For the most classic Death Metal lovers “Internal Caustic Torments” (1993) by Wombbath was a great album, therefore, Håkan decided to continue with the band in the 2010s presenting 5 new productions of the band. Where "Agma" released by Transcending Obscurity Records is another great example of this Swedish band; thus, Metallerium had a pleasant conversation with its founding member.
Para la leer la entrevista en español: Entrevista a Wombbath
Metallerium: Welcome Håkan to Metallerium webzine pages. It’s a great pleasure to talk with you about Wombbath, the new album “Agma” and more things related to the extreme metal world. Starting with the interview. What were the reasons for Wombbath to stop making records in the 90s? and What were the reasons for returning in this new century with "Downfall Rising" (2015)?
Wombbath: Hello! Let's see what might come up.
Well, around 1994 a lot happened with the scene how to sound, actually it already had happened with Wolverine Blues for example. We tested it as well, recorded a promo tape that Napalm records wanted to release immediately as a mini-cd and so it was. We signed for full-length too which we recorded with a new vocalist. I don't know what the style actually was (laughs).... not too bad though.... but when we had sent that finished album to NR, we never heard from them again (laughs). After that we struggled about a year writing new songs, maximum a handful, I think. I think it'd been a dying spark and that year it died. I don't think we officially said to ourselves or others we quit. Just happened.
Metallerium: When I heard for the first time “Internal Caustic Torments” (1993). I said wow! this Death Metal is very different from the Swedish big four (Entombed, Dismember, Grave, and Unleashed) even the voice from Tomas Lindfors at that time was amazing. But when you return in "Downfall Rising" (2015). The sound changed with Swedish style and Jonny joined the band with this vibe. For you. Why did you change the sound on the second album? And how was the meeting with Johnny in those years? Was he the one who motivated you to follow this new line or was it something spontaneous when you began to compose new songs?
Wombbath: The ICT album is a special one and we were 15-16 when we signed the deal with Infest/Thrash records. Special feeling. So, ok... I wrote Downfall Rising before Jonny came in the picture or at least finished the songwriting at the time so he had nothing to do with it. The music itself has some old Wombbath vibes but when adding the HM2 things appear differently. From start I had no intention to use HM2 it sounded brutal with pre-prod sound I had. More or less dry Morbid Angel tone on the guitars. Later I decided to go with the HM2 and it turned out well I'd say. I always more or less write music without a specific plan. Usually, the songs fly out in minutes. The sound on the songs is never the same, always some difference. Depends on the mood, season, etc.
Well, at that time with Downfall Rising I didn’t have a vocalist for it but I had gotten to know Jonny then through Anders Biazzi, we were both participating on some Just Before Dawn material. We talked a lot and I said Hey! why don’t you pick three songs or so from the new Wombbath album and you'll sing on them. So, he did! I asked the same to Thomas Von Wachenfeldt, pick two songs! And Samuel Englund sang on Paid in Blood and that song isn't written by me it's the original bass player Richard Lagberg who's written it. Great song!
Since then, Jonny is stuck here!
Metallerium: Since "Downfall Rising" (2015). Wombbath is very active with albums. Coz in 7 years, you have 5 albums with this new one “Agma”. So, what is your position on the comments that say that when the productions are very followed, the intensity of the band decays a little in creativity? And does this "Agma" have the cliché of saying it's the band's best production so far?
Wombbath: That's a subject we could analyze and dissect but let's say yes sometimes you can hear a band ¨decay¨ but it can be more in it than that. Sure, some can really make the lesser and lesser good albums but most bands and artists evolve and that can be in many directions. Many releases have been disappointing because of the difference from the previous albums(s) and when listening to it a few years later you actually hear that it's brilliant, genius, etc. For me, Entombed is a good example, been a big fan since I was 13-14. When Same Difference was released, I couldn't stand it and never gave it much attention until earlier this year, a seriously good play from start to end. It was like WOW this is brilliant, great, professional. Ok, back to Agma. Yes, I must say it's the best so far. The songwriting on it is very varied, with a lot of elements making it interesting to listen to, just the way I like it. I'm not a big fan of 100% death metal chugging all through. I want things to happen as one of my other favorites Edge of Sanity. And we decreased the HM2 on the album as well. Enough is enough and it got perfect. With the sound on Agma, I feel Wombbath's came home!
Metallerium: I spent a long-time doing interviews with many artists of various musical styles. Some of them tell me that the way not to disappear from the fan radar is to produce new material. Therefore, what is your appreciation of launching productions in a row? And do you think bands unconsciously live off the expectation of the fans? or is it something thought?
Wombbath: For some or many bands I think so. If you're in the big league I get the feeling that in many cases there's no rush to records new material. I write new stuff all the time for my projects, Crossbow Suicide, Reek, Skineater, Consumption, and others. Suddenly I might have written a Wombbath album or a half, I have a need to do it, always some project work. Jonny is the same too and we both agreed recently that instead of going to bars or just getting drunk every weekend we can be productive with music instead and it makes us feel well.
Metallerium: Wombbath is a band that doesn't play much live. You have specific presentations. Is it difficult to organize tours due to Jonny's schedule with his other bands? And what are the reasons why the band does not have extensive tours?
Wombbath: True! We haven't chased much for gigs and it fits us well with a show here and there and it's like mini-vacations in Europe. Tours wouldn't work well for us, all have our jobs, families, projects of various kinds, other responsibilities and so. A tour doesn’t guarantee the bills being paid as well. We're having it good but a few more festival shows are welcome of course. We'll see what happens after the release.
Metallerium: Since 1990 you are the last member of the first lineup of Wombbath. How does it feel to have been leading Wombbath for 31 years? Even the band had been separated from 1995 to 2014. Do you have communication with the line-up from "Internal Caustic Torments" (1993)? What do you think of Wombbath these years?
Wombbath: Richard and I have contact from time to time. He's checking on me (laughs). Sometimes I'm running into Thobbe and Tomas having a short talk.
Good question, what do I think.... hm... Richard once said something like this, that when we were teens at the time 1993 and composing it was non-compromising and with love to music. Something like that. When you're young you don’t really think just running, getting it out. An explosion notes by curiosity and feelings.
Nowadays it's a bit like that too (laughs) but it's more solid, strategic arrangements, more thoughts about harmonies and atmosphere.
Metallerium: Talking about a little more of this “Agma”. What are the greatest strengths that this one has compared to its predecessors? and can you mention a word per album that fits perfectly in the musical concept of each one? A single that defines everything of each album that you did.
Wombbath: The strength of Agma must be that almost every song is it's own. Not a copy of another and all the elements we've involved. DM, BM, violin, the eerie guitar harmonies (no piano though one-part sounds like it), eastern sounds, heavy metal, different vocal styles, etc. It's like an adventure.
Oh dear.....I'll do my best...
Internal Caustic Torments: Purity
Downfall Rising: Touching
The Great Desolation: Heavy
Choirs of the Fallen: Dark
Tales of Madness: Nostalgia
Metallerium: To do this interview I’ve heard all albums from Wombbath. Where I denoted that you start with Thrash Records, then you signed with Dark Descent Records, then with Soulseller Records, and finally, you’re with Transcending Obscurity Records. Tell me, what are your memories with Thrash Records? Coz now that label is closed and it had great productions like “For the Security” (1991) from Carbonized, “Dances from Left” (1993) from Mordicus, “Calls from the Beyond” (1991) from Mag Slaughter, “Seeming Salvation” (1992) from Epitaph and more. And how are you feeling about Transcending Obscurity Records?
Wombbath: It was actually a collaboration Infest/Thrash records. We had contact Infest and I think it worked fine and we got quite a good budget. About 11000 euro. Not bad!
When releasing Downfall Rising it was Pulverised records but they worked together with Dark Descent, I think they managed the US market at least.
Transcending is doing good. He's working his ass off with all releases and one must agree he's making great and interesting releases.
Metallerium: Another detail in the albums is the cover art. Where you started with SV Bell, then Mathias Björkbacka, Benny Moberg, and finally with Juanjo Castellano. How do you select the artist who should go after each cover art? And is Wombbath part of the creation of each cover or is it the creativity of the chosen artist?
Wombbath: Sometimes you just know what kind of style you want and sometimes it's budget. In general, I know, Björkbacka, Bell, and Moberg. Usually, they just come up with something great perfect to use. Juanjo was a new guy to work with, a great artist. I talked some ideas with him about the artwork though it took me a few days to get to what it was I felt/pictured relating to the title and music. Pan's Labyrinth, there it was. Perfect for inspiration! Better up was that Juanjo's summer house or just a place he stays a few weeks summertime was a short drive from the place where that movie was filmed.
Metallerium: Now we’ll speak about other matters in the metal scene. As for how an underground band and a mainstream band should be considered, there are patterns where more vinyl or cassette productions stick to this concept, and the CD according to some fans only expands the collections. What do you think are the factors for fans to stick with this concept of underground metal?
Wombbath: Maybe I'm just boring now but I don't bother to pay attention or energy to it. I don’t collect albums, the ones I have are in a bag somewhere and when ai feel for a listen I open Spotify or Youtube. I don't listen much to music.
Metallerium: Another detail is about the listening methods of the fans because this new generation prefers to listen to a song or two on digital platforms. What do you think about the albums doesn’t having the same impact compared to the 80s and 90s? And what are your solutions to improve the listening of all the songs on the albums?
Wombbath: Related to the previous answer I might be the wrong person to ask (laughs). I don't know. Personally, I really like that the music is easily accessible anywhere, anytime. I have never been a good one listening to a full album except for my big-time favorites since I first heard them. Clandestine, Necroticism Descanting...., John Norum's Total Control, The Spectral Sorrows to mention a few but to me it's perfect to easily jump between albums and artists. Before we had the mixtapes ;)
Metallerium: Well, Håkan the sad time arrived at this interview, I hope you enjoy this one as I did, and thank you very much for your time. The last album is a great one! Take care during this pandemic situation and our best wishes from this part of the world. Any last words for your fans in Latin America and Metallerium readers?
Wombbath: Yeah, each thing has its time. Thanks, that's nice to hear and absolutely, you too!
Oh, that's always difficult. Keep your eyes open and grab a copy of the new album and it would be awesome to one day fly over there for a show or more!
Temple of Worms from France
Soulslicer from France
Shrapnel Storm from Finland
Spiral Wounds from Italy