After the spring tour Helgrind will be in Hungary again. What is the reason for your decision? If you can, please, at first only mention the most important thing, and later, naturally I'd like to hear more about it.
We felt we had some unfinished business in Hungary the first time and needed to come back to play more towns.
Initially, we went to Hungary to shoot our video for "Evil Inside" from the "Inquisition" album, we decided that during this time we should play some shows to gauge our presence in Hungary. We were totally blown away by the hospitality of the Hungarian people and especially the Hungarian metal fans who made all the shows great experiences for us, we didn't realise how well-known we were, so the decision was really made for us. The plan was to return in the spring of 2012 with a more substantial tour, but the demand was so high we decided to come back early. We re-scheduled our plans for the US and Canada, effectively swapping them around.
Before you came here, did you have any idea about heavy metal life in Hungary? Did you know anything about clubs, popular bands, or anything else?
I think we have a little more insight into the Hungarian metal scene than most foreign touring bands. I (Paul Nelson) used to visit Hungary a lot over the last 12 or 13 years. I even wrote the first album "Denial" (2005) and parts of "Fallen Prophet" (2007) whilst staying in Borsod County. I knew the underground scene was a melting pot of great talents and fanatical metal heads during my time in the country.
I remember visiting many metal clubs and the Sziget Festival during this period; unfortunately, loads have closed down or changed hands to hip-hop!!! But there still is a massive underground scene keeping it all alive.
The tours have been made easier with Hungary’s very own Miklós Takács in the band; he really knows the best sort of places and venues hence our recent show in Szombathely with Akela. We had heard of bands such as Tormentor, Akela and Blind Myself before our visits and, of course, the Sziget and Hegyalja Festivals which we hope to play some day.
Let's talk about Helgrind. The band was formed in 2000 and in 2007 Helgrind signed to Casket Music. In the years beetween 2000 and 2007 was it like with Hungarian bands? Namely, you tried to find your real style with many-many rehersals in a small garage maybe? Debut gigs throughout the country/county, after these, a few festivals. So, how can we imagine the start of an English thrash metal band in the UK?
It's pretty much how you said it, loads of rehearsals trying to find the sound and the style and then playing live. I am not sure if we are classed as the normal way, we hired rehearsal rooms in North London and don't own our space for rehearsal. It was difficult during the period leading up to the Casket Music era; I am sure it is the same with any band the world over, trying to get the right mix of people to be in the band to propel it forward.
We had this issue for a long time, even after we released "Denial" in 2005. Jim Hunt joined the band later the same year and we decided to do a wholesale change of the members. I think we finally sorted out the core of the band in 2009 when Andy Keel joined on the drums and then adding Miklós Takács to the mix in 2011 gave us the sound and style we were looking for since 2000. It is like we are all long lost brothers who found each other after being apart for so many years, when you have that feeling you know you have something special.
Perseverance and hard work got us a deal with Digital Media Records (USA) and Blood Flow Recordings (UK) which has allowed us to move away from Casket Music which is good progression for the band.
"Religious Persecution", released in 2008, gained a world-wide recognition for Helgrind. What does it mean exactly? More fans, more interviews, maybe new challenges?
"Religious Persecution" helped us grow our fan base in the US and Europe it also opened the doors to other record labels to track our progress. We signed to US-based Digital Media Records on the back of "Religious Persecution" which has really helped our presence in the world market. We also signed to Blood Flow Music Management and they have launched us further than before, we feature on more radio stations, internet stations, webzines, magazines then ever before and get more show request now. Digital Media Records also gave us a platform to launch "Inquisition" on a higher scale we hit and sell in more countries now than we did before.
This success meant more sales as well? CDs, promotional material, etc.
CD sales did go up especially once we announced the partnership with Digital Media Records and now we are growing more with the release of "Inquisition". The good thing is we tend to sell a lot of merchandise at shows, we thought that with the digital download age we would lose the need for physical stock, but it seems that the digital age isn't as big as the world music industry thought and there are still the die-hard fans that need the physical CD.
According to the information posted on your website, in case of your last album, "Inquistion", you tried to put more creativity into it. Namely, more brutality and aggression :) What kind of feedback have you received from your fans? Is this the right way for Helgrind?
"Inquisition" is the first album where the whole band had a say in the writing process, it gave us more of an edge and excitement when we were recording it. All bands believe their latest recording is better than the last, but we can honestly say this is the case, there was a relaxed atmosphere in the studio when writing and everyone was honest if they like what was being played or not.
The band was never going to relinquish the brutality or aggression from previous releases, we never set out to make it angrier it just happened that way and it is the Helgrind way now.
Initial feedback from fans was that this is the best album they had heard from us and everyone has a different favourite song on the album too, the main quote we receive is the album has everything in it, death, black, thrash, and speed metal; we are lucky it appeals to everyone across the metal genre...
The live feedback was even better: we have grown in stature with our live show and have become more aggressive live, which has started to create some mayhem in the pits. Fans are telling us that our live show is better than before and the brutality matches if not surpasses some of our influence bands.
We are starting to get good reviews too, this album has already gained notoriety in countries we felt we didn't have a good fan base, so things are looking good for the "Inquisition".
The covers of "Religious Persecution" and "Inquisition" are very unique. Have you been working with a fixed designer?
The album covers were done by very different people and from very different eras. "Religious Persecution" was created by a 19th Century French painter, Gustave Dore and "Inquisition" by a Singaporean heavy metal artist, called Jumali Kantani, who we will probably use again for the next recording.
What is your expectation regarding your autumn tour in Hungary?
We have a realistic expectation for this tour. We were surprised by the reaction the last time we played in the spring but know we are still building a reputation in the world. The whole band is looking forward to the experience and cant wait to thrash shit up with the mad Hungarian metal fans.