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Freternia's Tomas Wäppling: "… it is up to each and every one if you allow yourself to get dragged down and be consumed by that or have the ability to dispel the fog to see the light…"

Interview with Tomas Wäppling from Freternia
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 27 January 2023, 9:24 AM

The phrase out of the darkness and into the light isn't merely by Kreator, it has a much deeper meaning when a person attempts to overcome hardship. It is not about escaping from a certain fate, but challenging one's self in order not to have a written future. Finding ways out of the dark, there is the positivity that lies within the Swedish Freternia Metallers. Recently releasing their new "The Final Stand", they proved that their conviction is might and their Metal is just. Steinmetal had a nice chat with the band's Tomas Wäppling about the album, coming back after Covid and more…

Hello Tomas, it is with a great pleasure that I have you again for a talk about the latest going on within the Freternia camp, how have you been doing?

Hello Lior, thanks for having me, I have started the new year being sick but besides that life is pretty good I would say. Another album released which is well received by the Metal community and also I got married in December so yeah, pretty good…!

Congratulations sir, I wish you all the best

Prior to the Covid era, you released an amazing comeback album that left quite an impact, at least from my end. Due to all the happenings that occurred afterwards in 2020, were you able to support “The Gathering” as you initially expected?

Unfortunately we had to drop all expectations on playing live, we had recently signed for a French booking agency and we got some interesting offers but it was too unsecure at that time.

As the pandemic entered our lives, sweeping the world, having it succumb to its feet starting 2020, and lasting nearly two years, were there any doubts in the Freternia lineup that things could have gone south, perhaps even shaking up the integrity of the band?

That was never the case, we just kept going with some adjustments.

Coming out of the pandemic, with a new hope, and just recently actually, you released your new album, “The Final Stand”. For me this title felt like a fight against all odds, I can presume that this feeling is understandable considering what happened earlier on in the world. What do you think about that notion? Is that the idea that leads to the title, and the album?

In an early stage myself and Pasi planned for a concept album but didn´t really find the time to properly execute that plan completely but some of the songs are linked to each other lyric wise. One of those is “The Final Stand”.

From what I can understand, “The Final Stand” discusses the aspects of pain, isolation, loneliness but also with a glimmer of hope that there is something out there for everyone, a light at the end of the tunnel that is always visible, yet it has to be reached. As a matter of influence, from where did you draw the hope?

Basically, it is fantasy lyrics with different tales, this time it ended up like that. It´s a fact that there are darkness and shadows everywhere, but it is up to each and every one if you allow yourself to get dragged down and be consumed by that or have the ability to dispel the fog to see the light. We find inspiration in the experience of life, movies, books etc. I guess we have a glimpse of that which shines through in our lyrics.

Coming back to the negative end of the record, lyrically wise of course, are there personal examples in there, things that happened to either yourself or one of your peers that saw light on the songs? Other than being hopeful, do you also express on the songs how to deal with such negativity, so to speak?

Not by intention I think but everything that happens affects us in a way or other. For example, I got that shite of a Covid infection almost two years ago, before there was any vaccination available. Hospitalized with oxygen, getting worse with the ventilator awaiting it suddenly turned around and I got out of it with my health intact. The lyrics are simply reminders that life contains both shadow and light.

The artwork of “The Final Stand” leaves no doubt about the fight against the odds, few versus many, with light being a guide for a chance of overcoming the struggle. Is that vision for that artwork that clear or there is more to it that has to be carefully examined by any person that looks at it?

The cover artwork is Felipe Francos interpretation of Pasis vision, based on the lyrics for the song “The Final Stand”.

Maintaining your European energetic vibe of Power Metal, it felt to me that you had a lot to let out and, in a way, you released yourself with fast paced rhythms, with a no less heavier approach towards the riffs, along with a wholesome of melodies. From your perspective, is “The Final Stand” a sort of a continuance, musically, to its predecessor?

We write music that speaks to us in the moment and after the release of “The Gathering” we found ourselves at a place where we wanted to get back to our roots. We see it kind of as a mix of the first two albums with some of the elements from “The Gathering”.

Being one with the hook, whether vocal wise, or riff wise, you exactly knew which buttons to push while crafting these songs. What can you tell about the songwriting process this time around, in particular since the attention span was also divided with all the wretched things happening due to the pandemic?

Myself and Patrik wrote the songs separately, with family life and kids involved and some restrictions on top of that it was the easiest way. When it comes to vocal lines myself and Pasi cooperate a lot and mix our ideas. I usually have ideas for a whole song but don´t reveal anything until Pasi has done his thing.

Talking about the pandemic, how were you able to rehearse the new tracks with all the restrictions going on? Were you affected by the whole deal in any way that prevented you from completing the record as you planned?

The restrictions in Sweden were not as hard as in other countries so that was never a problem for us.

Your vocalist, Pasi Humppi, was really in the zone on the recordings. Passion is the simplest term to appreciate what is going on the songs from the vocal perspective. Not that he never did it in the past, but the dramatic effect of Humppi’s voice was on set on “The Final Stand”. What is your appreciation of his performance? How do you find his vocal contribution to the impact of the songs?

Well, what can I say, Pasi´s voice is like a canned fart – it gets better by time. The vocal contribution is excellent I would say. Guess it has to do with the fun factor when writing and recording “The Final Stand”, it really shows through in a way that makes the difference.

Thomas "Plec" Johansson continued his work with you gents on “The Final Stand”, after showing his great abilities on the previous record. Since it is an always looking up situation, where you want more from the next in line, in contrast to the previous album, how did Johansson perfect your sound as you see it, to make “The Final Stand” a better output?

We have no doubt whatsoever in Master Plec´s ability in creating the very best for us. We just let him do his magic and so far, we have been more than satisfied with the final result.

I think the album’s prominent song, and not because it is gripping with its massive chorus that left me a little speechless, is “Shapeshifter”. Certainly, a bombardment of melodic riffs, and decisive vocal delivery. It was a joint meeting of past and present, crossing the late 80s and into the late 90s, and of course our present decade. What is your input about this track? How do you find its impact on the record?

“Shapeshifter” is my fav track on the album, not only because I wrote it and therefor it includes all the elements that I like. That song is also the result of when Pasi and I combine our vocal ideas and it ended up in the best of ways I think.

It would be interesting to know which of the songs had you challenged, whether while these were in the writing stage, rehearsing or recording? Which of these songs had you going adventurous, looking for new ideas in order not to repeat yourself?

In the writing process there will always be times when you temporarily run out of motivation or creativity. I cannot remember any specific song that was a struggle in any way but yes, the process has its ups and downs for sure. We are rather conservative I guess and not thinking about that at all. Let´s see which way we head on next album.

Looking for to 2023, as 2022 leaves us in just a few, what does your live schedule look like in order to support “The Final Stand”?

Being absent for about 17 years won´t hold the stage for you and with the covid postponing every event and festival for years makes it even harder to get the chance. And as if that wasn´t enough our booking agency decided not to continue with the business. But we haven´t lost hope, if the possibility shows, we´ll be there.

Just to be on the same page, “The Final Stand” doesn’t mean the final say for Freternia right? Just to make sure

We are working on new material and have enough for another album or two so I am quite hopeful that the final chapter isn´t written yet.

Tomas, thank you again for your time for this interview, and thank you and the guys for an amazing record made. All the best and happy new year

Thank you Lior and the same to you!



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