DARKANE – Impetuous Ways

February 19, 2009, 9 years ago

hot flashes news darkane

By Aaron Small

Swedish melodic thrashers Darkane are back with their fifth album—the first to feature new vocalist Jens Broman—entitled Demonic Art. Those who closely follow Darkane’s career will already be familiar with Broman, as he fronts guitarist Klas Ideberg’s side project, The Defaced. Jens can also be found singing in Construcdead.

While Darkane prepared for their North American tour as direct support to Soilwork, along with Warbringer and Swallow The Sun, guitarist Christofer Malmstrom gave BW&BK; the lowdown. “Andreas (Sydow, former vocalist) left Darkane because he realized that we put more time into Darkane than he could. He felt it would be better if he stepped aside for another vocalist who had more time to focus on Darkane. It was sad, but at the same time we saw it as a challenge to try something new. Try a new vocalist who can take us to another level. Jens came to mind almost immediately because we knew what he could do. So we asked him and he joined us right away. We’re very happy about that. Jens was like a Darkane dude from the beginning. He has the same mentality we have; he likes to laugh and have a good time, but it’s very important to focus on our performance—both when it comes to recording albums and playing live. You need to know the whole set in your spine, so to speak.”

Jens is actually the third Darkane vocalist. Lawrence Mackroy sang on the band’s debut Rusted Angel, only to be replaced by the aforementioned Andreas on the Insanity, Expanding Senses and Layers Of Lies albums. “It’s not good to have new vocalists all the time,” admits Christofer. “It’s not what we wanted to do, but this is the way it turned out, so what can we do? We wanted to continue to play. We feel like we have a lot to give. That was the only option, to find a new vocalist. We knew Jens was very good. We were never afraid that it would go wrong.”

Recorded over five months (two longer than originally planned) at Not Quite Studio in Helsingborg, Sweden, Demonic Art seems to be a do it yourself disc as Darkane self-produced and self-mixed the album. The only outside help came in the form of their engineer, Matthias Klauser. “Matthias is an old student of Peter (Wildoer, drums). He’s in recording education now, so it was like his practice—when you go to school and work while you’re still in school. He was in school for two days a week and with us for three days a week. He was with us when we recorded, to learn the whole process, but he was very good at it so I don’t think he learned much. He already knew it. It’s a Darkane album in the means that we recorded, mixed and did everything ourselves. Since we can, we do it. We did that with Layers Of Lies also. It’s fun to do it totally yourself.”

A lot of bands place so much emphasis on finding the right producer who will give them the perfect sound, but Darkane is more than capable of handling such matters themselves. “That’s a matter of taste of course. But we know what we want. So far we are satisfied, but I think it would be good to have a producer from the outside who could lead us in a better direction. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to use a producer? We’re looking at it from the inside. We wrote the songs and then we produced them. It would have been good to have someone else take a look, but for now this is what we did. Maybe in the future we’ll use a producer? I don’t know.”

The title Demonic Art is also the name of the third song on the CD and as Christofer explains, ties in with the artwork, created by Fredrik Odman. “I think the title fits the cover art very well. It’s like a demon that flew up to heaven and went berserk with the angels—ripped their wings out and shaved their heads. It’s his way of creating art.”

Demonic Art features two instrumentals: the opening intro ‘Variations Of An Eyecrush’ and ‘Wrong Grave’ in the back half of the album. “Well, ‘Wrong Grave’ could have been built up into a full song,” admits Christofer. “But it goes right into the next track, ‘Still In Progress.’ It’s like an intro to that song. I couldn’t come up with any more when I wrote it (laughs). So I thought it was good that way. With ‘Variations Of An Eyecrush’, we want to use that as our live intro as well. We wanted to create the intro ourselves because 20 years ago, everybody—even Ozzy Osbourne—used Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana.’ We thought it would be much cooler to write our own intros.”

Darkane’s songwriting is rather intriguing as there isn’t one definitive lyricist or music writer; the duties are shared. However, the only collaboration comes in the form of “Leaving Existence” with Christofer and Peter working together on the music. Everything else is an individual, isolated effort. “When we wrote Rusted Angel, Peter and I wrote the whole album together. That’s how we wanted to continue, but we moved away from each other. It takes almost 50 minutes to drive to each other’s house. So we can’t meet up that often anymore. ‘Leaving Existence’ was the first song Peter and I wrote when we met up in the studio. We were supposed to continue to write songs together but, when I prepared for writing riffs and stuff, I ended up putting together whole songs at my house. Peter wrote one song at his house and Klas wrote a few. So the songs were ready before we got together. I hope that on the next album, Peter and I will get together and write music as we did before. I think it turns out better that way.”

Due to the fact that Demonic Art was initially released in Europe in October 2008, North American fans have been compensated for the wait in the form of a “heavy, fast and cool” bonus track, ‘Reborn In Greed’, as well as a bonus DVD. The bonus DVD features six components: Studio Diaries, Recording of the Intro, Live Clips from Chicago Powerfest, Video for ‘Layers Of Lies’, Trailer for upcoming Darkane DVD and Trailer for Seven Deadly Pieces documentary—an avant-garde orchestral metal show featuring Christofer and Peter, helmed by composer Lalle Larsson, who also appeared on Christofer’s solo album, Non-Human Level. “The intro shows the strings and horns. It’s interesting to watch it come together with every instrument fitting into place. Also our trip to Chicago shows us fooling around in the city and one song from the show.”

May 2009 has been touted as the release date for Darkane’s Layers Of Live DVD. “I see no reason it should take any longer. Nuclear Blast America is very interested in releasing it. It was Nuclear Blast in Europe that wanted to wait until after Demonic Art was released. We had a few years break (Layers Of Lies was issued in 2005). They didn’t want us to start up with a live DVD. They wanted us to come back with a bang with a new album. So that’s why we had to wait. I hope it will be May, but it’s not really decided yet.”

Christofer has been quoted as saying, “We all consider ourselves musicians rather than poets, so we put more effort into writing quality music.” He elaborates upon the lyrical challenges facing Darkane. “Yeah, it doesn’t come naturally for us (chuckles). It’s not like we can sit and open our minds and have it floating out of our heads. I can write maybe four lines in one evening. I struggle a lot to get lyrics together. I think that’s the same for all of us.”

Given that, books seem to fuel the creative fire. For example, a Dean Koontz novel, The Face Of Fear, inspired ‘Wrath Connection’. “Exactly. I’ve read a lot of his books. It’s about one normal guy and one serial killer and they can see each other’s visions. The normal guy has a girlfriend and the serial killer sees that girlfriend through his eyes and he wants to kill her. The normal guy sees that the serial killer wants to murder his girlfriend. It’s a pretty cool story.”

Similarly, ‘Execution 44’ is basically centered on the concentration camps of World War II. “Yes, I had read a book about that. It’s been done before, but I felt I wanted to do it also.”

The lyric that sticks out the most on Demonic Art comes from the song ‘Still In Progress’. When Jens sings, “Life’s too short to walk around pissed,” you can’t help but take notice. “We had that on our video diary and people started to comment, saying it was the worst line they’ve ever heard. That’s exactly what it’s about. People care too much about stupid stuff. Actually it’s a quote from American History X with Edward Norton. That’s one of the last sentences in that movie—‘life’s too short to walk around pissed.’ Even though I’m a metal head and our music is based on hate from the beginning, I still think there’s so much other stuff in life. You can listen to metal and get rid of all this and then feel happy. That’s what I want to do. It’s important to be happy.”

In closing, Christofer discussed the lone track that didn’t make the album. “We recorded one more song called ‘In The Absence Of Pain.’ It was in the vein of ‘Innocence Gone’, the first song on the Expanding Senses album. I had written it but when Jens sang it, we didn’t feel that it was good enough. We felt we could do it so much better, so we saved it for the next album. The song itself is quite cool, but we had to work on the vocals and we didn’t have time. Also, the album is long enough as it is now. I don’t think an album should be too long. All the masterpieces are very short—Reign In Blood (by Slayer) is 36 or 37 minutes. I think the ideal length of an album is 42 or 43 minutes. Then your head will be full of metal riffs. You can’t listen to more than that at a time, at least I can’t. You want to leave the listener hungry for more.”



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