Baby-steps into the Music:
Around 1995/96 Peter(g), Chris(v) and Martin(dr) chose to found a Death Metal band in order to have fun and kill some time. They covered songs of acts like Hypocrisy, Six Feet Under etc. but soon also approached writing own songs and decided to call the group "Penetralia". After some time they had already written a bunch of songs entitled "Cradle of Penetralia", "Verwüstung", "Under the Moonlight" or "Tears of Hope". Their style can be described as old-school Death Metal, simple but efficient. Penetralia also got the chance to play their first (and last) gig at a well-known party here in our surroundings. The concert was not the way they had expected it but nevertheless gave them the chance to present their material to a larger crowd for the first time.
From Penetration to Amortisation:
The trio was pleased with their efforts so far but was still missing at least one person for the band: a bass-player. They had been searching for a suitable person for months but it seemed that DM bass-players were very rare. Finally Chris got in touch with my cousin Simon who played in the Hardcore/Crossover band "Igneus" and asked him to join "Penetralia" at least for one rehearsal to find out whether they could play together or not. Shortly after Simon rehearsed with them and soon decided to quit with "Igneus" and make some harder noise *g*. As I was already a big fan of extreme music at this time Simon took me to their next rehearsal and I was really fond of the thought to be part of a band as well. I had been playing guitar for about two years but was much too bad to staff the part of a second guitarist. But Simon asked me to bring my mini-keyboard along and to try out if it would fit into the Penetralia sound as I had been playing piano for years. The guys really appreciated the idea of having keyboards in their music and so I soon joined the band as well. From this time on the name "Penetralia" got replaced by the new name "Amortis". (Actually Peter and Chris created this name and I cannot tell the reason for it.) Peter had already written some new material that sounded much more melodic and went more into the black-metal direction so everything turned out to be cool for us. The first song we wrote together then was "Beauty in Darkness", as far as I remember - a black/doom metal "ballad" with more melody than ever before. That was around Oct. 1996.
Live after Death and awakening the Demo(n):
After having written the first Amortis-songs "Beauty in Darkness", "The Lost Angel" or "A Kiss from the Dusk" it seemed to be time to present the new band and material live. Our first show took place in Feb. 1997 in the youth-centre of St. Georgen/Gusen where we also used to rehearse at Chris' home. It was a huge success and pushed as forward a lot. Furthermore we found out that we had the potential to make something out of this band. By accident my father got to know Chris Scheidl, who was having a recording studio near our home and it was going to be our next step to record a demo. So we started to practice hard and finally entered the "Bush D. A. Bush" Studio for one day to ban our material on CD/MC. Although Chris had not been working with a metal band before he managed to adapt us the sound we wanted to have. So in Summer 1997 our first output "A Kiss from the Dusk" saw the dark of the world and was received very well among the people and also in various magazines. The demo contained six songs + intro and had a playing time of approx. 30 mins. It featured the songs "A Kiss from the Dusk", "The Immortal Kingdom", "Under the Moonlight", "Through a blackened Winterstorm", "The Lost Angel" and "Beauty in Darkness".
Memories of a joyful Time:
By now Amortis had found the style we wanted to enlarge in the future. Our aim was to create atmospheric black metal with great melodies but also harsh blasting drums. Furthermore we wanted to maintain the DM vocals of Chris besides his screams as he was a very good DM singer. The new songs were mostly written by Peter and myself and showed a good development from the "A Kiss..." - era. The material turned out to become a bit more technical and sophisticated and we were very pleased with it. Besides I also contacted a lot of labels but none of them seemed to be interested in it although critics had been overwhelming. So we decided to record another demo that should also be available on CD-R this time. We entered the "Bush D. A. Bush" Studio once again in early 1998 and fixed the new stuff on CD. Of course, everything went more professional this time and we also took two days to get a better sound and a better production. This demo had to be a real killer....
A blazing Dialogue in the Orkus:
The critics on "Memories of an Ancient Time...", so the title of our second output, were simply amazing as nearly every review was very positive. "Memories..." contained 5 songs + intro and had a total playing time of about 37 mins. It featured the songs "A Dream of Dancing Shadows", "Memories of an Ancient Time...", "The Arrival of a New Age", "In the Spell of Midnight's Grace" and "Storm of Pagan Fire". We all now were very anxious and slightly sure that we'd get a record deal with the new material. As I had given interviews for the German "Ablaze" and "Orkus" magazines a deal simply had to be reached. Furthermore our song "Dream of Dancing Shadows" was featured as the only demo-song on the compilation "Darkness is thy Kingdom", released by Zoomshot Media/Orkus. However, it rather lasted quite long until a real deal was in sight...
Label Odyssey 1999:
The first label contacting us regarding our demo, was a small company from Switzerland. The problem was, that we had never seen a contract and did not know whether this offer was good or not. However, there were a lot of things missing and we thought it would be too hasty if we signed at random. Then a guy from Italy got in touch with me. He had worked for years in a record compay wanted to go into business for himself. He seemed quite competent, planned everything very well and seemed to be the right person for us. Unfortunately he had just started building up the label and it would still last some time until everything could be started. As for us, still attending school, it was the best to record our debut album in summer (1998), as everybody had enough spare time. So we decided to nevertheless make n' pay the CD without contract and later "sell" it to our future Italian label then. Before our recording session we also welcomed a new member named Roman who should be the second guitarist of Amortis then. He had already been playing in a few DM bands and liked our music very much. So he added another important part to the debut album. Unfortunately our "label-boss" suddenly disappeared and there we were - a finished CD and no label in sight. Everything started again from the very beginning!
The Good, the Bad and the Lucky:
I started to send CD-Rs of our debut with partial songs to any label that seemed reasonable to me and waited, waited and waited. We got a few refusals, some labels didn't respond at all and the situation got quite stressful at this time as we didn't know what to do if no label showed interest. Finally we got in touch with the German label "Last Episode Records" that offered us a deal. It was a good chance and the contract was very professional and satisfying. Everything was alright again and we could not await the release of the CD.
Simon and I contacted Helmut Berger, a friend of us who has been doing graphics for quite a lot of bands already and started the work for the album cover and booklet. As we already knew what we had in mind, it was a work of about three days and we were quite pleased with the optical conversion. It was an almost "relaxing" work as Heli had to do all the work and we just made suggestions if we were not satisfied *g*.
Unleashing the Firethirsty:
Due to some delays from our side and also the Last Episode's side our debut "Summoned by Astral Fires" was eventually released in April 2000 and showed that Austria was having one more signed band among the lucky few. We played a few concerts and the long time of insecurity was finally over. "Summoned..." was containing eight songs and a hidden instrumental and had a total playing time of 59 mins. It featured the new songs "Centuries of Enslavement", "Dark Visions by Candlelight", "Like the Ravens in the Nightsky", "Summoned by Astral Fires" and the acoustic-song "Hortus Animae" as well as the re-recorded tracks "A Dream of Dancing Shadows", "In the Spell of Midnight's Grace" and "Storm of Pagan Fire". The album was received well and we also got the chance to present our material on the Wave-Gothic-Meeting in Leipzig (Germany).
Time to say goodbye:
In Oct. 1998 Simon and I moved to Vienna in order to start studying there. That's why our rehearsals started to become much rarer than before. We used to practice almost every weekend but now we only did so every two or three weeks. As Martin appreciated rehearsing together much more than practicing alone on his drums, his performance got much worse as he somehow lost his ambition. We explained to him that while all of us were getting better on their instruments he was going the other way round, doing less, playing worse. So in August 2000 he finally got kicked out from us and it was quite a fucked-up situation for both parties as we did not do it the fine english way. Sorry once again for that and all the best with Kettenbach!
Chainsaw Massacre Death Metal:
Shortly after Martin's departure, Roman's brother Lukas joined the band. He was already playing in Roman's second band Cephalic, which is the most brutal and devastating Austrian DM band I have ever heard and as he always wanted to play other things than pure hyperblast insanity he immediately replaced Martin. Besides Simon and Peter changed their instruments as Simon more and more turned into the main songwriter of the band and it was a natural step for us. We worried about that Peter would be disappointed of that decision but it was no problem for him and he is as necessary for the band as anybody else of us! So from 1999 on we sporadically wrote new material for our second CD and knew that these songs would take us a huge step forward once again. Although we did not change much of our songwriting-style the material once more turned into a more technical and sophisticated way. Due to Luki's abilities we were also able to create faster and more aggressive parts.
Losing my Religion:
Apart from Martin leaving the band, a few weeks later also Chris announced his departure from Amortis. He had lost his believe and attitude towards the music and the whole BM scene and decided to leave the band. Furthermore he had undergone a lot the whole year and did not see a future for himself in the band. Besides Amortis, he and Peter had been starting to play in a DM-band once again and he wanted to fully concentrate himself on "Broken Torso" from now on.
Singing in the Rain:
The loss of Chris was quite a hard hit in the face for us as he had been a very charismatic singer and could not be replaced that easily. Furthermore we did not know where to look for a new singer as Roman, Simon and I are living in Vienna but the band is rehearsing in Upper-Austria. So actually we are quite pissed at the moment…
The Obscure Dance of Distress:
Nevertheless it was sure that we were going to record new album in May 2001 together with Chris Scheidl once more. The only problem kept the position of the singer. I started to write the lyrics for the upcoming songs and Chris promised that he would at least still be singing on the new CD. However, it did not turn out that simple as my lyrical style differs a lot from his and he did not manage to sing the songs the way I wanted. That's why we finally decided that I'd to the whole vocal stuff as well.
Mirror of Misdeed:
While we had been doing the cover-artwork of "Summoned..." on our own, I did not want to spend too much time in that as well now that's why I searched the web for some good designers. Eventually I found the page of Niklas Sundin who's been doing great stuff for bands like "And Oceans...", "Gardenian" or "In Flames" and of course his own band, "Dark Tranquillity", and asked him to draw our cover artwork. As he seemed quite interested in my lyrical concept, he admitted and started his work...
Murdering with Style:
As I did not really know what sort of lyrics to write I decided to do a concept-album based on serial-killers. As I've been reading a lot of thrilling books recently I based each song on another story I read, trying to show what is going on in these sick persons' minds. The main idea was to keep up some daily reality in the lyrics and not just to write some fantasy stuff nobody understands. There is no real message in the songs but perhaps the one or the other realises that it is not just obtuse "pseudo-being-bad", but a critical reflection of society/reality!
Channelling the Quintessence of Amortis:
On May 1st Amortis once again entered the Bush D. A. Bush Studio in order to fix the follow-up of "Summoned by Astral Fires" - "Gift of Tongues" - on CD. Although we got some more days this time, the recording session was quite stressful. The drum recording lasted two days with the highest temperatures, almost killing us. Bass and guitars were played quite fast and Simon added some 3rd guitars as well when it appeared to be suitable. I had already programmed the keyboards at home in order to save time and not to have to improvise in the studio. As some parts feature 5 or 6 different instruments simultaneously I had to do all the stuff at home before, otherwise it would have lasted too long! Besides the keyboards I had to do the vocal stuff and it was really exhausting. I had just been singing a few things before for my project "Shadowcast" and did not expect that the screaming would kill my voice that bad. Nevertheless I am very pleased with the vocals and would only change some mini-parts if I got the chance to. The most difficult thing was the clean vocals. I never thought that it would be that hard to sing just a few "clean" lines... Already the sound of the Rough-Mix of "Gift of Tongues" was a real killer and we were looking forward to mixing and mastering of the album. Finally we held the master-CD in our hands and knew that this CD would be the next huge step for us. Although the new songs have been just a natural development for us, they might sound quite different to our previous material. But I am sure they are the strongest tracks we have written so far (I know, every band says the same about their new stuff...)
The Gift of Tongues:
The new CD is containing 7 songs with a total playing time of approx. 51 mins, featuring 7 songs. In my point of view every track is containing something special. There are some cool experimental parts, some Voice FX, hyperblast attacks, great choir etc. Generally speaking the material is more mature and features more DM as "Summoned by Astral Fires". Furthermore it should be more live-compatible ;-)
Speaking Words of Wisdom:
As for now, I guess that's quite the most important information you might (or might not) be interested in regarding Amortis. In order to read the lyrics or to download some mp3, check out the appropriate sections.
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