ATROCITY was founded at the end of 1985 and were originally called Instigator. The first line-up, comprising Alexander Krull - vocals, Mathias Röderer - guitar, Frank Knodel - guitar, René Tometschek - bass and Gernot Winkler - drums, produced the first and only official "Instigators" demo in October 1988 with the songs "Instigators", "Hypocrisy", "One Of Us (United We Are Strong)", "There's No God" and "Klimsch". Thanks to well-attended live performances (their very first gig was on February 14, 1988 in Mainhardt at the "Schrottplatz" venue), which were pretty heavy, ATROCITY had soon made themselves quite a name in the region around Ludwigsburg/Stuttgart. So obviously it was high time to make a demo tape. Heavy on thrash elements, the "Instigators" demo presented an outline of the band's beginnings; no more and no less. The demo sold out very quickly, and it was not long before the record companies were showing interest. All the same, the band did not want to sign a deal straight away, but define the band's future course, since there were musical differences of opinion. Alexander Krull and Mathias Röderer wanted simply to be more extreme and experimental, and after replacing some of the musicians, the band then set out to become perhaps the most unconventional, wide-ranging and most extreme metal act from the German-speaking region.
Alexander Krull, singer and founding member, recounts the story so far:
BLUE BLOOD (1989)
"'Blue Blood' was a really heavy work, and it came as a real bombshell in the death/grind underground scene back then, especially as there were very few acts at that time who played such an extreme style of metal. We had been around for a while as a band and we wanted to be different right from the outset. Our first official single did include an experimental number entitled 'When The Fire Burns Over The Seas'. It featured new drummer Michael Schwarz, who had just joined the group and who had impressed Mathias and me with his drumming style in his other combo BELCHING BEET. What's more, the other two songs, 'Blue Blood' and 'Humans Lost Humanity' were anything but run-of-the-mill; the were impressive for their chaotic sound. The cover artwork was no less chaotic and even had a topical connection: we wanted to pour blood over a picture of the British royal family, Lady Di and Prince Charles and photograph it. When the press agency got wind of that, we were forbidden to do it and threatened with legal proceedings if went ahead. Without permission to use the picture, I had no other alternative than to photocopy it and to deliver it in that state to Nuclear Blast, because the release date was days away. Of course, there were several problems with the printing, so the 'Mauritius' edition of 'Blue Blood' is very popular now among collectors!"
"Our first album. By this time, guitarist Richard Scharf and bassist Oliver Klasen were in the band, and we recorded 'Hallucinations' during (!) our European tour with Carcass, which I organized together with Mathias. The tour and the accompanying festivals were a great success. Back then, for example, I even got Entombed to come to Germany especially for the festivals. However, there was only a week between the festivals and the ensuing Euro tour. In that short space of time we had to fly to Florida and record our debut album with Scott Burns, the great cult producer at that time, in the famous Morrisound Studio. On top of the stress of touring, jet lag and the fact that I had lost my voice, there was also the added problem that the football World Cup was taking place in Italy. During the finale, which saw Germany become world champions, we were dashing between the TV room and the studio editing room, mixing 'Hallucinations' with Scott Burns in just 16 hours. Scott was incredibly laid back about it all. He was very enthusiastic and he liked our mixture of death metal and progressive, partly technical elements. It was he who helped us to get the US deal with Roadrunner. Even with our madcap music, we were able to impress someone else, a fact of which I am very proud to this day: H.R. Giger (Alien). He did the cover artwork for 'Hallucinations', which suited the concept story about a girl in a drug-induced hell very well."
"After extensive touring (with Sodom among others) and festival performances (including in Katowice / Poland in front of 8,000 spectators) we prepared to make a second record entitled: 'Todessehnsucht' (longing to die). We had changed labels, and were now under contract to Roadrunner worldwide. Expectations were high, and we worked on further refining out style. We also wanted to integrate more classical elements into our music, so we had invited four opera singers into the studio. On the first disc we had blended a little Mozart into the music, whereas on 'Todessehnsucht' we wanted something more bombastic. Later, the press often dubbed the record 'Wagnerian' and 'Teutonic' as a result of this underlying theme. In truth, we were unable to completely realize our ideas, because we didn't have the means to do it. Right from the start Mathias wanted orchestral arrangements and a song in a completely different instrumental line-up. As a result, we were criticised for being too scatty and complex. But so what, many people today see 'Todessehnsucht' as a classic. And when it comes to 'Teutonic'; some people didn't like the German title. But we really wanted that particular title because it was the only one which suited the title song and the mood of the whole album. In America the disc was renamed 'Longing for death' against our will. These days, the whole thing would have had a different outcome ... (when you think of Rammstein entering the US Billboard charts with 'Sehnsucht'). By the way, there was someone from the youth office at our release party because they thought we were inciting people to collective suicide. What an effect language can have, provided you understand it! Our '93 tour was later given the title 'Todessehnsucht über Deutschland', featuring the promising newcomers Dark Millennium."
We had just finished a chaotic European tour with Deicide accompanied by bomb attacks and anti demonstrations. After a US tour with Death had been cancelled, and there had been disagreements with Roadrunner USA (about the German title etc.), our guest appearances there were over. We signed with Massacre Records, where we were promised creative freedom. For 'Blut' we worked out a vampiresque concept, because the introduction melody of the song had reminded me spontaneously of a dark landscape: Transsylvania. So I decided to take myself off there and see it for myself and get an impression of the place for myself. The result was astounding. In the middle of winter I set off with our new bassist Markus Knapp and his subsequent successor Christian Lukhaup, who is from Brasov; it was a journey which I will never forget in my entire life. We had some very strange though enlightening experiences. I had avidly read so much about the region and vampirism, more than ever before in my life - I'm not normally a bookworm! But this was different; not only the fascination about what is undoubtedly the best-known horror story in the world, but it was personal things which seemed to have a strong influence. In fact, after I had felt particularly attached to one area, it came out after our return that some of my ancestors were from there. My deceased grandfather, whom I sadly never knew, originally came from Sibiu. It was in precisely that area that we got lost and just a few kilometres away I discovered the landscape I had dreamed about. From the musical point of view we also entered new territory. Songs such as the atmospheric 'B.L.U.T.', the very dark 'Leichenfeier', the ethno ballad 'Calling The Rain' or the anthem-like 'Land Beyond The Forest' (the last two numbers with Yasmin as guest singer) were, in their way, pioneering for the band and were to give us courage to undertake further musical experiments. To this day, the production and vocal sound leave a bad taste in my mouth. We had to accept a lot of compromises due to a cancelled studio appointment. We filmed the video for 'B.L.U.T' in Romania, and it was played very often on MTV and VIVA. The 'Blut' album and video seem to have inspired some metal bands. After that, there was a flood of combos with a 'vampiresque image'. We also did clips to 'Calling The Rain' and 'Miss Directed'. We did several tours throughout Europe, with Obituary and Pitch Shifter, and later with the two support acts Crematory and Hate Squad."
CALLING THE RAIN (1995)
"After the 'Blut' album had finally achieved a reputation for ATROCITY of being anything but a run-of-the-mill metal combo, and we had developed more ideas which suited the ethnic concept of 'Calling The Rain', we decided to make a mini album in this style. At the same time, my sister Yasmin, who had always eagerly followed the band's career, announced considerable interest in expanding into this direction herself. And it was a good idea, because more and more fans were asking after numbers like this. As a result, the already unusual collaboration developed into something very special: this was the last time that Richard Scharf, who had made his mark on the band for a long time and composed the music for 'Calling The Rain', worked with ATROCITY. At the same time, our new guitarist Thorsten Bauer, who had been with us on the most recent tours, also made his contribution with 'Back From Eternity'. The album is extraordinary for the special atmosphere and Yasmin's voice. We presented 'Calling The Rain' live for the very first time at a sit-down (!!!) concert in Plauen in 1996 to 1,000 spectators with other groups, including Goethes Erben, then during the successful '97 Christmas tour with Rage and the Lingua Mortis Orchestra and again during our concert at the Wave Gotik get-together in Leipzig in 1998 for 13,000 spectators."
DIE LIEBE (1995)
"'Calling The Rain' was ATROCITY's first project album, and the second was 'Die Liebe' together with DAS ICH. At the time, I contacted Bruno Kramm of DAS ICH, because I had had the idea of letting DAS ICH arrange a few ATROCITY songs. The result was a pioneering collaboration in which both bands rearranged songs by the other group and then recorded them together! This really exciting musical project, 'Die Liebe', thrives on its raw pioneering spirit and therefore possesses a very special charm: like in a big bang, metal and electro/dark wave elements collide with one another! Despite its rough edges, the album 'Die Liebe' does have some very strong moments and was revolutionary for its time. The title track is a cover version of a song by the band Laibach, who really like it. The video shoot for 'Die Liebe' took place on the hottest day of the year, and so in between takes, I was running round in only my underpants and Doc Martens - a dreadful vision! The subsequent tour (with Theatre Of Tragedy and Forthcoming Fire as the warm-up) was a real live spectacle, with two drummers and a total of nine musicians on stage. The audience was a colourful mix of metal, Gothic and wave fans, most unusual for those days! 'Die Liebe' was also simultaneously the initiation of Christian Lukhaup, who had replaced Markus Knapp on bass after he left due to musical differences, completing the ATROCITY line-up as it stands today."
"Lots of people were now eagerly awaiting our next 'regular' longplayer and I feel that 'Willenskraft' was a mature work containing all the typical ATROCITY elements. An album characterized by diversity, offering everything so typical of ATROCITY, from brute strength to atmospheric and anthem-like parts. Bruno Kramm of Das Ich was the co-producer and as a sort of extension of the collaboration there was a limited bonus CD 'The Definition Of Kraft & Wille' with the Das Ich remixes of the album and a cover version of 'Gottes Tod'. The provocative textual concept and the motto 'Wir sind der Menschenfeind' (we are misanthropic) both initially caused some confusion, but they are a true reflection of our opinion. At the Wacken Open Air in 1996 we symbolically destroyed a giant swastika during 'Willenskraft', encouraged by applause from thousands of fans, in order to emphasize our stance. This had, by the way, already happened once before in 1989 at the first "Support The Underground" Festival (featuring bands like Pestilence and Spermbirds) in the Rockfabrik venue in Ludwigsburg, ATROCITY's 'home club'. Both the title song and 'Love Is Dead' became the disc's hot tips and there was a video clip with a few very nice effects. The outlook for the tour with In Flames, Totenmond and Heavenwood up front did not augur well, as Metallica, Type O Negative and all manner of other combos including Kiss in their original (full make-up) line-up were on tour at the same time, but the tour was nevertheless a success."
THE HUNT (1996)
This excessive disc is available either as a limited series of 666 units on 10-inch vinyl or as a digipack. The EP cover, designed by air-brush artist Markus Mayer, is full of stereotypes, which is what makes it so heavenly. It includes ultra-rare, unreleased demo and rehearsal songs, a remake of 'Blue Blood' and a rough version of 'The Hunt'. It is a homage to the particularly hard and brutal side of ATROCITY, and is only meant for friends of the most extreme hard music."
WERK 80, SHOUT SINGLE, TAINTED LOVE SINGLE (1997)
"The idea for the 'Werk 80' project was to create new versions of pop classics of the eighties in our band's style without entirely losing or destroying the songs' original character. What began as an idée fixe became a very serious undertaking at the latest when we actually got down to working on the individual songs. The selection of individual songs was a very quick process and we could easily have recorded a double album. Well, I think the choice for 'Werk 80' is very successful, as is the realization of the record itself. Of course, you could always do better and with hindsight one is always wiser, especially certain journalists who are never satisfied. At the end of the day, though, the fans decided they really liked our metal versions of the evergreens. And that's the most important thing. 'Werk 80' is ATROCITY's most successful album to date, and many of the songs are played in the clubs time and again. What's more, there has never before been a metal band which recorded such a lot of new versions of pop classics for an album. I am deliberately avoiding the use of the term 'cover version', since we definitely didn't perform the songs like some oompahpah band, and the whole concept is well worn and has certain connotations. We tried to give the most diverse songs like 'Shout', 'Wild Boys' and 'Der Mussolini' a common link: ATROCITY. Liv Kristine Espanaes from Theatre Of Tragedy is the guest vocalist on some of the tracks; she visited me around that time in the studio in Bayreuth. We spontaneously developed the idea to include her into some of the songs; Bruno in particular, who was again our co-producer and keyboarder, really enjoyed recording Liv. Along with the combination of metal and pop sounds, the cover artwork and the accompanying live show caused a stir: the vinyl and latex outfit. In keeping with the emerging vinyl and fetish trend of the eighties, I had the idea of combining latex and a classical instrument, especially since the disc is called 'Werk 80'. During the first part of the 'Neue Deutsche Werke' (new German works) tour in February 1998 we had been included in Peep! (an adult TV show on the RTL 2 channel). The tour was a great success, sold out in some cases. A 16-strong group called Haggard were the support act. All through that summer we played various festivals, such as DYNAMO in Eindhoven (top act on the first evening, with 30,000 spectators), the WAVE GOTIK get-together (top act on the second evening, 13,000 spectators), WITH FULL FORCE (18,000 spectators), the ZILLO Open Air (20,000 spectators) and NOISE ATTACK in Trossingen, (top act, 2,000 spectators), to name but a few. The saddest moment of an otherwise great festival summer was the non-appearance at the Wacken Open Air. At the special request of the sales people a 'Festival Edition' of 'Werk 80' was released for the festival season, for which we rearranged and recorded another DAF song, 'Das Letzte Mal'. In September '98 the second part of the 'Neue Deutsche Werke' tour got off the ground, and took us through the whole of Europe, accompanied by Heavenwood and The Gallery. During one day off we played in the sold-out Stuttgart Gottlieb Daimler Stadium for the football match between VfB Stuttgart against 1. FC Kaiserslautern. At the end of the year there was the DARK STORM Festival with Witt, Oomph! and Liv Kristine. That was when drummer Migge gave his last concert with ATROCITY, on December 28, 1998 in Berlin. A sad but nevertheless friendly departure. Migge had been with the band for 9 years and is now pursuing his own career. Also, he's now live drummer with Umbra Et Imago and is still playing with grind bands Belching Beet and Accion Mutante.
NON PLUS ULTRA (1989-1999)
We have now at last concluded some unfinished business, like the rescheduled concert at WACKEN Open Air (hell!!!), and our first gig in the USA at the MILWAUKEE METAL FESTIVAL (really great - see concert reports), and taken on a new drummer: Martin Schmidt. It was with him that we recorded our contribution to the Accept tribute - 'Shake Your Heads'!!! Also, Massacre Records came up with the idea of doing a sort of 'Best of' of us. However, since none of us are particular fans of stereotype Best of albums, we wanted it to be a really special and valuable disc. Happily, the result is well worth seeing and hearing: 26 audio titles and seven videos, in addition to rare and unreleased tracks, various projects (including Lacrimosa, Silke Bischoff, Das Ich, Yasmin, Liv Kristine), completely remastered and completely unique cover artwork. 'Non Plus Ultra' is not just a worthy name, but signifies a trip back to the future! We hope to see you on New Year's Eve on the brink of the new millennium at the LAST MILLENNIUM Festival (to include Lacrimosa)! To be continued ...