Hey Chris, welcome. How is all going up there in Germany? How has been the response for “Bloodrust Scythe” among metalheads and magazines in your country? Could you tell us what you're listening to while answering this?
IRON INCUBUS: Hello to you, my friend! It`s always great to get in touch with dedicated underground maniacs! Over here everything`s alright at the moment. We just returned from our gig at „Metalfest Germany“ open air. Playing bigger festivals is something new to us, but I think we managed to offer a good gig there nevertheless.
The response concerning „Bloodrust Scythe“ has been awesome: Except of a few ok / mediocre and one very bad review, we only heard and read great words about our eight new songs. I think our second record has opened us a few more possibilities and opportunites for us as a band, at least some factors improved compared the times when we put out our debut „Slaves Of The Burning Pentagram“: I mean, we now got a sincere distribution company with Soulfood Entertainment over here in Germany, furthermore there was promotional support through Sure Shot Worx. In the end there were many interviews in fanzines from all around the world as well as some interviews in bigger magazines such as i.e. „Terrorizer“, „Rock Hard“, „Legacy“ and Norway`s „Scream“. We got good soundcheck positions in several mags, in Swedish „Close-Up“ we once again hit #1 and in German „Legacy“ we reached #2 leaving big sellers such as i.e. Overkill, Dark Tranquillity, Unleashed, Dark Funeral, Immolation and even Rammstein behind...! However, it`s good to have such good response also in bigger magazines, but we`re still very much concerned about the reactions of really dedicated underground fans and fanzines as well. And also these people mainly gave good words about „Bloodrust Scythe“. Ok, there are always people that consider our debut as a better output, but the major opinion out there is that our second record is a logical evolution of our style. We didn`t betray our roots, we improved our song writing and playing skills. Our label I Hate Records seems to be satisfied as far as the sales go, but we`re still looking for the LP release. However, I guess it shall be out quite soon, so beware! We`re really looking forward to putting out „Bloodrust Scythe“ on vinyl because that`s the ultimate format for this kind of music! We`re all into releasing our stuff on LP, CD is necessary nowadays but obviously not our priority, hehe! Only the black wax cult should be worshipped, hehe!!!
So, at the moment we got a break from playing live. It will last till September till we`ll hit stages again. As for now, only one show together with Desaster, Nocturnal and Witching Hour has been confirmed But we hope more concerts will follow this year...maybe one in Spain?!? - That would be killer, hehe!!!!
While I`m answering your questions I listen to stuff such as i.e. some old Exciter records, The Hand Of Doom, and, of course, some classics of Rainbow („Rising“, „Long Live Rock N` Roll“), Black Sabbath („Heaven And Hell“, „Mob Rules“) and Dio because Ronnie just recently faded away and I considered him as one of the most original and intense singers in Heavy Metal history. I furthermore got to know him as sincere and totally gentle person, I´m quite sad he had to go...R.I.P., mighty man on the silver mountain!!!
So, as “Bloodrust Scythe” is my first encounter with Hellish Crossfire’s music, I’d like to know a bit more about the band, you know, the usual bio stuff. Why did guys coming from Delirium Tremens, Old, Anael and Excoriate form a new band? Did you need another way to express your adiction for Metal? What was the main idea around the musical style when you thought about it?
IRON INCUBUS: First of all, the band was founded in 2002 by our current vocalist Iron Tyrant (that back then was still playing the drums), our bassist Sick, our vocalist The Bone and me. I had recently quit playing in a Doom / Death Metal act and was looking for some like-minded people to start a band and playing the kind of music I always wanted to play. So, none of us was active in other groups during those early days. We just were a bunch of comrades with a similar vision to play music. There was no idea of recording albums, doing shows etc: We just gathered in a dirty rehearsal room, started playing some covers of i.e. Sodom, Kreator or Mayhem, and finally we decided to write some own songs. Maybe we would record songs for a demo tape one day, these were all of our plans back then. We thought about maybe offering music in between Thrash and Black Metal. But our first songs were a mixture of many styles. It took some time to finally reach an own kind of expression. However, our philosophy from the early days has not changed till now: We still enjoy playing dark, aggressive and fast as hell music, but with some noticeable edges, and, above all, an own way of expression. This is our major aim in HELLISH CROSSFIRE, so to say. Of course you cannot avoid parts in your music that maybe remind of this or that ancient 80s band. But as long as our sound as a whole is original and unique, and as long as we`re no plain copycats, that`s ok with us. With HELLISH CROSSFIRE we furthermore want to express our own dedication to the ancient Metal scene of the glorious times…
Anyway, after The Bone and Traumatic (former Witchburner) sung for HELLISH CROSSFIRE, Evil Possessor joined us on the drums and Iron Tyrant switched over to the vocals. With that line-up we did our first concerts and recorded our rehearsal tape “Unholy Tyranny” that was put out in 2004. This line-up is still active these days, and, as I think, it`s the ultimate accumulation of people for this group! After having unleashed our first rehearsal tape we hit the Rape Of Harmonies Studios to record songs for our debut longplayer “Slaves Of The Burning Pentagram” in two different sessions. In between the release of our first and our second album “Bloodrust Scythe” in 2010 Proselytism Records from Chile also issued a split CD with Paraguayan Thrashers from Violent Attack that featured the songs from our above mentioned “Unholy Tyranny” tape as well as some exclusive, never before unleashed rehearsal tracks.
Both of our longplay records made a certain impression both upon the underground as well as upon bigger magazines and stuff. We were very surprised that so many people really liked what we do, although we would have done it even if nobody would ever care about it, hehe!
Anyway, we`re honoured by all these good words and we really hope to be able to continue offering killer material for ages…!
About the bands you mentioned in your questions, well: Evil Possessor used to play the guitar in Excoriate, a very great ancient Death Metal troop in the vein of early Pestilence, Autopsy and Asphyx! Check out their album “On Pestilent Winds…” on Sepulchral Voice Records! Excoriate will do two last shows this year at German “Hells Pleasure” open air as well as at a Finnish festival in autumn. As already stated above, I`ve been in a Death / Doom act before I founded HELLISH CROSSFIRE together with the other guys. I`ve been a fan of Dark Occult Metal act Anael before, and when my good comrades Primeumathon and Seraphackh asked me to join the legion on guitar, I agreed, of course. The band´s been on hiatus for some months now. Meanwhile we plan to meet in the rehearsal room again to play old songs and maybe work on new material as well… Our vocalist Iron Tyrant sat behind the drums in Old for some months, but he quit after having played some shows with them. He´s also been drumming in Delirium Tremens, but not as a real member, just as some kind of spontaneous replacement at one show. Before playing the bass in HELLISH CROSSFIRE Sick tormented this instrument in a local Death / Thrash act called Profanation back in the 80s already. They never released anything, just some live bootlegs still exist. But unfortunately even Sick doesn`t own any Profanation video tape from those days!
So, in some of these bands we`ve been active in before HELLISH CROSSFIRE´s foundation, others we joined in order to widen our musical horizons (at least that´s what I did concerning Anael) and due to the fact that we simply enjoy creating utterly dark Metal music…
If I had to describe your music (in fact I did it on the review of the album) I would mention without any doubt bands like Possessed, the first Sodom or Kreator, Slayer... What is more than clear is your passion for eighties music, the album shows a total devotion for that time’s Metal scene, not only for it's music but for it's sound, passion and devotion. Is this all that motivated you to play this music or did I miss something? What do you miss in today's music that the eighties had?
IRON INCUBUS: Your description is really good, I also think your review is fitting quite well – good job! Of course we`re addicted to the ancient Metal scene of the late 70s / 80s: That´s the sound we grew up with! Surely we always feel very closely connected to the old German Thrash Metal scene. And, finally, we are a band that plays a raw, aggressive style, we come from Germany, and, in the end we play “Teutonic Thrash Metal”, that´s right. But that doesn`t mean that our music`s sounding totally like the early recordings of i.e. Violent Force, Living Death or Sodom. As you mentioned right, we also got tons of other influences in our sound, such as i.e. Possessed and Slayer, Dark Angel, Sarcófago, Whiplash etcetc. On our second album “Bloodrust Scythe” there are even hints to traditional Heavy or Speed Metal. I mean, we don`t limit ourselves on a certain style, be it Death, Thrash, Black or whatever Metal. Whatever comes around that inspires our minds and we`re satisfied with, finds its way into our song writing process! In the end everything sounds typical HELLISH CROSSFIRE. Of course this kind of song writing needs some time to enfold, that´s why you have to wait for new releases from our side for so long, hehe!
I personally like any kind of music that is honest and touches my soul. I`m quite open-minded: I listen to Metal 90 % of my time, but sometimes I feel the need to listen to classical music, Blues, normal Rock, Folk, Punkrock or even some Jazz. Good music remains good music, that`s clear! But concerning HELLISH CROSSFIRE we`re of course exclusively inspired by the legacy of the ancient Metal scene…there are very few bands nowadays that can still invoke the old feeling and offer something unique. Most of the newer groups (especially of the growing Thrash Metal trend) have dedicated themselves to the legacy of one certain group and they try to copy their style as much as possible. However, that`s not the way HELLISH CROSSFIRE work: Of course you can hear our influences, but there`s always an original way or interpretation, I think. We don`t sound like a copycat of Slayer for example. Nowadays` bands that manage to melt feeling, good song writing skills and uniqueness are to me for instance Grand Magus, Division Speed, Enforcer or Witchcraft.
In current music I simply miss the feeling, the authentic way to play music: Many of the newer Thrash groups for example can play quite well, can write fine songs. But there seems to be no emotion inside: The production sounds sterile, the layout is computerised, and above all, the music sounds like a “fast food version” of an old Metal classic… Nowadays´ times got so damn superficial, so damn commercialised… Ok, already back in the 80s the scene started to get commercially exploited, but this tendency strengthened during the past years and I fear some day it will lead to the fact that people consider music just as “product” and nothing else. Our music is no product, it comes from the bottoms of our hearts! We really stand behind what we do for 100 %, we have never done and we will never do any compromises!
Even though, the difference I see in your music, which attracted me so much, is a clear reference to the Heavy Metal side of it all, not sounding only like one of those Thrash copycats but including riffs and melodies which remind of stuff like Mercyful Fate or the NWOBHM in your aggressive blend of Thrash. Do you agree about those references? Why did you decide to make your Thrash Metal closer to the old Heavy Metal sound? What do you think about those who spit on Heavy Metal for not being “extreme”? What about the opposite reaction?
IRON INCUBUS: Yeah, I totally agree to the references you mentioned! I mean, compared to our second record “Bloodrust Scythe” there weren`t as many influences coming from traditional Heavy Metal on our first album “Slaves Of The Burning Pentagram”. So what was the reason for integrating these elements in our raw Thrash Metal sound as well? One important factor is that we`re all very much infected by the early Heavy Metal scene as well as especially the NWOBHM; bands such as i.e. Cirith Ungol, Holocaust, Saxon, Brocas Helm, Samson, Iron Maiden, Witchfynde, Blitzkrieg, Satan, Diamond Head, Accept, Stormwitch, Tank, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Heavy Load etcetc. Of course Mercyful Fate (especially their magnificent debut “Don`t Break The Oath”!) and King Diamond influenced us quite much as well. So it was somehow only natural that these influences found its way into our song writing. But we never sat down and tried to write some Heavy parts consciously: Somehow this or that part demanded to be continued with a Heavy riff or harmony for example. Many of the traditional Metal influences (especially some dual or triple melodies as well as some solos) also paved its way into our song writing during studio time. I don`t think that these Heavy elements seem to be foreign bodies in our music, so to say. I really believe they´re embedded quite well in our overall-sound, fit quite well to the rest of the material and contribute to the unique character of our music. So, as said, it was no conscious decision to become a bit more “melodic” on our new record, maybe the ancient Metal gods sent out their rays of inspiration to awaken their legacy in our work, haha?! However, some people say that “Bloodrust Scythe” is a bit more melodic than our debut, others tell us it`s more aggressive, much darker and sometimes even tends towards early Death Metal in the vein of i.e. Death / Mantas, Possessed, Pestilence and the likes. I personally think it´s a combination of both: The music on “Bloodrust Scythe” is much more located between different kinds of extremes…
Mainly we got very positive reactions concerning these Heavy elements. I mean, you recognise they are there but they by no chance soften the sound! They contribute to the song writing in a very positive way, I think. I believe we managed to integrate these elements without sounding softer, on the contrary: Some songs got an even darker und more disturbing character than tracks from the past! I haven`t heard any negative words about those traditional Metal influences till now, but I can imagine that people that stick “true to the purity” of Thrash Metal might consider this a cruel “blasphemy” or whatever, hehe… I personally think that these people might be wrong: Thrash Metal developed out of Heavy Metal, bands such as i.e. Venom (another great influence of us) had many contact-points with traditional steel – actually Venom is considered a NWOBHM group. Also Metallica`s early works were very much inspired by the NWOBHM, as we all know. And on many records that are considered pure Thrash or Speed Metal you can hear early Heavy Metal influences. Just think of records of i.e. Violent Force, Living Death, Iron Angel, Slayer`s “Show No Mercy” etcetc. Furthermore I think that elements like these vary the music quite well and show a deeper dedication to the roots of this kind of music than just plainly ripping off other pure Thrash groups. Whether it is Speed, Thrash, Heavy, Death, Black or even Doom Metal: Whenever ideas are sounding cool, we work them out, and in the end a typical HELLISH CROSSFIRE song is the result! As long as it breathes the spirit of pure Metal and as long as it doesn`t soften our music or isn`t too average or common, we think it`s worthy to be featured in our music. If some “die-hard” Thrashers don`t like it, they can check out other bands than HELLISH CROSSFIRE. We do what we want to do and will never change this way!
However, people that spit on Heavy Metal for not being extreme should try to widen their horizons: Let`s take a look at Metal and Rock history in general: Being “extreme” depends very much on the cultural circumstances as well as the individual structure of a human mind. For example: Back in the 50s Elvis Presley or Little Richard were “extreme”, in the 60s The Beatles or The Rolling Stones were revolutionary, in the 70s there were The Sex Pistols and so on. When I compare for example Non-Metal stuff such as i.e. King Crimson`s “In The Court Of The Crimson King”, some Pink Floyd works or Black Widow`s debut album with one of these countless standard Black / Death or Thrash group nowadays, I recognise that the music of these Non-Metal-acts was way darker and much more personal than the sound of nowadays` wannabes. What I want to express with that: “Being extreme” depends on definition and also old Heavy elements can sound very extreme in a Thrash / Speed Metal context…
On the contrary I remember some discussions of some old Metal veterans that stated that music such as i.e. Testament, Slayer or even Metallica ain`t Metal in the true essence of its meaning. That may sound strange these days, but some die-hard maniacs of pure traditional Metal considered the more extreme side of this kind of music as something that tended more towards Punkrock or Hardcore... It´s good to see that there aren´t too many people left sharing this opinion. On the other hand I can understand this opinion because some people that grew up with some 70s bands as well as the NWOBHM movement, thought that this certain era set the absolute standards of this kind of music. And without any doubt early Metallica and Slayer were also inspired by Venom, Punk or Hardcore music back then. Not to mention the early Death Metal movement that was very much influenced by early Hard- and Crustcore, as we all know. It might be similar to narrow-minded traditional Metal fans like us that grew up with the music of the 70s and 80s, that cannot understand what Metalcore- or Nu “Metal” bands these days do. To me these styles have got nothing to do with Metal in the real essence of this word, and these are similar thoughts as those early Metal veterans had when they first listened to some early Death or Thrash Metal recordings... A majority of “normal” people consider extreme Metal as some kind of pure noise. But, as we all know, this is not true. I personally think it`s ok if extreme Metal stands aside of commerce and the general “good taste”, that`s what this kind of music was always about! It`s somehow strange to see that big labels nowadays constantly create bands that offer “extreme Metal” for the masses. I won`t mention names here, but it`s working well... To me, real extreme Metal has to be fucked-up, dangerous and dark as fuck! A majority of nowadays` “extreme” Metal groups don`t have anything to do with this cult except of the music perhaps. Extreme Metal to the masses? - That´s obviously not for me, hehe!!!
If there’s one thing I like from your music is the way songs sound a bit chaotic, despite a great composition, just like old bands used to. I mean, all is well structured, but you don’t give me the impression of listening to a mathematic thing, it’s a bit dirty, aggressive and with a raw production that doesn’t turn it too synthetic. How much important do you think all this is with a band like yours? What’s your opinion about how the most of Thrash Metal bands sound nowadays?
IRON INCUBUS: “Controlled chaos” is a good description of our music, hehe…! We personally consider it very important that we sound as natural as possible. There`s neither a “mathematical” approach in song writing nor in playing music. And when we record our stuff in studio, our producer knows quite well what kind of production fits to our kind of savage noise. It´s important to achieve a sound that comes close to how we sound live as our music works best on stage in a small club, featuring a direct interaction with a fanatic audience of real maniacs. Many other current Thrash or Heavy Metal records sound way too polished and sterile in my ears. I mean, a good production shows off the character of a certain band. This factor is missing when either the group has no character at all or if the producer just offers a lame and boring “standard sound”. Almost all of those modern productions lack originality and character. Some may find our sound disturbing, but we consider HELLISH CROSSFIRE standing in a tradition of bands from the 70s or 80s when every single release had its own characteristics. Nowadays nearly everybody comes up with a cold, emotionless standard production without any edges and mistakes involved. But it`s especially those small mistakes that sometimes make albums so “human”, so original and so extremely worthwhile. The times, they are a-changin`, but in this point obviously not for the better…
I don’t have the lyrics of “Bloodrust Scythe”, but from the titles I can imagine they deal with usual Metal stuff like violence, evil, horror and, especially, death. Am I wrong? Could you introduce us a bit more into your hell?
IRON INCUBUS: You`re absolutely right: Our lyrics deal with typical Metal clichés, and honestly said, they don`t have too specific meanings! We think that lyrics have to fit to the music. If I want food for thought, I grab a good book about i.e. philosophy and not a LP inlay or a CD booklet! There are a few good lyrics in Rock / Metal music, but the major part is just superficial, superfluous shit. So why should we focus more upon our words than on our music? We`re in it for our dedication to the ancient Metal spirit, and not for spreading some obscure messages! On the other hand, this doesn`t mean that our lyrics don`t have a certain “message” or, let`s say “vision”: The words our vocalist Iron Tyrant barks into the microphone stand representative for the spirit of the ancient Metal cult and what this kind of music should be all about! It`s a fist in the face of all those wannabe-philosophers that only want to express how “intelligent” they are, trying to distract from their mediocre musical efforts. Despite the fact I like some artists that spread political or philosophical thoughts in their songs, I think that musicians should stick to what they can do best: Creating music. On the other hand, there are also not too many authors, politicians or philosophers that feel the urgent need to play instruments to their words…
Are the lyrics an important part of Hellish Crossfire, as a meaning for the music you create? What's your opinion about that ton of bands speaking only about gore, porn, invocating Satan or drinking beer?
IRON INCUBUS: Bands that exclusively sing about stuff such as i.e. gore, porn, invocating Satan and drinking beer are ok if they feel the need to express themselves in that way. I mean, we don`t offer any “food for thought” with HELLISH CROSSFIRE as well, how could I condemn groups singing exclusively about the aforementioned stuff then? But there are differences as well: I mean, I think it`s ok if for example Tankard sing about drinking beer because that´s the natural way those guys behave, furthermore also the music is of a good quality (at least the early recordings). But on the other hand there are also many “fun bands” so to say dealing with the above mentioned topics without a sincere background. These groups can be nice to experience when you`re drunk and want to party. But except this, there´s no further content unfortunately. With HELLISH CROSSFIRE we`re very sincere about what we do, despite the fact that some modern day “Metal” heads or “normal” people might consider it awkward. We do what we want and we do it with pride! Contrary to the aforementioned “fun bands” we got people that want to change the world with their music and lyrics. But that`s very, very unlikely, I think… To me music can both offer me a good time as well as it can be a faithful companion through darker times… However, in the end everybody can do what he / she wants…!
Concerning the typical cliché topics: On the one hand with HELLISH CROSSFIRE we also got those traditional lyrics, that´s right. They fit to this band. But with Anael for example our vocalist / guitarist Seraphackh wrote about many inspiring topics that none or just very few other bands have ever written about before. The world is full of exciting stuff, literature, history and culture got tons of topics to write about. But most of the groups in the Metal sector dedicate themselves to a stereotypical kind of words. Examples for more advanced ways to write lyrics to me are bands such as i.e. Melechesh, Rudra, Rotting Christ or Orphaned Land.
What’s your opinion about that “Thrash hype” that started two or three years ago with the success of Municipal Waste? Do you think there’s a real passion from some of those 15 year old teenagers covered in denim and patches? Does it bring any positive thing to the Thrash scene? Any new band that surprised you?
IRON INCUBUS: I was and still am very suspicious concerning this new trend, honestly said. I didn`t recognise that growing trend that much in the beginning as Thrash Metal somehow always used to be quite big in Germany, even during the fucking 90s…bands such as i.e. Desaster, Impending Doom, Witchburner or Nocturnal were already existing long, long before Municipal Waste, Evile, Gama Bomb, Bonded By Blood, Warbringer etcetc. jumped on board of the trend train. Very few newcomers of nowadays` Thrash movement really impress me, most of them are still deeply connected with the underground: Just think of killer acts such as i.e. Division Speed, Cruel Force, Evil Army, Baphomet`s Blood, Violator, Farscape, Violent Attack or Witching Hour!
At first I was only negative about this growing amount of Thrash and generally traditional Metal supporters as too many “internet Metal heads” were around. There were young people of maybe 16 or 17 years that claimed to know everything about “real Metal”, that dressed like clowns from an 80s Metal Circus and so on. Meanwhile I accepted that and recognised that also some really dedicated maniacs discover the real spirit of this kind of music through newer bands such as i.e. Municipal Waste. They start listening to one of those current acts and slowly discover the ancient legacy of the old heroes of this kind of music… that´s a good thing, and I would lie if I would tell that HELLISH CROSSFIRE doesn´t benefit from this Thrash / traditional Metal trend nowadays. However, I`m just curious what fans and bands still will be there once the trend is over?!? – One thing is for sure: HELLISH CROSSFIRE has been there long before the trend and we`ll still be there when this wave has finally slopped all over this planet!
So, yeah, I think some of the younger Metal heads can be very sincere and dedicated, when they develop their musical taste and knowledge and when they start diving deeper into the history of Heavy Metal. But those sheep that stand still and keep on considering current Thrash combos as absolute heroes, will turn away from this kind of music when the big trend is over. I mean, if we are all honest, bands such as i.e. Bonded By Blood or Warbringer just do something other bands have already done years ago in a much, much better and more authentic way… I personally prefer bands that try to establish an own sound obsessed by the extreme spirit of the ancient ones…
When it comes to old-schooled Metal, the most of the people is quite close minded to only Thrash, Death or Black Metal (or that’s what the image they pretend). What’s your opinion about that? Are you into other musical styles, be it Punk, Pop, Folk, Electronic or whatever else? What’s your opinion about that image or “trve way of being” some metalheads need to show to the rest of the world? Isn’t that something for trendy Manowar fans?
IRON INCUBUS: I`m very much addicted to real Metal, so maybe I`m also suffering the “Manowar-syndrome”, haha! Honestly said, to 90 % I definitely listen to this kind of music exclusively. Whenever I grab a guitar, Thrash riffs pour out, maybe also some traditional Heavy, Speed, Doom, Death or Black Metal is involved as well. So in a certain way I`m quite narrow-minded. But on the other hand I`ve always listened to other kinds of music besides Heavy Metal / Hardrock as well: Classical music, Blues, Rock N` Roll, Punk, Folk, Pop, Rock and even some Jazz is fine with me. Furthermore I`m very addicted to Progressive and Psychedelic music of the late 60s / 70s. Even some very obscure stuff (Experimental, Avantgarde music or traditional sounds from different cultures) is cool to check out: I simply got no musical limitations! Ok, I would never listen to bullshit such as i.e. HipHop, Techno, Rap or stuff like this…but, generally said, I`m quite open-minded – and, maybe- narrow-minded at the same time, haha…! I think you´re betraying yourself if you say that “only Metal is real”: Good music is simply everywhere, in (nearly) every genre! So in a certain way I got my own personal taste that is quite individual, although it`s totally rooted in the ancient Heavy Metal cult, hehe…!
Nowadays in some kind of “scene” it seems to be “trendy” to be a narrow-minded 80s Metal head. People make fools of themselves in a certain way. Once the huge traditional Metal trend is over, there`ll be just a dedicated core of fans left, as already stated above…
Your opinion about the evolution of these bands:
- Bathory: I really worship both the savage, utterly dark and raw Black Metal years as well as the epic era. However, at some point (after listening to “Octagon” and “Requiem”) I decided not follow the path of Bathory anymore. “Blood On Ice” was a really cool album, whereas I don`t know the last three records “Destroyer Of Worlds” and the “Nordland” stuff. Albums such as the first six full-length records were indeed timeless masterpieces that set standards for ages, that`s out of question. There`s an atmosphere on these full-lenghts that hardly can be captured nowadays. Everybody that tries to re-invoke that feeling nowadays, be it on stage or in studio, is condemned to fail…! However, there used to be some weaker albums (as those mentioned above) in Bathory`s career, but this fact should not do any harm to the immense cult factor and the undeniable impression Quorthon`s music has made upon generations of Black / Viking Metal musicians to come… Despite some weaker records he never betrayed his roots and that`s something I really welcome!
- Celtic Frost: I really worship the first few Celtic Frost as well as all Hellhammer releases. Even “Into The Pandemonium” was an interesting record for that time being! But after that Tom G. Warrior & Co. chose a commercial way which was embarrassing for many old fans. At first I was very suspicious concerning a new Celtic Frost album in 2006 after so many years, but despite the too modern production “Monotheist” was an awesome, truly dark and morbid to the core record! It might have not appealed to all of the early Celtic Frost / Hellhammer fans out there, but it managed to capture the ancient feeling of the music of Tom G. Warrior & Co. Also the new Triptykon album is quite good, I think – definitely one of the better, let´s say, “Dark” Metal records out there nowadays!
- Metallica: Honestly said, I`m one of those persons that already started being suspicious when, after having worshipped “Kill `Em All” and “Ride The Lightning” before, I listened to “Master Of Puppets”. I think this album marked a turning point in Metallica´s history: Everything would become more commercial, more mass-appealing from then on. That`s why I stopped really listening to Metallica already back then. I mean, I still consider the first two albums as essential, but starting with “Master Of Puppets”, the music got weaker and softer with every new album. I know neither “Death Magnetic” nor “St. Anger”, I give a shit about those “Load” recordings etc. To me Metallica as a real Metal band died long, long ago already…so their music doesn`t interest me at all these days anymore!
- Slayer: Slayer managed to stick true to their roots during all those years, despite adding a certain Hardcore / modern touch to their newer songs. But King & Co. never sold out as much as Metallica did. To me, the “unholy trinity” of “Show No Mercy”, “Hell Awaits” and “Reign In Blood” truly defines what ravishing Thrash Metal should be all about! Just listen to the music, look at the musicians back when those masterpieces were released and read the lyrics! Everything´s so damn fascinating, so close to perfectionism! Also the Slayer albums after “Reign In Blood” had their great moments, but the infamous “unholy trinity” marks without any doubt a legacy for eternity!
- Kreator: I really worship the first two Kreator records “Endless Pain” and “Pleasure To Kill”. I also like “Extreme Aggressions”, but somehow the ancient spirit of the first two albums was so extremely supreme and an inspiration for tons of bands following Kreator`s aggressive as fuck path. From a fan`s point of view, I of course consider the first two albums as highlights in their career. I worship the early Tormentor demos, too. Also some of the later albums, such as i.e. the highly underrated “Renewal” record had their glorious moments. Back when the last mentioned album was released, I liked this experimental approach of Kreator, this was definitely something new. Later on Mille & Co. betrayed their roots totally with a Goth “Metal” album like “Endorama”. And nowadays Kreator try to do “Terrible Certainty” or “Coma Of Souls” over and over again: They copy themselves, whilst they`ve lost the ancient feeling totally meanwhile.
- Sodom: Sodom is definitely the only one of the “big three” of German Thrash that nowadays still manages to live up to the early spirit, more or less. Furthermore there`s not really a totally weak record in their discography: Ok, I didn`t like their previous “Sodom” album because it sounded much too modern to me, but also a “younger” record such as i.e. “M-16” had its fine moments. Of course Sodom is highly worshiped by me due to their early achievings on releases such as “In The Sign Of Evil”, “Obsessed By Cruelty”, “Agent Orange”, “Persecution Mania” etc. Back in their early days Tom Angelripper & Co. were so extremely raw and aggressive that they influenced many later Death and Black Metal groups.
- Destruction: The situation here is similar to the situation with Kreator: Back in the early days Schmier & Co. put out fabulous records, most of them are highlights in Thrash Metal history to me. But the reunion some years ago was only cool considering the fact that it was finally possible to see the legend Destruction live on stage: They should have called it quits after doing some reunion shows, I think, because the new studio records were too modern to me and lacking that great sense of song writing that was so typical for Destruction back in the 80s.
- Sepultura: This band experienced a completely change of style during its career, I think: Similarly to Metallica, I think Sepultura should have quit after the release of “Roots” and after Max Cavalera left the band. Personally I don`t like “Roots “or “Chaos A.D.” that much, but they still offered a somewhat logical evolution of this band. After that Sepultura turned into a Hardcore-group without any own identity. Personally I really worship the early recordings such as i.e. “Morbid Visions / Bestial Devastation”, “Schizophrenia” and “Beneath The Remains”. Already “Arise” was way too polished to my dirty ears. Generally said, I`m very much into the 80s Brazilian Metal scene, and Sepultura was their most prominent representative; at least the early recordings justified their leading position. However, I think Sepultura opened many doors for other bands not only from Brazil, but from other exotic countries as well. I guess with the international success of Sepultura a major part of the Metal audience got a bit more open-minded towards bands that emerge from “straight out of the jungle”, hehe…
Recently we’ve seen how the majority of old-school Thrash Metal bands which split-up in the end of the eighties or beginning of the nineties are coming back, not only for live shows but, the most of them, releasing new albums, which are usually disappointing. Do you think this kind of reunions has any sense, apart of the commercial one?
IRON INCUBUS: Maybe 98 % of reunions don`t make any sense at all: Some of those comeback groups only feature one or two original members, others come along with shitty new albums, others offer superfluous reunion shows… Of course current times seem to be quite interesting for traditional Metal heroes from the past to join forces again and maybe make some additional money. On the other side there are also musicians that rediscover how much fun it is to once again play together with some old comrades, so it`s not exclusively about the commercial aspect only. Old heroes that still know how to kick ass and / or reunions I really like(d) were those of Exciter, Vulcano, Candlemass, Necrodeath, Hirax, Pentagram, Grave, Necrophobic, Nifelheim, Trouble, Saint Vitus, Death SS, Darkness / Eure Erben, Omen, Brocas Helm, Heathen etc. Again, the whole reunion stuff mainly is also some kind of trend: Those groups that don´t know how to pull it off again these days should prefer to rest in peace forever instead of trying to return to past glories without success …!
Wouldn’t it be better to support new bands which are really full of energy and anger, like those bands used to be, instead of supporting only a name for its past achievements? Which ones did you like?
IRON INCUBUS: Of course some newcomers got more fire and are closer to the spirit of the ancient times than former legends from past times, I just think of i.e. Grand Magus, Enforcer, Witchcraft, Witching Hour, Division Speed, Force Of Darkness, Heptameron, Ejecutor, Grave Desecrator, Horisont etc. Most of those musicians that were more or less successful in the 80s nowadays have 9 to 5 jobs, a family at home and live totally different lives than all those years ago. Most of them don`t have such an intense connection to the essence of Heavy Metal anymore. Maybe playing-wise they still can live up to their past`s deeds, but obviously good and authentic music is much more about than just playing: It needs a soul, it needs total dedication. That`s what some newcomers have, but also some old veterans, regardless of boundaries of age and time…
I’m always amazed how good is everything around the Metal scene in Germany, you go to a fest and it’s full of people, there isn’t as much danger of losing money organizing it, and the same goes with labels and shows, with every band stopping there. In fact I observed it doesn’t happen only with Metal but with any other kind of music or cultural event. Why do you think there is so much culture support from your country? Do you think it’s simply because of its geographical situation, in the middle of Europe, or there’s something else?
IRON INCUBUS: Puh, that´s quite a difficult but also a very interesting topic, I think… First of all, I have to tell you about our latest experiences so far: During the past few years the amount of concerts has increased to a really tremendous number. But somehow there aren`t too many organisers willing to initiate good shows to acceptable anymore, as for the second half of 2010 there`s just one single show fixed for us! There`s been a lot of interest in organising concerts, but most of the offers were turned down after some time. I don’t know what the reasons for this may be, maybe it`s also due to world-wide recession that people take a bit more care of their money? – I don`t know! I know for sure that it`s not our fault that we don`t play live too often nowadays as we take not much money, we always try to deliver a great show and we`re quite easily satisfied people you can come along with very well, I think… Let´s hope that some planned concerts in Sweden, Czech Republic, France and maybe Switzerland or Italy can take place this year still. But nothing´s confirmed yet. Of course playing in Spain would be killer as well!!! So if anyone reads this here coming from this sunny country and organising underground Metal shows, just get in touch with us!
However, there are still many concerts in Germany, that`s right. It´s even too much, I think, so that people are slowly fed up with it. There are tons of open-air festivals with similar or even the same bands playing, really interesting events such as i.e. the “Hells Pleasure” festival or the “Headbangers Open Air” are quite rare. A few years ago when we played in Portugal, we experienced really fanatic and dedicated maniacs. Not many concerts take place there, so people are still very hungry for underground Metal.
I don´t know the reason why Germany is such a good ground for live events. Maybe one reason is the fact that we`ve always been “the country of poets and thinkers” (long time gone, haha)? Despite the fact that the validity of this trademark as well as a huge amount of our cultural identity vanishes slowly, cultural activities are quite popular over here. But I would not dare to say that Spanish people for example are less interested in culture than German people. Maybe that due to our sometimes very rainy and cold weather we simply have to prefer spending lots of time in hot, sticky clubs, theatres, cinemas etc. instead of having a good time outside in a warm, mild climate, hehe? Honestly said, I don`t know the reasons for Germany being such a “cultural centre”. Maybe the geographical location, as you mentioned, in the “heart of Europe” is quite attractive as well? Furthermore we got neighbours such as i.e. France whose population also got a big interest in culture. So it´s easy to start a tour on this continent in Teutonic lands as it lies right in the middle between Scandinavia, West, East and South Europe. And it`s also an advantage that Germany is still one of the wealthiest countries in the world, so people can afford to spend much money on attending concerts, clubs, theatres, the opera etc. Furthermore we got a good cultural “infrastructure”: For example, I come from Upper Franconia and grew up in a village not far away from Bayreuth. Richard Wagner built an opera house there, right in the middle of nowhere! And still up to this day it becomes the centre of the cultural world a few weeks a year when the famous “Wagner Festivals” take place. So I guess the answer to your question is a mixture of all of these components somehow…
Ok, I imagine you've had enough answering my questions, so we could simply close this knowing a bit of what will happen in Hellish Crossfire's ranks in the coming months. Any new recording planned? Maybe some touring or festivals?
IRON INCUBUS: As for now, we take a short break from the live sector, as already stated above. Our next (and, till now, only confirmed) show will take place in September in Stuttgart together with Desaster, Nocturnal and Witching Hour (please see info at the end of this interview). So we can concentrate on writing new songs now. We don`t know when there`ll be another HELLISH CROSSFIRE recording as we prefer to take time to deliver top quality and releases we`re satisfied to for 100% instead of coming along with a new album every year or so. End of June the LP version of our second album “Bloodrust Scythe” should finally be put out by I Hate Records. Then there are plans to do a re-pressing of our first album “Slaves Of The Burning Pentagram” end of this year. Maybe there`ll also be a special tape version of “Bloodrust Scythe”, who knows? Then we hope to play some fine club shows in autumn / winter 2010 as well. As said, there are some plans already, but nothing`s confirmed yet. No tours, no big festival appearances as for now. We`ll concentrate on creating more war-hymns of savage, aggressive, dark and morbid Metal from now on...!!!
Thanks a lot for your time and keep thrashing in that good old way. I hope to hear more from you soon. If you want to add anything else, do it now…
IRON INCUBUS: Thank you very much for your interesting and detailed questions! It was fun answering this interview, believe me! Thanks for your support and Cheers to all the maniacs that are gonna read these words of mine – we hope to meet you soon at a HELLISH CROSSFIRE concert in your beautiful country!
On Speed we die,
For Thrash we cry,
In Black we rule,
Slaughtering the fool!!!
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.