Oathbringer - Interview


The so-called "New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal" was pretty fortunate to give us some amazing bands that left a big mark in the world of music, and I am very glad that one particular band in Serbia managed to do the exact same. Case and point are the epic heavy metal band Oathbringer from Kragujevac, who have managed to attract a lot of attention thanks to their debut album "Tales of Glory" back in 2022, and even now with their recent second album "Tales Of Valor", which further expanded their army of loyal fans. As I've said before, Oathbringer is one of those bands that essentially came out of nowhere and turned out to be a pleasant surprise, with their albums being some of the best Serbian metal releases I've ever heard, and I still can't recall anything remotely great in the last decade. Their journey has been very turbulent in the past couple of years, with all the line-up changes, album recording, playing live shows and constantly going forward into a new and brighter future, and yet they still manage to stay on track and triumph over all. I recently reached out to Lazar "Berserker" Zakić with the idea to do an interview with him, as well as all the other members of Oathbringer, so we finally got around via Zoom on April 14th, where I chatted with him as well as with my fellow mates Miloš "Priestkiller" Stošić, Aleksandar "RapidBasstard" Milutinović and Petar "Axxer" Đorđević, with the exception of Bora "The Unholy One" Petrović (aka Helldiver), who at the time was rehearsing with another band. We had a nice hour-long conversation where we talked about the band's half--decade journey, from their debut "Tales Of Glory" to their recent "Tales Of Valor", mentioning epic fantasy and science-fiction literature that influenced their music, their potential third album as the final album in the Tales trilogy saga, with many other subjects along the way. If you wish to enter the Hall of the Slain, and hear about the Tales of Glory and Valor, feel free to join along and dive into the world of Oathbringer.

Vladimir

For the start I wanted to ask how have the preparations for the upcoming mini tour been going so far? You will be playing with Claymorean and Wicked Ways, and people will be seeing many great bands at once. I can't remember when was the last time you shared the stage with Claymorean, I believe it was somewhere before you released "Tales Of Glory".

Priestkiller: They have been going well so far, we had a rehearsal yesterday and I think we can consider ourselves ready. As for when we shared the stage with Claymorean last time before the tour, we played with them a couple of times after we released our first album, but this will actually be the first time for both bands to share the stage after the release of our second album. And it is generally our first gig ever since the release of our second album, and with the new lineup.

Yeah, you guys really hit the gas especially because the new album was released in January, and since then a lot of reviews and feedback have gathered. Generally, a lot of them are very positive feedbacks, with some of them being a bit mixed saying that this album is good but not necessarily better than the first one. But overall, I don't recall coming across any negative feedback. How are you generally satisfied with the audience reactions that you got from the new album?

Priestkiller: You know how it goes, when you have two albums, some people will say that they prefer the first one over the second one, or the other way around. In any case, we are very pleased and more satisfied with the new one because we got bored from playing songs from the first album numerous times, but it's alright, everybody has their own opinion. Even I heard a lot of people saying that they prefer the first one, and some saying they prefer the second one, but it's important that we didn't fail to deliver on the second one, that it's at least considered to be somewhere along the same line.

Of course, generally what I personally consider to be a big highlight about the second album was that it was more focused on aggression. The first album had a lot of melodic moments and it was pretty dynamic, which built a strong foundation, and then came the second album which strengthened that foundation and you have moments where it really surpassed the first album in terms of aggressive heavy metal performance, especially the first song 'Morgoth' that cannot be outmatched in my opinion. Was that the kind of direction that you were going with "Tales Of Valor"

Berserker: Well, when it comes to both the first and second album, we didn't intend to have the second album be less melodic than the first one, we simply had the demos of our songs from the second album ready since we started recording the first one. When we chose the songs for the first one, it just turned out that a lot of those mid-tempo songs ended up being used for the second album, but for the third album, we have a lot of songs that can be characterized as "speed metal", because a lot of those fast songs remained for a next release.

Yeah, basically it seems like a build-up to something "harder, better, faster, stronger", especially because this is meant to be a trilogy. It's basically that horse drawing meme when it gets even better the more it goes or even more flammable, just don't end up screwing the third album so the last part of the horse doesn't end up being the shitty drawing of the horse that will disappoint everybody hahah. That's what I told Laki (Berserker), don't you disappoint me with the third album because you started going so well right now, so I am slowly preparing that final meme when the third album comes out that it ends up being the perfect trilogy with the perfect drawing, no more no less.

Priestkiller: You know what, in terms of the genre, Oathbringer is heavy metal at its core. But we have a background of playing in speed and thrash metal bands, so you can't really expect it to be 100% heavy metal without influences and other faster subgenres. I personally look at it as an inseparable entirety, be it speed or power, as in the German power metal like Hellowen and early Blind Guardian and so on, I think they are close enough subgenres that you can't draw the line between the two because it simply wouldn't make any sense. On the first one we had more fast songs, on the second one we had more mid-tempo songs, so I expect that the third album will be an escalation of everything we did in the last 5 years.

For me personally, you can easily make an album that will be like a better part of Blind Guardian's discography that can be fast and epic, but still maintain that speed metal energy, without going too far into predominant power metal, more like a melodic speed metal output. It would be very cool because the two of you (Priestkiller and RapidBasstard) are from Deadly Mosh so you bring that up here.

Priestkiller: And Bora (Helldiver)! Don't forget that he recorded the drums for the first Deadly Mosh album.

Yeah, Hellsound, I always forget that he was in the lineup.

Berserker: But you know what, since Oathbringer's inception, the range of song ideas have been varying from European heavy metal, German metal, US power metal, speed metal. I don't think we ever had any thrash metal moments, because it's too melodic to be strictly thrash metal, but let's say that 80% of it is that epic heavy metal with the addition of some related subgenres, depending on how the inspiration hits.

Since you mentioned thrash metal, I remember when the band was added in the Metal Archives when someone classified it as "power/thrash metal" and Laki (Berserker) sent that to me, back then I already had Oathbringer in my band drafts still waiting for the opportunity to submit it. But once I saw that someone already added the band, I noticed that he completely missed the band's genre. I was totally pissed off, because I don't know what part of it is power/thrash metal, I think they just came to the conclusion based on one song, and I went like "What the hell? What kind of joke is this, you motherfuckers?" hahah. This was 2 years ago, somehow, I managed to convince them to change it, maybe Laki (Berserker) still remembers it.

Berserker: Of course, I remember everything, especially that meme with the horse, that was the best hahah. I personally hope that the third album won't be that front with the child's drawing of a horse.

Priestkiller: Yeah, I mean there is no chance in the world that it will be bad. Going back to what I said about having two albums, it is inevitable for the audience to have split opinions, when you have three then they are even more split with their opinions, but you can't expect from the band to continue releasing the same album. I think it is a goal to progress and for albums to be different from each other. Although, the significant difference from the first album was the change of studio and change of producer, because the second album was recorded in a studio that is mostly focused on metal music, whereas the first album was recorded in a studio that hadn't recorded or produced a metal album before that, so it was actually the first metal album recorded in that studio. That's why it has some special production. We were pleased with that approach, because it was done by a man who generally doesn't work with metal bands, but he did a great job. As for the second album, it's "tight" like people said, because everything was recorded on better equipment and the recording went better, so it was expected for Tales of Valor to be tighter than the first album.

Yeah, when my review came out, the producer Ćili wrote the comment saying "The expensive plugins obviously did their job". So, he really knew what he had to deal with and how to highlight every bit of musical detail, as well as the band's performance.

Priestkiller: Yeah, that's right hahah!

What is significant about this album, and generally what happened in the meantime last year when you released your new single "Hall Of The Slain", is that you had a lot going on. You had line-up changes, Pera (Axxer) left the band and he was replaced by Igor "Jimmy" Stanić, who helped you guys finish the new album, then he left the band and Pera returned, and you Stole (Priestkiller) passed on your bass guitar duties to Coa (RapidBasstard) and you fully switched to vocals. How did you manage to keep on track with everything that happened along the way, up until the second album was released?

Berserker: To be honest, we still don't know if Pera is in the band or not, because he sometimes is and sometimes, he's not hahah. All the jokes aside, it was very confusing for all of us, I can only imagine what it was like for other people. It was a real catastrophe, because we just scheduled the recording of our second album, then due to personal reasons, Pera announced that he's leaving the band just a month and a half before recording, because he was going through rehab. Then Jimmy Stanić came in, recorded the album after a month and half. He recorded the guitars perfectly and he also brought some new ideas that I encountered for the first time.

Priestkiller: It was weird at first.

Berserker: Yeah, it was weird at first, because I got used to working with Pera from the band's inception and I know how he plays. To put it simply, we altogether know how all of us function and breathe, because I know exactly what and when to expect from him, like when he's about to screw up a part of the song. But Jimmy surprised me in a positive way, but of course that's what happens when you have someone who has over 20 years of experience and he knows what he's doing, and he also helped a lot with my playing. And not just Jimmy, it was also Ćili, because he really drained me a lot during the recording that I still have no clue how I recorded some parts, and I didn't even think that I could record those parts so good, because he kept repeating that for me over and over again until I nailed it. He basically made me sit at home and practice all day, which hadn't happened ever since I grabbed the guitar for the first time, so that brought a lot of positive things on the album that you can definitely hear. On one hand, I felt a bit bad when Jimmy left the band, and the only logical solution was for Pera to return to the band, because we had a meeting where we exactly stated what we expect from him and what we expect from him in the future.

Priestkiller: We simply told him that we'll give him a call if Jimmy ever decides to leave the band. But for me personally, I was hoping that Jimmy would be staying in the band much longer, but unfortunately due to family obligations and other obligations on the side, it was obvious from the start that he won't be a member of the band for God knows how long. But during his time in the band, he did a great job, especially with the song 'Arakis', because Laza and I only had the intro riff to the song 'Arakis', or some foundation of the song.

Berserker: Indeed, we had some foundation of the song, the intro riff and the verse riff, but we stopped at the chorus.

Priestkiller: Yeah, so we gave Jimmy the song that was unfinished at the time, but he actually managed to perfect the song arrangement and he gave it some of his parts and riffs. Since he's a really big fan of Frank Herbert and his work on the Dune, it was logical to ask him to do the music for that song, and I think he did a fantastic job. I don't think that neither me nor Laza or anybody else would be able to approach the song the way he did it, because the song was very lukewarm and debatable at first, but now it sounds great live and I think the audience will like how it sounds live.

Since you mentioned 'Arakis' and Dune, the new Dune movie was released this year, was it meant to have the album come out the same year as Dune Part 2 or was it a big coincidence?

Priestkiller: 'Arakis' was actually done for the first album, simply because I still hadn't managed to watch the entirety of the first part, and today I just watched the entire part two. I have been connected with works of Frank Herbert since the 90's, back when I played Dune the video game on the old Commodore 64 or Amiga 500 computer, whatever it was of the two. The deal between Laza and me was to not have that song on the first album to avoid mixing epic fantasy and science-fiction, but eventually I figured that there should be a song on the second album that should be a tribute to science-fiction. So, I think there will be much more of that in the future. I don't think there was anyone better than Igor Stanić to finish the song, because he left a big mark on the second album, mostly because he concentrated heavily to not stray away too far from Pera's playing style on the first album, but in some ways, he managed to elevate it to the next level. Like I said, we used better equipment, because on the first album we used the recording equipment that was in that studio, but for the second album we rented a recording equipment worth 30000 euros, so we tried three different amplifiers until we found the right sound.

Congratulations to Jimmy indeed, because it is very common for our local bands when they start working on a new album, that all that work ends up being trapped in a limbo or development hell, and it never sees the light of day when it's supposed to be released. So again, congratulations to him, he did his part and he left a big mark in the history of Oathbringer, and I think in the history of "New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal" in general, because you are a part of that wave, and people really appreciate you guys, because you are in the ranks of bands like Eternal Champion and Visigoth, and my opinion still stands that you guys should share the stage with both bands.

Priestkiller: I don't see why not haha. As for Jimmy, a lot of people asked me how he became a member of the band, but he has been there ever since the beginning, because he did the music video for 'Moria' and 'Hall Of The Slain'. We have been friends since 2011/2012, and we have been working together ever since, so it was logical to ask him to join the band. But when he left the band, it was logical for us to fulfill that promise to call Pera back, so once again it is that old lineup of the band with the addition that my wish being solely the vocalist of the band was finally fulfilled when we found the right bassist for the band, and I think we found a great replacement for what I did.

Indeed, now you guys are even stronger than before.

Priestkiller: And now I am a couple of pounds lighter hahah. 

Yeah yeah haha. You know how some people say that when you have five members in the band it's much harder to handle than with four members, especially with traveling costs, rehearsals, and the overall chemistry between the members when working on new material. Tell me, do you consider the current situation with Oathbringer to be an exception, that the current situation as a five-piece is much better and easier than previously as a four-piece?

Berserker: If you ask me personally, it's much easier for me, especially since we've known each other for years now. So, it was logical for me to have Coa (RapidBasstard) become a member of the band. Stole and I had a discussion once, where he told me that it's hard for him to play and sing at the same time. Even after the first album we decided that we'll have a fifth member of the band, and of course the first option was Coa, but we waited a couple of months until we were all sure about it, especially with the confusing situation about the line-up changes, and the day when we decided to ask Pera if he wants to come back in the band, we also asked Coa if he's sure about joining.

Priestkiller: Indeed, because when we started putting all the pieces together, we wanted to have it all complete to the very last bit. But it was actually ever since the first day of the band, when we realized that Oathbringer will definitely be doing live gigs when I came to the decision that I might switch to do just vocals, because the problem isn't when you sing and play at the same time when you have your own sound engineers and technicians, but it's a real problem when something bad happens on-stage and we're busy playing and no one is there to give you a helping hand. Because you would otherwise depend on the technicians on the stage. On the other hand, I think that the interaction with the audience is much better when you have a guy who is only the singer and his only job is to sing and entertain the audience. I hope that the new line-up will be much better than the previous one, but as for the part whether it's harder or easier, for me it's obviously much easier, logistically it may be harder, but overall, it's not a big problem. I think it will be much easier for us and the audience will definitely be pleased.

Yeah, I believe they will be. Now, going back to when we previously talked about Dune, you mentioned Frank Herbert and it reminded me of something that I wanted to ask. Oathbringer incorporates a lot of lyrical subjects coming from artists such as Sanderson, Moorcock, Tolkien and now Sapkowski on the new album. What I wanted to know is, when working on a song which is thematically based on works of certain fantasy authors, how do you focus on the work for that song? Do you aim to convey the energy of that particular book through the riffs and the arrangements, or is it all done naturally?

Priestkiller: First of all, because I write the lyrics and the music alongside Laza, we start writing the music first and then based on the atmosphere of the song we chose the lyrical theme, so I think it's natural. The only two songs we purposely made to be based on a certain lyrical theme, were 'The Ring' from the first album and 'Arakis' from the second album. All the other songs were systematically done by coming up with a riff first or arranging a foundation of the song, and then, based on that and how we personally feel, we try to figure out the direction of the song on the basis of the lyrics, and then we start working on the music and the lyrics at the same time.

I understand. I also wanted to mention what I found specific about the CD release of the "Tales Of Valor" is that it doesn't contain the slipcase that the "Tales of Glory" CD release had. I don't know, for me personally it doesn't seem like an issue, but I don't know how other crazed collectors would feel about that. How come you guys decided to change that?

Priestkiller: The first album was done in a factory in Brazil, but I wasn't really on-board with the decision of manufacturing our CDs in that factory in Brazil, especially since I am the legal representative of RTR Records in Serbia, before Oathbringer was even conceived. Wade Childs, the founder and owner of the label, and I have been working together for a while, and I tried to draw his attention to the potential issue. The problem was that many of the physical releases had the problem with the middle piece that holds the CD, because it's a very weak piece of plastic and it would often break, which happened during the transport, so a lot of people complained that they received the physical release with that broken middle part. So, I insisted that we change the factory, and Wade Childs said OK, so we tried with the factory in the USA. It is more expensive, but it's definitely much better quality. We were aware from the start that they wouldn't be able to provide us with the slipcases, but they offered to have the booklet contain more pages, and based on that we decided to compensate on that part that was left out. I think our second album doesn't hold back from the first album in terms of quality, because it was done in a better factory, and the label owner decided that we'll have the future releases done in the factory in the US or in legitimate factories somewhere in Europe.

Yes, of course. I see that you guys really put a lot of effort into making the second album better in every way, from the music to the physical release, especially with what happened along the way and how you continue your work in the future as a band. You don't repeat the same ideas and you don't repeat the same mistakes.

Priestkiller: Indeed, we just keep making new ones haha. But that's that really.

What were guys aiming to do on "Tales Of Valor" better than "Tales Of Glory"? It doesn't just have to be the music; it can be anything about the band's work overall.

Priestkiller: Tales of Glory was made during the corona pandemic, when Laza and I started working on that album without any goal. Somewhere half-way through we came up with the name Oathbringer and realized that it will become a band, so a better part of Tales Of Glory wasn't done with a clear intention of having it be as an entire album. You can notice from the first album based on the bonus track 'Under The Spell', which was included simply because it was the first song that was done during our arranging work before we even settled that the band will be playing epic heavy metal. For me personally, the second album was done more as an entirety, because we worked with a clear intention that it should thematically and musically represent that sound that Oathbringer is aiming for, which doesn't mean that the first album is bad, it's just that we had a clear goal on the second album, whereas the first album was released spontaneously.

Understandable. It was a strange period where you didn't really know what else to do, because if you didn't do any gigs, it was a great opportunity to write new music. A lot of musicians said that they could fully commit to work on a new album when they didn't tour or do any gigs, and you guys effectively used that opportunity. I was actually surprised back then how everything turned out, especially with the first album, because it was a really highly anticipated release. Once I finally got to hear the first album, I couldn't recall the last time I heard such a great album in the last ten years. So, after listening to that album multiple times on repeat, I kept thinking "How are these guys going to come up with a follow-up to this album?", because it would take a lot of effort to make a nice continuation considering how the first album had a strong foundation. Once the second album came out and the band turned into a five-piece, it became more exciting since a lot of people joined the established hype. Nowadays, more people would love to see you guys play live and support the band, and the live performances will be much better now. So, I generally like how the band's progression was very gradual, but without forcing anything along the way, because you were concentrating on your work and so the final result is highly satisfying. Since you managed to build a strong reputation on the local scene and you were also promoted on the YouTube channel NWOTHM albums, have you received any offers to do shows at Keep It True Festivals or similar?

Priestkiller: Well, there is a possibility of coming to a collaboration with the organizers of these festivals, however that still hasn't happened yet. We weren't really aiming to charge at full force to grab these chances, because we're only trying to put out our albums on schedule and to have them be on the same level of quality as the previous ones. I believe that we'll get a good chance and that everything will come together nicely if we deserve it as contributing authors. There are a lot of other things, it all depends on the label, and it's also about the band promotion, but I think if you publish something that is great that it will definitely reach out to people who really like listening to it.

I agree absolutely. There are people who really value what you guys do, and the general purpose of those kinds of festivals such as 'Keep It True' is to have bands like you on the lineup, especially bands in that so-called "New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal". Honestly, do you think that the bands should still consider taking the necessary risks with full responsibility, no matter what? Even if the band doesn't really get much in return by performing at such festivals, whether it's something like attracting new fans or selling a lot of merch, do you think that they should still do it regardless?

Priestkiller: You mean like doing it at their own expense?

Yes, at their own expense.

Priestkiller: Well, it only makes sense if it will contribute something to the band's future in one way or another, but if it doesn't contribute at all, then it's just pure tourism/traveling. It can happen if all the members of the band are onboard with the idea, like when we played at the Running Free Festival in Bulgaria, money wasn't really our prime motivation. I played at the Running Free Festival for the first time back in 2016, and I know what it's like, so I told all the other band members that we should primarily visit the festival as fans, but it was great that we got invited to play there. The same story goes with all those festivals, whose prime game is that type of music, heavy, speed or power metal, but if it doesn't contribute to anything like expanding the fanbase, then it's debatable whether it's really worth it or not.

Yes, exactly. I mean the modern world has made it difficult to get in touch with someone who wants to pay for the travel expenses of the band, and above all, meet the satisfying expectations where no one is losing anything, both the organizers and the band. And also, to have nice things happen along the way like positive feedback from the live performance, selling merch, other experiences and even meeting other bands along the way.

Priestkiller: Yeah, because when you start a heavy metal band, you don't do it for the sake of earning money, if anyone would do it for that reason then he's obviously living in a world of fantasy. There is not much money from this music, we all do it because we love this music. But on the other hand, it would be nice if we manage to earn some money, not just for the sake of having money, rather to have financial resources that would benefit the band and help us spend more effective time with the band.

Like I said before, if a band should strive for success, then any band, anywhere in the world, should focus on giving 100% of themselves. It doesn't just have to be in a financial sense, but also in a matter of being fully committed. Like I said, it's one thing when one member of the band is giving the absolute 100% of himself, and it's a completely other thing when another member of the band is not giving his absolute 100% or 110%, because then the band is not giving all they got. When I spoke to Bobby Liebling of Pentagram, he said that people should really understand that being in a band is a lot of work, and they should give it all they got, whether it's practicing or concentrating on the work, in order for every bit of work to be of some importance. And again, every band should take that into consideration, because a lot of them don't know what challenges they need to face, and when they're not aware of it, then they trip and fall, and they simply give up doing it.

Priestkiller: I used to be like that, but I left those days behind me, just like Copa (RapidBasstard) and Laza (Berserker), and I believe Pera (Axxer) too, because he's 27 years old now and he's not a kid anymore. It's always after a year or two when playing in the band when you begin to notice that it's not exactly like you imagined as a kid, when you realize that there's a lot of pressure, that it requires a lot of effort, and that people don't always notice what you are doing. People are very prone to criticize, but rarely do they ever stop for a second and think how much effort did the band put in order to get their release made. Throughout the years I became very soft towards bands in Serbia, simply because I know how much effort it requires to have any album made, so I think we all became aware that we're doing this because we love what we're doing, because of this music and the people that listen to this music.

Berserker: After all, nothing can change that feeling when you get on the stage in front of 20 people or 2000 people, when you start playing your songs and everybody's having fun.

Priestkiller: Those are the kind of people that are very like-minded. It's not like when you meet new people at work because everybody is a stranger. When you meet someone at a metal concert who happens to wear a shirt of the band you like, and even though they are a stranger to you, they are not a stranger in that same sense, because in five minutes you both manage to get along. The general concept of heavy metal is all about the unity around that same idea, and that's why I said that we simply became a part of that "New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal" out of nowhere, we didn't even know that we'll ever be a part of that, because like I said from the start, you simply play heavy metal or you don't play heavy metal. I don't know if there isn't such a thing as "modern heavy metal", because heavy metal to me is a timeless thing. The boundaries of that genre have been established since the 70's and it's impossible to not sound like one famous heavy metal band, and to say for yourself that you are playing heavy metal. Even though we are creating art, we are also re-creating that historic sound which already happened 20-30 or even 40 years ago, so we're not aiming to "discover/invent hot water", we just want to play the music we honestly love. That's why I think people like it, because we became a part of it unprepared, we didn't really want people to come and say something like "Wow you guys are so original". To be honest, a lot of criticism we got was based on the aspect of originality, but honestly how original can you be nowadays when you play a genre that's been around for 50 years? I mean, nobody really nitpicks at blues rock musicians for their lack of originality, so I think that we exchanged that originality for energy and love we give towards our music.

I spoke to a lot of people about that, and I said many times that you can't really "reinvent/rediscover hot water", or as I say it better in English, "you cannot reinvent the wheel, you just need to keep the wheel spinning", because it's true, you simply have to keep spinning that wheel in order to progress. I honestly don't think we should reinvent any of it, because there's nothing wrong about it, so "if it's not broken, don't fix it". Even more-so, standard or traditional heavy metal is one of those sounds you eventually come back to, including myself as of lately. Because I, who has been listening to a lot of thrash, death and black metal throughout the years, I came back to good old heavy metal, because it's a "be all, end all" for many people. A lot of people at some point feel like "Man I missed this a lot, but I really needed this lately", and it's a feeling you really can't describe. I don't know if you guys ever had any of those moments that you really missed that sound of good old-school heavy metal.

Priestkiller: I personally don't look at it from a strictly separated genre-wise perspective, because when I say "heavy metal" I think of everything that was being made throughout the 70's, 80's and 90's, and that includes heavy, speed, power, even black, death and thrash metal. Heavy metal branches out to different subgenres, and at some moment it led to the point where the boundaries have been crossed and some very debatable subgenres came to be, to which I have nothing against personally, like metalcore, nu metal and djent and so on. But I think those are not really subgenres that are related to what we are doing, maybe that's where you should set the boundary to separate it by saying what is exactly traditional and what isn't. When it comes to that division of subgenres within heavy metal, whether it's speed, power of standard heavy metal, I don't think it's that important nowadays. For example, a lot of people who listen to Visigoth also listen to Vulture, and I even heard of a great band that fuses heavy metal with black metal influences, the Italian band Lord Goblin. I simply don't look at it from the point of view that it's "not heavy enough", because to me it's all within the same genre. When you look at the NWOTHM YouTube channel, you realize that there are a lot of different bands who incorporate the sound from the 70's and some that incorporate the sound from the 80's, and then you have a band such as Oathbringer that aim to play this type of music the best way possible, but without relying heavily on using studio tricks to get a much better sound. So, there can only be a difference in the production, but from the songwriting perspective, you either play heavy metal or you don't.

I honestly really respect bands who mainly focus to have great material, and not just to have a great sound production. The sound production should mainly be there to highlight the music better, because a lot of bands have that "style over substance" approach, and I really like the fact that Oathbringer isn't a part of that. First of all, Oathbringer has a lot of songs that are memorable and for each song I can find something that I like about. The next thing I wanted to ask is: Since you guys play in various other bands and you played in many other bands in the past, what is the current situation with the bands Deadly Mosh and Motorcharge?

Priestkiller: When it comes to Motorcharge, it's probably the only band in which I never had a hard time, because it wasn't ever inactive. Our first next gig will be on May 10th in Čačak, and we recorded the drums for the new single that's called „Lumberjack got the morning wood", hehe. So Motorcharge is a band that was made purely to have fun, both us and the audience that comes to our show, it's a totally different approach from what we are doing in Oathbringer.  As for Deadly Mosh, unfortunately it's currently inactive. The band isn't officially split-up, so we're „on-hold" so to speak, because we don't have a drummer for the band. We have our third album ready, and even the better part of our fourth album, but it sadly never came to a realization of that. As for Pera, he played in the doom metal band Invisible Hate and there are some hints that the band will be revived. As for our drummer Bora, he is always actively playing in other bands that perform either their own songs or cover songs at bars, so his current situation is probably the most interesting out of all of us.

Yeah, he simply doesn't give a fuck, he just sits in back playing and that's it.

Priestkiller: Yeah, basically. As we speak, he's currently in the studio rehearsing with another band, I think they're called Django & Space Cowboys.

As for Invisible Hate, I spoke to Darko recently, he even mentioned that he's planning to bring back the band. It made me think "Well wait a minute, what happened with Druids Ritual?". That band was basically born from the ashes of Invisible Hate, and now Invisible Hate is coming back. You all know too well how much of a crazed Metal Archivist I am, always attempting to follow everything along, but specifically with the scene in Kragujevac, I don't know what's going on.

Priestkiller: Just to say this quickly, the four us from the band are sitting here, but two of us are wearing Druids Ritual shirts haha. Copa (RapidBasstard) is here and he can tell you a bit more on that subject.

RapidBasstard: Honestly, from the start, the band had a lot of ambitions, we actually started doing something like writing songs and we all had the idea to do something and to exist as a band. But eventually it didn't really go anywhere, because a year after the band's inception, we had enough songs to record an EP at least, and there were even some ideas to do a music video, and it just ended there with that idea. We had written 4 songs and they weren't bad, we also had a vocalist who was great for this kind of music, but in the end, a lot of internal problems arose that prevented Druids Ritual from continuing to play as a band. I don't want to bother you with this subject anymore, but now Pera and Darko came to the decision to resurrect Invisible Hate.

Priestkiller: Now it's finally Visible Hate!

RapidBasstard: Yeah haha. There is also a possibility of making a fusion of ideas between what was done in Invisible Hate and Druids Ritual, so I hope that there will be something in the future. Hopefully a music video, or an EP, and to actually play.

Priestkiller: The band made shirts but there is no music hahah.

Yeah, the band made shirts but they don't actually exist.

Berserker: It's not a band now, it's a brand hahah!

RapidBasstard: Like I said, I feel very sorry about it, because Druids Ritual had a lot of potential for great things, and it could have been great but unpredictable things happened along the way, so we have to figure out how to move on because it couldn't materialize in that manner.

Priestkiller: Every metal band is formed from that emotion and passion towards performing, but it often happens that the band burns out from all that emotion and passion. It simply happens to a lot of bands nowadays, more than it should. With Oathbringer, we were really lucky because we started all of this without pretentiousness and that has developed over time. We were quite surprised from audience reactions because I thought that it wouldn't be interesting to anyone in Serbia, but eventually it proved that there is an audience for it, so that's why we focus a lot to perform live as much as we possibly can, so we'll make sure to play wherever possible. Going back to playing abroad, festivals and such, I can't really confirm anything because it's definitely the matter of the label, but we all wish to play outside of Serbia as much as possible, so there are plans to do like a mini-tour in Western Europe during Autumn or Winter. The label will definitely be on-board with that idea, but I don't want to talk about it far ahead, because we don't have 100% confirmed plans. There are some offers for next year to perform at some festivals, but what matters the most right now is to play in Niš, Belgrade/Zemun and Novi Sad, and then on May 13th we'll be playing with bands Cyrax, Shangri-La, Xant and Trilogija in Pančevo. And then after that, we'll be playing at the Arsenal Fest on June 28th, where we'll overshadow Brega (Goran Bregović) himself haha. And Mimi Mercedes and Cobi haha.

Axxer: And Lil Pump too, it will be sure as hell crazy! It will be quite the competition hahah.

Priestkiller: Except maybe for Keanu Reeves, because he can overshadow everyone of us.

That's what I wanted to say haha. I hope Keanu Reeves will become a big fan of Oathbringer if he's interested in staying around and seeing you guys play.

Berserker: If anything, we'll make sure to lock him up and make him watch!

Axxer: Though I doubt that he's more dyslexic than all of us.

Priestkiller: What he's trying to say is that he's more dyslexic than Keanu hahah. He's playing at the Main Stage which is at least 500 meters further than the Garden Stage where we are playing, so it's debatable whether he'd be able to get through that big number of potential fans that would want to take pictures with him, but I would love to know his reaction.

The only potential solution for him to get to the Garden Stage is to put on some kind of disguise like Bobby Liebling did at the festival when he put on sunglasses, a Compton cap, Wu Tang Clan shirt and jogging pants and went through the mud like some old rapper. So, I think Keanu Reeves should do the same in order to come and see you guys.

Priestkiller: Yeah, exactly haha. This is the second time we're playing at the Arsenal Fest, we'll be playing on June 28th, and just to give some shoutout to order bands from the local town, Forever Storm will be performing on June 27th and Despite the Noise on June 29th, though it's a shame that the three bands, including ourselves, didn't play together on the same date, because we all released our new albums lately. I truly hope we'll also have the opportunity to talk about our third album quite soon, because it's still not in a demo recording phase, because the main focus now is to perfect the current line-up and to do live shows. I hope that we'll be recording demos for our new songs around summer and that we'll have the complete third album by the end of the year. If everything goes well, we'll have the final chapter to the Tales trilogy, then we'll have to figure out how the band will continue working afterwards.

In any case, I wish you all good luck with the upcoming shows and future work. I am really looking forward to hearing the third album because this saga deserved to get its own "Peter Jackson trilogy" and stay remembered as one of the best Serbian heavy metal sagas, at least for me personally. Before we wrap this up, are there any final words you'd like to leave for your fans that are reading this conversation?

Berserker: The best we could do so far is to invite people to come to the shows to see the band, especially now when we put a lot of effort to elevate our stage presence on a higher level, we made a couple of surprises for all the fans that are interested to come. And I hope that by the end of the year, we'll make sure to confirm as many shows as possible, in Serbia and abroad, so that everybody gets the opportunity to see us live. I really hope that people like our new album, so that's that basically.

Priestkiller: On top of that subject regarding both our albums, it's just a glimpse of what the band has to say, but they'll get to see the real picture of the band if they come and see us on one of these upcoming five shows. So, I hope we'll blow your minds! We're really glad that we got this opportunity to chat with you, and I hope we'll be seeing each other soon. Big greetings to you and all the people who follow the band Oathbringer, I hope they'll get to see the band perform live as soon as possible.

Entered: 5/9/2024 8:48:15 AM

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