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Metal Inquisitor's Blumi: "It almost does not make sense anymore to buy CDs from newcomers, as those can be replaced one month later by the next in line. This flood of new music changes “joy” into “consumption”. Not good for music and for me..."

Interview with Jochen "Blumi" Blumenthal from Metal Inquisitor
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 03 May 2019, 11:37 PM

Maybe sometimes it is better not to come up with an album like clockwork, but rather taking the time, putting attention to other things in life or various projects. It has been pretty much similar in the ranks of the German Metal Inquisitor. However, trust me that it is worth the wait. Recently, via Massacre Records, Metal Inquisitor released "Panopticon", proving the old magic of Metal is alive and well. Steinmetal had a talk with Jochen Blumenthal, aka Blumi, about the new album, vision of music and the current ongoings of the Metal market

Hello Jochen, pleased to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing sir?

Hello Lior, it´s a pleasure for me too. Well, I've got a lot to do lately. Among others I have to work on recordings for a Metalucifer Mini LP and also works for the next Midnight Rider Album. So I have no break after the last Metal Inquisitor Release.

Recently Metal Inquisitor, issued its fifth album, “Panopticon”, via Massacre Records. While being out for a few months, how does the public respond to it? Do you see that the band’s following increased due to the new album?

We were very skeptical before the release of the new album. We didn’t know how the people would react, because the song selection this time has been particularly heterogeneous. For example, “Discipline and Punish” vs. “Free Fire Zone” is already a significant musical difference. Well, the skepticism was gone as soon as the first reviews came. Most reviews noted that the musical diversity is good. And I think it will bring the band forward overall.

No doubt that “Panopticon” is a celebration for those who have been craving for kick ass NWOBHM driven music, endorsing the British Metal scene with such finesse. Listening to it might spark memories of the debut Iron Maiden album plus a fine line of bands of the era. How do you perceive “Panopticon”?

At first I am glad that we have remained to play our typical style and continue to sound British. You never know 100% what comes out at the end of an Album Production. For example, in the song "Change of Front" indeed I've tried to mix early Maiden with our own style. And also with "Beyond Nightmares", Iron Maiden was the main influence. However, I personally also see songs that are stylistically going in a different direction. For example, "Scent of Fear" has other influences and sounds more American to my listening sense.

Though I have been a great supporter of NWOBHM, and I think that it should raise its head once again for yet another golden age, I have to ask the coming question. Nowadays, do you feel that albums such as “Panopticon”, especially due the music they relish, could be rendered as too old fashioned in the current Metal market?

That's a good question. Well, to my mind I think that due to changed studio technology it is completely impossible to musically reproduce the feeling of authentic NWOBHM! Even using old guitar amplifiers, old distortion pedals etc. a modern studio cannot really be able to deliver the vintage sound you might expect. There is always a touch of digital clarity in the sound. Besides, it is also a question of the approach in songwriting! At that time, it was new music and they went unprejudiced to the songwriting. At the time, people thought "that's how metal is played in England; I don’t know what to play anything else". Today a musician is guided by many other influences, which did not exist then at that time. So I don’t think that “Panopticon” is too old fashioned because even if we would like, it´s nearly impossible. But let me tell you, that I still dream of producing an album which would sound really vintage.

Continuing the previous question, what has been driving you to keep promoting old school Metal music with Metal Inquisitor?

This question is quickly answered: we make the music we want from the very beginning and maybe we cannot play anything else! I remember well how hard it was in the beginning to sign labels with our old school metal. Especially the larger labels, which had completely ignored us. This is different today when you watch Enforcer and especially Greta van Fleet. But I think Greta van Fleet is an exception and would have also done well 20 years ago. Rarely seen so much talent in kids at that age.

Back to “Panopticon”, what can you tell about the album’s songwriting process? Does the end result demonstrate what you envisioned?

"Beyond Nightmares" was a very easy process in songwriting, as the song structure is clear and Iron Maiden as a blueprint gives a clear idea. At "Free Fire Zone" it was not clear what would happen. For me, it initially developed in the direction of Running wild but eventually came out a typical Metal Inquisitor song, which could have been a song of the first album "The Apparition". But as mentioned the whole song selection was at the end more varied than we thought.

The artwork of “Panopticon” is quite interesting. At first glance it reminded me the scene in “The Empire Strikes Back”, where Darth Vader looked upon Skywalker’s fall after dismembering his hand. What can you share about the idea behind it?

That’s a great impression! Star Wars! It could have been an inspiration of the Artist maybe. Anyway, Dimitar Nikolov has done the Cover Artwork brilliantly. I think he's one of the best artists when it´s about metal artworks. But our inspiration came from a unique prison architecture that allowed a guard to look from one location to each cell. Such a thing constitutes a certain martyrdom for the prisoners and robs every one of their intimacy.

A question that I always ask artists. Which in the list is your favorite track on the album and why?

Definitely "Free Fire Zone" as this song contains a lot of what our music is all about. And of course "Re-sworn the Oath", which simply goes to the ear even the song structure is very extensive.

You have been around the Metal scene for quite a while, two decades with Metal Inquisitor and of course Metalucifer, which you have been a member since the millennium. What is your perspective regarding the promotion of Metal music in today’s market? Do you feel at ease with it?

Nowadays it is much easier to start with a Classic Metal Band. I do not think it's easier to get a record deal, but bigger record companies are much more interested in this vintage music than 20 years ago. At our beginning, it would have been completely unthinkable that Nuclear Blast would sign a traditional metal band like us. Well, we started at the wrong time. It would have been better for us in 1980 or just now in 2019 to start with Metal Inquisitor.

How do you comprehend the digital age? Do you prefer CDs or digitals?

I have to confess that I listening not so much to CDs and vinyl. It's just easier to spontaneously listen to the latest releases on Spotify and Co. Above all, the flood of new releases is hard to foresee! It almost does not make sense anymore to buy CDs from new bands, as a band can be replaced one month later by the next newcomer. This flood of new music changes “joy” into “consumption”. That's not good for the music and not good for me. So I better listen to vinyl more again and take more time for listening.

With the band running for two decades, any special events that would soon take place to commemorate the occasion?

For me personally, I would say the birth of my daughter last year. Since then it has been a lot harder to make music, but I still keep on trying. Yesterday was holiday in Germany and everyone went outside and drinking beer. For me I recorded guitar tracks for the next Metalucifer Mini album in the dark and cold rehearsal room.

Congratulations sir, it is blessing. Lastly, and I have to ask. Why are the long pauses between albums?

This question has always been at the beginning of every interview. Well, the answer is quite simple: we are all working and thankfully we do not earn our money with the music. So we have the freedom to make albums when and how we want it. I also believe that it does not make sense to spill over the music market with annual releases of Metal Inquisitor.

Jochen, thank you for your time to take this interview and I wish you the best of luck with “Panopticon”. I found it to be superb and truly captures the spirit of the early days

Thanks so much for these words! I´m really glad that you like our latest release! Watch out for the next releases with Metalucifer and Midnight Rider in 2020!


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