Necrophobic are currently riding on the waves of deserved recognition. Finally. These Swedish black/death worshippers have always put out quality albums, but through the years, something was always missing – was it the production, the distribution, or something else. With 2018’s masterpiece Mark Of The Necrogram, the band released a career highlight and now, two years later, Dawn Of The Damned not only steps up to its predecessor’s quality, but arguably even surpasses it. Drummer Joakim Sterner, who is also the only original band member left in the present line-up, is ready to answer our questions.
So, starting with well deserved congratulations for the next excellent Necrophobic album, it is interesting to know if it was it difficult and was it a pressure for the band to come up with a follow up to such a successful release as Mark Of The Necrogram?
“Thanks a lot! Since Sebastian (Ramstedt, guitarist) is the main songwriter, I cannot answer with 100% certainty, but from what he has told, he was in such creative mood around the time when Mark Of The Necrogram came out, so just a little time later, he had come up with a few new songs already. All of us, of course, cannot be the judges on if we have succeeded to make a follow up to the, as you correctly say, a successful release. We of course think so ourselves and now that the feedback from our fabs are coming to our awareness, it seems like we did.”
The production is a bit more organic and raw this time. The guitars are really put to the front and sound amazing. How did you work with Fredrik Folkare on realizing your ideas for the album’s sound?
“I agree. We do as we always do, and that is to have a discussion on how we want the soundscape to be like. This time, we actually said that we wanted it to sound like our last album as much as it could, but since these are new songs, recorded in a different time capsule and not created by machines, it obviously doesn’t sound exactly the same.”
Dawn Of The Damned is also the studio debut of bassist Allan Lundholm. What was the reason for the line-up change?
“To connect this to the previous question, Allan’s bass playing has also contributed to the new and a bit different sound of the album. So, to sum this up, we think we got the sound that can easily be described as “Mark of the Necrogram +”. Same but better! The reason was that Alex first of all moved up to the northern parts of Sweden which made it difficult to do rehearsals properly. Everyone can of course practice by their own, but to be a tight live band, you have to rehearse as a full band also. It became a problem that could have grown into something bigger, in a negative perspective. Adding to this was also that we had to bring in a session bass player to be able to go through a bunch of summer festivals and mini tours as Alex had to step down due to health illness. That session bass player was Allan, which later led Allan becoming our new permanent bass player.”
I have listened to the album at least 10 times so far and what makes impression is that, apart from the immediate hymns with your trademark riffs and sound, there are also a few tracks, like Tartarian Winds, The Shadows and The Return Of A Long Lost Soul which sound really varied and bring forth new nuances and layers to your style. The new album is maybe less immediate than Mark.. and requires repeated listens to be fully appreciated. Did you specifically aim at creating more layered and not so immediate album this time?
“Spot on! As Sebastian’s songs progressed, we came to exactly that conclusion ourselves and we thought that this would make this album a great follow up to the last one, but at the same time, as you pointed out, make the listeners listen to the new album a few more times to get into all things, that is not served directly, so to speak. It will grow with each listen and you will eventually hear and understand all the layers and then discover the album’s greatness and full impact.”
Both the vocals and the drumming in Dawn Of The Damned are a highlight and in my opinion even better than in the previous album, so – some nice words should be said for both Anders and you. How does the band contribute and work together to the fleshing out of the songs?
“Thanks. Again. We are older, wiser and better – all of us – on our instruments. And I have to point out again, the importance of rehearsing together and keep our tightness going, which also contributes to how we sound on recordings as well. The songwriting and the understanding of our strengths and weaknesses is also part for this progress. We all contribute in one way or the other, but none of us forces his own ideas upon the others, just for the sake of wanting to contribute.”
The last song Devil’s Spawn Attack is a killer old school sounding black thrash hymn, which even features the legendary Schmier as a guest. Was it easy to have him on the album?
“Easy? Yes! Haha. Well, the thing was that this song had this special character that reminded us about what we grew up with, in a way. I guess it was the opening riff in particular. But some of us threw out an idea to have Schmier as a guest on that song. If you know about Necrophobic historically, you know that we almost always have had guest musicians on our albums. So this is not some new stuff we came up with. Anyway, none of us knows Schmier personally, as it was the case with all our other guests in the past, and Schmier is also someone that is an old hero for us from the 80’s, when we first discovered this kind of extreme metal. So, we asked him through our manager if he was up for doing vocals together with Anders on that particular song and sent him the pre-production demo of that song and he more or less instantly agreed to do it. He said that he liked the song right away, and with his words, “reminded me of the scene back in the early days”.
Judging from that same song, as well as some cover songs you recorded in the past, you are obviously thrash metal fans. What are your top three thrash albums from the golden years?
“Wow, tough one. Metallica Ride The Lightning has to be there. Very important one for me. Slayer’s Reign In Blood must also be there. I am not trying to say something odd or different just to be special or to stand out, so these two may be the same as for everyone. A top 10 would probably differ. OK, third one. It’s a tie between Pleasure To Kill by Kreator and Eternal Devastation by Destruction.”
Dawn Of The Damned is just released and it has been heavily promoted with three professional videos, but unfortunately, we will not be able to witness the band live as soon as we would wish to. How did the pandemic influence your way of living and working within the band? We know Sweden didn’t impose almost any restricting measures.
“Of course we had restrictions. Way more than maybe reached the international press, but it may have come across that we just didn’t give a shit. Which is wrong. The band didn’t meet for rehearsals for a while and kept close contact and got updated on everyone’s situation and acted upon that. But we had to keep on working for our new album, with making the videos and stuff like that and that work was made very restricted with everyone involved. The album was first scheduled for a release in August, but got postponed to October.”
Dawn Of The Damned is out since October 9th through Century Media Records and can be ordered HERE