Blood Empire Interview
Swedish death metal band Blood Empire’s noise mongering may have been born in Gävle, the oldest historical city in Sweden’s Northern Lands – a city which gained its status in 1446 and is now the nation’s 13th most populated city – but they have close ties to our city. With their manager, the young Victoria Whiting being one of our own, the band head to The Star And Garter, December 5th to kick off their forthcoming UK Tour in support of their debut album, Sermons of Suffering. It’s a record they are currently putting the finishing touches on in anticipation of showing the world just what they can do. So we sat down with the band - guitarist Alexander Nylander, vocalist Eric Lindh, bassist Mattias Nojd and drummer Mattias Gunnarsson – to learn a little more about the band.
So first of all, for those who haven’t heard of you, who are Blood Empire and what are you all about? Alexander: We’re a death metal band from the middle of Sweden, who mix our influences with black metal and a wee bit of thrash Eric: As a band we want to create a unique sound by taking influence from other styles of extreme metal, not just death metal. Gunnarsson: Well we like to create music, heavy and brutal fucking music. But sometimes we have a little more of a ‘depressive’ sound, but I think that’s okay. We like to play what we feel to be right, for example if a new song is more of a so called ‘thrash metal song’ we will play it, but we will do it in our own way, with our own terms. But for the most part we play heavy music. Mattias: Blood Empire is a huge part of my life and what I spend most of my time on!
Could you please talk us through a brief history of the band: When did you guys meet and when did you form the band etc.?
Gunnarsson: Well I met Mattias on a social media site a while ago, but he asked me about two years ago would I be interested in playing drums for his new band. At the time I was attending an art school in the same town where he held the rehearsals, so I thought why not. Back then we played a different kind of metal, with a different line up, and we went through all sorts of music. Eric joined us about six months ago, but we knew something was still missing. It didn’t feel like anything was happening until Alex came through our rehearsal door and it just fucking clicked between us. That was the start of a new era, and that was only about four months ago! Eric: I joined the band last Autumn, I had never been in a band before and I thought it seemed fun. Alexander: I had only met Eric and Matt before, and I had heard from Eric that they were searching for a guitarist so I tried it out, and it was an instant match!
When I was applying for a job once I was asked, if your character/personality was an animal, what would it be and why? So in terms of the band’s sound and approach to making music, what animal best personifies you?
Alexander: The wolf perhaps. Comes in a pack and hunts on instinct! Eric: Always a Proboscis monkey! But seriously though, probably a bear... I like to sleep! Mattias: I would say a chameleon, I’m slow but cool! Gunnarsson: Hmm... That’s a tricky one, but I suppose I would be a big bear! Big and fluffy, friendly and cuddly, but don’t ever corner me because then I will get aggressive and I’m a little territorial. So don’t come and piss in my woods, and if you touch my woman I’d rip you to pieces!
Behemoth, who you have stated as a big influence on your Facebook, released The Satanist to massive critical acclaim last year, perhaps reaching a bigger audience that anticipated. Do you think the success of that album can help broaden the appeal of death metal as a genre on the whole?
Alexander: I think Negral always anticipates a large crowd, and his ambition is truly inspiring. I think it can be a healthy push for the genre to start breaking bonds. It feels like that album packs a lot of the power that Behemoth produce live. Eric: The Satanist has a great variety of influences in its core. The style is broad enough to attract both old and new fans which broadens the demographic for the band as well as the genre.
From the outside, it seems that Sweden and Scandinavia on the whole has a great metal scene. So what’s it like living in Gävle as a metal fan, is there a lot of interest and support in metal music there?
Eric: Gavle is one of Sweden’s most predominant cities in the hardcore/punk scene. Of course there is a metal presence in the city due to the Getaway Rock Festival, but hardcore and punk is much bigger on a local scale. Alexander: Yeah, it has some interest with Getaway Rock Festival and all but metal wise it’s pretty poor! Mattias: I’d say both yes and no. There is a steady core of metal fans; but I wish there were more. I don’t really think that the metal fans here give the bands here the proper support that is needed, but that’s just my thoughts.
You’re heading down to the UK very soon, with the first date in Manchester, is this your first time playing in the UK?
Eric: I have never been in the UK before so this will be a first time for me! Mattias: I have never been to the UK either so this will also be a first for me but I’m really looking forward to it! Alexander: I have been to London twice, but this will be my first time playing Manchester and outside of Sweden. Gunnarsson: Yes, this is my first time travelling to the UK; and it’s extremely exciting. I can’t wait until I get to play my first live show in a new country!
What are your feelings towards the show right now, are you nervous and/or excited?
Alexander: I’m excited as hell. Eric: I’m really excited! I have been pumped to play live ever since the first show. Mattias: I’m just excited! It will be one hell of a night! We will play a bunch of epic songs and we have invited two other very nice bands to warm up the stage and audience for us!
What can we expect from your show?
Eric: You can expect a lot of energy and head banging! Even though my back is destroyed, I will try my best! Mattias: Yes! We have a lot of energy! Both in our rehearsals and at our last gig, and I can only say that it will be more this time!
Alright guys, we’ll end on a bit of a fun one. All of you pick a musician who plays the same instrument as you, someone who admire and say why you chose them. Let’s see what ‘supergroup’ get created.
Mattias: Hmmm... Which one do I pick?! I will say Tomasz ‘Orion’ Wroblewski. I take loads of inspiration from that guy! Gunnarsson: That’s a hard one, I have so many people I look up to! I’d have to say Vinnie Paul, he is well known for playing the drums in Pantera, Hellyeah and Damageplan. I enjoy his type of playing and that he could put whatever beat he felt like playing in a song, even if you don’t usually put a so called ‘jazz beat’ in a metal song; he did it anyway. He is also well known as a ‘groove metal drummer’ Alexander: So many options. Okay… I will say Mikael Akerfeldt, that guy plays some mean guitar! Eric: I would say that when it comes to a growling technique I am always fascinated by Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation. Some of the sounds he makes are ridiculous! Alexander: Wait! I changed my mind! It has to be Tobias Forge, the best riff maker. Mattias: Tobias Forge, Mikael Akerfeldt and Orion… CHAOS… oh and Travis and Vinnie of course! Alexander: I don’t know what to say… Gunnarsson: I think this would make an interesting line up. Eric: I see a massive fight incoming as Forge mainly writes his own stuff!
Well, that’s an interesting image to end on. Check out Blood Empire on Facebook and get yourselves to The Star And Garter, December 5th and support an awesome new band.
Words & Inteview: Phil Weller