The Dawn of the Mighty Necrophobic
The Dawn of the Mighty Necrophobic
The mighty Necrophobic is a Swedish blackened death metal collective whose roots go all the way back to 1989. They’ve been on the notorious Black Mark Production label along with the legendary Bathory and has unleashed a dynamic collection of albums throughout their gloriously infamous legacy. Their latest masterwork is entitled Dawn Of The Damned, now available through Century Media Records – and it’s sure to enrapture extreme metal fans looking for a gripping auditory adventure through madness and intrigue. Highwire Daze recently caught up with lead guitarist Sebastian Ramstedt to find out more about their Dawn Of The Damned magnum opus, as well as many other topics from their vast and epic career. Read on…
First of all, let’s talk about the new album. Is there any overall story or concept behind the new album Dawn Of The Damned?
Absolutely. This time it’s actually a concept album. When I started to write songs for this album, right after Mark of the Necrogram, I felt that it took a more serious turn. I felt that the music had more depth to it – it had more layers and more different atmospheres. I had this old dream of writing a concept album and I felt like this is the time to do it. So I mainly wrote this album – I did most of the work on this album and Andres did a few lyrics – but it was about two different periods of time in my life that formed these lyrics. The lyrics are pretty much like Necrophobic lyrics – always are – but with a different twist.
So I had gone through pretty hard times in my life quite recently before I joined Necrophobic again five years ago. I went through depression and it was a really bad time, and I had to make a change in life. I felt that, when you go through bad times, doing music and writing about it is kind of great therapy, but I didn’t want to really write about my depression or how I managed to get through it. I just wanted to write about the dark path I took to get to the other side. And 20 years ago or so, I practiced a lot of dark magic rituals like meditation and lucid dreaming, astral project and a lot of occult stuff. And those times were very life changing for me, so I felt like these two periods of time with these big changes; I could actually morph these together into these lyrics that are in this album. So it starts as an Intro where I am mostly depressed – and it takes the listener through the whole journey to the dark, and facing your demons, and everything like that.
Deeply personal, but in a very Necrophobic way!
Exactly! It was very important that it would not be like honest Bob Dylan lyrics or something like that. It would still have to be in a metal way.
Tell me about the first single Mirror Black and what inspired the lyrics for that particular song?
The Mirror Black is the pathway to the other side. The mirror is the gate to the demonic world, and that is where we take the listener from this life into the underworld. Also the video – it has one light side and one dark side – in the scenes where it looks like they’re in a barn is this light – and on the dark side is the other side. We tried to make that maybe not too understandable, but have it as a theme. And we also thought the song also had that kind of direct potential of getting the attention of the listener. It’s not too progressive and it’s kind of direct – it’s kind of easy to get into that song, so it was the first great first single as we thought.
Select any song from Dawn Of The Damned and what inspired the lyrics for you.
The song The Return Of A Long Lost Soul is an interesting one. That was supposed to be the album closer, but it’s the second to last song. And that is about a thing that pretty often occurs when you do lucid dreaming – when you have this awake dream that you know you are dreaming in a dream. Sometimes it leaves you in a state of sleep paralyses – you know that you are in a dream but you don’t have the tools to wake up. It’s like you’re captured in your body and you cannot move. So that song was written about the traveler being trapped within the dream. It’s a really interesting song, because it doesn’t follow the normal formula for how a Necrophobic song is built. It has almost no repetitive parts – it has no real chorus – it just goes on into the next step all the time. So it’s a favorite on the album.
What has it been like having Anders back as the vocalist? He’s been back for a few years now. I know he was on the The Nocturnal Silence album (1993) – which I don’t think you were on.
Exactly. We were friends – even before Necrophobic – so I’d known Anders for my whole life but I was not in the band when he was the first time. And since Tobias (Sidegård) has to leave the band, we felt like there was really no other way to go than at least at first to look at members who have been in the band. And I was very happy to work with Anders, but also I was a bit worried how it would be – because with me and Tobias, it worked together, it was very easy – it was very smooth – he understood my half-finished ideas and stuff like that. I wasn’t sure Anders would do that, but it was a perfect match. When I went to Anders place and we were working with the lyrics, it was just like we were one unit. He’s so professional and it has been a great journey to work with him for these two albums. And I think his work has improved very much – his vocals on this new one are just totally fantastic I think.
We’re going to go back in time for a few questions and then come back to the new album. Of course the late David Parland was on The Nocturnal Silence album – he was also a member of Dark Funeral and WAR. Did you know him and did you keep in touch with him over the years?
Absolutely. When we were in our late teens and early 20’s, we all went to the same pub – it was this restaurant / nightclub for rockers that we all went to. So I was his friend – we were not very close friends but we had beers together and stuff like that. You know, he was actually back in the band just before Bloodhymns (2002). After The Third Antichrist (1999), we took David back into the band – we rehearsed for a year with him and me in the band. But he was a man with many problems, you know – he didn’t feel too good. He worked in his own ways, so it was hard to bring the band forward. It was hard to write songs together. So we decided that we had to part and in came Johan into the band. Dave was a very talented and a very interesting person – and through all the years up to his death, occasionally I saw him. And just before he died, he actually called me and we had a long talk. So I knew him for all the years actually.
For your first few albums, you were on Black Mark Production. What was it like being on that label and did you meet Quorthon from Bathory?
Quorthon was on our release party for Darkside (1997) actually. He showed up and he stood in the doorway for half an hour or something and then he left. He was not very social – he didn’t socialize much. But we met his father (Börje “Boss” Forsberg – owner of Black Mark) and sister and brother very much at the record label, because at time, when you were doing interviews, you didn’t call from your home because the phone bill would be really high. We always went to the Black Mark office and used their phone. And there was his father always telling these stories – but the funny thing was he pretended that he was not the father of Quorthon – so he was telling all these stories “yeah, you know, when I met Quorthon in the rehearsal room, I felt like this guy had really something special.” And we all of course knew that he was the father – it was kind of a crazy charade actually. But that was how they wanted to do it.
When you look back on your work in Nifelheim, what do you think of it now? I think Johan was also in Nifelheim…
Absolutely! It was great time actually. I miss it a lot. Those guys are so talented. Nifelheim is probably my favorite black metal band ever! And I don’t say that as a member – I was not on all the albums. I even think they’re better than Bathory. But also we did not live in the same town – we had very different lifestyles and it was very hard to communicate and to work together. But I still feel I should have been in that band longer – it’s kind of sad actually that we had to part ways.
Back to present day – what has it been like to release new music in the middle of a pandemic and so much social unrest in the world?
For us we had recorded it – end of February we were finished – and the pandemic actually worked in our favor because we had all this time to get into the details – to mix it – to change things. And there was no hurry or anything. So we actually got everything done just like we wanted it this time. We also had to a lot of time to think about videos and how to promote this. So we have been working all this time a lot – which we’ve never had the time before because we’ve been off on the road while releasing albums. But it’s very different to not be on the road. It’s kind of crazy for a musician to be stuck at home.
You do have a new member in Necrophobic – Allan Lundholm on bass. Tell me about Allan – his background – and how he became involved with the band?
You know – Alex (Friberg) had to leave the band – he had some things he had to take care of. And during his absences, Allan went into the band as a session musician. Actually it was not that easy with Alex all of the time – he lived in a different town very far from us and it was kind of hard to rehearse. You know, music wise, Alex is great at what he does and we’re kind of good at what we do – but we didn’t play good together – and the last year it suffered a lot – it didn’t sound good at all. So when we started rehearsing with Allan who is actually in our friend community here, everything just fell down to the right point. It sounded so good! And also he was available for doing this, so we didn’t know when or even if Alex would come back. He said he would, but we didn’t know what state he would be in. So we took the decision to take Allan into the band. That was a very hard decision and it was a lot of anger and a lot of sadness around that – but we did anyway. And Allan – he’s a little bit younger than us but just about our age – he was born in the 70’s and he’s been playing black metal and death metal since the early 90’s. He was the same kind of person that we are, and he fit into the band so great!
What do you think has kept you so passionate about Black Metal and metal music in general for 25 years and counting?
Yeah, that’s a good question. You know, I always want to develop – I always want to be better at what I do. It’s not really about Black Metal or Death Metal – I mean, when I write music I don’t think that this will be black metal / death metal. It’s just the way it sounds when I write music – it happens to be a genre that fits with it. But this is how I write. But what I really do – I try to take all the impressions I had as a kid in the 80’s with Saxon and stuff like that and I’m trying to fulfill my dream that I had back then of doing the perfect gig and doing the perfect records. As long as I feel that we can do things better – that we can add more to this – then I think I will continue doing this. But it’s the same drive I have since I was 12 years old. Since I’m never finished with it and I’m never really satisfied – like “Oh, this is it!” Then I think I will keep on doing this till I think that’s a 10 points gig and album and “this is perfect and I cannot go anywhere from here” – then I will quit probably.
Do you have any messages of US Necrophobic fans waiting for you to play live shows here in the States?
Yeah, we are so eager to get there and we really hope the borders will be lifted soon, so we can start to plan on coming there. It’s on my bucket list to do a US tour. We have never actually done that. We made a couple of one-off gigs, but that’s for sure something that I want to do. So hopefully – hopefully, we can go there very soon!
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Anders Strokirk – vocals
Sebastian Ramstedt – lead guitars
Johan Bergebäck – rhythm guitar
Allan Lundholm – bass
Joakim Sterner – drums
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