October Tide – Silence SurroundsTuesday, 21st May 2013
Owning the rare distinction of four vocalists in as many albums, Swedish dark/death metallers October Tide have proven that regardless of who mans the mic, there won’t be a drop-off in quality. Case in point, this year’s new Tunnel of No Light. Whereas 2010’s glorious A Thin Shell largely operated in the throes of conventional morose doom structures, Tunnel sees the Swedes branch out and create monolithic odes to woe, many of which are gloomy as one would project, just check out “The Day I Dissolved” and “Caught in Silence.”
The man steering the ship is former Katatonia guitarist Fred Normann. After leaving Katatonia in late 2009, Normann turned all of his attention to October Tide. And once the promotional duties for A Thin Shell died down in early 2011, work began on Tunnel. According to the guitarist, this might be the first time in the band’s history where all of the proverbial ducks are in a row.
“Feels really good indeed,” he begins. “With the new lineup, we´re all really striving for the same thing. It´ll be such a pleasure to play the new songs live and when the time comes, start working on the next album. If you´re inspired everything moves forward nicely. When we made A Thin Shell, I already had lots of ideas in the bag so in that sense, ATS was easier to write. With the new album, I had to start from scratch. It took like a year to finish all the tracks.”
New vocalist Alexander Hogbom gives the band added weight in the burly death metal department. His callous roar on “Of Wounds to Come” and “Watching the Drowners” in mind, we implored Normann if he was hopeful Hogbom would stick around.
“Yes for sure, he has to. I´ve had enough of changing vocalists and the pressure to find new ones. We couldn´t have found a better replacement for Tobbe [Netzell].”
The above-mentioned “Caught in Silence” serves as the album’s standard-bearer for excellence. Boasting a ghostly, melodic opening riff, and those smoldering mid-90’s melodies, it’s no wonder what the songs origins are. “This track actually contains an unused riff I made years ago for Katatoina,” admits Normann. “Probably the shortest track on the album.”
Normann’s now-imitable riff-composition style is over this one.
“I enjoy making long riffs with lots of notes in them,” he adds. “I often look at my riffs as stories, that´s why they quite often end up a bit long. An old friend always said he could hear when I wrote something in a song. I tend to use most of the riffs I make; I work with them until I’m totally satisfied. Bad ideas are to be deleted and never to be brought up to surface again. Melodic music in minor is what I’m listening to and what I like to write so yes, absolutely. How would a happy doom band and sound like?”
Talk regarding the man’s time in Katatonia is inevitable. And with the addition of Normann’s brother Mattias to the fold (“I´ve known him for some time now,” jokes Fred), it makes us want to hop in the time machine to the time when Katatonia was partially disbanded. As legend has it, tension erupted between singer Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders Nystrom in 1995 over the direction of the band. With reception for their Dance of December Souls debut suitably positive, but with conflicting ideas between the two parties, Normann found himself in the proverbial middle. Normann and Renske would go on to create October Tide; Nystrom founded Diabolical Masquerade.
“Me and Jonas had been friends for a while before I joined Katatonia,” notes Normann. “So when they decided to split up Katatonia, it was a quite natural choice to continue playing with Jonas. We also decided not to play live at all. So I wonder how much of a full-time band we would have become if we didn´t start up Katatonia again.”
Needless to say, the dark metal world is a better place for having both…