German thrash metal maniacs Accuser were formed in the mid 80s and active as a formidable band until 1996 releasing thrash favourites such as Who Dominates Who, Repent and Taken By The Throat until they split up in 1996. After a long hiatus, the band returned in 2008 and proved they still had the force and passion to take the metal world by storm, releasing four well reviewed albums. They are shortly going to release their new album The Mastery, a combination of thrash savagery, powerful grooves and an air of melody to the delight of their fans. We caught up with vocalist/guitarist Frank Thoms and guitarist Dennis Rubakowski to hear all about The Mastery, the bands influences and history and the German metal scene.
Your new album The Mastery is out soon. Can you tell us a bit about that the album and it’s creation?
Dennis: The Mastery was created quite differently than The Forlorn Divide. With the latter, we took our time during the writing process and really iterated and experimented a lot more. With The Mastery however, everything was written in a relatively short amount of time. The goal this time wasn’t to pay homage to the technical aspects of Who Dominates Who but to take influences from the more straight forward Repent record. Without all the little technical intricacies to worry about, the songs on The Mastery could be finalized a lot quicker.
Is their any significance to the albums title?
Dennis: The album title alludes to the central lyrical theme of this record: the question, whether humanity is able to master and control the good and evil aspects within or if they control us. Each song deals with this question in some form so it became obvious to refer to it in the title of the album.
Is the album similar in sound to your album The Forlorn Divide?
Dennis: The only similarities are some of the typical Accuser hallmarks that have always been present: fast staccato riffs, an emphasis on guitars and drums and a high level of aggression. The rest, while still clearly thrash metal, sounds different compared to the previous album. We also used different instruments and amp models to record this album, so the actual sound is different as well.
You have done a video for Mission Missile, the first single from the album. Can you tell us a bit about the video?
Dennis: We recorded some footage of us recording the song in the studio in order to make a nice little video out of it for our first single. A friend of ours then edited the whole thing together and overlaid some war-related archive footage to create a connection to the lyrics. It’s not supposed to be a full-fledged music video but instead something a bit more visually interesting than a lyric video. Speaking of which, we also have a more traditional lyric video lined up as well as real music video for two more songs off the album. So stay tuned!
What is the song about?
Dennis: It is generally about war. More specifically, it’s about the nefariously sudden thread of a missile attack. There is an inherently inhuman quality to a missile strike: to the victims, it’s often invisible until it’s too late and while a human has to put such an attack into action from far away, the actual impact is caused by a highly destructive and technologically advanced automated weapon. It’s a terrifying thought that this song tries to capture. And regarding the central theme of the album, it reflects the evil side of humanity that some people choose to embrace by attacking innocent people and that other people see themselves forced to deal with by destroying the attackers. So the question here is: do we really have a choice or is it inevitable to have this aspect be part of humanity?
What are the other songs on the album about?
Dennis: Every song deals with the concepts of good and evil and humanity’s role in all of it in some way. Songs like Mission Missile, Ruthless and Time For Silence deal with it in a more general sense from perspectives like war, greed and the news, while songs like Solace In Sorrow, My Skin and Mourning put the central theme of mastering good and evil in a more personal context.
How does it feel to be part of a long lineage of great German metal bands like Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and Exhumer to name just a few?
Frank: It’s feels great having been a part of the band for such a long time and still being active. We’ve learned a lot from our experiences within the scene and we continue to learn to this day. It’s a ongoing process with a nice history.
Have you toured with most of those bands in the past?
Frank: We played quite a few shows with Sodom and Destruction in the past. We toured with Headhunter, Schmier’s project at the time, as well as Despair, which was Makka’s band. And we still meet at shows and talk from time to time.
What are a few of your favourite German metal bands and albums ever?
Frank: Admittedly, I’ve always listened to a lot more American metal bands than German ones. That being said, Exhumer – Possessed By Fire or Angel Dust – Into The Dark Past were my highlights of German metal back then. Today it’s Deserted Fear.
Do you have fond memories of the German metal underground when you first started Accuser?
Frank: I went to more punk and hardcore shows back then and I was a fan of the Scandinavian scene, but I also got to see the big German bands of today like Destruction and Kreator live in their earliest stages.
You have done gigs with everyone from Motörhead to Paradise Lost. Who has been the most memorable band you’ve played with?
Frank: Our tour with Paradise Lost was awesome. The guys were very friendly and we had a lot of fun. Despite the differences in musical style, we were able to support Paradise Lost successfully. Lemmy was such a pleasant and likable guy. He would just come up to us and ask us how we were and how things were going for us. No fake kindness, just real friendliness.
Who would you love to play a gig with in the future?
Frank: Supporting Machine Head could be pretty awesome I’d imagine because we don’t play typical old-school thrash and also incorporate a lot of modern elements.
What are your touring plans when the album is released?
Dennis: We’re currently still in the planning phases for this year’s shows so we don’t have every gig locked down right now but we definitely want to play at least one short local tour to promote the album this year. Who knows, maybe we’ll also get to play some international shows.
How did your recent show at Between The Days go?
Dennis: It went quite well. The crowd was pretty wild and we even managed to get a couple of fans on stage for our last songs to rock out with us and the rest of the audience.
Will you be playing any of the big summer festivals?
Dennis: We don’t have anything specific to announce right now, but maybe later this year.
What is your favourite Accuser dong to play live?
Dennis: It’s cheating because it’s actually two songs, but I really like the Symbol Of Hate and Impending Doom combo we’ve been playing regularly for the past 2 years now. The two songs are from completely different Accuser eras and are quite different in style but because of their same tempo, they fit together nicely. By the end of the whole thing, you really feel like you’ve been on a musical journey.
You took a long hiatus after you initially split up, how did it feel to be back after all those years?
Frank: It was an awesome feeling. The period of time in which we didn’t make music was good for us because it changed our perspective on the music scene. Today, I see our success as a gift. I’m very grateful for all the people that are interested in Accuser. It’s something that definitely motivates us to take our music even further.
How had the metal scene changed since you were away?
Frank: The scene has recovered. In the mid and late 90s, quite a few metal genres were struggling. Today, it’s a thing of the past and we currently have bands as well as fans for every metal genre out there.
How do you feel about metal in 2018?
Frank: It’s going to be amazing in my opinion. I believe that we can expect some quite interesting releases as well as some awesome concerts and festivals for the metal scene. The scene has established itself and continues to grow. Therefore, every new year has more potential for greatness than the previous year.
What were your top three albums of 2017?
Frank: Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising, Tankard – One Foot In The Grave, Prong – Zero Days
Who were your main inspirations as a musician?
Dennis: Back when I started playing guitar, I was mostly inspired by the likes of Metallica, Megadeth and Machine Head. And while I still love those bands, I also found a lot more really amazing musicians in the meantime that have been quite influential to my playing like John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan, Tosin Abasi, Matt Garstka, Nikolai Kapustin and Brett Garsed just to name a few.
Frank: Max Cavalera, Gary Holt, Robb Flynn, Dimebag Darell, Tommy Victor, Chuck Schuldiner
What are your top three three metal albums of all time?
Dennis: 1. Master Of Puppets by Metallica
2. Rust In Peace by Megadeth
3. Systematic Chaos by Dream Theater
Frank: 1. Master Of Puppets by Metallica
2. Reign In Blood by Slayer
3. Vulgar Display Of Power by Pantera
What was the first gig you ever went to?
Dennis: I believe it was an Annihilator show in Cologne in the 2000s. Getting to see Jeff Waters live was quite the experience.
Frank: Status Quo 1977 at the Westfalenhalle, Dortmund
What’s the best gig you have ever seen?
Dennis: I’ve seen a great local orchestra perform the entire Pictures From An Exhibition suite by Modest Mussorgsky in 2015. That was by far the most impressive, powerful and overwhelmingly fantastic show I’ve ever witnessed.
Frank: Every Death Angel show I’ve seen has always been consistently amazing.