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Demonical's Martin Schulman: "...then we have the big masses of trendies and hipsters who had no clue who Dismember were a few years ago when they were jerking off to their Slipknot or Arch Enemy records"

Interview with Martin Schulman from Demonical
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 20 June 2021, 4:18 AM

Trends are just trends, a passing thing that even if it might take a while, it will eventually fade, paving the road to the next thing in line. However, embracing a trend might actually start a new heritage, who knows right? It could be false, or lacking of quality but there is a chance that it might do more than just being there, like a fly on the wall. When it comes to the Swedish Demonical, longstanding Death Metal since the first decade of the 00s, quality has a meaning, and trends should be long gone. Following the release of their latest album, “World Domination”, returning and new members were introduced and hamming their style with pride. Steinmetal had a chance to talk with founder Martin Schulman about the new prospect and more…

Hello Martin, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple, how have you been doing sir?

Thank you for having me. Been doing good, busy with all kind of shit as always.

This year is going to be remembered merely due to its downfalls other than the beginning of yet another decade, of course it is being regarded due to the pandemic. How do you find this whole situation going on?

Yes, this year has been totally strange and different. When the pandemic started in March last year or something most people, at least here in Sweden, thought it would be over by the summer latest and then everything turns back to normal. But how wrong we were…. The hardest part is that we don’t really know how long this will be going on, with all restrictions etc., so it’s difficult to make any plans for the future. We just have to wait and ride out the storm as good as ever possible.

I assume that these last six months, being in and out of lockdowns, probably took you through the insanity lane, how did you keep yourself busy in order not to lose it?

To be honest, the pandemic hasn’t affected us more than all the cancelled shows and tours, it didn’t, for example, have any impact on the recording or release of “World Domination”. As Sweden has had a quit different approach to the plague than many other countries (no lockdowns etc., only “restrictions”.) the life here has gone on in a quite normal way during the whole year. Also, because we live in the countryside far from any big cities you hardly notice there is a pandemic going on.

So life has gone on in a rather normal way, we have been able to work, make the necessary travels, go shopping and all that shit but of course, we have done our best to follow the restrictions with social distancing and all that. Which actually suits me fine, I prefer to stay for myself and not hang in bars and socialize with people.

Yet another new era began for Demonical with the release of its sixth album, “World Domination”, and is due to the recruiting of a new vocalist, Christofer Säterdal, and the return of one of your founders, drummer Ronnie Bergerstål. Let’s start with Bergerstål. A co-founder that started the band with you returned eight years, how did you persuade him to make a comeback to the band’s lineup or it wasn’t really a calling but simply his wish to return?

Ever since Ronnie left the band we have been in touch once in a while and on good terms, but it was lately, during the recent years, we were in more frequent contact. After we had released “Chaos Manifesto” we noticed that Kennet, our former drummer, had lost interest a bit, he wanted to focus on other things in life. So, I mentioned this to Ronnie and he said that if we ever need a drummer, session or permanent, he will gladly step in. By then he had also parted with Grave so he wasn’t in any other band, so lack of time was no issue anymore. I kept this in mind and when Kennet then made his final decision and said he will leave I informed Ronnie and he came aboard right away. So that line-up change was really no brainer, and everything went smooth.

As for Säterdal, I was blazed by this voice pattern, so old school Swedish Death Metal, he has those tones similar to Dismember’s Matti Kärki. Where did you find this guy hiding? How would you comment about his chemistry with the rest of the band as he joined?

When Alexander, the previous vocalist, left it was of course very important to find one who could carry on his legacy as after all, he is a great vocalist. We then started to look around among some local talents and then I came across Christofer. I had heard some recordings he did with other bands, so I knew he had the voice and talent, then we just needed the personal chemistry to click. I had a meeting with him, we drank a few beers, and rather fast I realized he would be perfect.

In December 2019, we did the 10 date Brazilian tour and Christofer came along on a session basis and we said that, if everything works well on that tour both personally and musically it will work out good in the future as well. I mean, doing an intense tour in Brazil was like the ultimate test and yeah, everything worked like a well-oiled clock.

Coming back to the new album, “World Domination”, I would say that the title is quite the statement, yet I have the feeling that it doesn’t really relate to your ego as being the dominant at what you do but rather a statement that has a deeper meaning with a darkened twist. Can you shed some light on this one please?

No, it’s not an ego thing. To be honest there is maybe no super-deep meaning behind the title… I always want short titles, titles that are easy to remember, easy to spell and describes the band & album in a somewhat good way.  “World Domination”, “Chaos Manifesto”, “Darkness Unbound”, “Death Infernal” and so on… you get my point haha?

Do you find any relation to what is happening out there in the world and the album’s title?

Well I came up with the title already a few years ago, rather soon after the “Chaos Manifesto” album was released, so the title has no real link to the current situation.

The artwork, made by Susan Wicher, is quite interesting. It is simplistic, but this form of simplicity actually shares a little bit of mystery as if these two characters are about to open something or rather keep something from breaching in. Am I on the right direction or am I stumbling about to fall? What was the vision behind his artwork?

The front cover is a photo of a statue; think it’s located at a cemetery in Germany if I’m not totally mistaken.

I have known Susan for many years and aware of her talent as a photographer. One day I was just checking her portfolio on Facebook and saw that photo, the original was in black and white, and I immediately realized “that’s it, that’s our next album cover”. So, I told her that, she was flattered that I asked and said “of course you can use it”. Then the layout guy at Agonia just made small adjustments to it, added the color and so on.

For all our last releases I have tried to get away from those “normal” death metal album covers and find something a bit more artistic and “clean”. For this album I really think we succeed, I think the front cover kicks ass!

From what I can tell the themes are well spread without too many connecting dots, what would you say are the main themes being discussed on “World Domination”?

Death, destruction, and the fall of mankind. Typical death metal lyrics, the way they should be.

Even though “World Domination” continues the vigorous efforts of Demonical at resurfacing the late 80s and early 90s of Death Metal, I am positive that is a developmental stage made by the band through the record and its making. What can you tell about the progress, or exploration, made by the band on this album?

As always, we decided to make an album that pleases ourselves and continue the music path we started back in 2006. We never plan or thing what kind development we should do or if there even should be any, we just write material we like and take it from there. This is death metal, not fucking rocket science.

Old school Swedish Death Metal, not the Gothenburg type, has been reincarnated in various ways in the past decade or so, whether totally underground or signed to bigger labels, it does click and it is strong as ever. Where do you see Demonical come in with “World Domination”? What impact does this record make, in your opinion, in contrast to the many albums of the kind being released nowadays?

Old school Swedish death metal is a HUGE trend now, unfortunately. Tons of (new) bands playing that style and worshipping the HM-2 pedal and as always with trends, the vast majority of the bands are not so good, and they do not understand basics of the style.

Same with “fans”. Of course there are those who have been there since the early days and also those newer ones who have the right spirit and approach but then we have the big masses of trendies and hipsters who had no clue who Dismember were a few years ago when they were jerking off to their Slipknot or Arch Enemy records. Now then all of a sudden, they but bow to the style and pretend to be experts.

So to be honest, I don’t like this situation and how it has become…… Demonical has been doing this style since 2006, we started at a time when OSSDM was totally out of fashion and untrendy, and we rather sell 10 albums to loyal true fans than 1000 albums to trendies and followers who are into this just because it’s hyped right now.

Going a little back to your returning drummer, and new vocalist. What was their impact on the album’s songwriting?

They didn’t really have any impact on the songwriting as they joined the band when all material was already written but they did of course have an impact on the final result, the recording. Even if all the music is written by every band member has, and has always had, an impact on the final outcome with their ideas and contributions. We are a band, not a one-man show.

I know that you have been quite the veteran when it comes to writing songs of the Death Metal persuasion, yet there is no process that doesn’t have bumps on the way. Would you say that there were challenges along the way to “World Domination”, any conflicts that you had to confront in order to reach the ultimate goal?

No problems really. As I said earlier, writing OSSDM is not really rocket science so it’s not that difficult. But of course you have to be in the right mood or something, without other things stressing or breathing down your neck. So sometimes you can write two tracks in a week if you have the flow or feeling, then it can take a few months when you have the next proper possibility to create something.

So no, there wasn’t really any challenges to write and create the last album.

The other day I saw the video you made for the song, “Slipping Apart”, where you actually teamed up with no other than the Swedish Dio, Nils Patrik Johansson. Never in my mind I thought that you would pick a traditional Metal vocalist to guest. The song is amazing, what could be rendered as a Death Metal balladry. What is your take on this team up? How did you find this experience?

Those who have followed Demonical for at least a few albums, know that we do always try to include a track that is maybe a bit different than the others, something that stands out a bit. On the last album we had „Välkommen Undergång, the track with Swedish lyrics and also some guest vocals. We don’t do such tracks because we want to be different than everyone else or try to be special, we do those tracks because we do what we want and are not affraid of sticking out from the box so to speak.

Well, those people who know me, are certanly aware of the fact that I’m a sucker for 80’s hard rock and heavy metal and I have somekind of crazy fashination towards powerballads, so for this album I decide to write a track in that direction, a slower piece with somekind of 80’s arena feeling without being too cheesy.

I figured out that I wanted to have somekind of heavy metal vocals on the track. Not light power metal vocals nor anything like that. I wanted more hard rock, more heavy metal, more balls! So when I had written the track, both music and lyrics, I was checking around and thinking who would be suitable, who would have the kind of voice I was looking for. Then I realized that Nils Patrik had that kind of heavy metallish voice, a bit raw and dirty but still very good with a wide range and so on.

I contacted him and presented my idea and he immediately agreed to do it. I sent him a rough demo of the track plus the lyrics and he made a basic recording for me to listen to. It sounded great so when the track was fully recorded (all the instruments) I sent it to him and he recorded the vocals in his home studio. I gave him free hands regarding the arrangement and melody line, I trusted him as after all he is the expert on such things, not me.

The reactions to the track have been mostly good, maybe even better than expected. Those who are openminded and understand the unity of metal seem to dig the track but of course there are also those who think we are sell-outs, wimps, posers or whatever but couldn’t care less to be honest. I like the track a lot and it’s important to me in many ways, that’s the important thing.

The catchy “Aeons Of Death”, yet another single, is one of the main reasons why I like old school Death Metal, and the straightforwardness it holds. No nonsense, just clear brutality, with twists of melody as crisp. What is your appreciation of this track? Other than the sheer admiration for your heritage as a Death Metal band, what motivates you to continue writing these kinds of songs as “Aeons Of Death”?

On all past Demonical albums there has always been at least one track that has been in that direction, in other words mid-tempo death metal with a catchy chorus. I like those kind of mid-tempo tracks, hence I try to include such on every album. Such tracks do also bring variety to the whole thing, so it’s not just fast stuff all the time.

 “Victorious” is somewhat different, a groovy tune with a Viking kind of sense, as if you were taking a peek at your ancient history as a people.  What can you tell about this tune? What made you go epic this time around?

Yes, it’s our tribute to our heritage and forefathers, as we are from the North. I the past we have had some lyrics in that direction as well but the music has been more typical Demonical stuff, however, this time I wanted to create a more epic track which would maybe suit the lyrics even better. Think we succeeded rather well, the track became a bit like a battle hymn.

Let’s say that this pandemic is over tomorrow, what is Demonical planned to be doing in the coming period of time?

We are going to try catch up the live activities and play all those shows and festivals that got cancelled or postponed. Besides of course doing more shows…. Let's hope the live-situation will be somewhat back to normal in 2022.

Martin, I wish to thank you for your time and effort on this interview. Thank you for creating yet another skull bashing album, Cheers mate. 

Thank you for your support, much appreciated! See you in fire!



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Edited 27 November 2022

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