The angel was made of iron. Not the best material for naturally flying objects, you know, but the desire to touch the sky was too strong to keep him in the safety of heaven, and as long as both his wings worked in perfect union, as long as they were as one, he could fly high and the sunrays were playing on his iron wings. But nothing is eternal under this moon. Little by little the wings began to find themselves arguing severely more and more often, and finally the day came when each of them made for their own, opposite ways. Excuse my disappointing those of you waiting for the happy end, there isn’t one to be found here. The angel fell to the ground and Death greeted him with a warm encouraging smile and opened her cordial embrace for him. Rejected by the sky, sheltered by the soil, he’s fallen a victim of his own self. But is it really the end of the story? Both yes and no, for memory does not necessarily play according to the rules of the One with a scythe. That’s why sometimes, when looking into the sky, for a moment it may seem to you that you were able to catch sight of reflection of his iron wings gleaming in the sun. Once a king – always a king…
IRON ANGEL existed for less than 5 years and recorded only two albums but are remembered and admired even these days, 15 years later. Mike (Matthes, IRON ANGEL drummer), what do you think it is an indication of – greatness of the past or weakness of the present? I know, you can’t be impartial here, but what the hell – it was you who was making that music, therefore you have all the rights to speak and let the truth be known…
"I think we are still remembered today because we were the first German Speed Metal band which played with a lot of power and speed. What can also be a reason is that our singer Dirk’s vocals differed very much from the other singers of that time. A good example is, I believe, our first gig. As we began to play, the people stood there rigidly, marvelled at a German band playing music like MOTÖRHEAD did. At the end of this gig we had to play the song ‘Heavy Metal Soldiers’ five times as an encore. Anyway, I think all this must have something to do with people who have our first demo or our album "Hellish Crossfire", the first one. However, I believe it’s not the quality, but the sort of the music we have done what impresses the people, and it allows to think of us up to this day."
Who or what was it to bring Metal into your life for the first time?
"I have two brothers who used to listen to bands like JUDAS PRIEST, KISS and MOTÖRHEAD at a time when my interest in music started."
How, when and where did IRON ANGEL come to life?
"IRON ANGEL was created in 1980 as a school-band, at that time we were still called METAL GODS (a song of JUDAS PRIEST). We renamed us, after some time, into IRON ANGEL."
Have that choice of new bandname had anything to do with IRON MAIDEN?
"No, not at all. At the time as we named us IRON ANGEL I have read a lot of imagination novels, among other things also novels about a spirit hunter. In one of these novels the name Iron Angel was found, and when I suggested the name, all were inspired. So we came to the name IRON ANGEL."
Your Demo ’83 was one of the first Speed Metal records from Germany, was it anything special for you?
"Yes, we were particularly proud of being the first German Speed Metal band which was accepted in Germany."
In your early days you often played together with DESTRUCTION who were nothing more than the newcomers then, just like IRON ANGEL. Could you foresee back then that DESTRUCTION were going to grow into one of the leading Thrash forces in just a couple of years?
"Yes, I think DESTRUCTION has already had the cult status at the time. For me DESTRUCTION, together with KREATOR and SODOM, are the best Thrash bands from Germany, because they have their own style and also a lot of radiant emittance. Greetings to Schmier and Mike."
Even though Thrash was having its heydays exactly at that time and your music was pretty close to it, you gave your preference to much more melodic and catchy Speed Metal in the end. Did you find Thrash to be too unmelodic for your tastes?
"Not only bands like MOTÖRHEAD and SLAYER affected us, but also bands like JUDAS PRIEST, who belonged to Dirk’s favourites. We wanted to try to connect Speed Metal with melodic elements, what was not asked at the time yet, unfortunately, but later it was done by bands like HELLOWEEN and then was also accepted by the fans. I am also of the opinion that we were not a Thrash Metal band, but a Speed Metal one. We had a gig with KREATOR in Belgium, where Mille of KREATOR said to me: "You are the worst Thrash Metal band, but the best Speed Metal band from Germany."
It was the same line-up to record both IRON ANGEL albums, but what about the demos? Exactly how many of them were released officially? In the tape-traders’ lists it’s possible to find up to three of them…
"We have done only one, the "Legions Of Evil" demo. Also there are still two live demos, one from Germany and another from Belgium, which were more or less "official" demos. We also have always had the same line-up. Besides, up to "The Rebirth" we had the only admission to the new people: Gunter Moritz on guitar, who replaced Thorsten Lohmann during our Germany trip with KING DIAMOND on bass."
Had the tapes contained any songs that didn’t end up on any of your albums later?
"Yes, those were three songs which we wanted to do on the successor of "Winds Of War": ‘Devils Gate’, ‘Maniac Of The Night’ and ‘Hounds Of Hell’."
Why do you think it was especially that time, the middle of the eighties, when German Metal scene was as strong as it had never been before and would never be afterwards?
"I think at that time there were very good bands, also you had to have some courage to play Metal and to stand behind it. Today it ain’t anymore, unfortunately, because only very few good bands got no chance to record a CD."
Have you ever been at least a bit more seriously into the Darkside topics than just using them for writing songs like ‘Black Mass’, ‘Sinner’ or ‘Legions Of Evil’?
"Yes, at the time we all were interested very much in supernatural things, which reflected in our lyrics back then."
Was there a leader in IRON ANGEL, someone to make the most important decisions and dictate his will to the rest of the band?
"No, we have always decided everything together."
Do you still consider the softening of sound on "Winds Of War" to be a good decision, a step in the right direction for the band?
"In my opinion the songs were not so bad. I believe the production was what allowed the songs to sound so softly. The producers in Germany pay very much attention to drums, bass and singing, which is always in the front and the guitars get neglected. "Winds Of War" is, in my opinion, a typically German production. I think, for example, that if an American had mixed "Winds Of War", the result would have turned out much harder."
Looking back, at which point do you think something went wrong in IRON ANGEL? From outside everything seemed to go very smoothly up to the release of the second album, but what about the view from inside?
"Those were musical differences. Peter, Dirk and I musically wanted back to "Hellish Crossfire", again harder and faster songs, but Sven and Thorsten wanted to do more and more Heavy Metal songs that went into the direction of RATT, SCORPIONS".
That’s the "official" statement regarding IRON ANGEL’s split, which is quite usual and therefore infernally boring: "musical and personal differences". Are the real causes still kept in top secret after all these years? Don’t you have anything to add on the subject, like what those differences were like and how they happened to be strong enough to kill the band whose future looked more or less bright at the time?
"Those were really the reasons why it came to the split."
Did any of your colleagues took part in any bands after IRON ANGEL’s split?
"After the split of IRON ANGEL we all have played in bands. Peter had been playing for years with a Thrash band called ROOTS. Dirk still is a demanded studio-singer today. However, he didn’t sing in any bands after Iron fishing Angel. Sven has played in some Heavy Metal bands whose names I have no idea of, because I have no more contact to Sven. All what I know about Thorsten is that he has moved for professional reasons to Bavaria. As for me, I have played in various Speed- and Heavy Metal bands. Among other things also a very long time in Jürgen Blackmore’s band SUPERSTITION / J.R. Blackmore Group".
How did you hook up with Ritchie Blackmore and what was that experience all about? He’s considered to be one of the most "unpleasant to deal with" persons in heavy music, you know, so, having worked with him, did you share this opinion too in the end?
"First of all, Jürgen is not such a difficult person like his father Ritchie Blackmore is. With Jürgen one could work very well. Today he still is a very good friend of mine." (Ehh, stupid me, I thought it was Ritchie himself using different name for any "copyright" reasons… – Timothy)
Have you lost, at least partly, your faith in Metal throughout all these years? In case you kept watching the scene all the time it is quite possible, I suppose… Anyway, are you still proud to name yourselves "Heavy Metal soldiers"?
"No, we have never lost the belief in Heavy Metal. With Heavy Metal Soldiers we have not meant ourselves, but the fans who stood like an army behind the band."
Did you take the tragedy that took Peter’s life in the middle of your work on the comeback album as an omen, a destiny’s warning to leave IRON ANGEL resting in peace?
"No, I do not believe that Peter’s death is an omen to not revive IRON ANGEL. Just because Peter was one of the first ones who wanted to revive IRON ANGEL again."
What kind of person was Peter?
"If I start now writing what kind of person Peter was, I would be, in ten years, still writing. Peter was my best friend, and I feel that with his death a part of me has died as well."
Then don’t you think that the best tribute you could ever pay to him is to finish recording and release "The Rebirth" album?
"We will finish the recordings of "The Rebirth" anyway and release the CD. We are not going to change the songs. Unfortunately, we could not record the solo guitars any more, and there will be no guitar solo on "The Rebirth". There will also still be the fourth album which I will only record with Dirk. I will play all instruments and Dirk will sing all songs. The title will be "Vier"".
The cover of your new album differs quite drastically from the drawings in fantasy style of "Hellish Crossfire" and "Winds Of War" – is it exactly how you’ve changed yourselves within the years: away from fantasy, closer to reality?
"I believe "The Rebirth" cover represents our musical maturity. What should not mean, however, that we are going to do any compromises musically again. With "The Rebirth" we are heading back to our roots. The album "Vier" still becomes harder though. We want back to "Hellish Crossfire" anyway."
Do you feel you’ve kept enough fire in your heart to make anything as exciting and mind-blowing as "Hellish Crossfire" again these days?
"Naturally, and also still even more. Like I said, we will do no more compromises musically. Never!!"
"This record is made for all speed metal fans and also for all heavy metal fans on this Earth", that’s what the cover of "Hellish Crosfire" revealed. And these days everyone claims to make his / her music for him / herself exclusively – have the times changed that much? Anyway, who were you making your music for in the first place?
"This sentence should only have said that we do music for each, not only for some part of the fans".
What did IRON ANGEL give you as a musician and as a person?
"IRON ANGEL has always had and forever will determine my musical life. Today it’s leading me to where I’ve never been before. But it always returns anyway."