“The different types of music I’ve played have had satisfied different aspects of why I like playing extreme metal”

Interview with Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault, ex-Anthrax, ex-S.O.D, ex-Brutal Truth)

Interview by Estelle at Brutal Assault on the 5th of August 2015 

Hey Dan, first of all thank you so much for doing this interview with me! First I’d like to ask, if you could go back to the very beginning of your metal career, would you do anything differently?

Dan: Maybe making decisions about signing to certain labels, but not artistically. I’m completely satisfied with the paths I have taken even though I could have maybe sold out and made money or something; but I couldn’t really do this, it would go against my heart. So now I can’t think of too much I would do different as far as a musician. Maybe some business decisions, but not as an artist.

Out of all the bands you were involved in, which one was the most fun to work with?

Dan: This is a difficult question because the different bands I’ve played with have satisfied different feelings inside me: thrash metal is fun, you’re drinking beer and smoking weed; if you’re playing black metal it makes your hair stand up (this is such a special feeling), or if you’re palying grindcore, it’s like there’s lightning in the air. So the different types of music I’ve played have had satisfied different aspects of why I like playing extreme metal. As far as having fun, it’s difficult to have fun playing black metal because you must stay in a very serious vibe – and it’s hard to because sometimes something happens and you have to laugh, something falls over or I don’t know. (laughs)

I’ve read that you are still kind of satisfied with how your first record with Nuclear Assault, Game Over sounds – as I’ve noticed that is not something common among musicians. Do you want to recreate the same vibe and sound both on an album and live or can you accept the fact that we don’t live in those times anymore?

Nuclear Assault – Game Over (1986)

Dan: Honestly, I think the guitar sound on Game Over is not distorted enough. But this was the analog days – and now we live in a digital world. We accept the fact that the old process of recording is different now, but we have technological advantages; it’s much easier to fix a mistake immediately instead of having to start from the beginning. The sound of analog recordings had a special real warm sound to them that’s hard to recreate digitally, but there are ways to imitate this.

John Conelly (vocalist of Nuclear Assault who just sat down next to us): How hard is it?

Dan: What’s hard?

John: Well, to recreate the sound of old recordings. How hard is it Dan?

Dan: Are you being perverted? I’m talking to a woman, have some taste for Christ’s sake! (John’s laughing)

[To John who was hoping that I’d do the interview with him instead of Dan:] Aren’t there any conflicts in Nuclear Assault because of Dan being the center figure?

John: Nah, no problems.

Dan: Nobody wants the attention, I just have to take it.

[To Dan:] Seeing the huge success of and interest around Anthrax counting right from Fistful of Metal, don’t you ever feel awkward for being fired from the band in ’84? Didn’t you ever think about going back?

Dan: I was asked to leave Anthrax – I didn’t have the opportunity to continue with them, they told me to go. So it doesn’t matter. I called up John and said “we have to start a band” and that’s how Nuclear Assault came. Anthrax’s music went to a more commercial direction than I think I would have enjoyed playing; but it’s all okay, everything happens for a reason – that’s what they say.

Daniel Lilker

Daniel Lilker

I’ve read in one of your earlier interviews when a guy asked you about your further plans with S.O.D. that you said “the more we do, the less special it becomes”. Is this a general view of yours or does it only apply to S.O.D.?

Dan: Absolutely. S.O.D. was kind of a weird thing where we just didn’t have any idea it was going to get popular, we just said “oh, we’re just gonna play some pop-rock songs and record them” and the more you try to recreate that, it would become less. We had a surprise attack at the time, you can never repeat that. So just forget it, just be happy with that and don’t try to milk the cow too much.

It’s clear that you do not like today’s metal – still, have you found any new bands (let it be thrash or anything else) recently that did surprise you or gave you something you haven’t really heard before?

Dan: I can’t think of anything in the recent past that I’ve heard that was totally original, but it’s understandable because people playing thrash metal in 2015 have a lot of influences. When we started, we did our own thing to get things from hardcore and maybe a couple of Slayer riffs or whatever, or maybe more Venom, Hellhammer or Discharge. The point being, it’s harder to be original 30 years later.

Nuclear Assault (1986)

Nuclear Assault (1986)

[To both of them:] What is the thing that you mostly miss from the old days when it comes to music?

Dan: I’m not sure I miss anything from the old days. Maybe just the fact that back then everybody knew each other. There was a community, and now it clearly is exploited.

John: We got to play with Exodus on a fairly regular basis. We saw the guys in Testament often too, great guys, fun to be around.

[To Dan:] You are not only a bassist but a really diverse talent as you also play the guitars, piano, drums and you’re a vocalist as well. Where does all this come from?

Dan: It’s the same source. I played piano when I was five years old and heavy just came in later. But playing music – whatever you’re doing –, it’s all from the same well. It depends on what instrument you are using at the time and of course I’m not the best guitarist or anything, I’m a bassist. But I write songs on guitar because it’s easier to explain to the other guys.

John: The nice thing is that we both have a qualification in classical music, we speak the same language. So if I tell Dan “do you need something in E-minor and 6/8 time signature?”, he knows what I’m talking about. A lot of people don’t even know what E-minor is – it’s odd because they are really good musicians. For Dan and I it’s like common vocabulary.

Do you want me to ask a particular thing from you?

Dan: “Why are you guys so handsome?” – I don’t know! Or: “Why do you do what you do?” – Because we don’t give a fuck.

Okay guys, thanks for taking the time and doing a quick interview, also thank you for your nice show!

Dan: Thank you!

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“Asphyx will always be Asphyx – what you see is what you get”

Interview with Martin van Drunen (Asphyx, Hail of Bullets, Grand Supreme Blood Court, ex-Pestilence)

Interview by Estelle at Brutal Assault on the 6th of August 2015

vandrunen1Hi Martin, thank you very much for giving the chance and doing the interview for Darkness Unseen! First I’d like to ask, in which band and in which period do you think you were on the highlight of your career?

Asphyx, right now in this very moment. I just came off stage and we agree with the guys that this was one of our best shows in like half a year. Everybody’s like “fuckin’ hell!”. Even if it was really hot, so we had to kind of dose our energy but it was a fuckin’ good show. We just walked off stage and we all came along to each other like “wow that was good, compliments guys!”. So it’s easy to say, it is right now.

Would you give any advice to your younger self if you could go back to where you started?

Wow. I think I would say “let go a bit of your pride”.

I read in one of your earlier interviews that you tried playing the guitar at first, and then Patrick (Mameli) from Pestilence forced you to start learning bass because Pestilence needed a bass player. When did you realize that vocals were rather your thing?

It’s really weird: I actually met Patrick in a hardrock-metal cover band from some guys that I knew. They were practicing and I was a kid so I just said “okay you guys practice then I come along and drink a few beers”. But their singer, lots of times he was not showing up being drunk or something, and then Patrick joined them and played stuff like Slayer with them. And they asked “who knows the lines?” and I was like “I know the fuckin’ lyrics!” – “okay, try then!”. So that was my first effort, just for fun.

Martin Van Drunen – Photo: Nando Harmsen

Martin Van Drunen – Photo: Nando Harmsen

And a few years later when I met Patrick again, I asked “what are you guys doing now?” and he goes “I have another band, we’re looking for a singer”. Then he asked “and what are you doing now?” I go like “I’m a singer looking for a band” – well I was not, I just had a big mouth. But that’s how it happened with Pestilence, I never thought to be a singer, I just wanted to be in a band. (laughs)

Asphyx is one of the death metal bands that really sticks to the roots of old and ‘true’ style of death metal. Was there always an agreement on this matter between the members of Asphyx? Was there anyone who would have liked trying new ways?

No, this is something which we know THIS is Asphyx. As soon as we start experimenting with new shit, it’s not Asphyx anymore. This is probably safer than to say “let’s do something else” but I don’t feel the need for it, I just don’t like it. I like what we do with Asphyx now, this is the style that I prefer, this is the style that’s inside of me. And this is the same with the guys. So Asphyx will always be Asphyx – what you see is what you get. We never disappoint any people by changing our style, we would kill ourselves.

Even though you were not in the band most of these times, do you know why Asphyx split up so many times so far?

Asphyx (1991-92)

Asphyx (1991-92)

I don’t know it exactly, but actually if you don’t know Bob (Bagchus; founder drummer of Asphyx – ed.), he’s not the easiest guy to handle. I think it also had a lot to do with the relation of Bob and Eric (Daniels; guitarist of Asphyx from 1989-95 and 1997-2000): even nowadays as they do Soulburn together, they are really close friends, they’re like brothers. You just can’t get in between. Even if I really do like them as friends and as collegues in metal, even for me it’s really hard to get in between them. And I think that was the problem, that they were together and somebody else inside – and all of a sudden there was something happening and they just said “okay fuck off, you just don’t fit in”. I think that’s the main thing why so many lineup changes and ‘split-ups’ happened.
And don’t forget the Asphyx – Asphyx album (from 1994) that Eric did basically alone – that was a lineup that had nothing to do with anything else, he just found a few guys. It was like a new band.

Kind of a different subject: You were the vocalist of Bolt Thrower and did two tours with them from 1994 to ’97. Why did you have to replace Karl Willetts (the original singer of Bolt Thrower) live?

They asked me and you know if a band like Bolt Thrower asks you, you don’t say no! (laughs) We were good friends, I knew them because we toured with them with Asphyx, we were on the road for 5 or 6 weeks. They lost call, they didn’t want to do it anymore and they were like “who can do this?”. Then they found out there was something going on with Asphyx and they called me, so I was just like “fuckin’ A, I’m on it!”.

How is your relation with them nowadays?

Nowadays it’s still really good, there’s a lot of respect. We still meet each other, making the good old jokes, so it’s really fine and I’m happy with them. Karl is back and they do fantastic – Bolt Thrower deserves that. It’s a fucking good band, it’s a machine, one of the bests around the world.

You also play in Hail of Bullets and came to give an excellent show last year at Brutal Assault. Which one of your bands do you consider the more important one for you at the moment?

There is a No.1. in between them, I mean if I focus on one band, the focus is the same. I just really enjoy both, to be on stage, to have fun with the guys.

Pestilence (1989)

Pestilence (1989)

Only one question about Pestilence because I know you hate answering these:
Since you said in so many interviews that Pestilence was your life, Pestilence was the band that meant the world for you, don’t you ever feel like you made the wrong decision when leaving? Or that the albums the guys released after you left would have been “better” if you were still in the band? (As we know you don’t like Testimony or Spheres at all)

That’s why I said in the beginning when you asked me if I would have changed things that maybe I should have lost a bit of my pride; because I was a proud little bastard back in those days. If you give everything that you have and you put it into a band and someone tells you that your performance is a crap… When you know that you are just growing all the time… I knew my voice was getting better, at the US shows that we gave we left nothing of Carcass and Death, we blew them away every night on stage completely; they had no chance and they knew it. So we were really, really good. I think if Pestilence continued that way, if I wouldn’t have left the band it would have been probably one of the biggest bands around on Earth. So yeah, in a way you regret that.

But from what I hear, from what Patrick is now as a person, he hasn’t changed. He didn’t grow up. He’s my age now but he’s still acting like a little kid. Very frustrated, feels very attacked, agitated, not happy at all. So even if I would have said okay, it would never work again. I can’t just work with a fellow like that. I do regret it because I know we worked hard and we deserved it, but one day the bomb would blow up, again. It’s not like with Asphyx where we are friends and have a good time, having a few drinks, listening to the same music – I don’t want to sit in Patrick’s house and listen to fuckin’ technical jazz. That’s just not me.

What do you miss the most from the old days when it comes to music?

It’s a French word: camaraderie (a feeling of good friendship among people in a group – ed.). I like being camarades and collegues, this is what I miss a lot. I mean we still are good friends with the bands we were, for example Autopsy or Bolt Thrower to name a few, but when we were touring at the time, we were just helping each other out, it was good fun. And now I see a lot of bands envying each other.
But it’s also because at the moment the scene is so big, there are so many bands, we lose the overview. Back then there were just a few bands that were really good, now it went too big. I miss that kind of intimity.

Asphyx (1991-92)

Asphyx (1991-92)

For the end: Is there any question that no one asked you before and you would still like someone to ask it from you?

It’s one of those questions where probably later on when you’re driving to the hotel you’re like “oh yeah, you could’ve asked me that”! Maybe something like what do I think of people writing lyrics nowadays – would I write that, am I interested in that…

Are you?

Mostly no. I think most lyrics nowadays are just completely shit. Rubbish, it’s sad. They don’t rhyme, it’s all done before, it’s not original, it’s really sad to hear. And that’s why a lot of things I don’t listen to, because I open the CD and I hear the singer and I’m like “what the fuck?”. I mean it was not bad in the past with French bands, if you don’t speak English that well, okay we forgive you. But come on, if you’re a Swedish band from nowadays you should speak your English and be able to write the lyrics. I think magazines and stuff don’t pay attention to the lyrics at all. I’d say if the lyrics are shit then the album is shit as well. Point.
I think lyrics should be given a lot more credits – but that’s because I’m a lyric writer. I put a lot of effort into it, I’m really working hard trying to be original, rhyming, having a good pace with the vocals; so it’s a lot of work but I enjoy it. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay off, no one notices.

Seems like it really does grind your gears! Okay Martin, thank you so much for being this straight and outspoken, I wish you a lot more gigs like this one at Brutal Assault both with Asphyx and Hail of Bullets!

Thank you for the support and the surprising questions – take care!

“I hope we are all getting old together”

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/).

A little piece of the interview made with Donald Tardy

Here’s an audible answer of my Obituary interview made with Donald in January 2015 [read the full interview here].
The reason why I wanted you guys to hear how he speaks is that I guess he is one of the best interviewees any journalist could get: I didn’t have to stop for a minute thinking about any section of the interview or word he mentioned as he speaks in such an understandable and composed way. Listening to the recording and just writing continuously, it’s like the dream of an interviewer, I was done within 2 hours. So enjoy!

“We kept it very true to what we used to do back in the day”

Interview with Donald Tardy (Obituary, Tardy Brothers) on Obituary’s new album ‘Inked in Blood’

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 21st of January 2015 

obi1Hello Donald, thank you so much for doing the interview for the magazine!
Could you select 3 albums that you either consider your all-time favourites or that had an impact on you for some reason?

Sure. Holy Diver would be the first one because it’s the best album in the world. It is the best drumming record I have ever experienced, it is still my favorite drum album. Another one would be Led Zeppelin II because of John Bonham – as I was a child John Bonham really showed me how rock ‘n’ roll music or heavy metal doesn’t need to be the most technical as long as the drummer plays very solid – and John Bonham was just one of the best drummers in the world.
And then, I guess Psycroptic’s latest album (The Inherited Repression, 2012 – ed.). I think they are an incredible band that is so technical and the drummer does things that I could only dream of doing because he’s so fast. (laughs)

If you could start your whole career in Obituary again, would you do anything differently?

No. (emphatically)

Obituary – Inked in Blood (2014)

Your new album, Inked in Blood was released in October 2014. What was the main goal you wanted to achieve with releasing it?

The main thing we wanted to do is make sure that it sounded like Obituary and that the songs were written in the Obituary style – and that’s an obvious answer, but that was the main goal, to make sure that it was a true Obituary album. And then along with that came making sure that when we recorded the album we stayed true to what recording albums used to be and kept it very old school. We did not use too much modern technology with the recording, we only used microphones and instruments so we did not do any sound replacing or triggering of bass drums or anything, we kept it very very true to what we used to do back in the day – so those were the two main goals.

You recorded the album in your own studio called RedNeck. How was the recording or writing session different from any of your previous albums’?

The main thing was that it was relaxing and it was enjoyable. In my career I’ve always experienced that sometimes the studio can be a bit intimidating and a bit nerve-racking for band members. And because we practiced at the studio, we would live at the studio, we were always there – it made things very easy-going and it made it actually fun. It’s not often you can use the word ‘fun’ while recording songs because sometimes it really is nerve-racking, but the own studio made it very enjoyable for the band members.

Some people still seem to be quite suspicious in connection with your Kickstarter campaign and the fact that you were planning to put the album out completely yourselves and when it came to distributing it, you made a partnership with Relapse. What would you say to these people?

Well, if people are confused they can simply see how much money was raised and the amount of awards that Obituary had, because everybody that contributed got what they wanted which was the t-shirts, the hats and the albums and everything we gave. So it is very obvious how much money was spent on all the material, to buy all the hats and the t-shirts; along with the amount of money that we needed to actually record, mix, produce, master the record – we got the album cover paid for at the same time, so that was just a portion of the amount of money that is needed to actually release an album on your own. Hundreds of thousands of dollars go into marketing campaigns and to literally print the vinyl and print the CDs and distribute them around the world. It’s hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars; with the amount of money we raised we were able to record the entire album AND pay for the material needed for the Kickstarter campaign. But if anyone does research they can look at how expensive it is to truly do an album on your own. To get a distribution deal with the company and the thing that you are going to put it in every record store in the world takes much much more money than what Obituary raised. We tried to do it, we looked into it but it simply was too expensive to actually pull it off. That’s why we partnered with a record label – we simply used the record label to distribute and to print the actual physical CDs and that’s what Relapse did for us.

Donald Tardy – Photo: ricky-adrien.com

Donald Tardy – Photo: ricky-adrien.com

Could you choose one or two songs from Inked in Blood and explain what they mean to you, how they were made or what they are about?

I’m super proud of every song so I could talk about any of the songs on the album but a couple little stories are: The first song on Inked in Blood was one of the last ones we wrote for the album and when I recorded it drum-wise, I’m proud to say I did it in one try. One take, we call it. You know usually you can get almost through a song and you mess up, you have to back up a little bit and the engineer can fix the end of the song with you – and on the first song on the album I did it in my first try. (raises his hands, looks around proudly then laughs) I’m very proud of that.

Also, Inked in Blood is the title track, it’s one of those songs where when we first wrote it, I didn’t know if the song was complete, I didn’t know how good of a song it was until it was recorded and now that we’re playing it live it’s one of my favorite songs on the album. So it went from my least favorite to almost my favorite song. 

‘Visions in My Head’ was the first track to be released from the new album in August. Do you think it was the catchiest one?

Yeah, it was. It was an obvious choice. At the minute we wrote it, it only took me and Trevor maybe five or ten minutes and we knew that the song was going to be the first one released. There was a strange feeling we had, we knew it was very catchy and very simple. When we recorded it, all the record label people, all my friends, everyone that came in contact with ‘Visions’ – we knew that was the one that stuck out. And so we knew to grab the world’s attention we wanted to grab a catchy song that isn’t the heaviest song on the album, but it definitely grabs your attention and it has all the pieces to a good song. It has a middle part, it has a great solo and it has a terrific ending.

Obituary (Slowly We Rot era)

Obituary (Slowly We Rot era)

I’ve read in some of your recent interviews that you guys were listening to Obituary’s old albums in order to get the same kind of sound and vibe for Inked in Blood as for the earlier ones. Is it because you didn’t really want to risk much and didn’t want to distance yourselves from something that seems to work?

Actually we didn’t listen to the old albums to try and get the sound, we were in the process of writing the new album for many years. We took three or four years writing the new songs and at the same time we were invited to play a classic setlist. So when we were recording, we took a break from recording the new songs and we had to listen to the old songs to re-learn them because we had an offer to come and play at a festival, but they wanted songs only off of the first three. So I had to go back and listen to the old ones to re-learn the songs, not the production but I had to go and really re-learn because they were twenty years old. (laughs) So I think what happened was, we went and played at the festival and played all the old songs and when we came home we kept writing new material – and I think whether we knew it or not, re-learning the old songs gave us some really cool ideas that brought back that old Obituary sound. And we didn’t deliberately do that but there was definitely some influence from the old stuff by having to re-learn some of the old ones while writing new songs.

Do you bother reading critics on the new album or Obituary in general? 

I don’t mind reading, I know you’ll never make everybody happy. I think Obituary fans love the new album and that’s all I care about. If you read everything you’re going to find people that cry and complain and bitch about things – and they’re allowed to, it’s freedom of speech.

Obituary (2014)

If we can talk about a next album, do you plan to record and distribute it in the same way as Inked in Blood?

I think the partnership that we have right now with Relapse makes a lot of sense because the band is able now with their fan support to record albums completely on our own – and nobody does that. In the history of rock ‘n’ roll bands write records and they tell the record label “we’re finished writing the album, we need to borrow money to go into the studio and record”, and the record label says “okay, here’s X amount of money, we will pay ourselves back when the album comes out before the band sees any money”. This time with Obituary we actually did it on our own with the support of our fans so it is a really good chemistry and solution that we found here because the band pays for the album, the record label pays for the printing of the CDs and the distribution around the world and the marketing campaign. So we both put the same amount of effort and time into the recording and then we’re a partnership so we split the profit – so it’s working out very well for Obituary right now. We’re very happy.

What was your greatest fear in connection with Obituary throughout all the years?

God, there was never fear. You’re always going to get fans that will listen to your music and compare you, whether they think it’s great or they are okay with it or they think it should be something different or that’s just not what they want. But I never let that bring fear into me because I have a very good ability of playing drums, I know what I do well and I know that I’m doing the right thing for Obituary’s style of music. So I don’t bring fear into it, because again I think there are many, many, many metalheads that love Obituary and love my drumming; and that’s enough for me, I don’t need to win everyone’s heart. (laughs)

obi5In which aspect do you think that Obituary will change the most in five or ten years’ time? 

Or bodies, because we’re getting old so the only thing that’s going to change is maybe the tempo of songs in the future because I can no longer play fast. But seriously, Obituary is so solid right now and I’m very proud to say that with the addition of Kenny Andrews and Terry Butler in the band we are a very tight band right now. We’re very close friends, there’s a hundred percent respect with and for each other and we are having so much fun. That’s what is amazing about it, I know there are bands that are successful and can do it for a living but not all the band members get along – but they make it work because it’s a business and they can go and make money. Obituary right now is very lucky because we’re making a living doing it but we love each other, we are having so much damn fun on stage every night. It’s a wonderful feeling. So that’s the main thing that I’m very proud to see in the future. I know for a fact, this is a very tight band right now and we’re best of friends. 

You’re like a family, literally.

We are, yeah. (laughs) I’ve known Trevor since I was eleven years old so he’s like a brother to me as well. We’re just very excited about the future and it’s very exciting for Obituary fans too because more music is being created and the future is looking really bright now for all of us. 

That’s great to hear. Okay Donald, thank you so much for the interview, I’m also really excited about the show tonight!

It will be a treat tonight! We also learned songs tonight, a couple for this tour especially that we had to go back and re-learn. We also brought some now in from the “Don’t Care” album because we want to play other stuff. It sounds really good. So yeah, I’m very excited about it too.

“I don’t think you can go out and say ‘I want to be different’, because if you try to set that goal, you are never going to get anything done”

Interview with John Tardy (Obituary, Tardy Brothers)

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on Brutal Assault XIX, on the 7th of August 2014

Hello John, first of all thank you very much for doing this interview for Metalegion Magazine! What do you think is the main reason of Obituary’s success?

I guess we just like what we are doing. It’s pretty much it. It’s important just to have fun in what you are doing – if it becomes a job, it becomes work and it sucks, then don’t do it. Just go out, have a good time and do what you do.

Could you tell me about some of the highlights of your career in metal that you are the most proud of or mostly like to think back of?

Out of all the albums that we’ve done I can remember where I was when I got the first copy of Slowly We Rot, and was very proud of it. We also got to see a lot of the world, we’ve been to lots of different countries, got to meet a lot of cool people – to me it’s the best part of it, to get to see all the different cultures around the world.

How did it affect your relationship with your brother, Donald throughout the years that you had to work together in Obituary? Did you have any massive misunderstanding in connection with music?

Not really, we get along pretty good actually. We have a studio at my house and he’s pretty much there seven days a week – not that we never argue, but nothing serious, we get along really great. I think the good thing that works so well is that we just talk things out. We talk it out, we argue it out, and then we make a decision.

Obituary is one of the most fan-based and active metal bands out there – you run your own websites as well as the facebook page – you actually interact with the fans. In terms of your upcoming album, Inked in Blood, why did the band decide that you would “make the music for the fans instead of a label”? Did you have any bad experiences so far that made you do this?

We’ve been a band for thirty years, we’ve been at multiple labels, and even years back we’ve just been always wanting to do it ourselves. We finally said “you know what, let’s go ahead and TRY to do this ourselves”. Not that we expect to put CDs in the back of our car and drive around the world to sell them on our own, I mean, you just still need help from somebody because there are distribution companies, there are multiple countries and lots of problems.
We met the Relapse people, and the guys at Relapse are super cool. We got to get the album ourselves, it’s our album, we just got to kind of use their engine to get it out to the fans, and it really worked out good for us. There are all those Roadrunner records of ours, but we don’t own those things, we couldn’t even do anything with them even if we wanted to. So the cool thing about this is that it’s our music, it’s our album, we get to do what we want to do, and we get Relapse to help us to get it out to the people.

What is your opinion about the fact that some people say you “begged” for money to do this album?

Actually, it’s just about as much money as we got to now go ahead and send everybody everything that they ordered – so that rumour was a little bit weird. We have a lot of work to do, there’s just so much stuff now that we owe fans. The amount of money that we’ll see after the fact, it’s not going to be very much.
It was very cool though, to see this fan support and all the people who did what they did, and as soon as we get home we’re going to start going through that and sending all the merchandise out to the fans.

Obituary – Cause of Death (1990)

As far as I know, the artwork of your classic album from 1990, Cause of Death was supposed to be the cover of Sepultura’s record Beneath the Remains from 1989. Why did Roadrunner let Obituary use the Michael Whelan cover first?

It was not our decision. There were actually two albums coming out at the same time, they had two pieces of artwork, and Roadrunner was the one that made that decision, it really didn’t have anything to do with us.

So you didn’t communicate with Sepultura at all on this matter?

No.

Was there any tension between the two bands as a consequence of Obituary using the artwork? As far as I know, you also worked as a guest on Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains (you helped with the vocals in song ‘Stronger Than Hate’).

I don’t know, it’s kind of odd, they once asked me that question so long ago, so I kind of heard that Sepultura wanted to use that artwork – at the time I had no idea, I didn’t even see the other artwork, I just knew that we got stuck with what we got.

Obituary (Cause of Death era)

Obituary (Cause of Death era)

No tension, I mean it was way before. The album was actually recorded in Brazil, Max (Cavalera, Sepultura – ed.) sang, he did the lyrics and he mixed the album at Morrisound (recording studio – ed.) in Tampa. That was the first time I met them. Max didn’t speak good English at the time, he stayed at our house, we hung out, the whole time he was doing that while I sang them some lyrics of the album. That was awesome, we were taken motocross races and monster trucks and all kinds of crazy shit. That was pretty funny.

You mentioned in some of your earlier interviews that you were influenced by Savatage and Nasty Savage, because even though they were not as heavy as Obituary, they were different from the traditional metal styles at the time they made their music. Did you always have the desire to just be different and unmistakable, or do you just do your thing and don’t think about it?

I don’t think you can go out and say “I want to be different”, or “I wanna be fast”, or “I wanna be this, I wanna be that” because I think if you try to set that goal, you are never going to get anything done. We met Nasty Savage and Savatage, they were young, we were even younger, we were still back in high school. Riding our bikes on the street and hearing them jam in their garage, and we kept running back and forth hoping that they would come outside. It’s cool because like you said Nasty Savage and Savatage – nobody sounds like those two bands. Nobody. Most of music that I like, that’s what I like to see, I like a band like the AC/DC, or Lynyrd Skynyrd – they are who they are, there’s nobody else like them. But you can’t practice that, you can’t work at that, it’s just what happens.

John Tardy (Germany, 1991)

For the end: If you could change one thing on any of your previous works with Obituary, what would it be?

Obviously our early albums, we were still in high school when we recorded Slowly We Rot – so if you go back and listen to the productions throughout the years, there are always things you wish you could re-change or re-do. On our earlier albums, we just wrote the songs and then recorded them. With the new album Inked in Blood we really took our time, like three years of writing the songs and then jamming the songs, and giving yourself the chance to hear them, make changes, let your mind really fill the song out – so we really had the luxury with this album, we’ve really taken our time, and let the natural progression of our writing.
There are always things you can change, but at the same time you listen back and there are different points in your life, different times in your life… after all I wouldn’t change anything, even though I’m not happy with any of our albums played. (laughs) I don’t think I would ever be, nor would anybody in the band, there is always going to be stuff that you don’t like, that you wish you could do again or do better.

Okay John, thank you very much for your time, and enjoy the Slayer show!

Thanks for the support, take care!

“We let it become whatever it becomes”

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!

BOLT THROWER, MORGOTH, INCANTATION. One word: epicness

[I apologize in advance for not all parts of this report being completely objective as it was such a personal treat for me that I’ll most likely never forget. Can be considered as some kind of an experience-report. :)]

Concert review: Overtures of War tour 2014 – Bolt Thrower/Morgoth/Incantation – 25th of September 2014, Wien

Review by Estelle on the 28th of September 2014

At the end of September 2014, Bolt Thrower has started the Overtures of War tour along with Morgoth and three different support bands: Soulburn from the 21th to 23rd, Incantation from the 24th to 28th, and Vallenfyre from the 29th of September to 5th of October. On the show on the 25th that I myself went to we had Incantation as a support.

Incantation

Incantation started punctually at 8 pm. Even though there were a few times less people seeing them than Morgoth’s show one hour later, even though the drum sound was somewhat weird and not all the people were getting their energy at the beginning, they perfectly managed to move and prepare everyone for 2-3 hours of pounding cruelty.
Incantation’s setlist was really fresh, consisting of songs from many different albums – they have played four tracks off their last record from 2014, Dirges of Elysium, two off Diabolical Conquest, one (‘Profanation’) off their classic first one Onward to Golgotha and there was a variety of albums being brought up in case of the others songs as well.

Incantation’s setlist

  1. Debauchery
  2. Shadows of the Ancient Empire
  3. Vanquish in Vengeance
  4. Oath of Armageddon
  5. Portal Consecration
  6. Profanation
  7. Impalement of Divinity
  8. The Ibex Moon
  9. Carrion Prophecy
  10. Impending Diabolical Conquest


Later as quite many people gathered at the Arena already, the louring intro of ‘Cursed’ started to play, followed by Morgoth powerfully getting on stage with the devastating ‘Body Count’. The crowd was starting to go crazy and the band, playing upon it, didn’t let us take a break until the very end of the last song.

Morgoth

They continued with three huge classics off Cursed (Exit to Temptation, Suffer Life, Sold Baptism), and then came the title track off their recent 7″ LP, ‘God is Evil’, dedicated to myself and the other Hungarians there. (After my interview with Marc [read it here] he asked who I went there with, and I told him we were like 30 Hungarian people there – so during the show before ‘God is Evil’ he randomly said “this song is for Estelle and the whole Hungarian long-way traveller group” – I was blown away!)
‘God is Evil’ is rather a mid-tempo track, so that it was a right decision to put it after such a blast of 4 mortal tracks off the first album. The song sounded great live and created the basic atmosphere for the next two songs from ‘Odium’ as well, ‘Under the Surface’ and the strong opener ‘Resistance’.

After the recall of ‘Odium’ we could hear the other massive track from the recent single, ‘Die as Deceiver’, then here came ‘Burnt Identity’, the opener of the second outstanding EP. After that, expectedly we got to one of the highlights again with ‘Isolated’ – my neck hurt since the third song yet I was headbanging to this tremendous classic like never before, along with all the other people in ecstatic state in the pit and first 10 rows. Then, still no room for settling down, we got the title track off Morgoth’s first demo from 1988, ‘Pits of Utumno’ straight to our face as the last song.

I have heard and read a few critics about Morgoth’s somewhat bad sound on some shows or festivals in the past, but here in the Arena the band sounded flawlessly. Marc’s voice is unexpectedly still nearly as strong as back in the day and its tone is more similar to the old tone than in case of a lot of other vocalists; and on top of all this, the band played this oldschool setlist with so much energy that I felt like a bulldozer went through my body as we reached the end of the almost one hour performance.

Morgoth’s setlist

  1. Cursed (Intro)/Body Count
  2. Exit to Temptation
  3. Suffer Life
  4. Sold Baptism
  5. God is Evil
  6. Under the Surface
  7. Resistance
  8. Die as Deceiver
  9. Burnt Identity
  10. Isolated
  11. Pits of Utumno 


Epic. Just epic. And it wasn’t nearly over!

Bolt Thrower got on stage with the popular War/Remembrence combo from the beginning of …For Victory. Their combination of songs was a bit of everything: they played off every album except In Battle There Is No Law and Honour-Valour-Pride, mostly concentrated on Those Once Loyal, …For Victory and Mercenary, a little bit to my disappointment. After the two openers they continued with the intense Mercenary, and then we got to the top straight away concerning my taste with the two beautiful classics ‘World Eater’ and ‘Cenotaph’, that I personally would always expect to be the last song as for me it reaches up to something like ‘Isolated’ in case of Morgoth (– and I believe I’m not the only one who might agree that that mighty song could be Bolt Thrower’s strongest track).

BT1

Bolt Thrower

If the atmosphere was crazy on Morgoth, it became even more unbelievable during Bolt Thrower. Everyone was out of their minds; the pit was full; there were at least two people (once including me) stagediving during every song they played from about the third-fourth track on… people cheered and hugged Karl on stage; once some guy came to me, grabbed my shoulders and shook me shouting “waaaaaaah”. The band’s sound was excellent, they truly managed to retain the sound and feeling we can get while listening to the albums; and their energy was also overwhelming: they were absolutely cheerful and easy-going on stage, vocalist Karl Willetts definitely seemed to be enjoying the show and the enthusiastic audience as he was smiling from the beginning to the end of the gig. I had the feeling that they could have played the setlist once again as a whole and the crowd would have been able to stand and watch them ’til the first rays of the Sun appear in the morning.
merch1The gig reached its other highlight I could mention probably with ‘No Guts, No Glory’, but since the vibe in the place was almost touchable and the overall mood was really on its top for the whole time, maybe there is no need for emphasizing certain songs from the setlist – it was a mindblowing experience as a whole.

Bolt Thrower came back with an encore two times: once with ‘At First Light’ and ‘When Cannons Fade’ from Those Once Loyal, and secondly with ‘Silent Demise’ off …For Victory, giving a nice frame to the show by starting and ending it with songs from the same album.

Personally, I was expecting Bolt Thrower to favour the first three classic albums by playing a bit more (or in case of ‘In Battle …’, at least playing) songs from them, however, after this amount of devastating power and brutality I think there is still not a single person who would feel any kind of emptiness or regret after coming to see these three death metal lords.


BT2Bolt Thrower’s setlist

1. War/Remembrance
2. Mercenary

3. World Eater/Cenotaph
4. Anti-Tank (Dead Armour)
5. Warmaster
6. Forever Fallen
7. This Time It’s War
8. The IVth Crusade
9. No Guts, No Glory
10. …For Victory
11. The Killchain/Powder Burns
12. + encore: At First Light
13. When Cannons Fade
14. + encore 2: Silent Demise

 

 


Regarding the quality of the sound, tightness, professionalism, enthusiasm and reaction of the audience in case of all the 3 bands, I can certainly say that this show was something one cannot see and hear often, and that one can deservedly regret in case he or she missed. 

[And just a little bragging as I can’t stand not to share: dedicated Morgoth song by Marc + headbanging on stage in front of 700 people during Bolt Thrower 1 meter away from Karl – not a bad way to celebrate my 18th birthday, I guess!]

bt22