Interview – Megaton Sword: ”If you try your own approach some will love it, some will hate it”

Epicness. Meganess. Something really unique.

I discovered Megaton Sword in february this year, and have since then listened on repeat on both the EP Niralet (November 2019) and the full length debut Blood Hails Steel – Steel Hails Fire released in November 2020. Great music, great unique vocals and never a dull moment. It is really hard not to enjoy incredible songs like the title track, Verene, The Giver’s Embrace and Crimson River, not to mention Born Beneath the Sword from the EP. And these are just my favourite songs at the moment, it could be other songs tomorrow.

Bara Metal reached out to the band in order to get to know everything interesting about the new Swiss metal act.

The band consists of Uzzy Unchained (vocals), Dan Thundersteel (drums), Simon the sorcerer (bass) and the two guitarists Chris the Axe and Seth Angel.

So, when and how did Megaton Sword come together, how did you meet each other?

Thundersteel: Most of us have known each other for years but we haven’t really thought about playing music together until one ominous Obituary show in Zürich in August 2017. After we got knocked out by Florida’s groove machine number one and having infused ourselves with massive quantities of barley juice, we started talking about all these awesome new classic Metal bands such as Eternal Champion, Sumerlands, Sacred Leather and a shared desire we all secretly bore to form a band just like that. So we vowed to meet up soon for a jam, which we did, playing Manowar and Priest covers.

– We instantly realized that we really loved playing together and once Simon came along with the first riff for Vulva of the Nightfall, we kind of knew this would become a real band.

I know two of you play in the black metal band Forlet Sires. What is that band’s roll in the making of Megaton Sword?

– Forlet Sires doesn’t really have an important role in the making of Megaton Sword. Me and Seth Angel play in both bands, we share a rehearsal room, and we’re all good friends with each other. Once we knew we wanted a second guitar player for Megaton Sword, it was clear that we’d ask Seth Angel to join, as we already knew him really well, he came to our shows and already knew the songs somewhat, and most importantly: his gear was already there.

Have you released any demos at all? There are none listed at Metal Archives.

– No, we didn’t release any demos at all, as we felt the material was strong enough to justify an official release from the get go. 

What is typical for Megaton Sword’s music, according to you? 

Sorcerer: We attach great importance to catchy songs with comprehensible song structures and sing-along choruses, but it should never be too clumsy. A certain basic hardness in the sound is also very important to us, the guitars, for example, should not sound too compressed.

– Another characteristic are of course the lyrics of Uzzy. It’s difficult for us to judge how far people get involved with them, but we can hardly imagine Megaton Sword without all the stories around Niralet. The whole story with all its subplots has reached an enormous depth and complexity that you can only begin to imagine in the lyrics. From my point of view there is a lot of potential to go public with it in another form than lyrics. In any case, we are curious ourselves how it will continue in this regard.

Do you mean like a novel? Has Uzzy any thoughts about doing this – become an authour as well? 

– Yes, he has already given some thought to how and in what form this could be realized. But there are no concrete plans so far. It is already apparent at this point that it is impossible to tell the whole story only by means of song lyrics. Therefore it would be simply too bad not to make anything out of it.

I’ve read several comments and reviews where your singer Uzzy Unchained divides the listeners into two camps – some like him, some does not like him. Me, I love his vocals. But why do you think it is such a divider?

Unchained: I guess you have to deal with criticism. If you write music, there will always be people who don’t like it. If you try your own approach some will love it, some will hate it; if you try to copy a specific style some will love it, some will hate it. I try to focus on our musical vision and what I can do to make it become real.

So, how do you, the rest of the band, support Uzzy from all the negativity that you can read on the internet?

Chris the Axe: Of course we love the vocals too. We think they create a soaking atmosphere and give the songs a unique trademark. We can’t point out this fact enough to support Uzzy Unchained against the negativity. But as mentioned before, music will always be a matter of personal taste.

I love the fact that you, Uzzy, never once sings the same refrain on the title track Blood Hails SteelSteel Hails Fire – how did you come up with that very unique idea?

Unchained: Well, I did not want to write a classic refrain melody for Blood Hails Steel – Steel Hails Fire. After all, it is a Ferakhian battle-mantra and truism. To support this idea, I wanted to repeat the words often enough but not too many times. So, I chose to place these words at different locations in the song and hoped to create a catchiness despite the fact that this isn’t a classic refrain structure.

Overall, your lyrics and phrasing is quite unique and great in my opinion, especially on The Giver’s Embrace – there is never a dull moment.

Unchained: Thanks for the compliment, it’s nice to hear that there are people like you who enjoy what I do.

Speaking of the title track Blood Hails Steel… – are you flirting with Angel of Mercy by Chastain, or is it a coincidence?

Sorcerer: I have heard that several times now. I didn’t know the band at all until recently, so it’s a coincidence. But it’s not the worst reference if you ask me, ha ha. We try to avoid too obvious quotes, but it’s just that every musician is influenced by his idols. And that’s totally legitimate, you just have to try to leave your personal signature.

You seem to prefer more melodic guitar bridges instead of classical heavy metal solos – how come?

Sorcerer: There are two reasons for this. On the one hand, both guitarists are rather rhythm guitarists and have a completely different musical background than classical heavy metal. And on the other hand we actually like much more harmonic lines/solos with dynamics and a build-up. It’s hard to explain now but to me it always sounds a bit like ”song within a song”, which I think is pretty cool.

Who composes the songs/riffing – and how do you put them together?  

Thundersteel: Simon the Sorcerer is gifted by the gods of Heavy Metal with an endless arsenal of awesome riffs, from which he crafts all of our songs. He’s the sole songwriter in the band and creates the basic structure for every song. We then all learn our parts and put it together in the rehearsal room, where we usually just need to adjust some little things. This way of songwriting proved to be really efficient for us.

– Once the music is done, master Unchained works his magic and puts words and melodies atop of it, continuing to spin the lore of Niralet.

You released an album in November 2020, when Covid-19 was all time high in at least Sweden. How much did this affect you – the pros and cons to release music during the pandemic?

Thundersteel: Yes, the numbers in Switzerland also skyrocketed again in November 2020, but we did manage to release the album and even play a release show for it, right before everything was shut down again. It didn’t really affect us much to be honest, besides that we obviously couldn’t play shows. All the material for Blood Hails Steel – Steel Hails Fire was written before the pandemic started and we planned to go to the Studio in spring 2020 in late 2019. In the end, we had a bit more time in the studio and the recording and mixing process was a bit more relaxed because of Covid, but other than that, it wasn’t much different for us. Also the fact that people spent more time at home, listening to records and stuff, really played out to our advantage, as I think people bought more records during that time.

What have you been doing since November?  

– We continued rehearsing regularly during the pandemic and started working on material. A big chunk of the new record is now written and rehearsed. So we were quite busy during this tumultuous time. We do really long to play live now though and can’t wait for our upcoming shows this fall and winter.

So, how far away are we from yet another release from Megaton Sword?

Sorcerer: As Dan just said, instrumentally, most of the writing is done. Uzzy is currently working hard on the lyrics and vocal lines. At the moment we are rehearsing everything so that we can hopefully go into the studio at the beginning of next year. But there are no fixed dates yet. At the same time we hope to play some more shows in the near future.

I’ve tried to watch live performances on Youtube, but there aren’t any of Megaton Sword – how come? Have you never filmed any event?

– We have already had shows filmed, but primarily to analyze ourselves. If we want to publish something, then it should be somewhat professional. But i think that sooner or later various mobile phone films will be put on the web anyway.

That sword you have on the promo pictures, it’s truly mega-big – where did you find it, and who owns it? 

Unchained: A friend of mine came along and strongly suggested that we absolutely need a big sword. So, he gave us the sword as a present and it is now in the bands’ possession.

Is it that sword we hear in the title track?

– Funny, I really wanted to record the sword sample with this sword but in the end Yvo, our lazy producer, went for a digital sample.

Your music is called epic heavy metal – do you agree, and what does epic mean to you?

– For me, epicness is primarily an atmosphere. There are many different ways to create an epic feeling. As I understand it, we go for heavy riffs, heartfelt melodies and over-the-top fantasy lyrics. But you could do it differently of course.

Thundersteel: I second that. For me, epic means something to be uplifting, making me want to run through the battlefield, sword held high, plowing the killing ground. Music that wants you to raise your fist no matter what. Our music does evoke that feeling in me, so the term Epic Heavy Metal is perfect for Megaton Sword.

Finally – so far in your career, what is your best memory of Megaton Sword?  

Sorcerer: For me, it was the feedback on Niralet. It just feels great to get international recognition for something you put hundreds of hours of sweat and heart into. We’ve all been playing in other bands for a long time, but none of them have made it this far.

Thundersteel: For me it would be the first time we went into the studio to record Niralet and then hearing the first mixes for the very first time. What we’ve created in such a short time was just astonishing for me personally. Another highlight was definitely the after show party for a practice-show we played in Winterthur last January for some event technician apprentices who otherwise couldn’t work or learn. All hell broke loose after the show. We all got drunk in the blink of an eye and started trashing the place, listening to 90s Hardcore. It’s a wonder we’re not banned from that place. That was one for the books.

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