AEON – Glowing Hatred
Writing sessions for November 2012’s Aeon Black – the fourth full-length by Östersund, Sweden-based death metal outfit Aeon – reflected usual writing sessions, the musical content being mainly authored by rhythm guitarist Daniel Dlimi and lead guitarist Sebastian ‘Zeb’ Nilsson. Sometimes the two mutually pen an idea or help one another, but much of the time the pair compose separately.
“I think we’re kind of alike songwriting wise,” Zeb observes. “Yeah, I guess there are some small differences though. He usually likes a particular way of having the bass drum go… It’s kind of hard… Like on ‘Nothing Left To Destroy’; on the pre-chorus, there’s a certain rhythm on the kick drum. That’s one of his trademarks. He also used that two albums ago on ‘Helel Ben-Shachar’ (September 2007’s Rise To Dominate) – that song also had that kind of rhythm with the bass drum. If you really know what songs he’s written in the discography, I guess that you can tell that he wrote ‘Nothing Left To Destroy’.
“We kind of start at home. We programme the drums, record guitars, make pre-productions – mp3s – and send them to the rest of the guys for them to listen to. They maybe provide some feedback, or ideas, or something. That’s how we usually do it, and it was kind of the same thing this time too. Tommy writes most of the lyrics, and then we just rehearse the songs and learn them. Yeah, that’s how we do it (laughs).
“Some of the songs are done really fast, but some songs can take months to do (laughs). From one song to another, it can be really different. ‘Dead Means Dead’ was the first song that I actually wrote for the album. That song I had actually written already when Arttu (Malkki) joined the band, which was in 2010. The real writing process took five or six months or something though.”
Recording sessions took place at Empire Studio in the group’s hometown of Östersund, Sweden, Ronnie Björnström handling engineering, mixing, and mastering duties. “It was all made pretty quickly,” the axeman remembers. “We recorded for two weeks, and then Ronnie Björnström went home to the town where he lives. He has his own studio where he made the mix and the master for it. All the recordings were made here, and all of the mixing and mastering was done where he lives. That only took a few days. It was all made in not even three weeks.
“Ronnie’s mix is really good. I’d say it’s both heavy and fat, and still it’s really crystal clear. It’s just the way it’s supposed to be really, really fat and heavy. We’re all really happy with the production that he made. We’ve been getting a lot of good feedback about the production from reviews, so I think we’re not the only ones that think he did a fantastic job.”
Zeb dubbed Aeons Black as the quintet’s ‘most varied album to date.’ “There are more heavy songs, and yet some really fast songs too,” he critiques. “I think we have always tried to make each song very different from all the rest. I think both the pace of the songs, and how they’re played on the guitars, and riffs and vocals, make them all really varied I think in a lot of ways. I think if you’re listening to my guitar parts for example, you can tell that there are some different ways of playing. We have some really fast picking, and some heavy, palm muted stuff. Some riffs are high notes too. That’s the best description I can make I guess.”
And as well, the guitarist deemed Aeons Black ‘groovier’ in comparison to May 2010 predecessor Path Of Fire. “Listening to this album you really feel the heaviness and the groove, kind of like when you’re listening to Suffocation I think,” he reckons. “If you put on a record by Suffocation, they also have that really cool groove to their music. It makes you wanna fucking go and beat something (laughs). I think that’s really cool, and we actually managed to make that for this album too. If you listen to our last album, it was all really fast. They were good songs too, but they didn’t have the same grooviness we have on this album I think. Our intention when we started working on that album was to actually make heavier songs, so it’s kind of odd that it ended up like it actually did. The intention was to make a pretty heavy album, but it ended up really fast. It’s kind of odd (laughs).”
The platter’s title cut was described as ‘a somewhat heavier, odder, not-so-typical Aeon song’ by Daniel Dlimi, who wrote the tune. “I can agree with that,” Zeb responds. “Both rhythm guitars are usually exactly the same, but on that song the two guitars are played quite differently. That’s one thing which makes it a little different. Usually we may have some heavy parts in a song and some fast parts too, but that song is really heavy all the way through. It’s really low-tuned, and played really heavily – palm-muted, and really solidly played. It’s a really unique song, different from everything else we’ve ever done.”
On September 5th, 2010 it had been publicly disclosed that drummer Nils Fjellström had parted ways with Aeon, his replacement revealed to be original member Arttu Malkki exactly two months later. “Nils doesn’t want us to talk about why he quit the band (laughs), so I have to respect that,” the axe-slinger cautions. “We started to look for drummers, actually going to see a show by Sanctification. Arttu had just joined them on drums and he played so good, so we thought ‘We’ve really got to try him out for our songs as well.’ We had actually talked about it earlier, so we tried him out and it went really well.
“He’s a really solid player, and a really hard hitter on the drums. Most death metal drummers don’t really hit as hard as he does; he’s really bashing the shit out of the drums, and that’s really cool. He’s really solid; he stays in the right tempo all through. The two bands that he’s been playing with mainly since he quit Aeon in the first place have been using back tracks, so he has been playing to a click all these years and that has certainly made a huge difference I think. He’s really solid in the tempo, and he’s been practising a lot. He’s been playing really well, and we could tell by looking at him at that gig. It was kind of cool to have one of the original members back in the band. It was really cool.”
Early 2010 witnessed the addition of Marcus Edvardsson (Souldrainer / Sanctification), Aeons Black marking his inaugural recording with the Swedes. “At the time we had Victor Brandt on bass, but he became a permanent member of Entombed right at that time,” Zeb explains. “He didn’t really feel like he had the time to be in both Aeon and Entombed, so we actually asked Marcus then because he had made one smaller tour with us when we played with Mayhem from Norway, a black metal band. That’s pretty much how it ended up. He’s a really good bass player, really solid. He plays really cool I think.”
The axeman as well as bandmate Daniel handled bass duties on previous effort Path Of Fire, suggesting bass parts performed on albums three and four might audibly differ. “That’s a tricky one,” he laughs. “I haven’t really thought of that. I think you can definitely hear some differences like on Rise To Dominate where Max was playing bass with his fingers. Marcus is using a pick. On the other hand, when me and Daniel played bass we used a pick too. Actually, Marcus used really thin picks which makes the high end a little more prominent. I guess that’s some difference; if there is some difference between how he played and how me and Daniel played, that’s one of them.”
Vocalist Tommy Dahlström penned lyrics, the lyrics themselves treading familiar paths. “It’s pretty much the same, very anti-religious and very anti-Christian,” Zeb recognises. “That’s what he’s always been singing about, and he keeps on doing that (laughs). I guess they’re all kind of different from each other, but it’s kind of hard for me to actually answer because I’m not really sure what all of them are about. I think he could probably answer that better than me.”
A music video could perhaps be in the pipeline. “We’ve actually been talking about making a video for one of the songs, but we haven’t really agreed on which song,” the guitarist muses. “We will definitely play in it, because I can see a lot of videos where there’s only a story and you don’t see anything from the band. To me it’s more important to see the band play than having a story. If I could choose, I’d like to have both. I want to see the band perform and I want to have a storyline going which of course follows the lyrics, but that’s actually one of the harder things when you have to pick a song for making a video. It has to be a really good song that a lot of people are probably gonna like, but yet it has to have a good theme so you can actually make a good story out of it. We have our ideas of which songs would be good for it, and Tommy is still looking at it because he can be like ‘No, that’s not a good idea. There’s no way you could make a good story out of that.’ The lyrics, that is. We’ll see (laughs). It’s definitely in the plans.”
Veteran artist Kristian Wåhlin – whose curriculum vitae includes artwork commissions for Bathory, At The Gates, Dissection, and Emperor – designed Aeons Black’s cover artwork. “It’s really good,” Zeb enthuses. “We’ve never had a painted cover, because so far we’ve only had covers made using PhotoShop. We really wanted a good looking cover that was painted. For us, it felt natural to ask Kristian to do it because he’s made so many good covers over the years. We sent some mp3s from the pre-production to him for him to listen to. First of all he likes to hear the music in order to decide whether he wants to do it or not, and he really liked the music and he wanted to do it. He said ‘Okay, I can either make a painting for you or you can have this one.’ The one we used he had already painted. It really suited the lyrical theme for that track, and it really looks good. We were kind of surprised that it actually fit so good as it did, because he had already painted it.”
Aeon will tour across the United Kingdom in January 2013. “We think there will be five or six tracks from Aeons Black, but it’s a kind of best of. There are some songs that we always play,” the axe-slinger divulges. “We try to pick songs from every album, and also from the first EP. There are certain tracks that we always play live like Forever Nailed’ (from September 2005’s Bleeding The False). We always try to do ‘Forgiveness Denied’ (Path Of Fire), because we actually made a video for that one. It’s all a really good mixture of new songs, old songs, heavy songs, fast songs, and mid-paced songs. I don’t wanna reveal which songs we’ll play, because we wanna take people by surprise I guess. Some of the songs they can kind of guess, but it’s more fun if they don’t know which songs we’ll be playing.”
Aeons Black was released on November 16th, 2012 in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, on the 19th in the rest of Europe, and subsequently on the 20th in North America, all via Metal Blade Records.
Interview published in November 2012. All promotional photographs by Fredrik Wallin.
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