Epic pagan Viking black metallers Black Messiah from Germany are back with their new masterpiece “Heimweh”. It is their sixth full-length album, released on the end of November 2013 by AFM Records again. Their founding member and mastermind Zagan is willing to answer our questions about the new work and the band in general.
- Hello Zagan. It’s an honor having this interview with you, since I like your music very much! Black Messiah have just released their new album. What are your fans first impressions and press’ feedback so far?
Thank you for your words. I really like to hear that you enjoy what we are doing.
The album will be released in a few days, so not many fans had the chance to hear the new stuff at the moment. A few people heard it and I think they liked it. Most of the press wrote that we have done a typical Black Messiah album. Most of them like it, too. I think people who liked our albums we have done in the past will also like our new one, too.
- What are the musical differences someone should expect from “Heimweh” compared to your previous album? Is the line up the same?
No, it is not the same line up. Meldric, one of our guitar players left the band after 7 years. We recorded the album only with 5 musicians. For the future we have a new member. An old friend of mine, Pete, joined Black Messiah as guitar player. He played with Ninnghizhidda and Tsatthoggua in the past. I am glad that he said yes when I asked him for the job. I think the style of “Heimweh” is not different to our previous album. We have our own Black-Messiah-Style and this style is what we do. The title-track is a little bit different. It is a song without electric instruments. It is a very slow song played with violin, cello, flute and a female choir. It is a melancholic song. The German word “heimweh” means “home sickness”. I think the music fits the theme.
- Is “Heimweh” a concept album? What are its lyrics about? Is there any message you’d like to share with your music?
No, “Heimweh” is not a concept album. We did 8 tracks and we have 7 different themes and one musical intro. The song “Heimweh” describes the feelings of a few men who traveled over the great and mighty ocean with a ship. They traveled a long time and they have not seen their home for a few years. They are sad and they have home sickness. Other songs tell stories about a tribe of Nordic giants, called Jötun or the dragon Nidhögg who sits between the roots of the tree Yggdrasil. One song explains why Odin lost his eye. Another one is about Edward the Martyr. He was an English king, killed of Vikings during the occupation of Britannia in the year 978.
- What are your expectations and ambitions with this work? How satisfied are you with the result?
I think we did a good job. We have changed our sound a little bit but I like the result. The songs are pure Black Messiah and I am sure that people who like our earlier albums will like “Heimweh”, too.
- Are there any interesting details from the composing / recording process that you’d like to share? Any technical details worthy to be mentioned?
We recorded “Heimweh” at the Sonarklang Studios in Haltern , it was hard work but also a lot of fun recording with our producer and friend Stefan Kautsch.
- This time you chose a cover artwork with just your logo in a grey background? This is quite different from your previous covers with epic paintings. How did you come up with this “pure” cover?
Well, we thought about the title and “Heimweh” (home sickness) describes a sad feeling you have when you’re not home, so a fully colored cover artwork wouldn’t fit, so we decided to do this artwork in decent colors and without any paintings and stuff.
- Black Messiah is quite an old band. You are now more than 21 years old! Since you are the only remaining member of those who started this band, what do you remember from these early days? What were your influences and what made you start this band?
Yes, that is a very long time. In the past we were 3 black metal fans. We listened to bands like Venom, Possessed, Celtic Frost and Bathory. We loved this old and pure sound and so we decided to start our own band. So we started Black Messiah. It was in 1991, I think. We wrote our own songs and we played in an old bunker. In this time we drunk a lot of whiskey and we played real brutal old-school black metal stuff. It was a great time, I really loved it. But at the end two of us left the band. We had big trouble and so Black Messiah was only me. I wrote new songs and recorded the first Album only with the help of Nabahm, a weird drummer from the Ukraine.
- Your music style and lyrical concept was very different back then. What do you feel now for your first demo “Southside Golgotha”?
This first demo is totally different. Different music style, different lyrical concept and different sound. It does not sound like Black Messiah sounds today. What do I feel? These are nice memories. You cannot bring back this time. I think it was important for me as a musician to record this demo. It is a part of me. I grew on it.
- Your debut album “Spectre of Black Knowledge” in 1998 has a very impressive turn to melodic elements, but is still quite different from your current sound. What is your opinion and your memories from this work?
“Sceptre Of Black Knowledge” shows us a big part from the beginning of Black Messiah. Two songs on this album are very old. They are from the starting time. “Diabolic Rites” is the second song I ever wrote for Black Messiah. So this song is still a part of the “Southside Golgotha” demo. But this album shows us the change, too. I recorded with violin and mandolin, the new songs were more melodic and the lyrical concept change over to more pagan themes. I recorded this album in 1997, two years after the other two guys left the band. It was a hard work to do everything on my own an I hated the fact that I could not play live. I really love to play on stage but during this time we had no chance for playing concerts.
- Your next album “Oath of a Warrior” was released 7 years later. Why did it take you so long? This album marks another impressive turn in your sound, with a much more epic pagan folk approach, closer to your current sound. Tell us a few words about this album?
There a two big reasons for this long break. The first was our former label “Last Episode” tried to fuck us up. I had a big war with them and so they stopped the recordings for the next album one day before I wanted to start. I had a full album and I could not record it. The second reason after this is that I needed a very long time to find musicians for Black Messiah. From 1999 to 2003 we had 6 or 7 guitar players and 3 drummers. We could not find a good line-up. So it took 7 years to the next album.
- In your first 2 albums you used mandolin, an instrument that I liked very much in your sound! Why did you abandoned it? Any chance to see it again in the future?
Yes, sure. I think we will use it again in the future. We used it on “First War of the World”, too. During the song “Söldnerschwein”, but only for a very small riff. I do not know why we haven’t used it for the last 2 albums… Yes, you’re right. It is missing..
- After “Oath of a Warrior” that was released by Einheit Produktionen, you jumped to AFM Records, who released you next 3 works, including the new album. Would you like to say a few words about this cooperation?
With AFM we have much more options. AFM is a real big label. We did 2 music videos, we have played the biggest festivals. All this only works with a big label. AFM gave us the chance and we took it. It is really nice to work with the guys and I hope that we will have a golden future together.
- “First War of the World” in 2009 and “The Final Journey” in 2012 are 2 works that established you in the epic pagan genre. What has changed in your sound with these works?
Our sound is more melodic than before. We used more orchestral sounds and we started to tell longer stories about 4 or more songs. These two albums were a ripening to us. We had found our perfect sound with these two albums.
- After all these years, how do you see your musical journey? What are you bigger ambitions for the future of Black Messiah? Any unfulfilled desires?
Yes. I really like to play concerts in South America one day. We have played a lot of festivals here and we have played very big festivals. Now it is time for us to go to other states and bring them Black Messiah live. Our journey through the last years was a very successful journey. If we can keep this it will be a glorious future for Black Messiah.
- Tell us about your live performances. What should a Black Messiah fan expect from you on stage? How different are your works live?
We always try to give everything we have on stage. We try to play songs from every album we have recorded and we do a big party on stage. Most people like our concerts and many of them told us that we are better live than on CD.
- Are there any plans for gigs to promote your new work? Any tours confirmed, or any other info about your upcoming shows you’d like to share?
We start in March 2014 with gigs for the “Heimweh” Album. We will play a few big festivals in 2014 and a lot of club gigs. We do not play a tour because we are all working men.
- Black Messiah had many line-up changes since their beginning. What do you feel about the current line-up? Is it here to stay?
Well, we hope so !! We always try to keep our line-up together but it’s like being in a relationship. The line-up has to fit in many ways, sometimes it’s a new job, or moving to a different city what makes a line-up change essential. Right now we’re feeling good about it and we hope to make some great music together as long as we can.
- Is any of Black Messiah’s members in other bands too? If yes would you like to give us some info about them?
- I suppose it’s too early, but there are any future plans? Will you continue the current style, or do you feel like experimenting with something different sometime in future?
It´s not too early, you always have plans for the future. Right now we hope to get the chance of doing another tour what is really hard nowadays, but who knows ?!?
- Thank you very much for your time and wish you all the best with your band and in your life! Last words are yours.
We hope all you metalheads who bought the album will have much fun spending time hearing our newest stuff. Keep your horns drawn high and maybe we’ll see you live! Be sure we try to play everywhere it is possible for us !!!