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Vampire heeft een nieuw album uit. Aangezien er binnen de band het nodige gewijzigd is sinds de laatste keer dat we de band interviewden, telefoneerden wij met zanger Hand Of Doom. We spraken onder meer over het nieuwe album en de invloed van popmuziek.

Door: Pim B. | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

It’s been a while since we interviewed you back in 2014 when you just released the self-titled debut. So, let’s catch up a bit. First of all you have had some line-up changes and let’s start with the position behind the drum kit. Can you tell a bit more about replacing Ratwing with Abysmal Condor?
Well, Ratwing finished his education and moved abroad. He works as a pilot now. I'm not even sure where he lives as we haven't been in touch ever since. He's no longer active as a musician. Abysmal Condor came along with his brother Sepulchral Condor whom we recruited as our second guitarist. So, it was kind of a package deal. The only downside is that he lives 300 kilometers away in Gothenburg, which makes rehearsing a bit more difficult.

Like you already said you added Abysmal Condor’s brother Sepulchral Condor as a second guitarist. Why did you decide upon that?
Most of our material is written for two guitarists and even though I can play guitar my level is not up to par with the level of Black String. He wanted to have a proper guitarist in the band that is above his own level of playing. This is easier to bounce back ideas and so on. It's a more dynamic method when you work on new songs and like a said our material is written for two guitarists with one playing chords and the other the melodies. By the way, the new guys used to be in a band called Inverted Cross, which is a mixture of Slayer/German thrash and technical death metal in the vein of Spawn of Possession. They were working on an album that is 90% finished but I think they had some problems in the band.

I assume adding a second guitarist is also because of the possibilities of playing live? You have used a second guitarist for live shows and if I’m correct they (Centaur and Nuclear War) also added some solos on the debut full-length?
That's correct. We have only done a few gigs with one guitarist. Most gigs were done with two guitarist, which works best for us because of our songs.

When we did that first interview in 2014 you mentioned you didn’t have any immediate plans to tour, but meanwhile you have done numerous one-off shows as well as a tour in 2016 with Tribulation and Grave Pleasures. Looking back how has performing live been to you guys?
I'm glad we can live up to the expectation of people who have been listening to Vampire at home and who like our live shows too. I guess when we play live the music has more power and impact. It is rewarding and fun to play live. Actually I have little pleasure in rehearsing. It's not the greatest thing to do going to the rehearsal room on a weekday after work and rehearse for four hours when you'd rather sit home on the couch. In the end it's and essential part of being in a band. It's a chain of cause and effect. You need to rehearse before recording an album and you have to rehearse before live shows.

In 2015 your released the 10” ‘Cimmerian Shade’, which showed a bit of a different face of Vampire opposed to the debut as far as I’m concerned. To me the songs on the A-side had a bit of a Tribulation or In Solitude vibe to them whereas the track ‘Night Hunter’ seems as Teutonic Thrash worship. So how would you say you developed as a band from your early recordings onwards?
I see 'Cimmerian Shade' as a sort of breaking point for the band. We wanted to include more atmosphere, more of a “mountains and forests” vibe and we didn't want to rely on our early influences only. Of course we still have the fast death/thrash songs. But we also included more 90s atmospheric black metal in our music. For instance 'Knights of the Burning Crypt' clearly was inspired by Dissection. You know, we just rely more on our early influences. The music we grew up with. For instance I heard 'Nemesis Divina' by Satyricon when I was 13 and that kind of music transpires more and more into our sound. It's more or less that our influences are more “childish” so to speak. We want to make brutal music that has the spice of youth. Perhaps even innocence. I hope that makes sense?

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I get your drift, so it does. To me the new album seems like another step forward where you take your wide variety of influences and mold them into songs that sound like Vampire. I mean, when you take the album as a whole it’s definitely Vampire. But looking at certain tracks or even parts of tracks it is obvious you draw inspiration from all over the place. I hear Dissection, Nifelheim, Tribulation, Mercyful Fate and so on. We already spoke about your influences in our first interview but I’d like to know how you manage to incorporate all these influences and end up sounding like Vampire?
We are inspired by a lot of bands indeed but it is important we do sound like Vampire. Like I mentioned before we include both atmospheric as well as brutal elements. You know a mixture of elegant riffs and super primitive childish riffs. So, songs that are beautiful and ugly at they same time. When we write songs we use thought-out schemes to put the songs together. We carefully arrange the songs and I think that is where Vampire stands out. When we write songs we often use structures that are used in pop music a lot. For instance the Swedish songwriter and producer Max Martin is a good example. The way he structures his songs is something we try to adapt in Vampire too.

Funny you mention that as in our first interview you mentioned you like the way an artist like Lady Gaga structures here songs. What do you think about the recent events where Lady Gaga mentioned her liking of heavy metal and even performed with Metallica?
I haven't followed Lady Gaga recently so I can't comment on that. I like the early stuff she did. The super melodic stuff she did in 2007.

Ok, but she did mention she thinks Iron Maiden is one of her favorite bands. Seems like it's a full circle where she might uses heavy metal as an inspiration to structure her songs?
It completely makes sense she is into Iron Maiden. You know, Max Martin I mentioned before is also totally into old hardrock and metal like Maiden, WASP and Manowar. I think heavy metal is totally on level with pop music. It's both melodic, melancholic and has an emotional impact.

Enough about pop music. The debut and 'Cimmerian Shade' were recorded at Svenska Grammofonstudion. You recorded the new album at Nacksving Studios. Can you tell a bit more about changing the studios and how it was working at this studio for you guys?
The diplomatic answer would be that we wanted something new. But we felt that we needed a different sound. There was too much bass on the debut. We wanted a thinner sound on the new album. We wanted to get away from the typical death metal sound. One of our favourite albums, 'Servants Of Darkness' by Nifelheim was recorded with the same engineer and that sound was exactly what we were after. We got a lot of stupid anecdotes as a bonus too.

I have no complaints whatsoever when it comes to the sound of the album. I’d like to address one thing that I actually totally love and that’s the sound of the drums and specifically the use of rototoms (or at least higher tuned toms). It’s not overdone but actually adds that extra bit. Can you tell a bit more on the decision to use these elements in the drumming?
Abysmal Condor has those high-pitched toms and we felt he should use them. It's like the drums on Possessed's 'Seven Churches'. You know we do these things to add nuance and we all do it in good nature. It's like celebrating the good old vibes of old metal. To be honest the drumming on 'Seven Churches' isn't that good, but when you listen to it, it will put a smile on your face. That's exactly what we want to achieve. We do everything in good spirits. We want to bring back humor in music. Not that we want to be clowns but you don't have to take things all that seriously. You can't tell me that all those bands that sound depressive are depressive themselves all the time? Or to explain it a bit differently. Take the old Sarcofago albums. Those are so extreme and evil that it is almost comedic. Not that the band wasn't serious, but listening to it just puts a smile on your face. I know it's a bit hard to explain, but that's what we try with Vampire too. Being a good extreme band that puts a smile on your face.

I completely understand and that's why I like Venom so much. I think this is all I have to ask this time around. Anything else you’d like to mention? Any plans in the immediate future for instance?
First of all we will release a new video a week before the release of the album. This is for the song 'He Who Speaks'. It's basically us playing live on stage as well as shots of pagan rituals and other cool stuff. It's going to be a great video. Next to that we will have some release shows in May and we will probably do a tour in the fall. Can't tell a lot about that yet.

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