Exclusive interview with German Metal band Atrocity
Metal band Atrocity are one of the biggest acts in Germany. They regularly top the charts there and have also made an impressive impact across Europe and further afield too.
With a new trilogy of albums in the works we caught up with band members Alex, Toss and Sander during a recent live show to discuss their work, career to date and their new release ‘Okkult’, which forms the first part of this new trilogy.
Thanks for taking time to chat to us. Firstly what can you tell our readers about your new album ‘Okkult’?
Alex: I think “Okkult” contains many elements from our musical past, especially the very heavy stuff from our 1990’s album releases but also “Atlantis”. “Death by Metal” is the best example for that: Our tribute to Death Metal actually contains the main riffs of the song, which I wrote originally in 1991 and also brand new riffs! So “Okkult” combines our roots with new musical ideas, and this is simply a new era for Atrocity after such a long history of challenging metal music!
The idea to start the “Okkult” trilogy came up after the release of the “Atlantis” record (2004). The research of the “Atlantis” secrets have been very inspiring, so the next step was to make an epic trilogy about the mysteries of the world. An even bigger challenge and concept, this is why we decided to make an album trilogy. The lyrics relate to occult magic, mysterious places, conspiracy theories and mysteries that are still unsolved.
Actually it’s great to take the listener and ourselves on a heavy trip through the dark and mysterious tales, happenings and places of all times. And there is another very interesting aspect connected to the whole topic: Forever, religion and politics control and manipulate people by their own primal fears…and darkness is mankind’s fear ever since. We have some really sick and obscure stories brought to music like “La Voisine”.
This song tells a dark chapter in the history of mankind. It’s set in Paris of the 17th Century and is about Catherine Monvoisin, which was known as “La Voisin” as witch and poisoner. She told the the fortune for money, selling poisons and love potions, magic plant and broke off unwanted pregnancies.
She and the former priest Abbé de Guibourg celebrated black masses where also infants were sacrificed which she had previously bought from the poor people. The blood of the children they used as ingredients in potions, too. She was booked by many members of the nobility, among others, the mistress of King Louis XIV, Madame de Montespan, who wanted to get through the black masses more power and influence in society. Madame de Montespan used the potions in order to get the love of King Ludwig upright, and she mixed the potions in his food and drink.
There were rumours members of the nobility were killed by poison, and so research was driven. One day a young woman from the aristocratic circle close to King Ludwig died. Then investigations were intensified to find the poisoners’ source and to smash the conspiracy. La Voisine and other witches of the Paris witch circle were arrested. Due to the good contacts with the mistress remained La Voisine long spared from torture. Nevertheless, she was sentenced to death at the end in the “Affaire des Poisins”. La Voisine was executed.
Later, they found the remains of 2.500 infants in her backyard of her house, and so after La Voisine’s death, the entire extent of her cruel deeds obvious. The paradox of the story: It turned out that the young woman died of natural causes and she was not poisoned as many other nobles. What a story, Agatha Christie with a turn like in the movie “From Dusk Til Dawn” but with a real historic background.I see on your website that the ‘Okkult’ album will be available in vinyl format too. What prompted that decision and do you think metal music fans embrace vinyl more than others?
Alex: Yes, that’s awesome! I love it, also the Re-Releases like “Werk 80 II” which was sold out before it came out, and now “Hallucinations” as a special Gatefold Double Vinyl with Bonus Material! “Atlantis” and other releases will follow soon! It’s just what it is, Vinyl looks much cooler, more magic, the artwork is huge and nowadays you get the download on top like on the “Okkult” Red and Yellow Gatefold edition…yeah, what do you want more haha?
Fame are a UK based site. We know you have a very healthy UK fan base. Do you keep in touch with them via social media at all?
Sander: We try to be as active as possible with Social Media. Nowadays Social media has become increasingly more important for both bands and fans and it offers for much more interaction between both. It’s much easier to stay in contact with people all over the world including the UK and keep them up to date on what the band is up to. We try to answer every message and also try to keep people engaged, I think the best example is the upcoming treasure hunt for the OKKULT album.
Alex: Yes that’s for sure! For our fans, we’ve come up with something very special: There will be no conventional bonus tracks on the “OKKULT” albums! In return, all fans can actively engage in a kind of treasure hunt. For the respective “OKKULT” albums, we will hide one song on an “occult site”, which is the “missing track” to each album. For the first “OKKULT” record that certain place will be in Europe. For the following albums the places will be on other continents, perhaps in America and Asia. Alex will be the only one that knows these locations.
All original recording tracks and mixes of these songs will be destroyed by our own hands, that also means we as a band will also not be able to listen to these songs until they are found. They are in the truest sense of the word: Unique.
If someone finds these songs, and wants to keep them for himself, then we will have have no way to listen to these songs ever again in their original form. Internally we have already had some serious discussions on what song is supposed to be hidden for the first “OKKULT”. We will ennoble this “treasure”, to something like “The Golden iPod”, we will spare no expense or effort. More info on how it will look exactly and how you can participate in the treasure hunt, will be announced a later date.What about live shows, is the UK a must on any upcoming tour schedule?
Alex: We had our first show for the new album on 27th of April here in Germany. Of course we hope to come back to the UK as soon as possible. The shows in UK were always very intense and a great experience for us.
Sander: We sure hope on upcoming tours, the UK will also included yes. We all have very good experiences playing for UK metal fans and love coming over to play So I definitely hope we get UK shows booked asap. (Demand us in your venue!! 🙂
You are known as a band who experiment musically and push the boundaries a bit. What inspires you to do so?
Tosso: From my view I can definitely say its the interest and excitement about music and taking new challenges and adventures.
Alex: I consider myself being an artist by flesh an blood. My driving force is artistic freedom. I, and my band, love to make our music without limitations. To fulfil our visions within the metal genre isn’t always easy because some people just don’t get the origin idea of Metal: Break down the boundaries! We are like painters.
If a picture shall be horrifying and brutal we use different colours than on a dark but beautiful painting. And the pictures of “Okkult” are the most obscure paintings we ever did! This band is a very versatile group of crazy musicians, I guess we were always looking for new challenges in our musical career. It was never our cup of tea to do the same album all over again. That’s why we are still alive after such a long time I guess and that is also the reason that the name Atrocity stands also for pioneering new ways and genres in the metal scene.
Tosso: All these different facets and involvements of our band have never been planned or decided rationally. They happened because of our love to and passion for music and the will to push the boundaries..to move in exciting and new musical territories.
We always took a high risk with these musical adventures and made it difficult for the press to categorize the band. But its not our intention to be categorized…we want to play the music that we feel, instead if bringing the same kind of albums on the market over and over again.When can we expect the next part of the trilogy to be released?
Alex: First we want to go out and play the “Okkult” songs live! Although we have written already some great new song ideas for the upcoming parts of the trilogy we want to grasp the live energy of the shows and the audiences as an inspiration for the further albums, too! So time wise we will see how it goes actually. Not too long I hope.
Can you give our readers an insight into just how ‘Atrocity’ go about creating a new song?
Tosso: Most of the song ideas start with a guitar riff and then everybody contributes his ideas and parts to the song. But in the past we also had songs that started idea wise with the drumming, like Willenskraft for example. Some of the OKKULT song ideas also started with a dark orchestral idea, like “March of the undying”.
So you can’t say there is a really typical way or approach to song-writing. Concerning “Okkult” we knew from the beginning wanted to have a very dark atmosphere on the album, just like in the great old horror movies. You find these elements in the orchestra and of course also in Canadian sound designer Katie Halliday’s (SAW movies) great sound effects, that she contributed to the album. If you just listen to the opening track of the album “Pandæmonium” you’ll get an idea of what I’m trying to describe. It leaves a hell of impression on the listeners!What about the bands history, how did you all get together and become ‘Atrocity’?
Alex: Wow, that’s goes far back in time haha. We formed Atrocity already in 1985! We were friends and school mates! Later we became the forerunners of the German Death Metal scene. I remember dirty rehearsal rooms, didgy equipment, fantastic shows in small rotten clubs. When we did the work for great retrospect on our “Die gottlosen Jahre (The godless years”) last year, a lot of the memories came back. The golden Underground times, us being tape trades but also very passionate musicians at the same time! Back then we wanted to support each other, all the bands we were friends of, from Napalm Death to Entombed! Many of them were guests in my house.
Nobody else wanted that kind of extreme music. A lot of musicians from these times give us great respect and great statements on that DVD, which is a great honour! These are some of the most unforgettable and special memories of our career. Well, we were a big part of the Underground movement. Atrocity and I was there myself when it all started! We have been in personal contact with most of the bands that time, from Morbid Angel, Pungent Stench, Immortal to Entombed.
By the way I organized the first Euro Death Metal Festivals and our first Atrocity Euro tour together with UK legends Carcass in 1990. Really great times! You just can’t bring them back, but we still love what we are doing and enjoying very much all the years what we have been experienced. To be honest, who would have thought that a German underground band would one day tour the world and even enter the charts!
Tosso: Yes, it’s really crazy! Just think about all the people we’ve met on the road…We have toured together in almost 40 countries and played with tons of bands, for example Motörhead, Morbid Angel, Carcass, Entombed, Sodom, Deicide, Obituary, Cradle Of Filth. We also did a lot of festival shows in the whole world and were supported by bands that later got pretty known, like In Flames, Haggard, Theatre of Tragedy or Samsas Traum.
Finally how well do the band get on off stage. Do socialise together?
Sander: We get along very well off stage, as well as on stage. I think that it’s very hard to be in a band with people you don’t get along with. You need good chemistry and friendship to make it work in my opinion. And as a German/Dutch mixed band we always have fun when there is another soccer championship!
Alex: Yes, there’s always high life at Mastersound Studio when there is a soccer match running. However, time runs fast…we’ve gathered a lot of experience through a great number of co-operations, connections and friendships.
Generally said, a good and solid basis both within the band, and between band and so-called “partners” is, in my opinion, based on values like honesty, trust and fairness, which my band mates and myself always have struggled to keep upright. These values are incredibly important to me, personally and professionally. It is something I have always fought for, and that’s my main advice to myself, my friends and band mates and everybody else. I just can’t accept unfairness, a thing that also has infected the music business more and more over the years. Besides that, do the music you love – and that’s what we always did!