The Heavy Metal Prophecies of Ancient Curse
The Heavy Metal Prophecies of Ancient Curse
Ancient Curse is a progressive power metal band from Germany whose sonic artistry is absolutely spellbinding! The New Prophecy is the name of their just unleashed adventure in sound from Pure Steel Records, featuring former and current members from Sons Of Seasons. Also featured on this amazing album are special guest appearances from the Kamelot and Metalium heavy metal brigades! Highwire Daze recently caught up with vocalist / guitarist Pepe Pierez of the almighty Ancient Curse to find out more about the mystical heavy metal reveries of The New Prophecy. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Ancient Curse, and how long the band has been together.
Ancient Curse is: vocals and guitars Pepe Pierez (ex-Sons of Seasons), guitars and backing vocals Gunnar Erxleben (ex-Riot Instinct), drums/backing vocals Matthias Schröder and bass Thorsten Penz (G.L.A.S.S.). We play progressive power metal containing traces of of thrash and speed as well as and partly rough and clean singing. One also finds acoustic and symphonic elements like orchestrations, choirs and authentic guitars in the compositions. The group has existed for more than a quarter of a century
Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
The band was founded in Bremen in Northern Germany. The two remaining original members Gunnar and Pepe have known each other since school and started playing guitar at the same time.
Although the club scene is no longer as lively as it was in the 1990s, there are still an incredible number of bands. In the warehouses at the industrial harbor, where we also meet regularly for rehearsals, music of the most different kinds comes out of the windows and cellar corridors in the evenings and on weekends. Recently we share the practice room with other metal bands from Bremen.
How did you wind up signing with Pure Steel Records?
Pure Steel Records approached us immediately after the release of our lyric video for The Shadow to talk about a collaboration. We had contacted other labels that could fit to us stylistically and in terms of repertoire and attitude towards art and there would have been other options for us. But with Pure Steel we had a very good feeling from the beginning that we were in the best hands there. They are just a great metal family and we are part of it now.
The contract helps us especially through the existing distribution network and the urgent contacts to the scene – from fanzines to radio stations.
Is there any overall story or concept behind The New Prophecy title?
The New Prophecy should be something like a counterpart to the band name and create a mental tension. The title marks the beginning of a new era in the band’s history. The title song is also about our artistic resurrection, just listen to it: “We are the new prophecy!: We have not the slightest doubt about that 😉
Select two songs from The New Prophecy and what inspired the lyrics.
Well, we’ll take three examples:
Gunnar likes to deal with contemporary real themes that touch him personally. In Men of the Storm he appeals for a careful handling of Mother Earth’s natural resources and calls upon the peoples of the world to rethink and act in the face of climate change.
Pepe is very emotional when writing poetry. In Mind Chaos, for example, he tells heartbreakingly about the consequences of a painful separation and the mental and spiritual confusion that such a difficult phase of life brings with it.
Thorsten’s texts are sometimes esoteric. We Follow The Signs is about contact with angels who show us the way, if you only listen to them. Further inspiration came from the famous giant sculpture Angel of the North by Antony Gormley near Gateshead in England, which – with a little imagination – looks like a compass.
Who did the cover art for The New Prophecy and how much influence did you have on it?
We had full control over the graphic art because it was done before the record deal.
Our drummer Matthias, graphic designer by profession. is responsible for the whole artwork and has really delivered a masterpiece here, we are all totally enthusiastic. The cover should reflect our musical resurrection. The dieamantine pendulum above the awakening sculpture in an antique setting is supposed to say: Make the most of the precious time left. In this regard we will do our best.
Pepe Pierez, are you still involved with Sons of Seasons and Poverty’s No Crime? If so, what are the bands currently up to. If not, when looking back, what do you think of your work in these two bands in retrospect?
Sons of Seasons is actually in a kind of sleeping mode. All members are busy with their own bands and projects. But we are still in contact. Maybe one day we start the recording for a third album.
My contribution to Poverty’s No Crime was only temporary, as they asked me to sing at some shows for them when the singer and guitar player Volker had some difficulties with his voice. It was fun and a quite cool challenge for me. They are all good friends of us and we played several gigs together with Ancient Curse.
You have two Sons Of Seasons members making guest appearances on The New Prophecy – Henning Basse (also in Metalium) and Oliver Palotai (also on Kamelot). What did they contribute to the overall recording process?
At the request of the composer Pepe, We Follow The Signs should definitely have a rich orchestral intro with many classical instruments, which the experienced and versatile Oliver Palotai did more than brilliantly. Henning Basse was the vocal coach for parts of our album recordings. Pepe sang several songs in Henning’s own studio, so it was more than natural that we asked him for a contribution. So he took over an exciting vocal passage just before the climax of this song. Just at the right place. We thank them both for the refinement.
What has it been like to release an album in the middle of a pandemic?
We miss the gigs, it’s a bit sad to have to wait for the release concert first. Hopefully it will become something in autumn. The pandemic restrictions have been eased a little bit since a few days. Actually the cultural and economic life has come to a standstill in the already somewhat quiet city of Bremen. After all, we have a lot to do.
When you look back on your albums from the 90’s, what do you think of them now?
The 90s were the years of our youth, we felt free and didn’t need much. A lot of free time and little money, as befits a handful of long-haired youngsters. With our guitars strapped to our backs, we rode our bikes to rehearsal, sometimes three or four times a week, and then we went out on the slopes to party. Because of the frequency of the practice evenings we were fantastically well-rehearsed. And we drank well. It was the last analog decade in terms of life and music. Metal took a back seat to grunge, we didn’t feel so much of it because we were fully behind our music. We felt like “on the verge of a breakthrough”. A wonderful attitude towards life, which lasts until today. In the middle of this emotional and lively decade we played a tour in Cuba, Metal under Palm Trees was an experience that belongs to us and still belongs to the most beautiful of our musical life. Background was the success of our demo Contrast in Union, which – originally shrink-wrapped in a tin can – attracted attention and through a fan got into the hands of a crazy one-armed radio presenter and climbed to number one of his listener charts, promptly we were invited and received almost like guests of state.
As mentioned, the 1990s were largely pre-digital. This also applies to the recording method in the studios, which was analogue. Overdubs, effects, mixing and the like were more cumbersome with the old technique and a big time factor, with the result that the recordings sounded a bit rougher and could well contain some charming tiny little playing errors. So no computer-aided perfection in most music productions, not even in ours. Nevertheless we are proud of the results: the two albums The Landing and Thirsty Fields.
What could one expect from a live Ancient Curse show?
A well-rehearsed live band, which you can honestly see as having fun with their instruments and joy of playing. Small surprises included. Everything is live, everything is real. We all want to transfer our energy to the audience. We are all there with enthusiasm, passion and friendship. Because our music is so varied, even non-metal fans can discover many interesting and worthwhile things to listen to.
If Ancient Curse could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I’d clearly say Psychotic Waltz. They also disappeared underground for many years and then came back to the surface this year with the new progressive metal album The God-Shaped Void. We all appreciate this great band and have often seen them live, in the 1990s they played a few times in the then hip music club Woody’s in Bremen.
Are you currently involved with any other bands or projects outside of Ancient Curse?
Only smaller projects – more or less. We all concentrate fully on our main band Ancient Curse.
Germany is world famous for their BEER! What is your favorite beer of choice and why?
We especially love North German beers, fresh tart Pilsner like Haake Beck and Beck’s from our hometown Bremen and Jever from the East Frisian town of the same name. A pallet of wheat beer from Löwenbräu from Bavaria did not get old during our rehearsals! The father-in-law of our guitarist Gunnar is an innkeeper and provides us with always different sorts of German beer. Fantastic, this never-ending source.
What’s up next for Ancient Curse?
Especially rehearsals, also video shootings. In just a few days the first real video clip of The New Prophecy is released. It was shot in the surroundings of our rehearsal room in an old wine warehouse. Another video is planned for We Follow The Signs. Here you can watch the band in a rotten castle somewhere in the countryside of Lower Saxony.
Any final words of wisdom?
Your soul shows you the way to happiness. Just do the things that bring you joy. In this sense: Look inside yourself and follow the signs!
Pepe Pierez – Guitars/Vocals
Gunnar Erxleben – Guitars
Matthias S. – Drums
Thorsten Penz – Bass
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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