Terrörhammer interview (01/2023)
|With:||Pentagramator The Helltyrant|
|Conducted by:||Netzach (e-mail)|
Having reviewed their recently released Gateways To Hades, I got in touch with vocalist, guitarist, and main songwriter Pentagramator The Helltyrant of Serbia’s Terrörhammer for a couple of e-mails back and forth about the band’s past, present, and future, their relationship to the metal world at large, Serbian metal, Mika Luttinen quotes, Yugoslavian goat porn, and otherwise (more or less) related topics. Read the interview to find out what Terrörhammer is all about!
Netzach: How would you summarise Terrörhammer’s philosophy and attitude as succinctly as possible?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: We can say: To fuck up, burn, smash and crash the world and have a good unholy laugh about it!
Netzach: What are your main inspirations for the band, both musically and otherwise (movies, philosophy, etc.)? Which music do you guys in the band listen to, and how do your differences in taste converge into what we heard on the records?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: I would say that all three of us are serious fans of musical art and our personal tastes naturally go beyond the style we play, very often in different directions. However, when it comes to the music we create ourselves, there are several fundamental points where our sensibilities cross. Firstly there are these 80s proto-black metal bands, like Bathory, Tormentor, early Mayhem, old Sarcófago and Sepultura, Morbid Angel (Altars of Madness!)... Then some Teutonic stuff from the classical period like Sodom, Kreator, Tankard, but also some of their filthy speed metal countrymen such as the first albums of Running Wild and Helloween. On top of that, there are plenty of hardcore and crust punk bands we are all fond of, like The Exploited, Doom, Discharge, GG Allin, Dead Kennedys, etc. Lastly to all that we can add some of the contemporary blackthrash acts, such as Nocturnal Graves, Aura Noir, Absu (Tara!), Desaster and I think you get the picture.
Netzach: Speaking of Tormentor, how did the collaboration with Tamás Buday come up? He guests on at least a solo on the album as far as I know. It must have been fun having someone (previously) in a band you mention among your inspirations to play on your album. Did he come to Serbia to record it? What would be a dream team collaboration for you (for touring, split albums, whatever) – name ONE band.
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: The idea to have Tamás as a guest on the album obviously comes from the great admiration for his work particularly his time in legendary Tormentor and Nifelheim. I alone have always been a great fan of his playing style on The 7th Day Of The Doom and Anno Domini and the thrill just went enormous when he agreed to lay down what turned out to be a killer solo on “Blizzard of Blood”.
Netzach: Your lyrics are, like I wrote about your music, balls-to-the-wall and unapologetically metal. Is there any particular concept that ties them together or do you just write what fits the music? As Mika Luttinen once said, “brutal music needs brutal lyrics”.
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: There is no such thing necessarily as a concept, but more like common themes that we explore, such as witchcraft, blasphemy, anarchy, sexual perversions, misanthropy, armageddon, nuclear warfare, etc., all centered around the strong cult of the Devil. Sometimes we approach it from the side of irony and sometimes we see it very seriously. Always unapologetically. Mr. Luttinen can add: ”When it’s ‘fuck you’, then it’s ‘fuck you’ and that’s it!”
Netzach: Does one or a few of you write all material and the rest play along with what’s composed? In other words, do you jam a lot or do you compose finished songs and then rehearse them? Do you have a main songwriter or does everybody contribute with their own material?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: It’s not a strict rule, but so far the majority of tracks were written by me as a main author. Up until Gateways to Hades, all of our recordings were not previously rehearsed, but rather completed in the studio sessions. This was mostly due to the fact that in the past we’ve frequently recorded using session musicians so all the tracks had to be completed beforehand and only small revisions were possible to be done in the recording moments. Contrary to that, Gateways to Hades is the first material we did with the actual full lineup and it was completely rehearsed prior to the recording sessions. Once again the majority of initial ideas started from my side, with the exception of “The Interceptor” which was done by Debiłczyna and Dimitrije Čuturilo as the main composers, but I think this new approach helped us achieve new perspectives in the sound with more solidity and thoroughness contributing to the overall quality.
Netzach: You took your sweet time (7 years) between the debut in 2015 and the second album in 2022, with some line-up changes between (bassist, drummer, as far as I know). How did this change in personnel affect your process and musical approach, if it did?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: Well, one must know that this time gap was not obviously a conscious, but rather an imposed, decision. The initial sketches for the second album were already drawn during the final production stages of Under the Unholy Command, but the events that followed on the private and global level inevitably slowed down the whole process. Regardless of everything, we can freely say that we got an album that we can fully stand behind in all aspects, starting from the composition, performance, and all the way to the quality of the production.
Netzach: The mixing was done by you personally at Wormhole Studios in Pančevo where the album was also (mostly?) recorded. I’ve gathered this is your own studio; do you also do audio work for other artists there? The mix sounds great, so that seems like a good decision, regardless.
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: Thank you, glad you like the sound. The album was recorded and mixed at Wormhole Studios with me behind the mixing desk and as the album producer. I work as a professional music engineer so the choice to record and mix the album in my own studio was a natural decision. The studio is open for work with other artists as well and so far I’ve worked with international clients from Sweden, Greece, Russia, USA, Switzerland and others.
Netzach: You managed to get signed to good ol’ Osmose for Gateways To Hades (the debut was on Deathrune), which contains some of my favourite bands (Impaled Nazarene got me into extreme metal). How did this collaboration come to be, and has anything changed about the band from your switching label?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: We are currently very satisfied with the approach that Osmose Productions has towards us as a serious and dedicated label to all the artists they work with. On the other hand, it feels nice to be part of a team that has some of the great names in their ranks like Impaled Nazarene among others. As for the last part of your question, Terrörhammer has been committed from the very beginning to creating quality and meaningful music, at least to our tastes, and I guess that if you are on this path, then sooner or later you’ll get the deserved attention from the audience itself or any bigger label such as Osmose Productions.
Netzach: You were recently on a tour spanning several countries. How did this tour come to be, and did it go as planned? I’ve gathered you have quite a fanbase outside of your home country, which is impressive considering you’ve only released two albums so far. Do you play often in Serbia or more often abroad, and which countries did you tour? Any particular country you haven’t been to but would like to play (such as… Sweden?).
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: The whole tour for Gateways to Hades was organized by our old brother-in-arms Alessio Medici from Etrurian Legion Promotion and everything turned out to be quite successful. It was our first ever European tour and we were co-headlined by Witchtrap from Colombia who proved to be the perfect partner in crime. Usually we play abroad more often than on home soil and this time we went through ten different countries starting from the Balkans all the way to the Iberian Peninsula and back. There were no Scandinavian dates as we didn't go further north than Berlin, but would surely be interested in spreading some mayhem there in the future!
Netzach: Your ex-singer is now in Gorgoroth since 2013 (I think?), and I read on Metal Archives that the band was continued without his consent. Was or is there any bad blood between you because of this, or are these just bullshit rumours?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: That's a chapter closed a long time ago. Basically, he quit the band and tried to make a circus out of it, probably because it was all he had left. It is absurd to give or not give consent to a story you no longer want to have anything to do with, but anyone should be free to say whatever they want, which still not automatically makes them be in the right.
Netzach: About the Serbian metal scene; there are a rare few metal bands from Serbia, at least internationally known. I reviewed Smrt and Terrörhammer on account of having visited Serbia a few times and wanting to promote the Serbian scene. Is metal still very much an underground phenomenon there, and has it changed over the years? What styles are prominent? Any bands in particular you would recommend for our readers to check out that we might’ve missed out on?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: The state of the Serbian scene is a complex situation that I would prefer discussing in some other place. However, like everywhere, it has its good and bad moments, for which the bands and the audience bear some responsibility, but not exclusively. Speaking of quality, and that can always be found, I can recommend you some of the bands close to the sensibility of what Terrörhammer has, for example Vehementer, Haste, Toxic Trace, Chemical Tomb, Dishumanity, Deadly Mosh, etc.
Netzach: Calling the Serbian metal scene a “complex situation” obviously only raises my curiosity, but I will respect your wish not to talk about it in this interview while simultaneously veil that unwanted follow-up question about the matter as an implication, like the asshole I am. No question marks to see here, move along.
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: To avoid confusion, being part of the scene, there are some things I would rather discuss with my colleagues and those that bear some responsibility for the situation. It's not that this place is unworthy of such discussion, it's just that the address is wrong.
Netzach: How is metal appreciated by a country that is still very much Orthodox among the older generations? I’m thinking about the controversies with Behemoth in Poland, for instance. I sat on a bus in Novi Sad wearing a Moonsorrow t-shirt and two old ladies glanced at me and made the cross sign over their chests… Have you, as an extreme metal band, run into any similar problems: censorship, protests, and the like?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: No, despite the increasing power of clergy rising all over Europe so far we’ve never had problems like that. That’s probably because the Church doesn’t recognize the contemporary metal movement as a subversive one, and why it is like that can be food for thought. The incident you experienced looks like a lonely burst of petty-bourgeois culture for people who rarely know their own traditions, let alone the cultures of any other people.
Netzach: You already told me this personally, but for our readers, please do explain what the hell is going on at the end of “Tronized Goat Master”, the final track on Gateways To Hades…?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: Heh, the album’s closing part includes a sample from an old Yugoslavian porno featuring a legendary adult destroyer in his prime mixed with some random goat sounds to get this lovely perverted image, the rest is in in the lyrics of “Tronized Goat Master”.
Netzach: Speaking of “Tronized Goat Master”, it has more of a black metal influence than the other songs on Gateways To Hades. Is this an older influence for you or is it a sign of things to come, or just a one-off idea?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: “Tronized Goat Master” is a final concluding part of the trilogy started with “Nunfuck Division” from the first EP then followed by “Church of Sodomy” from the Under the Unholy Command album. It is a conceptual trilogy that follows the same character through 3 different phases of blasphemic deviations. Musically speaking, all three compositions are a tribute to the bestial sounds of the South American 80s proto-black metal underground.
Netzach: Will there be merch featuring prints of that Yugoslavian goat porn (the perfect t-shirt for them Novi Sad bus rides)? Feel free to use my idea, all I demand in royalties is a live goat (sedated, shaved, and saddled – reins optional depending on horn size and shape).
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: We’ll see, we’ll see. Time will tell, hah.
Netzach: What’s next for Terrörhammer? More shows? A new album? Will we have to wait 7 more years for the next one?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: We are about to announce a brief tour which will take place in Central Asia in the upcoming spring of 2023.
As far as new material is concerned we can say that our deal with Osmose Productions has been concluded for three full-length releases meaning that there will be two more albums released under the same banner. Our idea is to offer a slightly different perspective on each of these releases compared to Gateways to Hades and to expand, giving a wider glance into the world that Terrörhammer comes from, but these stories are yet to happen.
Netzach: Central Asia sounds like an interesting region to tour (I hear Kabul is beautiful this time of year). I know next to nothing about metal culture over there – it seems you have fans all over the world. You have at least one more fan in Sweden now! Which country would you say hosts your biggest fanbase – and why do you think this is?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: Well I don’t expect Afghanistan to be a metal friendly place these days, especially after the Taliban took it over, heh.
Judging by the response we seem to have a strong fan base coming from the countries of South and Central America since we constantly receive a lot of feedback from over there. Asia is still a terra incognita, but that’s about to change and the situation in Europe differs from one place to another, on the last tour for an example we had a great response in Spain, Germany and France, but also in our native Balkan lands.
Netzach: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, it sounds like Terrörhammer has a bright future ahead of it with tours and albums to come – looking forward to it. Any last words?
Pentagramator The Helltyrant: Thank you for the inspiring interview and the support in what Terrörhammer represents!
SUPPORT THE UNDERGROUND AND FUCK THE WORLD!
||Posted on 15.01.2023 by 100% objective opinions. Integer ratings only. 7.0 means it's a good album.|
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