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Herald
Mart talking about Herald

Classic heavy metal from Estonia

After I received the debut MCD of Herald I immediately wanted interview them. You don`t come across a type of band like this from Eastern Europe on a daily basis. And I think they can use some exposure. The ever friendly vocalist Mart answered my questions.

Hello Mart. Would you like to introduce Herald to the readers first?

You can get most of the information about the history of the band from our website, but I`ll share my personal flashbacks, nevertheless.

A few years back Whispering Forest rehearsed in a rental rehearsal room, which we shared with several alternative rock bands. I was amused to discover that WF`s drummer Rajakas had joined a fresh Heavy Metal band (it didn`t even have a name yet). Why amused? As much as I can remember, Rajakas didn`t have any respect for the classic 80`s Heavy Metal at the time.

Anyway, a few months later Rajakas asked me if I would write some lyrics for the new band. By then the trio had already recorded a cover version of The Sentinel for a Judas Priest tribute compilation with the bassist Mart Veski on vocals, and called itself Herald. I agreed to try and went to see their rehearsal in order to get the feel of their own music. There must have been some sort of conspiracy behind my back, because when I had written the lyrics for "The Hounds On My Trail" and started to sort of sing them–in order to demonstrate how the lyrics fit in the music, the bassist said "We`ll take this one". I was left with no other choice than to agree to join the band as a vocalist.

From then on we have played a lot of pretty mighty lives, changed the line-up a bit and received only the most positive feedback from the audiences. A lot of people have told me they really don`t enjoy Heavy Metal that much, but that Herald is too catchy to ignore, especially when we play live. I tend to agree.

You have just released your debut demo/ MCD "Heavy Metal Wakes the Beast". Are you satisfied with the result and how are the reactions so far?

I don`t think I`ve ever met any bandmember who is one hundred per cent satisfied with their release. The work took much longer than we anticipated, so the material was ready to be released a whole year after the recording took place. The band had changed a little by then–not musically, but regarding our abilities. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the end result. It`s not perfect, of course, but it`s much better than I expected.

Since you were the first to actually publish a review of the material, I can only say that so far the reactions have only been positive ;)

You can be labelled as traditional heavy metal. Can you tell us something about your main influences?

I don`t write the music, but I can tell you that the guitarist/songwriter Egert admits to enjoying King Diamond, Helloween, Rage and a lot of other old school Heavy Metal/NWOBHM bands, especially what we jokingly call "tasteless German Heavy Metal". I presume they have been an influence, in a way.

I also know that the other guitarist Taunts traces his influences back to Metallica, Slayer and other heavy/thrash bands of the mid-80`s/early 90`s.

As a lyrics-writer for Herald I can say I have been strongly influenced by the most noticeable Heavy Metal clichés of all time, although I use them quite tongue-in-cheekishly, just as a relish. The fact of the matter is that most of the lyrics try to induce a many-layered concept and make the listener think in several different directions. They usually raise a moral question, but they never actually preach. I try to disguise my own point of view, and sometimes I`m not even sure about it myself. Now that I think of it, writing for Herald helps me deal with the stress derived from fact that the world is not black-and-white and that sometimes you have to choose between two evils, with no convincing guidelines as to which is the lesser one.

Since you`re from Estonia, I`d like to know if there`s a lot of traditional Heavy Metal bands around?

We had some brilliant bands back in the 80`s, such as Varaan, Hetero, Omas Kojas, Paan, Okaspendel, Golem and Hades, that played traditional Heavy Metal back then. Unfortunately most of them have split up without leaving behind any tangible legacy. Some ten years ago I saw a gig by a local Russian band Ferrum, which was a pure Heavy Metal holocaust with excellent vocals, but I haven`t heard of them since.

If we`re talking about Estonian Heavy Metal at the moment, there`s actually not much to talk about. There`s Ignorabimus, but their style, although containing several elements of classic Heavy Metal, is really non-classifiable. There`s Metsatöll, of course, but they are more Folk than Heavy Metal. The music of Tharaphita, the ruling kings of Estonian metal scene right now, is a mindboggling mixture of different genres, and influences of Running Wild as well as other German Heavy Metal bands can be heard in it, but they are definitely not "100% pure distilled" traditional Heavy Metal.

Come to think of it, neither are we. I believe we mix NWOBHM and German Heavy Metal with early US speed/thrash influences. But of course it`s just easier and more to the point to say we`re a traditional Heavy Metal band.

How`s the metalscene in general in Estonia? A lot of people from Western Europe probably don`t know much about your scene.

I sometimes wonder myself. On one hand Estonian metal scene has a lot to offer. There`s great new bands coming out every year and a lot of the older echelon bands keep on trudging decade after decade, but on the other hand it seems the only two bands known well outside the borders of Estonia are Must Missa and Loits. The first one is probably a more obscure name for Estonians than for the Western Europe scene, but the other one seems to share the throne with Tharaphita and Metsatöll. Loits will be touring Europe together with Horna this fall, so look out! They sound fucking convincing on stage.

In general, the scene is much more active than a mere five years ago. The last golden age of Estonian metal was in the 80`s, and I don`t remember that much support and activity even from back then. I truly believe right now is the new golden age.

For those interested in Estonian metal I can recommend the site www.metal.ee. A lot of bands have gathered under that domain, and there`s an active Hard Rock Club community. For those interested in contacting concert organizers, search for contacts under www.hardrockclub.ee, or write to me and I will forward the info to the HRC staff.

I know you also sing in the doom/ death band Whispering Forest, but your vocal style is completely different. Did you have to adjust your style a lot for Herald?

I must admit I was baffled to find out I could do the things I do with my voice in Herald. It has taken a lot of training to get to where I am today, and the process is by no means finished. I still have trouble maintaining the high-pitched voice at live performances. So, yeah, I have had to make some adjustments, but these have all been to the good of all my other bands, such as Whispering Forest.

What`s going on with Whispering Forest, by the way?

This year, since our last live gig at Green Christmas festival, we have been sort of on hiatus. There were some disagreements about the new direction WF seems to be taking, but nobody wants to quit a good thing, if you know what I mean. Keijo (guitarist and mastermind) says he has some new material for us. We will appraise it together in the near future and then decide about what and how to do from then on. I am positively sure the band will continue making extreme and beautiful music for a long time to come.

Are any other members of Herald active in other bands/ projects?

Of course. Egert also played in the Tribute To Black Sabbath project, as well as me, and the Tribute To Running Wild project this summer, and he`s also active in a very interesting technical metal band called Instigator Of Grief. Rajakas and me also play in Whispering Forest. Viki the bassist plays guitar in a mighty Black/Thrash band Must Missa (The Black Mass) and writes very grievous music alone as well... And you know me, I`m never in just one band. Actually, it seems to be a rule in Estonian scene that the more active musicians play in several different bands. I don`t know if it`s a good thing, but I personally enjoy it. The only time I didn`t was when I had to play with Herald and Whispering Forest on the same night, that was a bit exhausting.

You did a gig with Herald on the annual Hard Rock Laager festival in Estonia. How was that show and have you done many gigs besides that festival?

Thanks for asking, the show was spectacular. I lost my high voice even before the gig, because I just had to scream along to all my childhood favourites when the Tribute To Running Wild played, but it was a cool show nevertheless. The crowds were really into it and the instant energetic feedback wanted to knock me out of my socks on stage. When we have our video ready, it will definitely include some footage of this gig.

We gave two other concerts this summer, which both went very well and definitely enlarged our fan base.

Okay, that`s all for the moment. Thanks for your time and if you want to get anything else off your chest, go ahead.

I will use this opportunity to say hello to and thank our die-hard fans, and encourage all `zines, distributors, concert organizers, labels and just interested parties to contact us. You can do that by checking out our homepage at www.metal.ee/herald or writing to herald@metal.ee, or my personal e-mail address mart@sdi.ee. Thanks for a concise interview, Pim, and hello to all the Dutch bastards in Rotterdoom!

Author: Pim
Zine: Quintessence
www.quintessence.sh

Check also:
Other interviews
24-03-2015 Abandoned Elysium - Interview with Abandoned Elysium!
06-04-2011 Sorts - Interview with Sorts
22-09-2009 Bestia - Interview with Bestia
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