SEANCE – reactivated death metal band from Sweden
Answers by Patrik Jensen (guitarist), played also in The Haunted, Satanic Slaughter, Witchery
SEANCE was established in 1990, but two of the former members you and singer Johan Larsson played in a local Linköpping band called ORCHRISTE, was it the really first band that you played with prior to SEANCE?
The first "real" band yes. Prior to Orchriste, Johan and I had been in band called "Evil i Lönneberga" and "Hippo Slaughter" (one band that changed names). Just silly stuff where I ws the only member who knew how to play. Johan got vocals cos he arrived last to the rehearsal and there were no other intresuments to choose. How's that for a twist of fate? Haha
What can you tell us about this band, which was a short lived one? How did the band get together exactly?
Johan and myself were more serious about playing heavier music than the others. Like the first song "Evil i Lönneberga"/"Hippo Slaughter" ever played was Bathory's "13 Candles". The other guys lost interest but Johan and I kept on. In 1987 I met this guy, Rikard Jarl, who I kinda knew from school (actually on the eve of Walpurgis night, celebrated with huge bonfires in Sweden.. Now how metal is that??) Rikard had a huge rehearsal place, but everyone in his band had lost interest in playing in a band too...So, he said he wanted to play metal with me.. I got Johan into the band. Rikard recruits our first drummer, Robert Kratz, from a local band called Taste. From Taste we also got our bassplayer, Mathias Karlsson, who stayed with the band from beginning to end. I come up with the name Orchriste after, Orcrist, a sword in Tolkien's "The Hobbit" (note: this was way before the "Lord of the Rings" cheese-hype of today. Orchriste had some line-up a few line-up changes. Rikard lost interest after a year or so and was replaced by a local guitar virutoso Jörgen Johansson, but the real injection for a more professional band came with new drummer Johan Imselius. We played many shows throughout the local scene with this line-up
How about the demo titled „Necronomicon” (1989)? How was it recorded at all?
We recorded it at the Delta Studio (not in buciness anymore) in our hometown of Linköping. Delta Studio was run by two brothers; Micke and Matte Johansson, both members of the local metal act Axewitch (who put out some good metal albums from 1982 and onwards..)
Can you give us details regarding this tape? How did it sound like?
Three songs on it: The Blessing of Death (a title I later used for Seance) Sin (a song we later adopted by Seance) and XXXXXXX. Matte, who did most of the engineering, did a good job, but was maybe a bit too clean in his approach and didnt really manage to capture the heaviness of the band. Anyhow. I designed the cover&inlays and Johan's dad printed them for the demo tapes.
How much support did you make for this tape? I mean, was it shopped around to attract label interest, was it spread around through the tapetrading scene and stuff?
Here's a twist of Fate again: our other guitar player, Jörgen Johansson, says he knows where he can get the demos printed and recorded. We agree on a first batch of 500 (I think) We get the money for this together between us, and we hand it over to Jörgen, and thats the last time I see him in six years!! He took off with the money. As we didnt have jobs at the time (cos of still going to school) we couldnt get it pressed without the money Jörgen took off with, so... things just slid into a full stop. I think all this took place in the spring of -89
As for the other half of the band, drummer Mique Flesh, bassist Bino Carlsson and guitarist Tony Kampner (aka Toxine) played in TOTAL DEATH, were you familiar with them? Have they ever released any materials?
I knew them from Orchriste and Total Death playing a more than a few shows together. They were alot faster than we were, but we had alot darker growling vocals than they had.. So, it was a 50/50 fan split in the city over which band was the best. Total Death entered the studio to record twice, I think. One of those sessions contains 10 songs...and its absolutely amazing that Total Death never went anywhere.. They were so much ahead of anything coming out of Stockholm or Gothenburg
What do you recall of the Linköping and the Swedish scene those times as a whole? How about bands, such as Nihilist, Grotesque, Grave, Morbid etc.?
Close to Linköping is another city called Norrköping. There was a lot of metal fans there too, like Mogge Håkansson, who later formed Marduk and Robban Bercirovic, who then ran a metal radio show called PowerHour, but later started the biggest metal magazine in Sweden; Close Up. Robban organized these small festivals called "Thrash Bash 1, 2, 3...etc" in Norrköping. Orchriste, Total Death and later on Seance, played these shows. So, there you'd be playing with Grave, Merciless, Gravity, Entombed, Dismember, Hysteriah BC etc etc etc.. There were just soo many bands around at that time. That is the first time I saw Per Möller Jensen with his danish band "Invocater" btw. Per and I now play together in The Haunted.
Both bands (ORCHISTRE and TOTAL DEATH) have had a lot of live-experience and have played with bands like CARCASS, MIDAS TOUCH etc, does it mean, that both bands tried to make a name for itself?
Oh yes, we were two seperate bands completely
At which point did you decide to leave ORCHISTRE? Didn’t go the band anywhere and you didn’t see any perspectives playing in the band or…?
I guess I was pretty bummed out by the Orchriste demo not going anywhere. I was home during a weekend when doing my military service (btw doing my military service for a year also put Orchriste in an even deeper hiatus, since I wrote all the songs) and I met Tony Kampner at a party. I was drunk and asked "Why dont we jsut join forces instead of competing within Linköping?" And thats what we did. I brought Johan along with me, and Tony wanted his brother Mique to come with him from Total Death.. Bino from Total Death got to be the bassplayer, cos Mathias from Orchriste, altho being a steady bassplayer and a reliable bandmember, wasnt really into the faster side of metal/death metal.
You joined forces with Bino, Mique and Tony, would you say, that SEANCE was a fusion of those bands or did it come an original band into being?
I ended up writing almost all of the music (and lyrics too) but with Mique being such a large part of Total Death's sound, I think most people who knew both our prevoius bands thought we were a mix of both
You played your first gig in December 1990 with MERCILESS, TOXAEMIA and you were an opener act for DISHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, how do you remember these shows? You played these gigs without releasing any demos, right?
Umm, yeah.. Hmm.. I dont remember much from these actual shows, but I remember walking around before and after the show, talking to people. And we recorded the demo in -91 so this would have been before we'd released anything
Was it live debut of SEANCE by the way?
Funny thing, but I cant seem to remember where our first show was.. Could even have been one of Robban's Thrash Bash'es in Norrköping.. I dunno
What about your rehearsals? Did you start writing originals or were you jamming mostly on covers?
Originals from day one.. well, we did play the Orchriste song Sin on our first rehearsal, and it made it all the way onto the frist Seance album as well... Only covers Seance ever played we're Mercyful Fates "Come to the Sabbath", Death's "Forgotten Past", Morbid Angels "Chapel of Ghouls" and Celtic Frost's "Circle of the Tyrants"
SEANCE released their first demo „Levitised Spirit” in August 1991, but delayed since January 1991 due to problems with the studio, which was totally new at that time and SEANCE was the first band ever recording in it, which studio was it and what kind of problems did the work set back?
It took a very long to get it mixed..and the hearing was fucked up too. Its built in a tower (today owned by members in Corporation 187 and called "Helltower studio"). I remember Tony's and my marshall cabs where placed on top of eachother in some kind of sound proof closet (remember; this is a tower. Most available space was vertical haha) so Tony stood up and played while I kneeled infront of my cab in order to hear myself. We always recorded live, so thats how we had to do it... The drum room was sound proof but also air proof, so Mique almost died when drumming
How did the recording sessions go with the demo at all?
I think we cut the demo in about a week. LG Petrov from Entombed came down and did some guestvocals too
Can you tell us every details about this demo?
Um, there isnt that much more to tell, I think. This time the demo actually got printed haha
Is it true, that this first demo received a lot of very good reactions amongest the international media and 12 record companies showed interest to sign the band?
Maybe.. I cant remember.. We took $5USD for the demo, but if people would write and ask how much it was etc, we would just send it off to them straight away. We saw it as promotion. If they paid us, fine.. If they didnt, then we had atleast gotten our demo to someone interested in metal enough to write us.. and hopefully, this person would spread the word about Seance even more. But I remember there were many labels interested in us..
Was SEANCE a first generation Swedish death metal act? Did death metal start trying its wings at this point?
Maybe.. Orchriste certainly was but we didnt know it back then.. And no one in Linköping had the connections to get to go Stockholm or Gothenburg to play, so both Orchriste and Total Death got overlooked back then..
While at the mid/late ’80s/early ’90s thrash metal was on its peak, in Sweden were only a couple of thrash bands, such as MERCILESS, MEZZROW, TRIBULATION, AGONY, why didn’t have thrash metal so a strong background like in Germany or in England?
Maybe cos thrash metal needs to be played with a lot of ability. The underground scene in Sweden was still very new at this point. It is perhaps easier to play brutal tuned down death metal, than to play good thrash metal? There are many semi-thrash bands in Sweden now...cos now the underground scene has been around for a long time and people have been able to practise and find good bandmembers alot easier than back when everything started
As far as the Swedish death scene, would you say, that Stockholm became the center of it?
Stockholm metal/death metal was always influenced by punk rock.. Thats why Entombed and Dismember, for example, played such rowdy violent death metal. In Gothenburg Iron Maiden ruled supreme, so music out of Gothenburg was much based on duelling guitars and melody, hence bands like At the Gates and In Flames. Id say Stockholm was very influencial for the first few years, but the impact the so called "Gothenburg Sound" had on the world from -96, when "Slaughter of the Soul" came out, and all the way until today must make Gothenburg the champion city of death metal in Sweden.
The first Swedish death metal record was ENTOMBED’s debut „Left hand path”, did it have a great influence on the other Swedish bands? Would you say that they created a new sound and opened the doors for the Swedish death metal outfits?
Absolutely! There is no fucking way the importance of that album for the early swedish metal scene can be overestimated
In your opinion did ENTOMBED introduce Tomas Skogsberg to the other death metal bands and made Sunlight Studios know for the scene?
Well, since im not from Stockholm, Entombed might have been the first band I heard of that had recorded there, but there might have bben other bands that actually were there before them, Like Dismember or Tiamat (aka Treblinka)
Did you know Tomas Skogsberg back then?
No, only metal producers I knew back then was Dan Swanö and Berno Paulson
A lot of death bands started popping up back then in Sweden, but the majority of them, such as ERUCTATION, CADAVERIZER, DISGRACE, EXEMPT, GODDEFIED, LIGAMENT etc. released only demos, what was the reason of it? Why couldn’t they release any records?
Same reason there are a lot of bands everywhere that are good but never make it... No contacts and/or bad timing. Thats what happend to Orchriste and Total Death
Would you say that they weren’t original and they only tried to copy the bigger bands or was the scene supersaturated with cool death metal bands and nobody interested into them?
It can be that, or, like I said, just no one with connctions to get them to play the right shows or to tell the right people to listen to this band.
Did ENTOMBED raise the bar high? I mean, they released a classic death metal album what nobody couldn’t surpass?
Nobody knew that then, that the Left Hand Path album was goig to be a classic.. Everything was possible back then, and every album was so good.. And Seance never played the swedish style of death metal, we were more american sounding.. So we probably shouldve been more devastated by Morbid Angels "Altars of Madness" and Malevolent Creations "Retribution" haha
You entered the Berno Studio in Malmö at the end of 1991 to record your first full length album „Fornever laid to rest”, what about the recording sessions? Were you prepared to record the album?
Yes, we were a hard rehearsing band, but we always ended up writing the final song th every day before we left for the studio.. On the first album the first song was the last one to be written
Did you have a decent budget to record the material?
Black Mark negotiatied and paid for everything, but, as I remember, we had no complaints back then
The album is pure aggression with complex riffs and the extreme death vocals of Johan, how do you view it?
Its sounds like a young band playing. I wish I had known more of the technical side of recording and mixing. Playingwise I think just a few technical improvements from teh studio wouldve captured the band better
In my opinion, your music differed a lot from ENTOMBED, UNLEASHED, DISMEMBER etc. you didn’t use any harmonies or melodies, but the bass played an important role, I would say, you had a bassoriented, very raw and brutal sound, do you agree with me?
That sound came from the second album "Saltrubbed Eyes". I had nearly burnt myself out with stressing out over writing the material for the album. As soon as I had recorded my last parts and helped Johan thru the lyrics I had written, I took off for Copenhagen and left eh mixing in the hands of the others. Thank them for creating a sound that has made that album stick out and somewhat famous in certain underground groups haha,
Why did you leave „Blood of the saints”, while the other songs of demo appeared on the record? Did you have more songs written, that didn’t made up on the record?
I dont recognize that title, sorry
Would you say that a little touch of thrash metal can be listened to in the songs?
Oh yes..thats what I grew up playing. Thats why I liken us to bands like Malevolent Creation
Do you agree with, that Seance however plays very brutal and pounding songs, a bit the American way, but with outstanding riffing and intricate leads and like a whirlwind each track unfolds itself?
I dont know about hte whirlwind part hehe, but we were definitely more american than swedish/european
The opening song „Who will not be dead” immediately epitomizes what Seance stands for: the song explodes with fast drum patterns, though not non-stop blastbeats, the track takes some breath and heavy thundering drums lay a midpace structure for the guitars to elaborate on…
um, I guess :-)
The thick, muddy bassguitar sound forms another perfect layer of the well structured songs and the first growls are truly demonic; the vocal department however, is the least outstanding maybe, this is the only way deathgrunts should be performed, how do you see it?
well, as I see it, Johan has one of the deepest voices in death metal...and he is not into melodic singing haha so thats the way it turned out. No real plan or anything.. It jsut happened
Deep guttural grunts, that can be deciphered when reading the lyrics with the song, are uttered very convincingly and although Johan Larsson may not have a unique voice like Frank Mullen (Suffocation) in the old days, but by alternating the grunts with just shouting the vocals very deeply and intense, his style is full of variation and some echo-effects are used once and a while, is that correct?
Do you agree with that Seance plays technical death metal with a lot of breaks, but without loosing touch to the rhythm and flow of the song?
Um, I dont know.. Its hard to agree to some as specified as that. I just wanted to write the most aggressive songs I could.. and thats how it turned out
How do you see, that the hectic percussion-patterns are nowadays widespread in grindcore/powerviolene, but truly innovating back then and this goes even more for the excellent guitar-madness by Tony Kampner and you?
I dont listen to alot of new music at all actually. Only "new" band Ive discovered and really like is Behemoth.. They play in the vein of what Seance would be playing to day
Do you think, that the beautiful thing with Seance is the way the individual tracks compose a real album?
I believe to keep each song different from the next. If I come up with a cool riff that has a certain twist to it, I dont put a little of that in every song.. I really struggle with trying to give each song its own identity
Your lyrics are not only dealing with the typical death metal topics, but also with subjects like aids and drugs, mixed with a good deal of horror, who was responsible for the lyrics?
I wrote all of them. Not cos I write such good lyrics, but I had easier to write in english since I grew up in Canada
Why did you work in the Berno Studio instead of Sunlight?
Cos Sunlight was the places every band went to. We wanted to be different and find our own sound
The album was mixed and produced by Berno Paulsson, were you happy with his work? Was he the perfect choice for this job?
I dunno.. He was the choice and Im not dissatisfied by his work, but we were after all his first metal/death metal band ever..so, I suppose things couldve been better if he had had a few other bands to practise on
Was „Fornever laid to rest” the first recording which was done at the Berno Studios?
Not at all.. Berno studios had recorded bands for many years. Berno is a world famous jazz guitar player and has recorded many different types of music
Do you think, that this is a classic release in death metal history and both this piece of brutal and original musicianship and the bands second effort „Saltrubbed Eyes” are essential to any death metal worshipper?
I dont know...maybe haha Its hard to say.. There were many great albums at the time. Maybe the Seance albums only stand out as classics by super die-hard death metal fans whole drool over obscure bands? I am just happy that there are people out there that still talk abou those two albums
The cover was made by Dan Seagrave, was he the first choice to draw the cover or were there still other actors in mind? Did you like Dan’s previous works?
No, Dan was the first choice. Dan was The Artist to use back then, just like Ed Repka (Megadeth, Possessed etc) was before him. and I still love Dan's work before and after the Seance album cover
Did the band with this album penatrate their fans ears to the limit?
what? haha I dont know...probably not..If we had, we wouldve made bigger waves and gotten to tour more...and, who knows, maybe even mightve done another album back then?
What were the shows like back then in support of the record?
Too few... Way too few. No support from Black Mark
The album was released by Black Mark Productions, how did you get in touch with them? Were they also among the 12 labels, that started interesting in the band when the demo was released?
Yes, Börje Forsberg was very adamant in getting us to sign with Black Mark. I dont think he knew that we were great, but he made his judgement on that so many other labels were after us. Had we chosen another label that was interested, like Nuclear Blast, and put out an album at the same time as Hypocrisy did (they were a little bit after us actually) things might have turned out very different.
A year later you released „Saltrubbed eyes”, did Black Mark ask you to hear the newer material before you entered the studio or did they still have complete confidence into it?
No, BMP never asked to hear any material before giving us the go-ahead to record the album
Did you work at the Berno again? How did the recording sessions with this album go?
I was really stressed out after writing the album. I felt serious pressure to out-do the first album, with even more riffs, more time changes etc etc.. and that led to writers block.. I struggled quite alot with writing that album...so, as soon as all my parts were done and I had coached Johan through the vocal recording, I left Malmö (where the Berno Studio is), went oer to Copenhagen and proceeded to drink my brain into molecules to just get all the stress out of my system haha I had taken responsibility for writing the album and recording my parts, so I felt it was ok to leave the mix to the other guys.. So, the production on "Saltrubbed Eyes", for which it has achieved its cult status of brutality, is none of my doing
What one will find is an intense record combining Thrash and Death Metal with both passion and aggression, right?
Thats what I was aiming for when I wrote the album yes. I think some of the more technical thrash elements of the album got lost in the production, but the album probably won more having the production it got rather than having a cleaner sound
Would you say, that „Sultrubbed eyes” became the follower of the first record or are there any differences between the two albums?
You can see some connections between the two, but there is also evidence of songwriting and musicianship progression. I think neither of the albums stand in the shadow of the other. They are both unique in their own way
Do you think, that there’s some nice, technical solos to be found here also, the leads being played competently and serving their purpose?
Oh yes, Ive never been the lead guitarist in any band Ive been in, but I think Tony did a great job and that the solos are just right for Seance
Would you say, that the songs change between demolishing, mid-paced groove oriented monsters with touches of melody, to breakneck speed and always catchiness?
Um, I guess haha Sure, why not! :-) Liek I said, I think the solos are really good!
Apart from a few eerie introductions, this album is a short, violent kick to the face, that never loses momentum, and never becomes redundant; comparisons can be made to early DEMIGOD and GOD MACABRE albeit SEANCE play far faster at times, do you agree with that?
I liked Demigod and Demilich alot back in the day, so there might some resemblence to be found between them and Seance.. but, I tried hard to achieve an agressive album, but with interesting parts and breakdowns in ever song.. I try to use something new in every song. Im sure there people who would say otherwise haha but, compared to some bands out there that has alot of fame and success.. I think Seance had a lot more cool tricks and ideas than what the band got recognition for..
Did this second effort sound closer to what you wanted to achieve with SEANCE?
I think that if I were to written a third album, Id have had other goals I would have wanted to achieve..but Saltrubbed Eyes did want I wanted it to do at the time
You play an important role on this album, pumping out devastating riffs at an awesome pace…
Short SLAYER alike solos helps the record sound chaotic, along with harsh yet understandable vocals, the record contains fast drumming, but not blast-beating style, the bass drums are placed wonderfully in the mix, making those slow parts so much better, how do you see it?
I see it as Mique having his own drumming style.. Maybe not the most in-time drummer around, but definitley one with an abundance of ideas and creativity. Bino had a great ear for working with Mique on his ideas..Johans vocals are nothing short of the epitome of brutality...and Tony picks up the guitar work where I leave off, so we were all important for that band
This album fully utilizes the traditional European sound and manages to sound bonecrushingly brilliant while doing so, is that correct?
Im not sure what you mean by the traditional european sound. Back then, the only main european death metal scenes around were a) swedish, and we didnt sound very swedish..and b) british, and we didnt sound like UK death grind either. I think we a much more american approach to death metal than atleast other bands in Sweden
Did you go on tour after the releasing of „Saltrubbed eyes”? What about the shows in support of the „Saltrubbed eyes” record?
We did go on a 36 date european tour in early -95 with At The Gates, but that tour only got to the first date (Manchester) where the tour manager faked that we was robbed and therefore couldnt pay the bus company. Bus company knew something was up, so they drove to the next show (Norwich) which we plaed, but then turned off the heat, electricity...everything, and wouldnt move another meter before the money was payed. Of course the tour manager (who was also the one who booked the tour) didnt have any money, so the tour crashed. ATG were between contracts, so they had to sign their next album to Black Mark if they didnt pay BMP back the money upon returning back to Sweden. (That album would have been Slaughter of the Soul. Wouldnt that have been funny if it had been released on Black Mark cos of a tour gone bad haha).. SO, only two shows in tehUK, one in Copenhagen and a handful of shows in Sweden. Thats it..
How much support did you get from Black Mark at all? Were you satisfied with their promotion or would you say, that they would have done a better work?
They gave bands like Edge of Sanity alot of support, and rightfully so, they were a talented band.. but BMP also gave other bands on the label support that was in proportion to their talent or potential. I dont know who did A&R at BMP, probably Borje Forsberg himself, but he didnt have a nose for a promising bad.. So, no support. Only time they were cool were when we needed advances for the recording of the albums and with helping us get home from that tour that crashed
How many copies were sold from the records back then?
I have no idea.
At which point and why did you leave the band and move to Gothenburg?
I couldn’t see myself struggle with writing a third album like I had done with Saltrubbed Eyes again. I had also become very good friends with Adrian Erlandsson (ATG drummer) so I moved to Gbg with the hopes of formng a band with him. I moved to Gbg right before New Years Eve of 1995. Adrian was superbusy with ATG the first time I lived in Gbg, but on the 26th of July he called me to tell me that ATG had just broken up. They following day him and I rehearsed for the first time together, playing two songs I had initially written for Seance, but that are now on the first Haunted album; Undead and Three Times
Tony, Mique and Johan continued with SEANCE, Richard from WITCHERY joined the band, did you remain in touch with them at all? Did they start auditioning other guitarist replacing you or…?
Richard played in bass with a local Iron Maiden cover band. Another band, Satanic Slaughter, locally famous for being the first band (originally formed in -84, I think) that played black/thrash metal in our area, had always had a hard time getting a stable line-up and had never recorded a demo or anything. When Tony, Mique rejoined SS (They had been members around 86-88), I got asked to play the second guitar and Richard got asked to play the bass.. When Bino left Seance (and moved to Gbg...about 6 months before me), Richard got asked to play bass with Seance.. and finally, when I left, Richard moved up to the guitar. I of course stayed in touch with them all, cos they were all involved with Witchery in one way or the other
Did/Does THE HAUNTED play a more important role in your life than SEANCE or WITCHERY?
Well, The Haunted has made it possible for me to life off my music, but with Seance I would never have formed The Haunted. And I was in Witchery before I left Seance...so Witchery is important as a musical playground where I can do all the over-the-top metal ideas I have hehe
SEANCE came back after 10 years of silence, did they ask you to join them again or was it totally out of question?
They never split up. I knew that they were writing on the third album all along, so was never asked to join no. They've always had a working line-up since I left..
How do you view the new SEANCE record „Awakening of the gods”?
I really like it. Even if Im not involved on the album, I think you can clearly hear that its still Seance
What do you think about the Swedish death metal scene this days with bands, such as IMMERSED IN BLOOD, VISCERAL BLEEDING, INSISION and tons more? Do you keep still an eye on what’s going on in the underground?
I have no idea about any scene these days, Im afraid. Im sure there are many talented bands out there, but not much new is happening within the scene in general, atleast judging by the music that reaches me...I was there when all the great original bands first came breaking through, so Im spoiled I suppsoe
How about the pioneers of that style, such as ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, UNLEASHED or GRAVE?
I’ve always loved Entombed, and always will. I like some Dismembers albums, but Im not too familiar with the others. Like Ive hinted earlier, I was always more into the american side of death metal than the swedish style
Are their new materials on the same level as their classics? I mean, do they still record quality albums or…?
Entombed will always stand for quality. I have the fullest respect for them
Patrick, thanks a lot for the interview, anything to add that I forgot to mention?
No, I think you covered pretty much everything. Thank you for your enthusiastic interview. It was inspiring to answer it and it gave a reason to think back to the "old days"