About Me

Interview with Vampire

In 2020, Swedish act Vampire, featuring frontman Hand of Doom, guitarists Black String and Sepulchral Condor, bassist Command, and drummer Abysmal Condor, proudly present their third studio album, “Rex”. Influenced by Mercyful Fate, Slayer, Dissection and Possessed, VAMPIRE have been fusing a vast variety of elements since day one, yet on “Rex” they are also inspired by the 80’s grandeur of Iron Maiden and Metallica and combine occasional acoustic guitars, that add an increased melodic quality while being the band’s most fiery and fierce work to date. With “Rex”, Vampire have successfully crafted a majestic, macabre force of its own! Metal Imperium caught up with Black String to find out all the juicy details about the band’s 3rd full-length, how Fenriz “affected” them and other pertinent issues. Keep on reading…

M.I. - Why did you feel the need to create Vampire?

The idea to form Vampire came from our singer Lars (“Hand of Doom”) during the summer of 2011 when we met up at his place just before the “big four” concert in Gothenburg featuring Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. Lars put on an old Necrophagia track and insisted we start a band in the similar vein, meaning mid 80’s, proto-death metal. Shortly afterwards we asked Lars’ friend “Command” to join us on the bass guitar. In the beginning Lars and I used to switch instruments; we both played the drums for a while, but it became pretty obvious that he really wanted to play the drums, so I gave up on that position in the end. Why do people even start bands? After nearly ten years with Vampire I probably wouldn’t even consider starting another band, but if I try to reminisce our ways of thinking back then, I think we felt that we had something to deliver that wasn’t already done by other bands in our city at the time being. 

M.I. - Vampire are influenced by Mercyful Fate, Slayer, Dissection, Possessed and inspired by the 80’s grandeur of Maiden and Metallica. Considering the huge variety of influences… how did you come up with the sound that Vampire are known for? How complicated is it coming up with a sound of your own?

Returning to 2011 again, it was Lars who brought up the first ideas for our sound. Quite primitive, but real catchy riffs. Back then I had a real Slayer revival going on and I had also been writing Mercyful Fate-influenced stuff for years already, so my contributions were a little bit in that vein. Our demo (2012) and first album (recorded in 2013) was a mix of Lars’ and my styles. Before our second album we added a second guitarist (“Sepulchral Condor”) and a new drummer (his brother, “Abysmal Condor”) and most of the songwriting ended up on my table. I bought an old Fender amp with a peculiar reverb effect, which was influential to some of the parts on “With Primeval Force”, largely written in 2015 and recorded in 2016. Our new members meant a lot of fresh power to our sound, and that’s how we gradually evolved into the style we have today. When we talk about music in the band we rarely talk about death metal at all anymore – it’s mostly just classic metal and hard rock that’s popular among our ranks, as far as I’m concerned.

M.I. - Your logo is quite self-explanatory… who designed it? Is it the way you envisioned it when you first formed the band?

Our logo was designed by Martin Gustafsson who used to be the singer of Darkified and Allegiance (the latter was a great band back in the day, check out their first album!). He’s a tattoo artist nowadays by the way. We came in touch with him through our friends at Ljudkassett! who would release our demo tape. We couldn’t be happier with our logo, it was far beyond any expectations we had when we actually started to think about a logotype.

M.I. - All band members use “personas” in the band… is that a requirement? Why do you “hide” yourselves behind a fictional “character”?

Who doesn’t love character bands? Nearly all our youth idols were rock characters in a way or another. We wanted to continue this tradition.

M.I. - Fenriz recognized your talent and your demo sold over 300 copies in a week… do you think his acknowledgment helped Vampire somehow? How did you react when you first found out about it?

Fenriz “Band of the week” blog (or whatever it was) was a big thing back then, so of course we got a lot of publicity. Back then I had just met Fenriz once – of course at the Elm Street pub in Oslo, 2004, where I conducted a live interview with him through a postcard (!) with three questions that I handed over the table and which he replied to in writing. A real awkward and fun situation. So, it was cool that he would appreciate what we were doing in Vampire eight years after that encounter.

M.I. - The press has labeled you as “the real deal”, “macabre charm”, and “uniquely unhinged”. Has this put any stress on your shoulders?

I don’t think so, after all it’s up to each and every one to have whatever opinion they want. 

M.I. - The band’s sophomore “With Primeval Force” was met with great reviews and nominated for a Swedish Grammy award. How did you take the news? Did you ever wonder how the hell you were so good? What was/is your secret formula for success?

We were happy of course, but one must not take such events so seriously. We knew there were people in the Grammy jury that were into what we were doing. It was kind of nice to sit next to the Europe members at the awards, despite the fact neither John Norum nor Joey Tempest were present. 

M.I. - The new Vampire songs are partly a continuation of the more epic sides of “With Primeval Force” but there will be a lot of fast stuff, as well.” “Rex” is generally more brave-hearted when it comes to musical references than parts of your previous output. In what way? What can fans expect of “Rex”?

For this album I didn’t care in the end if a particular riff or arrangement sounded “too harmonic” compared to our previous works, where I partly used to avoid using the most mellow sounding parts I came up with. I found it’s better to run the line out and do whatever would suit me at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if some stubborn death metal fans will turn their backs on us (if they haven’t already) when the album comes out, but it doesn’t matter. People can expect a quite multi-faceted album that still sounds as Vampire.

M.I. - The band’s facets have been refined, enriched and perfected. “Rex” has a very classic heavy metal approach combined with occasional acoustic guitars, while being the band’s most fiery and fierce work to date. Did it just happen or was it something planned?

It just happened in a way, or it’s a result of natural progression. We haven’t actively planned how this album will sound in the end. 

M.I. - What are the biggest differences between “Rex” and “Vampire” and “With Primeval Force”?

“Rex”: where we are right now. “With Primeval Force”: somewhat a creative turning point after our first album, when we were a little bit uncertain where to head next. “Vampire”: the first, spontaneous outbreak from a new, unspoiled act. 

M.I. - The album will be available digitally on the 19th June. With “Rex”, Vampire have successfully crafted a majestic, macabre force of its own! How strong is this release? How excited are you?

When finishing the album, we were all pretty tired of it, after countless listens in order to adjust one detail after the other. Now, as we’ve received feedback from people who’ve had the opportunity to listen to it, it’s becoming interesting to listen to again. It is inspiring to get to know people’s opinion about our work, after about two years of preparation.

M.I. - “Melek-Taus”.… what are people saying about it? It is the last song of the album and yet you’ve chosen it to showcase the entire album. Why?

“Melek-Taus” was our unison choice for a first single, but I wrote it as an album finishing track. 

M.I. - All tracks seem to have names as titles… creepy names… is this a concept album in some way?

You got it right, “Rex” is in a way a concept album about long forgotten deities.

M.I. - “Wiru-Akka (Raw Mix)” was released on Halloween as a first glimpse into your new album. It includes skull-crushing rhythm guitars and relentless drumming topped by sinister harmonies and vocals.  “Wiru Akka” is a name invoked in one of the songs on the first album. Why did you decide to bring it back? What inspired it? What’s the difference between this song and the one featured on the album “Wiru-Akka”?

Lars, who’s penning all our lyrics, is fond of these references to our previous works – there’s actually connections like that between all our albums. 

M.I. - The cover shows The Reaper, a figure familiar to your listeners, on a horseback. What does it say about the content of “Rex”?

We wanted the Reaper to return on the third album cover as it’s closing a circle somehow - if there’s going to be a fourth Vampire album we’ll have to think about something completely different.

M.I. - “Rex” is a sonic triumph of all things death and metal captured very well on the album’s striking artwork by Mitchell Nolte. What does it stand for in the grand scheme of things?

We had other ideas for an album cover for a while, and even a finished painting by a Swedish artist, but we found it less suitable for our sound and the general impression of Vampire in the end. We found Mitchell Nolte’s artwork at a quite late stage and were overwhelmed how well it suited a vision we had already forgotten about for a while. It’s hard to tell how well the artwork suits the album, really!

M.I. - The album was recorded at Nacksving Studios in central Gothenburg and the recording was split into two separate sessions with several months apart. Why do you work like this? Is it easier to let the material rest and grab it later on and realize the direction it wants to go?

Since 2015 we’ve been working with our drummer on a distance; he lives 300 km away from the rest of us and last time I heard him mentioning plans of moving to Gothenburg was… five years ago. We’ve decided to record our last two albums in this way in order to simply get things done. It’s also a bit relaxing to reach milestones on the way to completion and we can spend less time at once in the studio.  

M.I. - In 2016, Vampire joined Tribulation and Grave Pleasures for a European tour crossing seven countries. How was the experience?

We had a great time on that tour, being the only real Vampire tour so far. Back then we were slowly working on “With Primeval Force”, and despite everyone being a bit tired upon coming back home, I think the tour was an important part in gluing the band together in a way.

M.I. - What are Vampire’s plans for the near future? Are you preparing a tour? 

No plans for any tours right now, not corona related, but we shall see if there’s any tours in the future.

M.I. - Next year will mark the band’s 10-year anniversary… are you planning anything special already?

We haven’t taken any decisions yet, but I’ve got an idea that I hope to be able to realize. We’ll see!

M.I. - 2020 is a completely different year from what we imagined most certainly… what damages can a virus like this cause to us personally and as a society? Do you think Nature is taking its vengeance?

I think nature is taking its vengeance in a way – or well, this is how nature works. 

M.I. - Any final words you’d like to share with Vampire’s fans in Portugal and Metal Imperium’s readers?

We hope to come to the distant shores of Portugal to play one day!

For Portuguese version, click here.

Questions by Sónia Fonseca