So Gerrit, Angel of Damnation was formed in 2004 by you (as Doomcult Messiah) on vocals, Daniel Felber (Avenger) on guitars, bass, keyboards and Hellbastard on drums, how did you get together exactly?
Avenger: Like many of my other bands and projects it started with a couple of riffs which did not really fit to anything else. Then came a strong desire to play some old school doom metal stuff. So i put together 2 songs and rehearsed and recorded them with Hellbastard who was the drummer in NOCTURNAL in the time. I did not really have a clue what we will do with that at this point but right in the time i met Gerrit at the BANG YOUR HEAD Festival a couple of weeks later and i simply asked him if he would be interested to do vocals for the 2 songs. Much to my surprise he was into the idea we went on with that. I sent him a tape with the songs and he wrote lyrics and recorded them in the basement of Metal Blade Records (For who he was working at the time) on an analogue 4 track recorder. I did release those songs as our first 7” on my own label DEATHSTRIKE RECORDS in 2004.
All of you are experienced musicians, since you are playing/you played in several bands, what made you to form Angel of Damnation? How did you opt that musical style, that you play with AOD?
Avenger: Apart from thrash and black metal i was always a fan of bands like ST.VITUS, CANDLEMASS, PENTAGRAM and of course BLACK SABBATH. First of all there were not a lot of bands playing traditional doom metal back then and if they did i basically never really liked their vocalists. If the vocals where alright the bands used to tend to sound a bit too 70´s or stoner to my liking. I wanted a doom band rooted in heavy metal with the 70´s influences taken from BLACK SABBATH and PENTAGRAM only... So, there was this idea and it evolved in the years…
Is AOD a full time band or do you consider it as a project?
Avenger: I would call it a band. First of all because we have a full line up and we play live. Also a project is a thing which you more or less know from the start that it will be just a one off thing. I don´t see AOD to end anytime soon for some reason... I think if i don´t want to do anything else anymore i still see myself rocking some AOD stuff when i´m 60 , ha ha. What i read more in your question is you want to know how are the priorities with the band... Well.... we are chilled with that. We play a gig or maybe 2 a year and we do a recording when the time is right. Between the first and the now soon to be released 2nd album are 7 years in between. We are all busy in other bands sometimes nothings going on with that one band so you do more with the other. It´s a question of how you organize the things.
How about your other acts? Are they still active, on hiatus or disbanded? Can you tell us more about them?
Doomcult Messiah: My other bands are all alive and well. SACRED STEEL have released the „Heavy Metal Sacrifice” album in late 2016 and are playing live contantly. DAWN OF WINTER will finish the recording of „Pray For Doom” this year and I guess that this album will be released in 2018 as well. I have just recorded my vocals for the upcoming BATTLEROAR album „Codex Epicus” which will also be released this year. Also DAWN OF WINTER and BATTLEROAR are planning shows to promote these releases. So, no signs of any hiatus, pause or even some time off for me .
Avenger: With the bands where i´am involved THE FOG will record the 2nd album this summer, as well as we plan to record a new NOCTURNAL album. We have a couple of NOCTURNAL gigs confirmed this year as well. In a couple of weeks i will record a band of friends of mine who play some black/death stuff which reminds me a lot to ORDER FROM CHAOS. They asked if can help to record their demo and maybe i will also lay down the bass tracks. AOD, THE FOG and NOCTURNAL are the bands i play live shows with, so naturally they are more active than for example FRONT BEAST where i nowadays just record something every other year.... The same can be said about everything i´m involved in.
Did you start writing originals right from the start or were you jamming on covers?
Avenger: No jamming. Even at the very beginning of practicing guitar i was quite bored to play other bands music. Somehow right from the start i was way more interested in creating something of my own. I like to do covers live which are somewhat hits people know and get them going, on recordings i only like covers when they are really a new interpretation of the song in the style of the band who does the cover. For example MERCYFUL FATE doing „The Rupper” from JUDAS PRIEST is a match made in hell. Almost sounds like this song was written for MF !
Your first material was a 7” Ep titled Angel of Damnation and released in 2004 by Daniel’s label Deathstrike Records (limited to 500 copies), what would you tell us about it?
Avenger: I think i already said most about it. Those are the first 2 songs we did, and just thought doing them on a 7” has a bit more class than doing a demo tape. The fact they are just 2 gongs with a running time perfect for a 7” played a role too ! I made the cover design in true cut´n paste fashion and duplicated them in the local copyshop. Here and then someone comes forth and complains to me why the hell i did print the lyrics on the center label of the vinyl, ha ha !
For your later came out a split 7” with Peruvian Don Juan Matus, how, from where did the opportunity come to release with them the material? How about ...as Heaven Cries compared to your previous stuff?
Avenger: The label Golden Procession (which is a sublabel of the japanese black/death label DEATHRASH ARMAGEDDON PROD.) which is responsible for the release contacted me with the intention to have both bands on a split 7”EP. I was not aware of DJM prior to that, but i liked their material and we agreed. Not sure anymore if we already had the song recorded or if we did this especially for this release but I think this is our most CANDLEMASS influenced song.
On this release played Skeletor on the bass, was he only a session musician? Didn’t you think about to have him a permanent member in the band?
Avenger: Skeletor aka Mamono Hunter aka Martin from METAL INQUISITOR is quite busy with his main band and being part of the german line up of METALUCIFER. Even more with his everyday profession at the time , so he could not join permanently. But he was helping us out on recordings.
You appeared on Hellbangers Metal Forces with Warning from the Sky (Iron Pegasus Records), was the bassparts of this tune also played by Skelator?
Avenger: Yes, also because he is also member of the Hellbangers Moselfranken just like Hellbastard. As heaven cries and Warning from the sky were recorded in the same session.
Were the label’s artists featured on this compilation?
Avenger: Costa from Iron Pegasus along with Infernal of DESASTER are the founders of the Hellbangers Moselfanken metalclub along with some other guys. As celebration of 10 years of it´s existence Costa had the idea to do this compilation including bands which have members of the club involved. For example WITCHBURNER are on it because Mayhem (ex-singer of NOCTURNAL) was a member and singing for them at the time. There was also a finnish chapter , for this URN and some other finnish bands appeared on the compilation. The cover artwork was made by one their members too, who also did the artwork for the NOCTURNAL „Fire of Revenge” 7”EP by the way…
Did this record help the band to make a name for yourself in the underground scene? Did it help you getting fans?
Avenger: Not sure about that. But i think every release brings attention to a new audience to the band involved in some way. Warning from the sky is some kind of hit song which works perfect live. So, this helped too. Also Fenriz discovered this song through this compilation and shared it on his „Band of the week” facebook page. This for sure brought some attention to a lot of people which never heard of us before. But no idea who of them still follow us since i have the impression the „Fenriz followers” always are just into what is hip this week and forget about it the next.
In 2010 you entered the studio to record your first full-length titled Carnal Philosophy, were you prepared to record the material?
Doomcult Messiah: Speaking strictly for myself here, I had a great time coming up with the lyrics and vocal lines for that album! It was a good feeling to be able to go absolutely wild with my imagination and put no holds to any blasphemy imaginable. I love to create stories and pictures in my mind that I let flow into the lyrics and with „Carnal Philosophy” I was allowed to travel the darkest corners of my psyche and also pay homage to a lot of my influences. So, yeah, I was prepared to do that recording absolutely.
Avenger: The „studio” was our rehearsal room. If we were prepared ? From my nowadays perspective sure not, ha ha.
How were the songs written? Who was responsible for the lyrics and for the music?
Doomcult Messiah: The music came first. The guys were rehearsing without me and completing and honing the songs. When they were ready with that I got a CD with the final versions to lay down my vocal ideas. I usually first come up with a basic idea for the title and the story and then I start creating the vocal lines. When I am happy with the vocal lines then I finalize the lyrics.
What about the recordingsessions?
Doomcult Messiah: They went very smooth and easy from my point of view. I drove the 3 hours to Daniel´s place and sang/recorded all the songs in a few hours. I like working that way. Spontaneuous and creative. Heartfelt and not too over-professional.
Avenger: I had the loose arrangements of the songs ready. We set up the microphones for the drums, and we rehearsed every song a bit until we felt we can lay down the drumtracks. We usually played every song like 2-3 times until we had an acceptable performance. I recorded the guitars and bass later at my house through the next weeks and had Gerrit at our rehearsal room for a weekend. In 3 hours he had laid down the vocal tracks TWICE (for better mixing opportinties) for the whole album.
Do you think, that you sound like a cross between Rob Lowe from Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass, and Scott Reagers from Saint Vitus and this gives the songs a real feeling of menace and emotion as well as a touch of pure evil?
Doomcult Messiah: Scott Reagers for sure is my main influence and I took a big dose of his work and simply tried to imitate it. I remember singing along to old Vitus in my car in something like 1988 to find out that my voice sounded quite similar to his. And when I decided to also sing for DAWN OF WINTER ,besides playing guitar, in 1990, it was natural for me to try to sound like him in my doom band, too. Quite frankly, early DAWN OF WINTER was trying to be like old Vitus but without their trademark guitar sound and their fantastic songwriting, hehe. I was not too great at songwriting that´s why Jörg joined on guitar in 1992 and since then I only wrote a song in a decade or so...
I also love Robert´s voice in SOLITUDE but he was never an influence to me. Messiah Marcolin would be another big influence though. CANDLEMASS brought me into doom metal in 1986 and even though I loved Johan´s voice on „Epicus...” Messiah´s insane vibrato kicked my butt a little more.
In your opinion, are there any similarities between Dawn of Winters records and Carnal Philosophy? Was your goal perhaps to do something unique or did you simply follow the path of traditional doom?
Doomcult Messiah: The song structures are totally different to me. DAWN OF WINTER is way more classical and straight forward while ANGEL OF DAMNATION is more daring and sometimes even a little strange. I would nevertheless say that both bands are traditional doom and my way of singing is also very much the same in both bands. Maybe ANGEL OF DAMNATION is a little more nasty and unpleasant in places. Or evil as you would maybe say.
Avenger: If you ask me DAWN OF WINTER´s riffs are a bit more simple and i don´t mean this in a bad way, it´s that VITUS like stripped down to the basics approach i feel in their music. Also i think AOD are many times a lot more upbeat and rocking like in a SABBATH and PENTAGRAM sense. I don´t hear this in DOW for example.
How do you view the album after seven years of its release? Tell us please detailed about it.
Doomcult Messiah: Puh. Tough question. I mean, I have recorded close to 20 albums in my life...and when I am done with a recording I seldom look back. Only when needed for rehearsals or live gigs. Mhh, that album is definitely unique in the way that is was recorded like albums were recorded 30 years ago, in a basement, first takes only. No second thoughts. I liked that even though it was daring and challenging. Some of the songs are very strong still, despite their shortcomings and I like to play them live like „Doomed Forevermore”
„I´ll drink from the chalice of blood” or „Into the coven of the damned”.
Avenger: Looking back i would not even make so much different. There are many little details i really love about it.The main riff for „Into the coven of the damned” must be one of my fave doom riffs ever.
Is the sound raw and un-polished?
Doomcult Messiah: It is definitely extremely raw and totally unpolished to my ears! It could have served as a demo and then be re-recorded a little bit more professional. But , hey, after a few listens I thought that it´s the way it is and that it´s ok that way. Some things just need to be captured in a special moment and not everything needs to be up to everyones expectations and standards. I mean, who would want the old Vitus stuff sound less garage and more studio? I certainly wouldn´t.
Avenger: Nowdays it´s more common again that bands have more retro sounding productions. Back then then the only newer album which sounded like that was the first WITCHCRAFT album. I totally wanted something like that. BUT to be honest, our musical abilites and the resources we had at the time did not allow much more than that anyway, ha ha. The new album is definitely a step forward in all aspects. We still recorded everything ourselves, but you can´t tell really. It sounds like a studio recording because we got it professionally mixed (By the HALPHAS guitarist by the way) but it´s sounds organic, alive and breathing. Exactly what i wanted this time !
At the early 90s doom metal appeared on the map of metal, there were 1-2 years, when doom metal seemed to be popular, a lot of bands started popping up, such as Cathedral, Paradise Lost, Count Raven, Solitude Aeturnus etc. and several death metal bands started mixing their music with doom, such as Autopsy, Winter, Sorrow etc., what were your views on this movement?
Doomcult Messiah: I vividly remember those times. Back in the late 80´s I tried to get hold of everything slow and doomy. I traded demos with Solitude e.g. I also traded stuff with Cathedral and many others.
I met Chris from Autopsy in 1990 and he pointed at my Saint Vitus shirt and said „wow, cool! Vitus!”. Back then it was pretty unusual to sport a Vitus shirt, I guess.
I loved Autopsy way before they went for a doomier direction, and I went totally nuts about the Paradise Lost and Cathedral debuts! It was an exciting time. Death Metal already felt a little boring to me and I thought that including doom was a natural fit.
Bands like Winter or Thergothon took slowness and heavyness to a new level. I also enjoyed early My Dying Bride and Anathema, even though they sounded a little more gothic and melodic to my ears. I discovered Sorrow years later because a friend of mine told me they would sound similar to Winter, and they did! Great band.
Count Raven´s debut was amazing, too! Those vocals, wow! Total Ozzy-worship. I don´t like their other albums that much but they nevertheless deserve all the praise for keeping the flag of doom flying through more than rough times.
Talking about doom, which style of doom do you prefer? I mean, traditional, epic, stoner, funeral etc.?
Doomcult Messiah: Well, my doom addiction started with Candlemass. After them I kinda re-discovered stuff in my collection like Trouble, Black Babbath and Witchfinder General. So, I guess my perfect doom would be a mixture of those bands. So, yeah, traditional should nail it. But I like all shades of doom. All the subgenres have bands that totally blow my mind. I even am a big OM fan! To me they sound like a relaxed version of SLEEP`s „Dopesmoker” which is a perfect album in itself as well.
Avenger: I think the first doom album i ever heard was WINTER´s „Into darkness” which i got in a package deal with 10 tapes for 10DM from Nuclear Blast in the late 90´s. I was impressed by the heaviness they achieved with the slowness. Until this point to me heavy meant fast, they completely changed my view on this matter. Anyway, Matze from SACRED STEEL always did DJ nights in the Rockfabrik Ludwigsburg and as the last song of the night he always played „Solitude” from CANDLEMASS. Gerrit might remember that, ha ha! This was probably the first time i heard some traditional doom metal. About the same time Infernal Overkiller (the singer of my first band BESTIAL DESECRATION) somehow got the „Mournful Cries” 12”MLP of SAINT VITUS and got me hooked on that one. I never really got into that more hippie like doom stuff. For me it´s riffs before a 15 minute droning soundscape with Hammonds thrown in. I love JEX THOTH though, even when it´s quite like that what i just described, ha ha ! In general i´m very selective when it comes to doom metal. Most of the time it´s the vocalist who kills it for me. I think there are many bands with good to great songs but i can´t stand the vocals for some reason. For example it took me years to get into „Die Healing” because after hearing Wino first, Reagers sounded like a random Power metal singer to me, ha ha. When it comes to funeral doom stuff i think WINTER, THERGOTHON, MOURNFUL CONGREGATION and WORSHIP is all i need. I think this style is just a bit too limited to have dozens of bands doing that in an exciting way. Maybe that´s a bit unfair not really giving other bands doing that style a chance, but this is how i feel about it , ha ha.
Since 2013 you have a new rhythm section that consists of Forcas on bass and Skullsplitter on drums, how did they get in the picture? What about their musical background?
Avenger: Skullsplitter is the drummer in NOCTURNAL since 2013 this was basically the same time as he joined AOD as well. In AOD his name is Tempestas. He is a big doom fan just as well as Forcas. They both also play in CROSS VAULT and have a black metal band called HALPHAS. For me they are the perfect fit for the band, could not be happier to have them on board. They bring exactly on the table what i need to craft the songs to my personal felt perfection.
Do you have any new songs written? When do you plan to release a new album?
Doomcult Messiah: The album is finished and should be released on Shadow Kingdom Records this year.
The title is „Heathen Witchcraft”. Songs featured are „Dragged to the torture wheel”,”Gospel of the serpent”, „Brimstone sorcery”, „Tear off the veil off the sun” , „Lord of the seven churches” and „Heathen witchcraft”.
Gerrit, thanks a lot for your answers, any closing words?
Doomcult Messiah: Thanks for your support, Dávid! Doom on and keep fighting for the underground!
Interview by Leslie David