Recently we here at The Metal Wanderlust happened to have the good fortune to be joined by the always awesome Oliver Dahlbäck from Black Lion Records. He sat down and had a chat with his friend David Nilsson from Feral, a band that a lot of us hold in very high esteem indeed! Below is this exact conversation, so read on!
OD – First of all thanks for taking the time to talk with us!
The pleasure is all ours!
Your new album ‘Flesh for Funerals Eternal’ comes out December 30. What can you tell us about the album what’s, the story of it?
We’ve put a lot of hard work into it. Not only were we determined to not have a four year gap between this album and the last one, like we did between our first two, but we also wanted to a lot of effort into the actual writing. So we both had the pressure of writing faster than usual, as well as writing as detailed as possible. I use the word “detailed” rather than “technical” because I think it describes the performance better. We’ve never set out to be technical, but I think we found a good balance between writing detailed and still writing catchy and ear grabbing tracks. There is a lot going on in the tracks that you might notice on your fourth listen rather than the first. At the end of it all I think we had about fourteen songs written, and we then chose the ten that would fit together the best and make the best ~40 minute album. Which we feel is the perfect length.
With two full lengths in your back catalogue, and a third on its way, how has the journey since the first demo ‘Graverobber’ been?
It’s been rough at times, but all in all a good experience. We’ve gone through the obligatory member changes, but still not as many as you might think. Living in such a small town as we do though, finding just one new member is hard enough as it is. A lot happens to a person between their teens and their thirties you know, relationships change, your goals become different and all that. But I would say that we’re as stable as ever by now. Being family men, as we all are at this point, we might not be able to do month long tours anymore. But we all know what we are in for at this point, and I can’t imagine anyone abandoning ship in the foreseeable future.
Feral has always been one of those bands that honours the traditional Old School Swedish Death Metal Sound, together with bands like Entrails and Sorcery. What lead to that sound rather than let’s say Florida death?
I wouldn’t say it was not a conscious decision. We all like a vast array of different kinds of Metal, as well as other genres. From the start I’d say our intent was leaning more to the side of playing Black Metal as we started off playing covers of bands like Venom and Mayhem. But when we released our first demo most people compared us to Swedish Death Metal bands, and that’s actually how we got into those acts. Before that I was personally more interested in bands like Bathory or even things like Kreator, as well as Traditional Heavy Metal or Speed Metal. But that was more due to the fact that I hadn’t really heard any Swedish Death Metal yet, or even realized that “Swe-Death” was a thing. So in all honesty we kind of stumbled upon the genre, but quickly found our home in it. Our old influences are still there though.
In the past Feral went from being on German flagship Cyclone Empire to now the biggest indi label Trancending Obscurity. How did that change happen, and how was that beneficial for the band ?
We were very happy to sign to Cyclone Empire back when that happened, them being one of our favourite labels at that time, and things were very good during the years we spent in their care. Toward the end it felt a bit off though, not necessarily due to anybody’s direct fault, but we felt that we needed a change for our next album. Cyclone Empire released a very well received album and an EP of ours, and we parted ways without any bad blood between us. Transcending Obscurity came under our radar due to very high recommendations from other bands we were in contact with, and so far they have been living up to our expectations to say the least! I guess the real test comes now in seeing how the new album is handled, but we are very confident in their ability based on what we have seen so far.
You guys have been around since the early days, you’ve seen the rise and the so called fall of the music industry and scene over the years. How would you guys compare today’s scene compared to the old days, is there still room for physical media or is it gone with the streaming?
Well, I wouldn’t say we’ve been around THAT long, but things have sure changed during the time we have been active nonetheless. Streaming services weren’t really that common in every household when we released our first album, and you couldn’t really be sure that it was going to be the future or not. Today I’d say I very much prefer it to illegal downloading, even though when it comes to my personal collection I prefer owning the physical media. Be it a CD, but much rather the LP. I wouldn’t say streaming has killed the physical media though, as the return of the LP has proven in recent years, and from what I gather the CD is still fairly popular in certain places. I think a lot of people, just like me, want to own their own copy of albums that they like. And it seems like that is a returning mentality.
Being a local band from north of Sweden how would you say the local music scene is?
For our nearby surroundings I’d say it’s nearly dead, sadly. We need new and younger bands to breathe life into the scene, but teenagers nowadays seem more interested in becoming YouTube- or Instagram celebrities. Back when we started off I wouldn’t say the scene was sprawling with life, but there were some bands around in all the nearby cities that could help each other put on shows and things like that. Sadly very few of those bands are active still. We didn’t set off thinking that we would make a living on playing Death Metal, and we still don’t since it’s not a realistic thought, but the goal was always to at least make an album. It’s hard work though, and I don’t know if that’s the problem or if teenagers or if people in the twenties don’t have those kind of goals anymore? At the most kids seem to form and band and MAYBE record a demo, or “EP” as most people call demos nowadays, and maybe they put it up on bandcamp or something. But hardly anyone seems to want to put in the work to book shows or try to contact a label.
With your new record release can we expect to see Feral touring Europe soon?
As I said earlier, I don’t see us doing any large scale touring at the moment, but I hope the new album will open up some doors to book some festival shows abroad. We were in the midst of booking a shorter run, about a weeks or so, just a little time ago, but it sadly didn’t come to be.
Circling back how difficult is it to stay relevant in today’s scene especially in the Extreme Metal genre with hundreds albums every day ?
As with everything else, it’s hard work. Especially with all the social media stuff today. As there is no way for us to do this full-time, we have to work hard on writing new material in order to not have incredibly large gaps between albums. Ideally you should put out some splits, singles or EP’s between albums as well in order to not be completely forgotten in the stream of new albums. But also post interesting photos and videos on you social media pages in-between all that. We try to stay active without spamming irrelevant crap or re-posting old material. It’s always great to interact with the fans and the internet has made it so easy to do, so we should be thankful for that as well. Mainly though, I’d say the key is to continue writing and releasing new and interesting material. You won’t see us releasing material we are not satisfied with though, just to fill a void. We’d rather take our time to make something we can sign our names to without any shame.
How was the writing process for this album compared to previous ones.
More intense. We wanted to write a lot of material in order to have several tracks to choose from when making the album. A lot of focus was put into the smaller details as well, making sure that everything fits together just right. Other than that we used the same formula as always: writing the songs individually and then bringing them to the rehearsal room to tweak the final parts. Maybe the songs were a bit more “finished” at this point as such attention had been put into the details already before bringing them to rehearsal, but I think we spent about a year just playing and changing the songs at rehearsals before entering the studio. But even there we did a lot of alternative takes and versions before landing on the final and finished songs.
What can fans expect from your new album?
I hope people will feel it is a varied album. Not only in tempos, but in tone as well. It all fits together as a unified form, but there are doomier elements here and there as well as thrash riffing. All put through a classic Swedish Death Metal blender of course. I really think we’ve found the formula that fits us best, and the way that we can incorporate whatever elements we want without it feeling misplaced. All in all, expect a piece of relentless Death Metal that should stand the test of time.
The artwork was created by Costin Chioreanu who is known for working with bands like Carach Angren and many more, how did you end up with his name in your head?
We’ve been working with Costin since the release of “Where Dead Dreams Dwell” in 2015. He’s simply a fantastic artist and incredibly easy to work with! He gets our style and what we want. In fact, we always give him completely free hands to create whatever he wants to. None of us are illustrators, so we feel that us getting involved in his work would just hinder him. The best art is created without boundaries. As of why we got in touch with him in the first place, we were fans of his art even before he did any work for us. For some time he’s been a prolific artist within the metal scene and he had done work with a lot of bands that we felt was absolutely great.
Horror movies and Metal music seems to go hand in glove alot , is it the same for Feral what are your top favorite horror movies that you’d reccomended to anyone?
I haven’t really been keeping up with the horror genre of late. Our bass player Viktor and I used to watch a lot of the shitty horror movies that came out after the turn of the millennium, in the wake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, and absolutely loved it. All with the same plot: group of teen get stranded, they have lost their cell phone reception and get murdered one by one. Lately I’ve been re-watching movies with my favourite classic horror actor, Vincent Price. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with him that “Masque of the Red Death” and “Witchfinder General” are two that I’d recommend, but I really enjoy “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Haunted Palace” as well. The first of which you’ll find a couple of samples from on our new album. Otherwise I’ve been more into the true crime stuff for a period now, both on TV and books, but that’s not anything that usually influences me when it comes to Feral.
And thats a wrap ! Thank you very much taking the time to talk with us!
No problem mate! Thanks for getting in touch!
/David – Feral
There you go. The rest of us here would like to thank both David and Oliver for the interview. Let’s just say that the new album promises to be something spectacular, and we will no doubt have a review of it up very soon! Hell Yes!