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Harder than rock, louder than words

A local metal band is breaking down barriers between Christian music listeners and harder-than-rock melodies.

On January 21, Rottweiler Records, based in the US, announced the heavy metal four-piece Forfeit Thee Untrue (FTU) as its latest signee.

After releasing several tracks since 2012, the metal band will bring out its album ‘Cremationem Jesus Lacrimam’ (Latin for: the cremation of Jesus’ tears) on April 1.

According to former Westdene resident Craig Palmer (co-founder), the band’s name symbolises “getting rid of all the fake aspects in one’s life, whilst striving for something real and true”.

Sean Towsen, who stepped down from FTU in 2013, and Palmer started the band in 2006.

Northmead resident Mitch Pearson joined the band as guitarist in 2012.

“Pearson just fits with FTU in terms of our similar musical influences and preferences, as well as his personality and heart,” Palmer said.

Pearson (guitar and vocals) also plays in the church band at House of the Lord, while founders Palmer and Towsen are two-thirds of the praise and worship band at Benoni Central Methodist Church.

Palmer (drums and percussion) lived in Westdene for 15 years, where FTU still practises.

He said the basis of the band moved from Christian guys playing rock at the start to a metal band playing Christian music.

In 2008, Towsen met Gideon Karsten (lead vocals and guitar), who was the vocalist, rhythm guitarist and songwriter of a Christian hard rock band at the time.

Soon after Karsten came into the picture, the basic structure (lyrics, drums and rhythm guitar) of FTU’s first fully written song, ‘Seven’ was completed.

In early 2012, FTU recorded the track at Redroom Recording Studio and Karsten joined as a permanent member soon after.

On the genre of FTU, Palmer said, “Until now Christian music has been mostly praise and worship or gospel, while metal has always been separate.

“Now we’re combining those two narratives: it’s sort of wrecking the stereotypes which say metal is evil or Christians have to listen only to soft music.

“We recently discussed doing a praise and worship album or acoustic songs, for some variation.”

Palmer said the music and ministry is a passion for all the members, but it won’t likely become a career, partly because they are all family men with other careers.

“And I don’t want it to become this thing, where we do another album or more songs just because we have to, for money,” Palmer said.

Although Rottweiler Records is based in the US, Palmer said the band wouldn’t be going over any time soon.

“I feel there aren’t many Christian metal bands here (South Africa) and this country needs it,” Palmer explained.

“We’ve had no national tours yet, but it’s on the cards now, with the album coming out.”

After Towsen left, in 2013, the band brought Eckard van Tonder in as a bassist.

“He had no trouble adapting to our style. We were amazed at how quickly he picked it up.

“When Towsen left, it was sad for us, but life happens and we’re still all brothers.”

FTU listed its influences as: Demon Hunter, Love and Death, Red, Killswitch Engage, Korn, Oh Sleeper, For Today, Fit For a King, War of Ages, Sleeping Giant and Skillet.

They said God has been behind them with everything.

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