December 30, 2022

Last November, doom titans Candlemass returned with Sweet Evil Sun, which is not only among the best releases in the genre this year, but happens to be the second consecutive (and third overall) album with original vocalist Johan Längquist. Was it a difficult task to follow the Grammy-nominated The Door To Doom? We called Long-time guitar player Mappe Björkman to find out.

Hello, Mappe. It’s a pleasure to talk to you for the first time. How do you like the media and the fans reactions to Sweet Evil Sun so far?

-So far it’s fantastic. I haven’t seen all of it yet. There was a bit of pressure for this album, because it follows The Door To Doom, which won the Swedish Grammy and was also nominated in America. But we had a lot of time to work on Sweet Evil Sun and it is the first album we worked on together with Johan. I think it’s a fantastic Candlemass album that we are very proud of.

We know that 2019’s The Door To Doom was entirely composed before Johan’s return as vocalist, so how was it now, working with him on the new album from the very beginning?

-Oh, it’s been fantastic. All these years while he was not in the band, it was not the right time for him to return. Now he’s a proper member for the first time and he is so happy the he was able to work with us from the beginning on this album. On Epicus, it was composed before he came in and so was The Door To Doom – he had three weeks to work on that album. It was already recorded with Mats and we decided at the last minute to re-record the vocals with Johan. Now, having the chance to finally work together, we will never change a thing again, unless he says “I don’t wanna be in the band”, but he is not going to do it, because he is so happy now.

That’s great for me to hear, especially as a fan! The album’s production sounds a bit different this time, especially the guitars. What did you change sound-wise in the studio?

-What we changed is we went back to the Seventies and we didn’t use lots of guitars – we used one guitar or two guitars. We did it simple but we got a really good sound. Then of course we had some more work on the harmonies and the choruses. We made it with a Seventies type of thinking, but with the sound of 2022. We used the old Marshall amplifiers and we sounded very heavy – that was the idea. Some people say we went back to Epicus, but I think we re-made it like it is 2022.  

How do you plan your setlist these days? How does Johan feel singing Messiah’s and Robert Lowe’s songs?

-Yeah, this is a really good question because we talk about it all the time. This year we actually played old songs only – songs from Epicus, Nightfall, plus Mirror, Mirror, but nothing newer than ’88. We wanted the new album to come out in November so that we can play some new songs in 2023. It’s very hard for us to do the setlists because we have so many albums and so many classics. If you take Well Of Souls or Crystal Ball out, people go “ohh, why didn’t you play that song!” – and it’s because we wanted to play something new! As for your question, Johan loves some of the Messiah songs – Samarithan is among his favorite songs from the setlist, as is Dark Are The Veils Of Death. We played Sweet Evil Sun last Saturday in Germany and it turned out really well. On the next tour, of course we won’t play 7 or 8 songs off the album, but two or three new songs for sure.

Mappe, having the chance to talk to you for the first time, tell us something about the band ATC, which you played for in their one and only album Cut In Ice in 1984.

-Fantastic question! I did about 55 interviews so far and it’s the first time somebody asks me about that. That was a start in my career, of course, I was 18 years old and we were a punk band in the beginning. My influences are punk rock like Sex Pistols, The Ramones and all this stuff. I think me and the singer started the band in 1979 and we signed with a label to release the album. It turned out more hard rock and I can’t listen to it, because it sounds so bad but it’s a classic Swedish hard rock album from 1984. I am proud of it, but I don’t think a reunion of ATC is ever gonna happen.

Is it possible to find the album somewhere nowadays or have you ever planned to re-release it?

-Some of the other guys have mentioned that, but I don’t know if it’s gonna happen. Some of the record stores still have copies of the vinyl and when it says “featuring Mappe from Candlemass” on the cover, it has become a collector’s item now. Maybe Vertigo will re-release it someday, who knows.

You released a one-off album with a band called Zoic in 1996 with Janne and Lasse. What do you remember from that period?

It’s very funny with that album, because I am on the picture, but I’m not on the album, haha. That was something they wanted to do but they didn’t ask me. We have always been such good friends and had a great time together but I said to them I couldn’t help them at thе time. Anyway, the picture was already taken with me. I had left the music industry totally – I sold my guitars to a guy in Sweden, who is a very famous comedian. Then in 2000 Messiah called me and asked if I were interested in doing something with Candlemass again because they were planning to re-release the old albums. I then had to re-buy all my guitars, haha. We were asked in 2001 to play Sweden Rock Festival and some other places and we are still here in 2022! So the reunion thing lasted a lot longer than the initial band. And the new album, even if done by us at sixty-years old is amazing.

What are your favorite guitar playerс – not only in metal?

-Ted Nugent! He is my favorite rock star. I bought my first record by him when I was 12 years old. Steve Jones from Sex Pistols is also a big influence – if you listen to Never Mind The Bollocks, this is still one of the best rhythm guitar sounds that you can have on an album.

Thanks for talking to Velvet Thunder, Mappe, and thank you and the guys for delivering such a great new album once again.

Thank you very, very much for supporting us, my friend, and for the great interview!

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You can buy Sweet Evil Sun from HERE