7 August 2014


2012 marked the return of Inner  Sanctvm since their classic debut album  Frozen Souls from 1994. With a renewed line-up including Pentagram Chile´s vocalist Anton Reisenegger “Christi Testamenta” shows the band fresh, with renewed power, but with the aggression, technic and intensity of their early days. Now the band is working on the third album soon to be released. I contacted founding member Heber W. Hammer [guitars] and Francisco [bass] to talk about past, present and future of the Uruguayan band. Enter the Inner Sanctvm... 

Hails Heber, hope you are doing well there!  The release of the second album took many people by surprise, when did you start working of this return of Inner Sanctvm? Were there any other attempts to get Inner Sanctvm back to life?
Heber:  Hello!  Well, I started to work on the second CD a few months before the CD was released, I tried to do something with Andy Viglioni (one of the first drummers of the band) and other musicians but things turned so complicated and stressful that I decided to try something different. To me Andy is one of the best Metal drummers in Uruguay, he also played in LEGEND, he’s very professional and responsible and a nice person to work with. Gustavo Dell from Angkor Vat was on the other guitar back then, he’s a nice guy too.
I tried at least with five singers and four bass players until one day I talked to Francisco and offered him the spot and he said that he would love to become the new bassist for the band (he has been related to Inner since almost the beginning) and then we asked Anton if he was interested and he also said yes. That’s basically the way that everything happened.
How did you contact Anton and rest of the line-up, if I’m not wrong none of them live in Uruguay? Was there any chance to work with Pablo V.L. again?
Heber: We were brainstorming about a possible new singer for the band and Álvaro and Francisco threw a few names to consider and all of them were good options, but one day I talked to Francisco and I asked him what about asking Anton to join? And he said that’s a great idea, then I talked to Álvaro and he shared the same opinion.
I remember that I wrote to Anton and he replied to me saying that he was interested and that he wanted to get a little bit of more information about our ideas and such. By that time Francisco was travelling on vacations to Germany (Hamburg) and as Anton was working for a few days on a city in the south of Germany (right now I can’t remember which one) I told him to give Francisco a call and after they talked everything moved smoothly on.
Francisco: Working with Pablo would have been great, but he’s nowhere to be found and although we tried to get hold of him we didn’t succeed.
Now about our locations, you are right, no one of us is living in South America at the moment, Álvaro is in Italy, Anton is in Spain, and myself (Francisco) I’m located in Sweden.
We see it as a good chance to get the band exposed in Europe, a good chance that we haven’t taken enough advantage yet (LOL)
How long did you work on the concept of Christi Testamenta? What can you tell us about the lyrics, do they meaning differ compared to the lyrics of Frozen Souls?
Heber: I wrote the songs and lyrics and recorded the tracks to show the concept to the rest of the members… that whole process took me about three weeks in total. I made the Frozen Souls music and lyrics when I was a teenager, that was more than two decades ago, I believe the band has a distinctive character now, more personality, it is probably the same but now there’s more technology available to record in a better way, now there are other problems, but this aspect in particular is much better than before.
How was the recording process like?
Francisco: At first I thought that it would be really complicated to approach, but Heber sent us very finished demo version of every song so at the end everything, although not easy, ended up being not as difficult as I thought it would be.
Heber then sent to Álvaro the click track and reference-guitar tracks for him to record the drums, then when the drums were done Álvaro sent the multitrack to Heber to start recording the guitars. After the guitars were ready I continued with the strings session recording the bass guitar tracks.
At the end when all the instruments were recorded Anton added the vocals and we sent the full multitrack to Cristian Rodríguez Lunecke in Chile to start with the mix and mastering process.
The result in my opinion was very good, and even better considering that we recorded every part at different locations and studios, but we managed to keep a very fresh feeling with the album and even if my comment may sound a bit crazy, I think that the album sounds very alive.
How did you get linked up with I Voidhanger Records for the release of Christi Testamenta?
Francisco: We had contacted several labels but we had not managed to sign any deal, mostly because the offers we received included re-releasing “Frozen Souls” first and after some moths to release our new album “Christi Testamenta”. At that time we weren’t interested on that and we really wanted to release our second CD first so we decided to keep searching but at the end we received kind of the same answer all the time.
We then made a deal with a label that I don’t want to say the name of (as Gene Simmons said, even bad publicity is good publicity), and that label gave us a release date and such but then they simply stopped replying us back and such, and obviously they didn’t release the album, so we got VERY disappointed and pissed and in some way we left the album in some sort of stand by for a few months.
At that time Digmetalworld offered us to release “Christi Testamenta” as download only via (Itunes, Amazon, etc) but as I see it now that wasn’t a good decision because the fans of this kind of music want to have some physical release and not only downloads, and also because right after we did this some labels started to tell us that they weren’t interested any longer because we had already released the album on the net, and that would heavily affect the sales.
If was during this time that Gabriele Strano of the Italy’s Aristocrazia webzine wrote me asking if we were still looking for a label to release “Christi Testamenta” because the guy from I, Voidhanger Records was interested to do it, so we closed a deal with him and we are very thankful of both of them.
As a resume and after this couple of years that has passed by, I think that we made many decisions guided by our hearts and not so much by our brains (LOL), so if you ask me now if being able to do things differently we would take a different approach, then the answer is most definitely YES!!!
Let’s take a glimpse to the past, Inner Sanctum arose from the ashes of your previous band Melkor Morgoth, what was Melkor Morogth like? Was the music similar to what Inner Sanctum plays?
Heber:  No, M.M. was very different, I made almost all the music except for a couple of songs, and the lyrics were written by the other member of the band. I wasn’t happy with the band back then, we had very different ideas and musical tastes, I wasn’t happy at all with a couple of lyrics, so I decided to move forward to create Inner Sanctvm and then for this new band (Inner) I wrote all the music and all the lyrics except for Deathless Prophet.
What do you still remember of the recordings of the demos Shadows in the Mirror and Deathless Prophet?
Heber: The “Shadows in the Mirror” demo was recorded mostly because we needed something to send to Chile to start promoting the band, and obviously not only to spread it in that country but everywhere, but at that time 99% of our contacts were located in Chile and we knew people that were already getting exposure in North America and Europe and they were willing to help us with our band.
“Shadows in the Mirror” was recorded almost live in the studio with not so many overdubs and with a very basic set up but it managed to get us some recognition, and if you think of the money we spent for that demo (almost nothing) compared to the good response we got from it the outcome we got is fantastic. 
What are your memories concerning the agreement with Toxic Records from Chile and the long wait until the album was released?
Heber: I left the band after this long wait, back then I was very frustrated with a lot of things in the business and inside the band so I started to move on a different direction musically and with a new band called LEGEND,
Legend was more into technical stuff with keyboards and a lot of complex arrangements, very different to Inner Sanctvm with influences of Shred, Neoclassical and Progressive, etc. 

What do you think of Frozen Souls, and the potential that the band had? Do you still remember many details concerning the recording of the album?
Heber: It was recorded basically as a rehearsal or “live” so, I can’t complain about the result. I was ok. Yeah I remember almost every detail about the recording.
Why did you use two different designs for the album cover, for the Chilean and Uruguayan releases?
Heber: I wasn’t feeling fine with a lot of things inside the business, the band, the manager, etc, so to be fair enough I left the band that I had created. They decided to release the CD in Uruguay with the new guitar player in the photos and credits instead of me and with a different artwork, the reasoning behind it I don´t know. 
After the recording of the album you added two new songs on your set list, and I was a lucky bastard who listened to “The Dagger” and “The Evil Beneath”, does there exist any recording of those great songs? Heber:  Ha!!!  Those songs were good songs, but we needed two tracks out of the CD. I didn’t want to put any song out of the album, but because of one reason or another, those two weren’t recorded for the CD. 
You were one of the few extreme bands from Uruguay that played abroad, what are your memories on those gigs, specially that one with Sarcófago in Chile?
Heber: The first time we travelled to Chile was something that came literally out of nowhere and that, by that time, when telling people that Inner would be playing in Chile everybody thought that we were stoned or drunken hahaha. The first show was great, the people in Chile received us extremely well and treated us like if we had been there for years.
The second show, the one with Sarcófago and Torturer was also very good but at that time we were mostly focused on the recording of our debut album, so it wasn’t the same than playing Chile for the first time.
Francisco: I remember that I arranged that date with Sarcófago because at that time I was very close friend to Mario Bustos of the Metal store Cruel Wretch, and when he told me that he would be producing that concert I asked him to add Inner because the band would be recording their debut album in Santiago (Chile’s capitol) by the same days of the show, so he accepted immediately.  I remember talking to the guys of Sarcófago and Wagner was a VERY educated guy, that was something that I didn’t expect, a very intelligent and friendly guy and extremely good on stage.
Heber, why did you decide to leave Inner Sanctum?
Heber: Because lots of things were moving on a direction that wasn’t what I wanted for the band or myself, so I thought that my option were to either disband Inner or leave, and as I saw that Álvaro and Pablo were very much into the band I decided that the best would be to leave, and so I did.
What did you think when Pablo left the band and no original members played still under the Inner Sanctvm name?
Heber: It was so weird, bizarre, strange, hahaha, I don’t know how to describe the feeling!!! I think that was a mistake, the band sound and lyrics, the voice, the arrangements, everything was completely different, I think they keep the name  for one reason or another, but was a completely different band with the same name.
After Inner Sanctvm you worked on different projects, one was Legend .
Heber: Only with LEGEND, we did a lot of shows, in different places with a great response from different audiences. We were invited to play in a lot of Metal Fests and venues, with bands like Symphony X, Hammerfall, etc. 
Back to present days, you covered “Heaven on their minds” from the "Jesus Christ Superstar". You previously recorded a version of "Somebody Super Like You" included on Frozen Souls [In my opinion, one of the best cover versions I´ve heard] from Brian De Palma's "Phantoms Of The Paradise" so, is there a special appealing to cover songs from movie soundtracks?
Heber: I dedicate a lot of my free time to watch classic movies, Rocky Horror Show, Phantom Of The Paradise, etc, I love watching movies. ”Phantom Of The Paradise” was one of my favorite movies, but the idea came from Álvaro, that was weird too, cause when we started to talk about doing a cover version, he proposed to play that song. Later on this second CD Álvaro came with the idea of “Heaven On Their Minds”  so we did it. 
You also recorded a Cover of Celtic Frost; you used to include Dethroned Emperor on your set list but never recorded it, why did you choose “Return to the Eve” instead?
Heber: These two were a couple of our favorite songs of Celtic Frost, It just happened.., we played since the 80’s these two and sometimes “Procreation Of The Wicked” but Sepultura did that song first,  we played a lot “Dethroned Emperor” live, so we just recorded “Return To The Eve”, that wasn’t anything that we deliberately decided.
What do you listen to nowadays, old-school classics?  Are there new bands that have caught your attention?
Heber: I haven’t listened yet any actual band out there that I like enough. The idea with “Christi Testamenta” was to record a CD which wasn’t in the stores for sale nowadays, is the kind of stuff I would buy without thinking two times about it.
How is the current scene in Uruguay? What do you miss about the scene you once shared with bands like Angkor Vat and Graf Spee?
Heber: The scene is very different now, I don’t miss anything, before there were a few musicians with great ideas and less technology, and now you have a lot of excellent musicians with less ideas and a bunch of technology, but of course there are always exceptions…
You have recently announced the reissue of Frozen Souls, has the release date been fixed yet?
Francisco: No, there’s no release date yet but we have re-mastered the “Frozen Souls” album and the new release will include the “Shadows in the Mirror” and two songs that were recorded before the album and that were never released.
As soon as we have settled a release date we’ll announce it at our sites.
What can you tell about your next album, do you have new material? Will you work with the same line up? Can you advance some details such as song titles and concept?
Francisco: Heber has already written our full third album and now he’s working on demos to send us to start getting used to the new stuff. I have already listened a couple of songs and those are great, I know every band says the same thing about their new stuff but I really think that what Heber wrote is awesome.
This new album will be more oriented in the style of early Inner, I mean “Christi Testamenta” is like a following of “Frozen Souls” mixed with lots of traditional Metal influences, so with this third effort the song writing, at least to me, is more back to the roots of the band.
What´s the strangest place and the most shocking place you have been?
Francisco: This is a difficult question, but perhaps the strangest place that I can remember of is a city in the south of Sweden called Kristianstad, a city that to me has a very weird environment, and we I say this I don’t mean it on the good sense of the word.
Shocking places I’ve been to several, but as this is a Metal interview (LOL) I’ll tell you that a very shocking and scary place I’ve been to are the dungeons of the Castle of Kronborg in the city of Helsingør, Denmark. Down there at the dungeons the mixture of cold temperatures, the wind blowing and the shadows that surround the place makes it a VERY scary place.
Heber: This planet is a valid answer??? (Laughs)
Thanks for your time, last words are yours…
Heber:  Thanks a lot for the support, cheers!
Francisco: Thanks for the interview, I hope that we can meet most of the people reading this when playing live!!!


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