A little over a week from now, Skogen will release their fourth album in five years, called I Döden, meaning In Death. The three Swedes have compiled an hour of farsighted, contemplative black metal – not quite folk, even though quiet acoustic passages exist; often raucous but with the sharpest edges all filed away by performance and productions choices, all to enhance the mood. Due to hit shelves both actual and virtual on April 7th via Nordvis Produktion, I Döden can be heard in full right now at the Deciblog. Start your zoned-out Friday with a first listen (or two, or twelve) of Skogen’s new album and read multi-instrumentalist Joakim Svensson’s thoughts on the band’s most recent work.
How and when did Skogen form? How did the band’s sound come together?
Me and Mathias had a discussion and realized we had the same musical vision, so we joined forces in 2009, and immediately started making songs that eventuelly ended up on our first album “Vittra”. Linus joined as a permanent drummer in 2010. We have slightly different approaches in song writing, but complement each other to a perfect balance. Our goal was, and still is, to make atmospheric music, and we always write from the heart.
In Skogen’s five years, you have released four albums. Most bands take much longer between releases. Do you feel like you write Skogen music continuously, or have you taken breaks between albums?
We write continuously, and always have new ideas. Mathias writes lots of music all the time, a bit more than the rest of the band, and we already have tons of material for a new album. It’s not finished, but lots of ideas and songs are made. We have taken a small break from rehearsals right now, due to newly born babies and moving to new cities. We’ll start writing new stuff pretty soon though.
Did you work with any new musical or lyrical ideas when writing I Döden?
Musically, we write what feels right. What comes from the heart. We never sit down and try to sound like different bands. But if I look at it from an outside perspective, I Döden sounds a bit more like our first two albums, than [2012’s] Eld. Less aggressive and more atmospheric. Lyrically it’s similar to where we left off at Eld. Exploring the entity and essence of death, in different shapes.
What was the recording process like for I Döden? Different from or similar to your other experiences?
It was quite similar to the other albums. We recorded the drums at a studio, a new one for each album so far, and then we recorded bass, guitars and vocals at Mathias’ studio. It has everything we need, and time is not an issue. And of course the expense is at a minimum. When we record, we are quite fast, but we spend a lot of time finding a suitable and good guitar sound, drum sound and so on. No plugs, triggers, pods, pads, and what not. Real amps and heads. That is very important to our sound. It has to sound natural.
The cover art for the new album is pretty incredible. Where did it come from?
Samos from Folkingrimm Arts did it. He also drew all the artwork for Eld. We chose him because of his tremendous skills and understanding of what we’re aiming for. We gave him the title and some ideas and inspirations we had, and he drew an amazing piece of art, that fits perfectly with the music.
Do you have any favorite songs or moments on the new album?
I can only speak for me now, I’m proud of the album as a whole. But if I have to choose a few favourite passages, I’d say the Burzum-sounding passage in “Svartskogen”, the vocals in “Sleep”, which were kind of a gamble, but turned out good with gloom and doom, and the ’70’s Genesis-inspired harmony in “Solarvore”. But as I mentioned, I like the album as a whole. We always release albums that are supposed to be played as a whole, without interruptions. The track order is carefully chosen.
Members of Skogen have worked together in other bands as well. How does working in Skogen differ from those other musical entities?
We have more of the same vision in Skogen. We share the same musical goal. That might be the difference. In past bands we never really started together with the same idea, we more of bumped into each other at the pub and asked each other to join as a guitarist, drummer or such. Skogen have had the same vision from the beginning, without any line-up changes. And that is our strength. It wouldn’t work with replacements.