The name may or may not be familiar. But it deserves to be better known. The power trio gives it heaps with each and every album. Straddling Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and Doom, they are incredibly creative and consistent. “Eyes of the Demon” easily reaches the high calibre of the band’s back catalogue. Perhaps it’s a little less melancholic than my personal favourite, “Tears from the Grave” yet no less enjoyable for the upbeat manner and delivery. Having had over a year for reflection this is what the Swedes had to say…
Welcome Patrick to Pariah Child! How have the winter months been in your hometown? Hibernating?
Thanks for having me! It’s been quite a gentle winter this far with only a couple of days with -25 to -30 degrees. Not too much snow, but enough for skiing. It also saw the release of the second album by Quicksand Dream, entitled “Beheading Tyrants” LP. An epic/heavy/doom album with both Henrik and Andreas from Mortalicum handling the drums, and of course my old QD brother, Göran Jacobson, handling the vocals and lyrical content.
Weather aside, your fourth album has that warmth and clarity that really does the song writing justice. How and when were the compositions actually created? Were you aware of any themes developing during that budding period?
Great to hear! I feel I have really improved on my engineering (recording/mixing/mastering) abilities for these last two albums. I believe the song writing started quite quickly after the recording of “Tears From the Grave” CD. For that album, we set out to not restrain ourselves in regards to song length. But for “Eyes of the Demon” we decided for a more straightforward, 45 minutes, album approach. I believe we already started quite soon after we had finalized the recording of our previous album.
Please describe the emotional experience of capturing those songs over a six month period. Was it not difficult to focus and maintain the momentum? If not an issue, which circumstances actually brought out the best from the band?
We have a certain way of working. The creation and recording process for this album was actually very smooth. For the drum tracks, which are recorded first, we focused on 1 or 2 songs at a time. When they were finished we moved on and rehearsed another couple of songs and recorded them. That was the main difference from before, when we used to rehearse all songs and then record them. We save a lot of the creativity for the actual recordings. Most leads and vocal harmonies are developed during the recording phase. So, we need the time to be able to try, rehearse and reflect until we are satisfied. The fact that I handle the recording, mixing and mastering myself gives us the possibility to continue until we really feel we are happy with the result.
So like the old parable, does slow and steady win the race? Or is the race ongoing?
I think we’ve been very productive having managed to release four albums over a 5 year period. We started on new songs basically as soon as we finished the recording of each previous album. In addition to the albums, we’ve put exclusive bonus songs on our label’s compilation albums too. However, after the release of our latest effort, we’ve slowed down a bit, so slow and steady actually fits the description today!
As with the music, there is an inherent honesty in all that the band has to say. What moves and inspires you collectively?
The main inspiration is the feeling of making music together that we enjoy. We don’t try hard to be or make something we can’t stand behind.
The lyrics appear to be riddled with astrological metaphors. Galaxies, suns and stars. The seasons. Are they intended to parallel the journey of life, passing relationships and soul searching?
For this album, I felt I needed a new approach on the lyrical content to find inspiration. The lyrics on this album offer a bit more variety than on previous ones. Some are a bit deeper and allow the possibility to reflect on life and values, some are darker and some are just fantasy.
“Lost Art of Living” and “Room of No Light” explore darker social dilemmas. Would you offer insight into that fear, isolation and threat of extinction? Why are they relevant topics?
“Lost Art of Living” made me reflect on our drive to explore the possibility to colonize Mars. It’s an extreme view where we have used all our resources to enable this, and while there, we look back thinking it wasn’t too bad on old Mother Earth after all. It also ends with a closing line touching the theory that life at earth one time started with a meteor hitting Mars, throwing rocks with lifeforms out in space that eventually landed on Earth. “Room of No Light” was initially called “Dark Side of the Doom” as a project title, an obvious wordplay with the old Floyd classic. I could not find any inspiration to write lyrics for it but fortunately Henrik stepped in and wrote a really dark lyric about one if these nut-cases kidnapping people and hiding them in their basements. There have been too many examples recently with these sick feckers…
War never really goes away. Did the charging rhythm, melodies and lyrics of “The Distant Brave” help expel any of your frustration with backseat generals and politicians who call the shots?
Unfortunately not! Well, basically it was just my simple reflection on the differences between old and modern warfare. The music came first on this one, so I definitely got inspiration from the rhythms and riffs to explore the subject lyrically.
Even though “The Dream Goes Ever On” is fraught with fighting and inner turmoil, there is a sense of hope. Would you characterize yourself and the band as having a positive outlook or at least being prepared to struggle for a better life?
Exactly! There is always hope. The dream must go on! We definitely have a positive view on things…
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the album opens with the explosive positivity of “King of the Sun” and “Onward In Time” underlines it with gusto at the end! The latter is particularly poetic. Would you care to comment on that closing core message?
Nope, it’s definitely no coincidence. The core message is that you should look forward and try your best instead of looking back. Live, love and forget. All that flower power shit… Ha! Ha! No, seriously, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck with issues from the past instead of letting past be past and move on. As far as I know, we only have one life so you might just want to make the best out of it.
How important is it to shape the structure of a record? Did you deliberate long and hard to make it flow?
Really important! I put a lot of effort into how an album is structured. This is something I have done on all the albums I have been involved in. I think the wrong song order can ruin a song, but if it is done right all songs can reach higher levels. Fast songs become more energetic and slow songs become even heavier…
Well, the start, middle and end would carry little weight without strong chapters! But which is your favourite song here? Why?
This is always a tough one to answer. All songs are special in one sense or the other. But for me personally, as a whole, I really enjoy “Beneath the Oak” because Henrik’s vocals on this one turned out exactly the way I pictured it for the music. Delivered with great feeling and emotion. The lyrical topic is also close to heart. The interaction between all instruments in the lead part is great and the lead itself is amazing. The ending is perfect. It’s also a really fun song to play so I just love it! Ha! Ha!
Undoubtedly “Iron Star” is a another gleaming jewel from the introductory bass line and thick groove, the powerful chorus followed by that riff charge, lead break and the galloping bass underneath. Then the final choral refrain. Killer! Surely it’s a live favourite?
Absolutely! This one is really fun to play live. Definitely one of the favorites from the album…
For me though, “Onward in Time” is the crowning glory and very much the epitome of Mortalicum! It strikes the right balance of drive, strength and heart. Genuinely moving vocal melodies and lead guitar breaks too. What’s your secret? How deep have those trio of roots grown together? Friends for life?
Damn it… you found out our secret recipe! Ha! Ha! These elements are exactly what I want in music. We’ve played together 10 years now and even though the last couple of years have been much slower we have really grown together and can easily get up to speed with just a couple of rehearsals. Definitely friends for life!
Returning to the whole, there are a couple of puzzling aspects. Why was “Eyes of the Demon” chosen as the title track? Is either the music or its lyrics really that central to their surroundings?
We thought it was a good song to use as a title track because of the chorus. But we also very much enjoy the drive and groove of the main riff. The same reason we chose “Progress of Doom” as a title track for our first album. For that album, the choice was between “Progress of Doom” and “Into the Night” actually. For this album, in this aspect, the choice for us was easier.
The artwork appears to be a literal depiction of the title. But why this painting? Why Lucifer? Again, does it fit? Or were you playing safe to Metallic convention?
We were given several options from our label. But in the end, they firmly believed in this painting and it turned out well with the purple coloring. Just like our previous album, “Tears From the Grave” it is very closely connected with the actual title. I guess if you are not going super deep or poetic you might as well choose something that is closely connected together. I can’t say it is the best cover of all times, but it is definitely not the worst either. In the end, it is just a cover. Sorry about the rant. Yes, we played it safe! Ha! Ha!
To be honest, the cover sleeve deserves better! Surely the tumultuous narrative of inner struggle could have been better captured by a full moon over a stormy sea? Or Mars and the doomed lost children of the stars?
I guess I should say thank you. The music is what counts in the end!
That’s very true! But to be blunt, did the fact that the release schedule was brought forward by six months have an impact? With more time, might the sleeve have looked different?
Time of course is always a factor. But I have to state that musically we were basically already finished when we got the question if we could be ready for an earlier release. Maybe the cover would have been different if it was planned more in advance. Maybe not.
Moving on to promotion, how important is it to have the opportunity to share your music on and off the stage?
I would say essential, without a doubt!
Do you perceive a particular audience out there that might appreciate your albums? Does it matter? Would any willing ear suffice?
No, it does not matter. Anyone, and everyone, is of course welcome to give us a listen!
In the past, I have drawn comparisons of Mortalicum to Revelation. Throughout “Eyes of the Demon” I thought of both John Brenner and Dennis Cornelius. Is it just my perception or might there be a spiritual home for you somewhere in Maryland?
Well, we don’t have any (known) relatives in Maryland and none of us have been there. Maybe we all drank from the same well of classic blues-based hard rock at some point in time…?
In recent times, perhaps Malta has become a more important location! Having never been, would you please provide an in-depth perspective of the Doom Days as a musician playing there as well as a member of the audience?
All I say, go there! It’s such a great event hosted by the most loving and dedicated people. There is always a great mix of genres. Not too crowded so you can easily interact with fans, bands and friends.
What has been your best and worst live experiences to date? What have you learned from them and where do you hope to reach next?
There have been a couple of shows with terrible sound on stage. I remember when we played in Leeds it was so fucking loud I couldn’t see straight. The sound pressure bent the light! The best ones were in Wakefield, in Malta and in Austria. We performed really well and the audience response was great.
Jowita and Simone work hard to champion the bands on the Metal on Metal roster. How has that relationship developed over four albums? Could you imagine having any other home?
I believe they now know us as very reliable when it comes to quality and delivery. We are very open and honest about everything and I think this is appreciated. The cooperation has been easy and non-complicated, so we have really not thought about changing label.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure. We are currently working on the live video recording from our recent Malta show. But we’ll have to see what the result will be. Of course, we’re also always interested in playing live, so we’ll see what offers turn up…
In my eyes, Mortalicum is still flying below the radar. The band has a rare gift with song craft second to none. On the surface, it may seem simple, straightforward or good honest fun. But those hooks, those melodies, speak to the soul. For those that need convincing to give you a go, even just once, what would you say?
Thank you very much for your kind and truly inspiring words! That’s basically exactly what we set out to do. Well, we can’t do much more than perform our very best and that’s our promise to anyone willing to give us a try. I’m pretty sure that anyone who likes classic Hard Rock, Doom and/or Heavy Metal will find something they like about us…
Thanks for your time, Patrick! The pleasure was all mine. Onward…
Thanks you very much Danny for your support and for an insightful interview. Much appreciated!
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