The Duskfall – Return of the Slaughtered HeartsWednesday, 19th February 2014
No one needs to be reminded of the glut of melodic death metal bands that emerged from the early 00’s. They were a-plenty, weren’t they? From that, came the natural de-evolution of the sound, as well as the metalcore denizens effectively robbing the sound of any identity it once had. So while there were a lot of choices, there weren’t a lot of good choices, save for the obvious suspects Kalmah, Nightrage, Mors Principium Est, and Omnium Gatherum, and the topic of choice for this piece, recently-reformed Swedish quintet The Duskfall.
Though the band’s original splash onto the scene was meager thanks to their association with Greece’s now-defunct Black Lotus Records, The Duskfall made enough of an impression to score a deal with Nuclear Blast Records, who released the band’s excellent Lifetime Supply of Guilt in 2005. Prior, their 2003 Frailty debut 2004 Source follow-up were vicious slabs of heavier-than-thou melodic death metal, bolstered by timeless Euro melodies as well as the vitriol and technicality of American death metal. Unfortunately, The Duskfall were unable to capitalize on their union with Nuclear Blast, with the band moving over to Germany’s Massacre Records for 2007’s supposed farewell, The Dying Wonders of the World. Once the months in 2008 started to wane, guitarist/founding member Mikael Sandorf had enough.
“We came to a point where there was no positive energy and commitment from all members of the band,” he begins. “I struggled with depression and anxiety and alcohol was a destructive force in my life at that time. Being away playing was overshadowed by internal conflicts and we called it quits for everybody’s peace of mind.”
Compounding the negative situation was the band’s aforementioned ill-fated deal with Nuclear Blast. Regrets, it seems, are obvious. “We were a small band on a big label and probably among the last in line for promotion and support,” says Sandorf. “We should have signed to a minor label and evolved there instead. We were naive and thought that it would open doors to bigger venues and that more people would discover our music. Our best move was when we got contacted to collaborate on The Darkness game and got the video for ‘Shoot It In’ featured in the game. This spread our music worldwide and we gained a lot of new fans.”
Upon the dissolution of The Duskfall, most of its members joined death ‘n’ rollers maestros Helltrain, a band with three albums under its belt since 2002. While Sandorf took satisfaction in playing with the band, the itch to play death metal grow stronger as the years sped by. The fact that Helltrain never maintained a regular rehearsal/live show is schedule can be considered one of the primary factors for Sandorf getting The Duskfall back together.
“I have never stopped writing music, it’s like an ever flowing stream,” adds the guitarist. “I always wanted to get back to the creative process of rehearsing as a complete unit, but what really kicked me in the creative ass was when Fredrik [Andersson], the drummer, called me up and simply said that ‘I like your music and I want to play with you, when do we start?’ I was so happy to be in league with someone that wanted to be in the rehearsals again. Soon after the call we teamed up and wrote one new song on the first rehearsal. After a couple of months we asked Ronny [Edlund] to join and he really fits the glove personality-wise, completing me as a songwriter and guitar player.”
Aside from the aforementioned Andersson and Edlund, The Duskfall Mach II also features in its ranks bassist Kim Bjäle, and in particular new vocalist Magnus Klavborn, who is previously known for his work in Swedish modern metal all-stars Engel. “I first met him in Dug-Out Studios when he was recording vocals for the debut Engel cd. He is a really down to earth guy with a vocal range that succeeds many in the scene today. I’m confident that he will deliver vocals that will blend perfectly with our new songs. It was just an email and he was all-in.”
The guitarist did make it a point to mention he reached out all to all previous members of the band, including ex-vocalist Kai Jaakkola (“Kai lives in Finland so we don’t speak to each other on a daily basis, but he is a brother,” says Sandorf), but none were readily able to commit to the new version. Sandorf, naturally, is pleased with the new incarnation of the band.
“I’m more than pleased with all the new members,” he enthuses. “We have a great vibe when we meet and there are a lot of fun times. New blood brings new energy and impetus to write music. This CD would never have been completed without their personal efforts and skills. Ronny writes the same style of riffs as myself and Fredrik never settles for the easy way out when he is drumming. Kim is a skilled musician and songwriter with a studio engineer education, so he will have a lot of input on the recording progress.”
The fifth The Duskfall album is being penned as this very article is being written, with Sandorf promising more of the same melodic death happenings that went down on the band’s previous four LPs, and even some nods to vastly underrated, yet very cult Swedish outfit Gates of Isthar, who drummer Andersson “worships,” according to the guitarist. Outside of searching for a new label (the band are free agents after cancelling their deal with Massacre), the goal for the rest of 2014 is simple for The Duskfall: Get back on track.
“[I want to] record this beast and get our asses out on the roads to meet the fans that has stayed loyal through the years,” finishes Sandforf. “I have fed on your mails and commitment for many years, so now I want to give you something new to mosh to.”