BLACK BURN - The Invocation  LP
BLACK BURN - The Invocation  LP
BLACK BURN - The Invocation  LP
BLACK BURN - The Invocation  LP
BLACK BURN - The Invocation LP

HRR 217, ltd 500, 350 x red vinyl + 150 x black, 425gsm heavy cardboard cover, 4 page insert

-Priest of Dread
-The World is an immeasurable War
-Dr. Vollin
-Black Burn


Sometimes in your mind you are wondering what could have happened … The band history (or rather lack thereof) of Black Burn is such a case. It's not the common tale of missed opportunities, lost chances or sheer bad luck but a rather good example of wrong place, wrong time. Musically, Black Burn were far ahead of their time. But they picked the wrong place.
The Western part of Berlin, especially in the Cold War days of the early 1980's, never was a heavy metal stronghold. The bleak wall city bred some legendary (hardcore) punk bands (for example Stromsperre and the mighty Vorkriegsjugend) but it was a desolate place for heavy metal. The active scene consisted of a few dozen people. One of them was veteran Jörg Franke, one of the most underrated musicians/songwriters in the whole of Berlin.
Franke's first band was Tantalos (1980). In around 1982 he joined Skylla, who were heavily influenced by the emerging New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Skylla's repertoire consisted of ten original compositions (written by guitarist Carsten Köhler) sounding like a raw mix of Iron Maiden, Holocaust and Judas Priest. Despite showing a lot of promise, Skylla's career didn't take off and Jörg Franke (again with Carsten Köhler) left to form local act Ballantinez (who later recorded a mini album entitled “Charged” for Noise Records in 1985). 1986 saw the birth of Calderone (again with Jörg on bass and as one of the two main songwriters), a band which soon gathered a loyal following in Berlin, playing big clubs such as the legendary Quartier Latin (a former cinema) at Potsdamer Straße and also US army bases. Calderone inked a deal with Parallel Lines Records and released a highly collectible mini album with five tracks in 1988. They played technically very proficient melodic Speed Metal.
Jörg Franke is a man of ideas. While playing with Tantalos, Skylla, Ballantinez and later Calderone (or assiah for that matter), he also developed numerous side projects. One of them was Black Burn (another one was called Crypt who eventually turned into Calderone). And, given the right timing and the right support, Black Burn could have been huge! One listen to “Necrophile” (1984), “Skylla”, “Dr. Vollin”, “Priest of Dread”, “The World is an immeasurable War” (all from 1985) and the tribute “Black Burn” (recorded posthumously in 1999) and you get an instant feeling of Black Burn's uniqueness. The songwriting of Jörg and Carsten is really complex with a lot of time changes and unexpected breaks whereas Marcel Klinger's vocal growls were quite unheard of in 1984 (apart from Hellhammer and Venom maybe). Who knows, maybe Black Burn was indeed Germany's first technical Death Metal band (that's what you would call their style today) …
If you look a bit closer, this mixture of original black metal, death metal and doom metal (influenced by Mercyful Fate, Venom and Black Sabbath) was pretty unique in the mid-1980's. Black Burn was originally intended as a mere side project with Jörg Franke on bass (plus guitars), Marcel Klinger on vocals and different session drummers. One of them was Andreas Breindl (you can hear him on “Necrophile”). Interestingly enough, Andreas Breindl also was the drummer for Dark Avenger, one of the very few other ground breaking bands from Berlin. (They recorded the two songs “Black Fairies” and “Lords of the Night” for Noise Records' legendary 1984 “Death Metal” compilation.)
Black Burn went into Harris Johns' Music Lab Studio for the first time on December 23rd 1984 to record “Necrophile” (mixed on December 24th 1984). In the summer of 1985 they recorded four more songs (“Skylla”, “Dr. Vollin”, “Priest of Dread” and “The World is an immeasurable War”). This time with Carsten Köhler on guitar and Timo Niedenzu on drums.
In 1985, Jörg mailed Black Burn's demo tape to a few assorted record companies, in this case Brian Slagel's Metal Blade, Steamhammer in Hannover and Berlin's own Noise Records. Karl Walterbach of Modern Music/Noise Records had by then already sealed recording contracts with bands like Grave Digger, Helloween and Hellhammer. But Black Burn was just too heavy for him. He refused to sign them. Same with Steamhammer. Manfred Schütz also did not know what to make of the band. Brian Slagel, over in the States however, encouraged Black Burn to send more material. On June 13th 1985 Jörg handed over a cassette containing Black Burn's “Necrophile” to Kerry King at Slayer's Quartier Latin gig on the “Hell awaits” tour in Berlin (with Destruction supporting). King was supposed to deliver the tape to his boss Brian Slagel. Did he do so? Who knows? Fact is that there was a number called “Necrophobic” on Slayer's “Reign in Blood” album originally released in October 1986. Take a good look and compare the lyrics of both songs …
There is another rather funny tale, which Jörg is going to tell himself: “After Black Burn had recorded the demo at Harris Johns' studio, Helloween were due to start work. We went to fetch some cassette copies of our demo, which Helloween had obviously listened to before. While the Helloween guys were sitting on the couch, Harris was introducing us to them. One of them, I can't remember who it was, said: 'The music is killer but the vocals are totally shite.'” This again shows how far ahead of their time Black Burn really was …
As mentioned earlier, Black Burn was originally only intended as a (studio) project. However, backed by a possible label deal it is likely that the project would have turned into a proper band. “The concept behind Black Burn only developed after a while”, knows Jörg Franke. “I'd say between our first demo recording in December 1984 and our second trip to the studio in the summer of 1985. Some of the Black Burn material goes back to our former band Skylla. The songs 'Dr. Vollin' and 'The World is an immeasurable War' were originally Skylla songs, written by Carsten Köhler in around 1982. The lyrics to 'Skylla' and 'Priest of Dread' also go back to Skylla times. On the one hand, we wanted to go back to the roots and on the other hand we intended to be as forward-thinking as possible. The vocals were really extreme for their time. But that was Marcel's natural voice. Marcel is not only growling, he is a proper singer in the sense that he really does hit exactly the right notes. Our lyrics bordered on fantasy. 'Dr. Vollin' for example is based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. We were not into Satanism at all.”
Who knows, maybe “The Invocation” is the opening of a whole new chapter for Black Burn ...
Matthias Mader