I think it was back in 1991, when the first 7"EP I bought, Macabre End’s "Consumed By Darkness", arrived at my letterbox. Shortly after listening to this tiny piece of black vinyl I knew that I discovered something special. After that I recognized the name Macabre End in plenty of tapetrading lists from tapetrading-friends all over the world and I was looking for every rehearsaltape, every live tape available in these lists. Short time later they changed the name to God Macabre and released their MCD "The Winterlong…" on MBR Records and all of a sudden disbanded. Years later Relapse Records rereleased this MCD and added their 7"EP as bonustracks on it. Well, Macabre End / God MAcabre never got the success they deserved, but among the few fans who know them they are still one of the most influential Death Metal bands in the history of this great musicstyle. What you get here is an indepth interview with one of the most underrated but most original Swedish Death Metal bands, a cultband in the original meaning of the word. Enjoy Ola’s answers…
First up, thanks for agreeing in doing this interview, I really appreciate that a lot. So how are you doing and how’s life, Ola?
"Hey man, thanks for being interested enough in that old band to do this interview. I’m doing fine and life is going ok… Still doing what I love the most, playing music, after all these years so I can’t complain."
What do you think is the reason that MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE are still interesting for the crowd? You told me that you usually answer around 5 interviews a year even though GOD MACABRE splitted up 14-15 years ago!!
"To be honest I’m not sure why there still is an interest in that old band… Maybe we did something that some seem to like. It’s hard to look at this band from another point as a member as to me it was just a couple of friends who knew each others since school who started out playing just for the fun of it and I never looked at us as being anything really back then. I understand that some people find what we did good and that is something that fills me with a lot of pride, but for me it was just friends having fun doing what we loved."
Well, I don’t want to talk so much about your history as it should be quite well-known among our readers and the others who don’t know it probably won’t read this interview, so however, I think it’s almost 4 years ago since Relapse re-released your "The Winterlong…" CD. How was the response and the reactions so far?
"The reactions to the re-release have been great. I noticed even more interest in the band after it was released and many were pleased that we included the demo as bonus tracks… The demo recordings were left totally untouched as we wanted to go with the original recording and not the remastered version of it that was released as the 7" back in 1991. It’s flattering that people look at that album as one of the Swedish classics from this era, but again… that is very hard for me to think of myself."
Wasn’t it surprising for you to get asked from Relapse to re-release your CD? How do they explained their wish to release it?
"Well, the most surprising thing about it all was that it was Relapse of all labels who wanted to re-release it… I mean, back in 1991 we were discussing with them to release a second 7" and had it all planned, but things in the contract made us skip it and we looked into releasing an album instead. How the re-release came to be was that Tom Hailey who at the time worked at Relapse wrote my and asked about the possibilities of a re-release as he loved the original release and it was very hard to find. As there were no contracts that we had to honor with MBR Records we went with the idea as the MBR release had such a crappy distribution and this time it would be released for real all over the world…"
I really think these paintings in your booklet (of both, the first release and the re-release) are fantastic. Who is that guy Mark Franson? Do you know if he did some artwork for other albums besides the GOD MACABRE CD?
"Yeah, those paintings are incredible and we were lucky to get in touch with Mark… The thing that is embarrassing is that I don’t know anything about him what he has done and what he is doing nowadays. I remember that he was in contact with Per (vocals) at the time and we got these paintings for free from him as he was trying out different ideas… So, for all I know it might have been his first record cover. I would love to get in touch with him again and see what he is doing nowadays and what he has done since the release of the original version of the album."
I think you were called one of those "Sunlight bands" back then when you released your CD? How did that feel and what do you think about all these words that claimed that every band recording in the Sunlight Studios sounds the same (which I always thought is utterly bullshit, especially looking on it with a distance of more than 10 years now)?
"I have never had any problem with being called one of those "Sunlight bands" as at least back then that meant quality. I know what people meant about saying that all bands sounded the same back then when they recorded in the Sunlight Studios, but most of that came from the use of d-drums which had a very distinctive sound (sounds very plastic to me nowadays… especially on our demo) and the same kind of guitar crunch on most recordings… But, I think we managed to have our own guitar sound on the demo at least as it was a lot more downtuned than how the album was."
What do you think made you different and special from the other ‘comparable’ bands back then?
"I can’t really say that we were that special than any other bands from that era… One of the things that maybe made our sound a little bit different were the doomy parts that we loved to use a lot of in the middle of our songs… The Paradise Lost influence was big for us and the use of short instrumentals on the record to bridge from one song to another was also not what every band did… But, to say that we were different and special is something I never could do myself."
So let’s start from the very beginning. I guess even before the first release of MACABRE END you (and perhaps also the other guys from your band) were pretty much involved in the Death Metal underground and the tape trading scene. Do you still have your tapes from this time and do you listen to them from time to time?
"Yeah, it was mostly me, Per and Jonas (guitars) that were involved in the scene like that all the time… We were heavily into tapetrading (something we often used to spread new rehearsal tracks to show off our new songs), we also made three Death / Grind fanzines (mine was called "Suppuration", Per’s was called "Senil Nekrofil" and I just can’t remember what Jonas’ fanzine was called). We were heavily involved with the scene from before the band released anything up until a time after we split up… Things changed and we all dropped out of the Death Metal scene completely as we all went on to play other genres… I don’t have the tapes from that time (I have a whole bunch of original demos though somewhere), but nowadays you can find all these old demos, rehearsals and gigs online so I have gone back and listened to a lot of them again… The old stuff never gets bad…"
Your main influences were CARNAGE (demo era), NIHILIST, AUTOPSY, first album of PARADISE LOST among others. How did you discover them? What do you think about their evolution they had during the years?
"We discovered Carnage through tapetrading I think… Jonas also knew Johan a little through his fanzine and Per interviewed them very early so we heard their stuff from the beginning and got to hear the songs for the second demo quite some time before it was released… I still consider the demo era of Carnage to be the best damn band ever. Nihilist was discovered when they were on a compilation LP here in Sweden I think… I think it was the first volume of "Hardcore For The Masses" or something… Autopsy fell out of the sky when we got that LP instead of something else when we ordered it from a mailorder place here in Sweden. This was in 1989 and it was brand new and I fell in love with that LP during the first listening… Paradise Lost was also discovered during their demo era and Per was friends with them there for a while. If we’re talking about the evolution here I suspect you mean Paradise Lost and I can only say that I stopped listening to them after "Gothic" as I wasn’t too happy with what they did after that… It’s cool to try out new things and all, but I miss their early sound and don’t really like what they do today at all."
Your first demo was only released on 100 pieces, if I’m correct, so I guess not so many persons carry this release in the original form. More well-known among the fans should be your "Consumed By Darkness" 7"EP released through Corpse Grinder Records with the same songs on it (one more, ‘Spawn Of Flesh’, if I’m correct). Can you tell a little bit about these 2 releases and how you got the opportunity to release the demo as a 7"EP?
"Well, I don’t really remember how many we released of the original demo, but 100 might be correct. The 7" is the demo straight up, but with some new keyboard effects and slightly remixed, so the songs are the same on both recordings… The demo is probably my favorite release as it’s so god damn primitive and it also is closest to the earliest sound when we played Death Metal in regards to the downtuning of the instruments and the Grindcore parts… The band started as a Grindcore band and I love that there still are some of that on that release. The 7" might be my proudest moment as it was my first record with me on it… I think Per was in touch with the guy behind Corpse Grinder Records and he just offered to release the demo as a single… We didn’t really send it to him to see if he was interested, and we were their first release so I am not sure it even were a record label when we became friends with that guy."
How did this deal with Corpse Grinder Records look like? Did they pay anything?
"No, nothing was paid to us… We paid for everything except for the pressing. We paid the remix for the 7", getting things done for the cover artwork and all that… We got a whole bunch of 7"es though… and for us that was more than enough. I mean… it was our first record…"
How many items of this 7"EP did you sell?
"I don’t know at all how many copies of the 7" that was sold… I think it was initially released in 1000 copies and I have no idea if it was ever re-pressed."
What do you think about other releases on Corpse Grinder Records (e. g. DISSECTION’s "Into Infinite Obscurity" or ABHOTH’s "The Tide"). Did you hear anything from the person behind Corpse Grinder Records afterwards / nowadays?
"I really liked the single by the Australian band Acheron on the label, and the Abhoth single was also great… I can’t say that I really heard that many other releases on that label (I don’t know what they released more than this). I think that we lost contact with the guy behind the label somewhere in 1991 not that long after we released the 7" there…"
During the years 1990 and 1991 you were quite active. In many tape trading lists were alot of rehearsal and live tapes available from your band. It seems that you spread that stuff all over the world?
"Yeah, as we were heavily into the tapetrading scene ourselves we used this to spread everything we did as far as we could as it was always a good thing to let people hear that we were still busy doing new songs. And of course trying to create an interest for whatever would come next…"
By the way, what do you think about the current situation that more and more old demo tapes of cult-bands got officially pressed on CD right now? Which demo would be the most interesting one for you?
"I love that very much as there were so many incredibly great demos released back than that most people don’t know anything about nowadays… Or they might have heard re-recordings of the songs on the albums, but if that is the only versions they have heard they have missed out on something… I usually prefer the old demo versions that the slick and trimmed album versions that came later… When it comes to demos I would love to see anything by Nirvana 2002 or the Swedish band Crematory to get a real release…"
What about the 7"EP "Nothing Remains Forever"? I read that there was a plan of releasing another 7"EP with that title!
"Yeah, I read that too!!! ; -) Well, I can’t say I remember that title that well, but it might be true… It might have been a title we just considered and mentioned to someone and then it spread. Anyway, this is the EP that we were going to record for Relapse Records back in 1991, it would have three songs on it. I think one was called ‘Life’s Verge’ (which there only are a rehearsal version of), ‘Dead Longevity’ (also only on a rehearsal and it was a very Black Sabbathesque thing that would have had Death Metal vocals on it) and I think we might have considered ‘In Grief’ as well for the single… The reason it never happened was that the contract that Relapse sent us was something we couldn’t agree on as they wanted the rights of our logo to do more or less what they wanted with our name (like printing in on shorts etc) and we wanted nothing of that. We sent a new proposal back to them, more or less just taking that stuff out and the deal fell through."
You also appeared on the compilation "Appointment With Fear" (with the song ‘Spawn Of Flesh’ together with bands like MISANTHROPE, TRAUMATIC, MASACRE, GROTESQUE, CENOTAPH, SHUB-NIGGURATH…) and ‘Pantalgia’ (already as GOD MACABRE with the song ‘Ashes Of Mourning Life’ together with bands as ROTTREVORE, DISEMBOWELMENT, CADAVER, CREMATORY, PAN-THY-MONIUM, THERION…). What can you tell about these 2 releases?
"The Appointment With Fear comp. was a weird thing for us as we found a flyer for it and saw that we were on it without us even being asked… It turned out that Corpse Grinder Records had said ok to him and they used a vinyl rip off of that song on the comp. We wrote the label and got a bunch of copies so we never made a big deal out if it after that… I mean, it was a great help getting our name out there no matter how we ended up on it. ‘Pantalgia’ was different as we were already signed to do a mini-LP for MBR Records at the time so it was only natural that they wanted to use it to show off their bands as well as a couple of others… The song ‘Ashes Of Mourning Life’ that we have on that recording was really recorded to only be used on this comp. It was never intended for the mini-LP at all at this time, but when it came to release the mini-LP things had changed a little (it was intended to be released as a vinyl only) as they wanted to release it on CD instead and we put ‘Ashes…’ on the recording to make it longer… It was recorded at the same time as the rest of the album so it was only natural."
Then came the name change from MACABRE END to GOD MACABRE. What was the reason for that? Honestly, I don’t know which bandname I prefer more, both are just awesome!!
"The reason we changed the name was that we didn’t really think the name fit with the more straight on Death Metal sound we evolved into… When we started we were more of a Grindcore band than anything else and I think the name Macabre End reflects on that. When the lyrics changed to more darker stuff we felt also that a name change should be done… God Macabre was easy to choose (and that was also a song by Jonas’ old band Abhoth that he wrote before leaving them for us). I think that the name God Macabre fits better with the later stuff and the name Macabre End fits well with the old Grind / Death era of the band. It also didn’t help that people usually thought we were called "Macare Ant" when we said our name…"
Next release was your CD "The Winterlong…" through Mangled Beyond Recognition Records from Germany. Right now I can not remember any other release besides your CD on that label. Could you please tell more about this label and how everything worked out with them?
"I remember that MBR Records released the "Denial" 12" with the Swedish band Crematory, they also released the "Anatomia Corporis Humani" demo with Grave on 12", also a 7" with the UK band Malediction and the "Death After Death" LP by the US band Insanity. If they released anything else after that I have no idea… I knew one of the guys from before and when he started talking about they wanted us to make an LP for them but they didn’t have the money to spend on a full length at the time, so I asked about the possibility of doing a mini-LP instead and they went for it… We split the cost of the recordings with the label to make it even easier for this to happen as this was not that far after the Relapse EP falling through and we wanted to have a record out there showing our new stuff. The record was recorded in Deceember 1991, but not released until December 1993 so it was a posthumous release as we split up some time during the spring of 1992. The reasons for that was many (finding a cover for the record and then lots of delays from the label that had money problems). After it was released we didn’t really hear that much from them and we lost touch with them maybe 5 months or so after the record was released… I heard that one of the guys commited suicide and the other guy just ended the label there."
Looking on it with a distance of approx. 15 years, what do you think about your CD? Relapse calls you "one of Sweden’s most revered forefathers"! Impressed?
"I am extremely proud of the record… It’s from a very good time in my life and we were so damn young back then so that is also why it is a great thing to have. I think the songs on it are really great and I don’t think we were that much worse than the other bands around here in Sweden at the time… but, that is probably as far as I can go talking about this as I get flattered and embarrassed at the same time to hear stuff like that what Relapse called us. It’s for me very hard to look at the band in any other way than something we did for the fun of it and never really thought about if anyone else would like it."
How many pieces of the first and the re-release did you sell? Do you have some numbers?
"I have no idea how many copies that have been sold by either version of the album… All I remember is that in January 1994 (a little more than a month after the MBR version was released) it had sold 900 copies or something… The thing was that we were supposed to get money for the release after it was sold in 1000 copies and of course that never happened and we never really heard from them that much after this…"
Let me ask you why you never published the lyrics for the song ‘Spawn Of Flesh’? Anything negative about it?
"The reason why the lyrics for that song wasn’t on the album is because it’s a remnant from our Grindcore past with a very anti-meateating message. The whole song is about how wrong it is to eat meat and how animals get slaughtered to feed us… (me and Per were vegetarians back then) This didn’t really fit in with the rest of the album’s more darker lyrics so we just decided to skip them…"
Did you have any side projects back then? As far as I know Jonas Stalhammar played also in ABHOTH (on the "Forever To Be Vanished Therein" demo) and UTUMNO and was also responsible for most of the songs in MACABRE END and GOD MACABRE. Quite busy guy??
"Well, Jonas only played on the first Abhoth demo "A Matter Of Splatter" and he had left the band by the time of the "Forever To Be Vanished Therein" demo was made. We kinda stole him from the before that… Utumno was his band in the town he lived in (the rest of the band, the old core of the band lived like 300 kilometers from him) and he did stuff there to have something to do while he wasn’t over here with the rest of the band. And I can take credit for their 7" being released as I sent the demo to a tapetrading friend who had started a label and asked me for a band that he should release… He did every song, except for one, with GOD MACABRE mostly because he was a great songwriter… If the band had continued I think that Per and me would have written more songs than just ‘Into Nowhere’."
Do you still have contact to your former band mates?
"The only one I have real contact with is Per (we did play together in bands until 2002) and we still talk now and then… We live in different towns, but we see each others now and then and have contact through e-mails mostly (a lot of it still has to do with GOD MACABRE as we are dealing with offers that come now and then to do stuff with the band’s old recordings or t-shirts etc). Niklas and Tomas (drums & bass) I don’t see at all anymore, but that’s also because we live in different towns, and with Jonas (who also was part of the band that me and Per played in after GOD MACABRE (which I still play in) for a while) I have contact with maybe a couple of times a year over e-mail."
You told me that there are discussions about releasing an old live recording of MACABRE END on vinyl. Could you please tell more about that plan?
"It’s the Italian label Hearse Records that wanted to release a gig we did back in September 1991, which included most songs from the album as well as the usual cover of Carnage’s ‘The Day Man Lost’. The recording is not a soundboard recording though, but from what I have heard they have been able to clean it up good… I haven’t talked with them for a while, but we’ll see when that will happen."
Seeing everything with a little distance what do you think was the reason why you, even with a fantastic CD in your discography, didn’t get as popular and well-known as many of your colleagues back then? What do you think about the success of some of these bands which started in the same time you started?
"Well, I think the main thing was that we split up before the record was released… It was released too late to be among the other records that came out at the time we recorded it and meant to have it released and the distribution sucked… I think that the success of those other bands are very well deserved and I am damn happy to see that many bands from that time go so far like they have done…"
Tell me a little bit about your memories. What do you think was the greatest experience in those days?
"I’m going to be very boring now, but the greatest experience was when the 7" was released… It was a strange feeling to be able to hold that record in my hands as it was the first record that I was part of. Other than that was the first real gig the band did in our hometown in 1990 where we played in front of almost 400 people… Back then that was a lot for a band like us and I never forget the extreme adrenaline rush that I felt when the intro we used (stuff from "The Omen" soundtrack) started and the light was turned off…"
VOMITORY covered ‘Ashes Of Mourning Life’ and GOD DETHRONED covered ‘Consumed By Darkness’. What do you think about their versions of your songs and how does it feel to hear their versions on their official releases? Do you know of any other cover version?
"I like both band’s versions of our songs… Vomitory are old friends of us and they used to play it live as well, but it was fun to hear them do it on an album… I think they made a good version of it. When it comes to God Dethroned it was a bigger surprise and I like that they did a version that is a little of their own with it… The only thing I might think is not so good is that they clearly didn’t hear at all what Per sang as there are some incredible errors in the lyrics of their version… It’s a strange feeling to hear a band playing a song I know so well from having played it myself so many times… but, it’s a great feeling as well. I don’t know of any other cover versions of our stuff though."
What do you think about the current Death Metal scene? Are you still interested in Death Metal? Tell me your all time favourites!
"I am a snob when it comes to Death Metal and I am an oldschool fanatic… For me Death Metal were at its best in the late 80s / early 90s and that era can never be beaten… There are some bands that I like from today, but they are very few… I am still very much interested in Death Metal as I have that music in my blood and it will never leave me… Right now I am a DJ on an internet radio station and have a show that is entirely dedicated to Death / Thrash / Black Metal from the 80s / early 90s… (the station’s website is at: www.solarfall.com) My all time favorites when it comes to bands are Autopsy, Carnage (demo era), Nihilist, Nirvana 2002, Repulsion etc… I mean, I could make a list that would go on forever and still forget half of the bands I love… My all time favorite Death Metal album is Autopsy’s "Severed Survival" and demo is Carnage’s "Infestation Of Evil"."
Why did you decide to release this website about GOD MACABRE and MACABRE END on www.myspace.com? How was the response about it so far?
"The decision to do that was because I get a lot of e-mails asking about the history of the band and if there’s any way to find out what is still available with us. And I have seen so many pages with info about the band that is just so damn wrong I wanted to set things straight and tell the real history and do it right… It gets tiresome to read all the errors and I just got fed up with that and created that page. The response has been extremely well and I have gotten in touch with a whole lot of people I used to know back in the day… That page is also the reason why we right now are working with a label called Blood Harvest Records (bloodharvest.com) to release the Relapse re-release on vinyl like it always was intended to be… It’s been a good way to keep in touch with old friends and find new friends through the band."
What are doing right now? Tell us some words about your current band SPACE PROBE TAURUS!
"Well, Space Probe Taurus are the band that got started back in 1993 and that me and Per played together in up until 2002 when he left the band. We are playing a very wild and dirty garage Rock with me doing the vocals as well as playing the guitar… Right now we are shopping around an album we recorded some time ago and in the meantime recording new demos for coming stuff… It’s a big change to be the frontman nowadays, but it’s damn fun to be playing… I do miss the aggressiveness of playing Death Metal."
I don’t want to ask you if you have plans of recording some new songs with GOD MACABRE again, as this is a stupid question, but don’t you feel from time to time that it would be fun to play some old tunes again. Just for your own use?
"Yeah… that question haunts us a lot… I get it every damn week and especially when we are out playing with my current band there are always people asking about it afterwards… Me, Per and Niklas got together a couple of years after the band split up and played the songs (with Per playing guitar and singing) and it was fun back then. But, right now I don’t know if I want to play the songs even just for my own use… I feel that I don’t want to concentrate so much on the past when I have other things for the future to concentrate on. That time was the most amazing time I have had, but I can’t live in the past all the time."
Okay Ola, thanks a lot for the time you spent answering my questions. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed answering you. The last words are yours…
"Thank you for the interest in this dead old band as well as putting up with the massive delay in replying to this interview on my part. I did enjoy it though…"