Torian – Thunderous StormsMonday, 7th January 2019
Power metal from Germany tends to conjure up images of pumpkins, twin guitar harmonies, speedy double bass and vocal melodies that ring out from the rooftops in angelic, choir-like atmosphere. During the 1980’s, Helloween became the breakout fixture, and you have other offshoots that have made in roads to a certain degree of success (Rage, Freedom Call, Orden Ogan, Powerwolf, etc.). Then you have bands like Torian – who embrace an outlook that encompasses North American power and thrash aspects along with their European heritage. Their fourth album God of Storms contains so many hooks and melodies that the record is tailor made for studio to stage enjoyment.
Reaching out to main songwriter/ guitarist Carl Delius, the enthusiasm bursts through our Skype chat. Prepare to learn a little more about the man’s musical development from adolescence to picking up a guitar, thoughts on working with Seeb of Orden Ogan and the professionalism of their new record, memories of Manowar, and the changes in the underground from the 1990’s to the current scene.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your initial memories relating to music growing up – how did you discover heavy metal and then pick up an instrument and start performing in bands?
Carl Delius: When I was 13, I heard the Scorpions, Guns ‘n’ Roses, and Metallica for the first time. I ended up listening to the ballads of the Scorpions like “Wind of Change” and “Send Me An Angel”, outside of this there were hard rock songs that I played loud and I became infected by the sound of heavy metal. I was a big Guns ‘n’ Roses fan, and then I got into Metallica, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Saxon, those kind of bands.
When I saw Slash of Guns ‘n’ Roses on the guitar, I wanted to play that instrument – I started to play when I was 14 and the rest came to me. There was a little training, not a guitar school but it was very effective. A friend of mine when I was 15 showed me how to play the electric guitar. The rest of it, I wanted to play and write my own songs, I did learn a few covers but I wanted to play my own songs.
Dead Rhetoric: Torian started in 2002 – what can you tell us about the early formation of the group? Did you know straight away the qualities you wanted to develop in your brand of power metal, or was it a feeling out process?
Delius: When I founded the band, I wanted to make power metal with thrash metal influences. Later it worked that I could combine those two styles. In the early years there were some power metal songs and some really thrash-oriented songs, Bay Area style. You can hear that especially on the first album Dreams Under Ice, there are some absolute thrash songs in the style of old Testament or Metallica. Then later I developed the sound into more of a European power metal style. Before it was power thrash, but now it’s more melodic power metal.
Dead Rhetoric: God of Storms is the fourth full-length album for the band, your first with Ram It Down Records. How do you feel the songwriting and recording sessions went for this album – and where do you see the major differences between this record and your previous discography?
Delius: Everything was so relaxed. After the third album Dawn we played many, many shows – and I wanted to make a break in songwriting because the third album was really complicated, concept album. I only wanted to play rock and roll and make some straight-ahead songs – everything was so relaxed instead of what happened before. The recording sessions were relaxed, the work with Seeb the producer was so much more relaxed than before. You can hear it on the sound of this album – it’s only straight- ahead power metal. Not too complicated, and that’s what I wanted to do. In comparison to before, it was really cool this time.
Dead Rhetoric: Being the main songwriter, is the process easy or difficult this deep into Torian’s career?
Delius: Ideas come to me all the time. When I am laying in bed, when I am in the shower, I’ve got melodies in my head. Sometimes they are darker, sometimes more aggressive- I’m inspired by everything. When I am writing songs on the guitar, if I happen to be at the computer, I’m writing songs in my head. I have a mind of metal – it’s no problem to write songs. It may take some time to develop certain songs with the help of the computer, but ideas I have so many in my head.
Dead Rhetoric: How was it to have Seeb Levermann working on the album behind the scenes and providing a synth assist on “Far from Midian Sky”? I would imagine you have followed Orden Ogan for some time (participating in choir work for their last album Gunmen), as this record definitely emphasizes those bigger choirs in the chorus like his main group…
Delius: Yes, it’s obvious that when you record a power metal album in the studio of Seeb, it’s obvious that some of the songs may be like Orden Ogan. We wanted to have these choirs like this, it was a natural process that some of the songs sound like Orden Ogan. You can record with say the singer/guitarist Piet of Iron Savior for example, and if you are recording power metal at his studio then you will have a sound that may have Iron Savior elements. If you are a metalcore band and you record in the studio of Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage, there will be an inevitable link to the main sound of the producer and his or her band. It wasn’t planned, but we wanted the choirs like this.
We learned from Seeb some specific sounds and making them better. We learned how to record some of the guitars ourselves, and how to do some things better than before. We had recorded an EP together in his studio, and we learned some things to do better. We wanted to do things more professionally, and how to record the vocals for example. There are some easy tricks to record vocals in a very professional way that will be enough for an international album. In the process he helped us to do things the right way, and had better arguments regarding the mixing.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about the cover art design from Claudio Bergamin, who has done work with Battle Beast and Judas Priest? Do you come up with ideas to feed him and then he develops his own vision, or do you give him free reign to design this special piece based on your music?
Delius: As soon as we knew the title of the album was God of Storms, and together with Timo the boss of Ram It Down Records we talked together about the cover. He asked Claudio if he would do this, and we gave him the idea of the powerful figure, but the rest was his own interpretation. After the first results, we thought it was very cool and there was nothing he had to change- we were so content with his work. It was his own interpretation, we were absolutely happy with this and everyone was happy too.
Dead Rhetoric: How was the video shoot for “Evil Versus Evil”?
Delius: It was cool. We had a director that came from the Ruhr district, near Essen. He came as a recommendation from Seeb. We were searching for a location, and we had a friend who had a key to a cellar, it’s a very old cellar under the city in the catacombs. That was very spontaneous – we sent it to the label and Mirko the director, and they said yes. We made a date to do the video, and we shot the footage over the course of 2 ½ hours as a performance video. It was professional, if the people are more professional that you are dealing with, everything becomes so relaxed and cool.
Dead Rhetoric: What did you want to get across with the lyrics on this album, as you stated previously that the last album was a concept record?
Delius: It’s very different. The singer Marc (Hohlweck) and myself, we write the lyrics. “Blackened Souls” is about long forgotten seaman, they become ghosts and kill other people. Then you’ve got, “Saint of the Fallen” which is about Frank Castle, The Punisher – it’s my favorite comic book character. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” is about Vikings who fall into the country, marching, fighting and killing everything.
“Evil vs. Evil” has inspiration from Game of Thrones – where an evil protagonist fights another evil protagonist, it’s really interesting and I see this in many television series now. Evil fighting against evil – that came to my mind. The song isn’t exactly about Game of Thrones – it’s more about an evil person fighting against an evil person. “Old Friend Failure” this is a quite a daring story. It’s about partying, drinking a lot, you have fun, but then you have a hangover and you don’t remember what you did. This is quite a common thing, so that is more of a party song.
Dead Rhetoric: Your style embraces numerous American and European influences – names like Iced Earth, Rage, Dragonforce, Blind Guardian, Manowar, and Morgana Lefay come to mind. Has it always been important to develop a power metal sound that isn’t necessarily going in one specific direction, because you enjoy many bands from different countries?
Delius: Yes, I’ve got my influences of course but in a natural way that come into my mind. When I was younger, I listened to mostly power metal from the United States for example, Iced Earth – I played Night of the Stormrider, Jon Schaffer is one of my biggest influences. I’m listening to bands and in an unconscious way they influence my songwriting. I like both the American style of power metal and the European style of power metal, especially bands like Powerwolf and Orden Ogan.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the major differences between the studio and performing live when it comes to Torian? Are both aspects satisfying to you as a musician, or do you have a preference of one over the other?
Delius: I think I love more to play live – I am a rhythm guitarist, playing my riffs and playing them tight in the studio. It’s more like work – it’s the studio, it’s not as creative as the singer and lead guitarist can be in the studio. I like more playing live- to have as much fun with the people in the crowd and on the stage. These songs are made to be played live.
Dead Rhetoric: Given the fact that Germany is considered a prime center for metal support with its long history of bands, venues, touring opportunities and festivals small and large – how much of a challenge is it to make a mark in the scene compared to the legacy acts or bands from other countries?
Delius: I think it’s quite a thing- as a German band, you have to work harder and harder. For example, there are Swedish bands or bands from Scandinavia where the Germans think they are better so they support these bands. We’ve got to work harder, but there are a true group of fans here who support Torian, that’s great. Sometimes things go better for the foreign bands.
Dead Rhetoric: What does success mean to you for Torian and personally as a musician?
Delius: That we can play all around Germany, sometimes Europe. To be able to play our own songs and get paid for this. That we don’t have to play cover songs to reach the people, that we can do it all with our own songs. That’s the first success of course, we’d like to have more success with this album to play bigger festivals. Bigger shows, supporting for bigger bands, more cities. If you play hundreds and hundreds of kilometers far from home and you have a fanbase who know the songs and who sing the songs with us. We (played) a release party two weeks ago in Hamburg, it’s four hours away from our hometown and we could manage to draw enough people to manage this concert and it was a success. We keep working harder and harder to make the Torian (success) a bigger thing.
Dead Rhetoric: When you look at the state of heavy metal in general today, do you believe things are better or worse than maybe the development of the 80’s and 90’s?
Delius: Well, in the 80’s I was a kid, so I didn’t know about this (laughs). It’s quite better in the 1990’s, I was a teenager, we listened to heavy metal and we could go to concerts. I think the underground was dead – bands in our town were playing concerts and there would only be 20 people at these shows. Today you cannot imagine this, because now when Torian plays in our home town, there are a hundred or more people that go to the show. I think that things are better than in the 1990’s.
Dead Rhetoric: What sort of activities or hobbies do you like to pursue away from music when you have the free time and energy to do so?
Delius: I’m going into the fitness center, I want to look like Eric Adams! (laughs). I like going to the fitness center three times a week. Some sports, having beer with my friends, going to some heavy metal concerts. When I am not playing a concert, I love to be at concerts or festivals.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some favorite concert memories that you have?
Delius: In the year 2008, Manowar played the Magic Circle festival. Over the course of two nights they played the first six Manowar albums in their entirety. Before they started the concert, there was a rainbow in the sky. It was magical – it was unbelievable. That was the best concert that I have ever visited.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some misconceptions or mistakes that you maybe made in your career that you would love to see younger musicians avoid or put serious thought into to save them trouble or heartache?
Delius: You should search from the beginning for the right people. You should have the instinct to work together with the right people – producers and things like that. Do they work professionally, and will they help you? These are the things I would have to say as a young musician that you should choose carefully. You’ve got to make your own experiences- there is no other way. When I was younger, I only wanted to rock and roll. My earliest band was a thrash metal band, and before the thing became serious, we broke up.
Dead Rhetoric: What are the future plans for Torian to support this record over the next year?
Delius: We want to play gigs. We are searching for a booking agency right now, we want to see what offers we can get. We want to make our name more well known. We will play a small tour with Crystal Viper through Eastern Europe in the spring of 2019. We want to make a crusade. I’ve got ten more songs ready, we will work on pre-production down the line. We want to promote this record.