Heaven Shall Burn – Athens Shall Burn!

You are currently viewing Heaven Shall Burn – Athens Shall Burn!

Heaven Shall Burn. A German band that has been serving the extreme sound since 1998. Having a continuously rising career throughout the years and an enviable discography with nine full-length albums, they now appear as headliners at the biggest metal festivals around the world! On the occasion of their presence at this year’s Release Festival in Athens, we had the opportunity to talk by phone with the founding member and guitarist of the band, Maik Weichert. Many interesting things were said in a thirty-minute conversation, in a friendly atmosphere. You can read more at the following interview….

– Hello Maik! Greetings from Athens, Greece! We are here to talk about HEAVEN SHALL BURN, since you are coming in Athens this summer. How do you feel playing again in Greece and Release Athens Festival after so many years? As we all know, you are going to be together with AMON AMARTH, KREATOR and BLEED FROM WITHIN….

Maik Weichert: It’s been 12 years, you know. It’s crazy. It’s been so long. We‘ve been receiving like tons of e-mails and messages from people over the years to come back, but in never really worked out! Actually I don’t know why. It’s not because we don’t like it. I don’t like the drives from the hotel to the venues because traffic in Athens is heavy! I always feel I die on the traffic in Greece but the rest of the country keeps us mind-blowing like people are so enthusiastic and friendly and welcoming. You know, I am from Germany and people are not so openhearted here. If you go to a country like Greece where everybody receives you and celebrates and always give you a big smile, you can’t wait to go back. Especially if you are on stage with bands like AMON AMARTH and KREATOR and you also call them friends like Olavi from AMON AMARTH since we are very very old friends. And it’s gonna be a blast, we’ll have really cool time and we are really looking forward. It’s also the start of our festival season this year and it’s always something special. If you start something you really look forward to go out and play the big festivals and getting in shape for it. It would be great. Also BLEED FROM WITHIN, we‘ve played with them many times already. Great bands. I really think people will enjoy it!

– Release Athens Festival is the biggest festival in Greece! The last years it is steadily increasing. I think you will like the place and you might see the sunset while playing, depending on the time-schedule… If I’m not mistaken, your last appearance in Greece was 12 years ago, back in 2011! You played in this underground club called An club, and the place was packed and full of energy! Do you remember anything from that night?

Maik Weichert: I remember that we never expected to be received with that enthusiasm. People were like totally freaking out and it was a great show! I also remember that the promoter did not even like anything special in the background of the stage or any printed stuff etc. Dimitris was the name, if I remember well.. I hope to see most of those guys at the festival again… And that night made us want to come back pretty early after but it’s a shame that it’s been so many years. However, we all have families now and jobs as well, we have to be very picky on the time we spend making music….

– Coming to nowadays, what news do we have from the band? You will probably take part in some major European festivals in the summer, but what about a new album?

Maik Weichert: Yeah this year’s festival highlight, besides going to Greece, will be being one of the headliners in Wacken Open Air festival! This is something really special for us. Being in a legendary festival and headlining one of the main stages! It’s a really big thing for us, you know and we are also preparing ourselves really well for it! We want to give people a really cool show and it will definitely be one of the highlights of our career. You can totally say that and I’m really looking forward to do that. About a new album….we are writing new stuff and I am really positive that next year there will be a new record out! However, I am positive that you will hear some new tunes this year already….

– So, what’s the concept in writing big albums in duration, having 2-3 cds in each release? Aren’t you afraid that this duration might make the listeners not to catch up some specific songs, being lost in the big duration of the release?

You can read HERE the review of THEGALLERY.GR concerning the last official album of HEAVEN SHALL BURN entitled “Of Truth and Sacrifice

Maik Weichert: Yeah, you are actually talking like the marketing people from our label!! Hehehe! I mean, nowadays it’s just stupid to release a double record! Most of the bands use the songs over a duration of two years, release singles and all that stuff. Before the COVID situation, we had a live break and we haven’t been around for almost 3 or 4 years. We sat down after that break and wrote the new record, so it was like an eruption of creation and energy. We could not stop and would not have felt right to throw some songs away or store them for a post record. It would feel like releasing old staff, you know. We just wanted to give everything to the people like place a monolith of a record that lasts for a few years! The people received it very well. We want to make albums for people that still love the physical experience of heavy music. Of course we have to take our place in the streaming and youtube world as well, but our main approach is to bring out a great record that make sense on its own and not write a certain hit single. We want to write a great album. That’s our approach. It’s very old school, I know…

– We are old school here, so we like that!  So, from what I understand… we will have a new album from HSB in 2024. This album will include many singles and one cd (laughs) and maybe I will make a proposal to Century Media to come to the marketing team!??  

Maik Weichert: I’m ok with that, don’t worry!! Hehehe!

– So, we talked about Wacken before. In 2009 you motivated one of the biggest mosh pits in Wacken Open Air festival! What do you remember from that day?

Maik Weichert: Yeah, I remember! Marcus Bischoff (ps. HSB singer) was like trying to get people to get in it and pump them up! Everyone was like thinking “what the hell is he trying to do??” and then we started the song and I played the wrong tunes cause I was thinking “oh my god, what the fuck they are really doing??!!!!”.heheh! They were running around everything and it looked crazy from the stage! It was like Armageddon!!! And of course it’s been a great memory…. I think security people were not so enthusiastic about our idea! Hehe! There had been some discussions afterwards but fortunately metal people and specially Wacken people take care of each other. If somebody goes down they help him up….

– There were two or three circle pits around! One in front of the stage, another back near the tower. It was crazy…

Maik Weichert: It was crazy but it’s a great memory! All people talked about how energetic and cool was that show of ours!

– Nice! So, you are expected to make a massive show in Athens, in Release festival. I think you are gonna be out during daylight. It’s not the best for your effect, your stage pyres and staff like this

Maik Weichert: We have to see what we can bring. Maybe we can share some staff with our friends in KREATOR. However, we are really proud that even if our instruments and our stage show and our backdrops are lost, we can still go on stage and deliver you a hell of a show! So I think we bring the energy for the show and what we will bring for show effects is just the topping of it…

– I have seen you again live in Summer Breeze back in 2017, when you were doing a headline show and this was really a great one!

Maik Weichert: Summer Breeze is one of our favorite festivals. We were also very relaxed and calm that time because it’s usually one of the last festivals of the season, so all people already had a cool summer before they go home! That makes Summer Breeze always very easy to play and special to celebrate!

– Let’s go to your latest album “Of Truth and Sacrifice”. Three years after its release, what would you change in it, music-wise or in the production? What was the overall acceptance of your fans to it?

Maik Weichert: The fans received it very well and people that really bought the record or consumed the record as a whole, they really tell us that takes a long time to go through the record and the entertaining effect of the record lasts a long time. There is a lot of stuff to discover and, thinking back of it, I wouldn’t change anything about it. Maybe the date of the release because we released it in the first week of the COVID pandemic (laughs) but it made it to No. 1 in the German charts so the time frame wasn’t too bad either. I wouldn’t change anything. We are really happy with the record and how it came along to the people, the sales figures worked out so our label still loves us. So everything cool, no changes.

– How would you describe HEAVEN SHALL BURN’s music evolution during all those years? Some people say that you have entered more commercial music paths….

Maik Weichert: Yes, that might be true. Of course we have better sense on song-writing now, better sense for melodies. Maybe there is more melody and less mosh but I am really proud that we have our own sound and the way we make music. Also because we are a little bit limited, we are not musical artists or something, but we have our trademarks and I think that differ from fifteen years ago. If you listen to new HSB song you can tell after thirty seconds or at least the intro that this is HSB song. Commercial or not, this is something we are proud of!

– What is the best and the worst moment in your career with HEAVEN SHALL BURN?

Maik Weichert: Well, one of the best memories always is when you are on a plane for many many hours and you get out in, let’s say Osaka or Santiago of Chile, and you go to a club, you play your show and there are a thousand people screaming your lyrics at the other end of the world! That still blows my mind. It always gives me goose bumps. When we were in Greece for the first time, there were people screaming along our lyrics, it’s something that always makes us proud and happy. And one of the worst things of course is always when you have to cancel shows. Like for example once we were not allowed to enter Venezuela and we had to spend like 8 hours on the airport. Hugo Chaves did like this (laughs) and that was a very fucked up experience! If you have to cancel shows when somebody is sick or miss a flight or something that always sucks…

– I thought I would listen something about members fighting and stuff like that, but probably you are too polite to refer to those things…

Maik Weichert: Of course we have arguments in the band but we are really friends playing together. As I said before, we all have our lives besides the music. Wwe have our jobs and we are not a totally professional band! We don’t play 300 shows a year, we play 30 shows each year and that makes us looking forward to it, being with our friends in the band again.

– Lets’ s go to football now! I know that you are a dedicated fan of FC Carl Zeiss Jena. Unfortunately, you didn’t manage to go to Bundesliga III this year either. Kotbus did. It was a difficult Liga, the Nordost Regionalliga with many historic teams like Rot Weiss Erfurt, Leipzig Locomotiv. Will you make it next year to Bundesliga III?

Maik Weichert: In Germany the third and fourth division they are really really strong leagues. It would be like second or first division in some other countries…

– Back to music… do you believe that the song “Hunters Will Be Hunted’ from the album “Veto” back in 2013 is the most commercial moment of HEAVEN SHALL BURN? Many people ask about the inner meaning behind this video clip with the woman in the woods. Can you tell us some things about it…?

Maik Weichert: I think that the “Veto” record was our most commercial approach, for sure. It’s a very melodic stuff. It reached a lot of new people without making our old fans go away. And the basic idea of the video is actually that this woman is Mother Nature and you see how the hunter treats Mother Nature. If he treats her well she helps him, if he treats her not so well she kills him and this deep symbolism comes along very well in this video…

– So, a big part of your lyrics refers to animal rights. A unique theme for an Extreme Metal band. Do you believe that with your lyrics you have raised awareness to some of your listeners, which were not so sensitive about this subject before?

Maik Weichert: At least that is the feedback we get from many people. I know from myself that there have been bands around and people in the music business that made me aware of the political approach of veganism and vegetarianism like Barney from NAPALM DEATH or the CARCASS guys, Mille from KREATOR and bands like EARTH CRISIS for example, they really shape the way I think about political music. So, in the same way, I think we also influence people and we get that feedback a lot….

– Thank you for your time speaking to THE GALLERY Maik! It was a pleasure talking with you….

Maik Weichert: I will say “hello” to all THE GALLERY family! We will be at Release Athens Festival this summer, I hope you’ll be there as well. We’re gonna have a great party! It feels really good to be back to Greece and we are looking forward to it!

Interview: Alexandros Soultatos
Text Transcription: Kostas Boudoukos
Cover Artwork: Alexandros Soultatos
Design & Editing: Alexandros Soultatos
Photos: Candy Welz
Date: June 23rd, 2023
External Link: HEAVEN SHALL BURN – Official Page
Copyright © 2023 by THEGALLERY.GR 

Leave a Reply