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Interview - MORTAL TERROR - Teutonic thrash metal par excellence!

Interview with teutonic thrash metal band from Germany - MORTAL TERROR.

Answered Dirk Wieland, thank you!

Translated Duzl, thank you!

Recenze/review - MORTAL TERROR - Bite of the Underdog (2020):

Ave MORTAL TERROR! Greetings to the German underground. I hope you are doing well in these difficult times. Do you also miss playing in clubs? Or are they open at your place? It does not look very promising in the Czech Republic. Last year you released the album "Bite of the Underdog". How do you feel about it and how did its release affect the COVID 19 pandemic?

Hey Jakub, thank you very much for your support and doing this Interview with us. Yes, times are really strange but all in all we’re fine and hope (just like everybody else) things will get better in the near future. We have nearly no concerts in Germany since March 2020 except some single events in summer under special Covid safety precautions. We’ve played our last show in December 2019 with M.O.D. in our hometown Kassel. The Clubs and Venues in our home area are also closed since March. The recording sessions for our new album took place in 2019 (before the pandemic) and when it all started we were in the Mixing Process. Of course it’s (especially for an underground band like us) difficult to release a new album without the chance to play a single show to support it, but when all was done and it became quite clear that no ending of the pandemic was in sight, we just thought “fuck it” - we’ve done a really good record, let’s just release it and see what happens.

I first heard "Bite of the Underdog" somewhere on the Internet and at first I thought it is some record from the eighties. I looked more closely and I say, look, MORTAL TERROR have a new record. The sound is really mouldy and dusty like an old coffin. Where and how did you record the album and who is behind the great sound? How did you achieve it? Analogously?

We’ve done it all by ourselves. Our bass player Gerret, who has always been interested in recording techniques and learned a lot by himself had a little studio called “Krachgarten” some years ago, where he did a lot of recordings for regional bands. Although he did not had the time to continue with the studio at some point and had to close it, he still continues to do our own recordings and he is (so to say) our producer. We did our last 4 albums that way and I think the experiences of the former recordings helped a lot because we had a very clear picture how the record should sound and what we wanted to improve this time. All in all we wanted a powerful sound which should on the other hand differ from the clean and lifeless “plastic”-sound many records have nowadays. Let’s say we wanted to capture the energy of our live performances as good as possible. We used digital recording techniques but avoided triggers, amp simulators, copying and pasting and all that shit to capture as good and natural as possible how we really sound as a band.

But it's not just about the sound, I really like the "old motif" on the cover. Who is its author and why such a horror theme? I admit that at first sight I also thought it was a reissue from the eighties:)). Really amazing!

I’ve had written a new song and when thinking about the lyrics somehow the title “Bite of the Underdog” came to my mind. Having this in mind I thought it might as well be a cool title for our new album and also had within seconds a rough idea for the possible cover scene.

My girlfriend has played Roller Derby for some years (if you don’t know it, I absolutely recommend it - its a really tough and awesome action sport originated in the USA first as an all female sport). One of her team mates, Hell D., is a student in arts and she did all the flyers, logos and merch designs for the Roller Derby Team and we always loved what she created. So we asked her, if she would like to do our cover artwork and she agreed. We then talked about the Ideas we had so far and the atmosphere we had in mind for the artwork and what can I say? She’s such a cool guy and it was so much fun working with her. We really love the results and think she did an outstanding job.

I'm an old metal dog that used to start with thrash metal in the nineties, I still have it in my blood, even though I'm more of death metal today, but I still think that both of these styles must be played from the heart, musicians must have in into them. Can you tell us how MORTAL TERROR creates new songs? Has the way you composed changed somehow, over the long time you are playing?

The main pattern didn’t change that much over the years. I’m the main song writer in Mortal Terror and our songs are mostly based on my guitar riffs. When I have some riffs that I have the feeling could result in a good song I work it out step by step until I have a nearly finished picture of the song – this can process can take hours our months from case to case. At that point I’ll take the song-idea to the rehearsal room and work it out with the other guys so they can add their ideas and we’ll have a finished song at the end of that process. What may have changed over the years is of course that the song-writing got more skilled and focussed and we have simply improved and know better how the achieve what we want. And what we want is plain and simple songs that work in a live situation, giving the listener passion and energy, songs that smell of sweat and make you want to raise your fist and bang your head ;-)

How new, modern technologies have influenced you? Today, the studios are completely different, also the recording processes, we also have the Internet, various programs. Did it affect your approach to music? Today, everyone has your record on their mobile phone two days before the release, they listen to it, but it's all so fast, fleeting. Did you have to adapt in any way?

I think the good aspect of all the digital possibilities is that it supports the idea of an independent non-commercial music scene. You don’t depend that much on a record company or the music industry to record your music and make it heard. The bad aspect is for sure that the music itself loses its worth because everything is available everywhere and anytime. Another bad aspect is that the digital recording techniques lead to many productions that sound the same and in our to opinion too perfect, too clean and absolutely boring and lifeless. Listen for example to the classic thrash albums from the 80’s. They sound all very different but everyone has its own character and atmosphere. This is something we miss lot in many of the present day releases – even from those bands who created that magic albums back in the days.

So – as I mentioned above – we use digital recording technology because it enables us to make good recordings on our own but the recording process itself doesn’t differ in most relevant aspects from the recording process 30 years ago. You hear real drums, real guitars, real amps and a real band playing it’s songs.

I really like on new album, that it has such an ancient drive, feeling. In short and simply, it kicks, cuts, you probably know what I mean. In my opinion, only few bands can do this, where the chemistry between the musicians works. MORTAL TERROR seems to me like a bunch of cheerful guys who like to go out for beer together? If I am right, you've changed the line-up since the last record. Can you tell us something about the changes?

Oh, you can bet we like to go out for a beer together – best after a sweaty and electrifying show! I´m probably a happy guy that I can call everyone who has been in this band over the years a friend.

Matthias Keyser was in Mortal Terror for about 16 years and was an important part of Mortal Terror. Over the last years he became more and more overloaded with his job and his family life and was simply no longer able to give the band the time and energy it would have needed. This situation developed step by step and first of all because we are friends it took us all some time to face this reality and talk about it. But when we did it became quite clear that it would be better for everyone involved to part ways at that point. For the rest of us it was also quite clear, that we would continue with the band. So we did the recordings for the new album as a four-piece and also played one show in that constellation. After that show Mattias van Geldern (the new Matthias!) came up and asked if we were looking for a new guitar player. We knew him already a bit from the old days of the regional scene, where he has been active in several bands. He’s about our age, has the same musical roots, is a great guitar player and has always liked and supported Mortal Terror. So we got back to full strength!

In the Czech Republic, we perceive the German metal scene as something great. But how does it really work in the underground? Do bands support each other? What about fans, clubs? You are already witnesses, you can compare even with the old days. Tell me something about current thrash metal scene in Germany..

Of course there some idiots or people you don’t want to connect with just like everywhere else. But all in all we experience the scene as very supportive and full of very enthusiastic and true people and bands, who simply do what they do because they love it and we simply like to focus more on them than on the idiots.

First of all in our regional metal scene fans, bands, clubs and organizers/promoters are mostly well connected and support each other. There are really lots of great people and we are really thankful for being a part of that scene.

What about you and the concerts, tours? I still believe (and I've tried it on myself) that real fans will go to a concert, they'll also buy a T-shirt, vinyl, talk. Do you play often? And are you planning a tour to support the new record?

We really like to play live – at least this is the essence of it all. But to be honest we don’t play as often as we would like. We’re all really old guys (around or over 50) and have our jobs and families and simply don’t have the time to organize lots of gigs or go on larger tours.

So we mostly play single shows or festivals we are asked for from organizers or befriended bands but with the (so far) really very good reactions on the new album, we will surely try to get a lot more active on that subject and play more shows as soon as the Covid-Situation may allow it. Especially over the last years we were often really happy with the reactions. We often had really enthusiastic crowds, people buying our records and merch and coming for a beer and a talk after show. This is at least why we are still going on and still enjoy what we do so much.

How would you define thrash metal? What does it mean to you? Is it just music or even a lifestyle? How do you see its development and which bands get your attention with their records lately?

First of all it may be a matter of age. We grew up and started Mortal Terror in the 80s, when suddenly all this new music came up which was faster, rougher and wilder than classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal and simply made us go nuts. Not all but many of that bands can be looking back defined as Speed or Thrash Metal and that’s simply our musical DNA.

Another thing we like about Thrash Metal is that is has (for most of the relevant bands) some kind of an honest and authentic (maybe a little bit Punk influenced) feeling. It’s more coming of the streets and having this certain “Fuck Off Attitude” which may fit to us as persons and as a band as well. I think the present scene still offers a lot of great bands and music and we are personally far from only listening to thrash metal. In the last years I personally was for example very impressed with bands that manage to create this certain “ancient” energy and authenticity like for example Midnight, Bewitcher, Enforcer, Ranger to name a few.

What can we expect from the MORTAL TERROR in the coming months?

We’ll see – of course we hope the new album will open some possibilities for us and so far we’re really happy with the reactions. Many people really seem to like it very much and really seem to understand what the album and the band is about, which feels really good and exciting for us. We hope things will continue to go that direction and may give us the opportunity to do – fist of all – more shows and maybe find a good label to support and promote us. As you know “Bite of the Underdog” is self-released and therefore only available as a limited Vinyl-Edition so far.

I would like to continue in interview, but I have a terrible desire to listen your new "Bite of the Underdog" record again. I have to do it now. Thank you very much for the interview, I really appreciate it. I wish MORTAL TERROR only crazy fans, a lot of sold media and full halls at concerts. Good luck to you in personal lives!

Thank you very much, we really appreciate your support! All the best for you and the Deadly Storm Zine!

Recenze/review - MORTAL TERROR - Bite of the Underdog (2020):

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