MYSTIC PROPHECY “A Prophecy Fulfilled”
By Dr. Abner Mality
The Prophecy was first foretold in 2000, when former members of the German metal band VALLEY’S EVE united to form a new project called MYSTIC PROPHECY. And 23 years later, that story is still unfolding and making the sound of heavy metal thunder.
2023 sees the band’s latest declaration of war unleashed, entitled “Hellriot”. It brings us more songs in the traditional MYSTIC way, with lots of speed and fire, but plenty of melody, following in the path of elder gods like JUDAS PRIEST and DIO. If anybody can be called the voice of the Prophecy, that would be singer R.D. Liapakis, known to his bandmates as “Lia”. I’ve said it before, this man is a hidden treasure of heavy metal.
With the arrival of “Hellriot”, the time was right to don battle armor and head into the field to speak to the band’s long time guitarist MARKUS POHL, whose been part of the crusade since 2005. Let’s hear the words of the Prophet...
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to MYSTIC PROPHECY! The new album “Hellriot” is upon us. It is very much in the classic MYSTIC PROPHECY style...was this album pretty easy to write and perform or did it take a lot of work?
MARKUS POHL: It took us a lot of time. But due to this pandemic bullshit we were all stuck at home anyway and wrote songs, worked on them and finally recorded them. We used the time well and though we missed the stages, we never felt stuck because we worked in our studios. May have been our way to deal with the situation.
We did a lot of corrections and changes on the songs, and we erased a lot of the changes when we felt that the songs got too smooth, not dirty enough. It’s never easy to write an album. We’re five guys, five opinions, but that’s what all bands have to deal with.
WC: The band seems really comfortable with where they’re at right now. Would you say you have finally established your perfect style or is there maybe a danger in getting a little too comfortable with things?
MP: If you listen to all the albums in a row...perhaps even just some songs and skip to the next album, you’ll see how the music changes over all the years and how we evolved our songwriting. That may be due to a lot of line up changes but it’s also by growing skills, ideas and influences. I guess American music never influenced us so much than on the last two albums, but this is just one example of many. As a musician, you’ll never find your perfect style. You always search for the perfect song, the perfect sound and the perfect composition. We never felt comfortable at all. We never laid back and wrote songs like having a 9 to 5 job. We all try to do our best and take another step forward. Always.
WC: Lyrically the band has always had its dark side, but “Hellriot” seems to be the darkest MYSTIC PROPHECY album ever, would you agree?
MP: I wouldn’t say that. Of course we’ve got some dark lyrics and songs like “World on Fire” which is about the destruction of the world.. maybe. We’ve always had lyrics like that. On the other hand, there are some funny lyrics like “Metal Attack” which is just about the word “Attack”, a word that Lia (Singer R.D. Liapakis) always says. It’s still metal. Songs about flowers and puppies on a cloud free summer day is not what you should expect while listening to metal.
WC: There is a lot of talk of hell, demons, fire, revenge. Is it all a metaphor for real life or are the lyrics pure dark fantasy?
MP: That’s up to you. I mean. when we sing “We are the demons of the night”, how serious can that be? We’ll perform that song live and have a lot of fun with the audience. Sometimes, it’s all about cliché ...about being back from the hell we all experienced during the pandemic. It can be kind of fun even if it may have a serious background. But if you listen to “Rising With The Storm”, that can be interpreted very seriously. The bible always told us that the apocalypse will happen and the Antichrist is about to come. Or is he already here… ??
WC: How is the writing done for the band? Does one guy take command or does everybody pitch in? Has writing gotten easier over the years?
MP: It never gets easier! Never. You always try to give your best and search for new influences. A song is a kind of time capture. All you do is save the moment, what you felt or what you thought about. And this is what we always did. So.. there is an idea about a chorus or a riff, and that’s the point we all start from. Mostly Evan or I start writing parts and send it to Lia. Later, we change some more parts or just do transitions, a whole chord or whatever. That’s kind of a process. We include the vocals, change even more. That’s it. I guess it is a real exciting process for us as a band, very boring for fans because every band is working the way we do.
WC: The band has always kept their songwriting short and to the point. Has there ever been a temptation to do a really big epic song or even a pure concept album?
MP: There is no reason why we should do this. We don’t feel like being the serious musicians who need to show their skills, whether it is about playing or songwriting. If you write a song that long, you need to have the fans for that or you won’t ever play this song live. You limit yourself. Even if music, riffs and sound changes over the years, we’ll still be MYSTIC PROPHECY!
WC: I always thought MYSTIC PROPHECY should be a lot more well known in the US. How frustrating is it to not reach the same heights in America as in Europe?
MP: Indeed. As I’d love to tour every year in America ,it is frustrating. But we all know that if you really wanna tour the US you need time...much time. Since we’ve got dayj obs that wouldn’t work out for us. Instead of touring 6 months in America we rather love the opportunity to be a special band, playing some festivals over there. Besides that, touring got very expensive, even in Europe. If we would plan a tour with all the paperwork, tourbuses, etc. the risk of getting broke is too high. If you don’t reach a certain amount of sold copies you can’t afford it. All that can change...hope dies last! And we all hope to be able to visit the USA for some shows.
WC: It’s obvious the band gets a lot of inspiration from the greats like JUDAS PRIEST and DIO, but what are some of the less obvious influences on your sound and playing?
MP: I just can speak for myself as all the others got their own influences, even if we all have the same musical roots. Of course, there are the old players like IRON MAIDEN, OZZY OSBOURNE, etc, but in the last years, some new influences showed up. I started to love Brantley Gilbert, BLACKBERRY SMOKE and Tim Montana, also some old bands like The ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND. On the other hand, we’ve got two young guns in the band who bring new influences ,too. They’re into the new bands and show up with new and modern music...they add new sounds like some loops or new techniques to our music. That’s fantastic.
WC: Is there any one concert you’ve played that really stands out as the most memorable?
MP: Maybe one of my first shows. We played a show in Volos/Greece back in the day and it was like being in a bad movie. We entered the club and the ordered amps were not there, just some shitty cheap stuff. Combos, no amp heads and cabs. The drums were just a pile of many drumparts, every drum had its own colour and brand. We could barely mount it. The club was small but we didn’t expect anything at all. After having dinner, we returned and it was packed, some of the fans still waited in front of it, not able to go in. There was no backstage room, just the public toilets. The show started and people went crazy big time! During the encore, some of them entered the stage and took whatever they could grab. Gus and me just tried to save our own stuff like some pedals and our guitars and left the party when someone pulled out our cables. But there was no aggression at all. People just loved what we did. Such an intense experience… I wonder nobody complained about the stuff people carried out of the club. Well, perhaps they knew the situations and brought it back later.
WC: What’s been the most unusual location you’ve ever played in?
MP: That could be one of the ancient historical amphitheaters in Cyprus. It wasn’t packed but we could feel the spirit and how it must have been there back in the ancient days. Even if everything was made of stones and the audience sits higher than yourself we had a quite good sound. The whole evening felt different.
WC:. I always thought your singer R.D. Liapakis is one of the great voices of European metal. Do you think he gets his proper due?
MP: No, he doesn’t and he never did. He is so safe in what he does, like a machine. We just played 16 shows in a row and there was no problems at all with his voice. Just think about our ages...we’re not 18 any more and he really doesn’t treat his voice with care as you might think. But he knows exactly what he does and has a lot of discipline. If there is no virus or another disease, his vocal chords are made of steel.
WC: Any touring plans for “Hellriot”? Any chance you could ever make it to North America?
MP: There is a little release tour in May with HAMMERKING. And then we start the festival season. Looking forward to bring the new songs to all stages all over Europe or all over the world. We’re still booking, nobody knows where we’re gonna play this year. But you can be sure that the band plays their ass off. If there is any possibility to play a festival in North America just let us know. We’d be so proud to play there!
WC: Are you involved with any other bands or musical projects?
MP: Sometimes I play with POWERWOLF as a substitute, that’s it.
WC: If you could have dinner with any 3 people from history, who would they be?
MP: Michelangelo: Imagine to have a cover artwork made by Michelangelo about his vision of the gate to hell!!!
Marilyn Monroe: Everybody wants to meet her.
Dimebag Darrell: He wrote music history and I’m still fascinated by his unique style.
WC: In the history of MYSTIC PROPHECY, has there ever been a “Spinal Tap” moment where things went crazy that you could share with us?
MP: Beside the story in this bar in Greece? Let’s think about it… well. I guess that could be another story, the first time we played in Cyprus. We played in a bigger venue, kind of a sport venue in a school. Show was sold out and we saw that our backdrop was way too small. But OK, we didn’t expect such a huge stage. We started the show and after some songs, there was a power breakdown. Thank God our bass player was an electrician and tried to fix it. It worked out for one or two songs. Then again no power. So he took some of our spare instrument cables and connected them in a way we all didn’t wanna know. He cut them and I guess he created a new line by doubling our cables ten times. However, the show could continue and we brought it to an end. Great audience, by the way. The venue was cooking, it was hot, sweat all over the place. We tried to have a look to what our bass player has done but immediately right after the last song of the band the house technician switched off the power, angry, complaining and screaming about some weird cables and connections. So we just took our stuff and left the building as fast as we could. However, the promoter was satisfied and we all had a nice after show party that night.
WC: Any last messages or thoughts?
MP: All I can say is that we all need to keep it up. Come to shows, buy some merch and have fun with bands, crews and other fans. Whatever you like, whatever you can do, do it. Whether you support small bands or want to visit big venues… just don’t stop. Cause all you guys out there are the reason why bands can make music, can create songs and play live. It’s all about you! Hope to see you somewhere on the road!