I N T E R V I E W S
Sven the Axe from Solemnity by EC - 02.05.03
Its an honor and pleasure to interview such an awesome talent such as yourself. Everyone at Maximum Metal thanks you for giving us a portion of your time and providing some info on your band, Solemnity. According to the band's website, Solemnity plays "Heavy Horror Metal". What exactly is "Heavy Horror Metal"?
In times like these where the record-industry tries to put every band on a shelf I thought it would be important to give them no chance to put us in one of their categories. On our debut we have songs such as "Open Fire" which is a pure Thrash-Metal song, but we have as well a balladesque one like "Chalice Of Blood" or Power and Speed-Metal songs. I donīt want to be limited musically only because someone says we are a Power-Metal band. The thing with the Heavy Horror Metal is easily told. It discribes our outfit and our show primarily and not our music or the music to come so we keep the doors open for our music to vary through all spectrums (of TRUE METAL) without giving someone the opportunity to say: "Well, why is a doom-song on your new album, or why does a thrash-band have a ballad in their repertoire". So you see, we use it in the first place to be unique and to give us our own place between all the others. We for sure wonīt change our style, but I canīt stand it if any song on an album sounds the same...but Heavy Horror Metal in the first row for our live-show and that means tons of pyrotechniques, splatter fx, blood, hankers, burning swords, flying axes, on stag execution. I always tell the people itīs a mixture of Alice Cooper, King Diamond, Twisted Sister , DeathSS & Halloween.
How did the band come up with Solemnity as a name, and how did you get nicknamed "The Axe"?
The name Solemnity was an idea of our drummer Adrian as far as I remember. At first I didnīt like it at all cause it sounds not METAL, but as it seems to mean something religious as well, I thought it would be cool to keep it. No occult or horror orientated band would call themselves SOLEMNITY I thought. That would be the same if King Diamond will rise a new band called the "Christlovers"???!!! The nickname I received after our first show...I had a very small axe on stage (shame today it was so small...) and everything was a little like the glorious days of Lizzy Borden, but the audience seemed not be too interested in us, except the fact that weeks later at some other concerts where I was as a visitor people said to me: "Hey, you were that maniac with the axe, yeah!" Strange people called me AXE from that days on, so it kept on till today. Yeah, Iīm named for our first live-gimmick! Nowadays they would better call me "Pyromania", "Bloodsucker", "Firepuker", "Swordwielder" or whatever...
In late 1998, early 1999, the group was formed. How did the band come together? Were all the current members involved in the band's creation?
Solemnity started with Adrian, Christian & Andy not finding a competent vocalist even back in 1997 or so. I did know Adrian back from the school days where he was not into metal at all and I met him again after 10 years in ī98 at a show of a small local progressive-Thrash band. He told me that he was now into metal like I was even 10 years ago and that he has a band but they donīt find a singer. Well, I was playing guitar and singing in a couple of cover-bands but that was so fucking boring that I was trying to find a real band and he offered me an audition. It was perfect and we started to write our first songs . It was my dream to come up with a gigantic live-show but at first they refused it all, but after the
first couple of shows where only me was entertaining the crowd with some gimmicks they started as well believing in this utopia and SOLEMNITY was born. Marcel our lead-guitar player was added in the mid of 1999 as we thought our sound is still not aggressive enough, but from that time on we are complete and ready to strike down all the disbelievers of metal.
Looking back at the beginning of the "Reign Of Hell" recording, what factors played a part in the band deciding to record the album on their own with no label support?
All fucking labels refused us!!! We had some offers saying we had to change our name, we had to change our lyrics, our outfit, our show and even the complete image. Some wanted us to add a keyboard to the music and we turned away and said: "No, fucking way!!!" We all agreed that we donīt become the whore of a filthy A & R manager that would
even try to sell his mom at the right price. It was a financial disaster for us to do the recordings for "Reign In Hell" but we all believed in it, so we were taken that big financial sacrifice and none of us regrets it as the album went out in exactly the way we liked it. I studied as an audio-engineer years ago, before I got a "real" job, but that helped a lot to produce the album on my own. The layouts and graphics are as well by myself, so you can say everything has 100% the handwriting of the AXE and that was really important to me and the boys.
Remedy Records released the album in 2002, what kind of response have you gotten from the record thus far? Has Remedy Records done a good job promoting the release?
The press and especially the fan response was awesome!!!! I had tons of emails and letters claming us the new kings of metal and believe me this is by far the greatest thing an artist can happen if people tell him after that much blood and sweat that they like the creation that was done. The thing with Remedy is that itīs a very small label with only two guys working there so itīs not compareable to any big label such a Nuclear Blast or Century Media, but I guess they do everything that is possible to promote their bands and there are only about 10 bands on the label so far which is of course a lot better as if you are only the goldfish in a bowl full of sharks.
"Reign Of Hell" is a classic metal album. I purchased the disc late last year and was impressed by the overall quality and sound of the recording. The album was recorded at Eroc Mastering Ranch, where other great bands such as Judas Priest and Black Sabbath have recorded. What was it like going into a famous studio like that, where so many classic metal memories exist, to record your debut record?
The album was recorded at the Music Factory in Seltmans by Christian Schmid and myself. Thatīs a really cool studio where I learned a lot! The album was only mastered at Erocs Mastering Ranch, cause we couldnīt pay a complete analog production with him, but believe me he is a real grandsenieur in his business and I would never master an album somewhere else!!! The second album "King Of Dreams" which will be out on Walpurgisnight (30-04-2003) was mastered by him and I still believe. Everything he touches becomes gold.
The cover for "Reign Of Hell" is nothing short of spectacular. How did the band get involved with the talented Ken Kelly?
People always tell me: "Oh, you got the same cover-artist as Manowar". The thing is that Ken has drawn for instance as well for KISS (Destroyer-album), but to be honest I know his works from a time where I was just 8 or 9 years old. I loved his drawings from the first time I saw them!!! Years later when I it was obvious to release some day a piece of music I thought I have to put up the contact to him and ask him if it was possible. Actually I contacted him before he had a homepage so it was not easy to find an adress where I can turn to. I managed anyway and a dream came true and I hope that we can work together for another ten albums!!!
On "Reign Of Hell", Solemnity defines every thing that is great about heavy metal. Where does the band get this type of power. We are talking chainsaw style guitars, cannon-fire drums, and your vocals are just like a bat out of hell! Screaming, soaring, and on fire! Where does the band get this kind of energy? What influences do you draw from?
Thanxxx for all these kind words!!! Itīs great to hear that you like our music!!! The main influence is METAL I guess. I love that music since I was 10 years old and Iīve been to my first concert at the age of twelve. (that was Overkill & Helloween). Actually the first band I ever saw on stage was Overkill and I guess the power up there infected me for a whole life!!! I got a huge collection of records from all over the world and itīs like I breath metal , I eat metal, I am metal! Life is so frustrating and if you got long hair people let you eat their shit each day. Some bloody assholes beat their wife and I compensate everything with my lyrics and the music. Thereīs a lot of this power in the songs and believe me thereīs even more at our live-shows!!! I wish you could see us all one day performing live and then you understand what I mean, cause this is raw energy and power in its purest form!!!
Lets talk about the new album, "King Of Dreams". Is it gonna be in the same style as the last album? What can we expect?
It will be Heavy Horror Metal again?!!!! It will be the definite second blast of us!!! I think if you liked the debut you will love that one as well. We open with a track called "FIRE IN MAINSTREAMLAND" which is our solution to chart-music-pollution. Itīs a fast up-tempo one with a very catchy refrain and I guess you will all sing along with us live. "KILL THE MAJESTY" is song in the tradtion of the "early" Manowar with some raw steel-sword effects and nuclear explosions in it. If thereīs a word for energy and power: take this title! "THE NINTH GATE" starts as a beautifu depressing ballad and ends up in the biggest choir mankind ever has seen. "VAMPIREīS DANCE" is a live-classic of Solemnity. It should appear on the debut but we didnīt have the money to record this very complex ten minute epos. This is the first metal-waltz you ever heard I swear and definetly the most doomy song we have to date. "KING OF DREAMS" is the title song and starts with a melody from your childhood where the world was perfect and the future looked bright. The anger of life turns into the rising speed of the song. The lyrics are really personnel on that one a little autiobiography for everybody who listens to this music. "SPIRITS OF THE DEAD" is a covertune of the famous song of MANILLA ROAD. I loved to do that one I think it turned out quite well, so Mark Shelton will hopefully be pleased. "IN DUBIO PRO SATHNAS" is the most experimental song we ever done and we will never do something like this again. We discussed a lot if we shall put it on the album, but I think the lyrics surrounding the black atmosphere of death or too important to be ignored. This is my revenge on the CHURCH!!!! Iīm no antichrist, but in fact if you look at all the horrors that were done in the name of God or Christ we have top this violent institution of brainwashing pedophiles. Of course there are exceptions to the rule in every place...The last track "HEART OF A RAVEN" is an epic up-tempo anthem with some really wicked breaks somewhere between W.A.S.P. or the early Blind Guardian. There are again no keyboards on the album and itīs good like it is!!!! I HOPE YOU WILL LOVE IT AS MUCH AS I DO!!!
What role does Steve Sylvester of Death SS play on the new album?
I love the music of Death SS for ages and I travelled a few times all the way down to Italy only to sse them live. I think Steve has one of those very special voices... You love or you canīt stand it at all! I LOVE IT!!! Well, I tried to find out his adress and though it took me a while I just send him an album of us and asked him if he likes to give us some guest vocals on the next album. He immediately said "yes" without having heard a single note of the track I was speaking of. He is singing the last two refrains on "Vampireīs Dance" as I thought it would perfectly suit to him. The songs turns out great and you hear again his strong Italian accent but I love it!!!!
Is the new album going to be released on Remedy Records as well?
YES!!! Oops, that was a short answer...
On the band's site, it mentions that the live performances you guys put on is pretty unique and exciting. Give us an example of a typical Solemnity concert. Swords, Axes, Fire, etc?
Everything you can imagine!!! The main problem is always that we can only put up half of our show due schedule problems when we are playing together with other bands. We have tons of different costumes, hankers, vampires, naked women, axes, burning swords, tons of pyrotechniques (flashes, firepuking, open fire wands, fireballs, fountains,etc.), on stage
execution, skulls, bones, candles plus a neckbreaking five-piece that shows you what entertainment is all about. Our complete show takes more than 8 hours to be installed, but often we only have 30 minutes so there are only few people who have seen us with all of our production.
Have you done much touring in support of the last release, and do you have any current tour plans for the new one?
After the re-release of the album we only had two shows with only a little of of our show due to the fact that there no more organizers of any shows here in Germany. That sucks!!! If you like to play at the big festivals you have to pay them and as we have to pay a lot for our show as well we canīt afford that and we donīt want to pay for a show that is not perfect showwise in any way. We got no financial tour-support by our label which makes things not easier, but we try to finance a tour by ourself around ~September. We try to play then at least 10 shows at a row wherever people like to see us.
If you could record a "metal duet" with any vocalist alive or dead, who would it be?
Dee Snider or Alice Cooper!!!!!
Well Sven, thanks for the interview and we are looking forward to "King Of Dreams"! Please keep us up to date on all the Solemnity news and events. Good luck with the new record!!
I thank YOU and all the American Metalheads who still believe in TRUE MUSIC!!!!
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