Finally coming out of the darkness and rejoining the music world, Deathstars have been priming themselves up for their forthcoming album "The Perfect Cult", succeeding their third outing "Night Electric Night". After five whole years of burying themselves down in the deep Swedish bunkers and playing shows across the globe including dates in Australia, the quartet (Cat Casino left the band in July, 2013) are ready to release another bout of Gothic Industrial hell as well as embark on a European tour towards the back end of 2014:- dates can be viewedhere. (more dates added soon for R.O.W.)
This album serves as a nice springboard for the band as they approach their 15th anniversary next year, so this album will be an interesting one. We believe it will gain the approval from the masses. But for now, GMA managed to catch up with front-man Whiplasher Bernadotte and ask him what the future holds, why they are not a metal band, revisiting past events such as the well known 'Blitzkrieg Boom' music video and how they 'nearly' represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest via Melodifestivalen.
Interview by Rhys Stevenson
Whiplasher on Deathstars celebrating their 15th anniversary next year:
Hi Whiplasher, how are you doing?
I am very good.
It's been five years since you released the album "Night Electric Night", so what has the band been doing during this time?
Well we started recording our fourth album around three years ago in Los Angeles and we felt like we were 'stressing' it, so after that we ended up on doing some more tours and everyone was tied up with projects, and wanted some changes and stuff, so all these things added up, so hence it took such a long time. So yeah we kind of stalled ,but we wanted to get this done, but hopefully it won't be as long next time.
Since "Night Electric Night" you have had a line-up change, Cat Casino left the band, how did this happen?
Yeah Cat left us because he was tired with all of the touring and missed his family more, he was tired of just traveling and we were all tired so, we respected that decision and he still remains our friend, but we're continuing as a four-piece now and also Ole Öhman our drummer started to have problems around like 6, 7 years ago and so he left too in time.
What is different between your new album "The Perfect Cult" and "Night Electric Night"?
I think "Night Electric Night" was more outgoing and this one is more futuristic, dark and much more massive and assuring in a nutshell. It's got pop music in it, it has more rock music in it and as such we've never been a metal band. It's more varied in that sense so, there's a darker story in "The Perfect Cult" in a bigger sense.
So you're not a metal band?
Noooo, that would be stupid. A metal band for me would be something like Darkthrone so we never claim to be a metal band, so let's just call it more of a 'Dark Rock' band.
It seems that throughout the Deathstars discography the band has changed their image in accordance to the albums, would you agree with this or not? What are your thoughts?
We never really discuss what kind of album we want to make, like we never say 'ok let's make an album that sounds like this', because Nightmare and I started playing Black Metal in the early 90's so we've been working in the same way always I guess, so we just listen to each other, so we can have an idea on what direction we're going, so when it comes to the album writing we can visualize what we may do imagery-wise AFTER the album is done, this is usually what happens. So we go in a direction as a band and not just by ourselves.
It seems that Industrial / Gothic music hasn't really been in the limelight in the last few years (that is not spoken well about), so with Deathstars do you feel that you bring something new to the table?
Yeah, I think we always have since when we started off in the underground metal scene, then we met Ole and Jonas so for us it's kind of an ongoing experiment and hopefully we brought something new to the genre (I'm not going to be the judge of that), so for us it's more like it's getting better and better as a band and looking over our career we feel we have been successful, so it's more about continuing to do what do we best.
Your original tour dates for the UK have been pushed back to November, could you perhaps shed some light on this? (Plus this won't be the first time you've played here, more like your 3rd or 4th?)
This was because the album was not done, our booking agency wanted us to go on tour without the album being released and to us that did not make sense, we felt it would be better for people to have heard the album before going on tour so that's the reason. So there was some communication problems.
Yeah I can't remember I mean we've been there so many times, I think we must do about 200 shows in a year, but with England we've been there many times. It seems that this was the best for us because for us and the UK it has always been kind of special.
With the November tour are you playing alongside bands from Sweden or bands over here?
We have a support band this year, The Dead & Living will join us for some weeks during the European tour and as for the rest of the world, I don't know as it's very different. We're going to South America and so will probably just play by ourselves and then we're going to North America, again not sure about that one and also Asia, so this year is going to be different. So I can't really comment on that, but everyone should check out the support band we have, in fact we're very happy that they are going on tour with us - they are a very good band.
Would that be your first time playing in South America? If not what was the crowd reception like?
Oh no, nope, we've been touring there before and the crowd reception was very good, we've noticed that some fans sleep outside the venues the night before, it's so different from Europe and they're so much more passionate and dedicated. You'll even find them meet you at the airports and so on, it's another thing and of course in Russia it's kind of the same thing, but we're really looking forward to going there - I just gotnews that we're probably going to be starting there with 5 shows in Mexico now, before the European tour. It's a lot of touring again...
This might be a bit of an obvious question, but does the heat really affect you guys?
Yeah I guess it's always tough even when it's hot, so we take care when out in the warm weather even though I now live in Italy and heat is not really my favorite thing, nope you know I'm from Scandinavia; I like that kind of weather (laughs) - dark and cold and permafrost.
Regarding some of the music video's you've done over the years, which one was / is your favorite?
Videos... yeah I mean it's hard with videos as I think it's something that is kind of outside to what the band is doing, in one way because it's the director, the one person putting the visual theme on a song, so it's more like kind of a spectacle (music videos).
But I think maybe, I like 'Blitzkrieg' a lot because I wanted it to be on a graveyard for airplanes - that was even my plan - and we humored on the idea of a graveyard of planes a lot, but planes from the war in Serbia but didn't seem to cut it into the final video so there was this other stuff, but yeah I'd say 'Blitzkrieg'.
And what of the meaning behind the music video?
(Laughs), people shouldn't ask me because they can look at it and place any interpretation onto it however they want and really, they should ask the director of the production company we used. In the beginning we have like screens and on the set during a couple of days, there's a lot of scenes that we kept doing, then when it was edited we wanted it to be re-edited for several times so in the end it comes out as something different that we originally was looking for. So it's more like a spectacle...
However it would be nice to direct a music video of our own sometime, maybe it would be completely different (laughs). Probably, probably when we might just get bored and then we're like 'it's a wrap, we're done' (laughs).
Now as "The Perfect Cult" is coming out in June, and you have already done one music video "All The Devil's Toys", will there be any more music videos?
We've been discussing it and this was just a couple of days ago, so probably hopefully we will do more music videos for the album, I think everyone want's that.
Now since Deathstars will be turning 15 next year, [interrupted by Whiplasher]...
OHHHHH!!!!!! YEAH! Officially 'teenager', 15? That's when people started having sex, now we will have to try even more now and that's a good thing you mentioned it - we haven't had a life of getting into girls pants (laughs)... [GMA: And that's what the delay between the last album and this album has been all about?], (laughs) yeah I mean when we started out, yeah I guess the girls... I mean you can look at it in the aspect that the girls were pedophiles because they were so young, like kids...
So with the 15th anniversary coming next year, will you be doing an anniversary release compilation?
Nah, we haven't yet thought about that, we did a compilation "The Greatest Hits On Earth" for the Rammstein tour (2011), also because it was we kind of wanted to wrap up that chapter and Ole stopped playing the drums in the band, so it was kind of wrapping up and starting fresh on this album (The Perfect Cult). But as for another compilation I haven't really thought about it, so we wish we will have more sex with the girls, that's how we will celebrate it.
Do you feel that metal and rock in Sweden is more appreciated than any other genre?
Everyone I know in Stockholm plays in a band, it's like they're in more or less famous rock bands, sometimes in metal bands so of course it's very appreciated, especially when now everyone plays it's considered a big thing. But of course we've always got a history with successful music, in Sweden there are so many people working in the music industry and I think it gets into a spiral, which is where everyone looks at each other and wants to be inspired by others so I can't it decreasing, but there's different kinds of scenes in Sweden like in Stockholm but also in different cities where there are different music styles. Like in Gothenburg for example it's all about Death Metal bands and metal music
So we wouldn't see Deathstars in the Eurovision Song Contest next year in Austria?
Well the thing is, we got asked this year to appear in the 'Melodifestivalen', which is the competition for Eurovision in Sweden and is like the biggest television show there is, I cannot believe they actually asked us, because we would never do something like that. But it was a kind offer and I said that they don't have enough blood so. [GMA: although would a rock / metal style Eurovision be appealing?]... yeah, I can't really stand all these competitions, but yeah those getting into the finals must be quite a big thing.
Finally any hello's, thank you's, greetings you wish to express?
Well right now I'm isolating myself for a while, from everyone because I moved to the North of Italy so, I think it's nice to have a break some time and so I will say hello to everyone when I meet them again, see you in Stockholm and also on the tour.
"The Perfect Cult" is out 16th June 2014 via Nuclear Blast Records
For a list of tour dates click here.
“The ‘core’ sub genres did come from Metal, so they are still Metal. It is up to people to think what they think is Metal”
Deathcore, often dubbed as the illegitimate derivative of Death Metal, has built up its own legion of followers all over the world in recent years. Despite every dispute, its popularity is rising day by day. Enter Abandoned World, a young Deathcore / Metalcore band hailing from Sweden. Founded in mid 2012 and on the way to releasing an EP, the band toured Bangladesh last month and played at the Eastern Dark Fest. GMA's Bangladesh correspondent Nabil Abaddon had a rendezvous with Bnar Aziz (vocals), Samuel Talebi (guitars) and Kim Liljendhal (bass) just before their performance, right outside the venue.
Is this the first time that Abandoned World are touring outside of Sweden? How excited are you?
Samuel: Very excited! Everything is new to us here, like it’s a new culture, so far from Sweden. Totally on the other side of the globe for where we come from.
Bnar: We feel amazing to be here! It's such an awesome opportunity and an honor to be here in Bangladesh.
Do you guys have any knowledge of the scene here in Bangladesh? Have you checked out any of the bands before leaving for Bangladesh?
Samuel: Not too much. But we knew a little because we have a friend from Bangladesh. He lives in Sweden now. He told us about the scene here. There are not many opportunities but there are a lot of die-hard fans I heard.
Kim: When we got this opportunity to play here, I checked out some of the bands in the line up and we were like “man we gotta get down there!”
So how did you guys form the band and how long have you been playing together?
Bnar: Well it is a funny story. It all started like a mini project, basically it began with my former guitarist and I. We met on the internet and we were looking for bands. So we started practising together. I knew Samuel from before, so I just asked him if he wanted to play with us and he said yes. So we three started jamming together. The band grew from there and within a short time we got our bassist and drummer. We have been playing as a band for almost a year now.
Kim: We are trying to be patient and just take up the opportunities that come in the way. When this tour came up, we were just flabbergasted. It was unbelievable for us. It is an honour for us to be here and we really want to show the crowd why we are here and give our best shots.
Does Abandoned World want to play here more often?
Samuel: Of course we do! We want to show the crowd what we are made of and we want to keep coming here. We are talking with the organizers and we are planning on touring some other countries around Asia as well, may be some time around Jan / Feb next year?
Kim: It is still in the planning stage. Lets see what happens.
So Abandoned World has got a single on YouTube? Are you guys planning / working on your EP or album, or something else?
Samuel: What we are going to do now is to shoot a music video and we are looking for a good studio to record stuff. We have our materials ready now, may be we’ll write a bit more. Then we’ll hit the studio. We will release another single, then the album. After that we will probably just tour around! I recommend you to check out another single we have out now, it's called "Madness from Within".
Kim: Yeah that song is a pre-production and we just want to show the people that we are working on some new heavy material. We are going to play this song tonight and trust me it is going to be mayhem!
Although sub-genres like Deathcore, Metalcore, etc are rising quickly all over the world, these “core” sub-genres often get bad rap from Metal fans who are purists. They often do not consider these sub-genres as Metal or ‘real Metal’. As Abandoned World is a Deathcore / Metalcore band, what is your opinion on this?
Bnar: Personally I think that if they do not see that as metal I do not have any problem with that. I mean that's their perception of what they think is metal. The “core” sub-genres did come from Metal, so they are still Metal. It is up to people to think what they think is metal. It is totallty fine to us. That's what we feel about it. We do what we feel like doing and we are doing Metal music that we know. Deathcore / Metalcore is what people labelled us as.
Samuel: Well I think they love it how it is you know. I think you are missing out! (laughs)
What are your influences as a band? Can you suggest a few albums that inspires Abandoned World?
Samuel: Well loads of bands I would say. It starts from Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera to Suicide Silence, Born Of Osiris, Lamb Of God etc etc…… Ummmm the albums would be :
Deep Blue - Parkway Drive
Sacrament - Lamb Of God
The Discovery - Born Of Osiris
Tomorrow We Die Alive - Born of Osiris
Thank you for giving us your time. Any words for the fans and readers?
Samuel: Get ready! It's just the start! We have a long way to go and a lot of times to be here! We love what we do! We are loving Bangladesh! The crowd is awesome. Thank you!
Bnar: Like Samuel said, we are just getting started, so get ready! Basically we love all our fans. It would not have been possible without all our fans. We thank all our fans and it is an honour to play here.
"It's our channel to create, discuss and hopefully influence people to think for themselves".
Country - SWEDEN
Genre - INDUSTRIAL METAL
Label - UNSIGNED
So Backstabber what does Perception Of Darkness personally mean to you and how did the band form?
It means everything to us. Perception Of Darkness is the way we choose to express ourselves through, it's our channel to create, discuss and hopefully influence people to think for themselves.
But it's also a brotherhood for us, the other guys in the band are some of my absolute best friends and that's also a big part of Perception Of Darkness.
The band was formed by our old singer Karl Johansson who is no longer in the band due to some different reasons.
Would you say Sweden lacks numbers in Industrial Metal vs. Melodic Death Metal?
I think Sweden has a lot good Industrial Metal bands, some good examples are Raubtier, Pain and Deathstars. But here there aren't really a lot of bands on the smaller stages that play Industrial Metal.
The only ones i know of would be Zavod, Mass Murder Agenda and Man.Machine.Industry.
And of course in comparison to the Melodic Death Metal bands we are quite outnumbered.
How would you describe your music without genre tagging or using cliches?
Since we decided to get rid of our singer we no longer have any rights to our old songs since he was our main songwriter. But we are working hard on our new album. I don't want to describe it all to much right now, but let's just say that we are taking it back to the roots of how Industrial Metal should sound.
What makes Perception Of Darkness stand out from the rest of the Swedish metal scene and have you played outside Sweden?
First of all we play in a quite small genre, as i said earlier there aren't a lot of industrial metal bands on our level. I also like to think that we are a really good band to see live. A lot of our friends play very technical metal and they miss out on the live part of being in a band. Perception of Darkness is quite the opposite. We play pretty straight-on metal and leave a lot of room for the live show.
Last year we played 2 European festivals and a boat cruise. Our first gig outside of Sweden was at "Dark Mental Festival" in Copenhagen where we got the honor to open the festival up, the second was as an headline act at "Plana Demo Fest" in Serbia, and the boat cruise went from Stockholm to Riga and featured bands like Frantic Amber, The Resistance, Man.Machine.Industry and Skitarg.
How many releases do you have to date and what is your favourite?
As i said earlier we have had to remove all our material when we decided to get rid of our singer. So we are currently working on our "first" album.
What major metal festivals are there in your area?
There are a few: Copenhell, Metaltown, Sweden Rock Festival amongst others. Last year we were actually involved in starting a new festival in our hometown of Malmö called "Faceplant Metalfest". Unfortunately, just a couple of days before the event it had to be cancelled due to problems with the economy.
Finally do you have any hello's, thank you's to send out?
Not really, would just like to thank all of the fans for being patient with us. Last year was really good for us and it feels terrible that we have to take a big part of this year to rebuild what we had worked so hard for, but we will be back strong than before.
Vintersorg about their upcoming album, band history, the Swedish Metal scene and some other questions here and there, heja Sverige!I caught up with Mr V (Andreas Hedlund - on the left) of Swedish Black/Folk Metal duo
Who came up with the band name and what does it mean?
Mr V: The band name is something that I came up with back in the beginning of the 1990’s and an approximate translation would be something like “Winter Sorrow” but it has a more poetic feeling in Swedish, as well as a close bond to our folklore and historical writings.
What languages are your songs generally in and what are the main lyric topics?
Mr V: The songs on the new album are all in Swedish but we’ve had albums that are all in English also. It’s a matter of inspiration and what kind of emotional basis we want to transfer to the listener. I’m in some other bands as well where the lyrics are all in English so it’s nice to have both languages to express myself through. The lyrical content swirls around the relation between man and nature, on both physical, biological, mental and a historical plane and with nature I mean everything from the surroundings to the cosmological matters that have spawned us as humans. The lyrics have quite a poetic tone and are equally important as the music.
If you had to describe your music without using genre-tagging or clichés, what would you say?
Mr V: It’s hard to describe Vintersorg in words as it’s a mixture of many different musical elements. You have a lot of folk music, then a large portion of metal, the more calm and nearly ambient elements and all balanced out by a very intricate instrumentation. I also use a lot of different types of vocals and a lot of vocal harmonies…you see ..it’s impossible.
Your forthcoming album ‘Orkan’ will be your eighth album, what have you made different (if anything) from this album compared to your past albums?
Mr V: Vintersorg has always been a band that has evolved with every new album and that’s a very strong foundation in our art. To feel free to evolve and discover new grounds to embrace, just follow where the inspiration takes you and not calculate how that will effect the band commercially, that’s what real art is about from where I’m standing. The album is a continuation from the last one “Jordouls” but with some fresh angles and a more perfected production I would say. Some song have a bit darker atmosphere but I’m all from the inside..so it’ll be interesting to see what people from the outside will think.
How popular would you say Metal music is in Sweden in general and are there any upcoming young bands you wish to note?
Mr V: I think metal is very popular and is a large genre that covers people from 15-50 years old, just look at Sweden Rock festival…it’s a huge festival for a country that only have 9 million inhabitants. I’m not that updated about the scene as I live quite remote from the large cities, very far north actually and I mostly listen to old progressive and symphonic rock.
In respect of your upcoming release, which tracks would you say stand out from the album?
Mr V: It’s an album where all the songs need to be there to have the total atmosphere of what we wanted to achieve this time around, but songs like “Istid”, “Polarnatten” and “Myren” is some that will dwell your mind for a while I guess.
What plans does the band have for 2012 and beyond?
Mr V: Release the album and start work on the next one, we’re not a live act at this point in time. But we have so many things to do with our bands like Borknagar, Fission, Cronian and TME and we’re now resurrecting the old troll OTYG and are going to do a new album with that band as well…so we have plenty to do.
If you could give any advice to musicians who want to form a band or bands but not sure how to do it / having trouble doing so, what would you recommend?
Mr V: Just follow your vision, even if that some time means that you need to struggle a longer time than if you jump on the most popular genre of the moment, but you’ll last so much longer and it’ll give you much more back emotionally, and for me music is very much emotion based.
Finally are there any plans to tour the UK at some point?
Mr V: No, as we don’t play any shows at all.
So here we have a phone-interview with Zandro Santiago (vocals) of Swedish Metalcore / Pop Metal band Dead By April.