'Beast Of Thunder' is the debut album for David Marcelis Lord Volture. Does this mean that this band is some kind of project from you, David? Why is his name written in smaller letters above the band name?
Hi Tormentor Erich, thanks for giving us the opportunity to give the readers of Lords Of Metal a glimpse behind the scenes of Lord Volture. The whole idea behind the band originates from when I was in heavy metal formation Methusalem from the northern parts of The Netherlands. At that time, I had joined them for a touring line-up as support for Blaze Bayley on their European winter tour of 2005. The tour turned out to be such a success that the guys of Methusalem and I decided that I would be their permanent singer. The near future seemed promising and I was full of enthusiasm of getting to the top with this band. But though we had been doing some great shows, I did not find full satisfaction in the months following the tour with Blaze. I felt this both on the musical level as in the band's management and organization. As for the music, the Methusalem songs were catchy and loaded with energy. However, I had been developing some song writing skills myself during the previous year which I hoped to put into practice. The songs were complete in the way that all arrangements for guitars, bass, drums and vocals were there and ready to be played. Now the difficulty was that Methusalem had developed a style of their own throughout the five or six years that they had been existing already. My songs simply did not fit in there. It would have harmed the integrity of Methusalem and my songs would not have been expressed in the way they were supposed to.
Besides, on the organizational side of business, only few of our great plans and ambitions from the winter tour had been realized so far. What I had been observing in my previous bands Conquestador and Purgatory already, was that often chances are missed and development is being held because there is no central organization and administration. Band members tend to wait for each other to take the initiative, or in the other extreme, do double work as a result of lousy administration. This was also the case for Methusalem. They surely did not lack ambition or talent. Plans just took too much time to get realized. For that reason and because I was very eager to get a project going with my own song material, I decided to leave Methusalem and to start working on the project which would later become Lord Volture. By the way, Methusalem have just released a great full-length debut album. So it seems that in the end they also got what they wanted. Deep respect for their perseverance!
So far for what happened before the initiation of Lord Volture. With all arrangements written for ten songs, I got in contact with producer Yuma van Eekelen (drummer for Pestilence, Brutus and The New Dominion). He is an old-time friend of mine from our common first band, Purgatory. I also attracted my brother Paul, another ex-Purgatory band member, to the project to play all rhythm and bass guitars on the album. So we started recording, which took us about two years before we arrived at recording any vocals. The whole time, the only thing we had in mind was the quality of what we would finally deliver. There was no label or manager rushing us into making a poor record. Finally, in March 2010 we laid down the guitar solos and with that we finished recording. The master tapes were ready in the following month. However, as I never intended Lord Volture to be a one-time recording project, but rather a permanent act with both recordings and live appearances, I started recruiting musicians for the live band. This started some months earlier than the recordings were finished, so around November 2009. The search for a second guitarist, bass player and drummer required several auditions, but in January or February 2010 the live band was set.
Now where does that leave us regarding your question? My name is above the band logo because Lord Volture is my soul creation. I have started the band, written almost all music and I am responsible for the full band management. Of course Yuma, Paul and the other people who cooperated in the album recordings had a great deal of influence on its final sound and vibe, but all in all it is my project. Compare it to Tobias Sammet's 'Avantasia'. Many people are involved in each of their albums. However, Tobias Sammet is the group's leader and song writer and therefore his name is also found above the Avantasia logo. But regarding the Lord Volture live band, all who have seen us performing live already know that a real band is performing there on stage and not some solo artist with session musicians. We all have a great time in this band and I really enjoy playing music and hanging out with these guys. It's just that my vote weighs a bit heavier in songwriting and decision making.
Some band members are also active in other bands, and some of these bands are cover bands such as Mercyful Fake and Up The Irons. These acts are a bit different compared to Lord Volture. So why was there the urge to create this new and different band? Did the other bands not satisfy your metal hunger?
That is quite simple. The Lord Volture recordings were already fully on their way when Mercyful Fake was founded and when Paul and Leon joined Up The Irons. I have been in Judas Rising, a tribute to Judas Priest, during most of the time of the Lord Volture recordings. For me, that was the perfect way to keep hitting the stage while Lord Volture was developing. Currently, I am only involved in some guest projects because I have my hands full with promoting the new album, but all other band members have one or more bands next to Lord Volture. Their Lord Volture activities mainly consist of preparing the songs at home, rehearsing them together and getting on stage, which leaves them quite some time to explore their other musical qualities.
The music of Lord Volture's 'Beast Of Thunder' can be described as heavy metal and power metal. This kind of music is not played by many bands in The Netherlands. Do you know why?
Well, there are two answers to that I think. For one reason there are simply not many singers around that have the courage and the capacities needed for this kind of music. In most modern variants of metal, vocals are more an additional feature than real lead vocals. They mainly serve as a way to getting the lyrics in the music. The focus is more on powerful and sometimes impressive rhythm sections. It took me more than five years since I started singing to get some power and control, and even five years later again I still have a lot of improvement ahead of me. This is a long way to go and as there are many high level guitarists and drummers, the need for vocalists is high. Then it is simply more practical for most bands to get a grunter who may even be able to do some simple melody lines, than to wait an eternity for a descent singer.
Next to the lack of singers, the current “Zeitgeist” is also to absorb everything fast and to forget it even faster. That is what you see everywhere around us. Products you buy in an electro-shop have half the life expectancy of what they used to have two decades ago. The same happens in media. Television programs, movies, pop music, it must all be easy going and very consumable. And though it is in the very roots of metal to stray away from the ordinary and to not follow the masses, I see more and more bands and artists conforming to this trend and throwing away their integrity. Nowadays, there are hundreds of metal bands that all sound the same. They miss an individual sound. Especially those bands that merely rely on grunts and screams for the vocal parts. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate a good grunter, but if that is the only type of vocals that passes by throughout a full album, I simply get bored. Bands who do step out of this trend and do have that identity of their own, are very vulnerable to criticism because they sound different from what most people are used to. Heavy/power metal music often bares more distinctive features that give it an identity. And because The Netherlands is only a relatively small community, only few bands step up to get in this vulnerable position and play this type of music.
What is it with the band and vultures? Are they some kind of metaphor for the critical state of the world nowadays as also mentioned in the song 'Time Will Tell'?
Haha, nice way of thinking. I did not look at it from that point of view yet, but you're right, there could have been a connection. No, the vultures are merely thematic. The combination of these scavenging birds of prey, thunder and lightning just put up a good scenery for heavy metal music. It actually all comes from the band's name. I first came up with “Vulture”, which I accidentally misspelled as “Volture”. But when I found out my mistake I noticed that Volture contains the word “volt” from “voltage”, thereby already incorporating themes such as electricity and lightning. I then added the word “Lord” as a prefix in order to give the name some more mysticism. Lord Volture is a conceptual character of evil, just as King Diamond is – besides being the singer of the band – a horror character.
Other tracks like 'Built For The Kill' or 'The Motherland' are about war, while a song such as 'Hearts Of Steel' is telling about the true heavy metal feeling. So I guess that a lot of things are on your minds when you are writing the songs? What can you tell us about it?
Yes, indeed, history of war has always interested me and somehow it always fits perfectly with metal music. 'Built For The Kill' is about the Spartan warriors who made a stand against superior numbers of Persian forces at Thermopylae. It is about their courage and cultural belief system of strength and honour. 'The Motherland' refers to Operation Barbarossa, which was the name for the German invasion into the Soviet Union during WWII. Seen from the Russian perspective, the song tells about the strategy which delivered victory to the Russians against both Hitler and against Napoleon about 130 years earlier. The strategy is often referred to scorched earth tactics, which comes down to retreating, burning all resources and shelter and to let the bitter cold of winter, starvation and guerilla attacks do their work. The song 'Retaliation' is about the anger and hatred oppressed people feel towards the dictators of their countries. In this case, the emphasis is specifically on the French Revolution and the decapitation of Louis XVI.
Many of the other songs contain aspects of fear, control and power. It is fear of the unknown that drives people to use their imagination for explaining what they cannot understand ('Beast Of Thunder' and 'Pure Evil (Hides In The Dark)'. Very frightening is the control of one race over another ('Reign Of Fire') or even more frightening may be the lack of control over yourself and your actions ('BloodBound'). And what can be more liberating than shaking loose all rules and laws that are opposed to you, even if you pay the highest price for it ('Outlaw'). Finally, 'Hearts Of Steel' describes what drives me into doing what I do and into living how I live. It is the heart and soul of Lord Volture heavy metal music. The chorus contains the words “Pounding machines, pounding machines we feel. Inside our hearts, inside our hearts of steel”. This is the very feeling I hope to trigger in each and everyone who listens the 'Beast Of Thunder' album or who visits our shows. That's what makes it all worth it.
Although you guys play some very good music by yourselves you still got no one less then Jeff Waters as a guest on the album. How did this happen? Do you guys know each other or did you just mail him?
Our guitarist Paul visited one of Jeff's clinics for the Hughes & Kettner Coreblade guitar amps. After the show, he asked Jeff whether he was interested in playing a guest solo on our album. Jeff replied that we should email him with some song material and that he would consider it. So we sent him some rough recording tracks. Luckily, he was very enthusiastic about them and he agreed to play us a guest solo if we would cover the recording costs. It all went really fast and really smooth actually and the result is awesome. I think all guitarists who contributed to the guitar solos on the album did a great job. Our own guitarists Paul and Leon, guest guitarist Mark Bogert and Jeff Waters all have a very distinct style of playing which makes the mixture of their solos a huge added value to the album.
In my review and in other reviews about 'Beast of Thunder' there is a question about the high screams you do. To me you seem to become a bit too enthusiastic every now and then and this lowers the excitement of the album a little. Can you agree on these critics or do you say: “Hey, take it or leave it, this is how it is.”
Yes, I have read some critics about this. It is definitely something I will take into account in future recordings. However, concerning the 'Beast Of Thunder' album, I am very happy with what we have recorded. From the start, we have aimed at producing a very energetic album. I agree that 57 minutes of high-pitched power vocals and guitar solos are intensive and may even scare some people away from listening to our music. However, I wanted this debut to be blasting without compromise. So it was a conscious decision to put this much of power into the songs and into the vocals. This music is simply meant to be played loud only and not for providing some comfortable background music.
In general 'Beast Of Thunder' looks good and sounds good, and there was no record company involved. How did you manage to create such a strong product without any help?
As I told you earlier in this interview, we have taken a long time recording all the songs. Besides, for all of us it was our first experience of recording a full-length high quality album, so we had to discover everything by ourselves. I was very lucky to have good friends around me that were willing to work on this project. Furthermore, a lot can be done at home or with low budget solutions with modern technology. So by finding smart solutions and by taking our time we were able to produce and duplicate the album for a reasonable budget. Besides that, it is also just a matter of devotion as I still had to come up with quite a sum of money to cover the expenses. Some people spend their money on travelling around the world, others like driving an expensive car. I like making music and getting it known and recognized by other people.
Okay David, that's it for me. I wish you all the best for 'Beast Of Thunder' and I guess that you have some famous final words for us, right?
Yeah, thanks to all people who have supported Lord Volture. For all who didn't know about us yet, visit our website, listen to our songs, buy the album through our webshop and I hope to see you banging along in the front of the stage some time. And for everyone who is eager to hear more from us, I am currently finishing the compositions for the follow-up album and we will soon start planning the recordings, which is definitely not going to take us three years this time. See you on stage!