Danish brawlers Iniquity had a 14-year, three-album run throughout the ’90s and early aughts. The group’s debut album, Serenadium, shocked the death metal world with its blend of American brutality and European tact. It was an album, though made and distributed by Danish indie Emanzipation Productions, that sent reverberations, reminding even if black metal had taken a foothold in the public eye, death metal was alive and well. And that there still was something rotten in Denmark, courtesy of the Copenhagen-based quartet.
Now, two decades later, Iniquity’s Serenadium is reborn — in LP form for the first time ever! Assembled, remastered, and approved by current/ex-members of Iniquity, the new edition of Serenadium is meant to be as close as possible to the 1996 original. Iniquity’s Martin Rosendahl was adamant the re-issue not be an “improvement” on the original but a near-mirror reflection. He and Mighty Music founder Michael H. Andersen (previously of Emanzipation Productions) painstakingly went through Serenadium line by line to ensure the mid-’90s death metal likeness was preserved. As it was so it will be, so to speak.
To celebrate the re-issue of Serenadium, Decibel reached out to Rosendahl to learn more about the re-issue, Iniquity’s reformation, and the band’s now-permanent demise.
You reformed Iniquity in 2014. What’s has surprised you the most since the reformation?
Martin Rosendahl: We actually reformed already in 2012. [Our] first show was at the AMF festival in Denmark. We then shut down in late 2013, but as we had unfinished business and this re-issue thing coming up we had no choice but to re-reform in 2014. Several things have surprised me since then. Most notably it seems like most people didn’t recognize the band until around the time we split up –- and despite people discovering a band that is dead they have stayed loyal as fans ever since. Which again was one of the main reasons we reformed. We didn’t think the job was done and too many Iniquity fans have never been even close to seeing us live. Another surprise was how fast we got back into the material. Even though we hadn’t played most songs since the late ’90s, it felt as if it was last month we were still playing.
How is Iniquity different today from the early days in the early-/mid-‘90s?
Martin Rosendahl: If you mean the pre-Serenadium days, well, then everything is different. The band has a very complex line-up history. Especially in the pre-Serenadium days. But if you think in the lines of how we evolved, well, then nothing is changed. We specifically went for reforming as the band were in the years 1996-1999. So the members and the material have all been from that period. As unchanged as it can be.
Do you remember where the best response for Serenadium came from? Europe, the states, etc.? I realize it was released on a small indie at the time.
Martin Rosendahl: Seems like it was well-received pretty much all over the place. Maybe except among the regular death metal fans at the time. We got a lot of attention from both the media but also from various celebrities and bands. I remember Trey Azagthoth coming up to me at a Morbid Angel show over here. Asked me if I was the “guy from Iniquity.” Then, he went on for a long time about how great he thought the album was and how he had it in his car stereo for weeks. That was nice stuff to hear from one of the originators of death metal.
What do you think fans remember most about Iniquity? Danish death metal is certainly different from Norwegian and Swedish death metal.
Martin Rosendahl: I don’t know?! Iniquity has managed to include that certain unnameable factor where it kinda appeals to a lot of people. The problem has been getting it out there. But most recognizable trait? Maybe the vocals? Brian [Petrowsky] had a unique voice and I like to think I did a good job copying it off when I took over. Mads [Haarløv], on the other hand, has an entirely different voice but still very distinct and easily recognizable. Maybe it’s the blend of heavy catchiness, technical chaos, and a dose of good ol’ melody?
Mighty Music is re-issuing Serenadium on LP. What’s that like for the band? This is the first time it’s available on that format.
Martin Rosendahl: It’s a personal dream of mine since I’m a huge vinyl fanatic. So, it’s friggin’ awesome. It was supposed to have happened about 1 year ago around the 20th Anniversary but the industry has a hard time keeping up with the vinyl demand. We also had some artwork issues. In any case., now it’s ready. It’s beautiful and we’re all happy.
Will the re-issue be different from the original pressing?
Martin Rosendahl: I personally made it a huge deal to get everything as authentic as possible. So no artwork has been altered in any way. I got the original 5×5 meter front cover art from Terkel, the artist who created it back then. The back cover and CD face, in this case LP label, have been extracted from the front and placed as it was on the original CD. The inner sleeve shows some rude scans of the booklet mixed with some rare photos and some fliers, etc. So, a few things have been added on the inner sleeve. The outside is 95% accurate compared to the original. The way it should be. I really hate when something is re-issued, be that CD or LP, and the cover is edited or worse, a completely new cover. Sound-wise, we have also avoided the common remaster bullshit. It has been mastered for LP format –- nothing else. And I’d say they did a good job, as they sound very close to the original CD.
Did you have specific goals with the remaster? Were they done off the original master tape?
Martin Rosendahl: As mentioned, the only goal was not to change anything. Only master it so it suits the LP format. I’m not sure whether the master was made from the original tapes or a CD. But I think it was made from a CD since the tape is probably long lost. And if it wasn’t it would probably require a remix as well. It was recorded on old-school tape, so the mix was most likely only done directly to a CD/hard drive.
Are you looking to re-issue the other three Iniquity albums, Five Across the Eyes and Grime?
Martin Rosendahl: That would be another dream come true. We’ve discussed it briefly with Mighty when we signed the contract for the re-issue. And I think the deal was pretty simple. If this one breaks even they’re up for doing another one. Would be beyond awesome if they’d just make the 5 Across The Eyes LP. In any case, nothing is certain at this point. But I’ve got my hopes up for sure.
What’s next for Iniquity? New album in the works?
Martin Rosendahl: Death is what’s next for us. We already killed the band twice, so this time we’ll stay dead. At least for my part and Jesper [Jensen] has expressed that he doesn’t feel like continuing or picking it up again later. But there’s still members enough to resurrect the band even without Jesper and me. So, you’ll never know if Iniquity will rise again. We have one or two more shows left, and when they’re done. We’re done. We did, in fact, talk about attempting to write some new material but one thing is that we have plenty to do with our regular bands, families, jobs, etc. Another thing is that what if we can’t live up to our own and the fans expectations? It would suck big time to finish off a great thing with something less great. I’ve seen it with personal favorites of mine. Starting up again but failing to deliver the goods. That’s a can of worms I’d prefer not to open. In other words, I’d be surprised if there will ever be something new with Iniquity. If anyone out there is interested in following us in our future endeavours you’d have to keep an eye on our ‘real’ bands: Jesper’s in Eciton; I’m with Corpus Mortale. Both are due to release albums in 2018. At last, I or we would like to use the opportunity to thank all the Iniquity supporters everywhere. Without you guys there’d be no reunion, no reissues, no nothing. Keep the flame burning. Death metal forever!
** Mighty Music’s re-issue of Iniquity’s ultra-brutal Serenadium is out now. LP and CD can be ordered directly from Mighty Music by clicking this LINK. Remember, death metal forever!