HESSLER is another band from the Windy city. A band in a long line of great bands all coming from Chicago. Let yourself be taken away by this band by reading this interview to start with. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

I have a fascination for band names. I think that it is interesting how common words take on completely new meanings when used as band names. But yours I’m not sure of. Where does it come from?
-Where HESSLER comes from is not really as important as where it is going. It is very tough to come up a band name that works as almost everything has been beaten to death. I was never a fan of multi worded band names; how the hell would fans be able to chant “Once more as I die bleeding through the September dream”? HESSLER came to me long ago when I was jumping through a fire that I made with my friends, and it is a flag we are all proud to fly.

To me Chicago has always been a great town for hardrock/metal. That might not be true anymore. So what kind of scene is there in Chicago these days?
-I moved around a lot in my lifetime, from Yugoslavia to America and within the U.S., finally ending up in Illinois (Chicago) in 2002. After creating HESSLER and starting to actively play in 2009, I have had the privilege and in many cases massive headaches in dealing with bands in the Chicago scene. I heard good things about the scene here in the 80s and 90s but I was not around at that time to gauge the difference when compared to today. All I can say is that 3 years ago you would have to beg people to come to concerts. Now you just show up and they are there. I do wish that more pretty girls would drift away from the autotuned top 40 shit and come to metal shows, but we are fortunate enough to have hot gals at our concerts. Once they see a show, they ALWAYS come back. For a long time I’ve dreamed of having a sunset strip heavy metal type of scene in Chicago, but the hipsters are currently winning; we will keep fighting!

In Sweden we are not immune to talent shows on TV. Do you feel that because of all these damn talent shows people expect the big stuff without having to work for it?
-I do, but it is a different beast. I do not follow American Idol or X Factor, etc. but I do know of say James Durbin and him getting to perform with Judas Priest. For the most part every band in their history (us included) has tried to or won a contest, whether for money or recording, and some of the biggest bands in the world started off like that. There is nothing about winning a contest that is “selling out” but REAL fans appreciate and value for a longer time bands that do it the old hard fashioned way of paying their dues. There is a reason Iron Maiden would sell out stadiums with little or no radio or MTV support; the fans grew with the band and stayed loyal up to the present time. I think the fans of the acts on the TV shows are just pop fans that jump from one cool thing to the next. I don’t want that. We want to play to actual headbangers that sing the words and trade their energy with us. Five headbangers are worth 20 American Idol studio audiences.

How tough is it today to build a name for yourself these days? Do you feel that it has changed with the introduction of social media?
-Social Media is a double edged sword. For example, when we put out our first EP Bad Blood, the very first copy sold in Osaka, Japan. This was not a friend of mine, or of anyone in the band, or any of our friends’ friend. That is the power of social media. People across the world can find out easily about your music. It is all there for the taking. The other edge of the sword is having 100s of “bands” in one market that clog up the social waves and have never played a show; anyone can make a facebook page, tag their pics, and say they are in the band. It would be a waste of time to create such a thing, but it should be a requirement that you cannot make a band facebook until you have played a certain amount of live shows. People think too highly of themselves, and the best litmus test for if you are making a name for yourself, is if people come to your shows. We are fortunate enough to have actual fans at gigs and excited for everything to grow because we have been working hard for years. George Young, the older brother of Malcolm and Angus from AC/DC, once said “You are not a band until you’ve played 2,000 gigs.” We are a very humble band that has been fortunate to have a steady growth, but there are bands out there who have payed their dues and never get the credit they deserve.

When you release albums and not being signed to a major label, is that something positive?
-One of my favorite stories is when Atlantic Records offered M.C. Hammer and $80,000. record contract and he replied with “I sell that much out of the trunk of my car.” HESSLER music and merchandise sells very well and this is all set up and maintained by us. I have turned down many offers from smaller labels because I believe we can do most of the work and keep the full revenue to put back into the band to grow. A larger label or one that would put time and effort into HESSLER would be fantastic because of all of their built in connections such as global distribution and booking agents that could get us onto large summer festivals such as Sweden Rock, Hellfest, or Wacken. Labels do packaged tours with larger acts on their roster and this is a great way to introduce new fans to younger bands like ours. Who knows what the future holds with major labels, but I know that we are all very hungry to get overseas (something we are setting up for later in 2013) and to tour consistently with larger acts with whom we would fit. We are dedicated, hard working and high energy band; if nobody bites on what we are doing, we will keep doing it our way.

When you tour does that bring in a new fan base or are you just playing to the already converted?
-Both. We just did a Southwest US tour to promote the new record “Comes With the Territory” and get out of the Chicago cold 😉 In many towns we would see fans that saw us play the Rocklahoma festival in May, but we gained many, many new fans. The key is to go out every 3 – 4 months to keep the fan base growing.

Is it possible to make a living out of being in a band just by playing live and releasing albums? What does it take to make the band a full time gig?
-Every penny I have ever made playing music I put back into the band for the van, more mercahndise, cds, recording, etc. Until you are a larger act, or making good amount of money on your guarantees, you cannot spend the money. Like Scarface’s boss said “Don’t get high of your own supply.” In recent years when I read the interviews of musicians I looked up to as a kid, they are being more free with saying what they did for a day job before they made it, or sometimes at the same time. It is possible but that all depends on the fans and how much they put back in return.

Has new technology made it easier to get a great sound, a sound that previously only was for those who could pay for the big studios?
-Definitely! It gives you the option to do so much more in a smaller and less costly environment. Frankie (guitar) and myself are particular about using actual guitar heads and micing real guitar cabs. We play our guitar parts from beginning to end, same with Marcus’ drum tracks and Erik’s bass. I don’t believe in playing the verse riff then cutting and pasting it on the grid. When you do that, you lose the little imperfections that make music what it should be. Technology is there to make edits and capturing your playing easier, but I think too many artists use it to compensate for something they lack.

What kind of sound are you aiming for when you enter a studio? How do you achieve that?
-A live sound. When you play live your blood is flowing, sweat dripping, and you play songs a bit faster. We play as a full band when tracking drums in order to set a click tempo to make edits easier later on. Sometimes you over think it and record a song too slow which takes some of the energy out of it. My favorite song of all time is Hallowed Be Thy Name by Iron Maiden and if you compare the tempo on Number of the Beast to say live at Beast Over Hammersmith (when the band is on fire), the studio version is slower. I guess that leaves something new for the fans when seeing the band live. Main point, capture your live energy in audio form.

What kind of bands do you feel close to? Any special country that is special to you?
-Everyone in the band has different influences. You can check out http://www.hesslerchicago.com to find out more. When it comes to Heavy Metal, I feel close to Iron Maiden, Accept, Judas Priest, and early W.A.S.P. I love the twin guitar attacks, the lead voice, the stage presence, the amazing fans, and everything about the message and the live shows. Three countries I find special are Japan, Germany, and Sweden. I have never been to Japan but everyone knows how loving the fans are to heavy metal bands that they like and music is still appreciated in culture. My ultimate life goal has always been to play Japan (hopefully many many times). Smany of my favorite bands come from Germany; Accept, Rammstein, Warlock, Scorpions, Running Wild, OOMPH! etc. So much metal and industrial history, and I’m really looking forward to playing Deutschland. In the past few years many glam bands have come out of Sweden, not really sure why everyone is now covering themselves in dirt and grime because they’re starting to look the same, but I would love to play a big festival to prove that live we can more than hang with the bands that are out today. Sweden Rock always has so many great bands, this year included, and I look forward to playing there one day.


OSSIN I came upon by chance checking my Facebook page. It sounded like a cool band. So much that an interview seemed like a good idea. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

I only randomly come upon your name when surfing Facebook so how active are you as a band?
-We are pretty new! Just started out a few years ago still mostly active like others. Work out on new material and currently online with a side project coz we had downside of hard get full band together, we currently seeking band members and therefore mostly active on the net for now.

Why did you guys want to start a band in the first place?
-Our friends and fans pushed us and we wanna put a name to the unknown. Most of us been doing music for a long time, one way or another so why not create something which comes naturally.

How would you like to describe the band?s sound to somebody new to the band like me?
-Independent Badass Metal as free base of e_xpression in the genre of Doom/ Death Metal.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to being a band where you live?
-In Sweden the advantages is that we have many active bands and maybe disadvantages is that everyone do their own.

When you are an underground band how do you promote the band?
-The music itself, our fans and manager promote us.

Is it hard to write songs that don’t sound like everybody else?
-No and yes. Most lyrics come from an emotionally state symbolizing e_xpressions in various ways. Ossin’s sound is in the base rock driven metal mixed with sometime progressive influences. Ossin change style over time as we like a future development but still stay true to the genre of metal. The hard part is to stay truthful to natural while not censuring anything, or being political correct coz that has nothing to do with what we do and still there is always some obstacles to climb ontop (like kick a stompbox) in a suppressed world.

What was behind the choice of band name?
-A boys name.

Do you have an ideology or concept behind the band that you follow religiously?

What would you say good art work is for a metal band?
-Artwork that strongly represent the metal concept, personality in a mind-screwing way.

What are your intentions with the band?
-Ossin already completed its own purpose at first place; all material was put together, rehearsed, recorded, played and later distributed freely out to the masses who appreciate our kind of work which still is ongoing but there will always be a possibility that we take it even further. Whatever happens our plan is to continue the creation of a dark spirit metal alternative.



SABBATH ASSEMBLY is a strange beast to me but I had to know more about the concept seeing as there is a second album out too. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

I guess that this is the most frequent question asked but what where the reason you wanted to do Sabbath Assembly?
-I felt immediately drawn to the lyrics of the hymns of the Process; the first one I discovered was called “Christ and Satan Joined in Unity,” and I felt a strong relationship to this idea of balance. Thus it became a mission to share the hymns of the Church, none of which had ever been recorded, with the world. I connected with former members of the Church and secured a hymnal, which for me was like discovering a buried treasure. Each hymn is really pure gold.

When you have such a clear concept that you have does it ever feel limiting creatively?
-We are beginning to expand by playing more original material, still in the spirit of the Church, but not so confined to the structure of a hymn. One critique that is sometimes made of ‘occult’ music is that, in this day and age when we have access to all occult ‘secrets’ at our fingertips, the themes of the music can suffer from a kind of ‘eclecticism’ – here’s a song about Crowley, here’s one about the Rosicrucians, here’s a few lines from Ancient Egypt. The limit of focusing on the Process exclusively allows us to really deepen ourselves in this one path, and hopefully provide a message that is more clear, rather than just creating some kind of occult stew.

You are on your second album now as the Sabbath Assembly. How far can you take this before it all ends?
-Yes, and we are just finishing our third which be for sale in limited quantities on our upcoming Spring EU tour. The new album is called “Quaternity” and features half Process songs and half songs of our own composition, but based on the themes and writings of the Church. Thankfully the Process was quite prolific, with more than 60 hymns published in sheet music, and over 500 pages of published writings.

Is there a future to Sabbath Assembly once you run out of stuff to record? Can Sabbath Assembly exist without the material?
-Given the above numbers we could definitely make five or more albums without running out of material, plus adding originals you may not get rid of us for a long time!

For those of us not too familiar with the origin could you please give us a short introduction?
-The Process Church was a new religious movement that developed in the late 60’s and early 70’s as an outgrowth of Scientology. The Church described the functioning of our minds in terms of the Western deities Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan, and taught radical acceptance of all of these. The Process despised repression and social conventions, which they felt concealed our true natures. Christ represented one who could balance these inner impulses in harmony, rather than championing one over another – hence the talk about unifying our inner forces of “good” and “evil.” The ultimate goal was, and is, to come to understand the root of our compulsive behaviors, learning not to act on these compulsions non-reflectively, and thus aiming towards a kind of “Truth” in the sense of attaining a glimpse of ourselves apart from the influence of society.

What is the biggest challenge taking on this material? How true to the originals are you? How much room for improv is there?
-We only have the sheet music to create our recordings from, no actual recordings of the songs. So looking at a piece of sheet music only, there are an infinite number of ways to bring a tune to life. Also we are quite free with changing certain words, chords and melody lines to create pieces that we are comfortable performing. The purpose of Sabbath Assembly is not to be historical documentarians, but interpreters of these hymns for these modern times.

How do you distance yourself from the message within? Do you distance yourself from the message?
-I don’t have an interest in distancing myself from the message of the Church at all, and find the music is better the more we as a band immerse in it. We certainly distance ourselves from the way the message was disseminated, and the social conditions under which it flourished – meaning the cultish obeisance to human leaders, and the ‘give everything away and follow us’ tactics of joining and staying in the Church. We believe in personal empowerment, not in total sacrifice to the Process Church or anyone else.

How does the Church’s ideology fit in today’s society? How much of a cult was the Church?
-The way the Church survived was absolutely based on cult tactics, and as previously mentioned we as a band do not condone these. The ideology, however, absolutely fits and this has been shown by the reception of the band. “Christ and Satan Joined in Unity.” People are weary of the warfare between ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ and the ultimate subjectivity of these terms. Who’s a ‘terrorist’? It depends which country you talk with. “Satan” was a term used by the Hebrew tribes to refer to an ‘adversary,’ and the Process picked up on Christ directive to love our adversaries – including Satan. In psychological terms, this means making friends with the “shadow” side of ourselves; not doing so results in hypocrisy and wars. This is seen most obviously in the Holy-Rollers who pronounce war against homosexuality, but meanwhile have a same-sex prostitute in secret. Or in my life as a boy trying to be a good Christian for my family, but meanwhile listening to Venom records in my closet in secret. The Process is about “no more secrets,” no more lies, no more false personas. Stop trying to be so ‘good’ or so ‘bad,’ and seek a life of balance, harmony, and openness.

What are your opinions of doomsday cults and religious sects? Are they a necessary evil to keep the rest of us sane?
-I feel like there are two opposing forces we see at work in society. One side encourages us to believe in permanence and security, so we amass lots of things, get married (‘diamonds are forever’), and go to churches that assure us we will live eternally. As a necessary reaction to this, we have serial killers, doomsday cults, and wars that continuously remind us that nothing is permanent, and that the world could end tomorrow. I would say that neither of these viewpoints keeps any of us ‘sane’ but rather balance each other necessarily. What would be interesting is to see how human behavior would change if we feared death less, and worried less about ‘leaving our mark,’ and instead became a bit more comfortable with the present moment.


I can’t say that I remember SLEEPY HOLLOW from back in the day but seeing as they are back now I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

When you name your band Sleepy Hollow how easy is it to escape the legend of the headless rider?
Bob Mitchell: Actually we never had the idea of naming the band after the Washington Irving story. The simple truth is, we named the band after the township of Sleepy Hollow in New York. As we all know, there have been several bands that have named themselves after either the towns they are from or towns they have visited. As for the images that are relative to the tales of Sleepy Hollow, we made a concious effort to stay away from all of that and that is why we created our mascot, the Demonic Pegasus.

Pure Steel seems to specialize in finding bands that may have been at sleep but not forgotten. How did you end up with an album on a German label?
BM: When we first came back, we were actually offered to have “Skull 13” released on vinyl through my friend at High Roller Records. Then later, as we were working on the album, the offer came from Pure Steel and it was mutually worked out between the two labels to have it released in both formats. We have a great contract with Pure Steel and Andreas has been great to us. It doesn’t look like we will be leaving them any time soon. As for High Roller, based on the agreement between the two companies, there will be another SLEEPY HOLLOW vinyl from them.

When you release albums 20 years apart how active has Sleepy Hollow been in the time between?
BM: Not very active at all, but our name and music has sustained itself for all these years, thankfully. We are all taken back by the reaction we have gotten through our live shows and we as pleased to see that “Skull 13” is doing so well. I believe that it’s true what they say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”.

What was it that didn’t work out for you the first time around? Was there one single reason why the album didn’t take off in the 90s?
BM: I’m not sure really. We had a great run the first time around as far as live shows and selling records was concerned. It could possibly be the trend changes that were occurring in the business at the time. We may have been caught in the middle of the change whereas record companies had decided to change their recipes for success. Many bands that I know personally had changed their style in order to stay in the game and some bands, myself included, decided to stick to my beliefs and protect the integrity of the works I’ve contributed over the years. Actually, I never thought about it, I’m just happy to know the band is relevant. It’s a privilege to be an entertainer and to be surrounded by an amazing group of musicians. I am also proud that we have a fan-base that has left me or the band. SLEEPY HOLLOW is is a great position right now t make a difference once again.

Was it hard to record an album that would follow in the footsteps of the first one? Or did you even think along those lines when you wrote and recorded the album?
BM: No it wasn’t hard at all for us. Some of the songs on “Skull 13” never made it to our debut so we dusted those songs off and added newly written material which all fit quite nicely as far as continuity is concerned. It was a fun album to make, I basically had done the vocals in one take and then some revisions were made. It’s important to maintain the initial performance, because it has to also be performed live. So if there are any flaws, it’s a good thing only because its real and it is you. Like I always say, “If you have to force it, then don’t sing it”.

How different was it to record as Sleepy Hollow today compared to the first time around?
BM: What has changed is the technology. I am hoping that on the next album we can all be together as a band like we did early in our career. The best albums are from bands that are together in one room and crank it up. It works best that way because you off of each other’s energy. That is the one thing that is lacking from “Skull 13”, we basically phoned in our parts although it came out sounding great, there is that lack of unity from the bands performance. On the other side, however, our songs really came together on the live stage and that’s because after we recorded the album we got together and rehearsed and then performed so, fortunately, the songs off our new album lent themselves quite nicely live.

Did you feel that you were a part of a thriving metal scene in New Jersey back in the days? What kind of bands were around when you released the first album?
BM: It was a great scene back then. When our album was released, there were bands like EZO, Nuclear Assault, TT Quick, Non-Fiction just to name a few. We eventually wound up sharing the stages with these bands and we actually had a great run the first time around. But I am not here to discuss past accomplishments. What we have done has laid the groundwork for what is yet to come. We are privileged to still be around and still be relevant. The fact that we had released a new album and to have it well received after all these years really speaks for itself.

Now that you return so to speak how in touch are you with the metal scene of today?
BM: The business has no doubt changed and in some cases not for the better. But the spirit and passion of Heavy Metal is alive and well. From what I see there really hasn’t been much of a change amongst fans and bands for that matter. It is the fans that will keep Heavy Metal alive, not the business.

What is it that you want this new album to achieve? Do you have any grander expectations on it?
BM: We would love to sell a million copies, but in reality, the fans will decide where our albums belong. We do our best to provide the fans of Heavy Metal with what we can offer. As I said, it is a privilege to be in this business and we have a great opportunity to be able to create albums, engage in live shows and share the stages with other great bands. I feel as though nothing more can be said about it.

How do you look upon the future of the band today?
BM: We can only continue to work hard and give the fans what they want. Our future can only be based on what we accomplish today. I will say, however, that our future does look pretty bright.


Canadian ABRIOSIS are new to me but that doesn’t mean that I can’t or will not enjoy this EP. At times the more technical and progressive side of death metal can be too much but when I’m in the right kind of mode I have no problems enjoying the most tricky and complex metal. This is brutal like hell death metal that is borderline schizo metal. For some reason I get a Korn gone death metal feeling when I listen to this. Not that it in any way reminds me of Korn musically but there’s that vibe going. You know; the twist and turn kind of getting from A to B that Korn made so popular in the 90s. this isn’t your straight in the face brutality that a band like Cannibal Corpse deal in. This is a bit more complex. I like it. Anders Ekdahl

AZYLYA “Sweet Cerebral Destruction”

“Sweet Cerebral Destruction”
I get an Italian feeling about this Belgian band. There seem to be no end to gothic metal bands with female vocalist coming from Italy. I’m not going to draw any lines between opera and metal, yes I am. I’m not the biggest fan of opera but Nightwish managed to show that you could mix metal with a classical trained opera vocalist and make it work. In the wake of Tarja we’ve seen numerous bands that have incorporated a classical trained vocalist with their metal and made it work. AZYLYA are not as operatic as some other bands that I’ve heard from Italy. This is more on the melancholic side of things. Like a cross between My Dying Bride and Rhapsody. Like a grandiose melancholic symphony lullaby. There is something soothing to this album in that going to sleep kind of way hat lullabies are designed for. Like a final wake before the Armageddon kind of musical work. Anders Ekdahl

COILGUNS “Commuters”

(Pelagic Records)
I know that I’m getting older for every year and that my memory will deteriorate but I can’t for the life of me remember if I did a review for COILGUNS EP a while back. I have fragmented memories of liking it but that could easily have been a dream. This new album I’m sure that I haven’t reviewed. In reading different magazines year best list I’ve noticed that Converge have come up trumps. I would like to say that I have any idea what Converge are about but I haven’t heard enough to pass any judgment yet when I hear COILGUNS new album I get a distinct feeling that this moves in the same region as Converge. Hardcorish metal that will appeal to those with an open mind. This is what I consider eclectic. I don’t remember if I liked the EP but I know that I like this album. Anders Ekdahl

DEATHRONIC “Duality Chaos”

“Duality Chaos”
(Mighty Music)
I don’t know why anybody wants to take on the task of doing all by oneself. To me that seems like glutton for punishment. But if the result is anything but bad then I’ll champion anybody that does it by themselves. DEATHRONIC is a Parisian one-man band. To my ears this is melodic death metal close in spirit to Arch Enemy. There is that feel of control over this that I find in Arch Enemy’s music. Call it containment if you like but everything seems to be neatly arranged. Not that it means that this is bad. On the contrary. It is actually a rather nice album. If you like your metal slightly rough but with plenty of melody and not least guitar solos then this will be right up you alley. Add to it a touch of the symphonic and esoteric side of metal and you got a dran nice album. Anders Ekdahl

DECEPTOR “Chains Of Delusion”

“Chains Of Delusion”
(Shadow Kingdom)
DECEPTOR must be one hell of a cool heavy metal band. I don’t want it any other way. Somewhere in the back of my mind I have a recollection of having read about DECEPTOR. With that in mind I kinda have some high expectations of this to be full on heavy metal assault. The cover to this album made me think of Judas Priest circa “Screaming For Vengeance”. If you can imagine that Priest album dressed for thrash then you might get a grip on what DECEPTOR are all about. This wasn’t the cool heavy metal album I thought it would be. Instead it turned out to be a rather cool semi-thrash metal album with a hell of a cool attitude. I didn’t expect that this would take me by such a storm as it has. I had hope for it to be cool but this is so much more. This is thrash metal the way I grew up with it. This is a hell of an album. Anders Ekdahl


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Danish stoner rock seem to be on the move these days. Not that I complain. If any Nordic country should produce stoner rock it should be Denmark. It just seems like their kind of laid back approach to things (hygge) fits the whole concept of stoner rock. DOUBLESTONE have a sound that makes me think California circa 1970. Just after the summer of love and Woodstock but before prog rock really took off. This is the kind of jam crazed hardrock that I kinda associate the late 60s/early 70s with. A time when the frames were quite liquid and you could get away with pretty much anything. This 6 track EP is like a throwback to a time less complicated. I like that kind of feeling. I would even go as far as saying that this is pretty much what I expect the Danish 70s was like. Smoke some weed, make love freely and let the day come as it will. Anders