Liber Legis Metalli
CoC interviews Marten Hansen of A Canorous Quintet
by: David Rocher
A Canorous Quintet, though they are one of No Fashion's finest acts, are suffering from a totally unjustified lack of recognition that is not wholly dissimilar to the story of Swiss thrashers Coroner -- everybody digs, no-one buys. After two very melodic and emotional outputs, namely _As Tears_ and _Silence of the World Beyond_, the canorous gang have, anno 1998, released a mean, raging, brutal little swine, which drops the former brooding quietness and melody of ACQ in favor of a violent, battering, thrashing death metal assault, that is very relevant of their state of mind. Frontman and pure breed metalhead Marten Hansen eagerly responded to my e-mailed questions, and his outspoken answers more than speak for themselves...

CoC: Please tell me about the band's history to this day, and what you are up to now.

Marten Hansen: Well, the idea of ACQ took place in early 1991, when we formed a band called A Canorous Quartet. As things evolved, we changed members several times and in the end, parts of the band split up, to form ACQ in early 1993. Six months later we recorded our first demo, _The Time of Autumn_. It was only released in 100 copies, and isn't something that we think represents ourselves well, since there was a lot of drinking and unseriousness involved. Later on, we recorded a promo tape that we sent to a few labels; it didn't result in a record deal but at least we let the record companies know that we existed. In Autumn 1994 we entered the famous Unisound studio to record our second demo, _As Tears_; it was never released as a demo since No Fashion and Chaos Records wanted us on their label. _As Tears_ became available as an MCD in late 1995. A couple of months after this release, we entered the Abyss studio to record our first full length album, _Silence of the World Beyond_. In november 1997 we entered Sunlight and recorded our most brutal effort to date, _The Only Pure Hate_, and that's were we are right now. During all of these years we have done several live gigs and played with bands such as Katatonia, Dissection, Edge of Sanity and Hypocrisy, among others.

CoC: For those who have not yet heard your new release, what evolution does _The Only Pure Hate_ feature when compared to _Silence of the World Beyond_? Musically speaking, _TOPH_ is definitely more intense, violent and thrashing than _SotWB_, what inspired this evolution ?

MH: The greatest change from _SotWB_ is that the aggression always has been there, but this time we have let it flow free, no holds barred, if you know what I mean. This is how we feel about our music today, it's a statement of what we feel the world deserves and needs. We've been through a lot of shit lately, and that's also the reason for this evolution in musical terms. We also wanted a more "back to the roots" feel with this album, and we feel that it was a long time since an album like _TOPH_ was released.

CoC: Compared to your somewhat "poetic" approach in titles such as _As Tears_ or _SotWB_, how did you come to the very warlike title _The Only Pure Hate_? Your lyrics have evolved the same way, I guess... What are your inspirations, at the time of _As Tears_ as well as today, in terms of lyric-writing?

MH: The reason for this title is, as you say, an evolution along with our lyrics. With this album, we wanted more of an "in your face" attitude. At the time of _As Tears_, our inspirations were mainly the same as today: good music and the feelings we shared at that time; our music and lyrics are very emotional [personal?] to us. My main source of inspiration for lyrics, however, strongly depends on the mood I'm in, and I don't write lyrics when I'm in a good mood. It's all about letting the steam out, so there's a lot of aggression and frustration involved.

CoC: You refer very little to religious matters, such as satanism or paganism, which have become but mere bandwagons. So what are the philosophies and expectations behind ACQ ?

MH: As I formerly mentioned, it's all about emotions and how we think about many things. We want a more reality-based experience when you're listening to us, we want people to recognize some of their emotions in our lyrics, and through them, get a greater understanding of our musical concepts. There are a few exceptions from this philosophy, and that's in the three ending songs of _TOPH_. These are parts one to three of a story I wrote in '94, about magic and mysteries in a world of fantasy.

CoC: What do you think of the way the metal scene is evolving nowadays, with all these wannabe evil bands playing the same music with keyboards, female vocals, etc.? Will A Canorous Quintet ever use such elements? Does the current wave of black metal bands hold any interest for you ?

MH: I don't mind [the fact] that bands are using these elements, as long as [their use] doesn't become a purpose in itself. Many bands I've heard seem to use keyboards just for the sake of using them, and that sucks. We have also used keyboards on our earlier efforts, but that was just to enhance the effect of what we wanted to achieve. On _TOPH_, we haven't used any keyboards at all since we felt that the material already was so strong that we wouldn't improve it by using keyboards. Concerning the black metal wave, I consider it to already have gone out of hand; the labels seem to be signing anything as long as it's black metal, that really ruins the scene. But of course there are a few bands that still hold my interest.

CoC: Your influences seem to be essentially heavy metal and thrash bands of the '80s, plus maybe a few death metal bands from the '90s... Which bands have been an influence for you? Have you noticed any really interesting bands lately?

MH: As you say, it's mainly '80s bands and a couple of '90s bands that have inspired us. To mention a few, we have Slayer, At The Gates, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Kreator, Deicide. But then, overall, anything that sounds great and arouses emotions can be an inspiration. Lately there haven't been many interesting bands coming up, but The Haunted is really cool!

CoC: What does the cover of _TOPH_ depict? _SotWB_ had a picture of a dead girl in a bodybag -- was this a -real- corpse? Do you believe there is beauty to be found in death ?

MH: The cover of _TOPH_ is a picture of what lies beyond the silence of the world beyond, everyone is dead and many are [being] tortured; if there is an afterlife, this is not where you'd wanna be. The painting shows the essence and the result of the only pure hate, it's death and mayhem that is left and creatures that will eat up your remains. In the end there will be nothing left behind. The dead girl on _SotWB_ is a mystery, no-one really knows, but we certainly hope that they revived that little beauty. I do think you can find beauty in death, where else will you find true peace? However, I don't think you'll find this peace if you aren't meant to go, if you aren't ready!

CoC: You have tested three recording studios in the space of three releases. Are you satisfied with the way each recording session went? Are you going to try recording your future material in another studio, such as Studio Mega or Fredman? Any particular likes or dislikes among these studios, so far?

MH: At the time of each recording we have always been fairly satisfied with the result, but there are always things to improve, it's only the lack of time that limits us. As things have turned out, we have had more and more time for each recording, and have become more and more satisfied with each recording, but I don't think we have found the perfect studio yet, [though] Sunlight is fairly close [to that]. We really don't know which studio we will record further material in -- it might be Sunlight again, as well as any other studio. The only dislikes we've had with the studios we tried concern the distance from where we are living and the circumstances we've been forced to live through during the recordings. Sunlight's positioning is perfect for us, since it is located in Stockholm, where we live.

CoC: Whereas black metal is literally becoming an industry, death metal has yet again gone underground, thus confining A Canorous Quintet (and most other death metal bands) mainly to the underground scene. How do you mind this prospect?

MH: I don't mind us being in the underground, but on the other hand we have never been anything but an underground band. The only thing that's sad about this prospect is how many listeners will never get a chance to hear us; we wouldn't mind selling a few more albums.

CoC: I am sadly led to believe that A Canorous Quintet are a grossly underestimated band -- I don't see many interviews or reviews of your work in zines or elsewhere. Am I wrong? How are things going for you?

MH: No, sadly enough you are not wrong, I also consider ACQ to be greatly underestimated; here in Sweden we are considered to be a good band with good live performances, but, in other parts of the world, we practically don't exist. We hope that this will change in the future, because we are confident that we deserve better.

CoC: How are the opportunities for touring and promotion going for the band? Are No Fashion taking care of you as they should? And what do you think of their roster of bands?

MH: We have been offered tours, but No Fashion has declined them since they would cost them money. The promotion part hardly seems to exist, we've been [included] on two compilations as far as I know, and that's since '95, when we signed to them. It really bothers me that you practically haven't seen any reviews, because No Fashion claims to have sent out over 200 promotional copies of the album (not that it is that many, but it should result in 100 reviews at least). So, answering your second question, no, I really don't think No Fashion are taking care of us as they should, but be warned, we're not the only ones who are complaining. Concerning the current No Fashion roster, it doesn't impress me very much, but earlier on they had many of the best bands of the Swedish scene, like Dissection, Unanimated and Marduk. Nowadays I mainly appreciate The Moaning and Ablaze My Sorrow, but it seems like both these bands have more or less resigned from the scene; [as to] if it's No Fashions fault, you'll have to ask them personally.

CoC: Are any members of A Canorous Quintet involved in other projects? Is the band currently working hard on new material?

MH: Three of the members are involved in a project entitled Guidance of Sin, and it seems like two of our members will leave us to concentrate fully on this project, so I guess we'll have to find two new members, if that's the case. Due to this problem we haven't been writing much new material, but, as always, time shall tell.

CoC: Tell me what film you would like your music to be the soundtrack to.

MH: I think our music would fit as a soundtrack to the ultra-brutal psycho heavy movie "A Clockwork Orange". I can't answer for my other brothers in metal, but I think this movie best describes the essence of _TOPH_.

CoC: Okay, Marten, that's it. The last words are yours, please conclude as you wish.

MH: Thank you very much for your true dedication to A Canorous Quintet, and for the interview. And to you people out there, check out our albums and tell us what you think of them, and send a whole lotta mail to No Fashion inspiring them to promote us better and send us out on a tour, so that we can meet you all and show the world what Swedish death metal is all about! And always remember that metal is the law, stay true to metal.

(article submitted 16/1/1999)

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