Ave HAIL OF BULLETS ! Just yesterday I watched a television documentary about the general Rommel. It was very interesting and informative. Immediately I then got a taste of your last year's record "III: The Rommel Chronicles". It does not happen to me so often that I was sitting by my CD player and over and over I was studying the lyrics. Why Rommel? It is quite a controversial figure. On one hand he was a great military leader but he served for the wrong things. Why Rommel? It is quite a controversial figure.Does it not concern you that this theme evokes great emotion?
As you say, he was a controversial person but he was also a great general, tactician and strategist. And yes, he was fighting on the wrong side but he was definitely not a nazi or a racist. In a weird way he respected his enemies and they feared and respected him. It’s also known that he was probably involved in a conspiracy against Hitler and he was definitely not a blind follower of the nazi-doctrines. So yes, a controversial person but also a very interesting person to write about.
Album 'III: The Rommel Chronicles"is published for some time now. When you look back and you had the chance, would you change anything on it? What are the feedback from fans, critics, etc.? Personally, I'm excited about it but I heard about the views that your albums are always the same thing over and over again.
We’re still really happy with the way the album turned out; the songs, the sound, the artwork. I don’t think there’s anything I would want to change to the album. About the views that our albums are the same thing over and over again; well of course we play a certain type of metal; Death Metal the way we think it should be played and there’s not much room for experimentation there. I’m pretty sure there are hardly any HAIL OF BULLETS fans out there that want us to add female vocals, choirs, clean vocals, deathcore elements or breakdowns, right? Personally I feel all three albums have a different attitude and atmosphere; „Of Frost and War“ was very cold, harsh, brutal and in your face. Partly because of the lyrical concept; Eastern front, Russia, ground battles etc. „On Divine Winds“ had a more epic, heroic feel and more melody. The production was a bit cleaner, but still really heavy and that also had to do with the concept; the Pacific war. On the new album we appraoched the lyrical theme differently; it’s not about a certain part or theater of WWII anymore, but a biographical story about Erwin Rommel, which spans from WWI to his death in WWII. The songs are faster and more in your face again and the sound and production are rawer and more brutal again. Bands like OBITUARY, BOLT THROWER etc never did a radical change of style and the same thing goes for HAIL OF BULLETS. Personally I shit on bands who make 1 or 2 brutal death metal records, then change their style to progressive jazz/fusion shit and then make another change and after 10 years return to death metal cause „they want to return to their roots“. Fuck that! I’ve never left my roots (smile).
I read somewhere that the album cover was originally a picture/photo of Rommel, but allegedly there were problems with it. Is this true? I understand that it may provoke someone but on the other hand we all understand that this is just an artistic expression. Finally you have chosen an equally interesting war "collage". This means that you had to retreat pressure of publishing?
Not true and we also did not choose a “war collage“(?). His face is still on the cover in the red flag, but obviously it would have been a bit too controversial to put a big Rommel face on the cover. But no, the record company did not tell us what to do or anything, we chose/worked on this cover ourselves together with the artist who designed it.
If I had to choose some of the new song that impressed me the most, it would be seven tracks Tobruk. I really felt as a soldier lying in the trenches in Libya while listening to it. When I first heard this song, I thought that it definitely mention about the Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion. Finally, our "desert rats" were not there but it led me to the idea, if everyone in the band are interested about this theme somehow deeper? Are you studying historical materials, verifying the data, visiting museums, reading books…?
Martin writes the lyrics and yes he reads a lot of books and stuff about the topics he’s going to write about and war in general. So you could say he’s well educated at this point.
Still to history ... on your albums you were during the Second World War in Europe, in the Pacific, now in Africa. It means that this period will be always the main theme of your albums? Or can we look forward to even process the theme struggles in Korea, Vietnam, etc.?
No idea yet (smile).
You sing and play about wars. Sometimes you choose the fairly controversial/ historically contentious themes. Have you ever happened to face problems because of it? ...such as canceled concert, and wereyou accused of militarism, etc.?
There will always be stupid people who don’t read the lyrics properly or misunderstand stuff. Some people have accused us of gloryfying war, being nazis, being communists, being gay, haha. But seriously, we are a non-political band and we sing about historic events that actually happened. We try to be as objective as possible.
What historians, fans, etc.? Should they ever comments that a some lyrics are not accurate? That you drew on other "wrong" sources or have you been contacted by some old-timers, veterans?
On the contrary; we got a lot of complimenst and there are even a few history teachers who used our albums and lyrics in their lessons at school, which is pretty cool of course.
Mixing and mastering on your albums was always done by Dan Swanö. You have easily recognizable „cold and old sound“. Can you imagine of recording with someone else? Do you have any comments for his work? How does the work associated the recording go ? Do You supply the recorded material after everything is all ready in the regime of Dan or do you also take part in actual mastering a mix?
Yes, we could imagine working with someone else but Dan’s doing a great job so we could also work with him again. Basically we record all the stuff and he does the mix and mastering. Dan is not involved in the writing process or anything just the sound. Mixing and mastering goes in good communication with me and Ed; we know what we want soundwise and Dan is the perfect guy to realize what we have in mind.
What are you creating as the first - lyrics or music? For this "concept albums" I would guess that at first that these are texts with theme and after the music. But how is it really? Who came up with the idea that the new album will be about the war in Africa and about Rommel?
Music comes first, but when we know which lyrical theme Martin is gonna pick, we write the rest of the music with that concept in mind. For example when we knew that the last song would be about Rommel’s forced suicide, we knew we had to end the record with a doomy, epic song and not a really fast one...
How do you create your new songs? I read somewhere that the main author of the music is drummer Ed Warby this is also on the new album?
Yep, Ed still writes most of the songs, for this album I wrote 2 songs (DG-7 and Tobruk) and Paul wrote 2 songs (DAK and Death of a Field Marshall) Ed is very productive and writes music all the time...
You're a band composed of the very famous personalities. Each of you is an artist who wishes to express something, put into music „piece of myself“. Happened to you that you have difference of option during the recording? Are you arguing about something? Who ultimately has the final word?
We all have the same goal, and that is to create great, real death metal. On a musical level there are no big discussions actually. I would say that on business stuff I have the last word and on a musical level Ed, cause he’s the one that actually produces the records and puts the finishing touches on the songs. But if we think his songs or ideas suck there will be a democratic decision. But to be honest, if one of us five really does not like a particular song, we do not even record it, so a lot of riffs are thrown away...
How do you plan concerts? Each of you is a member of another band. Who gets priority when you overlap dates of concerts?
We all work with a big online agenda, no band actually has priority except when they have just released a new album that band gets a bit more priority and obviously when ASPHYX have a small local show lined up and HOB can play Hellfest then obviously the Hellfest show has priority and the same thing goes vice versa. But for me personally both HAIL OF BULLETS and THANATOS are equally important...
You are a big famous band. Each of you have a job, concerts with other bands in which we operate and you have to go to job. You meet in the rehearsal room where you play a new material, plan a concert and then go enjoy a beer, etc.? Or do you do like AC / DC, where each member of the band are in other parts of the world and communicate only via phone and internet?
We don’t rehearse, but we play a lot of shows and we meet up sometimes to drink beer together and go to concerts together, so yeah, there’s a good chemismy.
Last summer I saw you here in the Czech Republic at the festival Basinfirefest. Do you remember still how you were greeted at this festival? This festival was focused more on heavy metal bands but I was there just only for you and SINISTER. Both bands totally kicked me hard with the music and sound ,but how did you feel as musicians here?
We were really surprised by the response, cause before us this weird band VAN CANTO played and everybody was screaming, so we were expecting teh worst, haha. We were really pleasantly surprised when the audience welcomed us with a lot of cheers and we had a great time. I think SINISTER had bad luck, because they played very late and the audience seemed a bit sleepy and tired at their show.
This year you're going to the festival BRUTAL ASSAULT. Do you have some special place for this concert? I know that you're playing raw, honest death metal, but what about some fire, scenery, etc.? I could imagine it on some songs. I do not like metal "theater" but maybe it would underline the metal atmosphere.
In a few days we’ll play Brutal Assault and we will perform as the last band on the main stage on Saturday. So I hope the Czech audience will be still awake then or otherwise we have to give the front row free coke or speed to keep them awake, haha. We have no special show elements but we did use flame throwers etc before. But at Brutal Assault it’s a bit difficult to do that because of the time we play + the extra cost.
Stephan, I know about you that you were a guest at last year´s album of Netherlands death metal band BODYFARM. I really like this band but in Netherlands certainly you have some other lesser known bands, could you recommend me some? Personally I like the album by Michael Jonker (ENTRAPMENT). What are some of the others?
BODYFARM and ENTRAPMENT are the 2 best new bands right now I guess. DICTATED is also pretty cool and there are many others
What do you think about the new albums by PESTILENCE and SINISTER? 're listening to death metal? Were you intrested about the new album of some band that you've bought it?
I have not heard the new SINISTER album yet, just a few songs and those sounded good! To be honest; PESTILENCE died for me after „Testimony of the Ancients“. I really don’t care for that band anymore and last time I saw them at Neurotic Deathfest earlier this year they were boring.
In your e-mail it was mentioned that preparations are underway for the new album of the legendary band THANATOS. What can we expect of it and when the will the new album be released?
We just finished the recordings and right now the album is being mixed by Dan Swanö. But don’t be afraid; it won’t sound like HAIL OF BULLETS. It has become a really fast and aggressive album. Old school death metal mixed with some DARK ANGELS “Darkness Descends“ vibes... I’m really happy with the way it turned out and personally think it’s gonna be one of the best death/thrash albums of the year! Really, haha. The album will be out in the 1st week of November and hopefully we’ll also play shows in Czech Republic.
Do you know any band from the Czech Republic? What are you listening at home and do you have their CD, vinyl, etc.?
Yeah, a few older bands like KRABATHOR. Really like those guys...and MASTER is a Czech band now, right? Haha.
What are the plans of HAIL OF BULLETS in the next few months? Are you preparing new material for the next album?
No big plans except for playing live shows... I think we’ll take a little break after the Summer and then we’ll start thinking about new material.
Thank you for this interview and I wish you a lot of death metal victories on the battlefield.
Thank you, and hope to see you all at Brutal Assault... and stay awake that Saturday!!
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