INSISION is one of the best pure fuckin’ Death Metal bands hailing from Sweden these days! Period. These guys finally bring back the necessary brutality to a musical genre that lately was mostly dominated by bands from the US. The nice blokes at the Earache sublabel Wicked World quickly noticed INSISION’s potential and signed them straight away. And as the first result of this co-operation we have a masterpiece of an album now, entitled “Beneath The Folds Of Flesh”, which consists of several demo classics as well as new brutal shit. Time for us to hook up with guitarist Roger and vocalist Birath for an in-depth conversation about past, present and future of INSISION…
INSISION’s origin already goes back to early 1997 and according to your bio the band was formed out of the ashes of the two bands EMBALMER and ILDOOR. Who of you was actually in which of those bands, did you ever record anything with them, how long did those bands exist and how would you describe them musically?
Roger: "It was Joonas Ahonen, guitar player in ILDOOR and Patrick Muhr, guitarist in EMBALMER who talked about forming some sort of a Death Metal project. Discussing it with Thomas Daun, who in those days played in EMBALMER. They formed the band INSISION together with the vocalist of both EMBALMER and ILDOOR, namely Johan Thornberg. EMBALMER and ILDOOR never recorded anything and I think they existed only a few months. Music wise it was some kind of Death Metal… I think it worked out better when they joined forces!"
The INSISION debut demo “Meant To Suffer” was released in 1998. Unfortunately I never got my hands on that tape so please tell us a bit more about it – how you found out about Necromorbus Studio (where you recorded it), how long you stayed in that studio (including mix) and also a little bit about the four featured songs ’Paedophilia Cum Sadissimus’, ‘Meant To Suffer’, ‘Drain Your Soul’ and ‘I Am The Worm’.
Birath: "Well it was Thomas who got in contact with Tore over at N.M… the sound is quite crappy and the songs are slow as hell, still INSISION style but rather like… slower. Hmmmm. This was a long time ago and I can’t really answer more about it. No one, except Thomas, from that time is still active in the band (and Thomas PC is screwed so he can’t answer it right now). But I think “Meant To Suffer” got good response in those days, as a brutal pice. Compared to all the others. Still it was just the beginning…"
How many copies did you spread of that tape, was it mainly locally or already throughout the worldwide underground network? What kind of response did you receive and is the tape still on sale?
Birath: "Well mainly underground but I think it went out in approximately 1000 copies and as I just told, did get good response. As a Swedish Death Metal band playing something not so Swedish at all."
Why did you just re-record ’Paedophilia Cum Sadissimus’ for the mini CD later on – weren’t you completely satisfied with the other material any longer?
Roger: "The main reason was actually because the material was pretty low standard plus that we wrote some new material as we progressed with new members and shit and the songs became better I think. So it wasno good idea to use old songs from "Meant To Suffer" on the mini CD. We had better material that we wanted to use, that’s it."
Roger, in 1998 you joined INSISION, replacing former guitarist Patrik Muhr… How did that change actually come about? Was Patrik not interested to continue on with the band, have there been musical differences or wasn’t he able to progress in the same way as the other members?
Roger: "Yeah, 1998 I joined INSISION after a phone call I got from the other guitarist Jonas Ahonen. He just said that the other guitarist had quit and that they were looking for a new one. I didn’t now the guys back then. The reason that he quit was personal. It was not that he didn’t progress or anything. He knew his instrument well. Actually he came back after we had recorded the mini CD and it was then I got to now him. We had a project going there for a while, me Thomas and Patrick that we called MEAT he he. It was one of the sickest music I ever played. It was like up and down tempos switching back and forth every fucking second with very sick drumming. And when there was time to go into the studio and record Patrick left again, pretty strange he he…"
Tell us a bit about your former band DISFIGURED. Did you record anything with them? How did you get together with the INSISION guys and was DISFIGURED still going after you left?
Roger: "DISFIGURED were a five piece of good musicians that could have been something if everybody just had wanted it bad enough, but sadly some of the guys didn’t take the thing that seriously. And of course I got tired of the whole thing so it came naturally that DISFIGURED split up and I left. We played some gigs but did never get to record anything. The other guitar dude in DISFIGURED now plays in CONSTRUCTDEAD. Still active. After DISFIGURED I played with some other projects but did never really write anything in those bands. I stepped in as a second guitarist and went with the riffs that the other guys had worked out."
According to your info sheet you were the main reason why INSISION became a lot more technical and brutal… So, were the other guys still too immature songwriters back then or not yet quite certain about the musical direction of the band or what?
Roger: "He he well, I don’t want to say that I came in there and took over the whole thing. It was rather that I maybe had a little different background of practising. It’s all you can do if you want to become good on your instrument. Practise and listen to other players. It’s maybe not the funniest thing to sit home and practise but it is the only way if you want to be good at this kind of music. And if you don’t have the time to do it, it’s maybe better to do something else. We have always known what we wanted to achieve with the musical direction, it was just that things got in the way of the guys who quitted, they maybe found out that the band took too much time."Birath: "I think it’s all about how focused you are. If a band keeps switching members all the time it can be hard to stay focused. But in my opinion I think it was a major change when Roger came, however I was not involved back then but if you listen to the tape ("Meant To…") and compare the way the songs are put together you easily see what I mean."
For how long is Thomas also involved in REPUGNANT and will they release something new in the near future?
Roger: "He has played drums in REPUGNANT now for about one and a half years. I don´t know so much about their plans but I’m pretty sure that they’ll be releasing something in the future, though they don’t have a label right now."
Birath: "Yup, I think Thomas said something about them recording something in July or something like that…"
How did you hook up with Heathendoom Music so quickly? I mean as far as I know you hadn’t recorded anything new at the time yet, so what made them offer you a deal? Was it still because of the tape or did they see you guys live or at a rehearsal maybe?
Roger: "The thing is that we had known Per, the guy who is the owner of Heathendoom, for a time and when he saw the development of INSISION he just offered us a deal of one MCD and we saw it like a good start. But I can honestly say that it wasn’t well played back then. We were still developing musically as a group and ok we still are now as well but compared to today the feeling to play is way better than before. The best is still to come in the future I think."
The mini CD "The Dead Live On" was once again recorded at the Necromorbus Studio in January 1999, and released just one month later. What made you record there again – were you satisfied with what you achieved for the “Meant To Suffer” tape, was it because of financial reasons or is the studio located in your area? How many copies have been made of that mini CD, were you completely satisfied with how it turned out and the overall work of Heathendoom Music to distribute / promote it?
Roger: "I think it was about 1000 copies that were made and well we are pretty satisfied with the way it turned out with the recording and so on. But there could have been a little better promotion from Heathendoom’s side. I think that they could have had distributed the CD more to the underground scene cause they did have a lot of more CD’s left so we had to buy it back from them to and distribute them ourselves as good as possible."
That mini CD most recently got re-issued by Immortal Soul Productions with two extra songs… What was the reason for that re-release and do you think that it really made sense that you added ‘Trapped Within’ and the DEATH cover ‘Zombie Ritual’ to it? I mean both got recorded many years later and are musically not exactly in the same style that the band played back in those days, so
Roger: "To have two extra tracks on it is just to let everybody now that we are still making songs and are developing. Though you are right in the way that it’s not really the same songs musically. But we are open for that kind of things of releasing bootlegs and splits and stuff just to let more people get involved in INSISION. I mean why be negative about getting more people involved into Death Metal. I think the music itself deserves it."
Birath: "It was Jurai over at I.S.P who came with the idea of the re-release… Hmmm…. The only problem is that we haven’t received any fucking CD’s yet! Fucking late as usual!"
When and why did your bass player Janne and your original singer Johan exactly leave INSISION?
Roger: "Janne was very involved in his own project, ARS MORIENDI while he played with us. He felt more like a “stand in” until we found another. And then he was recruited to do military duty in Finland. That was when he decided to leave INSISION. And Johan got tired of he whole thing and didn’t find the time to be active or involved in the band. I mean you have to be focused and interested."
How did Daniel of DELLAMORTE get together with you as Janne’s replacement? Was he just a session member in the first place? What kind of band is DISKONTO, in which he’s also involved in
Roger: "Daniel stepped in as a permanent member directly. He has a pretty long experience of touring and has many contacts with guys who arrange concerts from the time he played with DELLAMORTE and DISKONTO though he doesn’t play in any of the two bands today. He has a great bass technique and feeling for the music, so he’s a great member for us. DISKONTO is more of a Crust Punk band really. Kind of cool stuff!!"
Did it take you long until you found Carl Birath, who became your new vocalist? Tell us more about his former band AZATOTH and their previous activities. And also about the SUPERIOR project he’s also involved in.
Roger: "Actually Carl went to our last gig when Johan was the singer and some weeks after we called him and he came to a rehearsal and just kicked amazingly major ass. Personally I think he is he best Death Metal singer that you can have in a band. On stage he is fucking amazing and he really works hard on the lyrical parts that he write."
Birath: "SUPERIOR was a Black Metal project me and Tobias Forge from REPUGNANT were doing some years ago… don’t really remember. A 2-man band. Fuck it was the first time I met Tobias… Haha… All dressed up as a hardcore 16-years old Black Metal head. This was some years ago… haha! He asked if I was interested in doing something with him and I said sure… I remember having a discussion about less Black Metal and more Death Metal influences with him. Anyway we released 2 demos. About 100 copies all together, so if anyone has one you’re sitting on a rarity!! He he."
Up to that point – did INSISION play out live very often? If so, with which bands and in which areas do you enter the stage and how was the response from the crowds? Were they already aware of you guys before the shows or did you gain most of your new fans by playing with more well known acts such as DARK FUNERAL, HYPOCRISY, MERCILESS or THE HAUNTED?
Roger: "Not so many people knew about INSISION but we did get a great response from the crowds when we played the shows with the bigger acts. I think we have gained many new fans from those gigs. But the best response from the hardcore die-hards in the underground who bought our stuff and supported us, and still do… But now with the coming album we will prove that we belong to the top Death Metal acts in the future."
What was the reason for you to record another demo (“Promo 2000”)? I suppose that you already received some label offers before, so was it really necessary? Or was your main goal to sign with a more established company maybe?
Birath: "As the major change in the line up took place… I think everyone was really sick of just doing nothing and everyone wanted to do something new and fresh with all the new material and new gained power. We wanted a new start. The music became more violent and aggressive… and instead of letting the MCD be or “face out” we wanted to show what we had become. And I think the “Promo 2000” proves it! Fuck man we are musicians we can’t just sit around. Better produce, then rot away. It was because of that tape that we got in contact with Earache (for the second time really) and started to work on our deal with Wicked World. INSISION had a new face, we just grinned and showed it!"
Roger: "Yeh, it took a while to get new fresh members who not just sit around and wait for something to happen. Not that I felt that with Johan or Joonas but in my previous bands it was very hard to get the group involved. Actually Earache contacted us when we had released the MCD but wanted to hear from us a bit later. We didn’t think of it so much after that. Later when we had recorded the "Promo 2000" we sent it around to a bunch of labels and Dan Tobin (Wicked World ) just contacted us again and from then it continued. We got some respons from some minor labels but since Wicked World showed the interest we focused on that."
In May 2000 you entered a different studio (Real Studio) for the first time for the recordings of that tape. What lead to this decision and how would you compare your experiences in both studios? Was it the right time for a change?
Birath: "Yes! We wanted to try out something else… Just for a change. As the line-up felt fresh we tried another studio. The sound came out kind of hard and harsh…Very cool sound. The Real Studio was more of a regular music studio with not that much experiences in Death / Black Metal music… And it wasn’t at all as relaxed as the Necromorbus Studio is. But it worked. Everything was recorded in the same room. A cellar-place with some analogue recording equipment."
Roger: "Everything went very fast, we got in, recorded, mixed it and there it was. Everything is about how much you are prepared."
Up to that point you were still in need of a second guitarist as Joonas wasn’t with you anymore (by the way, when and why did he leave?). Why was it so difficult to find a proper replacement and when and how did you find Toob Brynedal, former guitarist and vocalist of GENOCIDE FEROX? Some info about his former band would also be appreciated… By the way, is the band’s name GENOCIDE FEROX or GENOCRUSH FEROX?
Birath: "Joonas Left between the MCD and the "Promo 2000". The reason was, he just felt uninterested. Nowadays he’s still a good friend and often helps out in driving to concerts etc etc. You know… It’s always hard to find good guitar players… especially when they have to get up to Roger’s level. But hardest of all is to find someone to fit with the different characters in the band. I think that’s why it became so screwed up before. Good musicians, bad characters. Thomas got in contact with Toob Brynedal from GENOCRUSH FEROX (and yes that’s GENOCRUSH not Genocide), he fitted well with his laidback personality and good guitar works. GENOCRUSH… was a band that, too bad for them, but fucking great for us, split up just a couple of months before we met Toob. Actually they played classic old school Death Metal… Fucking great shit!!! I think they released a CD-R or something… Maybe a demo-tape before that."
Roger: "I think Toob is a great guy who fits perfectly because of his laid back attitude and his skills. Hope this line-up will stand forever."
You played your first show with him opening up for Mexico’s DISGORGE… When and were exactly was that and how did that show turn out?
Birath: "It was hmmmm… early last summer, on the 15th of April 2001 at the Gothenburg “Only Death Is Real # 6”. It went on fine… God audience support, well just a fucking great gig. INSISION and DISGORGE totally dominated. Toob did a great job and felt good about it… We had a huge drinking party afterwards and got good friends with DISGORGE… By the way, they are re-releasing our "Demo 2000" again on their own label!! Very cool! New layout and some other shit as well…"
When did the Greek label Nuclear Winter Records get in touch with you with the idea to release a split 10” with INVERACITY and why did you go back to Necromorbus Studio for that?
Birath: "Before we really signed the deal with Earache we recorded the "Revelation Of…" tape over at Necromorbus Studio. the reason for getting back there was just lack of time and money. As we know the dude who works there we thought, hey what the fuck, let’s just put this shit down and get it done!! I think the sound is ok. What is your opinion??" (yep – it’s KILLER!!! – Frank)
Why did you also use those recordings as another promo demo ("Revelation Of The Sado God")?
Birath: "As the 10” was supposed to be released much earlier but got delayed. We decided to release it in a limited edition (500 copies) as a tape. Hey, tapes are very cool, people seem to forget that. It’s the whole feeling of putting a tape into your tape-recorder and pressing play. Tapes RULE!!!"
There’s also a CD version available of that split 10”, which was released by the German company Revenge Productions. When did they step into the picture and were you pleased with the idea to release that on CD as well?
Birath: "Over at Nuclear Productions Anastasis had some economical problems I think. He was already in contact with Revenge and they were interested to help out. Well at least that’s what I’ve heard. Anyway it’s cool that Revenge is releasing it coz that means more people get to hear it!"
Was it actually planned from the beginning to include the DEATH cover as well or were you originally contacted by a company who wanted to release a DEATH tribute album, which seems to happen all the time these days?
Birath: "Haha… well, the reason why we did ‘Zombie Ritual’ was simply because we love that song. Chuck hadn’t died then and we didn’t think he would either. Afterwards some dudes have been in contact with us about getting us into this DEATH hysteria thing with all that its worth, but we said no. We did ‘Zombie Ritual’ and that’s it."
Did (do) you play any other cover songs during your live shows or rehearsals?
Birath: "We never play any covers live. Once at some gig we did ‘Zombie Ritual’ but that’s all. If we are going to do a cover it will be something different I promise!"
At which point of time did Wicked World / Earache get in touch with you and where they the only bigger company with serious interest in INSISION or what made you sign with them?
Birath: "Basically, we had been sending around promos to at least every fucking company we liked, but did only get this pre-printed “Sorry we’re full… bla bla blalalal” – letters back, but most of the time they didn’t even answered. Earache came with a deal that worked, and we took it. No bother hanging around dreaming of golden forest and being “true” we got realistic… We were fed up not getting anywhere so after a year of deciding we grabbed it and the deal was done! As simple as that!"
Roger: "Why sit and wait forever until you get 40 or something. All we want to do is to play and release brutal music and now it’s time to do it. We have good contact with the guys at W.W. and we hope it will continue."
Tell us all necessary details about the album, like when you recorded it, why you mostly used songs off those promo demos, who came up with the idea to use the Berno Studio and if you already regretted that you went for a Mike Bohatch cover as that caused quite a massive delay, right? Fill us with all the details.
Birath: "Beneath The Folds Of Flesh" was recorded 1/10 – 14/10 2001. We used the older material mostly because of the lack of new material. I think it’s better not to use bullshit as extras just because you want to do a longer record, better use songs you are satisfied with. But also because we wanted to give those older songs a “new chance”, you know, after all we only released the “Promo 2000” in 1500 copies and the “Revelation Of…” – tape / 10” in 1000 copies, so not so many people have heard them. Concerning the studio decision – we talked a lot about different studios, Dug-out etc I think even Daniel talked about Abyss, but that was not even worth mentioning. We wanted a “not so used” – studio which was able to bring us a fresh sound without sounding like all the rest. Thomas came up with the idea about Berno and we checked it out and decided that it was simply the best idea so far and went for it! We don’t regret having M.Bohatch as the cover artist, what we do regret is having him as a layout artist. He’s very, very talented when it comes to plain art but when it comes to being creative in the vain of doing an interesting layout he sucks, well that’s my opinion and is relative. Others may think in other lanes but that just their fault. Without speaking too much bullshit I also think it had to do with us being a bit late with our ideas and shit. First Wicked World wanted to use the dude who did the BEHEMOTH covers but the work he sent did not cope with what we wanted so we just said no. Wicked World has been very easy to work with especially Rob Harris who is in charge of the cover part. Anyway, we chose Mike and this cover because we wanted something direct but in the same time abstract and not made with computer rendered picks and paintbrush shit, that every new band uses these days. I think it’s a classic. Made as a picture first then he probably used oil paint to cover it up, only leaving the one eye sticking out. It’s a “love or hate” picture. I mean either you understand it or you don’t. I fell for it first time I saw it. The only thing we have done is taking away all the colour and making it even more abstract. What do you think?" (I think it’s different, but don’t really think it will help the sales of the record… narrow minded Death Metal fans probably prefer the more cliche type art – Frank)
How big was the input of DERANGED’s Johan Axelsson’s in the studio? Did you come up with many advices or maybe even plays on the record himself?
Birath: "Johan was great to work with. He’s a good listener and understands what you want and how to do it. He was not involved more then necessary, but came with good ideas. Great guy with same humour as me."
Roger: "I felt totally relaxed when we worked with Johan. We only got like two weeks to record everything so when I begun to lay down the guitar tracks it went like super fast but in a relaxed way. It’s very important when you record your first CD to have guys that understand what kind of musical thing we want to achieve. It couldn’t be a better person than Johan. Though I hope that next time we get more time in the studio."
When did you actually write ‘World Impaled’, ‘Temple Of Flesh’ and ‘My Fever’ – the only really unknown songs on “Beneath The Folds Of Flesh”?
Birath: "On the first day in the second month of the celebration of death!? No… ah ah, well, we wrote them some months earlier. I think ‘World Impaled’ was the first one, then we just got some kind of a energy rush and wrote the second two in a row. My absolute fave is ‘Temple Of Flesh’!"
It seems to me that you must be really sick and tired of what’s going on musically in your country these days… I mean, the glorious days when brutal bands like GRAVE, NIHILIST, CARNAGE, CREMATORY, MACABRE END and the likes still ruled the scene, almost nothing is left anymore and the so-called “melodic Death” took over. So, is it a goal for INSISION maybe to bring back that brutality of the past? Are there any bands that share your vision that you would like to mention here?
Roger: "Well those bands that are playing the so-called melodic Death are free to play whatever they want though we maybe not share the same musical direction hehe. Of course INSISION wants to bring the brutality back to this country and prove that we still want to compete among the top of the nations who bring out the brutal shit. We don’t want Sweden to be remembered as the country where all the bands became wimps and started playing folk songs. The time will tell how’s it going to be in the end. I mean you can see that’s pretty much good bands coming up now like VISCERAL BLEEDING, IMMERSED IN BLOOD etc. I think it’s a great progress."
In the meantime you already wrote a bunch of new songs, like ‘The Foul Smell Of Humans’, ‘Imminent Vision’ or ‘Shadow-less’… Do they differ in any way from the material on the album or have you found a musical direction that you are completely pleased with after all and that you will continue on with from now on?
Roger: "The new songs are going to be better and better in my opinion and that means more well thought out riffs that you can remember in your head. I think you can hear that in our new songs. They are more complex and very brutal. As I can say for now is that I’m very pleased what we have wrote so far and it’s just going to be better and better."
There’s a couple of shows coming up for INSISION in the near future, like the Gothenburg Deathfest in June, were you will share the stage with bands like Centurian, Impure, Spawn Of Possession, Immersed In Blood and many more… And there’s also talk about a full European tour, isn’t it? Will it still be with DYING FETUS?
Roger: "We are definitely going to play down in Europe as soon as possible I hope. It’s just up to the label if they want us to get down there. Gothenburg will be a blast. Many good bands there. We will go down there and do our best."
Well, I guess I’m running out of questions, so feel free to end this interview in any way you want.
Roger: "I just wanna thank you for a great interview and hope seeing all you freaks out in the pit when we’re coming to play."
Birath: "Hell yes!! Support the damn scene! Hail the serpent!"