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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
Thank you I am totally alive and in a very good mood so
come on give me your best shots!
you launch into writing material for the
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.
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?
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
the songwriting process like for ‘Illusions of Grandeur’? For instance,
does someone come in with just a riff, or complete songs?
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!!
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?
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.
course the title ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ is clear, but can you give us a
little background information about it?
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 ;)
tell me a little more about the lyrics, where do you get your
inspiration from, did anything in particular inspire you?
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!!
important is it to you that people pay attention to your lyrics apart
from listening to your music?
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.
someone was only going to read the lyrics and not listen to the music,
what would you hope they would take from them?
Strength, confidence and soul!
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song
according to you?
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?
No we worked exactly the same way as on previous albums, read 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
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!
elements/songs on the new album can one clearly hear Roberto’s vision
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?
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?
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.
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’?
‘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!
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?
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.
song is your favourite one to play live? Which song do you find the most
challenging one to play live?
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!!
have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?
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
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
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”.
your view of the future of (oldschool) death metal and, in fact, metal
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-
makes Evocation different from the other metal bands out there?
Honesty, we stand for everything that we produce.
goals did you have when the band started out and how do those goals
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!
does the future hold for Evocation?
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.
you want to say to our readers, here is your chance?
Yes, thank you so much for your time!
… Don´t let
the fools guide you blind, people...
for the interview
Josefsson - Vocals
Kenttäkumpu - Guitar
Palmén - Guitar
Bodén - Drums
Jorde - Bass
Tales from the Tomb
Evoked from Demonic Depths-the Early Years
Illusions of Grandeur