Messiah - Interview

"Christus Hypercubus" is the new album by Swiss death metal legends Messiah (read my review here). I talked with drummer Steve Karrer about the changes that came up with the album (of course about the tragic passing of their former member Andy Kaina) and we also did a very cool and interesting throwback into Messiah's past while we were sipping some local beers. Enjoy the interview and of course the new album. Cheers!!


Hi Steve, how are you doing?

Great. We are just rehearsing our live set for the release party on the 16th of March. This is going to be a long set with about 90 minutes playing time and the very special challenge is to rehearse the new songs together. We still have to do a little bit more but it really makes fun to play them.

Your new album "Christus Hypercubus" will be released soon. What are the most significant changes to your last album "Mont Fracmont"?

The line-up of course, you already mentioned it in your review. Andy quit (and was replaced by Marcus Seebach; M.) and died a year later which made us very concerned because we still were in contact and kept being friends. A little bit longer on board is V.O. whom I know like the back of my hands because I played with him in Gurd for 15 years and have known him since the 80s. He is an old friend who returned; 1987 he replaced Brögi for a short time and some shows. So he played practically before me in Messiah (laughs). The change probably also comes through these two guys. V.O. wrote 4 songs and Markus' voice gives the band some kind of new appearance. I think we have searched very well for a new vocalist. He should have this classic old school voice but he didn't need to sound like Andy but not too modern so that it would match to our sound. And this we accomplished very well, I guess and so we have the right person on board, also when it comes to the human aspect.

Did Marcus also participate in the songwriting process?

He did the lyrics for 'Acid Fish'. Brögi is always the hyper creative guy. He gets some kind of burst and then suddenly he shoots out these riffs and with them come some ideas for the lyrics. In some parts, also for "Fracmont", Andy matched the lyrics on himself but mainly the ides come from Brögi. Musically we did 50:50 and we have a stupid drummer who injured himself while he was skiing so that I was absent for half a year. I injured my shoulder and broke my wrist and so the whole songwriting process changed. On "Fracmont" we had Brögis ideas and met for songwriting in the rehearsal room which was pretty much like in the 90s and very old school. For the new album I wasn't able to do some sessions so the guys did work with a drum computer and did some home recording. After that we did some changes in the progress and then I went to the studio and played my drums for these tracks.

What should we imagine when hearing the very cryptic title "Christus Hypercubus"? Is it a kind of homage to Dalí's painting "Corpus Hypercubus"?

Well, Brögi did some kind of comparison to to combination of belief and Christ and this tesseract and all this is pretty weird story. He gave me some notes what to tell about: the world is getting more and more compressed because there are more and more people and because of this and an issue in the matrix of mankind's question of evolution. The quintessence is that there isn't any more space and only the void and infinitive compressed mass. It's some kind of hypothesis about to be or not to be. Because of this also the titles which were always very special with Messiah. We don't have any titles like "Kill, Hate, Eat Al, Die Something" (laughs) but they are pretty hieroglyphic and what Messiah always dealt with.

Personally I think that the new album has become one of the best in your discography. The songs aren't that bulky like on the predecessor and they have a certain dynamic and freshness. Why did you decide to incorporate more catchy stuff?

We have two songwriters and V.O. stands for catchy. When he writes Gurd songs, he writes pretty easy sequences and we told him to write something fast. The result were some of these songs. What I found pretty cool was that he orientated himself at some old Messiah song, concerning the riffing and some other trademarks we incorporated into our songs back then. Brögi often sprawls in his songwriting and also with the lyrics (laughs). He is a very creative person who doesn't care about any quarters in the tact or any logic in the music and so he always says: "I am a feeling guy". So if a part only works 3 ½ times it is that way and quite often then I come along and say that this doesn't work (laughs).

So let me guess, the title track was written by Brögi?

No, this one is written by V.O..

Hm, okay. When I listened to it on the YouTube premiere I thought that it would be a very hard album if every song would sound like this one. This one is the one I don't get used to most.

I think this is one of the best songs, to be honest (laughs). It has some kind of unequal pace and I already heard comparisons like Meshuggah. So it is probably a little bit bulkier but since I understand the sequences and I can play it, it works better (laughs). I think this one really has a great impact when we perform it live. But you are right, this one is very bulky. But the opener 'Sikhote-Alin' is by Brögi though, for example.

This one is one of the tracks I wanted to talk about a little bit more in detail. What does 'Sikhote-Alin' deal with? I know that it was a meteorite that went down in Russia in 1947. When I hear such stories, I always have to think about the X-Files with the aliens and the black oil.

The inspiration was that he owns a fragment of this meteorite. So he wanted to write about that. Fortunately he gave me some info so that I can tell a little bit more about that. So he researched and it is about the origin of life on Earth. Related to mankind and the alleged ancestors, the primates, the theory of evolution by Darwin (especially selection and detection) is queried. Even the most adaptable species will not evolve continuously but the universe brings and takes back. That was with the impacts of meteorites, the disappearing of the dinosaurs and eventually also mankind (laughs). This is very philosophical again.

'Venus Baroness I and II' is split into two parts. What is this about and why did you decide to split the track?

I come back to my notes. 'The Venus Baroness I' is about the transmigration of a soul from a prevented female pharaoh named "Neith", daughter of duke Djehuti Nacht who got assassinated. The source for that comes from the Berlin-Brandenburgische Academy of Sciences. The voices in the intro come from the Saxon Academy Of Sciences according to the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptia who excerpted and edited them. Although it is not scientifically proven if the Egyptians sounded like that 2000 years ago. The topic in this song is the transmigration of souls of the deceased with the help of a sun barque which follows the equinox and leads ad astra. That was the belief of the Egyptians; that life would continue in a future world.

The second part he created by himself. Neith comes back to Earth after having traveled and becoming one with planet Venus, hoping to find a better world. She uses the soul of the mentally retarded girl Shelley. But Neith recognizes that the world hasn't turned out to be a better place than it was 4000 years ago and decides to return to Venus. Shelly dies but she sees the world like it actually is and what remains hidden to the future rulers of the world.

So you split the song into two parts because of the two different stories…

Yes and because you do this with strange music (laughs). We had this concept album Rotten Perish and he likes telling stories. This one isn't a concept album but these lyrics have something in common and so they follow in row and I think they are pretty good for the end of the album. But with the running time of them, this is a long finale (laughs).

Ah, "Rotten Perish" was my first Messiah album and I still love this one.

We had 10 months for writing that record back then. We just had released Choir Of Horrors and after that the label drew the option and told us to release another album within one year. 10 months later we were recording and this was pretty much stressful.  Considering all this, I guess the album has turned out pretty great. And we wrote some more songs because we didn't have enough stuff. In these days it was like to better have 90 minutes than 45 on an album.

Haha, I remember reading an interview where you talked about being in a boys' choir.

It was a boys choir from Berlin called Omnibus and the choir director was the vocal teacher of Nina Hagen he incidentally told us. That was pretty cool. And he was that strict to the boys – they came with 10 boys and 2 mothers and 6 were allowed to enter the studio. So he told them that everybody had three chances and if one screws it up, he is out and will be replaced. We all were a little bit perplexed how he treated the little boys. He told us that he had 40 boys in the choir and if it doesn't work this way you will founder.

Haha, since I am a teacher I know that you have to talk with the kids sometimes a little bit harsher!

Well, I think nowadays you should be careful what you're saying otherwise their parents will come to visit you. But it was an exciting thing. Also with the girl who spoke. We recorded it in the Morissound studio and she was the daughter of the cleaner of the studio. It was told to her that we need an "angel" and she said that she has an angel and put the girl into a white dress and brought her with her. The mother auditioned the lines and the girl repeated it then and so they recorded it. But everything was self-made, nothing was copied, also the melody-line was created by the chorus director himself.

Coming to the predecessor "Choir Of Horrors" – I think that the production is very weak when it comes to the vocals. This is really a pity.

Yes, that was not the best one. But check the remastered version from High Roller Records by Patrick W. Engel. There you can hear the vocals much better and it sounds like in the past like it should have been there. It has pretty much power. It is a pity that they are so faded because I think the album is my favorite one. We also play more songs from Choir Of Horrors than from Rotten Perish live and Rotten Perish is quite bulky in some parts in my opinion (laughs). But there are a lot of people who like this one and sometimes we have to respect that. We also played 'For Those Who Will Fail' but it really didn't turn out great live and never was good to play live. In contrast to the record version.

What about "Underground"? Do you still play songs from that one, haha?

No (laughs). I think for the days back then, the production was really great and musically it was a very important album for me for a long time. The song writing was really good but it was probably the "Endorama" by Messiah (laughs). You were searching for something and didn't find it: a new vocalist who wasn't allowed to shout like Andy so that poor Christofer (Johnson; M.) had to try to sing but wasn't able to and so it sounds.

Hm, yes…especially this 'Ballad Of Jesus' song was em, well….

Of this one exists also a remix CD with four or five different versions on it.

Haha, unfortunately I don't have it, haha!!

We went with the trend back then, do you know (laughs).

You're going to play your record release show with your compatriots in Commaniac and Poltergeist who aren't really newcomers. Comaniac released a superb last album a few months ago. Do you recommend some other, newer bands from Switzerland who the people should support?

Yes, Klaw is a very recommendable band. The guitarist also plays in Poltergeist and Pat from Gurd plays second guitar. It is very technical thrash metal and they have a very young vocalist who is about 20. I already heard some new recordings and it sounds pretty cool. Also Vorax, they are doing some kind of dinosaur metal (laughs)

Pardon? What do they do?

Dinosaur metal. They have a dinosaur in their logo and is a little bit like Bolt Thrower when you listen to the groove. Our bassist Patrick is playing there and that is all I have on the radar at the moment.

And the reason Comaniac are playing with us is because when I had to quit because of my injury we had to decide if we would quit PartySan and other shows or not. I asked Stefan from Comaniac  and he did a super job for the first show Marcus did but not at PartySan where I could play again. So he learned the whole stuff for just one show. I told him that he can play PartySan or we do 50/50 but he insisted that I should play if I can. So this is a part of our thank you to them and also because we like the band.

Finally a little quiz. Yesterday I was at Abbath in Dortmund and wore my old Psychomorphia shirt. There was a guy who asked me if I knew which two Death songs Messiah did cover back in 1987. Do you know that?

'Baptized In Blood' for sure and the other one I can't remember. I saw them back then and V.O. played guitar there. But I don't know. But you can find a video for 'Baptized In Blood' on YouTube. I really have no idea. 'Scream Bloody Gore'?

No, 'Evil Dead'.

Ah,yes! 'Evil Dead', of course!

Haha, so we completed each other. Steve, thank you very much for the nice interview.

Thank you, too, Michael!

Entered: 3/24/2024 6:56:19 PM

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Christus Hypercubus Christus Hypercubus
Full-Length (2024)
Fracmont Fracmont
Full-Length (2020)
Space Invaders Space Invaders
Compilation (2018)
Underground Underground
Full-Length (1994)
Rotten Perish Rotten Perish
Full-Length (1992)
Choir Of Horrors Choir Of Horrors
Full-Length (1991)
Psychomorphia Psychomorphia
EP (1991)
Extreme Cold Weather Extreme Cold Weather
Full-Length (1987)
Hymn To Abramelin Hymn To Abramelin
Full-Length (1986)

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