Robert Andersson (Morbus Chron) interviewed

** When we premiered “The Perennial Link” (HERE) off Morbus Chron’s new album, Sweven, we were pretty bummed. Not about the song–the song is basically untouchable–but that we didn’t get the opportunity to stream more, like the entire album. If you’re wondering why there’s so much chatter about Sweven, well, it’s an incredible entry into death metal’s storied and varied pantheon. No, really.
Morbus Chron was originally inspired by Autopsy. Sweven’s a pretty big leap from Mental Funeral or Severed Survival. What do you attribute to the growth path Morbus Chron is on at the moment?
Robert Andersson: I still want to mention Autopsy. Sure, our sound has changed, but our influences really haven’t. It’s not like we’ve found a new band that we draw inspiration from. Autopsy and Death are still very present in our mix. We’re just twisting and bending those influences in weirder ways. The biggest change though and what has contributed the most to this “transformation”, is that we’ve let our own voice speak the loudest. We’ve filled the album with a lot of ideas that aren’t directly inspired by other bands or music. Not consciously at least…So, this is pretty much the result when we aren’t trying to sound a certain way or fit within a specific genre.

At what point did you figure out Sweven would be pretty different from Sleepers in the Rift?
Robert Andersson: We knew pretty much from the get go that it would be different, but not exactly in what way. Sleepers in the Rift is a good album, but it was written with a strict set of rules. Not everything was “allowed”. You know, whatever we wrote, it had to pass through the Autopsy-filter. With Sweven, the only rule was that there would be no rules. We had free hands. Two very different mind sets, which resulted in two very different records.

Was the album written with a central point or theme? At first, it feels all over the place, but slowly the pieces of the puzzle start to come together.
Robert Andersson: That’s sort of how it felt to write the record, like we were laying a big puzzle. It’s a diverse album that surely can take a few listens to fully grasp, but I think that’s a good thing. Everyone has those albums that are special to them. For me personally, a lot of my favorite albums weren’t at all love at first sight. It took a while to get into them. I get the feeling that people are getting worse at that. When everything is a click away, all that matters is the first 30 second impression. We don’t give ourselves enough time to discover the music. We wanted Sweven to be a coherent piece. Connected in music, lyrics and art. Something that would reward the listeners that actually sat down and experienced it as a whole.

I like how the vocals are sparse throughout. Was that part of the plan as you were writing Sweven?
Robert Andersson: I’ve always written the songs without lyrics/vocals in mind. They’re all instrumentals until much later on. Usually there will be obvious riffs to sing on etc., but this time I had a really hard time fitting vocals on there. Often I found myself thinking the vocals took away more than they added. And that’s why there’s a general lack of vocals, because I’ve only sung when I thought the song really needed it. I like to think that as I grow as a song writer, I’ll eventually find myself not needing to express anything in words anymore. But still, the screams are a big part of the band. So they’ll most likely always be there in some way or another.

Do you have a favorite tune on Sweven? So far I’m torn between “Towards A Dark Sky” and “The Perennial Link”.
Robert Andersson: Boring answer, but I like the album as an album. That’s when I think each song really reaches its true potential. They all add something equally important to the end product. But some parts are extra special. For instance, the outro to “Terminus”, which is one of my favorite moments. Overall, the acoustic/clean parts really hit it home with me.

What’s happening with the album art? Reminds me of something early Pink Floyd. Like a death metal take on Meddle or A Saucerful of Secrets.
Robert Andersson: We’re still working with the same guy, Raul Gonzales, a talented Spanish artist. As soon as we had the concept in place, we began discussing ideas. We provided him with lyrics and demos of the songs and basically told him to illustrate the album how he saw fit. He really nailed it. I couldn’t imagine the album without the art today. Any comparison with Pink Floyd I’ll take as something very positive. I’m listening to Meddle as we speak actually.

Sweven’s about dreams. Sleepers in the Rift talks about sleeping. What’s so fascinating about dreams and sleep to Morbus Chron?
Robert Andersson: Even if the title may suggest so, Sleepers in the Rift isn’t about sleeping at all. Sleepers is more referring to slumbering Aeons. It was just something Lovecraftian. Sweven on the other hand is exactly what the title suggests: an album about dreaming. Why? Well, I’m a tired guy who spends too much time wondering about other worlds. This was a way for me to write a record that was disjointed from anything real. Something alien that I could lose myself in. A total release, like a trip or, you guessed it, a dream.

OK, so you worked with Nicke Andersson and now Fred Estby as producers. What’s the greatest thing they’ve taught you?
Robert Andersson: To bring the best out of us, performance-wise. Not settling for anything half-assed, and not spending lots of time and effort to perfect something that was already good.

You guys have that old-school death metal look. Reminds me of the photos of the early Entombed and Dismember and Unleashed lineups. Is that intentional? Robert Andersson: No, not really. It’s just that metal people tend to lean towards leather and jeans. We are no different!

What do you think of the reception so far? People seem to really like what you’re doing.
Robert Andersson: The overall reception has been very positive. I think we were a bit caught off guard by the fantastic response. Of course we think the album is great, but you can never be sure how well it will translate onto others. A complete hatred for the record wouldn’t have made me doubt its quality, but it feels good knowing that other people are getting into it as well.

Wait. Edvin Aftonfalk is Nicke Andersson’s brother? Say it ain’t so.
Robert Andersson: I’m afraid that is the truth. Half brothers. Both are left handed and both wear a cap.

** Morbus Chron’s new album Sweven is out now on Century Media. It’s available as a bundle (HERE) or as a CD (HERE). We highly recommend it, actually. It’s Album of the Year material.