Guitarist Andreas Nieratschker, from Germany-based act Agony Atlas, joins us for an exclusive interview about their new EP Retrogression Part I: Egomania, the metal scene in his homeland, the future of the band (and of the entire world), and more.
The Headbanging Moose: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the music by Agony Atlas. Can you please start by introducing yourself to our readers? Who Agony Atlas and what are your goals with the band?
Andreas Nieratschker: One could say, we are a four-person sonically chaotic gathering of people that is actually not that chaotic…
Christoph e.g., my companion on the guitar, is particularly good at collecting tattoos and being a caring father. He simply is our savior when it comes to organising whatsoever. Well actually, everyone is, except Liane and myself (laughter). Organisationally, I mean.
Markus plays like Thor’s hammer when he’s out on his drums. You can feel the concentrated power of the gods, although you hardly see it. – Absolutely smooth playing. Above all, he manages everything when it comes to texting and working towards our famosity.
Liane just has a brute voice, which has impressed me since the first rehearsal of our other band, where we used to play together. I just thought “THIS is the voice I want!”
Well, yeah and I am Andreas.
Together we decided to travel back in time to prevent humanity from its own extinction and to enlighten them about the fucked-up conditions the human kind exposes to our planet. At least, this is the short version behind our story.
THM: Your music is being labeled by fans and the media as “Progressive Metalcore”. Do you agree with that classification, and if so, how would you personally describe it? What other genres and styles can the listener expect to hear in your music?
AN: It’s almost always hard to pinpoint the band’s genre. But I think besides many different influences the term “Progressive Metalcore” describes our music best. Although the progressive part is not extremely present yet, but you will hear more of it in the future songs. Speaking in genres: you can find melodic death metal and metalcore, djent, electro, industrial and thrash metal and sometimes even a hint of black metal.
THM: You have just released your debut EP, titled Retrogression Part I: Egomania. Can you please give us more details about it? What’s the story behind the EP, and what can we expect to see in “the next chapter”, assuming this is just the first part of something bigger the band is planning?
AN: Actually, we don’t have a concrete concept for the EP. It is rather based on the general idea we are pursuing with Agony Atlas. The other publications will lead along this common thread and complement our story.
For a while now, environmental movements have been causing enormous discussions in society. The behavior of people towards one another, towards our living space and towards the world in its entirety has become an important and recurring topic. Now is the latest time for a final change to save our whole future. And that’s exactly what we want to tell with our background story: The time travel from the already destroyed future back to the here and now, to save what can be saved. “Retrogression” stands for the development that we want to prevent – from a future perspective, to a certain extent, for a regression. Therefore we chose the title. We are playing our part in not waking up in a dystopian world, like Mad Max, in the near future. So, we will continue our guiding idea and stick to the band concept.
THM: Let’s now talk about each one of the songs from the EP, starting with the opening track Economy Class, which carries a name that couldn’t be more relevant these days. Can you please elaborate a little more on the meaning of the song and why you’ve chosen such important topic as its main theme?
AN: As I said, the environmental issues are very important. In the EP, we address some of the current problems people have in this regard, such as consuming, digitally induced comfort and an egocentric worldview. The concrete events for the song “Economy Class” were the man-made rainforest fires at the beginning of 2019.
THM: What about Egomania, my favorite song of the EP? What was the process to write and compose this song, and what should the listener take from the music and the lyrics while listening to it?
AN: The irrepressible greed of the people has made them look for another “habitable” or, as I’d like to say, “exploitable” planet for years. Earth alone is apparently not enough. Although it is and was more than sufficient for the remaining living beings. However, because of our curiosity, which we take as a given condition of superiority and as unique selling point of the human kind, it seems that we want to take everything – regardless of the losses.
The song should not only serve through unbelievably good acoustic satisfaction, but also stimulate everyone to reflect one’s own behavior and to question society.
THM: Lastly, the closing song in Retrogression Part I: Egomania, Hymn Of Hatred, is undoubtedly the heaviest and most obscure of all three songs. Why did you decide to end the EP with such dark composition?
AN: For us it’s the most forward moving song. It forges a smooth transition to what the listener can expect in the future. “Hymn Of Hatred” is the newest song on the EP and rather reflects our songwriting. Last but not least: the fact is that future doesn’t look bright, if we don’t act now.
THM: How is it to be fronted by such talented woman like Liane Walter, who certainly makes your music appeal to fans of bands like Arch Enemy and Jinjer? How do you see the importance of women in metal music nowadays, and do you see any type of rejection from fans for having a woman as your lead singer?
AN: The question could also be: What is it like to have such a good vocalist? It’s not about gender, but about skills, human interaction, commitment, creativeness and fun.
By now it should rather be normal to see and hear women in the metal genre. There are already a few more bands than Arch Enemy and Jinjer who sing gutturally in the low frequency range. I haven’t heard of any rejections for now. But in any case, I’m a huge fan of her singing, especially while being in the same band.
THM: Changing the topic a bit, what are your main influences in music and arts in general? And how do you incorporate those influences into the music by Agony Atlas?
AN: I can hardly say where all the inspiration comes from. Christoph, for example, takes part in local cultural associations, plays also in his alternative rock band Karabooza and is involved as guitar sub in a carnival rock band. Furthermore, Markus and I are involved in the jazz genre and beyond. And with Liane, I can only guess, but it seems like she started screaming since birth. Over the years of practicing she must be influenced by all kinds of stuff. But who can really tell? Maybe it can be compared with ideas which are formed by words to be explained. I assume, it’s the same with music. The inspiration comes from memories, visions and random synapse formations, which pop up in your mind. And if you listen closely, you can repeat them to write them down.
If you want to know what everybody of us is listening to, just take a look on our Spotify page. There you can find a playlist of each one of us.
THM: We all know the Germany metal scene is extremely vibrant with some of the best metal fans in the world, which probably means there’s more room for underground acts like Agony Atlas to play their music to live audiences there, right? Have you been able to start touring around Germany (and any other countries) with Agony Atlas already, or is the pandemic still impacting your touring plans?
AN: Standing in the starting blocks, we slipped straight into the corona pandemic and the light has not yet jumped from red to green. Well, we just recently formed up, therefore we use the unexpected waiting time to prepare ourselves sensibly with concentrated power to play in front of a trembling audience. At least now we will have an encore in petto.
THM: What does the future hold for Agony Atlas? Can we expect to see more of your heavy and melodic music in a not-so-distant future?
AN: Yes, definitely! We are already busy in the process for the next release. Five new songs are ready for recording and more are on the way. Hopefully, we’ll get them on the road in 2021.
THM: Thank you very much for the interview! Any final considerations or comments you would like to share with our readers?
AN: Thank you for the opportunity. Listen to our songs and start to change the world! Everybody has an impact to make a difference.