When Swedish supergroup–members also call Entombed A.D., Unleashed, Necrophobic, Usurpress home–Fireborn phoenixed into Firespawn in 2015, few expected such proficient, punishing death metal. The band’s debut, “Shadow Realms”, took the tenets of classic sounds, Stockholm and Tampa Bay, and twisted them into a nastier, more incendiary style. Thus, Firespawn was born!
Two years after “Shadow Realms”, the Swedes have returned, this time with something to prove (to themselves) and with a goal (to surpass “Shadow Realms” in every respect). Enter “The Reprobate”. From the moment lead track ‘Serpent of the Ocean’ hits, it’s clear Firespawn aren’t interested in playing it easy or paint-by-numbers death metal. The roots of Firespawn–Stockholm and Tampa Bay–are intact, but there’s more venom, more intensity, and more death metal proficiency on offer. Tracks ‘Blood Eagle’, ‘Death by Impalement’, and the title track define death metal for a new generation. Even though the members of Firespawn are indeed veterans.
Read on as bassist Alex Impaler and guitarist Victor Brandt detail the Devil found imbued in “The Reprobate”. Horns way up!
The collective of Firespawn has been doing death metal for over 25 years now. What do you think it means to be doing death metal into your 40s? Obviously, we’re in the same boat, but I come from the word side of things. But I think it’s in our blood. The music replaced something in our synapses.
Alex Impaler: Yeah, we have quite some years of death metal together. To us, it is as natual as putting on a pair of pants in the morning before going out. To be doing death metal in our 40s means that we love what we are doing and love our way of life. I don’t think none of us could see us doing something else. This is who we are, and death metal is the path we have chosen. It’s not just a musical style, it’s a lifestyle. As you say, it’s in our blood.
Victor Brandt: Yeah, it is definitively a lifestyle. Even though death metal is something extreme it feels and comes natural. Sometimes I don’t even reflect over it. I can listen to Morbid Angel, then Miles Davis or Keith Jarrett and Cannibal Corpse. And I don’t think of it as a big difference. Just a different flavor. It is in our blood for sure. This is something we must do. Regardless, I’m not interested in doing anything else. And we all like to work hard and get things done. Blessing and curse, I guess.
What separates “Shadow Realms” from “The Reprobate”? Musically and vibe-wise.
Alex Impaler: Musically, it’s way different. “Shadow Realms” was, in a way, a try out, to explore our sound. In the beginning, we know how we wanted it to sound, but not really how to get there. As all new bands in the beginning, I guess. Nonetheless, I think we executed “Shadow Realms” very well. It’s an open fire, in-your-face kind of album. On “The Reprobate”, we have a found our sound in a whole new level and we know each other way better musically also. There is also more thought behind “The Reprobate”. Vibe-wise, I think that people will feel that “The Reprobate” is more grandiose. It’s a bigger, faster, more evil album. You can compare the two like this. “Shadow Realms” is mad doctor slicing you up while “The Reprobate” is a grand coliseum with gladiators and carnivores slicing you up. They are both spot on, but they are creepy in different ways.
Victor Brandt: To me, it is a natural step. A progress and continuation both as a band as an album. Some parts of “Shadow Realms” I had written about 10 years earlier. I wrote the main riff in ‘Necromance’ in an apartment in London on a day off on a tour several years back. But some of those riffs and parts never became songs. I did not have anywhere to make use of them, really. So, in a way “Shadow Realms” took longer to write. “The Reprobate” was a much faster process. We even had material ready before “Shadow Realms” was released. And since we play live as much as we can, the live performance aspect was something we thought a lot about too. We now have a wider selection when we play live. Since we know what type of feeling or style of songs we felt we wanted to add to the live set we made that happen with “The Reprobate”. I feel that the new album is more direct and that we have added something new while maintaining our style.
Would I be correct in suspecting there’s a bit of new fire in Firespawn on “The Reprobate”? It’s so fast, so aggressive, yet it’s still quite memorable. What do you think attributed to this new fire?
Alex Impaler: Yeah, I agree. As I said before, we have found our sound on “The Reprobate”. Rome wasn’t build in one day and the road to perfection doesn’t happen over night either. With that said, “The Reprobate” is more perfect than “Shadow Realms” sound-wise, but “Shadow Realms” is a rock-solid, aggressive first album that was made to make a mark and place us on the map, which it did.
Victor Brandt: Thank you very much! If we can catch the fact that we really enjoy what we’re playing on the album, that’s perfect. I think you can hear when the music is honest and when the playing comes from the heart. We have been doing this for so long so we don’t feel the need to prove anything. We would do this and sound like this regardless of anyone listening or paying attention. This is not just something we enjoy doing, we must do it. I think everyone in the band really likes to do something different than the other bands we are in. That can really spark that creativity and energy that you need to keep it sounding vital and sincere.
Which bands are your primary inspiration? I mean, bands that on the first note make you take notice, focus in on the music, and revel in it all?
Alex Impaler: The main influences for us I would say are: Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, and some Behemoth. Victor, who writes the music, is very influenced by Tampa Bay area death metal.
Victor Brandt: I agree with Alex and I think that we get a Scandinavian vibe to our sound just from being who we are. Since this is such a open canvas for us, we can do whatever we feel like and be inspired to create what we feel like we would like to listen to ourselves.
What I like about L.G. vocals in Firespawn is that they’re different from his work in Entombed and Comecon. He’s deeper, more gruesome. Was that the idea to separate his vocals in Firespawn from his more known acts, that have a specific L.G. style?
Alex Impaler: That’s the whole idea. We don’t want this band the sound in any way like our other bands. Not musically or the sound of L.G.’s voice. When we recorded him, I tried to push him to go deeper and deeper and we found out that he’s really comfortable with that low pitch. I think he sings better in Firespawn than in any other band. As the rest of us, he truly found his Firespawn ‘sound’ on “The Reprobate”.
Victor Brandt: L.G. loves death metal. The more extreme and violent the better. He is not slowing down. So, I think he really enjoys to be even more brutal and extreme. And it wouldn’t make sense to do something in Firespawn that we are already doing. We want to do something new and something different. A new challenge is always inspiring.
What is “The Reprobate” about? A person, a collective, or a thing like the Great Beast?
Alex Impaler: “The Reprobate” is all those things. It is also a state of mind. ‘A’ or ‘The’ reprobate is a person/creature that is total shameless and morally unprinciple of his actions. I would say that it is correct to say that the Fallen One was and still is a reprobate. A reprobate is also condemned to eternal damnation. He is so deep in his hate for the greater good so there is no ‘salvation’ in sight.
In Calvinist theology a reprobate is someone predestined for damnation. Is that how you feel?
Alex Impaler: Yeah, sometimes. [Laughs]
Victor Brandt: Death metal damnation.
Mr. Paolo Girardi reprised his role as the cover artist for Firespawn. Did you give Girardi direction or did he take it from music and/or lyric samples?
Alex Impaler: I gave him some pointers and some lyrics so he could get a feeling to what the cover should look like. He is a brilliant artist, so we really wanted him to do the second album as well.
Is there a central theme with the Great Beast being in the middle of the art?
Alex Impaler: Yes, of course. The Great Beast is the central theme in our music and lyrics. On this album, we took a journey into peoples’ minds and the the dark side of their inner selves. But still it is the Devil who is behind it all. As a trickster lurking in the shadows.
How are you expecting fans to react to “The Reprobate”?
Alex Impaler: I think our fans will hear a more well-writen album. Also a more aggressive, faster, bigger and more well-produced album. The sound on “The Reprobate” is the sound of Firespawn, and i think our fans will like it.
Victor Brandt: There is a lot of effort, time, work and heart put into it, which I hope will shine through. And I also hope it will make you drink insane amounts of beer and bang your head for Satan.
** Firespawn’s new album “The Reprobate” is out now on Century Media Records. It’s available on CD and LP. Order HERE.