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Stephan, Michael and Volker (Ars Irae)

Interview with Stephan, Michael and Volker from Ars Irae
by Danny Sanderson at 03 May 2015, 3:24 PM

ARS IRAE are about as underground as you can get when it comes to extreme music; a Blackened Death Metal band hailing from Rosenheim, Germany, they are a quintet recently signed to Quality Steel Records and have recently come out with a new album, after a reasonable wait, titled “Dunkle Klänge”. Criminally-overlooked, though having played an impressive array of live shows in recent years, their music deserves to be heard; Danny Sanderson interviewed guitarist Stephan, vocalist Michael and bassist Volker, about the barebones basics that everyone needs to know about this underground gem.

How are you guys doing?

Stephan: Couldn’t be better: Our record is about to get released, we don’t run out of ideas and it’s still just awesome to meet, turn on the amps and make some noise!

Michael: And of course we are curious about the reactions concerning our new album.

What exactly are your key influences, both musically and ideologically?

Stephan: Our key influence is metal! ;) We all grew up listening to bands like Pantera, Sepultura, Machine Head, At The Gates, Dissection, Immortal and many others. Our main goal lies in creating music which has its own character and doesn’t follow any special genre/style.

Michael:  And to achieve our musical imagination we attach importance to variating riffs full of pressure and melodies with a high recognition value. We definitely aren't a political band and we refuse any kind of political and religious extremism. But the northern and germanic mythology and the corresponding  atmosphere provides a great part of the stuff which completes our compositions. Furthermore the human behaviour concerning mythology, anger, frustration, envy and so on.

Obviously, you have a new record out, and it's the first one you've released since Volker joined the band. Has he settled in well to the band, and what has he contributed in terms of writing and recording for the new album?

Stephan: Volker is an old friend of mine who helped out when we had the opportunity to play at Extreme Fest Austria and our former bassist Stephan wasn’t available. He had to learn the set in five days and so there was no time to settle. As Stephan definitely left the band, we kept Volker and by now he contributed a lot to our music.

Volker: All of our songs start with some guitar riffs from Stephan, Michael or Florian and usually I can feel free to add my bass line afterwards. But as well as our drummer Anton I come up with own ideas on structuring or finishing a song.

What sort of lyrical themes are approached on this new record?

Michael: The lyrics of the new Album are basically influenced by the northern/Germanic mythology and different human behaviours essentially as the album before. Thereby it’s not especially a single topic or tale, so it’s not a concept album, but the momentariness of all is omnipresent. Each song tells its own story suitable to the atmosphere of the music. I don't want to interpret and expose the lyrics exactly because i think they offer space for different methods of approach and everyone should feel free to interpret.

This is the first album you've released since "Unter der Erde" in 2010. What prompted such a long wait between releases?

Stephan: We don’t write songs, record and release them like a machine.  One of us comes up with an idea, and then there can be a long period of practising until we all feel that the song is finished. For example, this procedure took over two years for “Homo Sum Humani”.
After the decision was made that we would record this album on our own, we bought the equipment and did demo recordings before starting the final recording to ensure the quality will fit our expectations. And the last time-consuming task was to search for an appropriate label …

Also, in the time between the release of "Unter der Erde" and "Dunkle Klange", you've signed to Quality Steel Records. How did you end up signing to them, and how are you finding them?

Stephan: As “business” (we hate this word) has changed in the times of internet, there are no more labels who discover bands like us and give them thousands of euros in advance to record an album. Today a band has to invest in a label as well. We got several offers where we would have had to pay a lot of money and the label would have made easy money just from the deal itself.

Finally we got in contact with Malte from Quality Steel Records: He offered us a fair deal and - which is much more important - he gave us the impression of being really interested in our music and not only in a new deal.

When most people think about Germany, they tend to think about straight up Heavy Metal bands or even Power Metal for the most part, not Black Metal. How do you feel the Black Metal scene is in Germany, and where do you stand within it?

Stephan: First of all - we don’t see ourselves as a straight black metal band but we admit that there are some basic influences ;)

Regarding your first part of the question: I think we have had and still have a strong black metal scene especially in our neighbourhood. When Ars Irae started there was a black-metal-only festival not far away in Innsbruck, Austria, called “Misanthropic Violence” where we saw bands like Watain, Inquisition, Kampfar, Lunar Aurora and Orlog. We have many friends from those times, who we still meet at other concerts/festivals nowadays. The scene today isn’t as big as it has been but I don’t think this is a German phenomenon since there was sort of a black metal hype which is over now.

The band reached their 10 year anniversary last year. How did you celebrate it, and did you find yourselves looking back over how far you've come in the last decade?

Stephan: We celebrated it playing “Blood Revenge”, the first song of Ars Irae at all, which we haven’t played for a long time live and thereby we discovered how much we improved over the years.

Michael: And of course we drank a lot of beers with folks who accompanied us the last years.

What are your plans in terms of touring and promoting the new record?

Michael: We actually don’t have plans for a big tour but we are straining at the leash to play the new stuff  live and that is essential for us because the emotions of live gigs are unsurpassed. We never put down good opportunities and at the moment we are looking forward to the “Hammerfest” festival in June  which is the first time for us playing live in Italy.

Do you have any messages for you fans?

Stephan: Since “Dunkle Klänge” has been recorded we are already writing new songs for our next album, so this won’t be the last thing you will hear from us!

Michael: And our target is to be a little bit quicker finalizing it than last time ;-)


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