Enter the Occult if you dare?
Alex Krull speaks Out. German thrasher's/ Death Metal act 'Atrocity' are no strangers to the underground extreme metal scene. Having formed back in 85 under the name of 'Instigators' playing back then Grindcore, a mixture of Death Metal but taken to the next level above Black Metal. It was in 86 when the band changed their name and finally released their EP 'Blue Blood' by Nuclear Blast in '89, and their debut album 'Hallucinations' was released back in 90, an album I still find to be one of their finest to this date. With the debut album firmly off the ground the band were soon been noticed world-wide and after one album Roadrunner records offered them a deal for 'Todessehnsucht' in 92, this was an album which was more technical then the debut album and more brutal. Now the band were on tour with Deicide . After only 1 album the band left Roadrunner and the next album 'Blut' 94 was released by Massacre Records, this album saw the band on tour with Obituary and in the UK also Napalm Death (a tour I remember well). With the band releasing yet another 4 albums before this new album 'Occult' through Napalm Records this is pretty much the darkest album the band has ever recorded. If you're scared of the dark please don't listen too it you might summon the devil. With the new album just been released this is an awesome album packed with some of the bands most brutal riffs ever it has to be heard. I managed to chat with old friend Alex Krull about the new album and what the future holds. It's been so long since the last interview back in the days of Friday 13th was a fanzine. Here is what Alex has to say, in the meantime dare you join the Occult?
Well Alex is it great speaking to you it's been a long time my friend, let's start by asking you how you have see the band progress over the years, as you started out playing across between Grindcore & Death Metal then moving into the Goth Metal scene before returning to your roots.
"Yeah Jason it's great speaking to you as well it's been a long time since we met. Well in the beginning we started out playing extreme Grindcore/ Death Metal as you know with 'Hallucinations' album. It the past we have been misinterpreted by the press because we have done extreme music and some Gothic Metal and we have left our original path of Death Metal behind us and turned into a pure Gothic Metal act which is not true at all. We have always had dark elements to our music and we wanted to make our individual ways of making our own music. I remember very well that we had a very strong connection in the early days with the Grindcore scene and it wasn't the easiest of categories to put us in. Our 1st album was not typical Death Metal and people would call it technical Death Metal so we always wanted to look for different challenges and for some people it may of come too early I don't know and when we started using German language it was difficult for some people like yourself. We didn't use a lot of it in the beginning only in some parts of the songs. In the beginning it was a crazy idea which turned into a great success, look at Rammstein?"
I know from when you were 1st signed to Nuclear Blast they were a Grindcore label more than anything else compared to now they have become a great label these days.
"Yes you are right, they were more of an extreme label compared to now, they have come along way indeed. We are a band that wants to break borders and we always will. For me it's like a boomerang when you throw out ideas and they come back to you. For us there will always be a motivation to try new things and we will not continue to do the same songs over and over again we like challenges."
Your 2nd album 'Todessehnsucht' was similar to the 1st album but more technical and heavier tell me about that album?
"Well that was yet another production for sure, for out 1st 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 later on return to the studio once again and it was crazy!! For the 2nd album we just signed to the biggest label at that time in Metal and they gave us enough money to make a great album which latested 6 wks 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 it 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. By the way I think we were the 1st band from Europe to record there for our debut album, well at least the 1st German band (laughing). Working with Scott was really cool and Roadrunner was the 1st label who licensed our album in the U.S."
So what happened with the deal with Roadrunner? You only did the one album like Nuclear Blast why did you leave them?
"Well when the 2nd album came out in the U.S. they wanted to change the title of it which didn't sound right and they wanted to translate if which did not sound right at all. In 92 they told we could not sell an album with a German title over there. The song title "Todessehnsucht" was inspired by the period of expressionism. Many poets survived the First World War wrote down very dark and cruel poems to get the nightmares from the battlefields out of their head. The Nazi's disliked that kind of literature and forbid it. So that album was very much inspired by that period and its about poetry. It was not horror or splatter lyrics and probably the American's didn't get the real point in that. We wanted to make this album very dark & heavy. We just parted ways with them in the end. We later on recorded the 3rd album with a German title 'Blut' which means 'Blood' in German which is inspired by vampires. With this album we wanted to try something different and why should we carry on doing just a pure Death Metal album? We had a feeling that we had to make another album which was different from the rest and it was a really successful album. We made a video for that album which kind of brought us into the Gothic scene and we didn't do it on purpose or anything it was just the way it turned out musically."
Ok so tell me more about 'Blut' please is was a great and interesting album.
"Well on that album I had my sister doing vocals for us, Yasmin and she did 2 songs for us and then we made a mini album which also included her and we made a video for a song from that record. It wasn't something we wanted to continue with it was just a project something like Leaves' Eyes with my wife Liv and it was not an intention to use females all the time, it was just an experiment which became successful. It was just a kick start for the bands music and to prove that Death Metal bands could do something different."
Alex you use to work for Massacre records when the 3rd album 'Blut' was released why did you leave? Was it the success of Atrocity?
"Well I stayed with them for 6 years after the 'Blut' album and it was ok that we signed to the label back then and we were in talks with other labels before I started to work there but when I started working for the label how would it feel to sign to another label? They started to ask why we are not signed to Massacre, so we signed to them and they gave us the support we needed back then and the album 'Werk 80' had the biggest hit for the label and one of the most successful albums for the label. A lot of people said this was the downfall for the band even before it came out and became a huge success (Ed the cover was nice haha) And yes it was and I remember very much we were in the club charts with 4 songs from that record at the same time and this had never happened before. Yes 'Blut' was a great success for me and the band it was a move in the right direction."
When you did the Soft Cell song 'Tainted Love' did you have to pay the band royalties and have they heard you're version of the song?
"I guess they heard it. Real Life wrote to us for example and told us they like our version of "Send me an Angel". When we did 'Send me an Angel' we played it at Wacken and I have ever seen so many horns in the air, I wanted to call it 'Send me a Demon' haha!!"
Moving on Alex , why did you take half of Atrocity members to 'Leaves Eyes'? Do you find it a bit strange?
"No not at all, it was something that just happened. Our drummer now in Atrocity is not in Leaves Eyes, and Liv was actually having her guest appearance on 'Werk 80' and we also did some other stuff with her, so in 2002 I think we asked her if she wanted to do a band together and as she moved to Germany many years before already as we were a couple back then and are now married. It was always a little strange that but she has always been in the family of Atrocity. In the end I suggested we should do a band together so that is how Leaves Eyes got together. Her previous band 'Theater of Tragedy' changed their style so we thought it would be cool to have a band with a symphonic touch and it was different to Atrocity's music."
When did you get signed to Napalm Records? How did that deal come about?
"Well we signed to Napalm Records for the next album which was our 8th full length album which was titled 'Atlantis' in 2004 and you could compare it to the 'Okkult' album really. It is related to the Atlantis Myth but music wise it is combined by bombastic and epic music with brutal metal. We also had some more melodic songs on the record and there was a really cool concept behind that album and the idea's came from that album for the next album 'Okkult' which is related to some very big mysteries of the world. I think the new album has it's own style in a way. After that album we did 'Werk 80 II' and another album with my sister which was called 'After the Storm' which was very experimental with a lot of acoustic stuff."
Moving on how well has the new album 'Okkult' been received by the press so far?
"It has been getting really fantastic reviews so far. I advise you to listen too it in total darkness haha!! So fat the press love it and say it's the heaviest album we have done to date. So far it's getting great reviews."
So who came up with the title for the DVD and this album and where there any other titles in mind?
"Well we had a song in 92 called 'Godless Years' and we thought it was a brilliant title for our DVD as we used the German translation "Die Gottlosen Jahre". and all the years we were doing the band. I came up with the album title 'Okkult' long time ago and their will be an 'Okkult' trilogy actually and for me there is a new era for the band because we have a certain style of writing for the trilogy All the stories are connected to earth and it is not just a satanic album at all. The field of 'Okkult' is much brighter than the satanic side and it makes it so much more interesting and there are places which are mysterious with conspiracy theories and occult signs. For example the cover model is symbolizing an ancient witch 'Erictho' and the story is in the roman civil war and she was a very brutal witch which she took occultism from the battle field and took dead soldiers into her tomb and did very brutal rituals on them to bring them back to life. The dead knew about the future and she was putting boiled blood into the corpses and one of our songs is about that it is called 'Necromancy Divine'. We have another song on the album about a French witch called 'La Voisine' and this song talks about another dark chapter in the history of mankind, and it is set in Paris in the 17th century and that is a real satanic story. She was part of the poisoning affairs in the times of King Ludwig XIV of France and noble people back then wanted to get love potions and poison at the same time to kill people that were getting in there way. It turned out to be poison that killed people. And they start research for the witch circle responsible for the potions and poisons and "La Voisine" was one of the witches. But she also held black messes with human sacrifice. Another big topic around "Okkult" are primal fears of humanity and how you can manipulate people with fear. It is strange because fear is always darkness, and politics talk about starting a war and it's just a fucking lie and it's all about oil."
So how long did it take to record the album Alex?
"Well the preparation for the album with all the concepts and lyrics which was a great adventure and the ideas started when we finished 'Atlantis' and we are always writing ideas in between albums. It took a while to write but in the end the end results came out really well. We started the recording for this album in 2011 / 2012. We own the studio so we had plenty of time to record and play live without any pressure. I produced the album myself and my day work is also producing other bands too."
It is hard to write songs for both Atrocity and Leaves Eyes?
"No not at all, we do different music with Leaves Eyes to that of Atrocity and it is cool to go back to Atrocity work and some of Atrocity members are in Leaves Eyes, but our song writing has a total different approach from one another. It's like painting a picture, if we paint about Vikings it belongs to Leaves Eyes world and if we paint a dark and evil painting it belongs to Atrocity."
Tell me about the video clip for 'Pandæmonium', wasn't this shot in a castle?
"Yes it was, we did it in a castle which was great and it really suited the song and the album. It is dark, ere and the song titles fits the music for sure. With downloading these days record companies don't want to pay much to make a video but for what we got out of it was awesome, we love it."
So when will the band be touring? Any plans for the UK and any festivals?
"Well we plan on touring soon, we want the fans to enjoy the album and get really into it before we start touring. We are not sure when we will tour maybe autumn time and we haven't any ideas who will be supporting us yet." Well Alex thanx for doing the interview it's been a long time since we last spoke. Do you have anything to say too you're fans? Good luck my friend and chat soon. "Yes thank you Jason for the interview, it's been a while since we spoke and met. I hope we meet again soon. To our fans enjoy the album I am sure you will it's evil and heavy as fuck!!"
Thank's to Alex and Andy Turner.