Heaven Shall Burn - 25/01/2008

HEAVEN SHALL BURN were founded in autumn 1996 under the banner of Consense, the first demo was recorded about six months later. After some unimportant line-up changes, Erik (bass) and Markus (vocals) joined the band in spring 1997.  With a line-up finalized the band  released an MCD entitled "In Battle There Is No Law" in 1998. Following these releases the band signed to Lifeforce Records for their 2000 debut album "Asunder". It was followed by "Whatever It May Take" in 2002.


In 2004, the band released "Antigone" through Century Media Records, featuring more of a melodic edge due to more harmonies and Scandinavian style dual guitar work. In December of 2005, guitarist Patrick Schleitzer left the band amicably. He was replaced by Alexander Dietz. After co-headlining the Hell On Earth festival tour with As I Lay Dying the year before in support of the acclaimed album “Antigone” Heaven Shall Burn started the campaign for “Deaf To Our Prayers” (2006)  by touring Europe on the tour’s second instalment with the likes of label-mates God Forbid and Maroon. Not to mention sharing unforgettable moments at With Full Force and Summerbreeze Festival in 2006 as well as the Rock Hard Festival and Wacken Open Air in 2007 they felt a creative rush from the amazing reactions at the aforementioned shows.

“Iconoclast (Part1: The Final Resistance)” was recorded and produced at the Rape Of Harmonies Studios in 2007 by guitarists Maik Weichert and Alexander Dietz while being co-produced by Patrick W. Engel and Ralf Müller. Heaven Shall Burn then went back to Tue Madsen to have “Iconoclast” mixed and mastered. As with their previous records Heaven Shall Burn are not solely about intense and heavy music, but they are lyrically exposing a dedicated, socially aware and politically committed attitude.



With a story about the “Iconoclast’s” and a new record under their belt, Heaven Shall Burn will strike hard in 2008. Therefore we had a little chat with drummer Matthias Voigt, so here we go.


Your album ‘Iconoclast (Part1: The Final Resistance)’ will be released in a couple of weeks, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it!

Well, it’s going to be released this week already. So I’m sorry about the delay;)


In August 2006 you released ‘Deaf To Our Prayers’. 2008 has just begun so apparently you've been working hard on new songs. How did you launch into writing the material for this album?

After we played some very cool shows and festivals in 2007, we just felt a rush of energy…hehe. Seriously, we just got euphoric and started to do the new stuff. We had so much fun, playing live and we wanted to write new songs as soon as possible. It’s always cool to have more diversity in a set list and we felt like doing some changes. Just to re-arrange old songs that we hadn’t played in a while didn’t sound too exciting to us. To have fresh stuff on the list sounded way better. So we just started and it didn’t feel like hard work or anything.


Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

When you write songs, it’s just coming or not. You cannot really plan things. Especially not when you play this kind of music, there is no way to control things. The ideas were just coming and we recorded them as soon as they would appear. As I said before, it was some kind of a spontaneous idea to already record and release a new album and so it was just about time to start writing new stuff. There had been things in our heads for a couple of months already and when we started to sit down and compose, there was even more stuff coming.


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Iconoclast’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

The only thing we had in mind was do to a more diverse and more dynamic record than “Deaf To Our Prayers”. So we wanted to have some calmer moments on that record, just to let the heavier parts sound even more brutal and aggressive. “Deaf…” is something we’re still very proud of, but this time we felt a bit different. We didn’t want to have a record again that is just brutal from the first note until the last.



Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?

That was kinda conscious and something we also talked about sometimes, but other than that, everything just started to appear after we sat down in the rehearsal room to try different riffs, beats and stuff…


Did you have a different approach, workwise, than on your previous albums?

No, there was no difference. We just wrote the songs and when they were done, we went to the studio and started to record everything. So there hadn’t been any experiments in the studio. Everything was done already and arranged. There were just some little changes here and there…


In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to Heaven Shall Burn? And is there any typical way that a Heaven Shall Burn song comes into being?

Since day one it’s always the same. Everything just starts with one single riff. Most of the time we just start playing the first riff and, while playing, everything else comes very naturally. It still works that everyone knows what has to come after one part is played. So the songs get written piece by piece.


Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics and can you tell us how a Heaven shall burn song comes into being?

We try everything together in the rehearsal room and later our guitar players are sitting together on a computer and record some kind of demo. They just record the ideas as songs and try different things until everything sounds good in our ears.

Maik, one of our guitar players, is responsible for the lyrics. We don’t do this all together.


Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Iconoclast (Part1: The Final Resistance)’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

With this album, actually with the previous ones as well, we want people to think and that also means that they should get their own interpretation of the lyrics, the title and everything. Especially with the new album we follow the concept that the lyrics work on two levels. One is rooted in reality and you’ll find some hints in some multimedia-track that comes with the CD. The other level works on a spiritual basis. You can take the same lyrics and create your own story, without sticking to the biographies or the literature that influenced the lyrics in some way. That’s why we don’t really wanna explain everything piece by piece. People should still be able to use their “fantasy” to get their own images.


I know you got your inspiration from the story about the “Iconoclasts” and this is explained on your album, but can you elaborate a little on the concept for those who do not yet have the album?

The thing with the two levels is the concept. We use this separation as a symbol for the separation of politics and religion. On our album there is the reality-based level and the more spiritual one. Each one can work without the other. That’s some kind of symbol that religion and politics can work without each other as well.

In our times there are people who wanna end that strict separation and in some countries politics and church are mixed, but here there’s still this achievement that those things are separated from each other. This should be defended and that’s what we wanna show with the concept.



So there is a red line that runs through all the songs, can you tell us more more about the lyrics?

As I said, it wouldn’t really help the concept to explain everything before people even get the chance to read the lyrics and to check out the multimedia-feature.


Is the music written independently from the lyrics or do you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?

The music and the lyrics belong together, but I don’t think that it really influences each other. Music and lyrics are not written or arranged at the same time. Sometimes we got some song parts that matched more with the lyrics. I’m talking about instrumental stuff that really describes a certain mood, but it’s not our way of working to write both components together.


About the song writing – how can we imagine you work on new songs? What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an idea?

We just write songs if we feel inspired, but we’re trying new stuff in the rehearsal room all the time. Our guitar players are always putting everything together on a computer and they record some demos before we practice the whole songs and before we enter the studio. As I said before, everything starts with a riff and later we add more riffs and then some melodies. The lyrics get written and sometimes we change the lyrics in the studio. We have to make it fit sometimes.


Had all the lyrics already been written before you entered the studio, or were many changes made during the recording sessions?

Everything is done before we enter the studio, but there are always some changes here and there. We always change some words, but never the content.


Do you have any favorites on ‘Iconoclast’, songs that you think are somehow above the others?

I think there are some good songs on the album and “Endzeit” or “Murderers Of All Murders” are some of the best that we ever did. On the other hand you also get songs like “Joel” that are different from most of the stuff that we did before. I can’t really tell about real favorites, but there are songs which are special and that stand out.


‘Iconoclast‘ was recorded and produced at the Rape Of Harmonies Studios, so you picked this studio again to record your album, was this a conscious choice?

Alex, our guitar player, works there but we always did our recordings there. We never ever went to any other studio. Even before he was in HSB and even before he started to work there, we never questioned working there. It’s cool to work with the people there, it’s close to our rehearsal room and we don’t see any reason to record somewhere else. We always get what we want and that’s what matters.



How did the recording process proceed, how much time did you spend on it this time?

It was about one month as far as I remember. We started at the beginning of August and everything was mixed and mastered by the end of September. The recording process was business as usual. But this time everything was very easy going and way more relaxed. We just took the time we needed and recorded until everything was done, but I guess we were a bit faster than with the last records. We also didn’t record every day. We took some days off and sometimes we just recorded for a couple of hours, maybe 3 or 4 on one day.


Your album was mixed and mastered by Tue Madsen, what made him the perfect man for ‘Iconoclast’?

We wanted something more organic, diverse and dynamic this time and Tue was just the perfect guy. Now there are many sound engineers and producers who are able to give you a kick-ass sound, but there are just a few who really understand what you want. We definitely didn’t want to have an album that would sound the same from the first until the last note. Also sound-wise we wanted it to be more dynamic and Tue did a great job.


In which elements on the album can one clearly hear his vision and ideas?

Our two guitar players produced the album and so you can’t hear any of Tue’s visions on that record. It’s just HSB. Tue just had some amazing ideas concerning the sound. We recorded everything the way we wanted and we had no producers. Tue just did the mix and the mastering.


‘Iconoclast’  is your third album for Century Media Records, so how is your relationship with them and do you have free reign as a band to do what you want creatively or otherwise, or do they impose rules on what you do?

We can do whatever we want. We are the band and we write the songs. What the hell should they tell us to do? If they can write better songs, they should start a band…hehehe. Seriously, I really don’t know why people come up with that question sometimes. They signed HSB, so they get HSB and there's nothing they influence or even create. A label should not control a band and tell them how to write songs or what to say in interviews.

They never tried to do that.


So are you guys happy with the label you are currently on, and are they happy with you?

We are totally satisfied. I don’t know if they are. I think that we could sell a bit more if we would take more tour offers and if we would play more often, but that just doesn’t work for us. We are not the kind of band that wants to be on the road all the time and “work” their asses off.


Have you received any feedback on your album yet?

Yeah, it’s been good so far. We got some feedback, but I guess the biggest part will just come in within the next weeks. We got the feedback from the press, but the album is just going to be released this week. So we’ll see very soon if people like it or not…


Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

We definitely listen to people who send their opinion, but we won’t ever change because of that. We care about opinions, but we are the ones who have to live with our music… hehehe…no one else.


Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?

No, right now we’re totally satisfied with everything. We are convinced that we made a good album. On the other hand, we are also too close to see if anything could have been better. Maybe in one year I will be able to tell you what I don’t like on that album. Right now everything’s still too fresh.


What songs and bands do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of Neurosis right now and Gorefest sometimes. I always listen to different stuff. But I never liked just to listen to songs. I always need the whole album to really get into something.


How would you describe your own music and what are your musical influences?

I can’t describe our own stuff, because I’m too close and too much involved. I see things in our music that other people don’t see and I don’t see some things that you can only notice when you’re not involved. About the influence I can only say that everything we listen to, everything we see or read has some kind of impact. Sometimes you don’t even feel how it influences your way of seeing or creating things. It’s hard to talk about your own influences. You can say what you think has an impact on you, but in fact you don’t know it.


The metalcore scene or as we say ‘The New Wave Of American Heavy Metal’ in general exploded in the last four or five years, hundreds of bands seem to be popping up. So what is the difference between Heaven Shall Burn and other bands in this scene?

I also don’t really know what to say about that. Others should judge. You can be so wrong when you have to talk about yourself.


What is your opinion on the ‘metalcore’ scene these days, what do you think about the overload off these kind of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the scene?

There is no scene anymore. There are a couple of bands that play that “style”, but to me there’s no scene. Bands are not helping other bands anymore, just to give a helping hand. Bands are just asking bigger bands for help or bands will lend a hand when they can benefit from it. That’s not working underground and a scene without an underground can’t exist.


Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?

There is no certain album. If there was an album that we loved, it would already exist and we wouldn't have to do it anymore. We just wanted to play a mix of everything that we like.


Are there any particular bands that’ve been a big influence in your song writing, metal or otherwise?

No, there are many different bands that had an impact. Each member has its own personal faves and HSB is just a mix of everything.



Okay, if you could choose three bands to get on stage with, who would they be?

I've gotta disappoint you again…hehehe. I can’t really give answers to such questions. Sometimes it’s cool to play with certain bands, but sometimes you get the chance to play with one of your favorite bands and after that you can’t listen to them anymore, because they just acted like total assholes. Some favorite bands we would always share the stage with are Bolt Thrower and Amon Amarth. Cool people with a good attitude.


What can we expect from Heaven Shall Burn in the near future?

Right now just shows, shows, shows. We will play lots of shows to spread the word about the new album. There will be our first US-Tour and we’re happy that this is finally going to happen.


Your album title ‘Iconoclast (Part1: The Final Resistance)’ reveals that there will be a part 2, or am I wrong? What can we expect and have you already launched into writing new songs for  part 2?

There will be a second part, but we don’t know when this is going to happen. Maybe it’s going to be the next album, maybe we’ll do something else before we’re sure that the time has come for the second part. There are no songs yet. There’s just that concept…


Is there anything left unmentioned? Any last statement or anything you'd like to share with us?

People should always check www.myspace.com/officialheavenshallburn. New dates will be put there as soon as they get confirmed. We always try to keep everything there up to date.

Also give our new album a try. Once again we gave our best…hehe


Thanks for your time!

Eugene Straver


Thanks for the interview and the possibility to talk a bit about HSB. All the best for 2008!!!




Current Members:

Matthias Voigt - Drums

Maik Weichert - Guitar

Alexander Dietz - Guitar

Eric Bischoff - Bass Guitar

Marcus Bischoff - Vocals


Former members :

Patrick Schleitzer - Guitar



In Battle There Is No Law - EP (1998)

Asunder - (2000)

Whatever It May Take - (2002)

Antigone - (2004)

Deaf to Our Prayers - (2006)

Iconoclast (Part 1: The Final Resistance) - (2008)