BLACKSCAPE: "We just wanted to experience that feeling again, musical freedom without limits within the metal genre"
Even though Swedish trio BLACKSCAPE might have appeared as a new formation on the scenery, the attentive reader could probably have recognized some familiar faces in the line-up. They recently released their mighty debut "Suffocated by the Sun", which left me curious to learn more about the band's background, their creative process and the stunning cover art.
So it's my great pleasure to welcome them on our journey, read more about them here:
Hey, thanks for making time to answer my questions. How are you today?
We are in an extremely good mood, pumped up and ready for action. So, let's hit it!
I hear you :-) Could you please introduce yourself and Blackscape to our readers?
Blackscape is a progressive thrash/death metal band from Sweden formed in 2018. The band consists of me, Tage Andersson on guitars/bass, Lawrence Mackrory on vocals, and Thomas Ohlsson on drums/percussion.
Congrats to the release of your debut, which is really a beast of an album. How do you feel about it, and how was the reception so far?
In all seriousness, we are overwhelmed by the positive response we have received so far. The reviews have been fantastic with high ratings everywhere it seems. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it continues.
That's awesome, and well deserved. Let’s take a look at the stunning cover artwork: What can you tell us about its origins, and does it reflect the album thematically?
The cover is absolutely fantastic, and Pär Olofsson has done a great job with it. We wanted it to look both horrifying and beautiful at the same time - And it sure does, but how is it possible that something that looks like a decomposing spinal penis monster with teeth also can be beautiful? That is both interesting and exciting :-)
The artwork is there for a perfect fit to our music, which can also be horrifying and beautiful at the same time. Pär is a fantastic artist and a great guy to work with.
Haha, what a lovely description! But great job indeed.
Could you dive a bit into the album’s topics with us, please?
We want the lyrics to be experienced as entertaining short stories, maybe a bit like "Tales from the crypt" for those who remember that TV series. But hopefully they sometimes also contain other content so that the listener can be entertained in different ways.
There is a rather dark tone into the lyrics and there are some recurring themes throughout the album, such as the end of everything, painful existential awakenings, and the experience of deviating from the crowd.
Your sound is mind blowing yet melodious, melting the brutality of death metal with the virtuosity of prog. What is your musical background, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Thomas has a background in classical percussion, has played a lot of symphonic and improvisational music, wich clearly affects our sound. Everything merges into Blackscape and there is some percussion hidden in the music, for example the vibraphone at the end of the song Enslaved.
We are inspired by many metal bands like Death, Opeth, Carcass, Cannibal Corpse and Megadeth, but also by bands like Europe and Dokken as well as some classical music and jazz fusion.
That's an interesting mix. Could you briefly describe your writing and recording process, please?
Right now I live in Örebro, and Lawrence and Thomas in Uppsala, which makes it difficult to create songs in a practice cellar. However, we have played together for so long which makes the music still have that feeling.
The songwriting process starts with me first writing most of the songs myself, and then I present a finished idea to the others. Thomas then adds the drums, which affects the direction of the composition and how I write vocal rhythms and lyrics afterwards.
The recording and writing process, for this particular record, were somewhat intertwined. We have let it take quite a long time between the recordings for the various instruments and vocals to be able to make adjustments to the songs as we go along.
While we’re talking about a new band here, the three of you are no unknown in the scene. How did you come to join forces for this project?
The foundation of Blackscape was formed in the band Kamtjatka in the late 90s where me and Thomas met. A band where it was natural to explore different styles of music and where we developed a lot together musically. After the band disbanded, it has been difficult to achieve the creative freedom in other bands. When we started Blackscape several years later we just wanted to experience that feeling again, musical freedom without limits within the metal genre.
When we started recording the music, we needed a singer who was versatile enough to handle the different shifts in the music. Thomas and Lawrence had played together in F.K.Ü. which made it natural to ask him since we obviously knew about his vocal capabilities. His incredible voice was a perfect match for the music as well as his producing, mixing and mastering skills was a blessing for the band's development and sound.
What is the idea / meaning behind the name “Blackscape”?
There is no real meaning behind the name to us. Guitar virtuoso John Norum has a song called Blackscape. I stole the name from there just because the word sounded cool and is easy to say for a Swede, and that we are relatively alone in having that name, which makes it easy to google it and find us.
Clearly a thing that shouldn't be overlooked nowadays. With all your experience: Where do you see the biggest chances and challenges in today’s music business?
The big opportunity is that via streaming sites etc. there is actually a chance to reach out to a big audience all over the world in just a second. The difficulty is that there is so much new music being released every day and available instantly.
If people come across music by a new band they, myself included, rarely have the energy to invest the time it may take to understand the charm of the band. This makes it difficult to break through and reach out to other like minded music lovers. Therefore, reviewers and dedicated metalheads get a significant role, washing out the gold nuggets and guiding the metal audience to find good new music. New music spreads a lot by word of mouth, and in a way it reminds a bit of the old tape trading era and how the metal community was built back in the day.
Absolutely! Sweden is well known for being the home of countless great rock and metal bands. How would you describe your local music scene, and did you notice changes over the recent years?
The local music scene is on the rise. After the pandemic there is a craving for live music, but unfortunately the music industry has taken a beating from the pandemic which has created a great uncertainty about being a musician. Today there is a scene, tomorrow it may be gone, which makes it difficult to dare to invest fully.
A few years ago it felt like there were fewer and fewer people forming bands and instead people were working more alone and releasing music themselves. But after the pandemic, the band mentality seems to have returned. Many music students that Thomas teaches dig into the metal history books and play everything from Zeppelin, Rush, Mercyful Fate, Bathory to today's music while creating tomorrow's music. That's both fun and soothing to hear.
Awesome :-) What can you tell us about your future plans?
Write more music and see where we end up next. For this record, we had already written most of the vocals/lyrics before Lawrence was involved in the band. We therefore look forward to being able to utilize his musicality further for the next record and let it open up new possibilities in songwriting.
Oh, excited to hear how things evolve. Will there be a chance to experience your music live?
We hope so, but it is currently far in the future. At this stage it is too early to plan a tour. We are focusing first and foremost on writing new material and then we will see what opportunities may open up in the meantime.
Totally get that. Before we wrap things up, do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
A huge thank you to all of you who discovered our music. If you haven't, do it, you won't be disappointed.
Stay metal - Cheers!
That's the perfect closing :-) Thanks again for your time and these great insights into your work. Cheers!