Your music is often described as “ancient Death/Doom metal”. Could you share with us some of the influences that have shaped your sound over the years?
I’ve listened to many bands over the years but I think the bands I grew up with are the ones that color the most of my influences. But to mention what is perhaps most relevant to Runemagick, it has to be bands like Morbid Angel, Coroner, Candlemass, Bathory, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, old Paradise Lost, Grotesque, Bolt Thrower and many more. Then, of course, I listen to newer bands as well, but I think that what lies behind my influences is mostly what you listened to a lot when you were young, as I said.
You’ve been around for over 30 years now, yet your reputation remains on the fringes of the metal scene. What do you think has contributed to this relative obscurity?
To be completely honest, I or we never had any goal to be “big and famous”. We have done what we want to do for ourselves, but then of course it is very grateful if there are some who like what we do as well.
Then it is also certain that the music we play is not the most accessible or trendy either. It’s not meat and potatoes metal that fits on the radio.
I personally prefer to be in the obscure underground and compose music in true creative currents so to speak.
Your lyrics often explore themes of inner darkness and the occult. What draws you to these topics, and how do they inform your music?
The short answer is that these topics suit the music we play. But there is certainly something fashionable and interesting about the so-called doom. What happened to long forgotten civilizations. Forgotten spiritual wisdom and magic and so on. I think a lot of old wisdom is forgotten in today’s superficial society. Today’s civilization seems to have passed its best before date, so to speak.
Beyond the Cenotaph of Mankind features artwork by Denny Surreal Art. How did you come to work with him, and what was the collaboration process like?
We connected via the internet after I saw some previously painted works. We liked the somewhat abstract and raw style. Me and Emma talked about wanting something a little different than what we had before and that didn’t look like a lot of other bands’ covers.
We did a simple sketch and sent it over and after a while the artwork came back and we thought it fit us and the music on the album perfectly! Soon after, a backside was also painted for the vinyl cover.
As I said, we are very satisfied with the result!
Album has been mixed and mastered by Johan Bäckman at Raven Noise Studio. What was it like working with him, and how did he help shape the final sound of the album?
First I must say that we are very satisfied with the sound and Johan’s work with the mix! Johan and I have known each other since we went to school together. We played in thrash and death metal bands together already in the late 80s and early 90s. Then we played in various bands later in the years also like Necrocurse and Heavydeath.
But to return to the mix. Johan must take the biggest credit for the sound, clearly. Of course we have given him some input, mainly Emma who was most active in listening to test mixes.
Johan also mixed our two previous albums, but this was clearly the best, so far.
The members of Runemagick have also played in other notable metal bands, including Deathwitch, Dracena, and Katatonia. How do these different experiences inform your approach to making music with Runemagick?
We have all been in many bands and projects over the years. Especially me.
In my opinion, it’s good to have several channels to get creativity out of. Then surely not all bands and projects are active at the same time. It becomes more like a project and is active on and off for periods.
There haven’t been any major problems for me with this, but there have certainly been times when calendars and commitments collide. But at the time of writing, there are no problems with the activity that Runemagick has.
Currently, Daniel is mostly busy with Katatonia. Jonas is active with several bands such as Death Reich and Ceremonial Death. Me and Emma are involved in The Funeral Orchestra. Then I have another death metal project called Unformulas and some other small projects. Busy, for the underground!
You’ve been compared to bands like Asphyx, Grave, Electric Wizard, and Bolt Thrower. What do you think sets Runemagick apart from these other bands?
I don’t think we have that much of Electric Wizard, which in my opinion is a bit more in the direction of doomy blues. Of course we may have had some slightly swingier riffs here and there over the years. Then Asphyx and Bolt Thrower are probably much more our bag. But in my opinion we have maybe a little more variety and other hopefully more unique elements that are our own. I find it difficult to judge and interpret our and my own music.
Your music is known for its slow, heavy sound and deep, intense grunts. How do you achieve this sound in the studio, and what gear do you use to get your signature tone?
Can’t claim we have some secret formula. Part of the sound is probably in the playing. But also in equipment, of course. But we used a little different stuff over the years. In the last 9-10 years I have mostly recorded with a Hagström Viking Baritone guitar. As for amplifiers, I have varied between Orange, Marshall and a few others. Then, as I said before, it’s Johan who does the magic of getting everything together into a suitable soundscape when mixing.
Beyond the Cenotaph of Mankind is said to “relive the glory days of the good old 90’s stuff from the United Kingdom”. What do you think made that era of metal so special, and how do you pay homage to it in your music?
I wasn’t the one who wrote it. But I understand what they are after. Just like I wrote about influencers, there are certainly some Bolt Thrower and old Paradise Lost vibes here and there in our music. Nothing wrong with that. Because it was a good time when they released their best albums in the late 80s and early 90s.
Runemagick has been described as one of the most underrated bands in the history of metal. How do you feel about this label, and do you think it’s something that you can overcome?
Yes, I’ve heard that a few times. In a way, I guess I can take that as a positive thing.
Your music has a strong sense of atmosphere and immersion into the unearthly realms of the occult. How do you create this sense of otherworldliness in your music?
It emerges by itself during the creative process. I think that’s part of our framework, part of our sound. I like to create epic and atmospheric soundscapes interspersed with heavy riffs and sometimes melodic passages. That said, I’d like to think it’s part of our sound, part of Runemagick’s framework.
Your new album is said to be “against all kinds of trends”. What do you think is the state of metal music today, and how does Runemagick fit into that landscape?
Another thing I didn’t say myself, but I understand what is meant. We create and do what we want. We don’t do it to catch a trend or to become famous. Perhaps we are more on a journey in our own landscape in our own world.
Finally, what are your plans for the future of Runemagick? Do you have any upcoming shows or projects that you’re particularly excited about? Thanks for your time!
Unfortunately we are not doing any gigs at the moment. But right now the full focus is on the album release. At the same time, we are working on various reissues.
Then we’ll see what happens. We have some material saved from recording sessions that we may continue to work on and finish. Or we write another album, or not. Time will tell.
Many thanks for the interview!
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