Crownshift – Enter the Halo

Thursday, 9th May 2024

Featuring musicians with a wealth of experience across the metal landscape, Crownshift may appear to be a new entity in the melodic death meets power/groove metal arena, but they have a boatload of potential already coming out of the gate. With ties to acts like Children of Bodom, Finntroll, Nightwish, and Norther among others, the band’s self-titled album contains an addictive, volatile mix of crunchy riffs, clean/aggressive melodies, and potent rhythm section mechanics that will appease a wide cross-section of metalheads while also incorporating some modern/alternative nuances to differentiate the group from the mold.

We reached out to guitarist Daniel Freyberg to give us the scoop on how the band came together, insight into the debut album, thoughts on developing his ideas, the lyrical outlook, the importance of artists from Alice Cooper to In Flames and Guns N’ Roses to his output as a musician, his passion for racing and staying fit, plus future road work plans.

Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell me about your earliest memories surrounding music growing up in childhood? At what point did you discover heavier forms of music – and eventually the desire to pick up an instrument and develop your own work in bands?

Daniel Freyberg: It happened when I heard Guns N’ Roses with the song “You Could Be Mine”. It made me not only interested in music, but also playing it. So, things happened simultaneously. Hearing that one song triggered things. I picked up stuff by ear. I never took any lessons or had any musical education. At that time, there really weren’t as many music schools or teachers as there are now. Nowadays we have a whole different situation – you can get guitar lessons from your favorite guitar player.

Dead Rhetoric: Doesn’t the government provide subsidies for students to be able to get practice space and access to instruments for smaller fees?

Freyberg: I’m not sure actually, but I guess so.

Dead Rhetoric: How did Crownshift develop – as you, Heikki, and Jukka already played together previously in Naildown as well as Norther, if I’m correct? Did you always keep in touch with each other, and how did you decide where you wanted to go stylistically with this group compared to your previous outfits?

Freyberg: Yeah, we stayed in touch over the years. It was when were playing in Norther that we realized that this band would end, and we discussed that we would always do something else together. We had similar likes in many styles of music. It took a little while, but that day has finally arrived. Tommy has also been an old buddy of mine. We met through our previous record label, and I also knew him from back in 2005. We had several conversations over the years. Then when we had the songs ready, we called Tommy and asked him to try to do the vocals. It worked so well, we did one or two songs, and we were totally on the same page. The guy is outstanding, he was our first choice, we didn’t have to have a plan b or so. It all came together pretty naturally. It all fell into place.

Dead Rhetoric: Your self-titled debut album contains a mix of modern rock, heavy metal, and even pop elements next to its melodic death foundation. What can you tell me about the songwriting and recording sessions for this set of material – and how do you feel about the process now that it’s finally ready to be released?

Freyberg: First of all, I’m still very satisfied with the outcome. There’s nothing really bothering me. That’s a rare feeling after an album is done, after this amount of time. The songwriting, it was similar to ways we’ve always done in the past. I demo the core of the song, play all the instruments or program demo drums. Then I send it out to the other guys, and they will take it from there, tweaking stuff a little bit, some arrangement suggestions. And then we go to the rehearsal place just to fine tune things.

The vocals are a little bit different. We wrote the lyrics and made the vocal lines when we were recording on the spot. That was a very intuitive way to do things and we are probably going to do that in the future as well.

Dead Rhetoric: What was the process like developing a ten-minute plus song like “To The Other Side” for this record compared to the other material?

Freyberg: It was (very) challenging and took quite a while to finish that song. There’s a challenge to keeping a song interesting for that amount of time. It’s easier to do two five-minute songs than to keep one ten-minute song interesting. I’m happy that I did this, as there was a point where I was considering ending the song after the second chorus, there was a logical point. But then something told me to keep moving forward and see where this goes, and I let it all come out and it turned out to be pretty cool.

Dead Rhetoric: Are there specific times of the day where ideas strike you better to capture than others?

Freyberg: Probably more in the evening time, night time. Usually when I should go to bed, that’s when the best ideas hit you. You go to your computer, take your guitar and just compose. You don’t want to forget the idea.

Dead Rhetoric: While the lyrical content is fictional, there seems to be elements of personal experience captured in the quest for personal growth and inner illumination. What sources did the band draw from, and do you see the lyrics/melodies as an important of an element as the music to capture listeners long-term?

Freyberg: Music is more important to me personally. Lyrics are also important, but in a different way. If the lyrics are totally off, it won’t work for me. Lyrics are more of a challenge, luckily Tommy is doing a lot of these and is good at those. My concerns are more on the musical end. There are some common subjects, personal growth or personal self-battle, transformation and what not.

Dead Rhetoric: Was it an easy decision to figure out what songs to premiere from the record – and how do you feel the video shoots went?

Freyberg: It was very easy, actually. We agreed on what the singles should be. The video shoots, I liked more about the first video “If You Dare”, that was very cool because of the lighting. The set up was something that I’ve never really seen before. It turned out to be really good.

Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to your role as producer for the band, how much of a challenge is it to remain objective for the greater good of the overall final product? Are there specific mentors or influencers in the metal realm for that aspect that you take into consideration?

Freyberg: It can be hard. Sometimes if you are working too long, you lose the big picture a little bit. Sometimes taking a break helps. It’s also something I like to do. I don’t really have any mentors, except the guys that I’ve been working with throughout my career. Everything I learned from them; I try to apply to my production work.

Dead Rhetoric: Where do you believe the experiences the four of you have had in previous bands (both smaller and larger) come into play to make Crownshift that much stronger coming out of the gate even though you are a newcomer outfit?

Freyberg: I think as we are a little bit more experienced, we can avoid the mistakes that we made when we were younger. I think that helps. A little better of an understanding of what it takes to move up the ranks, it’s still a challenge for sure. We start from zero, despite our experience.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you think is where management comes into play, to be able to move things along at a better clip?

Freyberg: Absolutely, and that’s important to have good management. When we were younger, we didn’t have management. It’s also not easy to get management, they aren’t necessarily interested in you. I think we have found the right people to work with, and that’s a very important thing. Management, record label, booking agents all have to work in harmony.

Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the short term and long-term goals that you set with this band?

Freyberg: Long-term goal, definitely to keep doing this as long as we can and to establish the band. Also, we want to be active touring-wise. If we get the opportunities, and if there is interest in the band. We want to do as many tours as we can, that’s probably our short-term as well as long-term goal also.

Dead Rhetoric: Will it be a challenge juggling the priorities of Crownshift versus other outfits due to the other acts the members are involved in with Nightwish, Wintersun, and Finntroll to name a few?

Freyberg: Well, that’s been asked a couple of times, but Crownshift is a top priority. It’s not a project band. We are going to put our focus into this band fully. And in time we are going to show this to people.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the state of the heavy metal industry at this time? Are there aspects you enjoy, and any changes you would like to make?

Freyberg: Oh my god. Changes… well, I would focus on the positive side. The good thing about the metal scene is that we have a lot of options to listen to – way more than when I started to listen to music. Music is very easy to get – with more artists, it’s easier to put it out. You don’t need a label to put things out.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you see the impact of the internet as a double-edged sword, especially spending time promoting it through all these social media platforms?

Freyberg: Yeah, it is. It depends on how you look at it. I try to see the positive sides, of course. I’m not always interested to update my social media, but I’m happy that I have one and can use it as a tool. Even if I’m not in the mood for it on certain days. It’s a tool that we didn’t really have when we were younger.

Dead Rhetoric: What worries or concerns do you have most about the world that we are living in today?

Freyberg: Well, wars. That’s the biggest issue right now. Economics, but mainly the wars are really sad.

Dead Rhetoric: Name three bands that have had the biggest impact on your outlook of the heavy metal genre – and what’s the best concert memory you have, purely taking in a show/ festival as a member of the audience, as well as what made this so special for you?

Freyberg: Three influential bands. Oh boy, that’s a tough one. That probably changes depending on the day, but I would say Alice Cooper is one. In Flames. Let’s see… I would say Guns ‘N’ Roses, if I only get to say three. I guess seeing Metallica for the first time, which was pretty life changing. Do I need to say more? Metallica, it’s epic, it’s awesome.

Dead Rhetoric: Crownshift hasn’t played live as of yet – you’ll be playing your first shows soon. What can people expect from a show?

Freyberg: A total metal show for sure. I don’t want to make any promises, but there may be a few surprises in the setlist as well. You have to come out and experience this for yourself.

Dead Rhetoric: What sort of hobbies, interests, and passions do you have outside of music when you have the free time and energy to pursue them?

Freyberg: I don’t really have that much of a life outside of music. I’m a music-centric person, but I like watching Formula One racing, I love fast cars and motor racing. I don’t do it myself, but I like to watch it. I try to keep myself healthy by doing a little bit of exercising. Music is still like my passion.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the schedule for touring, festival appearances, etc. for Crownshift over the next twelve months or so? Has work begun behind the scenes on the follow-up effort, and if so, where do you think the sound will evolve?

Freyberg: Touring first. We will do the summer festivals, we have a good bunch, ten or so. And then we are looking at the possibility of doing a tour in the fall of 2024, but it’s way too early to say if this is going to happen or not. We definitely want to do a longer tour when we get the opportunity to do that. You only know when you start doing more material. We have some ideas already ready, but they are not really that fleshed out. Riffs and melodies, not full songs. I’m not going to start that process until we get ready for the studio. I know if I do a song now, it will change a million times before I get to the studio. I write music all the time, but not full songs, just riffs and melodies here and there. It’s not going to be difficult to make a follow-up album.

Crownshift official website

Crownshift on Facebook

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