Michael Poulsen Reveals the Death Metal Bands That Influenced Asinhell’s Debut Album
Michael Poulsen, frontman for Volbeat, was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. But these days, Michael has turned his focus to a new band called Asinhell that reinvigorates his love for death metal and pits him with Marc Grewe (Morgoth, Insidious Disease) and Morten Toft Hansen (Raunchy) and the singer shares some of the early death metal bands that served as influences for Asinhell's debut album.
The singer also explains why his onetime group Dominus wasn't a consideration when putting together this new death metal band, what it meant to finally be able to work with Marc Grewe after being longtime friends and he gives us an update on where Volbeat stands at present.
Check out more of the chat below:
We are here with the one and only Michael Poulsen of Volbeat, who has returned to his death metal roots with his new band Asinhell. Those who know your history will remember you starting with Dominus. Given that this music comes from the death metal sound, was there any consideration given to calling up old bandmates, or did you always envision this as something that needed to be its own thing with new collaborators?
I never had any plans or wishes to return to the Dominus name or past members, even though I have a lot of good friends that were part of Dominus. But for me, I wanna look forward when it comes to creating projects, even though it's old school death metal and looking back, but the lineup has to be fresh and something new. So it was never meant to be the second part of Dominus. It was always meant to be a new project.
When I founded Volbeat, I was just so very busy. That was a reason why I founded Volbeat, because I had all those ideas with so many different styles and that surely didn't fit in a death metal band. So when I started Volbeat, I got so extremely busy that there was no time to look back and at the same time having a death metal project. So I just used all my energy and power in Volbeat, which I still do.
I think a lot of my friends and people in the death metal environment, they probably kind of knew that someday I might return to death metal because they know that I've been so extremely nerdy about the death metal scene and death metal records and all that comes along with it, that for them it would be weird if I didn't and then suddenly I showed up and had a project as I have now in Asinhell. But there’s a time for everything and now the time's right, and I’m really enjoying the whole project with my great friends in Asinhell. I'm very proud of that and looking forward to everything that we're about to do. It's just a new adventure and I'm looking forward to it.
Michael, you've spoken about the band being inspired and serving as a tribute to the old school death metal bands you grew up with. What was your introduction to death metal? Who were your favorite of the old school death metal bands and what initially pulled you in as a fan?
Well, as a young kid, I started very early listening to classic heavy metal. I was probably around 10 or something listening to Dio, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Iron Maiden and those kinds of bands very early on. Later, probably when I was around 13, I discovered some of the more extreme bands like Bathory, Death, Venom, Celtic Frost and bands like that. Suddenly that was a whole new adventure of more extreme bands having the inspiration from the classic heavy metal bands. Just as you thought that this classic heavy metal bubble that you are in was something that was standing alone, suddenly you could jump into a new bubble of even more extreme heavy music. So I really enjoyed that. Going on adventures in the record stores and finding the vinyls, and also tape trading and all that is still something that I miss these days.
You know, now we're on tour in the U.S. and Canada and we try to find the time to go out and see if we can find those obscure vinyl record stores just to satisfy our ego listening to old school death metal and thrash. I remember those days as a big adventure, the internet was not there, so it was all about hooking up with people at venues, on the street, at record stores, tape trading or trading flyers or recommending certain vinyls. And I just never really lost interest in that.
Forming my first death metal band Dominus back in the day, the inspiration was definitely the same inspiration as I have today. It was Death, Autopsy, early Darkthrone, Benediction, Grave, Entombed, Dismember, Obituary and those kinds of bands. And those are also still the bands that are my main influence when I write songs for Asinhell as well.
There’s an excellent song called "Fall of the Loyal Warrior" on this record. Michael, what made "Fall of the Loyal Warrior" the perfect introduction to the band, and how does this song fit in with what we'll hear on the new album?
I believe that every song on the record is solid. There was just something to the "Fall of the Loyal Warrior" style-wise and the riffing tempos that kind of represented a lot of the stuff that's going on on the album. That seemed to be the right song to have as the opening track on the record. The reaction from the listeners and fans has been amazing.
Asinhell, "Fall of the Loyal Warrior"
Michael, you are quoted as saying that Death's Chuck Schuldiner is one of your favorite death metal vocalists, with the other being Marc Grewe. Even though you've had a long friendship with Marc, was it still a little daunting approaching him to sing on this, given your admiration? I mean, how relieved were you when he agreed and you finally found a vehicle to work together?
Well, first of all, me and Marc have been friends for so many years, so me finally giving him the opportunity to join forces with other people in Asinhell was great because it’s something we talked about for such a long time. Marc said, “Oh, you're so extremely busy in Volbeat, how is this ever gonna actually happen?” And that's many years ago we talked about that and there is a time for everything. When I'm inspired and I think I can find the time to do something like that, let's do it. When I called him up it was almost like he knew what it was all about. He was totally on from the very first second that I was mentioning it.
I'm extremely proud to have Marc in the band. Not only is he one of my best friends, he also is one of the best death metal growlers of all time. I was so blown away when I discovered the two Morgoth EPs back in the day where Marc was frontman. Those amazing EPs Resurrection Absurd and The Eternal Fall are permanently in my ears. Those are classic death metal albums. I've always been a big fan of what Marc has been doing, including what he's doing now in Insidious Disease. He's definitely had that tone that I like in "Island of Dead Men." It's very similar to Chuck Schuldiner, actually.
Asinhell, 'Island of Dead Men"
I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about Volbeat. Obviously you guys recently went through a change in the lineup with the exit of Rob Caggiano on guitar, while moving quickly to announce a touring replacement. Does Asinhell mean there's a little bit more time between albums for Volbeat than usual. And where do things stand with the band at present?
Well, time is always a challenge. I also have two small kids, so I'm a busy guy, . But you know, I like to work and I like to get stuff done and I'm not good at just sitting down and doing absolutely nothing. I still like to get stuff done, have some family time, and hang out with my wife and kids.
I'm also working on some Irish whisky that's supposed to be released next year. And then of course I’ll be doing some promo work for Asinhell. Next year Volbeat is not going out and playing any live shows because we want to write a new album and hit the studio to record the next Volbeat album next year. At the same time I will find some time to go out and play some live shows with Asinhell. That's pretty much how the plans are right now.
Thanks to Asinhell's Michael Poulsen for the interview. The Impii Hora album is out now and available here. Stay tuned to Asinhell's website for touring details when they become available. You can also follow them on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram. You can also keep up with Volbeat's activity through their website, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.