First of all we'd like to congratulate you on your killer album 'Age Of Oblivion', classified by us as a combination of the aggression of Exodus and the melodic guitar parts of Annihilator, executed by experienced metal meisters. Can you guys tell us something about the band's history?
Hell-o! Thank you for such positive response about our album! The band was founded at spring time in 2005 in Zaporozhye, Ukraine. At first, it had only two members: Oleg Talanov(drummer) and Alexey Pasko(guitar), but after a couple of rehearsal sessions Alexandr Sitalo (bass) and guitar player Anton Pavlenko joined the band. Last who came to the band was vocalist Alexandr Baev. After several months playing in the studio, the band had its first concert on a one of the biggest Ukrainian open-air festivals: Metal Heads Mission, where we shared the same stage with Napalm Death. It was a very great experience and inspiration for us.
Let's introduce the band members – what bands/projects/jobs are you filling next to Hell-On?
Before Hell:on was founded, all members had a lot of experience in different local bands. Some of us played thrash metal, some of us - death and black. Some of us played power metal. Even now our bassist has a rock-n-roll and blues project, and our guitarist Anton has his own death metal band. Unfortunately, we didn't earn enough money with our music, so we have other professions to make a living. Our bassist is a bank worker, vocalist is an electronic engineer, drummer is a web designer, one guitarist is a building foreman and the other guitarist is sound engineer.
'Age of Oblivion' is your third album. Do you guys see it as a kind of breakthrough album?
Yes, we reckon that this album is a breakthrough one. It's different from the previous two albums and we hope to hold this line (I mean adding something new into each new album). 'Age Of Oblivion' is more aggressive and fast comparing to our previous material. We think that it is also more professional and mature (however we love our older material too). We tried to make more simple constructions of the songs to make them easier to follow, however it also made the songs technically more complex. But this is our opinion, what do you think? ;)
What are your ambitions? How far do you guys want to get with 'Age of Oblivion' and what sacrifices are you prepared to make? I really think that you have delivered a very good album, with 'Age of Oblivion'. . now what are you going to do with it?
I think that almost all bands with concert activities have similar ambitions – to become a top level band like Metallica, Slayer... In our language we have a proverb: “He is a bad soldier who doesn't dream of becoming a general”. We almost have finished the European tour in support of our new album. We want to make a video on one of the songs from the album. We also plan to participate in as many metal festivals as possible next summer. Speaking about sacrifices I think that we do them all the time – that is one of the reasons why we are what we are. We have families, friends and jobs. So spending time on making and playing our music we deprive our families of our attention. Patience and understanding of our families and friends give us extra force to create. Almost all of us lose jobs at least once to make our tours possible. But that is our choice and we'll do our best.
With Total Metal Records you are on a good label, Hell-On fits right in with the other bands, but are they in a (financial) position to give you enough tour support to come over to western Europe? Because you should come over! Any plans in that respect?
Total Metal Records is the best metal music label on the territory of CIS. This is a sublabel of Metal Scrap Records. It gives us huge media and distribution support all over the world. The stuff of the label is very professional and they are just good people. But if we speak about tours we have booking agency Extraview Promotion, who arrange all the concerts for us.
Over in Ukraine you guys must have heard of our western European festivals? Festivals like Hellfest, Summer Breeze or Wacken Open Air? Positioned at the right slot on the bill, I think your music would go down very well there, what do you think?
Of course we know your festivals and we would be very happy to play on them! We hope we will have a possibility to take part in these events very soon and we will do our best to spread Hell:on's music all over Europe.
Do you have a dream tour/support slot in mind for your first western European trip? Which band(s) are on the wishlist ?
It would be very great for our band to go on tour with some band of the first echelon such as Slayer, Kreator, Sepultura. But we are open to any offers.
Can you guys tell us something about the Ukrainian metal scene? How big is it in numbers of people? Are there many opportunities for concerts? Are there many underground shows, clubs, good music shops etc.?
The Ukrainian metal scene is still on the underground level. We don't have such great metal bands as Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer and others world leaders. However we have enough great underground bands. We have enough metal clubs too. Usually there are about a hundred people on an average metal concert. However it depends on participating bands, organisation, day. There may be ten people, but we also had examples of about a thousand metal heads (however it's an exception). We also have several metal festivals. The greatest Ukrainian metal festival is Metal Head Mission. We participated in it several times. This year we also played on Metalfest in Poland and unfortunately the level of organisation and sound of our festival is much worse.
The economies in eastern Europe are growing. Things must be changing rapidly in Ukraine as well. How does that affect Hell-On? Do you also get inspiration for songs/lyrics from Old Mother Russia versus Ukraine 2012 or the time behind the Iron Curtain? You guys must have grown up in quite a different situation from the situation in your country right now? Some things in the West, we even cannot imagine?
Of course economical changes influence every part of our life. We had times not very long ago (maybe ten – fifteen years ago) when people in our country didn't get their salaries from three to twelve months. And nobody cared how you should survive. So nobody thought about any kind of music. At that time metal heads were very rare. Society was very hostile to long hair, cut jeans, metal t-shirts. I think this is because people were angry because of their poverty and ideological pressing. You mentioned the Iron Curtain. It was a really hard time for creative people. We were children when it was destroyed but all the same we have the memories of those times. Now we are also a part of world globalisation so the differences between our country and Europe become less visible. The taking down of the Iron Curtain also opened the way for our favourite metal bands into our country. Now it's common for us to listen to world metal leaders at our home country, but twenty years ago that was really almost unbelievable.
Are you guys agreed on a favourite song on 'Age Of Oblivion'? Which song or songs do you think will hit hardest?
We would not separate certain song as the best. We love all of them (otherwise they wouldn't be on the album). But the songs are slightly different so one song is cool because it is very energetic, some because it has groove and so on. However, I would like to make a special mention of the last song – Satan. It was really an interesting experience for us – adding an orchestra.
Any 'famous last words' for the Lords of Metal readers?
Check out our new album! We hope you will like it! And you should know, that Ukraine it is not only brothers Klitchko, Yulia Timoshenko and Andrey Shevchenko. Now it is Hell:on, hehehe