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Tragedy And Triumph's Raphael Weller: "I sought out to describe Vikings that are not only angry, aggressive or heroic, but also humans who regret, fail and most importantly reflect on their actions…"

Interview with Marius Berendsen & Raphael Weller from Tragedy And Triumph
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 17 October 2021, 9:55 PM

While always been resembled as heroes, the warriors that wanted to free themselves and to take on their domain the world, even while in the process setting their gaze on lands of others to take, history did a little different judgment for the Vikings.  Tragedy And Triumph, the new German band, playing their version of Viking Metal, did in its power to not present the entire era and not just the celebrated Scandinavian ancients through their debut album, "Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall". Steinnetal had a great talk with Marius Berendsen, along with additional inputs from his partner in crime, Raphael Weller, about the new band, debut album and more…

Hello Marius, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have things been on your end?

Marius: Thanks a lot, sorry for the delay! I'm doing good, we just finished our first gig in general and it was a fucking blast.

Even with Tragedy And Triumph being a rather fairly newcomer act, you have been around, saw stuff, played with quite a lot of musicians along the way and founded a band. Rather than enrolling into a bigger band, or perhaps focusing on your existing effort, Mallevs Maleficarvm, you went on forward to form Tragedy And Triumph. Let’s talk basics, what motivated you to form this band, or perhaps project?

Marius: To keep it simple: My taste in music. I wanted to record a melodeath / viking album for years now. I have this vision for a long time now and the music and the overall topic of the songs do not fit in any of my existing projects, so it was pretty clear that I will start a new band. I don't want to bend the songs or the existing bands in any way to fit in or against each other.

I believe that you are no stranger to the Vikings theme, and old heritage of the Scandi nation, even though you are German, from your end, what do you find the most thrilling in the Viking way as a concept?

Marius: I think it's the atmosphere that unfolds in my head when I deal with that stuff in any way. It's not a specific story, movie, saga or legend – it's the very own atmosphere of this century.

Since there have been plenty of bands out there bearing the sign of the Viking flag, portraying stories of old, creating fantasies along the way in order to enrich the narrative, how does Tragedy And Triumph envision the Vikings in a conceptual level?

Rapahel: In general I tried to avoid the simple worship of Scandinavian or German mythology and the one-dimensional glorification of war and violence. Instead of repeating the well-known stories of the Edda or the Niebelungenlied I tried to depict real human beings, that find themselves in gruesome situations like war (Of Mountains and Wardrums) or ambushes (I Triumphant, Ride for Revenge) or are forced to make painful decisions in hopeless times (Beneath the Howling Gate, In Pride and Sorrow). Therefore, I sought out to describe Vikings that are not only angry, aggressive or heroic, but also humans who regret, fail and most importantly reflect on their actions. These two sides are the foundation of the tragic stories, as victory or triumph mostly take a huge price from the successors.

This price is often reflected by the main Protagonist of each song when it is too late, as the norms already have twined their fate. Some parts or even one entire song (Hymn for a Newborn Star) is on one hand inspired by true events captured by historical sources or, on the other hand, rather unknown German Folklore (Where fires March Victorious, Ride for Revenge). To make the mostly fictional stories sound more realistic, I dug a little into different historical sources and learned about the Scandinavian and German culture and weaponry in medieval times. But nevertheless, these stories are meant to entertain, so there is a lot of blood spilled and death to be witnesses, as well. The songs unfold their true meaning when some thoughts are provoked by the introspection of the suffering protagonists, in the sense of Tragedy and Triumph. A further fun fact is that Marius gave me the title for each song, with me then writing the story to it, trying to make a loose concept under the banner of our bands name.”

What I presumed to be spiritual, rather than brutal, is the chosen title for your debut album, "Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall", a kind of a literaturist flavor to the phrase. In your viewpoint, what does this title symbolize? What is that convergence that you are referring to?

Marius: The album title resembles pretty much the atmosphere of the songs in a metaphor. The location in the mountains is where the stories of the songs take place.

Since the Vikings theme can be complex, and it bestows a lot of stories and historical factors, what is your main focus within the subject on "Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall"? Where do the songs lead the listener? What in your perspective will make the listener imagine and think?

Marius: The big red thread on the album is that every single song deals with tragedy and triumph in its own way. As Raphael mentioned, we kept an eye on not to glorify the Vikings themselves, we tried to be kept it somehow historically correct to a certain extend.

It is true that you went far from our very own reality, find your way to escape the current state of affairs, and probably no one would blame you, still, do you find any references or perhaps are their hidden messages that you convey in order to capture the listener’s attention to aspects that might be under his / her nose?

Marius: Actually, not, not really. The music speaks for itself on that album. Everyone will get different assumptions, associations, pictures and meanings while listening. And that's how it should be. I don't want to clarify or correct the images in the listeners head too much.

To be honest I expected an Amon Amarth driven album, as it is also described on the dossier, however, I believe that you enriched the flavor of the Melodic Death Metal meets Folk / Viking Metal with atmospheric features that made it both a spiritual and a special kind of experience. Would you say that you made sure that Tragedy And Triumph will show that there can be other, or additional, paths to reach the climax of this kind of extreme Metal?

Marius: Yes, totally. I love Amon Amarth and of course I'm heavily influenced by them. That does not mean that I wanted to make another Amon Amarth Album – I can't do that, of course. Only AA can do that. I did what I could mixing a lot of influences and ideas together. I made an album I would love to listen to by myself.

What also interested me was that in some of the songs on the album, the music served as a mere scenery, a background for a wicked sort of narration, growling led of course, of an event, a happening. Other than portraying sheer emotions, which Death Metal can very much illustrate, especially pain and anguish, would you say that "Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall" is also a chance to sit back and listen to a kind of storytelling?

Marius: Yes, totally. Atmosphere is a very important point in songs for me. Also Raphael did a great job telling good stories in each song!

With your experience as a songwriter, how would you say that working on "Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall" refined, or polished, your skills as a songwriter? Would you say that you found an edge that you didn’t have earlier on?

Marius: Yes! I think every album, song or idea take the songwriting skills one step further. I cannot compare this album with anything other I made and that's good.

What made "Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall" to become a challenge throughout its process, whether while the songwriting process was in place or even when recording in the studio?

Marius: I had so many ideas for each song, it was a challenge to not ruin these songs with over-riffing or exaggerate anything. Recording wise it was not a challenge as i already had a good functioning workflow.

Sound wise, I liked the somewhat raw direction of the album, it sent out plenty of shards of an early 90s Melodic Death Metal release, Swedish bred. I guess that the scene nowadays lacks this kind of youthful sound rawness, wouldn’t you say? How do you find this sound pattern?

Marius: Actually, the sound on this album was not something that happened on purpose – I experimented a lot with my producer Tobias and that production came somewhat naturally.

Mainly you are a drummer, yet on "Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall" you played everything, singing excluded. Was it a main purpose to express yourself in different instruments or simply because you didn’t really want to share the instrumentals with others in this project?

Marius: Actually, I would love to have my band at the time of the recordings – I don't need to play everything by myself, it just happened because of the lack of musicians. The next recordings will be completely different and I'm very looking forward to them!

In your opinion, how does your vocalist, Raphael Weller, whom you have already worked with in the past in a different project, deliver on "Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall"?

Marius: He is the best that could have happened to T&T. He understands my vision completely and 100% from the beginning. He did an outstanding job – on the lyrics and in the studio as well!

Talking about the project, would you say that Tragedy And Triumph is an actual band that perhaps one day will take on stages, or had it already?

Marius: Yes, we are a band. Actually, we had our first gig a few weeks ago on a festival and it was absolutely satisfying!

Even though it is a bit of a tough one to answer, which of the songs would you care to elaborate about, a tune that you find yourself close to?

Marius: I would choose “Beneath the howling gate” as it really sums up the atmosphere and overall feeling of the album. I like the melodies and the groovy drumming a lot.

Since the live scene has yet to recapture its pre-Covid-19 glory, there is a lot of time for plenty of musicians to work on new material. Is that the case for Tragedy And Triumph or are you preparing yourself for the next thing?

Marius: I always prepare something, haha. But I can say that I am on something different right now.

With that said, what are your plans for this year or perhaps you are thinking mainly on 2022 as a target to support "Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall"?

Our plans are to get on a lot stages in 2022. I also got a lot of new material for the next T&T Album, so let's see what the future brings!

Marius, I wish to thank you for this interview, no doubt you created an exciting debut that its nature is somewhat different from what I have been used to. All the best, cheers

Marius: Thanks a lot for your time and Skol!


 



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