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Iron Fate's Denis Brosowski: "Back in the days of the debut we’ve been wet behind our ears, so the songwriting, especially the arrangements, was rather impulsive…"

Interview with Denis Brosowski from Iron Fate
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 16 January 2022, 9:20 AM

It is no secret that it has been nearly impossible to whom to put one's trust in, in particular those that represent us, supposedly. People change their skins in a frequent rate, therefore, uncertainty of what is coming next, has an important part of our lives. The reformed Iron Fate band, which started quite well in their early days, returns after a deep slumber, with a new album, "Crimson Messiah", talking about those seducers, those that influence us, and cannot be trusted. Steinmetal had a talk with the band's Denis Brosowski about returning to the fold with new material, the new album and more…

Hello Denis, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how has life been treating sir?

Thank you for having me here. Complicated times, aren't they? Individually we are doing well, although the situation for a band as a whole is tedious regarding the pandemic. But things can always get worse, so we try to not lose our sense of humour.

A little more than a decade ago you officially debuted with a record that was the beginning of something, yet after it, simply nothing. I assume that you supported the record, but what happened afterwards? Was this decade of silence a mere hiatus because of life or did the foundation of the band crumble?

The latter, exactly. The band started as musical project of friends, who diverged personally or career-wise after the debut. I guess that’s typical for any band but mostly happens before the first album. So, yes we had a plenty of shows and also a small European tour but in fact the band stagnated. As the region where we live is not too overpopulated by talented musicians, it took some time to get Iron Fate back on its feet, regarding a working line-up.

Possibly that your reformation, or coming back from the freezer, was recently. How did this occur? What ignited your motivation, and inspiration, to head back and write new songs?

Harms and my motivation has never faded. The “comeback” was rather a continuous process. The material was not completely developed ad-hoc. Iron Fate at this current state is a result of this time span, of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, haha. In other words, there was no: “Ok, let’s try it again”. With Oliver and Kai we got very sophisticated new personal, who raised the band certainly on a new musical level. So, rehearsing and song writing was also more fun from then on.

When it comes to the timing, returning right in the pandemic is more or less an act of bravery, in particular if you were looking for a lot of live shows. Were there deliberations in that aspect, whether it was worthy also to return to the live scene as well? Isn’t that also the purpose of Iron Fate?

The album had to be released, regardless of the pandemic. Sure, the uncertainty regarding planning live shows bothers a lot, but we didn’t have the nerve for strategies like “let’s wait further X years after the pandemic just because the live promotion won’t work otherwise”. Finishing the album with all associated activities was tedious and exhausting enough. To get back to point: No bravery at all. It had to be done, period! ;-)

This incentive to collaboration ended up with the emergence of your sophomore record, “Crimson Messiah”, which also led with it a new band logo, which looks even more old school than the previous, and possibly also a new image for the band. Would you say that other than your music, Iron Fate did a sort of a transition? Perhaps a new kind of understanding of your presence for years to come?

Actually, Harms and I thought about renaming the band due to the renewed line-up. The new guys suggested not to do so as “Iron Fate” was also some sort of brand. Maybe you’re right. I reworked the logo as a statement. Although looking old school, it reflects the new mind-set of the band: clarity, maturity, and dedication. So maybe you’re right with the transition. But I beg to differ in calling this a new image.

Maintaining your relations with Massacre Records, “Crimson Messiah” is set to be out for grabs, and from what I could hear, it entails with it a lot of in your face kind of tunes that share a common adoration for the only way to play Metal music. Nevertheless, I felt that it focused on other issues that are deeper. What is your take on this notion? What does the record focus lyrically other than Metal?

Although “Crimson Messiah” is not a concept album, there’s a repeating motive of seduction and betrayal done by false prophets. But this actually happened coincidentally, maybe due to my impressions of politics and society world-wide at the time of writing. With “Guardians Of Steel” and “We Rule The Night” there are also two rather positive hymns without any negative undertone.

The artwork of the album, drawn by Chris Cold, which also did great works for various newcomer artists, at least for me, told more than “let them all burn in the fires of…”. What was the vision behind this artwork? How were you able to inspire Cold to come up with this piece of artistry?

I deliberately selected this already finished artwork and brought it into agreement with the rest of the band. The main goal was to visualize some sort of seducer according to the title track, which represents all those previously mentioned false prophets, mankind tends to follow blindly in past, present, and future. As I found this work in Chris’ gallery, I thought “man, that’s it!”. The “let them burn”-aspect is just the natural consequence of such leaderships. In fact, you should ask Chris Cold for his intentions, haha.

“Crimson Messiah”’s Iron Fate is a battleground of east and west, yet with the west winning, and big time. In overall, it is a celebration, and also another share of the revival, of the old US Metal scene of the mid to late 80s. Even without Harry Conklin being a guest vocalist on the record, you truly show a lot of the older artists how US Metal should sound and be comprehended in the present. Would you say that this new fresh record is the turning point for the band musically, being even more attached to your roots?

I don’t think that this album is a musical turning point as the US influences were already present on its predecessor, although not that meticulously arranged. I appreciate that you see our record as some kind of signpost, but I wouldn’t claim uniqueness for us with that musical approach. Anyway, we will continue to follow an organic songwriting process, which, in hindsight, seems to be causal for the unexpected euphoric reactions of listeners. I suppose there’s no need to change anything.

Since it has been a decade since your debut album, through the songwriting of “Crimson Messiah”, how do you find the band’s musical development?

Alongside the advent of the new members the working discipline, know-how, but also influences improved or expanded, respectively. Back in the days of the debut we’ve been wet behind our ears, so the songwriting, especially the arrangements, was rather impulsive. As especially Oliver and Kai are very experienced musicians, they had a big impact on a rather thoughtful or well-elaborated approach to the working generally and the songwriting more specifically.

Once you started songwriting sessions for the record, and afterwards the recording process, how did it feel to get back it? Did you miss that dearly?

No, damn good that it’s over, haha. We’re looking forward to work on something new. I suppose, this saturation is typical. I mean as an artist you’ve heard your recordings bazillion times in a plethora of different mixes before the release, and when the audience reacts after the release, you’re already fed up, haha. But we all still like the album, haha.

Unlike in the past, in your opinion, which elements in your music, or in your perception of what fits Iron Fate, were given greater focus while “Crimson Messiah” was in the making?

Hmm, difficult to say. Your question suggests that the creation of “Crimson Messiah” followed some strategic considerations. All members tried to follow their own musical instincts to comprise their parts to “Crimson Messiah”. Maybe we focussed more on melodies and a well-rounded song structures. The difference to “Cast In Iron” truly lies in the experience of the new line-up.

As a songwriter, how did the process of writing the songs for “Crimson Messiah”, whether lyrics, vocal melodies and of course riffs and rhythm section, contribute to your skills and your approach towards coming up with songs?

On “Crimson Messiah” exist actually two classes of songs. One class represents songs developed in the rehearsal room. The other represents songs actually written or where at least one or more band members composed their parts in a rather theoretical fashion. However, I won’t mention which songs belong to which class. Most of the time things are developed as you may think. Oliver, Harms and I come along with a riff or sometimes an even bigger scaffold. Then, the respective others contribute their ideas or arrangements. So, songwriting in Iron Fate is not too exotic, I suppose, haha.

With most of the record being a tending touch over the US Metal direction, I will pay attention to the deltas of the record, starting with “We Rule The Night”. It was hard to deny the early 80s Scorpions and Accept vibes over this magical trip back in time. Surely this is a stadium kind of tune, could also fly high in the radio airwaves. How do you find this oddity kind of tune in your tracklist? Is this a kind of a tribute or anything of sorts?

I came up with the basic riff, and although it was pretty clear in which direction this would go, we never were worried in terms of coherence. Even better, as the listeners also seem to like this outlier. You’ve already listed the inspirers, which influenced all of us for sure. We did it, because we’d been up for it, we still like it, and we can’t wait to play it in a stadium with jet fighters flying above our heads, haha.

“Strangers (In My Mind)” is an epic, which could be also rendered as a ballad, that didn’t really feel like 10 minutes long, and passed through me rather fast. I found it to be quite personal, a vibrant kind of story about someone that is in constant inner battle. What can you tell about the theme of the song and its creative musical process of making?

It’s a story about a person with multiple personality disorder, who tries to fight the rather negative characters residing inside him. While his civilized character can most of the time regain control, he loses it towards the end. This struggle we tried to underpin musically as well. However, there’s actually neither a certain lyrical sub text in this particular song nor does it reflect a person I know or even myself. It’s just psychological suspense in text and music, sorry. ;-) Oliver, Kai and I created that track rather quickly, there’s nothing interesting to say about. But as we realized what we’ve created we decided to decorate it with a special guitar solo, contributed by Kai’s former band mate Henrik Osterloh of Deny The Urge, who did an awesome job.

I was awfully surprised about your cover for Black Sabbath, you selected a song from the Tony Martin era that isn’t one of their top tunes. Honestly, I was glad, you have no idea. Great choice right there. How do you find this song fitting to what Iron Fate represents in its music? Were there other candidate songs that had potential of being recorded?

This was actually Kai’s idea, as this album was also rather a blind spot in the Sabbath discography to the rest of us. Aside from the fact that “Lost Forever” is actually Metal compared to rather doomy Hard Rock, which made it fit perfectly, it should also be a tribute to the great, too early departed Ray Gillen, who originally sang on this record before being replaced by Tony Martin, who is of course also ingenious. When you listen to the demo sessions of that album, you wouldn’t believe it’s Sabbath, at all. Actually, a short period of US Metal made in Birmingham, haha. Funny, that dozens of music journalists didn’t even recognize it as a cover. Must have something to do with digital advances, listening time spans of 30 seconds, and a rather, let’s say it diplomatically, younger generation of writers haha. Moreover, we’ve recorded a second cover version of another band rather famous for his guitar player who is in fact more famous as guitar engineer, about to be released later. The nosy ones of you can have a guess, haha. But we will see in which way this can be done.

Listening to the end result of “Crimson Messiah” by yourself, after you received the finished product, how did it make you feel? Which moment of the album made it pinnacle in your opinion?

Denis: Oh there’ve been multiple yet different pinnacles. First time was, when the running order was fixed. From then on you start to hear your album as a whole, from the consumer's perspective. Second, I suppose, was the when the lyric videos were finished, and the music became also visual. From then on it was like: “Yes, it’s going to be cool!”. And finally, when the first vinyl pressings arrived and we had the first haptic contact with the album. That was awesome. However, at that time we had no idea that it went straight through the roof with critic-wise.

What are the plans ahead of Iron Fate to present “Crimson Messiah” to the world? I hope that you are considering something in the US as I believe that it might turn a few heads over there

That would be surely fantastic, but probably strongly depends on the pandemic situation. I mean, how travelling is possible and so on. As we are not a fulltime band and have regular jobs, we simply cannot go on tour for months. We hope we can play as much live shows as possible and that we can enter stages world-wide, occasionally. Hopefully chances improve pandemic-wise during the summer months. Otherwise, we have to stream our crap from the rehearsal room, haha.

Denis, or should I say Iron Ivan, thank you so much for your time for this interview. Thank you also for pulling the 80s back into the recognition with a great record. All the best

Thank you very much for the interview, Lior. You are welcome, stay healthy and all the best!


 



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