Heart of Steel: Interviews

Baal of Hell-Born

Interview by Arto Lehtinen

The Polish death metal scene has already become one kind of concept in the world wide extreme and death metal genre. During the last few years the Polish scene has grown tremendously.  Hell-Born has been around several years and released their first the self titled output in 1996. They kept a low profile until 2001 when they released a full length album called HELLBLAST. I thought it was about time to get a hold of Hell-Born's Baal to talk about the history of the band and above all, their latest excellent album LEGACY OF THE NIPHILIM.

What's up in the pagan horde of Hell-Born ?!

Everything is ok. This month we're starting to write new songs for the next album and next week we're playing on Conquer Festival in Poland.



The new Hell-Born output titled Legacy of Nephilim saw the light of day(or the dark of the night) last year by Conqueror Rec. What sort of reception you have received so far ??

Response is really great. "Legacy..." is getting very good notes, we're getting a lot of interviews, reviews and mails with congratulations. People seem to be really excited with new HELL-BORN album, the same like we, because we also feel that we released very good album. In every review we can read that is our the best album and we are really proud of that.



What is the biggest difference between the material of Dawn Of Megiddo and Legacy Of Nephilim? How do you view why Legacy Of Nephilim is without any doubts superior to the previous output the great Call Of Megiddo album?!

"Legacy..." has definitely better sound and production than our previous albums. We spent a lot of time on drums and guitar sound and I think that final effect is really good. Hell-Born has never had such heavy and massive sound as on "Legacy...". "The Call of Megiddo" was recorded in hurry and some things were not good and didn't satisfy us. We were fully aware of that during "Legacy..." session and we were absolutely determined to do everything as good as possible. I am absolutely sure that "Legacy..." is level up when you compare it with our previous albums.



Are you entirely satisfied with the results on Legacy Of Nephilim or are you capable of finding any failures or mistakes to be pointed out from the album?

As I said above we are really satisfied with "Legacy of The Nephilim". Of course after a couple of months we have some notices and new ideas, some things we would release in different way today. It's normal for most of the bands I think. If you think that your album is perfect it is time for you to be retired. As long as you are self-critical for yourself you have power and will to continue your job.



Was the creation of the material of Legacy Of Nephilim an easy task? Did you have to go thru any mandatory agony in creation while composing and writing the material for Legacy Of Nephilim?

Not really. Both of us -I mean Les and me- are responsible for HELL-BORN music, so it is not problem to prepare 8-10 songs for the album. Problem is to write good songs, specific for HELL-BORN style. I can ensure you that arrangements take some time and we always work together on that. But when I read reviews of "Legacy..." I see we are still creatable, ha, ha, ha...



I can't help but inquire about the kind of reception the new album has received?

Don't expect any changes with HELL-BORN style. We are absolutely faithful to our ideas and loyal to black/death metal scene. We going to continue our crusade and play our Hell Fucking Metal on all HELL-BORN albums in the future.


If we had a time capsule to return to the early days of Hell-Born to have some historical perspective to the band.. The saga of Hell-Born basically started out as a side project when  Baal and Les from Behemoth formed Hell-Born. Why did Baal and Les start this? As far as I know both played together only on Grom and whereas Baal was on Sventevith and Les was on Bewitching The Pomerania…Did you face unsolved personal issues with Nergal resulting in your departure from Behemoth?

Do you expect any sensations after years, man? Baal had a different vision of Behemoth than Nergal, so he decided to leave the band after the "Grom" album. Les was a leader of DAMNATION, so his playing in BEHEMOTH was just a parrallel job. As long as he was satisfied with that he continued playing in two bands, but after the "Satanica" album he decided to quit and devote all his time to DAMNATION. By the way, we are good friends with BEHEMOTH and we always have a drink when we have a time for meeting.



Before all the things got started, Les used to be involved more and more in another band called Damnation and Baal was in the same combo as well as far as I know.. Why did you decid to go on with Hell-Born, not putting more effort to Damnation even though you shared the same band?

It was a little more complicated. After DAMNATION's "Resist" album, the atmosphere in the band was getting worse. Everyone seemed to be disappointed and tired with playing in DAMNATION and all guys started with other projects and bands: Bart and Bruno with AZARATH, and Les and Baal with HELL-BORN. It was matter of time when DAMNATION would split up and that happened. Personally, I think all of them were not interested with technical death metal anymore. They wanted to start with something else and the world has got AZARATH and HELL-BORN. If you compare the music of DAMNATION and HELL-BORN you will see two absolutely different bands. The music of  HELL-BORN could not be released as a DAMNATION.



Why did you lay Damnation to rest, did you find it impossible to carry on with two different bands at the same time or was hell-born closer to your heart !?

When DAMNATION split up there were some misunderstandings between them. I think they needed time to rest from each other. Today everything is fine and reunion of DAMNATION could be possible.I know that Les and Bart were thinking about new album of DAMNATION, but the main problem was to find a new drummer. Instead of new album you got compilation "Resurrection Of Azarath" released by Conquer Records.



In the beginning, Sodom, Destruction, Possessed and other cult acts were named as the main influences for Hell-Born. Do you think the current style of Hell-Born still breathes the old school death/thrash metal spirit? It is obvious Hell-Born won't adopt the same brutal blastbeat approach like the Brazilian death metal blasters Krisiun have…

The spirit of the old thrash/death metal scene will be always present in HELL-BORN music. It's our roots and it flows in our veins, it's our heritage. It doesn't matter how fast you play because it's a matter of feelings in your music. KRISIUN are great, they are absolutely death metal gods and that feeling is also present in their music.


The self titled debut album came out already 1996 via Pagan Records. Are you still satisfied with the debut album's material and secondly what led to the bitter dispute with Pagan Records ?

"Hell-Born" mini-cd was released in 1996 and I don't think you can compare that to present HELL-BORN albums. It was different time, different circumstances and different reasons of playing. HELL-BORN was just a project. After releasing the mini CD they started to think about transforming HELL-BORN into a real band, but Les was too busy with DAMNATION and BEHEMOTH to manage it. Personally I don't like that album, but that is the album of Baal and Les. But we still have "Hellraiser" in our live set, because we don't want to forget about that stuff. Reason for the dispute with Pagan? Tomasz is very chimerical person and he was offended with Baal about something stupid one time. That was end of cooperation. But believe me, we were not first and not last.



There were more than a couple of years between the first and second releases  because of Damnation and Behemoth activities.  Hell-Born was about to fall apart even though the debut album got strong positive respond in the press?!?!

As you know Les was involved in DAMNATION and BEHEMOTH and he had no time for third band. "Hell-Born" was his only single activity. Baal, after releasing "Hell-Born" mini-CD, decided to leave BEHEMOTH and continue his carrier with HELL-BORN and (for reasons unknown for me and anybody) one year later he gave it up and just faded away from music scene for couple of years. HELL-BORN was resurrected in 2000 and I don't want to talk about the past and reasons of absence anymore.



Conquer Records stepped in and signed Hell-Born. I assume the Conquer deal brought your motivation back to continue with Hell-Born. How did you get hooked with them?

Who told you that story?! When we entered Hertz studio to release the "Hellblast" album we had a deal with Pagan Records for one album. In fact "Hellblast" was just a new mini CD, but in that time Tomasz was interested in re-releasing the miniCD from 1996 so we decided to put both on one CD . Because Pagan was not interested in releasing "Hellblast" outside of Poland we started to look for a label interested in that. And then we found Conquer Records and we sold them "Hellblast". In fact it was their second title (after April Ethereal album). After that we signed a contract with them for two albums and we released "The Call Of Megiddo" and "Legacy Of the Nephilim" albums.



HellBlast came out 2001 and The Call Of Megiddo 2002 and the latest output Legacy Of The Nephilim 2003, you haven't rested that much on your laurels instead working on the material for albums. Where do you find the never ending energy to forge the iron all the time?

It's not like that. When HELL-BORN came back in 2000 many people supposed that was just an occasional reunion and the band would split up again after one record. We were totally determined to prove to them that HELL-BORN came back not as a project but as a real band. That's why we decided to not have a rest and to release albums in every year.



Hell-Born has toured The States a couple of times. First in 2002, then 2003 with Demoncy and Forest Of Impaled and then continued with Noctuary and others during the same year. What sort of places did you play, what of reception have you got there and in general what kind of experience it was anyway?

We played in the USA in 2002 with LifeSruin and Psychomancer. That was our first US tour and our first experiences with playing in pubs and cellars, ha, ha, ha. In fact we played one very good show on MetalFEST III in Cape Girardeau for about 400 people. But after two weeks we were out of money and we came back home, because more than half of shows were cancelled or not confirmed by JCM Records. In 2003 we visited USA second time and we were touring with Demoncy and Forest of Impaled. It was about two weeks, we played all over US East coast and that tour was really good. Its the first time that I heard that we continued that tour with Nocturnal in the same year. Don't believe in everything what is written on Conquer Rec. site.....


When will Hell-Born be on bills of big European metal festivals because I don't remember having seen your name on the bills of the big European metal festivals?

Good question. But it is a matter of our label so you should ask Conquer records first. We have been fighting for three years about that, without any results. This year we were promised to play on 3-4 festivals, today we have end of June and we don't know any dates. What can I say...?



There are a couple of metal festivals like Metal Mania which is quite a huge event indeed, I guess you haven't got the chance to play there ?

Not, man. That's very simple dependence: if you belong to Metal Mind Production you will play on Metalmania Festival. If you don't you have to try very hard to play that. HELL-BORN seems to be to small to play that. But we don't care, we will wait....



The Polish society stands for the fundamental Christian ideology. Is forming a more occult pagan based metal band kinda your way of rebelling against the society and battle the church's way to represent their strong visibility in the normal everyday life? Have you ever faced any kind of problems with the religious organization of any kind ?

Not at all. Sometimes I think it's just a inventions of journalist. Of course there were some accidents with a MARILYN MANSON show in Poland or some shows of black metal bands but those were single events and only in some old-fashioned regions of Poland. If you expect some sensations or religious pickets in Poland you will be disappointed. It is not Near East.



Does the whole hilarious scandalous fuss about the controversial live show of Gorgoroth show about how tight the grip of religious issues is in Poland. I mean people got scared about their  grotesque live appearance, but getting to the court because of the violation of some religious section of a law goes beyond my personal comprehension ?

I don't know nothing about that fuss, I was out of Poland for four months so maybe I missed that. Personally I have never had any problems with "grip of religious issues in Poland".



Speaking of the Polish extreme metal scene.... it has grown a lot and got more deserved attention among the metal press because of several bands with deals with bigger labels and especially the quality of the extreme metal stuff is definitely outstanding in my opinion, or how do you view the current Polish metal phenomenon ?!

It's right. The extreme metal scene was always very strong in Poland. But I would not call it a phenomenon that so many polish bands have  deals and albums released for big labels these days. It's a matter of present times, Poland is not the same poor country like 20 years ago, there is no problem with good instruments and good studios today, so you can hear more and more good albums of polish bands these days.



Has Poland become the new kingdom of death metal after the domination of Sweden and Florida?

I don't think so. There are a lot of great bands in Poland, but things like rehearsal rooms or good concerts are still main problem for most of them. Of course many of them have released good albums and could start their world career but the fact is that death metal is not so popular like 10 years ago. I don't think we can expect the next MORBID ANGEL on today's death metal scene in the world.



Speaking of the Polish scene, the most common names usually pop up like Behemoth, Vader, Decapitated and of course as to the black metal stuff like Graveland, but what sort of bond do you have between other bands in the Polish extreme metal scene? Do you get along with each other, is there a tension between some certain bands ?

All serious bands always have a good relationships with each other. That's a matter of their professionalism, characters and just a belief in themselves and what they do. I don't talk about any personal matters, but generally we try to support each others. There is a place for everybody on music scene and if you are in war with other bands just due to music or ideology it means you don't believe in your own music.



During the last four years the whole death metal scene has experienced a new kind of renaissance with several new bands dedicated to the brutal approach.  Several bands have risen up and gained the deserved attention like several Brazilian blasters, Polish death mongers,the Swedish, and the older bands are still around… Honestly are you kinda pleased to see the new era of the extreme metal and above all death metal?

I'm not sure we can say about new era of extreme metal. Heavy music is very fashionable today but it's not the same explosion of black and death metal of 10-15 years ago. I see some comebacks of old thrash and death metal bands but it's nothing original and fresh with their new music. Personally I'd like to see death metal as an elite form of music, not for masses but for true extreme maniacs.



All right, it would be about time to conclude the interview, but I gotta ask what sort of plans do you have for the future? Will you head back to The States for tours !?

On 4th of July we're playing on Conquer Festival in Poland. We don't have any more dates confirmed by our label on today as well as any plans about next visit in USA are known. So at that moment we're writing new songs for the next album.



I for one thank you for this interview and of course you can unleash the last words to make the interview end !!

Thanks a lot for the interview. Chains, Leather and Metal Forever!!!! Hail!!

Hell-Born: www.hell-born.com