Thank you very much for coming! My name is Zsolt, and I’m from the Hungarian webzine kronosmortus.com, and it’s so great to have you here and talk to you – thank you for coming!
Of course – thank you very much for the interview! I’m looking forward!
Me too! How was this year for you?
Oh, this year… actually, I mean… if I start from the end of the year, it’s great, because the new record will be released in early start of next year, in January, and we’re doing the videos, and a lot of things going on, a lot of feedbacks coming for the Occult III – so finally the Occult trilogy has a grand finale. But the start of the year was not so good: my mother died.
Oh I’m sorry to hear that!
It was a shitty start, a really shitty start. And yeah, it was difficult as well, as you know corona was still going on, and we had this fucking war coming up (I cannot say different). And yeah, of course there was like shows planned in Russia – we could not play of course, and then in the summertime we had the first festival coming up with Atrocity and I got corona alright at the same time. Yeah. So, we couldn’t play then as well. So, besides that, it was a lot of things going on of course with the new Atrocity album, which is the very-very positive thing! To be honest, if you look around, the world is going from one crisis to the next one, and the world went crazy – so here we go, we have the soundtrack for the world!
I see, I fully agree with you.
Also, lyrics-wise, there’s a lot of things also from the Occult concept, which suits to the times we live in, as no matter what system you live in. If it’s a democracy or dictatorship, or whatever, a religious state, it seems fear is the way you can control people, whatever system you live in. And that’s basically also the topic of the Occult trilogy from the start, because it’s about the dark side of humanity and there’s a lot of this connected with also conspiracy with religious and political powers combined, and all these people having power and might abusing it. That’s the human way to do it. It’s sad but true.
Yeah. I could actually call you a legend because you started this all so long ago. You made music with a lot of people and over the years you often had to look for new bandmates – still, you always managed to find them and keep going forward. Have you always been that lucky in this respect?
Well, the thing is like when you start a band, and this band is going on since 1985, and you spread out so many years, and you know, I have still the same spirit and flame inside of me to express myself with this band and the music, and also the visuals like the videos (I film and directing as well). So, I love to work with other musicians as well, and with other bands here in the studio at Mastersound. So, this is something a passion goes on with me, and was also top priority for all my life. You know, but you cannot expect it from everyone. Like some people they had just another path in their life coming up, or some people have even private problems or something going on with family and so forth. It’s not so easy also as a band in general. If you do the music and the life situation we had in the corona times, that is… it needs a lot of effort and a lot of passion to do something like that as professional. And this is… yeah, it has to work as a bond as well, with people who you work together as a team. Yeah, but the thing is, yeah… we are very lucky to have now such a great album like Occult III, and a really cool line up, and yeah… we’re doing even two bands you know, Leaves’ Eyes is also part of the whole thing.
Talking about the long lifespan of Atrocity – how perfect or complete does it seem for you so far? Do you think there have been any missteps? How easy has it been for you to make music for 35 years?
Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, you’re always wiser afterwards. If you do something, you can always do it better or something like that. But I think we always gave the best: there are no regrets or something, not at all. It was super important that we were having this musical artistic freedom in our career to do all kinds of stuff. Also, with the band and not only one style. It was for me very important. To shorten it might be the overall genre is metal that we have within that … the possibility to break the law. Breaking the law – that was it all about heavy metal! Here we go, we do it! And the thing is you see, now we’ve cooled. It’s like decade of Occult trilogy, and there was a lot of work, a lot of blood and sweat and passion to make albums like that. We have a concept and not just releasing music, maybe faster or whatever, if you have not such, you know, a huge background of it. But for me, we’re established band like, you know, I compare it with my friends at Destruction, Sodom or Kreator – they also don’t release an album every year. You celebrate it when it comes out. And now of course with this trilogy coming to a grand finale so to say, I mentioned, so that is very special to me. And whatever we can have as a next challenge, we are glad to have the opportunity to do that because there’s such a big support from the fans. I don’t think about “oh what can you do better” or “was this a mistake” or something, as even if you make something different, maybe it’s not that tasty anymore, not so exciting, maybe “too perfect”, you know what I mean…? Every album has its own magic. Every music has its own magic. If you do things too clean or too perfect, they lose also something.
I see. In the beginning – talking about styles – in the beginning you started with playing rough death metal, then you made some sharp changes, and then again, you went back to your roots in a very great way actually! Do your ideas vary that much or… – what do these changes depend on?
Yeah, that’s what I was just tried to explain. For me, there are not like… we never gave up to be a death metal band, or never swapped “sides” or something like that: we were just like challenging ourselves. We’re capable to do a work 18 hours, for example. Or when we were rocking with Das Ich back in the day, to make the first metal and gothic crossover – nobody has done that before. Also, like using German lyrics: there was no Rammstein or something, so we did that. So, it’s not like that we whatever doing nonsense, but I like to have the challenge, you know? Like a new project or a new album means you open your book with empty pages and start to write. And this is how I see it. And it’s not like “I want to play this style or that style, or this one”. I want that it fits the music with the lyrical and the visual concept too, so that’s how I see it as an artist. But I understand that people always think in categories or something. Are they now death metal band or are they now whatever, crossover or are they gothic metal or are they dark metal?
Yeah. People are like that.
Yeah, it’s too complicated for me. Or folk metal – we also have been called like that, because we did a project with my sister Yasmin. Well, well, well, well, for me it was a bond: Occult has to be epic, bombastic, brutal. That’s how I see it.
That’s what matters. But I suppose, parallel with these experimentations, you had to face some changes in your fanbase, I think. How does a band interpret these changes? Is it a kind of evolution, or do you just play what you enjoy, and it somehow always finds its audience?
Yeah, yeah, I think that is maybe how you could describe very well. In fact, a lot of people they like all the sides we do. It’s people who are open minded. But of course, there are people, they like this more or that more to say. A lot of people come to me: “ah, can you play something from this and this album – yeah, I think that was so cool, and…” Yeah, well, the thing is that maybe we have just another concept at the moment, then we play other stuff, so to say. Yeah, you can say the brutal side of Atrocity is for sure Occult – that’s what we do and enjoy, and we have like this ability to do things like that. I know, other musicians they told me: “Alex, you’re a really lucky bastard. If I would do this with my band, nobody would buy any record from me!” Yeah. But on the other side a lot of people also tell me we were always too early, as a pioneer, using German lyrics, doing metal and gothic crossover, doing ethno, folk and stuff. No, like the guys from Heilung for example, the singer told me, he enjoyed this stuff we did with my sister Yasmin, for example. You know, if we compare, it’s not so far away from each other. And I remember, once I think I met the guys of Nile or something at a metal fest in Switzerland, and they sold 80 posters what we were doing, and they were like “Holy Christ, we were confused about what you guys doing”. It’s quite interesting, you know, as we were like considered as the “founder” of techno death metal with Hallucinations, like that was the first technical death metal album you know, so, now it’s a whole show array like that. And some of this is kind of sports what people do, right? I was always up for songs, even if it was technical. If you go back to the great rock bands of the 70’s, the prog rock bands: they always had great songs as well. So, I grew up when I was 6 years old: Purple, and Rainbow, Whitesnake, and all that – then I was going through as a young kid through the… (oh Pink Floyd was our biggest heroes!) so when heavy metal became what it is now, yeah, nowadays, considering heavy metal, so I was also on my own evolution myself. It never meant that I didn’t like Pink Floyd when I liked whatever… like Slayer. You know what I mean? I still can like both bands or appreciate very deep athmospheric – even slow – music, then you have whatever Slayer with Hell Awaits: dark, and brutal, fast music. It doesn’t exclude each other. This is how I see with my band as well.
I hope these questions concerning the experimentation didn’t sound offensive at all – please don’t take them as such! I’m just always so curious about the fact why a band’s style changes and… but anyway, all your albums are very unique from the very beginning – I’m sure you’re not a boring guy and you like interesting things! 🙂
Yeah, that’s basically maybe the essence of it!
Yeah, I’m sure. OK, let’s move on to the Occult trilogy. The first part was released in 2013 I suppose by Napalm Records. Why did you want to create a trilogy and how many years did you initially plan to complete all the three parts?
Yeah, it’s something we had an open case here. I wasn’t sure how long it will take. I just was sure that we need three albums at least to complete the whole thing. As already with the Atlantis album I had like the idea starting or coming up then I wanted to do even something bigger. There was already a very big concept with all facets of the Atlantis, the myth with all that flood myths all around the globe and then you could… you know… say from spiritual to Greek mythology to complete space stuff. People say Atlantis is from another universe or it was founded by UFO, extraterrestic civilization on Earth, or to complete whatever Nazi bullshit you know – everything, only with the Atlantis, right? The Nazis even sent people to the Himalayas to find the sources of the Arian race of Atlantis or whatever. So, that was like a lot of research with that, and then I found like the challenge very interesting, because I was always into history, I was always into dark history, occult stuff. I found it, you know, interesting of what things were happening, all these conspiracy theories, the connection of religion and politics, how it goes hand in hand, and people abusing their power and stuff like that, and the prophecies of course, from other people who were forbid to say things or cultures which were erased, because they didn’t want that for their interest, like the Maia culture that was almost completely erased by the Catholic Church, because they were afraid of the wisdom of the gods. You see? When the big Egyptian library was burned down, like, that was like for humanity, it was a disaster: a lot of wisdom got lost, which they had already. So that things I was sure this is not doable with one record, and it has to have this spookey horror side as well with some atmosphere and to spice it up with some elements like choirs and symphonic elements. Something a little bit like a soundtrack, you know with metal songs. That was the idea.
I see. The Occult II album was released in 2018, following a label change, while the music became even more intense. In what extent would you call it an organic continuation? How successful became this album?
Occult II was really successful actually. And I think that a lot of people were not expecting that or something that we have such sharp guitars and punching songs, and all that. And although you have everything nowadays, you know, you don’t have to wait for one specific band you could think, people still find this band very original, very unique. And this is what we try to be actually. We try to be, you know, a band with their own sound (that’s why I’m also producing it), and also, you know, having a lot of variety in the music, but still, having great songs. And also with the vocals, I like to have variety in the vocals, you know? Like to have a charismatic vocals in death metal I think it’s very important, to have variety in that also.
Yeah, I see! And now we’re on the eve of the release of Occult III – and the new album that will complete somehow the trilogy – and it will be released I suppose on the 20th of January. Did the covid virus increase the preparation time for this album?
Actually it was more a problem then increasing it, because when we had the covid situation I couldn’t bring in some people sometimes in the studio, as Joris is from The Netherlands and Andrea couldn’t play any note. It was like all recorded by Micki here as he was stuck in Italy. And the thing is that was… for the composing that we couldn’t play and all that or producing, that was maybe we had some time to it, but then you also have to be very, how to say that – flexible, you know, to make it all happen. But we are very happy, I’m very happy with the result that we have probably. I don’t know what we could have done better for the end of the trilogy. It’s for me it’s like a slap in your face, a boom, which has a lot of power, and it has also a lot of variety still in the songs, which I think one of the best albums in the Atrocity history in general. With the songs we have like, mastered the songs so to say for this album. Not only video songs. Bleeding for Blasphemy is for example I know that we’re gonna play this live will be killer song!
And in which way do you think Occult III differs from the previous parts of the trilogy? In terms of the band line-up, songwriting or the realization of the whole release?
I mean, of course each album has its own atmosphere, so to say, but they are connected. So they don’t differ so much, they would not, -they would be stupid also – it’s a homogenic concept, it should, you know, it should actually like a puzzle, fit together. So we have a big picture of the Occult trilogy. So that’s how I see it. And I think maybe the production also it was important for me like, is guitar-oriented album. I’m a huge drum fan, I always was, I was drummer back in the days, so they will always have a big space in my productions. But you know that being said, I think it’s a massive riff monster, the whole album – it’s very riff-oriented.
In the songs, mystical and mythical themes are featured and there appear plenty of guest musicians. Please tell us a bit about them!
Yeah, the thing is that if I think back, we had yeah, some cool situations, where this was happening that we have guests on. Robse1 for example, who was singer in Equilibrium, when we met, he’s a big death metal and Atrocity fan from the start, and he said, “Hey Alex, we have to do something together one day!” Then we had this “Teufelsmarsch” song, and I said right – that’s cool with the German lyrics and that would be something Robse could join me, and we have a cool duet or something. And then we had these cooperations and of course Elina2, I told her: ”Hey, I want to have you as a demonic witch – we did nothing like that before, and do you wanna do that?” And she said: “OK, I will give it a try!” And so, a lot of spontaneous things also, and a very good example is the cooperation with Zoë3, because I produce her band Catalyst Crime, and she is now the vocalist for Cradle of Filth (the female voice), and we did a video at the start of the year (and it was just in time when my mother died), and she was here and we were also doing that album, and she said she would love to be part of that song that we had like this one song Malicious Succubus – and she was like yeah, I loved that – and I said” “yeah, I have an idea to have like a female harsh voice on that.” She was up to do it, she was like absolutely! And the funny part is here that Jonah4 – he’s also in Catalyst Crime – and he said, “Wait wait wait! So you told me about that song. I also want to be on the record! I can do some extra supporting stuff!” So you know, it was a real natural evolution, so to say. Really, really cool!
1 Robse Dahn – vokál (Equilibrium)
2 Elina Siirala – vokál (Leaves’ Eyes, Angel Nation)
3 Zoë Marie Federoff – vokál (Catalyst Crime, Cradle of Filth)
4 Jonah Weingarten – billentyű (Catalyst Crime)
Talking about videos, “Desecration of God” is a great video, it’s extremely well done. Did you do a lot of work on it? Who is responsible for this great work?
Well, I’m also video producer, film maker, I do also this for other bands, and yeah, I do it more and more now, it’s quite interesting. I was always doing documentaries, like the Viking Spirit, for the Leaves’ Eyes last one, filming five years in the Viking lifestyle scene, but also always involved in our video production. As my sister back in the day, in the 90’s she had a film company that was doing videos for Amorphis, Hammerfall, she did the first Wacken video-movie, Lacrimosa, Skylcad, a lot of bands with her company. And I was also many times involved also in Atrocity videos back in the day like in Transilvania, Blut (that’s a legendary one). Working our concept is just my thing: I’m a storyteller. So yeah, thank you – I appreciate very much that you like it so much, and…
Yeah, I love it very much!
that’s… I’m glad to hear that! Because yeah, there’s a lot of work in that film making it. I don’t have to tell you probably, it’s a lot of work.
Yeah, it’s a lot of work, I know. Can we expect a longer tour in the near future? Anything on the horizon?
There is something we really wanna do, as it was so unlucky with the shows and everything going on this year. We surely wanna come back on tour with the new album in 2023.
It’s good news! Do you plan to set up a big mystical or scary stage for the Occult tour? Do you have any ideas about it?
Yeah, I have plenty of ideas! The only thing is always the budget!
Yeah, it’s always the budget, yeah, I know…
Yeah, we will see. If we have the chance, we will do something. If we do special shows, for example festivals, there’s always a bigger chance to do something there. But let’s see – we will see, we’re working on that!
And how stable do you think the current style of Atrocity is? How much will it change over the upcoming years? How do you plan it? Or is it something that is unexpectable and uncalculable?
Unpredictable, I hope. Let’s see, let’s see! Now we are in the phase of the Occult trilogy, and this is something we gonna do for the shows and all that – and of course I have ideas for what to come next, but now we wanna enjoy the moment with Occult III and the trilogy.
Yeah, I can imagine! People are usually always curious about the musicians’ personal lives. What can you reveal us about yourself? What do you expect to come during your life?
Well, I’m a busy man, as you see. A lot of things with bands, but also for other bands, producing other bands, and doing video clips for them as well. I’m glad that my lifestyle or what I love the most I can do: I’m also swordfighter in the Viking scene, so this is also something I like to do. And people who wanna meet me there at Viking camp, you can always check out on the net as well, and I’m also doing battles and duels and pitch fight tournaments and stuff. But of course my favorite is spending my time with my son Leo, who is a big football fan, and sometimes I go from the studio, and join his YouTube. He has his own channel.
He’s streaming now – he can stream again. A long time he couldn’t stream, whatever was going on… And we’re doing this sometimes together. When we’re watching football, commenting and stuff like that. And we also go to the stadiums together and all that. Yeah, we’re sharing some interest! And sometimes also playing on the PlayStation, football. We have friends in Amerika, for example Bill Hudson who’s guitar player for I’m Morbid, he’s also joining us, and we’re playing online and my friends in Vital Remains: Caio,1 the guitar player and Chris:2 we’re having sometimes tournaments. Me against these guys.
1 Caio Kehyahyan – gitár (Vital Remains)
2 Chris Dovas – dob (Vital Remains)
That’s cool! I think there will always be many-many Atrocity fans and you will be around for a very-very long time and play great music for us. Am I right? 🙂
Thank you! Yes, I mean that I hope so! It’s like the… I’m so grateful for the fans’ support and how they always giving us this extra push – especially in the corona times, it was really, it was frustrating! We couldn’t meet anyone.. and let’s see, what will be the next crisis – I don’t know…
Yeah, that social isolation was really bad.
Yeah. And I think it’s so important that this metal family, this metal community is sticking together, and we support each other. It’s absolutely true. In the world, it’s unique! And we don’t care about the fucking politics, and whatever it is, so people they stick together, and that is something the „normal” society can learn a lot of.
Yeah, that’s what most important is – I agree with you completely! Thank you very much for spending a lot of time with me and thank you for answering my questions! It was great and I wish you a lot of success and good luck for the future!
Thank you so much! And yeah, I hope to see you on the road if we come back!
Hopefully yes: if you come to Hungary, I will be there!
Yeah, I want to play at Budapest. Beautiful city and it’s always great to play there!
Thank you very much for the interview and thank you for the time!
Thank you, bye-bye!
The interview was taken with Alexander Krull on 07.12.2022.