Recently German death metallers Purgatory released their latest album "Cultus Luciferi - the Splendour Of Chaos" through Animate Records. Over the years the band has made no concessions to their brutal and uncompromising death metal. Masterful Magazine recently spoke with guitarist/backing vocalist René Kögel about their latest album, the German scene, touring with Polish death metal veterans Vader and their plans for the nearby future.First off, I'd like to thank you for taking time to speak with me today. What is presently going on with the band? What new things are happening for Purgatory right now?
No problem, we appreciate that. At the moment we're busy promoting the new record and we already work at some new ideas next to some planned stories, that we can't publish at the moment.
Since this is your first interview for Masterful Magazine, could you provide us with a brief history of the band up till now?
Purgatory officially started at the beginning of 1993 as a continuation of the bands Musical Massacre and Procession. Over the years and some releases there have been several line-up
changes. The current line-up is [Mirko] Dreier (vocals), Lutz [Götzold] (drums), Peter (bass), René [Kögel] (guitars).
Purgatory played a lot of live shows in Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Spain, England, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland with Asphyx, Vader, Cannibal Corpse, Protector, Coercion, Napalm Death, Entombed, Gorerotted, Edge Of Sanity, Pandemia, Krabathor, Hypnos, Krisiun, Avulsed, Harmony Dies, Sinister, Centinex, Exmortem, Viu Drakh, Nile, Beheaded, etc and Purgatory works hard at any time to intensify their way of "pure death fuckin’ metal" and they have never followed any trends!
How would you say, since the early days, that your goals or your vision for the band have changed? In progressing from just sitting around the rehearsal room back then to sitting here, now, how has what Purgatory means changed for you?
One of the main goals has always been to work as professional as possible and to evolve step by step. Purgatory has become a big part of our life especially because our goals hardened and became more and more important. We walked the road step by step and approached our goals through hard work. We always look to the future, because there is always something new, that is worth to be reached.
Congratulations with your new record "Cultus Luciferi" - this is definitely the best we have heard from Purgatory to date. How have the reactions from the specialized press and fans been so far?
Thanks! We're getting a lot of feedback and we can be absolutely satisfied until now. The reaction of both press and fans is very positive. Most of the reviews we received are German so we're excited about the reactions coming from across the border.
How long was the process of putting the album together, as far as writing the music, the concept and arrangements is concerned?
If you look into detail the process lasted for four years. Ideas were brought into the rehearsal room and thrown away some time later. We always work on a song together until everyone in the band is satisfied with it and this takes some time. The next problem were some line-up changes on vocals and bass, which also needed time. Besides we took our time for a few pre-productions of some songs to visit the studio as prepared as possible.
Musically, "Cultus Luciferi" contains a lot of diversity and the album is quite engaging. I like the balance that the band has between intensity and aggression but with an emphasis on technique and structural melody. How difficult is it to find that balance?
When we work on new material, we mainly trust are intuition and our stomach. This often ends in long jam-sessions. We just try to convert our philosophy and conceptions of pure death fuckin' metal. There exists no real scheme to this so everybody brings in his own ideas. Of course it's great to hear, when our songs spread such a feeling and get such an estimation.
Is there an overall theme to this album, or how would you say "Cultus Luciferi - The Splendour Of Chaos" is different from your other albums?
There is no overall theme or main concept to "Cultus Luciferi". The record is much more musically as well as thematically connected to "Luciferianism". You can see it as a continuation of this album. It represents another step in our development and it clarifies the point where we stand as a band. We've worked even harder and much more intensive on the realisation of this album. We tried to go a step further and most of all we tried to improve our sound concerning that imagination we have of it.
The lyrics seem to deal with themes of occultism, Luciferianism and Chaos. What was of particular inspiration when these lyrics were written?
The most of the lyrics were written by our former singer Sick and they mostly deal with blasphemy, Luciferianism and Chaos. Occultism has actually never been a part. All of these things have definitely been an inspiration, when the lyrics were written. The lyrics stand in unity with music, which is very important for us and together they create the wanted dark atmosphere.
This is your second album for Germany’s Animate Records after spending a decade on Perverted Taste Records. Are you happy the way Animate Records handled the record, regarding promotion, distribution and marketing?
Animate Records is a small but very solid and honest working label, which supports us 100%. Of course there will always be some things that need to improve, but if you look on the whole thing the guys do a good job. Nevertheless we have always tried to stand on our own legs and do our part of the job, therefore we've never only relied on the work of the label.
The album features guest contributions from Martin van Drunen (Asphyx, Pestilence, Hail Of Bullets), Wannes Gubbels (Asphyx, Pentacle), Onielar (Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult), Marc Grewe (Morgoth) and Bernd Korades (Korades). Tell us something about what each contributed to this new record.
All the guest appearances resulted out of a long-lasting and deep friendship. The album was
recorded in the studio of Bernd Korades in Halle/Saale (Germany). Martin and Wannes have been friends of the band for a long time. When we asked them to do some vocals for ‘Forbidden Wisdom’ they had been immediately ready to do it. It was the same with Onielar and so she offered her inhuman screaming for ‘Chaos Aeon’ and ‘The Enemy Within’. We are especially glad about the fact, that we were able to inspire Marc to do some guest vocals for the Morgoth song ‘Pits Of Utumno’. It was a great honour for us to work with these people.
One thing that definitely stands out on the new album is the amazing artwork. Who is the artist who created this amazing piece of art. What exactly does the cover represent and in what way is it tied to the album?
Andy from Animate Records is again responsible for cover and layout. He transferred our ideas and imaginations perfectly and we are very satisfied with the result. Above all the cover represents the content of the lyrics... Chaos, death and blasphemy!
I only missed a few leads/solos on this otherwise very solid pure death metal album. It’s a known trait for all classic death metal. Why were there no solos done?
I'm personally not a big friend of solo parts and there aren't many, that I like. We have very rarely worked with soli in the past. Because we're only working with one guitar this stuff stands in the foreground, especially live. Of course it's a simple matter of taste and maybe some people will miss this, but soli have never been a thing that we've drawn much attention to.
"Cultus Luciferi" is a powerful statement of classic early-to-mid '90s death metal. A lot of newer bands don't have the same sense of dynamics, variation and oppressing atmosphere. What makes death metal of that decade stand out in comparison to its current counterpart?
I think it's the feeling that makes old school death metal so special! A lot of bands are missing atmosphere and a certain feeling. The urge for technical perfection became so big, that the down-to-earth’ness and the origin of death metal got lost on the way.
Germany is mostly known for its strong heavy - and power metal scene and its pivotal role in the thrash metal scene with bands such as Destruction, Kreator and Sodom. Bands like Deadborn, Debauchery, Necrophagist, Pavor and Resurrected prove that death metal is also present in the German scene. Are there any noteworthy bands that we should be aware of?
Yes, you're right about the fact that the German scene became well known especially because of the scene in the 80s and bands like Running Wild, Accept or Helloween. But I also think that the German death and black metal scene is very present. Most of all it evolved very positive in the last few years! Next to the bands you named Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Necros Christos, Drowned and Obscenity are also some noteworthy bands.
Recently it have been turbulent times in Vader, seeing how most of the line-up departed. You toured with these Polish genre veterans on two separate accounts, once in 1997 and then again in 1999. They are truly road dogs and a touring act, how would you describe them as they are as people?
Fuckin' hell... The guys of Vader really toured their asses off and they are - like you've said - true "road dogs". We got to know them as honest and professional working guys. We've heard that Vader are going through some turbulences and line-up changes. But Peter will surely make the tank roll again...
Do you have any live activities scheduled for the coming months in support of this incredible new album?
We're having several shows booked and in a few days we're joining Impiety on their tour for some shows. Of course, we'll try to be as present on stage as we can be to promote "Cultus Luciferi" as much as we can. We are planning some things and we'll see what future holds for us.
Apart from the band - what do you do when you are at home: do you have time for hobbies?
There isn't much time left, because we all have our jobs to earn some money. Otherwise almost anything we do has something to do with the band.
Thanks for the interview! Anything else we might have forgotten to mention? The last words are yours.
We want to thank you for the interview and your support! We're hoping the best for the Masterful Magazine! Thanks to all the people that made "Cultus Luciferi - The Splendour Of Chaos" come to life! To all pure death fuckin' metal maniacs out there... check the new record and www.purgatory666.de ! We raise the grail of blood for you!
Czy damy radę wpasować się w panujące dzisiaj trendy tego nie wiem. Mam nadzieję, że tak i płyta zdoła troszkę namieszać i odbije się to echem w środowisku. Mam też nadzieję, że będziemy w stanie pokazać, że scena ma się dobrze i zachęcić innych do tego że warto coś robić mimo tego, że się mieszka daleko od siebie.
Jest old school, bo nie zagraliśmy ani jednego oryginalnego dźwięku, kawałki są krótkie, jest w nich mnóstwo thrashu i punka, szczypta death metalu – to dla wielu będzie właśnie przepisem na grindcore, zmieniają się tylko proporcje. Nie boli nas ta łata, nie chce nam się też szukać innej.
Może dzięki uwielbieniu Dissection jest na Heading Below więcej melodii? Może za sprawą Testimony of Ancients znalazły się klawiszowe podkłady? Być może dlatego, że kochamy Autopsy jest więcej tłustych zwolnień? Jakoś tak to wszystko naturalnie przyszło.