Mercyful Fate and King Diamond both have shared the top echelons of classic metal with their unique brand of occult and horror themed visions. The classic metal sound takes the listener into the doom and gloom environments shared by the likes of the famed H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe. Since their beginnings way back in 1982, hundreds of bands have come along with that same sort of dark vision. Bands from Death SS to Black Sabbath have all penned macabre tales that journey into the blackened mind. Now Wisconsin's own A Tortured Soul have returned with their third record to date, the aptly titled "Lucifer's Fate". The album combines traditional doom landscapes with energetic arrangements, an enveloping brew that would best be described as Sabbath and Candlemass crossed with the gothic European finesse of Death S.S. and Mercyful Fate. I had the ability to talk with vocalist Rick Black regarding the album and what influences the band.

My storyline is very dark because I am a very dark person devoid of a happy thought and can't help but write the way I feel at the time.
EC: Rick, A Tortured Soul has just released their third album to date, a great old school number called "Lucifer's Fate". The album is released on Pure Steel Records. How did Pure Steel get involved on the release? Did you work with this label prior to this new album?

Black: They had contacted us about a vinyl release of "Kiss Of The Thorn" and have stayed in touch ever since. We are very fortunate because they are a great label that is very helpful in our needs as a band getting our material out to the public where it belongs.

EC: I've given the album a few spins now and it is really a unique offering. It is really hard to describe, sort of a Candlemass meets Mercyful Fate mixture that is rather uncommon. How do you describe the band's sound and how has it changed since the band's beginning?

Black: With the current line-up the band is very close to the way Nate and myself have envisioned it. From the onset there is change in the sound from the constant filtering of musicians we have had to go through to maintain the band. I am sure this is why the sound has changed. We have had great bass players as a focal point through the years and are now more guitar-friendly. We had never tried to be like any other band, just write the music as it comes out of us and make it kick ass. We have many different tastes in the band from Slayer and Slipknot to Mercyful Fate and Mayhem.

EC: Who came up with the album title and cover layout? Does it fit any particular song or theme on the record?

Black: The label found this piece of art and ran it by us we all thought it was great so we went with it. As far as the name it was one of the strongest songs on the album so we titled it as such. It might have been called "Rust"...haha.

EC: I've noticed that the band has a good nod to old school horror, with that old Lovecraft/Poe/Hammer Horror sort of vibe. At times the songwriting reminds me of a Mercyful Fate/King Diamond chemistry. What inspires the writing? Are you fans of horror media?

Black: As a child I read Poe and Lovecraft before bedtime with my mother and I have always been a fundamentalist follower of the Crowley religious view points. I enjoy reading all kinds of religious books.

EC: The band is based out of Milwaukee, which at one point was a big metal haven for the US. I remember reading all of those Metal Maniacs reviews of the Milwaukee Metalfest. What is that scene like now and are there other "traditional" metal bands coming out of that area?

Black: Not many great bands as the scene is very underground here, however we have been more thrust into the mainstream underground as we just wont go away! More fans are getting into the great metal bands that are missed by the one sided media in Milwaukee and America for that matter. We played at the last Milwaukee Metalfest headlining the independent stage. There was not many in attendance as it was not a favorable location I think?

EC: It looks like Europe was a really good resource for classic and traditional metal through the 90s and 00s. Now that 2010 has hit it seems like more and more American and Canadian acts are releasing a bulk of this genre. Most recently I've heard killer bands like Steel Wing, Cauldron, Skull Fist and Savage Blade coming out of the North. You still have underground US acts that are active like Skullview, Deceased, October 31, you guys. How do you still stay original and bring something fresh and new to the table after Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, and the 70s and 80s seemingly wrote all the riffs that can be written?

Black: I don't know where he gets the riffs from? I let Nate and the band write all the music and then I will add melody and then lyrics to the music. My storyline is very dark because I am a very dark person devoid of a happy thought and can't help but write the way I feel at the time. I never regret writing any song and still sing songs from our first album to keep it fresh to someone who never heard it before. Some fans of the band ask to hear "13" all of the time.

EC: What has the response been on the new record so far? Are you able to do any live support for the album?

Black: The response has been good and we are playing a few shows this Summer to support the album. Headlining a few events like Shank Hall and the Northern Wisconsin Metalfest and have just finished shooting a video for the song "Reign" that should be done editing and released to Pure Steel by September 1st.

EC: What is next for A Tortured Soul? Any ideas brewing for a fourth record?

Black: We have written four new songs so far and are working on the rest. That is why we don't tour as much as most to support "Lucifer's Fate" because we really want to take our time and write a kickass album for 2011.

EC: What are some fond memories of our most recent fallen brothers?

Black: Ronnie James Dio was a hero to myself and the rest of the world. One of the greatest singers and writers that time will ever see. As for Peter Steele he was a very crazy man that was just a lot of fun. Just like Dimebag was the greatest human and musician that time will ever see. We can only hope to grow from such great talent lost.

EC: Go out and grab the new record from these guys! "Lucifer's Fate" is out now on Pure Steel Records. Any parting thoughts?

Black: Yes please pick up a copy of our album and I hope everyone can find some enjoyable tracks on any of our albums and perhaps to play some shows in Europe in the near future. I thank everyone for the support and keep your horns up high!!

EC: Thanks Rick, we really appreciate your time. Good luck with the shows and the album!

Black: Thank you for spending a little time with us Eric and helping to support underground metal bands like ATS.

Rick BlackEric Compton1/7/2011

Lucifer's Fate
Eric Compton7/23/2010

<< back >>