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Ketzer's David: "My older self might have told young David to just keep on playing the music that feels right for the band, but he, blasting The Misfits on his headphones, wouldn’t have listened. He didn’t care too much about the future"

Interview with David from Ketzer
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 17 October 2019, 4:44 AM

At least from here, when a band reissues early discography, it is not merely just because there are no copies left, or business venture of the label. There is something deep inside that desires to relive, even for a bit, old memories. Some of them to be thought off fondly, and some less. The German Ketzer are no different, they have come a long way, matured in their songwriting and created new grounds for themselves. Steinmetal talked to longtime bass player, David, about the early album reissues, memories of the past, current state of the band and more…

Hello David, it is a pleasure having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate? 

All is well in the Ketzer camp. Our new record “Cloud Collider” has been out for about half a year now and we’re looking forward to the re-releases of “Endzeit Metropolis” and “Satan’s Boundaries Unchained” on CD and LP in the beginning of November. We’re also currently knee deep in the preparations for the ten-year anniversary show of our debut album.

Exactly a decade ago, Ketzer released its debut album, “Satan's Boundaries Unchained”, which raised havoc on its own with the unleashing of a merciless blackened Thrash Metal killing spree. Sure that there were other bands following similar patterns, yet that album, and its follower, truly carved themselves on skins. Do you believe that this album’s magnitude still matters nowadays when it comes to Ketzer, or also in general for the darker side of Thrash Metal?

I think it was back in around 2007 when we started writing our first album, which then came out two years later. There was somewhat of a “new wave” of German blackened thrash metal bands going around with not only us but also bands such as “Cruel Force” or “Witching Hour”. We might have been one of the more recognized bands within that genre but one shouldn’t forget that we were all heavily influenced by not only the 80s classics, but also bands like “Desaster” or “Deströyer 666” who were there long before us.

I guess you could say that "Satan’s Boundaries Unchained" still matters a great deal to us, we have never stopped playing the songs in our live sets and, listening to the record today in 2019, it still sounds as great as it did ten years ago.

Well, I understand that you are commemorating an anniversary for the debut, yet not for the sophomore, “Endzeit Metropolis”. So, the purpose of the reissuing is mainly to unite your discography to be available through Metal Blade Records, or there is something deeper than marketing needs?

We have been getting asked a lot about our first two albums, which haven’t been available as physical records for years now. We wanted to give our newer fans, who might have come a bit too late to the party, the opportunity to enjoy these two albums as vinyl records or CDs with the live bonus tracks. The reason we’re celebrating "Satan’s Boundaries Unchained" with a special live gig in our hometown Cologne is - as you mentioned - because it’s the albums 10th anniversary. Who knows, maybe in 2022 we’ll celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Endzeit Metropolis”.

“Satan's Boundaries Unchained” signified a band that is in the raw, yet hand in hand in crafting an extreme direction that shares other qualities that mainly bringing the Black into the Thrash Metal table. In your opinion, what made this debut album to become special in comparison to others that were in its musical proximity at that time?

It’s hard for us to say and we should probably leave the listener to judge in which way “Satan’s Boundaries Unchained” is special compared to other records of the same genre. I think what a lot of people love about the album are some of the catchy lead guitar melodies. Those sure were a trademark on the record. What also made the album stand out is its distinct cover, painted by Andrei Bouzikov. One might say that there have been hundreds of goats on metal covers (one might also say too many, and I would agree), but there is something about the mix of color and imagery that gave the record something iconic. Once you saw it, you wouldn’t forget it.

As young musicians back in the day, what did you exactly wish to express when it comes to “Satan's Boundaries Unchained”? Was it mainly connected to religious disbelief or simply rebellious youth kicking the hell out of everything that makes them angry? Was there something out of the ordinary that made you sit down and write material?

For us, the anti-religious themes already come with our name: “Ketzer” means heretic in German. We started making music at the age of around 14, three of us had just “celebrated” their confirmation at the local church. Not because we were convinced of Christian faith, it was just something you did. However, during the process of confirmation we had to go to church once a week to learn about the bible, Jesus and so on and so forth. You could say that was when we really got to know the enemy, haha. It was also the time we started listening to punk rock and heavy metal. A couple of years and demo tapes later we started writing that “satanic” record and everything that had happened in the years before just fell into place.

Any fond moments of that time recording “Satan's Boundaries Unchained”? Thinking about it now, do you regret doing things which could have been done differently?

I actually don’t remember much, since we had spent months and months on and off in Mersus’ studio (ex-drummer in Zarathustra and Deströyer 666), a small cellar rehearsal room. I think myself and one of our guitar players, Chris, had to study for our final school exams during that time, sitting in the studio cracking the books in between the recordings. Back then, Mersus didn’t have a lot of the same technical opportunities in his studio, which he has now, so it still amazes me how good the album still sounds. I wouldn’t change a thing.

How did you support the album back then? Any highlight touring or special shows that you can remember and share your experience of that time? 

I have a lot of fond memories of that time, since we played our first bigger festival shows at Rock Hard and Party San Festival, as well as our first European tour alongside the Italian band Baphomets Blood. We toured in two cars, we had a small dog with us, drove 12 hours from Denmark to Poland and played mostly pretty small stages. Nevertheless, good times!

With the promise that was in store within “Satan's Boundaries Unchained”, didn’t you have offers to sign in major labels or earlier on it wasn’t even an option?

No, the first offer by a label outside of what you might call the “underground scene” came by Metal Blade records after we had released “Endzeit Metropolis”.

The “Satan's Boundaries Unchained” reissue includes two great quality live performances of two of the album’s tracks, some of the strongest numbers I’d say. Do you remember these recordings? What is your viewpoint on them? 

I still remember the Party San Festival 2010 where those recordings were made quite vividly. It had been raining for days and there was mud everywhere. To get to the stage you basically had to pull your feet out from the mud every step or two. We opened the festival which back then had been the biggest stage we played so far. Although the recording is a little raw, I think it makes for a great little extra, which fans, regardless if they were there back then or not, will really enjoy.

Which of this album’s tracks do you still find as your favorite, those enchanting blackened tunes that you still can’t live without? Please elaborate on your pick 

“The Fire to Conquer the World” has become somewhat of our “Smoke on the Water”. I guess it’s safe to say that our fans almost expect us to play that song when going to one of our shows and we always do. When preparing for the anniversary show, “Inverted Cross” was one of the tracks that I enjoyed playing the most, since it hasn’t been part of our live set for many, many years and I head to learn the basslines again and even though it was written 11-12 years ago, playing it somehow felt fresh and new.

Let’s say you, David of “Cloud Collider”, have the chance to talk to yourself, Necroculto of “Satan's Boundaries Unchained”, and tell about how the band progressed or things to do or should not do. Do you think that your early self would have listened? What would be Necroculto’s reaction regarding how Ketzer came to be in the present? 

You mean what the 18-year-old me would tell the 30-year-old me and vice versa? Aside from anything music related, my younger self would probably congratulate me on that damn fine moustache that I’ve grown. I’m sure he’d also appreciate the three albums that we have released since our debut. My older self might have told young David to just keep on playing the music that feels right for the band, but he, blasting The Misfits on his headphones, wouldn’t have listened. He didn’t care too much about the future.

Along with “Satan's Boundaries Unchained”, comes in your sophomore, “Endzeit Metropolis”, which was yet another step closer to glory. You also signed with the underground Iron Bonehead Productions for that release. Musically, it felt to me that you became somewhat melodic in comparison to the debut. How do you feel about the band’s progress in terms of its direction and songwriting on this album? 

You’re right, in some parts “Endzeit” had become more melodic than the debut, but in other parts it is almost faster and somehow more brutal. I am thinking about songs like “A requiem for beauty” for example. However, it’s an important album in terms of laying the groundwork for our musical DNA, if you want to call it that. Change and progression has always been an integral part of our work and I think our second album is the first time where you can really hear that.

Do you think that “Endzeit Metropolis” laid the perfect ground for your later efforts, starting with “Starless”, which started featuring a different side of Ketzer? Though less of the reissue related, yet I believe it matters, in what point after “Endzeit Metropolis”, which turned out to be a great album, did you come to realize that a musical change was imminent? 

Like I said, the need for change is an important factor when it comes to writing new Ketzer material. In the time between “Endzeit Metropolis” and “Starless” we had listened to a ton of new, inspiring music, also a lot of stuff outside of the heavy metal genres. Of course this might have found its way into the process, however we did not sit down and say “let’s do everything different than we have ever done before”. I also don’t think “Starless” sounds like that. What we did say though is something along the lines of “slower and no blast beats”, which of course is a pretty heavy challenge, given the two records we had released before. Even though some people couldn’t really follow that new musical direction, I’m still really content with “Starless”, as well as its successor “Cloud Collider” that we have just released this year and which presents yet another facet of Ketzer.

What are your strongest numbers out of “Endzeit Metropolis”? Any track in particular that you wish to mention that you cherish more than others? Please elaborate on your pick. 

It’s always hard to pick one, but I guess I’d have to choose “He who stands behind the Rows” for two reasons: 1. That song is an epic classic when it comes to closing our live set and 2. I’m still very content with the lyrics that I wrote for it.

Were there any considerations, even nowadays, to switch it back to your previous selves? Perhaps not simply because of public demand, which means your old fans, but for you as a band. My referral is the Paradise Lost case in their dance with electronic / alternative music in the late 90s. 

While there is a difference between our first two albums and our third record “Starless” it is far from a change to “alternative” music. I find that comparison a bit farfetched to be honest. While this might be hard for someone to understand who is not a part of the band, I don’t really see something like a “previous self”, meaning a different identity or however one might describe that… for me, it’s all the same.

I know that you are still supporting your “Cloud Collider” release, yet were there thoughts on perhaps special support shows due to these reissues? 

No, the “Ten years of Satan’s Boundaries Unchained” anniversary show in which we will play the album in its entirety will be an exclusive one. We don’t want to dwell too much in the past -  aside from that, our setlists always includes songs from all four albums.

David, I wish to thank you for this interview. It is always great running down the history pages to find out some interesting facts. Though your history isn’t that far back in time, you made quite a journey. All the best to you and I am pleased to listen to the old tunes.



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Edited 22 May 2022

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