Evocation – Bounded by ChaosSunday, 31st March 2013
(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)
The most productive and/or visible band in 2012? Sweden’s Evocation. Buoyed by the re-release of three of their albums, a demo collection, and brand-spanking new full-length (Illusions of Grandeur), the Swedes enjoyed unprecedented face-time this year. All this, from a band that broke up in 1993, right before melodic Swedish death metal took flight. A little late to the party yes, but as the worn-out saying goes, better late than never.
Heading into the new year, the focus will be on Illusions of Grandeur, an album that is both concise and searing, as evidenced by cuts such as “Divide and Conquer” and the doom-laden “Crimson Skies.” In essence, it finds the void between visceral Stockholm DM and saccharine Gothenburg DM; the type of hybrid that Hypocrisy has made famous, but has yet to be fully capitalized upon. Given Evocation’s propensity to be uber-productive, methinks we’ll be hearing a lot more from these fine gentlemen in the coming years. We caught up with vocalist Tjompe to get the lo-down…
Blistering.com: Dismember broke up and Entombed is taking their good ‘ole time in releasing a new album. So, is the time now for Evocation?
Tjompe: Evocation´s time is always now, I hope. But it´s really hard to break through the thick wall of really good music and bands all over the world. Let us hope for the best. We actually met Victor [Brandt] from Entombed some weeks ago and upon the question about the/a new album, he put a big smile on his face. I think they have something really cool coming up; I hope our new album is better though. We try to keep up and to be in the front together with other Swedish bands, now we have a new record deal with mighty the Century Media as well, so even if things are moving slow, at least we are moving forward. We have done some really nice and major festivals through the years as well as great tours with bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Obscura, Arch Enemy, Amon Amarth and The Black Dahlia Murder, and this is a pure dream come true. Let us really hope for some more of this happiness in the future.
Blistering.com: You’ve taken one of the more interesting roads to get where you are today, especially if we want to take into account the time you were inactive. Looking back, how beneficial was it for Evocation to take such a long break before getting back together in the mid-00’s?
Tjompe: It was not the best thing if you look upon the economics and album sales nowadays, but for the band itself it was for the best. I´m not even sure we would have existed today anyway. The ground construction within the band did not work out that well back then, of course we argue from time to time nowadays as well, but at least we communicate and have a really good time when we are together, as always. We know what we want and how we want it to sound and we have a lot of understanding for one another. We have a good reputation and we are amongst the early bands of the first wave of Swedish death metal and we are really proud of what we created back then. Two really great demos and some cool shows back in the beginning of the 90´s. It is really good to have all of this in your back pocket as well as a good reputation. No one can blame us for not being so called “true” ha-ha.
Blistering.com: After hearing your demo collection, it was clear that had you stayed together, you would have been at the forefront of the Swedish death metal scene. Have you ever wondered how you’d sound if you stayed together through the 90’s and early 00’s?
Tjompe: Yes, we would sound like shit I’m sure of that. At least we would not have clean vocals of course, if I still would be part of the band. But, if we would have developed the same way as we do today and stuck to our guns the whole way, the story would be totally different. Perhaps we wouldn´t have to worry about fucking regular 9-5 life under this fucking slavery state. The worst thing about Sweden both back then and nowadays is that media/journalists have trouble thinking objective, they nag on bands that are actually good and they love only bands that everybody else loves.
Some bands back then had a lot of trouble in some Swedish magazines where the writers only paid attention to stuff that was not of any importance, like sound for an example. For example, only Entombed and Dismember were allowed to record in Sunlight Studios, but in fact, that was the only studio in the whole country that really understood how to make it sound clear and brutal at the same time. After Sunlight, we wanted to try different ways of course; we ended up in a not so good studio.
Blistering.com: Also, you’ve never been charged with trying to “cash-in” on the popularity of Swedish death metal. You’re practically immune to that criticism because you never fit into one scene. Do you see it that way too?
Tjompe: I think that all bands that play Swedish death metal are great bands of course. Still, the Americans and the Polish bands are ruling the scene if you speak of living off your music. That is why as many Swedeath bands as possible have to get themselves together and re-conquer the throne. Once upon a time, the fucking Norwegian black metal scene stole the whole thing in Scandinavia and many great bands dissapeared in Sweden, perhaps grunge was a huge thief as well ha-ha.
When it comes to Evocation we still have a wide range of personal taste, but nowadays we try to get everyone satisfied in the end. Marko [Palmen, guitars] and I are more into the old style Stockholm scene, and Janne [Boden, drums] and Vesa [Kenttäkumpu] are more into the melodic scene from both Gothenburg and Stockholm. When we nowadays work together and communicate, we get the best out of two worlds. Since we have a new bass player, Gustaf Jorde (ex-Defleshed, ex-Raubtier), who is from north of Stockholm and was formed in really fast and heavy music, we hope for even more input. It feels great to have him onboard this madhouse train, he is super in every way.
Blistering.com: In 2012 alone, there have been five Evocation-related releases. Most bands don’t go this route, but for Evocation, it all lines up perfectly since you have a new album coming out. Were you at all worried about flooding the market?
Tjompe: Not really, we feel that as long as we have strength, will and inspiration there is no need to turn your back to it or slow it down in any way. We are not 17 years old anymore either, and after every album we are burnt out and want to take it easy, but we always end up with tons of new shit. Then we are back on track to another wall to hit, it’s crazy to love it, I know, but I do. I think the others do it as well, it is such a great relief to let your demons out. When everybody within the band thinks that it’s vacation, the man in the box, Vesa, appears from out of nowhere with new ideas and it’s impossible to stop him. As soon as Illusions of Grandeur was done, he was like, “Guys, I have some ideas,” and everyone was screaming “NO!” When Vesa’s engine is running, you better prepare yourself, fasten your seatbelt and shut the fuck up.
Blistering.com: Has this recent rash of activity made you do a lot of reflecting as to when you weren’t active? Considering how busy you are now, those days probably feel like they were eons ago…
Tjompe: I try to always think forward and full speed ahead, I rarely listen to our older albums because I always want to do things a lot better than the last time. The only time I’m thinking of nowadays from when we weren´t active was all the crazy music I was into and all the funny drugs I consumed in different shapes and materia. Great time as well, but I don´t have that much spare time left nowadays because of Evocation, it keeps me alive. I hope for the future though, to do them both.
Blistering.com: Now that you’re back and in full-swing, what type of goals do you have? At this point, is longevity top priority?
Tjompe: First of all, is to keep the band alive and try not to have any expectations at all. But our goal is to get out on the road again and to give you an outstanding show– and I am sure you will not forget us this time either. We have been working hard for this one as well, and of course we would like to show you how great it actually feels to perform the songs for you. My personal goal is to have a good time and enjoy life, Evocation itself is a very big part of it, and as long as we exist, I thank every day for it.
Blistering.com: In terms of putting together material for Illusions of Grandeur, what was the point of focus? It feels like this one strikes an excellent balance between your penchant for melody and brutality.
Tjompe: Vesa is the mainman behind the construction and riffs, and sometimes we really have to stop him when he gets too emo, but the melodies he makes bring out the best lyrics out of me. This time we wanted more effective songs, stronger material, and of course, a much better sound. We are not that satisfied with the sound on Apocalyptic, so that was the first thing we thought about. We also wanted my vocals to feel more powerful and heavy. We still have a long way to go, but I think we are on the right side of the road right now.
I think it is important to mix melodies with brutality in this kind of style. You get a much better feeling of the whole production when the guitars blend in together and communicate. Vesa is a really fast player so the leads he is doing sounds really good. When it comes to Marko, I think he is one of the most reliable rhythm guitarists within the scene. Marko is almost never out of tune and has always a really fat sound. Whit those two dudes on guitars, you got the perfect match.
Blistering.com: Again, you have some excellent cover artwork for the new album. Who is responsible this time out and what does it represent?
Tjompe: We used Xaay (Behemoth, Nile, Vader, etc.) once again, because he understands what the hell Evocation is all about. We felt after Apocalyptic, that he is a big part of the whole chain. Xaay is very smart and talented and very easy to work with. On both albums we just gave him the album title, the lyrics and the main song. Then he just works out of his own perspective and we are as usual almost instantly satisfied on the first drafts. He is also doing the layout for some of our merch and also the web design, he is outstanding in every way. Since we trust him and in what he does, we can focus even more on the music instead.
Blistering.com: Where do you think Illusions of Grandeur sits in the Evocation catalog?
Tjompe: Ask me in two years. All of our albums have their own style, personality and soul and that is actually what Evocation is like. We really like to try new ways and new forms; it keeps the band fresh and alive.
Blistering.com: Looking back, Tales from the Tomb was crucial in Evocation re-establishing itself in the scene. What do you remember most about putting that album together?
Tjompe: Nosebleed, headache, fever, arguments and no expectations at all, as usual. It was a long time since I listened to it actually, maybe more memories will come back if I do. It all went very fast after the demo was done, suddenly I stood in the studio recording a full length album again. Last time that happened was in 1995/96 with Cemetary and on bass. I sang death metal for the first time in 13 years and I´ve totally forgot how the hell to make it sound good. After almost dying in the studio, I´ve made it and it turned out pretty ok. I remember Janne was struggling so hard with the double kicks, it looks like his eyes were about to pop out any time, he made it as well in the end. Vesa and Marko´s arms were bleeding after all the guitars were done. Sometimes I forget to reflect on the whole thing, I think it´s amazing that we are a band again.
Blistering.com: The classic quote from Tomas Skogsberg that Evocation was “the best demo band he ever recorded.” How much mileage have you gotten from it?
Tjompe: I really don’t know actually, perhaps we did because most people remember it. I remember when we recorded in Sunlight that Tomas was very impressed. Not only fast and tight, but also really good songs, he was blown away. Since At the Gates finished up their Gardens of Grief EP the day before, it must have been good.
Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on tap going into 2013?
Tjompe: Stay out of trouble.