Part of the first swedish death metal wave along with Mefisto, Nihilist, Carnage... Macabre End played pure death metal in the scandinavian tradition. I remember buying the ‘Consumed In Darness’ 7” (a repress of the 1990 demo tape) and how excited I was to finally listen to those stuffs on vinyl – for I knew the demo thanks to a foreign pen pal who did tape-trade with me. Rising from the ashes of Macabre End, God Macabre formed in 1991, and released the excellent ‘Winterlong’ LP on a german label called MBR (r.i.p.) much later. Years even later Relapse Records re-released their album including Macabre End single as a bonus, which was sold out for years because of the end of MBR. Unfortunately, the band splitted after that album and for various reasons they stayed in the shadow of other swedish bands and never achieved great success; the fact that tons of swedish death metal releases infested shops and mail order lists didn’t help. Years later I have decided to pay a great homage to them to celebrate one of the culter swedish death metal bands of all times. Guitarist Ola, in addition to being wonderfully nice, greatly appreciated my questions and took his time to answer them.
01 - Hi Ola ! I’m really happy to be in touch with you and to have the possibility to relive Macabre End/God Macabre the time of this interview!
Hey Ron, I’m happy to be doing this interview and it always helps me remember more and more about the “good old days”. I suffer from a very bad memory so when I do these interviews I go back in time and remember a lot of the great times we had with this band… so, thanks for providing a chance to do that again.
02 - Ok, so at first, could you tell me what were you motives to form Macabre End at the end of the 80’s? Can you resume briefly your meeting with the other members to me? What was the average age?
The motives for the band was always to have fun with some friends and play music we all loved. The original four of us met in school as we all went to the same school… me and the drummer Niklas went to the same class for all 9 years in school and Per and Tomas were one year older than us. So, Niklas I had known since 1980 or something, Tomas was a neighbor of Niklas so we all knew each other from long before we even started playing together and Per was someone we got to know in 1987 when we started going to the same school… Me and Niklas started playing together with some other guys in a punk band called “No Sense” in 1987 at the age of 14 and after kicking the first vocalist Per joined on vocals instead. We renamed the band “Execution Patrol” and the music was regular punk, but as me, Niklas and Per got more and more into grindcore/speedcore we started putting elements of that stuff into the music (much to the horror of the guitarist as he couldn’t play that stuff). And after a while I left the band, and Niklas and Per soon followed… We started up a new band that would be the beginning of what would become God Macabre and we asked Tomas to join on bass (I had played the bass in the old bands, but now I took over as the guitarist instead). At the time we formed this embryo of what would later become God Macabre me and Niklas were 15 years old and Tomas and Per were 16.
03 - During the year 1988, before the creation of M.E., you, Per and Niklas played a bunch of songs influenced by punk metal under the name of Botten Pa Burken. How and why have you decided to follow this particular way just before playing death metal?
Botten På Burken was a total grindcore band and nothing else… the punk thing was in a band before, but this was grindcore with a very big Napalm Death, Agathocles and Heresy influence… Tomas Johansson was also a member of this band from the start, so the 4 original members of Macabre End was together from the start in this band. The reason it was grindcore was that we discovered that before death metal and then moving from death metal from grind wasn’t that big of a jump… we kept the grind for quite some time in our music even with Macabre End though.
04 - Before the recording of your first demo in 1990, a rehearsal from October of the same year containing 5 tracks (including a cover of Paradise Lost) passed around and delivered a sound quite strange as hell. Do you remember how many copies you have made for this tape?
The rehearsal you are talking about was probably made in June 1990 (the demo was recorded in September 1990). This was the first stuff we did after Jonas had joined the band and we had scrapped all of our old songs… I suspect the rehearsal had the tracks “Lost Paradise”, “Spawn of Flesh”, “Ceased to Be”, “Consumed by Darkness” and the Carnage cover “The Day Man Lost”. The sound quality came from us rehearsing that summer in our drummer’s parent’s place where they made chocolate/coconut pastries and it was a big factory, so we rehearsed in a big empty room where the sound was bouncing around on the walls… it was great though as we went downstairs and ate those pastries in our breaks ;-).We didn’t make any special copies of that rehearsal tape… as most in the band at the time were tape traders we usually sent the rehearsals out to our friends and they copied them and spread them even more…
05 - I remember that one year after, your first demo containing 3 tracks “consumed in darkness”, “ceased to be” and “spawn of flesh” was more or less a low budget recording. What were the reactions for this release? Could you tell me the reason why you have considered to release it to only 100 copies?
The recording of the “Consumed by Darkness” demo was made in September 1990 and the reason it was a low budget recording was that we felt that we didn’t need to spend too much time on it as we knew the songs and recorded them mostly in one take, each instrument at the time… I think that it took us 11 hours from when we entered the Sunlight Studio until we said goodbye and went back home. And those 11 hours included everything from us finding the drum sound, guitar sound and all that to the mix and an hour of food break… The reactions were damn about this demo, overall I think we got only good reviews… well, one bad I remember (and you always remember the bad ones) in which the reviewer thought we sounded like a noise band from Malaysia and we had no talent at all… it didn’t bother us though. The reason for the 100 copies (I’m not sure we even made that many, but my memory sucks) is that we got in touch with Corpse Grinder so fast and as we decided to release the recording as a 7” it was no meaning to press more demo tapes.
06 - The French label Corpse Grinder has re-edited this demo on 7”ep and if I remember right the distribution was pretty good. Did you plan to re-record this stuff or was it the idea of the Corpse Grinder Records boss? Ola, your point of view about the other big signatures on this label like Acheron(oz), Ceremonial Oath, Dissection… I noticed that later this label has splitted without left signs of life at all! Have you heard among your foreign friends the reasons of this end?
We got in contact with the guy behind Corpse Grinder Records early after the release of the demo, I think Per might have known the guy already. And it was a mutual decision to release the demo as we felt it would take too much time to record new songs for the EP and we did want it out as fast as possible. We decided ourselves to remix the demo, which was done in January ’91 by Jonas at Studio Sunlight, and there were some more effects added and I am not sure if there was anything else changed as well…
About the other bands that were released on the label I’m probably only into Abhoth and the Australian band Acheron that were released not that long after our 7” was released… I have no idea why the label ended, but I suspect it could have been money as running a label like that by yourself will take money and dedication…
07 - Then you got another plan with Relapse Records to record a second one but it didn’t work. What really happened?
The thing that made the thing with Relapse to fell through about a second 7” on their label was the contract they sent us. We had been talking with the guys for some time about us doing a 7” for them, but when the contract arrived it stated that the EP would be very limited and only used as a promotion for an upcoming album on their label (something we had never discussed) and that Relapse would get all the rights to our logo to use in any way they would want. Like printing it on hats, pants and all that… We felt that we would be giving up too much, so we wrote them back about it and asked the stuff about them being able to print whatever they wanted with our name on it to be left out of the contract and also what the hell was going on with the EP that now was supposed to be the teaser for an album we had never talked about… They never replied and we just moved on to other things instead.
08 - The misfortune continue for M.E…. Deaf Records offered you a deal that was break because you didn’t write enough songs. What was the barrier that restrained you to deny this contract? Do you have some remorse?
Deaf Records never offered us a deal… I am not sure where this comes from and us not writing enough songs… Deaf Records did get in touch with us after reading a review of our demo and wanted to hear us, but it was never talks about a deal or anything like that with them. So, no contract was denied and no remorse necessary…
09 - At this period Suppuration was your own fanzine dedicated to the death metal scene. Do you keep good memories from the bands you have interviewed? How many issues have you pressed and could you tell me your motivations to support the underground scene?
I think doing a fanzine back then came a lot more natural when being in the scene than it is now… it was just part of it all. I mean, in Macabre End we were three who made our own fanzines. Per did one called Senil Nekrofil and Jonas made one as well (that I sadly don’t remember the name of). This was all part of the experience back then… I have some good memories from some of the bands that I interviewed, it was a very crappy fanzine though with bad questions, but I didn’t care and neither did the bands it seemed… I think the most fun with an interview that I had back then was the one with Pelle Dead and Mayhem. And I have a lot of cool stuff that he sent to be featured in the interview lying somewhere in my house… I only made one issue of Suppuration as the band took more and more time, and I think I also felt that I didn’t have that much to bring to people with my insane questions…
10 - Your contribution to the Putrefaction fanzine will remain a fascinating experience… Can you explain to me your implication with Tomas Nyqvist? Honestly, I took lots of attention to read this mighty interviews.Do you have a particular preference for an issue?
My contributions to Putrefaction was not that much… I did the logo that was used very early on and probably some very lame gore drawings… I knew Tomas through tape trading and that’s the reason I did those things for him. I am not sure, but I suspect that he might have made some gore drawings that I used in my fanzine… I know I had that kind of exchange with Jonas and his fanzine as well… I can’t really say I remember that much about the fanzine, but I should have a bunch of the early issues somewhere in the house as well… Some day I need to go and dig all that stuff out again…
11 - God Macabre is born from the ashes of M.E. in the year 1991 (with the same line-up) and was still oriented in the Swedish Death Metal ! Did you feel it was a new start by changing the band’s name?
Well, God Macabre was Macabre End… We never broke up with ME or anything, it was just decided that we should change the name of the band as it was becoming more and more tiring to us… Macabre End felt good when we played grind/death metal with very punky lyrics, but when we went more and more into the darker death metal stuff we felt that the name needed to be changed. I was very much opposed to the change though as I felt that we had gotten a name with Macabre End and we might lose the little recognition we had if we changed the name… But, it didn’t take me long to be on board with the name change.One silly reason also to change the name was that when someone asked what our band was called we often got it that they thought we were called “Macabre Ant”, and that was no fun…
12 - Sadly, Tomas Johansson and Niklas Nilsson left the band for personal reasons this year. I assume that their decision got you down and delayed your writing process?
Tomas was going to start his military service (the only one in the band that did that) and would be gone for almost a year and we felt that we couldn’t wait for him so we more or less kicked him out, but he was understanding and had those same thoughts himself. Nothing changed with this as it wasn’t hard to go on as a 4 piece without a bass player and this happened not too long before the recording of the album. So, all of the tracks on the album had been rehearsed on with Tomas on bass. I think he left/was asked to leave in October/November 1991 and the album was recorded in December 1991. But, the other 4 of us had known that he would be out of the band longer than that as the photo sessions we did that summer already was without him (without him knowing it of course ;-)).
Niklas left in November I think and that kinda made us upset with him as he was very well aware of the label sending us money to record the next month. The reason he left was because of the girlfriend he had at the time, she didn’t like him being away rehearsing that much and he rather wanted to be at home with her… And we only rehearsed a maximum of 2 times a week… But, when he left we had all the songs ready for the album so the writing process wasn’t delayed.
13 - The things that surprised me the most was that some months later, Jonas Stålhammar joined God Macabre because he was bored with Abhoth. Is his integration generated some strains between you and the Abhoth members? Was his manner to compose matched to yours in the beginning?
Jonas joined us in May 1990, a year and a half before Tomas and Niklas left the band… Jonas wasn’t bore with Abhoth like that, he felt that he would be able to do more what he wanted with us, so that’s why he left them after their first demo. Our musical directions were different and I think he also wanted to play with us as he knew he would be the lead guitarist (something he had to share in Abhoth) and main song writer.There were absolutely no bad blood between us and Abhoth at all after this… They understood why he left them for us and we always used to hang out with the Abhoth guys when we were visiting Jonas in his hometown. We kinda became “bands in-law” or something by what happened and there was always a big respect between the bands and a great friendship. We ended up throwing all the old songs away when Jonas joined as we felt that what he wrote for us was better than our old songs, and he ended up writing all but one song used by the band on recordings.
14 - The « Winterlong » album recorded in the mighty Sunlight studios in the middle of 1992 was a good recompense after all these dark years… What professional experience do you keep of this recording? Are you satisfied with the final mix? Why did you choose the Sunlight Studio and not the services of Dan Swano for example? Would you want to change something on this album right now? I could considered this album as mini album because of its length: 29 minutes. What do you think about this?
“The Winterlong” album was recorded in December 1991, and there were absolutely no dark years for us that it would recompense for… It was always a great time with the band and we never had to struggle with anything. Everything happened to fast and I can assure you there were no dark years at all… Some things fell through, but that happens in the music business and it was nothing that brought us down at all…The recording was interesting as we did it in three days altogether. Me, Jonas and Niklas flew to Stockholm and recorded the drums (day one, after which Niklas left for home) and the guitars and bass (day two). We brought the recording home and listened through it and heard some minor things we dealt with when we were back in late December when it was time to record the vocals and mix the whole thing. The main memory I have of this recording is when me, Per and a friend (Erik, who I play together with today in another band) went to Stockholm in a small car where nothing seemed to work in the middle of a damn snowstorm… It was a fun time…
The final mix is ok, there was a reason why we decided to remix it for the Relapse re-release as the guitars were too “buzz saw” sounding and we wanted it to be heavier… I am not totally happy with the drum sound on the recording though, but that is the sunlight drum sound that all the bands had back then due to the d-drums that were used in the studio. .We chose the Sunlight Studio again as it was a very cheap studio, we had been there before and it was easy to get to… Right now the only thing I would want to change is the d-drums for real drums, but that would also take away a little from the whole sound of the recording.It was always intended to be a Mini-LP when we recorded the album, “Ashes of Mourning Life” wasn’t supposed to be on it as it was only meant to be on the “Pantalgia” compilation M.B.R. Records would release… but, as the guys at the label decided that they couldn’t afford it being on vinyl and CD, they decided to go with CD only and then we felt it needed something more… So, we added “Ashes… “ to make it longer. I wouldn’t call it a Mini CD just because of the length though… Take the Misfits album “Earth A.D./Wolfsblood”, that one is 15 minutes or something and still an album ;-). But, with the re-release and the adding of the demo tracks I feel it is a complete album with a length of 37 minutes.
15 - Can you inform me about the subjects treated in your dark lyrics fighting against christianism and were really closed to those of the Black Metal bands; disgust and hate were ever-present against this institution… How do you feel this rage against this monotheist religion that dare to laud sharing and tolerance in this world infested with hypocrites? Don’t you think that their speech is senseless when regarding the present reality?
The subjects in the lyrics (especially in the later songs) were more of a personal journey and what Per felt about things… It’s hard for me to sit here and talk too much about his lyrics as what they mean are something only he can answer fully to… It wasn’t a fight against Christianity, it was more of a personal statement that you don’t need this to be happy in life. That no religion will make you a better person and will get you to “heaven”. You are the only one who can decide to be a better person and that people can’t follow something like a religion blindly without thinking. So, to me Per’s lyrics are miles away from the lyrics that black metal bands have…What I feel is that people need to start to think for themselves and decide what they want with their lives instead of putting it all into a book… To me a lot of the anti-christians are just as bad as Christians… We have all the different kinds of Satanists who follow their belief blindly and that’s not better than following the bible blindly. People need to use their own mind and sense about things and not follow things blindly without questioning things….
16 - Finally, Niklas Nilsson rejoined the band for the recording of the album as a session member only. Could you tell who took this strange decision and for which reason?
Well, Niklas left the band in November 1991 and was asked to at least stay for the recording that would be done the next month. So, he was never away from the band really between his decision to leave and the recording of the album.The Session member thing was because of two things… The first one was that he didn’t pay a thing for the recording, the trip to the studio and the food he ate during this. Me, Jonas and Per paid for all that (with the exception of half of the studio time that MBR Records paid for). So, he was more or less a paid performer on the record and we felt that by doing it like that he couldn’t be called a real member anymore. The second thing was also because of us being damn upset by the reasons he left the band and at the time he decided to leave us. During most of 1991 the band was down because of Niklas hurting his back pretty badly by overdoing it when lifting weights, and we waited for him to come back so we could play again… And then not long after he was back to shape again he decided to leave… That was hard to take after us waiting for him, so there was no way he would be considered a full member after that… On the re-release he is stated as a full member again as we have grown up and it would be silly to continue with that.
17 - What problem did you have with Mangled Beyond Recognition records because I remember very well that your album was released several years after the recording, am I right? In hindsight, are you satisfied of their work or do you have some reproaches about them?
I remember that everything took a lot longer to happen after they got the material than it was supposed to. But, it also took us quite some time to find a cover we wanted to use, so the record was not meant to be released until in mid 1992 I think. But, things got delayed more and more and all of a sudden it was December 1993 before it was released. Two years almost on the day since we recorded it and a little bit more than a year and a half after the band split up… I am satisfied that they actually did release it, but that’s it really… we never got to hear anything about sales, distribution or anything like that after it was released. We weren’t in it for the money, but it would at least have been nice to get some numbers regarding how it sold and where it was distributed.But, the decision for the re-release was an easy one as we felt it never reached the places we wanted it to have reached back then, so I am not that satisfied with the whole MBR thing…
18 - Do you think it was necessary to be featured on the cyber music compilation knowing that « spawn of flesh » wasn’t an unrealased song ? What was your opinion about all these compilations that frankly offered rarely surprises?
Us being featured on the “Appointment With Fear” compilation wasn’t our decision… I got a flyer about a compilation CD one day and saw that we were mentioned among the bands being on it, so we wrote the label and asked what the hell was going on. And it was Corpse Grinder Records who had given him permission to use a track from the EP (I understand that well as it was promotion for a release on his label). But, the guys at Cyber Music were cool and sent us some copies of the compilation and that was all we cared about then… I don’t think it matters with all those compilations that features songs that are on other places as there is always a chance that those songs will be new for some people who buy these compilations and they hunt down whatever else the band have released and that’s all you can ask for.
19 - G.M. has bathed in the old school Swedish death metal, so I would like to know your point of view on the current Swedish death metal scene with bands such as Repugnant, Necrovation, Verminous, Suicidal Winds? Compared to the majority of old Swedish bands, do you think they keep the ancient flame alive?
There are some bands that keep the ancient flame alive I think… My favorite among the more recent bands are Necrovation with their insane old school sound and great song writing. There are of course many others that are good as well, but these guys stand out for me. What I am afraid of is that this whole “old school Swedish death metal” will be just as silly as the Norwegian black metal thing… where people do it just because of the hype that is surrounding it. I mean, to see a band from Portugal saying they are playing “Norwegian black metal” makes me wonder if I should laugh or cry, and the same thing goes for bands around the world that play “old school Swedish death metal”… It’s one thing to be inspired by it, but to build everything around a sound like that is never good. It’s never too good to only focus to the past instead of trying to move forward…
20 - So Ola, you have contacted me for asking me if I had demos from Ice Age and Damien, that another guy proposed to you later… Are you still active in the tape trading? What do you think of this new technology, the MP3 concerning the good old tape?
No, I am not active in the tapetrading anymore… That was something I quit doing back in 1993 as I felt I had done it enough… The reason I hunt down old demos now is because of the old school death/thrash/black metal radio show I am doing as I want to be able to play some of the demo tracks from that era when I was active myself in the scene… and I think that mp3s are a very good thing as the quality will be the same, the tape copies always get worse by every copy and that’s not too fun… But, of course I miss sitting here copying tapes to people and get new ones in the mail…
21 - Nowadays, you appeared with Per Boder in Space Probe Taurus, a local band of fuzz rock, far away from your beginning. Was it so important for you to change of musical style and to stop playing death metal? Whar mean this new band for you?
Well, I played with Per Boder until 2002 in Space Probe Taurus, then he decided to leave the band as his work took over too much and he wasn’t that much into playing in a band anymore. The genre we are playing is something that came natural after trying some other things after God Macabre split up… it has nothing to do with us deciding to change any style just for the sake of not playing death metal. Back in 1993 when the band started both me and Per were pretty sick of playing only death metal and we wanted to try something else. I mean, you always must evolve and we found that this was what came natural to us… As I have played in Space Probe Taurus since 1993 it’s not so new to me ;-). I have played longer in this band than in any other band and I do it because I love it… I love singing in the band and also play my crappy solos… This is a totally different thing than being a rhythm guitarist, so I am evolving as a musician with this band. But, just like with M.E. we do this because we think it’s fun and nothing else.
22 - Alright, I hope you won’t have fantasized too much on the profile of the gorgeous Swedish girl who featured on my friend list, ahah! Do you have something to add in order to finish this interview?
No… I can see a girl without acting like a mongo about it ;-). I would like to thank you for doing this interview and letting me take the time that I ended up needing. That’s all really…
Interview : Kanz-Noz