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Iron Mask's Dushan Petrossi: "Nowadays, people with power like presidents are just bankers, they don’t think about people needs, a banker will never give you money or a loan when you are in the red!..."

Interview with Dushan Petrossi from Iron Mask
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 04 December 2020, 10:26 AM

It has been said more than once that money makes the world go round, evidently not just the world, if you are taking it head on, but also the minds and perception of people that live in it. It is true that without money a person cannot live that much because even though we breath it, air cannot sustain us for food and shelter. However, when it comes to the power of money, it is a about rule, dominion, governance in its corrupted pattern. That phenomenon needs to be stopped at all costs as life is precious, sometimes even more than money. Taking the lead against the conception of money as a source of power of the few, there is Iron Mask, with their new album, "Master Of Masters". Steinmetal talked to guitarist and founder, Dushan Petrossi about the strong messages of the album, the musical content, new vocalist and more…  

Hello Dushan, this is quite a tremendous honor to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how has life been treating you lately sir?

Thanks a lot for taking the time sending me questions, my pleasure!

Well, we ‘re trying to do our best, I guess as the whole world with this pandemic issue, hoping for not too many waves till the vaccines are ready, 100 years ago, the Spanish flue had 3 waves, so it's good to be very careful at the moment and protect everyone and the hospital flow of work by staying home.

Let’s face it, if there is one thing that can probably cheer up a musician that is sitting at home without the ability to head out there to perform, is to release a new album, wouldn’t you say so? How have you been handling yourself all this time with the pandemic out there?

Yes, that’s true, but we are used to be locked a lot in the studio usually when we work on new stuff, so ok, sometimes we need fresh air and get out, but its good I got a garden to relax when it’s a bit warm outside.

As it appears, Europe is being hit hard by the pandemic on its second wave, all while there is news about a closing vaccination for the population, but who knows really when that will happen. What is your viewpoint on it? Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel? Is next year already lost in your bill?

I truly hope people will start getting vaccinated early next year, as now there are few vaccines that could be ready, all our gigs are postponed to next year, so we hope this will be possible as we really miss playing live. Nowadays CD sales are not the best way for a band to survive, the new album is massively illegally shared since it leaked on the internet, thousands of downloads per day, which is a huge loss for us, and it’s hard to make new albums each time a little more.

The people who do this don’t realize how badly this could impact a band, so live gigs are really essential to us. And the guys who say that taking this vaccine is dangerous don’t understand shit in how an NRA vaccine works, actually it doesn’t even infect your body, it just gives the necessary information to your cell to stop this virus, it’s as stupid as saying the earth is flat…

This time around you took your time up until the first news piece regarding your new album, “Master Of Masters”. Prior to sinking deep into the album, let’s talk about the changing of the guard in regards to your new frontman, Mike Slembrouck. I guess it didn’t work out with Diego Valdez to continue for another album?

Believe me, we always end up changing singers because in the end they never melt in the core of the band which is myself, Vassili and Ramy. We feel Iron Mask is a real family and we should share all equally. Believe me some singers are really strange, who will never be happy in a band, because they always think the grass is greener somewhere else. We are honest guys who always treated them like family and they never missed anything.

With that said let me explain this, I think with at a second thought, that it was a mistake taking Diego, as most of the time he was out of our circle of 3, it wasn't bad, it’s just that he was different than us 3 and we needed someone joining fully in our circle. My second mistake was to take a guy who really sounded like Dio, he’s good but after all we need someone unique and most of all, really committed like Mike, who is indeed 100% integrated in the band and believes in it. Iron Mask is his first priority and we really get along greatly. I wish Diego the best for his future projects, we have no hard feelings with him and never had.

As for Mr. Slembrouck, no doubt a promising vocalist that is certainly full of talent. However, he is, yet at least, considered a name in comparison to previous vocalists in the band such as Oliver Hartmann, Valdez and Mark Boals. What convinced you to turn to him to front the band? Do you believe that his role in Iron Mask will be long term?

Because to me he is the best singer in Belgium, and we needed someone close, not in another country again. He will be there as long as he wants to stay, and be committed truly… We can’t foresee the future of course, but we don’t intend to change. And believe me, now he will receive a lot of offers from other bands in the world haha, he will become a name, no worries there

How did it feel to recruit a fan of the band to front it?

We wanted someone truly honest and committed to us, nothing else matters, and what is better than a true fan honesty and passion? But most of all, he kicked ass and proved he was excellent on the first trying out and test recordings!

When I read the title, “Master Of Masters”, I think about a puppeteer actually, or actually a master of puppets, a controlling entity that makes the world go round, maintaining domain over the world’s most powerful leaders. Is that your angle here philosophically? Do you believe that this source of power actually exists, that someone is pulling the strings?

Indeed, and the power who pulls the strings is money… It’s not a general concept but on many songs, "Master of Masters" has a strong focus on the actual state of our world, where social inequality tends to rise up and where only an elite is making more and more money, whilst the whole planet inevitably suffers even more. Songs like "Never kiss the Ring", "Revolution rise", "Master of Masters" are all connected in that matter, money is the real master of all powers in this world.

But on the other hand and on a wider and metaphysical view, the real "Master of Masters" isn’t only money, it's a double meaning here and in a more positive way, it is also the creator of all things and the hope, faith, love and justice which could still be reinstated in the heart of the evilest men, even if for that the fire of a spiritual and social revolution needs to be fired up

The artwork on the other hand, is so clear and quite exceptional in its quality. However, if there is one piece of the puzzle that is missing is Russia as a superpower alongside China, USA and the European Union. Unlike previous artworks of earlier years, aren’t the Russians relevant anymore?

Thanks a lot, I always think a lot in order to get a great front art concept, so I'm happy you like it! Yes, they still are, but having 3 kings on the cover was enough, so I kept China for the red colors instead Russia.

The 3 kings on the front cover art represent the ones who rule those countries, enslaved and bending the knee to the Iron Mask character which this time represents money; they are all dominated by money, you clearly also see the treasure chest with gold and jewels as well, it means the real ruler is money, it’s the real master of all masters in this world. Nowadays, people with power like presidents are just bankers, they don’t think about people needs, a banker will never give you money or a loan when you are in the red! Never! They think how to make money grow as first priority, they don’t care about your concerns, they are just a façade, changing every 4 or 5 years, the real rulers are in the back and you never see them, they rule the world in the shadows and their first weapon is money.


Other than the domination of a singular force over the world, what are the additional aspects in terms of the themes that prevail on the album? Which of those themes do you find as personal?

Indeed, there are other lyrics themes on this album, those are inspired from everything in my life, it could be personal stories, but this time also Slavic mythology and paganism with our old god Svarog (in Tree of the world); A mother loved blue is dedicated to my wife, her mother who passed away on the night of the new year’s eve…She was such a good heart person. Nothing lasts forever about our final fate, the only certainty in life is that everything always changes, grow old and die… even our sun will die in 5 billion years, and all universe will end up in the black and coldness… But it will resurrect, it always does, and other universes will born out of the ashes of our dead stars trough black holes..

My theory is that every universe is already expanding in a huge and massive black hole. That is why we will never find the dark energy inside of our universe, the expansion is due to the gravity of this outside massive black hole, and as you know our universe expansion is going faster and faster- like when you fall in a black hole-…Don’t worry, it could take billions of billions of years before we meet the end because our universe has the size of a dust particle in that gigantic black hole… But that’s something you would be able to read soon in the book I wrote –"Philosophysic Intuitions"- 100 thoughts about Humans and the Universe.

One of the prime aspects, musically, on “Master Of Masters” is its diversity, never really dwelling in the same spot for far too long. The joint meet up between Hard Rock until speedier type of Neo-Classical Metal is certainly an earful to take pleasure from. How do you find the band’s development surrounding the creation of “Master Of Masters” in light of that?

I always try to have lot of diversity in an album, you don’t eat every day the same food, music is the same, I always thought albums that always use the same tricks and formulas are very boring, and Iron Mask has a strong melodic hard rock vibe since the very beginning, together with neo classical metal and guitar acrobatics, surrounded by symphonic arrangements, but the whole is getting the right balance, as every elements get his right dose and doesn’t dominate, the music serve the song, and the melodies are the skeleton of this complex body.

I also feel that there is somewhat less concentration on the Neo-classical shredding style as a leading factor, and more delivering the goods with straight up or epic kind of songwriting. Would you say that “Master Of Masters” is a slight change of course in a way?
Not really, Iron mask always had more simple and direct songs, sometimes more commercial tunes as well, and from the start I always focused on songs; not solos and demonstrations, if you want to fill a stadium full of people, you need straight songs with catchy and strong choruses, of course doing more neo classical solos is always cool and my music will always get that style of playing because this the way I love to play my guitar. However, when a song needs simple and short solo, I could easily sacrifice my 2 min spot in the light, I serve the song, not my ego, people know I can play very very fast and technical; I don’t need to show or prove it all the time haha

With that said, we still get lot of progressive parts and crazy neo-classical themes with pedal tones, and fast as light solos-)

With this kind of rigidness over the album’s music, what kind of challenges did you face while composing the songs for the album? What other hardships did you triumph over while the recording sessions were on?

The hardest is the keep everything clear to me, as I get all songs in my head for months, before they get recorded, the recordings session are usually a piece of cake and a huge fun, we enjoy it so much every single time!

"Master of Masters" is by all means the best Iron Mask album we ever made, all stars aligned to make it our best release, even in those difficult times. Except for the drums wich we had to do via internet coz the borders were closed (Ramy recorded it in Germany) all the rest was recorded in my studio, the Iron Kingdom studio.

Well, I always get tons of recorded vocals files in my phone, so the most difficult is to organize it all and then writing the rest could go quite fast, from the last release 4 years ago "Diabolica" I had recorded more than 200files, so when I started around last December I chose the best of them and finalize it into songs, and indeed it took 6 month from writing till finishing the mix coz everything went really smooth and great, also this time we recorded the vocals as well in my studio which went very great with Mike , we worked few weeks face to face and the result is awesome. Only the drums we had to do via skype as Ramy recorded it in Germany as the borders were closed because of the Covid situation; All the guitars, bass, and orchestrations were also recorded in my studio, only Oliver Hartmann did his parts in his home studio in Germany

In light of melodic driven Metal albums that have been out there in the last several years, even this year of the Covid, what do you think that Iron Mask brings to the table with “Master Of Masters”?
I think we get a unique sound you can recognize straight away, like I said before, the elements and diversity we mix in our songs make it very different than other bands, but also the strong musicians we get in the band, I mean that you can hear when its Ramy drumming or Vassili playing the bass, or me on the guitar, we each get our signature style of playing and that’s what makes a band stronger and more successful I guess. But also great songs with very memorable choruses.

The slow tempo epic mystifier, “Mist Of Loch Ness”, is an absolute magnet. The heaviness is compelling but to be honest I was won over right from the get go thanks to the vocals. Would you say that you pushed Slembrouck up to his limits?

Thank you! This song I started with the opening orchestra, I was trying out few new symphonic samples I just bought and I thought it sounded very ‘Scottish’, so all the idea came out of this, and I developed the rest of the song and the structure, with the intro becoming the refrain of the song as well, then I added a Thrash head banging part at the end with symphonic orchestrations on top of it and it sounds great this way.

Of course singing in Iron Mask isn't easy, I always push the singer to go far away over their limits, believe me even very well-known guys we had in the past had issues sometimes, the vocal lines need to be perfect to the harmonies I wrote behind, and Mike did an excellent job, he has a huge range and his pitch control is very good.

A catchy melodic tune, yet with a sense of Phantom Of The Opera, at least thanks to his amazing piano, and guitar leading into, is no less than “Dance With The Beast”. What can you tell regarding this tune? Is this a slight attempt to create a sort of an operatic track?

Well, what comes out of me I never do on purpose, I just take a guitar or play on my keyboards, or on the bass, even drums sometimes, then a song is born, I don’t try to make it symphonic or progressive, but I guess how the arrangements take shape could make a song more symphonic or theatrical, this is a song about what is true inside of ourselves. Don’t judge anyone by his looks or face, or clothes, the inside is the most important. In my life I was always misunderstood; or jealous people give you a bad reputation, a long hair scary guy like a wild beast is sometimes more sweet and human than a decent haircut and clean expensive suite guy working in an office, so don’t be scared to dance with the beast, because its heart is warmer than anyone else.

The song “Master Of Masters” sounds as if Iron Maiden lost it on their way to the studio prior to recording one of their recent albums. On the other hand, it was perfect to be more than a mere Maiden follower. What is your appreciation of this track?
This is a difficult question, as I never want to do music that sounds like Iron Maiden, of course I love Iron Maiden and the 80’s albums, they did are all masterpieces to me, my stuff is very melodic and probably this is the link between the two bands, my music is based on melodies, if this isn't catchy it's not worth for me, this is how music should be, and I never write random chords progressions without having the voices and guitar melodies ready first!

Now, once “Master Of Masters” is ready to be set for every Metalhead to pick it up, would you say that given the time factor, which is on your side, you will begin a next album perhaps?

Yes I want to get a new Iron Mask album ready by 2022, as this line up is the best we had and we want to move forward the best we can, all I can say it's going to be a futuristic concept, something I still didn’t do, but first I will release a new Magic Kingdom album by 2021.

When it comes to the live stream that has been out there taking form instead of actual live shows, what is your standpoint on that?

We may do some, that’s not impossible, depending how we can meet again to rehearse as its impossible to Ramy to come from Germany because of the lockdowns, we will do more video clips meanwhile haha We need to feed our fans as much as we can haha!

Dushan, I wish to thank you kindly for this interview, the new album is inspiring and it grabs and hard. Thank you sir.

Thank you very much for your kind words and the interview!


 



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