Archive for the ‘Historia’ Category

Venom frontman Cronos tells the story behind Countess Bathory and the lyrical trend he started

6 juli, 2012

It’s been 30 years since Cronos and Venom wrote the very first metal song about Elizabeth Bathory – since then, a lot of other bands have followed in Venom’s footsteps: Ace ”Quorthon” Forsberg, Attila Chisar and his band Tormentor, Cradle of Filth, God Dethroned, Evile, Kamelot, Electric Wizard, Sunn O))), Immolith, Slayer, Forever Slave, Candlemass and Ghost – to mention a few!

Bara Metal has interviewed Venom frontman Conrad ”Cronos” Lant to get to know how it all started, one cold night in England.

Had you heard of any other bands singing about Elizabeth Bathory before you wrote Countess Bathory?

– No. I’m not aware of any other bands writing or singing about Elizabeth Bathory before I wrote the song ‘Countess Bathory’ in around the early 1980s.

So – how come you found this gruesome subject? Tell us the whole long story!

– I was first made aware of the Countess while I was at a local library in the 1970’s, years before I wrote the song.  I used to plough through the psychology sections and was into reading books on the Occult, Witchcraft, Paganism, Satanism and historical figures like Vlad the Impaler, Ivan the Terrible and Alistair Crowley etc to mention a few.

– I came across the Countess during this time and was fascinated with all the controversial stories about her life, as it’s often difficult to separate the facts from the fiction.

– I came across her again as Countess Dracula in the Hammer Films although I wasn’t immediately aware this character was based on the real life person.  Then I saw a documentary about controversial historical figures and they mentioned Elizabeth Bathory, and suggested that Hammer may have twisted the facts somewhat to associate her with the Dark Queen, in a similar way they merged the characteristics of Vlad Tepe’s with the Count, Count Dracula that is, to make a story half believable.

– Through the Venom songs over the years I’ve wrote about the obvious Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll with the added ingredients of Satanism and Witchcraft etc, although I do like to write about factual figures as well, as I find certain people absolutely fascinating, with incredible stories of horror and suffering as well as lust, greed, envy, passion and pain.

– Elizabeth Bathory of course is such a powerful story, albeit that there still seems to be a lot unknown and maybe guessed elements to her life and what she did or did not do or say.  There’s the idea she bathed in the blood of virgins in the belief it would help retain her youth, these extreme lengths I’m sure some of the ‘youth obsessed, vanity driven celebrity culture’ narcissistic women of today would go to if they thought it would work for them too and could get away with it. 
I can just imagine the likes of Jordan or Madonna paying their henchmen a king’s ransom to go out on the town in the evenings to round up and lure young impressionable girls into their lairs, on the promise of free liposuction or botox session and a photo shoot for a top magazine cover, then slicing their throats and harvesting their blood ready for their evening bath.
Hmmm? I hope they don’t get any bright ideas.

– Back to Milady. It’s quite disturbing when you think of the scene when – as some reports suggest – they eventually got too suspicious of where the hundreds of missing girls, who entered but never left her castle, had got to, then found out their dead bodies were all bricked up in her walls throughout the castle.  What an insane scene that must have been, when they started to smash the walls down and hundreds or thousands of dead bodies in varying stages of deterioration started falling out from behind the bricks.  When I read this I thought “did the castle not stink of decaying flesh?”  Or ”if the brickwork was so good it stopped the smell, then the stink when they finally smashed the walls down must have been horrendous?”

– Anyway, I guess you get the picture, her story is perfect for heavy metal lyrics, and as my mother always said “fact is often stranger than fiction”, so what better lyrics than a story of a real person, as it’s more fascinating than fiction any day.

Are you aware of the trend you have started – there are plenty of Bathory songs nowadays.

– I heard rumours of other heavy metal bands supposedly writing lyrics recently about Elizabeth Bathory, and I heard that Ingrid Pitt, may she Rast In Peace, who played the Countess in the Hammer Films may have been involved in one of the bands videos before her death, great stuff, Ms Bathory’s story is such an interesting one that I’m sure its not the last we’ve heard of her.

Exclusive interview – King Diamond: ”I had serious doubts if I was here in another form”

6 juni, 2012

This interview took place in March 1st 2012, about 15 months after King Diamond had his open heart triple bypass surgery. We spoke for 80 minutes, so it was a looooong interview with great answers about his surgical operation, recovery, haunted boots, cigarette butts, the radio friendly Abigail songs and the famous nun picture.

You played live with Metallica in December 2011, and you looked really happy!

– Yes, it was great to get back on stage, and it was a big test so to speak [link here]. I had not sung since the heart surgery, well, I had had a test at a local place called House of Blues here nearby. I went there to meet a band which members I know, some of them. I went there to say hi in the afternoon, and during their sound check I went up on stage to see what it felt like. And my old chest was rattling, I had to get the hell out of there, it was very, very uncomfortable! And right now I have a pretty thick metal string all the way down my chest, inside under the skin, that ties together the whole chest, all the bones. They sawed my chest, they pretty much open your chest up like a double door.

– It has to grow back together that is why I have it there. So when I came up to the Metallica show, I did not know if I would feel the same bad things as I felt in Dallas, and when they turned up the sound I thought ”Oh my god, either I should just head home or it will work again”. And then the sound came up and I did not feel anything. It was like it had grown together really well. And I had been at the surgeons just three weeks before just to know everything was really good, he had done an x-ray and told me it was growing together really well.

– But that was just singing, then comes the second part. I have stopped smoking, and changed all of my habits. No smoking for over a year. And I can feel that on my voice, it really changes a lot. It has become so much crispier, it is much easier to sing all of those difficult high things. You can imagine – I have never been a singer and not been a smoker. This is the first time I feel what my voice is like without smoking. And it is a big difference, I can tell you. It’s easier, it’s like a brand new voice. But this new one is much better than the old one ever was. I’m really looking forward to do the other stuff.

– I had actually one more test, because San Francisco was like a test. Also the breathing, because when they do the operation they collapse your lungs. And you have to work hard to get your capacity back to normal. There was a showcase here in Dallas [in January 2012] where bands were battling for prizes, and there I got the chance to sing three songs. No one knew about it, I was just there as a presenter. But we did three songs and I picked those songs particularly for a test: The Family Ghost, old King Diamond from Abigail with lots of difficult high voices – it has never been that easy to sing it before. And Burn from the Eye, which… it is very difficult to catch a breath here and there. Such long lines to be sung. It was to test the breathing. And that worked fine too. And then we did Evil in the end, simply as a safety if I got out of breath or something. Often, the people that are there, the fans will sing every line in the first two verses. But I did not need that, afterwards I was not out of breath, I have never felt that good about singing… I think that was the best I’ve ever sung, that I did here two months ago.

– So I’m looking forward to get everything up. It’s a big process for us of course because we have not done anything for five years, because I had a disc-problem earlier you know. But this might be a good thing, in the end, if everything goes well you might feel much younger than you really are. That is what the surgeon says. And I stick to a new diet and exercise every day. I go to an athletic center, things I did not do before. And the fact that I’m eating healthier and no cigarettes, I can feel it you know.

Did I understand correctly, do you still have this metal thread?

– Yeah, yeah. It will be there forever, it has grown in to the bone. I can feel it through the skin. So now I got real metal in my chest!

You mentioned your voice is much better – before this better voice of yours, were you ever afraid to lose your ability to hit those high notes?

– No, that I have never felt. Through the years I have felt that it has grown slightly stronger and stronger and stronger. But other things play a role – it has to do with the overall, not that I have never lacked confidence in being on stage, it is the whole surrounding, you have more professional crew through the years, and I know on stage, I know that they have got everything right when they put everything up, including monitor sound. I have hade the same line up for a long time now and it is the best one I’ve played with ever in my life. I know exactly what they are doing. Something has to go really wrong, a broken string or something, for anything to be different. So it is a lot of confidence on stage, we have much more space and time for enjoying the whole procedure, having fun with the people who are there. Much more of that now.

– In the old days, when we came to like the end of Black Horsemen, there is an extremely high note, and those places in the old days were scary to get to, because if the monitor sound is not the best possible, you push harder, and then your voice gets a bit scratchy on top.

– But if you have the perfect great sound on stage, then you relax. You don’t put any more pressure on the vocal chords than is needed to take the notes. So there is a big difference there. But now – there is so much more of a difference. I felt some of that with Metallica, but I knew that I could not quite judge that because Metallica detunes very, very slightly. So that meant that those Mercy-songs that were detuned, they would have been easier for me to sing.

– But the stuff we did here in Dallas. Our drummer was here and three other guys, super musicians, actually one of them is the guy who produce and records all my vocals for my albums, he is a multi musician, he can play all kinds of instruments. We rehearsed the three songs two times and that was it, but it was in normal tune so it would have been as hard as it has always been, but it was only pleasure. And I felt something that I had never felt before – that I sang perfectly. And those who were there they could certainly hear it too. That’s what they said.

You sound eager to get on tour to do it live.

– Yeah, yeah, we are building a new production now and there is so much stuff to do. We are in some ways starting from scratch, working on a new record deal. We got a new booking agent. We are working on a new Internet shop where the fans can finally be able to get some genuine King Diamond merchandise, official stuff. For the first time in our career we are finally coming out and actually doing things the right way, the way we should have done from the beginning. But you never get too old to learn.

– Sweden Rock and then Hellfest one week later – it’s not a test, but it is a test. It will be the first full show we do since that happened. But I can’t see what would go wrong. I’ve already tested things that I needed tested for myself.

You had a break that lasted a whole year – what did you do?

– Well, we did keep up with people. A lot. We started a thing where… it’s a Skype-website where people will sign up. And now and then I will call up fans and we talk. We have done that several times. We will call up three fans through that way, ”King Diamond is calling you” and it could be one from Puerto Rico, one from Sweden, one from Scotland. We pick them randomly, but not the same person twice. Then we sit and talk for an hour. They can ask anything. They usually have a lot of question that are the same as the fans ask in the fan club, the Coven. So we get a lot of info out that way, and we upload it so other can listen to it. We are certainly in touch with our fans.

During that year, 2011 – you did not start writing your autobiography?

– No. One day it would be nice because I have tons of cool stories. But it has to be the right time. Now everything is concentrated on getting set for the festivals. We might do something in the US this year, I’m not sure. Not right now. We are getting everything right, the right contracts, than next year we will be touring, and start writing new material, probably already this year. We have a lot to do. And I am a million percent sure that a lot of those experiences which happened at the hospital will be in the lyrics for the next album. I have things that I have to get out of my system.

So… there will be new music in 2013?

– That is absolutely the plan. Something has to go totally wrong for us not to do that. We will write material this fall. Hopefully during the autumn, we might do something here in the US, after the festivals. But we will not be doing a long tour, it is still a test, we will see what happens. We do not want to take stupid chances, it has to be done properly. And we have a lot to do still, but things are looking good.

But King, did you not play any guitar during 2011, like sort of, ”Wow, I just made a new song.”

– No.

No?

– I write some ideas on notepads, rhymes, some notes I want to memorize. I have probably basic material for three different stories right now. It is just stored in a little box here. That is how it happens… for instance, when we did the Puppet Master, I can tell you that the main ideas came when Mercyful Fate was out playing with Metallica in the festivals in Europe. We had a day off and took a walk in the old Budapest. When we got into narrow streets we came to an area where all the puppet stores were. It was a Sunday, everything was closed and there was no light, so we had to get close to the window to see anything. Man, it was creepy!

– Walking further, there was this open gate to a backyard, and there it says The National Puppet Theatre. I started getting stories immediately. ”What will it be like in there?” It was a full size theatre! ”How big is it? It must take a lot of capacity, 1000 people? How can they see the tiny puppets? They must be huge! The puppeteer must be walking on the walkway in the ceiling?!” That is what they do, said my wife. So I hit it right. Everything was correct except for that they don’t make puppets out of human beings.

– I went home and started writing on the hotel’s notepad paper, which I still have just for souvenir you know, all those things, the names, the theatre, what would happen – all these different things. I looked through a phone book to find typical Hungarian names, actually, Laszlo, I borrowed that name from my wife’s dad. He created an amazing handwork for me, a scalpel with inlaid silver, like the one on the cover. All these things, these notes, they go down… this happened in 1999, and the album did not come until years later. We did one or two albums in between, I looked at my notes but they did not appeal to me. So I have several things in there that I might use, but I could also do something new, I told Andy abut it just days ago, the things that happened to me, things I saw, how I saw them after I came to after the operation… Oh, the horror I experienced was just fucking… It’s a long story. It will be in the next album for sure, some way or the other.

You are still in the US, although you are married to a European woman – right? Are you coming back to Europe?

– No, it’s really good here. My wife has taken the citizenship test, she passed it, and I am myself both a Danish and a US citizen. To be precise, I am one quarter Swedish.

That’s in your blood – not in your passport…

– Ha ha ha! No, they don’t write that. It’s definitely in the bloodline!

Do you have the set list ready for the festivals?

– No, I have a lot of songs to choose between but I won’t read the list to you. There are so many songs. Where do we begin?!

Sounds like a nice problem though, picking songs?

– It is! It really is. ”Oh, how can we fill this out? Should we play two songs twice?” That we actually did back in the days with Mercyful Fate, at Dynamo Club in Eindhoven. We went out of songs. We had released some demos, which songs would later be on the Melissa album. They wanted more, and we told them that we didn’t have anymore. ”We can play some of the songs again?”

But for Sweden Rock and Hellfest you have the other side of the problem – too many songs.

– Waaaaaaaaay to many! But it is not the last time we will play. But there will be songs that we have never played before. I’m sure of it. There is one song here on the list, I’m starring at it right now, that I am sure that we have never ever played before. An older one, stuff we have not played since Conspiracy. It will be really cool.

Mastodon will be playing at Sweden Rock – I once interviewed their drummer, who had a King Diamond t-shirt. I asked him about it, and he said: ”King Diamond gave me so much as a young teenager, and I want to give him back.”

– Awesome to hear! That is great!

…and then there is sort of a New Wave of Swedish Heavy Metal going on right now, and they are all mentioning Mercyful Fate as their biggest inspiration.

– I know about… ehhh… It’s great to hear! It’s an honor to be mentioned… I had the same thing for me. People ask me what made me want to start playing, and I say it was the guitar sound from Jimmy Page on the first… the second album. When I heard that, I had to get a guitar. So I saved allowance for a long time, many years, and I was so inexperienced, that when I finally bought one, I did not understand why I did not get any sound. What was wrong? Then someone told me I had to have an amp and speakers and stuff. Ha ha! I was just a teenager: ”What the hell is this…?” Some person helped me build my first amp and my first stack. Two twelve in each. And that homebuilt amp was silver all over, a red button that turned it on and off, and a black button, and when you pushed that in, it was like…yes! That’s the shit!

– Influence, lyrical or performance or sound, that is cool. Not copying, you want your own style. It’s great that they mention us. Metallica mentions us, Megadeth does it. It is great to meet so many people that tell us what we have meant to them. Certainly not only Mercyful Fate, King Diamond as well, things like, stuff that has helped them in hard times. I hear that all the time. The fans mention that the music ”helped me when I had this horrible experience”, or ”during these hard times”. There was a soldier, he’s wife wrote me and asked if I could sign anything, because our music helped him get better in the hospital. One soldier had his birthday in Afghanistan, and he’s wife asked me to sign something that she sent to him during his birthday there, together with his battalion. It made his birthday better.

Let’s talk about your history – have your record company ever asked you to make a hit?

– They have. A long time ago they asked us, or told us – I hate it when people tell me what to do – back when we were about to do Abigail. They said: ”Hey, you need to do more radio friendly songs, at least three or four.”

– I answered: ”Don’t worry, you don’t have to send anyone up here, we realize that ourselves after the last album. We have about at least three songs like that already, we can do one more, no problem. But of course we did not do any of that. We finished the album and sent it to them. And the same day they received it the boss Cees Wessels was on the phone.

This was Roadrunner?

– Yes. He is a guy I have always had so much respect of. He’s taught me so much. I owe him a lot. Back then he was on the phone and asked: ”Where are those radio friendly songs?” I just mentioned four songs, it did not matter which to me, ”Oh they are Black Horsemen, 7:th Day Of July…” and he said: ”Okay, you got me. The album absolutely works, I just wanted to hear you explain where the hell they were.” But that was the only time, I’ve made sure that the record companies don’t come and say what we should or should not do. ”Then sign another band!” We have full control. And our fans know this and respect this.

– That is why many records [by other bands] have so different styles, a lot of bands are forced to change because the producer is forced to change the band. Often bands do not recognize themselves when they hear the final product. It must suck to go through that. We have been lucky. We have great respect from the record company. They trust us, and do not hear anything until the album is done.

What about within the band – have band members ever told you to do more radio friendly songs?

– No, never. We all play from the heart. It goes for everybody. We play for the songs, not for our egos.

Do you remember the day you tried the falsetto, and it worked? Was it…?

– Yes I remember! It was the first audition for a band called Black Rose. I was in a band called Brainstorm before, but only played guitar. Three musicians were looking for a singer. They had put up a note in a grocery store: ”Band looking for singer.” I had my Gibson guitar and a Marshall amp. So I sneaked in as a singer/guitarist. No, no, no, they did not want any more guitarists. They played Rainbow and Deep Purple. We played Space Truckin’ and I tried to get up there, but I couldn’t, I tried so I screamed. I had no voice when I came home from rehearsal. But my voice could come up there.

– During those rehearsals it started. And during softer places in the song, I could not scream, so I tried something differently, more powerful without screaming. That was how it developed. And then it helped a lot when I realized that, hey, when I sing these parts I really move my stomach muscles differently. And then I realized that the way I move my stomach muscles control, that is how much pressure I put on my vocal chords. Aha – I understood the system.

– If you listen to Black Rose, our own songs, there you can here the beginning of the falsetto. It was during one of the Black Rose’s shows that a fan came forward and said: ”You should do more of those falsetto. It sounds great when you do it.” I had to ask him what he meant by that, because I had never heard that word. Falsetto? ”When you sing high.” Okay, I’ll try.

Please tell me about the famous nun picture…

Ahhh, yeah. I’m kind of feeling my way around her.

Could you tell me the story of how that picture came about?

– It was taken in my apartment. That was a last minute thing. I called her and said, ”Hey, could you come up” I think they actually brought that [nun] dress, Malcolm Dome I think it was, and Ray Palmer, photographer for Kerrang. They came to visit and to do an interview at my haunted apartment in Denmark. And then I called my friend and asked her if she wanted to do a photo session, be a part of it, yeah sure, no problem. We said: ”Okay, cool. Do you mind doing this or that?” Okay. Great. So we got that shot.

– They slept on the floor in my living room, and I slept in my bedroom. The next morning, they spent the night there actually. They had to catch a plane, but in the morning, around nine, Ray Palmer went to the bathroom – and a lot of sick things have happened in that apartment, things you cannot explain, other people have seen and felt things – and he came out, white as a sheet. ”I’m gonna leave for the airport right now.” I said ”No no, we have hours left, you leave at noon.” ”I have to leave now”. I said ”Did something growl at you?” ”How do you know that” – ”It is not the first time. There are things that live here, and you just have to accept and respect that, and then there is no problem.” He said: ”We are leaving now!” He packed his stuff and left, took Malcolm Dome with him. So much happened at that apartment.

So who is living there right now?

– I’m sure they are still there. Living with someone else.

– Last time we were in Copenhagen. My brother took me and my wife there. It felt like in the movie the Exorcist, when the priest is looking up at the light. I felt like that even though it was daylight. I saw the window to the bathroom, where all those things went in and out that way. The next window is the kitchen, where the bottles were taken and moved around in my apartment. It was so weird knowing that all that stuff still probably was there.

– We have some of that even in this house. Not as much. Andy was smacked over the head when he was recording Give me Your Soul here. I had to change one of the lines so that he never forgets it. It is in Black of Night, one of Andy’s songs. It’s a line where I say ”Something hit me on the head.” He was recording and I was watching TV without the sound, he sat there and I thought that he had an electric spike from the earphones. ”No, something hit me in the head.” “Well”, I said, ”then you have to play better.” Hal had the same experience during the recording of the Puppet Master.

– So there are things that happen here. I got a Christmas present – My father-in-law knows that I am interested in the Second World War. My dad was a freedom fighter, he did so much, he was part of the sabotage group during the war. I have his outfit from his Danish brigade. Anyway – I am interested in the Second World War and Livia’s father had found a pair of Nazi boots which he bought from a farmer in a small village next to a village where he has his summerhouse.

– He knew the story, when the Russians came and ”liberated” Hungary, took it over, the Germans tried to get away, to blend in with the population. So this officer went to this farmer to try to get civilian clothes, and the story goes that this farmer killed the German officer. He says: ”No, no, I just got his clothes in exchange.” But the story goes that the officer died in those boots. And now they stand next to my fireplace. I tested them, they fitted perfectly, but there was something weird about them, they have a stamp inside that says ”Made by Dr Klöckner [?]” and when I put them on I felt superior, it’s psychological you know, I almost started ordering around my father-in-law: ”Give me a cup of coffee – now!” Some day I will try to track down the faith of this person, where he was stationed.

– Anyway, when I got these boots, during the night, I heard a gigantic noise in the living room. It was not the cat, I saw the cat, but everything above the fireplace had been taken down, it was a gigantic noise. We thought it was a break in, I got my gun out, I was ready to blow them to hell. Livia’s sister was here, and her parents, spending the Christmas here, I told them to get down, turned on the lights strategically, so that I could see them but they could not see me, but there was no one there! Nothing! It was snow outside, we do get it here you know, and no footprints left. I was shining the light up on the roof. Nothing. I looked in the attic. Nothing. Not a single thing had moved. It was like he had shown his presence here, so, okay.

You got your gun out? You are becoming a true American now?!

– I’ve had it since I came here. A police officer I know in San Antonio got it for me. We went out shooting together. He gave me two Winchester guns as well, they are the most powerful Winchester, kicks like a mule. I have one of the last ones ever made, smaller category. It was one of my big wishes when I got here, a Winchester rifle. My gun is a semi automatic that they have in Los Angeles, the highway patrol. There are actually a lot of policemen and soldiers that are into King Diamond. I have the biggest respect for them as well. As well as hospital staff!

You mentioned smoking earlier. You played with Metallica in 1987 in Gothenburg, my friend met you backstage, and he collected your cigarette butts as a souvenir.

– Wow! Does he still have them?

No, he smoked them as a ritual thing. He was young…

– Ha ha! They are worth a lot now, because there won’t be any more of those. Nope. Never.

That is true. They are long gone.

– I really enjoyed smoking. The taste, the feel, but there is no room for that anymore. It is that simple for me.

It is gone. And your voice is better.

– I mean singing – it was really amazing to feel, moving up and down in different ranges.

You should’ve quit years ago!

– I know. But this is the time in most singers career that if they do sing a lot of high register stuff, they soften a little, and when they play live they detune a little bit. We have never ever done that. But I have heard of other bands doing that. It is a natural thing when the voice gets older. But I’m having the opposite – my voice is better than ever.

– I mean, the results you get, when you get tested by the doctor, to see what your cholesterol is and what’s this and what’s that – those results are mind blowing. And they just get better and better because we keep improving our diet and exercising, finding more new things that are even healthier. And I’m not sacrificing anything. And the smoking, my wife also used to smoke, we both stopped, cold turkey. I’m not even missing the smoking, I used to long for a certain cigarette – it’s not there anymore. I don’t care. If I ever want to smoke, I trick my mind: There is no thing called a cigarette. Just like there is no car that can drive you around town on its own. It does not exist. Forget dreaming about it.

And now – do you appreciate life and the so-called little things?

– I have a lot of stories to tell you that happened after the surgery. I’ve not changed as a person. But now I suddenly can smell nature. I pay more attention. And I do not take anything for granted. Yes, I appreciate life more, it is a bit different, but it is not a personality change.

– I was out of the hospital after ten days. My wife had to help me out of the chair and change all bandages. For two weeks I had to sleep in a chair. But the doctors told me I had to walk: “After the second week, we want you to walk a mile.” Seriously? ”Yeah!” Ten days after, I was outside walking. I even walked during the stay at the hospital. I slept one hour, had a nightmare, than I went up walking. Just like the lyrics from the Graveyard. From one nurse station to the next: ”Oh, Mr. Petersen you must sleep, not walking.

– One strange thing at the beginning, it happens even today but is much more rare, I would literally ask my wife: “Do you see me? Can you feel when I do this?” I had serious doubts if I was here in another form. During the operation I died for a little over five hours. And then you are not in this world. Did I bring something back? I had these thoughts, and they come and go. I felt that, wow, I could seriously not be here.

I’m curious, how often do you speak to Anders Allhage?

– Several times a week! We are on Skype constantly, meeting, things for the show, decisions for what we should buy, working with actors, to find the right outfits, we talk a lot. It never stops!

In English or Scandinavian?

– He speaks Swedish and I speak Danish.

I’ve made bad research – I do not know where from you got ”king diamond”.

– Well, neither do I. You are not alone! I honsetly do not remember how I came up with that name. It was during the time with Brainstorm, around -76, -77, and the reason was that we felt that we were such great musicians and would become huge stars in no time. We were confident. So we needed artist names otherwise they could not pronounce our Danish names in the US or England or other countries. Our drummer named himself Jesse James. Kim Bendix Petersen? I became King Diamond and I have no clue why or how. I keep saying that it is because diamonds last forever. And I’m still here.

Who created the King Diamond logo with the bat?

– I came up with that, I draw it on a piece of paper, I have it somewhere here, I draw it with a ballpoint pen. So it is actually blue on a white piece of paper that has all these squares on it. They had to get the squares away later when they copied the logo, they cleaned it. And the bat, well, it fits: bats, Dracula, darkness.

Abigail was inspired by a photograph of a grave, is that true?

– Yeah, you might say that. There was a girl from Seattle who sent me some photos. The date was on there, the 7th day of July 1777.

Have you ever visited this tombstone?

– No. I think it was two different tombstones. The date was on another tombstone. The thing that was so weird was that it came back to nine. The 7th day, that is one seven. July is the second seven. 1777, there you have five sevens altogether. That adds up to 35. Plus 1 [as in 1777]. That is 35 + 1, that is 36. Three and six that is nine. It all comes back full circle. That was the reason to have that, cause later in the album ”eighteen is actually nine” you know. But the name, Abigail, wow, once I saw that on the tombstone I fell for it.

Yes, I’ve read that your fans name their daughters Abigail.

– Yes! That journalist from Sweden Rock Magazine, his daughter’s middle name is Abigail.

I guess all journalists that speak to you have been fans for a long time. And they all say, ”it has been an honor to speak to you” – and they mean it.

– It is always nice. It is also cool because we talk about other things. It’s not only one question, one answer, next question, next answer.

Well, welcome to Europe and the festivals, it has been an honor to speak to you. Truly! Have a nice evening!

– It’s been my pleasure. Have a nice evening you too. Bye bye!

Gästskribent: ”Mörkret från Aston ritade om rockkartan för alltid”

1 juni, 2012

Bara Metal har funnits i två år – på den tiden har Lulu chockat oss, Gojira skjutit upp sin Sea Shepherd-platta 12 månader, Big 4 spelat i Sverige och massa fantastisk musik sett dagens ljus. Bloggen firar genom att låta andra komma till tals. Inläggets gästskribent: Frilansjournalist Rickard Jakbo, som berättar om mörkret från Aston som för alltid ritade om rockkartan – en hyllning till de som ska hyllas:

En döende knarkare.  En deprimerad paranoid person. En man utan talförmåga som försöker varna för en annalkande katastrof. Persongalleriet i låtarna på Black Sabbaths andra album Paranoid gick rakt in i dåtidens manliga tonårshjärtan. Bandet ritade om den kommersiella rockkartan för alltid genom att locka en stor och ung publik, oftast från arbetarklassen. Det var en reaktion som hämtade näring ur bandmedlemmarnas liv och bakgrund, inte minst Ozzys.

Den blivande rockstjärnan hade 1966 dömts för inbrott och hamnat i fängelse eftersom hans pappa hade vägrat att betala böterna. Ett kort tag efter att Ozzy muckat upptäckte han till sin stora besvikelse att både radion och pubarna i Birmingham hade börjat spela hippielåtar. Överallt kvittrade idioter om blommor i håret överallt, muttrade 18-åringen, som inte alls kände sig som en del av The Summer of Love. Under skolåren hade han tvingats kryssa mellan mobbare och ungdomsgäng i ökända stadsdelen Aston, där han växt upp med de andra gruppmedlemmarna. Han hade ofta somnat till de bråkande föräldrarnas skrik och avskydde skolan eftersom han hade dyslexi och det som senare döptes till ADHD. Framtiden innebar att ”jobba i fabrik och sakta ta livet av sig med nattskiften vid ett löpande band”, som Ozzy säger i sin självbiografi.

Med den bakgrunden var det alltså inte konstigt att han ett par år senare nappade på gitarristen Tony Iommis idé: att sjunga läskiga texter i stället för att fortsätta med de jazziga bluescovers de brukade spela. Iommi hade ända sedan tiden i den ”eländiga skola” han och Ozzy gick i varit en typisk ledare. Då lutade han sig på kunskaper i boxning och kampsport, nu kom hans auktoritet av målmedvetenhet och disciplin. Även den idogt läsande basisten Geezer Butler och den genomsnälle trummisen Bill Ward tog till sig idén.

Till saken hör att bandet hade upptäckt att köerna till de lokala biograferna ringlade långa då skräckfilmer stod på repertoaren. En mörkare inriktning skulle också passa deras andra ambition: att bli tyngre och spela ännu mer distat än de hårt rockande Birminghamkollegerna Led Zeppelin.

Av böckerna om Black Sabbath att döma verkade de fyra medlemmarna komplettera varandra på ett utmärkt sätt.  Ibland växte låtarna fram kollektivt genom att Ozzy improviserade fram en vokal melodi till Iommis riff. Teman och ord som ”Iron Man” och ”Black Sabbath” från den brainstormande Ozzy fångades upp och knådades till en story av basisten Butler. Texterna var eskapistiska eller beskrivningar av verklighetens olidliga dysterhet. Flertalet låtar handlade om yttre och inre konflikter. ”Det är bara en observation av samhället. Jag predikar inte och försöker inte komma med några svar”, sa Butler till en början. (En linje som dock bröts i till exempel antikrigssången War Pigs).

Det var oftast inga muntra observationer: världsliga och metafysiska helveten, djävulen, krig, apokalyps, droger och väldigt ofta psykisk ohälsa, ämnen som i varierande grad präglar metalscenen än i dag. Men trots svärtan har det alltid funnits en känsla av styrka och revansch i såväl bandets musik som den musikstil de format, mycket tack vare den kraftfulla sången. Ozzy låter sina bästa stunder lika okuvad och upprorisk som plågad och Geezer Butler skrev in rader av hopp i flera av låtarna. Bra terapi för bandet och lyssnarna, konstaterade den unge Ozzy. En teater- och filmvetare skulle nog kalla upplevelsen katharsisk. Geezer Butler var inne på den linjen i en tidig intervju: ”Vi försöker att lindra spänningen i de människor som lyssnar på oss. Att få allt ur deras kroppar – det onda och allt”.

I cirka tio år höll grunduppsättningen innan den föll ihop under trycket av alkohol, depressioner och personliga konflikter 1978.

Nu har samtliga Aston-killar utom Bill Ward återförenats igen. Cancer och åldrande (och kanske pengar) gör att bandets framtid är oviss. Men oavsett om det är Black Sabbaths sista dödssuck som ljuder över Donington Park i juni kommer det i alla fall att bli en kraftfull och vida bejublad suck. För till skillnad från 1970 är metal större och starkare än någonsin. Fanbasen har breddats klass- ålders- och könsmässigt över så gott som hela världen. Motståndet från den etablerade kritikerkåren har nästan helt dött ut. Dödsmetallare, blackmetalfans, åldrande hårdrockare och pudelfriserade glammetalrockare tar alla av sig jeansjackorna (eller kavajerna) i respekt för gudfäderna. Det spelar mindre roll att det var länge sedan Ozzy sjöng lika demoniskt som hoppfullt på en scen. Drygt 40 år efter reaktionen mot hippieoptimismen vill många ändå höra originalet, som mer eller mindre omedvetet slog an en renande sträng i den moderna världens tonårssjäl.

För när livet är svårförståeligt och under förändring, vilket det oftast är, står den goda konsten högt i kurs.

Rickard Jakbo

Texten bygger på bland annat följande böcker om Black Sabbath:

Iron Man, Tony Iommi (självbiografi 2011)
Jag är Ozzy, Ozzy Osbourne (självbiografi 2009)
Black Sabbath –Doom let Loose, Martin Popoff (2006)
Into the void: Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath – artiklar i urval 1970 – 2002, red: Barney Hoskyns (2004)
How black was our Sabbath?, David Tangye and Graham Wright, (2004)

Gästskribent: ”Dags att återupptäcka osminkade Kiss” Del II

21 maj, 2012

Bara Metal har funnits i två år – på den tiden har Lulu chockat oss, Gojira skjutit upp sin Sea Shepherd-platta 12 månader, Big 4 spelat i Sverige och massa fantastisk musik sett dagens ljus. Bloggen kalasar genom att låta andra komma till tals. Inläggets gästskribent: Seance, som ger oss en professionell (och humoristisk) guidad tur genom Kiss osminkade historia – del II.

”They try to tell us we don’t belong, that’s alright, we’re millions strong, This is my music, it makes me proud, these are my people and this is my crowd.” Så öppnas KISS Crazy Nights-album med låten som blev en megahit i England. Makalösa I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You följer där Paul Stanley sjunger starkt och passionerat.

Innan vi kliver på minan No No No, låttiteln borde varit producentens svar när de tog med denna låt på albumet och ratade fenomenala Sword and Stone. Bon Fire gjorde en cover på låten (till filmen Shocker) likaså Loverboys Paul Dean. Paul Stanley pressar rösten i smittande My Way, powerballaden Reason To Live som gjorde Gene Simmons stum i telefonen första gången Paul spelade upp den. Crazy Nights når klimax i Turn On the Night.

Albumet Hot In The Shade från 1989 lider av den undermåliga produktionen och alldeles för många låtar, hela 15 stycken, där en del inte håller klass. Som ett trotsigt barn springer Eric Carr ut ur en intervju när Paul och Gene berättar att det är tveksamt ifall hans låt Little Caesar kommer med på albumet.

Tyvärr viker sig Gene och Paul och tar med denna styggelse till låt på albumet. Men bland alla dessa låtar hittar man skatter som bland andra fantastiska King of Hearts, megaballadhiten Forever och Hide Your Heart som Robin Beck, Molly Hatchet, Bonnie Tyler och Ace Frehley gjort cover på.

REVENGE: ”I was there through the ages, Chained slaves to their cages, I have seen you eat your own!” knockar Gene dig med i det brutala öppningsspåret Unholy som följs upp av tuffa Take It Off innehållande en brygga med snygga körstämmor. Grooviga Though Love tar över, i God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II delar Gene och Paul på sången som blev en topp-tio-hit i England och Tyskland.

Revenge är ett av KISS mest helgjutna album som avslutas med Carr Jam 1981 en sann tribut till en fallen hjälte (Eric Carr dog i cancer under inspelningarna).

KISS Alive III är ett enastående livealbum som kommit i skymundan. Det är det perfekta albumet för KISS-novisen. Från den mäktiga öppningen med låten Creatures of the Night, där de briserande bomberna får ditt högtalarmembran att be om nåd, till elaka tunga Watchin’ You och avslutande Star Spangled Banner blandar ett KISS i musikalisk högform låtar från hela sin karriär.

Gillar man inte KISS Alive III gillar man inte musik.

Seance blogg hittar du här.

DEL I HITTAR DU HÄR

Gästskribent: ”Dags att återupptäcka osminkade Kiss” Del I

16 maj, 2012

Bara Metal har funnits i två år – på den tiden har Lulu chockat oss, Gojira skjutit upp sin Sea Shepherd-platta 12 månader, Big 4 spelat i Sverige och massa fantastisk musik sett dagens ljus. Bloggen kalasar genom att låta andra komma till tals. Inläggets gästskribent: Seance, som ger oss en professionell (och humoristisk) guidad tur genom Kiss osminkade historia.

I dagens KISStorik hafsas KISS osminkade era oftast igenom snabbt.  Nu är det dags för dig att upptäcka eller återupptäcka denna i mångas ögon ganska bortglömda period.

KISS producerade fantastiska låtar under den osminkade eran. Många har missbedömt denna era genom att bara lyssna på hitsen från albumen som kom under den perioden och hitsen är inte alltid är helt representativa hur resten av materialet på albumen låter.

Efter Creatures of the Night (ett måste i alla skivsamlingar och ett utmärkt vapen när du krigar med dina grannars dåliga musiksmak, trummorna i I Love It Loud brer ut som om ett ogenomträngligt ljudtäcke över grannskapet) var det dags att återvända till studion. Trots Creatures of the Nights briljans hade albumet just då inte sålt så bra som önskat. Skulle KISS nu lägga sitt sista trumfkort? Sminka av sig och avslöja sina identiteter? (Ingen på den tiden visste vilka identiteter medlemmarna i KISS hade eller hur de såg ut utan smink).

Den 18 september 1983 på MTV var det dags för världen att för första gången se KISS-medlemmarna utan smink. Paul Stanley fann sig snabbt tillrätta i det nya osminkade KISS, likaså Eric Carr. Gene Simmons hade svårt att hitta rätt image och som han själv säger såg han ut som någonting han förmodligen själv skulle ha satt på, speciellt under Asylum-perioden. Det tog ända till Revenge innan Gene riktigt hittade hem imagemässigt men i gengäld gjorde han det med besked då han såg grymmast ut av alla. Att Vinnie Vincent inte passade in imagemässigt i det osminkade KISS blev alldeles uppenbart när man såg videona till Lick It Up och All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose. Han såg ut som en hen bredvid karlakarlarna Gene och Paul.

Lick It Up är något av en systerskiva till Creatures of the Night med samma producent och liknande ljudbild. ”Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it, There ain’t a reason on earth to waste it, It ain’t a crime to be good to yourself” mässade partytitelspåret.

Men albumet öppnar med hårda och snabba Exciter (en låt som gör att du lätt blir tung i högerfoten under bilkörning) som följs av tunga maniska Not For the Innocent – ”Hey Man, I am Cool, I am the breeze” pratsjunger Paul Stanley i början på All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose i den fantastiska halvballaden A Million To One sjunger en smäd Paul med en innerlig känsla. I avslutande tunga And On The 8th Day skrovlar en Gene i högform. Du kan också be cool and the breeze, bara lätta på lädret och inhandla remastrade Lick It Up för det facila priset 49kr.

Hen (Vinnie Vincent) fick något egobryt och avpolleterades och gitarrfantomen Mark St John rekryterades samt briljerade med sitt smakfulla gitarrspel på Animalize som öppnar stenhårt med I’ve had enough (Into the Fire) (låten som spelas när du kör ifrån polisen). Megahiten Heaven’s On Fire följer, Under the Gun drar upp tempot igen och i Thrills In the Night tar passionen över.

Tyvärr tvingades Mark St John lämna gruppen sedan han ådrog sig Reiters syndrom och mannen som föddes utan karisma – Bruce Kulick – rekryterades.  Klarar din psykiska hälsa av det fruktansvärt hiskligt fula Asylum-omslaget kan du hitta låtskatter som inledande King of the Mountain där Eric Carr får glänsa, i denna suveräna albumöppnare. Missa inte heller suggestiva Who Wants To Be Lonley och Tears Are Falling.

Seance blogg hittar du här.

FORTSÄTTNING HITTAR DU HÄR

Om det inte var för att Geezer fick syn på en filmplansch

9 maj, 2012

Tack Geezer! Tack Mario Bava!

Bortglömd dödsmetal hittad i mytomspunnen skivsamling

3 maj, 2012

I ett pågående mastodont-kulturprojekt läggs nu  legendariske radiosnubben John Peels skivsamling ut virtuellt bokstav för bokstav på nätet – bokstaven A just nu, som kompletteras med arkiv B nästa vecka och så vidare. Skön underhållning. Ni hittar samlingen här.

John Peel (1939-2004) var en radioman i England, anställd av BBC, känd för att gilla all typ av musik och för att spela in sina Peel Sessions med många kända (och på den tiden okända) band, så som Napalm Death.

Så till samlingen: Nej, du hittar inte Accept när du fingrar igenom bokstaven A. Däremot thrasharna Acid Reigns ep Moshkinstein och, något mer överraskande, mindre kända Accidental Suicide och deras enda album som kom ut 1992 – Deceased.

Accidental Suicide gjorde alltså bara ett album och försvann sedan. Sångaren Ed Jackson jobbar numer som tatuerare, och att döma av hans hemsida så var det han som ritade omslaget till Deceased. Deras dödsmetall är egentligen för bra för att leva ett obskyrt liv som en udda fågel och raritet, och förhoppningsvis kan John Peel ge bandet en andra våg.

Brittiska thrashmetaltomtarna Acid Reign är betydligt mer kända i Sverige. Bandet spelade förband till Nuclear Assault och Dark Angel på Kåren i Göteborg november 1989. Jag var där, men kan inte påstå att jag minns deras spelning för en enda sekund. Motherly Love är dock en bra låt.

Bröderna Hårdrock heter inte längre Bröderna Hårdrock

27 april, 2012

För något år sedan skrev Expressen om kommande Ulf Malmros-filmen Bröderna Hårdrock [Vinn filmen på dvd här], och schismen som då uppstått med Nifelheim-bröderna eftersom namnet så uppenbart är snott från dem.

– Vi kontaktade dem tidigt, men de ville inte ha nåt med oss att göra. De är sura på oss. Men vi har bara lånat namnet, och det är inget skyddat namn, [säger Malmros]
– Man kunde tro att de skulle tycka att det var roligt att vi har inspirerats av dem, men de är inte så pigga på den här grejen, säger Malmros. (hämtat från Expressen)

Men när man numer går in på Svensk Filmdatabas, så har filmen bytt namn:

Ny titel är alltså Mammas Pojkar. Så har den tydligen hetat sedan februari. 1-0 till Nifelheim med andra ord.

Fast man av ordning känner att det ändå ringer en liten hårdrocksklocka nånstans – Mammas pojkar? Är inte det en rak översättning av ett band som hette så?

Jorå. Mama’s Boys från Nordirland. Bandet bildades 1978, och existerade parallellt med NWOBHM. Lär ha turnerat med Ratt och lyckades bland annat göra en cover på samma låt som Quiet Riot lite senare gjorde en cover på – Mama Weer All Crazee Now.

Så för att slippa bråk med Mama’s Boys över att filmen Mammas Pojkar heter Mama’s Boys internationellt, så döpte man den i alla fall till Bröderna Hårdrock, fast på engelska: Metal Brothers. Vilket på svenska blir Mammas pojkar, kanske inspirerat av Mama’s Boys. Känns snurrigt.

Vi måste snacka Michael Bolton – och Black Sabbath

23 april, 2012

Vi måste snacka Michael Bolton. Mest för att han kunde ha ändrat metal-historien helt och hållet om Tony Iommi och Geezer Butler hade gett honom tummen upp efter hans audition – runt 1982 efter att Ronnie James Dio stack:

”Vi fick miljontals av kassetter skickade till oss från olika sångare och de flesta av dem var hemska. En av dem kom från Michael Bolton. Jag kände inte till honom på den den tiden. Vi lät honom dyka upp och lät honom sjunga på Heaven and Hell, War Pigs och Neon Knights. Han var ganska bra, men inte exakt vad vi letade efter just då. Där sket vi verkligen i det blå skåpet, eller hur? Michael Bolton! Minst sagt ett stort misstag.” (Ur Iron Man av Tony Iommi)

Ja, shit. Kanske, kanske hade detta åtminstone inneburit en stabilare line-up under åttiotalet för Iommi och Butler? Å andra sidan är Michael Bolton låtskrivare, och hade knappast nöjt sig med att lämna över all komposition till Tony Iommi.

I alla fall – Michael Bolton hade vid detta tillfälle redan gett ut två soloalbum på sjuttiotalet, bildat gruppen Blackjack ihop med Bruce Kulick (se bild) och med Blackjack spelat förband till Ozzy Osbourne.

Så han fick nej från Tony Iommi, fick istället snabbt eget skivkontrakt och släppte först självbetitlade albumet Michael Bolton (1983) och sedan Everybody’s Crazy (1985). Och här kommer tidningen OKEJ in, som intervjuade honom i Los Angeles under PR-turnén till andra albumet:

”Du skriver olika stilar, vad föredrar du själv?

– Jag är tudelad, det finns några stycken av mig, säger Michael med ett skratt. Jag skulle kunna göra ett rent heavy metal-album om jag ville, men jag vill inte. . . . Jag vill ha sånger med tyngd och melodi.”

Ett rent heavy metal-album? Ni förstår varför vi måste snacka Michael Bolton! Så Black Sabbath gick vidare med först Ian Gillan, sedan Glenn Hughes, och vidare till Tony Martin – varav Tony Martin är den bäste av dessa tre. Jag menar – Ian Gillan lärde sig aldrig ens texterna på Ozzy- och Dio-låtarna.

Michael Bolton turnerade med Bruce Kulick, men förlorade honom till Kiss, värvade Al Pitrelli – som varit en hired gun hela sitt liv, bland annat senare i Megadeth. Men innan Michael Boltons gitarrist blev en del av thrash metal, skrev Michael Bolton den här hemska låten till sina polare i Kiss. Och tänk nu detta – tänk om det hade varit ett smörigt Black Sabbath istället.

Ibland måste man snacka Michael Bolton. Och nej, Tony Iommi, jag tycker nog inte att det var ett misstag. Men det kanske hade varit lika rolig clash som detta?

Nionde kärleksdrycken – Tygers of Pan Tang vs. Ronnie J Dio

19 april, 2012

Idag är det exakt femtio dagar tills Tygers of Pan Tang står på Sweden Rocks scen, och jag sitter själv och skriver en kort biografi över bandet till en svensk tidning.

I all research för en sån text slås jag av en lustig historisk twist: runt 1959 skrev Jerry Leiber och Mike Stoller låten Love Potion no. 9, som (tyvärr) blev Tygers of Pan Tangs största hit 23 år senare. Det är en ganska fjantig sång för att komma från ett NWOBHM-band.

I alla fall – enligt flera rykten på nätet skulle Ronnie Dio and The Prophets ha spelat in samma låt redan 1964. I en tämligen tradig version, men förmodligen ganska tidsenlig.

Det mest sorgliga i detta är ändå att samma år som Love Potion no. 9 blir en hit, tillfrågas Black Sabbaths sångare Ronnie James Dio – av Black Sabbaths skivbolag (!) – om han vill släppa ett soloalbum. Ja visst!

Så medan den ene love potion-snubben är hetare än någonsin på väg att för alltid skriva in sig i metalhistorien med sitt första album Holy Diver, är de andra Love Potion-snubbarna – trots (eller på grund av) sin stora hit – på väg ut i periferin och totalt askalla.

Så kan det gå i musikvärlden. Fråga Anvil.