According to the wholly democratic, incorruptible and failsafe Decibel End of Year Poll, In Solitude’s superlative The World. The Flesh. The Devil. was officially the fourth-best album of 2011. (Yeah, in reality it was probably like the third best, but that doesn’t matter, not really. The thing is not to sleep on it.) The coltish Swede’s sophomore album drew deeply from the denim/leather wellspring of NWOBHM, and was redolent of King Diamond et al, but crucially had a darkness and a vibe that was all of its own creation. The thing about bands going retro with their sound is that any pastiche, no matter how empassioned and competent, is only ever going to dilute the magic; In Solitude succeed because they eschew pastiche, empassioned or otherwise, and merely borrow the landscape of ’80s metal. That they’re so young is kinda scary; they’re kinda like the hesher Goonies, all exhumed and necro.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s Pelle “Hornper” Åhman talking about the making of the album.
What sort of sound were you looking for this time round; was it intentionally retro?
Hornper: I think we were looking for a late ’70s, early ’80s sound but I think the most important thing was that we needed a sound that really gave room for the landscape of the atmosphere, so we had a few meetings with producer Fred [Astby, ex-Dismember] and he understood that it would be a good collaboration between us but I don’t think we were that sure what kind of sound we really wanted. As we started to record, we understood what we had to do.
In Solitude’s US debut at MDF 2011
Did you feel straight away that this was going to be a more epic album?
Hornper: I think when the lyrics and the music evolves and means more, demands more of you as a person, for us at least the music becomes bigger, and sometimes becomes longer and takes more time. I mean, the lyrics demand everybody’s emotional and spiritual contribution—it demanded that, the songs were bigger and reached deeper in a way. That’s why the songs are a bit longer, and not as traditional as a lot of the earlier stuff was. I think it’s going to go down that same path, the more it reaches deeper, I think it’s going to have a broader landscape and a deeper sound.
The album definitely has its NWOBHM/King Diamond elements, but you’ve definitely got your own spin on it, was this a conscious decision, and indeed what do you make of the current trend for exhuming the ‘80s aesthetic wholesale?
Hornper: I think we wanna get away from that, a bit. It was not our intention in the beginning to do something like that––it’s all a matter of reference, and what people experience from it. I can see that point of view, especially on the first album, but what we do is we want to create our own musical sphere within In Solitude. Y’know, of course there are certain influences that shine through but I think we’re reaching a place where influences are not that important any more––which is great. I think all bands do that; the more you evolve the more you find your own musical universe. Influences are very important and very interesting to delve into, and to feed off but when you look into yourself, that’s the most important thing. That’s what made a lot of the old bands good because there was no looking backwards or forwards; they had to look inwards instead. I think inspiration for us, for bands like Black Sabbath and so on, is that they looked inwards. It’s not the actual music itself, it’s more the process that they were going through. I think that’s the most important thing, and the mistake that a lot of new bands make is to make similar songs to certain bands or whatever. Bands should try to really try to look inwards because certainly we’ve got echoes in all of us that we can listen to which will bring us much more [musically].
Was this a much more difficult album to make?
Hornper: Oh yeah, it was a very trying time for all of us. Yeah, we all felt it. I mean it was certainly one of the most challenging and rewarding tasks any of us has gone through. It was such an intense process for all of us, sitting around and writing this and putting it together. We learned a lot. It was certainly a new chapter in a lot of ways, that album.
Do you see the metal scene being a little more open-minded, unafraid of crossovers between say black and doom metal, or doom/NWOBHM etc, to make something new?
Hornper: I think people are still very limited but I am very glad that I can sense there’s something more open-minded coming our way. I can see that bands are looking inwards, which is good, and I think bands are not as limited to genres any more, like they used to be. When it comes down to it, every band is not in desperate need to be put in a box, put in a place; they think outside the confines of things and I think that with small steps it’s beginning to happen in a lot of metal music and that’s good.
It’s going back to the case where everything is heavy metal and we use the subgenres as adjectives to describe it.
Hornper: I think to me, that’s why heavy metal could fit our music is because I see it’s not really a genre, it’s such a broad [culture]. To me, anything from early Rainbow to Sadstik Exekution could be heavy metal. I mean, everybody has different opinions on what they are or they’re not but…
Live at Roadburn 2011
Has the reaction to the band surprised you?
Hornper: [The band] becomes more and more important as the minutes pass by, and it will be interesting to see what this grows into because it has become a very evident part of our lives. I think that’s the thing about having a band; it’s supposed to grow; it’s supposed to become more severe and life threatening in a way! It outgrows the first go, the first idea; those are just shells, in the past, and somehow you just let the music take control and not the other way round. You become the instruments instead of you playing the instruments, and In Solitude grows in that way, which is great.
What about this Occult business: people are labelling you an Occult band, kindred spirits to Ghost, is that fair to say that is at the heart of your ethos?
Hornper: I’ve said this in many interviews… We’re not a band with a manifesto. A lot of bands come from a point of view where everything is written in stone, and we’ve never functioned in that way. What we do with our creativity is reflect things that are important in our lives, and I guess it’s my own personal biggest contribution to In Solitude––the Occult. But it has never been something in In Solitude’s ethos, as you say, it’s just a part of all of our emotional and spiritual contribution to the art. Trying to explain this [is tough]… The lyrics on the album come closest to explaining it, of what we want to share. I don’t really have a message for people that they should apply upon themselves. But, I mean, I still think they should read my lyrics closely and really try to see what it opens up, because they mean the world to me.
In Solitude’s The World. The Flesh. The Devil is out now through Metal Blade. Get it here.