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Minas Morgul's Berserk: "We walked all the way to the walls of our fortress, a rocky road to the base. We returned home..."

Interview with Berserk from Minas Morgul
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 17 April 2021, 6:50 PM

Progress is something but is certainly not everything. Getting back to the basics, where the old spirit was generated, it can be harder than making an actual step forward time and time again. What has been rendered by many as a natural phase, have been a rather intense stage. Some artists that became bigger, at times long to the old days, several refer to these period of times, the hungry days. Minas Morgul returned home, in a long journey back and it is evident on their new album, “Heimkehr”. Steinmetal had a chance to talk with the band's drummer, Berserk, about this return to the roots, new band members coming in, the experience of the making and more… 

Hello Berserk, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have been things on your end sir?

Hello Lior, it is also a great pleasure for me to be available for this interview. It's always great when there are people who are interested in who is behind the band Minas Morgul.

We are in difficult times indeed, for now a third wave is striking Europe, however, it seems that there is an end in sight, which many hope that it will end before the year turns over. How have you been coping with the situation, the lockdowns, the shutdown of social aspects that people hold dear?

We are all in good health, but of course the last year with all its changes and restrictions has not left us without a trace. The activities and the scope for action have been massively curtailed not only by us, but by all artists and people in the event and music industry. This is of course extremely frustrating and we hope that the pandemic will soon be contained and that we as musicians will be able to operate outside of the internet again.

Even with the pandemic still relevant, Minas Morgul has been working to pursue its next goal, although not as a live unit but like most of the bands, as a studio entity. I guess that this transition from a band that was a live beast to a band that focuses on rehearsals and studio work due to the restriction came rather naturally didn’t it? Somewhat a rhetorical question, how badly do you miss being on stage performing?

In total lockdown there weren't even any joint rehearsals. Our communication was limited to social media and our phones. We approached our studio work separately and one after the other. You feel like a predator in a cage that longs for freedom. Yes, the worst thing for us is the lack of a live presence, because at heart we are musicians on stage.

Minas Morgul’s new album, seventh in number, “Heimkehr”, displays a journey through what appears to be a world of contradictions, where everything is possible, whether for the positive or the negative. In a sense, it can also serve as an analogy to our everyday lives. How do you find that connection?

That is exactly this connection. It's our musical and personal journey home and to our base. It is a part of our life path and as we all know: life is never easy! It was a tough, rocky road. A challenge in which it crystallizes out what welds together and what fails.

Someone recently told me that the struggle, or rather the fight between good and evil, is little old fashioned and outdated, especially of how various media types treat it. Do you find still alive and kicking on “Heimkehr”?

Since the beginning of human times it has been the struggle between good and evil. We have always grappled with it to this day. Nothing has changed. The great battles and wars were fought then as now. Every day you go to court with yourself and look into deep abysses. Dealing with your inner being, what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is bad. This is your daily fight. And that is absolutely not old-fashioned.

When it comes to that contradiction that I spoke about, and the spread themes within “Heimkehr”, to which side, so to speak, do you feel attached to? A side that stands hand in hand with your personal belief system and perception of things in the world?

Imagine that you are sitting on an old stump and look at the world and try to describe what you see. That's exactly what we try to reflect in some of the songs on "Heimkehr". It's not about taking either side. Our personal belief system is the critical consideration of the human being in itself.

What makes “Heimkehr” as the title, or roughly translated as “Homecoming”? A homecoming for who or for what?

"Homecoming" is our personal musical arrival in satisfaction. The album was created with a new line-up, with a high level of motivation and fresh ideas. A versatile work that on the one hand stretches the hand to the roots and on the other hand continues where we left off with “cult” and where the musical and mental feeling took us. It is the product of a creative process in which everyone was able to contribute and realize, as seldom before in the history of Minas Morgul. We walked all the way to the walls of our fortress, a rocky road to the base. We returned home.

Minas Morgul’s fantasy driven spirit is once again felt strongly through “Heimkehr”, as if it was part of the soundtracks of Game Of Thrones or Lord Of The Rings, and I believe that there are additional examples. It is dark, grinding at times, yet enchanting and inspiring atmosphere and melodies. How do you find the band’s musical progress and your capabilities as a songwriter?

I think if you can feel this driven spirit on the album you just told us about, then we have achieved exactly what we wanted. We are not concerned with musical progress, improvement or enhancement. It's about the success that music touches us.

What form of musical elements came to life, implemented in the heart of “Heimkehr” that made it uncanny to its predecessor?

I would like to mention three musicians here who have contributed to making the new album stand out from its predecessors in terms of  quality. Bassist Janke, guitarist Haffi and session singer Stef, who with their passionate skills created a perfect line that has never been seen before at Minas Morgul. Fantastic fusion of harmonies.

For the first time “Heimkehr” debuts new members of the band that came on board in the last couple of years with the peak recruitment of Equilibrium’s Robert Dahn. How do you find Dahn’s arrival, and other two members, to the ranks of Minas Morgul? Did they have a substantial contribution to the songwriting of the album?

As I mentioned before, Haffi, Janke and session singer Stef did a great job. The collaboration with Robse didn't work out at all and that's why we separated from him last year. His voice can be heard on the album, but more in the background. We owe the great vocal performance to Stef.

The restrictions of the pandemic made it a curse for bands to gather, especially when it comes to recordings in the studio for the preparation of a release. It is probably one of the toughest challenges for a band that is keen to finish its creation. How did you handle this for “Heimkehr”? How were you able to overcome these hardships?

I can still remember we were just taking a photo shot in March last year. Then came the news of the first lockdown. That was the last time we all saw each other.Weeks and months followed in a state that we have never experienced before.everyone went to the studio separately, the songs were partly still unfinished, it was extremely unfavorable for an album production. We tried to use the messengers as best possible for our communication. the mix and master phase of the album was lengthened, the layout was not finished, the release date had to be postponed, there were big internal problems for the band. In retrospect, it was a fucking busy year with many obstacles, setbacks and disappointments. So we're all the happier that we're finally looking forward to the album release. In the end it was somehow luck in bad luck for us. We are all not full-time musicians, so we had no pressure to perform. We used the time away from the stages for the album and are now looking more strongly than ever into the future.

A song that filled me up with energy, and also sent me away on a journey through the album’s amazing artwork, to serve as a scenery, is “Weltenfall”, roughly translated as “World Fall” or a sort of a “World Coming Down” to a measure. The created atmosphere by the sheer speed and melodies, along with the backing vocals echoing made it happen for me. What can you tell about this track?

In "Weltenfall" the war itself tells its story. It impressively describes its campaign against what is dearest to all of us. Our lives. And if you read carefully, you realize that it is we ourselves who destroy us until everything is just ashes. And in the end you kneel on the ground and sink your head in the dust, but then it's too late.

Slowing down a bit, creating a kind of groove with a Folkish / Viking sense, there is “Totenchiff”, which I found it to be like the “Master Of Death” of sorts. This is a hymn that should be a live totem, surely something for a crowd to feast on. How do you find the song’s impact on the album? What can you tell about its creation?

Oh yeah "Totenschiff", I love that song. In terms of content, it is another way of dealing with the "end of the world". This time we have wrapped it up in the Nordic mythological sense. How did that happen? Guitarist and songwriter Saule presented me the first main riff and I was flashed. It kind of reminded me of the song "the brimstone gate" by the Swedish band Naglfar. That's why we called the song "Naglfar" as the working title. And I felt an inner need to write a text for "Naglfar = Totenschiff" and we completed the song in the chorus to a true hymn, which Stef perfected with his majestic voice.

I must say that the intro, “Sturm Aus Ost”, also ‘The Storm From The East”, should be reserved as a movie soundtrack, it is emotive and dramatic, it ushers the listener into the veils of the album right into the eye of everything. Who wrote this amazing intro?

The intro for "Heimkehr" was composed by Rene Berthiaume, head and leader of Equilibrium. He processed the main melodies from the title song and combined the whole thing into a true work of art. We'd worked with him a number of times in the past and he's a fantastic composer in the genre.

Have you started gathering plans for a possible return to the stages near the end of the year or you decided to rather keep everything under ice for now concerning live action?

Concerts are currently being postponed to autumn. But of course everything is subject to change. I am rather skeptical that these will actually take place. It is also currently absolutely difficult to book a gig slot in the near future, as all upcoming shows are already booked out with bands because of the frequent cancellations. It's hard to plan at the moment, yes.

Would you say that a possible work on a new album can be bound to happen already this year due to the live restrictions?

So much can be revealed, we are working on new songs, our first "real" music video and are looking at a possibility of releasing a smaller sound carrier

Berserk, I wish to thank you for this interview and for your precious time. I bid you thanks for a great record and well-crafted music. All the best. Cheers.

I too would like to say thank you on behalf of Minas Morgul for the interest and the opportunity to let us know.


 



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