Human Fortress

It may have taken them about 10 years and an “erroneous album” in the meantime, but Human Fortress are back in full force! In “Raided Land” they indeed get back to their epic heavy/power metal roots! The band’s new vocalist Gus Monsanto talked to Grande Rock about the challenge and his desire to honor his metal roots among other stuff…
Human Fortress band pic

Hey Gus. It’s good to have you on Grande Rock. Human Fortress is back with a wonderful new album!
 
G: Hello Grande Rock! Thanks a lot for having enjoyed our “Raided Land” CD. We had a blast working on it!
 
 
So, do tell us how the guys from the band approached you and what your first thoughts were before joining them.
 
G: I wasn’t very much familiar to their music, but as a singer, I am always looking for new challenges. I am a huge metalhead, still I had never had the opportunity of singing on a CD with that musical direction. I learned they needed a new singer through Andrew McNeice, from Melodicrock.com and we got in touch… The rest is history!
 
 
As you know Jioti Parcharidis was not only one of the band’s founding members but also a vocalist that the fans adore even to this day. Were you afraid at some point how the fans’ reaction could be towards you especially after the band’s previous “disappointing” attempt on “Eternal Empire”?
 
G: Not really. As much as I appreciate what Jioti does (besides HF, love what he’s done with Herman Frank, from Accept), I have my own long history and had no doubts it would be a perfect fit and accepted by the fans.
 
 
It’s wonderful to see another founding member also, the Greek drummer Apostolos ‘Laki’ Zaios back again! He’s a powerful force and very beloved especially among the Greek fans of the band. Can you tell us how he got back as well?
 
G: I don’t know much about the band’s past, but now the original guys are back. Laki is a lot of fun, has great talent and taught me some nasty Greek stuff, looooool. (i.n.: I’m sure he did so! Hehe…) Our producer, Michael Bormann also works with Redrum, from Greece and told me so many great stories! I would love to have the chance to perform in Greece, or even sing for or produce a Greek band. I had the chance of working with Bob Katsionis from Firewind, when I was in Revolution Renaissance. He was my personal choice and is a killer musician.
 
 
How did the band decide to go back to their roots with the new album? Was that a decision that you as well took in the band or the material was mostly written when you joined them? The connection with the track “Gladiator of Rome (Pt. 2)” is obvious, I think.
 
G: Yes. The album is a return to roots, in terms of the line-up and musical direction.
 
 
What’s the “Raided Land” and where is it? What’s the meaning behind the album’s title? How it is related with the Mayas calendar and the pyramids that we see on the cover artwork?
 
G: If I told you more about the “Raided Land”, I would have to kill ya! LOL. What I can tell you though is… funny thing is I sing with a Brazilian metal band called Symbolica and the artwork for our own CD “Precession” has lots of the elements featured on “Raided Land”, although it was completely coincidental! (i.n.:WTF?!!!)
 
 
Do give us a brief hint of each track…
 
G: “Raided Land”: Great opening track. Sets the mood for the whole record.
 
“Child of War”: Love this song. Great strong chorus.
 
“Wasted Years”: The single. Special song.
 
“The Chosen One”: Aggressive!
 
“Shelter”: Cool vibes.
 
“The Gladiator of Rome (Pt. 2)”: Puts a smile on my face. I can only think of Michael Bormann and his gf when I hear that song.
 
“Dark Knight”: My favorite song on the CD. Really aggressive chorus. Blackie Lawless meets Manowar. That was the frame of mind when I laid the vocals down!
 
“Prelude” and “Pray for Salvation”: I really like the work Dirk has put on this song. He is good with orchestrations.
 
“Evil Curse”: Metal.
 
“Restless Souls”: One of my favorite songs on the record.
 
“Under Siege”: Kamelotic.
 
“Guard the Blind”: Blame it on Johann
 
 
How did the cooperation with Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann (Orden Ogan, Magica, Craving, Harasai etc.) occur and who’s responsible for the album’s production? Are you satisfied with the overall outcome?
 
G: He is great and did a lot of work on the CD. Upgraded immensely the sonics of what we had. Great job, Seeb!
 
 
How did you decide to shoot a video for “Wasted Years”? I think it’s the catchiest track of the album. A great choice indeed. Will there be another video?
 
G: I hope we have another video on the way. Not sure it’s the catchiest track on the CD, but it works!
 
 
Are you planning to go on tour soon? Are there any booked live shows as yet? Are you working on something as we speak?
 
G: The band is trying to get together with a booking agency and work on this…
 
 
Which are those “rejuvenating” elements that “Raided Land” introduces to the epic heavy/power metal genre?
 
G: I am not sure if the term would be “rejuvenating”, but there is some stuff that’s refreshing to me, which is some back to basics playing, instead of the virtuosistic approach most bands take those days, and some arrangements that are not too busy, if you l know what I mean. Doesn’t sound like a modern record to me.
 
 
By the way, what are your personal plans for 2014? Are you working on some new material with any of the other bands which you are working with?
 
G: I am working on some very personal stuff. No deadlines yet, no announcements, but its music is making me very happy, excited and hopeful.
 
Human Fortress band pic

Were you to choose the 3 favorite bands & albums in which you have participated till now which would they be and why?
 
G: Lord of Mushrooms – “Perspectives” was incredible. A progressive record with amazing musicianship and writing, very original sounding. Thought a lot more people would ‘get it”, but sometimes stuff is ahead of the curve, ahead of the times.
 
Adagio – “Dominate”. It’s the CD that put my name on the map and landed me other professional opportunities. First time I was in a band with top notch musicians that I can say was one of the best bands on the planet regarding its music style. I only wish I had done all the vocals for “Archangels in Black”, since I believe all the songs I have done for it were even better than “Dominate”.
 
Revolution Renaissance – “Age of Aquarius” is very heartfelt record. Amazing orchestrations by Bruno Agra, our drummer, amazing production/guitars by Santtu Lehtiniemi, a very talented guy from Finland. Some very very personal lyrics. Hated the cover, but it is what it is.
 
Honorable Mention: Symbolica – “Precession”. The heaviest CD I have done so far, modern metal, with 7-string guitars and unbelievable drums from Almah’s Marcelo Moreira. Great cover of “Innuendo”, by Queen.

 
 
And some weird Questions now!!! What’s your opinion of people downloading free music from the Internet? What shall an artist do in order to avoid losing money and time?
 
G: I have been guilty of that myself. But I know it’s never been harder making money out of being a musician. I think we should play live as much as possible and find other alternatives for extra incomes, unfortunately.
 
 
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
 
G: The Beatles – “Greatest Hits”. Those songs… Those royalty checks… LOOOOOOL!!!
 
 
Which are the things that piss you off from today’s music industry?
 
G: You don’t have the time or the room so that I can go off on everything I find wrong. Let’s keep this positive…
 
 
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music evolution, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
 
G: Honestly… I might sound like a Beatles freak (I don’t even listen to them that much, I swear…), but for a band that’s been active 62-70, it’s unbelievable the amount of evolution and width of musical spectre covered by them. All music made today derives from that. In my opinion, they were extraterrestrials. Paul MacCartney is a 70 year old man who sings for 2 hours and a half per gig and doesn’t drink water. Is there any further evidence? No band ever could touch them.
 
 
Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
 
G: All the Greek ones! Now get my ass to Greece for some fun and rock & roll looooooool… (i.n.: You’re gonna love Greece dude! I swear!)
 
 
Victor Hugo said: “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent”. Do you agree?
 
G: “Without music, life would be a mistake”. Friedrich Niezsche. But wait! He wasn’t Greek! That makes him unqualified for the job, looooooool… (i.n.: He was a good student though… cheeky)
 
 
Best pick-up line that has worked for you several times in the past?
 
G: I go on stage and sweat my ass for one hour and a half every night. That tends to work better than blah blah blah, loooooooooool… (i.n.: Hell yeah! It’s rock & roll babie!)
 
 
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
 
G: When is her funeral scheduled for??? (i.n.: Hehehe… now that’s a guy who actually loves & adores his album collection!)
 
 
Thx for taking the time to talk to Grande Rock Gus… Thx for the music... Please leave a note to Grande Rock readers… Take care!
 
G: Thanks a lot for the support. Know you’re very much into music in your country and hope to see all of you sometime soon! And please, buy “Raided Land”, by Human Fortress, on AFM Records!