On January 24th Century Media will release a best of compilation with long disbanded German death metallers Morgoth. The band was among the first death metal bands to emerge from Germany back in 1989 and has since their split gained underground cult status. Back in the day the band played old school death metal but on their later releases they made a somewhat drastic change in direction by going for a more industrial and thrash metal orientated approach. This caused the band to loose a lot of the fans that had been there from the first albums [including myself]. It wasn't without a certain amount of curiosity then that I recently asked bassist Sebastian Swart about the past, the present and the future.

Sebastian Swart interviewed by PSL

How did the idea of issuing a Morgoth compilation initially come about and how actively have the members been in the process?
The idea of making a "Best of" initially came from us and Century Media. The whole band and Century were involved in the selection of all material. Marc and I did the whole communication between Century Media and the band. A big thanks to Jens and Leif from Century Media.

Is the compilation an indication that the band is planning to reform in a foreseeable future?
No. A lot of people ask me that. There are no plans for a reunion in the future. I don't think that we can get all members on stage again. Also, there is no new Morgoth material or rehearsals. We already got offers from some big festivals to play this summer. I don't see that right now. We will see what will happen in the next couple of months.

After Cursed you took quite a change in direction. Did you loose interest in death metal?
No, we did not loose interest in death metal but we were also interested in different styles of music and we wanted to develop our own style. It's getting boring making music if you are not able in move to other directions. Also it is very easy to write the same album 30 times. I know a lot of bands doing that because they have the fear of losing their fans. We always did what we wanted.

On your later albums [ Odium and Feel Sorry for the Fanatics] you experimented quite a bit and a lot of fans didn't really like. Was this what eventually broke up the band?
It was maybe one of a lot of reasons. We just felt that 1997 was not 1991 when we were at our peak point. Not just with regards to the fans. We were just fed up with the whole music business and the routine of touring, writing songs, going into a studio and again and again. The last tour we did with Die Krupps showed us that all this was not our lifestyle anymore.

Obviously the heaviness and aggression was gone on Feel Sorry for the Fanatics and everything sounded very mellow compared to the older material. Was this a result of being fed up with playing metal?
I think the older material is mellow compared to Feel Sorry... If aggression means playing as fast and loud as it can get, I feel sorry for those who believe in that. I know that the style was totally different from older material. The aggression is different. It's deeper and wants to be a little more intelligent and not just on the surface of the music which most listeners seemed to feel very comfortable with.

If you look at all your albums there's quite a difference between where you started out and where you ended. Looking back, do you think that you had moved too far away from the starting point?
From our perspective of course not. We lived our creativity. From the perspective of the fans we developed too fast. If we had put out another album between Cursed and Odium and Odium and Feel Sorry... the fans would have had a better chance to develop with us.

What have you all been doing since the split of the band?
Carsten runs a successful management agency. Rdiger and Marc are working as Producers for German television. Harry is self-employed and I am working in a studio for movie post production. Marc and I are still making music together in Berlin. We formed a new band 4 years ago. It's named ActionJackson and is still very hard music with brutal vocals. You can give it a try at www.actionjackson.de.

Your albums have been pretty hard to obtain in the later year. Now that the compilation has seen the light of day does it mean that the Morgoth catalogue will be re-released?
Not that I know of.

What was the absolute peak of the career while playing in Morgoth?
For me the peak was of course touring the USA. Also I remember a situation in 1991 when we played in Kattowice [Poland]. We stayed in a hotel and in front of that hotel were 2000 fans and we could not leave the hotel. While having lunch the security let some fans into the dining room. They came up to us and a girl gave a rose to me and started crying. That was a very touching moment. I know Robbie Williams has situations like that 30 times a day. I had it once in my lifetime.

Which Morgoth album and song is your undisputed personal favourite?
That's hard to say. I think it is "Graceland" from Feel Sorry... yes, the pop song. This is one of the most honest songs we ever did.

Where does the word Morgoth originate from and what does it mean? Perhaps you could solve this little mystery which has been bugging me for years!
The name is taken from the book "The Silmarillion" by J.R.R. Tolkien. That book was released after Lord of the Rings and is about the time before "Lord of the Rings". Morgoth is the evil spirited magician.

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