BW&BK Interview: REDEMPTION – Stronger Than Death

By Carl Begai

Redemption’s latest album, This Mortal Coil, can be considered business-as-usual in that it continues the band’s cycle of cranking out new music every two years. And while that may sound like a warning bell heralding a lack of inspiration on the band’s part, this is in fact a very good thing given that guitarist founder Nick van Dyk wrote the album while courting a death sentence. It was as ominous as it sounds; diagnosed with cancer, van Dyk was told in no uncertain terms that his years were numbered. Rather than accept his fate he sought out treatment, simultaneously composing music that paid homage to and built on Redemption’s brand of no-nonsense aggressive prog metal. This Mortal Coil was the end result, loaded with more riffs per square inch compared to Redemption’s previous records and bleeding melody by the bucket. Even when you’re only three songs in, there’s no doubt that van Dyk’s ultimate test pushed his inspiration to new heights.

“Absolutely,” van Dyk admits. “Not sonically so much as lyrically. Not to make the whole interview about this, but I was diagnosed with blood cancer three years ago and told that I had three to five years to live. I was fortunate that I was diagnosed by accident and had the opportunity to research the one guy in the world who thinks he can cure it. I went through a pretty intense therapy for it, but as of now the odds are very much in my favour that I’m cured. I’m on some pretty horrible medicine for the next 18 months or so, but it’s all manageable.”

“It’s not that I wanted to write songs or an album about having cancer,” he adds, “but there’s a thought process that one goes through when you’re confronted by your own mortality. It raises all kinds of questions: What the hell have I done to put myself in this position? Life is fleeting, what regrets do I have? Am I choosing a path to get better that’s going to work? How do I take stock of my life in the time I have left? I’d never put myself on the level of Rush or Neil Peart, but when he went through those losses in his life everyone knew the lyrics on the next Rush record were going to be deeply emotional and personal.”

“It’s difficult to go through this without being moved by it, but I didn’t want to make a concept album about me. In the past I’ve talked a lot about relationships, which is something everybody has to deal with in their lives. This time it was about confronting one’s mortality, which is something we as human beings have to do. It was like, ‘Here are some thoughts on that, your mileage may vary.’”

Go to this location for the complete interview.