Metalite – New Expeditions

Thursday, 11th January 2024

Having made a name for themselves in the modern metal community with their commitment to merging power metal glory, cinematic gravitas, and elements of electropop, Metalite have become a force to be reckoned with over the last few years. With three albums under their belt, this fourth album in Expedition One (out on AFM Records), sees them tackling their first concept album. It’s a futuristic theme, in keeping with what they have done to date, and seems like just what they needed to push themselves to the next level. We spoke with guitarist Edwin Premberg and vocalist Erica Ohlsson about creating this fourth release in all directions, how they’ve changed over the years, what the important parts of the Metalite sound are, and even their hobbies outside of the music scene.

Dead Rhetoric: Where did the theme come about for Expedition One?

Edwin Premberg: When we released A Virtual World, our fans told me that it sounded like a concept album. I didn’t write it that way, but it sounded like it [laughs]. So I got the idea to write a concept album from there. I started to write the songs in a way that would leave a story behind. In some ways, I tried to blend all of the stories from the other albums into this story.

Dead Rhetoric: So you heard that A Virtual World kind of sounded like a concept album, so you basically just figured you would give it a shot this time?

Premberg: Yeah, exactly. I think it wasn’t just A Virtual World, but Biomechanicals and Heroes in Time too. People have been asking us about concept albums for a while – if we do concept albums or just write separate songs. The theme on all four albums are the same, so it wasn’t too hard to meld it all into a story.

Dead Rhetoric: You have an entire cinematic trailer, do you hope that people really dig into the concept past listening to the music itself?

Premberg: I think that if you show people the trailer, so that they know there is a story behind the album, people will get more into the lyrics and see how it matches the theme of the album. I think it’s more fun to listen to the songs when there is a story behind it. We are really trying to get people behind the concept by showing them the trailer.

Dead Rhetoric: I think it’s a cool idea, because I can’t think of too many times that I’ve seen a trailer for the concept. A lot of times, bands will say there’s a concept, but its just like, ‘tada, here it is, but you definitely put some hype behind it, which is cool.

Premberg: Yeah! That was our goal. We had a really good producer for the trailer too, so it turned out really professional. I really like it. 

Erica Ohlsson: It’s a lot of fun too, to build up the expectations until we release the album. I think it’s a good thing for our fans too, to be able to do that. We had to give it a try at least!

Dead Rhetoric: Along those same ideals and concepts, what do you feel are the biggest challenges we face as people in today’s society?

Premberg: There’s a lot of stuff going on right now and a lot of challenges. At the same time, there’s also the evolution of the tech industry too. People want to go to space, and we have already gone very far in space, so it’s just a matter of time – finding new life in outer space. I think it’s a good thing, but here on Earth, we still have a lot of problems that we need to solve. It’s a very big topic, but we have to write something about it because it’s happening right now.

Dead Rhetoric: Did you find there to be any added challenges in going for a theme rather than on past records?

Ohlsson: Edwin is a machine [laughs]! He’s good at what he’s doing.

Premberg: I have a lot of ideas and stuff going on, around in my head. I really want to make them come to life. I did see some extra difficulties doing this, but the ideas were still swirling around in my head so it was no problem. The problem is when there is nothing in my head. Then we have a problem. It happens sometimes, but at long as the ideas are flowing and there is creativity, there’s no problems. 

Ohlsson: You are also very good at breaking down the ideas. To record all of your ideas so that they are saved so you can come back to them later to work on them. That’s a good thing you do.

Premberg: I always take notes. 

Ohlsson: The work for the album starts long before the release, because of all of your ideas.

Premberg: Some of the ideas didn’t come to life for this album, but maybe for the next one or two [laughs]. Everything has to fit – the story, the songs, the music, everything. I have like 10 ballads on the production plate, but I only release one. We can only use one [laughs]. So we save things for other albums, or extra singles but it’s very important that i keep my notes.

Dead Rhetoric: So we aren’t going to get Metalite: The Ballads Album anytime soon then [laughs]?

Premberg: No [laughter]. Have you heard Axel Rudi Pell? How about Ballad Number 10 [laughs]? They might be able to release ten albums of ballads. But no, that’s not for us.

Dead Rhetoric: You released a large number of singles before the album. How do you feel the reception has been to the individual tracks?

Ohlsson: I think it’s been good! It’s a new way for us to work as well – releasing that many singles before the album is released. But you also have to try new things. I think the response has been good.

Premberg: The presale started for the album really early, because we started releasing singles before the album, like “Take My Hand” and “Hurricane.” They were meant to be songs between albums, but now they are bonus tracks on the new album. But we want to be continuously releasing singles. You know how the algorithm works on YouTube and Spotify and all that – we have to have new music out all the time. I think that labels right now don’t want metal bands to release albums. 

If you look at the statistics on Spotify, for example, the best songs are just separately released singles. So we tried to release more singles before the album was out. That’s what we are doing right now.

Dead Rhetoric: I could imagine it could be frustrating too, since you have come up with this entire concept album and the question always comes up of, ‘will people actually listen to it the whole way through?’ I’m pretty old school and have to listen front to back, but plenty of people nowadays just take a song they like, put it on a playlist, and never listen to the whole album again.

Premberg: People have changed the way that they listen to music, so we have to be mindful of that. But we are still classic metal fans also, who need an album. They want to hold the album in their hands and read the lyrics, and stuff like that. It’s very nice to have it in my hands right now [picks up Expedition One] and not just have it on a playlist or digital platforms. 

Dead Rhetoric: Metalite has changed and evolved over the years. How do you see the band’s evolution over time?

Premberg: Always to the better! Since we got Erica, we got a new way of working and getting the songs out, better ways to record and things like that. But it’s always been to the better.

Ohlsson: At least we try that. We try to be aware of the process and how to be better at what we are doing. To find ways to develop our shows too. We want to be better.

Premberg: It’s an important thing, to be better. We want to level up the music, live shows, and social media. There’s a lot of stuff going on at all times. We need to get better, and its hard for bands. 

Dead Rhetoric: Just as there is evolution, there are some there have been some consistencies as well – what do you feel is most important in defining the sound of Metalite?

Premberg: The melodies, the harmonies, and Erica’s ad-libs. The vocal part is very important. Then there is the keyboards. And the guitar riffing. It needs to be to have very memorable melodies. That’s the most important thing. That comes with the vocals too. But it needs to be energetic and poppish, together with the metal and power metal stuff.

Dead Rhetoric: One thing I’ve always really liked about the band is that you have all of this stuff that you compact into 3-4 minutes, rather than stretching it out over 8-9 minutes. It’s always nice for me, at this point in my life, that you can take those big, epic sounds and condense them into something more digestible and easy to listen to by fusing that pop side too.

Premberg: That’s the cinematic, epic feel of it. It’s hard to write music in 3-4 minutes because you have so many things you want to do. You want a long guitar solo, you need an intro that captivates the listener. Having a long intro, it does make the song ‘skippable’ to the listener – its the way of the listener nowadays. I could talk forever about that – but you need to keep the listener’s interest in the song. 

Ohlsson: You need to get them very fast – very early into the song. 

Premberg: The second chorus needs to have some extra stuff in it. There needs to be lots of extra stuff in the song, not just having the same chorus again, for example. 

Dead Rhetoric: What do you take from a live show of Metalite? What’s most important for you to convey as a group?

Ohlsson: Having fun – we are a group that enjoys each other’s company, both on and off stage. It’s like standing on stage with four of your best friends, and that’s very important for me. To feel safe, comfortable, and we all know that everyone is doing their best at that time. I think that’s a nice thing about this group. 

Premberg: Totally agree! It’s also so much fun to meet the fans. Standing on the stage and being able to meet their eyes, or even meeting up and talking after the show. It’s really nice. 

Dead Rhetoric: With your sound, I imagine its pretty easy to get the fun across, when it’s so nicely built into the music already.

Premberg: Yeah, it’s hard to be angry on stage [laughs]. 

Dead Rhetoric: What are some hobbies you have outside of music?

Ohlsson: I go to the gym a lot these days. That’s my hobby right now. When you are on stage, it’s a heavy thing to do. So I have concentrated on building up my condition and working out/building muscle, so that I have the strength to be on stage, because I’m getting old, you know [laughs]?

Premberg: I do the same. I go to the gym. I also hang out with my family and friends. Music is a big part of my life so it’s hard to be without it.

Dead Rhetoric: What are your plans for 2024 with the release of the album?

Premberg: We will be starting out with two shows in Sweden. Then we are on tour with Leaves’ Eyes and we will be on the road for two weeks in the UK and Germany in March. That’s what we have planned. There’s more planned, but we can’t tell you much more right now. But that’s the plan so far.

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