Until You Call on the Dark
CoC talks to Matte Modin of Dark Funeral
by: Jackie Smit
Matte Modin is hardly the kind guy you'd expect to have a pleasant and relaxing telephone conversation with -- particularly judging by the unholy carnage that he unleashes from the confines of his drum stool on Dark Funeral's latest opus, _Attera Totus Sanctus_. But so it came to be that I had the opportunity to chat to a very forthcoming and spirited Mr Modin one drizzly winter's evening about the often tumultuous path that even a black metal band must sometimes tread in the music industry, as well as his group's rather surprising decision to employ the very same producer who twiddled the knobs for such decidedly non-necro acts as Meshuggah and In Flames. First of all however, there's the matter of why the band have kept us waiting so long for a new record. After all, it's been four years since they unleashed _Diabolis Interium_.

Matte Modin: There were a number of reasons for that, but most importantly it was because we were having record company problems. They [No Fashion Records] ripped us off of our royalties to the point where we hadn't received any money back from _Diabolis Interium_, and everything after that was just a disaster. The European tour was a complete disaster, to the point where we had the guys from The Haunted playing a show with us and asking us what was going on and whether someone was playing a joke on us. We were asking for tour support, which we weren't getting, and literarily everything surrounding the band was fucked up. They wanted us to put out a new studio album, and we didn't want to do that, and then it escalated into us getting lawyers involved. That's also why we did the live album when we were touring in South America, because with all this happening, we wanted to make people aware that we still existed. In the end, our lawyer did a great job for us, but it ended up taking over a year, and then we were able to get a new contract and start work on this record.

CoC: Are all these problems concluded now, to the point where at least they won't be affecting any of the band's activities anymore?

MM: I think so. It's OK now, and right now we're just working on getting our back catalogue from them, because those aren't even in circulation anymore. We'll see what will happen with that though.

CoC: In the midst of this, I can imagine you must have been getting quite pissed off at the music industry in general. What then made Regain an attractive option when the offer came around?

MM: They were the label that was willing to take the risk when we put out the live album, and they asked us for a deal on the next album -- which we told them we'd discuss at a later stage, when all the problems were sorted out and we'd seen what they were able to do with the live record. They just really wanted to do this album. They showed a lot of enthusiasm and we were very confident that they were going to do their best with us. For example, if a band like Dark Funeral were to sign a contract with Nuclear Blast -- I don't think we'd be a particularly big priority of them. I don't think they'd really listen to us when it mattered. Now, being on Regain, we have more sway about what happens with us. Of course, it helps that they're Swedish as well, which makes the communication thing a bit easier.

CoC: So, as far as the new album is concerned, was the material written while you guys were embroiled in your legal troubles?

MM: Well, we had a lot of riffs and some lyrical ideas, and we basically started putting those parts together. But the album only really took shape when we went to Dug Out and we started finishing up the songs and putting in some more breaks and experimenting on the stuff a little more. I think we also made a very good choice to change studios, as Daniel [Bergstrand] gave us a lot of new ideas and a lot of direction in how to do this record.

CoC: What made you decide that you wanted to change studios after having worked at Abyss for such a long time?

MM: In the beginning we were planning to use Peter [Tagtgren], but he had so much going on with his own project, Pain, and a bunch of other stuff he was doing, that he didn't really have the opportunity to squeeze us into his schedule. Basically it just became a case of us needing a studio and deciding that we'd have a talk with Daniel. So we had a meeting with him and everything felt OK, and that got us to think that maybe it was time to change the studio. It had been a long time since we'd done anything and we felt like we could afford to take the risk.

CoC: What was it like working with Daniel?

MM: <laughs> He put us through hell! He is a very professional guy and everyone worked themselves stupid in the studio. I played drums for three weeks on end for example, and he really pushes you to hit harder and to be tighter. He didn't want me to use triggers and things like that; he wanted me to do the drums acoustic, so that it would sound as though I'd worked hard.

CoC: So the drum sounds on the new album are completely un-triggered?

MM: Yeah, there are no triggers at all.

CoC: Holy shit!

MM: <laughs> He nearly killed me.

CoC: You must have lost a quarter of your body weight through this whole process.

MM: It felt like it! One of the songs took us about three days to record. I mean, he was really picky. He'd listen through parts and if one snare shot didn't sound exactly right, then I'd have to do the whole thing again. It got to the point where he wanted me to hit the drums so hard that I needed to use a different technique than what I had been used to doing previously -- I had to hit the drums with my whole arm, basically. That really fucked me up. The tempo on the new album -- that's all down to Dan. It's not me trying to break any records.

CoC: By using a producer like Daniel Bergstrand there was always going to be the odd black metal purist who would criticise the approach that you guys took. Is that something you were aware of while doing this record? What do you think of the conservatism in this scene as a whole?

MM: I know that this was Daniel's first time recording a black metal album. He mixed Behemoth's last album, but he had never done a black metal record from scratch. So I think he was a little apprehensive and maybe a little intimidated, but I think that really inspired him in a sense, and he was able to bring a really new and fresh perspective to the music. When we started, I remember him talking about how things like how the snare drums would sound and how he wanted the guitars to sound. He really focused on so much detail and gave it such a huge effort that there was never any way that it was going to fail. As for the people who would say something bad about it -- we spoke about this when we started to record the album, and we said: "Now people are going to think that we're going to do a Slipknot album!" But this album is more aggressive and I definitely don't see us as having come close to selling out. This album, even when it gets slightly slower, is still really dark. Overall, the songs are much faster and more aggressive than anything we've done before, and I don't give a fuck if people want to try and say that we've sold out.

CoC: Where did all that increased aggression come from? Was that a product of all the frustration that you were experiencing at the business end of being in the band?

MM: Dan played a big part in that. When we started recording, I mentioned that he told us how he wanted each element to sound; and even when Caligula [vocalist] started singing, he wanted him to do his vocals in a different way. I think that what he is doing now is much better than what he was doing before. Daniel put him through hell too, by the way. <laughs> I think he lost his voice a couple of times. Daniel approached this like he was painting a portrait, and even when we were going to include the voiceover for the promo saying that you're listening to the new Dark Funeral -- which was Regain's idea -- he wanted it done a certain way.

CoC: That's interesting that you mention that, because I thought when I heard it the first time that it was part of the music. People who haven't heard it won't appreciate this, but it's done in such a way that it's almost inaudible anyway.

MM: That's all because of Daniel. He wanted complete perfection and he didn't want that ruining certain parts -- even for the journalists.

CoC: So, in terms of plans for Dark Funeral for the next year, when will we see you guys go on tour?

MM: Well, we have just appointed a new booking agent and I don't know if he has something for us yet, but we'll definitely be headed out on tour very soon. I don't know if it will be Europe first or the States, but as soon as we can get out on the road, we will. This time around though, we'll definitely have things more carefully planned out. There's going to be no giving us three weeks' notice and then expecting us to be out on the road. That's what happened previously, and it's not happening again. So, as far as touring -- realistically, we'll be on the road in February.

CoC: With everything that's happened and all the troubles you've had, does it feel like you're starting Dark Funeral from scratch in a way?

MM: It does actually, and this time we're going to do things the right way, and hopefully it's going to work. We'll do the best that we can.

(article submitted 7/12/2005)

11/17/1997 A Wasylyk Dark Funeral: The Dark Age Has Arrived
1/4/2010 J Smit 5.5 Dark Funeral - Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus
10/24/2005 J Smit 8.5 Dark Funeral - Attera Totus Sanctus
8/12/2000 A McKay 9.5 Dark Funeral - Teach Children to Worship Satan
7/8/1998 P Azevedo 8 Dark Funeral - Vobiscum Satanas
8/12/1996 S Hoeltzel 5 Dark Funeral - Secrets of the Black Arts
1/10/2001 A Wasylyk Dark Funeral / Blood of Christ / Endless Satanic Swedes and Chugging Canadians
8/12/2000 M Noll Deicide / Immortal / Cannibal Corpse / Marduk / Vader / Dark Funeral / Hate Eternal / Vomitory There's No Mercy in Satan's Oven
5/19/1999 P Azevedo Dimmu Borgir / Dark Funeral / Dodheimsgard / Evenfall The Darkest Night of the Year
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