Lords of Metal
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Tom Englund: “When we make a record, it is like a movie for your inner eye.”

Sinds het ontstaan van de Zweedse progressieve metal band Evergrey in 1993, heeft de band al meermaals woelige wateren doorzwommen. Deze emoties werden door Tom S. Englund en zijn kompanen altijd in prachtige songs gesmeed. Nu de frontman ook nog gescheiden leeft van zijn Carina, was dit het diepgravende onderwerp van een minutieus opgebouwde trilogie die gecompleteerd wordt door het magistrale ’The Atlantic’. Tom en drummer Jonas Ekdahl staan ons vanuit de Rock Inc kantoren in Nederland te woord om deze release in de schijnwerpers te plaatsen.

Door: Vera – 3 maart 2019

This appears to be the third part of the ‘Hymns For The Broken’ trilogy. On which topics does this part focus?
Tom: It is just a continuation of the storyline from the beginning of somebody who discovers that he needs to make a move in his life, starting to realize that the current situation is not ideal or even something that could be going on for many more months. It is about that process. ‘The Storm Within’ would be about the frustration and the fears, but also the realization that it finally is going to happen. ‘The Atlantic’ is about actually putting your feet into the water, step into the boat and starting your journey. The journey is what ‘The Atlantic’ is about.

That’s why you compare it with the ocean and diving into the deep to have a kind of new vibration in your life?
Tom: Yes exactly. The Atlantic is the ocean that is closest to us and I think it is a good sounding word. It has a nice ring to it when you say it. It is deep, threatening and dark, like the album in a way.

After all these years you managed to surprise me, not only with the first song which is really heavy, but all album long blew me away… What did you do to achieve this?
Tom: I started playing with a whammy bar on my guitar for the first time and I could not stop anymore hehe. I just thought: oh my God, this is fun.

Jonas: Thank you. I think it is a very playful album. When you listen to it, you can hear that we enjoy playing these songs, but at the same time we brim with confidence and seriousness about it, it kind of stands out, which I really like. It was important for us to capture exactly that vibe and even mistakes during the recordings. Just to have that feel and have it more analogue and dirty, instead of just sounding perfect and clinical.

Yes, the first song ‘A Silent Arc’ is really a stunner and heavy! Can you tell a bit more about it, how you constructed this song?
Jonas: It was actually the first song we wrote and finished for this album. Usually we start off the whole process by listening to ideas we have written on our own and then we pick out the best parts and start working on writing songs. Somehow that riff just happened to be very aggressive and we kept on holding this aggression. It just sounds natural and more spontaneous. We really like that direction, having a bit more aggression made the dynamics even bigger when we went to softer parts again. It is just a natural process.

Tom: I think this first song greatly represents the whole album in a good way, a kind of mini format of the album. It is great that we are still hungry searching for new horizons beyond our established sound we obtained through the years. New horizons on the music making and production side of things. It keeps us on our feet and it keeps us satisfied and happy, you know.

But still you achieved that with the same people involved I think, because you recorded the album in Gothenburg and it was produced by Jacob Hansen. Still there is a noticeable difference between all the albums…
Jonas: Thank you. That’s the whole point. The sound on this album is super intentional. This time we knew exactly how we wanted it to sound, in reverse to ‘The Storm Within’, which is a bit colder in my opinion. We wanted a bit more grit and attitude and rawness.

Tom: We wanted to keep what we felt and heard when we first recorded it, without losing the vibe and the dirt of our initial recording. We did not want to make it different too much. We wanted it to sound pretty much as we recorded it as preproduction demos, but hundred times better (laughs). We feel comfortable now at the Top Floor Studios, we have been working there before. I really like the drum sound. It is in the middle of Gothenburg and we are able to stay there. It is super convenient. It was a no brainer to record there again. Of course, having Jacob Hansen as the mixer is very comfortable too, he is like a part of our team now for so long. He is a fantastic guy with an amazing set of ears and he is super professional.

Another trademark is the use of samples. Can you tell anything about those ‘spoken word’ parts?
Tom: That’s also something we have been doing for a while. When we make a record, it is like a movie for your inner eye, you know. All these small things, all those elements make our entire, complete sound and storyline, at least for us. We mainly make those records to please ourselves. That’s why we are super happy that we have so much fans that like us these days. Those samples are all related to relationships and the problems getting along with that.

’Departure’ is a track that leaps to the eye. How did it come into being?
Tom: This one started with a keyboard riff from Rikard Zander. We always try out all the ideas. When Rikard brings something in, me and Jonas make it into a song and on this day I think the song was ready in one day, which is pretty unusual. Usually when we got stuck, that’s how it happens. We wanted this song based on bass and drums and acoustic guitar, rather than on electric guitars. It is something we did on the last three albums as well. It was excellent for the dynamics of the album, instead of being heavy all the time. We love to tear it down sometimes. It is an approach we like a lot because it leaves so much room for the vocals. It fits perfectly in the order of the songs as well.

In ‘End Of Silence’ lyrics haunted me, more precisely that the weather defines your mood. Is that the case?

Tom: Especially the sea is influential. I live very close to the sea. The ocean is the representative of life for me, being that close to the ocean is being very close to nature’s strength. We originate from the sea, maybe there is a code in us that makes us drawn to the ocean as well. The weather and being close to the weather when you are on the coast, is something I enjoy very much.

Are there guest appearances on the album?
Tom: No, not at all this time.

In general, do you think that Sweden is doing enough in conserving the nature that surrounds us?
Tom: I think we all can do much better. I think the environment care is something that we all need to pay attention to, because it is going extremely fast, but at the same time people think that environment is important until they are flying to a foreign country on holidays, or stepping into their car or eating meat or whatever. We need to cut down and tear down on things that hurt us, but it is not so easy. We need a behavior change that needs to be taught into the kids that are growing up now and that’s going to be very hard, since we are living in this consuming environment and society today. We waste money and our world.

What can you tell about the visual aspects, like video clips?
Jonas: We are going to record our next official video clip next Monday. We have plans for two videos plus the bonus video you can see for ‘A Silent Arc’ which is not really a music video, but a thing you can listen to on your iPhone to get familiar with the music. We added some amazing landscapes and sceneries to it from the places where we live, close to the sea with loads of small islands. Yes, I am super excited to make the next clips and I think it is going to be very cool. At least for the second video it is with a script, the other one will be a performing video. It is for the song ‘Weightless’ and the other one for the song ‘All I Have’.

What can you tell about the artwork?
Tom: The artwork is done by a guy called Giannis Nakos. He contacted me on line and asked me if he could do our next artwork. At that time I was really stressed and I immediately said yes, go ahead. I just told him that I wanted a ship that was broken and he came up with something great. Very easy. It is perfect.

What are the plans for touring?
Tom: We start with some gigs in Sweden and then we will do a longer tour in Europe with Kamelot in March. We continue after that in Europe as headliner and after the Summer festival season, we will do a North American tour in autumn. Including ProgPower in the USA.

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