HALLUCINATIONS FROM THE PAST
younger peoples might not be aware about it,
1. Hello, how are you? Are you ready for a little nostalgic trip in the past?
Alex: All good
here, busy in the studio as always, hehe.
2. Atrocity was formed in 1985, I didn't have the opportunity to listen to your first tape demo "Instigators", could you roughly describe it? Was it closer to thrash metal or hardcore? Was it totally self-produced or released on some small bedroom labels?
Alex: It was pure underground death thrash from the 80s. It was a retrospect to our early years. Although we already had developed into a really brutal band by time music wise we decided to record some of our first tracks on the demo. We wanted to show this to the people, to our friends and fans in the underground scene. And we did it in small but fine studio, producing it ourselves with an engineer from our area.
3. The first ''official'' release was the ''Blue blood'' Ep that contained a quite technical and raw death grind. What do you remember of this time? Are you still satisfied with this recording?
Alex: Yes sure I remember! These were incredible times. Like you said we formed Atrocity already in 1985 and became the forerunners of the German Death Metal scene. I remember dirty rehearsal rooms, shitty equipment, fantastic shows in small rotten clubs haha. We were a big part of the Underground movement. Atrocity and I was there myself when it all started! We were like a big family with most of the bands from Morbid Angel, Pungent Stench, Immortal to Entombed. "Blue Blood" our first official release on Nuclear Blast Records became a milestone in the German underground death metal and grind core scene, of which we are very proud. Along with the EP we went on a European tour with Carcass, including the first international death metal festivals. Entombed, Pungent Stench and Disharmonic Orchestra joined the tour, moreover, the festivals were organized by myself and our former guitar player, Matze. Great underground spirit! The biggest show was in the CZ Republic in front of 2000 crazy metal heads!
4. With your first album ''Hallucinations'' the music of Atrocity became more technical, it was clearly techno death! It didn't only adapt to the current laws of the style, it was a couple of years ahead of the deathmetallic evolution: Superfast, blasting, technical, with strange unexpected breaks...Were you only into death metal at this time, or were you already opened to other genres? (Perhaps Morbid Angel was a good influence then?)
Alex: I've always been fascinated by art, especially music, impressive and extreme music. I also listen to Pink Floyd, Laibach, Dead Can Dance or to other bands which are not connected to metal. Progressive metal bands like Watch Tower or Fates Warning were also ground breaking back then. And yes, our first album was not typical Death Metal, it was much more progressive and technical and people would call it technical Death Metal, “Hallucinations” was even called the first Techno Death album ever! For our first album we spent like 5-7 days recording it in Florida and we were on tour then with Carcass and it was crazy touring and returning to the studio then going back on the road to tour again - yeah, really crazy! By the way I think we were the first metal band from Europe to record there for our debut album “Hallucinations”, well, at least the first German band at Morrisound studio haha. Working with Scott was really cool and with “Hallucinations” we were the first European Death Metal band licensed by Roadrunner Records to the USA, Scott Burns hooked us up with Monte from Roadrunner.
5. Did you feel a part of a ''techno death'' scene with other German bands, or were you rather isolated in the middle of classical thrash/ death bands? (In France we saw the appearance of more technical death metal bands around 1994…)
Alex: Well, at this time there was no other technical death metal band out of Germany, this started all later on. Anyway, we don’t like to be pushed in only one category, we are free thinkers of metal and did all kid of crazy stuff in our career from Techno Death to Ethno Metal. We had a very strong connection in the early days with the Grindcore / Death Metal scene and it wasn't the easiest of categories to put us in, haha
6. This album contains a bonus live cover of ''Archangel'' initially written by Death. Why did you choose this song in particular? (When I was a teen, it was quite bugging me to see you covered a song I didn't know and wasn't on any Death album AhAh)
Alex: Actually the "Arch Angel" live track was recorded in 1992 on our tour with Deicide and it was released on the re-release of "Hallucinations". Chuck never released this great Death demo song from 1985. When we met each other we talked about it if we could do the song as a bonus for our second album "Todessehnsucht" and we jammed together. Chuck find it cool that I would re write the lyrics, so it came out as a very cool kind of cooperation.
7. I read at the time your new bassist learnt to play bass just 6 months before the recording of the album... How was it possible he reached such technical level in only 6 months, starting from zero? AhAh
Alex: Haha yeah that was a miracle but with die hard training everything is possible.
8. Your second album "Todessehnsucht" remaint in the technical death metal genre, but developed a darker atmosphere, more vicious grooves, and more surprising parts. It sometimes drives the listener deeper into strange territories, with stronger atmospheres... Would you say it's only a matter of engineering ("Hallucinations" had a more aggressive production, and so, perhaps didn't develop the same atmosphere) or you felt you had put the finger on something more? (Perhaps something deeper in the mind of the demented patient? AhAh)
Tosso: I agree
with what you say about both albums. In my opinion "Hallucnations"
has a very raw and fresh sound. It's like brutally strange bulldozer
that twists your brain,haha. It has this sort of feel that i also
love about the first Voivod albums for example.
Alex: For the album “Todesseehnsucht” we signed to the biggest Heavy Metal label at that time, Roadrunner Records, and they gave us enough money to make a great album which lasted 6 weeks in the studio. So the production was a lot better and different and we had more time to spend in the studio without rushing the album. It was done in Germany and produced by ourselves and “Todessehnsucht” did not have the typical sound from the American or Scandinavian studios that time. That was refreshing, too, I think, although I like the productions form that era. This dark and morbid atmosphere we wanted to have on the album, we just didn't to be a technical band only, we wanted to create atmospheric and thrilling music. That's why we also incorporated some Wagner inspired classical arrangements and opera singers, too.
9. On this album the music sounded really strange, somewhat schizophrenic and broken in the head... It didn't really feel German as far as I'm concerned... I feel it was closer to strange Death metal bands from the eastern countries... Do you have roots in Russia, Ukraine or something? :-)
Alex: Haha well, my grandfather was born in Transilvania ;) It's funny that you say that it doesn't sound "German". I remember back in the day every one spoke about the great Wagner and classical influence of the record like I said before. We used a Wagner theme and choirs on "Sky turned red" and of course the German title and some German lyric we used on the album got a lot of attention that time, too. The German language got not the best feedback all the time...well, there was no Rammstein back then ;)
10. What would you answer if I say "Todessehnsucht" is the morbid, black and negative polarized version of old Atheist?
Alex: Never thought about that haha I think they released their first records also around that time. Unfortunately we never toured together. Cynic, Atheist and Atrocity would have been a crazy tour package ;)
11. Your third and fourth albums shew the appearance of "power", and then industrial influences. Did you feel like you had explored all of the death metal genre, needed something else, or perhaps the technical/ complex side of your style became too tiring to rehearse again and again?
Alex: The rehousing was no problem at all - we were super crazy if it became to practicing I guess haha Seriously, I think we just wanted to break down all the barriers of metal in general and to built up some music nobody else did or dared to to do back then!
12. What would you answer if I say "Willenskraft" is the graveyard/ degenerated version of old Fear factory ("Demanufacture")... I feel while their music very much admired technology, you were already into degeneration and some of the drawbacks of modernity AhAh.
Tosso: For "Willenskraft" we wanted to have a brutal and cold sound. We recorded the album at Danse Macabre studio with Bruno Kramm from "Das Ich". The year before Willenskraft we worked together with them on the groundbreaking "Die Liebe" album, where we mixed electronic music with metal, which was unheard and totally new in the scene(s) back then. So in a way, "Willenskraft" also displays some of the experiences we made in 1995 with "Die Liebe".
13. Some songs of this album came back to the pure Death metal genre, but some were only faster! I feel some of the atmosphere is quite closer to "Todessehnsucht", so let me ask you if some of these weren't written just after your second album? (Perhaps it wasn't used on "Blut" because you wanted to explore new territories and to differentiate yourselves from everyone playing Death metal then?)
Alex: I guess BLUT is one of the most important albums in our career and was influencing a lot of other bands, too. We managed to break boundaries and still kept the intense way of playing music. we combine actually a lot of different elements of metal but also very atmospheric, dark and melodic music. The lyrical concept of BLUT demanded it, too. On “BLUT” we had great vampiric lyrical concept and we included historical elements. We also shot our videoclip on the historic medieval castle Corvin in Transylvania, where Vlad Tepez was actually hold as prisoner! Anyway we never gave up the brutal side of the band, so we also continued to record heavy stuff of course!
14. Do you still play some of the old death metal tracks live? Or perhaps it doesn't fit with the style of later albums in the context?
Tosso: Yeah, in fact we love to play songs from all albums. It is fun to play those songs live and also introduce younger fans to these songs and albums from "the golden age of Death metal".
Alex: Of course we do and always did. In the past we have been misinterpreted by the press because we did extreme music and some experimental albums with elements from Gothic, Dark, Electro, Ethno, Folk and we would have left our original path of Death Metal behind us and turned into a pure Gothic Metal act, which is not true at all!! Some call us the chameleons of metal. Well, besides all experimental stuff we never gave up our heavy side or denying it! We played the heavy stuff live, classics like “Necropolis”, “BLUT” or “Fatal Step” from our first albums have been in our live setlist.
15. I was surprised to hear your new album “Okkult” contains again some old school death metal songs, perhaps so old school it might have something of Celtic Frost... Was it a nostalgic feeling? You wanted something simpler and straight to the point again?
Tosso: Perfect question. Indeed, Alex and me are both big fans of Celtic Frost and we wanted to have the dark feel of the very first extreme metal bands from the early 80ies. "Okkult" is not just a nostalgic album, it has songs with riffs that can be remembered and chorusses that can be shout along. This is something that got a bit lost in a nowadays extreme metal, which is in my opinion sometimes too reduced on technical and speed aspects, rather than heavy music.
16. Considering your discography touched various kinds of metal and dark music, which album of yours would you say sounds the more like Atrocity? I know it's not an easy question, but maybe some atmospheres and souls are closer to what you picture to be the heart of Atrocity?
Alex: That's a hard question, as we always want to reflect the musical status quo of our musical work on each album. So all albums are part of the Atrocity history and connected strongly to my own life. Maybe within the OKKULT trilogy you find a lot of "pure" Atrocity music, past and present!
17. Numerous old death metal bands from the 90's are reforming, others like Morbid Angel play the entirety of an old album during gigs... Do you think Atrocity could play a few gigs focused on the first two albums? Could it be down to “hell”?
Tosso: This is indeed something we already discussed and i think it is an exciting idea. So, yeah, in the right time and moment we might come up with something like that.
18. In the early 90's there was an American grindcore band who also used the Atrocity moniker. Were you aware about it at the time? Perhaps it didn't bother since the styles were quite different... (Funnily enough, both bands were formed in 1985, released their first and second albums respectively in 1990 and 1992... Strange coincidence, isn't it? AhAh)
Alex: No we weren't aware of the US band, I heard they were formed in 1987. Anyway, it really happend that when we released an album in the early 90s suddenly 6 moths later another "Atrocity" album hit the stores and fans got really confused haha
19. Do you miss something from the 80's and early 90's? Perhaps old paper fanzines? Hand-written letters? Or emails and Facebook make it easier for quite bigger metal bands like Atrocity?
Tosso: I miss the excitement and passion for music sometimes. Here in Europe everybody tries to be a "metal expert". I consider myself still a fan, for example on the 70.000 tons of metal cruise I was superexcited seeing Carcass, Massacre and Obituary. I think this is something we Europeans can learn from Latin American metal heads: The excitement and passion for the music.
20. Feel free to conclude this interview. Thanks for the answers!
you for the great interview! BIG greetings to all Atrocity fans!
We hope to see on the road again soon, DEATH BY METAL!