lright Thrashers and Thrashettes, the "Annihilation Agenda" album is released now through Blood Harvest Records (LP) and Iron Fist Production (CD). LETHAL impressed me a lot with their “Deliverance” 7”EP (Blood Harvest Records) and the same happened when I heard the above mentioned LP a few weeks ago and that’s reason enough to do an interview with them for these unholy pages. Mike was unusually fast with answering my questions (I wish it’d be more often like this, haha) so better start reading this interview with a band who knows how Thrash Metal should sound like even in the year 2008!!!
Hello Mike, how’s life? How do you feel these days?
"Hi Thomas! I’m fine and life is treating me well. The weather is complete crap so I stay indoors and listen to SPACE EATER and METAL CHURCH. Today is Erik’s (OLD guitarist, does guest vocals on the album as well as recording and mixing it all) birthday so the beers are a’comin!"
Your first album “Annihilation Agenda” is released for a while… Are you satisfied with it? Say some promoting words
"I most certainly am. It’s without a doubt our best release so far in my opinion, everything is simply better than it was before. It’s the next natural step after the EP I think, the demo was pretty rough and simplistic, the EP was more refined yet still raw and with fancier sound, and the album is again more developed in the songwriting and longevity sense as well as the actual excution of the trax. I think it’s really good, and I have impeccable taste so everyone should give it a try."
More about your debut album later. Please tell the readers what’s LETHAL all about? What are your goals and what do you want to achieve with your band?
"LETHAL is a band that plays Thrash fucking Metal the way we like it. We’re for people who think the reunited EXODUS sound too much like PANTERA and those who think DEATH ANGEL’s latest sound like modern SEPULTURA. We make Thrash the good way, and we’re good at it. We never were and never will be about making it big or even making money, we’re all about having a good time and playing what we want to listen to ourselves."
Are you aware of the fact that there is this old US Power Metal band with the same name that is active since the mid 80s? Do you think this name could cause you some problems for further releases?
"I am / we are, but none of us knew about that or were clever enough to look it up when we started. The American LETHAL can’t really claim the name as the Argentinians were earlier than them anyway so I’m not worried about that. Since the Americans reunited there’s some risk of confusion between us though I suppose, but anyone with access to Google and / or a brain can find out who’s who in a minute anyway, so no worries. We’re not trying to profit of their more known name and they probably don’t even know we exist…"
Tell some words about your sold-out “Deliverance” 7”EP.
"It sold out from the label in about a week and a half, which was a complete shock to me. Who the hell bought it?? It has three killer songs, one of which we made a video to. The video cost us one water melon, a roll of yarn and almost a pizza and turned out great. It holds a reenactment of the most stupid thing I’ve ever done and is recommended for everyone to watch! Personally, I think both the other two songs are better than that one (One is probably the longest one we’ve done and one sounds like SLAYER’s ‘Piece By Piece’) but neither of those have the mega hit potential that ‘Fire Reigns The Sky’ has."
As far as I know all Blood Harvest releases (at least talking about the seven-inches) are limited to 500 pieces and in case of interest a 2nd edition will be printed. How are the chances for your EP to get printed a 2nd time?
"We talked about it for the album release, as well as some kind of fancy cool edition with both the 7”, the album and some patch or something but that never really happened for some reason… The endless delays probably played a part (at least as much our fault as Blood Harvest’s so no shadow on the label in this case)."
Did I get it correct that your 7”EP first up was planned to be released through another label? What happened?
"It was originally planned to be released through Witches Brew from Germany, a label that had (and still has I think) only released CD albums of high quality. Since it’s good releases, the common man doesn’t care about them as the trend of the week is more important and they rarely have any money and shit like that, so it was first postponed for a bit and then some more and then the label closed down for the first time in a series of many and we started looking for others. We had some more SOONs before we talked to Blood Harvest who had it out really soon after the deal was made, and it turned out great even though it had been about a year after the recording."
How did the contract with Blood Harvest Records look like for the seven-inch and what about the current contract for your debut album with Blood Harvest and Iron Fist?
"We get 10% in EPs / LPs / CDs and that’s it pretty much. With Blood Harvest I also talked the boss into giving us a copy each of the MAGNUS LP."
On your homepage www.lethal.info.se you made a couple of live videos available as free download. Especially this cool 35 minutes long video “Live at House of Metal” is worth mentioning. Why do you focus so much on video recordings and do you have plans to release one or another of it as a regular release? Do you have friend with good video equipment?
"I wouldn’t really say we focus really much on videos, it’s just that we have some friends who are good at that shit (It’s more skills than equipment) and we exploit their skills as much as possible. Some day I hope I can give something in return more than a T-shirt, but what’s a poor Thrasher to do? They recently recorded an UNLEASHED gig that might be released as a DVD later on, so things are going well for them. Anyone who needs video stuff done, contact me and I’ll give you their addresses. Anyway, the House of Metal video is great, but the vocals pretty much suck on that one which is a shame in my opinion. I blame the mic! Other than that one there’s a bunch of videos of varying quality available on Youtube / Google video / our website and some day I hope to find the VHS of our very first gig, rip it onto the komputing machine and get that one available to the hordes as well. ANYWAY, to return to the question: I think we fucking rule live so everyone should see us, and since we can quite easily make video recordings available to everyone, we do it. Some are good, some are bad and some are horrendous."
I guess you play live quite regularly? Where and with which bands did you share the stage already?
"It’s not really that regularly, but we do have a gig every now and then. So far we’ve played with acts such as ENTOMBED, SATYRICON, DISMEMBER, TORN APART, ENTRENCH, ELECTRICUTION and EVOLVATOR to name a few. Most of our gigs have been in Umeå since noone wants to pay the gas for other trips except for the time we went to Boden to play with DARK LEGIONS."
What were the greatest live experiences you had so far?
"I think our most killer gig was the one at Verket which is a really realyl REALLY small venue here in Umeå with ENTRENCH, VILEFUCK, ELECTRICUTION and EVOLVATOR. All killer bands, and when we finished the gig off there was a big fucking hole in one wall and the cops came. Violence and bloodshed!"
Are you a friend of cover songs? I know that you played the song ‘Death By Hanging’ from HEATHEN. Why did you choose this song and did you play some other cover songs, too?
"I am in some ways, and in some not. I think it’s great when people make a cover that feels unique and creative, but I also like to hear killer bands play killer songs by other killer bands (OVERKILL opening at Wacken with Motörhead’s song ‘Overkill’ for example). In my opinion, covers aren’t regularly album material but rather B-sides and stuff you do live and at rehearsals. We play a fair number of classic Thrash covers, such as SODOM – ‘Agent Orange’, OVERKILL – ‘Deny The Cross’, the HEATHEN song you mentioned, lots of METALLICA and stuff like that. Also some other shit like SKITSYSTEM, EDDIE MEDUZA, IRON MAIDEN (as all bands do) and MANOWAR just for shits. Most of our covers are horrible, but some might be recorded some day or at least played live."
What about your older releases? Why don’t you offer them as free download or sell them as usual?
"We had the demo and our first gig ever as full free downloads and by now they’re pretty easy to find online if you know your way around some file-sharing programs. That’s the fastest and easiest way to find pretty much any music online, so we haven’t really bothered much with keeping our website up-to-date in that department (or in any other deparment either for that matter)."
Do you have some merchandise available right now?
"Nope, the very few extras I have are just about to ship out to people. For the time being, illegal file sharing is the way to go on all releases save the LP but I expect that will change eventually. If not, burn your own copies!"
The Swedish scene is quite active right now (well, actually all the time the last 18 years) and Blood Harvest offered some great names to the public like CORRUPT, NECROVATION or CEREMONIAL EXECUTION. What’s your opinion of the current scene in Sweden?
"Currently I think it’s great! Thrashwise, I don’t think Sweden has ever been as active as it is now. Sure, the bands we’ve had have generally been ace (more so than they are now in my opinion) but they have been few. Among the ones now active my personal favourites are ENTRENCH and CORRUPT in the Thrash Metal scene, and TRIBULATION and TORN APART in the Death Metal scene. Our guitarist Jonte plays drums in a Death Metal band called ENVENOMED who will hopefully have a killer demo out soon too, so be prepared."
Talking about your recently released first record. What is the “Annihilation Agenda”?
"Blood, death and hatred! We don’t feel the need (as many other bands for some reason do) to proclaim that we play Thrash Metal with ever single song off every single release we make, and we figure that people can tell we like beer and violence, so we just play assripping hellbanging Deathrashing annihilating Metal. Our album, played with all the knobs turned to 11 will demolish your house. That’s scientific, that is."
Under which circumstances did you record the album? How many days did you need recording it? Is there already something which you would change if you could record it again?
"It took us the evenings and weekend of one full week I think, maybe two weekends. We recorded it in an old barn that’s been rebuilt into a studio by the guy who owns it. It’s in Emil’s home village and it’s really cheap, and we had Erik doing the sound stuff so it’s actually our cheapest recording yet! I won’t tell you about the details I’d like to change because then that’s everything anyone who ever reads this interview will listen for from now on, but even though there are a few things we are very happy with the way it turned out."
In other words: Are you satisfied with this record and the way it finally turned out?
Before recording your debut album did you already have a contract for an LP (with Blood Harvest) and / or a CD (with Iron Fist) or did you decide to record an album anyway and praise it to the labels?
"We had the deals ready before we recorded it, but if we hadn’t we would have done so anyway and just hoped for the best. Stuff usually works out eventually, especially if the stuff is a fucking good Metal album."
What’s the reason why you didn’t use the songs from your 7”EP for your LP?
"Can’t really see a good reason to record and release the same songs again so soon after the initial release, can you? The 7” has been available until pretty recently if you know where to look, and it’s far from impossible that it’ll be available again some day, so there’s simply no reason. More Thrash for all involved if we release all brand new songs."
The layout of the LP is done in the good old 80s tradition. I mean we have a pretty colourful cover, a huge tank, many skulls and stuff like that on it, the fonts which you used for the booklet looks like an old typewriter. So what’s so attractive in “to be old-fashioned”?
"Personally I don’t see it as much as being old-fashioned as keeping it in the style we like… And that style happens to be quite impopular since some 20 years or so, but that’s not our fault."
What are your expectations with “Annihilation Agenda”?
"I expect that I will listen to it when I’m 94 years old and break my old fragile neck when I reminisce and realize how killerkool it is."
Talking about the future of LETHAL, what do you prefer: to be and stay on a small label or finally have the chance to get to a bigger label like e. g. Century Media or Nuclear Blast?
"Small label for sure. I don’t really like the way bigger labels turn Metal into a product. To me, music and industry have nothing in common, so I’d rather stay as far away from that part of it as possible."
What is so attractive to be on a small label?
"The dedication of all involved. Our music is all about heart, and if record labels feel the same way we do there’s no need for us to compromise with anything hellthrash-related. We have no pressure to sell this or that many albums because we work to pay our rent, and we don’t get pissed off when we don’t get royalties because we never expected any."
How are the reactions already for your band? Did you get a lot of feedback through interviews or reviews?
"Not really actually. I think the constant delays of first the EP release and then the album unfortunately have given people time to cool off and in some cases forget all about the releases. It’s generally been quite dead, so thanks for showing some interest!"
Strangely enough you don’t run a myspace-page up to now. Any reason for it?
"We don’t need one and Myspace is gay (finally someone shares my opinion! – Frank). That attitude probably makes us lose half a billion listeners a week or so."
Right now there are plenty of festivals all around during summer. Did you already get some request from any festival? Where would you like to play?
"We’re playing the Ume Thrash Metal Open Air with bands such as ENFORCER, EVOLVATOR, WASTER, IMMACULATE, DIVIDER, SLAVATOR and DR. LIVING DEAD (I think that’s all of them) so that’s a night you don’t wanna miss if you enjoy the current Swedish Thrash Metal scene. Other than that, there’s been none – we live a bit too far away from everything so noone could afford us even if they had heard us I think, and all we ask for is a few beers and some place to sleep."
Some words about your influences: you have that great oldschool sound, I love that but don’t you think you would be more successful and would reach a bigger audience with a more modern sound?
"Things such as successful and big audience don’t count for much in my opinion. Only death is real!"
A major influence of LETHAL must be KREATOR and DARK ANGEL, right? Please tell something about your influences and tell me about the most important ones for you and LETHAL and explain why exactly this specific band influenced you the way it did!
"Everything we listen to influence us I suppose, and since we play Thrash Metal, the influences for LETHAL stay in that general area. KREATOR and DARK ANGEL are two of the best bands ever (and the “Flag Of Hate” EP and “Darkness Descends” album are two of the very best releases ever). We wear our influences on our sleeves, and that’s literally so no need to talk much about them."
Please name some of the most recommendable records!
"TESTAMENT – The Legacy, MORBID SAINT – Spectrum Of Death, HYPNOSIA – Extreme Hatred, MERCYFUL FATE – Melissa, ARCKANUM – Fran Mardr and FORBIDDEN – Forbidden Evil. Those are a few great ones."
In a way it seems that there is a comeback of the traditional oldschool sound, both in Death and Thrash Metal. What’s your opinion about that? Do you think it’s great or do you fear to get bored soon again?
"I think it’s great, but when a lot of new bands pop up there’s naturally more crap and average stuff to sort through to find the real goodies. That said, there’s more of the really good stuff as well so it’s all in all a good thing."
How do you consider the importance of the whole underground movement? Is it just a way of getting known from the public and to get a record deal or are these contacts important for you?
"The underground is where the action is. The mainstream doesn’t know 99% of the shit the average Metalhead listen to exist, and the average Metalhead probably hasn’t heard half the good shit there is if you dig deep enough – myself included."
The title song from your "Deliverance" 7”EP was already broadcasted on the great “Darkness Descends” radio show on www.solarfall.com. Did this support help you and what’s your personal opinion about this show and what it is all about?
"I had no idea about that and I had enver heard about the show until now, but since I’m quite skilled in the arts of the international network of data I found some information about the show in question and I must say it looks badass, I’ll make sure to catch it some day!! In general event good radio shows are worse than my own collection as noone else knows what I feel like at the moment anyway so I’m no avid radio listener."
OK Mike, that’s it, you finally reached the end! Thanks for answering my questions! The last words are yours!
"No remorse, no repent! My fingers are bleeding after typing ten miles’ worth of letters so let’s just end it quietly here. Get the album or perish in flames! The CD will hopefully be available at www.ironfistprod.se when this is online and the LP can already be purchased at www.bloodharvest.se. Thanks for the interest and rock out with yer cock out!"