I feel like I’ve got enough black shirts already so I wanted to go with a more unique blue-sleeve baseball version this time.
Christmas present from me to myself. :D
Very much looking forward to seeing them with Vampire & Grave Pleasures in January. Let’s see if I can manage to do an interview!
“In catacombs I dance the dance of Death, I run away from fear
In illo tempore, was that so, where do we go from here?
We are naked in the darkness, we are one
Yet there is solitary in the vast expanse of mind, the threshold to eternity”
Review by Estelle on the 2nd of July 2015
First part of the In Solitude-review series as a tribute to the band after their break-up.
Genre: Heavy Metal
Label: High Roller Records
Date: December 22nd, 2008
Pelle Åhman – Vocals
Uno Bruniusson – Drums
Gottfrid Åhman – Bass
Mattias Gustafsson – Guitars
Niklas Lindström – Guitars
The five-piece Swedish heavy metal band In Solitude (formed in 2002, split up in April 2015) is one of the few bands I can think of who have three albums out, all of them showing a different side of theirs yet each being fully characteristic, representative and outstanding in their own way. On their debut In Solitude the band put the stress on instinctiveness, catchiness and simplicity – very much to fans’ delight.
As album-opener In the Darkness strikes, the first thing our ears spot is the odd, drawling, low-pitched voice of Pelle Åhman – then come the simple yet fresh, well-written and catchy riffs that keep flowing and flowing through each song until the very end, taking over the lead and turning out to be the most important component of the record.
The album consists of melodically complex songs with mesmerizing tunes in the veins of 80s heavy metal, surrounded by a great deal of mistery and obscureness. Even though In Solitude is a far cry from a ‘copy-band’, we cannot ignore the obvious Mercyful Fate/King Diamond influences both appearing in the vibe, melodies and lyrics of the album (e.g. Witches Sabbath). The lyrics include occult, otherwordly, mystical themes with no signs of irony or silliness, keeping the listener from not taking them seriously.
Everything fits together astonishingly: the ominous voice of Pelle, the harmonized instruments, the strange yet matching combination of the energy and freshness and the misty, gloomy atmosphere. To my great surprise (as I’m personally not the largest fan of modern sound), on the Swedish guys’ debut even the clear production is appropriate as it gives an edge to the dark, cold, haunting tone of classic heavy metal In Solitude managed to capture perfectly, making the Mercyful Fate-like gruesomeness come alive.
Everything is cohesive, natural and straight to the point – not a hint of desperation or artificialness, no ballads, no useless experimentation; instead vivid riffs, meaningful lyrics, innovative power, non-repetition and a massive amount of passion. It all sounds so effortless that we can question ourselves why no one came up with as brilliant ideas in our days as the ones In Solitude present on their debut.
By means of the lively riff-flow throughout the songs kept interesting by the tempo changes, In Solitude turns out to be an album which is catchy, easy to get into and to digest and is still absolutely enjoyable.
If you were asking yourself where the good albums are nowadays or if you simply need an authentic, exquisite cut of first class heavy metal: you have found what you were looking for.
Outstanding tracks: Witches Sabbath, Kathedral, Temple of the Unknown, The Monolith
Making lists has never been my cup of tea but let’s try. (Including EPs)
1. Morbus Chron – Sweven
At first the Swedish Morbus Chron’s second album didn’t convince me but I can’t describe how much the record grew on me a few months after the first listening – I got to the point where I consider it to be no doubt one of the most unique death metal stuff existing out there. Completely dissimilar to their first one yet just as excellent in a different way.
Morbus Chron – Towards a Dark Sky
2. Bölzer – Soma
The black/death Bölzer set the standards high with their first EP ‘Aura’ [read my review of the record here] and even though ‘Soma’ needed more listenings to reach up to its level, the two-piece Swiss band did not disappoint. Very much looking forward to the album!
Bölzer – Labyrinthian Graves
3. Midnight – No Mercy for Mayhem
Similarly to Bölzer, if Midnight’s Athenar wants to reach up to the level of his early works and first album Satanic Royalty, he probably has to put plenty of effort in it. ‘No Mercy for Mayhem’ is a little bit slower as a whole than any of his earlier works but is still really intense and among the very best of 2014.
Midnight – Woman of Flame
4. Vampire – Vampire
The evergreen Swedish death metal scene shows once again what the Swedes are capable of. One of nowadays’ best old school-styled death metal album for sure!
Vampire – The Fen
5. Ranger – Shock Skull
Finnish old school speed metallers with crushing live performances. If you don’t understand the hype around them, listen to Shock Skull and afterwards you most likely will.
Ranger – Shock Skull
6. Accept – Blind Rage
Nice to see the German heavy metal veterans being still as strong and enthusiastic as ever. It really is a delight listening to Blind Rage!
Accept – Final Journey
7. Nocturnal Witch – Summoning Hell
Bestial German black/thrashers rising with their first album. I’d say it is worth buying.
Nocturnal Witch – Black Star
8. Riot – Unleash the Fire
Awesome to hear the old guys still in such a good condition. Aand… Johnny the seal is back in one of his funniest forms ever.
Riot – Metal Warrior
9. Portrait – Crossroads
With their third album in 2014, the Swedish heavy group well-known among quite a few Mercyful Fate-follower bands in the country came up with a record fulfilling every expectation and beating out many other competitors.
Portrait – In Time
10. Nocturnal – Storming Evil
Even though I personally liked both of Nocturnal’s earlier albums better, ‘Storming Evil’ was still a great album worth mentioning amongst the top ones from 2014. One of my favorite female vocalists, all hail
Nocturnal – Rising Demons
Interview by Estelle on the 18th of October 2014 on Live Evil festival in London
The Swedish death metallers Morbus Chron – whose name comes from a kind of illness also known as Crohn’s disease – have proven to be one outstanding, unique band of their genre. Their debut, the mainly Autopsy-inspired, old school sounding Sleepers in the Rift [read my review of the album here] got them into and determined their place in the scene; followed by the exceptional, more mature Sweven (title is an old English word for ‘dream’ or ‘vision’) that took them to a next level.
As frontman Robert Andersson stated, the reason of the drastical change was the fact that they stopped caring about sticking to a certain formula or writing a specific kind of riff, ignored other bands and let their own voices speak the loudest.
I had the chance to ask a few questions from vocalist Robert Andersson (Robba) and bassist Dag Landin while leisurely sitting on the street at some doorway after Antichrist’s show on Live Evil festival in London.
Hello guys, first of all thank you very much for doing the interview with me! Firstly I would like to ask, do you think there is a point where you can find the style that fits and defines Morbus Chron and that you can stay with, or will you always have the desire to change or vary all the time?
Robert: For the next album, I don’t think it will be the same sort of transformation as between Sleepers and Sweven, I don’t think the change will be as drastic. But still, we’re doing this because we want to stay inspired, we want to change. If we just kept doing the same thing it wouldn’t be inspiring and the music would sound awful. But we have sort of reached the point where we feel really comfortable with the sound of Sweven and where we are right now.
Dag: Each of our releases are different, but all of the changes have come very spontaenously yet organically. There have never been decisions to say we’re going to change our style, it’s just the stuff that we come up with. It’s kind of hard to tell where we are going. We don’t really like to decide on a path to go on, so far it has just happened.
Do you think you can have constant or permanent fans even with the changing style?
Robert: We talked about that when we played here (Live Evil, London) in 2011, and compared to this time the crowd is reacting in a totally different way. In 2011 we just played songs from Sleepers and people were going crazy – we sound different now, and the people’s reactions are really different as well. I think we might have angered some fans that liked us before but I don’t think that’s the case with most people, I think they kind of appreciate this side of us too.
Dag: Yeah, we’ve probably lost some fans but also gained a bunch of new ones.
Are you trying to meet the expectations of anyone (let it be a particular audience or a label) or do you plan to continue doing everything in your own way?
We certainly do everything on our own way.
Do you think it was essential to record and release Sleepers in the Rift in 2011 to reach the stage where you are now with the completely different Sweven?
Robert: Yeah, we all have to start from somewhere. Sleepers was the album that we wanted to write back then, and two years later we were going to write Sweven. We would have never written Sweven if we didn’t write Sleepers in the Rift, but they don’t connect.
That’s right, with Sweven you went from one extreme to another not just in case of the music, but also the appearance and the lyrics. Sweven has 3 instrumental songs already and I remember you (Robba) saying that you’re starting to find yourself not needing to express anything in words anymore. Would you consider making a completely instrumental Morbus Chron album?
Robert: I hope one day I’ll reach some point where I can express everything in the music, but I don’t see it coming, I don’t see the vocals disappearing completely any time soon. The screams are still a big part of the band, especially live. I wouldn’t mind writing instrumental music, I’d do that – but in case of Morbus Chron there will always be some vocals.
(To Dag:) How big role do you guys usually have in the band besides Robert? With how many ideas do you contribute to the making of an album?
Dag: In our case Robert is pretty much the mastermind of the band, he wrote both of our full-lenghts all by himself except for one song on each album that Adam wrote. And he writes very extensively, he comes up with drum patterns and stuff. He has got a very clear idea of what he wants but that idea always changes a little bit when we start rehearsing. For example Adam is a drummer, the drum patterns that Robba is thinking of don’t always add up, so we always change a bit. There’s some input from us, like the arrangement of songs or the bass lines. So usually Robba writes the blueprints and we add our own dimensions to it, just by the way we like it.
Robert: If you could compare the early recorded demos of the songs to the final versions, it goes from sounding like something that I did to sounding like Morbus Chron.
Dag: The riffs and arrangement changed a bit along the way, the rehearsal project is pretty long lasting so there’s always time for changes within the songs. It’s based on more ideas, every guy has his part in it.
Both of your albums has a really definite sound and atmosphere since you knew exactly what you wanted to achieve with the band in both cases. Can you imagine the making of an album where you don’t have a certain idea about how the final product should sound like or take form?
Robert: Actually that’s what we did on both albums I think. After a while when we had a couple of songs we started to see what it becomes but we didn’t set off that we have to go this way, this is how it’s going to sound etc., it’s the opposite. We let it become whatever it becomes, we didn’t have a clue about it.
Okay guys, thank you very much again for the awesome show and for doing this short interview, it really was a special experience! Wish you all the best.
Robert: Thank you for the support!
Review by Estelle on the 6th of June 2014
Genre: Death Metal
Label: Crypta Records
Jimmy Karlsson – Vocals
Patrik Fernlund – Guitars (lead & acoustic)
Daniel Eriksson – Guitars (rhythm)
Nicklas Lilja – Bass
Mattias Berglund – Drums
The Swedish Gorement’s only album named The Ending Quest is exceptional in many ways. Firstly, the record was released in 1994, and even though there were still many fine death metal albums released after 1993, it wasn’t common that a death metal band put its first full-lenght record out in the middle of the ’90s. And secondly, the musicians are extremely skilled when it comes to songwriting and creating a special atmosphere, giving us a smashing shot of haunting melodies compounded into varied slowly rolling, louring, twisted riffs.
The guitars on the album are incredibly downtuned and the bass is quite prominent at most parts; these two elements are the ones that mainly define the obscure, gloomy atmosphere which almost chokes the listener in its stranglehold.
However, there is something soothing and comforting in the music. The elaborate songwriting and composing, the feeling that the album was a round, complex and complete musical experience, the neat variation of slowing, ‘flying-away’ and ripping fast parts, the depressive issues, also the appearance of acoustic guitar and sometimes clean vocals cause the listener to feel some kind of a strange acquiescence.
Even though Gorement is usually noted as a simple death metal band, I think it can easily be called doom/death because of the obvious doom influences, the dark atmosphere and the typical subjects in the lyrics. The words that we can sometimes catch while listening the songs totally describe the music and the feeling it creates: “dark”, “cold”, “silent”, “alone”, “gloom”, “slowly”, “endless”, “dying”.
The quite abstract, minimal-style cover fits the obscure, misty music and is catching our attention with its striking, conspicuous deep purple colour at the same time. The guttural, low tuned vocals also fit the overall sound, Jimmy Karlsson is one particularly talented and technical vocalist of the genre whose name everyone should remember after hearing the record. Lilja is emphasizeable as well: the bass is not only following the music well but it also shines in itself at the right sections; I would especially mention the bass lines in ‘My Ending Quest’ and ‘The Lost Breed’.
The songs quite differ from each other: there are some with the already mentioned clear(er) vocals, some where we can hear acoustic guitars that make an eerie but matching combination with the downtuned, dark guitar sounds, ones without any solo and one which seems to be instrumental for a while because of the lack of vocals. The most outstanding tracks could be the slow, peaceful ‘Sea of Silence’, and ‘Silent Hymn (for the Dead)’ with one of the most beautiful and depressing solos of death metal and with just a few lines sang in a clearer way.
The only common point in the songs in this case is probably the amount of mesmerizing riffs.
As ‘Into Shadows’ ends with the echoing guitar sound and voice of Karlsson, we simply feel like we heard something complex, massive and round – it’s like it slowly rolled along us like a huge, stiff, heavy stone. The structure of the songs, the timing, the track-order and the diversity created by mixing different elements into the music all prove that these precise, deliberate Swedish guys knew what to do when it came to making some old school death/doom metal music.
Outstanding tracks: My Ending Quest, The Memorial, The Lost Breed, Silent Hymn (for the Dead)