The following interview with PENTACLE's Wannes was originally done for Chile's NOISE AND SHIT mag, but as the zine isn't written in english not too many people outside of the country will probably understand it. So, the offer to publish an english version of the whole thing via our website was more than welcome and of course accepted right away as the interview turned out highly interesting. Read on and enjoy what Mr.Gubbels had to tell this time around...
Hi Wannes! How’s everything going this summer? Lot’s of Metal festivals around Europe isn’t it? I know you are playing as a trio as Mike is injured in one of his arms? Are you looking for a replacement to play live?
"Hails Huaira! Let me first thank you for giving me another opportunity to answer your questions in your great underground mag! It’s awesome we’re able to create something interesting together again! Yes, during this period of time there are numerous festivals in Europe: Graspop, Gods of Metal, With Full Force, Rock Hard, Wacken Open Air, Waldrock, Hellfest, Sweden Rock and many, many more. It changed a lot during the years. I remember back in the 80s there were only very few festivals to attend like the Monsters of Rock festival, Lorelei Festival, Poperinge, Aardschokdag or Dynamo. Times change so to say! I did like the old festivals quite a bit, but in those days it was really something special to be united with so many Metal fans. It was really our gathering. “United we stand, Eternal Ban” like Destruction’s Schmier said. Those good old days, right? Mike’s injury isn’t progressing at all. More than one and a half years ago he injured his right underarm very badly. He tried to do some gigs with us (“Under The Black Cross” was just released), but it didn’t work out at all. In retrospect, he had already trouble with this arm earlier on. I remember during the recordings of the last album, he played his parts in a very forced way. I don’t believe it was the tension of recording, but I seriously think he had to deal with this injury at that point already. His whole body wasn’t relaxed when he played. It was more he had to endure physical stress (negative meant) to perform the right way. But he was able to play his parts and to record the whole project with us. The last gig we did with Mike was at the 013 with Ghastly from Australia and Victimizer from Denmark as support. You could notice Mike wasn’t able to pull it through physically. The tight picking… it just wasn’t there anymore. From that point we decided to play as a three piece again. I must say I didn’t felt too comfortable with that at first. We just had released “Under The Black Cross”, an album that contains a massive wall of guitars and now we had to promote this album with only one guitarist. “Under The Black Cross” was one step forward, but through Mike’s injury we had to take a step back too. So I felt kinda frustrated with this situation. It just wasn’t possible to find a suitable guitarist to fill in, so we had either way to cancel the shows or to continue as a three piece like the old days. We decided to pull it off with the three of us and to wait for Mike to return to the fold. Alex did a great job. Of course it was a big challenge for him, but as talented as he is, he did his utmost best and it worked out fine. Of course, it is different with only one guitarist (less heavy, kind of an empty sound when Alex does a solo), but it has some positive aspects as well (more tight playing, better sound, more room on stage). I hope we didn’t let any people down when they saw us a three piece, because we really gave our best. It still feels as a temporary solution though. Especially during the rehearsals the sound is somewhat… empty. I miss the extra boost. On stage, you are raging and you have the adrenaline pumping through your veins. Don’t forget, real men play on ten! But we can’t play certain new songs anymore, because we don’t have a second guitarist with us anymore. And that’s frustrating. Mike still hasn’t returned… We’re searching for a suitable replacement. I thought we had found the perfect guy, but in the end he gave priority to his own band. Understandable, but it was a let down for sure. You see, we need a guitarist who’s capable to play our stuff, but with the right attitude and knowledge as well. This is as least as important as being able to play our songs. We’re a band with a certain background and we need suitable members to fulfill their task in the band. Hey, which guitarist has a background like mine? And who draws inspiration from acts as Necrovore, Celtic Frost, Necrophagia, Possessed, Hellhammer, Mantas / Death, Massacre etc? I think you can imagine those people are very scarce here in Holland. And if you find one, the distance is troublesome (like with our old guitarist Edwin who played on “The Fifth Moon”) or they already play in 3 other bands. We want someone who’s focused on Pentacle. Don’t forget too, we can’t offer very much. We’re an underground band, so we don’t have a deal with Nuclear Blast Records and tour around the whole world. It’s hard to find the suitable person indeed."
Please introduce us to the new warriors in PENTACLE with a few words. I have heard that Robert, the drummer, likes ZAPPA and the new guitarist is a MERCYFUL FATE fan... Anyway, I haven’t heard these influences on the new PENTACLE, but hey, they did a killer job on the new album, Alex even wrote a complete song...
"New… Robert is already a member of the band from 2001 and Alex joined us in 2002. That’s not really new anymore, right? Anyway, I get your point. They didn’t play on our previous album, “Ancient Death”, so they are new, hehehe… OK, before “Ancient Death” our original drummer Marc decided to leave the band. Playing in Pentacle took too much of his time, so he couldn’t combine it anymore with his work, girlfriend and social life. He didn’t enjoy playing live anymore either. Marc told us he wanted to record “Ancient Death” with us as a farewell release. Both Mike and me were very glad he wanted to do that. This album would become some kind of anniversary release, so no one else was more entitled to play drums on this release than Marc was. So, we started rehearsing for “Ancient Death” with Marc. In the meanwhile, we started the search for a suitable drummer. This was a heavy task. Drummers are always hard to find, but someone suitable for this band was even more difficult. We put adds in all kind of magazines and on websites, but the response was almost not existing. 2 guys replied to our adds. The first one seemed to be scared about our Death Metal-talk (“Death Metal has to flow in your veins”, “It’s a religion” and more of that kind of stuff), because after our initial meeting we never heard from him again, hehe… The second one was Robert. Being a bit older and more wise (well…) he wasn’t put off by our talk, so we decided to try it out. The first rehearsals were hard to take for Robert. His former acts were never as fast as we were (not that we’re an extreme speed band either…), so he really had to adjust his style to our way of playing songs. It took him loads of hard work to get on the right level of playing in a band like Pentacle, but he does indeed a great job on “Under The Black Cross”. Robert has a lot of experience. He played in all kinds of bands, many non-Metal outfits, but just before he joined us, Robert played in Hades Adorned. They were recording an album (which never was released), but this band was at a dead end. So, Robert was looking around for something new, when he saw our add in the Aardschok. Robert’s taste of music is indeed quite diverse. He listens to the whole spectrum of music, but from what I know, his main focus is Metal these days. He’s 44 years old by now which makes him the old man within the band. His first show was as support for Impiety in Belgium. Alex came in the picture when we decided we needed a second guitarist again. As Alex is Mike’s youngest brother, I heard many stories about Alex’s progression as a guitarist. I wasn’t afraid about his style of Metal, because Mike had been the right mentor for all his younger brothers. I knew Alex was a major Mercyful Fate / King Diamond freak, so that was a plus for sure! I asked the other guys their opinion about Alex joining for some rehearsals. They thought it was a cool idea, so we tried it out. Alex never played in another band before, so it was quite an experience for him as well. But he picked up everything very fast. Being 25, he’s the youngest member in the band. His debut on stage was as support for Desaster in Switzerland. Yes, Alex wrote 'The Last Fight (ML 306’s Stand)'. The track really has a “The Fifth Moon” vibe to it. Together we wrote other tracks like 'Blast Them From The Sky!', 'A Devil’s Shooting Gallery' and 'Awaiting The Blast Of Death'. Our cooperation worked out very fine."
How much differs the sound with two guitarists playing live?
"It’s more extreme, hectic and powerful. I always associate a live-performance as entering a pandemonium. It’s like you’re entering a different world of chaos and disorder. With 2 guitarists, it’s even “worse”. It’s not as tight as a trio, because although Mike and Alex are brothers, they don’t sound and play 100% the same. A second guitar gives extra power in breaks and melodies. But when we performed as a four piece, it was raw and shredding. Just as one should expect from a band like ours. Lots of noise, the ancient way!"
Have you played any of your covers live during the last gigs?
"We aren’t doing too many cover tunes these days, but we did Necrovore’s 'Divus De Mortuus' and Mantas’ 'Legion Of Doom'. From the moment Mike wasn’t able to join us on stage anymore, we only did 'Legion Of Doom' as 'Divus De Mortuus' really needs this second guitar crashing into the song. That’s why we don’t play it live anymore. We’re rehearsing Possessed’s 'The Beasts Of The Apocalypse' right now, but it’s harder than we thought. And we need an extra guitar for this track also. With Alex and Mike we did Frost’s 'Visions Of Mortality', 'Circle Of The Tyrants' and DEATH’s 'Witch Of Hell'. I would love to bring 'Spell Of The Pentagram' back into the set. We played this song several times live back in the “…Rides The Moonstorm” days and it was a great tune to perform on stage. Ha, and don’t forget Hellhammer’s 'The Reaper'. This simple track was always one of the highlights of our gigs. We always played it as an encore and it worked as hell. I have tons of other tracks I would like to perform live. There are just too many great Metal songs written…"
I know you are not so happy with the production of the long awaited POSSESSED tribute? Do you know why bands like HEADHUNTER DC and HYPNOSIA got deleted from the project?
"To be honest, no. Maybe it’s because Hypnosia’s version of 'My Belief' was already featured on their first album on Hammerheart (former Karmageddon) that this song wasn’t included on the tribute. I don’t have any idea why Headhunter DC wasn’t included. They did a very good version of 'Twisted Minds', which is by far superior to many other tracks featured on the tribute. It would have upgraded the standard a lot! When I spoke to Guido (Karmageddon) on the phone last time, he told me they had enough material to release the tribute as a double CD, but I don’t know on what criteria they selected the bands / tracks. I can imagine the popularity of an act was a major reason, but then I don’t understand why a bands like ours is featured, hehehe… I guess they took a mix of popular acts and versions they enjoyed themselves and compiled these songs for one disc. But that’s only a guess. My expectations where indeed higher. For the original version of the tribute, we had sent Immortal Productions all kinds of material like photos and credits. Nothing of this is to be found on the Karmageddon version. The whole layout looks rather simple and without any imagination. Not fitting for such a classic act as Possessed. I did like the original cover more as well. Well, basically it’s the same as what you have now, but the original version doesn’t feature any blue colors at all. It looks far more “infernal”, so to speak of. As far as the material itself, I do enjoy the tracks of bands like Sadistic Intent, Sinister and Cannibal Corpse most. God Dethroned and Angel Corpse are cool as well, but for the majority, it’s a bit of a let down in my opinion. The usual cases with tributes, right? I must say I’m glad Karmageddon released the tribute at all. I thought the whole release was cancelled (that’s the reason why we used our contribution for a split EP with Repugnant first), until I saw its review on the Voices From The Darkside website. In the end, we recorded the track so that it could be featured on this Possessed tribute, so it’s a good thing Pentacle was included after all. I do feel sorry for acts like Headhunter DC, because I know what Possessed means to them…"
The concept behind “Under The Black Cross” is about the valour of the human being. Something we are loosing in these modern times?
"No, I don’t think so. Agreed, current values and norms are a bit different than back in the 1940’s, but I believe courage and valour still can be found today as well. In my opinion it’s not related to any era, but to the individual or collective actions of (a) certain person(s). On a personal level, I think it remains the same. You have persons who sacrifice everything to rescue another person’s life or to fight for their own cause. I do think the “aura” of a brave person is different than it used to be f.e. tens of years ago. When you put a shop-lifter out of action, you acted noble and was a defender of morals and values. When the same action takes place these days, the shop lifter can sue you for a lot of money or you even have to go to jail because you assaulted the guy! There was a famous incident here in Holland, where some employees of a grocery shop apprehended a guy who stole stuff from their shop. They pursued him out on the streets where they tackled the shop-lifter. As far as I remember they used some violence to get the man down. This shop was robbed so many times, they literally had enough of it and decided to act. Afterwards, those guys had to pay a big fee because they had assaulted the man who robbed their shop! Totally upside down world… It was late Prince Bernhard who actually paid the fees for the shop-employees, because he thought this was not the right way of dealing with people who where in their rights. These days, society offers a different platform for valour and honour than it used to be and this will have its effect on the behavior of certain individuals. I doubt if the collective respect for valour is the same as it used to be. We’ve seen too many “heroes” on television: Rambo, Superman, Batman etc. Heroism devaluates more and more in the eyes of the media and that’s a shame. Such people should be treated with an utmost respect, but as society looses its values, valour becomes more a pale shadow of what it used to be…"
What do you think about patriotism?
"Hm, to a certain degree it’s a good thing. It’s just too bad so many people overdo themselves in “loving” their country. We just had the world soccer games, right? Well, somehow many people in Holland always seem to hold a certain grudge towards Germany which I think doesn’t make sense at all. Those youngster are still fuelled with the stories about WWII and the game when Holland lost from Germany. One famous Dutch coach once said: “Voetbal is oorlog (Soccer is war)”. He was from a generation who should know the true nature of war and although I know soccer means very, very much to certain people, you can’t compare soccer with war. I don’t like it when people act in such naïve way. Somehow, they become mindless sheep and they follow the majority, because it’s them against the others. One country against the other, as simple as they think it is. No individuality anymore, just act and think like thousands of others. Certain countries are really indulging themselves in patriotism. It’s a part of their cultural / religious heritage and that’s the way they act. No room of other opinions or thoughts about their opponents. Black and white-thinking without any objective views. Lambs to the slaughter and that’s the way they end… Anyway, I’m proud of my country as well, but I’m always critical towards information I receive from television, newspapers, internet etc. As far as possible I always try to come up with my own opinion instead of portraying blind faith towards the media or certain (inter)national leaders of all kind of institutes."
What’s so special about the second World War that attracts you? Do you have any veteran in your family? How much did this to your childhood?
"The first part of your question is impossible to answer for me. I thought about this many times, but I just can’t find the answer. I asked my parents if it was a movie or a story that triggered my interest. My dad is 93 years old and as he studied in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy before WWII, he could have told me something about his past when I was very young, but it seems I’m interested in WWII from the moment I was born. This maybe sounds a bit awkward, but as far as I know (and my parents as well) from the moment I was conscious of my existence on this earth, I have a huge interest in this major global conflict. Already at a very young age I started playing with plastic soldiers and tanks and started drawing military actions on paper. Later, I discovered scale models of airplanes, tanks and guns and started to build them an masse (which by way I’m still doing, but not as many anymore). A bit later I got introduced to 2 nephews who were very much into the same subject as I was. With the 3 of us we played huge scale battlefields. Just imagine, we literally used 10.000’s of small plastic soldiers and 100’s of tanks. The battles were immense! We did reenactments of Normandy and Arnhem, but also played imaginary battles. In the meanwhile we played “soldaatje” (soldier) outside. I build my own guns (Brengun, MG 42, Stengun, Vickers Machinegun etc.) from wood and metal. Through the years I’ve visited museum after museum and former battlefields all around Europe. As I grow older, the interest and fascination becomes bigger and bigger. Veterans? Well, on the German side yes. Some relatives of my mothers side fought at the “Ostfront” against the Russians. I never met them, because they didn’t live to tell their tale, but I can tell you the family wasn’t too proud of their acts. My dad didn’t join the army, because he was studying to become a priest at that time. He was in the army for a whole 3 days! Well, his only son served his country way better, hahaha! He told me all kinds of stories about WWII, including the famous (at least here in Holland) “stelen van de fietsen” (stealing of the bicycles) by the Germans. He lost his bike under gun point to a member of the Waffen SS. Later, I “recovered” it, hehe… How my childhood would have been without WWII? Pfff, I haven’t the slightest idea how I would have spend all those hundred’s of hours in another way. Really, I don’t know. I “sacrificed” so many hours for my interest in WWII. I didn’t have any other hobbies (until I discovered Metal), so I absorbed it for a full 100%. And still, it feels good and the memories are more than cool. I’m very happy my parents supported my interest in WWII, because they gave me the chance to explore the bleak history of 1939-1945. I wonder how they thought about me. So young and already so much involved in a morbid era of time…"
There’s a picture on the back of the “Under The Black Cross” album... Is that a bunker or something?
"Very well recognized indeed! The photo session for “Under The Black Cross” was done at the former Belgian fortress Eben Emael. With the WWII concept of the album I felt we had to visualize this as much as possible. Well, dressing up as soldiers would be a bit too much, but the surroundings of the photo shoot should relate to this era. I felt this was very important for the overall vibe of the album. Maybe more for me personally than for those who would buy the album. For creating the lyrics I really went deep into the subject, the same with the cover art done by Manuel Tinnemans, so for me it wouldn’t make sense to photograph us in front of a church or something like that. The first time I visited Eben Emael with my girlfriend, I was totally impressed by the macabre and surrealistic atmosphere of the fortress. I’ve visited many former battlefields, but this was really something different. It was more eerie, grim and the darkness felt even “touchable”. The scars of war are so much visible at that spot. Many volunteers are doing their utmost best to restore the fortress as good as they can and I must give them a very big compliment for this great achievement for it really puts you back in the days of May 1940. Excellent! I really needed a spot like this, so on a Sunday we went with the whole gang to Eben Emael and we did this remarkable session. It still gives me an obscure feeling when I think about the fortress and the photo session, but for me personally it gives “Under The Black Cross” an extra dimension. I know it was hard to get hold of this specific feeling of the fortress on camera and not every photo contains this certain grimness, but the photos on the “Archaic Undead Fury” 10” are very special to me. Just like the ones on the back of “Under The Black Cross” CD and LP and underneath the thanks list inside the CD booklet. It would have been more closer to the concept of the album if we could have visited the harbour of St. Nazaire, but that would have cost too much money. Eben Emael is an 1 hour drive, while driving to the west coast of France is a trip of more that 10 hours. Well, I made the trip to France last year and it was very impressive to visit the place where it all happened. Very emotional."
What do you think about video clips? Would you like to do one for PENTACLE in the future? What are some of your the best from your point of view? Personally I like a few like CANDLEMASS 'Bewitched', MASTER’S HAMMER 'Géniové', SLAYER 'Season In The Abyss'...
"I think video clips are pretty interesting. When they are done with class (complex or simple) and atmosphere, they offer something extra for sure. As a kid, I always enjoyed watching clips of all kinds of bands / music. Maybe not so for the music, but as well for the visual platform those clips are able to support the music with. Except for something to hear, there’s something to see also. Sometimes it works just great and sometimes not. A clip for Pentacle? Hm, I gave that already a thought. A good friend of mine, Maurice from Lowlife Media (singer of Legion of the Damned (former Occult)), asked me several times if he could film a clip of us. He has worked with all kinds of artists as Dark Funeral, Thanatos, Immolation, Severe Torture, Exodus, Gorefest and Agent Steel. He’s really good in what he’s doing, so on a technological level it could definitely work out. He offered us a good financial deal, but at that moment we needed the money for something else, so that didn’t work out. But I think we don’t look brutal enough for a video clip, hahaha! My personal faves are: Celtic Frost – 'Into The Crypts Of Rays' and 'Circle Of The Tyrants', VENOM – 'Bloodlust' (live and studio), 'Seven Gates Of Hell' and 'Nightmare', Slayer – 'Hell Awaits', King Diamond – 'Family Ghost', Exodus – 'Strike Of The Beast', Morbid Angel – 'Blessed Are The Sick', Destruction – 'Bestial Invasion' and 'Reject Emotions', Voïvod – 'Voïvod' and ‘Tribal Convictions', Infernäl Mäjesty – 'None Shall Defy', Iron Maiden – 'The Number Of The Beast', 'Wasted Years' and 'Stranger In A Strange Land'. The Master’s Hammer clips are something special for sure, but I discovered them only recently, so I don’t have a real “historical” connection with them, you know. Yes, Candlemass’ 'Bewitched' is damn cool! If you look well, you can discover Dead (Morbid / Mayhem) acting as zombie under Messiah’s Marcolin command. Quite funny!"
Your new 10” “Archaic Undead Fury” was supposed to be a split with BLOOD STORM. What happened? Are you in contact with BLOOD STORM?
"The original idea for “Archaic…” was a split live 10” with Blood Storm on Metal War Productions. Spencer (Metal War Productions) is really into both bands, so he thought it would be a good idea to combine both forces. I like Blood Storm myself a lot and from what I heard from Mezzadurus (Blood Storm) he enjoyes Pentacle quite a bit too. So, it seemed to be the perfect match. As we didn’t had any suitable new recordings available for this release, Spencer came with the idea to use live tracks. I told him we had some interesting stuff lying around, so he proposed that both Pentacle and Blood Storm would use live material. As Spencer will confirm, I felt never too sure about this idea. Our soundboard recordings were from 1993 and although they are super heavy and of reasonable quality, I felt it didn’t represent us anymore. Our side of the 10” felt like some filler material to me, but Spencer really was into these recordings and as the prospect of a release with Blood Storm appealed very much to me, I decided to go along and work everything out. Together with Manuel I worked on the cover which was supposed to be released as a poster as well. The layout for the poster was done at my work by Frederique Sengers, who later designed our new website and created the layout for the “Under The Black Cross” album together with me as well. While the work on our side of the ocean progressed rather smoothly, it just didn’t work out with Blood Storm’s recordings. Everything went wrong and it took the band ages to produce some useable material. It seemed those guys were really cursed. In the end, both Blood Storm and Metal War Productions even got in a quarrel that ended it all. This took several years and the whole release wasn’t progressing at all. Well, the layout was ready, but that was it. So Blood Storm broke up with Metal War and then only Pentacle was left. Spencer tried to talk me into a 7” with our live tracks only, but as I still didn’t felt 100% comfortable with the idea of these recordings being used for a release, I decided not to continue with this concept. In the meanwhile we were preparing ourselves for the recordings of “Under The Black Cross”. I knew we would have some spare material left we could us for an extra release. I talked with Spencer about using those 2 tracks for the “Archaic…” release. We would use the same artwork for the front cover and the poster and for the rest it would become something new. He was very excited about this, so off we went! We changed the whole layout into a new release, so that right after the mastering of the recordings we could send the material (layout and music) to Spencer for a 7” release. But again something went wrong. Spencer didn’t have the financial means to release the 7” anymore. We waited a while, so that Spencer could raise some funds, but to no avail. At a certain moment I decided to cancel the deal with Metal War. It was just taking so much time again and again, over and over. It felt as a bad joke. Spencer is a very cool guy and he certainly did his best, but fortune decided else. I blew it off. Luckily, Spencer understood my arguments and we parted as friends. Of course I wanted the “Archaic Undead Fury” release to come out as soon as possible, so I offered it to Costa (Iron Pegasus Records) who just had released our “Under The Black Cross” album. He was very much interested, but he hadn’t the right financial means to release the EP. His last releases were the Mortem, Flame and Pentacle albums, so he was really tight on money. Very understandable, of course. So he had to thank for the honour. Another candidate was From Beyond Productions. I knew Roman was interested in Pentacle as he offered us a deal, but we had turned him down as we decided to sign with Iron Pegasus. I thought it would be a cool idea to offer him the release of “Archaic…”, so I phoned him and explained the situation. He was very interested in releasing the EP, but he thought it would be better to upgrade the 7” into a 10”, which was fine with me because the artwork would become more detailed with such a format. We signed the deal, changed the layout again and sent everything to Roman. He did a great job and the 10” was released a couple of weeks later. So, all in all this release took about 4 years to materialize… I used to be in contact with Mezzadurus and he seemed to be a real nice and intelligent guy. I know he lives his Metal just like I do, so it would have been nice to meet him once. I saw him performing with Absu on the first tour they did. I remember I thought he gave the best stage performance of the whole band. I thought it was a bit odd that a session member performed in a more outstanding way than the rest of the band. Oh well… Blood Storm is a great band. I own all their releases, so all the power to them!"
Please can you comment the following both songs with a few words: 'A Hellish Descend'
"The first song we wrote after “Ancient Death”. It’s a very powerful song. Not fast at all, but heavy with a steady vibe and some nice Necrophagia references, hehehe… I must say the song never really satisfied me for a full 100% until we recorded it. Then, I was blown away by its drive. It should have been on the B-side, but after the recordings everyone in the band was so enthusiastic about this track, it deserved its place on the A-side."
'Blast Them From The Sky':
"The last song we wrote before entering the studio. I wrote it together with Alex and it is one of my fave new songs. Whereas 'A Hellish Descend' is more steady and pounding, 'Blast Them...' is far more hectic, almost Possessed-like. I don’t mean the riffing, but the vibe of the song. It features many tempo changes and it contains one of the most “zagende” riffs I have ever written. I still remember how I wrote the song lying here on my bed, trying to memorize the 3 different guitar parts on my bass. As you can hear, I managed to explain it to the rest of the guys!"
Was your project THY INFERNAL recording a demo called “Crypts Of The Black” also in Harrow? What happened with those songs?
"The whole project never really materialized. It was Bob Bagchus (ex-Asphyx at that moment) on drums, Eric Daniels (Asphyx) on guitars and me on bass / vocals. The material was written by Eric and he was kind pissed off he had to do everything on his own, again (those were his exact words). At that time, Eric was the sole “original” member of Asphyx (I don’t know if they already had released “Asphyx” by then…) and he had a hard time rebuilding the band after Martin and Bob had left. After he had written the material for Thy Infernal, he decided to quit the project because it took too much of his time and that was it. We had about 4 or 5 songs completed, plus a cover of Majesty’s 'Maggots'. The vocals weren’t recorded yet, but as Eric quit, Bob decided to do the same and it didn’t make any sense to pull it off on my own, so there was little choice for me left to let it go. I do own a Thy Infernal shirt though…The demo wasn’t recorded at Harrow. It took place in the house of a friend of Bob who had a small recording studio. From what I can remember, it sounded pretty good."
You had a radio show in the past. What are some of the best and worst memories about that experience?
"That’s right. It was called “Thrashing Madness” (taken from the Messiah song) and I was a DJ together with a girlfriend of mine, Marleen. It was Radio Eagle in Arendonk, Belgium who first had a 2-hour show called “It’s the heavy way to do it” run by another girl. She always played all kinds of Rock and Metal like The Scorpions, Saxon, Priest, Iron Maiden, Picture etc. It was cool to listen to, because there was very little Rock and Metal on the radio. The stuff they played wasn’t always my taste, but that didn’t matter too much. Later, there were the “famous” 15 minutes when they played more extreme stuff like Venom and Slayer. I remember I sent her some Iron Maiden poster cards (like 'Aces High') with some requests. Anyway, at a certain point she invited listeners to play some tracks and have a little chat in the studio. That seemed fun to me, so together with a friend of mine (Hein) I went to the studio and played there some fave songs of mine. I remember it were Celtic Frost’s (what else…) 'The Usurper' and Kreator’s 'Blind Faith'. I think I played some Venom too, but I don’t know for sure anymore. Hein was more into traditional Rock and Metal. We had a small interview and that was it. What an experience, hehehe… I kept listening on a regular base to the show, when all of a sudden I heard the girl was going to quit the show. I can’t remember why anymore, but it was a let down for sure. As said before, there was very little media covering Metal, so anything would do it for us. Then, we got the idea of hosting one show ourselves. Just playing our faves on the radio for 2 hours long. That sounded very cool to us! Just before this show, I met Marleen through a mutual acquaintance and with the 3 of us we went to Arendonk to ask there if we could host a show. They seemed to be happy that some teenagers wanted to take over the show. We only wanted to do one broadcast, but those guys from Radio Eagles had other ideas…The first show was pure fun. I don’t know if there was anyone out there who knew we were terrorizing the ether with our infernal noise, but we had a blast. I remember Death’s “Leprosy” was just released, so I did a kind of review for this album. We played 'Forgotten Past', that’s right. Some Infernäl Mäjesty too. Ah, and Dark Angel, Possessed, Venom, Celtic Frost and more of this kind of bands. Heavy stuff! When the show was finished, we went home, but not before the guy from Radio Eagle said: “See you next week!”. Huh? We only came out for this one show… Oh well, why not? We had had a lot of fun and it was very cool to play your own faves on the air. We hadn’t heard of such an extreme show before, so we decided to do it! So there it all started. For the next 4 years (1988-1992) Marleen and I hosted our show “Thrashing Madness”. We only played extreme (underground) stuff of bands like Asphyx, Immolation, Sempiternal Deathreign, Onslaught, Thanatos, Repulsion, Treblinka, Slaughter, Obituary, Necrovore, Morbid Angel, Destruction, Grave, Carbonized, Merciless, Bathory, Gorefest, Acrostichon, Vital Remains, Blasphemy, Slayer, Exodus, Dead Head, Sinister, Messiah, Hellhammer / Celtic Frost (way more than acceptable, haha!), Terrorizer, Necromantia, Samael, Kreator, Autopsy, Sadus, Rotting Christ, Pentagram, Cruise Missle, Death, Mortem (NOR), Carcass, Kreator, Sodom, Necrophagia, Grotesque, Bestial Summoning, Venom, Nihilist / Entombed, Atomic Aggressor, Incubus (FL), Sacrifice, Dr. Shrinker etc. We played many rehearsals, demos and live tapes. Not just quality recordings, but harsh stuff as well. Those were the days Morbid Angel hadn’t released “Altars Of Madness” yet, so the only stuff we played were of their 2 demos, “Abominations…” and rehearsals / live material. The Grave, Asphyx, Entombed, Merciless, Immolation, Carnage, Delirium, Sindrome etc. demos. The real underground stuff. I still bump into people who say they heard bands that became really big later the first time on our show when we played their demo or live tracks. I remember people calling us for a request like Suicidal Tendencies. I replied: “I don’t own it and we won’t play it!”, hahaha! That was our attitude back then. Just playing the stuff we enjoyed and we didn’t care about the rest. Awesome! Not to forget, we had our own “Thrashing Madness” shirts as well! We had some interesting interviews with band as well. We did the first interview with Asphyx just after Martin had joined the band. We had a studio report with Gorefest. We had 2 interviews with Acrostichon. My friends in the band Dead End were regular guests as well. One of the highlights was the interview with Max, Igor and Paulo of Sepultura. It was after the release of “Beneath The Remains” and they were available for an interview at the studio. That was a very cool one. Max and Igor saw my Hellhammer shirt and they went nuts over it! They were very much into Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, so that was a good start! After the show, we went to a pub in Bladel and had some drinks. Really nice guys with no attitude whatsoever. Talking about some bad memories, it wasn’t fun when Marleen dropped a glass of water on the control panel… Boy, you should have seen and heard the reaction of the studio owner. We were the outcasts of the whole radio station as well. We played only extreme Metal and I remember we got some “advice” to play more commercial material as well. Of course we didn’t listen to them. Remember, it was our show! Later, when I had to quit the show because I joined the army, the pressure on Marleen became bigger and bigger. She got into arguments with the coordinator and that was the end of “Thrashing Madness”. That was really a pity. It didn’t end very glorious…"
What kind of job do you have nowadays, Wannes?
"I’m working as an editor. It’s hard to explain my work, because I believe it’s rather specialized for the Netherlands (at least I think so). In my country, there are guides for every municipality with all kind of information about the mayor, the different services the municipality offers its citizens etc. See it as a kind of tourist guide, but then for people who truly live in the municipality. Together with some other employees I coordinate the production of a certain amount of such guides. It’s a nice job, where I can use my brains (as far as they exist, hahaha!). The people are very friendly and I can play my Metal stuff over my computer without any troubles. Believe it or not, when Slayer’s “Raining Blood” is blasting from my speakers, some serious head banging does occur, hehe… I’m not the only Metal fan who works there, so it can be quite fun! I can wear my Metal gear (except for the bullet belt…) just as I like to, but when I visit a municipality, I have to wear a suit. It’s strange, because when I have to dress up that way, the women at my job always seem to be a bit more “interested” than usual. Sharp dressed man, right! A though guy in a suit seems to awaken their primal instincts, hahaha! Anyway, I have my metal model of a “88” gun on my desk, a scale model of a Königstiger near the window and the “Morbid Tales” heptagram on my desktop, so everyone knows what to expect of me."
Now that bands like THE CHASM and DESASTER have gained the recognition of big labels like Earache and Metal Blade, do you think is more near to see PENTACLE signing with a bigger label with more possibilities for tours, etc?
"I really don’t know, Huaira. This question has been asked quite frequently. Concerning the time, effort and spiritual input I’ve sacrificed I should have "earned“ a deal with a bigger label by now (and much earlier too), but the Pentacle’s attitude, vibe, concept doesn’t allow such move into the realm of the "überground“. It just doesn’t fit the soul of the band. When we started, I always envisioned Pentacle as a band for the selected few. These people would understand our goal and message. For them and ourselves we would perform our songs and not for the big numb consuming masses who are into it because it just cool, so to say. I always took the other path, even when I was a child. I didn’t follow the big crowd and even today I refuse to take part of something I feel that doesn’t fit me. Same with Pentacle. When we started the band, almost everyone was heading toward the second wave of Death Metal. The bands who started the whole scene were obsolete and not heavy enough anymore, because now people had more extreme heroes like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Carcass, Entombed, Death etc. Don’t get me wrong, we too liked many records of mentioned bands, but our hearts were with acts as Venom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Possessed, Bathory etc. This was the music we really wanted to perform and with our sound we would honour those acts who created such brilliant albums as "To Mega Therion“, "Seven Churches“, "Welcome To Hell“, "Apocalyptic Raids“, "Under The Sign...“, "Season Of The Dead“, "Hymn To Abramelin“, "Strappado“ etc. Hence the slogan "Don’t forget the Ancient Feeling...it still rules!!!“. At that point, only a small group of people was into our sound. Most of the others didn’t understand or cared for our ideas, but we took our own path and we still do. I still wonder how many people really do understand our concept. We are deeply rooted in the 80s, but we’re far from being a mere copycat like so many other bands. When we should sign with a bigger label, we would have to keep 100% artistic freedom of our releases, music and artwork. The material would stay ours, whatever the conditions of the contract would be. Merchandise would be approved by us. We should have the opportunity to work with other labels to release limited vinyl releases without loosing the rights of the material and recordings. The album should be released on vinyl as well and that means no cheap PD without any info. I hate that! And no "featuring former Asphyx member“ sticker, hahaha! And some additional stuff as well. But I really doubt if I have the qualities to write enough suitable material for an album each year over and over. Just take a look how long it lasted before we released "Under The Black Cross“, hehehe... No, I can’t imagine that on a realistic base."
As you are a diehard FROST maniac, I want you to make us a little review about “Monotheist”.
"Buy or die!!! For me, the best album of 2006! Short enough?"
I think that’s all for now. It was supposed to be “just a few questions”, hehe, sorry man. Thank you very much for your time, again! Just hope someday to witness the power of PENTACLE live!
"Doesn’t matter at all. Thank you very much Huaira, for the interesting interview. You asked some great stuff I never answered before. Great job! Good luck with Noise and Shit Mag. Keep supporting the underground! Many thanks to Frank too for giving us some exposure on the mighty Voices website. Your support is really appreciated! For old times sake, here’s the ancient play list again: Bathory – “In Memory To Quorthon” Box, Asphyx – “Crush The Cenotaph” demo / “Mutilating Process” EP, Poison – “Down Further Into The Abyss” CD, Slayer – “Haunting The Chapel” 12”, Necrophagia – “Ready For Death” LP, Kaamos – “Lucifer Rising” LP, Necros Christos – “Grave Damnation” MCD, Sepultura – “Morbid Visions” LP, Craft – “Fuck The Universe” DoLP, Hellhammer – “Satanic Rites” demo, Autopsy – “Dark Crusade” DVD, Immolation – Demo I, Destruction – “Infernal Overkill” LP." Contact: PENTACLE, Franse Hoef 17, 5531 PD Bladel, The Netherlands, www.pentacle.nl. DON’T FORGET THE ANCIENT FEELING…IT STILL RULES!!!"
Interview: Huaira Herrera (NOISE AND SHIT MAG, Chile)
pics: Monique Ristenpatt (Wannes & Martin Ain), Marleen Krabben (Wannes, Tom Fischer & Franco Sesa), Steven Willems
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