Maik Weichert: “Be patient: the Moffen-Metal-Assault is coming sooner or later!”
Heaven Shall Burn heeft recentelijk met ‘Of Truth And Sacrifice’ weer een beest van een album geproduceerd, en naar mijn niet-bescheiden mening is dit ook nog eens hun beste plaat tot nu toe. Daar hoort natuurlijk een interview bij. Gitarist, componist en tekstschrijver Maik Weichert blijkt ondanks de zware thema’s van de band niet geheel zonder humor en heeft een geheel eigen kijk op Sabaton, vindt dat neonazi’s ook recht hebben op goede muziek (omdat er geen goede rechtse bands zijn) en stelt de fans van het eerst uur gerust. Ook komt hier weer het belang naar voren van het goed lezen van de teksten.
Wilco Ι 29 mei 2020
Let me start with congratulating you with the new album ‘Of Truth And Sacrifice’. In my humble opinion it is the best you did so far.
You seem to be a very distinguished journalist!
Are you as satisfied with the album as I am? Or has the big evaluation already begun and does it show some details that in hindsight could have been done different?
At the moment I really cannot give an opinion about the record. Actually it´s always the same: In the very moment you released a record, you are able to talk about the forerunner record. So I could tell you something about ‘Wanderer’ now… The new record is just too fresh, I do not have any distance to it. I love it, but it´s the naïve love you feel in every new relationship haha…
The band has been around now for more than twenty years, and ‘Of Truth And Sacrifice’ is full-length number eight. What kind of band do you consider yourselves to be musicwise nowadays? Death metal? Metalcore? Deathcore? Or do you think you have set a new standard in the ever expanding metal universe?
I am pretty sure it´s our ninth full record – I just had a look at Wikipedia – crazy how time flies… We totally do not think we´re creating something new, that is not the goal HSB has. We want to spread our message as effective as possible – there is no real urge for an artistic expression in a way of being unique. I would say we´re a modern metal band. We tried to offer a musical metal-world-theater – all our influences and favourite stiles and bands get their citation.
I have seen quite some different reviews of the new album. Now I am not used to that when it concerns a Heaven Shall Burn album. In general in the past all review were always very positive. That is different now. How do you feel about that? And what do you think of album reviews anyway?
Really? I feel the feedback is a lot more positive than in the past. It sounds strange, but I am always very interested in profound negative reviews. That is the only way you can improve yourself. I totally believe that our record is great, so what is the use of reading that from other people? Sure, it boosts your ego and everyone likes that, but from an productive point of view, it´s a lot more important to have a look at the points of criticism.
As already mentioned the album is entitled ‘Of Truth And Sacrifice’. Now that’s quite an intriguing title. So tell me, what’s the truth, and what are you sacrificing?
We´re talking about truths, those are basic ethical and moral standards. We do not think we have the right opinion on everything and of course you can beg to differ, if it comes to certain things. BUT there are things that are not negotiable, for example basic human rights. But even these things are being discussed again. Some people think a human life in Africa is less worth than a European one. That is something we totally deny. A such things are the truths we talk about. We just also felt, that truth is a very important entity in these days. For example journalists die for it. Other people deny the truth to not change anything in their lives. So they do not sacrifice the life for the truth, they sacrifice the truth for their life. Truth and sacrifice have a very vivid and complicated relation and everyone has his own way of dealing with it.
‘Of Truth And Sacrifice’ is released as a double-album. Why did you chose to put this many songs on one album instead of spreading them out over two albums?
We just wanted to give a statement to our fans. Look here is a really big chunk of material for you – have fun with it, we offer value for money, it´s still worth buying physical music. Of course we could have released four or five EP´s instead and would be in fancy lists on all the streaming portals for ever, but that is exactly what we not wanted. It´s an anachronistic statement. Bold and uncompromising and from an economic point of view a little stupid as well, sure.
When I was reviewing the album, the lyrics were not available. What can you tell me about the lyrical content?
A very interesting song for you should be ‘Eradicate’. It´s about a Dutch girl gang in WW2, that was active in the resistance against the Nazis. Crazy Sabaton did not write a song about those girls already…
Concerning the lyrical content…many bands are generally descriptive, whereas HSB often chooses very specific subjects, for instance a battle ship or a single person. Why do you make that choice?
I mostly write about specific and definite events and persons and try to extract a general message from that. I think this is the way to touch people a lot more, it´s more emotional and more empathic – so the message is a lot stronger in the end and impresses even more than those ordinary metal lyrics like “for metal we fight, ride under the golden light / so take this hand my friend, we will bring this battle to an end, united, we´ll never be divided…”
Your songs are about many tragedies of the human history, oppression, racism, WW I and WW II. But, when I am not mistaken there has not been a song about the holocaust. When I am not mistaken, why not? I can imagine you can put a lot of aggression and frustration in such a song.
We have a quite a few songs about the holocaust. ‘If This A Man’ for example, which is dedicated to Primo Levi or ‘To Inherit The Guilt’, or ‘Naked Among Wolves’. The strange thing is that those songs are from a lyrical point of view are not aggressive at all. When writing those songs I felt a very deep and calm hate towards the murderers but also a very emotional bond towards the victims.
Do you never feel the urge to write a song about gore, love, movies or other less heavy subjects? Are you always contemplating the deeper thought’s in live?
I do not always have a stick up my ass, trying to be intellectual and educative and shit. Only when I write music. In the remaining parts of my life I am a total jester.
Have you ever run into difficulties because of the music in combination with the lyrics? It is clear to me that HSB is not a right-wing band, but I can imagine people thinking that when they do not know you. I mean, many song are about war and other drama’s and the music is extremely brutal.
That is indeed an issue. For example if we post something political in social media, like a flyer for an anti-Nazi demonstration in our hometown: there are ALWAYS people complaining and unfriending us, because “they did not know that HSB was a snowflake band…” And even crazier: Many of these HSB right wing fans do not even have a problem with us being anti-nazi and anti-racist. They say stuff like “hey, we´re both fighting the system…” and blabla. It´s pathetic. But on the other hand, what should they do? There are almost no cool sounding right wing bands (are there?), those people cannot listen to crap all day. So I rather have them listening to our snowflake propaganda and slowly convert them…
I think the track ‘Übermacht’ is one of the absolute best songs of the album. What is the song about and why is it partly in German?
There are just some parts that sound a lot meaner in German. And to be honest it´s really hard writing good German lyrics, I did not manage to write a whole song on such a high German level. But in the end the mix came out pretty cool I think and it is a nice surprise for the listener. The song is about the fact, that if we do not start listening to scientists and what they have to say about the climate change, then one day some kind of “green” populists will rise and offer easy solutions for the then immediate existential problems. Just like it is now with right wing populists and the “refugee crisis”.
Can we expect more songs in German in the future?
As I said, if I manage to write lyrics that seem good enough, that is always an option.
By the way, Is HSB the most popular in Germany or are there other countries in which your star is even bigger?
The German speaking parts of Europe are by far our biggest market. I mean in Germany we´re almost mainstream now. In the rest of the world we´re a quite known metal band, but far away from being in the charts.
With ‘Weakness Leaving My Heart’ you put a ballad on the record, something I did not expect from you guys. Why did you choose to put out a song like that?
It did not feel soooo special to be honest. We had a few songs with a very emotional mood in the past already. Just think of ‘Given in death’ or ‘Implore the darken sky’. I would not call these kind of songs “ballad” though, we´re not the almighty Foreigner!
Another strange piece of music, and even more disturbing hahaha, is the techno industrial dance track ‘La Résistance’? Is this an attempt to break into the dance market or did you just wanted to experiment with a totally different kind of music?
We did a few experiments like that in the past. But of course not as obvious as in this song. We just felt like having some synth wave vibes on the record. And if you have a double record, there is a lot more space for ideas and visions of course.
What happened when you wrote ‘The Sorrows Of Victory’? It is very different from anything you have ever made. I think it is a fantastic song, but it differs a lot from the music you usually make.
When I wrote this song I had more like a novel in mind (It´s about a crusade and the fight between Saladin and Richard Lionheart). So for this one the music followed the lyrics, which is very unusual for HSB. Maybe that is why you think it´s so unique for HSB.
How did the rest of the world react to that song?
Tons of girls ask who the clean singer with the dark voice is…
Can we ever expect it to be performed live?
I think that would be a great thing for a special gig. We would need a few guests for this one, the voices and the guitar solo of course.
This is the first time HSB made one or more tunes that are so different form the usual stuff you make. Can we expect more of these songs in the future? Should we be afraid of a totally different HSB in, let’s say, five years?
First thing we take care of is to make our old fans happy. I am a huge music fan myself and I just hate it, if bands change their style to something totally different. So if you put in a new HSB CD, you will realize after 20 sec. that HSB is playing, that will be true for every release with our name on it. Besides that, we´re of course looking for new directions and ways to develop, but that that will always be just an add an and not a total change of the recipe. on, not
Currently the whole world suffers from the effect of the Covid-19 virus, aka corona. That is truly a blow for everybody, but especially for all the touring bands. All shows cancelled, the whole festival season in shambles, and just when you should be out promoting the new album. How does a band cope with such an unprecedented situation?
We just had a live break for two years, so it feels like an extension of that break. You can say we´re used to not playing and keeping the band alive because of not being active on stages for more than two years now. But on the other hand we really need to go out and play for the people, we´re just keen to do it. Feels like a volcano before eruption.
Hopefully bands will be able to tour again later this year. If so, are there any bands out there that you would very much like to tour with?
Always great to tour with your “old” hero bands. Like the tour we had with Hypocrisy for example. So being on the road with Dismember or Carcass for example would be great.
Thank you very much for your time. Do you have any last remarks for the Dutch metal audience?
Be patient: the Moffen-Metal-Assault is coming sooner or later!
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