MESSIAH “Thunder on the Mountain” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

The glacial valleys and high mountains of Switzerland have been known to produce some very original metal bands. I don’t need to tell you about CELTIC FROST, SAMAEL and CORONER. But to this list should definitely be added the name of MESSIAH. With over 30 years of challenging and ultra-heavy metal to their credit, this is a band that should be better known.

The latest offering from MESSIAH is entitled “Fracmont”, which is the ancient name of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland. We’ll find out more about the mountain and its legend a little later in the interview. True to form, the album features thick and massive riffing but unusual, almost progressive touches that make it just that little bit unique. You might say it has the “Swiss touch”.

Andy Kaina is the man lending his growling tones to the band and it was my pleasure to speak to him concerning “Fracmont” and all things MESSIANIC…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to MESSIAH. I understand you reformed the band a few years back just for fun. What was the spark that led you to recording new music once again?

ANDY KAINA: After an intense Barbecue and a lot of beer at the home of Brögi our guitarist, we decided to do two concerts in Switzerland as a surprise for our fans. Both concerts were sold out and we realized that the fans were still hungry for MESSIAH.We started our webpage and had just a couple weeks later so many concert requests coming in from all over Europe. That was the start for more...

WC: Did the ideas for new songs come easily to you or did you have to work hard to recover your creative edge?

AK: Our guitarist Brögi had so many ideas collected in the past and he recorded many of them. In the rehearsal room, we started to put pieces of the puzzle together to create great songs.

WC: So many old fans just want a veteran band to rehash their classic style, but MESSIAH isn’t a band to stand still. How did you approach getting the right balance of “old” and “new” elements on “Fracmont”?

AK: We don't care a lot about what is the latest trend. We do our music and we don't intend to copy new modern bands. Probably that’s the reason why many fans never forgot MESSIAH because our sound was so unique.

WC: Many Swiss bands have had an air of progression and uniqueness about them, like CELTIC FROST, CORONER and of course MESSIAH. What is there about the Swiss scene that inspires unique sounding bands and music?

AK: An excellent question! I’m not sure if this is just the Swiss mentality? Swiss people have always been independent and neutral. We never belonged to other communities or countries. We always did our own thing and that’s probably the reason why Swiss musicians are often innovative in the way they do things.

WC: The title track is quite the massive song and very long for the first proper track of the album. Did the song kind of “write itself” or was it always planned to be so epic?

AK: The constellation was not planned but in the rehearsal room we change things quickly, depending as well on the mood... we never know what the results are. But at the end we’re very happy with this song and the whole arrangement fits perfectly, including the “avalanche” in the middle part of the song

WC: “Fracmont” is the old name of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland. What kind of inspiration did you get from this location?

AK: Brögi lives at the foot of the mountain in a little valley. He told us a lot of stories and myths about the mountain. The most famous one is this:

The Romans threw Pontius Pilate's corpse into the Tiber, whereupon the water of the river became poisoned and was no longer suitable for watering the fields. The same thing happened in France and Switzerland. Once a traveling student from the underground school in Salamanca came to the city of Lucerne. He was a scholar experienced in magical things and offered to banish the ghostly monster into the lake forever. Under the persistent incantations of the scholar, the evil spirit writhed and finally collapsed. Weakened, Pilate agrees to one condition of the traveling student: he should go into the lake, where people would leave him alone. Once a year, on Good Friday, he is allowed to leave the lake for a short hike. Pilate kept the pact. Brave climbers who climbed the mountain saw him sitting on the banks of the mountain lake on Good Friday, watching how he tried desperately to wash his blood-splattered hands in the lake water.

WC: Many of the songs on “Fracmont” seem to have a religious slant to them. Is there a concept or an idea connecting the songs on the album?

AK: No. It’s not a concept album. There are just critical songs about the church and that fits excellently with MESSIAH.

WC:  “Urbi et Orbi” is the title of the Pope’s address to the faithful and also one of your songs. Is the song a criticism of the Catholic faith or is there more to it than that?

AK: This song shows the brazenness of the Catholic Church and how one can cleanse all the vices of the world again through a blessing. It is not against the Catholic faith, just against the institution of the church..

WC: The cover art on “Fracmont” is intriguing. What’s the story behind this image? 

AK: It’s actually an illustration of the legend I spoke about earlier. It’s a beautiful picture.

WC: We live in a world that seems to be more of a science fiction nightmare every year, with coronavirus lockdowns, climate catastrophes and computers dumbing people down. Have these dystopian themes influenced MESSIAH’s view of things?

AK: It just shows how fragile the world is. We have three songs on “Fracmont” that fit into these dystopian themes.

“Morte al dente” shows if you grow up in a poor suburb your chance is very small to flee that place and find a better’s just fate.

“Singularity”  describes the time when mankind will be replaced by machines and computers.

“Miracle Far Beyond Disaster” reflects the time in the Middle Ages when the plague kept Europe in suspense. Fits perfectly into the present day.

WC: Do you think that any of the band’s back catalogue has been overlooked? Any particular album that stands out the most?

AK: In my eyes “Choir of Horrors” was my favourite album . till “Fracmont” It sounds fresh, direct and every song kicks. We play most songs of the album live.

WC: Is the song “Singularity” about men becoming machines or is it machines becoming more like men?

AK: It shows the time in probably 100 years when robots can program themselves and mankind will be useless. A very dangerous time. We are no longer masters of ourselves

WC:  Do you have the spark to record any more new material beyond “Fracmont”?

AK: Absolutely. Brögi already writes and records new songs for the upcoming album.

WC: Is there any band you haven’t played with yet that you would like to?

AK: We never played with CORONER, that would be a great thing.

WC: Any crazy “Spinal Tap” stories of things going wrong for MESSIAH that you could share?

AK: Nothing comes to my mind, sorry

WC: Any last words?

AK: Thanks to all the fans who were waiting more than 26 years from our last album. Hope you have been compensated with “Fracmont”.