by Ryan Meehan
Demonical was spawned in March 2006 by former Centinex members Johan Jansson (guitars & vocals), Martin Schulman (bass) and Ronnie Bergerståhl (drums) with a mission to return to the roots of death metal and deliver a sheer dose of darkness and brutality. The first audio assault, a four track promo attack entitled “Bloodspell Divine,” was recorded at Necromorbus Studios during July the same year. In November 2006, Demonical added vocalist Ludvig Engellau to the line-up (because Johan wanted to fully concentrate on the six-string axe) and signed a worldwide multi-album deal with German label Cyclone Empire. The bands first full-length album, “Servants Of The Unlight”, was recorded at both Black Lounge and Necromorbus Studios during January and February 2007 and released in April the same year. In November 2007 Temple of Darkness released a limited Demonical/Absu 7″ EP featuring one track from the “Bloodspell Divine” promo.
In December 2007 the band parted ways with vocalist Ludvig Engellau due to musical and personal reasons. Demonical continued for a few months with various session vocalists until late March 2008 when Sverker “Widda” Widgren came on board as the new fulltime frontman. The bands second full-length album, “Hellsworn”, was recorded at Necromorbus Studios between December 2008 and February 2009 and released by Cyclone Empire in May 2009. A split 7″ EP called ‘Imperial Anthems Vol.1′ with Paganizer was released by Cyclone Empire in early 2010. This limited vinyl featured an exclusive Demonical track recorded at the “Hellsworn” session. In September 2010 Demonical once again entered Necromorbus Studios in order to record “Death Infernal”, their anticipated third full-length album. The album was recorded throughout the fall and released in Europe by Cyclone Empire (April 2011) and in north-America by Metal Blade (July 2011). The album was praised by fans and media and climbed high at reader-polls in several magazines. During the fall 2011 drummer Ronnie Bergerståhl decided to leave the band due to scheduling conflicts and he was quickly replaced by Fredrik Widigs. After “Death Infernal” was released the band decided to add a second guitarist for live situations. A few session members were used at several tours until Daniel Gustavsson joined as a full-time member during the summer 2012. The first half of 2013 was spent at both Necromorbus and Wing Studios in Stockholm with the recordings of “Darkness Unbound”. After the recording a line-up change took place with Johan Haglund replacing Johan Jansson and Ämir Batar replacing Fredrik Widigs. “Darkness Unbound” will be released on November 12th, 2013 and supported by a world tour. Demonical bassist Martin Schulman is our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Growing up, who were your biggest influences as far as heavy metal and overall musicianship was concerned? Who jumped out as being just an amazing bass player to the point where you said “I have to be great at that instrument”?
MS: I started to listen to metal in the mid 80’s and I never had any real influences or musicians I adored, I was more just digging the bands and not the individual members.
So I have never really had any favorite bass player and my goal was never to be amazing on my instrument, for me it was – and is – much more important to create good music and play in a band that sounds good as a unity.
RM: What’s the biggest difference between the material on “Darkness Unbound” as opposed to “Death Infernal”? What was the purpose of recording at two different studios in order to complete the new record?
MS: The biggest difference I think is that “Darkness Unbound” is a much more aggressive and brutal album, much more straight-in-your-face death metal.
We recorded the material at Necromorbus Studios, as we have done with all our albums, but then we decided to mix and master it at Wing Recordings which is the new studio and recording facility owned and operated by our vocalist.
RM: I’m watching a live clip of you guys right now and you seem to headbang pretty hard. I know Tom Araya from Slayer had to have surgery from years of that…Is that something that you are worried about long-term or do you just go out there and hit it full force every single night?
MS: Haha no that’s nothing we think about. Usually everything comes naturally, and we are thrilled as fuck before entering the stage but I do admit that sometimes, especially during a longer tour, you might need that extra push to get going. You have to always keep in mind that people have paid to come and see a good show, not 5 tired old men who look pissed off and bored even if it’s a Monday evening in front of 40 people in the middle of the German countryside.
RM: Heavy metal bassists have a very broad spectrum of sounds and tones. For example – a guy like Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse does not use a pick and has a very clean tone, whereas you play with a pick and have a very raw in-your face tone. How would you best describe your own personal sound as a bassist?
MS:I have always preferred this distorted tone, almost like a third guitar. But during the last years I have lowered the distortion a bit to have the sound a bit more clear, a bit more bottom to it and not just a fuzzy mess. Lemmy’s bass sound is one of my favorites.
RM: Europe seems to have a lot more bigger outdoor music festivals compared to here in the States…Why do you think that is and do you prefer to play festivals or clubs?
MS: Yeah in Europe there is really this festival culture and especially in Germany there are metal festivals every damned weekend from late April up ’til early September. During June and especially July there are 2-3 festivals every weekend to choose from… There are tons of these really small festivals, with max 1000 persons attending, those you can find almost in every village during the summer.
The thing with the festivals in Europe is that it’s not only about the music, it’s about getting metalheads together, having a BBQ, drinking tons of piss warm German beer and get grilled in the freaking sun. So basically no matter which bands are on the bill, even if it’s just some local bands, some hundred people will show up with their tents, grills and beers. But then when you have a club show in Germany in the winter, even with semi-well known names, you should be lucky if 100 persons show up… So yeah, the festivals are not only about the music, they are gatherings for the metalheads and really popular.
I do enjoy playing both clubs and festivals but have to admit that festivals might be a bit better, if they are well organized (which they usually are). When we play festivals we usually try to get stage time for Friday and then stay there for the whole weekend and just get hammered, watch all the bands and hang in the backstage bar.
RM: The band seems very, very well-rehearsed…How often do you guys practice before heading out on the road? And how many hours a week would you estimate that you practice by yourself – just you and your bass?
MS: I never practice my bas at home, never! I do play some guitar as I write most of Demonical’s music and I use the guitar for that but practicing the bass, that’s a big NO NO hah!
We actually rehearse very seldom, mostly because everyone lives several hour drives from each other. But when we have a show, tour or recording coming up we of course practice a bit but not much.
RM: What is the one place that you’d love to perform that you haven’t had the opportunity to play yet?
MS: South America is a place we would like to visit, heard so many great things about the audiences there. We have played some shows in North America but that’s also a place where I would like to return…. Actually playing a full US-tour during 2014 is our main priority at the moment, we just have to find a good reliable promoter who wanna bring us over and who’s not full of bullshit. Easy? No.
RM: What’s up next for Demonical in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
MS: We are doing a full European tour in July alongside US devilmasters Nunslaughter. That’s something I really look forward to especially as the tour includes four festivals.. Then, as I said, we are looking at the possibilities for a US conquest later in the fall.
Official Website: www.demonical.net
Demonical at Facebook: www.facebook.com/Demonicalofficial
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