April 19th, 666
THE DUSKFALL - FRAILTY - BLACK LOTUS
THE DUSKFALL - SOURCE - BLACK LOTUS
One of the better albums recently imported into Metallian Towers is The Duskfall's Frailty. The album, with the ironic title, gained the approval of the royal court and went as far as receiving the ultimate seal of approval being granted the title of The Album Of The Month for April of 2003. Given the impressive qualities of the newcomer Swedish act, Ali "The Metallian" summoned guitarist Mikael Sandorf for an interview. - 24.04.2003
METALLIAN: Mike, thank you for your time. Given your newcomer status, most readers may not be familiar with The Duskfall. Do you care to fill them in?
MIKE: Thank you for the chance to speak. The band was formed in January, 1999 by myself and other guitarist Glenn Svensson. Back then the band was supposed to be more of a 'jam-slash-cover' metal-project dedicated to playing metal in the vein of Pantera and Judas Priest. It only took a couple of rehearsals, however, before we realized that we wanted to put together a full-time band, playing our own music. At that time I had plans for doing a solo project following the burial of Gates Of Ishtar (Mike's prior band), which was named Duskfall. I changed my mind though and donated the already-written material to this new project instead!
We started to work on the first couple of songs and sought the right members to fill the empty spots within the band. We had three years of struggle with members who didn't have the time to give full attention to the band. What ensued was fucked-up recordings that sounded like crap! After deciding to give it one last chance, we got Oskar Karlsson to kill the drums and Kaj Molin to slaughter the bass. And we had a full line-up! In the summer of 2001, we started to rehearse for the recording of the Deliverance promo. The new members meant we could bring our music to a new level, adding more technicality and advanced structures to the songs. This also forced me to give up the vocals and focus on my guitar playing. The microphone was handed over to Kai Jaakkola from Deathbound. Here we are today.
METALLIAN: The band's moniker may or may not mean the obvious.
MIKE: It is a combination of two words. Dusk means when the sun sets for the day and darkness covers the world. Fall means to fall from grace. One could say that we are 'The fallen from grace at dusk.' I just liked the sound and intentions of the name so we chose it.
METALLIAN: You say that the band decided to play its own music. Does that imply that Duskfall was initially a cover band?
MIKE: Yes, we started out as a cover band, but the idea was to get back into the rehearsal-mode and play metal as a band instead of sit at home and record songs on my computer. We did that for a couple of weeks which lead to my getting the spirit back to jump into the game again. It felt so weird playing other peoples' music when I had ideas for songs of my own which were more fun for me to play.
METALLIAN: Going back, why did the Gates Of Ishtar permanently close?
MIKE: We had many problems within the band in the past and also with our label at the time, Invasion Records. It all came to a point when we decided to close the gates. We still are in contact with each other and since we all has grown as people and musicians there might be a reunion in the future but nothing is booked right now.
METALLIAN: Let us go back to the future, how did you obtain the recording deal with Black Lotus?
MIKE: We started out by mailing our Deliverance promo out. There were not any labels which showed interest or the correct ambitions. Regardless, we received an excellent response from the fans with that promo demo. It was only after one of our fans had downloaded several MP3 samples from our home page and played them for the staff at Black Lotus Records in Greece that we got signed and could release this debut.
METALLIAN: Are you the label's first non-Greek signing?
MIKE: No, I know of at least one other non-Greek band which is signed to the label, namely Dragonland which is a Swedish power metal band. I actually spoke to them before we proceeded to negotiate with Black Lotus just to make sure that the label's intentions were good.
METALLIAN: Let us peek closer at the album. What were you aiming for when writing and recording Frailty?
To be frank, I think we found our sound and balance at Dug-out Studios. Before entering the studio several of the songs were a bit more melodic than the end-result, but we discovered that our sound had to be more aggressive to fit the production created by producer Daniel Bergstrand! I am totally pleased with the way Frailty came out in the end. Those songs were written over a period of four years and I am content that we could fit them all into the framework of this recording. The next CD will incorporate more aggression and technicality into the songs' structure as we all aim to evolve as musicians.
METALLIAN: One of the highlights of Frailty is the guest guitarist. Who is he and how did he get involved with The Duskfall?
MIKE: Glenn and I talked a lot about the lead guitars for this album. We felt that we could not do the leads justice since we are both rhythm guitar players. It's one thing to play leads, but another to write good ones. Glenn told me about his old friend, Magnus Olsson, a guitar genius who lives in his hometown. We talked some more and decided to ask him to play lead on two songs just to give us a feel for where we should go with the leads. He got ecstatic and recorded some improvised leads at his home studio. I remember listening to the first solo for Age Of Errors. I could not close my mouth and after hearing the second solo I called Glenn and told him to tell Magnus that he had to do the rest of the solos! I think that Magnus did a great job writing interesting leads for this album and that they will be fun to play live. In the future, we might use Magnus again or simply try to put in some extra effort ourselves to write some interesting leads, who knows?
METALLIAN: Given how Magnus Olsson is a highlight of Frailty, what form will your proceeding without his input take?
MIKE: We have a new guitarist now. Glenn left the band right after the recording of Frailty. The new guitarist's name is Joachim Lindback. He is more of a lead guitar player than I or Glenn. I think that it will be interesting to see what he can will come up with for the future.
METALLIAN: Why did Glenn leave the band? Is he in another band?
MIKE: Glenn realised that he wouldn't be able to give the band all of his attention. He decided to leave the band in order to focus on his family and work. He is currently working two jobs, has two daughters and has also bought a house so his schedule is full for the next couple of years. He is currently not in any bands but I am sure that he will pick up the guitar again in the future.
METALLIAN: Let us talk about those who are in the band. Which band is Joachim Lindback from?
MIKE: Joachim had been playing in various thrash acts in the 80's. The one he played with the longest was Warning which also featured members from the old well-known Swedish act Hexenhaus.
METALLIAN: That is an interesting piece of trivia right there. Back to Frailty. Given the musical genre of your choice, is the album title not an odd choice?
MIKE: I think that the title is a perfect banner under which to gather all the different subjects and themes of our songs. It reflects on all that is wrong with the people of the world today. These include greed, religious fundamentalism and world pollution.
METALLIAN: "Greed, religious fundamentalism and world pollution," which is the worst manifestation of these in the world today, Mike?
MIKE: I just get sick of seeing people all over the world starving and lacking the proper medical supplies and education while there are people swimming in money and wealth (Truer words have not been spoken ATM). I mean, for instance, here in Sweden, one of the biggest owners of land and forests is the church. Why can't they with their "ask and ye shall receive" message sell all their land and help people with food and other necessary things? I don't understand how 'preachers,' like the TV evangelists, can have big meetings in their fifty million dollar churches when instead they can provide for the less fortunate people of the world - instead of stealing peoples money!
METALLIAN: What about your cover artwork and its artist? How does it relate to The Duskfall and the album? Do you agree with my review stating that the work is overtly influenced by Giger?
MIKE: I had a long talk with Seth, the layout guy. I told him about our aspirations for the theme of the album and sent him some of the lyrics that constituted the backbone for the album. I also told him which colours we preferred and the mood for the cover we expected. He did a great job. We gave him a free hand with the rest of the layout for the booklet and the T-shirts. I think that he has a very personal style. There may be similarities with some of Giger's works, but I think that he must have influenced many of today's artists with his sick and dark style.
METALLIAN: Mike, before we say goodbye can you fill the readers in with what is new with the band?
MIKE: Right now we are getting Joachim prepared for the live shows. We are writing music for the next full-length CD. We have many new ideas and I can't wait to start working on the new material. I have written four songs already and we have to rehearse and arrange them properly to get the best result possible for the next album.
METALLIAN: At which studio will you record the next album?
MIKE: We will go to Dug-out again and will spend five weeks recording the new album in August and September of 2003. We loved working with Daniel and feel very confident going back there to get an even deadlier production for the next album.
METALLIAN: Out of curiosity, what do you do occupation-wise?
MIKE: Hold on to your pants! I'm currently working at a kindergarten, watching the kids and taking care of things. I never thought I would do this for a living, but it is a decent job and brings beer to the table!
METALLIAN: Do your co-workers know about your darker side?
MIKE: They know that I'm a musician and play metal, but they are not into this genre of music so they don't really know much. They saw my tattoos last summer and their only reflections on my reaper and skulls were, 'cool, I'm thinking of doing a dolphin this summer!' They are not prejudging and hold a lot of respect for me so I'm happy with the situation.
METALLIAN: And as a final question, are any of the children at the kindergarten candidates for 'future metalhead?'
MIKE: Yeah, some of the boys are really interested in my tattoos and like to ask questions about the band and our music. I have played our CD for them and they thought it is cool. None of them had ever listened to metal before.
Ah, and at Duskfall the seeds of evil are sown! Singer Kai Jaakkola, guitarists Mikael Sandorf and Joachim Lindback, bassist Kaj Mollin and drummer Oskar Karlsson can be found on the Black Lotus Records' Frailty album. The band can also be reached through its web site at www.theduskfall.com.