Bitterness - 1994 - Metal Blade
Swallow The Snake - 1995 - Metal Blade
Counting Our Scars - 2010 - Pulverised
S= Flotzilla>>KLAS MORBERG
G= Stefan Poge - KLAS MORBERG - HAKAN MORBERG
B= Hakan Morberg - Unanimated, Zebulon>>JOHAN BOHLIN
D= Last Tale>>THOMAS JOHANSON
Desultory was formed in 1989 in the Stockholm suburb of Ronninge, recorded the From Beyond tape in 1990 and recorded the Death Unfolds demo at Sunlight Studio in 1991. A later tape called Visions was added to Death Unfolds and released as a cassette album by House Of Kicks and also in Poland where the band played live. In 1992 bassist Jens Almgren was replaced by Morberg. In the meanwhile, the band was playing with the likes of Carcass, Tribulation, Therion, Shud and Merciless. The band befriended Dismember who tried to get the band signed to Nuclear Blast - Matti Karki later guested on the band's debut. The band was signed to Metal Blade for three albums by then A&R Barbieri. The band supported Bitterness via a number of Festival shows with bands like Cannibal Corpse. With the departure of death metal fan Poge, Swallow The Snake – mixed by Fred Estby at Sunlight - was a much more commercial affair (aimed at White Zombie fans) that killed the band's career. A follow-up band called Zebullon was reportedly unlike anything Desultory meant.
The Desultory ones reunited after a 13-year absence and signed a deal with Pulverised Records in 2009. Former bassist Håkan Morberg was now on lead guitar, while Johan Bohlin of Zebulon and Unanimated was the band’s bassist. Desultory completed work on its reformation album, Counting Our Scars. The full-length - the first since 1996's Swallow The Snake - was recorded, mixed and mastered by Tore Stjerna at Necromorbus Studio in Alvik, Sweden. Song titles included: Counting Our Scars, In A Cage, Ready To Bleed, This Broken Halo and Uneven Numbers. The reunited Swedish death metal band would reissue its Into Eternity and Bitterness full-lengths through Singapore's Pulverised Records. The albums were initially released through Metal Blade Records in 1993 and 1994 respectively. The albums were re-mastered by producer Dan Swanö at Unisound Studio in Sweden. The band’s demos were included as bonus tracks.
While being one of the harder working bands of this profile in the Swedish scene, Desultory has in fact gone largely unnoticed. How is that possible? The band, after all, has released three successful demos, released tape and vinyl in Sweden and Poland and landed a three-album deal with one of the better metal-related labels, Metal Blade Records. The answer lies in the fact that the quarter is victim to lack of image and gimmick. The metal scene has stooped so low that should you not immerse your face in second-rate Alice Cooper/King Diamond face paint or such, your band may go unnoticed. Does anyone listen to music anymore? Will Desultory’s second album Bitterness (the follow-up to 1993’s Into Eternity) be given a chance? On the line from home in Sweden guitarist Stefan Pöge (the band is completed by singer/guitarist Klas Morgerb, his brother Hakan on bass and drummer Thomas Johnsson) quietly talks about Bitterness while attempting to compare it to its predecessor. “It’s quite hard to tell,” begins the six stringer calmly. “Bitterness is more varied. All the songs on Into Eternity had the same sound and tempo. We were more death/thrash before and now we are more death/rock. I don’t know.”
Neither do I about that particular label. While the vocals are decidedly clearer and less growly and the music treated to a lot of melody, this time around the highlight of the album has to be the very interesting drumming. “On every recording Klas has changed his singing” explains Stefan. “This time he wanted to be clearer. It’s hard hearing his voice when we rehearse. When we entered the studio, Klas sounded strange. It didn’t sound like him, but we like it.”
Musically, the rhythm parts are slower so it’s easier to put melody in there. If death metal fan don’t like it, they can buy Cannibal Corpse. We don’t care. We try to do our own thing. As for the drums, they are interesting. Thomas is a very good drummer, one of the best musicians in Desultory, but when it comes to amplifiers, plugging in stuff or anything technical, he’s completely lost! It’s funny.”
Given the above description of Desultory, I ask who the Swede believes will buy a Desultory album. “Anyone who wants something original, some melody and good songs. We are a little different from the usual death metal. We have both fast and heavy songs.”
Fair enough, seeing that the band has opted to record at Sunlight Studio once again I wonder what it is that the draws the band to that particular studio. It must be its fifth time contributing to that studio’s balance sheet. “I think we use it all the time because Skogsberg (resident engineer/producer) is a great guy. He knows us and knows what we sound like,” explains Stefan. “Yeah, he’s easy to work with. As long as we are pleased with the sound, we don’t see any reason to change the sound. It’s only a half hour from where I live too. By the way, as we were leaving Grave were coming into Sunlight”
How odd: transforming a studio into a mausoleum, but never mind. Last time around you only managed to tour Europe. How are things looking in that area this time? “Last time we toured Europe with Cannibal Corpse, Fear Factory and Hypocrisy,” remembers Stefan. “I didn’t like Cannibal Corpse at first, but after touring with them I did. They are good musicians. I am not too into Hypocrisy, really. They came from nowhere - didn’t come from the underground. I don’t think they are special. This time we are doing thirteen shows in Europe with Amorphis. Then perhaps we will do another, bigger tour with Cannibal Corpse again. We hope to come to Canada and the US, but that depends on our sales and Metal Blade.”
Speaking of Metal Blade, I am interested to know how the band feels regarding its label some two years into the deal. “So far they’ve been quite cool to us,” Stefan responds. “We are a new band and we can’t expect too much. We aren’t from North America, but I think they’ve done a lot (for us) there. The only thing is that they are not interested in doing a video with us. That’s because in the US and Canada there is not a big market for videos of music like ours. It’s better in Europe. Metal Blade doesn’t wanna pay for a video that we’ll use in Europe. Everybody should get Bitterness - buy it Look out for us live.”
This interview initially appeared in Pit Magazine No. 12.
If you enjoyed this, read Entombed