Formed by veteran artist Tas Danazoglou of Satan’s Wrath and ex-Electric Wizard in 2021, Friends of Hell are about to charm listeners with their wicked sophomore album, God Damned You to Hell. An old-school doomy heavy metallic victory, God Damned You to Hell features an extraordinary international lineup around Danazoglou, who provides drums: the Nifelheim legend Hellbutcher on vocals, ex-Impaled Nazarene and ex-Sentenced’s Taneli Jarva on bass, Mystifier’s Beelzeebubth on guitars, and finally Sprits, Danazoglou’ bandmate in Mirror and March to Die, also on guitars.

We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with Danazoglou on God Damned You to Hell, out April 5 via Rise Above. Please enjoy the conversation that follows.

Congratulations on the new album. Could you please tell me a bit about the creative process? I know that for the last record, Friends of Hell, you wrote all the lyrics with Jondix, who is no longer in the band.

Yeah, well, even the first time I wrote most of the music. Jondix only sent me a few scattered riffs. There weren’t any songs. I had to make them into songs. But for the second album, I wrote all the music and the lyrics.

Did you do a lot of file-sharing with the band because your lineup is so spread out geographically?

One of our guitarists is here, Sprits. Also, the guy who did the production. So, we recorded all the songs as a demo. I recorded the drums. Then Taneli did the bass in Finland. Then we did half the guitars here. And half the other guitars were done by Beelzeebubth in Brazil. And Hellbutcher came here to Cyprus, and we did the vocals last.

How was it working with Hellbutcher? This was your first time?

I’ve known Hellbutcher for many years. We’ve been friends for many-many years. I remember the first time we met was, I don’t remember exactly, but Nifelheim were playing the same festival. Back then, I was playing with Electric Wizard. Actually, the first time we met, we spent the whole night only talking about Iron Maiden like nerds.

I would never have guessed that from Hellbutcher. I’ve been wondering if Nifelheim are going to come back.

I think they will not… They already have an album that’s been ready for many years, but I don’t think it will be ever released. I don’t know in the future, but for the time being, I don’t think so. Hellbutcher also has his other band called Hellbutcher. It’s amazing.

You have two new guitarists. Did everything go smoothly working with them?

Yeah, they’re amazing. Sprits has been my friend for many years. We even play in another band together, Mirror. He’s a genius. But actually, his job is that he’s a guitar teacher. And Beelzeebubth, we met him here. He’s amazing. He’s a very good friend too. So, everything goes smoothly. It’s easy, very easy. Everyone does great.

Were there any production challenges?

No, everything went quite smoothly. Doing the drums here and the first guitars was very helpful because then it was easier for the other guys to do the bass and the other guitar. And again, Hellbutcher flew here to Cyprus. We stayed together for two weeks, and we did all the vocals too.

You were pleased with the way the mixing and mastering turned out, yes?

Yeah-yeah, I’m very happy. We don’t go completely crazy about the production. If it sounds heavy and good, we are happy. We’re not going to go polish everything, you know, change everything, put more and more. That was the sound of the guitars and the bass and the drums, and that’s it. And there was a bit of mixing.

You’re booked for Muskelrock på Tyrolen. What are you looking forward to most about that?

It’s one of my favorite festivals. I played there many times. I played with Mirror and Electric Wizard. Because it’s built in an abandoned theme park, it’s not for too many people. I think there are around 2,000-3,-000 people. I love Muskelrock. It’s probably my favorite festival. We’re really looking forward to that. And also, it’s going to be our first concert.

Is it going to be a bit hard because you haven’t all been in the same space together?

No, I mean, everyone is a professional. We’re going to meet there a couple of days before and do rehearsals. Also, the songs are quite simple. It’s not too technical or weird or anything, so it won’t be a problem. It’s quite easy actually.

What are your other live ambitions?

We already almost booked another festival in Greece, in Athens. And then, we’ll see. I mean, we’re not eighteen years old to do like six-month tours. We have children and stuff. But we all said that we will be happy to do a few festivals, maybe a small tour. We’ll see what comes along.

Are you working on new material yet?

I have a few songs. And actually, Hellbutcher says he has a few songs. It’s a bit early. The album hasn’t even been released yet. But I have around 6,000 riffs in my head.

Do you think that your next album is going to be different from this one or pretty similar?

It’s going to be more evil. Hellbutcher wants to come here, so we’ll write the album together. If we do this, it has to be the most evil album of all time.

That would be amazing. What has it been like to work with Rise Above Records?

It’s great. I mean, Lee Dorrian is a great friend of mine. I’ve known him for many years from the Electric Wizard days and stuff. He’s the best guy. He’s so helpful. He actually cares about the music and the bands. He’s not only in it for the money. He’s probably the best person I’ve ever worked with in the business. He’s amazing, an amazing guy.

Obviously, you’re a tattooist, and you create other kinds of artwork. Taneli does both as well. He designed Beherit’s Drawing Down the Moon logo. Hellbutcher is another artist, as is your former vocalist, Albert Witchfinder. Jondix, who, again, is a former member, also does tattoos and other forms of art. Is this a coincidence, or is art a common theme in your band.

I think real heavy metal fans are kind of nerds. We are kind of introvert nerds of some sort. I don’t know if we have other issues also that we don’t know about. You know, we were children, and we were lost in our own world inside music. And with heavy metal music, the covers and the artwork are really important. So, most kids that are introverts and weird and nerds, they also draw because they go inside their own world. So, I think it’s common in the heavy metal world in general for people who listen to music or play music to also do artwork.

Thank you, Mr. Danazoglou, for a great interview!

Pre-order God Damned You to Hell here.