|Remastered by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in May 2016.Infernäl Mäjesty hail from Toronto, Canada. Formed in 1986, their four-track demo got them a good deal of media attention and recognition in underground circles, so eventually they scored a contract with Roadrunner Records. The self-produced debut “None Shall Defy” was released in 1987, and it has by now developed into a cult classic. Thrashers worldwide regard “None Shall Defy” as one of the best thrash albums ever, and some even say it is the best record of all to come from Canada, yet it has always been criminally underrated. This needs to change, and the re-release on High Roller Records gives every thrash-head a chance to (re)discover this searing, aggressive and ultra-heavy piece of thrash history.
Vocalist Chris Baley gives us some insights into the history of the band and their exceptional debut album. Infernäl Mäjesty first started out under the name Overlord; when and why did they decide to change their name, and how important was it to have those rock dots in Infernäl Mäjesty? Chris: “In the beginning we were called ‘Lord Satan’s Deciples’, LSD. Then we changed it to Overlord. Shortly after I had designed a new logo we found out that there was already a band named Overlord. So we put our collective thoughts together and became Infernäl Mäjesty. We were still writing the demo. The use of the Umlaut is more a matter of distiction.” Infernäl Mäjesty’s greatest influences and role models at that time were Slayer, Venom, Manowar, Exciter, Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Voivod and many more, as Chris remembers: “The dawn of thrash metal was an amazing experience to be a part of. Things were so much different in the beginning but I think the music now is more popular then ever.” Infernäl Mäjesty are originally from Toronto, just as Razor, Anvil, Exciter and a couple of other well-known Canadian bands. One might think that back in the days the Toronto scene was a close knit thrash community, but Chris remembers it a bit differently: “Close knit but not without its rivalries. It was also competitive. I think this was a good thing as it pushed the boundaries of the music in its infancy. Larry’s Hideaway was also a major spawning ground for thrash metal in Toronto. I used to go down there a lot to watch the bands. Sacrifice was one of my favs.”
Even though thirty years have passed, Chris still remembers how the 1986-demo found its way to Roadrunner, and he also reveals something about a special project in the making: “Borivoj Krgin of Blabbernouth received a copy of the demo and sent it to Roadrunner, and the rest is history. I will be explaining everything in the book I’m writing. I have no idea when it will be done because we’re adding a new chapter now but all will be revealed.” Even though he still has some writing to do, Chris is wiling to tell us what he finds most memorable about the recording process of “None Shall Defy”: “Riding the Finch bus to our studio every night to work on the songs. Blasting winter winds. Lots of black hash. I remember we recorded every session on four track, then would go home, listen to it and come back in the next day to make changes. Also my girlfriend at the time was a psychology student going to York University so it was a great source of info for me when putting the lyrics for ‘Skeletons in the Closet’ together. We also made a few last minute changes to the lyrics in ‘None Shall Defy’ and ‘Overlord’ when we were recording at Metal Works.”
If one bears in mind that the band had only been founded one year before the debut was issued, the high quality of the musicianship and the extremely well-thought-out songs seem all the more impressive. The album sounds as if the five-piece had been playing together for years. Psychopath and Rick Nemes had both been playing in Castle of Pain, and what about the rest? Chris: “For me this was my first band but the rest of the guys had all played in different bands including Laced with Stacey before he joined Razor. They all had a lot of experience already under their wings. When recording the album, we spent almost every day working on it and rehearsing in our studio.”
“None Shall Defy” reaped some very positive reviews, but all in all the support by the metal press was too little to really help Infernäl Mäjesty reach out to people; still, the album eventually developed into a cult thrash classic. According to many fans worldwide, it is one of the best – and most criminally underrated – thrash albums ever. What is it in Chris’ eyes that makes the album so immortal and ever fresh sounding? “It’s like most things in life. A bunch of little things that all add up. We wanted to write the most evil music we could. We each had something to add to the songs. We were united and working together. Much like the way we are working together now. We feel the winds of change coming.”
Also, how did they manage to create the sound of the album, which is perhaps unmatched in balancing the heavy, the clear and the murky so perfectly? Chris again: “A lot of time was spent mixing and the recording engineers at Metal Works are amazing. The sound just came naturally when we blended Steve and Kens guitar sound into a wave of evil.”
Evil is key with Infernäl Mäjesty: One thing people never fail to point out is how extremely evil the album is; not only in terms of the sound, but also with regard to the way the songs themselves are delivered; it’s technical but never forgets to put all the technique into the service of the song; riffs are constantly varied, there is no shortage of brilliant ideas, of sudden tempo changes, and awesome solos. Apart from that, the lyrics are very dark and at times extremely blasphemous; were or are you still true disciples of the Dark Lord or was it more kind of a masquerade? Chris: “Rick, Psycopath and I were heavily into the satanic bible and other occult teachings and Steve and Ken have always had hearts as black as coal. In our generation at that early age being a huge Slayer, Venom and Mercyful Fate fan, these influences were just part of expressing ourselves. We wanted our image to be as large as our music and we just let our hearts guide us.”
Thrash or black thrash or even death metal? Where would Infernäl Mäjesty file their own stuff? They have been compared to Slayer, Venom, Possessed, Hallows Eve, and while some people see more Black Metal traits in them than others, Chris’ vocal style is regarded to be more death metal than thrash; but to Chris, it wasn’t very important at the time to put a label on the music: “We simply defined it as satanic thrash metal. I’ve always believed that we were more leaning to a black metal side of the richter scale in our original song writing.”
At least if one looks at it today, the cover artwork seems a bit off the wall – was that something Infernäl Mäjesty actually had intended, and if so, why? Chris explains the idea behind it: “When we commissioned the artist we gave him the concept and he painted exactly what we had described. We wanted the Lord of Hellfire to be consuming the heavens, tearing apart the fabric of space and time.” Mission accomplished.
It is actually hard to imagine, but is there anything about the album Chris would like to change if he got the chance to do so? “No, I wouldn’t change anything either as far as the album goes. I would change a lot of things on the business end though knowing what I know now but we don’t have a crystal ball and you live and learn.” Too true. Now if he was to draw a conclusion of the whole story, what role did the album play in the history of Infernäl Mäjesty? What happened right after it had been released, what where the things they had hoped for that did (or did not) happen afterwards? “It was an important album for us, there is no doubt. After its release we were supposed to be on a European tour and play a festival with Pestilence and Death Angel. But this never happened. Pestilence did a tribute to ‘Night Of the Living Dead’ in honour of us not being there. I didn’t find out about this until the video was posted on YouTube. To this day I still have no idea what was going on in Rick’s head but it was devastating to the band. I would like to find him so he could fill in some the missing pieces of the puzzle. This is were it gets dark and murky. Unsavoury if you will. It was explained to me that Rick and Psychopath had informed Roadrunner that we weren’t going to tour until the next album, which was unknown to the rest of us at the time. We were shocked to say the least.” Shortly after, Infernäl Mäjesty were dropped by Roadrunner. But let’s rather turn our attention to more pleasant things: “None Shall Defy” was first re-issued by the Dutch label Displeased Records. This second release was the inspiration to reform the band, to record a new album and to go on a European tour, is that true? “Yes indeed, that is true. Although we were a little displeased it did help reinvigorate us once again. The following tour we did with Malevolent Creation and Vital Remains was awesome. We had momentum and came back with Cannibal Corpse and Dark Funeral.”
And the deal with High Roller is something that doesn’t fail to please Chris, either: “I was seriously excited to hear the news that Warner and High Roller would be collaborating to re-release ‘None Shall Defy’. Right now the album is in Warner Music hands and they have been great so far. Getting it re-released is something I’ve been trying to get the ball rolling on since I re-united with Steve and Ken to start writing our new album ‘No God’.”
The High Roller edition of “None Shall Defy” will not contain the songs from the two demos ‘Nigresent Dissolution’ and ‘Creation of Chaos’, that were included on the re-release by Displeased Records: “No, they won’t be included, but the original demo is coming. I think though it will be the album in its pure original state. We hope to have many more people discover it. I would also like to thank our fans for all their support and we are looking forward to seeing you on the road soon.”Ulrike Schmitz