“I hope we are all getting old together” – Andreas “Gerre” Geremia (Tankard)

I realized that I still haven’t published my phone interview made with Tankard’s Gerre in September, so here you go people! It clearly shows he’s an easy-going and easily likable guy.

Interview with Andreas “Gerre” Geremia (Tankard)

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 4th of September 2014

tankardHi Gerre, first of all thank you for doing the interview for Metalegion Magazine! If you had to describe the work of Tankard over all the years in three words, what would you say?

Thrash, fun and beer. (laughs) 

In what aspect do you think you are different from the other old school thrash metal bands?

I think the main difference is that we had a lot of humour from the very beginning of Tankard. We called our second demo just ‘Alcoholic Metal’ because at the time there were a lot of new metal styles, black metal and speed metal, and posers against all the others… And you know, we never took ourselves too seriously, we always had a lot of fun and I think it wouldn’t really fit for us to have an evil kind of image or something like that.
We have a lot of serious lyrics, a good combination of funny stuff and serious stuff, but we still have a lot fun in playing that kind of music. I think this is the biggest difference between us and some other bands.

In one of your earlier interviews when someone asked you how many albums the band plans to do, you said that in a case of beer there is space for twenty bottles. You just released your sixteenth album, R.I.B. (Rest in Beer) – are you still determined about doing four more?

At the moment it looks like it. (laughs) We still have a lot of fun, we still have good things happening, we keep going now for 32 years and I can’t see the end with the band, I could not imagine my life without Tankard – so I guess the case will be full some day!

Tankard – R.I.B. (2014)

Tankard – R.I.B. (2014)

How much work and time does it take for you to record one new album? You seem to go pretty easily with it, even besides the fact that none of you is a full-time musician.

This is a very hard period for us, but it’s actually not planned to put out a new album every two years. I mean I think it’s cool releasing a new album two or three years in between, but now R.I.B. is out, we’ll see what we’ll do with the next album. I think it will take another ten or twelve years to keep Tankard alive for the 20th studio album to get the case full.

How is it different to work with Nuclear Blast from how it was when you were at Noise, Century Media or AFM Records?

Nuclear Blast is the biggest one among the heavy metal labels, they have a lot of power, so I think this was really another step forward for Tankard. They do a lot of promotion stuff and it was really a kick for Tankard, we are very very satisfied and hope that we can stay much longer with Nuclear Blast.

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Tankard – Chemical Invasion (1987)

The cover of R.I.B. is kind of an obvious reference or ‘recommitment’ to your classic album Chemical Invasion, as well as the continuation of some of the lyrics and the insane professor character. Is this a sign of the fact that you are not willing to distance yourselves from your roots, from the simple and primitive thrash metal?

No, we never distance ourselves from our roots. You know, it was a funny idea to bring the mad professor back on a cover, but I think this album sounds different than Chemical Invasion. The story is totally weird because the professor failed in ’87 to stop the chemical invasion and now he’s back to take revenge on mankind and poison everybody with free beer. I actually really like the stuff that we did back in the eighties, but I’d never do that again in these days because a lot of things have changed with the sound and everything. Tankard is a band that never forgets about its roots, we always play a lot of old songs live, yet we always try to do a good mixture of old and new stuff.

Could you choose one song from the new album and describe what it means to you?

This is a very personal song on this album, it’s called ‘Hope Can’t Die’ – it’s one of my fave songs on the record. I lost a very good friend two years ago, at that time you have this confusion of feelings, anger and sadness and hope, “what did go wrong?”, “could I have helped?” – something like that – a mixture of emotions I had two years ago when I lost that very good friend of mine.

In the song ‘No One Hit Wonder’, you are asking “Where the hell did we go wrong” and saying “We played our asses off for more than thirty years, but now our patience’s gone, we want cash, keep the beer!” – is this just a fun track again, or do you (to some degree) mean what you are saying with the song?

Noo, this is a totally fun track again. That was my idea, because it’s really interesting to see that there are some musicians who only had one song in their lives and they can live all their lives from the money for it because the track is always played in the radio. And of course, Tankard will never do a ‘one-hit wonder’ song, because we played that long, so the idea was born to call this song ‘No One Hit Wonder’ and of course the lyrics are totally funny.

Tankard (Chemical Invasion era, 1987)

Tankard (Chemical Invasion era, 1987)

Besides the funny lyrics, you have some serious stuff going on in the lyrics again, for example in ‘War Cry’, ‘Hope Can’t Die’ or ‘Clockwise to Deadline’. Do you want or try to prove the fans that you also have this more mature side of songwriting? Or do you think that if they still haven’t noticed that Tankard is not Tankard only because of the beer, it doesn’t even matter?

We had that kind of beer-image since Chemical Invasion, we did everything for it, but later on we wanted to get rid of it – we totally failed in the nineties of course. Nowadays we do a lot of jokes about our own image, we see it with lot of parody and stuff like that. Since Chemical Invasion we always had a good mixture of serious lyrics and funny lyrics – if you watch the news every night and if you walk in the world with open eyes, then it’s not only fun, there are a lot of bad things happening on this planet.
We will always write also some serious stuff – first of all we are a band with a lot of humour and a lot of fun, but we are also a band that can play serious songs on stage while having fun. But we would never do an album only with fun lyrics.

As you said with your album Two-Faced from 1994, you began to try getting rid of this concept, of this image that the band built around beer, still, nowadays you accepted that it probably became the largest characteristic of the band.
In general, do you guys usually stick to the key things that seem to work for you, or do you still have the desire to try something new?

We never have a plan when we start the songwriting, about which direction it goes. For example if we did the next album totally seriously, nobody would believe that it’s Tankard. Somehow the old Tankard is reduced only to this beer stuff and we did everything at the beginning for it, but now we have to live with it, and as I told you before, nowadays we make a lot of jokes about our own image, so of course nobody has to take it so seriously. We really can live with that Tankard is sometimes just reduced to this kind of beer image, but we still keep on going, writing good songs, trying to do the best and hoping that the fans like it and expect Tankard to continue the music.

How seriously do you guys take yourselves when it comes to writing and recording a new album? Do you just have fun during the recording, or are you rather the hard-working types?

The songwriting and the recording stuff is very very hard and needs a lot of work, of course sometimes we have the moments in the studio when we are laughing and having a little bit of fun but it’s 95% totally hard work, you really have to concentrate on it. To tell you an example, I don’t drink any alcohol in the studio. I just open my first beer when we finished, when we are in the last minutes of finishing the last song.

tankardd

Tankard (current lineup)

Now that’s dedication!
Counting from 2000, the lineup of your albums are always the same. Have you ever thought about having some kind of a refreshment?

We are now together since 1998, especially with our guitar player Andy, he wrote most of the songs on the last couple of albums. I could not imagine to play with another member in Tankard, so I hope we are all getting old together.

I read that you are working as a social worker together with drug addicted people, can be an interesting situation for you day by day! Can you draw influence from the happenings at work for the lyrics of the band?

No, I would never do a song about that because this is my normal work and Tankard is a totally different world and I don’t really want to mix that. 

In the end I’d like to know: Is there any question that no one asked you before, and you would like someone to ask it from you?

(laughs) This is a really good question. I did so many interviews and now I had to think this over for a moment. Nobody asked me, actually nobody knows that I was a really good football player when I was young, and I really wanted to become a professional player. And nobody asked me about that! When I was getting older around 15-16, the partying started and then my career as a football player was over.
But concerning the music and singing, I think if you asked me that question at the moment, I would have to call you back in two hours maybe. (both laughing)

Thank you very much for the interview Gerre, have a good time with Tankard and put out some more albums because we are curious about you!

We will, thank you very much! Just so you know, we hope to go back to Hungary one day. Thanks for the support and have a nice evening!

Festival report of Brutal Assault XIX.

Festival report of Brutal Assault XIX. – 6-9th of August 2014

Report by Estelle on the 29th of August 2014

The 19th edition of the well-known metal festival Brutal Assault took place in Jaromer, Czech Republic from the 6th to the 9th of August 2014. A place where the beer is cheap, the atmosphere is pleasant, the bands are merciless and the free-time activities are numerous: besides seeing approximately 80 bands on the two main stages and one smaller tent namely the Metalgate stage, you get the chance to watch some classic movies at the horror cinema, to study an exceptional metal exhibition with diverse well-known artworks and to have fun at the green chill-out zone.

I would attempt to write a few words about the bands I managed to see.

August 6th, Wednesday

For me the festival started at 17:10 on Wednesday with the old American power/heavy band Flotsam & Jetsam. As the re-recorded version of their second album from 1987, No Place for Disgrace just came out they took the chance to play many songs off it. They noticeably don’t possess the same amount of energy and “freshness” as back in the day therefore the crowd got the this-is-not-enough feeling at times – it was still an enjoyable show recalling some aged classics, though.

At 20:55 Terrorizer got on stage with many people in front of them being curious about one of the oldest representatives of death metal/grindcore. Their sound was quite chaotic especially at the first 2-3 songs but they were still full of energy and played a decent old school setlist mostly consisting of tracks off their album from 1989, World Downfall. Despite the rough sound the drumming was flawless: it’s clear that Pete Sandoval (ex-Morbid Angel) knows what he is doing.

Venom – Photo: Petr Hoffelner

Venom – Photo: Petr Hoffelner

At 21:55 the day’s prime act, the mighty Venom hit the stage powerfully with the ultimate classic ‘Black Metal’ – in spite of the not-so-perfect sound at the beginning the crowd was already going crazy. Poisonous atmosphere, pounding rhythms, ecstatic state of mind, spectacular stage-set with the inevitable pyrotechnics and many, many insane people: bodysurfing and a large moshpit even at the mid-tempo tracks. The bestial Venom’s setlist included lots of old classics from the early ’80s; although this time they left out the nearly always mandatory ‘Countess Bathory’.

Venom’s setlist:

  1. Black Metal
  2. Hammerhead
  3. Bloodlust
  4. Possessed
  5. Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)
  6. Buried Alive
  7. Antechrist
  8. Hail Satanas
  9. Rise
  10. Pedal to the Metal
  11. Resurrection
  12. The Evil One
  13. Welcome to Hell
  14. Warhead

August 7th, Thursday

Thursday started with the new school American thrash metal band Havok. They apparently didn’t mind playing early before noon: the guys got every thrash fanatic moving and forming a huge moshpit in the heat by their absolutely dynamic show.

After Havok we got to see the death/thrash band Pentagram Chile also playing surprisingly powerfully and tightly with a clear sound and one fairly large crowd in front of them.

brutal2-onslaught

Onslaught – Photo: Estelle

At 2 pm Church of Misery came and brang some magic to the stage with their twisted, doomy riff-flow throughout the gig which distracted people away from their everyday mindsets for about 40 minutes. After them came a great shot of brutality by the UK guys Onslaught who were no doubt one of the most enjoyable thrash acts of the festival. They equally played from their first two (Power from Hell, The Force) and newer albums and every one of their songs sounded extremely powerful live – proving this it is enough to mention the size of the moshpit they have generated.

At 15:20 American death metal/grindcore band Misery Index tore the place up and gave an intense show in 40 minutes. Then I got to see the Hungarian technical death band Gutted on the Metalgate stage who were probably unknown to most people yet created one killer atmosphere that the crowd in the little tent also started to feel.

brutal2-obituary

Obituary – Photo: Estelle

At 18:10 we got to the highlight of the day with probably one of the most cruel old school death metal bands existing, Obituary. Standing in the second row I have never had as many people falling on and through my head as on their show, the overall mood was absolutely crazy. Just like in case of Venom, everyone was out of their minds right at the moment when the first note of the guitars could be heard – and as a consequence of the short but mostly old school setlist, people didn’t stop fighting, pushing and bodysurfing for a moment. The sound might have not been the best at the front but the completely enthusiastic audience did not seem to care, Obituary’s performance was among the best ones of the festival.

Obituary’s setlist:

  1. Chopped in Half
  2. Turned Inside Out
  3. The End Complete
  4. Inked in Blood
  5. Slowly We Rot
  6. Intoxicated
  7. Bloodsoaked

Then came the also entirely crushing gig of Suffocation who did not let the crowd take a deep breath after Obituary at all, they ripped and left everyone in the dust by their brutal, technical death metal music.

Even though Bring Me the Horizon is definitely not my kind of music, as far as I could notice they have attracted plenty of people enjoying metalcore and the dynamic gig of the British band after the different-style Suffocation. At the same time there were Inquisition playing on the Metalgate stage with far less people being curious, but the two-piece representatives of black metal were worth to see: they brang such an atmosphere to the small tent that the thrilled tension they have created was almost touchable.

At 21:40 on Thursday, the headliner of the XIXth Brutal Assault festival, Slayer hit the stage.

brutal1-slayer

Slayer – Photo: Petr Hoffelner

In general I would have to say it was a disappointment regarding both the sound and the energy and enthusiasm of the band members. One of the oldest and most famous thrash metal band’s setlist completely consisted of old songs except ‘Hate Worldwide’ and ‘Disciple’ and it still felt like they were simply weak and faint, not even approaching the group they used to be back then – nothing to be suprised about with only two of the original members, though. The lineup was solid: we got Tom Araya on vocals and bass, Kerry King on guitars, Gary Holt (Exodus) on guitars replacing Hanneman and Paul Bostaph (ex-Exodus, ex-Forbidden, ex-Testament) on drums replacing Dave Lombardo again – but the difference between their older shows and the one perfomed on Brutal Assault was clearly appreciable.
The setlist was definitely a plus with songs not often performed (e.g. ‘Captor of Sin’), but sadly the atmosphere and overall mood did not get close to what they were able to do long ago or even a few years back.

Slayer’s setlist:

  1. Hell Awaits
  2. The Antichrist
  3. Necrophiliac
  4. Mandatory Suicide
  5. Hate Worldwide
  6. War Ensemble
  7. Postmortem
  8. Captor of Sin
  9. Disciple
  10. Seasons in the Abyss
  11. Dead Skin Mask
  12. Raining Blood
  13. Black Magic

Encore:

  1. South of Heaven
  2. Angel of Death

After the main headliner, (the lots of) fans of melodic death metal had the chance to see one of the largest bands of the genre, Children of Bodom. Again melodic death is not my kind of music but the huge crowd seemed to be enjoying what the popular Finnish group was doing.

August 8th, Friday

On Friday the first act I was able to see was the American black/thrash band Skeletonwitch, whose show did not give much to me – the way how they played their music was somewhat boring, a little too modern and on account of the vocals did not seem to be black/thrash metal (how the band is originally labeled). After them came Fleshgod Apocalypse whose music doesn’t exactly fit my personal taste either, yet their show was strikingly powerful and had some kind of an unexplainable atmosphere that did get the audience moving.

Unleashed – Photo: Estelle

Unleashed – Photo: Estelle

At 17:35 we got to the top of the day still in daylight with Unleashed. The beginning of the Swedish old school death metallers’ performance did not have a strong impact on the curious people but afterwards from the second-third song, as we got to the catchier tracks and more effective commentaries from enthusiastic frontman Johnny Hedlund, people started fighting. Unleashed basically only played newer songs from 1997 on but the gig was still totally energetic reaching its top with the incredibly fast song ‘Hammer Battalion’.

At 7 pm Six Feet Under with ex-Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes got on stage and tore the place up. They were full of energy, they were loud and they had a satisfying sound. They have also played two Cannibal Corpse songs at the beginnging and end including ‘Hammer Smashed Face’, giving some frame to the show.

After them on the Metalgate stage ex-Pungent Stench guitarist/vocalist Martin Schirenc gave a fairly long show and played old school Pungent Stench songs under the name of “Schirenc plays Pungent Stench” as some kind of a tribute to the split-up death metal band with three other musicians. Fanatic people who knew the songs off their first two albums were extremely keen about hearing them live so that the crowd filling the tent was moving all along.

In the evening one of the headliners, The Devin Townsend Project with frontman Townsend, vocalist of Strapping Young Lad came and played a long set to the enthusiastic audience. I personally do not understand much from their music, although their sound was good and their fans were all satisfied with what they have seen.

Similar case occurs with another following headliner, Amon Amarth. I was never a fan of melodic death metal nor the idea that Amon Amarth presents but one cannot deny the fact that the Swedish band knows how to collect fans: almost everyone who attended the festival was standing in front of the main stages and seemed to be impressed by the scene.

As the last performance of Friday we got to see Broken Hope at midnight who gave an energetic death metal show to many people in the audience.

August 9th, Saturday

On the last day in the afternoon Impaled Nazarene, the Finnish black band played passionately to an equally energetic crowd. Later at 17:25 came the American Christian metalcore band August Burns Red whose music barely has anything to do with the other acts of the day but who managed to obtain a huge fanbase watching them playing on the festival.

Sodom – Photo: Petr Hoffelner

Sodom – Photo: Petr Hoffelner

Right after them on the other large stage one of the bands holding my greatest expectations, Sodom was already tuning. As they finally started the show filled with old classic thrash songs the pit got even bigger than on Obituary and the same amount of people started enjoying themselves bodysurfing. Unfortunately Sodom’s sound, at least in the front, was not as good as expected: I personally know the lyrics of almost all the songs they played and the sound was so chaotic at some parts that the tracks weren’t recognizable for 30-40 seconds. Still, the huge moshpit and incredible amount of pressing didn’t stop and people managed to sing along with vocalist Tom Angelripper.

Sodom’s setlist:

  1. Agent Orange
  2. In War and Pieces
  3. Outbreak of Evil
  4. Surfin’ Bird (The Trashmen cover)
  5. The Saw Is the Law
  6. City of God
  7. Stigmatized
  8. Sodomy and Lust
  9. Blasphemer (end with Venom´s Black Metal)
  10. Remember the Fallen
  11. Ausgebombt
Photo: Petr Hoffelner

Photo: Petr Hoffelner

At 19:40 in the small tent we got to see the old school death metal/grindcore group Repulsion who played their album from 1989, Horrified as a whole with a modified order of its tracks. It doesn’t happen everyday that one gets to hear an entire album at a festival therefore the audience was really cheerful and lively.

Later on the large stage another headliner, the Czech death(/thrash) band Krabathor gave a surprisingly intense performance. Then even more people gathered and watched the popular Down labeled as “southern metal” – again a band that doesn’t meet my taste completely, their show seemed to be rather leisured than heavy to me, even though many others were enjoying it.

At 10 pm came the old school death guys Benediction on the Metalgate stage – even Repulsion and Schirenc plays Pungent Stench filled the tent up, and this time the small stage was a bad choice for Benediction: there were 1,5-2 times more people seeing them than the size of the place. The show itself was short but extremely massive – they got everyone moving and forming a giant circle pit in the middle of the tent, running round and round listening to the brutal old school sounds.

After them the Norwegian black band Satyricon played a quite long setlist to the plenty of black metal fanatics rejoicing at the show.

Late at 00:25 the unique gothic/doom group My Dying Bride gave a performance to lovers of their kind with just a few long, extensive doomy songs of theirs.

Photo: Petr Hoffelner

Photo: Petr Hoffelner

And then eventually we got to the closing act of 2014’s Brutal Assault: Hail of Bullets at 01:20. Martin Van Drunen’s (Asphyx, ex-Pestilence) voice is still as perfect as ever and doubtless one of the best voices of death metal in general – he sounded flawlessly on stage with the band in the background performing their brutal, catchy old school riffs. The only downside I could mention was the rather funny fact that Van Drunen was talking or even whining for almost a minute between every track they played – he told us three times that guitarist Stephan sadly couldn’t be there, he made birthday announcements, he called Master’s Paul Speckmann up on stage and he was constantly thanking the crowd for coming – I had the feeling that they could have played two-three more songs if he only said a few words between the songs. But judging by their show people don’t have many things to complain about: Hail of Bullets gave an appropriate ending to the festival with an absolutely energetic way of playing and with a lot of people even at this late hour.


Summarized, strongest standout bands for me were: Venom, Onslaught, Obituary, Unleashed, Hail of Bullets.

On the whole, in spite of every minor problems mentioned, the XIXth Brutal Assault was absolutely worth going to, both regarding the overall experience and the financial part of the festival. Do not miss out on it next year!

Find more information at: http://brutalassault.cz/en/
Photos were used by ‘Estelle’ and Petr Hoffelner (http://brutalassault.cz/en/).

My top 10 of 2014 albums

Making lists has never been my cup of tea but let’s try. (Including EPs)

1. Morbus Chron – Sweven
At first the Swedish Morbus Chron’s second album didn’t convince me but I can’t describe how much the record grew on me a few months after the first listening – I got to the point where I consider it to be no doubt one of the most unique death metal stuff existing out there. Completely dissimilar to their first one yet just as excellent in a different way.
Morbus Chron – Towards a Dark Sky
.

bölz-s2. Bölzer – Soma
The black/death Bölzer set the standards high with their first EP ‘Aura’ [read my review of the record here] and even though ‘Soma’ needed more listenings to reach up to its level, the two-piece Swiss band did not disappoint. Very much looking forward to the album!
Bölzer – Labyrinthian Graves
.

midnn3. Midnight – No Mercy for Mayhem
Similarly to Bölzer, if Midnight’s Athenar wants to reach up to the level of his early works and first album Satanic Royalty, he probably has to put plenty of effort in it. ‘No Mercy for Mayhem’ is a little bit slower as a whole than any of his earlier works but is still really intense and among the very best of 2014.
Midnight – Woman of Flame
.

vampp4. Vampire – Vampire
The evergreen Swedish death metal scene shows once again what the Swedes are capable of. One of nowadays’ best old school-styled death metal album for sure!
Vampire – The Fen
.
.

rangg5. Ranger – Shock Skull
Finnish old school speed metallers with crushing live performances. If you don’t understand the hype around them, listen to Shock Skull and afterwards you most likely will.
Ranger – Shock Skull
 .
.

acc6. Accept – Blind Rage
Nice to see the German heavy metal veterans being still as strong and enthusiastic as ever. It really is a delight listening to Blind Rage!
Accept – Final Journey
.
.
.

nocwi7. Nocturnal Witch – Summoning Hell
Bestial German black/thrashers rising with their first album. I’d say it is worth buying.
Nocturnal Witch – Black Star
.
.
.

riot-unl8. Riot – Unleash the Fire
Awesome to hear the old guys still in such a good condition. Aand… Johnny the seal is back in one of his funniest forms ever.
Riot – Metal Warrior
.
.
.

port-cross9. Portrait – Crossroads
With their third album in 2014, the Swedish heavy group well-known among quite a few Mercyful Fate-follower bands in the country came up with a record fulfilling every expectation and beating out many other competitors.
Portrait – In Time
.
.

noct-storm10. Nocturnal – Storming Evil
Even though I personally liked both of Nocturnal’s earlier albums better, ‘Storming Evil’ was still a great album worth mentioning amongst the top ones from 2014. One of my favorite female vocalists, all hail Hell Tyrannizer!
Nocturnal – Rising Demons

“We let it become whatever it becomes” – Robert Andersson (Morbus Chron)

Interview with vocalist Robert Andersson and bassist Dag Landin from Morbus Chron

Interview by Estelle on the 18th of October 2014 on Live Evil festival in London

Photo: Joakim Andersson

The Swedish death metallers Morbus Chron – whose name comes from a kind of illness also known as Crohn’s disease – have proven to be one outstanding, unique band of their genre. Their debut, the mainly Autopsy-inspired, old school sounding Sleepers in the Rift [read my review of the album here] got them into and determined their place in the scene; followed by the exceptional, more mature Sweven (title is an old English word for ‘dream’ or ‘vision’) that took them to a next level.
As frontman Robert Andersson stated, the reason of the drastical change was the fact that they stopped caring about sticking to a certain formula or writing a specific kind of riff, ignored other bands and let their own voices speak the loudest.

I had the chance to ask a few questions from vocalist Robert Andersson (Robba) and bassist Dag Landin while leisurely sitting on the street at some doorway after Antichrist’s show on Live Evil festival in London.

Hello guys, first of all thank you very much for doing the interview with me! Firstly I would like to ask, do you think there is a point where you can find the style that fits and defines Morbus Chron and that you can stay with, or will you always have the desire to change or vary all the time?

Robert: For the next album, I don’t think it will be the same sort of transformation as between Sleepers and Sweven, I don’t think the change will be as drastic. But still, we’re doing this because we want to stay inspired, we want to change. If we just kept doing the same thing it wouldn’t be inspiring and the music would sound awful. But we have sort of reached the point where we feel really comfortable with the sound of Sweven and where we are right now.

Dag: Each of our releases are different, but all of the changes have come very spontaenously yet organically. There have never been decisions to say we’re going to change our style, it’s just the stuff that we come up with. It’s kind of hard to tell where we are going. We don’t really like to decide on a path to go on, so far it has just happened.

Do you think you can have constant or permanent fans even with the changing style?

Robba – Photo: Erik Stenbacka

Robert: We talked about that when we played here (Live Evil, London) in 2011, and compared to this time the crowd is reacting in a totally different way. In 2011 we just played songs from Sleepers and people were going crazy – we sound different now, and the people’s reactions are really different as well. I think we might have angered some fans that liked us before but I don’t think that’s the case with most people, I think they kind of appreciate this side of us too. 

Dag: Yeah, we’ve probably lost some fans but also gained a bunch of new ones.

Are you trying to meet the expectations of anyone (let it be a particular audience or a label) or do you plan to continue doing everything in your own way?

We certainly do everything on our own way.

Do you think it was essential to record and release Sleepers in the Rift in 2011 to reach the stage where you are now with the completely different Sweven?

Robert: Yeah, we all have to start from somewhere. Sleepers was the album that we wanted to write back then, and two years later we were going to write Sweven. We would have never written Sweven if we didn’t write Sleepers in the Rift, but they don’t connect.

That’s right, with Sweven you went from one extreme to another not just in case of the music, but also the appearance and the lyrics. Sweven has 3 instrumental songs already and I remember you (Robba) saying that you’re starting to find yourself not needing to express anything in words anymore. Would you consider making a completely instrumental Morbus Chron album?

Robert: I hope one day I’ll reach some point where I can express everything in the music, but I don’t see it coming, I don’t see the vocals disappearing completely any time soon. The screams are still a big part of the band, especially live. I wouldn’t mind writing instrumental music, I’d do that – but in case of Morbus Chron there will always be some vocals.

(To Dag:) How big role do you guys usually have in the band besides Robert? With how many ideas do you contribute to the making of an album?

Dag – Photo: Erik Stenbacka

Dag – Photo: Erik Stenbacka

Dag: In our case Robert is pretty much the mastermind of the band, he wrote both of our full-lenghts all by himself except for one song on each album that Adam wrote. And he writes very extensively, he comes up with drum patterns and stuff. He has got a very clear idea of what he wants but that idea always changes a little bit when we start rehearsing. For example Adam is a drummer, the drum patterns that Robba is thinking of don’t always add up, so we always change a bit. There’s some input from us, like the arrangement of songs or the bass lines. So usually Robba writes the blueprints and we add our own dimensions to it, just by the way we like it.

Robert: If you could compare the early recorded demos of the songs to the final versions, it goes from sounding like something that I did to sounding like Morbus Chron.

Dag: The riffs and arrangement changed a bit along the way, the rehearsal project is pretty long lasting so there’s always time for changes within the songs. It’s based on more ideas, every guy has his part in it.

Both of your albums has a really definite sound and atmosphere since you knew exactly what you wanted to achieve with the band in both cases. Can you imagine the making of an album where you don’t have a certain idea about how the final product should sound like or take form?

Robert: Actually that’s what we did on both albums I think. After a while when we had a couple of songs we started to see what it becomes but we didn’t set off that we have to go this way, this is how it’s going to sound etc., it’s the opposite. We let it become whatever it becomes, we didn’t have a clue about it.

Okay guys, thank you very much again for the awesome show and for doing this short interview, it really was a special experience! Wish you all the best.

Robert: Thank you for the support!

Festival report of Live Evil 2014

liveThis year I visited Live Evil in London from the 17th to the 19th of October, the festival noted of its incredible atmosphere, company and all-night-long-lasting party. These three (for us four) days for me were exactly as expected: the best few days of the year.
I’d take the chance to write a few words about my impressions of the bands I’ve seen.

The festival started with the pre-show on Friday 17th in the Boston Music Room with 4 intense bands. The rising German thrash band Division Speed started at around 6 pm with their energetic performance and with already fairly a lot of people in the crowd; followed by the also intense UK heavy-metallers Amulet whose music is quite impressive, yet the voice of vocalist Jamie was less to my liking. The thirdly performing currently popular Finnish speed band Ranger was among the highlights with their overwhelming energy and crazy-going audience until the very end – full moshpit and headbanging people everywhere. The last band of the pre-show, the cruel Norwegian blackened thrash group Deathhammer also did their job perfectly: they got the people moving and partying with their fast and furious death/black/thrash tracks.

Right at the beginning of the second – for me probably the best – day of Live Evil, as I don’t exactly understand the hype around the Spanish all-female heavy metal band Lizzies, I left their show out along with the secondly performing hard rock/heavy metal group Wytch Hazel and had an also cool time drinking. What I firstly got to see in The Dome was the Swedish Mercyful Fate-followers Portrait with so much energy that I felt blown away by the end – since this was my first time seeing the band, they were surely one of the biggest surprises for me. The sounding was also a lot better in The Dome’s hall than in the smaller one of Boston Music Room, so that every band (except for Nocturnal) could manage to sound almost perfectly.

Nocturnal – Photo: David Edward Lloyd-Jones

After Portrait I got to see a few songs from the killer German black/thrash Nocturnal Witch in the smaller hall, unfortunately no more than 3 since they started before Portrait ended and they finished after Nocturnal started. Still, what I saw was convincing – these guys know how to play some old school black/thrash, as I could already hear on their record from 2014, ‘Summoning Hell’.
I believe the German (blackened) thrashers Nocturnal‘s show was a bit a of a disappointment for everybody this time: Tyrannizer’s voice couldn’t be heard properly and the sounding as a whole turned into some kind of a mess at some parts. Personally, I could say I’m a great fan of the band and I also know most of the lyrics, yet this time some of the songs weren’t even recognizable at first. (– Hopefully they are going to be better at Raging Death Date 2015, though.)

Luckily after this little low point we got to probably the most effective performance of the festival: Morbus Chron. I did think this pretty popular Swedish death band would give a great show just as usual, but what these guys did this time left me speechless. They played both the furious, brutal and the obscure, magical parts of their songs extremely passionately, once letting the listener to go crazy and then putting them in absolute trance. I knew they were going to concentrate on their second album from 2014, ‘Sweven’, but it still surprised me that they only played 1 song off their flawless old school-sounding first album – and in the end I still say I didn’t mind it, as the ending of Morbus Chron’s show was something I’ve never experienced before. At the slowing, finishing part of the last song when drummer Adam didn’t have any more work to do, he stood up, saluted the crowd and walked off stage, slowly followed by every other member except guitarist Edvin who stood on stage and played the last slow, passionate guitar riff by himself. After he finished, there was silence for two seconds and then they got probably the most sudden and loudest cheers through the 3 days of the festival.
Morbus Chron’s music is not for everyone, but I think those who wanted to understand what they were doing certainly had an awesome time there.

Morbus Chron’s last song:

 

I didn’t think for a moment that this could not get any better as we still had Antichrist and Manilla Road left on Saturday, and happily I was right: with Antichrist‘s show the day did get even better.

For me it was the first time seeing these Swedish old school-style thrashers but I’ve heard a lot about the intensity of Antichrist in live – I can’t do anything but approve, it was sick. Right away when the first song started my mind literally got flooded with adrenaline, I fought and couldn’t get out from the pit for the whole time, surrounded by crazy people with exactly the same feeling. Neither did the band nor the crowd lose from their energy, the show was a 40 minutes long complete devastation, just by the way we like it. There probably aren’t many thrash metal bands nowadays who can create this old school kind of atmosphere both on their albums and in live, I actually think the experience of Antichrist in live can be close to how the early shows of the band’s biggest influence, Slayer could have been in the 80s.

As you can already guess, for me the Swedes were the absolute winners on Saturday.

Mark “The Shark” Shelton – Photo: David Edward Lloyd-Jones

After Antichrist I did an interview with Robert and Dag from Morbus Chron [read it here] so I had to miss the first 2-3 songs of the mighty old heavy/power band Manilla Road. When I got back, vocalist Brian “Hellroadie” Patrick was encouraging the audience and singing the beautiful old classics with high energy, while the mighty Mark “The Shark” Shelton tore the place up with his guitar – then the pretty lengthy yet not for a moment boring show reached its top immediately as Shelton himself took the microphone and started delivering the old classics on his unmistakable voice. Most likely the only disadvantage I could mention was that Patrick was just talking and talking and thanking everyone for almost like one minute between every song which turned into being a little annoying as we reached the end – but well, at least it seems like he still has more energy at 48 than the whole crowd together! The ending with two or three of the biggest classics from ‘Crystal Logic’ and the huge musical experience throughout the entire show didn’t leave anyone with one bad word about these four heavy metal lords.

Sunday was given an absolutely energetic start by the young Swedish heavy metal/punk band Nightmare City: I can’t be sure how many people knew their material in the crowd but they surely got a bunch of maniacs moving. Had to miss (had to drink) the Italian blackened thrashers Bunker 66 and the hard rock guys Lecherous Gaze although as I read they were both truly powerful. What I really didn’t want to miss was the old Brazilian Vulcano that got everyone going crazy again by playing their black/death/thrash songs from the past in a very surprisingly enthusiastic and impressive way. They were loud, they were cheerful and Louzada’s vocals sounded absolutely evil. Roughly at the end of their performance they got Nifelheim joining them on stage for 1-2 songs which gave another incredible boost to their show, my face was almost covered with blood as we reached the end (since I got my nose bleeding at the beginning) and still couldn’t stop ‘partying’ and feeling awesome.
After this carnage (for me literally :D) the old NWOBHM band, Quartz (with keyboard player Geoff Nichols mostly known of playing in Black Sabbath for 23 years) took the stage to play some classics, deliver a few ancient riffs of theirs and perform a nice tribute to Dio-era ‘Heaven and Hell’ by Black Sabbath. The ‘oldies’ started dynamically yet lost some of their energy afterwards – I’d say it still was a performance worth to see, though.

Nifelheim – Photo: David Edward Lloyd-Jones

And then eventually we got to the show everyone was waiting for: Nifelheim. People were waiting for the Iron Maiden fanatic Swedish black-thrashers not just throughout these 3 days but also a lot more than planned between Quartz and them – at least Maiden’s album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son already span almost 2 times as the gods finally started. But of course it was worth the wait, one of the tops of the festival (again, as usual): fast, loud and unbelievably powerful gig with a perfect setlist and with fighting and crazy-going crowd right away, without a single person isn’t moving.

Sick shows, sick people, an unexplainable atmosphere and a fitting end for such a musical massacre of 3 days. Definitely going next year too unless I lose my leg etc, so expect another review in roughly one year!