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Mortician's Thomas Metzler: "Looking back to the 70s when most of it started I think it was a revolution! These days there are a lot of new very good bands but it’s not a revolution anymore"

Interview with Thomas "Tommy Lee" Metzler from Mortician
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 26 March 2020, 11:19 AM

Remembering the old gods that made it all happen for us, as if they were dishing us on a platter everything that we like to listen and admire. Most of us call these people heroes, they were the founders, true visionaries. Gladly, there is a fair share of them that is still there with us, for some still serving as a totem of the true nature of Metal music. The veteran Austrians, Mortician, have been entrusting themselves to the classics, creating a fine tradition. With their new album "Titans" coming in, Steinmetal had a chat with guitarist Thomas Metzler, about the virus, new album, music and more…

Hello Thomas, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir? I hope that you are safe from the Covid-19 spreading around.

I'm fine, as well the guys from Mortician and our families, thank you. Yes, the virus is of course a very big problem worldwide, also here in Austria. Now all schools, bars, shops, etc. are closed. And I’m not allowed to go to work so I have to do home office as most of us.

Talking about Covid-19, the spreading virus has been having quite the effect of nearly anything concerning live music. How are things looking in Austria? Perhaps it is more time for the bands’ musicians to stay home and write material right?

Of course, Mortician is affected as well. On April the 17th. our new album "Titans" will be released and the CD release show as support of Tygers of Pan Tang, was also scheduled the same day. But now the tour has been postponed to November and we have to see when we can catch up on our release show! For sure, right now we would have time to write new songs, but we are not that quick, let’s first enjoy “Titans” hahaha.

Well, let’s take things on a positive note shall we? Right, so I think that the last time that I got anything new from Mortician was, I believe, nearly six years ago. Call me obvious, but it would be wonderful to know where you guys have been all this time? Six years without anything out and about is a substantial period in a band’s lifespan

Mortician has always been present in the recent years. But there were also several personnel problems. Shortly before we went to the studio to record “Shout for Heavy Metal” we fired our drummer. So we hired a studio drummer and at the same time we searched for a new one. After we found Alex we continued to play gigs in our area. For example, with Exodus or Tokyo Blade. We also organized our small but fine “Hard and Heavy Festival” every year. This year Bullet is our headliner! And then 2 years ago Daniel our singer quit. In Austria especially in our area, it is very difficult to find good Heavy Metal vocalists. Thank god we were able to import Twain from Germany (despite the corona travel ban) hahaha.

With your relations with Pure Underground Records remaining intact, you guys are releasing “Titans”, and I have the slightest feeling that you didn’t really mean the legendary titans from myths and legends, yet focusing on the iconic figures in the music that we all hold dear. What do you find in the idolizing of the old rockstars, especially due to the fact that most of them are either retired, or not with us regretfully, or slowly coming into the threshold of fading away?

"Titans" for sure is about all the iconic figures in music who paved the way for generations. Looking back to the 70s when most of it started I think it was a revolution! These days there are a lot of new very good bands but it’s not a revolution anymore. So we keep on idolizing our old rockstars!

When it comes to those who are also referred to as Metal Gods, do you believe that the term still holds any weight? Are there new Metal Gods or was that term only valid to those that made Heavy Metal what it is?

New Metal Gods? For sure there are, but we cannot compare them with the original ones. As mentioned before there are very good bands and some of them also fill big stadiums and run sold out tours around the globe. If there were none the scene would disappear.

Since “Titans” is an album that is quite varied in its themes, in which of the songs’ lyricism do you find yourself personally?

Patrik and Twain are responsible for the lyrics. For me it was just very important that Mortician brings out the best of the existing material.

Mortician has always been a band that maintained the flame of old school Heavy Metal, however, with “Titans”, things got a little dirtier, a little anger some, and of course, heavier. How do you find the musical progress of the band with the writing of “Titans”?

I wrote the music for 8 of the 9 songs. There was no specific scheme that we now become harder or dirtier. The riffs are what came out of me and they were only used when all of us agreed 100%. I think it is still a pure classic metal album and we are very happy with the result.

Furthermore, I find the songwriting on “Titans” as a sort of loosened up. Surely that there are songs a little more complex than others, yet it is pretty straight up Heavy Metal basics, without shindigs or trends, bread and butter all the way. I guess it is only natural for you to pursue such direction right?

Yes, for sure. This direction is my and the bands natural direction. We simply do it!

Of course that any band with its own forged legacy, however, the Metal Market nowadays appears to be more demanding, looking for the technical aspects rather than the hit song or catchy note. Where do you see “Titans” against the public demand for modernized stuff? Therefore, in light of that, what do you think that makes “Titans” an album that is different?

What makes "Titans" different? Good question. Basically, I think too much at all. It’s clear that with Twain on the vocals the songs got a different touch. But we still have the influence of Judas Priest, Saxon or Exodus etc. Most important to us was that the quality is 100% and that it will become the best album since "No War" of 1987. And we made it!

It would be interesting to know, after all these years with Mortician, and now with “Titans” coming out, what is your source of motivation to come up with old school Metal? What is the source of your undying passion to keep the old flame alive?

It’s simple. Heavy Metal is in the blood that flows through my veins. Therefore, I can’t stop it. We still have big plans for Mortician and so there is no time to retire.

One of the album’s truly aggressive songs, I found various elements of early Tankard in it, is “Blood Sucking Industry”. Is this the next level of Mortician musically, striving to get closer into the heavier edges? This song also tells the story of the industry you are a part of, what is your main criticism against it?

The aggressiveness of the guitar does not reflect a special situation. I just was in the mood to do something heavy and the lyrics came from Patrik who is working in the automotive industry. I have to ask Patrik

Any certain event that happened to you personally influenced you to write this song to begin with?

No specific event…  at first there were a very heavy guitar riff. The lyrics were built upon the music expressing a more and more ruthless and inhuman industry where it´s all about increasing output, reducing costs, optimizing results, … mostly on the backs of employees

While going on the attack with the former tune, there is the worship tune of “Titans Of Rock”. Certainly, you built up a hit machine with that ultra-catchy hymn, an Accept oriented too with its heaviness. I guess that it was time for Mortician to have itself sort of an arena hit? What is your appreciation of this song?

It’s true "Titans of Rock" became a catchy song and has hit potential. But I never start with the idea to write a hymn. If a riff is catching me then I keep working on it. So at the end of the day we have a good variety on the album. Hard riffs like "Spiral of Death" or a hymn like "Titans". It is important for us and also for the fans to get a good variety of songs.

One of the things that I have been reading about is the psychology of Metal music, and the term religion has been quite out in the open. Even nowadays, do you capture Metal music as a way of life, a sort of a religion to follow?

Sure, metal is like a religion and therefore immortal. Metal is forever!

Other than the Covid-19 and the everchanging Metal market, what do you think is Mortician's challenges going forward in your career?

We hope that the CD will be well received by the metal fans and that Mortician can play some international concerts again. Mortician is a LIVE band and always give 150% on stage.

Even though it is hard to predict with this virus situation, where do you aim to support the new album?

The fact that the release show on the 17th of April is canceled and the virus situation is still blocking us we might combine the release show with the next possible show on the agenda. The general planning is to do shows in Austria, Germany, and maybe Greece and Spain.

Thomas, I wish to thank you for this interview and for your time. I enjoyed “Titans”, purely a headbanger that goes rough. Cheers sir.

I say THANK YOU and wish you a lot of fun with "TITANS" and most of all stay healthy!


 



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