Let Them Eat Cake
CoC interviews Sweden's Guillotine
by: Adrian Bromley
Play it loud! Fuck shit up! Run around like a madman, playing metallic riffs heavy enough to make your ears bleed and an attitude that'll leave them running for cover. This is it, man! Thrash metal for the 90s with an 80s approach.

The thrash metal band in question is Swedish trio Guillotine and their debut album for Necropolis Records called _Under the Guillotine_ is a manic return to the days when German-styled thrash metal gods Kreator ruled the metal scene. Back then, sharp notes and deafening screams of anguish filled the scene as thrash metal was then a staple part of a healthy metal scene. Fast forward to 1998 and, while thrash metal may not be a common style practiced by many bands nowadays, some bands are kicking out the tunes 'retro' style, Guillotine being one of them. They won't deny it. Guillotine are 'retro' and thrash metal, but most importantly they dish it out big time with their debut and they do it oh-so well.

"We have always been into this kind of music since we were kids," says bassist Snake over the phone from Sweden. "I think first this was a dedication and celebration to all of the great bands that we listened to when we were growing up and are still listening to. But then when we heard the album and the end results we started taking this a bit more seriously and decided to go all the way with this sound and style. I think this is a great album."

Seeing that Guillotine hail from Sweden and their label is located in Fremont, California, I ask, "How did you hook up with an American label for the debut?" He answers, "When we made the demo we didn't think many labels would be into us 'cause when we made the demo, back in 1995, this whole 'retro' thing hadn't started and there were no other bands playing this style. We sent out the material to a few select labels that we thought would be into our music. Labels like Necropolis, Osmose and Malicious Records in Germany. We had tremendous feedback from all the labels we had shipped our stuff to and everyone wanted to have us. We negotiated with several of them but Necropolis came up with the best deal, so we signed with them."

On the topic of recording the album, Snake (along with fellow Guillotine-ers Spider on vocals/guitar and drummer Cobra) admits that all of the ideas were ready to go before heading into the studio to record the debut. "We had all the ideas going into the studio. But y'know what? It's funny how you always hear how songs shape themselves when they are recorded properly. We experienced that too. We have demoed a lot of the material but they sounded really poor. It was great that we were able to do some good studio work to enhance the sound rather than have muffled demo versions on the LP."

Getting more in-depth about the material on _Under the Guillotine_, Snake comments, "We spent a lot of focus on both the song writing aspect and the production of this record. Both are equally important for us and to maintain a strong Guillotine sound. All of us in the band are real studio freaks and love to work on songs and all that shit. It's a lot of fun for us to be in the studio. We are currently building our own studio to have to work on future recordings. I mean, we are really into this whole thing of making music and recording songs. It's what we do. We have for years recorded all of our material and styles we have worked on. It's all kept on tape. We already have all of these riffs and ideas in our heads for the next record. The next record should go by pretty quick, much faster than this one, 'cause we are eager to get in there and get this stuff out. The thing about us and recording is that we have been doing this for a long time and it comes fast to us. We don't like to spend time fixing things up in the studio. We like to keep the material of Guillotine raw."

He adds, "Playing music is what we do and we wouldn't have it any other way. It's our passion. I mean music is constantly in our lives. If we aren't writing music, we are listening to it. If we aren't listening to it, we are recording it. We try to keep our lives focused around music because that is what we love to do. So we try to keep this a 24-hour job as much as possible."

Obviously knee-deep into the whole 'retro/thrash' thing, how does Guillotine feel about all of these bands paying homage to thrash metal in 1998? Is it a rip-off of a sound and style or is it genuine interest in that style of music? "This whole 'retro' thing is coming back and I know we are a part of that. All of these metal riffs and speed metal sounds seem to be coming back and that is a good thing, but we've had this plan to play this music for a long time," notes Snake. "We had delayed this whole idea and style of Guillotine for a while 'cause we had a lot of other things we had to finish up first. I mean, we are part of this whole retro thing, we acknowledge that, and are proud to be playing this style of music."

He continues, "It's great to see a lot of bands going back to this style, but this whole 'retro' thing is getting out of hand and going trendy on us. And that bugs me. A lot of these new bands come out and play that style. Bands are formed to play 'retro' 'cause it is the IN thing to play now. They make one album and then you never hear from them again. The same is happening with black metal too. Supposedly 9 out of 10 black metal bands are Satanists, but how many of them really are? It just frustrates me to see it all go this way. It's amazing to see how many bands are out there that aren't real and put out one album and then fade away when the style has gone away."

So then how does Guillotine get past the idea of people calling them 'trendy' and/or 'retro'?

"We don't really care what people say about us. We are pretty realistic about what we are doing and why we are doing it. We do this 'cause it's really fun. I think as long as you keep it at this level then you won't have a problem. We do this for fun. We don't really have a message to carry across to our fans. We aim to have fun while doing this and that's it. We are a band that aims at being a good band and that's it."

(article submitted 13/4/1998)

1/8/2009 J Ulrey 6.5 Guillotine - Blood Money
3/10/1998 D Schinzel 8.5 Guillotine - Under the Guillotine
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