The latest years went under the tendency of coming back to metal business once well-known artists. RAZOR, NASTY SAVAGE, EXCITER, EXODUS...I could enumerate them till I count up to the sensational reunion of BLACK SABBATH or ridiculous farce of SEX PISTOLS. However, the «second coming» of Canadian INFERNAL MAJESTY caught everybody by surprise... In spite of the overwhelming success of the «None Shall Defy» album in 1987, the band mysteriously disappeared, having left the ghostly haze of classic thrash metal and a good memory behind. Ten years later the name of this Toronto band reappeared in metal mass media due to the re-release of «None Shall Defy» through the Dutch label Displeased. Re-release was nominated the-best-of-the-kind in 1997 and favorably effected their coming back in 1998. The second album «Unholier Than Thou» was released on the local label Hypnotic and appeared to be a heavy death metal doze in its best. Unfortunately, the band failed to play live in Kotowitce with CANNIBAL CORPSE and DARK FUNERAL in October 1998. I heard there were some visa problems. Still we had a chance to talk shop with the guitarist Steve Terror and the bass player Chay McMullen before their gig in the Belorussian capital.
What do you feel about coming back on stage after about ten years of being silent?
Steve Terror: We were not silent. We have always been together. The only problem is - we didn’t have a new record contract. But now we have a got a new record deal so now we are back. So, we’ve been around. Yeah, a lot of people didn’t know what we were doing. But we are still together.
Well, there are a lot of good labels, why hasn’t any of them offered you a record deal?
Steve: We had offers but they weren’t very good. So we just said: «No». We waited for the right offer. That’s what happens with a lot of new bands: they make one record and then never can be heard again. So bad! We wanted to make sure we sign a deal with a big company. When MALEVOLENT CREATION asked us to tour with them last year everybody wanted to sign us then ‘cos we were on tour. So we got so many contracts that when we came back to Canada we sat down, we looked at them all and then we said: «OK, we gonna sign a contract with Hypnotic records.» And - boom! The record’s out. That’s what we wanted.
Are you still satisfied with Hypnotic?
Steve: Yes, great. So far so good. ‘Cos they’ve got VOIVOD, they’ve got RAIZOR, they’ve got KATAKLYSM, they have us. So they’ve got a lot of good bands, all Canadian bands. You know what I mean? Our record company will pay attention to us ‘cos we are the Canadians, and if we would sign with Century Media it might just be: «Oh, you’re just another band!» Hypnotic were even with us on tour during first two weeks.
Was the label patronizing you?
Steve: No! They never say: «Oh, I think they should write more like this or they should write more like that». They get suggestions but we just say: «Bad idea». And during our tour they realized that we were right. They understood what we are all about.
It seems to me Hypnotic signed not merely Canadian bands but the old school Canadian bands....
Steve: Yes. Ant that’s totally objective. I wanna make the scene in Canada back again. ‘Cos there is no scene in Canada at all. We just did a Canadian tour, it was all right but here in Europe you can have five or six hundred people at night and in Canada - two hundred at night. SLAYER played in Canada two years ago, three years ago - two thousand people. This tour - one thousand people. For SLAYER, the biggest band! But that’s Canada, Canada has no scene right now. We are trying to keep our music alive. We are trying to keep thrash alive, CANNIBAL CORPSE is trying to keep their music alive, DARK FUNERAL still keeps corpse paint - and they try to keep their music alive. You know, we can’t play in pub, we are playing thrash. And we haven’t changed our style. If you listen to our latest record you’ll know it’s us. You’ll know it’s INFERNAL MAJESTY. That’s what we are trying to do, we are not gonna change. We’ll never brake up, INFERNAL MAJESTY will always be around.
Don’t you think you might someday turn to the copycats of yourselves playing the same thrash staff for years?
Chay McMullen: No. Thrash is so diverse, you can do with it so much without copying yourself.
Steve: Like when we write a song we sit and work on the parts, we listen to it: «Does it sound like what we have done before?» or «Can we do it better than that?». Believe me, what we put on the album is the best we can do on that time. Sure, there’s obviously some changes we would like to make now ‘cos we had time to adjust it. Now we work on a new album and it’s gonna sound like INFERNAL MAJESTY but it’s not gonna sound like anything we’ve done.
OK, what about lyrics? Are you going to explore the new territories?
Steve: The first album was more about a darker side. But now we write about the real things. Like we wrote a song about war, it was about Afghanistan. We are writing about subjects that people might not remember but for our type of music it works very well. We take a subject and write about it. The Roman song is all about the Romans. We tell the true stories instead of fantasy and make-believe. The next album - who knows? Lyrically we know what we gonna do but we have to put it on the paper.
Chay: On the new album all the stories are about the darker side of human history.
When you first started as a band in the beginning of the ‘80s, thrash metal was very popular but then it died. What do you think of thrash metal nowadays?
Steve: Well, I find a lot of people now who wants the old school of thrash back and a lot of bands are trying to do that but by some reasons they can’t do it. And I don’t know why.
Chay: You got bands and a bunch of kids, let’s say seventeen years old, and they wanna play old school thrash. When the old school was about they were four - five years old. So they didn’t grow up listening to it, they were not influenced and they grew up listening to PANTERA or METALLICA and they are trying to go back and play stuff of EXODUS and bands like that. But they have no influences of the past! And it doesn’t quite even true. That’s not the case with us - we are a bit older, ha ha!
Steve: We listened to JUDAS PRIEST, we listened to IRON MAIDEN. Those were our influences. Today’s kids’ influences are FEAR FACTORY, METALLICA, PANTERA, SLAYER. So their style is gonna be a little different. We were brought up in different eras, we were influenced by different bands. And a lot of bands today come up to us saying: «You, guys, are big influence to us.» Which is really good to hear...
Chay: Well, thrash metal is coming back. Though in Canada it’s still nothing because the industry refuses to recognize it. They want to make a «quick buck», so they listen to what is popular today. «Everybody likes FEAR FACTORY so we’ll only sign bands that sound like FEAR FACTORY.» And the radio stations are only playing bands that sound like FEAR FACTORY.
Steve: But there are a lot of good new bands. We got a lot of CDs and tapes, people send them to us and I listen to it. And there are so many good bands! Like MESHUGA for instance. When I first heard this band I said: «That’s different. That’s good.» They stood out about twenty bands I listened to. The other twenty - I don’t remember who they are, I won’t listen to it again. There’s good thrash and there’s bad thrash.
Chay: But if the bands want to promote their stuff and take a chance it can be huge then. But unless the industry is going to accept that trend it’ll always be the underground. A young band can’t bang against the wall for years trying to get somewhere, knocking everywhere.
Steve: See, that’s why I am disappointed with new SLAYER. I think they did a bad move. They were the influence for a lot of bands and over the sudden with the last two albums it seemed like «We don’t know where are we going». I don’t want my band go like: «Let’s change some things because they are more popular». But METALLICA did it. It’s not «Ride The Lightning», it’s not «Master of Puppets»...
Chay: It’s not even heavy metal any more. Rock ‘n roll, Brit-pop.
Steve: They have totally changed their style, they are going now where the money is. Which is fine, that’s what they wanted to do. No problem. But I think they went totally away from the roots.
Chay: The same thing with new SLAYER. The first time I heard the new album in my friend’s house. And I thought it was a new BIOHAZARD. I like BIOHAZARD, I think it’s a good music. And if somebody else have put out this album I would really enjoy it. But because of being SLAYER fan since «Hell Awaits» I just said: «This is not SLAYER anymore».
Well, a lot of bands do care about money...
Steve: We all care about money. We wouldn’t have been around for so long if it was not for money. But there’s nothing else we wanna do but play. And if kids enjoy and they still wanna come and see the show - perfect, we’ll keep on doing that.
Chay: You see, a lot of people tell us: «Thank you for not changing your style like everybody else has done!» So we still follow our roots. Money can’t change it.
And in general, could you explain what thrash is all about?
Chay: It’s aggression. It’s very aggressive. For me, personally, the great thing is to get up on stage in front of people and play. I get such an adrenaline rush of it and it makes me feel so good. That’s thrash for me. Well, now everything is categorized, you got thrash...
Chay: There are so many...
Steve and Chay: Yeah!
Steve: And sometimes you got three: industrial-doom-death...
Chay: And thrash!
Steve: Yeah! We just what we are. We are INFERNAL MAJESTY, if you wanna call us «thrash» - fine, if you wanna call us «old school» - fine. We just play what we play and if kids enjoy it - great. We are back! So stay true to thrash!