Swedish metal band Hearse united members of Furbowl in the year 2000 including Johan Liiva who was formerly the frontman for Arch Enemy.
The band would sign to Hammerheart Records for three albums. The label would release the band's debut in 2003. The band would release a 7" EP called Torch before its debut. The band's second album was issued in the spring of 2004. Karmageddon Media issued the Cambodia EP as an appetizer for the band's third album in the winter of 2005. The EP featured nine songs with a playing time of over 40 minutes. The band signed a deal with Cold Records in the summer of 2005. The group had recently issued a new album, The Last Ordeal, through Karmageddon Media. The group signed with Vic Records in 2008. The band’s fifth album, Single Ticket To Paradise, was out on June 15th 2009 through Vic Records. The album came with a bonus live DVD recorded in 2004. Following the release of Single Ticket To Paradise Hearse played its very first concert in its home country of Sweden on October 24th in Stockholm at Kafé 44. General Surgery and Uncurbed were asked to open.
HEARSE - ARMAGEDDON MON AMOUR - KARMAGEDDON/CANDLELIGHT
Hearse is the band of Johan Liiva (i.e. Johan Axelsson) formerly of Arch Enemy. Unsurprisingly Armageddon Mon Amour, a title obviously inspired by the film Hiroshima Mon Amour (and a good song by Alcatrazz incidentally), bears much resemblance to Arch Enemy's debut album Black Earth minus the guitar playing of Mike Amott. The vocals of Liiva are reminiscent of his work on Black Earth, the roller coaster ride of fast then heavy riffs and the pounding drums are all 1995 Arch Enemy. Even guitarist Ljung throws in the odd stormy guitar piece to keep things stimulating.
The album begins with Mountain Of The Solar Eclipse which has a Motorhead-ish quality to it. In Love And War probably holds the album's heaviest riff, Cambodia takes the band into a Helloween mood momentarily, Play Without Rules has great frantic guitar work, Determination has a gothic vibe to it given Liiva's vocals and the album ends with a dramatic slower song which is also the album's title track. Elsewhere on the album the listener will also come across instrumental interludes and even an organ piece. It is not as diverse as this review makes it seem and fans of good heavy metal and old Arch Enemy will probably appreciate the new Hearse album. - Ali "The Metallian"
"Abracadabra, abracadabra," sings the transatlantic voice and thereby completes the obligatory tape check that precedes any interview. The voice belongs to drummer Max Thornell who, along with singer/bassist Johan Liiva and guitarist Mattias Ljung, represents the band Hearse. The Swedes have just released their second album for Karmageddon Media and Max is happy to be calling into Metallian Towers for an interview and the chance to promote the new release Armageddon, Mon Amour CD. Read on for an interview with Hearse as conducted by Ali "The Metallian" - 15.04.2004
MAX: Our music is much more rock 'n roll than Arch Enemy. It is closer to Motorhead, one of my favourite bands.
METALLIAN: ... which is something I mentioned in my review of the album, but first things first. How about we begin by your explaining the origin for the name Hearse?
MAX: All three of us in the band wrote a list of the names we wanted for the band in order to have something to pick from and both Johan and I had the name Hearse in our list!
Do you know the old English punk band Rudimentary Peni? That's where we got the name from. They have a song called Hearse. They have several songs with the word 'Hearse' in it.
METALLIAN: How did the band come together? Johan and you had parted company following the demise of the band Furbowl.
MAX: Furbowl disbanded in 1994 and we formed Wonderflow. Later, I joined a couple of other bands like Satanarchy and Johan was pretty fed up with music at the time, but he started Arch Enemy with Michael Amott. When he left Arch Enemy a couple of years ago, I had a few songs, wanted to start a new band and thought about my old friend Johan. He has a great voice and is a good friend of mine so it was natural to have him in the band.
METALLIAN: Where did you find Matthias Ljung?
MAX: He was an old colleague of mine at a school I used to teach. He was also a grade teacher there. We also played together in a school band which did not have a name. We played stuff like Beatles cover songs. He doesn't listen to metal which is why I asked him to join. I wanted someone who had a fresh outlook and ideas for the music. He does listen to old Kiss and Alice Cooper, but he hadn't even heard death metal, for example, before he joined.
METALLIAN: You are both a drummer and a guitarist. Do you have a preference?
MAX: I don't care actually. I have mostly played the drum, but nowadays I am evolving on the guitar and not on the drums. It is more fun to play the guitar right now. I am a lousy guitarist, but I am getting there.
METALLIAN: Has the band considered recruiting a drummer and having you take over second guitar duties?
MAX: Mmmm... we have been talking about it, yup. Right now we will stay a trio though. If we get a tour we will have a session bassist. Johan hasn't played the bass and done the vocals at the same time for a long time so he really can't manage it nowadays. We have a bassist called Jocke who is also in Satanarchy and Rise And Shine which is a hard rock band.
METALLIAN: Elsewhere, is the album's title inspired by the movie Hiroshima Mon Amour? It can also be construed as a play on words given how you are signed to Karmageddon Media.
MAX: (Laughingly) Karmageddon Mon Amour! I don't know where Johan got the title from really. I know about the movie, but don't know how we got that album title! It is also a line from the first album. I don't think he got it from the label's name though. When he came up with the title they were called Hammerheart Records. He probably got it from the movie. He's a thief, isn't he (laughs again)?
METALLIAN: What was the band's intention when writing for the album? Was there any conscious planning involved?
MAX: We don't plan very much. To be honest, most of the album came to me when I was walking my dog. It is in my head all of a sudden and I have to run home and record it so I won't forget it. That's actually the truth. I actually did most of the album walking the dog.
METALLIAN: The dog should receive some royalty.
MAX: Yes, definitely. He should get some big bones. It is a mix between a Labrador and a Sheppard. It is a big black dog. It's quite a big dog.
METALLIAN: Is the album's diversity a function of the time span it was written in or did the songs come together fairly quickly?
MAX: The first album was released in April of 2003 and most of the songs were written after that so there was some time, but the diversity comes as a result of my listening to different types of music. I listen to pop music, soft music and Napalm Death! That explains the diversity, I guess.
If we get some money from our label we would like to record a new album this summer. Then we will be like Motorhead and old Kiss releasing an album every year. They always released at least one album a year. We already have ten new songs for the next album. It will be a bit faster than this one.
On the current album Mountain Of The Solar Eclipse is like Discharge. It's punky. Both Johan and I come from that scene. We are also into Motorhead, so they are in there too. I love early Motorhead with Fast Eddie on guitar and Philthy on drums, that line-up. In Satanarchy we have a tribute song to Fast Eddie actually called Fast Eddie Clarke! Did you notice we have a song by Kim Wilde on the album called Cambodia?
METALLIAN: I did, but only after I reviewed the album. The absence of lyrics to the song Cambodia made me look twice and that is when I noticed it.
MAX: I actually got in touch with the person who does her web site and he gave a copy of the song to her. That is cool. She lives in America, I guess. She is still around. She just sang a duet with Nena, the German singer. The song is really really good. I really like the first two Kim Wilde albums. I recently saw Kim Wilde on Swedish television. She was on a talk show.
METALLIAN: Back to Hearse, In Love And War is a very heavy song.
MAX: To be honest, we were thinking about not including the song on the album. None of us liked that song much. It is strange because many people have told us that In Love And War is their favourite song. It is not one of my favourites, I can tell you.
METALLIAN: So will you trust yourself and do what you want next time or reckon that since you don't like a song it has to go on the album?
MAX: We do what we want. Karmageddon Media also tells us what they think and we talk about it. We send them more songs than actually appear on the album. We always record two or three extra songs. That way you have a choice. We had fifteen songs this time and eleven got on the album. Two of the ones that didn't make it this time will be rerecorded and will appear on the next album. The other three were crap.
METALLIAN: What you are saying is that those three songs could be your most popular songs if released.
MAX: Yeah, probably (chuckles)!
METALLIAN: Was Johan's intention to sound gothic on the song Determination?
MAX: Do you know the old Swedish band Stillborn? When we talk within the band about vocal styles for different songs we use terms like 'the Stillborn thing,' or 'the witch' (makes a screeching sound) or 'the thunder' (growls)! On that song he was doing 'the Stillborn thing!'
Everyone should check out Stillborn's first album Necrospirituals. It's a fantastic album. The second one is good too, but features a different singer. The vocalist on the first album sounds like Johan on the song Determination.
METALLIAN: Why did you include an organ interlude on the album?
MAX: Yes, we included an organ solo. We thought it will really annoy some metal fans. 'They will hate us' we thought so we had to do it.
I am really into 70's hard rock like Deep Purple. An old colleague of mine called John Gripe played it.
METALLIAN: What is next for Hearse?
MAX: It looks like we will tour in Europe in the autumn. Nothing is set though. Karmageddon Media is talking about it. We would like to tour, but not for extended periods. I am studying further to be a proper teacher at school. I used to work at a school in Stockholm. The school is on an island in a wealthy area. The rich people live there and I got all the girls in the class to listen to metal. I was really satisfied with that!
That was my cue to let the man return to his studies so he can get his diploma and corrupt more young minds as soon as possible. Visit www.hearse.se and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or offers of Rush and Motorhead bootlegs which Max would very much appreciate.