Germany’s own Human Fortress has been entertaining the metal fans for more than 18yrs. with their brand of powerful heavy metal music and their latest 5th album “Thieves of The Night” dropped on April 1st via AFM Records.
This marks the returned of a two year absent for H.F. This comeback came out of nowhere: in 2013, German epic melodic metal band HUMAN FORTRESS returned to the scene – five years after their latest release “Eternal Empire” (which due to a change of style was a disappointment for many fans). But “Raided Land” easily made up for that and became the unexpected strong comeback, going back to the band’s roots of traditional metal, as displayed on their early-2000’s works “Lord Of Earth And Heavens Heir” and “Defenders Of The Crown”. “Raided Land”also was the first release with Gus Monsanto (ex-Adagio, ex-Revolution Renaissance) on vocals, who impressively proved why he is hailed as one of the genre’s premier singers.
Two years after the release of “Raided Land”, HUMAN FORTRESS are back with twelve brand new and compelling songs. “Thieves Of The Night.” I had a chance to talk with Andre Hort – Bass from the band as he fills us in on the new album, working with Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann , tour plans, and other metal topics.
RadChad: In the music world of Human Fortress , The band had members constantly coming and going, some due to health issues, some due to other reason. Gus Monsanto (Vocals), Dirk Liehm (keyboards) and you, André Hort (bass) are the newest member to join Human Fortress, correct? How did you and the other members come to join the band?
André: That’s correct. Andrew McNeice who is the owner of MelodicRock.com, was always a supporter of Human Fortress. He posted on his site that Human Fortress were looking for a vocalist and a friend of Gus saw it and let him know. He did know the band name but not all of the material. After listening on YouTube to some of our songs, he liked what he heard and since he wanted to do something like that in Brazil but never found an opportunity. We sent him a few demo tracks and what he sent back sounded really good and bombastic and we knew that he was the right man for this job.
Ingmar von Berg, former Roadie/bassist of Human Fortress, suggested Dirk Liehm. He’s a really great keyboarder and composer. His work on keyboards and orchestrations sounds like movie scores and give Human Fortress a special note.
In my case, Christoph Speidel, owner of a record store in Hannover called “Hot Shot Records” and a friend of mine and Human Fortress, suggested me to Todd Wolf (guitar). Christoph knew me through my work with Rough Silk and that I was not happy with the musical direction of Rough Silk which changes more an more from melodic metal to progressive singer/songwriter rock. He gave me Todd’s phone number and 3 days later Todd, Volker, Gus (who was at this time in Germany to record the vocals for “Raided Land”) and me met us at Volker’s home. Immediately, we stand very well and a few days later we filmed a music video for “Wasted years” and the next day I started to record the bass lines for “Raided Land”.
RadChad: Describe the songwriting and recording process for “Thieves of the Night” and working with a talented singer like Gus?
Thieves Of The Night – 2016
André: The songs were written by Todd, Dirk and Volker. They started to write new material directly after the release of our last album “Raided Land”. In october 2014, Gus came to Germany to record a few demo vocal tracks and it was clear that the new album will be a very epic one. Bass and drums was recorded at my homerecording studio and guitars and keyboards was recorded at Dirks homerecording studio. It’s advantage is that we can always work on the new material regardless of whether it’s day or night because we all have dayjobs and families. After all recordings was done, Gus Monsanto came from Brazil to Germany and we went to “Seeb’s Greenman-Studio” to record the vocal tracks. Gus is a very professional singer. In three days his work was done including harmonies and background vocals.
RadChad: How did the songwriting process for “Thieves” compare to Human Fortresses previous albums.
André: That’s a question which I can’t answering because I played only on the last two records. As I get into the band 2013, “Raided Land” was already written. I only recorded my bass lines. I think it’s the right way to dedicate the songwrititng to Todd, Dirk and Volker. Never change a winning team. But I have to say that I have the freedom respectively my basslines.
RadChad : No Worries, Could you please tell us than what you enjoy most working with a great talent like Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann (Orden Ogan, Almanac) who did the mixing for Thieves Of The Night “?
André: He did a really good job. His mix give our new album a powerful and epic sound. Especially, I like how he put the bass guitar and drums in front of the mix. He gave me the bass sound that I ever wanted to have. On the most productions where I have played on I thought: “Ok….there is the bass guitar.Nice”. On his mix I thought WOW!!!!!What a monster bass guitar sound!
RadChad: What inspired the lyrics this time around?
André: Most of the lyrics are inspired by medieval times. But some lyrics like “Thrice blessed” you can assigned to the present age. “Thrice blessed” tells a story about someone who lives in a gilded cage and wants to break out of it. Last week we filmed a new music video for “Thrice blessed”. Produced by Thomas Zettelmann from TZ Film Production who produced the “Thieves of the night” music video,too.
RadChad: What are your expectations for this new album?
André: We hope the fans will like it and maybe we convice more fans with this album.
RadChad: How has the band’s sound evolved/progressed on this time around?
André: I think we become more to an union since the last album. Now we’re still working for 3 years together in this constellation.
RadChad: In the many years that H.F. has been around, it’s gone from CDs to downloads and now streaming services seem to be the next big thing. What’s your take on that shift where people own music to renting it with streaming?
André: I’m not a fan of downloads or streaming. Maybe, I’m a little bit “old school” but If I buy a record I don’t want “only” listen to the music.I want to read lyrics, want to read liner notes or just look on the artwork. I want the whole package. It’ a lot of work to make an album. And than it will put on an usb-stick or harddisk in a bad sounding quality like mp3? Streaming is ok to get an idea of a band you doesn’t know. And if you like the band, buy their records. That’s the only way you should used streaming.
RadChad: I totally agree. Im old school also. I remember going to the record store and buying albums. Speaking of technology, some bands are starting to go with a “no-cell phone recording at concerts policy?” Is that something that you think or hope will happen with the music industry as a whole?
André: Oh, is that so? What’s the reason why? Bootlegs?Videos? I think that’s not feasible.
RadChad: Again , Im in agreement with you Andre..What are Human Fortress future plans for touring?
André: We will see. At the moment we are locking for a booking agency. When it’s possible we will bring our music live on stage.
RadChad: What has been your most memorable Human Fortress show or tour? Any juicy stories you’d like to share with us?
André: Sorry, but I hadn’t the chance to play a show or tour with Human Fortress by now.
RadChad: My bad. I thought you already played live. Any thoughts or experiences when doing a tour or the big festival show with the amount of material you have, it must be very difficult to construct a set list with all the kick-ass songs you have, knowing some fans are going to get upset and scream and shout ‘ cause the band left a song off the list that day?
André: You can’t be everybody’s darling. I’m a really big KISS fan and was on so many KISS concerts and everytime I leave the venue I said why they don’t played this or that song. Every fan had his own favorite songs.
RadChad: That is true ..Anything else you’d like to add or promote before we let you go?
André: Keep your eyes open for our new music video of our second single “Thrice Blessed”. I think it will released in a short while.
Also, on april 22nd Massacre Records will re-release our second album “Defenders Of The Crown”. It will be remastered and contains 2 previously unreleased demotracks. We re-recorded these tracks in our own studio with Human Fortress former singer Jioti Parcharidis. I think this is an very amazing gift to our fans !
I want to thank Andre Hort for allowing us to pick his brain and Dustin Hardman – AFM Records
Thieves of The Night Track list:
02. Last Prayer To The Lord
03. Rise Or Fall
04. Thieves Of The Night
05. Thrice Blessed
07. Just A Graze
08. Vicious Circle
09. Smite On The Anvil
10. Dungeons Of Doom
11. Gift Of Prophecy
official video clip / AFM Records.
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