The Shrine Unshrouded
CoC interviews Marcel Verdurmen of Altar
by: Aaron McKay
No sense in getting all wrapped-up in too many details. Usually the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. It would seem that Marcel from Holland's Altar would be a defender of that line of direct reasoning, judging from the replies I received back on e-mail from the band's goliath guitarist. I found his answers to be simple, forthright and fraternal. After a simple, obviously unsuccessful attempt to speak with Marcel on the phone, I coordinated this e-mail dialog with the band's spokesperson and guitarist for you, the CoC readership. I hope that you find it illuminating in some regard.

CoC: Altar has two different covers for the new album, for the European and US releases, huh?

Marcel Verdurmen: It seemed better to bring out two different covers, because some people thought the one with the girl and priest on it was too shocking.

CoC: You have been given -a lot- of credit for taking the band to the next level in ability, with respect to _Ego Art_, with your clever, weighty guitar approach. Do you agree with that?

MV: Well, I had another approach to Altar's music, but I always kept the Altar style in mind when writing any new material.

CoC: In your opinion, before this new release, would you say that _Provoke_ was more innovative and/or radical than _Ego Art_?

MV: Yes, I agree. _Provoke_ was more melodic and in my eyes more mature than the _Ego Art_ album. It was not an experiment, it was just a new album with a different approach, and it is still an album we are very proud of.

CoC: Where did the title of _In the Name of the Father_ come from?

MV: Well, here in Holland some priests were caught in a clothing room of a swimming pool filming little naked boys and girls and in the beginning this was a great case, but after all, they did not get convicted and had no punishment at all!! So we decided to give our album this title with [that] meaning behind it. Even if you are a pervert priest, no one will blame you for this, because he is acting "in the Name of the Father".

CoC: Did I read somewhere that _Provoke_ was Altar's rebuttal to -- was it the media or organized religion?

MV: I think both. <laughs>

CoC: Last year, Altar performed at the Waldrock festival with In Flames, S.O.D, Immortal, Mercyful Fate and Sepultura, among others. How was that compared to other concerts Altar has done?

MV: Well, to play on Waldrock was a wish we had for years. We enjoyed it a lot and playing with other well known bands is just far out!!

CoC: I see that you are slated for a date in July in the Czech Republic with Dark Funeral and Behemoth. Anything happening with a US tour? Deeds of Flesh, possibly?

MV: Hopefully, we are waiting for other people who promised this tour to us to keep their word and hopefully we are going to the US. I know Altar is a band you have to see live. We are much better on stage.

CoC: European tour with Vader?

MV: Same answer.

CoC: Didn't you guys do a split album with Cartilage?

MV: No, I think that was another band.

CoC: What song did Altar cover on the Chuck Schuldiner Benefit Concert (with Altar, Blo.Torch, God Dethroned, Occult, Dead Head and Consolation)?

MV: We did the song "Evil Dead".

CoC: Did you particularly appreciate any other the other bands' covers?

MV: Yes, sure!!

CoC: What happened with your former label, Displeased? How are things working out with Pavement?

MV: After a long fight and so much discussion going on, we said goodbye to Displeased. Some things just did not work out. With Pavement things are looking OK, but you always have to see what happens in the future.

CoC: You guys worked up everything to do with _In the Name of the Father_ all by yourselves. Did you shop that, your now fourth release, around to labels or were you prepared to go the entire distance without any support at all?

MV: No, when we said goodbye to Displeased we had already signed a deal with Rough Trade / Zomba. Pavement came in later.

CoC: I noted that Pavement is handling promotion for Altar everywhere -but- in Benelux [Benelux is the name used for the group of countries comprising Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, which are on the western coast of Europe, nearest to the United Kingdom -- Aaron]. Who's handling that?

MV: Rough Trade / Zomba.

CoC: Anybody you are listening to now? Found any impressive bands lately?

MV: I like Rammstein a lot.

CoC: My very best wishes to the band and please end this interview anyway that you would like -- and thanks very much for your time, Marcel.

MV: No need for thanks at all, and I thank you for your interest and hopefully we will see each other on some tour and have some beers together. Cheers!!


(article submitted 12/8/2000)

8/12/2000 A McKay 6.5 Altar - In the Name of the Father
9/1/1998 A Bromley 6 Altar - Provoke
7/17/1996 A Bromley 7 Altar - Altar
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