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Aeonblack's Holger Berger: "You really need to take off the pink glasses and see reality. What's going on in this sick world…? Humanity kills itself"

Interview with Holger Berger & Ferdinand Panknin from Aeonblack
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 18 March 2021, 11:55 PM

Living as if there is not tomorrow, or rather partying as if tomorrow doesn't really matter, there are so many possibilities. Perhaps never fear what tomorrow holds as it might always try to just at you. Therefore, be cautious, yet don't live fear. Optimism is a direct result of lot of fighting of each person against his or her own negativity, and this struggle is endless. There is always something to worry about, yet there is still something to hope for. Coming in from the South of Germany with their Heavy Metal delivery, there is Aeonblack. Recently signing to MDD Records / Black Sunset Records, the band explored with the new “The Time Will Come”. Steinmetal had a talk with vocalist Holger Berger and Bass player Ferdinand Panknin about the new album, how is the world observed through the record and more…

Hello guys, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, I hope that you are doing well in these crazy times, how have you been doing?

Holger: Hello Lior, hello Metal Temple magazine, I'm also happy to do this interview. The band and I are doing pretty well. Fortunately, we are all healthy and we are very happy about the release of our new album.

Thanks to MDD Records / Black Sunset, I was fortunate enough to get to know Aeonblack, which clearly is a name of the underground that people should have heard about more. With the current moniker being a reality since 2003, were there plans to strive for something greater or life simply wouldn’t let you proceed onwards?

Holger: Well, I think it's pretty difficult to achieve something as a band these days. We really come from the underground and we never had the opportunity to have a strong label support

With the German Metal scene being a rather crowded surrounding, since Germany, at least in the past two and half decades, has been a major impact on the worldwide Metal scene, have you been finding it hard to get the Aeonblack name out? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that you aren’t no part of the main circa of the North of the country?

Holger: It's like everywhere. Everyone tries to do their best and sometimes that's not enough, and of course a little luck is also part of it. The big bands sit on their throne, and the smaller bands don’t really stand a chance. Why should a label invest in an unknown band when the money is made faster with a well-known band? But I don't complain anymore. I think with MDD/Black Sunset have we a great thing at the start, and we don’t have to hide with our new album. You can hear it and see it, that good heavy metal is also made and played in the south of Germany, and who knows… maybe we’re the pioneers of a new era. Horns up to the unbelievers hahaha.

Returning with fresh material after nearly six years, Aeonblack returns with its sophomore, I am sure that was a long wait for you guys, “The Time Will Come”. Alongside the release, you signed with the aforementioned MDD Records / Black Sunset label. Why was it decided on your part to go forward with becoming a roster band in a label after being independent earlier on?

Holger: Oh yes, six years is really a long time for a new album, but I think it was worth the wait. Why we decided to work with a label is actually quite simple. A label has better contacts, and it's all on an even more professional level to properly present a new album.

Were there plans or thoughts to reissue your debut, “Metal Bound”, through MDD Records / Black Sunset or perhaps in the near future?

Holger: No, we haven't thought about that yet, but it would be a cool idea. Maybe design a new cover and mix and master the whole album again. Let's see, maybe we can do something there in the near future.

Looking through the artwork, listening to the songs of course, and also with the title as the first hinter, “The Time Will Come”, at least most of it, is dystopia looking at us with its blackened figure. Things aren’t going to be alright, but rather go downhill, why?

Holger: The artwork refers to the title track which reflects the prophecy of Nostradamus. In principle, one or the other also applies. You really need to take off the pink glasses and see reality. What's going on in this sick world…? Humanity kills itself. Why does everyone want to strive for power and tell others how they have to live or what they have to do? Everyone always tries to be better and stronger than the other instead of working together on solutions. Isn't it already the case, that we all walk around and wearing a mask, as shown on the cover picture…? Yes, it is, and it's actually quite a dark time that we live in.

One of the reasons mentioned on the album, in various ways, is the fact that people are ignorant, they are so focused on themselves, or on their domestic issues, that they aren’t really putting attention to manners on a global scale that might affect them in the long run. In your view, are we that egotistic? If so, why can’t we see straight more than a few steps forward?

Holger: I wouldn't call it selfishness or people's ignorance, much more blindness and not willing to recognize, what is happening on our planet. In a way, we are also blocking our own way. Make us dependent on globalization and become a self-enslavement of the modern world and unfortunately we can’t escape from these changes. Taking the right steps forward is very difficult, because no one knows where it will lead. To be honest, I think it's a very uncertain future.

In light of what is going on within the album’s general view of things, what do you fear from? What do you believe in? Do you find comfort in anything that might get us out of a future mess?

Holger: I'm not afraid, it happens as it come and we can't really change it. We have to accept the situation as it come and make the best of it. Perhaps, we also have to lower our own claims a bit, and not always want more. I find my consolation in my family and friends and of course when I make music. It gives me a sense of freedom in this fucking Corona Lockdown time.

In connection to the last part of the early question, other than stating the problem, do you also provide any solutions through the record to the future state of affairs? Is there a relation to the current Covid-19 situation perhaps?

Holger: We don’t offer a solution to this problem, others on this planet are probably responsible for that. Our release falls on this time is rather coincidental. The fact that the cover basically hits the nerve of the times is more of a coincidence. Our cover idea was already fixed long before Corona. But maybe that's the positive thing about this crazy time, and maybe it means that Aeonblack will be perceived even more intensely.

In a manner of sorts, Aeonblack delivers how 80s Heavy Metal sounds with a modern based production, mastering the power of German Metal with artistry and quality that really made me long even more to the golden days of the genre. Since you went quite a road ahead since your debut, what can you tell about the band’s musical progress through “The Time Will Come”?

Holger: A certain development process is always necessary to get ahead. That takes time and constant practice. You also have to be true to yourself and not run after a trend all the time. I think AEONBLACK is currently very well positioned musically. The band is a really strong formation and knows their quality very well. Let me put it this way: With the new Album  "The Time Will come" we defined our position in the scene even more. AEONBLACK is AEONBLACK and we play pure fucking heavy metal.

The songwriting on “The Time Will Come”, like many out there, tends to push to the main event of the chorus, yet making sure that nothing is cheesy or too easy. With that said, what do you think that makes the record fresher than the majority of what is coming out in the Metal market?

Holger: In my opinion the personal influences are also a main reason why this album sounds the way it sounds. Sometimes all the little things can have a huge impact, and don't forget the mixing and mastering process. Dennis Ward did a really good job here.

The album is strong with its riffs, soloing and tight rhythm section, yet as a vocalist myself, I was taken away by your vocal abilities. This kind of soaring, crunchy, yet melodic voice pattern provided the album with the juice it needs to become exciting, at least on my bill. How have you been keeping your voice in check all these years? What can you recommend younger vocalists in regards to maintaining the condition of their voice?

Holger: Thanks for the praise. At this point I have to mention that I had vocal training years ago, which I can recommend to everyone. You really have to get to know your own voice very well, and then you have to train it. The voice is an instrument made by the body and sounds different every day. The mental influence also plays a big role. If there are discrepancies, the singing doesn't work either. It takes real patience and the voice has to develop. This can't be done overnight. You also have to take breaks and let your voice rest. If you don't do that, it can happen very quickly and you break everything.

As you mentioned, the great Dennis Ward produced your release and man it sounds pitch perfect, high level to reflect on well written material. How do you find Ward’s engineering of the album?

Holger: Oh yeah, Dennis did a really good job here. He is a master of his field. You can tell that he comes from the scene. He knows exactly what a heavy metal album needs to sound good. At this point, thank you again Dennis for the good work.

“I Won’t Think About Tomorrow” is the catchy note of the album, a song that could have been an easy single to represent the album with might. There is that cross between British and German Metal that is hard not to like, actually quite addictive. What is your appreciation of this track? What makes it so optimistic?

Holger: Yeah it's a very optimistic song. Lyrically it's about partying or the positive experiences you have in life. In such moments, all negative things and worries are hidden, no matter what happened in the past or what shit awaits you the next morning. There are far too few moments like this in life, hahahha.

“No Mans Land” is the album’s touch of grace, yes also rather sorrowful, as if there is nothing to hope for. Mentioning the earlier question, I asked about a hope for the future. The song itself is well arranged, it is not your usual balladry but stronger, emotive and with a point. What can you tell about the song’s creation?

Holger: At first I had written down a vocal line with a text, which resulted in the verses and the choruses. We built the rest around it and worked it out down to the last detail. Even with the recordings, there were still ideas and arrangements. Writing songs is actually always a collaborative effort. There is an idea as a vocal line or a melody on the guitar, if it’s good and we like it, we will work on it.

 “Nightwalker” presents a kind of doomy feel, Black Sabbath / Candlemass, oriented, certainly one of the album’s darkest tracks. Evidently it is also one of the album’s dramatic tunes. Is this song a wind of change in the album’s straightforwardness?

Holger: Yes, this song was purposely written in this doomy style and it certainly shows a few new facets in our songwriting. But as mentioned in the question before, there are no special song structures. Whatever fits into the heavy metal concept of Aeonblack and we like, is processed. I always think it's a shame when bands don't try something new. You don't have to completely reinvent your own style right away.

With the pandemic still relevant on the horizon, how do you guys look at your schedule for 2021? Is there a hope to perform in support of the album?

Holger: It's really a tough time right now. We would also like to present the new album live, as it would definitely be very popular with the fans, but we still have to be patient. There are some rough plans for concerts, but nothing definite. In close cooperation with our label, we are trying to promote the new album more online and hope to strengthen the existing fan base and expand it further.

Ferdinand: I don´t think we are able to perform live this year under normal conditions. And if there is a possibility under special circumstances, it will be hard for smaller clubs to fulfill the required conditions, if the smaller clubs survive. On the other hand, there are many bands waiting for their opportunity to perform. It is quite hard to get a gig when everything goes the normal way.

Since it has been a year of this curse going on, what do you miss most about the culture life?

Holger: I miss our friends and fans. The freedom to hang out together, enjoy a nice cold beer and indulge our favorite music together. Attending cool concerts or being on stage again. Or just rehearse properly and regularly. The fans also write to us regularly that they miss us and want to see us on stage again. It's a really fucking, sad time.

Ferdinand: It is the same with me. I´d like to meet my family and friends and go to concerts. Normal things like rehearsals and so on, is what I miss.

Guys, I wish to thank you deeply for your time for this interview. Many thanks for producing such a great record. The band’s name should really be out there more. Cheers.

Holger: Yes, Lior and Metal Temple magazine, we have to thank you. Also for this nice interview and your support. We’re of course very happy if you like our new album so much. Keep everyone healthy and keep your ears stiff, there will be better times and then we let it crash twice and three times, as if there was no tomorrow. "I won't think about tomorrow …" Horns up Metalheads.



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