Most of the time I try to help the bands by having the interview published when their new album is released, but when it comes to Belgium’s Horacle, things turned out a bit differently. An agreement to do this piece was in place several months ago, but I really struggled to find the time to finish my questions. Luckily, everything came together in the end, and singer Terry Fire as well as bass player L. Sabathan did a pretty good job by answering my questions.
Apparently, Horacle was formed back in 2007 by L. Sabathan and David DC. What made you want to start a traditional heavy metal band at this point in time?
L. Sabathan: – Exactly, when I left Enthroned back in October 2006, I wanted to restart the traditional heavy metal project that I already started in 1999 under the name of Pandemonium, It stopped due to the fact that I struggled to find skilled musicians. I came back with it under the name of Mind Procession in 2006 for a very short period of only a few months and then I gave up for the same reason again…until I met David DC back in 2007 who convinced me to restart again with him. Things became way more serious then, and we started to work properly, rehearsing every week for many hours and started composing the first EP. But to find a real heavy metal singer was still a hard task…until I met Terry Fire in 2010, and then finally, things progressed.
What were the main issues in establishing a stable line up?
Terry: – It is always hard to find good musicians to play this style of music, and it was even way harder back then…In 2007, Horacle was still a mere project.
L. Sabathan: – There’s no heavy metal scene left in South Belgium, everything disappeared back in the early nineties with all the crappy grunge, alternative and core trends. The traditional heavy metal scene died around 1991/92 here, and since then, people who were involved in it, either changed their musical direction, and followed trends like sheeps or simply gave up. And what’s left nowadays is a real desert. The only ones remaining here today are just not credible.
Horacle seems like a pretty unusal band name. Where did you get the idea from, and what do you want to communicate with this name? Who is the Horacle?
Terry: – The Horacle is this mystical individual who sees through the ages the future of this world.It forsees visions which are better described in the songs “Lightning Strikes Down” from “A Wicked Procession” and “No Resistance” from the “Dead Eyes Revelations” album, which is some kind of follow-up.
The first EP was self financed and is now sold out. How many copies were printed, and what were your main intentions with this release? To get gigs, to get a deal, or to promote the band?
Terry: -“Horacle” was limited to 400 copies. And yeah, we released for all the reasons you just mentioned.
L.Sabathan: – My idea was to release this first EP on tape or as a 7″ EP, not on CD format, I suggested the tape format first, but no one in the band agreed with me. For me, this is totally wrong, as the tape format is back stronger than ever. A 7″ EP was really too expensive to release and no label was interested in doing it either, so the only alternative left was a digital release, but I was not very satisfied with that alternative for a first release.
Terry: – Well, in fact the first EP was also on tape later on, through the label Tape The Reaper, but it was limited to just 100 copies I think.
Singer Terry was the last piece in the puzzle. What is his musical background prior to joining Horacle? Does he live in Belgium with the rest of you, or in France as some sources say?
Terry: – It’s true, I do live in France. In the past, I played in a couple different bands prior to Horacle, some as a guitar player and singer, but nothing big though.
L.Sabathan : – Terry is simply the best singer I know from that region with both France and Belgium included. He was really the right man for the situation, without him I simply couldn’t have continued this project.
On the second EP, “A Wicked Procession” you did a cover version of Judas Priest’s “Freewheel Burning”. Why this song, that has already been covered so many times?
Terry: – Of course, such a classic has been covered many times. But you know, every song from Judas Priest have already been covered!I didn’t pick the song myself, but I love this one. Still if we did it today, I would have taken a different approach vocally, for sure. Hell, I would have even picked another song if they’d asked me. I guess, either “Blood Red Skies” or “The Sentinel” probably…
L.Sabathan : -“Freewheel Burning” is, at least for my part less accessible than Judas Priest tracks like “Painkiller”, “Breaking the Law” and so on….I hate those songs covered so many times by always the same kind of heavy metal bands with cheap profiles, bands for fancy fairs always covering the same tunes such as “The Trooper” from Iron Maiden and so on. I suggested many other cover options, more for elistists probably, stuff like “Lurking in the Dark” from King Diamond, “Battle Cry” from Omen, “Master Control” from Liege Lord, “Battle Angels” from Sanctuary, “Bleed for the Godz” from Agent Steel…and many other options. Personally I take much more pleasure to cover more underground bands than common ones like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, even if I’m a big fan of both.
Terry : – That’s an opinion I share as well.
Talking about Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. How do you view the recent developments in the career of both bands? Did you enjoy the latest outputs?
Terry: – The last Judas Priest album was awesome! The last Iron Maiden, well… I love the songs written by Dickinson, just like I think his last three solo albums are masterpieces! The rest has its moments, but there are too much repetitions on the long songs for me. It’s better then the last one though.
L.Sabathan : – I’m a big fan of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but they’re not my only influences in Horacle, Kind Diamond is a big influence as well and also underground bands such as Omen, Stormwitch, Picture, and Deaf Dealer. There are even some newcomers like Ambush, Attic, Night Demon, High Spirits and Black Trip, that are not direct influences, but at least good bands that I spend a lot of time listening to.
History has shown that it’s rather difficult for bands playing music similar to bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to get recognized as many fans of these acts are often fans of those acts exclusively, and are not at all interested in diving into the underground for similar bands. What’s your experience?
Terry: – I feel sorry for people only following the mainstream, honestly I do, and at the same time I loathe them. Haha! They don’t realize that they are the ones killing the music scene, I mean the “in the now” bands, trying to make it. It’s not downloading that’s killing the music, it’s people’s laziness. People that only care to go see cover bands of bands that are still touring. They are exactly the same people that will complain that there are no great bands like in the “old days”. You are absolutely right with your question, and it is true for a lot of people by my experience as well. My opinion? Fuck these morons! To all people still taking the time to seek for new bands: Bless you all! It took balls to support Iron Maiden in 1978. Nowadays, it’s only natural. That being said, I will never disrespect these two bands which are both near and dear to my heart.
L.Sabathan : – Your question explains it all and is so clear. I rarely meet a ultra Iron Maiden fan interested in the underground heavy metal scene, expect the Gustavsson twins in Nifelheim. Those are not only ultra Iron Maiden fans, but loyal, dedicated heavy metal die hard maniacs. Terry said it all, and I agree with everything.
One of the orginal members of Horacle, David DC, left in 2013. What was the reason for his departure, and did this affect and maybe also change the band before the recording of the new album?
Terry: – David left for professional reasons, there was no bad blood at all. Of course it did have an impact on the band since Alex, our new guitar player, wrote a lot of the material for the new album.
You have described “Dead Eyes Revelations” as a new chapter for the band. Isn’t every new album a new chapter, or do you feel that this particular release marks something of a new beginning for you as a band?
Terry: – Personally it’s the first release I am fully happy with, so yeah it marks a big change for the band.I think everybody in the band will tell you that we really felt something special with this record. “A Kind Of Magic” to quote Freddy Mercury. As a lyricist, I had the time to fully develop the vibe of the band. The concept, and the artwork are also contributing factors. It was also the first time that we had the luxury to spend a week together in the studio and pay attention to every little detail, make the sound rich and full. The production is also a lot closer to our vision for this one. I still like “A Wicked Procession”, but there is no comparison here.
L.Sabathan : – Of course “Dead Eyes Revelations” is a step forward comparatively to the first two EP’s. It’s a new chapter , but don’t think we took a new musical direction. Horacle is traditional heavy metal and it will remain like that, I don’t want to turn into later power metal or other cheesy shit like that. We are eighties heavy metal…No compromise! Concerning the production, I like it, compared to the two first EP’s, but I’d prefer something a bit more dirty, but this is just my own opinion.
Does “Dead Eyes Revelations” contain only songs written after the release of the last EP, or are there tracks from the early days here too?
Terry: – No everything is fresh and new, except for some ideas which David wrote that were used for the song “Awakening Of A Crimson Shelter”, but even those got a strong treatment from the band to make it what it is on the record.
You describe the songs on the new album as more ambitious compared to the previous EPs. What do you mean by “ambitious”? Are you referring to longer songs, material that is harder to perform, or more complex song writing?
Terry: – All the above! In fact the fast, “in your face” songs are catchier and more aggressive than ever, while on the other hand some songs are more complex and better written. And yes, “ambitious” is a good term to describe them. Take for instance the song “No Resistance”. It doesn’t have this verse/chorus kind of structure. In fact there is no verse, no real chorus, and it contains a spoken part which has ten tracks of vocal harmonies and kind of conterpoints singing, complex chords hidden underneath it. I also used a lot of different vocal tones throughout it. And the lyrics are very conceptual, including our own take on some theology themes.Who would believe that such a song would be people’s favourite? But it is, and I am very happy about. It also goes to show that our fans appreciate the hard work, and they get a good grasp of what we try to do. “Awakening Of A Crimson Shelter” is also in that vein, with it’s big bridge section in the middle and Alex’s emotional “Pink Floydish” solo. And it lasts for 12 minutes…
For “Dead Eyes Revelations” , you have used a different studio and producer compared to your two EPs. How has this affected the end result?
Terry: – A lot! No disrespect to the “Blackout Multimedia Studio”, but they are more geared towards extreme metal with a very modern and compressed production.We didn’t want any of that. We were not going for the full retro feeling, but we knew that we wanted a big room with a lot of natural reverb for the vocals and the drums, and no trigger or any of that! Also Gerald (Jans, Noise Factory) was all right when it came to listening to our observations, even though it was not his way of doing things sometimes.We believe the band must be in control of every details. We also had more time, we stayed there for nine days and nights and had a lot of fun which really helps bringing the best out of you.
While the first EP was released by the band, “A Wicked Procession” came out on Dying Victims. With the new album, you are back releasing your music on your own. Is this simply the best way to do it for you, or was it hard finding a label that wanted to release this album?
Terry: – Our relationship with Dying Victims didn’t pay off like we hoped for. This time around, yes, we’ve had some offers, but nothing interesting. Only rip off deals. After a while we thought that we couldn’t wait anymore, the album was composed, our fans were waiting, so we said: “Screw it, let’s release the album on our own!”
L.Sabathan : – It seems to be impossible to find a deal nowadays when you are a Belgian heavy metal band. Labels only seek Swedish, German, English or Canadian/US bands. At least, this is the feeling I have, so we will see how the odds will be in the future. Releasing another self produced album seems utopian for me. Mainly due to the costs, but also because of poor or limited distribution and promotion. Let’s see what “Dead Eyes Revelations” will bring us in terms of positive consequences.
Being a Belgian band playing heavy metal, you haven’t had too many newer bands making way for you. Do you feel you have more to prove, and have to work harder than a band from Sweden who have had countless newer bands delivering high quality heavy metal?
Terry: – Ho man, yeah! It seems like we get neglected so much from the music business. For example some Swedish bands in the same vein and from the same era are a hundred times more known than us, without being better. Trust me! Believe me, this industry is sickening, we are really looked down on with regards to our qualities, simply because of where we come from. People should listen with their ears, rather than standing by some old cliches, right? Well at least, a lot of our fans keep us in their hearts as the nation’s pride. And for me being French, I feel blessed with their welcoming, thanks to all of them!
L. Sabathan : – If you play metal, and not only heavy metal, being Belgian is a real burden. The Germans neglect us, the Dutch too and the English as well. It seems like only the French and Scandinavians are the ones who care about Horacle, the rest of the world don’t give a fuck. You are Belgian, you’re not credible, and your material is of poor quality! This is what they all think even before give an ear to our material. I don’t know many Belgian heavy metal bands which are popular, except for Evil Invaders.
Terry: – I just have to disagree on that one.We have many fans in South America, Brazil, Russia and so on. The fans support us and we are highly thankful for that. It is just the industry that neglects us, the old rotten music business you know...
Did you have to think differently in terms of composing material for an album compared to an EP? I mean, the diversity is one thing, but also the flow of the songs must be considered. Is this perhaps why you have included an instrumental on the album, to make the album more diverse?
Terry: – I love the instrumental, especially my parts! Haha! I believe that an album has to be more varied, indeed. But also, we wanted to be on top of our game, I think a couple songs were discarded because they were not good enough for “Dead Eyes Revelations”. Concerning the flow, well it was just a natural thing, a simple task of choosing the order of the songs. I was one of the first to push the band into composing an instrumental, and the guys came up with a great one, I think.
L. Sabathan : – Personally I wasn’t so enthusiastic about the instrumental, but now I think it was a good idea.
You have chosen “Dead Eyes Revelations” as a title for the album. As there isn’t a title song, does the title sum up the lyrical content in any way, or was it mainly a cool sounding album title? By the way, it was the same with the last EP, “Wicked Procession”, which didn’t have a title song either.
Terry: – Well, it is all conceptual.The record is not a concept album, but some songs are connected to the title, just like the song “Lightning Strikes Down” was to “A Wicked Procession”. Just like I said, this one and “No Resistance” are connected together and are part of a saga in which you can find the same characters: The black maiden, her child and the Horacle.This story is far from over and will keep on growing for the next album as I am writing for it already. By the way, the artwork is also portraying the song “Awakening Of A Crimson Shelter”.It was the same thing with “A Wicked Procession”, if you take a close look, you will find elements from each song on the EP in the artwork. When I wrote “The Hounds (Wicked Child)” on the new album, I remember that I was very inspired, but still everything came out in some kind of blur. So I had no idea what the hell I was trying to talk about! Then recently all these weird lyrics have started to make a huge sense in my life and how I see a lot of things these days through many recent experiences…Creepy!
Do you feel that the climate for playing this kind of metal has changed for the better during the years of Horacle’s existence, or is the fact that you now are booked for festivals just a reward for the hard work you have put down during the years?
Terry: – A little bit of both.The situation started to change when we formed the band around 2010/2011. Before that, heavy metal was really out of fashion, you had to fight hard for your love of that music. A lot of people despised good, clean vocals, and were only into neo/death/core stuff. But the real metal fans stuck to their passion and we’ve seen some support from them. Then we’ve also had to work hard for it as well.
L.Sabathan : – I don’t think it has changed a lot, yes the fact that we’ve played in Denmark twice paid us more respect here in Belgium, but the situation remains quite the same.
How important is it for you to show you influences compared to having an original sound? Are strong songs most important? In your opinion, what does Horacle have that sets the band apart from other contemporary, traditional metal acts?
Terry: – Yes,that’s it! Strong songs and great musicianship are what we mainly care for.And you know, these days being totally original seems impossible unless you start to play some nonsense avant-garde that sounds like shit. Haha! Nowadays, you can find your personality in the details. We are a heavy metal band which might sound close to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Lizzy Borden, Liege Lord, Queensrÿche, Helloween, Sanctuary,etc and we are proud of that. Yet at the same time we have our little something that makes us unique in our own genre. And that is the reason why our fans support us, there is a certain vibe to our music, even if it sounds reminiscent to the eighties bands.