Along with the legendary Mercyful Fate and some considerably more obscure acts such as Alien Force, Randy and Crystal Knight, Copenhagen’s own WITCH CROSS must rate as one of the best Danish heavy metal bands ever. The band’s 1984 album Fit For Fight can be considered a classic of Danish heavy metal. Now, they are a back with a new album up to their legacy.
Hi guys, Witch Cross is a Danish band with a long story and 3 albums in your saddles now. But there was a big gao between 1986 and 2011. What happened?
Well long story – but the simple version is that the band broke apart when me and Alex Savage left to form Harlot and the rest stopped shortly after that. Then in 2010 I had a desire to do a new metal album and started to write songs again. So to my surprise I saw a lot of interest in the old Witch Cross songs on YouTube and set up a MySpace account and later a Facebook page then suddenly we were asked to make an interview and got invited to play at Keep It True. They asked us in 2010 and we played in 2012 which was the birth of the new band. We have been the same line-up now except for drummers.
In 2013 you returned with your second album, and this year you are releasing the third, Angel of Death. It seems everything is like a big struggle for you…
You mean the 3rd album? It took a long time for sure. To start with the other guitar player Paul had a nasty accident so he couldn’t walk for a long and other things came in the way with family members dyeing etc. Also we have a new drummer in the band now. Then of course the shit storm with covid. And what people don’t realise is that the band is spread over 4 different countries and rehearsing and recording together is very difficult to say the least. But we are lucky to have great help from a lot of amazing people.
In terms of heavy metal, Witch Cross stands along bands such as Mercyful Fate and Alien Force fron Denmark, what is always some help, or not?
Mercyful Fate has certainly help fuel the interest for danish metal along with bands like Pretty Maids and now Volbeat. We luckily ended up on the same label as Mercyful Fate in 1983 and toured the same venues in Holland which by the way was AWESOME! Also the album Fit for Fight was recorded in the same studio that Mercyful Fate used. The scene in Denmark back then were really bad so unless you managed to get to tour aboard there were no gigs which didn’t help metal bands in Denmark in the 80s.
In the line-up we find original members Little John Field (bass) and Mike Wlad (guitars), how do you mix the old side of the band with the new members?
Well we are all friends and have known each other for a long time and the new drummer Jesper is a lovely guy so it’s always great to hang out when we tour.
Angel of Death will be out on June 6th through High Roller Records, how long have you worked in the album and how was the composition of the new songs?
Yes we can’t wait for the release. We started writing songs for the new album proper in 2014-15 and decided it should be darker and heavier than Axe to Grind. Then we were ready to record drums and bass in 2018 and the vocals and guitars were done in 2019. As I explained earlier we had a few set-backs during the development of this album but the result is an amazing album which we are truely proud off.
There are 8 years between Axe To Grind and the new Angel Of Death, any difference in style in your opinion?
This new album sounds awesome and it’s much darker and a lot heavier. We have played a lot of gigs and have seen what people like when we play live. Now we plan to add a couple of the new songs to our live show.
What are the lyrics about in Angel Of Death?
Angels and death 😉 . No – we cover a lot of subjects and a fair bit about death on this album. The last album from 2013 finished with an instrument track called Beyond the Veil (a tribute to all the great people that had passed away) which link to this new album.
If you pay attention to the cover art and the songs titles you can appreciate some darker elements than in previous releases, true?
Absolutely correct. The cover is a great piece of artwork and it works really well with the album. We always take a lot of interest in how we come across visually and again we have produced all the artwork for Angel of Death with the amazing artist: All things Rotten.
I would like to underline the big performance by Kev Moore on vocals. I know all comparisons are hateful, but listening to Kev the name of Harry Conklin always comes to my mind, what do you think?
I’ve known and been in bands with Kev for a long time and I think his voice is great asset for Witch Cross. It’s different to the original singer Alex but with the new songs it works really well. Kev is also a charismatic front man which makes the live shows great.
Apart from that, I would say this is pure heavy metal, and guitars sounds as they always should in any heavy metal band?
Me and Paul (the other guitarist) always try hard to get a good blend of riffs and harmony guitar parts. We work hard to make the guitar parts work well with the vocals and the feel of the individual songs. Guitars are one of the main elements in heavy metal and we make sure we deliver some proper heavy guitars.
With so many bands around, as in any aspect of life, you may think that doing something different is the best way to be successful. However, when it comes to bands as Witch Cross I think that what the fan claims is the old school sound
We are aware that we can’t escape the success of Fit for Fight but also need to grow on each album as it would be boring to keep doing the same over and over again. I feel this new album is very different to the Fit for Fight era with more complex and darker songs. Also the first witch Cross studio album without an instrumental track.
There are songs like Phoenix Fire where you delivery some kind of viking metal, which by the way is not the first time
We have been told a few time that we play Viking Metal but I just think it’s very NWOBHM. It’s one of the more straight forward ass-kicking songs on this album and Phoenix Fire was the first song we played live from the new album as it has been in out live show for a few years now – so we knew people liked it. It’s a driving song which is fun to play live. We have had some great comment from the video already so can’t wait to get out and play some more songs from the new album soon.
As a band that was alive and kicking in the 80s, what are the pros and cons of the musical scene now compared with the 80s crazy scene?
To be fair when you were young as we were in the 80s playing live is fun and crazy but the metal scene is much better now with more venues and festivals. We were lucky to tour and play in the 80s but even more lucky that we can still play our music today.
I’m sure fans would love to have another new album in their hands in 2 or 3 years from now, is that possible?
We know this album took a long long time to finish and hope we can speed up the production with the next one. So we aim to have the next album ready end of 2022.
How are you dealing with the pandemic situation?
I guess the same as everybody else which means that we just have to get on with what we can do. So I’ve been doing lots of writing of new songs and I have also updated my studio which will help with the next album. We had a lot of fun putting together the artwork for Angel of Death and the video for Phoenix Fire was great to do.