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Trial

Met het debuut ‘The Primordial Temple’ (2011) leverden deze Zweden een sterke eerste visitekaartje af, vol occulte heavy metal in de stijl van Portrait, In Solitude, en RAM, en daarmee uiteraard ook Mercyful Fate/King Diamond. Die stijl werd verder geperfectioneerd op de fantastische ’Malicious Arts’ (7” single) en de tweede langspeler ‘Vessel’. De band wist de aandacht van metalgigant Metal Blade te krijgen, die onlangs de derde langspeler ‘Motherless’ uitbracht; een verrassend album, die een andere, veel progressievere, kant van de band laat horen. Het is de band in ieder geval gelukt om enigszins afstand te nemen van het in-dit-genre-gebruikelijke, en weet zich beter te onderscheiden. Alhoewel men hiermee absoluut een groter publiek zal aanspreken, kan deze stijl aanpassing ook gevolgen hebben voor de bestaande fanbase. Gitarist Alexander Ellström vertelt wat zijn mening daarover is, en vertelt alles over de nieuwe plaat en de toekomstplannen.

Door: Nima | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

First of all, hails and congratulations on the new album, ‘Motherless’. The album has been released for a couple of weeks now. Are you still all satisfied with the result and with the feedback from the fans and the press so far?
The feedback has been great. Some people seem to love it and other people seem to not. People who dislike our current direction points out that they don't like that we've changed so much, which is really a compliment. They wish we should sound like other bands. They wish we should not progress, to not explore new territory and to not make music we want to make. Almost every negative thing we've heard about 'Motherless' is speaking about something we've consciously had taken a step towards. We are satisfied with the album as it is. We can't change anything so it's not important to engage in such thinking as 'what if?'. You always gonna change your opinion about everything you do and record, and that is a part of what being an artist is about. You should be proud of your offsprings and do whatever it takes to nurture them so they grow strong over time and survive.

You’ve come a long way since the release of your debut album, ‘The Primordial Temple’. Especially since the release of the ‘Malicious Arts’ EP and of course ‘Vessel’, a lot has been happening to and for trial. How do you look back on the past seven years?
We started out being very naïve and that's a thing we've learned to control a bit more nowadays. Every release shows where we were at that period of time in our progression. It's been a weird journey, from the very traditional 'TPT', to the fast and intense 'MA' EP, to the refined sound of 'Vessel' and all the way to the ejaculation of 'Motherless'. We don't rush things because every album and every song need to take shape over time. We could have probably released a couple of more albums or EPs, but then again, we probably wouldn't be just as proud as we are now.

’Vessel’ also lead to a deal with Metal Blade. I can imagine that there were more labels that showed interest in the band. Can you explain your choice for Metal Blade and signing with a major label for your new album?
It was an easy choice. We've never thought that we would end up on a label of such caliber as MB, and when we got the opportunity, we didn't really hesitate. We had a couple of other offers as well, but their history and impact on metal music made us go with them. With MB backing us, we could make 'Motherless' a reality because now, we had more time to focus in the studio and we put in all of our effort to make it as good as possible. They are letting us be the band we want to be and they have given us their full support.

Let’s talk about the new album, ‘Motherless’. The first striking point is of course the new logo, which is quite something different than the – in my opinion – utterly heavy metal-oriented previous logo and already implies change. Please tell us a bit more about this.
Signing to MB is a huge step forward and we felt it was time to make a change in order to really distinguish ourselves from any other band named 'TRIAL'. In consultation with the label we decided to add the additional 'Swe' to our bandname. You are right about the old logo, it's an old school heavy metal logo, but we've come a long way since and we felt we needed to shape our logo for it to fit our current direction. It's clean and simple, with the 'swe' visable in the flame above the letter 'I'. The logo was revamped by Costin Chioreanu who also made the cover and artwork for both 'Vessel' and now with our latest record 'Motherless'.

Although this album has all Trial elements and is still heavy metal, it also shows a different side of the band. On ‘Vessel’ you already showed a darker approach, but ‘Motherless’ has turned out even darker approach. The tempo is lower in general and the emphasis lies on a more epic, doomy approach, and especially on atmosphere. The album has a dark, chilling, somewhat depressive atmosphere, and an almost terrifying vibe. Was that a conscious choice and did you have a direction set for the record when you started working on the new material?
There is a seriousness in the lyrics that wasn't there before and I believe that set the tone for most of the songs. We spend a lot of time just to get the atmosphere right. If the feeling is not completely right, we might end up rearranging the whole song differently. This album is more darker in a sense. Not so much in an occult way, but in a way to understand yourself and your own darkness and self-destructive behaviour. The album is about depression, the most dear thing to me at the moment of writing. It makes one expand your mind, to be brutally honest and to kill yourself over and over again until you basically are numb of all transformation. This time we needed to create this atmosphere, because it was emerging from the horizon. Our next album could be fundamentally different, or it could further explore what we set to motion on the 'Motherless' album.

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Another striking point is that you have grown a lot as musicians and as songwriters. The music has more depth and is a lot more complex and quite progressive in comparison with the previous albums. Therefore the material requires more time and multiple spins in order reveal itself and to come into its own. In how far would you agree on that, and did/does it 'worry' you that some listeners won’t take the time to let the album grow and therefore write it off?
I believe the strongest albums are taking shape in the mind of the listener over time. They are simply too demanding and complex to be accepted the first time you are listening to the record. You are not ready for what you had experienced. It will grow over time and almost everyone we've talked to confirm this. It's an album that you hear new sounds every time you listen to it. We are not in this to make something conventional. We worship motion, and hopefully, that will result in progression. It doesn't really worry me, I'm sure it will get the recognition it deserves eventually.

Something I pointed out in my review is that you have successfully managed to step away from what is usual for this genre, have developed a bigger own identity and have managed to distinguish yourself more. Your opinion please…
I agree with you. That is our goal. When we first started out we found it really hard to make something unique and I guess that is normal. Now a couple of years later we've finally reached the state we want to be in. We feel now that most of the ideas in our songs are new and not similar to any other band. Personally, I don't like listening to a band that resembles any other band. At least not in the long run. There are several new songs that are great that makes you think of various bands from the 80's but that's not creating something new. Different riff, same feeling. It doesn't do it for me, so for us to have an own identity is crucial.

The new album will definitely open new doors for the band and expand your audience. But looking at the success of the previous records, would you say that with ‘Motherless’ is also a bit of risk regarding the fan base you have built with the previous records?
It's always a risk in terms of promotion and expectations of the band, but I don't base my own thoughts upon such things. People seem to handle it almost like it's their very own band. They hear something they didn't expect and they lose their minds. They think that they make the calls, they believe that they decide what we should play. We are not creating music to please anyone else, to live like that would be completely miserable.

I know the album has just been released and that it may be a little bit too early to ask this, but looking at the developments you’ve achieves since ‘The Primordial Temple’ up to ‘Motherless’, in what direction do you think Trial will travel from this point on?
Even further down the abyss for sure. But how the approach of the next album will be is quite too early to say. We have some ideas for songs ready, but it's not until you have all the songs ready that you can see how the album will turn out. Our goal is to make something even stronger than 'Motherless', even more progressive and even more fatal.

Something different, both the CD and the vinyl versions of ‘The Primordial Temple’ were released in a limited quantity. With the success from ‘Vessel’ and the new album I can imagine the interest in that album to grow as well. Are there any plans or talks with Metal Blade to reissue that album?
Not as of now. There hasn't been any talks. I believe that 'Vessel' is still available out there, so that wouldn't be an option. We've been asked a lot of a potential reissue of 'TPT' recently but it's not something we are too eager to do right now. We try to focus on the future, but if the question and the opportunity comes up, we will consider it.

What can we expect from Trial in the near future? Are there any plans to hit the road to promote album?
We are working on something right now and hopefully we can share it with all of you in the not so near future. Our goal is to come out and play and take 'Motherless' to the stage.

Well then, I guess we can call it a day for now. Unless of course there is something left that you’d like to mention…
Thanks for the interview and hopefully we will play somewhere near all of you very soon!

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