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Het is al weer vijf jaar geleden dat de Duitse band het eerste deel van hun aangekondigde ‘Okkult’ trilogie uitbracht. De band rondom zanger Alex Krull heeft echter niet zo’n haast met het uitbrengen van het tweede album, al gaat die er dit jaar naar alle waarschijnlijkheid van komen. Om de fans alvast warm te maken voor deel twee bracht Atrocity onlangs hun tweede 7’ release uit hun carrière uit in de vorm van de 4-track EP ‘Masters of Darkness’. Ik spreek met frontman Alex Krull en diens gitarist Thorsten ‘Tosso’ Bauer over de nieuwe EP en het aanstaande tweede deel in de ‘Okkult’ trilogie.

Door: Dennis | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

Hi there, congratulations on your new release ‘Masters of Darkness’, which is a really cool EP with four catchy and aggressive death metal songs. It seems with the last record ‘Okkult’ and this new EP you guys are really into death metal again, after having released some more poppier albums like Werk 80 and Werk 80 II, which were probably your most successful albums, right? Why the sudden change to a heavier sound again?
Alex: Thank you, glad you like the new material so much! With Atrocity we were always looking for new challenges, new musical horizons and ideas. Our brutal side and the more experimental stuff like the ‘Werk 80’ albums are both part of the Atrocity history. We are metal artists without limits. Our ‘Okkult’ trilogy combines our roots with new musical ideas, and this is simply a new challenge for Atrocity after such a long history of diverse metal music! I love the whole lyrical background of the ‘OKKULT’ trilogy about the mysteries in the world. With our new EP „Masters of Darkness’ we deliver an epic brutal monster and this is the kick-start for the ‘Okkult II’ album which will be released in summer 2018!! Be prepared!

Tosso: Yes, Atrocity has always been a band that likes to push the boundaries and conquer new musical territories. We have never been a band that brings out the same kind of album over and over again. You can always hear progress, growth and change. Of course the band is rooted and feels home in extreme metal, in fact Atrocity even was the first German death-metal band evolving from Germany, together with our friends from Morgoth. But to avoid getting bored and stuck we always set for new horizons and musical adventures. ‘Masters Of Darkness’ clearly shows the band enjoying its core skills in brutal, extreme and dark music.

In 2013 you released ‘Okkult’, the first part of an album trilogy. You said it would be the heaviest and most brutal albums in years. Between the first album and the second ‘Okkult’ album that will be released in 2018 are five years. Did you think it would take you another five years to release the second part when you started the trilogy?
Alex: Damn, time is running quickly... Five years, doesn't feel like that haha

Tosso: So now we are back and ‘Masters of Darkness’ is for sure the right starting point of the ‘Okkult II’ period. Since the release of ‘Okkult’ we were working on this dark, occult album trilogy in between our tours around the globe.

Alex: Well indeed, after the release of the first ‘Okkult’ album we did a lot of worldwide touring! Tours and shows in Europe, North America, Latin America, Russia and Asia. A few months ago we have played the first time in Belarus. Besides that we also have our second band Leaves’ Eyes, and we released two albums in the meantime and did worldwide touring. We also changed label and signed a new longtime deal with Massacre Records. Last but not least I am also working as producer for other bands in our headquarters Mastersound Studio. So, no rest for the wicked haha

Will we have to wait another five years before you release the third part?
Alex: Haha hopefully not! Depending on the touring schedule of our bands! But as we are not newcomers we also don't have to record an album every year haha. Releasing a new record means also to us to celebrate it and make it always very special, high standards, great artworks and epic concepts – we always give the best for it and spend a lot of effort in every detail!

Tosso: I don't think we have to wait five years for ‘Okkult III’. On the other hand, like Alex mentioned it doesn't make sense for a band like Atrocity to release a new album every year. And yes, we like to spend time on writing and recording a new album and take time and energy to work on all details and aspects of each new album.

Releasing a trilogy means the three albums are interrelated. What is the story behind the trilogy?
Alex: I love the mix of epic, evil and brutal music! The choirs sound like in the good old horror movies and they fit very well to the overall concept of ‘Okkult’: The mysteries of world history from the darkest eras of humanity and their abysmal malice. The ‘Okkult’ concept just sounds perfect to me for a dark death metal band called Atrocity.

The last few albums were released through Napalm Records. With the new EP ‘Masters of Darkness’ you have changed record labels and you are now back with Massacre Records who also released the albums ‘Blut’ and ‘Willenskraft’ in 1992 and 1994 respectively. How did this renewed collaboration come together and how does it feel to be back with the old record company?

Tosso: It's awesome to be back on Massacre Records. Yes, many of our classic albums like ‘Blut’, ‘Willenskraft’ and ‘Werk 80’ were released there and the label is located only a few minutes away from our headquarters. We know the guys from the label, especially Thomas Hertler, since many years and it's fantastic to work together again!

Alex: Back in the 90's I worked there myself. Thomas was my colleague at Massacre Records. Jochen Richert, chief of AFM Records / Soulfood Music and new owner of Massacre got in touch with me and asked me if we are up for the idea to sign to our old buddies there! I know Jochen since my youth times. He was also working for our distribution partners Intercord and Connected back then when I was working at Massacre Records. So we always had a very good working relationship, too, just like nowadays with AFM and Leaves' Eyes. So for the new Atrocity stuff the Swabian connection came back together again haha. Yeah, it feels great to work with Thomas and Massacre Records for the new Atrocity releases!

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You are releasing four new songs with this new EP ‘Masters of Darkness’. Why did you decide to release this EP and not the full second part of the trilogy?
The very first release from Atrocity in 1989 was a 7-inch-vinyl record, ‘Blue Blood’. Everyone from band and label was very excited about the brand new material, so we thought now would be finally the right time to release our second 7-inch- vinyl in our career haha. Then the label told us the idea, let's do a 4 track EP in advance of ‘Okkult II’ as well! Ok, here we go!

Tosso: The main focus has been always regular albums, but however sometimes when an idea is there and fits well... why not presenting other formats too. What I like about the EP is that with four songs in total each song gets a certain spotlight and gets listened to. Besides that, the EP is also released as a supercool 7-inch vinyl!! Hell Yeah!!

The new EP shows an even heavier sound, but less bombastic sound than on the last album ‘Okkult’. In what direction will the new record go?
Yes, you are right! I think the new material just like on the EP is probably heavier than ‘Okkult’ but still very atmospheric at the same time.

Tosso: The music on ‘Okkult II’ is like a fist in the face.

Your band picture still shows Sander van der Meer as your guitarist, yet he has left the band and has been replaced by Pete Streit. Why is Sander not with Atrocity anymore?
Tosso: If you check the Atrocity Pages you will see brand new pictures, shot for the ‘Masters Of Darkness’ EP. Peter Streit is in the band since 2015. Sander van der Meer left the band in early 2015. He was facing some serious back and spine disc problems and decided to live a more healthy life than being on the road with an extreme metal band haha. We wish him all the best!

And how did you get into contact with your new axe-man Pete Streit?
Tosso: Pete is an old friend of us from Switzerland. His former band Elis recorded several albums at our Mastersound Studio. Moreover, Alex also managed that band for some years. So we knew Pete already and he came to our minds rater quickly when we thought about a new guitarist for Atrocity.

Dutchman Joris Nijenhuis has been your drummer for the last four years and he seems to be doing a great job for Atrocity. How did he get involved in the band?
Alex: It's even five years when Joris joined Atrocity! Awesome drummer, and yes it proves real German – Dutch friendship! It's always great to work with Joris in the studio or playing shows and tours together! We worked also together at Mastersound Studio for other bands besides Atrocity and Leaves' Eyes. And recorded drums for Danish Symphonic metal band Akoma or German Death Black metal act Bloodred.

Tosso: Joris, also known as ‘The fastest feet from Friesland’, is a real killer drummer. Joris is a very ambitious and precise drummer and It is a pleasure to make music with him! Heeeeeaaalllich Joris!

The complete line-up of Atrocity also plays with Elina Siirala in Leaves’ Eyes and last year you toured the US twice and only played a few shows in Europe. Is the US better for Leaves’ Eyes as a market than Europe?
Tosso: We love to play in North America and indeed its very good territory for both of our bands. One of the greatest blessings when you play in Atrocity and Leaves’ Eyes is that we have fans all over the globe and can play in almost any country. I think we toured in over 60 countries so far.

Alex: With the new albums of both bands we will play more often in Europe soon, no worries!

With Atrocity you haven’t played a lot of shows in the last two years. How come there was (almost) no live activity with Atrocity? And are you going to change that in the coming year?
Alex: Like mentioned in the beginning of the interview, there were a lot of shows around the globe after the album release and later on like in North and Latin America. Unfortunately not too many shows in the Netherlands, but the ones we played were killer haha. We want to come back with the new album of corpse! We would love to play also some of the great festivals in the Netherlands.

As you mentioned, you are also running your own Mastersound Studio recording, mixing and mastering for a ton of bands. What are some of the best production you have done and which ones make you extreme proud?
Alex: I love to work with other artists, bands and musicians. There were quite some great outputs in the past which I'm proud to be part of, like some works I did for Doro, End of Green or Belphegor just to name a few. Probably the biggest production was the new Leaves' Eyes record ‘Sign of the Dragonhead’ - a real epic top notch production with the London Voices Choir (‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Star Wars’) and many world class classical and folk musicians on top of the powerful metal sound.

Have you already set a release date for the second part of the trilogy?
Tosso: ‘Okkult II’ will be released in summer 2018. Probably July or August. You can expect a brutal bombastic killer album!

What are the plans for the coming year for Atrocity? Is there anything we should look out for?
We will finish the record and artworks and make a new videoclip for the ‘Okkult II’ album, too. And we are planning to play some festivals, shows tours after the release of the new album! So see you hopefully soon and in the meantime enjoy the ‘Masters Of Darkness’ EP! Thank you for the great support and interview! Horns up!

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