– Hello, thanks for taking the time. How is everything going right now with ASSASSIN’S BLADE? What’s keeping you busy at the moment?
Hi Tania, thank you very much for this interview. At the moment we are hard at work on new material for a second album. We are also rehearsing and preparing for possible live shows in the near future.
– You have Jacques Bélanger in your line-up, why and how did you decide to have him on board and how did you meet? I guess with Internet nowdays distance isn’t much of an obstacle…
I (Peter Svensson, bass) have known Jacques since 2001 when I started the Exciter website (www.longlivetheloud.com). We have met a couple of times over the years and kept in contact through the internet. David (Stranderud, guitars) and I had some songs written for a previous project which didn’t materialize so in 2014 I contacted Jacques about singing on those songs. When writing the songs we always imagined a vocalist similar to Jacques singing them so it was a dream come true to have the man himself sing them! 🙂
– When it comes to write, is he also part of the songwriting? How is this process in the band like?
David and I put together the basic song ideas/structures and lyrics. Then we work on the drum parts with Marcus (Rosenkvist, drums) and Jacques writes his vocal lines. Sometimes he changes or adds some words in the lyrics. The process is pretty open for everybody’s input.
– First off, after being all of you involved in diffrent musical projects; what prompted you to form ASSASSIN’S BLADE?
The beginning of the band was just to record the songs we had written. Jacques flew to Sweden to record the vocals in my studio. After hanging out for a week we finally decided to form a real band. It has grown and now Assassin’s Blade is the main priority for all of us. The main motivation is to play the form of classic metal that we all love.
– And how did you come up with the name? It’s quite 80’s Metal in the sense it fits your essence perfectly and it’s straight to the point. Was this the kind of name you were looking for?
We didn’t have a name for the band when Jacques was here recording and we couldn’t find a suitable name. I later came up with the name and we decided to go with it. Like you say, it sounds very much 80’s metal and that fits the music quite well I think.
– But on the other hand the cover artwork is really singular in aesthetic still fitting the band’s name. How does it fit the album? And how did you found this piece? Who’s the artist?
The artist is JeanManuel Tumburús and we found the artwork online and purchased the rights to use it. The cover combines both the band name and «Agents of Mystification» as the men in the bottom can be perceived as the «agents».
– Just a few months ago you released your debut album, «Agents of Mystification».What are your feelings on the final result? Does it feel exciting to unleash this first opus unto the world?
I am very happy with the result. The songs and the performance on the record are great and it feels great and a bit unreal to have the record in my hands. When writing the songs, we had a vision of creating an album that we would enjoy listening to ourselves. And I think we achieved that, it sounds like classic heavy metal that I like to listen to at home.
– It came out via Pure Steel Records, which has become basically a seal of quality when it comes to traditional Heavy Metal. How did you hook up with them in the first place? How are things working thus far?
Andreas Lorenz, president of Pure Steel, contacted us on facebock right after we put out the promo tracks. That led to the deal with Pure Steel. The people working there are real fans of heavy metal and that feels pretty important, as opposed to somebody who just wants to make money.
– Every song on the album tells a different story inspired by different things. Would you mind to tell us what some of the tracks on the album deal with and what did influence them?
There are a couple of lyric themes that I really like. The title track «Agents of Mystification» tells the story of an underground society working to hide the truth from mankind. They do this by delibrerately altering texts and information through translations and re-writes. The basic idea was inspired by a section in the book «If on A Winter’s Night A Traveler» by Italo Calvino. The concept is very interesting and it raises the question of how much we can trust the information that is available to us. It quickly turns to a philosphophical question… «Herostratos» is based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s short story «Erstratos» about a man who is willingly to anything for fame and plots to kill several persons to become famous. It is an timeless theme but it seems more relevant that ever in our modern society. «Prophet’s Urn» tells the story of a prophet who foresees the end of the world and decides to take his own life before it happens. «Frosthammer» is a fantasy inspired story of the battle between the heavens and the earth. The celestial realm is represented by Frosthammer who brings snow and ice to the world and his opponent, the Earth, bringing fire from the underground. It can also be interpreted as a battle of ancient nature worship against «newer» religions worshipping celestial beings.»League of the Divine» is based on the Samurai uprising in Japan in 1876. It follows the story in Yukio Mishima’s «Runaway Horses».
– Musically you play traditional Heavy Metal but really diverse; mixing different muc styles, thick bass, a few twin guitar hamonies, different tempos… Is it easy to play a classical style without getting stagnant?
Well, traditional metal is the music that is closest to our hearts and I think that if you feel that you can write or play music that means something to yourself it is still possible to create classic heavy metal without becoming stagnant. We are all huge metal fans and listen to so many different bands and we have no interest in copying any certain band or album. We try hard to keep the music diverse but without sounding like different bands on different songs. It is a bit tricky sometimes but well worth it.
– It’s also an album, in certain occasions and songs, marked by powerful riffs, good guitar harmonies and with nice melodies. Are you happy with the outcome? Is this the album you were hoping to record?
Yes, I am happy with the result. Like I said before, the performance and songs are great and I wouldn’t change a thing. For the next record we will try to aim for a bit more powerful mix, that’s all.
– I noticed a lot of Speed and NWOBHM influences, but also certain Thrash or Power Metal for instance. What could you say have been some of the most influential bands for ASSASSIN’S BLADE?
Between the four of us I think we cover every genre of metal, except nu and rap metal, from 70s progressive to black metal. So we have a massive base of music to be inspired by. It is almost impossible to name any specific bands that influence Assassin’s Blade, but for me I would say bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Exciter, King Diamond and Accept. A lot of times I get inspired by a band that plays a completely different style, like say Uriah Heep, and I get a certain feeling from a song and I want to apply that to our music.
– What links all songs on the album I think is the overall epic touch, that feeling of victory, sterngth and conviction, something that also links all the lyrics. Was this something you wanted your music to convey?
I am glad that you picked up on that. It is not something that we planned or thought about really, I think it more shows our own attitude and philosophy presented in the music/performance/lyrics.
– Do you have any other songs already recorded? Are there any leftovers for a possible full-length album?
There are no songs left over from the «Agents of Mystification» session. Initially we wanted to just have 9-10 songs on the album but we couldn’t choose which ones to leave off so we put everything on it. We are currently working on new songs for a second album and we have 3-4 basic ideas ready.
– All this about «Agents of Mystifcation» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Timeless Heavy Metal. 🙂
– And finally, what are now your near-future plans? What’s in store for ASSASSIN’S BLADE?
We are working on our second album, hopefully out next year! We learned a lot from working on and recording the first album and I am really looking forward to see how the next one will turn out! We are preparing to play some shows, maybe a short tour, with Assassin’s Blade next year. I think playing these songs live will make them sound even better!
– That’s all fro our side thank you so much for answering to our interview. If you now want to add some final words for our readers feel free to do it.
Thank you for well-prepared and relevant questions! I hope the answers give a bit more insight into Assassin’s Blade and I hope anybody interested in heavy/speed metal checks out our album «Agents of Mystification». Cheers!