Happy 31st, Seventh Son!

Very happy 31st birthday to my favorite ever Iron Maiden album, the incredible “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”!

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There’s got to be just more to it than this
Or tell me why do we exist?
I’d like to think that when I die
I’d get a chance, another time
And to return and live again
Reincarnate, play the game
Again and again and again

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ONE TAIL, ONE HEAD. A fitting farewell of dynamics, anger, fear and melancholy

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One Tail, One Head – Worlds Open, Worlds Collide (2018)

Review by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 4th of December 2018

TRACKLIST

  1. Certainly Not
  2. Arrival, Yet Again
  3. Worlds Open, Worlds Collide
  4. Stellar Storms
  5. An Utter Lack of Meaning, Hitherto Unbeknownst, Suddenly Revealed
  6. Firebirds
  7. Sordid Sanctitude
  8. Rise in Red
  9. Passage
  10. Summon Surreal Surrender

RELEASE DETAILS

Genre: Black Metal
Label: Terratur Possessions
Country: Norway
Date: October 5th, 2018

LINEUP

ⷚ – Drums
Åsli – Guitars
Luctus – Vocals
Andras Marquis T. – Bass


“Worlds Open, Worlds Collide” is – as the title suggests – the first and final album of the Norwegian black metal maniacs. It’s a nasty mix of all the cruelty that can be called One Tail, One Head, including ten years old as well as newer pieces full of dynamics, anger, fear, depression, in-your-face attitude and melancholy.

Considering the ugly, raw production and some harsh riffs, it can be stated the Norwegians are clearly influenced by cult bands from the past such as Bathory, Sarcófago or Hellhammer. The bass particularly sticks out of the mix, sounding deep and ruthless – the bassist does a very good job on interpreting the riffs in an impressive way. The drums are clear and just as pleasant-sounding as it can get on a black metal album. The shimmering guitars and drawn riffs along with the emphasized bass sounds make up most of the mesmerizing atmosphere that is present throughout the whole record. At this point it is to mention that the vocals being in front of the mix take away from the potentially hypnotic musical parts at times. Nevertheless, the versatile vocalist masters the technique of adapting his voice to the different moods of the different songs.

Besides the versatility of the vocalist, a huge plus of the album are the shifts from bestial, crude black metal tones to deeper atmospheric ones, an example being the middle part of the title track featuring strange noises and musical sounds. The occult and experimental last song, the 10-minute-long ‘Summon Surreal Surrender’, which majestically rounds the album up, is to be pointed out as well.

“Worlds Open, Worlds Collide” is brutal, atmospheric and most certainly a fitting farewell for an underground band whose main objective was to keep the old way of playing black metal going.

Songwriting: 8.5
Originality: 7
Production: 8
Catchiness: 7
Artwork: 9
Lyrics: 8.5
Overall: 8/10


Order “Worlds Open, Worlds Collide” here.

“We’re not gonna fall by the wayside when heavy metal becomes untrendy” – Steve Ramsey (Satan)

Interview with Steve Ramsey from Satan

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 1st of October 2018

Hi Steve! Thanks a lot for taking the time and doing the interview with Metalegion! First I’d like to ask, if you could go back in time, would you change anything career-wise?

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Satan in 1983

We probably wouldn’t have parted ways with Brian (Ross, vocalist ed.). It’s just one of those things. We were very young when we made the first album and we listened to the press that we were getting at the time. The two main places we were playing, it was in the Netherlands and in England. And both of the main magazines gave us a bad review. One of them the Kerrang! magazine in England. In the one in Holland where we’ve been doing so well gig-wise, the review was very mediocre and it made us think we were doing something wrong. I wish we’d stuck to our guns.

So did this point made you do things in a different way later?

You know, you’re influenced when you’re young, you’re influenced by what you can see. Foolishly we took that information as we needed a change in what we were doing. Really, we should have just stuck to what we were doing.

About your name: I figure you’re not satanists but find the subject of evil and injustice in our world interesting and like to write about that. To what extent do bands like you with more provocative names have to deal with more criticism than the average metal band?

We for sure got a lot of criticism. When we thought of that name  I think I thought of the name and the logo when I was 15 at school I didn’t have a good time back then and at 15 I thought it was a really cool name for a metal band. Brian still believes that it’s the best name for any metal band ever. But of course black metal and death metal and all that became genres of the music and we were instantly classed in those genres even though we were nothing like that. That’s one of the reasons why we changed things in the early days. Now it doesn’t seem to matter because there are a lot of bands doing a lot worse than us (laughs).

Do you have any outstanding, funny or weird stories about people associating something with you that you don’t represent?

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Steve Ramsey in 1983

We did this support tour with Running Wild in Germany, in 1985. One of the shows was in a country-sort of village-town and a lot of Christians turned up at the church and stopped their kids going to see Satan (laughs). I remember standing outside the show trying to explain them that we have nothing to do with devil culture or anything like that, that was just strange. After that we changed our name to Blind Fury and we’ve had that through the 80s. It was a bit of a trouble being called Satan.

I can imagine!
It’s funny because as you probably know many comeback albums of old heavy metal bands don’t manage to bring the stuff to people that they’d expected. It’s different with you, in my personal opinion your new album “Cruel Magic” is once again amazing! How is the feedback so far?

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Satan – Cruel Magic (2018)

“Cruel Magic” was charted in Germany a couple of weeks ago when it was released. If we were in the 80s and it would have been charted Nr 28 in the charts, we would have been quite well off. Now we’re saying “yeah right, whatever, we’re in the charts” (laughs). But we think it’s a fantastic album and people like it too so we’re happy.

Is the reason for your music still kicking that you stayed not far away from the metal scene even in times when it seemed to be dead?

I’ve got no idea (laughs). We actually saw the pitfalls of doing this and we had no intention of ever doing another album. But we decided to do a couple of shows and the reaction especially when we saw that there was a lot of young people at the shows , we thought “wow, this is a scene that we’re not gonna get back again”. And just rehearsing for some of the shows or festivals it was obvious that one of us is gonna come up with a riff on a rehearsal. We just started writing songs and didn’t think much of it, then we’ve listened to what we’ve done, we made a demo and said to ourselves “if we don’t think it’s great, then we’re not gonna pursue it”. But it was working out great. So we did the first demo and then sent it around all the labels and no one was interested apart from High Roller Records and Listenable. Those were the only two that got back to us. So obviously we met up with Listenable at the show we did in Belgium and it was great. With Listenable, we had a great time over there. They believed in us but obviously none of the bigger labels at the time believed that it would be success to do another album. Like you said, lot of bands get back together and try to do that and it just doesn’t work. But I think we knew in rehearsal that we still had the same chemistry with each other that we had back in the 80s; just playing together we knew we had that. And I think all those years apart, we had a lot of ideas that we may have put in if if we had stayed together, and they were all still there. So it seems easy to us to do it.

Looking at you it does seem easy to do it!
“Cruel Magic” is more noticeably melodic than the albums before it. Did you want to achieve something different this time than with your other albums from the newer era?

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Satan – Life Sentence (2013)

We were sort of looking back at the older albums, thinking what was good about that one and what we like about that album… And we were thinking about that when we made the next one. We thought, on “Life Sentence”, that album was written really as a follow-up to “Court in the Act”, so we wrote the songs like we would be 20 year old. We didn’t use all of the musical skills and talent that we have now. We tried to imagine being young again and that there would be things that we wouldn’t know about certain scales and melodies and harmony, we didn’t use any of that on “Life Sentence”. And then when we’ve done that and it was successful, then we decided to move on and put a bit more of our technical ability in on “Atom by Atom”. I think these two albums are different because “Life Sentence” is a little more catchy, the songs are more accessible straight away. “Atom by Atom” takes it a bit more forth when you’re listening to what we’re doing, it’s a bit more complex. And on “Cruel Magic” we tried to keep the catchy melodies and stuff and still made the music kind of complicated. I think that’s what we’ve done this time, we took the best qualities of the best two albums and put them together. That’s what we’ve tried to do anyway (laughs).

Could you tell me about your most beloved song on the album? I’d love to hear your vision of the song, of the lyrics, some instrumental passages or a story in connection with its creation.

We all have different favorites. The main favorite in the band in general is ‘Ophidian’. It’s so different to the rest of the material, it’s a slow song. We don’t tend to play much slow, and it’s the slowest song on the album. And it’s got a very strange feel about it and the riff is great. The lyrics are about snakes and genesis in the Old Testament from the Bible, the story of Adam and Eve. ‘Ophidian’ is about rising up. They want revenge for humans and for being sentenced by God as punishment for Adam and Eve, there weren’t snakes before that happened. It’s them getting revenge on humankind. It’s a crazy story. That’s the main favorite but my personal one is ‘Cruel Magic’, the title track. I think again it’s a bit different from what we normally produce and it’s a bit more rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a very 70s feeling main riff that Russ (Tippins, guitarist – ed.) came up with and a great catchy chorus. It’s a departure from a lot of the lyrics we write, it’s actually about revenge too. Using black magic as a tool of revenge against someone and telling you to be aware of doing that because you might not see the outcome in the end. And once you’ve started it, you can’t stop it.

Does any of you guys have a connection to mysticism, sort of black magic books or anything in connection with it?

No, it’s just a general thing. Obviously we read books about all sorts of different subjects, that was just one that we hadn’t done any song about yet. Like Voodoo, people using Voodoo as a method of exacting revenge which is an injustice-kind of thing. When there was injustice done to them, this is a path to take to write that. That was a different way of writing what we read about.

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Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) – Thinner (1984)

Do you have a personal favorite book?

My favorite books when I was younger were horror stories. Lots of Stephen King. The first one I read was “Thinner”, I love that book. I think they may have a movie about it but I haven’t seen it. The book was one of my favorite ones ever.

You are going on tour in the USA soon. Is there any place where you’ve still never been and you would love to go there? Maybe even in the whole world.

We’ve covered most of the USA but we haven’t been to Florida yet. We’re sadly not doing that this time either. It’s like the leg at the end of the bottom of the country it’s difficult to get down there and get back. So we’re missing it out because of the travelling. But eventually I’d love to do that. We’ve been planning to play in Mexico a few times but haven’t been there yet, so maybe next year finally. I’d love to go back to Japan, we’ve only been once. Maybe Australia and New Zealand. We keep doing a lot of press in Australia and New Zealand (radio stations, magazines) but we never get to go there.

How are your views on the future of Satan, how long can we still expect stuff from you coming?

We’re gonna keep going as long as we can. As long as we’re enjoying it. If any of the other bands think it’s sort of a bubble that’s gonna burst like with other old NWOBHM bands and no one’s gonna listen to heavy metal again; I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Not for us anyway. I think for a band like us all that’s doing is help us come back and we’re gonna stay. We’re not gonna fall by the wayside when it becomes untrendy. I think by then we have secured ourselves a good fanbase again so I don’t really think about the future being bleak, I think it looks very good.

That sounds pretty good Steve!
Could you tell me a bit about your 3 most favorite albums?

BS-BS

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970)

First off would be Black Sabbath’s first album, “Black Sabbath”. I just love the darkness about the songs, just look at the cover on the B side of the album. It’s so good. For me, I can really hear that the guys are really being into what they are doing. The performance, the songwriting, everything. I think it was very very before its time. We’ve always tried to be a little bit like that, be different from all the other bands. I think when Black Sabbath wrote that album, there was nothing like that around.

In the late 70s we got into a lot of live albums because some of the bands that we became fans of had been around for a long time. We couldn’t afford to go back and buy the whole back catalogues. It’s great for the kids nowadays because they can just download everything for free. But we would have to go and buy the records. So live albums were a great way of getting a best-of of bands. And there were some great live albums like our favorite one, “Unleashed in the East” by Judas Priest. I remember us buying that and sitting down and learning every note of every song. We could play the whole album.

And stuff like Thin Lizzy, UFO and one of our big favorite, “Tokyo Tapes” from Scorpions. They were one of the first bands we went to see when we were kids. Scorpions kinda got me into heavy metal, I listened to a lot of pop music before I heard them. They just released “Lovedrive” and they were playing some tracks off that in a record shop and I just had to know who it was. I bought the record and I remember how that was kicking me off with heavy metal.

You said you’d be able to play the whole “Unleashed in the East”. Is there any chance you are going to?

We’ve kind of almost done that in the past. But we wouldn’t do that now. We’re still being asked all the time to play songs from “Suspended Sentence” and we haven’t even done that yet, so our own songs come first before doing the Judas Priest ones (laughs).

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Steve Ramsey at Blastfest 2015 [Photo: Jarle H. Moe]

Sure, makes sense (laughs)! What’s a subject that you aren’t often asked about but you would like to talk more about it?

We aren’t really asked about the lyrics even though the lyrics are quite important to us. That’s the main thing that I think is disappointing when I do an interview myself. Our lyrics aren’t rock ‘n’ roll lyrics, they’re not about burning churches down, all this shit you know. We spend a lot of time and lot of research on some of the songs that we do, because they are interesting subjects that we think people might be interested in.

I also think lyrics are underrated in the metal scene. Thanks for the advice, gonna put more effort and lyrical research into my future questions too! So Steve, thank you very much for your time and have a good night!

Thank you very much! Good night Estelle!

ABYSSOUS. Poisonous sound and a menacing atmosphere

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Abyssous – Mesa (2018)

Review by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 6th of December 2018

TRACKLIST

  1. Aisernal
  2. Mesa
  3. Perlurkural
  4. Impelled
  5. Fissurge
  6. Ocaeon
  7. Diphour
  8. Aerosoils
  9. Vesspense
  10. Congealed Lores

RELEASE DETAILS

Genre: Death Metal
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Country: Germany
Date: November 1st, 2018

LINEUP

Deathtrader – Bass, Vocals
Assassor – Drums
Jonty Lava – Guitars


The German death metallers of Chemnitz are back with a mini-album six years after releasing their original debut “…Smouldering”. “Mesa” is a piece full of heaviness, obscureness, dark tension and gloom. Besides paying homage to bands like Morbid Angel and Asphyx, Abyssous’ twisted way of playing reminds one of artists of Finnish old school death/doom metal.

Poisonous, louring, swirling riffs; brutal, in-your-face drumming; solid, horroristic screams and growls and a menacing atmosphere: everything one would need when listening to old school death/doom. The raw production and rotten sound contribute to identifying Abyssous with former masters of the genre, not to speak of the eye-catching black and white artwork hinting at the depths the band is going to take one into.

Whilst the first half of the recording features faster, more cruel and aggressive pure death metal tracks, Abyssous take a slower, more menacing and atmospheric doom approach starting from the song ‘Aerosoils’. The track is one of the highlights of the record with its louring main riff and misty setting; giving the twisted melodies a chance to expand themselves gradually and so make this piece more catchy than the preceding faster tunes.

Even though the individual tracks are decently well-worked-out and harmonized, the amount of intros/interludes (five altogether) seems to ruin the cohesion. The atmosphere built up with a song gets lost in the following interlude which must have been meant to set the mood for the next one, but which instead feels unnatural – thus the listening experience gets interrupted permanently. If one is able to disregard 3-4 of the short interludes and concentrates on the musical experience carried by the actual songs instead, one finds him/herself in the depths of an ancient world full of cruelty, horror and doom. Just close those eyes and let the journey begin…

Songwriting: 8.5
Originality: 7
Production: 8.5
Catchiness: 7.5
Artwork: 8
Overall: 8/10


Order “Mesa” here.

RIOT V. Lust for freedom and inner strength

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Riot V – Armor of Light (2018)

Review by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 27th of November 2018

TRACKLIST

  1. Victory
  2. End of the World
  3. Messiah
  4. Angel’s Thunder, Devil’s Reign
  5. Burn the Daylight
  6. Heart of a Lion
  7. Armor of Light
  8. Set the World Alight
  9. San Antonio
  10. Caught in the Witches Eye
  11. Ready to Shine
  12. Raining Fire

RELEASE DETAILS
Genre: Heavy/Power/Speed Metal

Label: Nuclear Blast
Country: USA
Date: April 27th, 2018

LINEUP
Todd Michael Hall – Vocals
Mike Flyntz – Guitars
Nick Lee – Guitars

Don Van Stavern – Bass
Frank Gilchriest – Drums


armoroflightMost of the older bands who continue releasing material nowadays fall into one of two pitfalls: trying to stick too much to their old school identities, mostly being unable to recapture the magic; or trying too much to embrace the modern way of producing music, and in that way, failing again to recapture the magic. Riot V balances surprisingly well between the two extremes. “Armor of Light” is a punchy, energetic and authentic power metal release with a fairly traditional production and an adequate amount of inspiration from the past decades of heavy metal.

The outstanding interplay of the fresh riffage and tingling guitar melodies, intense high-pitched vocals and tight double-kick drumming makes one’s pulse pound and leaves one craving for more once a track comes to its end. Todd Michael Hall nails to put all his passion into the band’s fist-pounding sing-along anthems, not failing to impress with his on-point tone and pitch. The guitars offer an exceptional mix of old school-styled yet refreshing riffs and sweeping solos, at times with obvious parallels to Iron Maiden’s ‘The Trooper’, Rainbow’s ‘Kill the King’ or even one of Riot’s former title tracks, ‘Thundersteel’. The influences smoothly flow and blend into Riot V’s dynamic approach, adding to the band’s versatility. Speaking of which; the group mixes darker, more mid-paced or even melancholic themes like ‘Set the World Alight’ well together with uplifting power ballads such as the title track as well as speed metal-infused tunes like ‘San Antonio’.

The lyrics add to the moods of the certain songs, mostly evolving around a concept so typical of power metal’s optimism: lust for freedom and inner strength. The artwork features Riot’s peculiar seal-mascot which is worth 7 points in itself.

To sum up, with all its power, enthusiasm and versatility, “Armor of Light” proves to be an enjoyable listen both for lovers of 70s-era Riot and for newcomers who are just getting into the bigger bands of heavy/power metal. Nailed it? Nailed it!

Songwriting: 8.5
Originality: 7
Production: 9
Catchiness: 8.5
Artwork: 7
Lyrics: 7
Overall: 8/10


Order “Armor of Light” here.

VOIVOD. Keeping balance intelligently

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Voivod – The Wake (2018)

Review by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 30th of November 2018

TRACKLIST

  1. Obsolete Beings
  2. The End of Dormancy
  3. Orb Confusion
  4. Iconspiracy
  5. Spherical Perspective
  6. Event Horizon
  7. Always Moving
  8. Sonic Mycelium

RELEASE DETAILS
Genre: Thrash/Progressive Metal

Label: Century Media Records
Country: Canada
Date: September 21st, 2018

LINEUP
Away – Drums

Snake – Vocals
Chewy – Guitars
Rocky – Bass


The Canadian space-thrashers have shown for the 100th time how excitingly open-minded they are while creating something truly magical here. The Wake is a progressive, experimental and complex record while being extremely coherent. It’s more dimensions in one: a mixture of sci-fi thrash, jazz and punk; of emotionality and distance; of psychedelic elements and heaviness.

Partly thanks to the exceptional chemistry in the band which is even noticeable in their music, everything fits together and composes something bigger. From the guitar work of the musically educated and technical Chewy with all his twisted melodies and spacey riffs; through the solid, clockwork-like rhythms of experienced drummer Away and the strange, robotic, monotonous tones of vocalist Snake; to the thick and groovy bass lines of Rocky (taking over for Blacky and doing an outstanding job). The lyrics contribute to the coherence of the album as they complement one another throughout the songs, portraying a greater force making humanity realise there is more around them than what they knew of. The album’s 12-minute closer track, ‘Sonic Mycelium’ stands as a hypnotising recap of the entire record, revisiting riffs and lyrics from all of the preceding songs.

The disturbing cover artwork features drummer Away’s signature Voivod-style, again complementing every tune of the music and every line of the lyrics heard on the record. The vibrant production mostly underlines Chewy’s guitars and Snake’s vocals, making the less thrashy drums and the less highlighted bass synthesize more with this mix of adventurous elements from all different periods and new soundscapes of Voivod.

It’s respectable how the Quebec prog masters can push themselves to the fore constantly while blending former features of theirs into everything they do. Keeping balance intelligently, renewing themselves without completely alienating their sound – An example both for experienced and to-be musicians to follow.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Production: 9
Catchiness: 8
Artwork: 9
Lyrics: 9
Overall: 9/10


Order “The Wake” here.

“I’m a chill and happy fellow, but I will always have the anxiety of the destruction of this planet” – Away (Voivod)

Interview with drummer Away from Voivod

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle & her friend Kristof on the 15th of September 2018

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Away and Estelle – Voivod concert, 15.09.2018, Budapest

Estelle: Hi Away, thank you very much for taking the time and doing the interview for Metalegion! You surely experienced it yourself that the metal scene has changed a lot since you started with Voivod. What has been the biggest change in your opinion?

The physical products, that we are selling a little less. There is a compensation with all the downloads but then it’s counterbalanced by the streaming scenario that’s happening right now. So that things are changing so fast, that’s the main difference. All through the 80s and 90s it was pretty much the same except for maybe a very small period when grunge was so popular, where the metal had a downfall in North America. But in Europe it was always healthy so we just kept doing the festivals and all that. I think the main change is just selling a little less of CDs in general, although we are selling tons of them at the merch.

E: Would you actually like to go back to the 80s considering the atmosphere?

Not really because the crowd hasn’t changed that much. I mean Voivod has sort of a steady crowd – not a huge crowd but at least Voivod’s fans are really supportive and loyal. So I wouldn’t really go back to the 80s and 90s and so on. It’s also that the chemistry in the band right now is so amazing that there’s no way I would go back to older lineups.

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Voivod (from left to right: Rocky, Chewy, Away, Snake)

Kristof: About the lineup, is it true that Daniel (Chewy) is the most _musician_ musician in the band ever? The most educated one out of all?

Yeah, because he studied music in high school and in college. Chewy is also teaching music in college so he’s very educated, that’s why he’s able to do the tab books. So we have Voivod tab books among the merch. And Rocky is very educated as well. The interaction between the two is sort of fusion metal. You have to be more aware of what’s going on and very cautious.

K: You’re more cautious?

Yes. Because it makes me play more in a progressive rock way, makes me a bit less punk-thrash and more prog rock, psychedelic. So I’m more focused.

K: And does this take away any harsh and coming-from-the-heart energy?

In my opinion no. Especially live not. But it’s possible that with the advanced technology in the studio we can put more layers of music and the sound is bigger and better. It probably doesn’t have the punk energy of “Rrröööaaarrr” or “War and Pain” which costed couple of thousands of dollars to record. So maybe now we have a style that’s more psychedelic but the roots are still thrash metal. So we try to keep the double kick happening and the thrash metal happening, try to keep the energy going, but of course it’s not raw like in ‘84-’85.

K: There’s certainly more thrash metal than in “Angel Rat”, right? I love it though.

Yes, “Angel Rat” was a controversial album. It’s a lot different so it’s strange but now it has become some people’s favorite album. We are really proud of “Angel Rat”, that’s where we were at this time. I wouldn’t remix it or anything like that, it’s like “Rrröööaaarrr”. “Rrröööaaarrr” I wouldn’t touch. It sounds like the band is going down the stairway, but it was meant to be that.

K: One more question about Rocky. Was Rocky Chewy’s recruitment?

Yes. Rocky is Chewy’s childhood friend and Snake is my childhood friend so it’s a very good team right now. When we parted ways with Blacky, Chewy said that he knows somebody and we were like “sure, he can do it”. We did an audition and it was perfect.

voivodthewake

Voivod – The Wake (2018)

E: Of course I’m gonna ask you about your new album right now, you know? (laughs) “Target Earth” was released in 2013, it’s kind of a long pause in between that and “The Wake”. What was the longest or hardest part of recording the new album?

It’s just that since Rocky has been in the band, we toured a lot. And so we were able to release 7 inch and split singles with Napalm Death, At the Gates and Entombed A.D. and finally we compounded everything into the Post Society EP. But when we decided to write “The Wake”, Snake immediately said he’d like to write a long story and then Chewy decided to do something like Dimension Hatröss where certain musical parts would come back but rearranged. And then we decided to put tons of layers of music and then we decided to put intros, outros, interludes… Since we were touring a lot, we had to write in the bus or backstage with a computer and we demod the album on the road. Finally it turned out to be quite a puzzle, it took one or two years. We started recording after the last Europe tour last fall. We recorded over the winter and ended the recordings in the spring. It was a lot of work. But the album is super and we are really proud of the extra work that we put into it. Chewy was responsible for a lot of that, it’s like his masterpiece. We are really happy that we have Chewy in the team.

E: In which way is it actually a concept album? How did you build it up thematically?

Snake wrote the lyrics as we were writing the album, so we did everything together. With The Wake everybody was involved – this is also part of the fact that it took a long while. The lyrics had to fit the music and then I also tried to represent it visually that the lyrics and the music are connected. So as we were mixing, I was asking Snake about the lyrics, doing sketches… We wanted everything to be very coherent. That was the main goal.

E: What about the music video of the song ‘Iconspiracy’ being released just yesterday (14.09.2018)? Was it you who worked on that as you do with Voivod’s artworks?

No, it was Carsten (Drescher – ed.) from Romania, he did a lot of work for Napalm Death and At the Gates and Century Media. He also made a poster for us for the Roadburn festival in 2012 and he’s a super talented artist. We were fully confident when we asked him to make the video, we just gave him some art I did for the new album and the lyrics, and he worked on his own and did amazing amount of work, we are blown away. In one day the video had more than 20.000 views so for Voivod it’s amazing. 

E: Is there any song on The Wake which is personally really important for you?

I think the new song that we just released, ‘Iconspiracy’, I think it’s my favorite. Not because of the lyrics, because Chewy had the brilliant idea of writing a piece for string quartet and when I hear it, it reminds me of The Beatles which was my favorite band since I was a kid. It’s my first band. And so I have something for that song.

E: This is completely a different question but it just came to mind: I read somewhere that Béla Bartók was among your influences. He was a Hungarian composer and I was just curious how that comes.

Piggy was a huge fan of his. For me, it’s mainly when I heard the music from the Shining, it has music from Bartók and (György – ed.) Ligeti. These composers were very important for Piggy and he was the one who introduced us to them. Bartók is my favorite of all them.

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Piggy back in the day

E: I don’t know if you like to talk about Piggy but I was about to ask about him as well. Til the album “Infini” you were using the riffs of Piggy on the albums and also songs that you recorded with him, and from the “Target Earth” you started to write completely new material. How did the songwriting process and the feeling of the whole recording differ from the times when you used Piggy’s material?

Kristof: You were talking about the chemistry in the band.

Except for “Infini” and “Katorz” which we recorded after Piggy’s unfortunate passing, the process was exactly the same. Quite often we improvise material and we record everything and pick the best parts, and then Chewy will rearrange it. It’s sort of what we did with Piggy. Also, Piggy came often with full compositions already done that we adapted, and Chewy does the same sometimes. He has a full song that we sometimes involve into Voivod. So basically it’s kind of the same process.

K: So with both guitar masters it can happen that you just jam together from zero?

Oh yeah, from zero. And even Snake, it’s not necessarily with lyrics, he just improvises sounds. Being French you can’t really improvise in English – he’s just like “whaablawhaba” (laughs). He builds melodies around all that. And quite often if Chewy does a riff, I will think “normally I would do that on the drums, let’s do the opposite, backwards”. And then it will surprise everybody but after getting used to it, it makes sense. I learned that from a band called Van Der Graaf Generator, where the drummer quite often plays the backward-beat. So I copied it.

K: I’m always curious about Snake’s personality. There’s something about his on-stage presence that is very different from that of other frontmen. He’s like a goofy sci-fi shaman or something like that I can’t describe it but you must have something in your mind about a sort of role he has in the band.

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Snake – then and now

He’s also different than other thrash metal singers because he’s very into Johnny Rotten, Iggy Pop and Jello Biafra so he brought this side to Voivod, some punkish, snarly side. He has a very unique vocal style and he’s very theatrical. That’s what we were looking for when we started the band. He was in an improvisational theatre so we knew that he could be theatrical on stage. On the audition, we first asked him “Can you sing?” and he was like “I can try, I don’t know” and then I asked him to learn ‘The Ripper’ from Judas Priest. He was like “Oookay” because he was more into punk and when he came to the jam space and started the song, he sounded with the Judas Priest song like Sex Pistols. We thought that was interesting. So from the start he gave Voivod a strange punky signature.

K: So it’s a different interpretation of it, that’s interesting! We were talking about the “Angel Rat” era. What my musician friends love about it is that it’s still the panels that you invented but it was simplified into rock structures. Was it a forced simplification or were you craving for it?

We were just heading this way. The songs got shorter, the music got more psychedelic. We went in the direction of Rush so it was a different approach and unfortunately nobody really understood it and it didn’t sell that much. So we were a bit crushed. Also, it’s a strange period because Blacky left while we were mixing the album. So it was sort of a weird period for Voivod but now it has got to be many people’s favorite album.

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Today is the Day/Voivod/Neurosis/VHK concert in Budapest, 1999

E: You’re touring so much. Do you have any memorable or crazy stories from all the tours?

K: Do you remember your Hungarian gig in 1999 for example? Do you like VHK, the band that played with you? I wish I have been there but I was too young.

Yes, there was a lot of traffic around the border so we were running late. There was nothing, everything was closed between the border and the venue and we couldn’t eat. It was hours without eating, I remember that. But we were really excited to play with this legendary band, it was a wonderful gig, I’ll always remember that. And what I remember the most is going to the street and watching the buildings. There was nothing like that on earth. This afternoon today when we came into town we had this flashback, we do every time, of so many years ago. It’s a really beautiful city. Prague and Budapest are my favorite cities on earth.

K: Monarchy architecture (laughs).

E: I remember seeing you opening for or playing with so many bands from so many directions and genres of metal. There is no band like you.

That’s right, I mean we opened for Rush and Faith No More and then we toured with Kreator, Destruction, Possessed, Celtic Frost… We can do it with anybody. It’s wonderful for us. But look at today’s opening band Maggot Heart, this band is amazing, they’re very different but the people into Voivod are very open-minded so I think it will go very well.

E: Are you actually still nervous before going onto stage or before an interview for example?

I’m still a bit nervous. Sometimes more – like last year we played with Metallica and a 100.000 people showed up. But the next day we did a surprise show in the street and I was more nervous there the next day because they were standing right there. It took me a couple of songs before I could look at them in the eye. When it’s 100.000 people, it becomes a big blurry mass and I forget about it. And when we opened for Rush in 1990, I was super nervous. Also, I have seen Rush playing and the opening bands were getting usually booed off the stage because people wanted to see Rush, so we were afraid, but it went very well and when we played Astronomy Domine which was a video that was playing a lot on MTV, the crowd was louder than the music so I was like “huhhh” (laughs).

E: Could you select up to 5 albums that you consider your all time favorites and share why they are special to you?

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Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden (1980)

The first Iron Maiden album. When I saw the cover in the store, I was like 16, they were immediately my favorite band. I had no idea how they sounded like, I grabbed the album and I was like “this is my favorite band”. And when I got home, I played it, it started with ‘Prowler’, and they sounded exactly like I wanted them to sound. Like punk-metal-gothic. When I came to doing the “War and Pain” cover, I remembered the first Iron Maiden album, the power of attraction of the covers and I tied to capture that as well. Something that would stick out among other covers. So the first Iron Maiden album is like my ultimate favorite.

I like Broken Bones’ “Dem Bones”, and I like Van der Graaf Generator – “H to He”, the Sex Pistols – “Never Mind the Bollocks”, it will always be one of my favorites. I even looked like Sid Vicious back then. My mother was really pissed that I cut my hair. And then “No Sleep Til Hammersmith” by Motörhead. I could say “Ace of Spades” but it’s just that I hitchhiked hundreds of kilometers to go and see them in Montreal because we were way up North in Quebec. When I saw them, it’s where I decided to become a professional drummer and that’s where I reached out to Piggy. It sort of started from that show, No Sleep Til Hammersmith. Fantastic album.

E: Could you please talk a little bit more about your world views that are captured in Voivod songs?

We try talk about world views a lot in the songs, even though they are sci-fi in a way, we still try to get our message out. To me, my world view, even though I’m a pretty positive person, I find that we are living a recurring nightmare. In the 80s because of the Cold War I was afraid of nuclear war. And I’m still afraid of it. Back then we were freaked out by Chernobyl and Hiroshima, and now we are freaked out by the ozone layer and the global warming, so to me it’s just a constant state of anxiety. But I myself live my life the happiest way ever. I’m really a chill and happy fellow. But I will always have this anxiety of the destruction of this planet, that’s a point of no return.

E, K: Thank you very much for your time and honesty Away!

Thanks a lot for the interview. See you after the show!

Metalegion Magazine #4

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Support our work by ordering the 4th edition HERE! :)

The fourth issue of Metalegion Magazine, the project I am at the moment mainly contributing to is out and ready to be purchased for the price of 6€ (printed version) or 0.99€ (digital version)! My contributions to this edition include interviews with Away of Voivod, Steve “Zetro” Souza of Exodus and Steve Ramsey of Satan, as well as a number of reviews written under the name of Estelle. Even though the material mentioned will be available to read here at Darkness Unseen; you shouldn’t miss out on other featured interviews like those with my personal favorite death metal artist Dan Seagrave, or bands like Terrorizer, Behemoth or Hate Eternal!

96 English-written, full colour pages with a sampler CD and posters. If you’re interested, visit metalegion.com – we are thankful for any support and are happy to come back with a further edition soon! 

Estelle

“This might be our catchiest, heaviest, most brutal work” – Paul Mazurkiewitz (Cannibal Corpse)

Interview with drummer Paul Mazurkiewitz from Cannibal Corpse

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 19th of October 2017

Hi Paul, thanks a lot for being down for the interview! Could you tell me a bit about your 3 most favorite albums?

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Slayer – Reign in Blood (1986)

That’s a tough one, a one-day answer. There are a lot of influential albums of course. But if we’re gonna stick with the heavier stuff, the bands that really got me wanting to play this kind of music, I’d say my Nr. 1 would be Slayer – Reign in Blood. Probably most people say that (laughs). But it was such a big influence for us, unbelievable. Especially that album in particular. Hearing Dave Lombardo’s drumming, that’s what made me wanna play like that. We were already fans of Slayer with their previous works, but hearing Reign in Blood just took it to a whole another level and it made me wanna try to emulate that. So that is probably the most important album in my career. Nr. 2 would probably be Metallica – Ride the Lightning. That was such a very influential album as well. It came a little earlier that Reign in Blood but when we were getting into music and Metallica was a new band and we were hearing this as teenagers for the first time, it took us to another dimension. “Whoah, what is this?!” So of course we were fans of Kill ‘Em All but then again, Ride the Lightning took it to another level. I remember hearing the song Creeping Death for the first time, it was playing on the radio and we didn’t know what this was, we got to know they were Metallica, the new album comes out, “wow we gotta see them”. Just very influential. And Nr 3 would be Sacrifice – Forward to Termination. It was such a great thrash album every time I hear it to this day, it gets me going.

Red Before Black is your 14th full-length album. What was your main goal you wanted to achieve? What do you think distinguishes this record from the other 13?

The main goal is always just releasing the music, really. We were just excited to create new stuff and get it out to the people. It’s the way we’ve done things and the way out mentality goes: We’re just writing the next batch of songs. There’s no big skin behind it other than we wanna do good and a little better than the last time. That’s what we’re always striving for and trying to do. So that was our goal, to write the next better song. To keep going forward in our songwriting, in our musicianship and all that. And I feel we have.

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Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (2017)

I know I worked extra hard on this record, more than on any other so far and I work hard on all! For some reason this time around my mentality was “no rest whatsoever, go go go, double time, triple time” – I just wanted to do better than I ever have personally. The other guys are writing most of the riffs and the songs and when we’ve got three great songwriters spreading it all around… I mean we’ve got some diverse stuff and those guys write some amazing material. But I think on this record, to me it’s just a combination of what we’ve been doing our whole career. I listen to the songs and the whole definitely has more of an old school vibe to it, a little more of a thrashier vibe than our previous releases. So I look at it as a full circle. I tend to look at it as the best of all Cannibal. From the beginning to the 13th album, put it together, work hard, write some great songs and then you’ve got Red Before Black. I think it just stands out because the songs are so tight and precise, great brutal riffs. So I think this might be our best work – our catchiest, heaviest, most brutal work with a great guitar sound.

You even stated in the promo material that this album has got the rawest sound you’ve ever had. And I agree, it does totally sound old school!
Could you tell me about your most beloved song on the album? I’d love to hear your vision of the song, of the lyrics, some instrumental passages or a story in connection with its creation.

I guess the one that stands out to me in particular is Destroyed Without a Trace. That was the song that I had the most hand in. If you know much about the band you might have noticed the last few releases I ended up having myself more of a song that I wrote; if you see the credit it’s usually me and Rob or me by myself. So Destroyed was the one that I came up with. And the way I wrote that song was very interesting: I collaborated with Rob but this is the first time I ever wrote a song (or any of us for that matter) just by playing the drums. I had everything in my head, I wrote the arrangement, the riffs basically in my head, and I was able to play the whole song with nobody (laughs). Cause I wrote it by myself just on the drums. I worked on it for a couple of weeks by myself and then I just said “hey Rob, I wrote a song, I just need you to fill in the blanks here”. We went piece by piece and I showed them how I meant it and in couple of days we had the song done. Very interesting. But I’m so glad the way it turned out: Starting from the skeleton, just me playing a drum beat, to building the guitars and solos and putting the lyrics over the top. It turned out really good, I’m really proud of this song. But I love all these songs, all of them were fun to play and I just worked hard on all of them. Shedding My Human Skin is another one of my favorites, it’s such a great groove. The first one, Only One Will Die is another one that was so much fun to play.

It’s no surprise that the imagery of this album consists again of brutality, aggressivity, death, blood, gore, torture etc. Do you have any limit or border when it comes to lyrical themes or imagery?

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Cannibal Corpse (2017)

I don’t know, we just do what we do I guess. We really don’t touch on religion of course I mean we dabbled very little on one or two songs a few years back but that’s so minor. We don’t talk politics either. To me it’s all open if it needs to happen though. Personally, I am a father, I don’t wanna talk about murdering children, but at the same time it’s all fiction and it’s Cannibal Corpse. If I look at a song like Remaimed from the new album that Pat wrote and then I sat down and wrote the lyrics (I actually wrote the lyrics for six of the songs), I end up writing a pretty brutal story here. That’s talking about things exactly that I’m not very thrilled about personally. But like I said, it’s fictional gore, fictional horror, it’s not made to be serious so I think it’s okay. But yeah, it’s tough. In-your-face, completely brunt brutal lyrics, there’s nothing to mask and nothing to hide – we still have those but I think we like to be a little bit more of a horrific and read-between-the-lines kind of thing. But I would think pretty much nothing is out of context. It’s Cannibal Corpse, we just write what we write. I’ll just move onto the next question.

Some bands really take in into consideration what kind of a message they convey not only through their music but also through their press statements. Do you guys have a “press-plan”, do you negotiate between yourselves before the release of a new album or in a doubtful situation about what you will tell us about it?

That’s done through the record label and a third party, a guy that does an interview and then he pieces together what you read in the PR release for a new album. Of course we have the say what’s gonna go out to the public, if we’re unhappy with something we say it of course. And yeah, maybe some things we’re not gonna touch on. Some things don’t need to be mentioned I guess. We get the basics out what we feel the people need to know and if they don’t need to know, we won’t tell them.

After your first Demo “Cannibal Corpse” you have always been at Metal Blade. Did you ever receive requests from other labels and if yes, what makes you stay at Metal Blade?

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Cannibal Corpse (1989)

Metal Blade was the only label that showed interest in us. When we were formed and made our demo tape, we had a guy helping us out back in the early days in Buffalo, New York. He wasn’t our manager or anything but he was running a record store and knew some people. And who did he know? He knew people at Metal Blade because the president at Metal Blade is from Buffalo as well! So he had a connection, we had our guy that knew a guy at Metal Blade through the whole city. I think we sent our tape to ten labels or something, mainly smaller independent ones plus Relapse and maybe Roadrunner. But I know this for a fact, the response we got back was from Metal Blade wanting to sign us. So what do you do? As a young band that’s hungry and ready to make music, you get an offer and you take it. You take it because this could be the only opportunity to get your foot in the door. Luckily Brian Slagel at Metal Blade liked the demo and we got through some red tape there that was all we needed. As time went on: “Hm, we’re a small death metal band. We’re starting to do well. Metal Blade behind us, okay.” They’ve given us complete creative control, they were not interfering with anything we do musically and that’s what we needed. So if it isn’t broke, why fix it? That’s what we’ve been dealing with out whole career. It turned out to be more of a friendship than a business relation I guess. So I think it worked out well.

You are in the band since the very beginnings. Can you please tell me about your personal favorite and most unfavorable moments in the band throughout your whole career?

Almost everything has been a positive for us, beyond-our-wildest-dreams kind of a thing, so just the fact that we are still here after 30 years being arguably the biggest death metal band in the world, that’s enough right there. That’s amazing. We never even thought of any of that. So everything that has happened from day one to now is just remarkable, unbelievable and incredible (laughs).

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Paul Mazurkiewicz

Not many negatives, luckily. There were only some personal negatives and I guess the biggest one for me is being on tour about 20 years ago and getting stabbed with a key after the show in my abdomen. That wasn’t very fun. That’s probably one of the craziest things that have ever happened to me. It was back in ‘94 I guess, we just started a tour with 3 other bands, we were second show in, we just finished the show in Holland. It was a little town, 2 in the morning, everything’s completely dead, everyone left. And all of a sudden there’s a fight outside our bus. It happens to be a couple of guys from our band and our crew fighting some people. We’re like “what the hell is going on here?”. It ended up being five or six drunk guys looking for trouble basically. And they started with the wrong people, it was 25 of us. I’m not a fighter, I didn’t need to be involved in this, I was a bystander watching what’s going on. There was a bunch of yelling, a couple of crew guys involved… The next thing I remember, those guys are coming at me and all of a sudden I see blood and my side hurts. “I just got stabbed, I’m gonna die”. Five seconds go by and I realize it hurts and bleeds but I’m gonna live. Ambulance comes, gotta go to the hospital. This was the second show of the tour and we had like 30 more to go. But luckily everything turned out well, the tour went on and I was able to play. But yeah, that was probably the worst thing that happened to me. Not fun.

Which other band in the genre do you look up to? Is there also a band you have any stress or tension with?

Well I love Slayer, I mean that’s my influence, so how can I not look up to Slayer at all times? But any other bands, bands that came out around us, we know them and they’re friends. You can have that friendship and camaraderie and all that bands like Suffocation, Obituary or Morbid Angel; bands that have been around for 30 years that gives us some positive thoughts. I don’t even listen to any new bands at all though. It’s cool there are bands that were influenced by us I’m glad, I feel happy but I just don’t listen to a lot of that. So the bands that I still look up to are my “hero bands” that I grew up with. If we’re gonna play at a festival or share a stage with a band like Iron Maiden, man it’s Iron Maiden! I don’t look at them as peers, they’re above me. That’s the way I think. But yeah, it’s really cool that we’ve still got bands going after 30 years, keeping the old school alive, keeping the death metal going.

You are touring very actively promoting Red Before Black, from November in the USA and from February in Europe. What are the most satisfying moments while on tour?

Playing the show. It’s always cool going to places and different cities and everything but we’re there to perform and play for the people. That’s the most important thing. Once you’re up on stage and you’re seeing the fans and their reactions: that’s why you’re there. A lot of them are going to be new fans. Seeing the excitement on the face of new fans that never saw you before, that’s always gonna make you feel good. Just making people happy. If we can make anybody happy in a positive way, how can that not make you feel like you’ve accomplished something in life? So that’s what it’s all about.

What about your further future plans?

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Paul Mazurkiewicz

We will be touring pretty much all of 2018. If you look at how our cycles have gone, we tour for almost two years after an album. I can see that happening, that’s out immediate future. And that’s all you can really do at this point. I mean, I think we take it day by day now. We’re 30 years in, we’re not a new band looking ahead to the future, the future’s here. Now it’s like “how long have we got?”. Who knows? We’re all feeling healthy and we’re still all mentally on the same page so why can’t we just keep going and doing it for another 20 or 30 years who knows, right? We’ll see. But right, at this point in our career we gotta just take it day by day now. We’ll do these tours and more than likely the plan will be doing the tour, starting the record and doing it again. Just like we’ve been doing our whole career.

Paul, thank you very much for the interview and for your time. I wish you all the best reactions to Red Before Black!

Thank you and have a good night! I’m sure we’ll talk again soon.

DESTRUCTION. Re-recorded 80’s thrash paired with a more sterile production

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Destruction – Thrash Anthems II (2017)

Review by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 31st of May 2018

TRACKLIST

  1. Confused Mind
  2. Black Mass
  3. Frontbeast
  4. Dissatisfied Existence
  5. United by Hatred
  6. The Ritual
  7. Black Death
  8. The Antichrist
  9. Confound Games
  10. Ripping You Off Blind
  11. Satan’s Vengeance
  12. Holiday in Cambodia (Dead Kennedys cover)

RELEASE DETAILS
Genre: Thrash Metal
Label: PledgeMusic
Country: Germany
Date: July 18th, 2017

LINEUP
Schmier – Bass, Vocals
Mike – Guitars
Vaaver – Drums


1000x1000.jpgCollections of re-recorded 80’s thrash songs paired with a more modern and perhaps more sterile production are with no doubt an arguable phenomenon. Even Destruction’s original “Thrash Anthems” collection from 2007 doesn‘t belong to the most beloved pieces of theirs among fans of old school-sounding thrash metal. And so it is a relevant question how a „Thrash Anthems II” collection works with re-recorded old tunes that didn’t make the cut the first time.

The 2017 collection was supposed to be a self-release as the album was of no interest for Nuclear Blast, however, after it was done, it also got released in an alternative version via the record label. The Germans gave the second batch of their worthier older tunes a more modern yet tougher, punchier, more muscular mix of guitars and drums, blending them into a thrashing combination. The production is more polished, sure, yet Schmier sounds almost as violent and nasty as he did back then and one can’t complain neither about Mike’s and Vaaver’s level of excitement nor way of playing either.

Considering the song selection; even though there was still place for some relatively beloved songs on “Thrash Anthems II” such as ‘Black Mass’, ‘The Antichrist’ or ‘Confused Mind’, one can easily have the feeling that the album contains re-workings which even most fans weren’t curious about. The album artwork isn’t the most on-point work of the band either, especially if we keep in mind that a collection of re-recorded 80s’ thrash songs is supposed to represent an old school approach in its appearance.

On the whole, “Thrash Anthems II” is not as entertaining as the original 2007 collection and it is clear that the songs do not serve to replace the earlier ones in either case – Nevertheless, they might be a good alternative for younger fans or listeners preferring a more sterile sound instead of an old school one.

Song selection: 5.5
Production: 7
Catchiness: 6
Artwork: 5
Overall: 6/10


Order Thrash Anthems II here.

“We do what we like and that’s why we decided to do Thrash Anthems II even without Nuclear Blast” – Schmier (Destruction)

Interview with vocalist Marcel (Schmier) Schirmer from Destruction

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 2nd of October 2017

Hi Schmier, thanks a lot for agreeing to the interview and for your time in advance! How are you?

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Schmier

I’m a little bit stressed because we are having the video clip launched today with Pänzer and everything is a bit last minute, so hopefully no mistakes are going to happen while I’m doing the interview.

That sounds stressful for sure.

It wasn’t planned that the Destruction and the Pänzer releases come so close together but I have no choice because the Pänzer release got pushed back, it was going to come out in September originally. For the Destruction release, we didn’t even know that Nuclear Blast would release the album because first they didn’t know if they wanted it, then they declined and now that the album is finally done they want to release it. I was surprised that they wanted to do it already in November, I expected it to be the beginning of next year or so. But on the other hand I am happy that I’ve made two albums that I really like and can promote them now. So I shouldn’t complain, it’s just that it’s a lot of work right now. In between the live shows… I also broke my arm lately which didn’t help for the good time schedule. But it’s getting better, I got surgery right away and now I will just have to get some therapy and it will hopefully get back to normal soon.

I wish you all the best on that, get better soon! Right to Thrash Anthems II: According to the Pledge Music page, the new Destruction album was supposed to be a self-release, but it will be released in an alternative version via Nuclear Blast. How did Nuclear Blast get involved in the release in the end?

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Destruction – Thrash Anthems II (2017)

First of all, for them a best of-album didn’t sound good enough. They said they didn’t want to do this, that they were not interested. So we decided to do it ourselves and I guess they were surprised that we decided for Pledge Music, that we were confident to do it by ourselves and finance basically the whole album on Pledge Music. We were like “we’re gonna see what happens”. We did the production too and when the album finally was done and Nuclear Blast asked me to listen to it, they were like “oh my God, it’s great, we would like to do it” and I was like “come on guys, first no then yes”, but on the other side I’m happy that they do it because Pledge was already there to finance the album. Because of all the money for the production and everything, Pledge gave the fans a special edition and very limited edition also. They did 50 vinyls only, only 130 t-shirts and only about 600 CDs. It’s the smallest Destruction first edition that ever came out of any album. But of course it’s nice to bring out the album afterwards, it consists of a classic thrash setlist, and that’s one of the reasons why we did the Thrash Anthems II. Because of course a lot of fans were asking for a second part but also for us it’s nice to have a thrash setlist with classic songs through which young fans can get into the old songs again. That was the plan.

The old classic thrash songs are paired with a more modern, more polished production on Thrash Anthems II. How do you expect the reactions to be?

I think the production is pretty rough, it’s a little bit hard and we have a lot of young fans that like the new songs of Destruction. We’ve been doing this one bonus track in 1999, one bonus track on the Destruction album which is an old song. And we re-recorded the old song. And it’s gotten great reactions. On our last album, Under Attack from 2016 we put Thrash Attack, the remake again and the reactions went like “oh my god Thrash Attack, best track of the album”. I think young fans will dig this, older fans will dig this and to of those fans who don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it. It’s not a must if you don’t like re-recorded songs. First of all we do music for ourselves. We started Destruction because WE wanted to play this kind of music. The music wasn’t famous when we played it and this kind of music will never be as famous as you think it would be. We do what we like and that’s why we decided to do thrash anthems even without Nuclear Blast on the first place. I like this album a lot, I think it was a good decision that we did it. If you like older albums, you listen to older albums but if you’re open for a more brutal sound, listen to the new one.

Destruction wrote on the band’s Facebook Page that “the band itself never ever has put more work in an album as in this one”. What was the hardest part of working on the record and what differs it from the previous ones?

When you go into the studio, it of course all costs money and when you do a Pledge campaign, it only pays at the end after the album came out. But until then you don’t get any money. We had to keep this whole thing alive: We had to pay the studio, the production, all the vinyl and the CDs that are being manufactured, and of course we did all those videos.

We did those video clips that showed the band and the production, which is a lot of work. You have to film it, cut it, edit it, upload it and stuff… I’m not a computer engineer so we had to hire somebody. It was all in all the effort that we put into it that made it so hard.

Sounds like a lot of work indeed!

One other thing, we had to go back to the roots and relearn some songs. Some songs didn’t even have the lyrics anymore because they were so old. 90% of the Destruction lyrics from the old albums on lyrics pages from uploaded by fans were all wrong. Tommy [Sandmann – ed.], our first drummer found some original lyrics again so we could recreate the songs. On the first albums the vocals were really noisy so that you cannot hear every word, some are impossible to understand. It was a long fight to get the lyrics but we got them together and I was very happy in the end. Until we had the final sound, the remixing took a couple of weeks because we wanted to have a very impressive guitar tone on the album. So it was a couple of months of work in between the tours, after the American tour we came together and finalized the Thrash Anthems II. It was a lot more work than we thought it would be in the beginning. We thought it would be easier but at the end we were doing all the record label work and the pre-financing.

Now at the end of the Pledge campaign we have to ship the CDs worldwide, we cannot just do it ourselves because that’s not so easy. We ship some CDs from England and some of those still didn’t arrive in South America. Those CDs were shipped two months ago. So it’s kind of complicated to make everybody happy in this campaign and of course when your audience doesn’t get what they ordered they get impatient and they blame the band. In the end it’s not our fault, it’s the fault of the fucking postal services in South America.

destruc016pr.jpgDid you learn something from working on an album all alone?

It was a big lesson in world trade and manufacturing. We usually do only the production and the artwork and give the rest to the label, and yes now we had to learn a lot about all the stuff in between. So thank you very much but we’ll never do it again, not if we have Nuclear Blast. We are at the best record label of the world so I’m glad to have them. I can recommend this kind of thing to young bands though. If you have no money but some fans who can finance your album, this is the first step not to make a big loss. Most bands are pre-financing their albums and then have a couple of thousands of euros minus on their bank account. That will maybe never recover. So it’s not so easy. But I’m happy we had a lot of fans help us to finance the album and not coming like “blah blah blah”, even though sometimes they were like “oh no, I thought it was only a Pledge campaign and would never come out at Nuclear Blast” but we never said that. Blast declined the album and then at the end they wanted to have it – I would be stupid if I wouldn’t give it to them. It’s a great album.

Which old song was the most enjoyable for you to play again for the record?

A lot of them we didn’t play live back in the day so I can only think of The Antichrist. It’s the only song of all those songs that we played frequently. We also played Black Death in the last years, it was also a big challenge because it’s a seven minutes long song. It was a challenge to redo the song.  A lot of the old songs we had to relearn to get the feeling back: From those songs I like Black Mass a lot and Confused Mind also.

Can we expect you to play these live in the future?

We really want to do that. I think we maybe wanna see the result how the fans like them to find some of the new favorite tracks of this album and then we can put them into the setlist. We don’t want to kick out others songs, though, we don’t want people going like “oh my God you didn’t play Total Desaster”. About this record, it will create some remembrance of the old stuff and a new face of the old songs. I want to play Confused Mind, Black Death and Black Mass live. I like United by Hatred a lot too, it’s a song we didn’t play since ‘87.
First it would be cool to see how the reactions are to the album. So far we only have the reactions from the Pledgers, which is a couple of hundreds of people. The whole process of recording and we could choose the songs also. We learned some new tricks of producing. It’s a never-ending learning process and it was interesting also for me to redo the vocals.

What about your future plans? Do you maybe already have material done for the next album?

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Pänzer – Fatal Command (2017)

Actually not, we did Thrash Anthems II and it was hard work – if you do something like that, you don’t really want to focus on something else. I was also writing on the Pänzer album right before Thrash Anthems II and I didn’t wanna make everything too much. Also, for Destruction we saw in the last few years that it’s better for us if we don’t do too much albums in a row. We did that since ‘99, we did albums every 2 years it’s easy to have no more fun at writing songs like that. The new album is going to be recorded maybe at the end of 2018 and released maybe 2019. That’s what I would say is possible. But maybe next week I start writing new songs and then the album is done earlier, but you have to be in the right mood for that.

What would you tell about the new album of your other band Pänzer to those who don’t know the band yet?

It’s a tribute to the original heavy metal style, to the NWOBHM. If you like the good old 80s’ sound, you might like Pänzer because it has all the classic elements like up-tempo in the way of Judas Priest and Angel Witch and so on. My vocals are a little bit more melodic and catchy. It’s classic heavy metal with a pinch of thrash in there. We really enjoy doing this, it’s something besides my main band. I’m glad I found some guys I can make music with besides Destruction. Something like this refreshes your musical inspiration.

ALL TIME FAVORITES
What are your three favorite albums of all time? Can you tell us a few words about them and about why you like them so much?

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Judas Priest – Unleashed in the East (1979)

Number one has to be Unleashed in the East from Judas Priest. When I was a kid, I saw the cover and listened to the album for the first time and it was the definition of heavy metal for me from this point. It was heavier than anything else – the looks, the sound… It changed my life completely in many ways. Another really important album is Kill ‘Em All from Metallica. It was the first real speed metal album that came out in 1983. The stuff they did back in the day was exactly what we started half a year later with Destruction. When we wrote the first songs for Destruction we already knew that Metallica would be very special. So their first album Kill ‘Em All was groundbreaking for me, something new, ‘cause it kind of mixed punk rock and heavy metal together. And to name a punk rock band as well, I would name Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables From the Dead Kennedys. Dead Kennedys were a part of my life because they wrote really critical lyrics. They were criticising the government and the society and as a young person, it was really important for me back then. Most of my friends didn’t care about the political situation etc but I did, and Dead Kennedys was my favorite punk band for America. I listened to a lot of English punk too but Dead Kennedys was very special to me.

I can see you even covered a Dead Kennedys song, Holiday in Cambodia on Thrash Anthems II! If you could go back to any point in your career and you could say, now I’ll change something, what would it be?

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Destruction – Release from Agony era (Steamhammer/SPV promo)

I don’t think it’s good to change the past. I am where I am now because stuff happened. When Destruction kicked me out in ‘89, I was on the worst point of my life. I had to relearn a lot of stuff, “rethink” my friends. I learned that fame comes fast and goes fast also. But I also learned a lot of things about my own confidence and I put a lot of effort in my future music-wise. I think without those breaks, problems and fights I had in the past I wouldn’t be the same person. I wouldn’t change stuff I think: life goes the way it goes and my inspiration is what I do today, I do it right for a better tomorrow. It’s ridiculous to think about things you regret because I am so glad I can still do music and Destruction has brought me around the world several times. I wouldn’t want to change a single thing I think. I’m a lucky guy.

What’s the funniest question you’ve ever heard?

There was rumours that I did porn movies back in the day when I was out of Destruction. I said “no I didn’t know I would have been a porn star, but interesting that you ask” (laughs).
Otherwise, I’ve already talked about basically every aspect of my life in interviews. I would say 15 years ago not everything was talked about, especially when Destruction split up there were a lot of questions, for example “Why did you leave the band?”. I just answered “I didn’t leave the band, I got kicked out”. I just wonder how come interviewers don’t know this because this is a big part of the history of Destruction. Sometimes people still ask me this.

Is it stressful sometimes that you have to talk about yourself so much?

No, it’s a part of the job. I like to talk to people. But at the end of the day when everybody asks the same questions, it develops into a weird circle of repeating yourself. Sometimes you just think about how many times you’ve said this specific thing today. But sometimes people have cooler questions or are curious about details. I just hate starting questions like “Okay, can you tell us how Destruction started?”. Dude, it was 35 years ago, go on Wikipedia and read it yourself. If you put your heart into your job, into doing interviews, you prepare yourself, right? Some people are just doing the job and asking irrelevant stuff, that’s what I can’t understand. But I’m a musician and not a journalist, and I think everyone should do what he/she can do best.

You are right. Okay, thanks a lot for your time Schmier! I wish you all the best with the launching video today and with both of your bands!

It was a pleasure. I wish you all the best too!

MEMORIAM. So old school death metal still can be played properly?

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Memoriam – The Silent Vigil (2018)

Review by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 31st of May 2018

TRACKLIST

  1. Soulless Parasite
  2. Nothing Remains
  3. From the Flames
  4. The Silent Vigil
  5. Bleed the Same
  6. As Bridges Burn
  7. The New Dark Ages
  8. No Known Grave
  9. Weaponised Fear
  10. Dronestrike V3
  11. Prisoners of War

RELEASE DETAILS

Genre: Death Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Country: United Kingdom
Date: March 23rd, 2018

LINEUP

Frank Healy – Bass
Andrew Whale – Drums
Scott Fairfax – Guitars
Karl Willetts – Vocals


Memoriam’s second full-length “The Silent Vigil” goes onto the next stage of the mourning process because of which the two ex-Bolt Thrower and two ex-Benediction members got together to form the band in the first place. The new album is noticeably a lot less affected by sadness compared to their first record “For the Fallen”, instead they’ve become a lot more more aggressive, bitter and raw – Memoriam seem to be moving from the past and trying to develop and form their new identity.

The songwriting on “The Silent Vigil” is true to the quality we are used to and can expect from ex-members Bolt Thrower and Benediction: The (mostly guitar-driven) songs contain nothing else but strong, catchy riffs in the style of good old 80s’-early 90s’ death metal, with some interesting twists here and there. Even though one can clearly identify hearing a different band than the well-known previous ones of the members, occasionally it indeed is hard to get away from the “I’ve heard this before”-thoughts. The production and the artwork (I’ll just say one name: Dan Seagrave) of the record are nothing but the implementation and representation of an old school approach on high standard. Just a note, I don’t blame anyone sitting, looking at the cover and searching for details for hours!

Lyrically, the texts are reflective of the world that we live in containing subjects of war, politics, loss and illnesses – themes that seem to be important for lyric-writer and vocalist Karl. In case a single weakness has to be mentioned, Karl’s voice naturally doesn’t “shine” in all of its glory anymore and his significant growls don’t come out the way they did maybe even just a few years ago.

However, this does not take much from the overall experience of a (lyrically and instrumentally) well-written and -composed old school death metal album; a refreshing and promising music experience suggesting that old school death metal still can be created and played properly. “The Silent Vigil” is composed by veterans of the genre who know what they are doing and why they are doing it, and who want to a) get the most out of making music for themselves and b) get the most to the people that is possible from it. I would say, respectable!

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8
Catchiness: 7
Artwork: 9
Lyrics: 8
Overall: 8/10


Order The Silent Vigil here.

“A lot of the lyrics on this new album are all very reflective of the world that we live in” – Karl Willetts (ex-Bolt Thrower, Memoriam)

Interview with vocalist Karl Willetts from Memoriam

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 19th of February 2018

Hi Karl! First of all thanks a lot for being down to talk to me even at this late hour! My first question would be, what would you say is the most satisfying thing you’ve ever achieved along your career?

That’s a really good question, interesting. I haven’t been asked that one. It’s been lots, along the way through my 30 years of working within this industry. There’s been a lot of things that I consider to be high points. Those are quite genuinely often the firsts. The first time you’re doing anything is when you really achieve something, a milestone in the career. That’s what I always remember the most. So for me, even before I was in the band Bolt Thrower, I heard their music in the radio: That was a really big deal, my best mates’ band playing on the radio. But for me personally, I think recording the first album, that was a phenomenal experience.

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Bloodbrother Tour (1990) [Photo from Tshirtslayer]

Also doing my first show, I remember doing my very first European tour which was back in the 80s-early 90s with Autopsy and Pestilence. The first time beyond our little island in the UK. That was a massive game- and life-changing experience, to realize there was such a big potential and big market for what we were doing. Such a lot of people enjoyed what we were doing beyond our small environment. So these were some of the early highlights of my career.

And gig-wise, when we finally got to Australia with Bolt Thrower. That was in about 1993-94, I was standing on the beach in Perth watching the waves crashing in and I thought “Well, this is quite strange. We actually got to the other side of the world playing this extreme kind of strange music and we’re even getting paid for doing this, this is amazing”. So yeah, those were the biggest highlights that come to mind. But at this point of my career doing Memoriam, everything is a big highlight. It’s an amazing experience. I’m very lucky to be able to do this at this stage of our lives. It feels like a privilege, to be able to do what we’re doing. And that’s really down to the support we get from the people, the fans, the followers, however you wanna call them. So we do appreciate they give us the opportunity to do this. And every day is a highlight at this point – it sounds cheesy but that’s the way it is.

ALL TIME HIGHLIGHTS…

Could you select up to 3 albums (it can be less or more, it’s up to you) from any genre that you consider your all-time favorites and tell me why you consider them personal highlights?

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Antisect – In Darkness, There Is No Choice (1983)

In the late 80s, that’s when I started getting into extreme music. And what was happening in the UK back in those days was the kind of old anarcho crust grind scene. That’s really where my sphere of influence developed. It was a starting point for me in my career and my interest in extreme music. So I have to point to an album from a band called Antisect and their album called In Darkness There Is No Choice. That was a massive influence to me. It really set me on my road to my political point of view. This was also the time in which the whole tape-trading was going on, the precursor to the internet in many respects, global sharing of information on cassette tapes.

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Sacrilege

Also, back then I used to go to gigs regularly at a local pub. One of the bands back then that were really influential to me is Sacrilege, with Lynda “Tam” Simpson as the main vocalist and Damian Thompson as guitarist. Those two were an absolute massive influence to me musically. I was at a Sacrilege gig in around ‘87 and it was one of those lightbulb-moments when I was watching them: “I want to do this. I would love to be a band up there on a stage, doing what Tam’s doing.” I think that was one of the main catalysts for me wanting to be in a band. So I definitely have to name Behind the Realms of Madness from Sacrilege. One of my all time favorite albums.

 

And of course Slayer! When I heard the first offerings that they put out on Show No Mercy and Haunting the Chapel, those were the albums that were really influential. Specifically Haunting the Chapel had a massive effect on me. So those were the 3 protagonists. I think I’d probably have to include the Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath album, it has to be in the top 4-5 as well. They are the legends from my hometown and I am very proud of their musical heritage here in Birmingham.

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Memoriam – The Silent Vigil (2018)

Now let’s talk about your new album coming out at the end of March, “The Silent Vigil”. It’s a pretty awesome one! This record is a lot less affected by sadness compared to “For the Fallen”, instead you’ve become more aggressive and raw. What did you have in mind?

Very perceptive of you. Definitely, I think as you noticed the first album that we released was a document of the time. As all albums are kind of recording the emotions that are going through your life at that point. And the first album was written as a tribute to our lives’ tragic loss of Martin (Kearns, drummer of Bolt Thrower from 1994-97 and 1999-2015 ed.). He’s the catalyst of why the band got together in the first place. The first album is almost a tribute to him directly. And that’s what all the actual songs contained. All the elements that are in there, they are written from a place of mourning, grief and sorrow. Sadness. That was the aspect of For the Fallen. And this new album reflects the way we feel again, it’s almost like a journey, a grieving process, effective by time. Time’s the thing that makes it easier ironically. And things change.

Could you try to describe the album’s identity?

This album I think goes onto the next stage of the mourning process. It’s a part where you’ve lost all the initial shock and the sadness and the sorrow, and you’ve got to get a bit more angry about the situation. So I think there’s a lot more bitterness and anger in this album, it’s a lot rawer as you say. Maybe even more emotional in some respects. There’s a different kind of raw emotion to this one, it’s a lot angrier.

The new album is moving into a new era lyrically as well, with themes that are a lot more reflective about the world that we live in. Lyrics about the real world, things that I think are important to talk about. War has been the center theme, that’s what I’ve written about. There might be a sub-context to the lyrical content involved but the main interest has always been about war. On the first album I did a couple of songs that were moving away from that area but with this new album, The Silent Vigil the lyrics are very different. They are beyond the formulas I’ve been writing in the past. There are songs on there that are based on real theories, real things that are happening in the world around us right now. By that I mean, there are songs on there that have a large amount of social-political comments about the world. They are very concerned about the global rise of the right wing and the fascist ideology which seems to be gaining a massive voice across the planet that we live in. And that really scares me.

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Karl Willetts [Photo: Vivien Varga]

I think voice needs to be raised against it, we can’t just turn away and ignore what’s happening all over the world. As an artist, as a vocalist and as a lyrical writer I think it’s my position to stand up and say something about that. It’s important to me. And I enjoy that challenge of writing lyrics that are not specifically in my comfort zone. It’s quite good to be able to break free of these chains and have that kind of creative freedom, to be able to write about things I think are important. So along with the songs that have large elements of social-political content which are about equality, freedom, racism and all those issues, there are also songs on there which are about transition, about moving forward, about trying to create a new future. These things are very reflective of what the band is trying to achieve as well. That’s how I feel about what’s happening in my life. That’s what we’re doing with Memoriam, we’re moving from the past and trying to develop a new identity, our own band, our own thing.

Could you select a special song from The Silent Vigil and share your vision on it?

There’s a song on there that is about my personal experiences with my mother. Nothing Remains, that’s about the issues of dementia, a mental illness, which is a massive growing issue in the world within our aging population. That happened with my mother about a year ago and it’s been a devastating experience, not just for her but for me and my whole family. A massive impact. So I’d say a lot of the lyrics on this new album are all very reflective of the world that we live in: They are all based on real issues that are important to me.

That’s totally understandable.

But that’s just the lyrics, of course musically there is also a big difference to the first album: There’s lots of tones and textures and new ideas on this new album. I think the first album is great and as I said a document of the time but we were very much aware of the expectations on us to a certain extent; people were quite interested to hear what we are gonna do. There was a certain level of expectation on us so we wanted to say “Hold on. We’re not gonna be doing a Bolt Thrower Nr. 2 or a Benediction Nr. 2; we wanna do our own thing, we wanna create our own identity”. But at the same time, we were still kind of in the shadows and the chains of the past on the first album.

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Memoriam (Karl Willetts, Frank Healy, Andrew Whale, Scott Fairfax)


So The Silent Vigil is moving forward – I think we’ve managed to come out of these shadows and create something that is more Memoriam-ish.
We are more comfortable with our own identity as a band right now and that’s expressed in different tones and structures of the songs. There’s lots of different varieties on there. The overall production is a lot warmer as well, we’ve used the studio this time with real amps in it. We feel the last album is great but certain elements are too overcompressed and maybe too digitalized in many respects, we’ve used quite a few samples on there. But we move free from those with the new album. The album has got a lot more warmth and depth to it. I think the reals amps enhance the rawness, the warmth and the depth of the music. That’s really been a big difference for us and we are very happy about the way it has come together. That was a long answer, wasn’t it? (laughs)

It was, but you answered some other questions of mine as well so I guess it’s a win-win situation!
Okay so I just love the album cover, it’s a typical mesmerising Dan Seagrave artwork with lots of details, beautiful colors and an old school death vibe. As far as I know with Bolt Thrower you’ve never worked with Seagrave, how did the idea come this time?

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Some of Dan Seagrave’s works

That’s right, we’ve never worked with Seagrave with Bolt Thrower. There’s a little story about why we were using Dan Seagrave and it’s basically because we are trying to recreate that old school vibe with Memoriam. Call it a midlife crisis if you want but we are trying to recreate the feelings of energy, creativity and joy in how we felt when we were in a band for the first time. That’s the bottom line of what we’re trying to do with Memoriam. And I think we’ve achieved that by the book at this point. However, the reason we used Dan was because when we first got together as a band, we all sat down before we went into the rehearsal room and we thought “Right, let’s see what we all wanna get out of this band. What would be the greatest thing we could actually get from doing Memoriam?” I said I wanted to play at certain places in the world where I haven’t played before. I think (Andrew) Whale(, drummer – ed.) mentioned a few festivals he wanted to do; Frank (Healy, bassist – ed.) he wanted to record at certain studios… And Scott (Fairfax, guitarist – ed.) came along with the fact that before he dies, he wants to record an album which features a Dan Seagrave cover. So we managed to tick that box quite successfully, twice now. But yeah, we approached him and gave him a very brief idea of what to do and that’s how he came up with the first album cover which is absolutely amazing. And you may have noticed on the second album cover, following the theme of the actual contextual idea of the album – grief –, the album cover reflects that as well. On the first album cover the coffin is being paraded across the battleground – funeral procession. The album cover of The Silent Vigil shows the coffin in the center of focus, lying in state with all the minions and supporters, followers standing there and watching, paying homage to the fallen leader (whatever you wanna call him, whatever’s in there). So yeah, we’ve got an idea what we’re doing with this. So I’d say the album cover’s theme just reflects the process of grief.

Do you already have any plans in mind for the future?

We are all ready at the point where we are starting to work on Memoriam’s next album. We work in an incredibly fast pace. We have a trilogy in mind for Memoriam: We’ve already engaged Dan’s services and we’ll team up for the next album cover, too. We’ve got other ideas beyond these three albums as well but our intention is to move forward and get another album out at some point in 2019. To complete the trilogy.

That sound really good Karl! Looking forward to it.  

Yes, exciting times for us here in Memoriam! We’ve got a lot of gigs as well, doing a lot in between. We’re just enjoying every moment for what it is ‘cause we’ve realized that life is short and you don’t know what’s around the corner. So you have to take everything you can, roll with it and enjoy life. That’s what you have, just enjoy life to the maximum and have as much as you can, while you can. And we’re doing that.

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Karl Willetts

Nice words, I’m happy for all of you guys! Some other subject now, as far as I know you have a Cultural Studies degree from the Birmingham University. It’s clear from all your lyrics and previous interviews that you have an interest in discussing about ideologies, ethnicities, globalization, and in general, politically engaged cultural issues.

Cultural Studies was the only school of thought in the 70s and it closed down ironically a year after I finished my degree course. I think they just realized it was kind of developing a lot of critical cultural thinkers and critical theorists. Which wasn’t doing the system any good, really. But yeah, I had a great time at Birmingham University. I did that because I left school with no real qualifications. When Bolt Thrower first started and was getting quite popular, I did a lot of A levels and my qualifications. And then when I left the band, I really wanted to go to university and experience that life. So doing that course was fantastic, it almost kind of contextualized the ideas and lyrics I’ve been writing previously. And made sense of them for me. It was a good grounding for me to get all these different ideas of social theory as well. There was lots of postmodern theory, classical social theory. I’ve also spent a year doing a bit of Russian culture, African studies and things like that. Issues of gender and race. So I think that’s really how it formulated my mindset and developed my ideas and maybe gave me the confidence to write the way that I do.

Did you ever think about working in a different field connected to your studies?

The ironic thing about Cultural Studies was that there was such a lot of deconstruction involved in what we did. I came away from the course thinking that academia generally is just a lot of self-justifying bullshit (laughs). Writing things about stuff and not really engaging with real life. That’s what I generally got from my degree course. So I never really wanted to pursue my academic career any further than what I did: I think the three years at university were more than enough for me. And I’ve taken away those ideas and applied them in a much wider context and I feel like that’s a better way forward.

For the end: What do you think is your most spoken sentence?

(Laughs) It has got to be a wrong word really, or like “War Master” or “World Eater” (laughs). I think my personal favorite line is the two lines in Powder Burns “Psychological technique / Invincible no pain”. Psychological technique, I really like that line for some reason. That’s one of my favorite lines I’ve ever written.

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Lynda “Tam” Simpson of Sacrilege

I’m also particularly proud of the song Last Words on For the Fallen from Memoriam, which we did with Tam from Sacrilege. She came with the idea and that was a kind of crowning highlight moment. A highlight moment of my career that I forgot to mention! It was great to get her involved because she was the reason I wanted to do this in the first place. There are some lines in that song that are quite touching as well.

Thank you very much for your extensive answers and your time Karl. I wish you all the best on your way forward with Memoriam and have a good night!

It’s been really a pleasure! Thanks for you time and your support. Good night Estelle!

Metalegion Magazine #3

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Support us by buying the 3rd edition HERE! :)

And it’s here again: The third issue of Metalegion Magazine, another project I am contributing to is out and ready to be purchased for the price of 6€ (printed version) or 0.99€ (digital version)! This time the magazine features my interviews with Karl Willetts of Memoriam and ex-Bolt Thrower, Paul Mazurkiewicz of Cannibal Corpse and Marcel  “Schmier” Schirmer of Destruction; along with a few reviews written under the name of Estelle.

92 English-written, full colour pages with a sampler CD and posters. If you’re interested, visit metalegion.com – we are thankful for any support and are happy to come back with a fourth edition soon! 

Estelle

 

R.I.P. Mark “The Shark” Shelton!

The Shark and Estelle in May 2017 at a Manilla Road gig in Halle, Germany


One of the most enthusiastic, fan-loving and intimate bands of our time; thanks to you, Mark “The Shark” Shelton! Your musical work is indescribable and your energy and nerves for playing live gigs and catching up with fans in the past few years is honourable. I am incredibly happy I had the chance to be present at your second last live concert at Chaos Descends. Rest in peace – if someone, you can be sure you’ll be missed!

“My aim is to stay healthy and to keep my whole environment positive” – Bernemann (ex-Sodom)

Interview with Bernd Kost (“Bernemann”) from ex-Sodom

Interview by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 7th of September 2016

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Bernemann – then and now

Hi Bernemann, thanks a lot for taking time for our interview with Metalegion Magazine! At first I would like to ask, looking back at your career in Sodom since 1996, do you think you could have done anything differently or in a better way?

It’s a difficult question. I guess after so many years you will find a couple of things that you maybe could have done better but finally everything has happened as it has and with that I am very happy today. I am satisfied with where we are right now with the band and I guess I don’t want to think about what I could have done better (laughs)I am happy with my life and I guess next time I would also do everything in the same way.

That is for sure great to hear.
If you could describe it in 5 words what you would like to express with the general image of Sodom especially regarding themes in connection with war and aggressivity, what would you say?

Tom is doing the lyrics and so he is mostly writing them about war. It’s a very heavy subject for me: I was born in this generation but my parents and grandparents lived and survived during the war and in my family besides them many people died who served as soldiers. When I was a child, I grew up with stories about the war. My parents and grandparents told me about everything that happened during the war time as they were children. I was always very impressed – this doesn’t mean that I like war though. If you read Tom’s lyrics, very quick you will understand that we hate war. I guess that Tom wants to remind people with his lyrics like in Ausgebombt: “don’t forget about how violent and cruel war actually is”. Just never forget it. And so in this meaning, I can live with it as we are not a band that glorifies war or violence.

ALL TIME HIGHLIGHTS…
Could you select up to 3 albums (it can be less or more, it’s up to you) from any genre that you consider your all-time favorites and tell me why you consider them personal highlights?

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Queen – A Day at the Races (1976)

Today I am just listening to heavy metal but in the past I did listen to other genres, I grew up for example with glam rock in the 70s. I was always very impressed by music, I bought my first vinyl when I was 9 years old: a very different music genre, I guess it was from the glam band The Sweet in the 70s. Later I loved Queen, they were very important for me being a musician, and the record that especially impressed me was “A Day at the Races”. But since many years I’m only listening to hard rock and heavy metal music. Of course Slayer – “Reign in Blood” was a milestone for me and an also really important favorite of mine is the record “Parallels” from Fates Warning.

You are in the band since ‘Til Death Do Us Unite came out. This particular album wasn’t the most popular one among old school fans of Sodom – do you think this also formed the picture in the fans’ heads about you yourself?

I was actually very happy with this CD. Of course when we recorded ‘Til Death Do Us Unite, the album was not sold so successfully like Agent Orange or many others before in the 80s. But before, after the years Sodom was calming down a little bit with Masquerade in Blood or Get What You Deserve. I guess with this Sodom was on a very difficult path and for me personally there were too many other influences this time. They also lost some fans, especially when they released Masquerade in Blood. And I know when Bobby [Konrad “Bobby” Schottkowski, drummer of Sodom 1996-2010 – ed.] and me came into Sodom and recorded ‘Til Death Do Us Unite, slowly we had to build up the fan-base again. And I remember very well that many people told me that after the release of the album that they became interested in us again. So I was actually happy with ‘Til Death Do Us Unite, even if I know it didn’t sell that well. I guess it was a sign for the fans that Sodom is a band again and now slowly we will come back.

Do you also feel that after this more difficult period that you described you did manage to get back on track?

Absolutely. Today as we are going to shows and walking to the rehearsal room, I feel now Sodom is again a unit, and a very strong one. Especially now with Makka [drummer since 2010 – ed.] – I know him for a very long time, he’s not only a drummer but also a friend. So we do have a good relationship to each other, we work very hard and I guess that’s what makes Sodom to have a very strong line-up even today.

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Sodom – Decision Day (2016)

BERNEMANN UNVEILS… “Decision Day”
Your new album, Decision Day came out at the 26th of August 2016 at Steamhammer records. Could you select a special song from the new record and share your vision on it, or maybe explain the lyrics, refer to some instrumental parts or tell me about the creation of the track?

I guess one of the last songs that I recorded was Belligerence. This song is my fave from the CD even though we all have lots of favorites from the album (laughs). We have a big problem figuring out the songs we wanted to play from the album because we just love all of them. This is not always the case, but this time especially. So we are really happy with all the material. For me Belligerence was an excellent song to record, because there are some nice acoustic mixed with some very fast parts, just a furious song. I remember I had the idea for the opening riff; one day I was back here in my small home-studio and was just jamming and as the idea for the riff came I immediately got goosebumps. In the first moment I thought I maybe remember this from another band because I like it so much, and I was like “wow Berni this is just a cool riff”. That riff is my highlight from the CD.

Was it like that with the songwriting process of Decision Day as well that Tom wrote most of the lyrics or did you guys collaborate too?

Usually, most of the time the song starts with the guitar. I have an idea for the guitars and then I meet with Makka, our drummer in the rehearsal room and we are working on the basics. We collect all the ideas and make the structure of the songs, we jam a little bit and then if we have the idea for the song more or less ready, then we come to Tom and play together in the rehearsal room and Tom thinks over the lyrics. Tom is always doing the lyrics alone and he always comes up with them after the song is done, so we always start with the music.

sodom.jpegI always had the feeling Tom was the one who always lead the the band and decided about a group of things. Have you ever thought of maybe wanting to have more attention  regarding the fact that Tom is getting the largest part of it?

Thank God I don’t get most of it! (laughs) The point is, Makka and me have regular jobs, I personally work in a factory. If I had more attention I wouldn’t have the time to pay attention myself to all the things surrounding me. Now that we are talking for example, I came back half an hour ago from my work and now I am giving an interview. If I could do all the interviews and all the promotion stuff that Tom is doing, I wouldn’t have the time for myself. Tom just lives from the music and so he does have enough time, and he’s the face of the band since many years – I don’t have a problem with that. I love to be the ‘man behind’ who is responsible for the guitars and I see myself also as a songwriter. Even if I never wrote any of the lyrics this is enough and absolutely okay for me, we never had a problem about this in the band.

That is great to hear if there is a balance in the band with regard to this question.
A bit of a different subject now: You collaborated with famous German schlager singer/actor Roberto Blanco in 2011, making a commercial intended to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. As far as i know he also joined you on stage at various gigs (including Wacken 2011) for a metal rendition of his song ‘Ein bisschen Spaß muss sein’. How did the idea of making the commercial come and what is your opinion on it, looking back to it?

First of all we were really surprised when the management of the singer Roberto Blanco asked us if we want to work together. I know him since I was a child, he is very popular in Germany so I was really surprised when we got this offer to make this video clip together with him. We liked the idea very much, we didn’t get anything for making the video so this had nothing to do with the money, it was funny to do the job and it was for good reason.

At this time my mom also got Alzheimer’s disease so I know what it means if old people have this sickness. This was also one of the reasons why I liked this idea, and especially together with Blanco doing this funny clip, we enjoyed it very much.

Do you have any more fresh ideas in connection with Sodom that have never been done or applied before but you still keep them in mind?

In general no, I was very happy with the way we were working in the last years. We had a bit more time for writing the songs, that was very important. Maybe we should pay a bit more attention to the arrangement of the songs. Now we are able with the modern recording equipment, so we can prepare many many ideas at home and then simply meet in the rehearsal room to play together. But sometimes in the past I had so many ideas that I wasn’t able to record right away so they got lost. In the last years everybody has got a PC and is able to record right away if an idea comes – this makes life a bit easier.

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Bernemann in 2009 – Photo: Baconmusic

I hope that we can still find the time in the future for the songwriting. I guess you cannot actually plan for the future but the most important thing for me is to have good ideas, to stay inspired, to have a good mood everywhere what’s surrounding you, to have a good life with your family and no problems with your job. My life is much more than only making music, and if everything around me turns out good then I am also able to write good songs. This is of course wavering, in the last years I had many problems with losing my job for example. But as long as you yourself are in a good mood – and that’s the secret – and are happy with your life, you can keep on going further and writing songs that fans like. This is my aim, to stay healthy and to keep my whole environment positive and then everything will happen by itself.

For the end: Did you think about what would have been becoming of you if you wouldn’t have started out with playing music?

One day after a live show of Sodom in Bulgaria someone among my friends asked me this question and I told them that I think I would be a really good tourmaker. And everybody was laughing “Oh Bernemann, sure, tourmaker” but I am actually already a tourmaker, for sure not a full-time musician. I would do that gladly.

Thank you very much for your time Bernemann, I wish you all the best with Sodom’s new album Decision Day but especially with the tours you will be making! Have a great time in Italy as well!

Estelle, thank you very much, I appreciate it.

Metalegion Magazine #2

metalegion#2

Purchase the issue HERE

The second issue of Metalegion Magazine, another exciting project I am contributing to is now out and ready to be purchased for the fair price of 6€ (printed version) or 0.99€ (digital version)! Besides lots of other highlights, the issue features my in-depth interviews with top acts of the metal scene like Running Wild or Sodom, a few reviews as well as an extensive festival report of the French Fall of Summer Festival 2017; written under the name of Estelle.

92 English-written, full colour pages + a 79 minutes Sampler CD covering metal bands from different genres ranging from Heavy to Brutal Death Metal: If this sounds good to you, don’t hesitate and support us by purchasing the magazine HERE!

We’re really thankful and will get to work soon with the third edition. Couldn’t be more excited! :))

MERCILESS (Swe) video interview

I’m incredibly happy I got the chance to interview Merciless (Swe) at the Fall of Summer festival 2017 – check the result here! Topics include: Euronymous, Deathlike Silence, Morbid’s Dead, bad decisions, Fredrik Karlén, the ending of something and Kate Winslet. Enjoy!

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