Good ol’ Goethe said it right: "We are all pilgrims who seek Italy" – well, even if you don’t give a shit about classic authors, you should have Italy on your map of (blackened) Thrash Metal. Bunker 66 from Messina keep the flame alive that was kindled by their countrymen Bulldözer, Schizo and Necrodeath, to name just a few. Formed in 2007, the band released their debut album “Infernö Interceptörs” via High Roller Records in 2012, which was aptly described as such: “Motörhead and very early black metal, that's the formula that went into this record.” – As Bunker 66 call their music “Black Speed Metal” they should easily agree on that? Drummer Deskrator of the Altar does so: „Yeah! We are not great fans of labelling music, but ‘Black Speed Metal’ fits our mood. ‘Infernö Inceptörs’ was very well received, our audience remembers the riffs and the refrains, so it seems that those songs have left a mark in the morbid minds of those obsessed with this kind of metal.” The debut sold out quickly – no need to cry though, as their sophomore record is made from just the same kind of stuff – or at least quite, according to Desekrator: “Maybe it has even become a little bit sleazy this time?” Sleazy Blackened Thrash Metal? Are they serious? They are, but we'll get back to that later.
Since the release of “Infernö Interceptörs”, things have developed quite well for Bunker 66: “Yes, things have developed pretty good, I think that we have found our own formula and we hope that with the new album things will develop even better.” The second album is usually a big step for a band, and in Bunker 66’s case, it’s a step into the right direction: “‘Screaming Rock Believers’ is in my eyes a natural step forwards, or maybe backwards as it sounds more ‘84 than ‘86 eheh! Due to the title some people could think we have gone totally ’77, but no, maybe in a couple of years! I personally think that the new album has a more dynamic and much freer approach. It has different moods, each song has its own identity, the tracks grow and die in a very natural and fluent way.” Having found a unique formula for brewing their very own kind of punkish DIY-Metal, it would be a shame if Bunker 66 had changed anything about their approach to writing and recording songs. Well, they haven’t: It’s still mainly about combining the menacing force of early black metal with the speed and aggression of D-beat punk and having a good time with “beer, sweat, leather and vinyl records”, to cite a review. Desekrator goes a bit more into detail about the recording process: “Things have not changed for us during the writing process, we simply jam on one riff that comes in B. Incinerator’s mind, and the newborn songs slowly take shape. Yeah, it’s still early black metal with a strong punk/hc vibe, that means boundless evil music for us – it’s more a feeling than a genre. D-beat is of course still also there, it’s my favourite drumbeat ever, I can’t imagine one Bunker 66 record without it.” Then he adds another essential wisdom: “If you don’t have a good time with vinyls, leather and hell stop reading this!”
So if things haven’t changed that much, then Venom, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Discharge, Carnivore, Sodom et al. are still the main mentors for Bunker 66, right? “Yes they are, those are the bands which subconsciously were in our minds during our first rehearsals and still are, and Motörhead, too. I think that there are also some other demons which surfaced during the creation of ‘Screaming Rock Believers’ – you metal nerds will surely recognize them.” Also the recording process did not change compared to the band’s previous album: “It was exactly the same. We are lucky enough to have our own rehearsal and recording space. The typical Bunker 66 recording process is totally DIY and bound to be free. As soon as we finished the ‘Night Demon’ track we set up the microphones, fixed some cable salads and started to record the drums, then we took some time to figure out the right guitar sound and so on. It was a very relaxed recording process, mostly done on weekends and with no one watching the clock or and putting pressure on us.” Mixing was done by Bunker 66-guitarist B. Incinerator: “He is the man behind the mixer, he’s a sound freak and succeeds pretty well in capturing our musical vision. The mastering was done by Tardon Feathered at San Francisco’s Mr. Toad’s Studio. We already worked with him for the “Out of the Bunker” analogue remaster a couple of years ago and thought it would be interesting to work with him again on this new record as he does masterings for different musical genres and is able to bring out different shapes of our sound.” Talking about sound: it seems as if the sound on “Screaming Rock Believers” was even more old school than on “Infernö Interceptörs” – true or not true? “You are right, we made some relevant choices about the sound: We removed the bass distortion and we turned down the gain on the guitars. D. Thorne also dared to use clean vocals for the first time in some parts. We initially wanted a sound similar to ‘Don’t Break the Oath’ but we kinda failed and now we’re not able to find a comparison, could you?”
Given that the whole album is packed with great songs, it could be hard to pick some favourites. And then there is something about the opening track… Desekrator explains: “I particularly enjoy the most speed metal tracks like ‘On the Prowl’ and ‘(She’s got) Demon Eyes’, I think they have great raise-your-fist-choruses and hooks. I totally dig the title track, too, which has a very cool early Mötley Crüe riff at the beginning. Can’t wait to play it live. The other guys are very fond of ‘Cannons of Satan’, the most evil and take-no-shit track on the record. Hey, we’re also very proud of the opening track! Did you ever imagine that your dear Bunker 66 would do a cover from the ever hated “Cold Lake” album?” Probably not… but in the hands of Bunker 66, Celtic Frost’s failed attempt to get pally with hair metal gets smeared with sweat and grease and transformed into a dirt-encrusted punk/metal gem.
Bunker 66’s live EP “Alive & Melting” kicked off Fenriz's “Band of the Week” vinyl series – and it seems like he hasn’t forgotten about the three guys from Italy: “Yes, we still have contact sometimes via e-mail and met him two times in Oslo. He’s a very cool guy. I'm pretty sure we also did a Guinness World Record for infinite listens to Antichrist’s ‘Forbidden World’, still have to figure out who has won, cheers to him!“
Of course, songs like “On the Prowl” and “Screaming Rock Believers” are best enjoyed on fresh vinyl – or live! Now did the band have the chance to play more live shows since the release of the last album? “Unfortunately not, just a couple of gigs lately… we hopefully will be more on the road after the release of the new album. If you want us to invade your town get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org”
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