Cult German purveyors of heavy metal Sacred Steel are returning after four year break with their new long player The Bloodshed Summoning where they have thrashied out their tried and true attack a little bit. Their charismatic vocalist Gerrit Mutz is here with us to share some info about the news from the world of Sacred Steel…
Hails Sacred Steel and welcome back on true metal scene! First logical question – what took you guys so long? Your previous album came out in 2009…
Hi there! That is true. It took us quite a while to get that beast released but, well, we are a hobby band and not a professional band living off playing music. Not at all. We have never retired or turned our back on the metal scene though. We are still playing as much shows on the weekends as possible and we are constantly rehearsing. It is just that we all have very demanding jobs and families and other hobbies, so that Sacred Steel is a much cherished hobby of all of us but in no way something that we can concentrate on 24/7, you know. So, yeah, it can take a while until we finally release something but nobody really can complain that with an overlong album like the new one the wait was not worth it.
New album and new label, so please tell us how did you come in contact with Cruz Del Sur and how are you satisfied with their work so far?
So far the partnership with Enrico and SS looks like becoming a winning team! We are just at the start though, so it is too early to look back and judge the relationship already. The contract he offered just was so fair and nice that it would have been idiotic to not sign it! I mean, we are not a successful band when it comes to record sales and we do not play music that is the flavor of the month anymore so it took some courage to sign us. Enrico had these balls and we are thankful for that. I do not really recall if he contacted us first or if we contacted him, because I am not involved in these kinds of talks, that is something our drummer and manager Matze handles to our complete satisfaction. It does not matter at all anyway. It just matters that the deal happened and that it all looks good from the start for both, the band and the label.
Your new album The Bloodshed Summoning is blasting from my speakers as I type this, how are you satisfied with its final outcome from this perspective?
Right now I am extremely satisfied with the outcome of the record! It sounds raw, unpolished, in your face, aggressive and definitely not like the typical faceless studio product that is so easy to create nowadays. It has its edges and its slight mistakes. But that makes it a breathing and living entity. Not some sterile work of cold perfection. We were striving for a natural production that gives the music air and does not sound like the studio but like the band in the raw. I think that we managed to do that.
The Bloodshed Summoning is tried and true metal in Sacred Steel way but I just notice that you guys are more thrashy this time around, please comment on this and tell us something about the musical influences on this release.
This may have happened because we recorded in the ice cold winter of Poland, haha. The weather just made as feel a bit more depressed and angry. So maybe we channeled this aggression and brought it to life in the songs. We never have a master plan which says that we have to sound like this or that or that says that we have to incorporate these or that influences. It all comes out natural, not forced or planned at all. It is not a secret though that we listen to anything from the most morose and slow doom metal to the most frantic thrash or death metal, so one may find traces of our tastes in these songs for sure. But we never strive to copy anything or to be like somebody else, we just try to sound like we sound in the rehearsal room, just better recorded, of course.
One of the trademarks of Sacred Steel are vocals of Gerrit which really separate the people, I know that some really do not like his delivery. How do you view his style?
Well, it is me, Gerrit, answering this and I can only tell how I view this: to me vocals are THE factor that gives a band its distinctive style and that separates it from other bands playing a similar music. Of course this also makes the vocals the factor that parts the people who dig it from those who cannot stand it or even hate it. That is just normal. There are tons of bands out there that I cannot stand because of the vocal delivery. As a reaction I just ignore them. It is just a matter of taste, nothing more. BUT, if all vocalists out there would sound the same…clean, polished, professional, whatever…wouldnґt that be totally boring? My style is really extreme and only few people like it. I cannot even say that I can listen to my voice everyday and like it always. But it is the only voice I have and I just cannot tune it down, like a guitarist would or beat it harder, like a drummer. It is the way it is, take it like this or listen to something else.
Front cover for The Bloodshed Summoning is really interesting and cool, quite comic book style. Please tell us something about that.
I have seen a photo depicting a similar scene on the backside of some American fanzine called Chips n Beer. It was an add from a record label, Ajna, I think. I loved that picture immediately so I checked the bible quote that came along with that picture and found that weird story about that insane church where they took passages of the bible literally and wielded snakes to prove their faith. Of course they all got bitten to death which proved that their faith was not strong enough, haha. Very funny! This is just a strange but real tale that was just fitting to portray it in a pulp comic style. You cannot treat stuff like this serious, can you? I am an atheist and I can not get myself into believing in any god and I sure cannot understand people why believe in imaginary friends. To me that is just insanity. A sickness of the brain. And like any sickness that endangers the mental health it should be tried to be conquered.
You have covered Misfits classic Dig Up Her Bones as bonus track, it seems to me that you really love to do cover tracks. How do you choose which hymn you will cover, will we ever see full cover album by Sacred Steel?
Any band loves to do cover tracks, I guess. It is just good fun! You can just play what is already been tried and tested and you do not need any more own ideas, haha. It is always really funny to play a cover tune live, especially when the audience knows the song and loves it! We have played that Misfits song many times now and it always was a blast! Some years ago we thought about doing a full cover album but in the end we realized that the work we would have to put into that would surely not pay off. We could maybe put it out as a free giveaway to a regular album but then the costs to produce a cover album to just give it away for free would be way too high for a small band like us. If we would be as big as, say, Kreator or something we sure would have done that in the past. So, we just keep it like we do it now, to include a nice cover here or there. To choose what song we will cover always depends on what we 5 guys can agree upon. Misfits were something that Matze always wanted to do because he was sure it would work. We other were skeptical, even though we all love those records with Michael Graves on the vocals. In the end we tried it to do Matze a favor and we all were surprised how well it worked out.
I would also like to know what is happening with Angel Of Damnation, is some new stuff in the works?
I have no idea really! It is more a project than a band even though we will at least play live for the first time this year, at some festival in Denmark in summer. It all depends on if Daniel, the songwriter, will come up with another bunch of doom songs. He is mainly playing with Nocturnal, and he is involved in countless other bands so I cannot say if he has already written new stuff. I would love to do another AOD album because I liked doing the first one very much!
Sacred Steel started out on big label in great time for heavy metal when the outbreak of Hammerfall happened yet you guys never became commercially big, how do you explain that?
We started BEFORE Hammerfall became big! It was just a big coincidence that we have released our debut album this kind of music was the flavor of the month, or so. We were pretty successful with our first 3 records but then we decided to become more thrashy and death metal influenced, way less memorable and definitely more uncommercal. So, yeah, we did dig our own grave and we were and are still happy with that decision. We never wanted to be rockstars or live from doing this kind of music. We are metal fans in the first and we never wanted to become toy dolls of the music business or clowns to feed the masses. We wanted to stay loyal and true to ourselves so we took the hard road to maintain own identity and character instead of more record sales and more groupies.
How do you recall your gig in Serbia? Small crowd but full of passionate maniacs!
That is the most important thing anyway!! Passionate maniacs!! We have played our best show ever to a crowd of less than 20 people somewhere in Holland…that says it all. A good gig is always the one where the crowd is TOTALLY into the music, no matter how many people there are. We played shows to thousands of people that were not half as good as the one in Serbia e.g. To us it just was fantastic to play in Serbia at all! We love playing places where we have never been before. It is always a big adventure and some experience you cannot buy.
While we are at it, are you planning some tours to promote The Bloodshed Summoning, where can we expect to see you in the next few months?
We are planning to play as many weekend shows as our jobs and time schedules allow. We sure wont be able to play a full scale tour. No way. It is just not possible for a hobby band. We need to fill our fridges and pay our rent. We cannot lose money by playing tours that cost us money. But, again, whatever we can do we will do! As long as it does not cost us money anymore. We have spent tons of money over the past nearly 20 years to keep this band going and we are at a point where we are not willing to put more into it than we will get back. We all need to think of our families first.
That would be all for this time, I would like to wish you all the best! Your last words to fans over here…
Thanks for the support! Much, much appreciated!! We would love to play Serbia once again sometimes, if possible and affordable. Stay heavy and up the hammers! Cheers & all my metal best, Gerrit.
Answers by Gerrit Mutz
Interview was done by Slobodan trifunovic