By Andrew Catania
Introducing Heavy Metal veteran HERMAN FRANK to the crowd is just meaningless like carrying coals to Newcastle. The guitarist has been an integral part of the German metal scene since the early 80s. From ACCEPT to VICTORY to his solo project started in 2009 and his work as a producer, the Hanoverian has proved a recipe for uncompromising Heavy Metal.
With the first three albums “Loyal To None“, “Right In The Guts” and “The Devils Ride Out“, Frank and his comrades-in-arms are causing storms of enthusiasm in both the press and the fans. And the fourth album “Fight The Fear”, cast in the same mold, will not change that. The Heavy Metal veteran and his men bring to proof, that the former solo project is much more than a mere one-man show of the name giver.
Together with MASTERPLAN front vocalist Rick Altzi, guitarist Heiko Schröder, former RAGE drummer André Hilgers and JADED HEART bassist Michael Müller, the musicians show that this is the perfect teamwork for a close-knit band. With razor-sharp riffs, sublime, hell for leather solos, consistently delivered high-class vocals between melody and heaviness, and a rhythm section, that drives every single song forward like a clockwork, HERMAN FRANK presents a flawless metal album, without even a single second of boredom. The opener “Until The End” goes like a train and sets the pace, “Terror” is a top-notch stomper, whose sinister groove fits perfectly with the lyric´s mood, “Hail Row” takes a breather, shortly afterward it gathers speed and no prisoners are taken, until the ballad “Lost In Heaven” is enough to make a stone cry. “We’ve never had this kind of band structure before,” Herman enthuses. “Each of us plays an active part in our collaboration, and the result is a fantastic and highly constructive approach to our work.” In particular when it comes to the group’s lyrics, Frank has always believed in his proven dictum: “I feel that the vocalist should contribute the lyrics because at the end of the day he’s the one who has to get them across to the audience and fill them with life. That’s the way I’ve been working with Rick since ‘Right In The Guts’ and the result speaks for itself.” Altzi sums up the lyric´s sense: “It wasn’t my intention to make any political statement on this album but my frustration concerning where we are in the world today somehow led me to write lyrics about that. How do we adapt to the threat and the fear of violence?
Mankind seems to have a short memory keeps on doing the same mistakes over and over again. How we in modern time still let’s religion dictate and form the decisions made by people and governments? “With a slight grin, Rick adds, “but I only wrote eight out of fourteen lyrics, so there’s enough room for love songs and pure rock’n roll.”
I spoke with Herman and we spoke about the new album and ACCEPT.
How is the reception of the new album coming?
HF: I think everybody loves it. I am really excited. I am overwhelmed from the critic’s reaction to the album.
Did you do anything differently with this album vers others?
HF: Yes, I used six-strings. (Laughing) No, just to be honest, it’s the same procedure every time, every second. This time I recorded the drums in a proper studio, recorded the rest in my studio, went over to Sweden, to Rick’s house, and recorded the bulk of it over there. What’s different is I used a sound engineer to mix it.
Did you produce it? Who does the lyrics and music?
HF: I always produce my own albums. I let Rick write the lyrics. I give Rick a couple of hook lines, a couple of phrases for the verses, and we go from there
What inspires you to start a song? Is it a certain riff?
HF: It’s certainly been my practice sitting and fiddling around with the guitar, and then, if you get lucky, once in a while, there’s a riff coming up or a melody that you can record on an iPhone, or a tape recorder, or something, and then the funny part starts, you have to go to the studio and unleash this idea. Then you start writing and, the tricky part, you have to come up the energy to write the final song. I mean you choose this verse and then maybe this one, once it’s going easier, and you got it. But a couple of them, you just throw them in the garbage.
What brand of guitars are you using?
HF: It’s a Duesenberg. they’re hand made here in Germany. I’ve got two models and I used both on this album. I just use these two guitars. Maybe because I don’t have a deal right now. (chuckling)
Are you ever going to consider touring the States, or is it just too expensive to come over here?
HF: (Chuckling) That’s the thing, you know? it’s not just in the neighborhood. It’s getting tougher and tougher to go on tour in the proper way. I think we are at least, doing a couple of shows in Europe and we start in the middle of April. I don’t think that we will make it to the States. It’s too far away and it costs too much. I mean if the album’s doing well, I would love to come back to the States.
When you did your album in 2009, and then you came back to Accept, and then you left again and resumed your solo career, was it just creative differences with the other band members?
HF: it was just time to leave the band. Let’s put it this way, I wanted to do music the way I started to. I wanted to have my own band. I wanted my own music and just wanted to just play my own leads. Not to follow somebody’s guitar. I was getting too old for it. It’s fine to be a backup, but after a couple of years It’s time for a different thing,
When they brought Mark on board, how was that different from Udo?
HF: Mark is a really nice guy and really promising. It’s kind of a different voice and Mark really doubles Udo in his personal way. I prefer the style of Udo’s singing. He is original Accept. There is this voice sticking in your head. On the new songs, which Mark sings for the first time in Accept, it’s a different character, but it’s very good. You can’t compare them really. They are a match for certain things, but they are quite different people.
I do like them both. I couldn’t have the decision which one I would prefer.
It would have been great if they would put a couple of albums with Udo and Mark together. That would be awesome.
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