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Fatal Embrace's Dirk Heiland: "Can Metal make a person better? haha Yes, that may be true, but there are assholes everywhere. However, I think that real Metal Maniacs have a good heart"

Interview with Dirk "Heiländer" Heiland from Fatal Embrace
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 16 September 2019, 11:19 PM

Running with the pack is the easiest thing possible, yet to indulge upon being against the grain, well that could be risky, especially in such a demanding Metal worlds like nowadays. The German Thrash Metallers, Fatal Embrace, throughout their career, never gave up, they always held strong no matter the hardships and odds against them. Through them, the old Metal flame burns bright and their new album "Operation Genocide" is a continued proof of that. Steinmetal had a talk with Dirk "Heiländer" Heiland about the new album, band challenges, their place in the Metal world of the present and more…

Hello Dirk, it has been far too long, due to the fact that you have been one of my first interviewees for Metal Temple online Magazine, back in 2010, when Fatal Embrace released “The Empires Of Inhumanity”, the same year that I began writing for the magazine. How have you been sir?

Yes, time passes quickly. It is already 9 years ago. And I'm getting older, but I'm still alive..ha ha ..But we need a new fast and good drummer!

Well, here we are nine years later indeed, seeking to know more about the new “Operation Genocide”, via Iron Shield Records. I know that I skipped a record in the process, please forgive me for that. Please describe your excitement about this new record, how do you feel about the end result hot from the studio before it pierces the ears of your followers?

I think "Operation Genocide" is a very varied album, including faster and slower songs, energetic driven songs. The production is also very good. You're never really satisfied … ha ha, but I like the new CD.

Out of curiosity, why the long gaps between releases? Of course that I assume that everyday life could be one of the many answers, yet it would be interesting to know what has been up with the Fatal Embrace camp?

Normally, we would release an album every two years, but there are always too many problems. Some bandmates did not have the right attitude, then there were always changes of line-ups, problems in the studios, many personal tragedies … and much more. Normally, it means death, reputation wise, when you release an album after 4-5 years as an underground band, but Fatal Embrace keeps coming back..ha ha

From there I am sitting (here listening), “Operation Genocide” generally presents a band that has been true to its influences and music style since day one. Though the record sounds like a sharp edged knife, as an old school Thrash Metal record should, I am listening to more of the same, just different songs. What is your opinion about that? Do you think that “Operation Genocide” has a dissimilar approach musically? 

Oh, hard to say, Fatal Embrace will always play 100% METAL and the music will always be in the same direction. However, I think we will get more diverse, connect many different Metal genres, we will always play high-speed songs, but also melodic or slow tempo songs. We put a lot of emphasis on our songwriting. We never want to do the same thing over and over again.

In overall, do you think that “Operation Genocide” is a game changer for Fatal Embrace in the market, even in the underground? That record that could potentially make it more noticeable or are you comfortable with your current status?

As I said, we are never satisfied, contentment or arrogance mean death. If we didn't always have these lineup changes, we would have gone further forward to achieve our goal. We always try to find ways to become exceptional without selling our souls or betraying the foundation of our music.

What can you tell about the songwriting process surrounding “Operation Genocide”? Is it still a team effort or rather a member, or two, took it upon themselves to craft the tunes, later introducing to the rest of the guys? 

Well, it's always a team effort. The guitarists have ideas, record demos at home and play them in front of all the band members. Then come the subtleties, changes, rhythm section, vocals and lyrics. On the whole, it works like that with us.

In your viewpoint, what is the main lyrical concept within “Operation Genocide”? It is no secret for me that you have been into the darkest themes in Metal music, yet I am looking for something deeper. 

I have been a metal fan since the 80s, for about 35 years. When I heard Venom or Slayer for the first time, or saw pictures of them, I knew that it was bound to be my world. I love to write hellish texts about death, devils, murder, mental illness, torture, war and madness. It fits best with Fatal Embrace.

"Operation Genocide" is also about the destruction of Europe, the whole world, war, expulsion, terror, fear. We are not a socio-critical band, but what has been happening on Earth is incredible and criminal. We are ruled by corrupt inhuman criminals. The world will be destroyed because no one is doing anything against these killers. Weapons are used by armored corporations in war zones with the help of governments. Misery, flight and terror are the consequences. Of course, some lyrics are also about real metal fans, our scene, cohesion and brotherhood.

Which of the album’s tunes do you find as your no. 1? That single song that makes you sit down and think about things. 

"Forevermore" is very important, I wrote the text for my deceased friend Andreas Freitag, the organizer of the Taunus Metal Festival. He died of cancer cruelly and I'm so sorry for that, still. Well, finding out a few songs is always difficult, I think that the whole album is completely good and important to me. For example, ‘’Betray Your Heroes’’ and ‘’Spawn Of Plagues’’ are pretty rad.

As the last piece of the puzzle for this record, you chose to record a cover for Anthrax’s “Metal Thrashing Mad”. A nostalgic Thrash Metal tune no doubt. You made an amazing version, that has quite an energy blast, minus the high pitching that is not there, yet a great execution. Why choose this tune? Other than being from a legendary band, what does it mean for you? 

The good old Anthrax were awesome; the first 3 albums are absolute cult. ''Metal Thrashing Mad'' is one of their best songs. Our version is pretty brutal and a tribute to this great metal band. We have many influences and idols. Slayer, Maiden, AC-DC, Metallica, Death, Priest, Accept, Megadeth - we also covered all these bands in the past.

After all these years as part of a Metal scene that created giants, in light of the modernized Metal subgenres that became attention grabbers, even more than nine years ago since we last spoke, what still makes you tick to continue the Fatal Embrace vision?

Real, unadulterated Metal is my attitude towards life, I do not care what others do, we make Metal for Metal fans, that's all. Nowadays, everything is mixed up, pop, country, hip hop, metal …. that's terrible and cruel. There is still a true metal scene and we belong to it.

Off topic, yet still Metal, it was found that Metal music can make a person better. After all the stuff that has been put on Metal music throughout the years, do you believe that it is actually true?

Can Metal make a person better? haha Yes, that may be true, but there are assholes everywhere. However, I think that real Metal Maniacs have a good heart. I think and I know a lot of metal brothers who are totally alright.

Touring wise, have you found that booking agency that could manifest plans for you in order to support the new album? Any local shows in the works?

Unfortunately, we do not have a booking agency just yet, that's a pity. We already had inquiries from Malaysia, USA or South America, but unfortunately it did not work, because one or two shows were missing or there was no money for the flights. We do everything ourselves, yet we need an agency, that's the right and better to have. We would have loved to play on every continent and would like to perform in every country on Earth. We need help. Absolutely. In the last years we have played in over 20 countries including Italy, Latvia, Estonia, Switzerland, Spain, Poland, Kosevo … We also hope we recruit a new drummer soon. We shared the stages in recent years with Sodom, Holy Moses, Destruction, Tankard, Metal Church, Assassin, Protector, Armored Angel, Postmortem, Desaster, Witchburner, Eminenz, Asphyx, Grave Digger, Vader..and many more….

Dirk, it has been a pleasure doing this interview with you, next time we will try not to make it after another nine years. I am loving “Operation Genocide”, this is how old school Metal should sound. Well done man. All the best!

Thank you very much, it is an honor for us to have been interviewed by you. We strive to have less problems to release a new album faster, I hope so…haha, thanks to all the fans for their support, all the best for your Metal magazine. Stay Metal, Stay Brutal, Stay Evil …

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