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Desaster's Infernal: "Religion was invented, I think, to excuse all the bad things man is doing, you know, all the killing"

Interview with Infernal from Desaster
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 09 June 2021, 11:14 PM

Keeping the flame alive, the spirit true to its older self. There is no use keeping up with the world, in particular if there is that tiny thought that the world is going down, music wise. The longstanding Black / Thrash Metal band, Desaster, has been loyal to their fans, and their fans loyal to them. Their musical legacy has been important, they live and breathe Metal music, even at this stage in their career. Set to release their new album, "Churches Without Saints", they continue to antagonize the institution of religion and share their system of beliefs that appeared to be quite wide and depth. Steinmetal had a talk with founder, Markus Kuschke, aka Infernal, about the new album, the pandemic, the experience and more to it…

Hello Infernal, it is an honor having you for this conversation for Metal Temple online Magazine, I trust that things are looking better, considering what has been going on worldwide in the past year or so?

Thank you, it's an honor for me being on your magazine. Yes, of course, it's a big shit what is going on this planet at the moment and the past year. But things are looking better now because it seems that it's coming to an end now. Even in Germany, where you have to fill in one formula and another formula and a third formula to get your vaccination, it's going on. And I think that soon also concerts will be possible again and we can play live and we are very hot to do this. And yeah, we're looking forward to that.

What has been keeping you going, motivated to do things, and not merely music, this past year?

Well, it was, in fact, heavy metal music that kept me personally going the last year because I was in a home office and I could listen to heavy metal music while working. So that was a good thing. That was not possible before at my work place. So that kept me going. And of course, the music Desaster played and rehearsed at the time, kept us alive in spirit, despite we couldn't do some live shows. But we had the time then to work on the new album very, very hard. And we enjoyed being in the rehearsal room playing the new stuff. And yes I think we really could concentrate on the new songs. In the past, you always were interrupted by rehearsing for shows, and that means that you couldn't concentrate all the time on newer material. But this time it was the other way round and we had all the time we needed to make a good album.

Do you think that we are on the verge of getting out of it? Bury our dead and learn forward how to confront such threats to our ways of life?

Yes, I think that the end is near. Not only of the of the Covid-19 virus, but also of the world and it is near. Just kidding. But in fact, I really think that mankind won't learn anything about that or with that, you know. I doubt that mankind will change anything because I think mankind man is only an animal intelligent animal. But in fact, I don't think that we have learned something. So mankind will go on. We go on destroying the world and people will go on destroying themselves, killing each other like they always do. And they will do it forever.

With Desaster, as a band that shares no favor, or flavor, for the institution of religion, perhaps this pandemic showed a different side of mankind that has nothing to do with religion, or commandments, or do or must not do. The inner wish to help others in times of need for instance, do you think that we learned something from this experience, that there is beyond religion but rather being social?

I don't think that human beings really helped out each other through this pandemic. I see a lot of bad things going on, you know, people in Germany buying toilet paper for the guarantee, and you know, and they were really fighting about the last pack of toilet paper and stuff like that. And yes, but okay, I agree with you that we don't need religions to be some kind of a social being. I think in the past, when we were still living in caves, you know, we couldn't kill each other all the time because we sometimes need others. Religion was invented, I think, to excuse all the bad things man is doing, you know, all the killing. And yes, it's for me, a religion is the fuel of destruction. If you know what I mean.

It sure has been a while since your previous album, and yes you were missed, but eventually you made it back with "Churches Without Saints", once again reminding the world the true nature of Desaster. Now, I understand that life, on its own, is a reason for taking time, and perhaps also to focus on the material to highest of quality, nonetheless, there is that keeping in touch with the fans, do you believe that “Black Celebration", or two years back, is enough an offering before another full length?

Heavy metal fans in general are very loyal and especially fans in the extreme metal underground, they are so fucking maniac and so they're really loyal and I don't think they have forgotten Desaster in the last five years. It is true that we are an underground band, so we are doing underground releases like this “Black Celebration" 7' you mentioned which was the 35th anniversary of the band. We did some splits singles also 7' vinyl singles you know, that's our style that's our stuff we ever did. Albums are also important but we always care about all those little releases, like these singles and stuff like that, as we like it.

Of course it was time for a new Desaster album. I think it was also time to present the new lineup to the audience you know, we really had some time to focus on the material. So we spent a lot of time at the rehearsal room playing the new songs, arranging them, changing stuff, and so it was really good we weren't interrupted by live shows as I said earlier, and therefore the quality. We made a lot of effort to make the songs sound better. And yeah, we paid a lot of attention on presenting a lot of variety on the album. Therey are fast songs fast black metal songs, but also the burning Thrash metal tracks alongside epic tunes and some slow stuff, as well. The title song is a slow one and also the last song before the outro is quite the epic song with a blackened climax at the end, all the pounding blasting stuff together in one song. As you can see, we are very proud about the new album.

Since you guys have always been fighting against religion, as a business or institution, "Churches Without Saints" maintains your strong point of view, in regards to the religious hypocrisy. Therefore, what do you think holds this title as a matter of magnitude? Is there a learning curve for people that see, or listen to this, to understand that it is about time to wake up?

Well, in fact, I don't believe that any Catholic who is listening to the Desaster, that a new album will change his mind and stop praying to God or that anybody will leave the church. I think there are other reasons for things like that. But yes, it's a statement. Of course, we ever were anti-religious and an anti-Christian band with lyrics going in this direction.

In the past, we had more primitive lyrics like, say, Devil, Sword, Satan, Soldiers Syndicate, or, for example, sacrilege, you know, but now the lyrics are more realistic. And yes, it's a statement, as you pointed it out correctly, of course, against not only the Catholic Church, but all churches around the world, all religious institutions, because we think that if a belief, if the religion is institutionalized, it will ever be, but they will ever fight against other beliefs and institutions. And everybody is thinking he has the right belief and his believing in the in the one and only God, you know, and those institutions are responsible for all those fighting and wars going on in the history of mankind. And, yeah, in fact, we say we don't need it. Mankind will destroy each other also without any religion, but perhaps not that fast.

There is that belief, and it goes to nearly all religions, that there is that one element that is bound to save your soul, yet you have to give yourself to it. Sometimes it seems as if to relinquish the responsibility for your actions to something else. Are you offering something else instead as a solution or simply have people live their lives to the fullest?

Yeah, Satanism has been very having its very own philosophy, which is pointing out in the very first song on the album called Learn to Love the Void, it says that if everybody would accept that there's absolutely nothing after you die, that there is no paradise there. There's no Valhalla with free beer. There is no paradise with virgins waiting for you. But if you accept it, there is nothing you would have to fear from, including death, and you won't have to fear what is coming after. And you would pay more attention on living now and not on what is going on after you die. So, yes, that's its philosophy. And I also can share its opinion. That's our belief, you know. And I think if more people would think like that, there would be more little freedom and peace on Earth.

In connection to the pandemic, do you believe that this phenomenon actually strengthened the message of "Churches Without Saints"?

I really think that this pandemic has showed how false and with how much hypocrisy, especially the Catholic Church, is filled with. I saw that the churches were closed during the pandemic day. They feared also to do masses, you know, and so they betrayed their own belief. I think that that Jesus, if you believe in the Bible, he was talking and surrounded by leper people and he healed them, of course. But he wasn't afraid of any virus or any bacteria or anything else. And you see now in this fucking pandemic, everybody is afraid of a little virus.

Of course, we had to take it seriously. No doubt about it. And I also care about my brother, who is handicapped and who has a lung disease. And of course, I cared for him and separated from him the during the time until his vaccination. But on the other hand, I think that healthy people could have met and could have done more for helping the weak part of society. But as you see, nobody in the Catholic Church did anything against this virus. They also have a big mouth like every time. So I really think it was not approving how. Yeah. How useless this institution is?

One of the things that I like about you guys are that you don’t feel any pressure upon being part of the market, in terms of highly active involvement, meaning putting out albums at a more or less rapid pace. I know that the vast majority of bands aren’t really living from their musical outputs, but don’t you believe that your music has more than an ample quality to be strongly spread, in order to be better recognized?

We were never that much into business. It was never our purpose to become rich and famous. We really don't feel the need to play in every town on Earth to sell our CDs and records to the last kid in town. You know, that's not our goal. So, yeah, we are not a professional band. That's true. That's right. As you said, we never feel a pressure from anywhere, there is no label that is behind us and pushing to record a new album. And we also don't feel a need to do it.

Of course if there are enough new songs, we really want to release them as an album. And that's our decision then. When we want to play live, we do it so we don't earn our living from the music. We are totally free and that's a good thing. I think that's one of the secrets why Desaster exists for such a long time. For the years. Over 30 years now. I think that's one of the secrets we are fresh, we still enjoy ourselves in the rehearsal room. And therefore every concert is a kind of celebration. It's something special, you know, to go on stage to celebrate metal music and to bang your heads together with the fans and afterwards to a good party, together with the maniacs, you know. Talking about heavy metal music, drink beer, that that's our way of life. That's really cool. And so I think we will go on for some more years if we manage to keep this flame alive.

Desaster, and that is one of the things that I like about it, is that it has never been really affected by trends, maintaining its musical construct, clashing swords between the extremities of Metal alongside traditional elements. "Churches Without Saints" walks the same path. Even so, and your opinion is crucial, what do you think is different on this album in contrast to things that you produced earlier one?

Thank you. This is a compliment for us that we are not affected by trends and we don't progress at all. That's a bad word for us. Progression, you know. No, we are fans of heavy metal music and we also don't like it. Bands are changing their styles too much. You know, that's always a disappointment. I think if they want to progress and do something different and do a totally different sound and music, they should change their name.

For us as a Desaster, we always played this kind of music. I must say that at the very beginning, we also were trying to find our own style. Perhaps the first album, A Touch of Medieval Darkness, was still a little bit more metal, but it also already had this to thrash metal influences or roots shown on the album. But especially the singing was a little bit more black metal in those days and at the very beginning of Desaster. But later we found our style. And since then we are doing as we call it, the traditional black metal because we know that black metal wasn't invented in Norway in 1991, but there were some bands before and they were had a different sound. You know, for me, black metal is also Mercyful Fate and Possessed, even if the latter have invented the term death metal. For me, it was always black metal, and of course, we grew up with bands like this, but we were also influenced by the Norwegian bands, no doubt about that.

And I think in the in the beginning, on the first album, you can hear it. But later on Stormbreaker, the mini album from 1997, that was our statement. That time was the real beginning of the original Desaster sound. We even did the Kreator cover because we were also influenced by the older Thrash bands, you know, and that is our style. We want to keep it forever. And yes, I think the new album doesn't offer anything very new. Of course, the new dramatic flavor brings some new rhythms with it. But on the whole, the songwriting is it's the same as it was for years.

The only point I want to mention, which is a little bit different this time, it's the sound of the album. This time I wanted a different sound. I wasn't that much satisfied with the sound of the last album. It was too modern sounding to my ears. So I wanted an old school sound. For example, I never liked the sound of the Tyrants of the Netherworld album from the year 2000. And yeah, I wanted to go back in this direction, not copy it, but being influenced by it. Again, a more organic sound, a more natural sound. And I think we managed to get this on the new album.

Yes, it is true that you have been a veteran songwriter, and you developed quite a talent for creating that special blackened atmosphere over brutal tunes, yet, we learn new things every day. How do you perceive your continued development as a songwriter while working on "Churches Without Saints"?

In fact, the only. New thing with songwriting on this album was that it went much faster than they normally, so with the new drummer, Hont, who is very skilled, very talented. I could write a lot a lot faster than in the past with Tormentor. We always did a lot of trial and error kind of songwriting, you know, and we tried this to match a riff and another rhythm. And, yeah, Hont immediately knew what the rhythm was, matching my riffs because he studied the old Desaster stuff very well and therefore, the songwriting was much faster.

However, generally, nothing changed at all. It is always the same. I come up with some riffs and we try them in the rehearsal room. If the feeling is there, as you mentioned, you said this black and especially black and atmosphere. Yeah. Very good term for our sound I think. And if we feel this evil intent, we always say, that the riffs have some evil intent and the rhythms match the riffs, then we are satisfied and then the song is a good one. And yeah, I think we have managed to keep also the spirit alive through the years. It's our kind of music, our favorite style of music. We managed to develop this style, this kind of songwriting to a very high point of quality I would say.

Through the course of the record, I enjoyed the fusion of Traditional Heavy Metal riffs and melodies over the darkened Black, Death and Thrash Metal deliveries. And I believe that it turned up a notch on this album. How do you find melodies as part of Desaster’s musical legacy going on, in light of "Churches Without Saints"?

I hate if somebody says that he is not influenced by the music he is listening to, so I don't have a problem to say that, of course. I'm influenced by the stuff I'm listening to. And it's a lot of different kind of stuff. It's not only all styles of heavy metal music, but it's also a classical music. I also listen to some pop music right now, but more old stuff from the 80s, you know, you grew up with as a kid. So all of this influenced me. I don't steal any riffs or melodies only I being influenced by a certain melody. So on the new record, without saying if you listen very carefully, you can even if you can even find a melody of the older German music. Yeah. What it is called Techno. It was bred in Germany.  The band Kraftwerk are considered as the inventors of techno music, electronic music. I hope you know this band even if you are not into electronic music. But yes, it was some of the music I grew up on. And my brothers, they had this album and I was listening to it a lot of times. And those melodies kept stuck in my mind. And, yeah, it's it was a kind of a coincidence when we were writing the new album that this old melody appeared in my mind and I had to use it in the song. What was it? I think it's on the track Endless Awakening. Yes. So you see, we are inspired, we are influenced by a lot of different things. Also, in the past, we were inspired by some film music from horror movies, epic films, you know, and yeah, there are a lot of influences. And they come all together in the big, which is part of what is it called. I don't know the English word.

While writing, and recording, "Churches Without Saints", what kind of lesson learned from the past did you implement on this record? Perhaps things that you missed earlier, or perhaps being more of a perfectionist about things?

When we write an album, we don't have a special plan, we just write songs and of course, at the end of the songwriting process, we take care if there is enough variety. If we already have two or three black metal songs, then we say, OK, this is enough blasting. We should do another thrash metal song or another epic tune because this is just missing on the album. But there are no real plans when we are starting the songwriting.

The only thing planned this time was really that we wanted to sound different than before. Also, we wanted to sound different than all the other bands today. I think most modern productions sound the same, that sound alike. Everybody is using the same equipment, the same recording techniques, the same computer programs and mastering programs. I wanted to change in some way. And so it was very, very cool that our mixer came up with a very old mixing board. It was so huge that it hardly worked in the rehearsal room. It was also not working properly and not every knob was working. Correct. So we had to try here and there. But I think this old board, this old mixing board made something with the sound of the album. It helped to create this kind of warm and natural old school sound that I wanted to have.

Taking on a massive form of blackened Thrash Metal and old school driven classic Metal is “Primordial Obscurity". It is mostly entrusted on a single riff, yet it hit the spot with finesse. How do you find this track?

I think “Primordial Obscurity" is a typical Desaster, a black metal thrasher. It was already released on the black celebration 12, not 12 inches, seven inch single we released to celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2019. It was, yes, 30 years of Desaster were celebrated with this seven-inch single. And on the side B, there was already this song included primordial obscurity, which was meant to be an appetizer for our fans that they could perhaps feel how the new album will sound like And yeah, I think it's a good song. It has a fantastic middle part, a slow middle part with great, great tunes, great melodies and satanic singing so, so fucking great. I like this one a lot. Yes.

“Armed Architects of Annihilation” takes on a fiercer form, really making havoc with a mighty blow to the skull. Moreover, it is quite catchy I might add, therefore considering the fact that you aren’t really aiming to be marketable, it sure worked out for you. What is your take on this tune?

I also like this track. It's not my favorite track on the album, but also a good one. And this one also shows the different styles that influences me. For example, at the very beginning, the first riff is inspired by an old English punk band called Broken Bones. And then the following melody is typical speed metal riff. And then comes and fresh metal riff. And yeah. So you see that that's a good mixture. And I. Yeah. I'm glad you like it. Thank you very much.

Reminding the somewhat rawness of the late 80s, I believe that "Churches Without Saints" has it in full. What changes were made in the band’s sound in order to reach such naturality?

We tried to make it sound more natural, more organic, more old school as well. And yeah, you know, we play or at least I play it the same equipment for 30 years now. I always use my Ibanez left hand guitar. I use my old Hiwatt amplifier. I have St. Peter and Marshall speakers. That's it. This is my sound. And yeah, so I wanted to catch this sound. I have always in the rehearsal room on the record and this time I'm really satisfied with it. It has a cool sound, the cool, warm sound. That was our goal. And yeah, I like it.

What do you miss most of the cultural life that you wish it to return to as fast as possible?

Of course, hanging around in the pub with the other maniacs drinking draught beer, you know, that's still the most missing thing. And yeah, I was glad two days ago, our local pop opened reopened our metal bar. Here at Koblenz, our hometown opened the garden and everybody was happy. And I went there and yeah, you know, I had I still have after two days a big, big headache while doing this interview right now, because I I'm not used to drink that much anymore. I think so. I was suffering after that. But I am still glad that things are getting normal right now. And hopefully next month, in July, we can play the first the first concert after the lockdown. So yeah, we are looking forward to it.

How does 2021 looking out for Desaster?

We are very to release a new album this year, 2021, and of course we are hot to play the new songs live. And as it seems like the possibility will be there to do some shows this year. And we are looking forward to them. And yeah, that will be cool that we can play live again.

Infernal, I wish to thank you a lot for your time and effort for this interview. No doubt you are strong at your craft and Desaster sounds amazing with "Churches Without Saints"

Thank you very much for your very, very good questions. It was a pleasure to answer the questions. I hope you don't mind that. I didn't type it down because of lack of time. I hope you can understand what I wanted to say with my shitty English. And yeah, thank you very much for the compliments.

I also think that the new album is a very strong album. I wouldn't say that it's our best album like everybody is doing and telling you about the newest album. I think the best albums of Desaster were in 2000-2002. With Tyrants of the Netherworld and with Divine Blasphemies there we had our strongest, strongest period, I would say, we were still young and fresh. And yeah, we were hot. We had the time to rehearse three, four times in a week. Of course, great songwriting back in the day.

However, we also had it now with the lockdown. It had a good effect on the songwriting process for the new album. That is why it is also considered a strong album. I hope that everybody is checking it out. Everybody who liked us before will also love the new one. And the others who never liked us, they won't be friends of Desaster, so don't buy it. Don't check it out.

Thank you. I had a good time. Hope to see you on the road. Bye bye. Bang up. Bang.



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