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Ablaze My Sorrow's Magnus Carlsson: "We are our own worst enemy. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, only nothingness"

Interview with Magnus Carlsson from Ablaze My Sorrow
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 10 June 2021, 8:34 PM

Perhaps one time it wouldn't be a theme for a sci-fi movie but actual reality, as the engines of fear, hate and ignorance rapidly work to collapse the fragments of our society. What can be done otherwise than actually warn and continue shouting out loud that things aren't alright, and nothing will be better until the proper action is taken. Returning to the scene with a strong message, Ablaze My Sorrow set their gaze upon the world, preserving their version of Melodic Death Metal. Following the release of "Among Ashes and Monoliths", Steinmetal had a talk with founder Magnus Carlsson about the world, the inspiration for the album and music and more…

Greetings Magnus, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Thank and hi to you. Well its Friday and it means that I´m allowed to take a drink or two although I will work all weekend. We finally got the Among Ashes and Monoliths (AAAM) LP today and that makes me a little exited. I just tried to spread it through the social media and it can be a struggle you know.

Well, it appears that the entire world is deemed Red due to what seems to be a third, for some still second, wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. How have you been dealing with this menace that has sadly become an integral part of our lives in the past year?

It has not been a big problem for us. Ok, we haven’t got the opportunity to promote AAAM by having a lot of gigs. But I think we have never been a band on the road, so its ok. A good thing with the Covid-19 situation is that I have got more time for compose new songs. In the last few months we have started to rehearse again and it feels great.

2020 will probably forever be remembered by most people as a cursed year, where everything simply went downhill, toppling down people and their dreams. Since we are on the verge of a new year, what are your wishes going forward into 2021?

Of course, we hope that this pandemic will start slowing down so we all can go back to our normal lives. We all want to go to concerts and so one. When that's allowed again I think we/people will be more crazy/happier than ever. Most bad things will end up with something good you know.

Honestly, I missed your comeback five years ago with “Black”, though I am sure that it was quite an event, have you back with Ablaze My Sorrow to the fold. Nonetheless, I told myself that I couldn’t perish the thought of missing "Among Ashes and Monoliths". So first things first, the new record introduced you to your new home at Black Lion Records. Was signing with the local label part of your plan? What do you make of this signing?

When everything stood clear that it would not be a new release on Apostasy we felt that it should be nice with some local label yes. Everything is easier as language, distance and so one…. I can’t say that I have a lot of connections with people in the scene so it's great not being a one-man army:) Anders (bass) told us that there is a young guy called Oliver which runs his label with great passion. Oliver also got major contacts outside Sweden and that's something that had caused problems for us if we had decided to do everything by ourselves.

There is a dark cloud surrounding the veils of "Among Ashes and Monoliths", a tremendous amount of passion swarming nearly on each segment of the release. What can you tell of the overall theme that consumes the album whole?

The lyrics on the album delves into the topics of: Misanthropy, depression and the pointlessness of existence. It also touches upon subjects such as: anger at people who do not dare to educate themselves and evolve, thus letting their fear, prejudice, ignorance and preconceived notions rule their decisions and view of life. The title, Among Ashes and Monoliths, refers to a post-apocalyptic world where nothing is left of but a barren waste land where the naked trunks of trees stand as monoliths in a dead, ash covered world - a mausoleum telling the tale of human greed, fear and ignorance. The inspiration for the lyrics is the state of the world, the singer's personal experiences and the band's own old lyrics.

Where do you find yourself within the lyrical content? Do you believe that this record also offers the listener a light at the end of the tunnel among the display of ruins?

There is no hope for mankind in the long run. We are our own worst enemy. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, only nothingness.

Are there any connecting dots between the happenings on the records lyrically and the pandemic out there, which has quite the fine contribution to the sorrowfulness of people?

No, there is no connection. The lyrics for the album were written before the pandemic broke out.

If there is one thing that "Among Ashes and Monoliths" showcases are that Ablaze My Sorrow is an adamant band. No matter the fact that most of the Gothenburg styled Death Metal bands left the sub-genre to pursue other directions, you guys keep at it, showing the early to mid-90s of Melodic Death Metal in its finest hour. With the constant change going in Metal music, what has been keeping you motivated in overall, and on the new record in particular, to continue the early flame?

It's very easy when all of us in the band still love the early 90s melodic death metal sound. I have to say that I think that we have gone into some in-between the early shit and the new melodic death metal. As you might know we have some disco behaviour on few new songs HAHA. But you got it all right that we still keeping it all up after 25 years. That form of metal music just fits us all in the band and we all prefer the easiness in it.

I think that if we really tried we could go more commercial if we wanted to. But it will never happen as long as we play as AMS. But I have to say that it's easy to stand there pointing fingers to bands that have totally change their sound and performance throughout the years. I really think that the new In Flames album is good for example. Its catchy and well played with great melodies so how can you say its shit? My son listens to that new hip-hop music and I have always thought that it's the worst music until if sat down and really listened to it. Ok, it's not that good but I can see why he likes it.

Though constant in your efforts, as I mentioned, there is a fine measure of going forward with each one’s comfort zone, how do you find the band’s musical progress on "Among Ashes and Monoliths"?

I think that we have included new elements to our music. As for myself I believe that the composing flows much easier this time than before. I just do not feel that much pressure anymore. What comes out comes out. In some way it's natural for most of us when we grow older I think. This is also the first time I have done all of the music and it's not that we won’t include other members, it just felt natural for us this time.

Last year you made a substantial change in the line-up and recruited Jonas Udd to be the new voice of the band. What happened with Kristian Lönnsjö, which has been with you guys for quite some time? As for Udd, how do you find his vocal tone? Was he exactly what Ablaze My Sorrow needed to continue its legacy?

First of all, I have to say that Jonas is absolutely brilliant. His vocal abilities are by far more versatile then most other singers in our genre. It's not that he adds clean vocals and all that shit in the choruses but he uses his voice different trough many of the new songs. While finishing "Black”, Kristian was struck by throat cancer. He did 2 successful operations but his voice was never going to get 100% after that. Both we and him agreed that it wouldn’t be possible to scream the shit out of his lungs anymore. The first singer that came down rehearsing with us was Jonas and after a couple of minutes we just said ”hell yea the job is yours”. He was exactly the one we were looking for and he would be the first and only one we tried for replacing Kristian.

Would you say that there is a new spirit within the band guiding the songwriting on “Among Ashes and Monoliths"? If so, what elements were added in order to enrich the experience and the process itself? How did Jonas Udd fit in as part of the songwriting unit of the band?

Nearly all of the songs on AAAM were already done when Jonas entered Ablaze and the hardest thing for us has always been the lyrics. It just felt that if a new member should come abroad he should have the abilities to write them. And what a success he was even there! Every time it was time to rehearse he had done 2 or 3 poems for the new songs. He was just the injection that we needed.

Things started to heat up with the self-titled, "Among Ashes and Monoliths", constantly maintaining those never getting old melodic riffs, yet also displaying a measure of extra toughness. What is your take in regards to this track?

This one is the one I made in the middle of the progress. I think it had the title (6). All songs were numbered according to when it was written. Easy as that! The first thing that I was thinking at was that the new album should have variations. This one is the most 90s melodic death metal style on AAAM I think. It's easy to play and listen to and that was the focus when I wrote it.

“Dark Chasms” on the other hand is closer to being a Thrash Metal tune rather the preserving the early efforts of the band. Nonetheless, it is quite a reference that in a way connected well with the past. Is there a good chance for additional Thrash Metal kind of influences going with the band forward?

Well, now we start with numbers. This one is (3). ”Dark Chasms” and ”Grit” (4) were made in the same shape if you what I mean? I can’t really see if it is thrash, but I’m happy if you see it that way. For sure thrash is a genre that influences all of us in the band. We all grew up with that kind of music. Early Metallica, Slayer did kill us all with their music at that time. And I would lie to you and myself if I told you that these kind of songs will never be written in Ablaze anymore. It's an honour you mentioned it though!

“Black Waters”, channelling a softer kind of vocals by the new guy in town, is taking it slowly, yet not less melodic and atmospheric than most of the other tunes. How do you find the passionate vocals of Mr. Udd on this tune? I guess this is where he pushed himself to the limit?

It starts to get a little bit silly as I’m about to level this guy up one more time. The vocal performance on this song is absolutely Jonas earnings. I remember that we did a preproduction of all vocals at our rehearsal-place. And when I pushed the R-button our jaws just fell down. What the f*ck is this? Can he actually do this after screaming his lungs out for the last hour? It's not that he had to do several takes to nail it, it just came out so natural. So no… it was nothing that he was seem to struggling with.

Going a little bit more romantic and groovy, once again prevailing with a wonderful atmosphere, is “Her Cold Embrace”. What is your appreciation of the track? How do you find the intriguing duet with Jonna Enckell? How do you find the intriguing duet with Jonna?

AMS: We love it. We really like what Jonna has done before both in Project Hate and as Siren On and we knew that she wouldn't only sing beautifully but she would also have great ideas and great feedback in the creative process. We are really pleased with how the duet played out and the song is dynamic and has a sweet development in both arrangement and in the lyrics. Her voice and melodies really adds something ethereal to the sinister atmosphere in the song.

What is your appreciation of the track?

AMS: We love atmospheric slow paced blackened death metal as well as the scorching fast melodic and hard death metal. In this track we tell the tale of Hel, goddess of death in Nordic mythology. Jonna Enckell steps in as the voice of Hel making a tremendous job of finding an eerie and, at the same time, beautiful tone as she sings about giving her last embrace to those who end up in the cold realm of Hel in Niefelheim.

Trusting that it would take time to get back to the stages, even though the vaccinations are rapidly spreading, is there a consideration to go on a live stream show to maintain the album’s promotional campaign?

No we do not have any plans to go livestream in this moment.

With time on your hands, at least for the moment, is there a plan for the next album?

Yes we have plans and they are already growing rapidly!

Magnus, it was an honor to have you for this interview, I am glad that I was fortunate enough to listen to the band’s new album. You made it happen for me no doubt. All the best sir and happy new year

Thank you Lior for the interview, all the best


 



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