Demonical - Interview
Demonical recently released a new album named "Mass Destroyer" which may be best in their career. Once again they perform superb old-school death metal without any compromises and it is a top candidate for the death metal album of 2022. I had the chance to chat with the mastermind behind the band Martin Schulman via Skype about the album, line-up changes and some other things concerning Demonical's interesting history. Enjoy the read!
Hi Martin, how are you doing? I hope that your business wasn't affected too much by Covid-19?
Yes, it was in the way that there weren't any shows and anything I had booked and planned was canceled. But I didn't really have any financial loss and I'm not making a living out of the money I earn from the bookings so it wasn't that big of a deal but of course it was a bit frustrating when everything I had booked and planned first got postponed and then canceled. As you never knew when Covid would end – I mean it is much easier if you know a day when there is an end to it and you can plan your activities based on that – but when it was going on month after month it wasn't nice. But it was also a good two years where you could concentrate on writing music and doing other stuff in life. Also as you may know the Swedish approach towards Covid has been a bit different than in several other especially European countries. We didn't have any hard lock-downs or restrictions, it was everything about recommendations. They recommended you to wear a face mask, they recommended to keep your distance and to wash your hands…and also because we are living on the countryside like a two hour drive north from Stockholm you didn't even realize that it was the Covid thing. You only realized it when you went to the supermarket and there were some signs on the floor saying “please keep your distance” but apart from that there wasn't a big difference. We were able to travel inside of Sweden and everything so life went on pretty normal with only the exception that we couldn't travel abroad and do live shows.
You were pretty busy with Centinex and Demonical since you've just released an EP with Centinex and the new album with Demonical. Was it because of the pandemic?
Well partly yes because with both bands, especially maybe with Demonical when we released the previous album World Domination in 2020 – we were planning the recording of the album in spring 2020, Covid had started but basically everyone thought that it would be over in a couple of months, we were planning to do shows and promotion of the album for 20/21 including summer festivals. But when the album came out we realized that the Covid thing is here to stay for a while and no one really knows when it's going to end. So there were two reasons for this: first we understood that there wouldn't be any tours for a while so we decided instead of just sitting around and waiting for things to get back normal we used the time in a good way and some more music and record a new album. The second reason was that when World Domination came out, I had a lot of ideas for new material. I had a boost of inspiration and was really eager to get a new album out because also the tracks on World Domination, when we recorded them, were really old – they were written a year more earlier, so I had a lot of ideas for new material. Those were the reasons why we decided to work on new material and also due to label politics stuff – we recorded Mass Destroyer one year after the release of the previous album but it already took nine months to get it released because of the long waiting time for the vinyl pressing and stuff.
The new Demonical starts with the track'Conquering The Throne'. Is this a statement for the death metal scene?
Haha! Well, maybe in a way. We have always preferred hard hitting titles, titles that are easy to remember, easy to spell, not too complicated. When you see the title on the paper you will basically understand what the track is all about. We named the track before we decided that it would be the opening track.
You got some more epic stuff again on "Mass Destroyer", such as 'Fallen Mountain' or 'By Hatred Bound'. What are the influences for writing such melodies?
I don't really know. I just get the feeling. For Mass Destroyer I wrote all the music but I'm not a guitarist. I'm a songwriter. I mean, I play guitar, I write riffs on the guitar but all these extra melodies and stuff are added by our lead guitarist. Usually I just have an idea – for example for 'Fallen Mountain' I wrote the track and I wrote the rhythmics and the chorus and painted a picture in my head how I would like to have it with the guitar melodies and stuff. So I told Eki (Kumpulainen; M.) our lead guitarist that I would like to have some melodic stuff on the chorus. He is really good in understanding both – how Demonical should sound and also what I'm looking for. So we really have a good collaboration and even if we write all the riffs and everything the band puts a lot of effort doing together and everyone is contributing with their ideas. But I write what I feel what's good and when I wrote those tracks I was in that kind of mood, not fast death metal but more mid-tempo. And for 'By Hatred Bound', the idea for that track came up when I was listening to more normal heavy and power metal and I had this idea about having a track where the same drum beat goes through the whole track. That's something we have never done before and this was also experimental in a way. We weren't planning this on purpose, it was more that I wrote this drum beat and felt it was cool and so it became a Demonical track.
Is it more difficult to write such melodic stuff or the more brutal death metal tracks?
Well, basically it's more difficult to write the melodic stuff. I mean, I have been doing death metal for so long so writing brutal death metal riffs is something that I can do even when I'm sleeping (laughs). The challenge is to make a track which has a bit of everything. Demonical, even if we label ourselves as old-school death metal, we are not so strict to that category. In today's scene there are a lot of bands who play old-school death metal and Swedish sounding death metal but most of these bands are very strict and very limited to their songs. They like doing this particular style without any other influences. For us it has always been about creating good tracks and doing something that we like. And if the chorus is maybe still old-school death metal we are not afraid about other influences and other ideas. As I said, I listen to a lot of heavy metal and stuff so I like melodies (laughs). Okay, they shouldn't be completely cheesy like some circus music – it's good if they have some kind of mood or darkness in the melody but I wouldn't like to have Demonical as a pure old-school death metal band. For me it's more pleasing to have melodic influences as well – it's a combination of the styles.
Who had the lyrical idea for 'Wrathspawn'? The rhymes are quite cool!
(Laughs). You should ask Christofer, our vocalist. He wrote the lyrics. I wrote the lyrics for 'We Conquer The Throne' and he wrote all the other lyrics. First of all, it's a very good thing that he came into the band and it's a very good thing that he likes to write lyrics. In the past the vocalists haven't been so much into writing the lyrics so it was my responsibility and for me, lyrics is just something you have to do because you have to have some lyrics on the tracks (laughs). I concentrate more on writing music. With Christofer, he is really into writing lyrics, he is very good in the English language and has much knowledge about words and sentences. When we write a new track, I usually make a rough demo of the track and then I give it to the other guys and together with Christofer we agree where to have lyrics and about the verse, chorus and stuff like this. And for 'Wrathspawn' there is a good rhyming song (laughs) and it turned out really great with the drum beat and everything. It's like a punch in the face.
In my opinion there are only good tracks on the album. I have to say that I wasn't fully happy with the last one, "World Domination", mainly because of 'Slipping Apart' which was too soft for me. What do you think about this track now in retrospect? And is there anything that you would change concerning an old Demonical album?
(Laughs) I still like everything on World Domination. I'm a bit disappointed with the production, I wouldn't say it couldn't have been better but a little bit different. Of course I like Mass Destroyer more but World Domination is a good album. It reflects the band at that time and you have to keep in mind that some of the tracks were quite old when they were recorded. We had a new drummer and a new vocalist but it reflects how the band sounded back then. But of course I would maybe re-record it. I would still record the same tracks, maybe do some things different but in general I'm satisfied with the tracks including 'Slipping Apart'. I knew that including that kind of track, especially with the guest vocals, would make some people love it and other people almost hate it (laughs). We did it because we wanted to do it. The idea for the track is from the 80s hard rock ballads (laughs). I'm into that shit and wanted to do a track like that in a death metal version and we wanted to have some guest vocals to it. Again, we knew that people might have some complexes or opinions about it but we don't give a rats' ass about it. We do what we want but we know that it raises some reactions. There are too many bands today that only play safe and do what the fans or listeners are expecting them to do and who are too afraid of thinking of themselves and doing the same album over and over again and taking the same formula. That has never been the case with Demonical – we're doing what we want but of course we enjoy it if somebody else likes the albums as well. But again, especially with that song we knew that people are going to react but I mean all promotion is good promotion and if people are talking about the band it's good.
I think it's the second time that you've recorded a second album with the same line-up. Do you think that this line-up will be stable for the future?
Haha, hopefully! Yeah, this is the ultimate line-up. Of course every time you have a line-up change you hope that is the last one but you never know what happens. So people say that we have a lot of line-up changes in Demonical. Yes, maybe we had more than many other bands but on the other hand there are bands that had even more changes during a quite short period of time. Very few of those members that have been in the band have been fired, they have mostly left the band by free will because they lost interest or had other priorities. I mean if you are in a band and you lose interest and you want to do something else, I'm not stopping from doing it. Of course it's often a pity that they are leaving but you can't force anyone to stay. If they don't wanna do it then they shouldn't do it. Line-up changes are always like a pain in the ass because you have to find new members and to learn what kind of people they are if you didn't know them before then you have to work together and they have to learn all the material…so it can be a bit tough but as long as you try to keep in mind that you turn the band to the better it's a good thing. World Domination was the first album with the new members so it was a bit of a trying period but now the band has grown together to a tighter unit.
From the future to the past – in 2018 you've changed your logo. Why did you do this?
We didn't really change it. We are basically using three different logos so it wasn't an official change. In the beginning when the band started we had this old-school spider-web kind of logo (laughs) and in 2015 we changed to this other logo and now we are just using letters. So we have these three different logos but mainly the two latest ones we are using. It depends a bit on what content they are used. On an album cover where the artwork should be more in the focus it's better to use the font logo with those letters but on a festival poster where you have one million unreadable band logos, it's good to have a bigger logo which is a little bit more visible. So it depends a bit on where it will be used.
You went on a small album release tour with only dates in the Czech Republic and Germany. Why didn't you travel to other countries?
Basically bands do a release show in their home town or something like that. We wanted to do it a bit differently. So we planned a short release tour. The first idea was to do only German shows but then we got this offer in Czech Republic and accepted it as well. Germany is our strongest market. I mean we have followers all around the world but we have been doing pretty well just like most of the metal bands in general. So we wanted to do a short run in Germany to promote the new album. That was the main idea and reason behind this. But of course we are hoping and planning to do some more proper touring worldwide during this year and the next.
Finally, do you have some cool record recommendations that one shouldn't miss?
Ehhh….no (laughs). I don't really care about new music and I don't listen much to music. For me it's a bit hard having music in the background while I'm working or answering emails. I wanna have silence or – and that's the maximum - listening to the radio in the background. When I listen to music I wanna lie on the couch and just listen but I don't have time for that. Sometimes when I go out for a walk I can listen to Spotify and I usually listen to those old albums like heavy metal and hard rock albums from the 80s. I'm really not following all the new albums coming out which maybe is a pity. Of course I keep updated with the bigger and more well-known bands but there are so many albums that are released today so it's really hard to follow. But I mean a band like Kreator or Destruction are releasing new albums and I listen to a single or check a video and it is good stuff but it doesn't give me much. I much rather put on "Pleasure To Kill" or one of the old albums.
Black Flesh Redemption
Imperial Anthems No. 1
Absu / Demonical
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