Hi Mikael! Because this is the first interview with us, so I would do an in depth interview all right?
That`s cool for me!
At first: one of the kings of all extreme music, Quorthon has for few months died. It’s very sad, we have lost a great person, haven’t we?
Yes! I truly agree that we have lost one of the greatest person in extreme music. I am a great fan of Bathory. I was shocked when I heard the news that he had died. Unfortunately that thing is quite common to musicians. I mean dying at a early age. Take for example Randy Rhoads, Chuck Schuldiner, Eric Carr, Christopher Oliva, Jimi Hendrix, Cliff Burton and many more. A couple of months ago the members of Soulreaper almost ended up the same way when our van crashed outside Frankfurt in Germany. We were on our way home from a festival show in Slovenia when it happened. Fortunately everyone in the band survived the accident without any fatal injurys.
Although you haven’t been the member of DISSECTION, but could you say something about, why did they split up? Why was Jon Nödtveidt locked up?
According to Johan and Tobias there was some lack of seriosity near to the split-up of Dissection. They claim that they were the only ones who were rehearsing repeatedly. Jon on the other half has said in interviews that he kicked the other members of the band before he got arrested. I don`t know how much truth it is in those statements that he has made. Why was he locked up? It is quite obvious that Jon was arrested because he and Vlad killed a man. But I don`t know the cause for their actions. Hell, maybe you and I had done the same thing.
After 7 years he has released from prison and DISSECTION have started touring. What do you say to their reunion? Do you like DISSECTION?
I think that Dissections music are quite good and well performed, but it is not really my style. And the production on their albums are terrible.I think that Jon is a talented singer and songwriter. Although I have never been a fan of Dissection, I am curious to know how their future albums will sound.
OK, let we follow with SOUL REAPER. Did you play maybe in several bands before you have joined the band? How did you get in the band?
I played in a few bands before I got in contact with Mattias Eliasson (our first lead-guitarist) who introduced me to Johan Norman (guitar) and Tobias Kellgren (drums). Johan and Tobias had at that time recently splited up with Dissection. Mattias and I had been trying to start a death metal band for some months at that time and Johan and Tobias had been trying the same thing. Mattias was a friend of these two guys so he talked to them and we got together by the end of the summer 1997. In the beginning we played mostly covers of bands like Venom, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but after a month or so we thought that the whole thing worked out really great so we started to write own material instead. We wanted to create a powerful death metal band that were more influenced by the American style instead of the overjused Gothenburg sound. So, Soulreaper was born in october 1997. After a while Cristoffer Hjerten joined us on the vocals.
When did you record your demo? How many tracks did the demo consist of? In what kind of reception was the demo participated by the fans and by the press?
We recorded our first real demo in february 1998 in a studio that was built in an old prison outside the center of Gothenburg. There were three tracks on the demo; Early versions of Subterreanean Might, Written in Blood and Labyrinth of the Deathlord, wich all ended up on our debut album, Written in Blood, but in new versions. That demo lead us to a record deal with Nuclear Blast. There were severe other labels interested too, but NB gave us the best offers. Everyone who has heard that demo likes it, but it is just friends and record labels who has heard it. So it is not that official. We have never sent it to any magazines or radio stations. Those three versions of the songs are quite rare and who knows, maybe they will end up on a compilation album in the future.
Your name was originally REAPER, why did you change it into SOUL REAPER? To what did the name of the band refer?
According to Nuclear Blast the name Reaper was already taken by another band. But the thing is that it is a member in a band that call himself reaper. Anyway we had to change it, so we changed it into Soulreaper wich is about everything we stand for. The soulreaper is death and it reap the souls of us.
On the demo has played Mattias Eliasson. Why did you him kick out?
We kicked him from the band because he had not got enough time for the music. Soulreaper has allways been a hard rehearsing band and it takes alot of time to be a part of this band. You cannot just appear sometimes now and then and think that you can be a member in such a band like this. But what the hell, we are still very good friends with the guy. After Mattias had left the band we had another lead-guitarist for a while, Cristoffer Hermansson who was a really talented guitarist. He too left the band shortly after the recording of Written in Blood due to personal matters.
Did you send from the demos to several labels? How did you get in touch with Nuclear Blast? Did you get some offers maybe from other labels too?
As I mentioned before we got signed to Nuclear Blast but there were other labels who were interested too. But NB offered us the best deal so we choosed them.
Your debut album was titled „Written in blood” and I have to tell you, it became a fantastic death metal album, I love it very much. I would ask for you to speak detailed about the record. I’m interesting in, where and with whom was the album recorded, by whom were the lyrics and the music written, were the songs ready, when you entered the studio, what are all about the lyrics, how would you characterize the songs, are you satisfied with the sound, with the cover?
Thank you. I am glad to hear that you like that album. Personally I like the songs on it but the production could be far better. And about the cover!? Yeah I think it is quite cool, a little old school if you know what I mean. The cover was drawed by a guy called Cliff if I remember right. After Soulreaper was born in the fall of 1997 we rehearsed very much for about a year. We wrote all of the songs during that year except for Satanized wich is an older track that we re-recorded. All the vocals on these songs were written by our vocalist Christoffer and the music were mostly written by Johan, except for some riffs here and there that Cristoffer Hermansson, Mattias an I had made. All the material was written when we entered the Gain Productions studio in January 1999, a studio in Gothenburg. The engineer and co-producer of the album is called Dikk Tator, an extremely cool person to work with. The music on Written in Blood are extremelely technical death metal; both the riffs and the arrangement. In my opinion the songs are a little bit too technical and the result of that is pure chaos, which of course is quite cool, but it could be a little more order in this so called chaos. We have stepped away a bit from this chaos on our new album Life Erazer.
In my opinion, the songs are very technical, they are MORBID ANGEL influenced, do you agree with me? Which bands have had an effect on SOUL REAPER?
I do not think that you can put Soulreaper in a certain kind of genre. The music is far to complex for that. Of course you can hear influences in the music by bands like Morbid Angel, Slayer, King Diamond, Cannibal Corpse, Candlemass and many more, which are bands that we like very much. But after all I think we have created a quite personal style of death metal. It reminds a bit of the US-death metal, but the sound is far more darker and colder.
Why did leave after the releasing of the album Christoffer Hermansson the band? Couldn’t you get along with him?
He had some problems with his life outside the music. That`s all I can say. But when he had left we had another lead guitarist called Stefan Karlsson who is still in the band.
Were you maybe on tour? Did you give some shows? With which bands did you play together?
We did one tour to support Written in blood. It was a four week long European tour with Gorgoroth, Krisiun, Old mans child, Night in gales and Myrkskog. We visited countries like Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia. It was a cool tour with lots of alcohol and other drugs. We did also a couple of shows here in Sweden and Norway along with bands like Nocturnal Breed, Syndicate, Runemagick, Sarcastic, Impious and many moore. We did only one summer-festival show with Enslaved, Nifelheim, Vomitory etc.
You have vanished from sight for two years, we haven’t heard any thing about you. What happened with the band?
We have worked very hard on the new album „Life Erazer” wich we recorded during the summer of 2002 in Los Angered studios together with Andy la Roque (King Diamond) and Terror (Runemagick, Deatwitch and Funeral orchestra). It takes a long time for us to write the kind of songs that are on our albums, we are very strict to ourselves that the music we release must satisfied us to 100%. That is why it most definately will be at least two years between every album of Soulreaper.
In 2002 you have released a 7” EP and on this stuff were two songs. What was the use of it? Is the 7” EP still obtainable?
Yes! We released a 7” single in the fall off 2002 called „Son of the dead”. It contains demo versions of the tracks, „Son of the dead” and „Devils speech”. The reason that we released this EP was that our label wanted to release something from the band during the wait for the upcoming release of Life Erazer. The single were only released in 500 copies so I dont think that it is very easy to get a copy today. But maybe if you look hard in record stores or maybe contact our label; Karmageddon Media.
As I as know, the 7” EP was released by Hammerheart (now Karmageddon Media). Why and when did you leave Nuclear Blast? Didn’t they support you? Were you disappointed in them?
We could not work with NB anymore. They wanted us to sell much more records than we allready did. They wanted us to sell at least 50-60000 copies, which is not that easy for a death metal debut album. They also wanted us to change our musical style into something with catchy melodies and stuff like that. They wanted us to sound like Dissection which we totally disagreed with. We play powerful death metal and that is the way it`s gonna be. So, after some struggling with the company, we just asked them to ditch the contract and so they did and everyone was satisfied. After this we recorded a new demo that we sent to different record labels and Hammerheart offered us the best deal so we choosed them.
I think so, Karmagedda is a great home for such great underground acts like you or NECROPHOBIC, isn’t it? Are you satisfied with them?
I don’t know what to answere on this question for the moment. Let us leave this question for now and make the future reveal the answere to it.
In last year was your second album „Life earazer” released. Did you develope compared to the first record? Are there similarities respectively differences between the two albums?
There are both similarities and differences between those two albums. The music is still death metal of course but the arrangements are far better on the new album. Our musical skills has also developed a lot and the fast parts are much faster and the slow are even heavier than on the debut album. I think that Life Erazer are a better album. The sound is sharper and the whole album is easier to listen to.
I think so, the influenece of MORBID ANGEL is undeniable. Is the cover of „Fall from grace” as a tribute to MORBID ANGEL? In my opinion your version became cool.
In the first place we recorded that cover for a Morbid Angel tribute album that Blackmoon was doing. We recorded it during the winter 2000 but the album was not released until 2002 I think. And then the song also ended up on our new album as well. We picked „Fall from grace” because it is a song that reminds very much of what Soulreapers style are. It is very fast, very technical and also very heavy. It was perfect for us and also a great opportunity for us to hail the kings of death metal.
As I as know, it was a bonus song for the digipack version, wasn’t it?
Yes! But now when Life Erazer has been re-released both in Europe and America, the song contains on all copies. And so are the two tracks from the 7” EP „Son of the dead”.
Why did you put the songs of the 7” EP on the album too? Why didn’t you write newer, more fresh songs?
We want to keep our new songs for future releases instead. I don’t think that it is any idea to put new songs for a re-release of a album that we recorded in 2001. Life Erazer is a closed chapter.
As far as death metal, in this year were many great death metal albums released, I think, I don’t have to list them. What do you think about it? Which albums did you like?
I don`t think that I have bought one single death metal album that was released this year. But I have bought death metal albums though, both old and some newer. I like the new Morbid Angel album very much and of course the new Deicide is a real killer. I did also collect one of the best „funeral doom” albums that I have ever heard. It is called „Bleak Vistae” and was made by a band called Tyranny. I like this kind of music very much. It is so slow and evil. I have allways been a fan of doomy music.
What do you say to the comeback of OBITUARY and SUFFOCATION?
I have never liked Obituary that much but Suffocation are a cool band. But I don`t know that much about there history. I only have the two albums; Human waste and Pierced from within, which are very good albums.
What would you say about the present Swedish underground scene? You have a lot of great death metal bands and the Sweish bands are/were always the leaders of the underground scene.
There is not very much of a underground scene anymore. Of course there are a whole lot of bands without record contracts but I don`t know that much about them. Most of the bands that I know have record labels and releases their albums worldwide and I don`t call that underground. The Swedish death metal today is not what it was in the early 1989, 90. But it is still very good though.
Are there some bands, they are cool, but we don’t know them or they haven’t still contract?
There is one band that I can mention. It is our webmasters band called Hatred. Their music is really fast and brutal but I don`t think they have got any contract yet. But keep your eyes opened.
How would you define the term death metal? How has death metal to be? What is the essence of the style?
I think that death metal was created by guys who wanted a real challenge performing their music. You know it takes a lot of skill and practise before you can call yourself a death metal band. It is very strong and powerful music and very fun to play.
What are your future plans? When will you go on tour?
The future plans for Soulreaper is to finnish writing material for the new album and then enter the studio. There won`t be any tours before we release the new album I think.
I don’t know, do you like football, but I ask you: next weekend playing the Hungarian football team against Sweden. Your tip? In your opinion, who is the best Swedish footballplayer?
Sorry I don`t like football at all. Let`s just hope that the Hungarian team wins, ok! I don’t know a single name of any Swedish football player, and I am glad that I don`t. They are just a bunch of loosers.
Mikael, I hope my questions weren’t boring and thanx for your time and patience. Tell us please your last thoughts at the end of the interview. I wish you all the best.
Thanx for the interview. Your questions were not boring at all. I hope that we could come to Hungary and play sometime. Maybe we could include that on our next tour. Until then keep out for the Reaper of Souls.
by David „Steel” Laci