After several years of dealing with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, music festivals are back in full swing and 2023 will bring several surprises, especially when it comes to rock metal.

Preparations for the big dates are still underway, however, many bands have confirmed their participation in various events. 2023 will be full of events in Europe, mainly in Spain. After the cancellations of 2020 and 2021, the situation is normalising.


Also, bands that were not scheduled to tour are considering appearing at several dates next year. However, not everything is rosy, as the geopolitical situation (Russia-Ukraine invasion, especially) may have consequences. If you want to know all the rock metal bands that will be performing next year, read on.




  • When: 8-11 June 2023

This is one of the UK’s biggest festivals, and will announce the line-up on 7 November. Rumour has it that Metallica could be one of the headliners at this festival, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year.



  • Dates: 14-17 June 2023

This festival has already announced its full line-up, which includes bands such as: Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Slipknot, Parkway Drive, Architects, Meshuggah, Halestorm, Clutch, Kellermensch, Zeal & Ardor, Fever 333, Sick Of It All, Cabal, Fishbone, Angus Mcsix, Napalm Death, Harms Way, Malevolence,  xxx porno, Saturnus, Møl, Skynd, Touché Amoré and more.


  • When: 15 to 18 June 2023

This festival is one of the best known and has already sold out for the 2023 edition without announcing a single band. Among the bands that could perform are: Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Pantera, Slipknot and Kiss, among others.


  • When: 15-18 June 2023.

Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe and Slipknot have already been confirmed as the headliners of the big Belgian festival. However, it is rumoured that other big bands such as Pantera, Helloween, Ghost, and Guns N’ Roses could also perform.



  • When: 28 June – 1 July 2023

Rumoured bands include Slipknot, Pantera, Evanescence, Ghost, Rage Against The Machine. Although not yet confirmed, this festival is 18 years old, and is one of the most popular. Right now, they are conducting a survey among the fans to know which bands they want to see and you can get it on their official website.



  • When: 9 to 12 August 2023

This is one of the most eagerly awaited festivals as it usually has one of the most interesting line-ups. Confirmed acts include Megadeth, Mike Tramp and HammerFall. Other rumoured bands are: Anthrax, Biohazard, Sepultura, H.E.A.T, Killswitch Engage, among others.


  • When: To be confirmed

After confirming the 2023 edition, the organisation has not yet revealed any details about bands or dates. An announcement is expected before the end of the year. Last year’s event featured artists such as Kiss, Alice Cooper and Judas Priest.




Top 7 Death Metal Bands

Top 7 Death Metal Bands

Since its emergence in the 80s, the beautifully weird death metal genre has developed to gain acceptance and has grown to attract more followers. The genre evolved from thrash metal and is quite discernible with clichéd boundaries and unique music culture. Today the genre is big and impressive. Here is a compilation of top influential death metal bands.


Death was an American death metal band with roots in Florida. Guitarist cum vocalist Chuck Schuldiner founded death in 1984, and the band is among the top influential bands in the heavy metal genre. The band is famous for pioneering the extreme metal sub-genre of death metal. Their debut album, Scream Bloody Gore and their first records from Necrophagia and Possessed are widely considered the first metal records. The band dissolved after the death of its founder but remains a lasting inspiration on heavy metal.

2-Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal corpse is another influential death metal band founded in 1988 in Buffalo, New York but currently based in Tampa, Florida. The band emerged into fame in 1990, featuring furious musical assaults characterized by throaty vocals, blast beats, and extremely violent lyrics video porno. The group’s horror imagery coupled with graphic album artwork and despicable song titles has attracted controversies. However, they have managed to accrue a rabid cult following and album sales that make them the most commercially successful death metal band of all time.

3-Morbid Angel

Morbid Angel is another successful death metal band based in Tampa, Florida, and among the most influential and emulated bands in this genre. The band played a crucial role in the evolution of death metal from its thrash metal origins by integrating up-tempo beats, a dark atmosphere, and guttural vocals. Morbid Angel was the first death metal band to achieve mainstream success, and their initial three albums are regarded as classics in this music genre. Nielsen SoundScan data ranked the group as the third best-selling death metal band in the US.


The Swedish progressive metal band Opeth hailed from Stockholm and was formed by lead vocalist David Isberg in 1989. The band incorporates progressive, blues, folk, and jazz into its lengthy death metal compositions. They are also famous for integrating Mellostrons in their work. The band began conducting world tours in 2001 after the release of Black Water (their fifth album). Their first eight albums were quite popular across the US, but the band achieved commercial success in 2008 after releasing Watershed, their ninth studio album. In its initial week of release, the album topped the Finnish album chart and peaked at number 23 on the Billboard 200.


Carcass, formed in 1986, is an English extreme metal band hailing from Liverpool. The band broke up in 1986 and regrouped in 2007, with its original member and drummer Ken Owen missing. The group pioneered the goregrind genre. Thanks to their morbid lyrics and horrific album covers, their early composition was labelled as splatter death metal and hardgore. Heartwork, their fourth album, is regarded as revolutionary in the melodic death metal genre. The group is among the few death metal bands to sign to a major label – Columbia Records and Earache.

6-Children of Bodom

Children of Bodom was a Finnish melodic death metal band formed in 1993 but split in 2019. Their third studio album, Follow the Reaper, was their first to receive gold certification. Their subsequent studio albums attained the same status. The band’s next four albums topped the Finnish album charts and ranked chart position on the US Billboard 200. Children of Bodom are among Finland’s best-selling bands, with over 250000 records sold in Finland alone.

7-Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth is a melodic death metal band with roots in Tumba, Sweden. The band was formed in 1992, and their lyrics tend to focus mainly on Viking history and mythology. The band released its first studio album, Once Sent from the Golden Hall, in 1998. They released another five studio albums before the group saw a breakthrough with the album Twilight of the Thunder God. The album debuted at number ten on the Swedish album charts and position 50 on the Billboard 200 in the US.




Album review and features

Dork-rock fans around the world were shattered by the sudden demise of Ben Folds Five in 2000. On the bright side, this event allowed band-member Darren Jessee to step away from the drum kit and spread his songwriting wings. Based on the excellent debut from Jessee’s band, Hotel Lights, his wingspan may be large enough to overshadow even the mighty Ben Folds in time.

While Ben Folds Five made an art of drawing in listeners with their cheese-filled, tongue-in-cheek anthems, Hotel Lights takes a more serious and somber approach. Hotel Lights’ debut album primarily consists of reflective ballads with catchy melodies. Jessee’s mellow vocals, which are reminiscent of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, accentuate the overall melancholy mood. Lyrically, Jessee explores the mix of emotions associated with broken relationships, from confusion (“Anatole”), to regret (“Miles Behind Me”), to drunken ambivalence (“Stumblin’ Home Winter Blues”). One of the standout tracks is “Follow Through,” a beautiful yet painful take on the timeless theme of “if you love someone, set them free—even if it hurts like hell.” Throughout the album, the lyrics are well-written and poignant—they have an instant accessibility and universality that draw in the listener.

The album’s slow vibe is uplifted by a few songs with faster tempos, including “I Am a Train,” “What You Meant,” and “Marvelous Truth.” These tracks are as melodic as the album’s slower songs and Jessee’s vocal styling helps these songs blend with the overall reflective tone of the record. Hotel Lights is also an excellent live band with the talent to go far in the music business—look out Ben.

PIGEONHOLE: Somber alterna-pop with catchy melodies and reflective lyrics.
CAVEATS: Although this album is an indie release, the music may sound a little too commercial (read: polished) for some listeners.


It’s time for a little “edumacation,” Sloppy style. In the new millennium, many threats face our fragile–yet still rockin’–democracy. Some see Bushy #2 as the biggest threat to the existence of our musical nation. I can’t argue with this one, but I can’t dwell on it too much either–I’ll either start crying, start breaking shit, or both. You don’t want to see Sloppy cry. It’s ugly with a capital “G,” baby. Of course, breaking shit is fun–as long as it’s your shit. Breaking other people’s shit is a crime, so don’t do it. Although Bushy #2 could bring the whole free world down with him, maybe we should just be thankful that Tipper G. isn’t slapping “explicit lyrics” warning stickers on our assholes right now. (Dear Al G., you know I love you, but keep your wife off Sloppy’s First Amendment).

Others see Darth Vader as the new American–dare I say “galactic”–threat. If you feel this way, I would recommend hitting yourself in the face, readjusting your dental headgear, curling back up with your Ewok doll, and going back to sleep. If you still feel this way after all that, please see Star Wars Episode VI again–Vader gets the shaft, so there’s nothing to worry about until Cheney gets elected. Fear the Wookie in 2008. At least, this occurrence will give Lucas some new material for the next series of movies.

Although Bushy #2, Vader, and the Wookie are all good candidates, Sloppy’s here to tell you that the scenester butt monkey is the biggest threat to our rockin’ democracy and all of our musical youths (pass the Dutchie, baby!). If I had a scenester butt monkey right now that could speak into a microphone he might sound like this (note that it’s hard to get them to speak because they get very focused on staring at their shoes and sniffing their pits).

Get over it! You’re still that same socially dysfunctional nerd that you were in high school–I don’t care if you hung out with Jeff Tweedy backstage, you moron. Be kind and compassionate to others (You dip shit–don’t make me kick your pathetic ass, because I’ll get thrown in jail! And Sloppy doesn’t do well in jail). Please? What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?

Butt monkeys of the world unite! Redeem thyself. Lose your “loser” tag. Reach out and touch someone in a place that won’t get you arrested. The heart, man, I’m talking about the heart! Share your love of music with others. Embrace others with your musical knowledge–don’t use it as a vehicle to snub. Be open to the musical preferences of others. Even if it hurts your ears, love it for the fact that it has enabled someone else to make a connection to music, the rhythm of life. So many people don’t have any connection to music. And that’s just sad.

So go now, misguided scenester butt monkeys, and use your musical powers for good. Put your dental headgear back on and go back to sleep. Dream of musical harmony in the galaxy–Wookies and Ewoks dance happily in the forests of Endor, as Leia caresses your light saber. Sweet dreams, young Jedis.


Live review of Death metal evening event, in Sandnes, Norway

Group: Incantation, Ragnorök, Krisiun, Behemoth
Venue: Tribute (Sandnes, NORWAY)
Date: 2004-11-06
Audience: 150 people

A “Death metal evening” in a little place in West Norway, called Sandnes. The evening kicked of at 10 o’clock. Incantation were the first to play. The Americans play for about half an hour without getting a response from 60% of the audience, while the diehards stood in front of the stage, banging their heads a little bit closer to a life in the wheelchair. To be honest, Incantation aren’t that great, their drummer is hammering on his drums without changing the rhythm for six minutes, the guitar riffs are boring and when they should have had something like a solo or a melodic part in their songs, they are just using the distortion (a mistake many bands do) and their vocalist voice sounds like the voice of a smoker who lost 90% of his lung capacity.

Next to play were Norwegians Ragnorök. They bore most of the audience to death, with their 7-8 minutes lasting songs. Some of the songs sound promising and one of the guitarists is able to play his instrument, but the drummer is horrible and messes up for the rest of the band while the vocalist is shrieking like an 8 year old girl.

Krisiun, the evening’s first highlight, are asking the audience before they play their first song:” Are you ready for some brutal Death metal?”- “YES”, and Krisiun showed in an impressive way why they are regarded as one of the best Death metal bands right now, brutal riffs, thrilling guitar solos, a vocalist who is able to perform all sorts of death vocals, and a drummer who is playing the most thrilling rhythms I’ve ever heard. Highlight of the show was the drummers drum solo which was really incredible and which is impossible to describe with words.

The last band of the evening were Behemoth, who started at 1 o’clock in the night, most of the audience properly pissed, hardly realising that a concert was on, some of the outside to puke, and a bunch of 50 persons who still were alive celebrating the music which was performed on stage. “Behemoth” did nothing less than the audience who still was watching expected them to do: they played brutal riffs, with extremely fast drums that at some points reminded me of industrial metal, and a vocalist who growled deeper than a wolf is ever going to do.

2 o’clock in the morning, a bunch of drunk people standing in front of Tribute in Sandnes, smoking a cigarette, most of the them with smiles on their faces. The last two bands gave the audience that what they had come for: brutal death metal at its very best. Even if the evening started with two bands that people who stand outside of the death metal scene probably never will like, the last two bands were worth the ticket price.

Mortiis Interview

When I first heard news that the enigmatic Mortiis was coming to town I figured the chance to do an interview with him was too great an opportunity to miss, a chance to get behind his mask and to know the person capable of creating such excitement about his artistic persona. After having called the offices of Earache every single day for a week and getting nothing but requests to give them my contact information – a seemingly polite way of telling me to buzz off – I managed to wrestle the name of the tour manager from their press office. With a bit of patience and the Internet at my fingertips, I was able to dig up his telephone number as well. About 2 hours before the show was set to start on the 6 October, I managed to get in touch with Dave the tour manager, a very nice English fellow who told me Mortiis was in hospital for a throat infection that would hinder him from taking on vocal duties that night. The Mortiis show was cancelled, but he kindly agreed to do the interview in spite of his ailments. Safely inside the tour bus parked behind the Folken venue in Stavanger, Norway, I set the tape deck to record…

TW: First of all I’m sorry that this interview is a bit short-notice. I’ve been hassling Earache for the past week, but no-one seems to be able to take down my number or name correctly.
M: They’re idiots. There’s nothing more to say about that – they’re completely useless.
TW: Would you prefer working more independently?
M: We’re not really dependent on Earache, they’re what you’d call ‘independent’ I suppose. The fact is that they aren’t always as competent as they should be. On this tour we’re doing now, we’re being more professional than Earache, and they’ve been in this business for 20 years. I think that says something about them.
TW: How has the tour been this far then?
M: It’s been very good actually, but we’ve been struggling a bit for the last couple of days obviously because of this virus which… [the interview is interrupted at this point by Mortiis trying to close the tour bus door. It’s a wet and cold night in Norway, there’s a draft coming in and Mortiis is sick – there is also no air pressure left for the door mechanism to work, so Dave the tour manager goes hunting for someone with a set of keys to turn the engine back on]…ah, as I was saying, everything is going well except for this throat infection which means we can’t play tonight. The doctor told me that I shouldn’t sing tonight, so then I suppose we just have to obey. We forced our way through 2 concerts in Denmark, and it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. You’re just standing up there singing and sounding like a crow. The more I strain my voice, the less chance I have of recovering quickly so we just have to take a break for a few days, considering the rest of the tour ahead. We have to look at the ‘big picture’, as they say.
TW: Except for your throat infection, how has it been taking on main vocals?
M: I think it’s been going well. One learns every day.
TW: What can people expect from your live show…
M: Tonight? [laughs]
TW: Well, no, not tonight, [laughs] but…
M: Not much tonight [laughs]. No, it’s usually pretty aggressive, I come out with injuries and bruises every day, but I think that’s good – when you’re standing on stage you’re not supposed to look like a fucking idiot so there’s usually a lot of aggression…[the engine of the tour bus starts and the door opens even wider]…fucking door!
TW: Have you found it difficult to transfer such an electronic record as “The Grudge” to the format of a good concert?
M: No, we’re a little more guitar-based live and the instruments get a higher priority than the electronics. That’s how I like it – I think it’s better live to emphasise the aggressive parts of the record, because it makes it more inspiring to perform instead of pretending to be some German dance/groovy electronica outfit, which I am obviously not.
TW: You get a kick out of the audience’s response to your music, I suppose?
M: The response is usually good, but it varies from country to country. Germans are impossible to entertain, the Danes were better and the Norwegians can be very variable from city to city. I have to admit I don’t have a good experience playing in Stavanger – I think the audience has been pretty boring here, but that’s how it is. Maybe they weren’t good and then we played worse and then they were even less good – what do I know…
TW: I heard you don’t like playing in France, that you don’t think much of their taste in music.
M: [coughs, laughs] They only like themselves. They’ve got strange laws, like performances have to have 60% French material. We’ve never even played in France, but of course if we get offered a gig and it’s well-payed we’ll go. It’s just difficult to get the French off their asses to do something. [coughs] You hear why I can’t sing tonight?…
TW: “The Grudge” crept up the singles charts in the UK somewhat surprisingly – what do you think of the fact that this record has become your chance at a commercial breakthrough?
M: I don’t actually think the record’s particularly commercial. It’s certainly the noisiest record I’ve ever done [coughs, gasps]…The last interview Mortiis ever did alive!
TW: …that would be quite a scoop!
M: No, but as I was saying, it’s quite strange that “The Grudge” turned out to be the noisiest and also the most commercially successful record I’ve done. I don’t think of it in those terms, of course – I just make music that feels good. I don’t consider whether this or that track will become a hit. That’s maybe something I’ll sit back and think about when I’m done with the record – like, “Oh, damn, that was maybe a little bit more commercial than last time.” But when I’m writing the music I don’t even bother thinking about it.
TW: How do you find the life of a relatively experimental musician in Norway today?
M: I don’t know, it’s obviously a hard life. I think most people don’t really consider that musicians also need money in return for what they’re doing. Like now, the boys are fighting over the money for our tour (several of the upcoming venues were trying to cut Mortiis’ pay because of his unexpected illness – ed.) – they have contracts and medical statements, which means we have the right to get the money regardless. We’re insured, they’re insured – it doesn’t make a difference to them or us. We actually offered to come back and play at a very low price to make up for it, but they’re trying to get away with it by paying us less now. And we can’t accept that because then the tour budget doesn’t work out. That doesn’t work. It’s a “dog-eat-dog” situation, we’re living from hand to mouth, but we have to accept it and live with it. That’s how it is at the level we’re playing at right now.
TW: Has the development in technology and the use of the Internet to spread music had any impact on your ability to survive as a musician?
M: It probably has had some impact, but I think it probably has a greater impact on larger bands who sell millions of records. They’ll notice that suddenly they’re selling 200.000 fewer copies of their album. I haven’t really felt it – I haven’t seen any sales figures for “The Grudge” yet since it’s just been out. On the other hand, it’s good that the Internet exists as a promotional tool, but one always runs the risk of getting people who just download the records off the Internet. I have at least one friend who downloads everything from the Internet and hasn’t bought a record in something like 3 years. I can’t stand what he’s doing, it’s disgusting because all his friends are musicians and he still won’t pay for any records. I think it’s alright to download songs to check out bands, and then if you like it you go out and buy the record and go see their gig. Certain people fall for the temptation of never having to buy a record again, and I can see that it’s an attractive thought – now I’ll never have to spend money on music or films again! Of course all of the independent record stores are going out of business, there are a lot of people suffering from it and it’s very sad.
TW: You’ve called your early work “Era 1”, made “The Smell of Rain” part of your “Era 2” and have now moved to “Era 3” with “The Grudge”. What was it that inspired you to move into this next phase of your career as a musician and build up a heavier sound?
M: It’s just that I hate standing still – I think it would be terribly boring to keep on making the same old records over and over again, playing the same poor riff year in and year out. Who would bother doing that? I don’t know, maybe AC/DC…I think AC/DC are pretty good actually, but I could never have managed to do that sort of thing. I think I’d panic. I want to test out a lot of new things, especially when I’m doing all of this computer-based music, where you have so many possibilities of doing different things. I’d see it as a waste of opportunities and resources if I didn’t experiment and move forwards.
TW: Could you say something about the process surrounding the making of a record like “The Grudge”?
M: Lots of programming, lots of going in and out of studios, ignoring deadlines and record labels hassling us, and also a lot of kind of “nerdy” activities, like pressing buttons and testing out new things, taking one’s time to experiment.
TW: It’s a steep learning-curve towards electronic music…
M: If you haven’t done it before, then yes. I know certain things, like what you’ll hear on “The Grudge” – of course, because I’ve actually done them. But I couldn’t sit down and do a Chemical Brothers record, because that’s what they do – beat slicing and all kinds of crazy stuff that I haven’t quite figured out how to do yet. But those are the kinds of things I want to learn how to do – stealing other beats, chopping them up, move them around, lots of sampling and looping. I’ve tried to do some small bits and pieces of this in songs like “Twist the Knife” and “Decadent and Desperate” – I don’t really know what I’m good at, since I’ve always been able to do a bit from each genre. I’ve never focused on one genre really. Wumpscutt are probably very good at filling German dance floors [does “thump, thump, thump” sound], Frontline are very good at general programming – ah, Frontline Assembly that is, and I think that’s fantastic, but it’s very synth-based and Mortiis is much more guitar-driven with real drums and a stronger basis in songs, with almost rock structures. I’m a little closer to the Nine Inch Nails camp than the rest of them, but I’ve never focused on just one thing within industry or electronica or whatever you’d like to call it. I think it’s a lot of fun just mixing together all sorts of influences.
TW: How has it been moving back to a more traditional band structure?
M: It’s been good. Instead of sitting there with a session musician who is going to be there for 3 days and trying to get him to lay down the guitar for a whole album like we did on “Smell of Rain” – it’s just a lot of stressing through the music. For this record we set aside a whole year, had permanent band members who were creative and were able to work together and it became a whole lot better. And of course I’m the boss [smiles] – I’m not afraid of saying what I want which is great.
TW: You run a dictatorship?
M: No, not really, but I have the guidelines – this is what I want, et cetera. If the rest of the band have any suggestions I’ll listen to them. If I don’t like the idea then I’ll drop it, or we’ll record it and just mute the track for the final mix if it’s no good.
TW: If we’re to look at your music in a greater perspective it seems as if there’s a lot of recurring bitterness and to a certain extent hatred?
M: Yeah, I hate everyone. [laughs] No, not really, but there’s been a handful of individuals from the last ten years or so who have made my life difficult.
TW: So you bear a “Grudge” then?
M: Yeah, at least until I did this record. After that I really felt that I had got it out of my system. It was a great inspiration – I really wouldn’t have minded seeing those 4 or 5 people in a gallows…no, what’s the word I’m looking for…? A pillory. I’d put them in one of those down at the town square for public ridicule, write their sins in their foreheads – “Thief, betrayer” and so on – and throw some rotten tomatos at them.
TW: But you won’t tell anyone who these people are?
M: No, that would make me a worse person, lowered to their level.
TW: Some of your music has launched what one might call social criticism. What is it that is happening in the world today which drives you to write these kinds of songs?
M: I don’t know if it’s really got to do with what’s going on out in the world. You don’t have to look far before you start seeing strange things. The issues I’ve been caught up in are usually based in very simple things, like on “Parasite God” and “Gibber” I’ve pointed out that society encourages us to look after one another, but as soon as you distinguish yourself from everyone else you become an outcast. Where did this hypocrisy come from? You know, I have the same problems – I judge people at face value, you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I’m sitting here talking shit about people all day. At least I have the spine to admit I’m doing it, though. So I suppose one of those irritating things is this whole problem of what people don’t understand, they hate. I think it’s very true, and that’s what I get caught up in – general social cowardice. Cowards!
TW: Many extreme metal groups have a tendency towards anti-Christian messages in their music. Would you identify yourself with this current of thought?
M: ‘Anti’ is a strong word – I can’t sit here and criticise every single Christian individual in the world. I’m sure there are lots of alright Christians out there who keep it to themselves and think that Jesus is cool. But when it comes to Christian communities, as is the tendency when any community comes together, they become less tolerant. The individual is more intelligent than the masses, as someone once said. A lynch mob is a primitive thing, but an individual might sit back and consider things in a wider perspective. So I don’t really feel a hatred towards Christians, but rather irritation towards Christian communities – they seem to accept so easily what’s written in some book. A book doesn’t serve as proof of anything – just because it’s old and based on a couple of Dead Sea scrolls found in a cave in Israel, Jordan, whatever, doesn’t mean it’s true. People were capable of writing lies. [a hint of irony] Maybe God is just a big lie?
TW: Perhaps it is the institution which is the problem?
M: Exactly, it it is the institution and it is so deeply rooted in the psyche of our society that you can’t get it out. It’s too complicated. So I write some texts about these issues, for example false priests in the United States who condemn this and that, and at the same time have hard-ons for the choir boys. That’s fucking sick, and it makes you wonder.
TW: Could we talk briefly about your physical appearance – it seems that almost all critics who review your records have to include something about your rather special image.
M: Yeah, and that’s a thing you have to expect in a way. It has developed into becoming something very strange because people never seem to grow tired of it – it’s almost as if someone is going to sit and crack the same poor ‘Norwegian, Swede and Dane’ joke (a popular theme in Norwegian jokes is the difference between the peoples of the three Scandinavian countries. Not usually funny – ed.) every year, without remembering that they told it the year before and the year before that.
TW: …The music press has gone demented?
M: They have, they’ve all got Alzheimer’s and it seems as if they aren’t able to understand…is Alzheimer’s the disease I’m thinking of, by the way?
TW: I think so. I hope you won’t get sued by an Alzheimer’s rights group now.
M: [laughs] Yeah, but the music press has to include those clever little jokes, you know – it’s just like, “Can’t you quit that already?” But it’s probably that they don’t know how to handle it. It’s yet again the same symptom – they see an image, but that doesn’t mean that they have to talk about the image. There’s music on the records which they can talk about as well. If you look at bands like Slipknot or Manson, Zombie, Mudvayne, that whole gang – the press doesn’t bring up their image any more. But with Mortiis it’s gotten…Slipknot have a more extreme look than we do – they’ve got Pinocchio where his nose is like 7 meters long. They’ve got 9 people with that kind of image. But that isn’t brought up. With Mortiis we’ve got this thing in the press where image has to be brought up.
TW: Why is that?
M: That’s what I don’t understand. I think it basically has to do with the fact that journalists are terrified at the prospect of not fitting in. Yet again, they do it because everyone else does it. I think they’re a bunch of cowards, actually.
TW: I suppose that’s a very plausible theory.
M: Yeah, what the fuck. If they’re going to be talking shit about me, then I’ll talk shit about them…it’s not like they really talk shit about me, but it’s those first 5 lines in a Mortiis review…which are actually quite good – we get good criticism these days, I have to say, and we’ve been getting good reviews for a long time. It’s rare that we get negative criticism. But it’s always that whole cliche beginning – “The Man with the Rubber Nose”.
TW: Our favorite Norwegian troll and all that?
M: “Rock ‘n’ Troll” and so on. The sickest and worst part of this is – and it just goes to show general ignorance amongst people – what is it that makes you believe that this is how a troll looks like? Have you ever even seen a troll? A troll is a Nordic mythological being. When we think of a troll we tend to think of the half-bald guy with the pine tree growing out of his nose. It’s not even getting close to Mortiis. I’ve certainly never had trolls on my mind when developing the image of Mortiis.
TW: But why have you developed this image if it gets in the way of your music?
M: Ah, I don’t even remember any longer. It’s such a long time ago…I suppose it’s a combination of my black metal period and growing up with lots of image-based bands like Kiss, Wasp, Twisted Sister, Alice Cooper and that gang from the 80s and 70s…well, I didn’t grow up in the 70s, I was born then, I don’t remember that time…but in the 80s when I was like 7, 8, 9, 10 years old I was receptive to lots of visual things. You don’t forget the first train set you get, that’s how you remember, right? So I remembered Kiss, and I got into a Tolkien period where I was reading “Lord of the Rings”, like everyone else has. Those three things have probably contributed a lot to the image of Mortiis. That’s the theory. But where the hell those trolls are coming from I don’t know. It irritates me – like, if you’re going to get caught up in the whole image, at least get caught up in the parts that are correct. Call it something else. I don’t even know what it is, Mortiis is just a thing I made up, but he’s not a troll. Maybe it’s just a small thing to the rest of the world, but to me it’s like, if they’re going to be doing it at least come with some references that make sense. Anyway, fuck it, that’s how it is, that’s how it works.
TW: Do you still get questions from people about your past as bassist in the legendary Emperor?
M: No, not really…
TW: Why did you in a way distance yourself from the metal community after Emperor?
M: I have never really tried to do distance myself, it’s just happened. I make the music I do, and I think people have distanced me more than I have distanced myself from metal. But in a natural, developmental sense personally I listen to less and less metal. I think there’s a lot of good music out there, but I’m more of the “old school” type who listens to records that came out between ’75 and ’85. between ’83 and ’87 I was most into heavy metal, before I went over to thrash and speed and black metal. Those were just minor phases actually, I’ve gone back more to the music I liked as kid. Hard rock records, like Alice Cooper and Deep Purple.
TW: You’ve also gone back into the traditional band structure with “The Grudge”, just like when you started out as a musician.
M: Yeah, it could have something to do with that, the fact that I’m running more of a lead role now. I grew tired of the things I was doing.
TW: Over to something completely different, by the way…I saw a documentary where you were mentioned in terms of the “Notodden music community” (Notodden is a town in Norway, supposedly renowned for its vibrant music scene – ed.).
M: …it was a program by “Lydverket”, wasn’t it? (popular music program on Norway’s state channel NRK1 – ed.). There was an interview, wasn’t there? I think that’s where I criticised Notodden actually. I was sitting with Thomas and Kai from Zyklon, and Vegar, Ihsahn, Peccatum, whatever…maybe that was something, but I just remember complaining about Notodden because it calls itself a “culture city”, the blues town you know, but according to reliable sources – I haven’t checked for myself – there was a Norwegian blues artist who played during the annual blues festival, and it was full of people watching porno italiano. It didn’t make a difference whether the band was popular or not it seemed, just as long as it was live and it was blues because people were going out to drink and party for the whole weekend. This band had then played live several months later in Notodden to something like 15 paying customers. Notodden is just a blues town for that one weekend every year…and anyway, Notodden kommune (municipal authorities – ed.) did nothing to help upstart bands before. We had to go out of town, where another band had heard of an available house for practicing where all the bands moved in to. It’s times like that when you feel you have a right to make yourself heard – it’s like Notodden, with lots of great bands and music festivals, but they can’t even be there for their own local groups…I think all that culture talk limits itself to a couple of hardingfeler (a traditional Norwegian fiddle – ed.) and a few people into hekling (a traditional Norwegian form of knitting – ed.) old table cloths, restoring the stave church in Heddal every once in a while. And of course there’s Knut Buen (Norwegian Hardanger fiddle player – ed.) who doesn’t even live in town.
TW: I’ve only got one more question now and then I’ll let you get back to being sick. What are your plans from here? Will there be an “Era 4” with a new sound? M: Probably. It’s impossible to say when and why, but if I’m living then it will happen. The short-term plans are getting this throat virus sorted, completing the tour which is still a long way to go. I’m going into studio to work on another single, we’ll be recording another video after that. Beyond that I’m a little uncertain what’s going to happen – probably more touring, maybe in the United States, but it’s always hell over there. Unless you’re big you won’t get much for playing and they treat you like shit.
TW: I always thought the US had a decent metal scene.
M: No, it’s brutal. I’ve played in places where the backstage area was a garage. Another place it was a caravan. I’ve played in places where the window to the street was behind us and behind the audience there was a row of washing machines so people could do their laundry and get a beer in the bar while they were waiting and listening to Johnny Cash on the jukebox and our band was playing. I’ve been through so many strange things over there…One time we came backstage and the promoter was doing heroin. That was real nice. We’ve come in places where a couple of slices of bread and a sixpack of water was waiting for us.
TW: Payment!
M: [laughs] Another time we were paid in counterfeit money. It wasn’t the promoter’s fault because he’d been given the money by someone else…We travelled back and got the real money from him, and I remember him telling us that, “Now there’s a junkie in this town whose shoes I wouldn’t want to be in.” That was a little dubious…
TW: You’re living the life of rock ‘n’ roll, I suppose…
M: That’s right, rock ‘n’ roll! All this is actually from one long tour, we’ve only done one tour in the US besides a couple of one-off gigs here and there. But we’ll see – we have to get some things going over there as well – it’s tough conditions. I couldn’t be bothered to do a six-week tour there, just sitting in a van…because this is a pretty good set-up right now. I doubt we’ll get such a good bus over there.
TW: You’re living in here with Susperia as well, right?
M: Yeah, everyone sleeps upstairs. All the beds are up there.
TW: Sounds cosy.
M: Yeah, but it’s getting a bit claustrophobic now in our 4th week. Everyone is good friends of course, we’re staying together for 9 weeks and it won’t work out if we start fighting.
TW: Well, thanks for your time, doing this interview even though you were sick and all.
M: Ah, at least I’m doing something useful with my time. I’ve just been watching X-Men for the last couple of days.
TW: The series or the movies?
M: I watched the first of the movies yesterday. They’re not that bad, I’m working my way through the second one now…

We get out of the tour bus, walk through the rain to the venue to see Susperia do their show and Mortiis bids me goodbye as he is swarmed by a pack of groupies.

Soilwork: Swedish melodic death metal band

This interview was conducted with Peter Wichers (Lead, Rhythm Guitars) from the Swedish melodic death metal band Soilwork 13-02-2004. The interview took place in the band’s tour bus a few hours before their concert at Tribute (Sandnes, Norway), a show they did as part of their European tour with the Forsaken. In the interview which lasted for exactly one side of the Sony Microcasette we’d brought along with us, Peter spoke at length about the band, his own views as a musician and other choice behind-the-scenes tidbits about the group. TW = The Welkin, PW = Peter Wichers.

TW: So have you been touring a lot lately?
PW: Yeah we did Finland about a week ago, two shows in Sweden and then we came up here.
TW: How were the romping Fins then?
PW: They were very good actually. Not a lot of people, but it was a lot of fun.
TW: You played up in Hamar [Norway] yesterday?
PW: Yeah, it was a small stage. Bigger than the one here at Tribute though.
TW: It’s Stavanger, Sandnes, we don’t have a very big metal crowd around here unfortunately. There are a few people, but generally…
PW: You think a lot of people are going to come to the show?
TW: There are a decent number of metal people around here, but probably not enough to fill a 500-600 person venue.
PW: Oh yeah, I understand…
TW: For all the new fans of Soilwork who have just gotten into the band for the last couple of albums, what does the name Soilwork mean and why did you choose it?
PW: Well, it’s actually just a word puzzle put together from two words but I think they represent the way we work together and the way we want people to perceive. We start out from scratch, record a few demo tapes and do a lot of tours. A hard work pace, really. Therefore, everything starts from the soil – “jord” [“soil” in Swedish] – and then you rise up and that’s the kind of impression we want people to have of our band. If you work hard then you get something in return, and that’s what Soilwork is all about.
TW: Looking back at the release of your latest release, do you feel the response from fans and the press has been better than usual?
PW: I’m very grateful that we’re one of those bands who actually progress with increasing record sales instead of staying at the same level. Every album has gone better for us all the time. It’s kind of a chance you take for every record you do. We prefer to go in a slightly different direction for every record we do – the next one might be heavier, but we just try to do what comes spontaneously into our minds.
TW: Yeah, do you find that there’s pressure or that it’s difficult to come up with something new and innovate with each new record?
PW: I don’t really think that we think that way when we write music. We just kind of do what comes to our mind spontaneously.
TW: And you said that record sales increase with time. Do you find that it’s possible to live as a musician full-time or …
PW: I’m a full time musician, but it’s very tight with the budget. Moving up to Norway would not be the smartest thing!
TW: Are there any reviewers or reviews which particularly piss you off?
PW: We appreciate constructive criticism, but when it’s only bullshit you know I don’t really pay attention to what they say. One thing that does piss me off is that I don’t mind the music being out on the Internet as a way of spreading music, but once the record is out and released and then people criticise the record, that pisses me off because I don’t think that people realise how much time it takes to produce a full album. You work almost 18 hours a day for six or seven weeks intensely and then people are just like, “Oh this is bullshit.” Well, then listen to it more than once…I’m not saying that…there are both parts of course. Some people are all hyped and think it’s amazing; others are like, “They’re not like they once were.”
TW: And the MP3 format doesn’t really do justice to the music a band creates in a professional studio.
PW: Yeah, there’s a little bit of compression in MP3s, and some people probably don’t care. It does get more and more important to have some extra stuff on the CD as a bit of incentive to buy it though, like good cover art. We have to come up with new things every time, otherwise record sales will fall. I mean, I burn the occasional disc for listening as well, but personally I prefer to have the disc in my shelf at home. You never know. You wrote on it with the fucking black pen and it gets lost.
TW: On to something different: do you feel as though your sound has been consistent throughout the history of Soilwork, or really changed with the years?
PW: I think that we’ve progressed as a band, from the beginning I think we were kind of rookies, as you always are when you start out. We were experimenting back then trying to do the best we could. Looking back at the records from then, I’m still proud because of the fact that…while I was very proud to show it to my friends back in the day too, now I think we try to focus on making a complete song that’s more interesting all the way through for everyone, instead of just making a one-and-a-half minute solo in the middle that will just serve some of the guys in the crowd. I love doing that too, but we’re working on making the band more of a tight unit instead of just having solo artists in the band.
TW: And is it difficult to have to deal with all the different members in the band, having to make them all work together? Do you ever feel like just going off and doing your own thing?
PW: Well, our band is based on democracy and a majority of opinions. Meaning that whoever writes music – and anyone is free to write music in the band – is also free to criticise the other person’s work. Everyone in the band decides what goes on the record or not. With five people in the band, the majority of the members decide what goes on and what doesn’t work. It’s kind of like that, but we usually know what we like and generally agree.
TW: I heard you lost your drummer to Chimera. What was that all about? Was that a personal thing, a conflict? You seem to have had a few drummers coming and going lately.
PW: We lost Henry whose been with us for five years, who decided that he wanted to focus on his family life and have more of a stable financial situation, which you really don’t have when you’re touring like we are because you never know how much you’re going to bring back at the end of it. So that was very understandable. We’re still friends with Henry, and we talk on occasions too. Then we had Richard who we thought was going to be the guy who would take over, but there was that little bit of the personal chemistry which wasn’t really working out. It was a mutual thing. We both agreed that it was better if both parties moved on with their own thing and we tried to look for someone new, which is why we have a session drummer for this tour.
TW: And how is that working out?
PW: It’s kind of a strange situation actually. You want to be a full band all the time, of course, and at the same time I think that he’s a great guy. Still, it means we don’t have to worry about including him all the time, you know, “How are you doing? Are you ok? You doing great?” all the time. I’m not saying that we’re treating him as an asshole [laughs], but we don’t have that aspect of trying to make him feel like he’s in the family. He was the one who also…he isn’t going to quit his other band to do us…
TW: What do you feel about the “metal” world as a whole, if indeed there is such a thing, and where it’s going for 2004 and in the general future? Is it stagnating, is there room for improvement and doing new, innovative things within the genres?
PW: Yeah, as you guys know too, there’s basically so much metal coming out of Scandinavia. In Norway there’s a thing for black metal, and I think Sweden is very famous for the melodic death metal, with choruses and stuff like that. The competition gets bigger, but at the same time I think it’s the one’s who are really working hard, like the one’s who really put their mind into it, that are going to last.
TW: Do you feel pressurised to play a certain brand of melodic death metal just because you’re from Sweden, and it’s what ‘everyone’ else is doing?
PW: It came naturally, actually. In Flames or At the Gates weren’t the reason I started playing melodic death metal, which I know a lot of people think. I think it has a lot to do with us listening to a lot of the same music when we were young like Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. It seems like all the bands are getting inspired by each other too, and I am a fan of their music as well, like In Flames and Dimmu Borgir, but at the same time I think we’re all just trying to our own thing all the time.
TW: How do you go about structuring and planning your live shows for the tour? Would you ever care to imitate the likes of Norwegian black metal bands who are keen on using ‘effects’ like goat heads and blood?
PW: Well, since we’re not a part of that whole ‘hate on stage’, we’re more into having fun and putting out a lot of energy. We’re trying to show the audience that we’re having a good time, and that they should have a good time as well.
TW: Your music does seem to be more ‘fun’ to listen to than the typical Norwegian black metal, and you also seem to be enjoying yourselves as you play it.
PW: Yeah, one of the reasons we’re doing this whole thing with the choruses and all that stuff has to do with the fact that we see people having a good time with it live, singing along and all that. It works well, because people aren’t just standing around there. After a while you can stick the microphone out there and people will sing along to the words. That’s a real kick for us.
TW: Now that you’ve got quite a back-catalogue of songs to choose from live, how do you go about constructing a setlist?
PW: On this tour we play new and old mixes, a bit of both. We play some material from “Steelbath Suicide” and tracks off of “Chainheart Machine”. We’re doing this to give something back to the fans – usually we’re just playing support for another band on tour, but this time when we’re headlining our own small European tour, we can give something back.
TW: You’re touring now with Forsaken – is that working out alright?
PW: Yeah, they’re getting the crowds started and they have a killer show too. It’s a pretty good package too, because they’re from the south of Sweden like we are. We knew them personally, in fact most of the guys live about an hour away from us.
TW: How was it like to be working with Devin Townsend as a producer for your album “Natural Born Chaos”?
PW: I would love to do it again! It was like a journey through…I’m trying to find an example of a person who has a very special personality – not that he was crazy in any way, I wouldn’t say that, but he’s just a big thinker and he’s the biggest perfectionist there is. It shows on the record too. It shows on “Natural Born Chaos”, and he didn’t want to really do the whole producing thing at the beginning, but he changes from day to day in what he wants to do. For us it was a very good process for learning where to set the boundaries for recording a record – that’s the reason we didn’t use him for the latest records, since we felt we could do it ourselves this time.
TW: Has he disciplined you then as musicians and for working in the studio?
PW: Yeah, I think so.
TW: You seem to have a good connection with your fans – I noticed you had an official fan site created by a Soilwork enthusiast. Do you view yourselves as a down-to-earth band, or do you long for the status as rock stars?
PW: I don’t know…I don’t think we ever want to come across as rock stars in any way, that’s never been my goal. I just want people to appreciate what we do and what we stand for. That’s probably the reason some of the people think we’re down-to-earth too. Like whenever we meet people, we’re not being up here [indicates]. That never works in the long run anyway.
TW: Are you doing a lot of interviews on this tour? Do you get tired of the promo work connected with releasing a new record?
PW: It’s a factor of the lifestyle as a musician. You’re trying to spread the word about your music and trying to keep the scene alive. It’s a necessary thing. Some days you might have had too much drink and don’t really feel like talking the day after, but you still do it. Luckily, we have a couple of guys in the band who do interviews and can switch off on the workload.

TW: Thanks for talking to us and good luck with the concert tonight. We look forward to seeing you here again in Stavanger!
PW: Thank you!