After such success in its first year, Victoria’s newest heavy and alternative music festival, Melted Festival, will return to the Barwon Club Hotel this year and once again melt the faces of fans with explosive heavy metal riffs, pumping prog-rock vamping and the promise of ‘crazy surprises’. Fresh from a string of festival shows and the release of their eighth studio album in 2018 Children of the Abyss, power metal veterans Black Majesty are set to co-headline the festival with Toxicon between Melbourne and Sydney appearances. We sit down with guitarist Hanny Mohammed ahead of the festivities.
We’re excited to have Black Majesty headline Melted in Geelong alongside some other great bands! Any bands you’re particularly excited about?
Thank you for having us and we’re also really excited to be part of the event. We haven’t done a show in Geelong for a while so we are really looking forward to it. Yeah looking forward to seeing Toxicon firstly! I’ve been in touch with Adam for a while and hanging out to see some of those crazy riffs live. And of course, I’m looking forward to catching all the bands. It will be fun watching all the sets.
You’ll be performing an hour set – what can punters expect??
We have chosen an energetic and heavier setlist. We will play three tracks from the latest album and pretty much one or two tracks from the remaining albums. We’re pretty pumped to be playing so punters can expect a high energy and fun set… And a bit of trouble. For people who also don’t know John our singer, he loves to cause chaos on stage. He is unpredictable with what he is going to do.
Congrats on the release of your seventh album Children of the Abyss, which landed in the Official iTunes Heavy Metal charts in Belgium #2, Germany #8, and Japan #30. What’s been the highlight of the past year since its release?
Thank you! Yeah, we are really pleased with how the last album was mostly well-received. We followed the release with some headline shows in Europe late last year which was a lot of fun.
Then upon returning home we did the album launch in Melbourne. Since then we have had a small break but just hit our first show back last week.
There were few years between the release of Children of the Abyss and your sixth album Cross of Thorns. Was it a long recording process or did life get in the way? How do you approach the album creation process?
Yeah, we actually did do a different process this time around. We wrote the last album, demoed the album, then listened back and we were not really happy with it. So eight tracks got scratched and we started again. We had enough material to make a double album. This time we were pretty happy to go ahead with the new tracks then we completed the post-production. We used the same process with our 2010 release “In Your Honour” which also was a three year wait for the release as well. We all write together. We all have our own studio setups so if we are not writing in a room together, we are always sending ideas via the internet and phones. Technology these days can be great in those ways. John is the lyrics man, but is also pretty clever in a way of coming up with musical melodies and structures… and being a trouble maker.
Is there any new music in the works?
We’re well into writing for the next one. We are aiming to have a finished album by late 2020, at the same time with some European shows in support of the album.
With seven albums behind you and countless performances, we imagine life in a band has its challenges. In your expert opinion, what are some of the key ingredients to a solid band?
Haha, I’m no expert, we’ve lost a few original members since 2002… But we still have the majority of original members which is a great thing to have after a long period of time been together. The way it’s worked for us is that we treat this band as a family. We always try and look out for each other and treat each other equally. Having a laugh is always a top priority, because if we’re not having fun and enjoying it.. then it wouldn’t be worth it.
We understand you’ve recruited a new guitar player! How’s the dynamic been?
Sadly, Steve Janevski who was our other guitarist recently departed after been in the band since day one. We wish Steve the best of luck and we will always remain brothers. Upon Steve’s departure, we auditioned quite a few guitarists to fill in the spot over a one month period. Clinton got the gig. He was exactly what we were looking for and has slotted in very well. He shares the same influences and listens to the same stuff we do. We are happy to have him onboard. Melted Fest will be his second show with the band.
The album art for each of the seven releases are quite striking, using only a couple of colours, and there’s a reoccurring warrior type figure and lion. What’s the thought process behind the art?
The art and idea was originally created by Dirk Illing (RIP). He was a fantastic dude and a top friend of the band. We would give him the title of the album and he would come up with his own concept related to the title. He came up with the Black Majesty Warrior Lady and the Lions as her pets/guides, and every album was a new journey for them. He was a well-known artist in the Metal industry, especially in Germany. He did album covers for Scorpions, Wizard and a whole heap of bands and was the Wacken Open Air official artist for many years until he, unfortunately, passed away suddenly in his hometown Hamburg, Germany. We were expecting the Cross Of Thorns art from him at any moment. That is the reason the Cross Of Thorns album only has two lions at a graveyard and no warrior. It was with respect to Dirk and we dedicated the album to him. The art was done by a great friend and artist Aldo Requena. With the latest album Children Of The Abyss, we brought the warrior back to life thanks to the talented Thomas Ewerhard who was a close friend and colleague of Dirk as well.
Thanks so much for chatting. Any last words?
Thank you for your time and cool questions. We are really looking forward to the show and no doubt it will be a great time!! Metal Cheerz!
When & Where: The Barwon Club, Geelong – Saturday, November 2. Tickets via oztix.com.au or direct from The BC bar. Keep up to date via the FB page.