Gauntlet Rule is a Traditional Heavy Metal supergroup from Sweden. The one and only Rogga Johansson on rhythm and melody guitars, Teddy Möller of Loch Vostok on vocals, and Peter Svensson of Assassin’s Blade on bass. Rounding out the sound is Kjetil Lynghaug (Paganizer) playing all of the lead guitars. Their debut album will be released tomorrow (March 18, 2022) on Target Group (From the Vaults).
Peter Svensson was kind enough to sit down and answer some of our questions. Check that out below, and keep an eye out for a full review of the record.
J. Wukotich (JW): Hello there! Thank you so much for taking some time for us! It means a lot, as we’re quite excited about this release over at TMW. As the story goes, Rogga and Peter started Gauntlet Rule with the direct intention of writing and recording classic Heavy Metal music. Can you tell us more about how this project came about, and what led to the addition of Teddy on vocals?
Peter: Thank you very much for your kind words and for this interview. It’s great to see this surging interest in Gauntlet Rule. The story of GR began when Rogga and I started working together, initially I was just recording the vocalist in To Descend (Jens Johansson, ex-Megaslaughter) at my studio. About the same time Rogga contacted me about buying the first Assassin’s Blade album. Both of us being very creative, we soon started working together. Our first joint band was Furnace, and then I proposed that we should do something in the Heavy/Speed Metal vein. A bit due to the fact that my other band, Assassin’s Blade, was put on hiatus. So for me, GR is partly a continuation of that band since I have used some lyrics and song ideas intended for a third AB album. We got in contact with a few different vocalists, but nothing really materialized until Rogga contacted Teddy. I am extremely happy with Teddy and his excellent vocals. Awesome, powerful and clean vocals.
JW: You absolutely nailed that classic sound, which is obvious right out of the gate with “The Caneham House,” and “Run the Gauntlet.” Helloween comes to mind, as well as the likes of Saxon and Armored Saint. “By The Gods Who Are Not” even has a bit of a Scorpions vibe to it, I think. An impressively authentic sound that bleeds admiration for mid 80’s heavy metal. Where does this reverence begin for you guys?
Peter: All of us are big fans of the classic 80’s bands. In my eyes, we did not seek to do a retro album or anything. I just wanted to create a great, timeless, Heavy Metal record that I would enjoy as a fan too. There are so many bands out there who are not just influenced but rather copy a sound/look from an 80’s band. I think we are too old to find that interesting or creatively satisfying.
JW: Can you tell us more about how you achieved this sound, both in songwriting and with the equipment you used in the studio?
Peter: There was not so much a plan of how it should sound. We just recorded everything very organically, avoiding too much studio magic, and it ended up with an honest feel. The sound is great, everything is clear but it still sounds like humans and not robots playing.
JW: No trip to 1980’s heavy metal would be complete without some killer guitar solos. In Gauntlet Rule’s case, the great Kjetil Lynghaug gets the job done. “Runes of the Autumn Witch,” “Valley of Thorns,” and “Plague Court” are highlights for him on this record. No stranger to having worked with Rogga in the past (Paganizer, Those Who Brinf the Torture, etc), was the recording process different with him and this type of material?
Peter: Yes, Kjetil got involved through Rogga, and they worked out the solo sections together. He is an excellent guitarist and super-efficient and professional when it comes to recording. Kjetil is also a big fan of the classic bands, even if he works mostly in Death Metal, so I guess he just tapped into his inner Glenn Tipton for the GR stuff.
JW: “Dying For My Dreams” is a great song. Very much an Iron Maiden sounding tune, which makes Blaze Bayley a perfect choice for a guest vocal. How much of this song existed prior to you choosing Blaze for the tune?
Peter: The song was written and one day Rogga, and I talked about it and he said something like “this should be sung be Blaze Bayley.” Then I just urged him to contact Blaze and he was up for it! It is a dream come to for me, being a fan of his work with Maiden, and all of his solo albums. Blaze even re-arranged the vocals a bit, which to me is a great sign that he wanted to do the best he could for the song and not just recording for the sake of recording.
JW:The second guest vocalist, Taist of Iron’s Lorraine Gill, does a wonderful job on “A Choir of Angels.” Her voice adds an interesting element to the sound of the record as a whole. I love this addition, partially because Metal from this time period lacked a wide range of female voices. Doro Pesch would be the most notable exception to this.
Peter: I got introduced to the Taist of Iron LP over 20 years ago and I love Lorraine’s vocals. Then I saw them at Keep It True in Germany a couple of years ago, and I decided to talk to Lorraine. We kept contact after that and I was very happy to be able ask for vocals on the album, and she did an amazing job!
JW: The “new wave of traditional heavy metal” has become quite prevalent the past decade or so. With bands like Haunt, Enforcer, and White Wizard making some noise on the scene, opening some renewed interest in old school bands like Satan, and Angel Witch. What are some of the things you guys think have contributed to this resurgence?
Peter: I think there is a need for classic Metal, and it great to see bands like Satan and Angel Witch still putting out relevant and great records. There are a lot of great newer bands too, but I think a lot of those bands rather try to copy the classic bands instead of creating something own. I think that it is still possible to create something new and interesting within the fairly narrow boundaries of Heavy Metal, if you want to.
JW: Are there any plans to do any performing to promote the album? And do you see Gauntlet Rule as an ongoing project?
Peter: I would love to perform these songs live! Due to the pandemic we have not been able to make any real plans of rehearsing and touring, but let’s see what the future holds.
There is also the geographical issue, Teddy, Rogga and I are spread out across half of Sweden, so just rehearsing will be kind of a big task. But nothing is impossible of course!
GR is definitely on-going, and Rogga and I are currently working on new material. Rogga has recorded tons of massive riffs and I have lyrics to about 15 songs. Hopefully that record will be finished this year and maybe released next year.
JW: Thank you so much for taking some time to answer our questions! We appreciate you all a great deal. All the best to you. Stay safe.
Peter: Thank you very much for this interview and thank you for helping to promote Gauntlet Rule and our music!