Swiss metal pioneers Messiah recently announced a new EP, followed by a new longplayer later this year. ‘Fracmont’, so title of the new delivery, will be the first longplayer in 26 years for the band and is enough of a reason to reach out to Messiah drummer Steve Karrer for getting more insights about what to expect.
Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Hello Steve, or better Gruezi to Switzerland. First of all, thank you very much for taking a few minutes of your time. How are you doing in times of pandemic? I hope you all are well.
Steve Karrer: Hello Markus, a Grüezi back to Germany. We’re all fine and I think we’ve gotten through the worst and stayed healthy. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet for rehearsals during this time, which we all missed a lot.
MHMB: Especially younger metalheads might not know the band Messiah very well. At the end of the 80s/beginning of the 90s you rocked the underground with albums like ‘Extreme Cold Weather’. It was a time when the rise of Celtic Frost began, and with Coroner and Drifter the Swiss metal scene had other bands that could celebrate success beyond the country’s borders. What are your memories of that time and of Messiah in particular?
Steve: At the end of the 80s the scene was still very small in the Swiss heavy metal branch. It was clearly a small bunch of musicians who decided to play this kind of music. The scene met e.g. on the weekends at different metal discos for some headbanging together. So one could maintain contacts to the other bands or even start making new contacts. I wasn’t in the band at the ‘Extreme Cold Weather’ days. I joined in 1990. But of course I knew the band already and didn’t like them that much at the time 😉 But I went to some concerts anyway. I remember for example a Messiah gig in Zurich, where Brögi sat on a chair and wore a motorcycle helmet for the entire show. I found that totally nonsense and he told me later that this was probably just before he parted ways with Messiah.
MHMB: Now, 26 years after your last album ‘Underground’, Messiah returns to the stages of the world. Were you always in contact with each other during this time and how did things lead to the reunion?
Steve: Well, the contact was rather sporadic the whole time. Our singer Andy lived in Mexico and Spain for a while. The most frequent contact I had was with Patrick, who I always met at concerts. The initial spark for the reunion was given to us by a long-time friend and concert promoter. He asked us at the end of 2017, if we would like to play a few songs at his festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. We told ourselves that if we do that, we would do it right. The few songs became a 50 minutes set, which we played as a secret show and got very positive feedback. One week later we played one more secret show. After that we had to make a common decision, if we wanted to try it again and under which conditions the whole reunion should be done. At the beginning of 2018 the decision was made and one condition was to release a new album.
MHMB: And further with positive things right away. You have recorded a new EP and a next album is also announced. ‘Fatal Grotesque Symbols – Darken Universe’ is the name of the EP and the title song is strong metal punch, but has a certain complexity too. How would you describe the song? And to what extent is it representative for the new album?
Steve: Originally there was no EP planned. This song was written together with the other songs for the new album. We thought that after 26 years this song in particular is a perfect introduction for the listeners, because it reflects the many facets of Messiah – the older influences, the complexity and of course Messiah 2020.
MHMB: Can you already tell us a little bit more about the new album? What can fans expect?
Steve: I think we have created a really very diversified album. There is a clear development you can hear, but for me it just sounds 100% like Messiah. Brögi (g.) has developed a very individual style, which you can always recognize very clearly. In summary I would say: a good portion of old-school meets contemporary Death/Thrash Metal with NWOBHM influences. Let yourself be surprised.
MHMB: The title of the new album will be ‘Fracmont’, the old name for Pilatus, the mountain connected to the city of Lucerne. Why did you decide for this album title?
Steve: Our guitarist Brögi lives in a lonely valley directly at the foot of the Pilatus. The confrontation with belief has always fascinated him and also us. The story of Pontius Pilate, who denied his crimes there during the time of the Roman Empire, has been a real source of inspiration for Messiah. This theme also provided a lot of input for a brilliant cover artwork, which was fantastically realized by Björn Goosses from Killustrations, just like for the EP.
MHMB: You also re-recorded two classics for the EP, ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Extreme Cold Weather’. Both songs show the class of Messiah and sound even more powerful in the new version. How do you look at these songs?
Steve: It was a spontaneous idea of mine, because I had recorded the drum tracks faster than planned. We then decided to record one classic from each of the first two albums, which we usually also play live. So it was time to capture these songs in the current version with a bold sound. On top of that we could bring in two guest singers, who know our band from the early days and have a strong connection to the songs. I’m talking about Chrigel Glanzmann (Eluveitie) for ‘Extreme Cold Weather’ and Sven Gross (Fleshcrawl) for ‘Space Invaders’. Both of them really enriched the songs and brought in a great variety.
MHMB: The release show is planned for September and during last weekend we got the news that the Z7 is already planning live shows, starting next weekend, among others with Poltergeist and Destruction. What is the situation regarding concerts in Switzerland at the moment?
Steve: At the moment there is no reason not to have our release show on September 12, 2020, KIFF, Aarau – Switzerland. Of course we don’t know yet which special regulations will still apply in September. Funny that you mention the Z-7 shows. I will be there with my other band Gurd to start this concert series. After that there will be more shows with Destruction and Poltergeist, among others. There will be new, smaller shows announced continuously. Of course under the security regulations given by the federal government. Fortunately, the whole thing is slowly picking up speed again, which is urgently needed for the whole industry.
MHMB: These were the most important points from my side. Is there anything else from your side that you want to mention?
Steve: I would like to mention that we are very proud of our new album, especially because all four of us were very involved in the songwriting process. All songs were finally written together in the rehearsal room, just like in the 90s. We would also like to thank our loyal fans who have never forgotten us.
MHMB: Thanks again for the time you took. I’m already looking forward to the album and hope that Messiah live on stage will be possible again soon.
Steve: Thanks a lot for the interview. I hope to see you at a Messiah show in the near future. Cheerz!