Review 1901 : Karras – We Poison Their Young – English

Karras is angry.

Formed in 2017 in Île de France by Yann Heurtaux (guitar, Mass Hysteria), Etienne Sarthou (drums, Deliverance, Freitot, ex-AqME) and Diego Janson (bass/vocals, ex-Demosys, ex-Sickbag), the band released their debut album in 2020. In 2023, the trio signed with M-Theory Audio for the release of We Poison Their Young, their second album.

As the band’s name suggests, Satanism and the movie The Exorcist inspired the band to create their devastating Grindcore/Crust, and it’s clear from the opening sample of Prelude to Depth, followed by a simple but motivating « Welcome back, heretics!”. Samples haunt the violent charge, leading into the short A Chaplain’s Breath, whose recipe is also one of speed and rage, and the same goes for Roland Doe, whose claustrophobic video shot in the catacombs of Paris perfectly conveys the oppression. Blasts and thick riffs take turns to welcome the vivid Powerviolence influences on The Hermit’s Anger, an equally aggressive composition with catchy Old School patterns. Slightly slower parts strengthen the explosive rhythm, as does Lutheran Blade and its jerky approach to a very raw sound, then a short sample gives us a moment to breathe before New Pariah returns to pour out its visceral energy. The track remains punctuated by a few quieter drum-led passages, then it’s with Grind clichés that the band sets the nine seconds of Demons Got Rhythm, closely followed by Ritual Overdose and its driving groove covered with abrasive saturation. The sample at the start of Fear Me, Go Fast once again foreshadows the track’s extreme violence and frenetic pace, which is followed by The Ouija, whose darkness perfectly matches its devastating rage, but also its almost danceable final. My Aim Is Violence takes a heavier but equally fast-paced approach, before moving on to Final High, which kicks into high gear before slowing down to a crushing final. A final sample lets us catch our breath before Negative Life comes crashing down on us, letting its throbbing, unhealthy rhythm greet us as it rolls over us to the end.

Karras continues in a raw, violent vein, letting its influences surge at full speed to turn the twenty minutes or so of We Poison Their Young into a wave of rage interspersed with a few disturbing samples. I approve.


Version Française ?

A few questions for Diego Janson, Karras’ bassist and vocalist.

Hello, and thank you for your time! How would you introduce the band Karras without using the usual musical style labels?
Diego Janson (bass/vocals): Hi Acta Infernalis, Karras is an extreme power trio that likes to play fast and loud.

We Poison Their Young, your second album, will be released in a few weeks’ time. Have you had any feedback on it yet?
Diego: We’re really excited about the release of the new album and the 13 new missiles. We’ve had some very enthusiastic feedback from the media who listened to it and reviewed it. We’ve put a lot of effort into putting it together, and we hope the public will like it!

How would you sum up We Poison Their Young in three words?
Diego: Fast, Groovy, Dirty.

We Poison Their Young comes out three years after your debut album. Did you notice any changes or evolutions in the creative process?
Diego: Unlike None More Heretic, which was written as a duo (Etienne and I), We Poison Their Young was a three-way affair, with the addition of Yann on guitar. We each contributed four tracks, making a total of twelve. We thought thirteen was cooler, so Etienne suggested a new track, Demons Got Rhythm, which is super short and super fast, and brings an extra frenzy to the album.

Karras is the name of the priest in the novel and movie The Exorcist. How did you decide to adopt this name, and how do you relate it to your music?
Diego: Back in the days when there were no age restrictions on films, or maybe parents just didn’t care, we saw the film far too young and it traumatized us!  As we grew up, it fascinated us, and years later we thought it was a good way to pay tribute to it by naming our band after the exorcist priest, Damien Father Karras. The film is a reference point for many Metal fans and bands. Where we added our own personal touch was to start from the end of the film, when the protagonist defenestrates, and reinvent a completely fucked-up story about Father Karras!

The video for Roland Doe was shot in the catacombs of Paris. Why did you choose this particular track? And what was it like to shoot in such a… « strange » place?
Diego: We released the 8-second clip Demons got Rhythm first, to surprise the public hehe, for better or worse. Roland Doe is the central character in the story told on the album, so it was only logical that the second clip just after those 8 seconds should be this one. The director being a cataphile, I had the idea of shooting a clip in the catacombs. She thought it was a cool idea and we went for it.

I know it’s a tough question, but do you have a favorite track on this album? Or the one that seemed the most natural to compose?
Diego: The one that came most naturally to me was Roland Doe. In fact, I think it’s the first composition we worked on for the album. It immediately set the tone for what was to become We Poison Their Young. I don’t have a favorite track; I love the whole album. However, the one I prefer to play live is a track by Yann, Lutheran Blade. It alternates between groove and speed, and I can feel the audience jumping to their feet.

We Poison Their Young comes out on M-Theory Audio, your new label. How is the collaboration going?
Diego: The collaboration is just beginning, as this is our 1st album with them, and so far it’s going well. They listen to us and follow our decisions. They give us their opinion but don’t impose anything on us. They give us financial resources which, to me, are superior to anything I’ve experienced from other, more confidential labels. I think they believe in us and give us the means, which is motivating. Unlike None More Heretic, which only had French distribution, the new album has worldwide distribution, so we can’t help but be delighted.

Your music is a mixture of Death, Crust and Grindcore. What are your influences?
Diego: In alphabetical order, I could mention Amebix, Bolt Thrower, Discharge, Disfear, Entombed, Nails, Napalm Death, Nasum, Slayer of course, and many others up to the letter Z. All these bands feed us, and we use them to make our own sound. It’s all these bands that feed us, and we use them to make our own sound. We don’t pretend to reinvent styles, but we try to do things our own way, perhaps with a slightly different voice and telling a fictional story in our lyrics, for example.

How did you discover Extreme Metal? What are your favorite bands on the scene?
Diego: With this pre-internet passion called Tape Trading! In alphabetical order: Amebix, Bolt Thrower, Discharge, Disfear, Entombed, Nails, Napalm Death, Nasum, Slayer to the letter Z hehe

Do you have any plans for the future of Karras? Especially about live performances.
Diego: We did a mini-tour in October 2021 with Blockheads, a cult French grindcore band, and were due to return in October 2022. The tour was cancelled by the promoter a little too late to be able to find dates again quickly. We were pretty frustrated at the time, but that’s the way it goes. As it takes at least 6 months to set up a tour, we’re going to try and put it back for March/April 2024. However, we’re working on some isolated weekend dates. We’re also playing the Tyrant Fest in Oignies near Lille on October 21, with Bolzer, Enslaved and many others. Come along, it’ll be great!

The band has played very little live (4 times if I believe the website), and I’ve been lucky enough to see you twice: in 2019 opening for Coffins, then in 2021 before Dvne and Deluge. Do you plan to do more live shows in the future? How do you prepare for a Karras concert?
Diego: Yes, Covid took the wind out of our sails as far as live shows are concerned. We’re preparing a Karras concert at the rehearsal space, trying out different song sequences to put together a set. We’re not inventing anything here either, but it’s the rehearsal of the songs at the rehearsal space that makes for a solid live set.

Are there any musicians or artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Diego: We’d love to invite Xav, the singer from Blockheads, to lend his voice to a future track. Personally, it’s not a musician or artist I can think of in particular, but I’d love to put Karras‘ music on a horror, slasher or Z-series soundtrack. I haven’t spoken to Etienne and Yann about it yet, and it’s not for the near future, but I’ve already started work on the project. To be continued…

Do you think you’ve improved as musicians with this album?
Diego: I think it’s playing on each other’s ideas that makes us progress as individuals. I have to focus and rehearse a lot more to play Yann’s riffs, for example, because they’re much harder to sing on bass than mine or Etienne‘s. I started lead singing around 2019 and this is the first time I’ve been heard singing on an album with None More Heretic. I feel I’ve already made progress on We Poison and I still have a lot of room for improvement.

Which bands would you like to play with? I’ll leave it to you to imagine a date for the release of We Poison Their Young with Karras opening, and three other bands.
Diego: With Slayer, but that’s too late haha. I’d also see Bolt Thrower, Nasum, Damnation AD and Karras on the bill. But given these bands’ current status, it’s just a dream hehe.

What dish would you compare Karras‘ music to?
Diego: Pizza with pebbles and caviar.

That was my last question. Thank you for your time, and last words are yours!
Diego: Thank you, Acta Infernalis readers, and enjoy your pizzas 😉

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