Demo:listen: Nembutal Sleep

Short, fast and violent. If we’re talking about sleep, then these attributes are extremely unpleasant. Fortunately, we’re talking about a new hardcore punk duo from Stockholm, Sweden named Nembutal Sleep. As you’ll discover, theirs is an ironic name. And their demo is by no means a sedative. Although it may knock you out. Let’s meet Nembutal Sleep.

“Nembutal Sleep grew organically out of a bunch of ideas I had and the fact that I was missing something that sounded like it,” writes Eldar, Nembutal Sleep’s everything-but-vocalist. Eldar says Nembutal Sleep “was mostly about creating something that sounded like what I like about hardcore and sludge, but it was also about trying out new things and consciously moving away from the down-tuned metal-influenced sound that dominates the sludge label right now into a more hardcore punk oriented style, and trying out new ways to write songs.” He adds: “It was also about finding an outlet for and a way out of the dejection I was feeling at the time.”

band photo by Jimmy Wistrand

As you’ll hear evidence of all over the Nembutal Sleep demo, Eldar is no stranger to playing heavy music. “Currently I am focusing on writing new material for my slow death metal project Armus and my doom/folk project Eastern Lord but I am also busy playing drums for a old school black metal-influenced hardcore band called Drab.”

Vocalist Jens has been in a number of other bands, too.  “Former or current,” Jens says, there’s: “Noll Iq, Rawheads, Efemär, Arrogante, Sepulchral Frost, No Krångel, etc.”

When it came to Nembutal Sleep, Eldar decided to go it alone, for the most part. “By the time the songs were finished I just decided to go for it,” he remembers. “When I had finished writing the songs and they felt right I went to the rehearsal space and rigged up the gear and pressed record.” 

Eldar explains how Jens came to be Nembutal Sleep’s vocalist. “Jens and I met through hardcore punk shows and we talked regularly,” Elder tells us. “Both he and I play in a bunch of projects and we talked a lot about music and playing in general—and being miserable without meds haha. Anyway, we had been talking about doing something for a while and by the time I had finished up the recording I knew who to ask. Jens just fit the bill perfectly.”

As for their band name, Eldar says, “I came across the name Nembutal when reading about how Marilyn Monroe died. Nembutal is also administered during executions, and in assisted death. It stuck with me because there is alot tragedy attached to the word Nembutal. That in turn reminded me of a song titled “Nembutal Sleep” by a band called Sanctuary in Blasphemy which a couple of good friends of mine were playing in way back. So the band name was pretty much taken from that song title.” Eldar adds that Sanctuary in Blasphemy “released an impressive discography with a unique, really dark take on stoner metal/sludge. Relevant for anyone into the genre.”

We ask about the band’s themes of daily mental health struggles and trouble sleeping. Jens says, “That’s daily life for a lot of people, both of us [in Nembutal Sleep] included. Look out the window and you’ll know why. Wars are still being fought, starvation, pollution, misinformation and global pandemics, meanwhile the rich get richer. It’s a cliché but this world still fucking sucks. Top that off with personal demons to fight on a daily basis. At least these days there’s drugs for that, by which I mean both medicinal and non-medicinal.”

Anyone else getting a strong Suicidal Tendencies vibe? Maybe mixed with some Eyehategod. Are we close? Eldar admits: “It is all over the place really, but obviously the late ‘80s and early to mid ‘90s periods of bands like Eyehategod, Buzzoven and Cavity had something to do with how it sounds, but more so bands like Celtic Frost, Type O Negative, Sheer Terror and Siege inspired me a lot. But if  I’d be more general about it, old school doom like Candlemass, Saint Vitus and hardcore created the mold that Nembutal Sleep was shaped in.”

We ask if the demo took a while to write or if it was all done in a burst of inspiration. Eldar tells us: “Somewhere in between both, basically the riffs would come in bouts of inspiration. The basic song itself that is. By taking my time I mean it was not like I would be intently focusing on details and be meticulous with the material, but rather let it grow over time. Add little details and let the songs develop on its own. They were done when they were done.”

As for the lyrics, Jens says, “Basically Eldar hit me up, he had everything done but vocals. We clicked early on so I wrote some lyrics which we both could stand for and took it from there.” He continues to say, “Lyrically it’s mostly stuff that’s been going on around me, shit that happened to me or my friends or relatives. I have periods when I don’t write anything at all and periods when I’m almost manically productive and creative. I listen a lot to old school sludge but when Eldar showed the instrumental tracks I didn’t expect the powerviolence starts and stops, fast hardcore beats and mangling doom all crammed into one.”

I mean, who could have?

When it was time to record the demo, Eldar says, “The hardest part technically was getting the tempo changes right on the drums. The drums were recorded to a click track which was difficult but a good learning experience, I just kept recording takes until it sounded right. The second challenge was getting the drums to sound right. I was listening a lot to Life is Killing Me by Type o=O Negative around the time I was mixing it and the drum sound really clicked with me. So I decided to mix triggered drum sounds from old sound modules with the Fibes kit which I tracked the drums on. The guitars were quad-tracked on an Ampeg VH140C. But I think the biggest challenge was finding the energy and motivation to do it, but I just pushed forward and I am glad I did. The whole thing was recorded on a weekend.”

As for stand-out tracks, Eldar tells us, “My personal favourites are the intro and ‘Zoloft Warrior.’ The intro was the first track I started on the project and when I realised that I wanted to do something more with this idea—so everything kind of grew out of that song. ‘Zoloft Warrior’ was the most fun to write and record, and where I felt I got the concept most right. My friend Nayeem also did a sick video for it which you should check out [streaming above].”

“For me it’s probably ‘Curse’ or ‘Zoloft Warrior,’” says Jens. “They speak to my punk roots.”

Eldars says “There are no concrete plans for [the release of a physical version of the demo] right now, but it is something we want to do in the future for sure.”

Since finishing and releasing the Nembutal Sleep demo, Eldar says he’s been: “Writing more riffs and recording more material” for the band. His plans, he says, are to “keep developing the project and trying out new things. I am looking forward to whatever this project has in store for us.”

For Jens’ part, he’s been “Spreading it around like a plague.” He says, “I’m thankful for every praise we’ve gotten so far, glad to hear people dig that slow depressing shit.”

Go get some Nembutal Sleep!