Interview with The Almighty (Warcry)

Metal Express Radio caught up with Martin “The Almighty” Knotzele from the German Thrash Metal band Warcry. Read on to find out what he has to say about their new album Revenge In Blood, and to learn more about this great band …

Metal Express Radio: First, congratulations on your fantastic new album Revenge In Blood. You guys have had a busy year with the signing of your record deal with Pure Steel Records, and the release of Revenge In Blood. Can you tell fans how everything came together?

The Almighty: Well, first thank you very much for the great review on our new album and the support for the band. We really appreciate that. In 2008, while working on In Battle For Vengeance we were looking for a record company to release the album. We sent out some MP3 Files and waited. One company told us this kind of music is too hard for them, and we should ask Pure Steel Records. I sent out the same files to Pure Steel and didn’t get an answer. When the production of the album was finished, we didn’t have a record deal yet and asked Andi from Battle Cry Records (who is a close friend of mine) if he wanted to work with us for the release. He agreed and In Battle For Vengeance was released on Battle Cry records. During The Sword Brothers Festival I went to the organizer and gave him a promotional CD of the album. He told me he already had the MP3 files I mentioned before and they (I didn’t know he also worked for Pure Steel) wanted to release the album, but they were fully booked out with releases at that time. As a result, we made the deal to release the next album via Pure Steel Records. That has now happened, luckily! I see based on all the reviews and announcements, Pure Steel did a great job!

MER: For MER readers that are not familiar with the music of Warcry, how would you describe your brand of Thrash Metal?

The Almighty: When we started with the band back in 2001, we called our music “True Heavy Metal”. The kind of Heavy Metal we play comes straight from the heart, and we have a lot of influences from Metal scenes all around. Everyone in the band has his own favorite kind of Metal, but we all agree on the sound of the classic 80s Speed/ Thrash/ Black Metal sound. In the early days of the band, we said “this is True Heavy Metal” because it is played with conviction and exactly the way we want it to be. Today, we changed the naming of the music we play a little bit. We call it “Blackened Heavy Metal”, so everyone knows what to expect. Many people were confused with the phrase “True Metal”, which we used before. They were always thinking of Italian-styled Power Metal. Another reviewer once wrote about us: “You guys play Epic Thrash Metal.” In a way, he‘s absolutely right!

MER: You mentioned the previous album, In Battle For Vengeance, which came out a couple of years ago. How have you grown musically since then, and what are the major differences between that album and Revenge In Blood?

The Almighty: The main difference between Revenge In Blood and In Battle For Vengeance was the process of writing new songs. When we recorded In Battle For Vengeance, we had already been playing many of the songs live for years, and they were all written a long time ago. When The Gravewarrior and Roaring Thunder joined the band, some of these songs already existed and some were written by our former bass guitar player The Thunderer. In Battle For Vengeance was not created in one creative process with all the band members included, but over a long time period. When In Battle For Vengeance was released we started writing new songs for Revenge In Blood as a band. We decided to lock ourselves up in the rehearsal room and not come out to play live until the album was written, recorded, and produced. As a result, the songs on Revenge In Blood developed in a much shorter period (although that was around one year!). Of course, that is not the only difference between these two albums. We also changed the rehearsal and recording space in between and saw a lot of improvements due to that fact.

MER: Tell fans a little bit about the songwriting process, and how much preparation goes into recording a Warcry album?

The Almighty: Writing a new Warcry song follows a very simple path. We have two main songwriters (The Axeman and The Gravewarrior). About 80% of the lyrical stuff is done by me; from time to time one of the guitar players has already written the lyrics (Bloody Black Axe or Banshee, for example). During the process we write down ideas and put the songs together. Then we record a demo version of it. This version will be spread through the band so that everyone can work out his parts and then we meet at the rehearsal space to play, discuss, re-write or cancel it. If everyone in the band is not alright with it, we don‘t go any further. It happens quite often that we rewrite the stuff as a band in the rehearsal room. When a song is finished, we go on rehearsing it more and more and recording a rehearsal version, so that we can listen to it and make necessary changes. For the recording sessions, our drummer prepares a mini-guideline for himself and the guitar players lay done the basic tracks to it. As I said before, writing the songs for an entire album including the preproduction phase takes us around a year. We are all busy with our day jobs and have limited time to work on our music. So for us, working at home on the stuff and coming together to rehearse it helps a lot.

MER: The vocals are really amazing on this album; the transition from Power Metal style to Black/Death Metal style is very unique. Tell fans a little bit about your singing background, and what lead up to your current style?

The Almighty: For this question I have to go back to the founding of the band. When we started as a three-piece in 2001, we just wanted to make music. Nothing else. I had not ever been a singer before. We all were big Sacred Steel fans and everybody thought we‘d do something similar. As I was not able to really sing well, I started singing in this Black/ Death/ Thrash style. The style I personally like most, when listening to other bands, is a clear, strong, and powerful voice; often high-pitched, but with that special feeling. I don‘t care about perfect singers or techniques. The spirit is what counts. For me, the vocals on In Battle For Vengeance were too much in one style. I knew I could practice and improve on some more styles. I wanted to record an album with more vocal-variety and I am really confident with it now! It is my tribute to some of the old bands. Maybe a lot of people cannot go along with that mixture, but that does not matter to us. Metal has to be heavy and raw; so you need a singer who puts all his power into his vocals.

MER: One of the highlights of the album is the cover of the Omen classic “Deathrider” and the duet with George Call. Can you explain the chain of events which made that possible?

The Almighty: Warcry has always been a band that pays tribute to other bands by playing a cover song. On the second demo, we recorded “Dance In Despair” from Dawn Of Winter. On the very first album we did “Chains and Leather” from Running Wild. Also on In Battle For Vengeance you can hear Venom‘s “S.A.C.R.I.F.I.C.E.” During the recording of Revenge In Blood, we were talking about a new cover song and a lot of different ideas came to our mind. We agreed to do something from Classic Metal. We are all huge Omen fans and so it was clear for us to do something from the Battle Cry album, so “Deathrider” was the winner. We have a festival called Keep It True here in Germany, and in 2008 we met George Call promoting his band ASKA. A short talk led up to a party with some whisky, acoustic guitars, and a lot of fun. The next day I gave him (George) our CD (In Battle For Vengeance). Months later we met again at another Omen show and he told us he really liked the album and then we were talking about our bands. I said to him, we will do an Omen cover song on the next album and asked him if he wants to join us for a guest appearance. He agreed! It took us a few months worth of phone calls and postponed deadlines to get together. George‘s schedule with all his obligations is very tight, so it was not that easy. A few weeks ago he told me that he is very proud that we made it. We as a band are very proud of it too.

MER: What are some of the songs which you enjoy playing live, and why?

The Almighty: We still try to play a mixture of songs from all chapters of the band. Everyone in the band has his own favorites. For the upcoming shows, we plan to play more songs from the new album than from the older stuff; to promote the new record of course. I personally really enjoy playing “Knights Of The Dark Blade” live because of the vocal changes. For me it is often the lyrics and vocal style and not the instrumental part of a song that makes it more preferable to play live. I also love singing “In Battle For Vengeance” and “The Revenge” live; but as I am a fan of my own band, there is no special reason for choosing one or another song to play.

MER: How has the response been from fans and critics?

The Almighty: About 90% of the critics are very positive to us. You know, we are a band lurking in the underground with a kind of a special sound that has its roots way back in the past. I am proud that most of the reviews and most of the writers claim this album to be something different, which means much more to us than to just say it is “great” or “crap”.

MER: What can fans expect from Warcry in 2011?

The Almighty: In 2011 we will promote the album as much as we can by playing live. In fact, one of our band members moved 500km away (temporarily just for a year and a half). As a result, we are now only a live band (not working on new stuff) until he is back. He will just join us to play live during this time, but not with the creative process. After his return in let‘s say 2012, Warcry will start working on the next album. .. until then it‘s WARCRY live on stage!

MER: Do you have any final words for your new and dedicated fans out there?

The Almighty: Check out REVENGE IN BLOOD!! You have to listen to the whole album, not just one or two songs to get to know what Warcry is all about: Blackened and Old-School Heavy Metal. Metalheads, go back, deep into your heart and listen to it. Then you will know…


  • Sean Meloy

    Sean Meloy was a reviewer, interviewer and DJ here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Iowa , USA. By day he is a straight laced, buttoned up, number crunching accountant; armed with his portable calculator. All other times he is a hard rocking Metal head! He spent many hours listening to records and 8-tracks with his father. Classic bands such as Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton just to name a few. His father bought him his first record, Kiss Alive II, at age 6. By the time he reached his teens he was discovering all the Classic Metal of the 1980’s; Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, etc. He became a huge fan of the Thrash Metal of the time as well; Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Exodus, and Overkill. During the 1990’s he experimented with the Grunge and Hard Rock. However, by the time the millennium came he found himself going back to his roots and rebuilt the music collection he started in his teens.

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