Today we have the pleasure to talk to Belgium act PatriarcH. I like this kind of interviews where you can chat with guys that are true and alive history of Metal, with capital letters. As Fred Mylemans is, guitarist from the very beginning and founding member of the band. A cult band this Patriarch, that not only lives from the past, as they have released a new great album, Rage of Gods. Enjoy it. And if you like it, buy it!
Hello Fred, let’s talk a little about history, because Patriarch is a band with a long story that begins in 1983 under the name of Pariah. What would you rescue from those early years?
Yes, indeed Alberto, that’s true, we’ve been around since 1983, be it first under the name Pariah. We changed that name due to a few facts. First of these facts is that there were 2 other bands around carrying the same name (Can’t resist mentioning this: In those days organized a festival with some Belgian bands and one headliner from the UK, named Blind Fury…. Before they used that name they were called Satan… and a while after the festival took place they had a new singer and changed their name to PARIAH…. L. So you can say………….). Another thing that happened back then was that our bassplayer deceased in a car crash. So we thought it was best to change the name, which wasn’t an easy decision. So we chose PatriarcH as our new bandname.
If you look carefully you can still find our first name in it, so that was back then an important point for us to pick this name. As Pariah we only recorded a few demos, but as soon as we recorded a demo as PatriarcH we found a label. That was surely a highlight, to release two albums with a label and being able to record these albums in some great studios.
Yes, a curious sequence of circumstances, with a tragedy in the middle, sadly. After some years fighting you got your first album in the streets Prophecy (1990) and in 1993 your second record World Within Worlds. Is this material available nowadays for the fans (cd, vinyl)?
Unfortunately not, we often get this question. I guess the only way to find these albums is on ebay, but sometimes the price asked for it is rather high. Most of the songs can be found on Youtube as mp3, so you can give it a go there. But for CD’s or LP’s you have to look further.
A pity, indeed. After that, many years later, you released your third album in 2008, what happened?
After the second album it took us a long time before we recorded some new stuff. We recorded a few demos, a split 7” single with After All. A mini CD called Deity (released by Output Music) and another demo called Black Harvest. Over this period we had lots of line-up changes. With Black Harvest we started recording our music by ourselves in my homestudio. Mixing and Mastering was done by Nik Mettez, who after the demo also mixed and mastered the ‘Mankind: the Virus’ album.
Again we had a lot of line-up changes, shortly after the release of Mankind: the Virus we parted ways with our vocalist Ortwin and our second vocalist Erik Rinkes rejoined the band. That went good for a while but in the long term it didn’t turn out to be a lasting cooperation. So we had to find a new vocalist again. During the recording of the Red Cord demo, guitar player Ronny left the band and during the recording of the new album we parted ways with drummer Kris de Bie. So finding new musicians, learning the songs etc… is very time consuming. And we also re-recorded the drumparts Kris played. Finding a drummer wasn’t easy, so my son Ruben learned the songs and recorded them again.
Another demo in 2013… It seems you have been continuously struggling to release your songs…
That’s just how it is, no interest from record labels at all. So we do that part ourselves as well. Releasing an album is no problem, it’s only difficult to have it distributed. The Red Cord demo was a preproduction of the album. It was mainly to have an idea of what our music would sound like if we did everything ourselves, including mixing and mastering.
So we are now in 2016 and we get your fourth album “Rage of Gods”. Is it composed for all brand new songs or there are some old material in it?
Most of the songs are new, though we’ve been playing them for a long time now…. Only Chronology and By My Forbidden Words are older songs that were never released. The titletrack appeared on the Black Harvest demo, but since we like that song very much we decided to record a revamped version of it for this album.
How long did you work on “Rage of Gods”?
Far too long. I already told you about the line-up changes and re-recording of the drums. Also the mixing an mastering took quite a while, we wanted to make the best of it so we took our time for it.
Comparing “Rage of Gods” with your previous staff what is the conclusion in your opinion?
That’s a hard question. We’re very proud of this album and especially of the fact that we produced it completely by ourselves. In my opinion it’s also the best sounding album we have yet.
For those who have never listened to them I would tell them that Patriarch plays Thrash Metal with influences from bands as Metallica or technical Thrash as early Mekong Delta, mixed with US Power as Armored Saint or Meliah Rage. Summarizing, a bomb. Do you agree with the definition?
Thanks for the compliment 😉 . In many reviews the name Metallica occurred, personally I don’t hear the resemblance. 3 songs on the album are composed by our former guitar player Ronny Clé, who is a Metallica fan so probably some influences sneaked into those songs. My main influences are coming for more echnical/progressive stuff. But we mainly try to create our own sound. I guess everyone hears some influences from different bands in our music. But the bands you mention are all great bands, so we’re very pleased to hear that.
In my opinion, one of the strong points of this “Rage of Gods”.is the variety, we find groove, acoustic guitars, fast and medium tempos, nice guitar solos…
I agree on that, it has always been this way with the music we make. That’s the way we like it and we will try to keep it that way. Though it’s not the easiest way. Not everyone appreciates some softer parts on a Metal album or a Grunt here and there
By My Forbidden Word is my favorite song, so much feeling and killer heavy rhythms, what is yours or that one you will always play in any gig?
That’s the reason why we took this (older) song of the shelves and recorded it. Time will tell if this song will survive our setlist. We have many requests to put some songs from our 2 first albums on the setlist and we started working on new songs at the moment. So it will get harder to choose songs for future setlists
Patriarch’s current lineup combines old members as you, Fred, and Luc (drums) with some more recent members as Stijn on guitars. How has this affected your style and your work?
Not so much at this moment, but that will change for the next album. Stijn as a songwriter is coming more from the Thrash-scene so that will surely be an influence for the upcoming songs.
For Kevin it will be great when he can start singing his own lyrics and vocal lines, ‘cause most of the songs on the album were written before he joined the band. Our new/old drummer Luc only played 1 track on the album (The Red Cord). He is a real Powerhouse-drummer, so expect some Heavy stuff coming up…
Sincerely, with the quality of this “Rage of Gods” I do not understand how you haven’t signed for any label so far. What the hell is going on in the music industry?
Don’t know that either. I guess the record labels want more specific music to sell, be it Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Hard Rock… But not a band who plays a mix of different styles, but I don’t know, just guessing.
Where can the metalhead with “good taste” buy this great “Rage of Gods”?
At the moment only in our webshop, you can find it on our website:www.patriarch.be
We are still trying to find some shops /distributors who are willing to help us out with that but it isn’t easy.
As a prestigeous and cult band in Belgium how do you see Metal nowadays?
Well, the scene surely has broadened. We still enjoy finding new bands and music that we like. I can tell that the quality of most bands , be it soundwise or concerning technical bagage is much better nowadays than in the 80’s/ 90’s …
Do you have any plan touring around?
Not really. It’s also not so easy to arrange without any labelsupport. Maybe if we could arrange a package deal with some other Belgian bands. That would be a possibility.
I hope it comes true. With so many years in the Metal world I suppose you have shared stage with so many bands, what gigs you remember with more affection or pride?
Not so much with international bands, mostly Belgian or Dutch bands. But gigs that are worth mentioning were those with Magnum, a gig with ShadowKeep, and one with Overkill and Annihilator. And surely our 25th anniversary gigs where we invited some former members of the band.
Cool. Finally, what are your plans in the long-term?
Well for a big part this will depend on how the album will be received. ‘Till now most reviews were positive so we hope the fans will like the album as well. We hope to have some more gigs with this album, that would be great. But if we look ahead I have to mention that we are psyched to start working on new material for a new album.
And we will be hear to spread like the hell is coming on us, Fred. Thank you Fred and congratulations for your fantastic new album
Thank you Alberto and Metalbrothers.es for the interview and the support. And if people are interested there are some teasers of the cd on our Facebook page, check them out and if you like what you hear buy the album. Support the underground!!!