Sunday, 25 March 2012


Abwehrschclacht rose from the ashes of UK Black Metal bands Xaztur and Immanis. I caught up with frontman Alex Sotheran AKA Erich VonFalkenhyne...

Hi Alex, how's it going?

Hails Matt, it’s going well thanks. I’m pretty busy with work and a university course on the First World War, which is remaining enjoyable!

You have been involved in the UK Black Metal scene for a long time now, can you tell the readers about your history in the scene?

Yeah, my history in the BM scene goes way back to the early nineties, when I was involved with tape trading and was a member of a couple of bands. The first of these was Xaztur, with two other members, Necrentus on Guitar and Sibbanac on drums. I played bass and handled the vocal duties under the name Azazel. We released a rehearsal tape and then a proper demo ‘Pagan Rites’. We actually only ever recorded four full songs but were working on new stuff when I left the band. I was in the position of handling everything in the band, doing promotion, distributing the demo tapes (buying the blanks and dubbing them myself) and even writing new material and lyrics. It felt as though I was carrying the band and getting little back for it. That’s when I decided that time for me to leave had come and I set up my own project; Immanis. This and consisted of myself on bass, vocals and keys and Ludendorf on guitars, although he was not called this then! We used a drum machine for Immanis and I released a promo tape of two songs and intro/outro. After this came an incredibly poorly recorded/played rehearsal tape with three semi-songs on! It was at this point that I decided to lay Immanis to rest. My interests lay elsewhere during this time. The only other recording under the Immanis moniker was a short rehearsal track I recorded when it was mooted that I joined another local band called Demogorgon. This came to naught though and although I continued to listen to BM I gave up playing in 1995. Fast forward to 2007 and after spending a bit of time recording a joke Ninja Metal band, Sudoku, I began writing more BM influenced music. I was working with the guitarist of Immanis, now called Ludendorf, when I decided to create BM in the old style under the new name of Abwehrschlacht. Over a few sessions, we recorded a reasonable amount of material (more than both the Immanis and Xaztur output put together!) and decided to release it on old school tape.

How does the UK scene today compare to the days when you and me were both starting out in the early '90's?

I’ll be completely honest here and tell you I know very little about the current UK scene! There are some great bands out there, Witchclan and Deadman’s Blood (of course!), Demonic Cremator, Old Corpse Road, etc, but beyond a handful of bands I know little about what is going on. This is down to me and my lack of time to keep up with everything happening at the moment! But from what I see the main difference is the level of professionalism that is around these days. I guess this is more obvious in the cost of producing CDs or even dubbed tapes compared to twenty years ago. The cost of everything has come down and made it easier to release professional looking products. From what I hear a lot of people seem to be going back to roots, exploring the old sounds of the early nineties, which to me is bliss anyway!

How did the 'Kaiser Schalcht' demo tape sell?

We have shifted a large amount of the original 150 copies, but there are still a few available. I guess this is down to my lack of promotion just through lack of time! I have traded quite a lot with other bands and labels, which has increased my collection quite well. But it is still available for £4 (including P&P), contact me for a copy!

The style of Black Metal you play today is very different to the days of Xaztur and Immanis, was this a natural progression for you?

I think the natural progression comes from actually being able to eventually play an instrument! I’m kidding, but I think I have also gained a better understanding of how songs are constructed and also I learned to play quite a few BM songs, which I guess must have had an influence as well. I prefer to think that my approach is more mature these days and the construction of songs hopefully reflects that.

Are there plans for something new in the near future, and if so what might it be?

Well, besides the material on the demo we have about four other tracks recorded, with a couple awaiting mixing. We are toying with the idea of some form of release, but being the lazy twats that we are it may be a little while longer before they see the light of day. Having said that, I have literally just been approached by Darkness Shade Records for a split release (alongside your good self) and it looks like we may see an outlet for some of that material after all! The difficulty at the moment is that I have moved cities a year ago so Abwehrschlacht has taken a back seat at the moment, especially since Ludendorf is busy with his other band Goat Leaf. But I hope we will be able to record something in the future.

You once said to me that you might like to re-record some of the old Xaztur material, is this still the case?

It is a possibility, we recorded an Abwehrschlacht ‘cover version’ of Frozen Winter by Xaztur which was pencilled for a release with Witchclan (lack of funds has shelved this at the moment though…). I also did a demo recording of the Immanis track ‘Tears of the Trees’, but this is also in my personal vaults. It was an experiment to see if I could do it. Again, the biggest problem with recording anything is the distance between the band members and a lack of time on my part.

Which bands are your biggest influences in Abwehrschlacht?

As the songwriter I am very much influenced by the old school BM bands (now called first or second wave Black Metal, whatever the fuck that means!) and by that I mean, Bathory, Venom, Burzum, Mayhem, Emperor on their Demo, Von, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. I don’t know how much like these bands my music sounds, but I have this stuff in mind when writing. I’m also influenced by some of the newer BM bands like Wolves in the Throne Room and I think that may come through in some of the newer material that we wrote.

Do you think that over the last 20 odd years that Black Metal has lost some of the danger and extremity that it once used to have?

Yes, absolutely. When I first got into BM it was because of the appeal of a music scene that was kicking against the pricks of conformity and the safe metal scene that existed then. It was this mystical entity where we didn’t even know the names of people in the bands, everyone wore corpse paint to hide their identities; the ultimate anti-personality scene. The rumours coming from Norway of church burnings just added to this excitement and interest. Here was a movement that was dynamic and not scared to hide behind their words, they were taking action. It felt like the storm clouds were gathering in the north. It was a dangerous music scene, as the disproportionate amount of deaths has attested, but nowadays it’s dominated by safe radio friendly shit, like Dimmu Borgir. I know there is an underground scene that is in existence now, but the problem is, this already happened. The vast majority of bands nowadays are poor copies of the originals (when I say originals, I mean the ‘second wave’ of bands, because to me, before that scene, Black Metal existed but not as a tight scene like the rise in the early nineties.).

Where did you get the idea from for your band name?

The name Abwehrschlacht is from a 1918 German military doctrine. It roughly translates as ‘Attack through Defence’. It was a way of drawing the enemy forces into over-stretching their supply lines and drawing them closer to heavy defences. It’s a First World War term and as I was specific about the lyrics in Abwehrschlacht being Great War influenced it fitted pretty well, it also helps that I feel German is a pretty martial language!

Have you had much interest from any labels?

No, in a word. Nothing. We have had a song on a compilation CD and the split tape I mentioned before through Darkness Shade, but beyond that nothing. It would be nice if we were to be picked up by a label, but to be honest, it is not why I am doing this. We are happy to record small amounts and put out limited releases, but wouldn’t refuse any interest.

What's next on the cards for you and the band?

I may have mentioned that in the last year my life has become rather busy, with one thing or another, so at the moment, Abwehrschlacht has been put on the back burner. It doesn’t mean we will not be recording again anytime soon, but we are keeping our heads below the parapets at the moment!

Any last words?

Thanks for the great interview Matt, it’s great to see the ‘zine has resurfaced after all this time! Hail to the ancient days! For anyone interested in purchasing a tape, you can get them through my eBay account: Also check us out on Myspace.

Thanks Alex. Remember to check Abwehrschlacht out on Myspace at and on Reverbnation at and finally Facebook at - Support the UKBMM!

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