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Interview - A. (Mountain Throne)

Interview with A. from Mountain Throne
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 30 March 2014, 6:08 PM

MOUNTAIN THRONE began in 2009, their first album, “Serpent's Heathland” (their EP) was released the following year. It was followed up by Crazy Train/Trumpets of Autumn in 2011. Finally, in 2013, their new, full-length album, “Stormcoven” was released. Steinmetal got to sit down with A. the guitarist for a tell-all interview. 

Hello there mate, I would like to extend my gratitude for your time for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been?

Hi! Well, we´re all busy, aren´t we!? Seriously though, right now we´re amazed at all the positive reactions to the “Stormcoven”-album, and we hope that some nice gigs will ensue out of this later this year.

Prior for our talk about your debut album, “Stormcoven”, which was recently released, what you can tell about the band? What are your origins?

I had the origins in my head for a good long while until I finally founded the band with J.(drummer) in 2009. We had been the rhythm section for German Doom Metal band Mirror of Deception for many years already, so we knew each other pretty well personally as well as musically. Like I said, the idea to a band a like this and the appropriate songs had been existing a while already, and in 2009 we decided to do something about that. We didn´t know though that we´d be playing gigs and recording several releases at that point, it started as a mere project. But the songs kept coming, still do,…and here we are! Our singer F. and bassman S. are both Heavy Metal veterans who´d been active in bands since the mid 1980es.

I have noticed that as a German band, you guys haven’t quite endorsed the Teutonic nature of your country’s Metal (al’a Accept for that matter), and rather followed British lines. Have you guys been fans of NWOBHM? What is so inspiring for your personally regarding the era of Metal music?

Difficult question! I mean, I like Accept, but you´re right, that didn´t seem to have that much of an effect on Mountain Throne´s music. It´s probably because especially the Dio-albums of Black Sabbath, but also Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Rainbow and others are the most important ones for me. That coupled with a slightly raw approach to the music (a la Saint Vitus or Venom) probably defines the sound best. And yeah, many NWOBHM bands were really great (e.g. Angelwitch, Witchfynde, Elixir amongst countless others), you had a lot of pretty raw sounding groups back then, and I like that about Metal. But there are German bands that are really important as well, it´s just maybe not that obvious … For instance the first albums of Stormwitch (who originated out of the same village as me, by the way!) are just great and I can´t get enough of them. AND the Scorpions have without a doubt recorded the best albums for a german band, just think of In Trance, Fly to the Rainbow, Virgin Killer, Lovedrive or Taken by Force. Something completely different but equally important for Mountain Throne would have to be the complete oeuvre of Bathory. Dead inspiring. Not german though, haha!

Do you believe that nowadays the worldwide Metal scene practically lost the magic within vintage Metal or on the contrary that you perceive the present as a means of reviving the older sounds and echoes of the past? A process that you guys are a part of in one way or another.

I can only speak for us (as opposed to the worldwide Metal scene), but what is crucial about our band is that we want to play the kind of Heavy Metal that we want to hear. And this is the result. Plain and simple! There was no premeditation like “we have to sound like this, or we should avoid that”. We´re of course aware that there are quite some bands who seem to look to the past rather than the present, which of course is fine (and makes sense-I mean, the old gods do sound better than bands performing to nowadays´”standards”, don´t they!?). The reason why this is happening I don´t know, I guess that many people simply don´t like what the “mainstream (Metal) industry” tries to feed them, and instead take a look back to the golden days.  Like I said, for us, it just came out that way, there was no choice. And this isn´t gonna change, I can tell you that much, ha!

Now for your debut album, “Stormcoven”, recently presented under a linked deal with your local label Cyclone Empire. I must say the dossier made for you accurately described your efforts on restoring the grandeur of old Metal. What is your personal appreciation of the album? How it has been perceived by your local scene and beyond?

Funny, there were remarks on the “empty” blabla on the promotional sheet, but that´s just what it is! So, thank you for acknowledging that! Also, I like the word “Grandeur”; I will try to use that myself more often…

Reception of the album has been almost nothing but great thus far, with only one or two exceptions. And most people seemed to get what we are doing, this was especially satisfying. Comments on the sound, the influences and the approach were in many cases really spot on, and that showed us that we´d done something right, and that´s a good thing. Personally I like the fact that we already have a pretty stripped down setup for recording, it was skeletal almost. There are rarely more than 2 tracks of guitar per song, most solos are first takes, the drums were recorded in a rehearsal room, you know, that to me is how it should be. Not too much technical fuss. I can´t stand these productions with 800 layers of guitar, triggered drums, no audible bass at all and all that. And then of course I like the songs as such, they still sound good in my stereo! (and belive me, they´ve already been doing a few spins in there…).

Through the album’s name, and not just the artwork, there is a feeling of the deep woods. Were you aiming towards a thing of a sort when you chose the name or was it something different entirely?

Well, especially the album title (and the respective song, naturally) are based on the old European myth of the wild hunt. The artwork is supposed to merely reflect the feeling of unease, of something hidden and not quite visible, but ready to break out any moment…maybe in a bit of a Lovecraftian sense, you know.

In terms of sound and production, do you feel that you found your own niche while remaining true to nostalgia or in the future will you be taking a different course of action?

To me soundwise the album is already pretty close to what we envisioned, see above. Of course having Martin Birch produce the next one would be ideal…he has done the best albums I heard so far in my life. More to the question, we won´t change a lot, but maybe go even closer to our live sound, i.e. less rhythm guitars during solos, maybe even less guitar tracks (meaning just one, then, haha!). That means that the bass guitar will become even more important, which is how it should be. We´d also quite like to record completely live (best way in terms of dynamics), but that will presumeably be too difficult, too, unfortunately.

Material wise, your music has a strong traditional Doom / Epic Metal vibe neatly laid in, even creating a medieval aura. Though I asked you in general about British Metal, what can you comment about the way Doom Metal has affected your music?

A lot of our music is rooted in what Black Sabbath have been doing, so the Doom Metal- element is just logical. Plus, Sabbath are probably the most important of Heavy Metal´s founding fathers, and they always had very heavy, slow riffs. Thus for me, Heavy Metal and Doom Metal are inextricably linked, and this is why the heavy element will never leave our sound. And let´s not forget that many bands called “Doom Metal” are in fact offering quite diverse records full of variation, as opposed to the stereotype of monotonous, always very slow and boring music that they are sometimes perceived to represent. Sabbath are the best example, but also Saint Vitus, they had those faster songs rooted in punk, or Trouble, they always had more up-tempo numbers too, Witchfinder General, to name just a few. And sometimes, the mood that is created by these slow, heavy riffs is simply irreplaceable. Fit in a tritonus somewhere, and hell is open!

Any particular tracks that you claim to be your personal hits? The ones that you find closer to your heart in comparison to others.

Picking favourites here is tricky for me. Forced at gunpoint I’d have to say Priestess of the Old and Totem. But then the solos on Winter and On the Mountain Throne are better…

Can you elaborate about them regarding their themes and also your personal touch on them regarding the actual songwriting?

Actually I don´t want to go into too much details here, as I like to leave that to the listener. Suffice to say that we have, following the old Motörhead-formula of “one antireligious song per album” just that. Then, some are based on old myths and legends, some on literature, and some are just stories. Inspiration can come from so many different corners!

Since a while the music industry has been taking a different turn towards a vast digital age while music fans rather appreciate files than the actual CD. What is your input on that as a musician and an artist?

I guess they have to do that for promotions sake. Personally, I don´t listen to files at all, don´t even own an mp3-player & have no music on my computer. I prefer listening to my vinyls, but of course do also buy cds a lot when either a.) the record isn´t available on vinyl or b.) it´s a Slayer record, as I can´t play vinyls on my car stereo, haha!

What are the future plans for the band in the coming year?

Hopefully playing some gigs & maybe record some more songs…keep the wheels turning!

I wish to thank you for the interview mate, your band has something that not many others have and that is the achievement, talent and the motivation to rehash the past at its best. Any last words for the readers?

Thanks for your kind words! Heavy Metal or no Metal at all!!!


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