Update to “Where are they now – Pestilence”, October, 2001

Interview by Nathan Robinson

Approximately eight months after writing a little something on Pestilence for Metal Rules, I happened to receive an email from Christian Colli, bass player for the band Sacrosanct. Of course if you read my piece, you will know the connection between Pestilence and Sacrosanct. Also, a couple months ago, someone very close to Pestilence had contacted me. However, this person, whose name shall go unmentioned here, was directed not to conduct any interview, as the band wishes to let sleeping dogs lie. And I completely understand. The reason I even mention this is that if you’ve been waiting for some miraculous update to the Pestilence page, it isn’t going to happen!

During the last eight or nine months, I had received basically no reliable information relating to the Pestilence story. I was more than pleased to receive an email from Christian, who played on the final two Sacrosanct albums “Recesses for the Depraved” and “Tragic Intense”. What follows is a little interview that took place via email.


First of all, I would like to say that I first heard about Sacrosanct several years ago in Metal Maniacs magazine, where they made reference to the fact that the band featured Randy Meinhard, former guitarist of Pestilence. I know you came into Sacrosanct towards the middle of the band's career, but could you tell me anything about why Randy left Pestilence, and how Sacrosanct was formed?

There was this quarrel in the band and Randy Meinhard and Marco Foddis left to build Sacrosanct. Very soon they found the right singer in Mike Lucarelli and entered the studio to record their first four songs for the "The Die Is Cast" demo. It featured the yet unreleased instrumental "Prophecies", and the tracks "The Sickened Thrill", "Injured" and "Disputed Death". It sounds way better than the debut album! As we know, Marco Foddis returned to Pestilence soon after. So most people didn’t even take notice of the split. From my point of view, the Pestilence thing always was kind of a love/hate relationship. They had real attitude, and (as a result, it) kept us going to become more professional as we watched every step of them. The irony, that it was their attitude that broke their neck in the end.

 

 

What kind of following did Sacrosanct have? Where was the band's biggest fan base?

Well, the question about the following of the band and where they were…haha! Honestly I don’t know! In the beginning, everybody wanted to sell Sacrosanct as a Pestilence spin off, which couldn’t work because it simply wasn’t! I guess Sacrosanct was pretty popular in the Netherlands, where we did most of our gigs. Although I expect most metal fans of those days familiar with the band’s name, our record sales weren’t too good. As far as I know the sales even went down with each record. What a shame, haha!!

 

 

Sacrosanct only released three full-length albums, correct?

Yeah, you are right. There were three albums, plus the mentioned demo and another one made to get a new record deal after the end of "No Remorse Records". It was a two-track demo with the never released "Quarantine" and "Mental Reincarnation". One of the best recordings we might have done is a very rough version of a song called "Shining Through", as a contribution for a compilation album entitled "Stop War". "Shining Through" was re-recorded later for "Tragic Intense", but failed to keep its original power, which is an overall problem of the very weak production on every Sacrosanct album. I still think some of the songs were pretty good, but are just unlistenable because of the terrible sound.

 

 

"Tragic Intense" was released back in 1993, and all three albums are obviously long out of print and are impossible to find, except for occasional appearances on eBay (which is where I bought all three of mine). But even when the releases were current, I never saw them in stores, never saw advertisements, and basically knew nothing of the band's existence. How well were the albums distributed?

You are right. Never being a commercial success, all albums are out of print since a long time. Occasionally I see a copy in second hand stores, especially the vinyl version of "Recesses For The Depraved", which seems to sell for pretty high prices, which I guess is because of the cover artwork by H.R.Giger!

 

 

Did any particular album have the biggest sales?

I never saw any statistics nor any money.

 

 

The last two albums were released on 1MF Records. I can't recall any other album in my collection released on this label, so it seems pretty obscure to me. Of course I am assuming that the label is now defunct. But at the time, were you satisfied with label? Did you have any offers from any other labels?

I must say that your impression of 1MF records as a "pretty obscure label" is pretty much what it was, haha!! Actually it was a one-man-label of this guy having no idea of how to run a label whatsoever!! It was a disaster!! It was so unprofessional you wouldn’t believe it!! I could still blame myself for being so fuckin’ stupid to sign a deal with this idiot but we were so young…so naive. At the time I wanted to sign my first record deal and didn’t have much patience. Shoot me!! As you have mentioned there was no distribution in the US at all. Germany and the Netherlands were pretty good, done by Rough Trade. Saw the album as well on my vacation in France. But for the rest…I don’t know… But we weren’t the only fools around. Some labelmates were Torture (death metal)…nice guys…died in a car crash days after we met them for the "Stop War Campaign". Assorted Heap (thrash)…nice guys too…played with them once. Blood (grindcore)…there were some more bands but I can’t remember their names.

 

 

Sacrosanct went through a few lineup changes during its career, especially between the first and second albums when the original guitarist, bassist, and drummer left the band. What brought about this lineup change, and how did you come to replace original bassist Remco Nijkamp?

Well, I knew the band from the very beginning and was asked to join them on the same day he left. Back then it was a cool opportunity for me because I had just started playing bass about one and half year before. So learning all the weird stuff on "Truth Is - What Is" was kind of fun! Years later, after I left Sacrosanct, I started to become a real bass player. I took lessons and got a brighter picture of music through theory. I discovered jazz and fusion, and suddenly couldn’t appreciate the old metal thing anymore. For many years my bass playing was all funk! (Funny enough all that happened at the same time Pestilence went through their musical changes...there must have been something in the air in our town back then, haha!) By the way, the guys on the first Sacrosanct record went on in different bands: Remco Nijkamp and Michael Cerrone formed a band called Imperium, who made an interesting album. Ronny Scholten later played in Genetic Wisdom with Mike Lucarelli on vocals after he left Sacrosanct.

 

 

What have you been doing since Sacrosanct ended?

As I told you in my former mail, I was busy with Submission for a while but as soon as Martin left I lost interest. I began to study economics and right now I am almost done with my studies of sociology, politics, and psychology. In the meantime, I did several musical projects but couldn’t get any of them off the ground. So I stopped playing for good. I am into science now 24/7, so I don’t live music as much as I used to.

 

 

What about all the other members? Have any of them been doing anything musical?

I never saw any of the Submission members ever again. I know that Haico van Atticum is just about to graduate. I meet Gerrit Knol occasionally in concerts. He told me he was playing bass(!) in a band called Symmetry. Ronny and Michael went on in Genetic Wisdom (see above). Michael Cerrone and Remco Nijkamp started Imperium. Collin and Michael Kock are still busy with music having a coverband.

 

 

"Recesses for the Depraved", Sacrosanct's second album, was much more polished and focused than the debut album "Truth Is What Is". What brought about this change? It seems that, for the most part, guitarist Randy Meinhard wrote most of the music for Sacrosanct. But did the change in lineup between albums help solidify the band and make it more focused?

See, I am not exactly sure what you mean by "focused". Does it mean being more concentrated on the songs? To leave the unnecessary? That was a problem with Sacrosanct. Too many riffs, no concept. Today I would call it just very bad songwriting! We were on the right track with some songs on the third album, but didn’t have the big picture, know what I mean? People don’t care about how difficult your riffing is. They want a killer song, and most of the Sacrosanct songs failed to be killers!

 

 

The album title "Tragic Intense" pretty much sums up the album's mood: intensly tragic. Slower, darker and quite depressing. Quite a change in direction from the fast-paced thrash found on the first two albums. What brought about this change?

At the time we were tired of the thrash thing. There were great bands like Forbidden, Slayer, Exodus, Testament...how could we ever beat them? So we were looking for new goals. I remember us being impressed by Trouble and Cathedral as well. Creating atmosphere was our new aim. The idea was good. The songs being more important than the musician. I still like that philosophy and consider "Tragic Intense" the best album of Sacrosanct. We just weren’t free enough yet. And as I said before, the production fucked it up! But at least we had a singer who could really sing. No offense to Lucarelli…he was a killer, especially live. But Collin gave us new options. The album was very well received by the European press…almost unbelievably good! They loved it…called it a masterpiece! Reading back the reviews I should have been rich by now, haha!! Truth is, nobody bought it. After "Recesses…", we got mail from all over the world and had trouble answering all the letters. With "Tragic…", there was nothing but silence. The guys didn’t kill themselves because of the depressing mood you’ve mentioned, did they?! Haha!! Since I told the band before the release of "Tragic Intense" that I was about to leave if we would not get any positive reactions and go on tour for at least two months or so, you can imagine how the story continued...

 

 

Every Sacrosanct album has some pretty dark artwork. How did you get to use the Giger painting for "Recesses for the Depraved"?

I simply called him in Zürich, where he lives. Well, actually it wasn’t that simple, because it felt like calling the evil one himself, haha! Having him on the phone, I was quiet surprised. He was kind of confused, but very very nice! He wanted to hear some of our music, and after a few more calls, he was kind enough to let us use his brilliant work. Once again, 1MF records fucked it all up when they weren’t even able to write the title of the record correctly on the cover. Giger didn’t want much money…almost nothing…but just had one wish: "please don’t use too much brown in the print!" As I was told, I gave that message to our record company. You know the result: it was all brown with the "the" of "Recesses For The Depraved" missing. I was so ashamed I didn’t dare to call Giger ever again. Sorry mister Giger, I love your work, and even more appreciate your kindness. We were stuck with this unprofessional bastard (at the record label) and too young to react properly.

 

 

Can you explain the concept behind the artwork on "Tragic Intense"?

No. I never met the artist or anything. We didn’t even know how to look at it. I hope we didn’t use it upside down, haha!

 

 

How extensively did the band tour during its existence?

Some gigs in the Netherlands for "Truth…" A little tour with Dark Angel in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France for "Recesses…" And a handful of gigs in Germany and Holland for "Tragic…" That’s the real tragedy after all!! The Dark Angel tour was great. We blew some places away. I remember Paris and Enschede being so wild people got injured. There must exist some videos of the tour. I would pay a lot of money to get the one from Belgium where we entered the stage to celebrate Ron’s birthday while Dark Angel were playing! Gene Hoglan was very nice and I am glad I got to know him! I wish him all the best! Do you know what he is doing right now?

 

 

What exactly happened from the time "Tragic Intense" was released to the last few days of the band's existence?

Nothing! Two or three gigs. I was the first to leave. (see above)

 

 

[In a previous email, Collin had pointed out an error in my piece on Pestilence…]

The Pestilence demos mentioned are not quite correct. The first demo was “Dysentery”, featuring Mameli on vocals, followed by a second demo called “The Penance”. That was Martin van Drunen’s debut! The mentioned “Infected” tape could be a demo by the American band of the same time, later renamed as The Horde Of Torment.

 

 

Now, switching gears, I would like talk about the Pestilence demos. Displeased Records re-released the debut Pestilence album "Malleus Malficarum" a few years ago, and included the two demos I mentioned. They list the names as "Infected" (1986) and "Dysentry" (1987). You seem to disagree with these names. I know there was another band out there called Pestilence, but do you think Displeased Records screwed up?

What a laugh...yes, I think they did. There never was an official demo with that name. Or is it something like a rehearsal? But there was no song with that title either. "Dysentery" was the first demo in 1987, followed by "The Penance" a year later. Back then I knew the band and collected all their rehearsal tapes, live- tapes, and whatever I could get on tape. So I am pretty sure about it. Have you checked whether it might be of the American band of the same time, later renamed as The Horde Of Torment?

 

 

[A month later, Collin stumbles across the Pestilence re-issue…]

I just wanted to tell you that I saw the Pestilence re-release on Displeased Records in a shop and couldn’t believe my eyes!!! What a disaster!!! As I told you, the title "Infected" is completely wrong. I didn’t have time to listen to the record, but it seems that the featured songs are those from the two demos. Some titles are written wrong. And some are not even written....aaaarrrrghh!! For example the song "Throne of Death" is written as "Thorn of Death" Fuckin’ hell!!

 

 

And being the owner of each of the demos, Collin informed me of the correct song titles and also sent images of each of the demos. The first demo “Dysentery” from 1987 has four songs: “Against the Innocent”, “Delirical Life”, “Traitor’s Gate, and “Throne of Death”. The Displeased Records reissue lists the first three of these songs as being on the “Infected” demo (which doesn’t exist), and the fourth song being on the “Dysentery” demo. On top of that, they screwed up the spelling on two of the song titles. (And actually, if you really want to be picky, they omitted the apostrophe in “Traitor’s Gate”…so that makes three out of four song titles they fucked up. Hey man, when you do a reissue, it should be done right). And on a personal note, I knew there was something up when I listened to the demo tracks on the re-issue… “Thorn of Death”, or more appropriately titled “Throne of Death”, sounded like it fits with the first three songs as opposed to the last three.

Pestilence_Dysentery.jpg (164901 bytes)

 

The second demo “The Penance” also has four songs: “Into Hades (Intro)”, “Before The Penance”, “Affectation” (later re-recorded as “Cycle Of Existence”), and “Fight The Plague”. As you will notice, Displeased Records omitted the track title “Into Hades…” completely. They also omitted the word “penance” from “Before the Penance”. Furthermore, these songs were listed as being from the “Dysentery” demo.

Pestilence_ThePenance.jpg (193534 bytes)

 

So now the mystery is solved. How come no one picked up on this before??? And how come Displeased Records fucked up so bad?? I still admire the fact that the label was kind enough to re-issue the album, and especially with the bonus demo tracks. But if you are going to go through the effort to reissue something, shouldn’t you do it correctly???

 

 

Now let me switch gears again. I'd like to ask you about Submission. I am pleased to hear this band is no myth! Randy Meinhard, Martin van Drunen, and you were involved in this band. Was anyone else?

Yeah, there was this guy Klaus on drums. He used to be the replacement drummer for some Sacrosanct gigs before. So he was first choice. Another member was a certain Christian on guitar. Can’t remember their surnames though, sorry.

 

 

By the time Martin van Drunen had become involved with Submission, he has already done a couple albums with Asphyx before leaving. Can you tell me why he left Asphyx?

Nope, same reason why people always leave bands...personal and musical differences, or so they say. Boring, isn’t it!?!

 

 

Submission recorded only two demos, correct?

Yep, see above.

 

 

You had mentioned that the first demo was in the Pestilence/Death vein. What about the second demo?

As the studio date was booked before Martin left, we decided not to waste the studio time and track down the three titles we wanted to do without vocals. As I told you in my former mail, I left the band for known reasons. They later completed the recordings with a certain Holger on vocals and added some keyboards. I told you before: it couldn’t be the same without Martin. His voice was just the sickest…the greatest! Another thing was that Martin had written some political stuff in the lyrics of the new songs that the rest of the band didn’t understand due to a lack of education. There was a song called "Weep For Red Pride". I didn’t expect people to read Marx back then, especially since I was very naive myself at the time. But there simply was no communication in the band at all. A band not knowing what their lyrics are about seems pretty obscure to me. The other songs were "Kartel" and "The Observer".

 

 

You had also mentioned Martin left Submission to join Bolt Thrower during the creation of the second demo. Why did he leave?

Because he took the opportunity to join his favorite band!! What were we supposed to say? He told us about it and we wished him all the best of luck. Honestly. Too bad he couldn’t even get our names on the guest lists for the Bolt Thrower gigs…whatever. He didn’t succeed with them, did he?

 

 

You had tried to get Bolt Thrower vocalist Karl Willetts to replace Martin. How receptive was he to your offers?

He was very nice but turned down the offer to come to Germany in a friendly way. He said he liked our music, but that he left Bolt Thrower because he wanted to go back to college again. I couldn’t understand everything he said on the phone because of his heavy accent, haha. Sorry Karl, haha!! What was it again? Birmingham right? It’s so long ago. I read he is back in Bolt Thrower…

 

 

After things didn't work out for Martin and Bolt Thrower, did Martin ever think about re-joining Submission?

As I said before, I never got to talk to any of them since. I have no clue what he has been doing since then. A re-entry with Pestilence or Asphyx would be more interesting!

 

 

You had mentioned to me that Submission was formed during the writing for "Tragic Intense". Why did you guys form Submission instead of keeping the material for Sacrosanct? I am assuming it is because Submission was more in the death metal vein, whereas the material for "Tragic Intense" was dark and doomy, more or less.

Well, as you might have read between the lines, we couldn’t be satisfied with the situation in Sacrosanct. When Martin had no band after his Asphyx period, we thought it might be cool to do Submission. And it was, at least in the beginning. For the first rehearsal we did some Asphyx songs due to the lack of our own material. Big fun! Martin and Roland were talking about using some riffs written but never used during the Pestilence period. Martin even joined us on stage with Sacrosanct in Berlin where we played a Submission song.

 

 

How long did Submission last and what led to the band's demise?

Submission was born before the first song was written, and dead before the first song was recorded. Know what I mean? The band was basically built around the best death metal singer of the time. So all the enthusiasm died when he left. I can only speak for myself, of course, and I told you about my reasons. I don’t know what the others did, except fuckin’ up the recordings of the second demo, so you should be asking one of them.


I would like to thank Christian, first of all, for getting in contact with me. Secondly, I would like to thank Christian for taking the time to answer my questions and helping me give everyone an update to the Pestilence piece on Metal-Rules.com. You rock man!!!


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