Atrocity – Deep in the Subconscious

Sunday, 16th June 2013

New death metal bands want to sound like old death metal bands, while old death metal bands want to sound new, or fresh, for that matter. It’s what happens when things come full-circle, like they have the last few years – being vintage and/or retro is somehow cool, while having an iota of individuality is somehow, not. Strange world in which we live. On the surface, this might appear to be an issue for German death metal forerunners Atrocity, who were crucial architects in the scene’s development, but talking to singer/founding member Alexander Krull and guitarist Thorsten “Tosso” Bauer, the onus on actually building on their previous works seems to still be the point of focus. Enter this year’s Okkult.

“If the music and the songs are great, I like it of course (laughs],” begins the affable Krull when asked about his feelings on the current retro death metal movement. “It’s fascinating, though, how young bands go back to the death metal roots. I also met more and more musicians who tell me that they were influenced by Atrocity and listened to us from the start. From tech death metal bands to bands like Slipknot or Dimmu Borgir, which is a big honor of course. I guess many people have the opinion you never can beat all the death metal classics from the golden era of the past, right? That’s actually another reason why we don’t even try to copy any of our old records.”

Okkult blends their brutal death metal punch with industrial and Goth metal alignments. Numbers like “Pandaemonium,” “Murder Blood Assassination” and “When Empires Fall to Dust” top off as the sort of multi-faceted cuts that have always kept Atrocity out of the regular ‘ole death metal box. “On Okkult” there are some elements in which can also be found on the first two Atrocity albums from the 90s,” notes Tosso. “But all in all the intention was to make lyrics, artwork and music fit together very well…to obtain this kind of ‘okkult sound.’ Moreover, it is a question about a basic band concept. There are bands being very happy doing the same music for decades. I don’t think that’s the concept of Atrocity.”

Conceptually speaking, Okkult is part of a trilogy that began with 2004’s Atlantis album. Stories range from the occult (duh), and various conspiracies dating to the 17th century that have yet to be solved. The story of La Voisine proved to be of particular interest for the band, a story about the witch Catherine Monvoisn who worked in tandem with a French priest in the black arts doing the dastardly deeds of killing invents and poisoning the townspeople. She would eventually work her way up the royal ranks, going as far to poison King Ludwig, only to be arrested when a member of nobility died due to poisoning.

“She was sentenced to death at the end in the “Affaire des Poisins,” relays Krull. “La Voisine was executed. Later, they found the remains of 2,500 infants in her backyard of her house, and so after La Voisine’s death, the entire extent of her cruel deeds obvious. The paradox of the story: It turned out that the young woman died of natural causes and she was not poisoned as many other nobles.”

Aside from the detailed storylines that accompany Okkult, Atrocity is engaging their fans in a unique method of finding bonus tracks via the Internet. Those looking to buy Okkult can take part in a treasure on the band’s home site, where they will search for missing tracks that the band has promised to not even be in possession of. Krull expands:

“Indeed, we wanted to make something really special for our fans, and not the usual way of releasing a new album. So there will be no conventional bonus tracks on the Okkult albums! For the respective Okkult albums, we will hide one song on an “occult sitem” which is the “missing track” to each album. For the first Okkult record that certain place will be in Europe. All original recording tracks and mixes of these songs will be destroyed by our own hands, that also means we as a band will also not be able to listen to these songs until they are found. They are in the truest sense of the word: Unique. So you can be part of the first metal treasure hunt ever! The digipak LTD version will have a great artwork and also contains the hidden code and first evidences for the treasure hunt! You need to identify the code of the hidden numbers to get a password. Actually, this is the name of the hidden song!”

The prospect of a treasure hunt for bonus tracks is yet another way to combat dwindling physical product sales. For a band that came up through the 90’s when CDs were flying out the door on both sides of the band, this shift in consumerism is one that has to be taken head-on.

“The internet, the way how people consume music really affects the whole music industry and also the way people conceive music in general nowadays,” admits Krull. “If people don’t want to pay for the music they love, bands won’t be able to make good productions anymore. As I work as a music producer at Mastersound Studio I see the big dilemma of the bands today – everybody wants to have the biggest production but can’t effort it anymore. The treasure hunt is actually a way to show the value of music to people, too. Although we give away the song for free, you really have to stand up and do something to get it.”

At press time, Atrocity were still weighing summer and fall tour offers, yet the duo of Krull and Tosso seem to be on the same page that Okkult is their best work in years, something we can agree with. And in a tough marketplace full of second-rate imitators, the fact Atrocity continues to forge their own path is more than enough incentive for the band to carry on.

“All these different facets and evolvements of our band have never been planned or decided rationally,” closes Tosso. “They happen because of our love to and passion for music and the will to push the boundaries…to move in exciting and new musical territories. We always took a high risk with these musical adventures and made it difficult for the press to categorize the band. But it’s not our intention to be categorized…we wanna play the music that we feel, instead if bringing the same kind of albums on the market over and over again.”

Atrocity official site