Hey guys, welcome and thanks for accepting to answer this interview. How are you doing up there in Sweden? What are you listening to while answering this?
Thanks for doing the interview! Everything’s good, I just put on Iron Maiden – Brave New World. I just got my vinyl collection back after having it stored away for over 2 years so I’m re-discovering a lot of music again.
Well, before going deeper into the release of your first album I’d like to speak a bit about the tour of twenty five dates you’ve just done across the USA. First of all, how was the feedback to those concerts? Is old-school Death Metal still alive in the American headbangers hearts? How did those concerts run and which differences did you see with European shows and crowd? What were the best and worst situations you found?
The feedback was great! The biggest show was no doubt Maryland Death Fest, which was awesome. Great sound and people were really into it. We did a lot of different shows, but people were always very enthusiastic and friendly. I guess the differences are that you won’t always get drinks and food at shows, stuff like that. But on the other hand you will have no problem getting invited to a house party or bars, people took good care of us in those respects for sure. Worst situation was when we’ve been driving for 9 hours to El Paso, Texas and with 1 hour left we got a phone call that the show was cancelled. The venue owner got thrown in jail apparently. We were of course disappointed, but some of the people who wanted to see us arranged for us to play in a garden of a house instead, with 1 hours notice! Kudos to those who made that happen, since we actually got to play in the end! Maryland Death Fest was as said great. We had a weird experience in LA where our show was in a really rough neighbourhood with gunshots down the block etc, and we ended up staying in a huge house in Beverly Hills down the street from Brad Pitt the same evening. Seeing both extremes in one night to say the least.
You shared the different parts of that tour with bands like The Impalers, Innumerable Forms and Bone Sickness, which I personally don't know, met other well known bands as Mammoth Grinder, Hatred Surge, Vektor and Iron Lung, and even crossed your tour with Acephalix/Undergang one. How was the experience with your tour mates? Did you already know them or did you discover them live? How was all managed beforehand?
Myself I didn’t know much about the bands beforehand. I knew The Impalers were a side-project to some of the Mammoth Grinder/Hatred Surge people and that Bone Sickness just released a 7” on Detest Records (same label as us) but not more than that. Anyway, we had a great time with those guys and got to do a lot of cool stuff in between shows. They’re great bands as well so check them out. The whole tour was booked by Timmy who is in charge of the Chaos in Tejas fest.
One of those dates was at Chaos In Tejas, a big Hardcore/Punk fest which in the last two editions has been including some extreme Metal bands like Autopsy, Inquisition, Ashdautas, Hooded Menace, The Gates Of Slumber, Arizmenda, Undergang or yourselves. It seems that extreme Metal and Punk are converging again, especially in the US. How was that ambiance and mix of cultures/scenes and how did you feel in there? I guess not that bad as some of you have one foot on the other side too with your projects, right?
Yes, it’s definetely a crossover thing going on, which for me is just fine since I’m a fan of it all. Most metalheads like a lot of raw punk and vice versa, so the festivals and gigs were mostly gatherings of music enthusiasts in general. I noticed absolutely no conflicts between “scenes” or whatever one could call it – it would be a bummer if that happened.
Although you’re obviously following the path of the old Swedish bands like Entombed, I think that what makes Miasmal sound stand above a lot of simple rip-off bands is your ability to infuse it with some Crust influences. That doesn’t mean you sound as a Metal/Punk band, but you have the raw and aggressive attitude which has been lost in so many band because of melody or other factors. Which Punk bands would you name as a strong influence on your music and sound? Did you only take the sound from them or the spirit and mentality too?
I think you nailed it there with your description. I like dirt and simplicity in death metal. Bands like early Discharge, Anti Cimex and early Disfear are definetely an influence for their ability to make a 3-chord riff sound perfectly powerful and captivating. Spirit and mentality is a personal thing I believe. But I can put it like this – we have more in common with a punk mindset, than people in technical death metal bands saying people should study music at universities in order to evolve death metal. Blah. Less is more.
Reading Daniel Ekeroth's book one can see how most of members from the old Swedish Death Metal bands were much more immersed in Punk/Hardcore brutality and speed, aesthetics and ideals than Heavy/Thrash Metal from those times, even if both had a big impact on them. But nowadays most of people who listen to Death Metal don't even know that or sometimes refuse any relation with Punk, isn't it funny/strange? Why do you think this reaction happens? Did you become interested in Death Metal through Punk or through Metal?
A lot of people like to separate themselves from each other as much as possible in order to have something they can call their own. Also some metal, like early American technical stuff, was pretty far off from everything punk stood for from the beginning. I was mainly into punk as a kid and had a hard time with macho metalheads trying to act all tough and piss on you. As I grew older I stopped caring about that shit, and I was also discovering so much good metal and generally expanding my musical tastes.
What do you think about the evolution of the bands who survived from that old scene. Entombed went on their Rockin'style, Dismember became more and more Heavy Metal oriented, Unleashed followed a pretty redundant path and Grave seem to have lost inspiration, repeating their ideas over and over again. Which one seems more coherent to you? Do you still like any of them?
I understand the evolution that happened to both Entombed and Dismember, even though Entombed was the most radical one. I like most of Entombed’s records, at least a bunch of songs on each of the later ones. I think however, that the idea of Miasmal is not to evolve our sound too much but rather stick to the guns. If we’d lose inspiration or find ourselves unable to write good stuff anymore, then it’s time to move on and do other stuff.
Ok, let’s focus on your first album now. After one demo and one 7”EP you finally released a full-length recording, First of all, why did you name it again simply as “Miasmal”, just as your two previous releases? Will that go on with future releases or will you find a proper name for all of them in the future?
We felt that it made sense, it’s a trilogy of sorts. First the demo, then the 7” and then the LP. Also it’s a small nod to the first four Led Zeppelin albums. But we won’t do any more self-titled releases. Not until when we re-unite the band in 2035.
The LP takes your brand of Death Metal a step further in your progression, which already started to show its wings on the previous EP, but is much clearer here. No big stylistic differences but a more personal and accurate guitar sound, as well as catchier and more compact songs which go straight to the point. How’s that evolution been since the demo from your writing point of view? How would you define the perfection of Miasmal’s sound, if you think it’s possible to achieve? Do you think you’re capable of maintaining that straight and raw style many steps further?
I think in regards to songwriting, it’s about growing into a costume really. It’s nothing you do deliberately, but hopefully you get better at writing songs and not the other way around. I’m still however very happy with the demo and 7”, and I love to play those songs live. I think we succeeded in doing an actual full-length with our LP, and not just a collection of the latest songs which was more the case with the demo and 7”. It was written with the LP format in mind. Perfection is a hard thing to pin down, but what we always aim for is the combination grit and groove + gut feeling. As for how much you can do in a similar style – time will tell. As long as we’re into it I’m sure a lack of ideas won’t be a problem.
Pontus, this time you were in charge of all the process, not only the mix, and according to the info sheet, it was done at The Recording Machine, in Gothenburg and Oslo. Could you explain me that a bit? Is The Recording Machine simply a portable studio, so you worked on the album in both cities? Why did you take care of every aspect of the recording this time? Weren't you happy of the previous releases or did you want to have more control on everything?
It’s nothing fancy really, as you said - The Recording Machine is my laptop which we recorded it all on and I then mixed and mastered it on. Hence the name. I live in Oslo, Norway now and the others still live in Gothenburg, so I did some vocal and guitar recordings up here for practical reasons, I have a full time job here so couldn’t be away for too many days in a row. I actually did all the recording work on the 7” as well, and I recorded and mixed the demo. So it wasn’t too different really. It’s just the way it happened, I like doing it. However, I wouldn’t mind working with someone else – it would be fun to go to a studio with a bunch of vintage hardware for mixing and such, even though I really think we’ve succeeded so far in having our recordings as far away from digital-surgery-triggers-blahblah as possible.
This time you seem to have found your sound, with a much heavier guitar and bass sound, and a very compact mix, comparing it to your previous recordings, but I think what I really liked is that you're not trying to copy the Sunlight sound, and that's something too much bands abuse of these days. Is it really so hard to try to find a more or less personal sound and way of playing Death Metal, even if almost any band will create something absolutely original? Why do you think most of Metal fans are so conformist about that?
I think this happens in most underground music, and not only metal. I think when people really love something, they want to play and sound just like that since it’s their perception of perfection. The downside is that it pretty much always will be a lesser copy. I mean, I love the early AC/DC records, but I would never try to write a song like that. There’s no reason, they already did it perfect.
When reading the lyrics of the new LP I found them pretty close to the atmosphere and way of writing of old British bands like Discharge, Axegrinder, Sacrilege or Bolt Thrower. Epic, apocalyptic, dark and warlike. Were they a bigger inspiration than the usual gory and anti-religious lyrics which prevail in (old-school) Metal? Are they a reflection of your visions about this world, pure obscure fiction or a mix of both inspired by some drunk night?
Yes, they definetely have more in common with those bands. I’ve never been too interested in the gore stuff. I don’t mind other bands doing it though, to each their own. You’re again pretty bang-on with your description. After all the lyrics were written, I realized there were a common thread through them all, a contempt for humanity and an upcoming apocalypse. And how to survive the apocalypse in some instances. It’s a lot of obcsure and abstract imagery which I like it to be, but you’re always influenced by something, and it’s hard not to feel the impending doom around us.
How much important are lyrics for Miasmal music? Are they an important pillar or simply a complement to the dark aura? Why do you think most of Death Metal bands don't pay so much attention to their lyrics as Black Metal or Hardcore bands?
It’s important that they are good, and that they fit the music. However the music comes first, the lyrics are there to serve the song. Other bands might feel they have a clear message they want to put across, and therefore use the music as a vehicle for the lyrics. However, I do put a lot of effort into the lyrics and I’m very happy with the whole lyrical atmosphere for the new LP.
You, as well as the rest of bands that are being released by Blood Harvest, Me Saco Un Ojo Records, Detest Records, Dark Descent Records and some other label are starring what could be called a “New Wave of old-school Death Metal”. Some say it's just the new trend, others that it's a rebirth of the old feeling... How do you see it and how much do you think this will last? Which are your favorite bands from these new wave?
I understand how the term happened. A lot of bands are coming up, possibly as a reaction to all the tech-wankery that’s been going on for the last 10 years. I do however not put a lot of thought into the phenomena. If it’s something that would grow more, I’m sure there will be a reaction to that in a few years to come as well. These things tend to come and go in cycles. I’m always a couple years behind in listening to new stuff. But check out Maim, Bone Sickness and Vanhelgd.
As usual on my interviews, I’d like to do a choosing game to know a bit more about your personal tastes. Let us know please why you pick every band:
- Discharge or Anti-Cimex: This is so fucking hard but I have to say Anti Cimex. It hits a nerve close to heart.
- Nihilist or Entombed: Entombed. How good Nihilist may be, Left Hand Path is my favourite version of those songs. And Entombed went on to do a lot of more great stuff.
- Mob-47 or Moderat Likvidation: Mob 47. More relentless and together than M.L.
- Unleashed or Grave: Grave. Into The Grave is a killer record. The epitome of murk!
- Crematory or Carbonized: Haven’t heard any of those, sorry.
- Disfear or Wolfpack: I can’t decide. You have to specify early or late, haha.
- Death Breath or Kaamos: Death Breath. Haven’t heard Kaamos.
- Verminous or Repugnant: Repugnant, good band basically.
- Bastard Priest or Morbus Chron: Haven’t heard any of those, sorry again - I should get a fucking clue!
I can’t avoid asking you about your other personal projects, as I’m a big fan of the second LP of your other band, Agrimonia, and Martyrdöd sound very cool too. Could you please let us know the rest of bands Miasmal members are involved in and what’s happening around them?
Agrimonia is more epic metallic stuff, long songs and more work with melodies, moods and dynamics. We plan to record our 3rd full-length next year. I’ve been in Martyrdöd since 2003 and we gonna record our 4th full-length this winter to be released on Southern Lord Records. Throw a few Anti Cimex, Bathory and Amebix into a household mixer and you’ll get something like Martyrdöd. The other guys’ bands are yet to be named rehearsal room projects at this point. I do however play with our new drummer Björn in Agrimonia and Magnus was in Martyrdöd for a little while. The usual inbreeding.
So, we’re arriving to the end of the interview. I’ll ask you please to let us know which are you plans for the upcoming future. Are there any new releases planned yet? You’ve released a demo, a 7”EP and an LP, but, what about split EP’s? Which band would you like to share one with? Any other tour/concert dates on the horizon?
We have no recording plans yet. We take our time and when we got the material down, it will happen. I’m not too into split records personally, if we would do it it has to be a band that are friends with us (and that are a good band of course). We have some European touring plans but nothing set yet. Only set show will take place in Belgium in February next year. Stay tuned.
Thanks a lot for your time and patience answering my questions and good luck for the future of Miasmal. If you want to add anything else that you forgot, last words are yours.
Thanks for the interest and support! Check out miasmal.net for updates on tour dates, shows etc. Cheers!
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.