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12th April 2010
Formed in 2003, Norwegian metallers Purified In Blood, advocates and followers of the Vegan Straight Edge subculture, decided to call it quits in 2007, a year after the release of debut full-length effort 'Reaper of Souls'. However, perhaps vying for the record of "shortest break-up period" for a band within the scene, it was announced in spring 2008 they were back together again. And they are back stronger than ever with sophomore album 'Under Black Skies' scheduled for release in June this year on Spinefarm Records UK. Diversifying their sound beyond what was construed by many as metalcore underpinnings on their debut release, the forthcoming album is also bookended by two ambient pieces composed and recorded by the legendary Ulver. Guitarist Tommy Svela spent some time chatting to Metal Discovery about the reformation, new album, and collaboration with Kristoffer Rygg...
METAL DISCOVERY: Hi Tommy, how you doing?
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(Tommy Svela on forthcoming new album 'Under Black Skies')
“When we did ‘Reaper of Souls’ we were kind of put in the metalcore genre and we didn’t really like it there...Now, our influences have changed a lot...so you can hear a good amount of variation on the album which we like and I think people listening to it will like as well.”
Purified In Blood promo photo
Interview by Mark Holmes
GTX18290 1
Reaper of Souls (2006)
Official Purified In Blood MySpace:
Under Black Skies (2010)
Thanks to Adam Sagir at The Noise Cartel for offering and arranging the interview
TS: I’m good, how are you?
MD: Yeah, not so bad, thank you very much. I understand the band reformed in April 2008 just over a year after breaking up - what led to a reunion so soon after splitting?
TS: Basically, the reason we split was…we were a Vegan Straight Edge band - if you’ve heard about Earth Crisis and stuff, that’s what we were about. But, then, some of us stopped being vegan or Straight Edge so it’s that and, also, we had some struggles with our old record company…the same story as many other bands. We just figured that we wanted to play and it was stupid not to play. We all tried some different stuff, forming some new bands, but it just wasn’t the same so we started playing again because we decided that was the most fun we have with each other, just playing music and touring.
MD: Cool, so you decided you belong together and should be playing music together.
TS: [laughs] Yeah, that’s basically it, if you want the short answer!
MD: You mentioned the Vegan Straight Edge thing - I’ve read that informed some of the lyrics for songs on the first album and, obviously, your general attitude towards being in a band. Do you still continue with those themes and similar attitudes since reforming?
TS: Well, we’re all vegetarians now in the band and that’s a big part of the band and probably always will be. The new album is about the earth, like the condition of the earth, and not polluting on all kinds of levels…like the polluting of the minds of people as well. Basically, we have the same message but it’s just not as labelised as it was.
MD: I heard the new album a couple of days ago and it’s fantastic, I think.
TS: Oh cool, thank you.
MD: The press sheet states that…I think it’s a quote from yourself saying that you’ve “evolved musically and lyrically into something we are really proud of…” - in what ways would you say your music and lyrics have evolved between ‘Reaper of Souls’ and ‘Under Black Skies’?
TS: When we did ‘Reaper of Souls’ we were kind of put in the metalcore genre and we didn’t really like it there! [laughs] But it was more that we tried something that wasn’t real for us…it doesn’t sound like what we wanted to do but that was what we were into at the time. Now, our influences have changed a lot so it’s more the classic metal stuff and it’s more sludgy; we listen to more doom stuff. So you can hear a good amount of variation on the album which we like and I think people listening to it will like as well. The other one is pretty much like a hurricane going through your head…[laughs]…it’s just a really, really thrashy album.
MD: That’s kind of answered my next question actually…the album’s pretty diverse but the media seem to lump you in with the whole metalcore scene and that, for me, seems like a very dismissive term for a band because it doesn’t really describe the music of a band as such…
TS: I don’t think so either but, I don’t know, it’s hard when that’s what people think and have read about you. I’m sure when the new album comes out people will kinda see it’s not like this metalcore stuff. It’s something different and we don’t think it has anything to do with metalcore. It’s just hard to…
MD: …hard to get away from the label once you’ve been branded as that.
TS: Yeah, you’re branded, but still I think people listening to it are gonna see that it’s not metalcore.
MD: I noticed when I looked at your Wikipedia entry that you’re described on there as metalcore so you should get on there and change it!
TS: Yeah, we’re gonna do that! [laughs]
MD: I understand the intro and outro tracks on the album were composed and recorded by Ulver. How did Kristoffer Rygg get involved with the band?
TS: Well, it’s a pretty short story. I tour a lot with different bands as a guitar tech and, basically, I’ve worked with Ulver a couple of times - one in London in this hall…
MD: The Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank?
TS: Yeah.
MD: I was at that gig actually.
TS: Did you like it?
MD: Amazing, absolutely amazing!
TS: Basically, I said “instead of paying me, do you want to do an intro and outro?”, and he was totally into it so he made it and it sounds really cool, I think. It wraps up the album in a really nice way.
MD: Yeah, kind of like bookends with the two ambient pieces either side.
TS: Yeah, I love that stuff so I’d love to have more of that. Maybe next time or something. It definitely gives something different to the whole album. I’m happy about that.
MD: The track…I probably won’t pronounce this entirely correctly, but ‘Under Den Svarte Himmel’…
TS: Yeah, that’s pretty good!
MD: There are nice choir style vocals at the start and then during the song too - how was the choir recorded? Is that all band members showing off their vocal talents?
TS: What we did was all of the band members and friends of ours in a band called Kvelertak - they’re touring with Converge this summer actually so you should check ‘em out if you can - they’re really good friends of ours so we invited them out. The album was recorded…like where we live, there’s nice beaches and everything…it was Fall so it was really windy and dark, so we went out for a hike and then went back to playing some music and stuff. There’s a church there at the shore so, what we did, we went into that church, all twelve of us, set up the microphones and everything, and recorded it in the church.
MD: Wow, that sounds like a really nice setting.
TS: Yeah, it is, and I think there’s actually some video of it. We had some Norwegian TV station come and film it. So that was really good, and it was an idea we’d had for a long time for that song.
MD: When I listen to the song again I can have the image of what you’ve just described as it sounds very atmospheric.
TS: We could do that because the church is next to the studio. It was pretty awesome.
MD: Obviously you’ve signed a contract with Spinefarm for the new album. How did that deal come about and how’s your experience so far of being signed to a bigger label compared to…was it Alveran Records?
TS: Oh yeah. Well, this is way, way better. I mean, for the first one we didn’t feel like we were on any label actually! [laughs] This feels really good for us. In Norway we’re also released under the Universal umbrella, a label called Nightliner, and he’s a friend of the Spinefarm guy so he pitched the album to them and they were really interested, so it happened pretty fast actually. But it’s a really, really good thing and we’re really happy about it. It looks as if it’s going to be a good year!
MD: Definitely. Worth reforming for!
TS: Yeah, definitely! [laughs]
MD: It was announced on Blabbermouth a couple of weeks ago that there’s an unofficial video for the track ‘Death Priest’. Out of interest, why is that unofficial? Is it a fan-made video or something like that?
TS: Well, basically, it was just meant as a promo thing for us just to send around for people working with us but, the way the internet works now, nothing stays within where you want it to stay! [laughs] So that’s why it’s unofficial; it’s just to show that we’re back and more of a visual statement that we’re back. I think it looks really good and we’re gonna release another one after a while. It’s gonna be really cool. This one…in Oslo we did more of a showcase concert and it’s really good footage. I don’t mind it being on Blabbermouth or anything!
MD: It’s all good publicity, isn’t it! I’ve seen so-called official videos that don’t look half as good as that so…
TS: Yeah, that’s good, that’s good! [laughs]
MD: So in terms of things leaking onto the internet, is that church footage on there?
TS: Yeah, but that’s not leaked though. I think it’s probably on YouTube, the video from the church session.
MD: I’ll check that out.
TS: It’s all in Norwegian, but you can still see that.
MD: So obviously you’re over in the UK doing some press right now but are there any plans for you to come over here and tour soon?
TS: Oh yeah, definitely, we’re just discussing that now, as we speak. You know, we’re just getting started about stuff so getting on the road, especially playing the UK, is one of our top priorities. It’s gonna happen pretty soon; we just have to figure out when.
MD: So have you played over here before?
TS: Oh yeah, we did some tour called the ‘Hell on Earth Tour’. In London we played the Mean Fiddler. We also played once at The Arch which now is called From Dusk Til Dawn or something. That’s some time ago but I can remember it.
MD: I’ve not heard of that actually - that’s in London is it, From Dusk Til Dawn?
TS: Yeah, we just went by there the other day.
MD: It’s not like the Titty Twister or something?!
TS: No, I don’t think so! I hope not! [laughs]
MD: Finally, what plans lie ahead in 2010 and beyond for the band? Any festival dates planned?
TS: We’re booked for some festivals in Norway which is great. You can’t do much touring during the summer, it’s more like a festival thing, so we’ll see what kind of festivals we can get abroad. Then, we know we’re gonna tour in Norway during the Fall but we’re also gonna do some European stuff but nothing’s nailed yet. We’ll have to see but we’re definitely going to be doing as much touring as we can.
MD: Any interest from UK festivals at all?
TS: Well, we’re working on that! [laughs] There is, but we’re running late for this summer, but we’ll see.
MD: Okay, right, thank you very much for your time.
TS: Alright, well, thank you.