Among the bands in an overcrowded power metal scene, Nocturnal Rites are not just the latest addition to the never-ending list or another copycat of the style's predecessors. With "Shadowland", the 5th album under their collective belt, Nocturnal elevates their craft to the new heights and stands tall among its peers as one of the genre's best. By improving every aspect of the writing process and adding heavier and more aggressive production "Shadowland" marks the most complete album in the band's career; without a doubt it'll be their biggest album to date. Nils Eriksson (bass) gives us the inside view on band's history, details behind "Shadowland" and future plans...
My first introduction to Nocturnal Rites came with "Afterlife", and I'm no expert on Nocturnal Rites trivia. I'm saying this because I've heard that Nocturnal Rites started out as Death Metal act. What made you stop playing that type of music?
Wow, that was long time ago... We started out back in 1990 and back then the flavor of that time was death metal obviously, every kid was playing death metal back then... We kind of jumped on it and started doing it but the stuff we grew up listening to were heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and all those bands, so it actually didn't take us very long to sort of get around to how we sound right now. It happened gradually over the course of the years... it took us about 2 years to realize this is what we want to do.
Can you tell me a little bit about the members involved in Nocturnal Rites nowadays? Who's still left from the original band?
Fredrik Mannberg started the band in 1990 and I joined in 1991 so we're the core members I guess...
How did you hook up with Jonny Lindkvist?
7 or 8 years ago our drummer had a band and Jonny was singing in that band so, when Anders Zackrisson left we knew that we had a world class singer just around the corner. We just called him up, he came down and it worked out really well.
On "Shadowland" I feel that you guys took another step away from power metal and went towards a more classic, heavier American sounding heavy metal, was it intentional?
No, I don't think so. If you'd listen to our back catalog I think you're gonna realize that we've never done 2 albums that sound exactly alike. We always try to evolve and change with every album. We've never sat down and wrote songs intentionally and try to make them sound in a certain way. We just write whatever feels right at the moment and it usually turns out really well. I guess "Afterlife" sounded a little bit different than the other albums due to the fact that we had a new vocalist Jonny. Jonny's voice is a lot rougher than Anders' and I guess that triggered some kind of, I don't know, a thing for us as songwriters which is write around his voice a bit and stuff got a little bit tougher.
It seems like he sparked a lot more energy in you...
Definitely, it's like a new start to get a new guy singing. It's just inspirational to hear his great voice on the tracks that he did... everything was just so much easier when Jonny joined.
Since he joined each album is getting heavier and heavier. Do you think one day you might go full circle to the starting point and record a death metal album?
[Laughs] I don't think so. I mean, I think that new album has actually a lot more melody and a lot more sing along kind of stuff than the "Afterlife" did have. This new record is a lot more melodic than the "Afterlife" so it's probably more like step back then step towards death metal [laughs]. I mean, we never gonna start playing death metal again.
Yeah, I didn't think so anyway...
You already pointed out a few things, but in your own words, what are the biggest differences between "Shadowland" and "Afterlife"?
I think we've managed to get some more melody into our songs and we've worked a lot more on vocal lines, vocal arrangements and also incorporated a lot more guitar work to the album, just get it more complete sounding album I guess.
Did you guys change anything in the way you work, rehearse or record since "Afterlife"? How does the typical birth of a song come about in Nocturnal Rites?
It's pretty much all this same scenario. It's either Fredrik or Nils Norberg, our guitarists, they come up with an idea or riff and than the 3 of us meet up in the studio, we have our own studio, and make an outline for a song. Once that's done we make a simple recording of it, we take tape home and I start working on vocal lines and lyrics. That's really how it works and it's been working like that for quite some time actually.
Although it worked out extremely well, I found your choice of Daniel Bergstrand's Dug-Out Studio very surprising. What made you choose his studio since up till now he always opted for much heavier bands (SYL, Meshuggah, Darkane)?
I think that's why we chose him actually. I think we've always been looking for a really heavy sound and someone that can make us sound like, we are much angrier than we actually are. I mean, we do realize that we play melodic power metal but still we want to sound and have a production to have your speakers burn [laughs]. We are a more aggressive band than a lot of the other power metal bands right now and I think our sound justifies that too.
Definitely, it's one of the things that impress me about your band, you are not just another sweet power metal band or a copy of Helloween.
I think that the fact that we are all very different is that we listen to different styles of music and often very heavy music. I still listen to death metal and even some country, Fredrik listens to a lot of thrash metal, death metal. Nils Norberg listens to a lot of fusion, jazz and all kinds of different stuff so, we're all very different and I think that shapes our sound.
From the front cover you look like a fully fantasy-inspired band but most of your lyrics seem to deal with different subjects, more down to earth ones. Is there any relation between the cover and lyrics?
We have some fantasy kind of oriented lyrics, not traditional fantasy in a sense of dragons and that kind of stuff but everything that we describe from real world is a fantasy in some way. My lyrics are not really describing the real world in that sense, real evens and real people they are my fantasies, a bit of science fiction and in that sense I guess we are very much fantasy oriented band lyrically.
What did you mean with the title "Shadowland"?
"Shadowland" is sort of continuation of "Afterlife". Shadowland is a place where you go right before you pass out. You can go either way and that's why we have that kind of dual landscape thing, one dark and one light side, you can go either way sort of a crossroads or something.
Looking back at your work are you completely satisfied with "Shadowland"?
I think so, but you know what? I don't listen that much to my own albums once it's done it's done. I can't change anything about it so I just leave it. I'm not that kind of guy that sits and listens to my own albums and go all critical on them. Once it's recorded, it's done, you move on. But to answer your question I think it's probably the best album we've ever done in terms of writing a complete album. In terms of all moods are expended on it and songs are ranging from aggressive, fast ones to slow and almost epic ones. I feel very, very confident that this album definitely is going to be our biggest album so far. It did very well in Europe and I hope it will in States too.
Since you don't waste your time on your previous albums what are you doing right now, already thinking of the new one, writing new songs, rehearsing, preparing for a tour?
In coming weeks we are doing some festivals in Europe, after that I guess we're coming back home for a while and we'll start planing our tour schedule for a fall. I guess that's really what's occupying our minds right now. We always have a few songs cooking so we've been working on some stuff that we have left from the last album plus a new stuff too. We never rest...
I guess it's the nature of heavy metal business, you either record an album or go on tour to stay on top of things...
Yeah, we do what we love so we're not complaining.
Thank you for the interview. Any final comments?
Give the album a try, hopefully you'll like it and someday I hope to see you all on tour in States.
Entered: 8/19/2002 5:24:41 PM