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Luzifer's Stefan Castevet: "Originally we said “No full-lengths, ever”. Well, that didn't work out"

Interview with Stefan Castevet from Luzifer
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 27 April 2022, 2:38 PM

Just for the thrill of it, no obligations, just plain fun for the sake of Heavy Metal. There is never a no effort situation when writing songs, even if there is no chance that the end product would be played on stages ever. Perhaps, being without a deadline, a label the expects it and a fanbase that want it out performed live, there is a magic too it, a sense of relief in a way. Maybe that stress free environment is good for a band like the German Luzifer. Steinmetal had a talk about it with the band's Stefan Castevet, guitarist of Vulture as well, and the band's new album, "Iron Shackles".

Hi Stefan, it is great to have you once again for a conversation with Metal Temple online Magazine, this time as the founder of Luzifer, how have you been, mate?

Hey Lior! I'm doing fine. It feels great to see everything coming back to life. We just had our first Vulture shows again. Amazing!

I never really knew that you had Luzifer as a sort of an older sideshow for the main Vulture event, but as you know, knowledge is power, so why not? Luzifer has been out there even before Vulture, has it always been a band that it was good to get back to and not to become the main thing, especially since Vulture took off to quite a higher position?

Definitely! Luzifer turns out to be an amazing, stress-free outlet without any responsibility or ambitions. From time to time we're gathering to do some classical Heavy Metal. That's it!

Let’s go back a bit to the beginning of Luzifer, just for readers to get to know the band a little bit more, what can you tell about the vision behind the band? What is the main idea standing behind the band’s foundation?

After a lot of different approaches, starting back in 2009, with different line ups, we finally recorded something releasable. In 2015 we released our first EP 'Rise' that turned out to sound a little bit gloomy, Mercyful Fate-ish if you will. We continued that path with our 'Black Knight' single where we also discovered our joy for vocal harmonies and started putting more emphasis on vocal lines. With our first full length now, that's exactly where we landed. That sort of landed in us finding our own approach to Heavy Metal.

As for today, since you have also been an integral part of Vulture, would you say that the existence of Luzifer is your way to be more free in your musical vision to bring to the table stuff that is not the forte of the former?

It's not like I'm bound to certain things when it comes to the music in Vulture and it's also not like I'd desperately need a 2nd outlet to be happy. The nice aspect about Luzifer right now is that it's not bound to any responsibilities. We don't have to prep for a show or follow a certain guide line or something. That's like a little throwback to our very young days as musicians. It brings a lot of easiness.

You had a debut EP seven years ago, then Vulture began kicking in, and gradually you have been pouring new material right until it was time for a full length, in the image of “Iron Shackles”. I guess it would be proper to ask, why did it take so long to come up with the decision to record a full length?

We didn't even want to make one, hahaha. Last year we said “Lets write new Luzifer tracks”. Then I did so, we recorded them and they turned out to be 30 minutes something long. Just long enough to be able to call it a full length, haha. Originally we said “No full-lengths, ever”. Well, that didn't work out.

Last year Luzifer became a trio, after you handled just too much in the band, along with your comrade, Steeler. It was probably the right time to free yourself to concentrate more on both vocals and guitars other than being the band’s skinman right? Was it just too much for you as you saw it, to also maintain yourself as a drummer?

Stefan: Mainly Gereon joined us because we value him as a musician and songwriter. He didn't join us as some sort of relief. But in the end, I've not touched a drum kit for 4 years now. And the last time I did… Well, it's amazing that this is Gereon's responsibility now, hahaha.

Talking about “Iron Shackles”, even though a little short in length, it is a kind of varied record in its themes, quite interesting I might add. What can you tell about the main themes of the album, and those that you find meaningful?

Thank you, that's great to hear! We're happy that with only 7 songs we were able to get some variety into the record without losing an overall approach to the tracks. Main theme might be the vocal-focus approach I talked about earlier. We only have a few “real” riffs, if you want to say so. Like the opening riffs to Shackles or Sorcerers. Those few heavy riffs really stand out. at least that was the idea!

How do you find “Iron Shackles” as a means to escape the current state of affairs worldwide, whether the declining pandemic, or the terrible war in the East? Would you say that you found the leeway to a sort of freedom from reality in a measure of half an hour?

Stefan: Well, that's for the listener to decide in the end, right? To me, it certainly has that effect here and there. Everything medieval immediately kicks me out of reality.

The term old school fits “Iron Shackles” like velvet glove, yet took me to the earlier years of Metal music, while drenching in the obscure past of the 70s, and I might even add a pinch of the late 60s. The record shows darkness, but also provides insights of a shining light, and there you have it, a form of musical diversity. What is your take on this notion? Is “Iron Shackles” a sort of breaking of borders and labeling lines?

Stefan: Great man! We see it the same way. We tried to get a huge variety of influence on that record. May it be some heavy riffing from bands like Heavy Load or Priest, over vocal elements from bands like Quartz, or even some little hints of disco here and there, hahaha.

I don’t have too much knowledge of your local Rock music in the early 80s, or 70s for that matter, and I am referring to the one sung in German. Other than the cover that you made for Joachim Witt, for a classic song that I didn’t really know about, it felt to me that you incorporated elements from these eras in Germany to your music. What can you tell about the vintage German element so to speak in “Iron Shackles”?

We did a German track before on “Rise” called Heavy Metal Tinnitus. We didn't do it for the single afterwards so we quickly agreed that we'd need some German songs for the album. One being the cover you just mentioned and then HEXER. The goal behind it was to sound a little outmoded if you will, haha. German lytics add some sort of old school vibe to Heavy Metal that's more than just the usual vintage riffing.

We talked about German sung music, you have two examples on “Iron Shackles”, how did it feel to express yourselves in German? Did it feel natural other than in English that you have been used to? Is there a plan forward to maybe write more songs in German? In my bill, it fits you nicely

Actually it's pretty tough for me to sing in my native tongue, haha. It doesn't come out that smooth as if you'd sing in English. I can't really tell why. I bet mostly because I'm not used to it. I bet we'll keep on doing German tracks though! I enjoyed it big time! Already mapped out an idea for a new one!

At first impression, the songwriting on “Iron Shackles” sounds like a production of a straightforward direction, nonetheless, there isn’t a real search for the practical hook to have a hitter. Even the German sung “Hexer (In Dreiteufelsnamen)”, which has hooks, is sophisticated in its own special way. What can you tell about your vision for the song structures and overall songwriting experience?

Songwriting was very quick and easy. Just a few months, no big troubles or anything. Most of the lyrics I wrote at the pool on holidays, having Mojitos, hahaha. We wanted to have big hooks on the record and then built the actual songs around them. I really liked that approach, we did it for the first time. Makes everything a little easier. Might try and get that work flow into Vulture as well!

The album’s sound shares the mighty echoes of the early 80s, establishing a pleasurable experience to listen to. What can you tell about the sound works for “Iron Shackles”? What is your appreciation towards how Luzsifer sounds on the record?

We recorded everything in the rehearsal room and at my flat. Marco of Hellforge Studio is a real magician in his profession. The few sound samples we had for orientation before tracking were Mainline Riders by Quartz and Might Thor by Rocker. With this in mind, Marco tried to work out our own sound.

I mentioned “Hexer (In Dreiteufelsnamen)” as a sophisticated tune, moreover, it is a collection of influences that I enjoyed to be a witness to, while listening, from The Who to Uriah Heep to the heavier edges of the vintage works of Heavy Load. I understand that lyrically it is about a sorcerer, but as I said musically, it is a work of art. What can you tell about the musical experience over this song?

First thing that was done was the chorus. We got the lyrics beforehand. They were written by our friend Ela from IRON KOBRA. Trying to build a track around already existing lyrics was quite a task for me. Never did that before, at least in that kind of way. The sheer amount of lyrics made this song have that many different parts. We even had to cut some lines haha.

The next song, “Wrath of the Sorcerers”, is no less, at least for me, like an electric piano infused version of Mercyful Fate, but in a kind of a loose cannon way, a free spirit. The chorus didn’t leave me any doubt for its darkened nature. What can you share about the creative process of this song?

Good description, haha! Pretty much nails it. I listened to a lot of Ghost in the last years. Maybe that found its way into the verse vocal lines. Also we added some very high harmonies in these verses, Bee Gees-Style… Goal was to have a very simple track with danceable verses and a very heavy chorus. This Judas Priest drum beat really gives it a big drive during the chorus.

After being excited about the nature of the album, and the fact that Luzifer is a fact, are there plans to support the album, now that slowly it is becoming available?

No, not at all! Feels super strange to just release something and not work anything out for it. Few weeks ago we got our copies and were like: Yep, now we got our copies, nice. That might be a big downside of being a sheer studio project. No big parties.

Stefan, it was great to have you once again for a talk, and it was good for me to know Luzifer. I wish you all the best. Cheers

You're welcome! Thanks for having me, Lior! Stay safe! Cheers!


 



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