"If there's one thing we have learned is that we can’t avoid being compared to the King at any cost"
Chris Erdmann is talking about the great new concept album of the band, their similarities with King Diamond and Mercyful Fate and their future plans.
Chris, I’ m glad we have the chance for this interview. First of all, congratulations for your new album! It’s a big step forward for your music potential and a great album to listen to. So, what are your feelings about it? Are you satisfied with the result?
Hi Spyros and thanks for getting in touch with us. The release date was the day we've all been waiting for so long, and we feel relieved. And yes, we are satisfied, we learned a lot from the making of the first album and “Sanctimonious” is the best possible result of that so far. We grew a lot within the past five years as a band but as well as persons and as friends, and you can hear this maturing process on “Sanctimonious” as well in every detail.
I’ m listening to “Sanctimonious” for a while and I have to say that I found it clearly more complex and intense than your debut album. Could you give us some more information about its creation? Why it took you almost five years since “The Invocation” to release it?
Writing and recording “Sanctimonious” was an extraordinary tough process and we had to overcome a lot of obstacles. We got a new drummer, played live a lot, to promote the Bands name and as well our first album. We spend 2 months in the Studio and then had some issues with the pressing of the album, which cost us 3 more months. So it took us almost 5 years to finish that piece of Art, but we're all sure, the wait was worth it.
Talking about your influences, it’s obvious that you are huge King Diamond/Mercyful Fate fans, from your musical arrangements till your image. But I think that “Sanctimonious” shows a lot more about your style. I can hear a lot Judas Priest and Helstar in your music among others, but most of all, I believe that this Dissection or maybe old Cradle Of Filth feeling in some of your songs is the “mystic element” that makes your music unique. So, what are your thoughts about it?
Sure, when Cagliostro hits the first notes you always think of the King in the first moment, and you are I think the first one who mentions the other Bands, which you can definitely hear before I mention them. You can’t only hear Mercyful Fate, but also many more Influences like Accept or as well a lot of the impressions, that Iron Maiden did on us with their two-part guitar riffs. Judas Priest is part of it and even if we don't want to leave the Heavy Metal to far behind, you'll find riffs on “Sanctimonious”, which will remind you of Denial of God, and as you said Dissection and even Claudio Simonetti's Goblin (in “On Choir Stalls”) and those Giallo movie soundtracks of the 60s and 70s. Helstar and more particular James Rivera are as well one of the biggest influences for Meister Cagliostro. We had the opportunity to hang out with him one night here in our home town and those two definitely found each other that night, haha. They did a lot of exchange about singing techniques and everything.
You had some lineup changes though the years, with maybe most important this drummer change, back in 2013. Why Roman left the band back then and how did you choose J.P. as a replacement?
There were many things on a personal basis or let’s say things off the stage and besides the rehearsal room, which we definitely couldn't accept and which would have affected us in the future. Plus he had obligations in other bands, which affected the schedule of Attic as well. So in the End we sadly had to cut him off. I always said to Cagliostro, that the worst thing about him is, that he is a good drummer, so on a professional basis it was a super hard decision for us. You can imagine it as if you would be together with a super hot girl, who makes you go insane: You'll think about it more than one time. But still this was a very important step for us, as we later found JP. We found him through a casting, where we invited several drummers over some weeks, and we straight away saw, that he was the Man. He has his origins in Black metal, which you can hear on Sanctimonious very well, but still he has this sensitivity for the HM drumming. And together with our producer Mersus he made the Drumming on Sanctimonious very special and unique in the current heavy metal.
Having read most of the lyrics of your new effort, I believe “Sanctimonious” is clearly a very interesting concept album. Could you tell us more about its story? And where do you find the inspiration to write your lyrics?
Meister Cagliostro came up with the first Ideas for the album in the early days of Attic and developed a raw story already during the making of “The Invocation” and shortly after. Very soon it was sure, where this Horror story shall take place, and especially when, and from this day on It was time to study the history books, to make sure, the listener and Fan will have a flawless experience, listening to the Album. The story takes place in an old Convent in the year 1687. You would expect a peaceful Christian atmosphere here, but nothing is at it seems. The listener will get to know four main characters, who will guide him through the old walls of which has once been a place to find sanctuary in God. We will see death, murder and utter Horror.
My personal favorite tracks from the album are definitely the haunting “Sinless” and the two majestic songs at the end of the record, “Born From Sin” and “There Is No God”. Could you tell us a few things about them and their importance in the concept story?
“Sinless” is a song which already appeared on our Demo in 2011. The concept of its story fit perfectly in the whole concept of “Sanctimonious” and thus we could easily include it. But this as well shows how early these Ideas for the Story emerged from Cagliostro's mind. It tells about how Alice feels about her sins of having an affair with a man from the village and that her fellow sisters had to pay for it, because Margret suspected, that one of the sisters was sinning (“Penalized” tells us about it). Basically the Intro before that song tells us everything about what’s happening. It’s an important song for the album and its atmosphere, but the other two songs you mentioned have a bigger Impact on the whole Story. “Born from Sin” takes us deep into the catacombs of the convent and reveals a hidden crypt, which makes us discover the whole horror Margret was after. Then “There is no god” concludes the story, and leaves the listener behind with a few questions. Why did Alice become insane as well, did she die as well? But that's not of any importance for the whole story. It rather gives the opportunity to conclude it for yourself it leaves room for interpretation but most important underlines its title, that there is no god.
So, which could tell that are the horror books and movies that inspired you to create “Sanctimonious”? And what about the existing concept albums that we can find similarities with the story of your new album?
We all have a certain preference for the old Hammer movies such Amicus, Roger Corman, Jean Rolin or Paul Naschy productions. You as well will find some Giallo references on that record. And in addition to that, you can compare the topic of Sanctimonious with the Album “A Tale of Decadence” of the french Thrash Band Résistance, which is based on the Gothic novel “The Monk” by M.G. Lewis. Or “For Mircalla” by Briton Rites, who made a soundtrack based on the Vampire story “Carmilla” about the Family Karnstein which was written by Sheridan Le Fanu. As well this was interpreted in several movies by Hammer Studios.
In my mind, Attic, along with Portrait, In Solitude, Trial and Them are some great bands that are heavily inspired by the works of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. For sure, if you must have a favorite artist, King Diamond is a great choice and influence, but, having all those similarities with his past works in your music, what do you believe that makes you stand out from not being some kind of a tribute band?
You know, if there's one thing, we have learned during the past 6 years is, that we can’t avoid being compared to the King at any cost. Cagliostro's Voice is highly influenced by the King, yes. But that fact alone doesn’t make us Mercyful Fate/King Diamond rip off band, as many see us. If that's what they want to see in us, it’s okay, and if they love our music still, then it’s even better. And of course it’s a huge honor, to be compared to such great musicians and as well such a great singer. As I said above, and what you as well mentioned is, that there are so many more influences than just that, and if you sit down and listen to the Album, you will see it automatically and easily. We accepted the fact, that we became something quite comparable to KD/MF, yet not in every aspect. Still we couldn’t avoid to be compared with them, so we just continued with doing what we loved to start up with in the first place: to invoke the Spirit of darkened heavy metal and worship Satan.
I am almost impressed from the artwork of “Sanctimonious”, which it fits perfect to your music. Who is the artist of it? And those names at the graves; did they have any hidden meanings about the whole story?
The Front Cover was supposed to show exactly, what the story is about: “A Convent where nothing is as it seems.” And mighty Markus Vesper, who as well drew the Cover artwork for our first Album, managed to masterful capture that special impression. You'll see a peaceful situation and you have to have a closer look to see that in the two nuns in the background are about to prepare something, as a result of the happenings within these walls. Markus Vesper later told us it was the most difficult cover, he has ever drawn. Beyond the cover on the inside, and in the booklet, you will find Illustrations drawn by Misanthropic-Arts. The illustrations show the main content of every single song. Plus there is a map of the convent where the listener can see where the crimes and intrigues take place, where the whole life and story of the nuns takes place. If you add the backside artwork (again by Vesper) we have 13 different drawings for the album, which tell you the story of “Sanctimonious” and help to understand what horror happened there back in 1687. The names are based on the names which were quite common in England back in that time. As we get to witness, at least one sister dies by the hand of Margret within the period of time that Album takes place, and we don't know how many more victims of Margret's possession are buried under this holy ground. Maybe as well some whose names you can read on the stones on the front cover.
I can hear a lot of pompous keyboards in “Sanctimonious” but, as far as I know, you don’t have any permanent key-player. So, who played these parts and is it in your future plans to add more of these parts in your music?
As on our Demo already and as well later on our first full length “The Invocation”, we were again fortunate to work together with our dear friend Darryn McQuardt. He composed the organs on all of our releases, and again we are well satisfied. He receives the raw cuts of our songs even before they are recorded as pre-production tracks, and captures its mood together with Cagliostro. For this Album he composed a few different versions for each organ part, and later we chose what fits best and describes the atmosphere most.
What are your plans to support the release of “Sanctimonious”? Is there any chance to see you coming to Greece for a live show anytime soon?
We definitely want to deliver the message and music of Attic to every single corner in Europe and beyond. Especially we focus on countries, where we never played before. And Greece is definitely one of the goals of the future. We need to give the Geek fans the opportunity to witness the power of a Attic Ritual on their home soil. So yes, we're working on it!! We are planning right now and are freshly in a partnership with Redback Promotions, who help us making this plans become reality. We have a few options to tour so far for the beginning and middle of the next year, but of course I can't tell you about the details yet since nothing is signed yet as well. But we will definitely let the Fans know as soon as possible, and be sure we want to come to the European East as well.
Could you name me some albums that you’re listening to this period of time?
Right now I'm listening to “Only the Strong” by mighty Thor. I as well have a huge Maiden Period going on right now, which makes me listen to the “Seventh son…” and “Somewhere in Time” a lot. A Record which really blew me away just a few weeks ago is the new Album of The Night Flight Orchestra “Amber Galactic” and I listen to this album a lot while I'm driving. You have to listen to the song “Something Mysterious”. When I need to have a more relaxed time I right now listen to various stuff of Anima Morte and even John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Ennio Morricone.
Thank you for your time and answers. The last words are yours…
Thanks for your interest in the Band, in “Sanctimonious” and in our future. We hope the new record makes up for the long waiting time and for those, who still didn't listen to it, prepare for intrigues, murder and utter Horror!