Darkane is a Swedish techno thrash metal band whose members predictably idle time away in several others bands as well. The band was formed out of the ashes of Agretator and signed with the WAR label in Sweden. The WAR-released debut was licensed by Relapse for America. The band's first appearance outside Europe was at the Milwaukee Metal Fest in 2001 in the USA. 2001 also saw the band record songs for three separate 'tribute' CDs. The band switched from WAR to Nuclear Blast for Expanding Senses. The album was recorded partly at Darkane's home studio and partly at Dug-Out Studio by producer Daniel Bergstrand. The band toured with Meshuggah in the spring of 2003.
Darkane, which was entering the studio in September of 2003 to record its fourth CD, shot a live video for the song Chaos vs. Order from the band's 2002 album Expanding Senses. Regardless, the band postponed entry into the studio because Ideberg underwent surgery for a slipped disc in his back and also because the band wanted to spend more time building its recording studio. In the meanwhile, the band had reissued the Rusted Angel album through Regain Records and did several shows with Death Angel in Europe. It was reported in January, 2004 that drummer Peter Wildoer has suffered a wrist injury, thus forcing the postponement of the band's planned recording sessions for a new album. The band's fourth album, Layers Of Lies, was available in North America on July 12th, 2005. A tour with Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory and others followed. Ideberg temporarily replaced Andreas Holma in Hypocrisy in 2006. Andreas Sydow grew disenchanted with the whole thing and quit in August of 2007. The group picked Jens Broman (Construcdead and The Defaced) as its new singer in November. Former Onward guitarist Toby Knapp was filling in for Darkane's own Klas Ideberg on the second half of the Swedes’ North American tour in support of Soilwork. Wildoer guested on Old Man’s Child 2009 album and auditioed to leave Darkane and join Dream Theater in 2010. The group released a live DVD, Layers Of Live, in July of 2010 through Listenable. It contained a main show stemming from Sweden in 2006 plus older footage. Singer Jens Broman decided to leave Darkane in August of 2011 and was replaced by his predecessor Lawrence Mackrory who sang on the Swedes’ debut album, Rusted Angel. Broman claimed “personal issues” as the reason for his departure. The group would release its next album, The Sinister Supremacy, on June 28th, 2013 through Massacre Records. Lawrence Mackrory was back on vocals.
Crossing of the words 'dark' and 'arcane' derives Darkane’s monicker.
DARKANE - INSANITY - WAR/CENTURY MEDIA
Always beware of bands whose label describes them as 'the future...' These bands are invariably veering away from heavy metal in general and incorporate other inferior styles within their compositions. Sweden's Darkane is a mix of thrash metal, hardcore and mixes in several influences like late Morgoth, Comecon and even some newer names. The opening track is strangely reminiscent of Roth-era Scorpions gone thrash metal. Present are some more HC moments. Then there is the matter of the vocals of Andreas Sydow. They are certainly an acquired taste - and I do mean all two dozens of them. The band goes at things with furious speed and pretty much bashes everything in its path all the time though. Yes, it's a weird case alright. The closest comparison is without a doubt Canada's Strapping Young Lad, a band that has been put to rest, and as such that band's fans might have an alternative at hand. - Ali "The Metallian"
DARKANE - EXPANDING SENSES - NUCLEAR BLAST
Swedish quintet Darkane's third album, and first for Nuclear Blast, shows the band moving further into a sound best described as a cross between fellow-countrymen Meshuggah and Slapdash. Expanding Senses is percussion-heavy thrash metal with versatile vocals. In fact, the vocals and drums clearly dominate the guitar and bass in both mix and purpose with Darkane. Fans of Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad and even earlier Fear Factory will lap this up. Solitary Confinement is Fear Factory vocally, while Submission rings uncannily close to Chuck Billy of Testament. There is light keyboards in the background and the riffs are powerful. Sad then to hear the ambient elements and synthesized samples for when Darkane attempts a lead or melody the band's accomplished ability is unmistakable. Examples are the ending of Violence From Within or the beginning of Submission.
One wonders how much attention Expanding Senses will garner from Nuclear Blast given the coincidence of this release with the latest albums from In Flames and Meshuggah.
DARKANE - LAYERS OF LIES - NUCLEAR BLAST
Darkane is not the most prolific metal band out there, but Layers Of Lies confirms the Swedes as one of the few bands for whose albums fans ought to await with impatience. Comprised of 30% traditional thrash metal, 30% Meshuggah and 40% Strapping Young Lad, the five inorganic metal droids have released a very good product with Layers Of Lies. Most bands prefer to begin their albums with the most explosive riff possible. In contrast, Darkane kicks things off on the first proper song with an almost subdued riff before going ballistic. The hard-hitting riffs, demanding rhythms, breathless vocals and big bass sound take the band to the next brutal level and ensure fans gets everything for which they wished and more. Darkane's sound is of the more unaffected metal variety, but vocal harmonies and even solos have found a place on the new album. Maelstrom Crisis, for example, matches the guitar fury of Arch Enemy. Songs like God Forsaken Universe and Contaminated gush out of the speakers with a huge sound. All is not perfect in Darkane land though. The chorus for the title track is contrived and embarrassing and Vision Of Degradation buries the music to live up to its billing. All in all though Darkane is worth the wait and full of hostile belligerence. Now to what the beelzebub does the intro Amnesia Of The Wildoerian Apocalypse refer? - Ali "The Metallian"
DARKANE - DEMONIC ART - NUCLEAR BLAST
On Demonic Art Darkane has, to some extent, stopped threatening and ended up accomplishing. Unfortunately for the Swedes there is still a good dose of both Meshuggah and Strapping Young Lad plastered all over the band’s latest output. First things first, however. Demonic Art, great title. Demonic Art’s cover artwork, even better. Somehow it would have been better with only one hanging couple, but the artwork is unholy and inspiring all the same. Back to the music and there is so much modern death thrash metal done to perfection that there will be no denying the band’s ability anywhere. It just doesn’t get anymore precise or tight. Unfortunately, the first riff off the first proper track, Leaving Existence, is pure Meshuggah. This soon gives way to plenty of SYL-ish chanting and vocalizing. Nevertheless, as prevalent as all that the band has honed the delivery to perfection and throws in enough quality sonic violence to justify three albums. Each member is in top form, which in conjunction with the producer manages an unsullied release of energy. New singer Jens Broman fits like a glove. The lead guitars are fantastic. Examples? The title track or Execution 44. Towards the end of the album Wrong Grave (!!) provides a quick deliberate relief before the album plunges the listener into Still In Progress (wrongly printed as Stained Humanity) the absolute blitzkrieg speedy highlight of the album. Not one iota of the group’s tightness is lost within the speed fest. The last song, Wrath Connection, is another winner. Seriously. Impressive. - Ali “The Metallian”
It is time for Expanding Senses. That is, Nuclear Blast Records is releasing the third album of the Swedes, the follow-up to 1998's Rusted Angel and 2001's Insanity, on October first. With many changes in Darkane's approach and delivery and now on a bigger label, Ali "The Metallian" is pleased to speak with guitarist Christofer Malmstrom when the Swede telephones to promote the current release - 10.09.2002
'I found the band along with Peter Wildoer the drummer,' Chris kicks off our chat. He sounds enthusiastic and eager to talk.'Our name is a mix between dark and arcane. At first we wanted to call ourselves arcane, but we found out that another band had that name. There are more bands in the world than cool words in the English language so we put two words together.
'Neurotic is my solo project, but it is not really a band that exists! I am still writing music for that and once I have written the songs I will record them. I haven't found the musicians yet, so it's not an existing band. Agretator is a band that I, Peter and our bassist Joergen Loefberg had for seven years. Before that we had another band called Zaninez. It was I and Peter and was an eighties-influenced band like Helloween from the late eighties. We were 14-15 years old and we could barely play our instruments. It's the first band and it sounds like shit. With Zaninez we just did a demo and it sounds terrible, but Agretator had a German record deal ten years ago and recorded a full-length album in 1993. It was released in Germany in 1994 and sounded like Pantera with death metal vocals. In-line Music/Crypta then went bankrupt and disappeared so we did a self-financed MCD called Distorted Logic which was never released because the production was so poor. It's quite fun music to listen to because it's quite technical. We tried to do a mix between Meshuggah and Cynic, but it sounded very thin. That band dissolved in 1997 because Peter and I thought it's time for a change. It was a good lesson for us. We had paid a lot of money to do that album and we got nothing out of it. In-line ripped off many bands.
This sadly is a common theme between bands and labels. Speaking of labels, the guitarist explains the circumstances surrounding the consistent label changes. 'With our first album, Rusted Angel, we were on WAR Music. The second album, Insanity, was licensed to Century Media by WAR Music. Now we have our own record company and Nuclear Blast has licensed the album from us! So there actually have been two record companies involved namely WAR Music and ourselves. We are satisfied to be on Nuclear Blast. They are a big record label and do a lot of promotion.
We get more money with the new arrangement. We don't have to share it with a record label. It also gives us more control.'
What about the timing of the release of Expanding Senses on Nuclear Blast? The label has just released priority albums by Meshuggah and In Flames. 'I would say that you are right, of course,'murmurs the guitarist quickly enough to indicate he has thought of the point. 'That is right. We used white clothing on this album and so did In Flames. You know we took those pictures in March with those clothes on and now I hear that In Flames is touring with Slayer wearing white clothes! I have already seen reaction on our web site where people ask, 'why do you do like In Flames?' We came up with it on our own and, I guess, In Flames came up with it by themselves so it's just a tragic coincidence.
'But of course it's not good that they are released at the same time, but there are always bigger bands that will release their albums. The timing could have been better, but that is the situation and we have to work from this point and try to make the best out of it.'
Seeing how Malmstrom is pensive, it would be interesting to know his opinion of the new In Flames album. 'I have only heard a little bit of it. I haven't heard the whole album, but I have never honestly been an In Flames fan. I am more into brutal metal that is fast and aggressive. In Flames has never appealed to me. Meshuggah, on the other hand, is a great band, but I haven't heard their new album that much either. I have heard a few songs and it was a bit too slow.
Darkane, coincidentally, recorded Expanding Senses almost simultaneously to the aforementioned bands. 'Well, we recorded the drums at Dug Out Studio in February. That took a week and then In Flames entered the studio to record their album for six weeks. While they were doing that we were home at our rehearsal studio, we have built a studio and recorded the guitars and the bass there for six weeks. When In Flames was done we went back to record the vocals and do the mixing. When we left the studio, then Meshuggah entered.
'Now the new The Defaced (The Defaced features Darkane bassist Joergen Loefberg and second guitarist Klas Ideberg) is being recorded at our rehearsal studio. We record on a hard drive and use a computer. So we can not mix at our studio. It's a perfect studio for bass and guitars only.'
In recording Expanding Senses, the band's goal was to not repeat the resulting sound of Insanity. Chris takes up the story. 'Since we heard Insanity we thought that it should not sound like that. That sound is very cold and it's not groovy or aggressive; it's sterile and very technical I think.
'We wanted an album which had a 'fat' sound. We wanted it to groove and be very aggressive. We also wanted it to be very melodic. We told ourselves that we shouldn't be afraid of doing more melodic stuff as long as it's still aggressive. That is what we tried to do on Expanding Senses.'
Why did you return to Dug Out Studio if you were unhappy with the resulting sound on Insanity? 'We knew that Daniel Bergstrand, the producer, could do much better because we had many problems when we recorded Insanity. The equipment started to burn, the floor was flooded with water and in the end lightning struck the building and crashed the equipment! That was 'insanity.'
'Daniel had also asked us to give him one more chance. He had told us that he could do better and we knew that he could because we liked what he had done with Strapping Young Lad and Meshuggah. He also has many good ideas when it comes to vocals. We tried him once more and this time I am very satisfied. I would like the guitars a little bit louder, but it's too late now.'
The sound is not the only thing different on the new album. Darkane has transitioned from a thrash metal act to a more groove-oriented act. Chris seems disinclined to agree. 'Well... I don't know. I think it's quite thrashy also. There are quite a lot of thrash metal riffs I would say. We don't want to sound exactly like the old thrash metal bands. We want to do something new also and I think we have combined those elements like thrash and groove and melody and aggressiveness to make our sound. I don't know of any other bands that sound like us. When I write a guitar riff I may have listened to Death and might say that I will do something like that, and later I might listen to Meshuggah and might want to do something like that!'
Remaining with the theme, has the guitarist noticed how the light-coloured, white cover art resembles that of a number of other recent Scandinavian release, namely Soilwork, In Flames and Susperia. He has. 'I think all of us have had the same idea. There are too many dark and black covers and we want to make something special. We have been asked this before. People ask if this is a new trend. Maybe it is, but it's not because we take it from each other. We have been discussing for over a year that we want this type of a cover.
'Yes, In Flames and Soilwork did it also, but what can you say? This is a stupid coincidence. Some people start to immediately think that it's the new trend, but it doesn't matter really because we did what we wanted to do and most albums use dark covers. I think one should be open-minded to other colours.'
As for the concept, 'it's like a horror story,' speaks the guitarist. 'We love horror. We see it as a method of torture. It's also a nightmare that Peter has had for years. He has been talking about it since 1995. He wondered what it would be like if people were standing with their heads in the wall and their eyes, ears and noses buried in the wall. Then the mouth is free to eat and breathe so they can stay alive. What are they thinking when they stand like that. Which senses will they expand? That is one aspect of it. The other is that we want to expand the listeners' sense. It might be a cliche, but it has two different meanings.
'In the booklet there are more pictures with people in different positions with their heads buried in the walls. It's like an insane man has a cellar with people in different rooms and he keeps them alive like this. It's a horror story. The band is the people who keeps these people alive! You can see the band on the cover in the background.'
Darkane also sports a new logo, one which flanks a bar code. 'The cover was done by the artist (Thomas Ewerhard) who did Insanity's cover,' says Chris. 'He sent us a version with the old logo, but neither of us liked it because it did not fit. He also had a version with a new and more modern logo. The bar code you see is actually the bar code for the album - so we can't use it again. That's very cool I think. We don't know if we will keep the logo. We may go back to the other one. That may be stupid because we should keep a logo, but Darkane is an open-minded band.'
The next reversal is actually a case of more of the same. The song Chaos Vs Order features the band's original singer Lawrence Mackrory.'This is our way of saying that there is no hard feeling between the old and new vocalist Andreas Sydow. Lawrence lives in the same town as where Dug Out Studio is located. We live seven hours away. Lawrence called and asked how we are doing and we asked him to come into the studio. We also had the Meshuggah guitarist guesting on Insanity. I have done guests solos on other albums so we thought it would be cool. People always debate who the better singer is and we thought we should bring them together. It makes the situation a little less dramatic. He enjoyed the song. He was not fired in the first place. He quit Darkane because he wanted to concentrate on his own band Forcefeed which is now called Seethings.'
Next up for the band is a tour of Poland with Behemoth, as well as confirmed shows in the The Netherlands, UK and Japan. The band is in discussions for a North American tour for early 2003. Darkane has shot a video for the song Innocence Gone revolving around the theme of incest. The video has already been accepted by a Swedish TV channel and can also be seen on the band's web site at www.darkane.com.