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Battlesword's Andreas Klingen: "Metal, with all its facets and variations, clearly comes first for me. This is real music for me. And it’s also really an expression of one’s lifestyle and thinking."

Interview with Andreas Klingen from Battlesword
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 01 November 2019, 3:10 PM

Truly one of the music scene's prime illnesses, and in Metal music in particular, is the factor of lineup changes. Sometimes it happens when crucial steps are made to go forward. However, there are artists that try to overcome that wretched factor, and some of them actually make it and rise even stronger than ever. The German Battlesword never gave up when their lineup was unstable and were able to come up with their new album “And Death Cometh upon Us”. Steinmetal had a chat with the band's veteran Andreas Klingen, about going forward, the new album, their view on Death Metal and more…

Hello Andreas, it is good having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

Hi Lior. I'm doing great! Can’t wait to release our new album.

Like the vast majority of the bands, Battlesword has also been the victim of lineup changes, which are the ever known reason for delays in a band’s life’s cycle. Sometimes aren’t you just tired of this endless process that one day the band will eventually lose someone that has been integral or in general to be once again on the lookout for a replacement?

It's always a worse situation when you've lost someone who joined the band for a long time. And yes, sometimes it's really hard to find someone new, to rehearse all that stuff again until we're ready to go back on stage. But at this point you know that it was worth it again.

 “And Death Cometh upon Us”, your released third album, returns Battlesword back into a roster of a label, this time around signing with Black Sunset Records / MDD Records. Why have you decided to sign once again with a label, after being unsigned on the previous release? In your opinion, is the concept of labels in the market still valid nowadays, especially with all the changes that have been happening in the perception of the business?

We know about the support and hard work of a label. But the cooperation must be based on the same intention. There were some offers for "Banners Of Destruction", but without the right intention. That's all. MDD Records stand behind our music and are passionate about it. That was the most important reason for us to sign a deal again. Sure you can release your stuff on your own. The possibilities are great today. But the experiences of a label are a real gain.

Impressively drawing a closer look, is “And Death Cometh upon Us”’s artwork. Is this how do you picture the idea of Death that comes forward to take souls or there is another meaning that has much more depth? What is your appreciation of the quality of the drawing, does it inspire you when you look at it?

We wanted some kind of drawn artwork for this album. Whilst searching for an appropriate artist, our singer found this pre-made artwork and we were quickly convinced that this would be the right one for us and the new record. It's quite cool, how this central creature appears from the mist. And although it has no defined face or shape it emanates something threatening. There are lots of details, that you don't realize directly but when you have a second or third look at it. It's not exactly how we expect death to come, but the title fits good to the drawing and the songs. We always want that someone who doesn't know us yet, as well as those who are already familiar with us, to easily get a clue of what he can expect from Battlesword, only by looking at the album's artwork, title and track list.

Marginally, “And Death Cometh upon Us” lyrical content sails through myths and legends, with a fair share of horrific details. What is the leading theme that takes the album by storm? Does it have any form of message that may be relevant to our current reality?

There’s surely death as a superficial theme, correlating to the title of the album, but that’s not all. Some lyrics are like small fantasy stories, others have a more personal background, related to our singer's experiences. Those ones are intended to have more an inspiring effect than an entertaining one.

Battlesword’s clinging on old school Melodic Death Metal, Swedish made mostly, is quite admirable, as it isn’t that common nowadays, with a lot of Death Metal bands, playing the same direction, slowly shifted towards Metalcore or a modern edge of the music. Other than being a fan, what makes this direction of the music so captivating that it is worth to be constantly pursued?

We definitely make the music that drives us and that we like. When you listen carefully, you discover different influences, because everyone of us has a slightly different musical background. But the core is Melodic Death Metal. It’s the best way for us to express our feelings and understanding of music. We like it a lot, when music is varied, multifaceted and surprising. Therefore we also try our best to compose songs that combine different elements, for example speed, brutality and melodies. But without drifting too far into extremes.

Looking back at your previous albums, how do you believe “And Death Cometh upon Us” enabled Battlesword to develop in its musical form? Unless you see the band as a musical entity that sticks to its guns, maintaining its style feverishly.

One of the most drastic challenges in our history was to handle the loss of both guitarists after the release of "Banners Of Destruction“. We fortunately found two new members really quickly, but one of them also quit, shortly before the recording of "And Death…“. That was a heavy blow again, but also an inspiring moment for the rest of us. The basic sound is still the same old battleswordish one, but with new elements and differences in details.

The Metal market, with Melodic Death Metal in particular, has been swarmed by a large wave of bands due to the ability of songwriters to put out albums much faster than before. Since the possibility of a flood of albums, what do you think makes “And Death Cometh upon Us” to become a standout among the many?

We don't pay that much attention to the market, but to what convinces us. We as Battlesword just want to develop ourselves and our music from output to output and to stay authentic. We only record songs when each of us is satisfied with each of them and when and feel like being really ours.

Which of the aspects of the music displayed on “And Death Cometh upon Us” were provided with a tougher attention, in order for those to be perfected?

For example, we have developed the solos. We still focus on variety within the single songs and on the whole album.

While writing the music for “And Death Cometh upon Us”, what inspirations of events affected your vision for how the album would feel and sound?

We simply had the claim to go one level further. Besides that we wanted to show the fans that we don’t give up due to the above mentioned throwbacks.

Due to the lineup changes that happened prior to the new album, were there changes in the band’s way of songwriting? Is Battlesword a kind of a democracy, letting everyone in on the effort?

No, there were no general changes really. I even think it helped us. We were very focused and productive. The first ideas came from Christian, which we discussed. He wrote the missing songs for the album within a short time and also elevated the existing ones to the next level. The unexpected lineup changes along with Christian’s skills brought the band at least one or rather further steps forward. Then I thought about the drumming. At the end, Axel came and said where he still needed some space to sing or how we could optimize the structure. So we all contributed something to the whole.

Which of the album’s songs do find as the most influential track? That kind of song that presents Battlesword in 2019 in the best possible way?
Pff…very hard to decide. There are some typical battleswordic fast tracks like "Serpent’s Amongst Us", "Ageless", "I’m Reborn" or "At Night They Feast". On the other side some groovy tracks like "The Lion And The Eagle" or "Smothered". Hmm…sorry. I love them all. haha

André Bodewein made a pretty decent work on your overall production, enabling that late 90s Gothenburg sound for Battlesword, which is rather exciting. What is your input regarding his work? Is this the sound pattern that is Battlesword?

We are very happy that we got the chance to work with him. He’s a very cool guy with cool ideas. He directly understood how we wanted the album to sound like. So he together with Christian created this very great and – in our ears – unique sound.

Can you describe what is a live performance of Battlesword? What makes your coming to the stage such an event to be memorable?

We all love to play live. I think that at a concert we create a kind of bond with the crowd. We deliver an energetic show and this energy is shared.

How do you intend to support the new album? Will there be a series of local shows or rather heading out on tour? Are there new places that you plan to play in the coming future?

There are already gigs confirmed for our “And Death Cometh Upon You” Tour. More will follow. We indeed will visit cities and regions where we haven’t played yet. There’s a bunch of indoor gigs confirmed as well as some festivals. We will mainly play in Germany but there are also gigs planned around the rest of Europe.

Where do you see Battlesword heading in the next couple of years? Is the band striving to become something greater?

For the future we can imagine appearing all over Europe and playing many great shows. But this always depends on a lot of different factors. We now work together with a booking agency that will help us hitting the stage as often as possible. We also want to serve our fans with further releases regularly. Prior to “Banners Of Destruction” there was a pause of 8 years since the last release. That should not happen again and so we will start writing new songs soon.

Let’s go out of concept. Metal music has been thought of as not merely music, yet also a kind of religion, a way of life for that matter. Is that notion still valid nowadays? Is this particular music that special that it engulfs our everything?

I think music generally plays an important role in all of our lives. Metal, with all its facets and variations, clearly comes first for me. This is real music for me. And it’s also really an expression of one’s lifestyle and thinking. There’s surely a wide variation in the ways Metalheads live, as well as in the music itself. But somehow there seems to be a common ground connecting us all.

Andreas, I wish to thank you for this interview and your precious time to answer it. Battlesword blasted and won the battle, great stuff. Thank you.

Thank you very much Lior for this interview and your support!

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