To remain in the same shoes and on the same path through 20 years of activity in metal scene – this is not the easiest task to any band. However, Nominon from Jönköping, Sweden, has survived all the troubles and today shines as the brightest diamond of true death metal. They are not as popular as Hypocrisy, Grave or even Unleashed. But just because they don’t actually want it themselves… Per Karlsson, the drummer of the band, shared his thoughts on the past and present of the band, as well as life. And death. Mine. And yours.
This year Nominon celebrates the 20 years anniversary of activity. What is the driving force that still allows you to be on the top shelf of Swedish death metal? What are the inner reasons that allowed you to play for such a long time as an entity, even if you had so many problems with the line-up?
Thanks for the kind words; we don’t really consider ourselves being on the top shelf within the death metal community. We’ll always be trapped in our own circle I guess, a circle that is somehow really hard to describe, or for that matter break through. I mean, for example, the band started 1993 already, but that’s when the death metal boom (Entombed, Dismember, etc.) certainly was on its way down, and when the second death metal emerged in the late 90’s (Repugnant, Kaamos, etc.) Nominon was already an established underground act, but obviously not enough to become legendary or whatever?!
We have tried to answer this question so many times, but it’s all speculations really. In the later years we have come more and more to a point where we don’t really care anymore. We play death metal because that’s what we like to do you know, if anyone out there likes it, fine, if not, don’t bother, we couldn’t care less. Sure, quite a bunch of members has come and gone over the years, but you can’t really expect other people to stick to playing death metal forever, can you?! Especially when some of them only pretend that they like death metal, but they don’t really had a clue what the fuck it is to begin with.
Your last album The Cleansing was released more than a year ago and I though you could be already working on the next studio album. However, I found out that Decaydes of Abomination – some kind of greatest hits collection – is in progress (or has it been released already?). You have always been expressing your wish to remain an underground band, so what is this collection for? Is it like a present for the band and its fans, cause I have always been skeptical on such releases…? What about the new material? I guess, we will have to wait for it a little bit longer, won’t we?
It feels like we always got something going on, even though we rarely rehearse nowadays as a whole group. Two days ago we received the box with the brand new collection CD Decaydes of Abomination, which contains songs from 1993 up till today. A kick-ass celebration of the first twenty years, I’d say. We did such a release because the majority of the band (as well as the label) felt like doing it. From the start it was meant to be a some sort of DVD release coming together with it, but since it ended up with just me, myself and I working on it, I told the label and the guys in the band that I had better things to do then sorting out yet another release more or less by myself. It might happen that we get a DVD release going in the future, but for the time being that won’t happen.
I don’t know if people like to get of a collection album like this, but it sure is a great way to get to know the band if you’re not that familiar with it. And for the more die-hard fans we have also included a few unreleased versions of the tracks Mantra Reverse and Phantoms, so it’s a little bit of everything for everyone in there, if you’re a death metal head that is.
Concerning a new album, it might happen someday, but for now we ain’t got enough material written for something like that. We also do have a new track being released soon on the split 7” EP together with Morbosidad, plus we’ll record another exclusive track for a Nunslaughter/Nominon split EP coming out during the summer 2014. Bear in mind that Nominon as a band has released a minimum of one new release (album, mcd, ep) each and every year since 2003, considering that we are a tiny little underground band I’d say that’s an achievement in itself, it’s hard to please all you fuckers out there, that’s bloody obvious.
Getting back to The Cleansing… The band has expressed the opinion many times that this is its best material so far. I must admit that this is the “usual phrase” for every band, but holly shit – this time it really means it! Those ten tracks are really something best that I have ever heard from Nominon. So I guess it will be hard to overcome them next time, won’t it? In what way are you going to compose better material than In the Name of Gomorrah, Abhorrent Parasites or Son of Doom, for example?
Killer to hear that you like it man. We are damn pleased with the result and outcome of the album. Then again, it’s our fifth studio album and it’s the strongest and best one by all means. Yet we have only been doing three shows since it was released one year ago. It’s like a fucking curse, we really would like to play live more often, but it’s hard to get something going, especially when you don’t have a booking agency backing you up. There’re shitloads of bands playing each and every festivals both in Europe and in the United States, but when we write and ask if they would be interested to put us on the bill it usually sounds like “well, we’re full, maybe if one band will cancel” or what about “we can give you 100 euro to come to Germany”… It’s just hilarious. I understand that it’s not easy to always promote a show, I have been doing just that myself many times, but I would never lose the grip of what’s reasonable for any band. We’re not into playing metal to get insulted by greedy people.
Also, when talking about how to overcome this latest album next time, it’s kinda creepy, we’ve heard that since the first album. Still we have managed to write quite a bunch of good songs since then, so that doesn’t really frighten me. To write a death metal song isn’t the hardest thing to do in the world, but to write a memorable and gutkicking song is quite the opposite. I hope that the next album will be a bit different though, even more percussionized and brutal than The Cleansing.
By the way, in my opinion The Cleansing has a clear influence from black metal in some riffs. Besides, your ideological line is also pretty similar to the main topics of BM. Do you think that those two styles have much in common and should share some general attitude and sound in each other? Or was this “influence” always like a natural flow for you?
We have always had a bit of black metal blood floating in our veins. Personally I have come to like more and more black metal over the years. I wasn’t really into that, let’s say, some twenty to twenty five years ago (besides Venom and Bathory).
I’d say that black and death metal pretty much go hand in hand, but that’s just my opinion. I am a bit worried though, since more or less all death/black metal of today has turned into rock’n’roll or something, all the new bands seems to be more into retro-rock, either that or looking/sounding like Ghost. I am ashamed of what this has turned into, it makes me sick.
You have stated that the main ideological line of The Cleansing is stupidity of the humans. Do you find it being the main reason of the entire situation in the world today? In general, where does this stupidity lead us/the humanity? Are we reaching the final end with this? Are there any positive aspects that you see among human beings?
To be perfectly honest with you, it will lead us all into war. The stagnation of especially Sweden and Europe in general is moving fast. Most of the people think that all is cool, that nothing will happen and that we will just go on and on, but well, things will happen. It’s just a matter of time. To a country like Sweden, which hasn’t been into war since 1814 (and that was just a small thing going on between Sweden and Norway), we are such an easy target. We might be powerful when it comes to delivering weapons and other missiles to larger countries around the world, but when it comes to defending ourselves we’re useless. This might all sounds like I am afraid and living in fear, but no, I’d welcome it. I don’t care if I have to die to make this country a better place. That however doesn’t mean that I will lay back and do nothing, we were all born to fight, one way or the other. A war doesn’t necessary mean the end. I dislike so much what has happened to this country here so I feel sick to even discuss it right now. In general I hate people pretty much equally.
With the last studio album you changed to “Moontower Studios” for the mastering and mixing. For the three pre-last albums you were using your local “Necromorbus Studio” and seemed to be absolutely satisfied with their work. So why was there the need for changes in this field?
Believe me, we needed a change! I personally like to work with Tore at “Necromorbus”, after all I have recorded six albums together with him. We had to step down a bit in budget this time, and we also wanted to try out another studio. Try something different and more locally. We did the Manifestation of Black 7” EP at “Studio Hell” here in Jonkoping, Sweden in 2011, and when we sent Javi Feléz at “Moontower Studio” the tracks after the mixing was done to him (to master), he said that he could have done so much more if he was involved in the mix as well. So when we recorded the The Cleansing album in 2012, we recorded all the music and everything at “Studio Hell” and then I flew down to Barcelona, Spain to do the mix and master together with Javi. I was amazed how brutal it turned out, it sounded so much better when Javi had mixed and mastered the album.
Also taking into account, in present times many bands are trying to achieve as much clean sound as possible. And though some bands today decide to make it a bit rougher, still, this craziness about the clean sound is totally not understandable for me. In Nominon’s case the sound seems to be a perfect fit – good and clean, but always having the needed aura, if you know what I mean. Besides, someone from you has mentioned that still every band has to be in some kind of a progress in this field. You comments on this “sound” subject today.
I agree with you about the fact that many bands are heading towards a cleaner sound nowadays. And I think that one of the main mistakes that many bands today do is that they edit way too much when recording in studios using computers. I don’t mind saying that we have used studios that record everything through a computer. Why should I? It’s still up to you as a band to decide what is right and what is wrong, and how you want it to be performed and sound. I think it’s a natural thing to let the drums sounds like drums and that the guitars sound like guitars. Lots and lots of bands/producers of today are editing drums till the day they die before they will be satisfied, and not even then they will be just that; satisfied. If you as a drummer can’t even record the material in the studio, how are you supposed to play it live?! Sure, anything is possible in the studio, but when people see you play live and realize that you suck… Well, who’s to blame then?!
As far as I understand, you don’t like to being called as old-school death metal followers. I understand your point, but on the other hand – the whole DM scene today is fully overcrowded with melodic and core/metalcore acts, and such perception is becoming like a natural sense for death metal. What’s your attitude towards today’s global death metal? And how did you manage to stay in the same stylistic shoes during those years of activity?
As I said, lots of death metal bands today are turning more and more into rock’n’roll or something else, that originally has nothing to do with death metal. And yes, melodic death metal… Well, what can I say? It’s like the Germans like to use the term metaldisco. Words put together by retards that don’t even understand the meaning of metal music to begin with. It’s just mental, it’s not appropriate. But I guess that some people like to make “fun” of metal in general. Those people must suffer from endless diarrhea and gonorrhea while listening to We Came as Romans, while jerking off to the videos of 50 Cent. Fuck them all.
I think today’s death metal is like Russian roulette, the sad thing is that you more or less need to listen to any new band before you actually know if they play death metal or not?! That was unnecessary twenty five years ago. You saw the picture, the logo, you knew that they were playing your style of music straight away.
Some time ago people usually easy, but strictly described three main genres: black metal – spiritual level, death metal – carnal level, thrash metal – social level. Can you agree on that? Cause I could to some extent, but on the other hand, today usually that social level has occupied much of the ideas in all metal genres and has become as the main influential sphere, DM being not the exception. In your opinion, should social problems be an inspiration/discussion for real death metal? Or should it be talking about higher/spiritual topics better?
It’s all up to each and every eye of the beholder. I’d say that it sure is possible to get inspiration, lyrically, from social problems when writing death metal lyrics. Lots of people out there think that death metal lyrics suck and that it’s all the same. Well, that might be true; it’s all up to the individual listener. The lyrics I have written for Nominon usually are personal in one way or the other. After all, death and disgust surrounds us 24/7 anyways.
You have stated and it could be judged from your lyrics that the main idea of you texts – “the pure hate for the human race”. So if it’s still the case, why aren’t we killing each other and are not helping our-selves, as well as the Earth itself?
We’re killing each other. Sure, maybe not that much and often up here in the North, it happens though, but it’s plenty of problems around the globe that leads to war and massive killings. In a way I hope that the Earth could cease to exist, that would solve a lot of problems. People seem to have solutions for the environment, how to save the planet, etc. They think they know better than the rest of us, well, they can’t control what each and every one of us do, so it’ll fail either way. The human race is bound to die; we just have to deal with it.
Through the whole activity you had many problems with the line-up, but it seems always succeeded to solve those problems when needed the most. And though you were very satisfied with your last bass player Martin Petersson (calling him the only real bassist during whole period of the band), it seems he hasn’t stayed in your ranks for a longer period of time, has he? Aren’t you getting tired of all those constant changes? How are you solving this problem today with the live performances?
To start with, Martin, he certainly was/is a kick-ass bass player indeed. Probably the best bassist we have had in this band so far. But it doesn’t really help much when the human being himself is a bit of a disaster. I still consider him a friend somehow, but I know him too well already to never again be involved in a working relation with the guy. Of course it might be tough to always search for new members every now and then. Yet since 2005, it’s been pretty much myself, Juha (bass) and AntiChristian (guitar) as a some sort of power-trio, and when Henke joined the band in 2010 we knew that we had found a suitable vokillist for Nominon. So right now it’s us four marching on, doing our best to force things further musically and individually. We don’t really look for a fifth member/a second guitarist anymore. For live shows we have been using a session guitar player recently; Simon, from Valkyrja/Ondskapt.
In one interview in 2010 you have stated that you love the old bands very much and gave examples like Malevolent Creation, Slayer, Morbid Angel, Satyricon, Testament, Immolation, Exodus. Hasn’t your opinion changed? Cause if no, I would love to hear your thoughts on the last albums of Morbid Angel and Satyricon, as both bands have received some critical points on them, to say the least, he he.
I still like Morbid Angel and Satyricon. I am not that hostile towards their new albums as people in general. Sure none of them might be better than for example Covenant or Nemesis Divina, but that’s another story. It’s hard for bands to do the same thing over and over, and succeed. We all have our favorites you know. I mean; Slayer, Testament, Exodus… I can listen to them any day. And Immolation and Malevolent Creation, I have listened to them since 1989 or something, it’s like a drug at times, I have to listen to them.
Nominon has been touring in the past pretty often and have gone to many different countries and continents. However, I don’t remember you ever visiting Baltic States. How could we solve this problem, m? Though in general, as far as I understand, you are not very keen on staying too long on the road, are you?
Nope, we have never played the Baltic States unfortunately. It would be really cool. We don’t mind being out on the road as long as it makes sense and that we don’t lose too much cash being out there playing. We haven’t been able to make a proper tour for five years now, which fucking sucks. Once again; we don’t have any booking agency backing us up, so all the shows that we are able to do is either sorted out by ourselves or kick-ass club owners/other bands that like Nominon. It would however not be too hard for us to do some shows in the Baltic States since it’s pretty close to Sweden, but we haven’t got any offers just yet.
For the end, please spread the nearest plans of Nominon. Do you think that in 2023 you will celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the band? How realistic is that?
Ha, that would be something. 30 years! At the point I don’t see that far ahead into the future, but you never know?!
Nearest plans would be to record a track for the upcoming split 7” EP with Nunslaughter. We’re also set to play a couple of shows and a festival in Spain next summer. Hopefully we will get some other shows and coming releases sorted out as well. For all the latest news, further info: www.nominon.com and for merchandise – www.freewebstore.org/nominon. Thanks for the interview and support!