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Interview - Yakir Shochat (Hammercult)

Interview with Yakir Shochat from Hammercult
by Marcos "Big Daddy" Garcia at 29 January 2014, 1:22 PM

For those who are up to new bands on Metal scene, the Israeli Thrash Metal band HAMMERCULT is one fine example of a band that can do some rescue from Old School Metal with moderns aspects, opening new possibilities to Thrash Metal, as their new album “Steelchrusher” shows to us all. And Big Daddy had the opportunity to have this interview with Yakir Shochat, vocalist of the band, to talk about some aspects from the past, their present efforts and ambitions, and the plans for the future.

 Hi, Yakir! It’s a pleasure to talk with you, and we thank a lot for this interview. So, let’s start: Why did you end HANGMAN and started a new band, HAMMERCULT? And what are the biggest differences between the two bands, talking about the music itself?

Hi Marcos – great to sit down and talk here at Metal Temple. Wow – you did some digging ha? Hahaha. Well you know we in Hangman decided to disband in 2006. We started as very young and hungry guys, and had a moderate success in the underground community, signed in some small yet supporting labels, released an Split 7’ vinyl and recorded an album that was never released, as we disbanded nearly at the end of the recording process. Again, we were very young and lacked the maturity factor that is required for a band to be successful for the long run.

I took a break from music and studied a degree in computer science and become a gym/sports addict – but the musical passion was still burning within me. 4 years later, as a younger and smarter person life dealt me some new cards, as Elad and myself just ‘clicked’ – and from there it was magic.

While Hangman was a pure old school thrash band who sounds like a tribute to the 80’s German Thrash bands, Hammercult is totally different – taking everything that is good in extreme metal and modern metal and mixing it with the old school metal spirit. I truly can say that my life in the past 3 years are a new life – and can be considered ‘before’ and ‘after’ Hammercult.

I truly believe that our potential with Hammercult is endless.

Another one from the past: why you did released your first EP, “Rise of the Hammer” in a free digital download form, back in 2011? And how the things worked in this form? Can you tell us how many people downloaded the EP, as well the countries you had a great response?

We wanted to release our music for all and for free – as it was the best and quickest way to make a buzz online. After the digital release (which is still available at ITunes) there were 2 physical versions released under Sonic Attack Records: 1 a promo release for zines and a jewel case CD – which both were sold out completely soon after, is we in November 2011 we were on a European tour with DRI in order to promote this release.
The release made a great buzz online for a debut and got us a good exposure in the online media. – Territory wise it was mostly praised in Germany, France and Italy.

And what about “Anthems of the Damned”? How the things worked out with the album? Did it open some doors for you? And how was the reception to it from Metal press and Metal maniacs worldwide?

Anthems Of The Damned was our first breakthrough to the global metal scene – and was highly praised both by the Metalheads and by various journalists worldwide, from RockHard to Metal Hammer. We were truly honored and do not take it’s success for granted. It gave us a great platform to support it in a large scale European tours (touring with legendary act as Sepulture, Malevolent Creation, Hatebreed and many more) and we were invited and played and many international festivals (Wakcen, Summer Breeze, Metaldays, Open Air Berg, Neurotic Deathfest, Full Metal Cruise and many more) so the door was surly open for us because of this album and we were very pleased with the results and goals we accomplished by promoting it.

And now it’s moment to speak about the present: the new album is released, “Steelcrusher”, by your new label SPV GmbH. So, what were the main reasons for signing with SPV and leaving Sonic Attack Records?

Actually ‘Steelcrusher’ is released in a joint venture in both SPV and Sonic Attack, so both labels have taken ownership on this release – which makes us very happy. Sonic Attack is still our home base but we are very proud and happy to be a part of the SPV family as it truly an honor to be a part of the roster of a label that produced and released so many classic albums for the past 30 years – we could not ask for more.

I truly think that SPV are doing a great job with Steelcrusher and together we can reach new heights and conquer new goals.

The greatest feature about “Steelcrusher” that calls my attention is that you do not fall in the same mistake from Old School Metal bands, trying to bring back some features from the 80’s, but your music sound fresh, new and pulsing with high doses of brutality and energy. When I wrote the review for “Steelcrusher” (yes, it was me, hehehe), I was astonish by its modern elements, like the blast beats sometimes, as well as your harsh vocals. But how did you get this result, to get some old feeling, but sounding alive and so furious? Maybe some Old fashioned fans can become distressed with that… (laughs)

That is an interesting question – because for many Metalheads there is the ‘unwritten book of metal’ which consist of “laws and guidelines” of how a thrash metal band should sound like – and damn those who refuse to follow! Bro-science.
We in Hammercult decided not to follow the guidelines, but write our own book – which is our own sound and our own style. We grow up on all those thrash and true metal band and keep the same spirit alive – but the goal was and remained: create a new monster that still fits the ‘horror show’. So we have many other influences in our music which makes things even better. It is not your old fashioned one headed dragon – it’s a Hydra. She got many heads, and the more you listen to it – the more will pop-up Hahaha.

We were very happy that both the regular and the old school metal fans embraced our music which is still considered to be 100% true metal!

In your vision, what are the biggest differences between “The Rise of the Hammer”, “Anthems of the Damned” and “Steelcrusher”?

Great question! You know – not much time has passed between those releases were recorded; 2011, 2012, and 2013. However we in the band keep evolving. Our first onslaught was the ‘Rise Of The Hammer’ EP – which is very raw yet solid and a perfect example of what the vision of Hammercult looked like when we started. Just guys who wants to kick ass and make a statement – ‘we are here!’.

The followed release, our debut album ‘Anthems Of The Damned’ was a very powerful release, which many people have stated to be ‘One of the most brutal trash album ever’! it included more varied vocals, more punk feeling, more modern elements, and much more aggressive songs and versions – however what makes this album truly unique is the brutal sound which taken a more ‘Death Metal’ approach.

‘Steelcrusher’ is our latest and by far our best assault of true metal – adding even more modern elements, yet keeping the ‘true metal’ attitude and spirit. It’s more polished production wise – yet still brutal and aggressive as fuck. The songs themselves are melodic but still played in aggressive Thrash metal style. It was a true challenge to pull this off and we are very proud of it. It’s by far the highlight of our releases so far and it’s making a huge impact!

One thing that I saw is that Arie (Aranovich, guitarist) had left the band for now. Is it true? What were the reasons for him to leave? And do you have a new man on six strings yet?

Arie was and remained a dear friend and a brother and he was a part of Hamemrcult from the original line up. He decided this year that 2013 will be his last year as an active musician, as he decided a follow his passion in a career focus on the technical side of producing and sound engineering. He recorded ‘Steelcrusher’ with us, and his farewell show was at Summer Breeze 2013. Currently we are working with a session player. There is an old saying ‘Never say never’ – and therefore I beleiuve that we might work Arie again this way or the other.

Oh, by the way: you had Andreas Kisser, from SEPULTURA, on lead guitar on “We Are the People”. How do you know him, and the idea for Andreas playing the guitar solo came to you at first? And was to have him with you? Oh, by the way, I’m Brazilian, and hope for you to come here soon!

Andreas did a kick ass job and it is a true honor to have as a guest in the album.
During 2012 and 2013 we had 30 shows with Sepultura all over Europe, with 2 constant tours and we had a great time!

During half-way to our 2nd tour this year, we asked Andreas if he would like to play a guest solo on our album and we were much honored that we agreed. I still vividly remember how we recorded this one on the spot one night at the backstage room at Essen, Germany. Andreas listened to the song, and he got the line perfectly in only a few tries. He is truly amazing.

We learned a lot from those guys and we remain in good contact. I truly hope to have the possibility to play in Brazil in 2014.

For a long time, I heard no names coming from Israel, but after ORPHANED LAND rose to show their work to all the world, a true invasion from Israeli Metal came, as I can notice by names like MELECHESH (besides they moved to Holland), SWITCHBLADE, MATRICIDE and other ones. Therefore I predict that it is a strong Metal scene, isn’t it?

The Israeli scene is very small and quite young. I do believe like every good thing – we still need time to grow.

For promoting “Anthems of the Damned”, you made an official video for “Above the Ruins”, so, can we expect another one for “Steelcrusher” promotion? And if these plans are true, for what song it would be?

Hell yeah! We are planning not one – but 3 video clips for this album! The songs chosen will be ‘Steelcrusher’, Into Hell’ and ‘Metal Rules Tonight’. I truly believe that ‘Steelcrusher’ as an album truly represent the strength of Hammercult musically, and we will showcase that visually in those video clips! Watch out!

Well, another thing that calls attention is the cover for MOTÖRHEAD’s “Ace of Spades”, but only on vinyl version. Why not in the CD version as well?

Well that’s a decision made by the record label – however later this year there will be a very limited Japanese version of this album on CD that will include this and 2 other covers. In the future we will release those covers later for free download – so that everyone could enjoy them.

The album is about to be released (hope in Brazil too. It’s too hard to buy from overseas, because of many negative factors here in my country’s politics), and that means that shows are coming. Is there something right for a European tour, maybe an American one?

For sure! We are first and foremost a live band – and that is what we do best. Currently a European tour with Napalm Death was announced in April along with some other festivals mostly in German around June. Still early to say and I’m sure that more dates will be confirmed very soon.

I thank you a lot for the interview, so, please, leave your message for our readers. And I wish all success to HAMMERCULT.

Thank you Marcos!

I would like to invite everyone who read this interview to check us out on www.facebook.com/hammercult/ - feel free to comment and download our stuff online. Take care, METAL TILL DEATH, Yakir



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