America Noir tour interviews: Atrocity, Leaves’ Eyes, and Moonspell

Interviews with Atrocity, Leaves’ Eyes, and Moonspell
The Riot Room, Kansas City, Missouri, Friday, February 14, 2014


Alexander Krull (Atrocity/Leaves’ Eyes)

We begin with a conversation with Alexander Krull from Atrocity and Leaves’ Eyes. Most of our discussion was about Atrocity, although since both bands share members it’s difficult to keep them 100 per cent separate. When I told him that the first Atrocity album I listened to was Hallucinations, Krull himself takes a look back to his early years as a musician:

“We were formed in 1985. We were on the exciting foundation of the movement of death metal starting. We were like the first death metal band out of Germany – Morgoth also came along – but there weren’t so many bands around that time.”

Krull readily admits that Atrocity hasn’t always stayed the same. The self-proclaimed perfectionist and workaholic says he would never want the sound to stay the same; it would lose his interest:

“The ambition to invent something, or also challenging ideas to bring into metal that’s not the usual way or the common way, to be exciting, [are all] probably why we are still alive after such a long time!  We never get bored of ourselves!”

Atrocity as a band has been technical death metal, they’ve experimented with electronic sounds, with darkwave, with folk metal, and now they’ve forged a death metal sound with quite a bit of orchestration that would be perhaps a happy medium between the dark heaviness of modern SepticFlesh and the classical arrangements of Therion. Therion is an important comparison, because like the approach Therion takes with their albums, Alex Krull says using real choirs and a real orchestra is a huge undertaking:

“Believe me, there’s a lot of effort into it, a lot of ‘blood sweat and tears’ I think is the right expression. With all the many things we do, we don’t do it as a quick or spontaneous stuff. It’s also for us very important that the quality is of a certain level of course; it has to be professional.”


Alex Krull (Atrocity/Leaves’ Eyes)

The conversation then turned to lyrics. Hallucinations features lyrics that aren’t the typical early death metal fare. Instead of zombies and monsters and gore, it tackled some really serious topics like drug abuse, rape, alcoholism, among others. Alex Krull says even nowadays lyrics are a very important part of Atrocity.

“I always had a strong impact [from] the dark side of human history and all those things connected to it and less the fantasy part, let’s say. There are so many things going on… or a lot of stories going on that are like the dark side of the coin in the history of mankind. Religion, politics, they use fear to manipulate people and to spread stuff out. And we have some strong examples [on the Okkult album], like how the real world is connected to this occult world!”

He then mentions the closing song of the Okkult album, “La Voisine,” a song that takes its lyrics from a story in old Paris. Catherine Monvoisin was a fortune teller, poisoner, and – allegedly – a sorceress (thanks Wikipedia!). Krull’s lyrics go into that story:

“They were doing black masses… she had the head of the richest man in her back yard… they found like 2,500 dead bodies of infants. That’s stuff that was actually happening! And the high society was supporting it – they all knew about it!  They wanted to get strength and power… and when it all came out… she was already dead… executed for the poisoning then they found out the other stories!”

I had to ask Alex about the live setting for both his bands. Leaves’ Eyes and Atrocity have basically the same core members. Thorsten Bauer, who has been on guitars in Atrocity since 1994, plays bass in their live set. Sander van der Meer is on guitar and Joris Nijenhuis handles drums. All of these fellows play those same roles in both Atrocity and Leaves’ Eyes. It saves on travel expenses, sure, but the two bands are not at all the same; so I asked Mr. Krull about how they prepare for two sets in a night:

“It’s just like with the songwriting process. There’s never a question if we’re writing a Leaves’ Eyes or Atrocity song. We know that this belongs to this band and this belongs to another.”

I’ve seen Leaves’ Eyes four times before this show, so I knew a little bit about what to expect. Krull, as a frontman, demands audience participation. He’s into chanting, fist pumping, clapping, and sometimes all of the above all at once. I needed to ask him what inspired this, and I think he surprised himself with the answer:

“I remember very well I saw Iron Maiden in 1984. I really loved the way it was a huge stage set and it was fantastic overall – it was the Powerslave tour!  But although it was so big and so many people there, the band made it so that every visitor was connected to the band and was a part of the show. And when Bruce Dickinson was running around… he was getting people to be as one with the band. And that’s what I also try to do. When I think about me, it’s something I really like, that everyone feels the music and is a part of it.”

Krull says that the Okkult album is part one of a planned trilogy, and after the festival season they will likely start writing for the second part. He doesn’t know when that will be released, but expects it in 2015 at the earliest.