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Detonation

Where the previous two albums of Dutch melodic Swedish death metal outfit Detonation were (unjustifiably) criticised for being too much like the real Swedes, the new 'Emission Phase' should shut these critics finally up. A refreshing take on composing together with some vocal experiments have made that these Dutchies have produced their varied and most mature album to date. Singer/guitarist Koen Romeijn can only agree.

By: Richard G. | Archive under death metal / grindcore

To begin with: congratulations on your new record. I have listened to it a number of times now and I must say that quite a lot of things have changed on 'Emission Phase' when compared to your previous work. Detonation does still play very melodic detah thrash metal, but you seem to have chosen a whole new path for your compositions. Would you mind telling the biggest changes to our readers yourself?
Thank you! It is correct that 'Emission Phase' has turned out quite different from our previous two albums. We experimented a it more with rhythmic, grooving riffs. This is something that we have always done, but not as conscious as on our new album. We also worked more complex rhythms into the songs causing the record to be a bit less melodic overall, but the melodies that are present are less obvious. And we also tried to have more variation between the songs. But I also think that the differences with our older work are caused by the change of studio. This time around we worked with Jochem Jacobs and Bouke Visser in the Split Sound studios. Jochem gave us a new fresh sound, the new album really surpasses the previous two albums production-wise. The sound of 'An Epic Defiance' and 'Portals To Uphobia' is certainly not bad, but by far not as powerful as 'Emission Phase'.

Is there another reason for these changes besides the always apparent 'need' (for both you and your audience)? Was it difficult to adapt a different writing style?
We really needed to do something new, this goes for the music as well as the recording process. So it was not difficult for us to adapt our way of composing. And the difference is not that big, it's not like we switched from black metal to country ;-) After the release of our previous album we kind of had the feeling that we were stuck in a certain composing pattern and it did not go as smoothly as before. When we started writing the material for 'Emission Phase' we immediately and automatically went into a different direction. We even down-tuned our guitars, which we undid after a while again. The first three or four songs that we had written were radically different from our previous stuff, too different even so we threw them away. It did not go entirely without problems, but once we had found the right vibe it went pretty easily, I must say. It felt really quickly really natural to approach the song writing differently than before.

The release of your previous record 'Portals To Uphobia' brought a lot of problems with it. Did everything go well with 'Emission Phase'?
You can say that again! Fortunately everything is going great for 'Emission Phase' at the moment. Apart from that it is not being released in America at the moment, that is. We are still busy finding a new distributor. For the rest everything is going great… With 'Portals' everything that could go wrong indeed went wrong. The release date was postponed four months, the first shipment of CDs for the Benelux had gone missing, the booklet for the US release was printed without lyrics, they simply had forgotten to add the layer with the text files. And then we had all kinds of troubles with the tours that followed the release… For that matter, things could only go better for the new album.

I really enjoyed your previous work, but I also think that with the new record you guys have evolved a lot musically again. I think you are finally getting rid of the Gothenburg-stigma that has haunted you in the past. How annoying was it to be continuously compared to the old Dark Tranquillity (even through Osmose promo-stickers on the release itself)?
That is good to hear! The not so subtle sticker on 'An Epic Defiance' in 2003 of course gave the critics an easy starter for comparing us to Dark Tranquillity. Ok, the atmosphere of that record kind of relates to that of a record like 'The Gallery' and on top of that Niklas Sundin had done the artwork. The stupid thing is that we did not have a clue that it had happened. We never had the intention to sound like a certain band, why would we? But it has haunted us pretty long, even with the release of our previous album 'Portals To Uphobia'. If you listen to it closely, you cannot but conclude that the comparison is not just. It sounds Swedish alright, but it does not sound like one band in particular or anything.

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As you say, the Swedish influences were obvious, but I think you always managed to create a distinct 'Detonation' sound. Do you think the link was justified?
Of course it is on the one hand, because we do make melodic metal and people tend to categorise bands in order to make comparison easier. But when we started out in 1997 we were not influenced by Swedish bands only. We were and still are big fans of Megadeth, old Metallica, Iron Maiden and Machine Head. If you listen to our music with that in the back of your mind, I think you can recognise a lot of it, especially when you pay attention to the melodies. But because we lean more towards death metal, the link to the Swedish genre is made easily. But we always went our own way, being this melodic form of extreme death metal, another style simply would not fit us. We have finally arrived at a point where people appreciate us for our own sound

Another surprising new element on 'Emisson Phase is the clean singing. Do you do it yourself? Ho was it to not scream at the top of your lungs for a change?
I did the clean vocals myself, yeah, but Thomas Kalksma, our drummer, helped out quite a bit. But it felt pretty good to try out something different vocally. The great advantage of the recording process this time was that I could record the vocals in our own rehearsal room. Split Second Sound has a kind of portable recording unit which we could use. We placed it in our rehearsal room and I had two weeks time to come up with the vocal melodies and to record them. Thomas and I thought up all the vocals together and because we had a lot of time we could experiment a lot with clean vocals. I am really glad we did it, because I think it turned out very cool. It really adds to the atmosphere of the songs, which was the idea from the beginning. For some reason it also feels very comfortable to sing clean. So, it was not really difficult for me ;-) I have decided that I am going to sing like this more often, not necessarily in Detonation, but it sure is something that I want to work more on in the future.

Have you played these songs live already? How did it go?
Yes, during our last UK tour we played some of the new songs. I was confronted with reality right away, because singing clean in a live situation really is quite different from singing in the studio. Especially when you have little to no sound coming from your monitors. I did try it and it is not scary or anything, but it is quite confronting, haha! I do not do all the clean vocals myself, by the way, Thomas does some parts of 'Chokedamp' live because we have some grunts simultaneously with clean vocals there. But it is our intention to be able to recreate everything live, otherwise you might as well not record things like that.

'Emission Phase' is a concept album about nuclear war and the consequences, Why did you choose for this concept? The 'Portals' album was a kind of concept album too, right? Is it easier when you stay within some kind of theme?
It is a topic that I have always found very interesting and when I was writing lyrics for 'Emission Phase' I wanted to approach it from a different angle. Normally our lyrics are pretty psychological and personal. This is the first time that the lyrics are based on something which I did not experience myself. A lot of the lyrics still are written in the first person, because that style fits me best. And indeed, 'Portals' was some sort of concept album, even though it did not have a chronological story like 'Emission Phase'. There was more of an overall theme that connected all the lyrics. I like writing within a certain theme, mostly because I usually write all the lyrics in a short period of time. Writing with a certain topic in the back of your mind simply works more efficiently. Within the band we always first concentrate on the music, the vocals are added at the very end once the basic structures of the songs are all finished.

You had a record deal with Osmose Production for three albums. With the new record this deal pretty much ends. Are you guys already shopping for a new label, or are you going to re-sign without hesitation?
We have not started shopping yet, but we will sooner or later. With 'Emission Phase' our contract with Osmose ends and even though we are pretty happy with how things have gone, this is the moment to think about our future. If we get the opportunity to sign with a bigger label, then we will certainly do just that. We still believe in Detonation for one hundred percent and the band still has a lot of unrealised potential. So we will see, if Osmose make us a good offer then we might re-sign with them, if they don't we will start shopping for a new label. But the next few months we will be concentrating fully on the promotion of 'Emission Phase', so all this stuff will only become important after that.

The record has been out fora bout a month now and I see that there some shows are planned on your calendar. No extensive touring plans for this year yet?
For now we are doing the odd show, mostly in Holland. I am especially looking forward to the package shows with Instil Cypher and 37 Stabwounds! But as for touring, Osmose is currently trying to get us a good European tour and we have some ideas for a few small tours ourselves. The plans are there, but I cannot reveal a lot at the moment.

This was about it, thanks a lot for your time. Hope to see you soon on some stage somewhere!
Ok, thanks a lot for your interest in the band. Check www.myspace.com/detonationnl for our shows and if you want to hear some stuff off of ´Emission Phase.

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