– Hello, thanks for taking your time. You released your newest album, ‘Justice in the Night’, last year. What’s keeping you busy after the release?
We really enjoyed the positive feedback that we’ve received for our new album and our first single ‘Curse of the Moon’ so far. At the moment we are busy with the upcoming CD release of ‘Justice in the Night’, which is being published under the banner of Iron Shield Records. We are absolutely thrilled about this collaboration and are really looking forward to the CD that will be available on February 24.
-Tell us a little bit about the meaning behind the album’s title. Any social/political hints? As well as the band’s name maybe?
The title track can indeed be seen as an anthem. Grim Justice stands for the unmerciful justice that everyone gets to know at least once in a lifetime. ‘Justice in the Night’ takes a critical stand on those people who do not refrain from walking over corpses to indulge their greed and privileges. We have witnessed some ugly developments in politics but also elsewhere in the past few years – they certainly fueled our imagination in this regard. The wish for these abusive and toxic humans to receive their just punishment in the night is certainly a reflection of that.
-The cover artwork is also very powerful. What does it symbolize?
Given the title track, we really wanted to have Lady Justice on our artwork. We had long discussions to decide how to stand out against Metallica’s ‘And Justice for All’ cover, which of course was a great inspiration. In the end we decided to go with the blindfolded representation of Lady Justice, which stands for impartiality and justice, and a dark hooded figure in the back bribing her. Even though an impartial and just system is in place, it’s not immune to power imbalance and corruption. As long as corruption exists, social justice is hard to achieve and it will always be skewed towards the powerful and wealthy.
– What are the topics, events or ideas behind some of your lyrics?
Most of our lyrics take inspiration from classic and dark heavy metal themes such as epic fights, fantastic beings or monsters, and heroic or tragic figures. But some lyrics are really personal and are a vehicle to express our own feelings and experiences. For example, (This) Dark Soul (of Mine) from our new album deals with coping with depression.
-The album was first released only digitally. Was it a choice or the only option? Are there plans for some other format?
In the past we were very much focused on producing our albums ourselves and to hand them to our fans at live gigs. Meanwhile, a lot has changed and the pandemic forced us even more to develop a better online marketing strategy. For our newest album we decided to prioritize the digital release because we felt that it is the more timely format. We do not regret this decision as the additional outreach helped us secure the contract with Iron Shield Records, which is truly amazing. At the moment we do not plan to release the album in another format – but who knows what the future will bring.
-You wrote this album during the pandemic. While you’re working on it, were you actually aware of how a dystopian situation it is? Has this record become some sort of haven for you? A means of escapism?
Actually, all songs on the album were written prior to the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, we had just completed the pilot tracks and were about to start the drum recordings. Since the band is a hobby project for all of us, the lockdowns did not have the same devastating impact as for most people in the arts and culture sector. Still, the long periods when we were not allowed to see each other were tough and brought some insecurities. The times when we could meet and focus on our music again were certainly a blessing.
-In practical terms, how did the whole situation affect the work behind the album?
On the one hand, the pandemic caused unexpected delays due to the recurring lockdowns. On the other hand, a lot of additional time was suddenly freed that we could use to check out all guitar harmonies and instrumentations for the record. All in all, probably for the production of the album the positive aspects prevailed because despite the holdups we really enjoyed being able to jump into the creative work during this challenging time.
-You play a very traditional Hard/Heavy Metal. What would you say differentiates you from other bands in the style?
What makes us stand out in the genre are certainly the vocals by our front woman Michela. When we founded the band back in 2010 we had the vision to make mid-paced and melodic traditional heavy metal à la Dio. Our first self-written songs kind of set the path to our style. We take some heavy and dark elements from traditional hard and heavy music, but we always try to give it a unique tone. What we aim to avoid is to have songs that sound like Band A or Band B. Our goal is to compose interesting and also somewhat more complex or surprising songs, and not to reproduce the traditional „true“ heavy metal experience all over again.
-I think even if you keep an overall straight forward approach, you have a slightly more complex touch. How would you describe your sound yourselves?
Our newest album is best described as female-fronted New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal with a progressive touch. Our style is the result of our combined individual minds and musical backgrounds. The main composers are lead guitarist Thomas, who is mainly centered on guitar licks and lyrics, and front woman Michela, who tends to focus more on guitar chords, vocals melody, and lyrics. In the rehearsal room we figure out how to combine these elements to an intriguing song while Gernot adds his unique bass playing style, and Ernst chooses the drum patterns that fit best. All musicians retain their freedom in the arrangements thus adding their own signature to our sound.
-Are there any women artists (not just in Metal and/or Rock) who you can look up to for inspiration? Maybe not just in their body of work, but something in their attitude, their way of facing the world…
A truly inspirational artist and person is with no doubt Patti Smith. She’s an exceptional poet and singer who absolutely blew our front woman’s mind. Another female artist that inspires her is the Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek. In their own way, both women have a very direct and unapologetic way of expressing issues and injustices, and they always manage to do this in a poetic, emotional but provocative way. Both truly amazing women!
– Women in art and in masculinized spaces have always been made invisible, that’s why there’s not just less women metal musicians (even though there are tons of them), but less women in any artistic field. Because women artists have to face more obstacles, they have to fight against sexualization, invisibilization, infantilization, etc. Have you had to deal with any hindrances due to this during your career?
Michela has always felt at ease in male-dominated spaces, and when she wanted to be there, she never was willing to step down just because she’s a gal. So far she has experienced the Metal scene to be very welcoming to her and other women. However, sexism and stereotypes are very much present in traditional heavy metal, particularly sexualised and submissive representations of women. Michela refuses to adhere to this stereotype and likes wearing clothes like her male counterparts. But sometimes she feels that this does not meet all audiences’ expectations, and that as a female artist who is not exposing more parts of her body one indeed tends to become invisible at times. However, she also regularly gets complimented for being a strong band leader on stage, and that is more than satisfying.
-In fact gender stereotypes seem to be firmly screwed in the genre (as in society in general). What do you think is the reason behind this? Maybe that it tends to be a very nostalgic “world”? And what would be the first steps to make in order to revert this?
Gender inequalities are certainly fueled by outdated, conservative role models. In our view, the first step is to recognise that there are no boundaries imposed by the sex that you are born with. As a girl you can become a fabulous, strong, and dirty rockstar – why should this be a masculine thing? Also, what we tend to forget is that boys and men are often equally under pressure to comply with outdated masculinity stereotypes. We should really stop worrying about such nonsense. The most important thing is to embrace the diversity or even fluidity in ourselves and our societies, because diversity is what makes this planet worth living on.
– Anyway during the last years there have been more and more organizations and movements in the Metal scenes that take actions against sexism and different forms of discrimination, even if Metal has always been a male-dominated community. Would you say the Rock/Metal community is more inclusive or at least being more aware of certain issues that seemed unaddressed until recently?
We are not aware of specific movements in this regard. What we have noted is that people now seem to talk more openly about inappropriate behaviour, sexual harassment, and racism in the metal scene, which is a positive development. Michela thinks that we could even go further and try to reflect more critically about sexualised representations of women in heavy metal imagery and lyrics as is being done in the gaming industry, for example. People should be aware of the reasons behind the stylistic choice of including such representations in the genre, and not just unreflectively reproduce potentially hurting and degrading stereotypes.
-And finally, what’s next for GRIM JUSTICE?
After the CD release, we have another single release planned – stay tuned for more information about that. We also have some unreleased recordings that we plan to publish at some point, probably later this year. We’re absolutely excited about everything that is going on at the moment and really looking forward to the new people and fans that we will meet along the way.
-That was all we had. Thank you once again for taking your time. The closure is yours.
Thanks a lot for having us and for the very interesting questions, Tania! We really appreciated the thoughtful ride.
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