Michael Denner

Denner's Inferno

There is no place like I home. It is not just a catch phrase or a line from a movie, but an actual feeling to a journey that apparently, was never brought to a close. Michael Denner, ex-MercyFul Fate, already established himself as a pioneer, yet there have been always something itching, that inner will to head back to the roots, before everything started to shape up big time. Starting a new band, under the moniker, Denner's Inferno, Michael was ready to hit with the big guns, all when MercyFul Fate makes a comeback. Steinmetal talked to Mr. Denner about the new album, "In Amber", teaming with a powerful vocalist, his influences and song ideas, and what happened with MercyFul Fate…
October 6, 2019
Denner's Inferno's Michael Denner: "I know that fans will be thrilled to hear my MercyFul Fate song versions
Greetings Michael, it is an honor to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing sir?

My pleasure, it's been some busy weeks lately, but important to share my thoughts about my music life

In a manner of speaking you found yourself again I believe, with being a fundamental member, I might even add a pioneer, in vintage Metal, and into a proto-Metal at heart. All these years with various Metal acts and projects, never had you thought to unleash that other side of you, up until the emergence of Trickbag, which became Denner's Inferno? Do you regret the loss of time not creating what your heart truly desired?

I have been involved in Metal related Bands and Projects during the years but have been flirting with the genre from the 70's along the way. We did the Zoser Mez album in the early 90's clearly inspired of 70's heavy Rock, so the current stuff is not as different from what I've done previously

I guess that the Inferno, which came as a substitute to Trickbag, shows that your legacy still walks with you hand in hand? Do you miss it in a way or it is totally out of your spectrum, looking only forward?

No I'm proud of what I've done in the past and will always continue to add some of my signature and pieces of music in there, that show where I came from

As you stated, your influences have crosses with Deep Purple, UFO and Jimi Hendrix among the many of the 70s Hard Rock heroes. What do you find drawing in the Rock era of the 70s? How does your soul connect to such a phenomenon? What do you feel when you listen to those nostalgic moments?

I grew up with this genre, there was no Metal back then, only Blues Rock played Loud and aggressive. It had a great impact on my taste for the years to come, and I still listen to these albums every day, but also a lot of stuff from decades after

Denner's Inferno is about to unravel its debut, "In Amber", skillfully and harmonically reshaping the image of Hard Rock, crafted in the 70s. While listening, it was like breathing two eras actually, the 70s, yet also the early 80s, when the melodic, yet heavier, approach of NWOBHM barged in to change the face of Hard Rock, Heavy Metal. Do you also share appreciation towards the British movement of early Metal as well other than the bands that influenced its creation?

You have a point there, I'm a big fan of NWOBHM, and have many records from this genre and time in my collection, so, yes the is also something I spiced the new album with, Bands like Angel Witch, Saxon, Quartz, Diamond Head, Etc., and obviously Iron Maiden and Judas Priest have made a big impact on my taste and the decisions I took with my own music

How do you find this pleasure mix of the atmospheric haze, darker auras and the slightly heavier riffs running through the album? Would you say that it was one of the purposes of this album, to show a kind of diversity, several worlds collided into a supernova?

I like heavy albums with different colors in them, you know the feeling when you hear a new album and the first two songs blow you away, and then 11 more songs in the same direction as fillers. I tend to get disappointed. I didn't want this to happen with "In Amber"

I understand that you were on a watch for vocalist, yet after a time you caught one gifted singer, in the image of Chandler Mogel. No doubt, an amazing decision and a great pick. Mogel already showed his worth on a variety of bands and projects, the perfect singer for this kind of music between Rock and Metal. Before Mogel, have you considered local vocalist or simply wished to find someone off country? What is your opinion of Mogel's singing skills? Is he Denner's Inferno's material?

I had problems finding the right vocalist for this band, also because of the demanding style referring to the icons from the past in this particular genre of Heavy Rock. I found a Swedish guy I had a chance to listen to on some albums by the bands Lugnet and Dust (Sweden), but he declined when I asked him mainly because of his own new releases and the time he had to spend doing them. So that left me there, when out of almost nowhere, the president from my record label found this guy on the net, I heard a YouTube video by the band Radio Exile with Chandler on vocals. He blew me away. I contacted him, and everything went smooth from that point, a very professional and easy singer to work with, and also a cool guy with a taste in music quite similar to my own

How would you describe the songwriting for this album? Are you the one mainly coming up with the material, only for the band to complete your ideas or is it a joint venture by the band members to bring out their offerings?

It was very much a workshop thing, where everyone came in with ideas, but most of the stuff was already in my drawer when we started the preparations for "In Amber"

As veteran musician, which have been involved in some major albums, what is your approach towards writing a song? Are you pro the song factor or actually, the musicianship skills have an advantage? Since nowadays Metal scene, for the most part, favors rather the skills, and technical playing, over the actual song, therefore the question.

I prefer not to go down in the trap where you think music instead of feeling it, most of my guitar work is spontaneous, mainly because magic can happen by luck, some mistakes can end up as pure gold when you take chances. But on the other hand, it can be impossible to catch, and will demand home preparation, I hate when that happens haha

A song that truly inspired me, frankly, sent me back to "Melissa" and "Don't Break The Oath" to some extent, is "Fountain Of Grace". It is haunting, unlike any other song on the album. The touch of keyboards, riffing and even Mogel's multi-layered vocals, are outstanding. What can you tell about this track? It is your tribute to the old days?

Oh yes, I just love Doomy Music, and I'm a big fan of Horror movies from the past. So my aim was to connect those two things, as you mentioned there was element of old Mercyful Fate in it but it wasn't intended, it just came natural when I wrote this song back in 1999

How was it to work with a lyricist, a person that it outside the band? I know that there have been other bands that entrusted their lyrics into the mind of someone that is not one of the lineup. Did you come up with the themes and Mr. Harris wrote the lyrics accordingly?

Yes, it's a relief to have a poet close to you, I added some lyrics and found some melodies for Jesper's beautiful words. This will be a staple thing for the next Inferno albums in the future. He's a dear friend of mine and live only a few blocks away from me

Which of the album's tracks is your most influential, both musically and lyrically? A track that you believe represents better than any other

"Fountain Of Grace" tied with "Veins Of The Night", it depends of what day I'll listen to them. "Fountain Of Grace" with its eerie atmosphere, and " Veins Of The Night" with its Progressive and odd structure

Who engineered the sound for this album? It is like the old Mercyful Fate sound along with tinges of vintage Rock, pretty rich and clear, amazing to listen to. What is your take on the overall work on the sound?

I was very close to anything in the whole process, but had a lot of input from the guys in the Band and Povl Kristian who engineered and helped me with Keyboards and Effects. It was very inspiring to have these guys around me in these recordings and mixing sessions

From what I read in the dossier, you weren't involved with the upcoming Mercyful Fate reunion. Personally, like yourself, I think it is a shame, you should have been the next in line after Shermann to take part. Why do you think you weren't called to do it? Have you expressed any objections for such an idea in the past perhaps? Is there bad blood between you and Shermann or King Diamond that might have been the reason?

I had a minor argument with King Diamond a few years ago, concerning the artwork of The Denner/Shermann albums, created by Thomas Holm who also did the "Melissa" and "Don't Break The Oath" album Covers. We never solved this disagreement, so that was the high price we both had to Pay. I wish them the best of luck, and it's behind me now

Unlike Roland Grapow, ex-Helloween, that wasn't invited for the Pumpkins United, and went off to release a cover album with Masterplan, displaying re-recorded Helloween tracks of his era with the band, I guess you will not do the same with a compilation of Mercyful Fate / King Diamond tunes of your period right?

I will add some classics in my live set with Inferno, there's so many songs to pick. I know that fans will be thrilled to hear my Mercyful Fate song versions, but only 2 or 3 in the "In Amber" support set. I'll let King and Hank do the Cover band thing, maybe one fine day I'll do my own, but not now

Where do you see Denner's Inferno going next? How do you intend to support the upcoming album?

A European tour is on the drawing board for spring 2020, and I started to write songs for the next album. It will go in the same direction as "In Amber", varied, heavy and with a ridiculous amount of Guitar Themes and Solo Parts

Michael, it has been an honor, thank you for your time to do this interview. "In Amber" is an enchanting experience, certainly to listen to another side of your musical expertise. Cheers sir.

My Pleasure, Thank a lot. Best wishes

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