Indecent & Obscene - 1993 - Nuclear Blast
Massive Killing Capacity - 1995 - Nuclear Blast
Death Metal - 1997 - Nuclear Blast
Hate Campaign - 2000 - Nuclear Blast
Where Ironcrosses Grow - 2004 - Karmageddon
The God Never Was - 2006 - Regain
Dismember - 2008 - Regain
MembersS= General Surgery, Slaughter Ceremony, Carbonize, Therion>>MATTI KARKI>>Slaughter Ceremony
G= Unleashed>>Robert Sennebäck>>Necrophobic - Entombed>>DAVID BLOMQVIST>>Dagger - Tiamat, Lake Of Tears>>Magnus Sahlgren – Mörk Gryning, Berserk, Frasse Haraldsen, Sins Of Omission>>Martin Persson
B= Unanimated, Damnation, Carbonized>>Richard Diamon Cabeza>>Unanimated, Damnation, Satyricon, Dark Funeral - Mercyful Fate, Witchery, Arch Enemy, Sinergy, Illwill>>Sharlee D' Angelo [Charles Peter Andreason]>>Mercyful Fate, Witchery, Arch Enemy, Sinergy, Illwill, The Night Flight Orchestra - Unanimated, Damnation, Carbonized, Satyricon, Dark Funeral>>Richard Cabeza - Grave>>Tobias Christiansson>>Grave, Dagger
D= Daemon, Terra Firma>>Fred Estby>>Daemon, Terra Firma, Necronaut, Dagger - Sacrifice Bitch, Embalmer, Meat, Repugnant, Insision, Iron Lamb>>Thomas Daun>>Iron Lamb
HistoryConsidered one of the fathers of the Swedish Death Metal sound (a.k.a. the Sunlight Sound) along with Entombed, Dismember which shared a rehearsal room at one point with Entombed and whose drummer played lead guitar on Dismember's debut, was arisen out of the ashes of Stockholm's Carnage. Actually first there was a Dismember/Dismemberizer then Carnage and then again Dismember. Dismember took over the Swedeath throne when after two albums Entombed wimped out and sailed for commercial seas.
Having already released an album through Earache, the newly renamed Carnage recruited a couple of new members and signed to Nuclear Blast on the strength of the Reborn In Blasphemy demo. Previous tapes included Dismembered and Last Blasphemies. The said demo was already a major underground hit and so NB in Germany had hardly anything to lose. Still, the resulting 70,000 copies sold within the first year of the debut (released in May 1991) was nothing short of phenomenal. The band also appeared on the Death Is Just The Beginning I sampler with a demo track.
The album was designed to be, "short, brutal and fast" and the fans loved it. June 1991 saw the band on the road with Morbid Angel. The tour was cut short though because according to Morbid Angel "Markus (NB owner) is an idiot," and the band drove back to Sweden and played a couple of Scandinavian dates. The band returned to continental Europe in December to play the Rock Hard Christmas festivals with bands like Cannibal Corpse, Death and Napalm Death.
March 1992 saw the release of the Pieces EP whose cover makes for strong reactions and the band toured with Napalm Death and Obituary under the Campaign For Musical Destruction banner. Late July of 1992 saw the band entangled in a Norfolk, England court case where the government of Her Majesty the Queen accused the band of guilt under an ancient Indecency law. The crown had gotten hold of the band's Skin Her Alive song lyrics and was attempting to censor the band - the band's CDs are seized upon import into the UK. Despite the crown's assertion that Dismember is "liable to inspire a sense of violence in the listener" (so is the hair cut of Kajagoogoo, what is your point?) the magistrates vote in favour of the band's distributor Plastic Head and the band is released - presumably to unleash more violence. Despite the success, the band's relationship with its label was damaged over who will foot the bill for the costs related to defending the case. Nonetheless, the band's next album Indecent And Obscene saw the band in defiant mood and in fine form. The album was supported by a first Canada and USA tour alongside Vader, Suffocation and Deicide. In the meantime, the band and label-mates Benediction got into fisticuffs after a proposed joint tour had earlier fallen apart. Benediction was accusing Dismember of unilaterally pulling out after making excessive demands and costing the English band money. Massive Killing Capacity, which is preceded by the Casket Garden EP, saw the introduction of more melody and is generally regarded as the band's weakest link. 1997 heralded the release of the Misanthropic EP (featuring an Autopsy cover version) and the new full-length album defiantly called Death Metal. The band lost its bassist at this point to Satyricon who had played a show with Dismember earlier. The bassist's stay in Norway was short though.
Hate Campaign was produced by Estby who had been producing bands (and doing live sound for bands like Hellacopters) since circa 1995 (most recently not at Sunlight any longer because of differences of opinion with house producer Skogsberg) and featured bass-for-hire D'Angelo who had never rehearsed with the band prior to the recording session.
The arrival of the year 2001 meant the band moved on from Nuclear Blast Records and signed with Netherlands' Hammerheart Records.
A European tour called Generation Armageddon and featuring Dismember, Ancient Rites, Primordial, Impious, Septic Flesh and Blood Red Throne is announced for the autumn of 2002 but is later rescinded. Bassist Richard Cabeza, who was last heard of in Murder Squad, returned to Dismember in late 2002. Dismember was hard at work at Stockhom's Sami Studio recording its Where Ironcrosses Grow album for Hammerheart Records then. Fred Estby was producing. The album was issued in the spring of 2004. The band also oversaw the release of a DVD entitled Live Blasphemies, which was issued by Escapi in late 2004. The band also recruited second guitarist Martin Persson as replacement for the departed Magnus Sahlgren. The band later announced the immediate addition of bassist Johan Bergebäck to the band's line-up. Richard Cabeza had relocated to the USA.
The band signed yet another recording contract in late 2004 and ended up on Regain Records. The band once again lost a bassist, this time in the summer of 2005. Johan Bergebäck had to leave the band due to a lack of time and the band, which was in the studio now, was looking for new candidates. Tobias Christiansson was recruited in December, 2005. The album, recorded at Dug Out Studio, was released two months later The Swedes lost founding drummer Fred Estby to family obligations in early 2007. Separately, the infamous Rose Productions has also cancelled the band’s Polish tour. Following the departure of founding drummer Fred Estby, the Swedes recruited Thomas Daun of Insision fame to tour with the group. Dismember, Necrophobic, Debauchery, Pitchblack and Illnath were joining forces for the Feel The Darkness Tour 2007 in August and September across parts of Western Europe. The tour was cancelled due to an AWOL promoter however. Dismember’s self-titled album was issued in February of 2008. The band was soon booked as a guest at Vader’s 25th anniversary show. The Swedes were undertaking a 16-day Canadian tour in October and November of 2008 in support of the self-titled album. Support came courtesy of Augury. The tour began in Sherbrooke in French Canada. The band was holding a meet-and-greet show in Sweden at the end of November to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Tobias Christiansson was to play bass for Grave for two shows in Mexico in the winter. Apparently, Grave bassist Fredrik Isaksson had already booked a holiday trip and would not re-reschedule. The band released a DVD, entitled Under Bloodred Skies, in June of 2009 through Regain Records. The DVD featured two discs and included the show from 2008’s Party.San Open Air in Germany. The solo project of former Dismember drummer Fred Estby signed with Regain Records in 2010. Necronaut’s projected album would feature a different singer on each song and was compared to Venom and Black Sabbath. Musicians like Nicke Andersson, Chris Reifert as well as several Dismember members were involved. Dismember played its first concert since 2008 as the headliner at Death Feast Open Air festival on June 23rd, 2011 in Hünxe, Germany. The band was added as a replacement for Gorguts. Robert Sennebäck joined Necrophobic in 2011. Dagger, featuring Fred Estby (Necronaut and ex-Dismember), David Blomqvist (ex-Dismember), Tyrant (Nifelheim) and Tobias Cristiansson (Grave and ex-Dismember) was looking for a singer. The band could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This came in tandem with Dismember calling it a day following Regain Records’ recent financial turmoil. The band’s performance at Death Feast Open Air festival on June 23rd would now become its last. But of course not. Dismember and its original line-up was back together at the end of 2018 for a show at the Scandinavia Deathfest 2019, which would take place in October in Stockholm. Other bands playing included Benediction, Birdflesh, Centinex and General Surgery. The group was to play at Scandinavia Deathfest 2019 in October. The show was to be filmed. Dismember was forced to pull out of the Maryland Deathfest in 2022 as members were unvaccinated and the USA demanded visitors be vaccinated before they board an aeroplane to the country.
DISMEMBER - MISANTHROPIC - NUCLEAR BLAST
DISMEMBER - WHERE IRONCROSSES GROW - KARMAGEDDON/CANDLELIGHT USA
DISMEMBER - THE GOD THAT NEVER WAS - CANDLELIGHT
DISMEMBER - Same - REGAIN
Fred Estby of Sweden’s death metal forerunners Dismember calls Ali “The Metallian” at his radio show from Nuclear Blast America’s office one day in November of 1992 to speak about the history of the group, the band’s debut Like An Everflowing Stream, which was over a year old at that point, the recently released Pieces EP and to also look forward to the upcoming second full-length album. Here is how the conversation went. – 11.1992
METALLIAN: Fred, there is a lot of confusion about who came from which band and the story of Dismember. It seems a lot of member swapping was going on around there.
FRED: OK. We started in 1988. I started a band called Dismember and we recorded two demos. After those two recordings I broke the band up and joined another Swedish death metal bad called Carnage. We recorded an album for Earache Records. After that we split up because Michael, the founding member of Carnage, was going to Carcass. So only me, David and Matti were left. Matti was coming to Carnage from Carbonized, another Swedish band. So we reformed Dismember with this line-up and then we brought Ron in again who was in Dismember from the beginning. When he quit Dismember the first time he was for a while in Unleashed. He rejoined Dismember after that. As the last member we got Richard on bass. He was also coming from Carbonized. So that’s the way it is now.
METALLIAN: I was speaking to Lars, the bassist for Entombed and he was telling me that he was in Dismember.
FRED: Yeah, that was long ago. It was in the beginning of…. I mean, he was in the band for 3 weeks.
METALLIAN: So how many other people are there out there who are ex-Dismember?
FRED: (Laughs) mmm… I don’t think there are anymore. Well, there is one guy actually living in the States. His name is Erik Gustafson. I don’t know what he is up to now, but he was on the first Therion album actually.
METALLIAN: And he is no longer in Therion?
FRED: No, because he moved back to the States.
METALLIAN: Is it true that Matti himself was a member of Therion once?
METALLIAN: I understand that there is a new General Surgery album coming out. Did he do that in the meantime…
FRED: No! He is not there. He was on the 7”, but not anymore.
METALLIAN: Where did the name Dismember come from and who chose it?
FRED: Nicke the drummer of Entombed came up with it and told me that he got a name for our band. It sounds brutal. It means to tear something apart. So it was actually he who came up with the idea.
METALLIAN: You probably don’t like this question, but what is the extent of his involvement with Dismember? I asked Nicke himself this question and he said he doesn’t want to hear anymore Dismember questions (Fred starts to laugh…) so let me ask you how did his involvement including playing the guitar and artwork come about?
FRED: Yeah, I mean, me and Nicke are very good friends. I mean he is the one who encouraged me to start a band. I got a lot of help from him when I started a band including the logo type and everything and he has always been helpful and interested in what we have been doing. For the guitars and solos on our first album it was like this: we didn’t have that much time to record the album and were in a hurry so… he had been rehearsing with us for a while because we didn’t have Robert in the band at that time. And we didn’t have Richard either . It was me, Matti and David and it was quite boring so we taught him the songs just to have another guitarist. Just for fun so it would sound better in the rehearsal room. So he knew the solos from the beginning and it was much easier that way. He did them in a few hours (at the studio).
METALLIAN: You have come out with one hell of an incredible album. Like An Everflowing Stream is very impressive. It is an incredible album and so much thought has gone into it. There are so many different rhythms on just one album. I want to tell you that neither you nor anyone else can top this album. That must be a pretty depressing thought.
FRED: (Laughs nervously) I don’t know really. I am really glad you like the album that much, but I think… we are working on a new album right now and, as far as I know, I mean the Pieces album, which we came out with later on, is not as good as the first one, I can admit that, but this one is going to be much better than both. This one is going to kill both of them.
METALLIAN: Actually, that is what I was going to ask next. I found Pieces to be very good, but it didn’t match the debut.
FRED: The sound is not that good either. The sound is chaotic.
METALLIAN: So why release that EP and tell me about the new material and the upcoming album please.
FRED: We put Pieces out because we wanted to keep the name going. You can’t just record one album in two years and think everyone is going to remember you because there are many bands recording and putting out records these days. So you have to be fresh all the time. We didn’t have that many songs. We just recorded it for fun and put it out. We also had a good cover for it. I think we are putting in some time for this new album. I don’t know the name for this new album, but we have been touring for a while so it will take a while for it to come out. I think it will be out in March next year hopefully in States, Canada and Europe at the same time. I have some titles if you want them, Skinfather, Fleshless, erm, Reborn In Blasphemy.
METALLIAN: When do you plan on recording this album?
FRED: We are doing it right now.
METALLIAN: Oh, you are in the midst of the recording. What is the music going to be like?
FRED: It is going to be still as fast as before, a little bit faster actually than the first album. It is heavier and more professional because we got one month in the studio instead of twelve days so we have some time to sort everything out.
METALLIAN: How is the rhythm shaping out? For example, there is a ground-breaking rhythm change at the beginning of Override Of The Overture that is totally heavy.
FRED: Well, I think there are many changes on the new album too. I think you will be satisfied with that part.
METALLIAN: And you are keeping up the speed.
METALLIAN: Going back to the Pieces EP, it had problems with customs in certain countries, didn’t it? What was that all about?
FRED: They thought it was too raw. They didn’t like the cover at all – neither the front nor the back. They thought it was offensive.
METALLIAN: So what are you planning for the next cover?
FRED: I don’t know! Something worse hopefully. We can come up with something hopefully worse.
METALLIAN: Changing the subject there was a rumour that Monstrosity and Dismember are going to play in the US and Canada. What happened to that?
FRED: I didn’t hear about that!
METALLIAN: There were no plans as such?
FRED: I would like to do it though! But we have not heard anything about it! But probably we are heading for a US and Canada tour next year.
METALLIAN: Maybe we can twist the arm of Matt at Relapse and sit on his chest and he can do something.
FRED: Yeah! Why not?
METALLIAN: Changing the subject again, how united is the scene in Sweden? How do you see the other bands responding to your success? Is there jealousy going on? Could you tell us about that?
FRED: There isn’t that much to tell. I just hate it. That’s it! I think it’s quite ridiculous and childish because if you do your thing and try to help people out then that’s the best way to do it instead of being jealous and criticizing anything you hear and see. I am disappointed in that. It doesn’t help anyone and the least yourself.
METALLIAN: I know that you have been supportive of other bands. For example, Thomas of Desultory mentions that he is thankful to Dismember for support. How do you see the future scene in Sweden?
FRED: Well, I don’t know really. There are some good bands coming up, but not too many. There are a million bands in Sweden right now. There are too many, I think. Nobody criticizes themselves. They just criticize the other bands. That’s quite dangerous for band, I think. You have to see for yourself what you are up to at first and then complain about other bands.
METALLIAN: Thomas says there are more bands than fans where he lives. That’s a strange statement for someone sitting in Canada to hear.
FRED: Yeah, yeah, I can imagine. I don’t know how it came to be. I don’t know really. I cannot find an explanation, I don’t think so.
METALLIAN: Moving the line along, what do you think of Nuclear Blast, their promotion and the record company as a whole?
FRED: I mean, I am quite satisfied. We have troubles with them lately. There was stuff we didn’t agree about with the German Nuclear Blast. We didn’t agree with them at all. Those are things that we have to work out. That’s not a problem really.
METALLIAN: Do you want to mention any particular instance where you disagreed with the record company?
FRED: Well, we had this trial. We were taken to court in England this summer because the Customs took our albums and refused to let it out to distributors. We got taken to court and everything. We won the case, but the record label wanted us to pay back the flight tickets and everything. I think that was quite ridiculous. I mean I didn’t see the point. We are not that rich. We decided at first that they should pay for the tickets. Suddenly they want all the money back. I think that sucks.
METALLIAN: As far as I know, and I may be wrong here, you are the best-selling band on Nuclear Blast. I think they should be more supportive.
FRED: I think so too. I think you have a point there. They have to be more cooperative with the bigger bands on the label because if they put some money out for them they will get it back. It is one thing if they are scared of putting out money all the time. That’s one thing, but you can’t be scared all the time. I mean everything is recoupable anyway. The label always gets its money back. I am not a label person myself so it is quite hard for me to tell what they should do, but that’s my point-of-view anyway.
METALLIAN: You are right. The investment pays off in the long run. The labels should stop thinking shorter term.
FRED: You can find a hundred small bands that sound quite good for about ten minutes and after that it is not that cool. I mean in Europe, at least, it is difficult to go on with smaller bands. It is too late now. In Europe, all the bigger bands are getting bigger and smaller bands are not.
METALLIAN: Do you think it is because of the success of Dismember that Swedish bands like Hypocrisy and Afflicted got signed to the same label?
FRED: No, I don’t know really. Perhaps. Never thought of it in the way. I don’t know.
METALLIAN: Could you compare the record company situation in Europe to Relapse Records in the USA. Does it upset you that the record company in North America is not as big as it is in Europe?
FRED: No, because I think the Relapse guys are doing a hell of a job. I think they are…. I hope Markus (of Nuclear Blast) hears this, I think Nuclear Blast America is doing a much better job than Nuclear Blast Europe at this point.
METALLIAN: That is an interesting statement because talking to many unsigned bands I know that their biggest hope is to sign to Nuclear Blast Germany.
FRED: Oh yeah? Well, I am not going to sit here and criticize Nuclear Blast in Germany too much either because they are working hard as well. The problem is that the communication is not that good among the people working at Nuclear Blast Germany. That’s the big problem. Michael, who is taking care of us in Europe, is doing a great promotional job, but sometimes there is a lack of communication between him and (label head) Markus so we miss something. It is screwed up.
METALLIAN: One curiosity on my part has been regarding the song Override Of The Overture. What does it talk about?
FRED: Well, it’s pure fiction. It’s nothing. It is everything and nothing! I didn’t write the lyrics, but from what I understood I think it is just feelings. There is no significance to the title.
METALLIAN: Final question so we are looking forward, are you going to use producer Tomas Skogsberg and cover artist Dan Seagrave respectively?
FRED: Not Dan Seagrave. We are using Tomas, but we are not going to use Dan Seagrave for the cover. I think the next cover won’t be a painting. It will be a photo.
METALLIAN: A photo of the band perhaps?
FRED: No, a photo of something more disgusting.
METALLIAN: Fred, the back cover of the album released in North America is different from the one released in Europe. Does it have anything to do with the inverted crossed?
FRED: Yeah, I think so.
METALLIAN: Were you upset by that?
FRED: Well, a little bit. I can understand why it is like that, but I don’t think it’s right. I think it’s wrong, but I understand why they had to put another photo in.
METALLIAN: I was on the air recommending fans buy the European version because I don’t recommend supporting censorship.
METALLIAN: One confusing thing is that certain members are sporting inverted crossed while others are wearing upright crosses. Is that a contradiction?
FRED: I mean we got different opinions within the band about religion, about everything. But still we can work as band together. We like each other very much. I think that’s cool.
METALLIAN: The inverted crosses are not just an image. They are true beliefs.
METALLIAN: Fred, thank-you for talking with me.
Dismember’s line-up was singer Matti Kärki, guitarists David Blomqvist and Robert Sennebäck, bassist Richard Diamon and my interview partner drummer Fred Estby.
Shooting straight to the top of the death metal heap with the release of '91s debut album, Like an Ever Flowing Stream, (brilliant!) and solidifying its success with the follow-up album, Indecent And Obscene, the Dismember bulldozer had seemed to grind to a halt during these last two years. However, with the completion of the long-awaited third platter (entitled Massive Killing Capacity), singer Matti Karki, guitarists David Blomqvist and Robert Senneback, bassist Richard Cabeza and drummer Fred Estby are back behind the wheel again; anxious to reestablish their slipping status on the scene. On the line from his hometown of Stockholm, Fred and I chatted in length about all things dismembering.- 1995
METALLIAN: Looking back, how do you perceive Indecent And Obscene and how well did the album sell?
Fred: The sales were good everywhere in Europe, except Germany. I don't know why, 'cause we are on a German label. The sales were steady in the rest of Europe, USA and Canada; but they declined in Germany. It's a funny question, as I've been looking back at that album and I think one of the problems was the lack of promotion for it. Michel (Trengert), who was in charge of promotion at Nuclear Blast, had left to Australia for vacation (with Pungent Stench) at that time. We also didn't have too many outstanding songs on that album. With our debut album everything was new, but the second one was merely a follow-up to it. I like that album, but I prefer the new one - that's natural.
METALLIAN: How has the band busied itself during the last two years? It is known that you work at Sunlight Studio, while Richard has been active with both Unanimated and Damnation.
FRED: That's right. The last band that I worked with was a Swiss band called Sludge. They have very long, almost 10-minute, songs and are very doomy. They are a new breed of doom metal. Richard started with Unanimated the same time he joined Dismember. When we started to tour he quit that band, but they lost their bassist and since we weren't touring, he rejoined them. He's playing on their last album, too. Damnation is his (black metal) side project. All the other guys have jobs too. We haven't made much money from the band, so everyone's been working as a janitor, at a liquor factory, et cetra.
METALLIAN: Another question I have to ask concerns a tape I have received, dubbed off the Swedish national radio, of the band performing an acoustic set. It's quite awful. I wondered what the story surrounding that is.
FRED: (Sighs deeply) Its a fuck up. I don't know why we did it. We've actually asked ourselves why we did that. Three years ago there was a death metal boom, or trend, here and the national radio wanted us to do an unplugged set. I know that it sounds like shit. We hadn't even rehearsed or rearranged any of the songs for that. It was stupid to do, but we learn from our mistakes.
METALLIAN: Decidedly! What is not stupid to do is maintaining your ties with, and staying true to, the ideals of the underground. That is something that you are espousing on the Death Is Just The Beginning video. However, Dismember doesn't answer its mail, nor do you maintain any contacts with in the underground!
FRED: Yes, I know. I also know that it's a contradiction and stupid. But we've been touring and everyone's been working. I, personally, have gotten married and have a son. There hasn't any time, really. We also don't get any mail anymore, because we didn't answer our mail in the past.
METALLIAN: Speaking of ties, I've noticed you have a strained one with a couple of bands; specifically, Benediction. You even had a brick-throwing contest with them!
FRED: Yes that's true. We were supposed to tour with them in 1993 - it was supposed to be a co-headlining tour. They suddenly said that we aren't allowed any roadies, et cetra. Instead of doing that, we decided to tour with Morbid Angel. At first Benediction were OK with that and they were no hard feelings. But when we ran into them in Denmark they started to fight with us, saying that we destroyed their tour. We were all drunk, but I was angry because they smashed a window on our bus! It was a big fight, but it is resolved now.
METALLIAN: An EP and the album were slated for release in the autumn of last year, what was the reason for the scrapping of the release?
FRED: Last year we recorded an EP with four songs: I Saw Them Die, War Dead, Collection Blood and Another Shape Of Sorrow. The EP didn't turn out well and we had to rearrange everything. At the same time the recording session for the full-length was scheduled so we decided to simply redo all the songs for the album. Only recently we decided to use three songs for an EP to be released before the album (this Europe-only release is entitled Casket Garden). Now the full-length is again delayed until August, but it will see simultaneous world-wide release.
METALLIAN: Recently Nuclear Blast Records released the third installment of its flagship, Death Is Just The Beginning compilation. Again you were noticeably absent.
FRED: We didn't have anything ready.
METALLIAN: Why didn't you, like Sinister, simply place one of your older numbers on the compilation?
FRED: We also had some contractual problems with the label. We were not happy that they always put our songs on compilations without asking us. This time they didn't ask us, and since they didn't, they couldn't put anything there. That was the main reason.
METALLIAN: Listening to your new material, I have noticed a decrease in the speed element. Is this the new Dismember that everyone should get used to?
FRED: No, I don't think so because we've done two fast albums before. The riffs we did weren't good fast. You can't throw them away if they are good, but not fast! This time everyone has done some writing, so what you get are songs that are different from each other. War Dead is one of the fast ones. On Frozen Fields is typical Dismember and very fast. Crime Divine is very driven and catchy. There is even a song done by Robert which sounds like Judas Priest. This album is really different for us; it's cool to bring in everyone's influences.
METALLIAN: What is the significance of your song titles this time?
FRED: Casket Garden talks about what is going on now in the twentieth century - chaos reigns everywhere. Look at the bombing in Oklahoma City, for example. You can say I was feeling a bit depressed. Massive Killing Capacity, our title track, was chosen because it fits the music - brutal, heavy death metal. The cover depicts a robot-like war machine. It's done by Kristian Wahlin, who did the artwork for the Death Is Just The Beginning album.
This interview initially appeared in Pit Magazine No. 14.
Dismember hardly needs an introduction. The band is the quintessential Swedish death metal band and in 2004 is not only focused on maintaining its status and playing for keeps, but taking things one step further with a new vigour and a new push.
The band - comprised of singer Matti Kärki, guitarists David Blomqvist and Martin Persson, bassist Richard Cabeza and drummer Fred Estby - is now signed to Karmageddon Media and has just released its latest album Where Ironcrosses Grow on both sides of the Atlantic. Ali "The Metallian" received a call from drummer Fred Estby one Sunday night and investigated all that is happening with the death metal die-hards. - 12.06.2004
METALLIAN: Fred, it has been too long since we chatted last and a few things have changed since. Why are you not with Nuclear Blast any longer?
FRED: Our contract ran out. There were no options left on the contract to release more albums with them. We thought it was a good time to move on. We have been with them since the first album. They came up with an offer to sign us again, but we thought that offer was not good enough.
METALLIAN: In a related question, one has to wonder why Dismember is not a bigger band given your history and above average albums. Does it frustrate you?
FRED: I know! We haven't played live enough. We play a couple of tours each time, but that is not enough. We should do four tours and also hit North America for every album. It is hard to find a good agent in the USA though. It seems like we have better opportunities now though.
METALLIAN: Is the band's laziness a factor?
FRED: It is not really laziness. We all have families and full-time jobs. We made a decision a long time ago that when we aren't making a living from the music and to get full-time jobs too. Right now we have to quit our jobs to support the new album. It is the other way around this time. Everyone is committed to go for it. We are doing well too.
METALLIAN: Can we talk about how you obtained the new recording contract?
FRED: Yes, we had four different labels which were negotiating with us. We felt that Hammerheart/Karmageddon would be the most dedicated and we saw that we would be the biggest band on a small label that actually was working for the band. Candlelight/Plastichead, House Of Kicks/MNW, etc. were talking to us. At the end we signed to Hammerheart for an album plus an option. We are not making the mistake of signing for too many albums to a label again.
METALLIAN: In the meanwhile, you have managed to create a few rumours regarding the reason for your prolonged absences by giving cagey answers to interviewers. Why did Dismember disappear?
FRED: It never is just one reason. We changed two members, three of us have kids since the last album and we also didn't have a rehearsal spot for a long time. Little, strange things happen at the same time. That's why you get those fishy answers. Sometimes we think someone in the band brings us really bad luck.
METALLIAN: Which one of you is it?
FRED: (Laughingly) we don't know yet. We haven't figured it out yet. You know, when somebody in the band is not dedicated it affects the entire band.. It drags the tempo down. When someone says, "I can't rehearse for two months because I have this important thing with my work," the entire band becomes lazy. We have now quit all those elements. We are not waiting around.
METALLIAN: Which is my cue to ask, who is who now?
FRED: It's me, David, Matti, Richard and the new guitar player Markus. He used to play in Sins Of Omission. He is a really cool guy and a little younger than us. He fits well in Dismember. He didn't play on the album. I had just finished the mix when he joined. He will tour with us. After a couple of gigs we realized he was the man for the job. He has the same sense of humour as us. He is a talented guitar player and is very dedicated to this type of music. He likes being in a band that is going forward.
METALLIAN: Is Richard committed to the band? Over the years his commitment has seemed to falter.
FRED: Yeah, I see what you mean. You know, Richard has ups and downs. We got ripped off after the Death Metal album and were having touring problems so he felt that he would try his luck in a black metal band. That didn't work out at all. We have asked him about his 'Satyricon journey,' and he is not keen to talk about it. He is also very busy. He now lives in Texas with his family. He married an American girl and has a son. Hopefully he will join us on a tour-by-tour basis. We have a session bass player for the shows in Scandinavia. The extended touring will happen after the summer and then we will see what will happen. We have a Benelux tour planned for August and September. We are also negotiating for other countries.
The session bass player is Johan who is the guitar player for Necrophobic.
METALLIAN: What are the band's touring plans?
FRED: We are trying to organize a North American tour for the autumn. We don't know any details yet. We are hitting South America in October too.
We are back. We have loads of commitments. We are also releasing a DVD after the summer. We also own all our rights from the second album and on so we will be re-releasing those as well. We had that in our contract. So fans can expect those in the new year.
METALLIAN: What details are available about the DVD?
FRED: It is a double-disc. It features a show filmed last year in Stockholm, but does not have any material from the current album. The second disc features loads of old material including the third gig we ever did! We culled material from a bunch of VHS tapes. It is kinda funny. The quality is bad sometimes, but it will be worth it.
A label called Escapi will release the DVD . They have worked with Candlemass and others.
METALLIAN: Let us talk about Where Ironcrosses Grow. What does the album talk about?
FRED: It is about wars. It is about graves without tombstones. The songs on the album that are about war are obviously influenced by the wars that are going on today. It is an anti statement. I don't think anybody needs or wants war. Of course, some people do and it is mainly for money.
If you read the lyrics on Me-God you will find a different discussion on war - terrorist type war - which some people use when they don't have the usual money needed for starting wars.
METALLIAN: Some of the songs, titles and lyrics hint at a religious concept taking shape within the band. Is anyone in the band becoming a Christian?
FRED: Hmmm... I haven't thought of it that way. Me-God, since I wrote the lyrics, is about a person who is so religiously fanatic that he feels he is a part of God. That is one weird idiot! It is about current day fanatics and also the Catholic inquisition. People should know what you are talking about.
I am not really sure about the other songs. Matti should answer that question. No one in the band is a practicing Christian. I can answer that.
METALLIAN: The songs are mainly fast, although a couple slow down. Were you consciously mixing it up?
FRED: No, we don't really think that way. We think a song should gain from the tempo, but we don't count the fast or slow songs. We just use the riffs we have.
METALLIAN: Is the music and the choice of cover artwork, among other things, a throwback to the debut Like An Ever Flowing Stream?
FRED: Actually it was Karmageddon that suggested we use Dan Seagrave for the cover again. We didn't know that he was active again. Once we found out we were happy to use him. We weren't really sure which direction he was working in right now. We gave him a couple of suggestions and he did his work. It turned out really well.
METALLIAN: Does the song Tragedy Of The Faithful deliberately try to evoke Iron Maiden?
FRED: Yes, Absolutely. David who wrote the song is one of the bigger Iron Maiden fans in this country. We always have had some melodic influences from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden so it came naturally.
METALLIAN: That reminds me of Massive Killing Capacity which, if memory serves me correctly, you once called a mistake.
FRED: No, not a mistake, but we were hard on ourselves with that album. We were a little bit too... I think we shouldn't have let producer Tomas Skogsberg make it sound weaker, clean and unheavy.
METALLIAN: Was the Death Metal album a reaction to its more melodic predecessor?
FRED: Yes. It's true.
METALLIAN: Do you still produce bands?
FRED: Yes, I do. I don't do it too often though. I get tired of the scene here. You get bands which want to record, but every band says they do not have a budget and that there is no money. They all want to do it in two weeks. Then you have to argue to get your money. The labels are always paying their bills late. That is tough when you have three kids. I got tired of never getting paid in time and of having too small a budget. You can do miracles with two weeks, but you have to work 24-hours a day.
Of course, I can relate to it. I know how labels work. Then again, when you hear that a band like Crematory had a recording budget that was ten or fifteen times higher than the last two Dismember albums, then you think that can't be good for the bands either. They have to recoup it and make some money. You need a minimum standard though.
METALLIAN: Several years ago you had a dispute with Tomas Skogsberg. Is that on-going?
FRED: Yeah, we went our separate ways. We didn't talk much after that. I think he has moved Studio Sunlight to the countryside. He is a cool guy who has taught me a lot, but sometimes we thought totally differently about music and money. We weren't really partners and I was working for him, but he didn't play his cards right.
METALLIAN: Your debut album, Like An Ever Flowing Stream, has worked itself into classic status territory by now. It is considered one of the better death metal albums ever. Looking back how do you view it?
FRED: I think it is fascinating that we came out with such a strong record. Of course, we had a lot of time to write and arrange those songs, and it being a debut we had nothing to be stressed about, but what fascinates me the most is that we recorded that album in 12 days. Our budget was like $1,500 or something. It is ridiculous when you think about it.
I think Indecent And Obscene was a little bit of an overkill. Some of the songs had really good parts which we didn't play more than once. Some of the songs were technical with something like 20 riffs. That is a waste of material too. It could have been simpler, but I like the way we built the songs.
We have talked about Massive Killing Capacity and its melody. I like the Death Metal album and its cover. Death Metal was a dirty album. It was also the first album I produced myself for the band. It was an achievement on my side. We had loads of material. We also used some of the material for the Misanthropic EP. I like the raw edge of that album.
I like some of the songs on Hate Campaign, but the label didn't support us. We also had some member problems. Sharlee D'Angelo was in the band on bass at that time and yet he wasn't able to rehearse with us. He played the bass on that album in two days and he hadn't even heard the songs before. He flew into Stockholm from a tour and David had to show him all the songs. Strange!
METALLIAN: Why didn't you just play the bass yourselves?
FRED: Sharlee is a talented bass player and when he toured with us it seemed like he could have some input into the band. In the end, he didn't have time to rehearse with us and to develop the songs with the bass as an element. It all went the wrong way.
I don't blame him because that's what he knows how to do. He plays bass and makes a living out of it, so why not choose a band that is doing well. I play music for a different reason. I do it because I love it, but sometimes I can't do it in a concentrated fashion because of my family.
METALLIAN: Finally, I mentioned Entombed when reviewing the current album. What do you think of those guys nowadays?
FRED: I am still in touch with them, but when it comes down to music they are a band that has had the urge to go and develop themselves as musicians. If you ask them, they probably would say that I am wrong, but Dismember is very comfortable and does not intend to change. I don't really know why they changed, but they probably wanted to develop as musicians and writers. We don't feel like we have to change music style to accomplish that. Stockholm is not such a big city so we meet them sometimes.
Dismember will be playing live in several countries and with the release of the DVD and the new editions of its catalogue is promising to be in the fans' faces for the next year or so. The new album is called Where Ironcrosses Grow. For more information visit www.dismember.se.
Sure it’s been eight or so months since the release of Dismember’s uncompromising self-titled album, but the band is about to do an exclusive Canadian tour and so what better time for Ali “The Metallian” to pick up the telephone and chat with the band’s newest member, Martin Persson? - 19.10.2008
METALLIAN: Martin, talk to me about the upcoming Canadian tour. It is not often that an exclusively tour of Canada happens with so many dates.
MARTIN: We were supposed to do only one festival this summer in Canada. We have such a tight touring schedule any way. We did an Australian tour and many festivals this summer and postponed the Canadian show to do a whole tour instead. I think it is going to be 15 or 16 shows and I think it’s really cool.
And like you said, it’s not usual that a band does that many shows in a row just in Canada. Bands usually skip over there for two or three show when on a US tour. We are really looking forward to it as we haven’t played so much in Canada lately - just one show in Montreal.
METALLIAN: Who is organizing the tour and is it the same person who did one festival?
MARTIN: Yes, it is. We never worked with him before and we will see how it goes, but everything so far is really cool.
METALLIAN: What about the itinerary...
MARTIN: I don’t even know! The first day is in Sherbrooke in French Canada. We do 100 shows every year and I can’t remember every exact place in my mind, but the first show is there and then it’s all over Canada for two weeks. We are going to play with Augury. I don’t even know how to pronounce their name, but yes they are opening up for the whole tour. I don’t know much about them but it’s so much fun to meet new bands and listen to new music. I heard that Augury is kind of famous in Canada... in Sweden never heard about them.
METALLIAN: What is your personal impression of Canada, you said you played a show in Montreal last. Are you worried about the weather for example?
MARTIN: No, it is cold and crappy here in Sweden too so I don’t think we are going to have a problem although we prefer it when it’s nice and hot, but the last time we played there it was kind of a nice weather, kind of like Stockholm. I think the two cities are on the same position on the map. I remember that particular show we played in Montreal. We played the Brave Words festival with Grave, Testament and Brutal Truth. It was really a fun show. It was the best show we did on that tour. It was on a US tour with only one show in Canada.
METALLIAN: The first time I saw Dismember was 1993 and the band was playing with Suffocation and Vader in Montreal. Many years have passed and the band has not wimped out, in fact, it’s always been heavy and fast and with the last one especially very talented. What is going on in your heads? Have you decided to be stupid and not make money or have you opted not to care?
MARTIN: Long time before I was in the band all the guys just decided that they have discovered what they wanted to do, what kind of music they wanted to play and Dismember just stuck to its guns throughout the years. There have been just a few changes and a couple of member changes.
Dismember will always sound like Dismember. Nothing is going to change. There are not that many bands you can take the first and last albums and find they are quite similar, not exactly the same but similar. I like that and I think a lot of our fans really like that as well because not many bands are like that!
METALLIAN: Where does it come from though?
MARTIN: We don’t want to wimp out. This is the music we want to do. If you don’t want to listen to it then fuck you. We do old school death metal and that’s what we are always going to do. We just don’t care about what anyone thinks or the trend for the day is.
METALLIAN: You have been in the band for four years. How is the reception for the new album or the one before and how are you finding the audience? Is this a popular corner of the art world?
MARTIN: It’s kind of strange, but Dismember has been playing for 20 years, released many albums and done many tours so those who listen to extreme metal should know who Dismember is but especially since I started in the band we have been touring our asses off doing like 100 shows a year in the last few years. That kind of shows your popularity. It’s hard work touring, but you are going to have more fans because I think we are a great live band and touring is a good thing for us.
METALLIAN: Are you finding that people, promoters give you shows because the music is popular or are you playing more shows and therefore finding more fans?
MARTIN: Both I think. After playing so much we know people all around the world. Promoters everywhere know we are easy to work with as well. I think the answer is both when it comes to playing show and releasing albums record labels and promoters know that we are an easy band to work with. We don’t need much commercial activity when we release an album. It is going to sell any way. It is not going to sell like In Flames, but still it is going to sell more than a band no one has ever heard of so it’s easy for them. The same goes for shows. We are not going to sell out arenas but we are not going to pull ten people either hopefully.
METALLIAN: I would draw a parallel between you yourself and the band Dismember and Dismember’s longevity. With the band being consistent and playing Swedish brutal death metal and you yourself being in several extreme bands before was it a case of getting attracted to the band because you were in the extreme, uncommercial metal scene or the band got hold of you because of your past?
MARTIN: Actually, it was just by coincidence. I had a friend who had a friend who heard that Dismember needed a guitarist for a tour so I called David up and asked him about it. I did the tour. It went well and they asked if I wanted to join the band. I didn’t know the guys before I joined. I had been a fan, me and Tobias, the band’s bass player, were huge fans growing up and were at the first shows in Stockholm.
METALLIAN: Who is the friend that told you about Dismember needing a guitarist?
MARTIN: He is a friend from the band Thyrfing.
METALLIAN: How has the capital city Stockholm changed from 10 or 15 years ago?
MARTIN: It is expanding. There are a huge number of bands now. Fifteen years ago there were not so many groups. Now almost everyone that listens to extreme metal also plays in a band therefore there are many more shows. It’s a big difference and maybe not such a tight little group as a result.
METALLIAN: What do you think of bands like In Flames?
MARTIN: I think it sucks, but I just don’t like that kind of music. I don’t know what to answer except I don’t like them.
METALLIAN: If they called you tomorrow and said 'we need you to join us and you can make a million dollars...'
MARTIN: I will say 'no.' I think everyone in this band will say the same thing.
METALLIAN: One thing that surprised me a couple of years ago and which I saw as a bad thing, but then later saw as a good thing was that drummer Fred Estby left. I always thought of Fred as the main person in Dismember.
MARTIN: It’s hard to answer, but as you said this was Fred’s band. He had huge input into the lyrics and riffs and everything. Of course it was strange for us when he quit. Actually he just said he couldn’t tour any more and since we do this for a living and we have to tour... so then he said it was OK if we change drummers but as you said now we can tour and we are touring a lot more than at the end with Fred and everything worked out. I think we were really lucky in finding Thomas on drums because he is a great drummer. He is an idiot as well so he fits perfectly in the band.
METALLIAN: I hear a lot of dual soloing that the last few, probably three or four, Dismember albums. One example is the song Tide Of Blood, with you guys soloing heavily. Is that one or two guitarist exchanging solos?
MARTIN: That’s two guitarists. I do the first and then David and then me again. I am guessing you mean the start of the song. We always try to do that since we love the old heavy metal stuff so we try to do the dual lead thing.
METALLIAN: Are you into that kind of Iron Maiden soloing as much as David is?
MARTIN: Yes absolutely. I wrote that riff at the beginning. A funny story is that I wrote that riff here in Stockholm after a tour. When I got to the back of the car, which was just parked, on the car lot I just started to hum that riff. David and I actually have a similar taste in music. We love the old Mercyful Fate, Maiden and Priest stuff.
METALLIAN: Another example is the Under A Bloodred Sky.
MARTIN: We went over the top there at the end. As you said, on the last couple of albums one can hear the influences from British heavy metal and I think it kind of a suits us even though we play the old school style death metal. I think we can cram something like that in and make it work. Actually that song is one of most fun to play live. It’s a great live song.
MARTIN: I think just because of the end. First it’s really brutal and then at the end you have the Maiden part. We just toured South America and you can imagine how they screamed at the end there singing along.
METALLIAN: I am going to mention what I don’t like quite as much, which are songs like No Honour In Death that are really slow and boring for me personally.
MARTIN: I think I can understand what you mean. I personally like the really heavy stuff as well. We can’t have the same bpm during the whole album and I think it’s a really cool Autopsy style death metal, but live I don’t like those songs as much as well. I like the faster ones live, but as I said everyone is entitled to their opinion.
METALLIAN: You had a couple of tours get cancelled last year. Is there a chance of what happened with the Necrophobic tour happening with the Canadian tour is there?
MARTIN: You have to try some things and to work with new people as we are doing with the Canadian tour and sometimes they fuck up; sometimes it happens and we just hope fans understand it’s never the band’s fault. It’s not going to be a problem with the Canadian tour because I already have the ticket in my hand. That’s the first sign when someone delays things with the 'I am going to send you the flight expenses, etc.'
As you get those tickets you know the other guy can’t back out either plus you always have contracts but as for the tour with Necrophobic and how that got canceled it doesn’t matter if you have a contract as the promoters go and disappear.
METALLIAN: Outside the metal scene what is your opinion or impression of Canada versus elsewhere?
MARTIN: You always have a customs problem there or we have a customs problem to US and Canada. To the USA it takes forever to get in there with the visa and everything. It’s easier to get into Russia. I remember we got stuck going to Canada and sat there for couple of hours. When we got through it felt like a relief. I like Canada much better than the USA... just the overall feeling of the country. Everyone in the band thinks so as well. Canada feels more European than the USA. It’s a bit more relaxed, we feel more at home there than in the US.
METALLIAN: Martin, Thanks for the music. The last words are yours...
MARTIN: I just hope many metallers show up to listen to old school Swedish death metal.
Head over to http://www.dismember.se for information and here are the dates for Dismember's Canada Burns Tour 2008:
24.10.2008 Bar le Magog - Sherbrooke, QC
25.10.2008 Le Bunker - Chicoutimi, QC
26.10.2008 LÃ¡nti - Quebec City, QC
27.10.2008 Le National - Montreal, QC
28.10.2008 Maverick - Ottawa, ON
29.10.2008 The Embassy - London, ON
30.10.2008 The Opera House - Toronto, ON
31.10.2008 The Serbian Centre - Sudbury, ON
02.11.2008 Royal Albert - Winnipeg, MB
03.11.2008 *TBA - Regina, SK
04.11.2008 The Mead Hall - Edmonton, AB
05.11.2008 The Thirsty Dog - Calgary, AB
06.11.2008 Rutland Centennial Center - Kelowna, BC
07.11.2008 The Cobait - Vancouver, BC
08.11.2008 Sopranos - Victoria, BC
09.11.2008 Roll a Dome - Prince George, BC
If you enjoyed this, read Amon Amarth