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Svartlod Interview

Svartlod is a Swedish black metal band, their new album the reverend was released recently. We had a short interview with the band.

Svartlod is a new band; how would you introduce yourselves?

We’re two music-loving guys from Sweden who have been playing together in different projects for many years, although nothing has been in this particular genre. We’ve talked about doing a black metal project together for a very long time and eventually, the stars aligned. We got serious about it and recorded “Malfeitor” by Watain to try things out and we knew that we could make this work, and two years later here we are. The Preacher handles the lyrics and vocals and The Cantor plays guitars, bass, and keyboards and does all the programming and mixing and stuff.

The Reverend album came out not too long ago; how were the first reactions?

So far the reactions and reviews have overall been very positive. We didn’t know what reactions to expect so we’re really happy to hear that most people like the album so far.

After releasing 3 singles, you finally put together a full-length album. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of this album and what it contains lyrically and philosophically?

We have been planning this album for a little bit over two years, crazy how time flies. We decided quite early on that we wanted to do a full-concept album about a particular series of events surrounding a religious cult here in Sweden in the early 2000s. Originally we were quite serious about it constructing it more like a play with different characters with an individual voice to each of them and more of a dialogue within the lyrics. But it landed more on a slightly more abstract storyline and captured the essence of the events that took place some twenty years ago. We wrote and recorded all eight songs more or less simultaneously and just released the singles in the order that they were finished, with Shiloah being first in line. Some of the music has been sitting in my head for a long time, for example, the intro riff to Apostasia was written to a former band of mine when I was like 17 years old, but was never used at the time. But I’ve always had it in the back of my head and have been wanting to use it and now I finally found a place for it. Same thing with Holy Delusions, most of that song was written maybe ten years ago for another project that never happened.

Philosophically and lyrically we want to encourage free will and free thinking, not being bound to anything but yourself and your wishes. I think the cult we’re referring to (and all religious cults really) again and again proves the danger of not thinking for yourself and completely surrendering yourself to other people’s madness.

As far as I know, this album was released independently by your means; did you talk to any record label? Will the album be released in physical format?

Yes, we were approached by a record label shortly after the release. Although it’s very early on in the process nothing is certain, so we’ll see how it goes I guess. But we will for sure release it on CD, to begin with, by ourselves if nothing else. We’re designing the booklet and everything as we speak so hopefully we can have it out by the end of June or early July if all goes to plan.

While listening to and interpreting your album, I mentioned that your vocals use many different types of vocals. Is there a special reason for this? Do you change the vocal style completely according to the mood of the song?

This is The Preachers table but simply put yes, the vocal style reflects the mood of the song and where in the storyline we are at the moment. For instance, Shiloah is a confident song lyrically with the reverend preaching his power to the congregation (I am the way, the truth and the lie… etc) and convincing all that she is “the chosen one” or whatever. Whereas in I Am The Way, the lyrics sound a bit more desperate, fragile, and almost suicidal when the reverend is desperately trying to hold on to this power when the congregation is finally starting to realize the truth. So in short, yes we’ve for sure tried to tell the story not just through words and music but also the feel and tone of the vocals themselves.

Your album covers often resemble digital illustrations. You prefer a simple theme; what theme did you want to convey on the Reverend album cover?

We’ve been through many different ideas and versions of the album cover. I think this cover won in the end due to its ambiguity and also the main focus is the church windows. The band name Svartlod is the Swedish word for the type of paint used when painting church windows. We had other ideas but they either resulted in being very cluttered or even cartoonish so we went for the more simple and toned-down approach. But I think if I were to pick one word for what the cover represents I think I would choose “reflection”.

In the band’s introduction, there was information that we were telling the story of a disintegrating religious cult and all its tragedies. Can you give us some information about that?

Yes, so basically there was a religious cult that got a bit famous in the early 2000s when the wife of a pastor was murdered (and another person shot) by their nanny, and allegedly it was all orchestrated by the pastor himself, so they were both convicted. But an equally interesting story in the cult surrounds another pastor who claimed to be the Bride of Christ and she more or less made everyone her slave there were a lot of reports of sexual assault and beatings and other sick things so ultimately the cult was disbanded and people were convicted of all sorts of things. There are a lot of books and documentaries about it so I can recommend watching or reading any of them, it’s a tragic but interesting story.

In recent years, the images used by black metal bands such as Batushka, Mephorash, Gaerea, etc. reveal a bit more occult and spiritual dimension. We see that you also prefer this kind of image, is there a factor behind your choice of this image?

I think that this theme and image work well with the type of music that we play, it’s as simple as that. We want the listener to have a full experience, both visually and musically, so hence the occult and spiritual outfits and the physical copies of the album will continue this path with imagery connected both to the overall philosophy of the band and also the theme of the album.

What do you listen to as band members? What are your preferred music styles other than metal?

All kinds of music. I like stuff from epic classical pieces to mellow, soft things like Katie Melua, Brad Paisley, or whatever. The Preacher is into Bruce Springsteen and things like that as well. I think that helps us to be a little bit more diverse in the writing process, we’ve tried not to be that bound to always think “black metal” when we write our songs. Sure, some boundaries may not be overstepped (too electronic things or rapping for instance) but we went into this project by just saying, “We’ll write what we want to listen to, no rules” and that’s always my philosophy when composing. That’s why it doesn’t feel strange to me to have a 9-minute epic orchestral piece as the album closer, but it might throw some people off for sure.

That’s all I have to ask for now. Finally, what are the plans for the band? Are you planning any concerts? and let’s hear your final words for the closing…

I have a song or two more or less done in my head, just need to record it. But we plan to start writing quite soon again for an upcoming album or EP, we haven’t decided yet. But we have an idea of its theme at least… But we’re also planning to play some live shows, although no bookings are finalized. The closest thing is a gig in our local town by the end of this summer so we’ve just started rehearsing. We can’t wait to get this music out from the stage as well!

Closing statement, we’re extremely proud of this album and eager to share it with the world but mostly to perform this on a live stage. So keep your eye out for any dates to come down and see us!

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