Fleshcrawl is one of the heaviest death metal bands ever! And after years on the Black Mark label, these guys are ready to kick some major ass with their Metal Blade debut entitled As Blood Rains From The Sky… We recently had a chance to catch up with Fleshcrawl happenings via the e-mail. Read on to find out what drummer Bastian Herzog had to say…

Highwire Daze: Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Fleshcrawl.

Bastian Herzog: My name is Bastian and I am the drummer. I am also doing most of the press stuff like interviews etc.

HD: Where is the band from and how long have you guys been together?

Bastian: We come from Ulm in southern Germany right between Stuttgart and Munich. The band was founded back in spring 1987, so we have existed for around 13 years now.

HD: Describe the music of Fleshcrawl to someone who has never heard it before.

Bastian: Fleshcrawl stands for f*ckin' intense, brutal old school death metal music in the swedish vein. It is uncompromising, straight forward, in-your-face, aggressive and stuff, but still comes along with a lot of variety in songwriting and riffing. You can find grind parts as well as groovy and mid-tempo sections. It is made for real death metal fans.

HD: What made you guys decide to leave Black Mark after all this time?

Bastian: Well, our contract with Black Mark expired in fall 1998 and we also didn't want to extend it cause we were damn f*ckin' unsatisfied with the work of Black Mark especially concerning their promotion. We wanted to leave the label after the "Impurity" album already, but at that time (1994) they didn't want to let us go, so we had to continue and do another album. We were discussing a lot of things with them which have to be improved and stuff. At the beginning, it seemed that they also wanted to cooperate, but in the end that was not really the case. After the "Bloodsoul" album we were even more displeased with their work -- these guys just didn't care. They even reduced the amount of promo CDs to be sent out for press and radio, closed down the North American office and stuff like that. Man, we reached a point at that time where we really wanted to kick their asses and get out of that Black Mark contract, but once more they insisted on one more album because they still had the option. At that time we decided to handle most of the stuff on our own and not to rely too much on the work of the company anymore. So we got back to the songwriting process for "Bloodred Massacre". A lot of the interview sessions for this album were organized by ourselves -- also the european tour for it was co-organized by ourselves together with the tour agency -- we even didn't want the label to be involved anymore. After "Bloodred Massacre" was released we called the label up and told them that this was definitely the last album for them, no matter if they insist on the last option or not, we just didn't want to waste more work for these guys. I mean there was so much sh*t and discrepancies between us and Black Mark after the last 2 albums we did for them - making it impossible to go on and produce further albums for them. So we cancelled the f*ckin' contract, at the same time it also expired which was more than good for us! So after that we were free of any contract and able to search for a new record company. We received a couple of offers from different labels, but the one from Invasion Records turned out to have the best conditions, so we signed to them in late 1998. By that time everything was looking good and we agreed to set the recording time for May 1999. At the beginning of 1999 we finally wanted to fix all the stuff like studio booking and advance payments and all that by calling Invasion and discuss about everything. Suddenly, there was noboby available anymore -- we couldn't reach anybody from their office anymore neither by phone or fax nor by email. This situation lasted about 4 months in total, leaving us in completely unsafe circumstances because we didn't have anybody confirming the studio and arranging all that things. So at the beginning of May 1999, we went to a lawyer and this guy brought us out of the Invasion contract again. That happened 2 weeks before we should start off to Sweden to do the recordings. At the same time, Peter Tägtgren from the Abyss Studios called us up and cancelled our already confirmed studio time because he needed it for himself to do a major album production for his project Pain. That was the second big disaster for us in May 1999 - no label, no studio, but all the songs ready to be recorded. Well, we didn't give up -- we were calling a couple of other studios in Sweden and tried to fix a time. Studio Fredman was the only studio which had vacancies for July 1999, so we reserved it right away. After that we met the people of the Metal Blade office in Europe (who we already knew for years) on some tour concert here in Germany and told them about our situation. They wanted to help us very spontaneously and paid our studio costs, so we could go to the Fredman Studios and start recording the album. When we came back from Sweden after that, we received the Metal Blade contract and finally signed it in October 1999.

HD: How does the new album compare to your earlier work?

Bastian: We spent much more time and work on all the songwriting and lyrics for "As blood rains from the sky..." as ever before. I mean we wanted to improve towards our last album "Bloodred Massacre" and therefore really worked very hard to succeed in that. Moreover all the songs are coming along as a real unit, everything fits together perfectly. There is more variety in the new material -- there is fast and grind parts as well as groovy mid-tempo stuff. We worked on that material until everybody was completely satisfied with it. We had a very good feeling when putting together this album and I think people can hear it. It sounds really fresh and modern although it is definitely death metal in the Swedish vein from the early 90s. Moreover we have the best production ever so far, compared to previous Fleshcrawl albums. In the end we didn't regret having recorded in the Studio Fredman although that studio is not really famous for the production of extreme albums in the past. We just knew exactly what we wanted and that's the reason why the album turned out the way it is now.

HD: What do you think of the other albums when you look back on them now?

Bastian: I still like all of them, no question. I mean we do not play all of the old songs on shows anymore, but that doesn't mean we don't like our old stuff or something. I mean if you have 5 albums out, you have to make a selection to form a good live program and some stuff just has to stay off the playlist. The only thing I regret is that the last 2 albums "Bloodsoul" and "Bloodred Massacre" still came out on Black Mark. That's the only thing which pisses me off. If these albums would have been released on better and serious working labels like Metal Blade, we would have a much better position nowadays.

HD: What do you think of the state of the death metal scene today?

Bastian: I don't know how the situation is in the States, but in Europe everything is becoming better again. People are showing up on tours and shows again which proves that the fans still are interested in this music. Also there are good, new bands coming up, some of them releasing killer albums. I really see a big improvement for death metal here in Germany and also in Europe in general. I mean death metal has conquered and gained so many fans in the past, so that this music doesn't die and no matter what some people say about the state of death metal nowadays: Don't believe the hype, death metal is f*ckin' alive and on its way up again!

HD: What keeps Fleshcrawl going and so f*cking brutal musically after all this time?

Bastian: We still like and believe in what we do, that's basically the most important reason to go on like that and stay brutal to the core. Everybody in the band is a total fan of brutal death metal music and there is no other musical direction for Fleshcrawl in the future, so don't expect any changes in style from us. As a band you have to really believe in what you do, otherwise you're betraying not only the fans, but also yourself.

HD: What is a live Fleshcrawl show like for those of us who have yet to see you?

Bastian: Well, it is pure energy and intensity. It will bring back the early death metal sound of the 90s to your ears. It will be like the early Swedish death metal coming to the States to devastate!

HD: Any chance of Fleshcrawl coming to the States and play?

Bastian: We are planning that for 3 years already, but so far Black Mark never helped or supported us in those plans. I am sure Metal Blade is doing different concerning this. I hope we'll make it and come over sometime after the summer. But that also depends on the success of the new album in North America.

HD: Do you think metal music could be responsible for violence in society like school shootings, church bombings etc?

Bastian: My opinion is, that only so-called weak minds take metal music as a reason to cause riots, violence and other crime stuff. I mean those people only want to push aside their own problems and fears by acting like an idiot and destroying things or hurting other people. That doesn't have anything to do with heavy metal music in general. Metal sometimes is just taken as an apology for some people who are behaving like total a**holes. Everybody who can think clearly, looks through that sh*t and knows that Heavy Metal is free of anything like that.

HD: What do you think ultimately sets Fleshcrawl apart from other death metal bands?

Bastian: Well, we are around for quite a long time now, we went through all the stages of a band, all up's and down's. After all those years we developed something like a good feeling for good death metal songs and riffs and we exactly know where the band's direction will go to. In Germany, I would say we are the 'No. 1' death metal band and we are also not afraid to 'compete' with international bands.

HD: If there was one thing you'd like to leave a listener with after hearing the Fleshcrawl CD, what would it be?

Bastian: After listening to the album, people know what old school death metal is all about and that this sound still exists and even kicks ass more than ever before. Fleshcrawl beams you back to that time and you'll like it!!!

HD: Any messages for metal fans here in the States?

Bastian: I hope we make it to the States this time and play some killer shows!

Thanks to Bastian for taking the time to answer these questions. All fans of extreme death metal need to check out Fleshcrawl now!!!


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