Frantic Amber – Warriors UniteThursday, 19th September 2019
Carrying the torch for bands that lean on the heavier side of the melodic death metal spectrum, Frantic Amber have recently returned with their second full-length album, Bellatrix (after 4 years passing from their debut Burning Inside). A conceptual release focused on different female warriors throughout history, Frantic Amber’s music makes the tone of a battlefield, but one that still retains some interesting tweaks as it progresses. To fill us in on the details, we chatted with vocalist Elizabeth Andrews, who chatted about what the band has been up to, her thoughts on melodic death metal, touring insights, and more.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s been 4 years since you released Burning Inside. What has the band been up to in the meantime?
Elizabeth Andrews: We have been playing live as much as possible. We’ve also been putting a lot of music videos out there, and of course, writing Bellatrix. We kind of had to stop the live shows in order to focus on getting the album done. We recorded it in our home studio, and we learned a lot from that! We had delays, the computer crashed, and I got sick twice when I was supposed to record. You know, typical vocalist stuff [laughs].
But in the end, we were working hard to the deadline. For a couple of months, we were doing it non-stop. At some points, we had four workstations at the same time! So we learned a lot of tech from that, and also how long it takes to do everything. Always prepare for the worse! We had extra time, but it kept disappearing because of things going wrong. In the end, we were really working around the clock to get it ready. Then we sent it to Dug-Out Productions and Daniel Berstrand to get it mixed and mastered as well. So we’ve been busy!
Dead Rhetoric: So recording at home in the future, is this something you’d like to do in the future now that you have a better grasp of things?
Andrews: Definitely. I think we have all agreed that we want to do that. We are an independent band, so we are doing everything ourselves, which is also why things sometimes take more time. But we are doing everything we can and learning a lot so that next time, it will be that much quicker and we will be that much smarter about it since learned from last time. I think we are going to record everything ourselves but again send it somewhere to get it mixed and mastered.
Dead Rhetoric: What does Bellatrix mean to you as a band? How do you feel it compares to your debut?
Andrews: It feels great! It’s good to finally have it out. There has been some member changes through the history of Frantic Amber, and this is the first record from the newest version of Frantic Amber. We’ve been solid for a few years now, since we changed the line-up after Burning Inside. It takes some time to get everything stabilized again. So this is our combined efforts, and we have grown a lot as musicians and people – we are getting better and better at teamwork as well as the writing process and what we write. Better musicians write more complicated shit [laughs]! So I feel that there is better musical composition and lyrics, and I hope that other people agree with me on that.
I would say that this record is more brutal than the last one. It’s a bit harder, but it still has the elements that we are used to having in melodic death metal. We hope that there is something in there for both new fans and old fans.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you talk about the concept of female warriors that the album goes into and the inspiration for it?
Andrews: We were in the early stages and wanted to have either a concept album or an overall theme. We had been going back and forth on what it should be, and we settled on this thing where there were heroes, and there are a lot of series now that show historical figures, like Vikings. They have these intricate characters, and of course there are not a lot of women in those. In school in history class, we also didn’t hear about many female heroes. So when I started to do some research, I discovered that there are so, so many women that have fought and been involved throughout history, so I just had to pick my top 8.
We also wanted to pair the warrior with the music. So in the backing tracks, we could have some flutes or ethnical instruments from where the warrior was from and integrate it into the music as well. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be world music – it should be melodic death metal. To bring all of that together was very interesting and we learned a bit from that as well. It’s been exciting as a process.
Dead Rhetoric: Would you like to continue in more of a concept-based route in the future, or play it by ear?
Andrews: Pay it by ear, definitely. We are talking about the next album already, and I think it’s going to be a concept album but we will see. Maybe in the future we’ll do a Bellatrix part II – there are so many people to write about. But we also want to write about other things as well. We are a broad band and we want to investigate other ideas. So we will have to wait and see.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you also discuss the cover and the relationship to the theme of the album?
Andrews: We had a delay with the cover because the first artist we were working with didn’t really get what we wanted to do. Then we found someone online, through Facebook – we had been searching and searching to find someone who drew female warriors who were not in bikinis [laughs]! That’s the typical heavy metal thing – of course there are females but they are half-naked and riding some mythical creature. That’s cool too, it’s not that you can’t do that. But we wanted something that was historical, and it needed to be accurate. When you are actually fighting, you have clothes on – that’s just a fact of it [laughs].
Jokes aside, we found an artist from Mongolia called Ganbat Badamkhand on Facebook. His artwork was amazing. He draws female and male warriors – on horseback, with spears sticking out, and all of those things. It’s not photo-realistic, but it is really accurate with the details, like clothing and armor and stuff like that. We contacted him and he was really quick. That’s also how the album become more colorful, because of his original setting that he drew them in. Each song in the booklet has its own drawing of the character. The cover is more generic and not one of the songs – she looks so badass and original. Then inside you have all of the warrior princesses in their own drawing with the lyrics.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you like about melodic death metal, or metal in general?
Andrews: I love the freedom of melodic death metal. There are so many different themes and influences, and we can mix in other genres and spice it up with other instruments for mood and symphonic parts, as well as having blastbeats and being brutal/in your face. There’s this wide range and no rules. We can put everything in and still have our signature riffs and melodies. I think it’s a really cool genre to fit in a lot of things.
For metal in general, I just love the sound and feeling of it. I love writing it and listening to others, and going to shows. I feel really at home in metal. I’ve loved it since I was young – I was 15 when I got into it. I have no plan on changing anytime soon. It’s wonderful.
Dead Rhetoric: The band has been around for over a decade now, what do you feel you’ve learned as a group?
Andrews: I’ve learned that it’s an exercise in teamwork. Being with people that have the same vision and get to the same place, and having an agreeable way of doing it. We are on the same train, going the same way. Then there are all of the other things that go into the music. It’s a lot. You make the music, but then you have to distribute it, and get out and play. It’s been challenging, and we are still learning how we do some of these things. Those practical things. We’ve been doing our very best to be able to take a step further, to tour more often and longer, as well as get further away. We would love to be able to tour the US. There’s always a journey and a learning experience – you have to strap in and see where you go [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: On YouTube, I saw a cover of “Hammer Smashed Face” the band had done live. What’s your approach to a live show?
Andrews: No gig is the same. The day of the show, because my instrument is in me – it is very dependent on what’s going on, not just physically but emotionally. For me, all of the nuances of shows come out. Some days I’m extra happy or extra angry. Whatever I am, I can channel it into the music. I love being on stage and playing live. That’s whole reason we do it – to play live. That’s our goal of all of this. We want to put on a good show, there’s headbanging and sweat flying everywhere – it’s just engaging all of these emotions that come forth.
I’ve been called possessed and demonic/crazy on stage. I love that, it’s a compliment for me! There’s just something that comes over me and I have to express myself. It’s magical and I really enjoy that there are so many different nuances. Of course, there are bad days, and if I’m sick that’s the worst, but I do the best on each day that I can do. The give and take between the crowd and the band is really cool – sharing energy back and forth, kind of.
Dead Rhetoric: What challenges have you had to overcome to ensure the band survived?
Andrews: Whenever there has been changes, the question comes up of if we want to continue or stop, but it’s never been the death penalty yet. But it’s hard going through these things, and it takes time to find your footing again. Then you have to figure out how to do things with the new people, and who does what and when. There has to be time to adapt, but it’s also really nice. Since 2014, when Mac [Dalmanner] and Madeleine [Gullberg Husberg] joined we have been solid. When Mary [Säfstrand] became a mother and wanted to do other things, we decided that Milla [Olsson] would become a full member.
All of these things have been nice because they have told us as a band that we have to be people that want to hang out with one another, because we have to do a lot of that! It’s also really important to be able to work together on music and give each other feedback. It’s also evolving in our personal growth – we are like a family and do lots of things together in our spare time as well. We are in a really good space with our current line-up.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you like to see Frantic Amber accomplish in the future?
Andrews: More touring! I’d love to go on longer tours and play in more countries. We’d also like to get to the US, South America, Japan, India – everywhere basically. We want to play more of the big festivals too. It would be amazing to become one of those bigger bands who are naturally considered for the roster. That’s the dream I guess.
Dead Rhetoric: What plans do you have for the rest of 2019?
Andrews: We are planning an official release party in Sweden, and we are also planning on doing some more music videos, as well as booking as many shows as we can. We are also looking into how we can get into some longer tours and play more. So there are a lot of plans, and hopefully we’ll get back out on the road soon.