Divine Sentence is a vegan metalcore band from Zurich, Switzerland. Their demo from last year made instant fans of the labels Bitter Melody Records, Dropping Bombs, and Bound By Modern Age who have teamed up to release it on vinyl. Not too bad of an endorsement, huh?!
Since Divine Sentence is a newer outfit, No Echo wanted to share an interview with the band to introduce you to their music, why they decided on living a vegan lifestyle, and the music scene in their native Switzerland.
Talk about the formation of Divine Sentence. Did you know each other from previous bands, seeing each other at shows, or some other connection?
The idea for the band came about between Franz and Basil after a practice for one of their numerous other bands. They were talking about how great xRepentancex is and then decided they needed to start a vegan-themed metalcore band. Both had known Sofia and Noah at the time, as they had been active in the scene for a couple years and going to the same shows. Everyone was really excited for this project when asked about it, and it was a very natural fit.
Your animal rights message is front and center lyrically...how did you grow to be so passionate about those issues, and why do you think it's so important for others to become more conscious of how their actions and habits impact animals and the planet?
Noah: Growing up in a very rural region, I always was surrounded by farms and animals that are considered livestock. Even as a small child, I felt that killing animals for food is cruel, but I continued eating meat, as pretty much everybody in my bubble. I managed to disconnect from what happened on the farms in my villages and turn a blind eye for a very long time.
In my mid to late teens, I slowly started to make connections and went vegetarian. When COVID hit, I’ve had plenty of time and started to do more and deeper research about this topic. Soon after that, I went vegan. Veganism to me is part of the puzzle towards a society which is led by moral values instead of greed and egoism, which is not possible without animal liberation. Eating meat is a privilege of our rich, western civilization, which animals, poor farmers overseas and our planet are paying the price for.
Franz: Personally, I grew up on a dairy farm, so I have plenty of firsthand knowledge of the treatment of farm animals even on farms that have all sorts of labels and standards they're supposed to follow. Growing up in this environment, the enslavement of animals for food was extremely normalized and not just deemed necessary, but a source of pride and joy for farmers. It can be hard to overcome this way of thinking when it has been instilled in you since birth, but the main thing that helped me was getting into punk and hardcore.
I remember having an argument with a vegan on a punk message board when I was like 15, where I tried to convince him that eating meat was justified in some cases, but as the discussion went on, I realized that none of my points really held any water. That was the first time I seriously reflected upon the morality of consuming animal products, and over time I became friends with many vegans and animal rights activists in and outside the punk/hardcore scene, which led to me going vegan myself eventually.
Basil: Me adopting veganism didn't really have anything to do with the punk or hardcore scene specifically (but I mean, in a broader sense, we're always influenced by a lot of factors we don't perceive as that important at the time) but more with people around me back then who were vegan (and I guess, at least some of them identified as 'punk' at that time).
At first, it started as an ecological kind of strategy in order to live a less impactful life regarding human issues but with time it transformed into animal rights as the reason for living and continuing living this way. I believe veganism and animal rights is really one of the only areas of social justice and all that, were it is up to each one of us as individuals to make a difference, it's not some far away goal that's only reachable if the whole of society changes like it is with a lot of other stuff.
Sofia: I grew up with a Russian mother, so being vegan was never an option for me. Only after moving out and getting to know more people from the HC scene, it made me think about veganism. I believe that animals have the right to live free from unnecessary harm and suffering. We should work to reduce animal exploitation and cruelty.
Also, our planet's natural resources are finite, and many of our current consumption and production practices are not sustainable in the long term. We can work to reduce our carbon footprint and protect our environment for future generations. In the end, everything extends beyond just us and the planet; it also affects other people and communities.
If justice should be served, then in every form for everyone, right?
You also have a song that touches on the refugee crisis and our collective responsibility to care for others. Here in the States there is obviously a huge xenophobic-driven backlash against immigrants from south of the border, and there are of course international connections between people like Trump and his advisor Steve Bannon to people like Viktor Orban in Hungary and Marine Le Pen in France. That said, I guess I associate the refugee crisis in Europe to the countries that are further south.
How is this issue playing out in Switzerland and what inspired you to address that issue in your lyrics?
I don't know if "crisis" is the right word for it, because that makes it sound like some big natural event that just came about suddenly and now we need to face this urgent thing while the same thing has been happening for a long time (in variations).
The main problem lies with the rich (mostly northern and western) European nations not wanting to deal with any sort of fallout for their economic imperialism. this means, a) the total unwillingness of taking in people looking for a place to live (which is a basic human right) except if they bring in a lot of money etc. and b) delegating the role of 'border' to mostly southern European countries by the Schengen-Accord and connecting economic help to pushing back migration.
Now, of course, there has been an incredible response to the war in the Ukraine; there's been solidarity and we've seen that it is (actually) possible to help a lot of people in a (rather) unbureaucratic way, which is a great thing. The question remains though: Why is this only possible in this specific case and why for example migrants from war torn Syria or just generally any African migrants don't get the same help.
As far, as I’m concerned, nationalist forces in Switzerland pretty much started that modern form of right-wing populism in the seventies. So, we have parties, who use every chance they get to spread fear and mistrust against refugees. (Most of the time, they target the lower class with their polemic, which is ironic because this party I’m addressing is also very classist and neoliberal.)
When Putin attacked Ukraine, there was a short wave of solidarity for Ukrainian refugees because they were seen as "real refugees" (not so-called economic refugees), but this wave did not sustain for a long time.
Sofia wrote the lyrics to address this issue, specifically because of her Russian/East-European background.
Speaking of Switzerland, how is the scene there at the moment? What bands should people be checking out?
The funny thing is most of our bands have the same 10 members. But the problem is that not a lot of people are booking shows these days. I feel like there is a small yet very dedicated group of people, who are keeping the scene alive. I also have the feeling there are not a lot of new faces at shows, which is sad.
The scene in Switzerland is in kind of a weird place. There are probably more bands around than ever before, which is cool, but it feels like ever since the pandemic hit, shows haven't been as well attended or as fun as they were before. There aren’t a lot of new faces at shows, which is sad.
With that said, the bands we have are fucking good. Check out Deconvolution's LP if you like thrash and crossover in the vein of Power Trip or Prowl. Shoutout to Path of Resurgence, Fever Dreams (their 2020 Demo is nuts), Ruined, Affliction AD, Cage, Excoriated, Glaascats, Gøldi, Mr. Linus, Gut Wound, Lifecrusher, Forlorn Sky, and Cancel.
You all recently did a little jaunt down to Germany and played with Life Force, among others. What were the highlights from the run, both in terms of the shows themselves and just being out on the road?
Being on the road with people I’m honoured to call my friends is always quality time. In this run specifically, we've just had a super good time with Life Force, they are just super nice!
Life Force (OG members or not) is just a wonderful group of people, and it was a joy playing those shows with them. Especially because we spontaneously decided to play a cover of the legendary Monkeyfellow at our show in Mannheim, sharing instruments and vocal duties between our bands. Zurich Straight Edge Go!
If we ever cross paths with them again, we just know we're going to have a blast!
Aside from the demo dropping as a 7-inch, what's next for Divine Sentence in terms of new music, tours, etc.?
Oh yes, we have plans! We have a couple of shows/weekenders planned. And very soon we will be hitting the studio to record our follow up release, which involves a lil' surprise!
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