You probably heard by now that Albin Julius, best known as Der Blutharsch, has passed away. There is not a whole lot of information to be found about his passing, but a very similar text can by now be found in numerous websites that I had never heard of before, wondering if Julius was married and how much money he made. As a bit of counterbalance to that crap, a little story about my encounters with the good man and mostly his music.
In the early 1990 I rolled into black metal and a few years later I started to broaden my musical horizon. Somehow I had found the label and mailorder that at the time was called L.O.K.I.-Foundation where I saw an announcement for “A New Soldier Follows The Path Of A New King” (1995) of The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud. Loki also had the titleless debut from 1993 and “Amara Tanta Tyri” (1994). I decided to get “A New Soldier”.
“A New Soldier” blew me away. One of the directions I was looking into expanding my musical horizon was ‘Medieval’. I had found more ‘gothic’ type bands such as Engelsstaub and Ataraxia and light-footed music such as Corvus Corax, but this TMLHBAC album had both medieval tunes and industrial.
It was also for the better that I did not start with the debut. That is an alright album, but a bit too much looped samples and ambient music for my taste. I am not convinced that if that would have been my first encounter with TMLHBAC I would have continued with buying other albums. In these days I actually had to buy music from bands I did not know and when exploring. That was expensive business.
“A New Soldier” seems to have brought a name for the band, as on Saturday 21st September ’96 the duo played in a place I do not believe I have been to more than once: Twieoo in Gent, Belgium. The place was stuffed, the concert great and the great Belgian band Gestalt also gave a great show. A memorable night for sure.
A year later, TMLHBAC again played in Belgium, this time at a festival with quite a line-up as you can see on the right.
Around that time it was said that the male half of the duo released a solo album that took the martial tunes of TMLHBAC a step further, so in Waregem I laid my hands on the titleless debut (now called “first”) of Der Blutharsch.
The album was alright to my ears. A bit too much of the looped samples and ambient sounds of the TMLHBAC debut. It contained a card which you needed to order the next release, a 7″. That exclusivity worked on me, so I sent my money to Herr Julius to obtain a copy of the titleless debut 7″ with the first logo on it.
Again, the 7″ contained a card that you needed to buy the next release, a 5×7″ box set called “Der Sieg Des Lichtes Ist Das Lebens Heil”. My money never arrived… Having not been too impressed by the first 12″ and 7″ and disappointed for having sponsored some mailman, Der Blutharsch drifted away a bit from my musical attention.
Then in 1999 “Der Sieg Des Lichtes” was rereleased as a cd. I do not remember if I got it immediately. I do know that around that time I had bought some of Der Blutharsch’ releases. “The Long Way Home” (12″ 1999), “The Moment Of Truth” (10″ 1999). Some material I liked, some I liked less. “Der Sieg Des Lichtes” contains the notorious track that I call “Kampf, Sieg, oder Tod!”, a martial industrial blast, sounding as wrong as wrong industrial would get. It made the name for the project with symbolism and themes on the edge (or over it according to some) of political correctness. From then on I closely followed the project for another while, buying most releases and seeing them live, such as in 2001 in Brussels (at which concert an exclusive 7″ was sold) and in 2004 in Leiden, Netherlands. The latter concert was not forbidden, but the local government came to watch the “tasteless show”. A cd was released with recordings of this concert in 2010.
The music became more lively with “The Pleasures Received In Pain” (1999) when “martial industrial” was the hippest thing in the industrial (and gothic?) underground (to the chagrin of many). A couple of wonderful album were released, older material was rereleased, there were big releases on cd, small releases on vinyl and for a couple of years things were great.
In 2004 an email arrived of Julius with as only content: “Any postal address?”. A while later I received a cd with a videoclip with a very amusing video of a great track that was made with Bain Wolfkind. A new period started in which the sound became more rock-oriented. In hindsight this is the best period of Der Blutharsch for me.
Fairly soon the sound started to develop into a more psychedelic and Kraut rock direction starting with “When Did Wonderland End?” (2005). A few times Julius announced the end of Der Blutharsch, but new releases kept coming out. I saw the band live another couple of times. One time even in København, Denmark, and a week later in Tilburg, Netherlands during the same tour. More and more prog/Kraut influences entered the sound and eventually the bandname was changed to “Der Blutharsch & The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand”. Releases kept coming at high speed and even though I can enjoy the new sound (which changed a bit every so often), I did not enjoy it enough to try to keep up.
In 2007 Julius found his way to the very website you are reading now. I reviewed the “Battlenoise” book which caused some controversy in the scene. The author provided some information and Julius shortly gave his side of the story. See the comments below my text.
Along with Der Blutharsch I rolled into martial industrial. Earlier I had encountered projects such as Turbund Sturmwerk and Blood Axis. I was very familiar with the overlapping “neo-folk” scene (or is/was it actually just one scene?). I was very aware of the shady use of symbolism in artwork, lyrics, samples, clothing, etc. I have been to concerts with protesters outside, I have even been chased away when I wanted to enter a venue. I have been to the Der Blutharsch concert in Leiden with the local politicians present. I was in Leipzig when the major forbade the concerts of Death In June and Von Thronstahl at the 2000 edition of the Wave Gotik Treffen. I know about the photo of Michael Moynihan (Blood Axis) with a certain flag on the background. I like to hum along with the ‘burned melodies’ that Der Blutharsch uses. Yet never ever has anything of all this in any way influenced how I look at things ‘politically’. There were bands that were obviously political. Some American far right project that sounded (vaguely) like Blood Axis. I have never had any interest in such bands. Von Thronstahl sometimes walks along (even) my borders, but so far never across (as far as I know). Provocative art. Too provocative for some weak contemporary souls perhaps, but I have never found anything really political in it. No clear messages at least. There is just this fuzzy cloud of suggestion.
Julius has always presented a strange and many layered form of this provocative art. Does he use a certain symbol (such as the logo of the Hitlerjugend or the iron cross) because he wants his listeners to adhere certain ideologies? Is the Schlager that he used political in some way? Why did he use “Lilly Marleen” so often? Why is his singing and that of Marthynna so (awfully) out of tone? He even managed to use out of tone sampled violins. Does that have a meaning or are they simply not too great musicians? I never read many interviews, but I doubt he ever went into the details of such questions. Therefor we will never know if the “God punish England” sample that he used both in TMLHBAC and Der Blutharsch contained a message or simply something to reflect on. Provocative art is, well, provocative. Albin Julius (and some others) have pushed the limits of the permissible. He crossed borders for some, not for others. For me he did not. I must admit, I do not wear my Der Blutharsch shirt with the iron cross (often). This is mostly because not everybody will understand it within the context of “provocative art”.
Yesterday I was listening to the last release, a split album with King Dude. The lyrics (almost) announce the end of Julius’ earthly existence… The album is actually quite nice again. The Belgian (online) magazine Dark Entries suggests that the passing was voluntary.
Like I said, there is not much information on the internet. A few of his close associaties have shared the news of his passing, so I suppose it is no “fake news”. King Dude, with whom the last album was created says nothing to clear things up. So far there appears to be no news from long time close collaborator Douglas Pearce (Death In June), Dernière Volonté or the remaining half of TMLHBAC. Even official Der Blutharsch channels have no information. I suppose long time contributor Marthynna is still around. Did Julius keep his passwords close so she has no access to official band channels? Or perhaps his plans were even hidden from Marthynna herself? Or was she not surprised?
In any case. I would not be surprised if Julius (would have) preferred to keep some mysteries around his passing as there were around his life. Did he have a wife and/or children? Who knows. Does it really matter? A productive and sometimes brilliant artist has passed untimely. Such is life. He produced enough material to keep you busy for a while.
Rest in peace, Albin Julius
Playlist for the Mixcloud mix:
01 – L.A.A. – Demo studio 2
02 – The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud – Track 4
03 – The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud – Amara Tanta Tyri Track 8
04 – The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud – A New Soldier Track 2
05 – The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud & Deutsch Nepal – A Night In Fear Track 1
06 – The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud – Madhr Track 2
07 – Der Blutharsch – First Track 9
08 – The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud – Were You Of Silver Track 5
09 – The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud – The Smell of Blood But Victory Track 6
10 – Der Blutharsch – Der Sieg Des Lichtes Ist Des Lebens Heil Track 3
11 – Der Blutharsch – The Moment Of Truth Track 2
12 – The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud – Rest On Your Arms Reversed Track 1
13 – Der Blutharsch – The Pleasures Received in Pain Track 3
14 – Der Blutharsch – When All Else Fails Track 8
15 – Der Blutharsch – Time Is Thee Enemy! Track 5
16 – Der Blutharsch & Zetazeroalpha – Split Track 1
17 – Fragola Nera – S.P.Q.R.
18 – Der Blutharsch – When Did Wonderland End Track 6
19 – Der Blutharsch – Flying High Track 4
20 – La Maison Moderne – Welcome To Paradise
21 – Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – The Story About The Digging Of The Hole Track 1
22 – Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand & Skullflower – And Now What
23 – Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand & White Hills – Desire
24 – Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – Wish I Weren’t Here
25 – Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand & King Dude – Dead Man