Kreator, Destruction and Sodom. Yes, all three are German Thrash Metal legends. Kreator and Sodom have never been away and Destruction are currently also going from strength to strength again after a few break-ups, line-up changes and re-unions. So far, so good. But what about a band called Necronomicon? Never heard of them? Well, life could have been so much different. If, yes, if Necronomicon had had the same luck as the above mentioned three in signing a deal with one of the prominent German labels in the mid-'80's. But instead of securing a deal with Steamhammer (like Sodom and Destruction), Noise (Kreator) or even Roadrunner, Necronomicon ended up with ... Wave Records. Wave Records? A very obscure label with a very obscure name. That much is for certain. Guitarist and vocalist Volker Fredrich, aka Freddy, finds it hard to talk about the whole issue: "Wave Records was something like the distribution arm of Gama Records or at least that's how they wanted to make it look like to the public. Gama always was a very dodgy label, ripping off bands left, right and centre and that was one of their ways to cheat people for their money. Even GEMA. They declared a lot of albums as promotional records and therefore saved a substantial sum of tax money. A very dark chapter in my life. I don't like to think about that anymore ..." So did Necronomicon have any offers from Noise, Steamhammer or Roadrunner then? If they had signed to one of those labels, would they have become as big as Sodom, Kreator or Destruction? Freddy reflects: "I don't think we are less well-known than Sodom, Kreator or Destruction. Back then, we were just not that present. And this was down to the label. Signing to Gama was a very bad choice. We could well have done without them. Even today, a lot of foreign distribution companies are dealing with our records and we can't do anything against it. And obviously we don't get a bloody penny for any of those sales." Necronomicon was founded in late 1984 but their self-titled debut did not hit the shops until 1986. Freddy explains: "Yeah, wenn Jogi joined us, this was the birth of Necronomicon. Before that, we were called Total Rejection and had recorded a demo. This was heavily influenced by Punk and Hardcore. When Jogi joined, we recorded 'Possessed by Evil' which led to the deal with Gama and the first album." Right, so if "Necronomicon" had been released in 1984 instead of two years later, would that have made any difference at all? Freddy does not think so really: "The timing was right, I think. The Amercians were always a step ahead of Europe. Our only problem was the label choice, simple as that. Our first record was very well received internationally. Gama always had a certain idea of business practices. They tied the bands to the label and kept record sales relatively low. This is how they made it unattractive for other labels to snatch up bands. Also, bands had to buy a certain contingent of their records themselves. Gama then re-invested all the money to keep the money machine afloat. I think this was all criminal behaviour. But if you are a young band, you do everything to have a record out. And that they knew very well!" The debut album from 1984, now re-released as a double album on High Roller Records with quite a few bonus tracks, is by many fans still regarded as one the greatest German Thrash Metal records in history. But Necronomicon put out a few other longplayers after "Necronomion". However, nobody does really talk about records like "Apocalyptic Nightmare","Escalation" or "Screams" that often anymore. So what makes the first album so special? "We were 100% authentic on this record", muses Volker. â€žWe recorded the album within three days. We were not thinking about mistakes at this stage. We cranked up the amps to 11 and went for it. If you are a young band you don't know what's going on in the business. You do everything what the producer says. The label was not willing to spend any money on us, you don't invest money in a new, unexperienced Thrash Metal band, so Gama gave us three days in the studio. That's including the mix. They never expected the record to become that popular. But for me 'Escalation' is at least as authentic as the debut. Furthermore, I personally think that 'Construction of Evil' and escpecially 'Revenge of the Beast' are two one of the strongest German Thrash Metal platters ever recorded." Sides 3 and 4 of the High Roller de luxe vinyl re-release are full of really rare bonus material as Freddy explains: "Yeah, I posted Steffen the original master reel of our very first demo tape. A real treasure! In addition to that, there are a couple of recordings from rare compilation albums on the High Roller vinyl. For example, recordings from a sampler called 'Break out - German Metal Tracks Vol.2', released in 1986 on D&S Records, produced by a certain G. Jesch. This guy later produced our 'Screams' album in 1994. He also was the boss of the label, which he crashed against the wall, running away with all the money he made off bands like us ..." The second Necronomicon longplayer "Apocalyptic Nightmare" was released on Scratchcore in 1987 and the already mentioned "Escalation" on Tales of Thrash one year later. Three albums and three different label names. But this was all part of the Gama masterplan as Volker Fredrich explains: "Yeah, as I have already mentioned, Gama ripped us off big time. Our records were dumped onto the market. Sold off cheaply to different labels, also internationally. We had no say in that at all as we had to give all our rights away. So the label could practically do with our albums whatever they wanted. The fans did not know about those dodgy business politics. They were the ones who had to suffer. And the band of course." How accepted was a band like Necronomicon in the mid-'80's? I mean everybody talked about Sodom, Kreator, Destruction or Tankard. They all had solid label backing, played nationwide tours and full-colour advertisements for their records were to be seen in all the Metal papers of the day. But what about Necronomicon? Were they the underdogs? "Necronomicon was loved internationally", reveals Freddy. Especially in all Scandinavian countries, the United States of America and South America. We got fan letters on a daily basis. Back then, in the '80's, fanzines were all over the place, and they wrote about the band on a regular basis. This was different only in Germany, our home country. People here never seemed to support us. Okay, we played live in Germany only very sporadically. This has only changed over the last couple of years - ironically. We just did a handful of shows around the release of our first album. We had to organize everything on our own. Gama was paying for nothing. When I saw what labels like Noise, Steamhammer or Roadrunner did for their bands, I could not believe it. I must honestly say I way envying a lot of bands from those labels. We had to do everything ourselves. With no money in our pockets. We did not have any money for decent management or things like that. And Gama was not paying us money either. A totally desperate situation. I can tell you that." Some journalists have compared Freddy's voice to that of Schmier (Destruction were apparently based "right around the corner" from where the guys in Necronomicon used to live). Does Volker take that as an insult or a compliment? "You know, everybody wanted to sound like Slayer or Metallica back in the day. You just screamed into the mike - and funnily enough every band had a different sound after all. It had to be heavy and dirty though, that was the main thing. And if there are similarities to Schmier's voice, then this happened by chance and was not planned in any way at all. Pure coincidence. Total Rejection had started earlier than Destruction anyway, so we could not have been influenced by Destrcution as we were playing live even before they did. But I don't care. I like Schmier, he's a good lad. We have been going to school together for several years. Through me he got to know Mike, Ulf and Tommy who later ended up with him in Destruction." The guitar sound on Necronomicon's 1986 debut album has sometimes been compared to that of the mighty (early) Celtic Frost. Volker also had that ultimate crunch in his guitar playing. "I had borrowed an amp from Mike of Destruction because my own amp was not working at the time we wanted to record the album", laughs Volker Fredrich. "And I also played another amp from the recording studio. It was possibly this mixture that made it all click. Pure luck. Or call it destiny. As I have mentioned earlier, we did not have a masterplan, we just wanted to have some fun and went for it. Sometimes, in your youth, ignorance is sheer bliss! I loved Celtic Frost back then. What they achieved in this small and very conservative country of Switzerland is unbelievable. They are a legend in their own right!" In 1988, it seemed, the end of the road for Necronomion had come (after only three albums). Freddy sighs: "We definitely needed to part ways with Gama. But Gama held the rights to all the songs, to our name, to just about everything. So we were practically forced to do nothing at all or change our name (which I did not want to do). So we had to sit through all this doing nothing. That was a bloody nightmare. I can tell you that." Six long years later, in 1994, the fourth longplayer by Necronomicon was released on CD (via D&S Records). "Screams" was an unlikely comeback album. Freddy, however, does not see it as a comeback album at all: "No, we just never went away. For us, there was only this one question: Are we gonna wait until eternity to put out another Necronomicon album or do we take the risk to get sued by Gama? At this point in time, we got the news that Gama was filing for bankruptcy. This is why we took the risk to record a new album. Unfortunately, our liaison with D&S was not very enduring either. It was a rocky way for Necronomicon up until the present day ..." The present for Necronomicon marks the de luxe re-release of their legendary debut on double vinyl. "Freddy" Fredrich looks into the future: "Volker of Swordbrothers (our current manager) and Steffen of High Roller got in contact with me regarding a possible re-release of our first album. They needed to check, if the rights to the songs had reverted to us. Luckily, this is the case. An odyssey of uncertainty and suffering has come to and end. From this day on, we only want to make music and have fun."