that is not just music. Music is the language that can sometimes say more than words can. We wanted to make music that we like but we also wanted to send out a message. With all these songs, there’s a message.
We released a video for Broken Voice and that’s about suicide. We really made sure that our intentions were right and we get across that we really care about this. Some of us have had experience with these thoughts or maybe even attempts. After we released the lyric video, the comments section was like a group therapy. We were so amazed, there were people talking about their problems and others were responding to them saying how it related to them. People feeling like they were understood was exactly what we wanted.
What does the song Haunting touch upon?
Haunting as the name implies, is about haunting and something that is chasing you. It’s about paranoia. Most of the songs are very close to myself, I either have felt those feelings myself or someone close to me has. Haunting is something I struggle with a lot; paranoia, paranoid thoughts and things you cannot stop popping up in your head. Although you know it doesn’t make sense at all, those thoughts come back, haunt you and won’t let you go. That’s what Haunting is about.
What’s Mental Health Awareness in Germany like?
I feel like in general it’s a little more addressed than in other countries. I have a direct comparison to America for example because my girlfriend is American. In America, mental health is something you don’t talk about and if there is a problem then you’re screwed because everything costs a lot of money and therapists rather give you pills than actually talk about the issues.
Where in Germany, you have ways of talking about it. You have free therapy for a few sessions and if you really need therapy, your health insurance covers it. If you’re burnt out, you can have time off work for a couple of weeks. I think think it’s still not talked about enough but we’re aware of the fact and it’s treated in a good way, not as bad as a couple of years ago.
What do you think we could do more of as friends, family members, partners, work colleagues so people feel more comfortable talking about mental health?
It’s always a question of trust and comfort. So if you feel comfortable with someone, you tend to open up to someone about stuff that is going on. So I guess making people feel comfortable around you and maybe addressing that’s OK that something is going wrong or something is not OK. Many people still have those cliches for example that men have to be tough and strong, not feel emotions. These stereotypes have to be deleted, society needs to get rid of these stereotypes and open up saying we’re all human. We should all treat each other as humans regardless of sex, age, height or whatever.
Do you think social media has a part to play in negative aspects? For example you’re looking at someone’s profile and you start comparing yourself. I acknowledge there is positive aspects as in it’s a great way to share awareness around mental health.
You can’t see me but I am nodding heavily in agreement. I feel this myself as someone who has to deal with some stronger mental issues and then going through social media seeing those perfect lives or perfect people being successful or achieving stuff you didn’t. It is like a punch in the face every time I open that app.
On the other side, I am seeing videos and posts about mental health awareness. More real things and Tik Toks with people saying it’s OK if you feel like this. It’s difficult because a lot of social media is unrealistic standards that are not reachable for everyone. However it’s also good for share something and share awareness, I think we should boost that a little more rather than just showing off.
What do you like to do to help calm down and stay grounded?
I know some mechanisms when I feel overwhelmed but when I am in that state, my body and my mind shutdown. What helps me is gaming, I am a gamer. When I feel bad, I tend to game and if it’s really bad, I hop on Discord and talk with my friends. That sometimes really helps. Sometimes I meditate; getting rid of those thoughts and just letting them flow. It doesn’t help all the time.
Speaking of video games, which five gaming characters would you have fighting beside you in a battle?
Definitely Kratos from God Of War because he could knock out 1000. Spidey because I love Spidey. Ellie from The Last Of Us, she is very talented and witty. Recently I am playing Elder Ring and there is no protagonist. Maybe Corvo Artano, I don’t if you know Dishonoured but absolutely amazing game and very cool character. An assassin with magical powers. Last but not least Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin’s Creed, one of my absoulute favourites.
Do you have a message for fans and readers?
I hope everyone is good, fine and healthy. If our music reaches people out there who are having a bad time or searching for a new sound, thank you for listening and we hope you’re getting better. We hope you realise that you aren’t alone because we’re not only a community but we are a family so you’re always welcome to join the Void family. We would be happy to have you as a member. Stream our songs, it really helps. At some point, we may even meet so let’s look forward to that.
Thank you Dave for speaking to Rock Out Stand Out today and best of luck with everything.