The Rising of the Phantom Antichrist - Sami Speaks out.
German extreme Thrasher's Kreator return to the scene with their new stunning album 'Phantom Antichrist' released on Nuclear Blast recently. This band are without doubt the most extreme Thrash band to come out of Germany, there one who takes no prisoners and their music speaks for itself. Since the beginning of their career the band released 'Endless Pain' in 85 through Germany's biggest metal label 'Noise International'. This was just the beginning of what was to come, and with the bands 2nd album 'Pleasure To Kill' in 86 was the turning point were the band would stop at nothing. Milli Petrozza (vocals/ guitars) and drummer Ventor are the only 2 original members of the band who have kept the band moving forward. With any band Kreator have had their shares of line-up changes featuring ex Whiplash drummer Joe Cangelosi, Frank "Blackfire" Gosdzik (guitars) Micheal Wulf both ex Sodom, joining the band at some point. Now the band have kept a steady line up with guitarist Sami Yli Sirino (Waltari) and bassist Christian Giesler to complete the line-up. The band have released 4 with 'Violent Revolution' released in 2001. There has been a rather long gap between the last few albums but the band are back on form and with the antichrist at their side things couldn't be better. I managed to have a chat with guitarist Sami about the new album, and the future of the band, here is what he had to say.
Hi Sami, thanks for calling, it was great to meet you last year at Bloodstock, so lets start the interview off by asking are you still a member of your previous band Waltari?
"Yeah there still going, I'm still friends with them and last November we did a 25th anniversary show here in Helsinki (Finland) and we played for about 3 and a half hours (laughing) and I sometimes still do gigs with them but I don't always have time for it, as Kreator is a priority for me these days. The guys also in Waltari also have other stuff going on, with 2 of them been theater actors. I'm also in a another band signed to Peaceville called 'Barren Earth' so we don't talk about that ha ha!!"
As this is the 1st time I have interviewed you for Kreator I'd like to ask you how you became a member of Kreator?
"Well the gigs I did with the band were a very long time ago back in 97 & and there was a festival tour going on in the summer and the guitarist they had back then who was Tommy Vetterli from Coroner had broken his hand so I helped them out for a while and then I had another to do with the band for some time and it turned out Tommy wasn't interested in been in the band anymore. So they called me and asked if I would be interested in playing for the band again, and because I knew the songs helped the band out. I was helping the band out for the album 'Outcast' which was released on G.U.N. records and the 1st album that I did with the band was 91 for the album 'Violent Revolution' on SPV with producer Andy Sneap which was recorded in England."
So which guitarist growing up have inspired you to become a professional guitarist?
"Well there are so many great guitarist in the world and when I 1st started when I was I think 12yrs old I started with the acoustic guitar and I was in the Helsinki conservatory for Classical music. So in 84 I decided to play the electric guitar and I was listening to Deep Purple's 'Perfect Strangers', Iron Maiden's 'Powerslave' so I guess Blackmore is important and there are so many good guitarists out there. (Ed: What do you think of Yngwie Malmsteen? Did he inspire you as well?) Well as a kid I thought he was unbelievably fast with that neon classical approach in the 80's, but I wouldn't say he was a big influence on me. I did buy 'Rising Force' on LP when I was a kid but I didn't go crazy on the riffs and practice."
OK Sami, do you have any tips for any young guitarist out there who maybe inspired by you?
"Well I would say don't start to play the guitar (laughing) because it's a hard life. No seriously try to learn music theory which helps a lot and it shortens the path from your heart to your fingers and take as many influences from as many people as you can. Also try to jam with as many people as you can, it will help you become a better musician and to learn new stuff."
Lets talk about Milli and Ventor, do they see any of the old band members at all?
"Well I guess they do a little bit and Frank Blackfire lived in Brazil for some time but moved back to Essen and when we did a gig on Brazil he came to jam with us. I had met Tommy back then too but the rest of the band live in Essen and I'm here in Helsinki."
So how does the band rehearse before a tour and album? Do you fly from Finland to Germany?
"Well we don't rehearse for a tour (laughing), no really we do and last year and with the process of writing songs for the new album took a very long time as we didn't wan to repeat ourselves and to keep it interesting. We sent a lot of demos over the internet but I also flow over to Germany for a few sessions and so did Jens the producer one month before we hit the studio. So I am there every once in a while especially before we start recording, and there was a time were we didn't rehearse for 4yrs and that was for the 'Enemy Of God' album, we were just doing gigs all the time."
Looking back at all the Kreator albums which is your favourite and why?
"Well it is 2wks before the album comes out and so I would have to say it was that album. They all have good and bad points, I like the 1st ones because they are very primitive and brutal as they were young people who didn't play their instruments so well. When you listen too the history of Kreator it is nice to hear how they have developed over the years.
Do you have any least favourite Kreator albums? I think 'Renewal' is probably the worst one they did, too industrial for the band.
"To be honest I don't eve have it (Ed: You don't want too, no disrespect to the band, it just wasn't them at all)."
It has to be said that Kreator are the most extreme German thrash band out fo the big 3, Sodom and Destruction, as Kreator's music is extremely heavy, fast and brutal and the heaviest out of the 3 live."
(Laughing) "Yeah we are pretty brutal live, we have to get into a naive state of mind before we go on stage and I enjoy been on tour with Kreator very much. (Ed: any chance Kreator could ever do a ballad hahah?) I think that would be a crime!!!
Moving on, now let's talk about the new album 'Phantom Antichrist', why the title for this album and were there any more in mind?
"Well when Milli sent me the 1st demo version it didn't have the texture but the title was already written and I had to laugh as I wasn't sure what it was all about. I thought had Satan been buried in the grave? Or had he risen from the grave? Has it turned out it had a deeper meaning to it which is kind of like a phantom antichrist is a metaphor how the mass media and international new agencies on how they make entertainment out of terrorism and horrible things that are around us. Well the title was one of the 1st songs and it was these 2 words which were so naive & so metal and when I found out there was a deeper meaning I told everybody this had to be the title of the album. I think it is a cool title and it is very metal for the title."
So how did the song titles come together? Was it the music or the lyrics that came 1st?
"Well Milli is the main song writer, he comes up with the very rough demo ideas that he sends to the rest of the band and we all have to try and work out how to write our parts for the songs and how they should be played. We when pick out the ideas from each other that we feel need to be explored further and we create the rest of the songs in the rehearsal room. Last year they rehearsed 3 times a week as a 3 piece as I live in Finland and every month I would fly over to Essen to rehearse with the band. 2 songs didn't make the album because they were too similar to each other and somehow they didn't fit the theme. (Ed: So is it a concept album then?) No not at all, but there is one song called 'The Few, the Proud, the Broken' which is about the Arab spring and it is a metal album which is about the end of the world, war, terrorism."
So what are your feeling about the end of the world in 2012?
"Well I have just found out that it has been cancelled as they have found a new Mynite calendar goes further which I am kind of disappointed really (laughing) , oh thanks Sami!! It is suppose to happen on the 21st December 2012 and we will be on tour then! If it happens I hope to be on stage!!"
Could you please tell me what the song titles for the new album are called and what are they about briefly?
"Well there is a song called 'From Flood Into Fire', well you have to hear it to find out, there is also a song called 'Until Our Paths Cross Again', which is not a ballad, 'Victory will Come', 'The Few The Proud & The Broken', 'and as it is a metal album there has to be a song called 'Death To The World', which is about the end of the world of course and there are 10 songs on this album."
So from the songs on the new album, which are your favourites are why?
"Well I would have to say the title track is my favourite which we released a promo video for, I also like 'Victory Will Come', which is a great live song to play which has a very energetic Punk/ Thrash Metal attitude. We have already played the title track for the new album when we played a festival in Chilli which went down really well with the crowd, the festival had Anthrax, Exodus, Volbeat and many more great bands."
Did the album take some time to record or was it a quick process?
"Well we went to Sweden in January 2012 and it took about 5 wks to actual record the album with Jens Borgen at at Fascination Street Studios (Sweden) which is in the middle of nowhere in the forest. I think he has worked with Opeth, Soilwork, Bloodbath, James LaBrie, Paradise Lost and many more cool bands. The reason why we decided to choose him as our producer was the fact that he gave them really good sounds and they all sound like individuals and with Jens this is not the case. We are very happy with the way the album has turned out. We recorded the drums and bass in the studio live and the guitars and overdubs & vocals were done in another studio also in Sweden with Jens."
Why didn't you record the album in Germany, why Sweden? Also do you find it hard to record an album in more than 1 studio?
"Well Jens wanted to do the album in his studio so that's why we went there. Well it's usually done like this because you need a bigger room for the drums to get the ambient and with the guitars and vocals you don't need that."
How do you see this album as a progression from the previous albums? Is it more brutal?
"Well our music has to sound brutal anyway and aggressive Thrash Metal. I think the video for the title track gives you a pretty good idea to what the album is going to sound like."
Moving on lets talk about the artwork for the album, has the band worked with Wes Benscotter before on previous albums?
"Well the 1st few albums was done by Andreas Marshall who had worked with bands like Running Wild, but Milli got a call from a guy in the states called Wes Benscotter who had been given the title and well the rest was pretty much history. I think the artwork is really good because it is like a cartoon but it is still very impressive and very metal. I think the artwork for this album is much better than the previous album. When I saw the final product I was very impressed."
Could you now tell me about the video for the title track, could you tell me the concept behind it?
"It was done by a production company called 'Groupa 13' which was done for sites like You Tube and the bands official sites, there is nowhere to play such videos anymore on commercial TV. This company we went with make really good videos and our video turned out really well. "
It's been a while since the band released a live DVD, so do you have any plans to record a new one soon?
"Well we actually recorded the Wacken show and it is on the ltd CD of the new album, it was recorded in 2008 which also had a short making of the new album as a DVD too."
How well as the new album been received by the press so far?
"Really well actually, we have had some great positive reviews nothing bad at all, so we must be doing something good haha!"
Have you heard any Kreator tribute songs? If so what do you think of them?
"Well I have heard a couple of songs and the songs people usually cover are 'Phobia' because it is very easy to play.
OK Sami, have you any idea's to when the tour will start after the release of the new album?
"Well we will do a U.S. tour in September with Accept which will be a lot of fun. We will also be tour Europe in November with Nile and another band which we are not sure if it will happen. The last tour we did we did not do any UK dates with Exodus and Death Angel so this time we will hit the UK."
Kreator has played Bloodstock now twice, what do you think of it and which one of the 2 was your favourite and why?
"Well the 1st time we played there was very good so I was kind of worried about the 2nd time 2011, there were so many good bands on that day and we were not sure how we would better our self's from the last time we played. In fact we played a great set which the kids loved, so we were actually happy. We hope we can play there again in the near future."
I'm surprised you have not played Download, do you think you are too extreme for them?
"I don't think we are too extreme, I think it has to do with the organizers and politics (Ed: I think politics should stay out of music, I think its complete bullshit) I agree with you Jason."
Well Sami, best of luck with the sales of the album the future tours and I hope we meet again soon. Do you have anything to say too the fans reading this?
"Yes, we hope you like our new album and we hope to see all our fans on the road this year. Thanx for the interview Jase, we hope to have a beer sometime soon."
Thanx to Sami and Nuclear Blast for the interview.