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Interview with Atrocity

Posted in Featured, Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 17th April 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Atrocity have been smashing their sound in the ears of listeners – both willing and unwilling – since 1985 when the band first formed. With the release of their eighth studio album, Okkult, just around the corner, Nico grabs hold of the band and gets the info on the latest album, amongst other things.

Nico: Okkult will be dealing, lyrically, with occult magics, conspiracy theories and other concepts. What inspired the band to write about these subjects?

Alex: Well, Okkult features some very obscure stories actually. I was always very much into history, legends, myths and the dark backgrounds and secrets of mankind and researching them from different sources. 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. Yes, 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. We digged out some very obscure stories like the super sinister lady La Voisine (we use this pronunciation of the name). 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 a witch and poisoner. She told 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 that 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 were obvious. The paradox of the story: It turned out that the young woman died of natural causes and she was not poisoned, like many other nobles.

Nico: Speaking of occult magics and all topics related to them. What are your personal thoughts and views on the occult?

Alex: Like I mentioned, I’ve always been into dark topics and the obscure side of mankind’s history in connection with strange, supernatural or unsolved backgrounds and events! The occult is really fascinating to myself and probably many other people. I find it a superb way of “switching off” daily life stress digging my nose into heaps of books and sources of this kind of literature. And this topic is not only about black magic like many people think in nowaday’s society. There was a period of time when science had to do research and works in the shadows because religion condemned it as the “devil’s work”. An overall important aspect in Okkult is the intersection of power, politics and religion in our world. Because religion and superstition occur exactly where the man pushes his knowledge to its limits, primal fears  can take control over the mind. This concludes in a policy based on the principle of fear. Religion and politics play on the fears of the people, thus they control. For mankind the greatest fear is darkness. The best example is processed in the song Masaya (Boca del Infierno). The cave system of the volcano in Nicaragua Masaya was regarded as an input for the indigenous population in the dark underworld. To ward off evil spirits, there were rituals of human sacrifice. When the Spanish conquerors emerged in Masaya, there was a cross erected to exorcise the devil. The Spanish conquerors thought that this was one of the entrances to hell. Two completely different cultures with different languages and peoples, and yet a common fear…

Nico: How do you feel that Okkult will differ from previous Atrocity releases?

Sander: From my perspective, no Atrocity album has ever been similar to another and the band have always just did artistically what is in the heart with really no boundaries or rules.  I think this album is in a way coming full circle and reconnecting with the metal roots of the band. In my opinion this album feels maybe like a logical step forward from the Atlantis album and I think it’s a mix between the classic death metal albums, the Atlantis record and new added influences that go from black metal to modern sounding metal. It’s also the best and heaviest sounding production on an Atrocity record ever.

Tosso: On Okkult there are some elements in which can also be found on the first two Atrocity albums, like 5/4 bar blast beats, et cetera. But all in all the intention was to make lyrics, artwork and music fit together very well… to obtain this kind of “okkult sound”. Moreover, it is a question about a basic band concept. There are bands being very happy doing the same music for decades. I don’t think that’s the concept of Atrocity. Nevertheless, the Okkult trilogy will have a clear line in all three parts. So Okkult II and Okkult III will certainly follow the paths of the first Okkult album.

Nico: Which tracks do you feel stand out the most on Okkult?

Alex: Tricky question. If I were to choose a track that represents the complete core and idea behind Okkult, the song Pandaemonium stands out for me due to its epic but at the same time brutal character. It is viciously aesthetic in every aspect. Well, it’s hard to say anyway.

Sander: I rather think of the album as a whole piece, every song has it’s own feel and atmosphere and it’s own identity and has it’s own role to play on the album musically and lyrically. I think that makes the album special although the songs differ they still are part of one homogenous soundscape.

Nico: Kate Halliday provided the finishing touches for Okkult, what was it like working with her? And do you feel that her experience has added new dynamics and feeling to Atrocity’s sound?

Alex: The cooperation with the Canadian sound designer Katie Halliday (SAW movies) was supercool, she made some really dark atmopsheric sound effects! We met Katie on tour in Canada. As we told her about the Okkult concept, she was excited to take part in such a huge metal production. As she is a big metal fan, too.

Tosso: We 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 on Okkult and of course also on Katie’s 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!

Nico: What song do you feel defines Atrocity as a whole?

Tosso: I guess you need several songs from the different periods of Atrocity if you want to describe or sum up all facettes of the band. My personal top 11 would be then: Blue Blood, Deep In Your Subconscious, Necropolis, BLUT, Calling The Rain, Love Is Dead, The Great Commandment, Reich of Phenomena, Relax, Call of Yesteryear, Pandaemonium.

Alex: Yes, I agree. These songs represent the varied side of Atrocity very well! Reich of Phenomena and Pandaemonium are both of my fave songs of the band, they perfectly reflect the combination of epic brutality! To put our compositions and albums in an over-all view, past to present, 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! Anyway, I would like to mention Blut because it has put a mark on me, personally and artistically. Blut reminds me of our video shoot on the Corvin Castle in Transylvania. We did some research for the location for the video shoot and arrived there one night after driving the whole way by car during extreme Romanian winter landscapes on terrible road conditions. Instantly there was an eerie atmosphere in the castle and we had the feeling of not being alone. I needn’t say more, it still gives me the creeps. Moreover, the video shoot months later was very strange, too, to say it straight. It is said every room has its own history with its own soul. Some things can not always be explained scientifically. I am a so called atheist and still believe that there is definitely more things to this world, we can’t easily detect with our senses completely. Atrocity is a band who stand for revelation of mysteries, surprises, extremes and contrasts. You might actually get blown away, hehe.

Nico: Do Atrocity have any plans for a UK tour in support of the new album?

Tosso: We had many great shows in the past with Atrocity. I remember great shows in the UK already on my very first tour in 1994 when Atrocity toured with Obituary through Europe and the UK. So hopefully we get a chance to be back in the UK.

Alex: The UK death-metal scene of the 90s is one of a kind. By the way I organised the first Euro Death Metal Festivals and the our first Euro tour together with UK legends Carcass in 1990. Great times! And yes, bring us back, we would love to tour the UK again!

Nico: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film with your own music, which one would it be and why?

Tosso: The Okkult album would be a cool soundtrack for one the old Vincent Price horror movies… That would be an awesome combination.

Alex: Vincent Price, yes, killer idea! The first Nosferatu movie by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and the remake with Klaus Kinski is in my view one of the highlights in dark horror movie productions. Love the vibe of these classics!Why not putt Haunted by Demons in one of these movies? Haha, I guess Todesstimmen would be a perfect match for a Horror movie trailer!

Nico: What are your thoughts on the current metal scene? And do you feel its changed since the formation of Atrocity?

Tosso: I think it changed a lot. Metal has developed many different sub genres, which is cool on the one hand, because you have a colourful scene. We gave our input to open the scene up a little more. On the other hand sometimes I miss new bands that every metal head can identify with. The technical progress and internet have also changed things pretty much. Its very easy nowadays to record music on your own and put it on the internet, especially for young bands. But the negative aspect in my opinion is that too many new albums sound like the same and musicians lose the relation to their instruments. Atrocity started as an underground band with no commercial intention, just excited to play their own music, I think that helped to form the character of the band.

Nico: If you could go back to when you first became a musician and give yourself any advice, what would it be and why?

Alex: Time runs fast… We’ve gathered a lot of experience through a great number of cooperations, 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!

Nico: This one is a fan question. Have you ever considered doing more extreme metal and has it ever appeal to you?

Tosso: If you listen to the Okkult album, you will realize that this is definitely one driving force in this musical trilogy: We enjoy writing and playing extreme and brutal metal music. So, to answer your question, yes, we consider and will play more extreme metal on the Okkult trilogy.

Nico: Another fan question and probably the strangest I’ve ever had to ask. This one is for you, Alex. How did you get your hair so long?

Alex: Well, I guess it’s due to the good genes, haha. My father is turning 85 and still has thick hair. My wife keeps complaining about the high amount of hair products that is needed every week, haha… Not really, just kidding. People actually ask me always for advices, and it’s a simple answer: Don’t cut your hair, switch hair products. My son is about to break the record, though: he is nine and his lion’s mane has already reached his waist, for the second time in his life!

Nico: Do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers?

Tosso: Thanks for the interview and keep it Metal!

Alex: Thanks to you and to all our fans – hope to see you on tour soon!

 

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