– Hello, lots of thanks for answering our interview. How is everything going into the DIABOLICAL’s camp right now?
Things are great. We just played a festival here in Sweden, Storsjöyran. And in a few weeks we play another festival in Italy named MAV. Other than that we are of course working hard on preparing for the release of “Neogenesis” which is on September 27th.
– You have just released «Neogenesis», your new album, even though is not at all just an album. Anyway, how is its feedback being so far?
Feedback so far has been nothing short of amazing. It seems like the hard work we’ve put into this album has paid off and the result is something that people recognize as something special.
– This album is actually a book, a mini novel which each chapter is linked to a song on the album. How did everything arise? What did come first, the music or the novel? I guess the creation of this new release differed a bit compared to the previous ones.
It was a different process indeed. We had to think of how the music, lyrics and novel should fit together chapter by chapter, or song by song. In some cases the music was one step ahead of the writing of the novel and I had to write parts of the novel to fit with the music and in some cases an already written part of the novel
came to mind as a new song started to take shape. It was actually down to individual riffs like “Hmm, this riff sounds like this part of the novel.”
– And how did you come up with the concept? As the whole history happens in an post-apocalyptic environment.
The actual concept of combining an album with a novel is an idea I’ve had for many years and I’m not talking about making a concept album about an already existing novel, that’s been done over and over again. What we’ve done is actually writing music and a novel simultaneously and I’m really pleased that we actually went ahead and did it. The content of the novel is something that emerged gradually in my mind. Many parts of the music and the book came to me in dreams and much of the symbolism of the artwork came to me during meditation. The whole process is kind of dim to me now that I look back at it. I felt many times that I was guided by some outer force that suggested things to my subconscious and I was many times surprised by the material I produced: “Did I really write this? Did I come up with this piece of music? Where did that come from?”
– The novel deals with the struggle of a man that survived the world’s end, specially focusing on its spiritual strugglings. I personally see it as a metaphor about how do humans struggle in our current world, our daily struggles. Was this something you also wanted to convey?
You are touching the right subjects, yes. The way I see it we are indeed facing the end of the world. Because of the society and the world we have created for ourselves during the past few hundred years we will inevitably erase ourselves from the face of this planet. I believe the final failure of humanity is imminent. This is a very large and complex issue but the origin of all the suffering we witness in the world today originates from one single small thing – ourselves and our minds. For most of us it is not even a struggle, we are walking this earth in our mortal bodies totally oblivious to our essence, to our core and our potential. This has created a very dark world where superficial values and suffering prevails. If we want mankind to keep on existing in our current mortal incarnation then we have a real challenge ahead of us that we haven’t even started to deal with or even comprehend. Saving endangered species or fighting poverty is not the answer (even if those are good causes indeed). The answer lies within the individual. It is what we find deep within ourselves if we look, what we produce with our thoughts and what we thereby bring into physical existence that determines the shape and qualities of the world. Most of us fail to even take a glimpse into our innermost self, and therefore most of us spend our time with utterly meaningless ventures.
– I have also found on the novel what I consider small glimpses of light, it specially stuck with me this thing the wanderer said: «Times does not stop, the earth continues its path even if the bones of men lie scattered in the ashes. It is now time for him to write a new story to live by». Are there really glimpses of light and hope or is it just my interpretation? Do you wanted to let things open for the reader/listener to interpret?
Interpretation is essential. I don’t want to give all the answers. I don’t even have all the answers myself. The reader should contemplate and reflect, and ideally that should have consequences. One of the worst things I know is if a book, a piece of music or film or whatever piece of art is looked upon and the spectator walks away with a shrug and a comment like “nice!” and then carries on his or her life and everything remains the same. If the art contains a message (which is sadly not the case in most cases) then the message should be reflected upon and if the message has some importance then the recipient should act on it. Failing to produce art without a message or failing to act on art with a valuable message is a waste of time and effort and a complete failure.
– Musically «Neogenesis» is a step foward in all ways, from diversity, to songwriting or music skills. Did you consciously wanted to top over «The Gallery of Bleeding Art»?
We always want to top over ourselves! Moving forward and upward is essential. Keep in mind also that “The Gallery of Bleeding Art” was written and performed by a
different line-up and naturally it sounds different. What we have today with “Neogenesis” is a different beast even if me and Sverker remain from the previous incarnation of Diabolical. The song-writing process for “Neogenesis” started several years ago when we established the current line-up and by now I believe we have formed ways of working that will allow us to both work faster and produce higher quality going forward.
– And is the aforementioned diversity something you strive for?
I think it comes natural when we are several members in the band contributing to the song material. All of us are also much into music that keeps the listener on the toes, and I think the music we make reflects that. Personally I want to challenge both myself as a musician when I write music, and I also want to challenge the listener. If I listen to an album and my thoughts starts to trail away while I’m listening then the musicians who wrote that album have failed in my eyes. To me, music should always be interesting, challenging and turn in another direction at the right moments to keep the listener interested.
– Elements as female vocals I believe give the album a more theatrical and dramatical feeling to the album, always fitting the main theme covered on it. Is it easy to express with your music the ideas behind the lyrics?
It’s actually not just female vocals you hear on the album. It’s a full choir with both several females and men. When we decided to introduce a choir to this album we realised that, like you say, the feeling would probably come out as more dramatic and I think that fits with the concept of the album. It was Pär, our drummer who first suggested that we should use choirs for the intro of the album. We have a tradition of always making an intro based on the outro from the previous album so what you hear in the intro of the opening track of “Neogenesis”, named “Into Oblivion”, is actually a version of the last riff from “The Gallery of Bleeding Art”. Anyway, that idea evolved into having choirs in a lot of places on the album. I can’t really say that we chose choir parts to emphasize certain parts of the lyrics, they were more used to emphasize certain parts of the music. On the other hand I wrote lyrics solely in latin for the choir parts, and the curious listener might find some interesting hints to the message of “Neogenesis” in them. They are both written in correct latin and sung with correct pronunciation. We were very careful with that and involved an expert on the subject named Kola Krauze to make sure we got it right.
– Besides the female vocals you have had some other various «collaborators». For instance you’ve had a choir, a quartet string… Would you mind to elaborate a bit on who where some of the musicians that appeared on the album and why did you think you needed them?
Once we decided the choir should be on the album, we brought a string quartet as well. We had one already on “The Gallery of Bleeding Art” and we really liked how that turned out so this is just a natural continuation of that. Even if there are more strings on “Neogenesis” compared to “The Gallery…” we took careful steps to keep the strings and the choirs at a moderate level so they wouldn’t dominate the sound. We play guitar based music and the riff is the one thing that should be central, even if it’s very tempting to let the grandeur of a full choir and orchestra play a more central part. When it comes to individual guest performances we invited Fredrik Klingwall, a synthesizer virtuoso from Loch Vostok to add some layers to the closing track “Humanitas”. We have worked with him before and I felt that something was missing from “Humanitas” when I was working on it so we contacted him. He knew what the missing parts were and lifted that song to a new level. I also talked to Ralph Santolla (who has played with numerous bands over the years including Death, Deicide and Obituary) who became a friend of mine while he lived in Stockholm and he offered to play a guitar solo, which I gladly accepted. On a personal level his performance fitted very well with the theme of the song and chapter he played on, so I’m very pleased with the outcome.
– The novel comes with some illustrations. Once more you did the cover artwork but, did you also take care of these illustrations?
No, I did everything with the artwork except for the illustrations. Emil Maxén, a really talented guy from Diabolical’s city of origin Sundsvall made the illustrations. From the beginning I wanted someone else to handle the entire artwork as well but in the end we couldn’t find someone suitable. I wanted to focus on the music, the novel and the recording but in the end I just had to dig in and do the artwork as well. In the end I think it was the right choice.
– Now that I’ve mentioned the artwork, what does the cover artwork represent and how did you work on it? It has some symbolism so, why are these symbols significant for DIABOLICAL or for the album?
The cover artwork is a mix of photography, painting and digital painting. I started out with combing photos of all band members into one face. Pär, our drummer, made a painting of the face which I mixed into the “photo face” to give it a bit more painted feel. After that I made the golden patterns and symbols. Most of the symbols came to me during meditation and everything you see in the artwork and in the book is connected to the “Neogenesis” concept, has a meaning and can be interpreted. I don’t want to tell you all about it, since that would spoil your personal discovery of their meaning.
– Once more Sverker took production duties at his Necromorbus studios. What are the pros and cons of having an own band member doing so?
There are certainly more pros than cons. We can spend a lot more time than most bands in the studio and work on our music until we are a hundred percent satisfied with what we’ve created. With “Neogenesis”, we are the the band that have spent the most time on an album in Necromorbus Studio, surpassing Watain when they recorded “The Wild Hunt”. I think they spent 120 days. I’m not sure how much time we spent but it’s a lot more. Although the lack of a deadline also means that we take the time we need and people have to wait for our new material to be released. Nowadays there is a demand for everything to happen right now and if a band doesn’t deliver a new album every other year it’s hard to make yourself heard. So the only con I can think of is that (paradoxically) because we take our time to make really good music we might lose some potential growth of the band because we don’t release new material often enough. However, when we do release something you can be damn sure that we release top quality stuff.
– You have already published a video for «Into Oblivion». First off I would like to know why did you pick that song, but I would also like to know who did it and if you gave him/her any guidelines, as the aesthetic looks similar to the illustrations on the novel.
“Into Oblivion” is the opening track of “Neogenesis” and when I heard Tobias’ first demo of it I immediately thought “Yes! Here’s our opening track!” and it was a natural choice for us to release this as a first single and lyric video. The lyric video is created by a Russian video artist named Sovka Ivanov. I contacted him because I had seen some of his previous work and was really impressed. Once he agreed to do the video I just handed him all the artwork, including the illustrations, and gave him free hands to do whatever he wanted. The result was way beyond my expectations. He made 3D animations based on the 2D images I sent and we were really impressed with what he did.
– On my review I described this release as a true work of art, as you have managed to mix different artistic disciplines but, what is this «album» to you?
To me personally it is proof of that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to. I didn’t want to write a novel to begin with, but I couldn’t find anyone else to do it so I went ahead and learned how to write. And musically it has been a long journey that I have finally brought into existence together with my fellow band mates. But to us it feels more like a beginning than anything else. We have only scratched the surface of our musical capabilities with “Neogenesis” and we’re very eager to see what lies ahead of us.
– All this about «Neogenesis» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Something very special.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans?
We will release a video for the song “Metamorphosis” together with a digital single and then another video and single for “Oracle”. The album will be released on the 27th of September and we’ll be working hard to make people aware of it, because this album deserves to be listened to.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Listen to “Neogenesis” – you won’t be disappointed. The album and the book can be pre-ordered at diabolical.se/neogenesis where you’ll also find info, videos and more about the album. Also find us on Facebook at facebook.com/diabolicalofficial.