German death metal veterans will release their new album, entitled ‘Okkult II’, on July 6th and Markus’ Heavy Music Blog had the chance to get some first-hand insights, provided by Alex and Tosso of Atrocity.
Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Hello Alex and Tosso, thanks for taking a bit of time for Markus‘ Heavy Music Blog. Five years after having launched ‚Okkult‘ your new album ‚Okkult II‘ is in the starting blocks. Can you give some first insights into what fans of good ol‘ death metal can expect?
Alex : Thanks for the interview. We can‘t wait to get ‚Okkult II‘ out there. For me it‘s one of the best albums we did when it comes to heavy music. ‚Okkult II‘ is a brutal beast.
Tosso: Fans can expect quite a lot, hahaha. After having delivered a first strike with the ‚Master of Darkness‘ EP, it‘s ‚Okkult II‘ that acts as a full blast. We invested a lot of passion, energy and time into songs and all the details that come with the production of the album. Drums, bass, guitars and vocals are razorblade-sharp and brute. In addition, each of the songs has, due to Alex solid growls, a high level of recognition. Next to the brute aspect you‘ll also get real choir parts that give the listener some horroresque shivers. Furthermore we worked together with Katie Halliway (from the ‚Saw‘ movies), acting as a horror sound designer. So, it‘s an album that expresses immense and layered elemental force.
MHMB: As with the ‚Werk 80‘ albums also ‚Okkult‘ comes in two parts. The music connection between both ‚Okkult’ record is very obvious. How about the lyrics? Is there a link too?
Alex: Actually it‘s even a trilogy. The realisation of such a concept has its start already earlier in time. We always focused with Atrocity on dark lyrics and concepts. Already for the ‚Blut‘ album (1994) with its vampire concept, we did a deepdive into Transylvania; homeland of my grandfather. Then, with the extensive work for the ‚Atlantis‘ concept (2004), we came up with a huge amount of sources and touchpoints for this topic. The bandwidth covered scientific alchaeological work and mythological views up to esoteric theories, obscure interpretations of occultism during the 3. Reich and the aspect of ufology. The logical consequence for us was that the next concept will be about the mystery of world history and the dark sideline mankind. To cover this, one album wasn‘t enough and therefor the ‚Okkult‘-trilogy.
MHMB: With ‚Menschenschlachthaus‘ also the new album features a song with German lyrics. Is there a specific reason for this ‚tradition‘?
Alex: Indeed, we started with some German lyrics alrteady with the 1992 album ‚Todessehnsucht‘. I think, that the German language fits quite well to our songs, especially for heavy songs like ‚Menschenschlachthaus‘ and WWI topic it addresses. I get really inspired by poems of this time and the era of expressionism, since it mirrors the cruelity of soldiers in an authentic way with many artists from this time processing their own trauma of war. ‚Menschenschlachthaus‘ describes the real horror of WWI, based on a real story. The German teacher Wilhelm Lamszus wrote already in 1912 about the machinalized war of extermination, a dark prophecy which became cruel reality two years later when he became a soldier and witnessed his dark visions himself during in WWI.
MHMB: ‚Okkul II‘ is an aggressive and gloomy album. To what extend are things like the current political situation, social disbalance,… relevante while working on new songs?
Alex: Mankind didn’t learn anything new, actually it‘s the opposite. Intrigues, corruption, manipulation of the masses and conservative societies are still a big topic. Without becoming too political, mankind creates its own doom. The gap between rich and poor gets constantly bigger and we are, with our music, probability mirroring this society, rearing its ugly head. For us a musicians it is important to enable fans to dive into an ‚okkult world‘, reveal extreme stories and lead to mysterious places with each of the songs we do.
MHMB: Listening to ‚Master of Darkness‘ reminded me of Satyricon, especially when it comes to riffing and phrasing. Coincident?
Tosso: Well, the beauty of heavy metal. Each listener can create his own perception of sound experience. Satyricon wasn‘t really an influence for us while working on the album. What‘s important to me when we talk about the guitar sound is the fact that you can exactly hear what was played. On the one hand guitars are very percussive while on the other side being also real powerful and razorblade-sharp. What‘s also important to us is, to have forceful and cool riffs that are recognizable, riffs you even hum along, hahaha.
MHMB: You guys have with Marc Grewe and LG Petrov two guest growlers on the album. Did the idea grew over time and why Marc and LG?
Alex: LG and Marc are companions since a long time. We know each other from the ‚golden days‘ of death metal – end of the 80‘s/early 90‘s. At that time Atrocity was touring with Morgoth, Autopsy and Pestilence and since then I know Marc. It was 1990 when I brought LG and Entombed for the first time to Germany, playing the „Support the Underground“ festival together with Carcass, Atrocity, Pungent Strength and some more. I organized this festival and it has been the first international death metal festivals, taking place in Germany, France and Belgium. LG and the Entombed guys have been very thankful for playing there. Both, Marc and LG, also have been part of the Atrocity documentary ‚Die gottloses Jahre“. Asking them, if they want to be part of ‚Okkult II‘ created immediate euphoria, leading to a cool cooperation.
MHMB: The mediabook version includes all songs as instrumentals. Can you talk about the idea of this add-on? I don‘t think that fan karaoke is the real purpose.
Tosso: I‘ve absolutely no problem if fans want tp use the songs for own growling, actually I think it would be really cool. In addition it‘s the instrumentals that provides an opportunity to deeply listen into the sound of drums, bass and guitars, what can be something quite exciting with an album that demands a lot of each musician involved.
MHMB: How are things when it comes to live shows? Do you guys have already plans for touring and if ‚yes‘ which countries will be on the list.
Tosso: We will, in sync with the album launch on July 6th, play a release show at Sunstorm Festival which is a cool festival in our neighborhood – Swabian power. Since we then will be on tour with Leaves‘ Eye during the months of September and October, most of the Atrocity live activities need to be in 2019 and 2020. We received already some international requests and there‘s particularly South Asia that shows a lot of interest in Atrocity. Extreme metal became a worldwide phenomenom which is really good stuff.
MHMB: Alex, is there anything more you want to share with the fans and the readers of MHMB?
Alex: We would like to say ‘Thank You‘ for all the fantastic support! The new ‚Okkult II‘ album is a real smasher. I hope everyone enjoys the music and that we see each other on tour.
MHMB: Alex and Tosso, thanks for your time for Markus’ Heavy Music Blog.
Photos: Stefan Heilemann (Promotion)