Grave - 23/07/2010

The Swedish Deathmetal icons GRAVE started out in 1986 under the name Corpse and changed it to Grave in 1988. Their debut full-length album ‘Into the Grave’ was released in 1991 and it became a death metal classic over the years. In 1992, the band released their second album ‘You'll Never See...’, which was a continuation of the style which they played on their debut. ‘Soulless’  - their third album, released in 1994 - showed a somewhat different style, blending more experimental and industrial tones into the death metal sound of their previous album. Sandström departed 1996 and Lindgren took over the vocals on the fourth Grave album ‘Hating Life’. This album progressed further into the path that was chosen on ‘Soulless’. A European and American tour followed, which resulted in the live album ‘Extremely Rotten Live’. Thereafter, the band more or less split up.

 

1999 was the year in which the GRAVE members rejoined and started rehearsing, nevertheless the band took it slow. Ultimately this led to a warm-up European tour and a new album in 2002 which was entitled ‘Back from the Grave’. With this album, the band returned to the style they played on their second album, ‘Fiendish Regression’ (2004), this album showcased more aggressive and generally faster songs. Two years later, in 2006, ‘As Rapture Comes’ was released. On this album the overall speed and aggression was increased even more. In November 2006 Grave toured Europe as part of the Masters of Death tour with Unleashed, Dismember, Entombed and Exterminator. In 2008 the band released ‘ ‘Dominion VIII’ (album number eight).

 

The sound on GRAVE’s recent release, entitled ‘‘Burial Ground’, did not come as a surprise. The fans know what to expect: classic, old school death metal.    

 

If you ask me, it is no coincidence that Entombed, Dismember and GRAVE have all recently released killer records. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the golden days of the nineties have returned, but old school Swedish Death Metal is definitely not dead! Although the new Grave record does not win first prize for originality, this album sounds great!

 

 

It appears there is much to talk about, so we tracked down drummer Ronnie Bergerståhl to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

 

Congratulations on your new album ‘Burial Ground’ which will be out soon, of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it. 

 

Ronnie here, drummer from Grave! Let’s go!

 

Here we go, first of all, how are you?

 

At the moment kinda tired after a weekend of heavy partying at the Metaltown Festival in Gothenburg. Me, Ola and LG Petrov from Entombed got the opportunity to catch a ride with a bunch of people from a Swedish website called "Crank It Up" so it was a very spontaneous trip to say the least haha.. Got to meet lots of friends though, Nile among others so it was really worth it!

 

Could you start this interview off with a little update on Grave, what’s been happening since your previous release ‘Dominion VIII’?

 

We did lots of touring for that album. Two European tours with our good friends from Nile, one tour in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries with Vader plus a really cool crazy tour which started in Singapore and ended in Brazil. Tons of one off shows and festivals with the highlights being Wacken Open Air, Summer Breeze and Brutal Assault. I need to tell you about that Singapore/Australia/New Zeeland/Brazil tour haha. We flew to Malaysia where we were supposed to play one show but that one got cancelled due to some other metal show one month earlier which didn't go that well.. However, we did some sight seeing of the city, had some really good food and then the organizer of the cancelled show put us on a luxury bus that took us to Singapore. When we arrived we were well received by the promoter there, I think he's the owner and founder of Pulverized Records, actually. After an amazing dinner we went to some record stores to sign some stuff and after that we went out for some beers. The show in Singapore was really cool and after the show we had a signing session for over 2 hours, lots of fun! The day after we flew to Australia, to Perth.. did one show there and then went off to Melbourne. LOTS of flying, oh my... the shows in Melbourne and Sydney were really good and the res wast ok.. After 5 shows in Aussie we went to New Zeeland to do one show in Auckland and that show, for me, was the best of the tour. Amazing response and one hell of an after party with our friends in Dawn of Azazel which we toured with in 2007 for the Immolation tour in Europe. Now we had a long flight ahead of us to Brazil... had to fly thru Argentina to transfer to Brazil.. Sao Paulo was the town we were heading for and when we got there we got to know that Acheron, the band that we were supposed to do the 3 shows with got in trouble with some connecting flights so the first show we had to do by ourselves. The 2nd day Vincent and Kyle arrived and we proceeded with the next 2 shows which were killer! All and all it was one of the toughest 18 days in my life but it was loads of fun too!!

 

How did you launch into writing the material for ‘Burial Ground’, did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

 

The first 5 songs were written very fast. Ola and I sat at home and recorded through our computers and put the ideas we came up with up on an ftp server, the same way we wrote the last album "Dominion VIII." When we had enough ideas we went to the rehearsal room to jam and the first song that we finished was "Liberation." I think we managed to get rough ideas for 3 songs during the first session we had.. We had a tour coming up with Nile and Krisiun in Nov and our original plan was to have all the music already recorded before we went on the tour but that didn't happen so we got a break for almost 1 1/2 months in the writing process and it took us until end of March before we had all the songs written and arranged. Too long I think but there was some stuff going on that I’m not gonna cover here...

 

 

Which approach did you choose to create this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?

 

Not really any different than before. We always aim to make the best record possible and if the songs don't feel as good as we want them to, we just continue until we feel satisfied enough to begin the recording. I think that this album is a worthy follow-up to ‘Dominion VIII’ and somewhat in the same vein as that album.

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Burial Ground’, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?

 

Of course to get an old school feel to it and also to try and re-create the sound we have when we play live. What you hear on the album is what we recorded, there's been extremely little editing and effects and shit like that. Just my drums, bass and the guitars running through a Marshall amp, nothing spectacular, very, very basic.

 

Was it a conscious decision to do it this way? 

 

It just felt natural to do it that way this time. The last album we put down to much energy to get everything to be "right" speaking in studio terms. You know, too much theory involved. This time Ola and I just went with our inner feeling and our ears to get it to sound the way WE wanted it to sound.

 

How hard was it to come up with a follow-up for your previous album ‘Dominion VIII’?

 

As I wrote earlier.. it took us some time to get it all finished but I guess we basically had all the riffs ready before the Nile tour, we just didn't realise it until we came back home and proceeded from where we left it 1 1/5 months earlier. It's not that hard to come up with riffs, the hard part is to sort out which riffs will fit with each other, that takes time within the writing process!

 

Did you spend a fair amount of time working on the record before heading over to record the album? How much time did you spend in the studio?

 

Not really.. I mean, I don't think songs will be better just because you stand in the rehearsal room and play them over and over and over again, or try out different arrangements when you rehearse. The pieces will come together one way or the other in the studio and with today’s technology when it comes to recording you can change the songs however you want after they're actually recorded.. I think we used that possibility twice on this album, but no major changes..

 

How did the recording process proceed, did you work differently this time than you did on your previous works?

 

For me it was a step back to the old days of recording as I didn't play against a click track. We just set the tempos for the songs, I counted and just went for it.. which I personally think was the right thing to do this time as the songs really came out as we wished and they got that live feeling to them which was our goal. The guitars were recorded the traditional way, with a Marshall amp through a Marshall 4x12 cabinet. What you hear on the album is what we recorded... No effects whatsoever and very, very little eq and stuff like that.. The album sounds very natural and alive!

 

Is there a typical process for Grave when you are in the studio?

 

We're kinda picky but still it's more important to get the right feeling than perfectly executed playing. We did like 2-3 takes of each song and then we picked the best take/takes and IF needed, we puzzled the stuff together.. but as I remember it we only did that with 1 or 2 songs, the rest were basicallyin just one take straight from the start to finish.

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Burial Ground’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

 

It's just a title, nothing more, nothing less.. There's no deeper meaning but it's kinda cool if you think of it, "Grave", "Burial Ground"... well, you get the picture.

 

 

Of course the main themes of the songs are clear, but where do you get your inspiration from, can you tell me more about the songs and is there any story behind them?

 

From every day life.. movies, dreams.. everything! Ola writes all the lyrics but sometimes all he needs is a suggestion for a title. F.ex the song "Semblance in Black." I came up with the title and boom, he'd written the lyrics for it.

 

How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?

 

For me, not important at all.. I can't speak for Ola though but for me the music is the most important thing. I'm one of those guys that doesn't give a rat’s ass about lyrics at all.. Sure there are some "un-written rules" about what you should write and sing about but other than that, no.. it's not important for me... It's cool though when you're up on stage and you can hear the audience sing along so lyrics that are easy to follow are probably more important than "deep" lyrics.. at least for me.

 

What are your main influences on the new album? Is it difficult these days to sound original?

 

We have our sound and we know what kinda riff suits us and I can honestly say that I don't know any band that sound like us so I do believe that we have an original sound.

 

What is the utmost important ingredient for a song, according to you?

 

Groove and somewhat catchy riffs without being melodic in the "wrong" way for us.

 

 

Do you have any favorites on the album?

 

"Liberation", "Dismembered Mind" and "Burial Ground" are my favorites on the album. "Liberation" is the perfect opener and the first song that we wrote.. It's fast and catchy plus that the mid-section is such an awesome headbanger.. "Dismembered Mind" has this "Autopsy-feel" which came out really cool on the album. It's a groovy kinda slow song and it shows where Grave comes from, it's kind of a salute to Autopsy, Death and Dismember.. Matti from Dismember wrote the lyrics for that song. "Burial Ground".. well.. I told Ola that I wanted to try and write a all through slow and heavy song with no fast breaks and shit like that, just to see if we could pull it off. I'd say we did!

 

Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective? Which element of the CD are you most proud of?

 

I'm really pleased with the songs and the album in general and I’m also really proud of what Ola and I achieved with the production and sound as we did everything ourselves.. From the first drum beat to the final master. At the moment I wouldn't change anything but if you'd ask me in 6 months I’d probably have a few things, hahaha.. as usual!

 

How would you sum up the new record to someone that has never listened to the band?

 

It's a typical Grave album but with a fresh feel to it, although it's more back to the roots than we've been in many, many years. The sound is sludgy, heavy, ugly but still clean, you can hear everything that's played and if you haven't seen us live, this is how we sound.. Simple and straight forward death metal!! Groovy!

 

With several albums under your belt, how far has you career surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?

 

The reward you get after the writing and recording process of an album is the touring part and for me that's the most fun part of being in a band! When I started to play in bands my dream was to get out and play around the world, to travel in a tour bus with my friends and just have a good time and guess what... I'm there now!!

 

How has the band's sound progressed from your first album ‘Into the Grave’ to ‘Burial Ground’ in your opinion?

 

Over the last ten years,this album is probably the one that sounds more like "Into the Grave" and "You'll Never See" than all the others. The waywe arranged the songs and the sound and production is a step back towards the really early days and that was our goal!

 

Do you feel you have to prove yourself with each release due to the metal climate nowadays?

 

Not at all. We know who we are and what we've achieved plus that we're very confident with ourselves when it comes to writing good death metal. We're not ground breaking or anything but that's not what we aim for either.

 

 

Which song is your favourite one to play live? Which song do you feel is the most challenging one to play live?

 

Of course "Into the Grave" as it's a classic but also "You'll Never See" and "8th Dominion". None of the songs are really that challenging, at least not the ones from the early days.. The songs that have been challenging are the ones from ‘As Rapture Comes’ but we don't play any of those.. Lots of blast beats and fast double bass in those tunes.

 

What is your opinion on the deathmetal scene these days? What do you think about the overload of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the scene?

 

I think it's kinda sad the way that death metal developed over the years 'cause it seems to me that most of the new bands have some weird competition about who's the fastest drummer or guitar player or bass player... Where are the songs, where are the memorable riffs?? I just don't hear them that often in more "modern" death metal and that's sad I think.. really sad. Technical skills have taken over and the songwriting has been forced to take a few steps back due to that. There are a few bands that still are able to combine technical playing and good songwriting.. Nile and Immolation are 2 that pop up in my head but other than that.. nah.. that style does nothing for me!

 

In your opinion, what makes Grave stand out compared to other bands out there?

 

These days when, as I stated above, death metal seems to be a competition in speed and technique instead of an orgy of great riffs I think we've taken a path which not that many bands choose today. We aim to write good songs! I've been to so many gigs the last years and every time a band in whatever genre plays a song that has a certain groove, everybody’s head begins to move to the rhythm.. that never happens with bands that just play fast and technical, never!! We have our sound and we will stick to that as long as we exist, which I hope we will be for many years to come!

 

Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:

 

Metal : Is the Law

Underground : Craft

Internet : Is for Porn

Religion : The root to all evil!!!

Politics : No thank you...

The Netherlands : Bicycles and tulips.

Sweden : Best place on earth!
 

What can we expect from Grave in the near future, are there any touring plans?

 

We're currently going through some offers and there will be lots of touring for this album.. other than that we have some festivals and one off shows to do until Sept so stay tuned for that.

 

Anything left to say to our readers?

 

Thanks for the support over the years and don't forget to check out ‘Burial Ground’... See you in the bar in YOUR venue soon!!


Cheers!!!

 

Thanks for your time,

Eugene Straver

 

 

 

Members

Ola Lindgren – Vocals / Guitar

Fredrik Isaksson – Bass

Ronnie Bergerståhl – Drums

 

 

Former Members

Jonas Torndal - Guitars

Jörgen Sandström - Guitar, Bass Guitar, Vocals

Jens Paulsson - Drums

Christofer Barkensjö - Drums

Pelle Eckegren - Drums

 

Albums:

(1991) Into the Grave

(1992) You'll Never See...

(1994) Soulless

(1996) Hating Life

(2002) Back from the Grave

(2004) Fiendish Regression

(2006) As Rapture Comes

(2008) Dominion VIII

(2010) Burial Ground