Solution .45 – For Aeons Still to ComeSunday, 22nd November 2015
Solution .45 had a lot of things going for them back in 2010. They had just released For Aeons Past, which set them up into the upper echelon to deliver modern melodic death metal that was sure to appeal to fans of Soilwork, Scar Symmetry, and others. Many genre-fans flocked to them and awaited where the band would go to next. Then the waiting continued. There were some shake-ups within the ranks, then there were funerals that hit within the band members’ families, and then there were some births. As these things do, the progress of the inevitable album number two was slowed.
But now it’s November 2015, and the band’s return, Nightmares in the Waking State Part I, has just been released. The first of two albums, with Part II to be released sometime in 2016. It’s everything one could have wanted from a follow-up to For Aeons Past and more. It’s heavier for one thing, bulking up on more death metal than melody. Plus it doesn’t seem so vocal-oriented, instead choosing to highlight all of the band’s members through the mix. But changes cause grumbling, and some fans initial outlook wasn’t what they had hoped for. DR contacted guitarist Jani Stefanovic to chat about all those things and more, two weeks before said album’s release.
Dead Rhetoric: There was a conscious decision to add more heaviness and groove into the new material. Where did that shift come from?
Jani Stefanovic: One thing which is quite obvious is that there are five years between the two albums. Preferences change, and of course, all the members in the band, we have a strong history with more aggressive music and the death metal scene. Those elements have always been a part of who we are as musicians, so it’s quite easy to access those elements because they are so close to us. I also switched to 8-string guitars at about the time that For Aeons Past was recorded. I think I had a couple of riffs going down to the last string on For Aeons Past. That brought in a new way of expression and I’ve been playing with 8-strings since 2010, so that also gives more variety in the riffs that you make, and hence more “groove parts” if you like to call it that. Open string/one-string riffs, which I love.
But without forgetting the sound that we started out doing. We didn’t want to lose any major part of our sound of Solution .45 so it was important to stick to our roots and history that we started out making, but we wanted to progress in some ways and develop our sound. We are stoked about the new material.
Dead Rhetoric: One thing that did stay the same was having a more epic length track, this time around with “I, Nemesis.” Do you approach the longer tracks any differently, from a songwriting perspective?
Stefanovic: Actually no. My writing process has actually been the same since I started. I usually start with one melody part or drum pattern – it changes, but I usually only have one thing that keeps repeating in my head. Then I just sit down and start to work around that one idea. For “I, Nemesis” I had this intro in my head – something really dark and mellow that builds up into something heavy and then I just went by feeling. I write part by part, eventually when I have a skeleton of a song, I go back and evaluate what I’ve done and listen to it with a more critical ear and take away the parts that don’t work. I usually present a pretty “ready” song with all the melody parts; the whole arrangement is pretty much done by the time I present it to Christian [Älvestam] and the other guys. Then they give their opinion or their ideas on it.
When I do a longer song, I just go by feeling. I usually get this inner sense of something – this part should be followed by “this and this,” then I try out the ideas. I have not yet stumbled across writer’s block. 9 out of 10 times I usually feel directly what I want to continue with. Sometimes it works, and then you go back and re-write and re-arrange. Then when Christian comes into the picture, we do some things that he suggests, or I might change some riffs/chords here or there, then it’s more collaboration within the band.
Dead Rhetoric: The recording process was riddled with ups and downs that halted everything from time to time. Did you ever start to wonder if you were going to get the albums recorded?
Stefanovic: No, not at all. We were quite determined to get these done as soon as possible. To start with, it was never the intention of it being 5 years between albums. But once again, I don’t think we’ve been that fortunate with other circumstances within the band. There’s been departures within the band, tragic events and funerals with close family, and child births…a lot of things have happened. Because the band is not our priority at the moment, so you have different priorities besides the music – although we would prefer it to be the opposite. Things that we didn’t foresee – music has to step aside sometimes. The writing process within the album didn’t take that long, the album itself would have been ready much sooner if those things hadn’t happened.
Dead Rhetoric: When you have two albums worth of material at the ready, what made you choose to release them at different points rather than a double album/double release?
Stefanovic: It just felt like a more different thing when you look at the scene and you start to realize that the double album is quite “in.” When we made the double album, we had no idea about the market – I knew that some bands had done it, like Soilwork, but when you start to look at it more carefully, you see that pretty much everyone is doing it. We didn’t do it for that reason, we had so many songs…I had 14 or 15 songs at the time of pre-production. The plan for a long time was to do one album. But we realized that we would have had to ditch a bunch of songs and we really felt that all of them were good songs. There were no leftovers or B-sides, and that’s when the idea of a double album began.
Then we started to think about the marketing aspects, and how we could do this in a more fun way. It started out as a regular double-album, but then we decided that two separate releases would be a more fun way. It would also make sure that fans had something to wait for. The material is already done – the album is mixed and mastered. The cover is already done. It’s already been sent to the label. It’s waiting on the desk to be released. We have done our big task, and now we have double the amount to offer for the fans who enjoy our music. It just felt a bit more special to have two separate releases. This way we get to separate vinyls which is cool. It was actually out of our own point of view that we did this so we would get to see two different covers.
Dead Rhetoric: Double albums can also be a lot to absorb at once. This way you get to focus on the one, and then down the road you get that other portion to it and it can make it a whole new thing…
Stefanovic: Yeah, that’s true. I’ve listened to some of the bands who have released double albums, and for me at least, it’s too much at one listen and you have to divide it up. You basically listen to one album and then you have a break. So when I think about it, this [two separate releases] was a smart thing to do [laughs]!
Dead Rhetoric: The production this time emphasized the entire band – again a conscious effort on your behalf. Playing melodic death metal with a vocalist as renown as Christian, was this a move to attempt to get past some people’s notion of the band as a “Christian Älvestam band?”
Stefanovic: First of all, it was actually Christian’s idea to lower the vocals. It’s hard to get around that, and of course we appreciate it, and having such a well-known singer is very beneficial to the band. He’s amazing at what he does, but there’s always certain people that listen to the band just because of him. They think that he is the band, or he is the sound of the band. You are not the first one who has asked about this. If you would take away his vocals, the music wouldn’t sound the same with a different vocalist, and vice versa. Both depend on each other. I write my music to fit his style, but yeah, it was his idea to lower the vocals. One reason was that he didn’t want it to be a vocal-oriented album – he wanted the rest to be heard as well. There’s some awesome riffing, and it should be seen as a whole concept and not just a good vocal record. When we tried out the mixes, we felt that this was the best way, and this was how the album sounded the best. If there were higher vocals in the mix, it immediately drowns other stuff beneath. It was not just the guitarists, saying “we should lower your vocals, you are over-ruling [laughs].”
It was nothing like that, but it was to tell people that this is a band. It’s not a studio project. It’s not Christian’s band. It’s not his vocal showcase thing – it’s about the whole picture. When you compare the debut to this album, the vocals are very upfront on For Aeons Past. I think we would have done that a bit differently today as well, but you know, you always become wiser when you are finished with the mix and you realize that things should have been done differently. It will probably turn out that way this time too. You can always go back and tweak for hundreds of hours.
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