HEADSHOT – Thrash Metal from Germany

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After listening to the new “Eyes of the Guardians” by the Germans Headshot I had the pleasure of contacting them to ask them to enlighten me on some curiosities related to the record and their history. 

Review of the album in italian here

Italian interview here

Who are Headshot? Briefly tell me the story of the band

Till Hartmann, drummer: Hello, thank you for the interview! We are from Braunschweig / Lower Saxony in Germany which is city with around 250000 citizens. We have a classic 5 person line-up with vocals, 2 guitars, bass and drums and we love to play thrash-metal, but we also try to bring in some other styles like prog or classic metal.

Olaf Dannenberg, Guitarist: In the summer of 1993 our former bass player Steffen Keuchel and me wanted to start a band and needed a drummer and a vocalist. We asked Till to join us and he stayed for a while to jam with us. He already played in two bands but had no time for a third one. Then Moritz Hoffmeister took over and stayed for seven years and two CDs, before Till came finally back. Our first singer Andi Bruer also had a studio where we recorded our first album in 1994/1995 without ever playing a gig. The first gig was in the summer of 1995 at a garden party, since then we knew we could hit real stages which we did with quite some success. The second album came out as self produced at first, then in 1999 it was re-released by Gutter Records/Massacre and in 2000 again by Pavement in the US. We had a song on the Metal Hammer sampler that some metalheads in Switzerland heard. They invited us to play, it started a long lasting friendship and we still return about every two years to Luzern or Sursee till this day on. We did a couple of more CDs with a couple of labels, Daniela joined us in 2008, we got a second guitar player and had several changes on the bass guitar before Max joined in 2011. Now he plays guitar and Ben finally came in 2019 to the band as a new bass player. During the Corona pandemic we recorded our newest album like the ones before, “As above, so below” (2008) and “Synchronicity” (2011), in Langelsheim with our longtime producer and good friend Jost Schlüter.

Before the release of Eyes Of The Guardians there was a long period of silence, at least in terms of publications. What have you done in the last few years?

Olaf: First we made a double live DVD (2015), which contains both gigs from our 20th anniversary 2013 and a lot of bonus material between 1996 and 2011. I became father in 2013 and Till has three children, too. So we slowed down things for a few years. Continually I was collecting riffs and song ideas over the years, until in 2017/2018 we worked on rehearsing new material more focused. In summer 2019 we entered the studio and recorded drums and guitars, before in 2020 the lockdowns slowed down things again. In 2021/2022 we finished the recordings and made the contract with MDD records.

What do the 10 songs of Eyes Of The Guardians talk about?

Olaf: Lyricwise most songs are dealing with some kind of apocalyptic themes, like the danger of digital surveillance in an Orwellian way, and the need for mankind to change their ways before it is too late. “Ground zero” tells the story of the first nuclear test and “Veins of the earth” is about the Deep Water Horizon catastrophe. “The impenetrable maze” is about losing your way through life and “Scars of damnation” is about fighting your way back into life again.

What are your favorite songs on the record?

Olaf: This is very hard for me to answer because I write most of the songs. I think “Eyes of the gardians” is a very strong track. “Ground zero” and “Invisible” are also very special to me.

Who designed the cover? Did you choose it for a particular reason?

Olaf: The cover was designed by Plamen Kolev from Bulgaria. He also did the coverart of our 4th release “As above, so below”. It happend by chance because I discoverd the picture in Plamen`s gallery on his homepage before writing the lyrics. Later we realised that it fits so well to the track “Eyes of the guardians” that we choose it to become the album title as well.

The production of the record is also really good and balanced for each instrument. Who did you work with for the production?

Olaf: It was the third time that we recorded at PureSonic studios in Langelsheim/Germany with Jost Schlüter, and again we are very happy with the stunnig result. Jost has on the one hand a good overview on the production and on the other hand he works very hard on details, until everyone is satisfied. He has very good ears, so there is no chance that any parts became sloppy or intransparent.

There is an instrumental piece: “tentacles pt.1” which suggests that there will be a sequel. Are you already working on new music?

Olaf: Yes, there will be a Part 2 on the next album, the basic idea is already written and I think it will become a short instrumental in the same style too, but who knows…

Eyes of the Guardians is a pure Thrash metal record with no frills but which also contains many melodic cues, especially with regard to the choruses of the songs and the soloing approach. Are there any bands or artists you are inspired by?

Olaf: I like the combination of melody and thrash metal, without turning down the level of aggression. And of couse the solos and the choruses are predestined for that. So we have the “Maiden” influence in the twin guitars and solowise I`m influenced by lots of guitarists of the whole metal genre. I also like progrock, so we always have one proggy longtrack on our album :-)

Headshot plays a varied thrash metal characterized by a great technical contribution as can be seen in all the songs. How do you approach the composition?

Olaf: At first there are is a riff, maybe two that fits very well. Then I try to workout these riffs with drums and bass to get an better impression. I realise very soon which part fits for a verse or for a chorus. Sometimes I develop different parts from only one riff, for example nearly the first half of the title track is based on that first intro riff, it is sometimes played in an lower octave with more shredding (the verses) or on the dominant (part before first verse).

The proof offered by all the members of the band is of the highest quality starting from Daniela’s voice, really convincing and brutal. Are Headshots your only band or does someone play in other formations as well?

Olaf: I played for several years in the death metal band “Deny the urge” which is the band of our former second guitar player Henrik Osterloh.

Till: Max and Ben are still in “Deny the Urge”, but there is not so much activity at the moment. I played with “Fluweel” (Alternative Rock/Metal) and “ A Bouana Jahoo” (Funk Metal), but this is a long time ago, Dani played with “Uppercut” before she entered Headshot. Ben has still two other bands: “Discovery” (Cover project) and “StripperCake” (Stoner Rock/Metal).

How is the new album being received by your fans and the general public?

Till: Most of the reviews and reactions are very positive. The album is seen as the highlight in our band biography. Fortunately our label made it more popular worldwide so that we also have good international reactions. It is always a question of taste, but the majority really likes the album which makes us happy!
Daniela: Due to the versatility of each song, the reactions have been as positive as different.
Everyone prefers a different song. By the way, that’s exactly how we feel within the band.
After 11 years, an album has emerged in which a very strong development into a massive unit with all the facettes of the band can be seen.

Have you already set dates to promote the album in Europe?

Daniela Karrer, singer Not yet, but we trust in our label MDD and their excellent distribution work.
Due to the pandemic, many small clubs were closed, which were elementary for the Undrground.
This makes it difficult for bands like us to perform abroad during this time.

Till: Although we have a long time in the band, we are still part of the underground. Hopefully this album can change this. So we have some gigs and some Festivals next year. Until now everything happens in Germany, but we are ready to play in other countries!

Have you ever played in Italy?

Till: Our nearest approach to Italy was Switzerland….but we would love to cross the border…

Daniela: So far, unfortunately, the opportunity has not arisen. But maybe we will get the chance through this interview.
Then we could plan a small tour through Switzerland to Italy.

How do you think the German underground metal scene is in this historical period? In Italy it seems to witness a renaissance of the underground, at least in the big cities.

Till: As you know the metal underground in Germany was always very big and supportive. The scene is still very active. Metal shows are well visited and you don`t have shows without people, also when the metal genres are different. It is always a happening – meeting friends and people who want to celebrate their love to metal music. Maybe there is one thing to criticize – bookers could have more courage to give smaller or unknown bands the chance to prove themselves on bigger stages.

Daniela: The jump to the higher leagues is becoming more and more difficult because there is such a huge cornucopia of bands. Of course, everyone tries to dig themselves out of this primordial sludge and move up. And that doesn’t just apply to Germany. There are a lot of good underground bands all over the world that absolutely deserve to be heard.

Are there any bands you would like to recommend in particular?

Olaf: I think the two Arch/Matheos albums are very strong, although it is no thrash metal. Ponthiever is a new band from our hometown I can recommend. They will be also the opener for our release show in December.

Open space: greetings, thanks and insults! Say what you want!

Grazie for having us in Italian metal media ! We will appreciate it when you lend us an ear and hopefully like our stuff. We will see us on Italian stages for sure ! Cheerz…

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