Evocation - 26/11/2012

Formed in a small town outside Gothenburg in 1991 and named after the classic Asphyx track, EVOCATION had, like many young guns during the Golden Age of Swedish death metal, a limited number of options to pursue. Nevertheless, the quartet—vocalist Thomas Josefsson, guitarist Vesa Kenttäkumpu, guitarist Marko Wacker (Palmén), and drummer Janne Kenttäkumpu (Bodén)—created four songs in a few months’ time and booked a visit to Sunlight Studios to record the ‘The Ancient Gate’ (1992) demo with producer Tomas Skogsberg.

 

After releasing the ‘Promo 1992’ demos, the band split up in 1993. It is not until 2005 that the band gets together again for a handful of reunion shows, resulting in the release of the band’s debut album ‘Tales from the Tomb’ (2007), followed by the albums ‘Dead Calm Chaos‘ (2008) and ‘Apocalyptic’ (2010).

 

To celebrate EVOCATION signing a new agreement with Century Media Records in 2012, the two parties paired up to release ‘Evoked from Demonic Depths - The Early Years’, the ultimate re-issue of the band’s demos, live bootlegs, and bonus tracks.

 

Evidently, EVOCATION were not only making up for lost time, they show no signs of slowing down, either. The new album ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ follows predecessor ‘Apocalyptic’n  and tracks like the ultra-catchy “Divide and Conquer”, the galloping “Perception of Reality”, and “The Seven Faces of God” distill the group’s strongest attributes— melodies, groove, hooks, and brutality—into a formidable melody-enhanced death metal attack.

 

Recorded, mixed and produced at IF Studios and Evocation Studios by Roberto Laghi (In Flames) and Evocation respectively, ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ is yet another example of EVOCATION spit-polishing Swedish death metal with blood, sweat, and determination. Dead Calm Chaos featured Anders Björler and Dan Swanö as guests, and so does Illusions of Grandeur. The mighty Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth roars on “Into Submission”. Michal Xaay Loranc returns from his Apocalyptic stint as the cover artist to haunt ‘Illusions of Grandeur’.

 

 

In order to find out all there is to know about the band and their latest effort we tracked down frontman Thomas Josefsson to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com.

 

First of all, how are you doing? And congratulations on your new album ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ which was released some weeks ago. Of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it.

 

Thomas: Thank you I am totally alive and in a very good mood so come on give me your best shots!

 

How did you launch into writing material for the ‘Illusions of Grandeur’?

 

Thomas: It just started naturally as usual, but we started last year with bits and pieces. “Divide and Conquer” was actually born during a soundcheck on the Amon Amarth/Black Dahlia murder tour and it’s also the song for our new video that will be released any day now. Sometimes we jam but mostly our lead guitarist Vesa wakes up out of nothing like the man in the box and starts the train. Whether you like it or not, it is best you catch that train and start thinking. Thinking so much that you crash and burn mentally, before you´ve even noticed it you are gettin sucked into a deep depression with tons of inspiration. Wicked I know but I love it. Then Janne and Marko usually guide Vesa with other riffs or with ideas and as soon as they think they have something cool they feed me and put colour on top of it.

 

Which approach did you choose to create ‘Illusions of Grandeur’; did you go for a more raw exposition... or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something altogether different?

 

Thomas: We felt that since we got a new record deal with Century Media and after we finished our contract with the great Cyclone Empire that it was time to try something new and more mature. We got a better budget this time so our first thought was of course to get a better sound and less work for ourselves. We decided to work in IF studios (in flames) together with the chief of great sound Mr Roberto Laghi (In Flames, Hardcore Superstar, Mustasch etc). It was not that we wanted to sound like those bands but we wanted to sound better and a lot heavier than before and he was perfect for the job. We worked a little with him on the “Apocalyptic” album so when he was the one actually calling us this time and had some great ideas we were excited enough. We sound pure Evocation on all our albums of course but we like to work with the sound and approach so every album feels fresh. All of our albums have their own touch and soul. I think we really got what we wanted this time as well.

 

What was the songwriting process like for ‘Illusions of Grandeur’? For instance, does someone come in with just a riff, or complete songs?

 

Thomas: Normally Vesa, Janne & Marko write the music and I do all the lyrics and arrangements as to when and where there should be vocals or not. We have our own studio so every riff and idea is recorded instantly, no idea gets out of the studio before it is recorded. Vesa is the main man on the whole ground construction of the songs and Marko & Janne are his fearsome judges, they too create a lot of ideas and riffs and sometimes full songs. It is all built up in bits and pieces almost like building a house brick by brick. When they have a couple of complete ideas for some songs they record them and hand them over to me. As soon as I get new material I head back home and light some candles, bring out my flying carpet and go to that special place where I suffer the most. When I think I had enough of the torture I head back to the studio and under the blade I show those fearsome judges what I think. Normally they love my ideas, thank god!!

 

 

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

 

Thomas: Once again, the sound and the impact! We thought it was important to show that we are mature enough to stand for where we are as a band today.Less tricky parts and a much heavier approach. We wanted the band to sound big, like a big machine raping your world under a blood boiling dark horizon. But really, this was our best chance to make a really heavy production. The only element we always work with is of course to sound as pure Death Metal as possible, we try not to develop in the wrong directions here. Actually Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth did some amazing vocals on “Into Submission”, it turned out really great.

 

Of course the title ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ is clear, but can you give us a little background information about it?

 

Thomas: If you manage to think of a couple of individuals controlling the whole game and playing with its puppets like some pieces of blind cocroaches, then I think you know where I’m heading. Actually it is from Star Wars the movie, it is something like when Darth Vader enters a room in a scene located at the Death Star and I think it is Han Solo that says something like, - look at him he has some illusions of grandeur. Marko found it and I don’t know the right story behind it but something like that. It is also a good title for the lyrics and the theme of our songs, that a new and dark empire in our so called New World is having some Illlusions of Grandeur. Sometimes I think it would be better to have dictators instead because I think that democracy is a false fucking misleader. It also fits Evocation’s way of living, playing and touring.  For every album we think everything will become more easy and better (illusions of g.)but it always ends up the same. Cheap food, cheap hotels, no cash and cheap woman but we love it ;)

 

Can you tell me a little more about the lyrics, where do you get your inspiration from, did anything in particular inspire you?

 

Thomas: This is my way of thinking so it does not have to be like this in the real world. Yes I am a bit paranoid about the elements above the state and I have NO expectations whatsoever of what leaders/banks/governments around the world have in mind for the future. I hate this rat race and the whole mentality that comes with it. I have always been fighting alongside the underdog. My frustration towards media, news and religion and its way of bombing out pure madness and lies upsets me. Most people are zombified and they can´t see further than their own hands. This is my way of speaking without being locked up in a mental institution by the establishment. Mostly I write on impulse, everything than comes out of me while I’m listening to the music is my own most honest thoughts. It is not an image, I am actually that crazy during my darkest hours. But I find a lot of inspiration in frontmen like, Mille Petrozza of Kreator, Iggy Pop, Emperor Magus Caligula ex-Dark Funeral, George Corpsegrinder Fischer of Cannibal Corpse and of course Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth. Those dudes are the real deal both in lyrics and voices and of course on stage, no doubt!!

 

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

 

Thomas: I think it is very important to read my lyrics, they are honest and I stand behind every word of them. Most people can recognize themselves in them as well and I think I have a clear message. I am totally against the way things work out in the world and I think it sucks that no one seems to really care or even bother to care about one another. This is my way of speaking to you. All the albums we´ve done have every bit of my soul written inside, which thoughts and ideas I get out of our music. Since I write on impulses it is my soul and heart and I would be more than happy if someone out there thought the same and could gain strength out of them. It is no mumbo jumbo about skull eating, brain sucking sword fuckers etc. It is my soul, give it a chance and get as paranoid as meJ What also is pretty cool is that I always write them pretty open minded, you as a reader can step into your own fantasies and build your own world exactly they way you want it. Like reading a book of your darkest ideas.

 

If someone was only going to read the lyrics and not listen to the music, what would you hope they would take from them?

 

Thomas: Strength, confidence and soul!

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

Thomas: When you listen to it over and over and every time you become more and more awakened. An intense song that has that perfect timing and that slaps you right in the face. Even if it opens up your most hidden wound it should wash it clean and then finally close it, that, my friends that is pure magic. But the utmost important ingredient is honesty, no doubt.

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

Thomas: No we worked exactly the same way as on previous albums, read the above!!

The album was recorded, mixed and co-produced by Roberto Laghi. What made him the perfect man for this job and can you tell us about working with him?

 

Thomas: Because he has never produced an old school Death Metal album before and he has magic ears when it comes to building a wide-ranged sound. Though he is a punk dude from the start, he was really eager to do our new album. So instead of using a dictator behind the wheels we chose one open minded person. It was great to work him, we felt very relaxed and the whole procedure was a really funny moment in life. Janne did all the drums in 3 days and I did all the vocals in 4.5 days, I think that says a lot about what the atmosphere was like. Of course we all were well prepared as usual but actually it was amazing how smooth it went. He did not try to kill your ideas, instead, he understood things and put the best part of you to use. I have always been a huge fan of his other productions, mainly rock ‘n roll. I would like to work with him again, no doubt. A producer should be like the 6th member of your band and should be fun to work with, he is all that!

 

In which elements/songs on the new album can one clearly hear Roberto’s vision and ideas?

 

Thomas: He loved almost all our ideas so he did not have much input in the music itself but the drums and vocals were done alongside with him, as were the mixing and parts of the mastering. He came to our own studio and produced the guitar and bass sound as well. But the thing is that you hear everything really clearly and his vision is not that it should be 100 % tight, the production should sound alive. He makes it sound like we’re actually a band and not computerized.

How would you describe this album to someone that has never listened to the band before?

Thomas: Heavy constructions, pure intensity and honesty. This is pure Death Metal at its best with tons of old school arrangements. You will get what you thought you already had, but never experienced so close to your own thoughts. The lyrics are like reading a book with majestic thoughts and ideas from a very small person. This album as well is a clear vision of your deepest fear, it is a clear wake up call deep down your abyss.

Which element of the CD are you most proud of?

Thomas: My vocals! I feel so fucking bad when writing before recording time that I almost want to jump off my balcony sometimes. I put myself under way too much pressure when creating our previous albums, so for this album I totally crashed and had to go see a shrink once a week and eat medecine alongside it. I still swallow those pills. At the same time, I was in a very bad relationship but I knew that I had to focus on the album first. I told my self to do the album first and then after that it would be time to break up with my girlfriend since 5 crazy years, so I did. Now I feel better than ever, the album and my vocals are killer and I am a free soul again with big, hungry and pounding balls attached to me, life is great! But the sound and the approach of ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ are as majestic as the title.

You’ve released four full length albums, including the new one, so far. What do you think are the main differences between your debut album ‘Tales from the Tomb’ and ‘Illusions of Grandeur’?

 

Thomas: ‘Tales from the Tomb’ is based upon skills and where we come from and what we stand for. It is through this album you can feel a righteous development after our early demos. We said when we started the whole circus after 13 years that if we do this it´s only Death Metal, nothing more nothing less. We did everything that was old school here. The sound, the style, the lyrics, the simplicity and the awesome front cover made by the king, Dan Seagrave was perfect in every aspect. We did what we could and it turned out a success. ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ is three steps higher than that but with a modern touch and a wonderful production in its bag. We thought that it was time to take the music and sound to a new level. For the second time in a row we used Xaay to do the cover and I think he captured the old school vibe for the cover. Our songs are a lot more heavy, catchy and in your face. This is what old school Evocation is like 2012, I hope the conservative people won’t judge it without paying attention to our style as it is nowadays. I think ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ is the most alike, style-wise, to our old demos. Easy, heavy and mature!

 

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

 

Thomas: My childhood dream has always been to start my own band and run it successfully but that’s too late now, I don’t have that strength anymore. It is also a huge fact that it is way better to be with 5 than just 1 person. But the must rewarding part is that we rejoined and made it this far even though we have so little time to spend together. The funny thing was that everyone told us that we were done, that we were too old and would not stand a chance. Evocation has always been my soul and the members have been my friends since the 80´s. We know each other and we communicate when we work, that’s the whole thing. For every new song that is written or for every album that we release it’s impossible to pay that weight in gold.

 

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

 

Thomas: My favourite song for the moment has to be “Reunion in War”, no doubt. It is a really good audience teaser and it has a really nice flow. The most challenging song has to be when I’m hungover, when there’s cameras and the song ‘The Dead’. I hate cameras and there is a backbeat that always made it tricky for me to stay in phase until some years ago actually haha. If I lose my self on that particular song it always ends up with me getting bullied by the others after the show. Actually I’m tired of all the songs we play live all the time, I want new stuff to get on the bill but the other dudes think it’s better to keep it conservative so I just shut the fuck up and enjoy every moment!!

 

What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?

 

Thomas: Highlight has to be when we decided to start up the band again and in such a short amount of time had the chance to tour with bands such as: Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Obscura, Arch Enemy, Amon Amarth and The Black Dahlia Murder etc. And all the great bands we shared a stage with at all the great festivals. The lowest point has to be when Close Up (fuck up) magazine wrote the worst review on ‘Tales from the Tomb’, claiming that we were some retards. Clearly they had no idea of metal history and what old school death metal was like and it was also clear that the guy had never even listened to the entire cd haha.

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?

 

Thomas: What motivates me is that I am a deep thinking dude with observing eyes; I need to get my thoughts on paper or to speak about them otherwise it ends up in chaos. My brain is like a tumble drier. Together with my lovely team mates our music brings out the darkest side of me but it also brings out the most cleared thoughts I could ever wish for. It is a big relief and joy when I have done a new song and the others like it, it is a great feeling, too hard to describe. Sometimes when I read my lyrics I actually think they make sense in many ways even though I am totally lost in the underworld when writing. I always had visions that there has to be something more to life than this and that people think they are free is just bollocks. That people like you actually are asking me questions about the importance of my lyrics is wonderful. Poetry or not I don´t know but at least it is my soul in the most honest way. I have actually just one thing to say, open your eyes and believe in what you see not what the media and news want you to see. Of course you should not turn your back on true horror but try to think differently. Turn off the TV and refuse to become a zombie, don´t accept your life if your not satisfied with it.

 

(Old school) death metal is very much back on top, with many releases, new bands and so on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of uninspired 'copy-paste' albums being released as well. What is your view on this?

 

I have no views at all on this, congratulations to all the bands doing it. Isn´t it a great style that is easy to love? The only thing that bothers me is that few bands have the guts to take it a step higher. Many, many bands die in my ears because they think that booze, Autopsy and HM2 is the only way to be accepted. Its great on one or two albums but after two you are “dead metal”.

 

What is your view of the future of (oldschool) death metal and, in fact, metal in general?

 

Thomas: Like every music style it will get explored and killed by its self once again. I really hope that old school gets a lot more attention this time around and that the new generation understands the honesty in it. The bands today are better than ever so please enjoy-

 

What makes Evocation different from the other metal bands out there?

 

Thomas: Honesty, we stand for everything that we produce.

 

Which goals did you have when the band started out and how do those goals stand now?

 

Thomas: When we rejoined our goal was to make a demo just for fun, and we did. Then we said, why not try a full length album as well and then we’ll be done with the whole thing. We are now on at number 4 and 6 releases totally since 2006. It is actually quite insane. The main goal is to maintain as intact as possible and as long as there is strength and inspiration, the train is running and there is basically no reason to stop it!

 

What does the future hold for Evocation?

 

Thomas: I really have no idea but I hope we will get as many and good shows/tours as possible and that we will stick around for another album, at least.

 

Anything you want to say to our readers, here is your chance?

 

Thomas: Yes, thank you so much for your time!

 

… Don´t let the fools guide you blind, people...

 

Thomas/Evocation

 

Thanks for the interview

Eugene Straver

 

 

 

Members:

Thomas Josefsson - Vocals

Vesa Kenttäkumpu - Guitar

Marko Palmén - Guitar

Janne K. Bodén - Drums

Gustaf Jorde - Bass

 

Albums:

(2007) Tales from the Tomb

(2008) Dead Calm Chaos

(2010) Apocalyptic

(2012) Evoked from Demonic Depths-the Early Years

(2012) Illusions of Grandeur