The Towering Metalworks of On Atlas’ Shoulders
The Towering Metalworks of On Atlas’ Shoulders
On Atlas’ Shoulders present powerhouse metal that is towering and intensive. Based out Frankfurt, Germany, this very charismatic band is ready to take on the world at large – especially if their upcoming album Hyperion is indicative of greater glories ahead. Highwire Daze recently interviewed two of the On Atlas’ Shoulders brigade to find out a whole lot more about this amazing up and coming heavy metal collective and their raging destiny ahead. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in On Atlas’ Shoulders, and how long the band has been together.
Marius: Thanks so much for having us! I am Marius, the vocalist, I write the lyrics and create our artwork as well.
Ben: Hi Ken! I am Ben and cover lead and rhythm guitar together with Björn. I also write many of our riffs and song ideas.
Marius: We started the band back in 2018, after the two of us met on an online musicians’ forum. I wanted to join an existing band and Ben was wanting to start a new heavy metal project from scratch and decided to reach out to me.
Ben: We met for a jam session, went out to a local metal bar and decided to start On Atlas’ Shoulders then and there. That was in November 2018, I believe. After a few months we had joined forces with Björn on guitar and Leo on drums and started writing our debut full-length Invictus straight away.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music/metal scene like there?
Ben: We are based in Frankfurt, Germany. Germany as a whole has quite diverse metal scenes. Bands that come to mind are Kreator, Blind Guardian, Helloween, Necrophagist, Sodom, Vulture, all the way to newer bands such as Unprocessed. There is a lot going on.
Marius: And also quite a few very new, unsigned bands from across the spectrum. At the same time, you do have to know where to look in the individual cities to find the metal hotspots. Metal is definitely not mainstream here.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the Hyperion album title?
Marius: Yes there is actually. All our albums so far have this Greek mythological titan theme going on, as does our band name. For our second album Hyperion, we decided to go with a fire theme. Leo, our drummer, came up with the name Hyperion, who in Greek mythology is the titan of light/sun/fire.
Tell me about the song and video for the new single 5 Billion Years and what inspired the lyrics.
Ben: Björn actually came up with the general lyrical concept. It is based on the scientific fact that the sun is expanding and the world as we know it will no longer exist in about 5 billion years. And because of humanity’s inevitable fate, we say enjoy your time on this earth, following your own path, stay true to yourself and your beliefs and fight for what you feel is right. In the end that is all that matters.
Select any other song from Hyperion and what inspired the lyrics.
Marius: Our next single release “Ruins” deals with the topic of death from multiple angles, emphasizing that it serves a fundamental purpose for all of existence. The listener is motivated to face his biggest fears and live life to the fullest because when confronted with death, the final judge, we mustn’t have any regrets. Finally, death also serves as a unifier by being everyone’s inevitable end, regardless of race, religion, etc.
Who did the cover art for Hyperion and how much input did you have on it?
Ben: That’s an easy one: Marius creates all out artwork, including the Hyperion cover.
Marius: That’s right. In terms of the direction of the artwork, we had some guidelines: In addition to the thematic titan theme described earlier, we also have this colour scheme throughout our records. Invictus was blue, Hyperion is red/orange. So that kind of provided the fiery red visual foundation as well as the need for a light/sun/fire titan as the centerpiece. I basically went with that and came up with the artwork, always checking in with the other guys constantly to get their feedback and additional ideas.
Ben: It’s a killer album cover, we are all really stoked with how it turned out!
What was it like to write and record new music in the middle of a pandemic and so much social unrest in the world?
Ben: These are strange times for sure. But truth be told, everything worked quite well. We were able to write the songs before Germany went into a hard lockdown, mainly during the summer of 2020. And because we record, mix and master everything ourselves, we were able to use the down-time during the hard lockdowns to record all our tracks individually and send them over to Björn, who worked on mixing and mastering. Recording in a studio would have been tough, but our approach worked well.
What could one expect from a live On Atlas’ Shoulders show?
Ben: Memorable harmonies, dual guitar solos, double bass, epic vocals and backing vocals, you name it – simply having a great time with some epic heavy metal!
Marius: If you want to see a massive executioner’s axe on stage, come to our live show!
Ben: On a more serious note, we really hope live shows will be possible more frequently again soon. While we love writing and recording new songs and that process has magic in it as well, we are a live gigging band at heart and want to get out there, deliver the best we can on stage and of course also promote our record. We were able to do an online stream show at a venue in Bonn, but it isn’t quite the same without audience feedback in the room.
If On Atlas’ Shoulders could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Ben: Apart from massive bands such as Priest and Maiden, I would love to share the stage with some of the current epic metal/trad metal/NOTHM titans such as Enforcer, Ambush, Eternal Champion, Gatekeeper, Wytch Hazel and so on. I love the raw energy, the true spirit, the rough edges.
Marius: Great choices! For me I would also have to say Unleash the Archers, Breaking Benjamin or Avantasia!
Of course, Germany is famous for their BEER!!! What is your favorite beer of choice and why?
Marius: True, we have some great beer here! We drink lots of different kinds. Me personally, I actually love Kilkenny Irish red ales.
Ben: We also like German “Helles”, which is kind of like a lager/pale ale type of thing I guess. And there are many local craft breweries which are always great to try. The variety and quality is what makes beer great here!
What do you hope the rest of 2021 brings for On Atlas’ Shoulders?
Marius: We are launching our second full-length “Hyperion” and will be releasing multiple singles with accompanying music videos in advance. Check out our social media for updates.
Ben: And also, as and when Covid permits, we will try and hit the stages here in Germany to support the release. And maybe even start working on new material.
Any final words of wisdom?
Ben: Thanks for the interview, and greetings from Germany!
Marius: And to everyone out there: Better times will come, we’ll get through this mess. Until then, stay strong and rock on!
Marius Bönisch • Vocals
Ben Chadwick • Guitar & Backing Vocals
Björn Anders • Guitar & Backing Vocals
Ben Chadwick • Bass
Leonard Pick • Drums
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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