The disc of the year comes from beautiful Switzerland. With their mix of Hardcore and Thrash Metal, CATARACT cause lots of dropped jaws, bleeding ears and aching cervical vertebrae. Reason enough to knock at the band's door and ask about the current status. Good man Patrick was nice enough to face my squadron of questions.
Hi and "grüezi" (Swiss greeting translator's note), this is Ralf from good old Germany, how are things with you in Switzerland?
The sun is burning on our heads, the air is as humid as in a sauna and the sweat is streaming...but apart from that we're fine!
Your new album "With Triumph Comes Loss" will be released soon nervous yet?
You could say that! It's our first release on Metal Blade and both we and the label are looking forward to seeing how the release will be received. It was a big step for us and we want to know if it was worth it we're completely new territory for most Metal Blade clients too.
How have reactions been so far? What are your expectations?
The reactions so far have been only moderately calming, in fact they have only increased the tension even more! We've read first reviews and at times we did get a queasy feeling, when you're put on the same level as your idols...Of course we do ask ourselves what people who bought our first albums will think of this release. But especially our old fans should be satisfied, because the new disc is very straightforward and comes right to the point, there's no gadgetry like on "Great Days Of Vengeance".
Expectations are a dangerous thing, because sometimes you're quickly disappointed. We know we've made an awesome disc and nobody can tell us our old stuff was better. How we'll do in the end, how sales figure and so on will turn out, we'll let ourselves be taken by surprise by that. Of course we hope the disc will hit it big and that we'll be able to sell some ten thousands.
On the one hand, as far as the production and the vocals go you sound pretty modern, but on the other hand fans of the old school style like you too how come?
I think it's because we forego technical gimmicks; the songs aren't written in a run-of-the-mill style, but still remain comprehensible despite spontaneous speed changes and breakdowns. Such things have been, among others, key parts of the first releases by DEATH, MASSACRE, SLAYER, METALLICA etc.. Many Hardcore acts like SICK OF IT ALL, HATEBREED, TERROR usw. have somewhat simplistic songwriting, thanks to which they are however able to develop an intensity that devastates everybody, especially live. And so far, every band has had to prove themselves live in order to be able to be in it for the long one (apart from a few exceptions). I do believe our release has a great deal of "live feeling" to it all songs can be performed well on stage.
Who and what has influenced you the most?
Simon and I have been playing together in various bands for almost 15 years now, and the band that has probably been one of our greatest (musical) influences were RORSCHACH. They were four Hardcore kids with a crazy Metalhead on lead guitar and if there's been one group that brought Metal into Hardcore, I'd say it was these guys. We (back then on tour with a chaotic bunch called ARMICIDE) played our first big show at the beginning of the nineties with them and, well, we just stood there and couldn't get our jaws back in place. Of course we'd had other influences before and many others have come, but none have been as important as RORSCHACH were. What gets us every time are strong, convincing live performances by, say, TERROR, CANNIBAL CORPSE or HATESPHERE. They don't influence us a lot musically, but do incite us to always give everything and make every effort we can whenever we do something.
I feel that Swiss bands have always been something special, when I think of e.g. CELTIC FROST, CORONER or MESSHIAH...yep, even KROKUS, if you consider their longevity. Seems to be a delightful spot, or is it the good air or the cheese...what do you think?
It's probably more the cheese than the air! Nah...I think in Switzerland it's simply that you have to achieve a lot more in order to stand out and be noticed. I mean, in a land that has less inhabitants than a single city elsewhere, influences from abroad are much bigger than the dynamics of its own musical culture. The catchment area for the national scene is thus limited and further dispersed by our quadrilinguality. It's easier and preferred to just regurgitate everything that comes from the outside. It starts with music and ends with trash like all those TV casting shows. I do have to add that recently, Swiss "rock" music is extremely "in" here, so far it's limited to commercial "rock to cuddle to". But at least it's hand-made music. One can only hope things will continue like this and people will notice there's other stuff out there than those "I like you" bands.
Your album is extremely aggressive where do these pent-up aggressions come from? I'm going to assume you're not violent folks...do you use your music as an outlet?
Especially in a land that pretends to be neutral, but has precise economic aims behind that; in a land that has occasionally gotten its hands more than dirty, the depths behind the highly polished facades are enormous. In short, our aggressions stem from a (excuse my French) fucked-up, sanctimonious system and you can be damn sure that for us, music is the fitting outlet, and it should be for our listeners too.
You cater to a Hardcore audience as well as to Metal fans which camp do you feel to belong to?
Neither. We don't want to consider ourselves part of any camp, we have clearly cut loose from such affiliations with our music and decided on a very open direction. Personally we've always run with the hares and hunted with the hounds, none of us listens to just one kind of music why, after all. We want to cater to such people too, people with an open, eclectic taste in music, who listen to hip hop, pop and even "maia-hii maia-huu" as well for all I care. We all grew up with Metal as well as Hardcore. Me, I've been moulded spiritually by Hardcore very strongly, my musical preferences were definitely with Metal. Now that there are many bands who draw on both camps and stuff beyond those, it's time to tear down the walls from both sides and make the room for this music it deserves.
As this is your third album, one would hope it's about time to become more popular I suppose this'll be your year!
It is pretty funny, we're probably among the European acts that have been active the longest, but yet our name is a fairly new one in Metal circles. I think it's an advantage for us, we can rely on a certain degree of popularity, but at the same time we have the possibility to roll up the field from behind.
Considering the opportunities Metal Blade offers us, I'm sure we'll have success with that getting-more-popular thing. On which scale depends on us as well, of course. We're extremely keen on playing love and carrying our music across all continents, so as far as that goes Michael certainly won't have to complain! If it is our year, we're ready for it.
You're a very tour-happy band, what do you think of so-called studio projects and what would be your dream band to support?
I think a studio project certainly has its place when it's the work of a single person who wishes to be in control of everything in a pedantic way and doesn't want to be on stage because of that. But those thrown-together all star projects, I don't know if these really need to exist. I don't care about them. But if we're talking about dreaming, I don't think we'll get around SLAYER. HATEBREED would be really sweet too of course though with both bands, we'd probably mosh ourselves out of order right on the first evening. Personally I think a tour together with SICK OF IT ALL would be great as I can say from experience they'd treat us very fairly.
Are there any plans to tour together with "With Triumph Comes Loss"?
Indeed there are! Around the end of November, we'll go on European tour together with Maroon (whose most recent work I have to recommend) and make our way around the entire continent. I'd estimate we'll be away for about three weeks, we're getting the tour dates now. The tour is called "Triumph Of Hate". I'm sure it'll be awesome, because both MAROON and we ourselves have top-notch albums in the pipe and people will thus be able to check out two promising bands from the Metal/Hardcore realm at once. We're working on the next tour for spring, but can't say anything definite yet. Then there are a number of single shows, I'm simply going to refer you to our website www.cataract.cc regarding that, you can always find the most up-to-date show dates, news and other information about the band there.
Is there going to be a vinyl version of the new album?
Dead Serious Records are going to take on that job, a small but nice label which is probably known to but a few Metalheads. Date is October 2004, the vinyl is definitely going to be released.
Your five favourite CDs of all time...?
Man, only five...right. At the moment they'd be:
Slayer "Reign In Blood"
Morbid Angel "Altars Of Madness"
Citizens Arrest "Colossus"
Hate Eternal "Conquering The Throne"
Xasthur "Funeral Of Being"
Which question would you like to be asked (and by whom)?
I can only think of one "and what are you going to do with the $130 million???" by some lottery twerp. It wouldn't really matter who'd ask.
Or maybe "now that we've made it, can I have some ice cream?" by Pinky.
Your final words?
Check out our album, come to our shows and tear down the venue! "Triumph Of Hate" on tour November/December 2004? A big thank-you for the interview see you live!
1998/99: Demo (CD, Self production/Infinite)
1999: War Anthems (7, Join The Team Player)
2000: Golem (CD, Ferret)
2000: Golem (LP, Life Force)
2001: Martyr's Melodies (7", The Life Recordings Company)
2002: Martyr's Melodies (CD, LifeForce)
2003: Great Days Of Vengeance (CD, LifeForce)
2004: With Triumph Comes Loss (CD, Metal Blade)
2004: With Triumph Comes Loss (LP, Dead Serious Recordings)
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