Cryonic Temple – A Glorious ReturnMonday, 17th July 2017
Active since the mid 1990’s, Cryonic Temple flew the flag for classic power metal from Sweden right along with Hammerfall and Nocturnal Rites. You know the type – battle/fantasy laden lyrical tales and musical accompaniment that strengthens resolve, gaining confidence as you are taken away to an alternate realm of space or time. Releasing four albums on different labels during the 2000’s, they’ve been surprisingly absent since 2008’s Immortal on the recording front. Thankfully signing with Scarlet Records, this year the band issue their fifth studio effort with Into the Glorious Battle – a first for the quintet in that it’s a conceptual hour-long trek into a futuristic war, which mirrors the fight the band maintained to get back in the scene.
Reaching out to the band to ask about the past, present, and future of Cryonic Temple, you’ll see that the whole band took on these questions – although many of the answers came from guitarists Esa Ahonen and Markus Grundström. You’ll learn more about the development of the new record truly being a team effort, how the band handle the changing tides of record label promotion and social media, as well as special memories surrounding favorite albums and concerts – and hopefully dig deeper into their latest effort, at it’s a treasure in the melodic power metal style.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you describe your earliest memories surrounding music? At what point did you develop a love for heavy metal, and then pick up an instrument to start performing in original bands?
Esa Ahonen: Interesting question. All of the band members have different stories surrounding this questions. But the memory I have is when I first listened to Judas Priest in the 80’s. Also when I listen to Keeper of the seven keys pt.2 album (Helloween), that is when I wanted to do something similar. I just loved how they created the music, it was so heavy and fast, yet still so melodic. It really grasped me and wanted me to do the same.
Dead Rhetoric: Before getting signed Cryonic Temple recorded seven demos in a fairly brief period of four years – do you believe this tenacity and development in the studio improved the songwriting and skill sets of the band members, and what memories do you have surrounding those times, good or bad?
Ahonen: Of course, this affected us in various ways, mostly positive. It made us much tighter as a band but also pure (from a) musical (standpoint). During these times in the studio we became aware of our strengths both individually and also as a band. From that point it made it easier for the band members to write songs and riffs.
Dead Rhetoric: Into the Glorious Battle is the fifth studio album for Cryonic Temple, and first in nine years. What circumstances took place to cause such a long delay between albums? Was there a lot of personal life and lineup shuffle situations that got in the way, and did you ever worry that the band would dissolve?
Micke Dahlkvist: It was a long delay between the albums because of the band itself. The band suffered from member losses and had to start from the beginning. Once getting on track again we did not feel like we had that little ‘extra’, you know, the chemistry between members and the feeling when playing together. It is so important to have good chemistry, and also a vision with what you are doing. Everything must have a purpose. No personal life (situations) affected what was happening in the band, this was purely from Cryonic Temple’s perspective and what was best for the band. We wanted to make the best possible music for our fans.
Dead Rhetoric: You are now on Scarlet Records after being on a variety of labels through the years like Underground Symphony, Limb Music, and Metal Heaven. How do you feel about being on this label, and how much importance do you give record labels in today’s scene versus your earlier years?
Markus Grundström: The signing with Scarlet Records feels amazing. They are extremely professional and very willing to listen to us. The people working for the label are easy to contact and to talk to. Well, today the labels have a slightly different purpose since you do not sell so many records today. Today it is more about distribution and networking, something that Scarlet Records are very good at!
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about the songwriting and recording sessions for the new album. Did you know right away you wanted to develop a concept record from the start- and which came first- the story line or the music? What challenges or surprises came up the most, and were any specific songs more difficult than others?
Ahonen: The idea of a concept album was something that grew on us during a period of time. When we started to talk about a new album and the songwriting started, the idea of a concept album was not there. It somewhat just started, the idea was first mentioned by the bass player ( Roland Westbom) and like a seed it grew on all of us. We felt that it was going to be something different, which was something we needed. The most positive aspect of this is that all of the band members were equally interested with this idea and put a lot of effort in making it happen.
The most difficult song to record, mix and master was “Freedom”. This song includes a male choir of forty and the song was so big it took 3 days to finish!
Dead Rhetoric: When looking back at the 21-year history of Cryonic Temple, what standout memories come to mind in terms of albums, tours, videos?
Ahonen: Of course there are many memories from the past, but I would like to focus on today, and today’s line-up. There is something unique with the guys I play with now. Everyone is equally interested in the band, hence, put a lot of effort into what we do. All of the members want to do their best, each and every day, and are striving to get better. This is the most beautiful thing I know. Hopefully I will get (to experience) a lot of memories with these guys.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you find the fine line between meeting the expectations of what your fans want from you musically while being personally satisfied with that you are creating yourselves?
Mattias Lilja: Well, like you say- it is a fine line. When it comes to live shows the fans are always the most important. Without them we would not even be there! So the expectations from our fans is what guides and motivates us. On the other hand, if we did not love what we do, and had our own personal touch in it, the music would become heartless. There is no point in having heartless music.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on social media and the internet revolution when it comes to metal music? It seems like a double edge sword in terms of the ease of information and instant communication abilities, but can often be tougher to navigate due to the availability of free music which in turn affects income streams for musicians…
Lilja: I think that your analysis is perfect. I mean, when it comes to distribution and networking, the internet is the perfect place, making older bands jealous of how easy it is today. On another token, the streaming is affecting the income of the band, making it more difficult to do what the fans want you to do. It is a difficult topic.
Dead Rhetoric: What is a belief that you have that many people may think is crazy?
Ahonen: YES! We strongly believe that our drummer (Mickey) is the world’s tallest dwarf! We even believe that his home is the deep mines of Moria and that he is a part of the Lord of the Rings legend. But we do not know what character, yet. (We base everything on his height and beard).
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the landscape of heavy metal currently – what do you think seems to be working and what needs improvement if anything?
Grundström: Even though this is a relevant and good question, it is very difficult (one) to answer. I mean, there are things that need improvement of course, but on the other hand, there is nothing you can do to influence that. The aspect that really is working out is the fans. More loyal fans (than metal) is difficult to find in any other music scene, and we are grateful for that.
Dead Rhetoric: If you had to narrow down a list to your top five heavy metal albums of all-time, what would your choices be? And what has been your favorite metal live concert that you’ve attended, purely as an audience member, and what made that show so memorable/special for you?
Grundström: Oh gosh. This is one of the toughest questions so far. It is nearly impossible, but here we go. They are not in any specific order and as you all can see, they are quite different.
1. Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith
2. Helloween – Keepers of the Seven Keys Pt.2
3. Sonata Arctica – Ecliptica
4. Metallica – …And Justice For All
5. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
These albums are, from the band, considered the best albums ever made. My personal favorite show that I still today have strong memories from is when I first attended a rock concert. The year was 1999, I was 9 years old, me and my family were headed to the capital to see KISS. I remember I was so stoked to see them, because I thought they were so cool with all the makeup and costumes! From the show I remember they had a 3D concert, so you had these uncomfortable glasses on, but it looked so cool to look at the screens and nearly see KISS just one meter ahead of you, like you almost could touch the band. For a 9 year old kid this was awesome.
Dead Rhetoric: What are the keys to success for Cryonic Temple – and how important is having a consistent crew of support from friends, family, management, etc. to the outcome of that success?
Ahonen: The main keys are that everyone in the band strive together to a mutual goal, also, everyone is ready to put down the effort to make that happen. There are no shortcuts to achieve what you want. Hard work and time, that is what the band itself takes from its members. The support from family and friends are invaluable. We would not be where we are today without the support from our closest. Wives, friends and other important people have hated the band for ‘stealing’ (time away) from us, but they never mention it. Because they know how important this is for us. We could never thank them enough.
Dead Rhetoric: What passions, interests, or outside activities away from music do the members of Cryonic Temple engage in when the free time allows you to do so?
Cryonic Temple: Well, here is a list of the band members and what they like to do in their spare time.
Mattias – I really enjoy being out in the nature, especially fishing. That is my favorite.
Esa – What I like to do on my free time is to read books, and also go to the gym. ( He wakes up too early during tour just to catch time in the gym).
Mickey – All kinds of sports! Especially ice hockey and football!
Markus – Sports, all kinds of sports really. But also movies and online computer games.
Roland – Trading bass equipment is something I like to do. But I am also very interested in the flight force, especially the historical part (I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to this)
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the next 12 months shaping up for Cryonic Temple when it comes to live shows, promotional efforts, and other activities?
Ahonen: Well, it is of course difficult to say. But keep on pressing the new album, promoting it as much as we possibly can. Making tours etc. Nothing is for certain yet, but will be in the near future. Thank you Dead Rhetoric for the interview. To all our fans out there reading this: Thank you so much for all your love and support, you make this happen!