Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Requiem #6 (1996)


Have you ever danced with the devil? Once asked a spirit in black. For guitarist/vocalist Jon Nödtveidt and his diabolical band DISSECTION, the answer seems heavily weighted on "yes". It was a sunny Autumn evening when I received a call from Jon in Gothenburg, Sweden. Surely, the blithe weather didn't reflect on our conversation, but Jon was a pleasant fellow to converse with about DISSECTION and the current state of metal. Please read on as Jon and I gaze from crimson towers, to forlorn lands, only to see a lost kingdom... With a black horizon setting, DISSECTION prepare for their first U.S. release via Relapse/Nuclear Blast. Hail Storm of the Light's Bane in all its majestic glory. Night has never been so dark.

What kind of influences do DISSECTION have as far as playing melodic and aggressive music?

"Well, metal, in general, because we have always been a death metal band. But since we have been into heavy metal and old thrash metal for a very long time, it's natural for us to bring influences from the melodic kind of style as well. We are totally into the dark side of things, personally, and as a band. We want to play dark music and I think that playing brutal is very interesting, but melodies can bring a lot more feeling into the music. If you play more depressed melodies and so on, it will bring a whole new dimension into the music. It's very hard to describe because reflecting on what we play, we just write from our hearts. We don't have a special direction to work from, we just play the style we play. We like to play music which is dark and evil death metal."

Wise words spoken from a true death metaller.

Ha! Yeah! He he."

So you're influenced by DESTRUCTION, SODOM, KREATOR, etc.?

Yeah, of course! Even old METALLICA and that kind of stuff. We don't think of old METALLICA as wimp music. Because when you think about it, the time it was released it was very brutal stuff. It was even faster than VENOM! We are into old hard rock, heavy metal. You know when we started out in the end of 1989, we were playing death metal. As always when you play for a while you start to get your own identity and more of your own style. We just developed and progressed a bit."

The Somberlain L.P. received a massive response in the underground. How do you feel about people claiming DISSECTION are one of the best bands in Sweden? The reviews have been spectacular. Are you satisfied with the end result on The Somberlain?

Yeah! We are very, very happy with how people have received the album. It's pretty much an underground release, because it was released on a small label. It was mainly bought by people in the underground scene, I think. You know, we are very honoured by the response, which was massive according to us. We didn't expect too much of it, because the album was delayed, and there were a couple of old songs and so on. We were very happy when we saw what people thought of it."

What happened to guitarist Jon Zwetsloot?

"When we recorded the album, we were living in different places in Sweden due to different reasons. Things like work, school, etc. At that point in time we didn't rehearse that much. We actually rehearsed two times before we recorded the album."

What?!? Only twice?

"Yeah (laughing). That was in a period of a couple of months. We had all the material written and rehearsed before we went into the studio, expect for "Black Horizons". We had written "Black Horizons" half a year before we recorded the album. However, the day before we recorded the album, we arranged the whole song. We didn't even know how it would sound in the end. Anyway, as we didn't rehearse that much, we didn't have any problems. We couldn't tell or foresee how we were developing as people when it came to ambitions. Maybe half a year after we recorded the album, we moved in together here in gothenburg, Sweden. It was mainly that John had lost his ambitions for the band; he wasn't into rehearsing. He never showed up at rehearsals, even though the rehearsal place was only one hundred meters from his apartment. We just thought that, after another half a year of this, he could go and fuck himself because we didn't want him in the band anymore. He made us acancel a gig just because he wouldn't carry his guitar case to the rehearsal place the day before, so... Of course, he is a very good guitarist. He was very innovative when it came to writing innovative riffs, but it was more or less like a waste of talent when he didn't give his soul into the band anymore. We kicked him out and, one day after, we got the new guitarist, Johan Norman. We called him up the same day as John was kicked out and asked him if he wanted to try out playing in DISSECTION. He came the day after and it sounded good, so therefore he was in the band. He's a very good musician and a good friend; he's very, very serious about what we are doing. Johan is extremely ambitious and he has the same mentality as we do, so he's a good replacement."

Well, Johan has definitely proven himself on "Night's Blood". I was wondering if you recorded the song "Where Dead Angels Lie" at the same time as The Somberlain?

"No, it was recorded maybe two weeks after we kicked John out. It was only me on guitar on that one, because we didn't have time to teach Johan the song. We told him to pick some songs from the first album and learn them; and then to come to the rehearsal place. The new tracks (on the W.A.R. compilation) were then, only played by me."

And what gave you the inspiration to do a cover of TORMENTOR's "Elisabeth Bathori"? That's a very strange song to cover when only a handful of people in the underground are familiar with the band.

Well, it was mainly because we reckon that demo is one of the best; Anno Domini. We were talking about that band, and I thought they're very original, and I liked the music; so we covered one of their songs. Yeah, it was an interesting idea to play a song from them, because they are relatively unknown. They are more like a cult band, than anything."

I know a lot of people were shocked when you signed to Nuclear Blast. It seems that everybody had the wierd idea that N.B. could only sign death/thrash metal, not some evil cult band from the west coast of Sweden.

"Yeah, I know what you're saying, but the only reason we signed to Nuclear Blast was because they offered us the best deal. We were negotiating with a couple of labels at the time, and in the end we found out that they (N.B.) could do the best work for us. We had a lot of problems with No Fashion, so we were pretty pissed off with all labels. We weren't too keen on being treated like shit, so ... No Fashion didn't do any promotion for the band until they saw it selling on various distribution services."

So, Nuclear Blast are putting you on tour (actually they toured with fellow Swedes DISMEMBER during the month of December), right? Didn't you do a tour with CRADLE OF FILTH?

No, we didn't. It was an offer we got, but we turned it down, because we didn't want to tour before the album was released. We made a couple of shows with them in April '95, which was a great experience for us, because we never played outside Scandinavia before. We just played three shows with them in England. There were two in London, and one in Bradford. The show at the Marquee in London was really great!"

It seems the response is very good to the live version of DISSECTION. We have a live video of DISSECTION in '93, in Norrköping, and the melodies and everything sounded great.

"At that time we didn't make very many shows, because we were living in completely different places, so we made only four or five live shows. We played two shows in Norrköping. We are much better live nowadays, because at that point we didn't rehearse that much. Now since we rehearse constantly and have serious band members, we are naturally a much better live band."

Moving on to the album, I was wondering where songs like "Son of the Mourning" came from. Was it an advance track from Storm of the Light's Bane?

"Oh no. It's not an advance track for the album. They were recorded in September of last year It was mainly to check out how the songs would sound. "Son of the Mourning" is actually an old song re-recorded, put as a bonus track on the Japanese version of The Somberlain. So, it won't be on the album."

I noticed on "Night's Blood" that before the melodic interplay, there seems to be an intensity that only a band like SLAYER can bring. Was that what you were aiming at?

"Yeah, I think. The whole album ranges from being very brutal to slow and doomy. But as I said, we are into old thrash bands, so it's natural for something like that to come out."

How come you didn't employ any other types of singing on the new album? I thought for sure some good, normal singing would be used.

"Oh, no. It had to be death metal vocals. Only the brutal style because I can't sing."

Well, you did a pretty good MERCYFUL FATE type scream on "Black Horizons".

Yeah, but it's actually not me. It's Dan (Swanö). I just stuck a dagger into his asshole and he went screaming! (laughter) It turned out to be great, didn't it?" (more laughter)

Yeah, pure agony!

"We had Dan do some desperate screams on the new one, but it's more screech-like. I tried to vary my voice a lot on the new album, but it's till done in a very brutal way. I tried to capture the feeling of the lyrics."

What kind of expectations do you have when they released the album? It seems that the whole of Europe shuddered when it finally hit the shelves.

"Well, they have been doing good promotion for the album. They are sending us on tour. We want out album to have good distribution in America as well, so then we will be able to tour there."

I know this may seem like a typical question, but honestly Jon, what do you think of the whole black metal explosion? The popularity of death metal seemed to shift with the wind as soon as EMPEROR released their MCD and the advances of MAYHEM's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas L.P. started circulating.

"As with any trend, I think it's ridiculous. I don't listen to bands because they are cool, or popular, I listen to what I think is good. There are, of course, some good new bands, but I don't think about what bands call themselves. Just because they call themselves black metal doesn't mean they are any good."

Definitely! Do you think that this is happening right now?

"Um...yes. It's always been like that, I guess. It happened to thrash metal, it happened to death metal, so it was bound to happen to black metal. There's a lot of shit out there. There has always been shit music when a particular style is popular, but there's always good bands coming out, which is positive, I think. There's too many bands cloning the bigger bands, but who cares about them anyway? You get tired of all the new black metal and people claiming to be evil and not knowing shit about Satanism or occultism. The black/death scene is so complex these kids don't know anything about it. We don't have any contact with them, so we don't think too much about them."

While on the subject of occultism. The lyrics on the new album are somewhat darker compared to the ones composed for The Somberlain L.P.

"The lyrics are more blasphemic, definitely. We have some more in-your-face type lyrics, it's more obvious what we're saying this time. We have varied the lyrics as well, but our lyrics deal mainly around the subjects of death and evil. They are very personal lyrics, so it is sometimes hard to describe them in just a few words."

So, at what point in time did you become interested in the darker side of life?

When you are a kid, you are always impressed by the most shocking and brutal things. Maybe it was those kind of things that got me into metal. When you start getting into metal, you start listening to more brutal bands. For example, when you listen to heavy metal you find out that thrash is faster, and then you got to hear death metal, so... it's hard to really speak about personal developments. I didn't consider myself a Satanist when I was ten years old."

And do you consider yourself one now?

"Yes. I don't like to talk about this subject matter in interviews. People are very different from each other. If you say you're a Satanist, that doesn't mean that you're exactly like all other Satanists. I am very serious about it, but I don't go out of my way to make a big deal about it. All my views are reflected in my lyrics. All people that claim they are Satanists, at least the ones I talk to, have very different views except for the fundamentals."

How was your time with NIFELHEIM? Their L.P. is very old sounding. Hell, if you hadn't known they were from Sweden, you would think they were from Germany (around the time when DESTRUCTION and KREATOR were great).

"Yeah, I know. It was great because they are close friends and they are a great band. I just stopped by the studio to lay down some leads and noise (on the first track). It was a great time. They are one of the few bands I find interesting."

Any last comments?

"Thanks for the interview. Hail the true metal of death and stay morbid."

Transcribed by Noctir.

No comments: