By Andrew Bansal
After completing a successful run of dates celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album “Into The Grave” by playing it in its entirety, Swedish death metal masters Grave are back this year with a new album titled “Endless Procession Of Souls”. Released on August 28th, this is their tenth full-length studio album and marks their return to Century Media Records after a brief departure which saw them release the albums “Dominion VIII” and “Burial Ground” under the Regain Records label. Now the band is out on the road in Europe, and after that they’ll be heading out an a massive North American tour in support of Morbid Angel and Dark Funeral, starting September 20th and ending on October 23rd. Recently, I caught up with frontman and only remaining founding member Ola Lindgren to talk about the album, tour and other things. Read the conversation below, check out the song “Passion Of The Weak” using the YouTube player, and visit Grave’s facebook page for info on tour dates.
Your new album just came out a couple of weeks ago. For the people who haven’t heard it yet, what can they expect from it?
Well, it’s a back to the roots approach mixed up with some groovy parts. These are the most ‘song-oriented’ tracks we’ve done in a long time, I think. There’s been more effort and thought put behind it when we were tracking everything. We recorded and mixed it ourselves in our studio, and that gave a crushing, old-school death metal finish to it.
Last year you played some shows around the world where you performed the “Into The Grave” album in its entirety. Do you think that has had any effect on the new material, and that’s the reason you kind of went back to the roots and approached it in a similar way?
May be some of it. A lot of the tracks on “Into The Grave” we hadn’t played in many, many years and we felt like we were rediscovering them in a way. I think it put some kind of ideas in our head in terms of what kind of direction we wanted to go in, and when we started writing after the first two or three tracks were finished, we had a pretty clear idea of how we wanted to go ahead with for the whole album.
You also did a North American tour in 2011, which was your first headline tour in those parts after a very long time. I guess you achieved what you aimed to do with that tour. You reconnected with the fans there and played the debut album.
Yeah, definitely. We didn’t really know what to expect, and didn’t actually have any expectations at all, since we hadn’t been there in six years or something. So it was very exciting and it turned out to be very good, I would say. There’s always a couple of dips during the way, but still the main memory of the tour for us is that it was very successful. We decided that we have to go back there and keep it going. The new album is now out, so it’s the perfect time to go and do a new album tour for the fans.
Yeah, you are coming back to do another tour in North America with Morbid Angel. That must be something you’re looking forward to. They have a huge following and you’ll get to play to a lot of people on this tour.
Yeah I think it will be a very good tour, and in this genre of music I don’t think there’s really any other packages that would do as good as this one.
Other than that, what plans do you have? Will you keep touring from now on to promote the album?
We’re doing a short headline tour in Europe for two and a half weeks, and then we go straight to the US. After that hopefully we’ll get to do a more extensive European tour either later this year or next year. There’s talk about going back to South America and do a more extensive tour over there as well, and there’s talk about Australia and some other places. So hopefully we’ll be keeping busy for a while!
Coming back to the album, have you done anything differently in terms of the production, or was it the same process as the recent albums?
I think we just put a lot more work and time into how we wanted to do everything, and when we recorded stuff we made sure it sounded perfect from the start. The mixing process was pretty easy, because all the sounds were already pretty solid and exactly like we wanted them. It wasn’t really too hard to get it all together. It was a pretty long process, but still pretty relaxed. We did it in our own studio, so it was a bit more relaxing and a very easy way to work. So the only difference from previous few albums is, just more thought put into it, and we had a clear picture right from the start.
In terms of artwork, you’ve kept the same artist that you used for the last two albums. I think that’s a good thing because you keep the continuity, and with death metal bands people really look closely at the artwork. So, do you give importance to that as well?
Yeah, absolutely. We wanted to work with him [Costin Chioreanu] again. He’s an amazing artist, and we just gave him the album title early on in the whole process, and he came out with the art pretty fast. We didn’t change anything at all, and we just kept it the way he presented it to us from the start. I think it’s killer, and I can’t wait to see it on vinyl and other items in our merchandise.
Yeah, it would look absolutely killer on vinyl, that’s for sure. Gear-wise, did you use anything new or different this time?
It was a new setup for me, actually. I got hooked up with EVH last year. I got a rig from them here in Sweden and this was the first time I recorded with it. There’s some very, very interesting stuff you can do with it. It just sounds killer for whatever stuff you play on it. I went to some custom shops and got two kinds of set up doing, one of which I used for all the rhythm parts and the other one for the lead parts.
Finally, in terms of the musical direction I think sometimes death metal bands kind of get trapped into doing something repeatedly because that’s what fans expect. Have you ever felt that with Grave, or has your music always come out exactly how you wanted it to?
There’s always expectations, of course, both from fans and ourselves as well. So there’s always going to be some ‘rules’ about what we can do and put on an album under the name of Grave, and I kind of have the last say in that, to make sure that it keeps up to the standard we maintained on the older albums, and doesn’t sound too weird or spaced out or whatever. So we tend to keep things pretty straightforward, and I don’t think we’ll gain anything out of trying to experiment or expand into other stuff. If we do that, it really just won’t be the same. It won’t be Grave, you know.