MELODY LANE had a great interview with Manuel  'MANNI' Zewe, guitarist of the German Thrash Metal band GODSLAVE. 
Metalville Records announced July 23rd as the international release date for Godslave's highly anticipated sixth album, Positive Aggressive, the band's debut for the label. Positive Aggressive is an album with a clear concept and a perfect symbiosis of music and message: catchy melodies and thrashing thrash metal on the one hand and inspiring lyrics that let you look deep into your soul on the other. One thing is clear: no thrash metal without aggression!
Interview not to be missed!!!


MELODY LANE: First of all, also if it can sound a bit expected…Can you tell us where does the name GODSLAVE come from? 
MANNI: Hi there! The name is in a way a nod to Slavery, the band preceding Godslave, but there's another edge to it. We all make ourselves slaves to something, higher powers, beliefs, contracts, social classes, stress, personal demons, a literal god, you name it. That god can really be anything oppressing or hindering you. We firmly believe that you can take charge of your own fate, you have to do at some point to steer your life consciously. The name is a reminder to that: don't be a slave to anyone!

MELODY LANE: The line-up of the band is confirmed, is it the same from the beginning of the band…or have you had changes in the last years? Can you tell us anything about the roots of GODSLAVE ? And where the band was born?
MANNI: We've had a couple changes over the years, none of them were easy but all of them were necessary to keep the band alive. We went through 3 drummers to get to Tobi,  2 bassists to get to Mika and one lead guitarist to get to Manni (doing the interview). The only two founding members left are Thommy and Bernie. The band started out in and around our hometown of Saarbrücken in the early 2000s as Slavery, where Thommy,  Bernie and Michael (Meyer, former lead guitarist) played together. The Debut "Bound by Chains" contains the old Slavery songs and can be considered a eulogy to Slavery and the birth or re-birth as Godslave. Musically, the roots were always in Thrash Metal and we intend on keeping it that way yet expanding and evolving our sound with every record.

MELODY LANE: Can you list us 5 songs, from  GODSLAVE  ‘s discography (including new material), that can define the sound of the band … 5 songs that can help our readers to know GODSLAVE  at the best. 
MANNI: Tough one… I’d pick “Slaves to the Black” from the “Out of the Ashes” EP, “Insomniaddict” from 2011’s “Into the Black” album, “Greenzone” from 2016’s “Welcome to the Greenzone”, “Full Force Forward” from 2018’s “Reborn Again” and “How about NO?” from our upcoming release “Positive Aggressive”. That should give a pretty good impression of what Godslave is about.

MELODY LANE: Tell us something about the creative process of your music. Is there a main composer or we can talk about a team work? The songs come from ideas of a single member and then the band works on these ideas in the studio jamming together, or your songs are written in the studio and all the members compose together?MANNI: Excellent question! Bernie, Mika and myself (Manni) are kind of the "songwriting team", but the bulk of the music/ instrument writing is split between myself and Mika approximately 60%:40%. I submit basically finished instrumental versions with the arrangement about 85% done, Mika hands in his song ideas and I rework them, giving them what we call the "Manni-Treatment". Since Mika is first and foremost a Keyboardist and Bassplayer, I re-record and flesh out his riff ideas as I understand them as a guitar player and then do some arranging to streamline the songs. For the upcoming record, Bernie focused solely on writing the vocal lines and lyrics. We work on the songs until we consider them ready and then spend some time in the rehearsal room as a band, playing and finalizing the songs. So, everyone composes his ideas by himself, I arrange the stuff and we tweak it as a team. That's what works best for us.

MELODY LANE:  Can you tell us something about contents and messages of your new album ? …Can you tell us anything about the whole concept of Positive Aggressive? And please tell us where does this title come from? 
MANNI: “Positive Aggressive” is a statement to ourselves, to our way of doing things. Generally the sentiment in Thrash is kind of “destroy everything, everything and everyone sucks, politics suck, kill all governments, corporations suck, life sucks, kill everyone”, which is totally fine in itself. That’s what’s charming and gets people, what evokes the energy and the power inherent to this kind of music. But we like to take it a step further and ask: “What can you do with this energy instead of just venting it off? Can you use it to actively change something rather than just destroy? Use it to build something after you destroy the other?” Can you use your aggression in a positive, non-destructive way? That’s what “Positive Aggressive” is about. The lyrical concept of this album is all about taking conscious control over yourself and actively working on things that bug you, because in the end only you yourself can force change for yourself. It’s meant as an encouraging step towards the listener and a stretched out helping hand. Bernie (guitar, lyrics) had the idea for the title pretty early on in the writing phase and he poured a lot of himself, his struggles and personal hardships into the lyrics, which makes this a very personal and vulnerable album for us and I honestly admire his courage for doing this so openly. 

MELODY LANE:  …After time, are you totally satisfied with your choices about sound and the writing of your previous  album? If you could… would you change anything? What did you focus on to make the sound better and perfectly consistent with the musical ideas you had in mind?
MANNI: I personally love the sound of “Reborn Again” and the album will always be a milestone for myself, since it is my first outing as a songwriter on a production of this technical and professional level. Soundwise we used a Kemper profile of a Marshall JCM800, boosted with a tubescreamer, blasted through a MESA oversized 4x12 and picked up by two different mics. Overall I really wouldn’t change anything regarding the gear used back then. Hindsight is always 20:20 they say, so there were however two or three songs I would cut this time around because they didn’t turn out the way we had them in mind and demoed. But we decided it to be this way back then and so we would probably do so again. For “Positive Aggressive” we used an analog tube-amp from a local amp designer and buddy of ours, Mr Thomas Blug of BluGuitar and put that through a “Vintage Amp” 4x12 cab mic’d up with two microphones again and I love the guitar sound we go this way. It’s a bit more organic as the one on the previous album and I just love the way the Amp1 behaves and responds. It lends the album a distinct sound I believe. The main goal is always an overall sound that punches you in the face and kicks into your stomach. Something you can feel, something that puts you into a good mood. After all, we still play Thrash-Metal and you have to convey that energy. We focused on punch and a rather streamlined arrangement and songwriting compared to previous records.

MELODY LANE:  So apart from the covid/pandemic situation…will you tour in the next future? Have you already a touring schedule? Any chance for us to see  GODSLAVE playing live here in Italy or in Europe in the next months/year?  
MANNI:Planning is difficult these days, all the shows scheduled for 2020 were pushed back to 2021 and are now pushed back further to 2022. Currently our best bet is that this situation will return to somewhat of a normal state at the end of this year. We were thinking about playing outside of Germany and the Benelux region for some time, but that has to be feasible in order for us to do so. Since we can’t really tour  for three or four weeks at a time because of each of our members' work schedule (teachers, workers, civil servants in the band) we are pretty much limited to weekend trips. That being said, we would surely find a solution if the occasion would present itself and someone would book us for a show in Italy!.

MELODY LANE: Could you tell us two bands, from the actual international scene, you’d like GODSLAVE to tour with?... Two bands that would represent a perfect line-up for GODSLAVE to play with and that playing with them would help to enlarge your fan base…And why these bands?
MANNI: I’d like to tour with Exodus. You can spot some influences in our latest albums, no denying that. Other than them being pretty influential to myself, them being an overall interesting bunch of people, I think musically that would be a good match. I’d go with Annihilator for my second pick, because Bernie would grow an extra pair of testies if that would actually happen. He’s a big fan of Jeff Waters’ guitar playing and so am I. They both represent the old school of thrash and that’s pretty much where we are rooted too when it comes to the Thrash side of our sound. 

MELODY LANE: We know that ‘to define is to limit’… but how do you define GODSLAVE’s sound? Are you a Thrash metal band…a groove Metal band… A  heavy metal band…Or…?
MANNI: We consider ourselves a Thrash-Metal band, because that is still basically what we all identify as the core of our sound and attitude as a band. However, we do not shy away from incorporating other influences as well. You can hear that on “Reborn Again” and “Positive Aggressive'' which both sport some strong european Power- and Heavy-Metal influences as well as some nods to Pantera. I’d consider us a melodic Thrash-Metal band. At the end of the day it just has to sound like the Godslave we want to hear and can stand behind. As long as that understanding and identification is given, we as songwriters can pretty much do as we see fit and not limit ourselves too much, which is a pleasant thing.

MELODY LANE: Which musicians are/have been your main musical inspirations? And which are your favorite bands nowadays?
MANNI:  People seem to see quite some parallels to bay area bands like Overkill and Exodus as well as german bands like Destruction. The Overkill comparison is funny to me, since I as one of the main songwriters responsible for Godslave’s sound on the latest records know exactly one of their songs (Rotten to the Core) and never really dived into their work. Might be Thommy’s style of singing, which is similar to Bobby’s, but that is no rip-off either, since he just can’t do it any other way and that is how he sounds like. Mika is into Type-O-Negative, Nightwish and Blind Guardian, as well as Children of Bodom and Cradle of Filth. Bernie cites Whiplash (the band) as one of his biggest influences. Tobi doesn’t listen to all that much metal anyway and Thommy is into all kinds of speed, glam, power and thrash. My personal musical inspirations are early Metallica and mainly european metal bands like Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray and the likes. If I’d have to pinpoint down two musicians it would be Metallica's James Hetfield and Blind Guardian’s André Olbrich, which both had a massive influence on my style of writing music and phrasing leads in particular. My personal favourites nowadays are Blind Guardian, Atlantean Kodex, Visigoth, Pink Floyd and Trivium.

MELODY LANE: As a musician, what has been your biggest achievement to date and what do you want to achieve in the near future? 
MANNI: To date the biggest achievement for me is having had a big part in the writing and recording of the last two Godslave albums and having them being heard in various parts of the world. You know, being told how your music changed something in someone else’s life, motivated them or helped them in one way or another. Also playing in support of Tankard in our hometown and generally having other musicians I look up to actually compliment me for my writing and playing. For the future we plan on playing bigger shows, maybe even playing a small european tour or playing international festivals. My personal goal as a musician always was to surpass the previous album in one way or another, to refine my art and not repeat myself. That and making a full length concept album about Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga.

MELODY LANE: Until today...What was the most important concert for  GODSLAVE career? And why?
MANNI: We actually have two shows! One was the “Chronical Moshers Festival” in 2019 where we shared the stage with Enforcer, Marduk and Vader. That was one awesomely professional experience. After that we decided: “Yes, more of those, please!” The other one was “Geschrubb & Geschepper Festival” in 2017, also because it was extremely well organised and we got a lot of inspiration regarding show-tech there. That festival was the reason we use DMX controlled showtech with programmed light show tailored to our songs today!  

MELODY LANE: In the end…A message from you to all MELODY LANE readers.
MANNI: Thank you for reading this! You can find us on Spotify, I-Tunes and all the regular streaming services. For anything else regarding the band there’s our website and if you’re looking for some merch there’s our shop And for anyone who needs to hear this: You are awesome! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Now blast some Godslave, pull yourself up and have a good time!