A clear favorite of mine for the past few months, Sweden's Mortalicum have been hammering out excellent Doom and Heavy Metal since 2006. With two albums out on Metal on Metal records, debut Progress of Doom and follow-up The Endtime Prophecy, Mortalicum's next release could push the band into the heaving seas of the doom world, which they will surely ride into a gloriously somber and symbolic sunset. Crisp and clean riffs, memorable lyrics, strong vcocals... Mortalicum have everything a fan of bands like Sabbath, Pentagram, Saint Vitus and Deep Purple love. Bassist Patrick Backlund offered some time between the recording, mixing and mastering of their new album, "Tears From the Grave," to answer some quick questions.
Orion: How did Mortalicum form? Where did you all meet each other?
Patrick Backlund: Well, it started back in 2006 when I had the first ideas of putting a band together again. During the first year it was almost only a studio project of mine, but after a while and after some line-up changes things started to happen and we (Henrik, Andreas and myself) have been working as a band since early 2009. Mikael was also in the band from 2007, but decided to quit in early 2013. From then we have been working as a power-trio and it actually was like a new start for us and it made us remaining three to work even more focused on our parts in the songs.
Orion: Was the decision to play Doom conscious or did it just naturally end up that way when you started jamming?
PB: At the beginning, when it was only me who tried out some songs, it was more than doom. But when Henrik started with the vocals it was already decided to focus on the heavier side of the music, so you can absolutely say it is something that has naturally evolved while jamming. Though, we play not pure doom. We have quite a lot of old school metal and classic hard rock in our music as well.
Orion: You guys are from Sundsvall, a Swedish town not known for any major metal bands. There doesn't seem to be a huge Doom scene from your city. Is it difficult to find gigs with similar bands? What is touring / gigging like in your part of Sweden?
PB: Yes, it’s not easy since we are the only band in our region playing doom (at least what I know). However, doom is quite common in Sweden and we currently have two shows booked together with our label-mates in the southern part of Sweden. We do not play much in our home-town, but plan to do a show in March.
Orion: You obviously have a huge Doom influence but you also show hints of classic rock and hard rock influences. What bands have been influential to the sound of Mortalicum and what bands, if any, do you look to for inspiration?
PB: Black Sabbath is the main influence, but also the many great bands and sounds of the 70’s and 80’s. All the classic and good stuff!
Orion: Tell me about your first album, Progress of Doom. In my opinion, it's a really strong debut for the style of Metal you play. There's a lot of strong moments on the album. How did the deal with Metal on Metal records come to happen and how have they been to work with? I assume you've been happy since you also released The Endtime Prophecy with them.
PB: Thanks! Many of the songs hails from the period before the band was actually started. We finished the recording of that album on only four days plus another couple of days for mixing. The basic tracks (drums, bass and guitars) were recorded “live” in a local studio during two days and Henrik used one day for all vocals and one day for all leads. Quite crazy when you think of it, but that’s also the reason there are a few unpolished parts in there. When all was finished we put the song Into the Night up on our MySpace-page which grabbed the attention of Metal on Metal Records. Yes, we are really happy with the label. They are the real deal when it comes to Metal! Our next album will also be released on that label.
Orion: There seems to be a real working-man's energy to the tracks, especially a song like "Power and Control", which happens to be one of my favorites from the album. This is also prevalent in "Revolution in Vain," and "Inner Peace." You're lyrics are all very down-to earth but the themes hint at some real emotional events / feelings. What are your thoughts on the album's lyrics and can you shed some light on the themes and concepts which you were inspired by for this album? It seems a little different lyrically than on The Endtime Prophecy.
PB: The songs on Progress of Doom are written as single songs while many of the songs on The Endtime Prophecy are connected with each other. I don’t see myself as a great lyricist, that maybe the reason they seem down to earth. It’s hard to tell what inspires you to write and I always think I will never be able to write another lyric, but then a phrase, title or riff hits you and the words start to come together. Many of the songs on Progress of Doom share the soul (in different aspects) as the common theme.
Orion: "The Voyager" has a different feel than a lot of the other tracks on the album. It also seems to be far more upbeat and positive than other tracks. Can you shine some light onto this track?
PB: Well, basically it was just a great riff and it also in a way pays tribute to the rock part of the hard rock from the 70’ that we enjoy.
Orion: You released The Endtime Prophecy last year. It's gotten a lot of good reviews. The album is done really well and, I would have included it in my best of lists if I had heard it last year. You seem to have spent a lot of time on it. The songs are a little different to my ears, more doomy, less hard rock. Was there a difference in the writing for this album or was the subtle changes just part of the growing process? What differences do you hear on The Endtime Prophecy compared to Progress of Doom?
PB: Your kind words are much appreciated! The biggest change was most definitely a part of the growing process. We worked more as a band for this one when it came to writing the music.
Orion: Lyrically, there seems to be a greater focus on the self, as opposed to outward at society and larger themes. Your thoughts on the lyrics on the album? What's your favorite song, lyrically, and why?
PB: Personally I like the red line between the songs "Endtime Prophecy", "Devil’s Hand", "Embracing our Doom" and "The End." It’s like a mini concept within the album. It’s basically about our sun being a star that eventually will die out.
Orion: "Ballad of a Sorrowful Man." Tell me about the inclusion of this track on the album and about this song?
PB: Well, for starters it’s the kind of music I really like, with much emotion in melodies and solos. My opinion is also that it was needed to create a good mix of songs on the album.
Orion: Being a Doom band, from Sweden, do you feel a heavier expectation about what you guys should sound like compared to say, what you would imagine a Doom band from Russia would feel? Sweden is one of those countries which is known for their Doom.
PB: Not really, but you will of course always be compared to other bands from your country.
Orion: You've played some large shows and smaller shows I'm sure. What have been some of your most memorable - both good and bad - events playing live and why?
PB: We’ve actually only played smaller shows and festivals, and most have been great experiences. The festival in Wakefield and the classy Malta Doom Metal Festival stands out as the most memorable ones, in a good way of course! The opportunity to play to fans of the genre is so rewarding and during these festivals you meet so many old and new friends and fans, plus you get to see other great bands perform!
Orion: If I were to go to your house right now, what five albums would I be most likely to hear from your stereo system?
PB: You might get to hear Black Sabbath Mob Rules, Deep Purple Burn, Thin Lizzy Fighting, Blackfoot Strikes and maybe something of the older stuff from Saxon, AC/DC, Whitesnake or Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Orion: You're working on a new album as well? What are you current plans for that? What can we expect as far as songs, and style with this new release? Will there be any super long epic doom tracks or will you keep the tracks at a more reasonable length like on the first two albums?
PB: We have actually just finished the long writing, rehearsing, recording, mixing and mastering –process! We were delayed three months last year due to Andreas breaking his ankle. That is not a good thing for a drummer to do… Anyways, there will be nine songs included on the album. In general the songs are longer and many are doomier than before. The longest ones are 9:30 and 11:15 and the others are from 8min down to the more reasonable 4min. So, it will be a longer album than the previous two, but still with a good mix of songs. I can also promise a couple of really great and long guitar solos. I love those, so I always try to find ways to get them in there!
Orion: When can we expect a release of the new album? What will you guys be doing between then and now to help promote the release?
PB: The release is planned for end of April and like I mentioned earlier, we are scheduled to play a couple of shows in March, at the first edition of a doom festival in south of Sweden called Doom Over Scania. We really look forward to that!
Orion: Thanks for your time and killer tunes! Any last words before we digitally depart!?
PB: Thank you for this interview. Highly appreciated! Support the underground!!!