Dark Insanity
CoC chats with Peter Wildoer of Darkane
by: Paul Schwarz
When I conducted this interview with Darkane, I was really digging their latest album _Insanity_. And though I'm still presently of the opinion that it is a much more complete and out-and-out -better- record than their debut, _Rusted Angel_ [CoC #42], I'm not so sure it's the classic I initially took it for. Only time will tell whether _Insanity_ fades into the past of my enjoyment, but it was certainly a joy to probe a few months ago when I talked to Peter Wildoer on the phone. It was one of the most pleasant interviews I've conducted in ages.

CoC: How do you feel about _Insanity_ being out on Nuclear Blast?

Peter Wildoer: The deal with Nuclear Blast is just great for us, I think. I think they're really helping us out because when we were on WAR music it was kind of a small label and they're very good, they have very good taste, and I like the bands they have. But there are some countries they cannot reach, there are some promotional things they do not have the money to do. And, I just love the work that Nuclear Blast has done so far. They postponed the release of the album -- it was meant to be released in February but they postponed it until 8th of April. We finished it in July, so it has been taking a while to get it released, because of the license thing. Nuclear Blast had some major releases in the beginning of the year: Amorphis, Dimmu Borgir, Children of Bodom. I think it has just been great with them. They're a really good label, actually. I've heard so much both good and bad stuff about them, but they really help us out, I think.

CoC: I think if you're in the right priority on them they are good.

PW: Yeah, they actually wanted to postpone _Insanity_ because they wanted to make Darkane a high-priority release in April. That's very good for us.

CoC: How do you feel about the possible musical progression from _Rusted Angel_ as well as the possible progression in popularity? I'm trying to trace some of the strands of music.

PW: I think the main thing is that _Insanity_ is more of everything from _Rusted Angel_. I think some people get the feeling that _Insanity_ isn't as intense and fast as _Rusted Angel_, but I'd say if you count the beats per minute it's definitely much faster, this album, and it's more intense, and I think it's more of everything: there's even more variety now in the vocals. Some people just find the production a bit too clean, but I like it because on the previous album you actually couldn't hear what the guitars were doing. Now you can hear what everybody is doing and I just think that's very cool.

CoC: I think it's a much broader, clearer sound.

PW: I like that. I think also this shows Daniel Bergstrand's ability, 'cause the albums he produces have such different sounds. If you compare Strapping Young Lad to Meshuggah and these two Darkane albums, they sound quite different. So, we will definitely continue to work with him; he's also a great guy.

CoC: Darkane and a few other bands seem to have a real injection of Slayer and Dark Angel...

PW: Definitely, Dark Angel are my personal favourite thrash band ever, actually. I think it's Darkane and also The Haunted, I think those are the thrashiest bands coming out of Sweden right now. I love other Swedish bands like In Flames and Soilwork, but they're more melodic. We wanted to progress from _Rusted Angel_ to _Insanity_ because a lot of bands wimp out on the second and third album. They do a brutal first album and then slow everything down and do it more melodic and stuff like that. We just wanted to get it even more intense -- perhaps there are more melodic vocals -- but keep it intense! And I think that's what's cool about it -- and keep it thrashy, definitely!

CoC: I think it's good 'cause you put more aggression into it. The scene had started to get a bit soft, people widdling their way off into oblivion.

PW: Yes, I agree.

CoC: It's good to see bands seemingly rediscovering -thrash-.

PW: Definitely, I think also there's something a bit different between Darkane and all these retro thrash bands, because they wanna keep it how it was in the late Eighties or something. I think what we want to do is progress, we want to mix it up with stuff like Strapping Young Lad. And do it more modern, but keep the thrashiness in the verse and stuff, keep it fast, intense, with good riffing and stuff like that. I just love thrash. I'm glad you mentioned Dark Angel, 'cause that's my favourite. We actually did a cover or medley from Slayer when we were in the studio. That was a mix of "Raining Blood" and "War Ensemble", but since it was a medley we couldn't release it because of the management of Slayer. Right now we have some persons working on that in the US, 'cause it's such a cool medley. And it sounds like one song, but it's riffs from both songs. You'll have to hear it, 'cause it's very cool. Hopefully we can release it sometime later this year on a single or something. Or perhaps as an extra track on the next CD. But it's a cool thing to do, actually.

CoC: I really do feel Darkane and other bands have managed to inject old sounds into things without sounding crap and retro.

PW: Yeah, exactly!

CoC: The thing about the retro scene is that it's not exciting.

PW: Yeah, I've heard all that stuff before. Most of the old bands did it much better because they kind of invented it. The reason why I think we also want to keep it very modern is that then we do what we're good at. And, Dark Angel did what they were good at and we can't do it as good as they did so why should we do it. They were the guys who invented the whole scene together with some other bands. I just want to keep it in our own way, definitely.

CoC: Would you say any bands from Sweden in particular inspired you to start playing metal?

PW: Actually, when it came to death metal in the very late Eighties or the beginning of the Nineties, I was definitely more influenced by the American bands, from Florida. I am very much into the more progressive stuff like Atheist and Cynic... and Death. Of course, Entombed had a big impact for all of the Swedish bands when they broke out. People realised it was possible to play extreme metal and get a reputation and get out and play. I think that had a big influence on the whole scene in Sweden: Entombed.

CoC: The beginning of the Swedish scene was Stockholm and that all comes from American death metal and American grindcore.

PW: The old stuff.

CoC: When did Darkane begin?

PW: Darkane started playing together in very late 1997. Me and Christopher, the guitarist, write most of the songs. Together with Jurgen we played in another band before called Agretator. That was a very progressive band in the vein of Cynic, Death and Watchtower, Meshuggah mix. We played together in that band for seven years and eventually the spark wasn't there anymore. We split the band in November and started Darkane in December. Darkane is quite a young band, but we've all been playing together for a long time. It feels like playing together with an old band, but it's new.

CoC: After doing progressive stuff were you interested in putting back harder, thrashier, Dark Angel sounds?

PW: Definitely. It was conscious because it took almost a year to construct the last Agretator album and there were too many conflicting wills in the band. We wanted to do more At the Gates type stuff. But the guy who sang on the first album could sing normal vocals and thrashy vocals. So we went with a thrashy vibe, 'cause there were so many bands copying At the Gates. From there we worked in the studio. Daniel [Bergstrand] had a big impact on the vocal stuff and how _Rusted Angel_ turned out. We didn't rehearse much at all before recording _Rusted Angel_. It sounds very spontaneous. I still like some of the songs very, very much, I think some of them are really, really good.

CoC: Interesting you say -not- like At the Gates: _Slaughter of the Soul_, coming out when it did, was a bit of a kick in the arse for a lot of Swedish metal. Dismember certainly said that.

PW: Definitely. That was one of the best produced albums ever made, I would say. I think they set a new standard with _Slaughter..._. I think the whole scene actually changed a bit after that release. Adrian [Erlandson, ex-At the Gates drummer presently with Cradle of Filth] and those guys said it's nearly impossible to top that album, to make it a better album production-wise. They kind of also lost the spark with the band and decided to quit when they were at the top, and people will definitely remember them. I think that was a cool thing to do.

CoC: It's interesting that although Daniel Bergstrand has done a lot of good albums and is a good producer, he's not as well known Peter Tagtgren and Fredrik Nordstrom, even though a lot of people who do know him would say he was a better producer than either.

PW: Most musicians and journalists know about Daniel but fans don't know who he is, but they know about Fredrik, and Abyss studios. There are also musicians who think he's extremely expensive and he doesn't have his own studio, and that they have to rent him a studio and then rent him to come. But he's got his own small studio north of Stockholm and he just tries to survive. Now it's starting to take off a bit more for him so I think that's very good. Now he's also producing Dragonlord, the new band of Eric Peterson from Testament [reviewed in this issue]. Hopefully also Darkane can help. He's got more variety to his sound than Fredrik, I think. Sometimes he definitely comes out with good stuff but sometimes it can be a bit curtailed. I think it depends a lot who works with him. I've worked with him two times, with Armageddon, and _Stigmata_ that I did with Arch Enemy. It was different vibes those two times. Armageddon he didn't feel much for because it was a small band and we were only in the studio ten days, including mixing. He worked more for Arch Enemy, because it was their second album he worked a lot harder. I think those bands go to Fredrik because they want the _Slaughter of the Soul_ sound and because of that it sounds mostly the same, most of the productions. Different bands, but it sounds in the same vein in some way, I think. I think if perhaps Daniel Bergstrand would do Dimmu Borgir, I think he could have got a whole new dimension to the band. A lot of those bands that I've talked to are not willing to experiment much. They know when they go to Fredman that even if they're not having their best days, the production will turn out good at least. I just love the work that Daniel does and we're definitely gonna go with him on the next CD too because especially vocal wise he's very big.

CoC: I really enjoyed some of your drumming on _Insanity_. You done quite a bit of stuff with unusual breaks and slight off-beat rhythms.

PW: Actually, there's another band I'm in where I do a lot more weird stuff. It's got like cartoon music -- we call it cartoon music -- Mickey Mouse music, like the old stuff from the Sixties but totally sped up. It's just shredding. It's a very fast album, it's also got cool grooves in it: everything from jazz to blastbeats. It's more avant-garde. I play everything from fusion stuff through jazz and real hard metal stuff.

CoC: A bit of a Naked City vibe?

PW: Yeah, I like them a lot. I think Naked City they kind of start out from jazz and go from there, we more start out from hard rock or heavy metal or whatever. It's a bit different but it's the same vibe to it. It has lots and lots of humour in it. It's called Electrocution 250. It will be released at the end of the year, probably by WAR music. It will probably be licensed by WAR music to someone else, 'cause WAR music don't really know that kind of music that well. Drop by at the website of Darkane near the end of the year and there will probably be some postings about it.

Contact: http://www.darkane.com

(article submitted 12/8/2001)


CHATS
6/20/2005 J Smit Darkane: Seal the Senses
1/25/2004 J Smit Darkane: The Will to Overcome
ALBUMS
5/31/2005 J Smit 7.5 Darkane - Layers of Lies
8/12/2001 D Rocher 8 Darkane - Insanity
8/12/1999 D Rocher 10 Darkane - Rusted Angel
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