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Horrizon's Martin Gerloff: "I tried to imagine the pain, the suffering and all the other feelings of a soul after having left the body"

Interview with Martin Gerloff from Horrizon
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 05 November 2019, 10:52 PM

It is always a pain to maintain a steady band lineup, especially when one is heavily keen to move forward, write songs, record and put out for the folks for grabs, and of course to perform live and tear some stages. However, there are those that aren't that lucky and have to struggle in order to keep everyone in line. Cases showed that it is sustainable, and every conflict can be resolved. Possibly it happened for the German Melodic Death Metal band Horrizon passing 2014. Now, signed to a new label, motivated with a new album, they are off to conquer. Steinmetal talked with the band's vocalist Martin Gerloff on the new effort, "World Of Pain", line up matters, songwriting, being traditional and more…

Cheers Martin, it is great having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, I trust that all well now in the Horrizon following the storms that surrounded the band in the past four years or so?

Cheers Lior, my pleasure!

Yes, exactly. After the release of our second album “Dwelling Within” in 2014, we had a lot of problems concerning our line-up. I can’t really say how many line-up changes we’ve had since then. Anyways, Peter is back and we’ve found a great second guitarist and a drummer who is a real machine. Franz, our bass guitarist, is the only one who has never left the band. However, I’m really satisfied with the new line-up!

Speaking of which, your new album, “World of Pain”, took a while to be completed due to these very inner conflicts and line-up changes. I guess this is the oldest news in the market when it comes to personnel right? Do you think that this delay actually made a positive effect on the end result?

Since Peter and I have always been the only songwriters in the band, the only line-up change that somehow had an impact on the album was when Peter left the band about two years ago. All the other line-up changes caused a hug demotivation, that’s for sure, but they didn’t really have a direct impact on the music itself.

Fortunately, Peter and I had all of our songs recorded when he decided to leave the band, so the only thing left to do was writing the lyrics. On “Dwelling Within”, Peter wrote the lyrics of four songs I guess. This time, I wrote the lyrics for all the songs on the album, but I don’t think the songs would have been better or worse if Peter had written some sets of lyrics like he did before. The fact that I wrote all the lyrics for the album probably made the album just a bit more conceptual.

Like I said, it’s great to have Peter back in the band, because I really can’t imagine writing a whole album – I mean the music - without his assistance. He doesn’t only write songs for our albums, he also composes most of the keyboard tracks – not only for his own songs, but also for the songs that I write. He’s very creative.

Have you ever thought about just tossing everyone aside, simply doing it all by yourself with session members to record the albums and perform live?

Maybe, that’s something I wished in times when we had all the problems and line-up changes, but I always knew that this was something totally impossible. Like almost every underground band, we have never earned money with our music, which would have been the requirement for paying session members. Well, now that we have a complete line-up again, I fortunately don’t have to deal with these problems anymore.

Freshly signed to Massacre Records, which I believe is a step up in comparison to your years with Yonah Records, how is the feeling of being part of a rather bigger label? What is your take on the ongoing promotion of “World of Pain”? Is there a good chance that would reach a whole lot more potential fans?

Oh yes, there is a big difference between the two labels. However, in all fairness, I have to say that Yonah Records is just a hobby label, so it was clear that we couldn’t expect that much from the cooperation. The label released our first two albums and we really enjoyed the time. Dirk Kramm, the label owner, is a very nice guy. Nevertheless, Massacre Records is a huge step up for us. It’s a great honor to be signed to such a professional and big label.

I don’t know what exactly we can expect from the cooperation, but reaching more fans and playing some cool festival shows could be some profits. That’s the only goal we have always had. It’s absolutely not about selling stuff or making money. It’s all about our fans out there and playing cool shows for them.

Talking about promotion, nowadays, there are various ways to promote one’s album, whether digitally or physically. Which of the promotional platforms do you see as the one that actually gets good results?

I personally have two favorites: Spotify and YouTube. However, I can’t tell which one is better for promotional purposes. I can only say that I always liked watching music videos and I think everyone does, so making music videos and releasing them via YouTube is probably a good way to promote one’s music. However, as I said, I’m not much into promotional stuff. That’s why we have label, haha.

As a concept, “World of Pain” shares the struggles of life, even boarding insanity and physical pain. When it comes to physical pain, the artwork is pretty strong, with an amputee in the center, which I believe it to be yourself. Why focus on pain as a conception? From the looks of things, mankind was born to suffer, is that it?

Haha, exactly – that’s me. As I said, we are a poor band, so we had to tighten the purse. That’s why I decided to be the one shown on the front cover artwork. However, I am absolutely satisfied with the result. It looks pretty awesome.

To be honest, there is no reason why I focused on pain as a conception. It’s just that the first set of lyrics was the one for the title track. When I finished the lyrics for this song, I immediately knew “World of Pain” was going to be the title of the album, too. So, I decided to keep writing about that topic.

When it comes to the album’s songwriting, you were the sole songwriter. How would you say that your songwriting abilities were developed while writing the tunes for “World of Pain”? Would you continue with being the main songwriting for the band’s next endeavors or is it depended on whether the album will be a success or not?

I was just the only song writer concerning the lyrics this time. Peter didn’t write as many songs as he did for “Dwelling Within” though, but he came up with four great songs after all. Concerning future albums, I honestly don’t know if I will be the only one writing lyrics. Hopefully not! I’m a quite lazy guy!

Before we lunge into the musical platter of “World of Pain”, a general one for you. What is your approach when writing a song? How do you find the way the integrate the music with the leading lyrical theme of the song?

Unlike other musicians, Peter and I always wrote the music before writing the lyrics. Some people say they prefer doing that the other way around, but I personally need music as an inspiration to be able to come up with lyrics. I think it’s just a matter of taste.

While plenty of bands that are still under the label of Melodic Death Metal, tend to scatter themselves within the circulations of Hardcore, Horrizon remained loyal to the mid to late 90s Swedish Melodic Death Metal heritage, which I don’t see the point of mentioning band references, as these are commonly known. Don’t you feel like a stranger in nowadays Metal scene? Is there still magnitude in your view to this direction of Death Metal in contrast to its Hardcorish development?

Haha, we don’t feel like strangers. We are just a bit more traditional which doesn’t mean that we are better. It’s just that we prefer traditional Metal and the traditional Metal scene. None of us listen to modern types of Metal and we never wanted to have “violent dancers” in front of our stages which might happen if your music sounds a bit too Hardcorish / Metalcorish.

When it comes to musical development, even if it doesn’t appear like that and there is a stick to one’s guns feel, every band makes a step when it launches a new album. How do you think Horrizon developed in the process of creating “World of Pain”? What makes the album standout in comparison to your early works?

The main difference between “World of Pain” and our former albums is the versatility, I guess. This time, there are some slower or mid-tempo songs on the album, but also fast songs with slower sequences, which makes the album more interesting. I guess it’s a step forward without disappointing any of our long-time fans out there.

“Where Am I?” is quite an exceptional track, a sorrowful ballad driven heavy chugger, on the verge of Paradise Lost in its orientation. I could easily reflect on the sense of being lost out there, without a guiding light. Where does this track take you? What were you thinking while writing it?

The song tells the story of someone who has died and doesn’t know what’s happening or where he is. I tried to imagine the pain, the suffering and all the other feelings of a soul after having left the body. It’s just fiction, but I really like the images that emerge when listening to the song.

Your collaboration with Andy Gillion of Mors Principium Est (MPE) is rather interesting, that solo on “Reborn” is pretty grand, and as a tribute to the latter’s own song no less. How did this idea come to be? Why integrating a Mors Principium Est solo in favor of Horrizon’s solo to be played by Gillion.

That’s a quite long story. I’ll try to cut it short.

I have been a Mors Principium Est fan for over 10 years. It’s still one of my favorite bands! When I wrote the main riff for “Reborn”, I first thought I would need to change or replace it for it was too similar to the main riff of the MPE song “The Unborn”. After thinking it over, I decided to title the song “Reborn” in order to make clear that the similarity was intentional. That way, the song had become sort of a tribute song.

About 2 ½ years ago, Andy Gillion posted on Facebook that the airline MPE took to get to Germany lost his guitar, so I took my guitar to their show in Weinheim, just in case the guitar would not be found by then. Well, that was the case. So, they took my guitar for that show and I also borrowed it for some following shows until they had a show in the Czech Republic where I went to get it back.

After their tour, I got in touch with Andy, I told him about the song and asked if he could write a solo for the song to make it become a pure MPE tribute song. In return for borrowing my guitar, he agreed and sent me the solo a few days later. The solo is just awesome!

The album’s sound production officially killed me, sent me back to the hungry days of this melodious edge of Metal music. Looking back at this complex process, did it turn out as you wished it to be? Is there a way to go forward with this turnout? It sounds to me like a keeper for the next release as well.

I’m glad you like the sound! I also think that Dominik, our producer, did a great job and the album really turned out like we wished it to be. Dominik will definitely be our choice when it comes to producing the next album.

What do you think are the challenges that are in front of Horrizon in the years to come, other than maintaining a stable lineup?

We never really had any other challenges besides maintaining a stable line-up, so I will keep focusing on that, haha.

Have you started booking shows for 2020 in order to support “World of Pain”?

By now, only two shows for the end of 2020 have been confirmed. We decided to wait until the release of “World of Pain” and to then start booking shows and apply for festival shows. It’s always better to do that right after releasing a new album. That’s at least my personal experience.

Martin, I would like to thank you for your time for this interview. “World of Pain” feels like your personality was drawn into it and it shows that there is a lot of heart. Good luck on the road ahead. Cheers mate.

Thank you too, Lior! It was a real pleasure.



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