INFERNÄL MÄJESTY – Death Defying Metal
Metal Forces, Issue 26 (1987)
Infernäl Mäjesty (l-r): Psycopath, Chris Bailey, Kenny Hallman, Rick Nemes and Steve Terror
Toronto is hardly what I’d call a hot bed of metal activity, particularly when it comes to thrash metal. More than likely, most of you have at least heard of the more established thrash outfits from the Toronto area such as Razor, Sacrifice and Slaughter. But I doubt that many of you will even wink at the mention of Infernäl Mäjesty, the latest and certainly one of the most promising acts Toronto has yet produced.
Infernäl Mäjesty first came to my attention a little under a year ago via their highly impressive four-song demo tape, which boasted one of the best productions I’d ever heard on a death / thrash demo. Even back then, it was clear that this band was a bit more professional and talented than most of the other so-called death metal acts with demo tapes under their belts, and it seemed like only a matter of time before record companies would start taking notice. Well, they did, and earlier this year, Infernäl Mäjesty finally sealed a multi-album deal with Holland’s Roadrunner Records, with their first LP for the label, an eight-track affair entitled None Shall Defy.
But to find out more about Infernäl Mäjesty and what makes them tick, one must get inside the head of Rick Nemes (Infernäl Mäjesty drummer / founder / spokesperson) who, as some of you may remember, pounded skins for the band Rapid Tears a few years back, and even appeared on a couple of albums with the group in the latter years of their existence. I got the chance to talk to Rick some weeks ago during his brief promo visit to New York, and the first thing I asked him was, just how and when did Infernäl Mäjesty get together?
“It all happened about a year after I left Rapid Tears. I’d been with the band for almost eight years, and I felt it was time for a change, so I departed from the group in early ’85 and looked for other projects to pursue. I spent about a year fooling around and jamming with various people, before I finally decided to go off and start a brand new thing. I was in a band called Lethal Presence at that time, and when I left, I took their bass player, Steve Russell, with me. Within a couple of months, we hooked up with guitarists Steve Terror and Kenny Hallman, who were also playing together at the time, and after the addition of Chris Bailey (vocals) sometime in April ’86, we were ready to start writing original material.”
What were your reasons for forming Infernäl Mäjesty? “Well, we just wanted to put together the heaviest band Canada has ever seen, as we felt that we had enough experience and musical background to really create something a bit different and a bit more musical than all the garbage that was coming out at the time. We made a conscious effort to present ourselves in the utmost professional manner, and we really took our time writing the material, which is something that a lot of other bands don’t do. So, it was always our intention to be as heavy and as musical as possible.”
Now, anyone that has heard either one of the two Rapid Tears albums that has surfaced over the years will attest to the fact that they were no more than a straightforward, somewhat commercial sounding heavy metal band. Certainly a drastic change from the ultra-heavy death metal that Infernäl Mäjesty deliver. This brings up the question of whether Infernäl Mäjesty was formed for the simple goal of cashing in on the current popularity of death/thrash metal. Rick? “Man, death metal is nothing new to me. I’d played death metal with Rapid Tears for the first five years of our existence – the sort of stuff that would be right up there with Celtic Frost now and it wasn’t until the last couple of years that we started getting discouraged and wimping out. That’s when those two albums were recorded, so that’s why it seems like this is such a drastic change, although it really isn’t.”
So, you’re saying that you were playing death metal back in ’77? “Oh, yes. As far as I’m concerned, the first death metal ever recorded was the Sin After Sin album by Judas Priest, and what Rapid Tears was playing in the early years was very similar in style to early Priest / early Sabbath. If you listen to any of today’s so-called death metal bands, you will realize that they’re really not doing anything all that different from what was done ten years ago. The only thing that’s new is the speed factor and the growling vocals, but the riffs are the same, and the song structures are the same. So, you can’t say that we jumped on the thrash bandwagon, ’cause I’ve been into this sort of stuff for years and years.”
What about the glam look that you were sporting in some of your early shots, with make-up and all? “That was just an experiment on our part. We were supposed to come out looking ‘evil’ and ‘larger than life’, but I think we ended up looking rather silly. I’m sorry if people get the wrong impression, but I want to make it clear that we are not posers, and we are not a glam band by any means. I think that our music speaks for itself.”
So how did you come to be involved with Roadrunner Records? “It was quite simple, actually: we sent them our demo, they liked it, they offered us a deal, and we accepted it. We got a few other offers from various independent record companies, but we felt that the Roadrunner offer was the best one.”
The first release under this agreement, of course, is the None Shall Defy LP. Are the band happy with the final result? “Oh, yeah. I mean, for the time and money that was put into it, I don’t think that we could have gotten a better product. Obviously, our next release will be far superior, both in terms of the material and sound-quality, but None Shall Defy is a record that we’re all proud of.”
Listening to the material on None Shall Defy, my guess would be that Slayer and Mercyful Fate were indeed responsible for much of Infernäl Mäjesty’s sound and style – am I right? “No, not really. Of course, we love both bands dearly, but I really think that we’ve developed, or at least started to develop, our own style with this album. Both Slayer and Mercyful Fate have been influences, but we also get inspiration from older bands such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. We listen to all kinds of metal.”
What about your lyrics? With titles like ‘Satan Our Saviour’ and ‘Night Of The Living Dead’, you couldn’t exactly say that you’ve opted for an original lyric approach, could you? “Maybe not, but I feel that our lyrics are a little more involving and in-depth than those of most of our counterparts. Steve Russell really researches his subject thoroughly before he starts writing the lyrics for a new song, and I don’t think that his lyrics sound childish or idiotic. Besides, I don’t think that we could start singing about flowers tomorrow and get away with it; it just doesn’t fit the music we play. Then again, who knows what we might do on our next album – we might even write a song about fast racing cars or something like that as a joke. You’ll just have to wait and see.”
So what’s the gig situation like with Infernäl Mäjesty? Do you have any tours lined up to promote the album? “I doubt that we’ll be doing a major tour until after our second record. We will, however, try and play a few local shows here and there to see how things are going before we commit ourselves to a long tour.”
So you’ve never played live before? “Not as Infernäl Mäjesty, no. But we have all had lots of individual experience with our previous bands, so I don’t think that there’ll be problems once we get on the road. We made a point of not doing any local shows before our album is released, because we want people to be familiar with our material before they come out and see us, so that they can enjoy the show more. We want to make our concerts a bit special for our fans, and we certainly don’t want to burn ourselves out by playing in front of the same crowd for too long.”
Do you feel that you have a disadvantage by basing yourselves in Toronto? “Most definitely! That’s exactly why we were so happy to have landed a deal with Roadrunner, as they can give us a lot more promotion outside Canada, especially Europe and the States. You see, Toronto is not a very big city, and there’s just not enough fan support there to keep a band like us going. We are much more concerned about achieving success in the States and Europe, where we get most of our mail from and we seem to be really popular. Having said this though, we will always consider ourselves a Canadian band, and it is very unlikely that we will be making a base change in the near future.”
You’ve done quite a lot considering that you’ve been around for only 15 months or so, but where would you like to see Infernäl Mäjesty go from here? “Well, I can’t say exactly where we’ll be in a year from, now, but it’s our goal to become one of the world’s biggest and most influential metal acts. We’re not interested in being a popular cult band for the rest of our lives; we want to go further – past the Slayers and Megadeths of this world and up there with Judas Priest and Black Sabbath – and we are planning on working our asses off to get there. We’ll do whatever it takes to reach our goal, and I’m confident that it will happen for us.”
Whether or not Infernäl Mäjesty get what they’re striving for in the music business remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: they have just released, one of the top debut thrash LPs of 1987 in None Shall Defy, and they have a very bright future ahead of them. I for one hope that they will maintain their sense of professionalism and stick to the songwriting style that has made None Shall Defy such an impressive debut. I have a feeling that we’ll be hearing a lot more from these guys in the years to come.
Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 26 (1987)
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