Five years after Okkult I, German death metal veterans Atrocity recently released Okkult II. Frontman Alexander Krull and guitarist/bassist Thorsten “Tosso” Bauer fill us in on the album, touring, their other band Leaves Eyes and other subjects.
Chad Bowar: How did your newest member, guitarist Pete Streit, come to join the band a few years back?
Tosso: Pete has always been a good friend of ours. With his former band Elis he toured together with us and also recorded a few albums at our Mastersound Studio. So we already knew him well before we asked him to join in 2015.
What led to the five year span between albums?
Alex: For the first Okkult album we did a lot of touring worldwide. Tours and shows in Europe, North America, UK, Latin America, Russia and Asia. In 2014 Atrocity did a full North American tour together with Moonspell and Leaves’ Eyes and we also played on the awesome 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise and Puerto Rico. It was quite demanding to play every evening two shows. Besides that it was a tour that reached from Caribbean heat to snowstorms and all kinds of weather you could ever imagine.
We experienced very moving moments on tour that we will not forget so quickly. When we played for the first time in Puerto Rico, El Salvador and Guatemala, we met fans of the first hour, who have been waiting since the early ’90s for a live performance of Atrocity. Tears flowed when they saw and met us. And when you play in Chile or Mexico and the whole club is going crazy, that’s magic and goose bumps. Last year we also played the first time in Belarus, which was also an amazing experience.
How do Okkult and Okkult II go together musically and lyrically?
Alex: Okkult is an album trilogy. Lyrically it opens up the bright field of the mysteries of the world and the dark side of humanity. Musically you can hear Atrocity in its best, most extreme and darkest shape. Back in 2004 after the very extensive work on the Atlantis album concept, there was an incredible range of different sources and points of contact on the subject. This went from scientific, archaeological work, mythological perspectives on esoteric theories, obscure interpretations of occultists in the Third Reich to the far-out world of ufology. Then it was almost obvious to me that the next concept we would come up with could be about the mysteries of world history and the dark side of humanity. And one album would not be enough, so here we are with the Okkult trilogy.
How did LG Petrov and Marc Grewe’s guest appearances come about, and what did they add to the album?
Alex: LG and Marc are old companions of our band. We know each other from the “golden days” of the death metal underground in the late ’80s/early ’90s. In 1989 Atrocity toured with Morgoth, Autopsy and Pestilence. Since that time I know Marc already. In 1990 I brought LG and Entombed to Germany for the first time on the “Support the Underground” festivals with Carcass, Atrocity, Pungent Stench etc. I had organized the festivals myself, and they were some of the first death metal festivals on an international level and took place in Germany, France and Belgium. LG and the Entombed guys were very grateful for that. Marc and LG were both on our Atrocity film documentary “The Godless Years” and did great interviews for that amazing DVD. When we asked them whether they would like to be a guest vocalist on Okkult II, both were immediately enthusiastically present. The cooperations turned out really cool!
What role does sound designer Katie Halliday play in the album’s creation?
Tosso: Katie Halliday has done the sound effects for movies like Saw. She added some extra occult and evil vibes to the songs. Check the intro to our video song “Shadowtaker“ It gives me goosebumps every time i hear it. So cool and sinister!
Are there any disadvantages to doing the production, mixing and mastering all yourself?
Alex: Actually I really like to work on our own stuff. We always have some big productions going on. It’s challenging and at the same time it’s great to work with such an intensity and creativity. I do also like to work with other artists at our own Mastersound Studio.
How did you come to sign with Massacre Records?
Tosso: After the release of the Okkult I album in 2013, our recording contract with Napalm Records was fulfilled. After that we took some time to check who would be the best partner to work with together on the future of our band. To be back now with Massacre Records is just a fantastic story in itself. We had a great and very creative time on Massacre in the ’90s with band album classics like Blut, Willenskraft and Werk 80, for example. The first time Alex and I came back to the headquarters of Massacre Records, which is not very far from our own headquarters Mastersound Studio and met the guys there, especially Thomas Hertler, who was Alex’s colleague when he was working there himself at Massacre back in the day, I could only see smiling faces, including myself. We are very happy to work with Massacre Records now and in the future.
At this point in your career, do you have any specific goals or expectations when releasing a new album?
Alex: As we don’t have to release an album every year, we want to celebrate every new Atrocity album. We always give our best, put into the releases a big effort and want to release something very special for our fans. Okkult II was just released and reactions have been great! We are completely overwhelmed by the fantastic feedback by fans and press with top scores and top reviews! Okkult II even hit the Top 40 German album charts at #37, in the trends it was on rank #10! That is amazing! Now we hear Okkult II entered the German Alternative Charts at rank #8 with such a brutal death metal album, wow!
You just played the Sunstorm festival. Any other tour dates planned for this year?
Tosso: Yes, it was a fantastic summer evening show here in south Germany. A lot of our friends were also with us to celebrate the release of Okkult II. The new material is very powerful and exciting to play live and also to experience in the audience.. We had fantastic reactions from the fans and sold a lot of our brand new merchandise too. My personal live favorites to play were “Spell of Blood“ and “Menschenschlachthaus.“
Alex: Most of the touring for Okkult II will happen from 2019 on. We have several international offers and are excited to play a lot of live shows. Already for Okkult I we played in Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia and before we started working on Okkult II we also played Belarus for the first time.
So you can expect a lot of touring also for Okkult II.
Your Werk 80 cover albums have come out every 10 years or so. Can we expect another one in the next year or two?
Alex: This question we get quite often. (laughs) Well, let’s see what the future brings! At the moment we are working on the Okkult trilogy.
There has not been a standalone Atrocity live album or DVD. Any interest in doing one?
Alex: The great DVD Die Gottlosen Jahre (The Godless Years) included our 25th anniversary show at Wacken, but you are right a stand alone DVD we never released so far. Would be an idea to something like live album with some specials.
Were you satisfied with the response to this year’s Leaves Eyes album Sign Of The Dragonhead?
Tosso: Yes, we are very happy with this epic monumental album. The album climbed a lot of international chart positions. Here in Germany we entered the official album charts at 21. Besides we had great fun playing the new songs on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise and our European headline tour in April and May together with Mayan and Almanac. In September and October we will go for another full European tour together with Kamelot.
How has Elina been accepted by the band’s fans?
Tosso: Elina is very precise, passionate and ambitious when it comes to music. So we already had a great time with her in the studio. Live she is a really powerful and outstanding performer. So of course the fans love her very much. We already toured half around the globe with her and we got amazing feedback everywhere.
You’re in two bands that are quite different musically. What genres of music do you listen to for pleasure?
Alex: I listen to all kinds of stuff. If the music is good, the genre doesn’t really matter. Of course my fave music is metal, no doubt about that. But I do also like atmospheric music like Dead Can Dance or great soundtracks. Even some crazy electronic stuff fits me. Variety of music is great, and so is the history of our band. My childhood heroes were Pink Floyd and none of their albums sounds the same, but you always hear it’s them. I don’t want to compare us with megastars like Pin Floyd, but this is what we like to do with Atrocity as a metal band.
What are your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Tosso: I love nature, hiking and historic places.
Alex: I’m a passionate sword fighter and part of the Viking reenactment scene, tarining and going to battles. I also love football and go together with my son to matches in the stadium. Like Tosso I also like historic places, books and films and nature- I’m even living in the middle of a nature safety place surrounded by forests, fields and a lake and having Mastersound Studio there.
Read any good books lately?
Tosso: I just read T.C. Boyles The Harder They Come. I love all of his work. Besides the book contains a sex scene, where they guy asks the girl if she has any Slayer albums in her collection. (laughs)
(interview published August 5, 2018)