Interview by Miriam Cadoni
Sweden’s Serpent Omega is back stronger that ever after some troubled years of recordings and line-up changes. In this extensive interview, the singer and frontwoman took some time to introduce us the entire genesis of their second full-length aptly called “II” and how their new deal with the bouquet label Icons Creating Evil Art positively influenced on their general mood. The sludge/doom metal quartet is ready to unveil their opus to their (old) and new fans. Enjoy!
Hi Urskogr, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how these peculiar days are treating you?
Thank you so much. Well, I have to say that’s really weird living these times. I never ever expected myself to go something through like this. I think it’s difficult for everyone and it feels like the world is going through a some sort of grieving period. But I’m happy that we are well here among my family, my friends and the band. So far, we’ve been lucky and that’s all I can say really.
Probably after this ponderate and interesting reply, my next question might sound quite boring and not everybody knows Serpent Omega. However, would you like to tell us how your adventure with Serpent Omega started? I still remember that your self-titled debut album was released back in 2013 via Mordergrimm…
I think that basically has started with our bass player. He had already plans on starting up a band and he kinda already knew that we wanted our guitarist Jonsson to be part of it too. I don’t exactly remember if we went or not to Gothenburg but I think he did it [laughs] and they talked.
Then, it turned out that Jonsson has already collected a lot of riffs that were laying in his drawer ready to be used. Successfully, they came up with the band’s name and they met me too. We both are originally from a small town in the outskirts of Stockholm called Uppsala which also Sweden’s fourth biggest city but still, it’s small. Musically speaking, my city managed to produce a lot of good metal band such for example, Watain.
I guess then in the world of metal, Uppsala is pretty famous. However when we started, there was not much going on [laughs]. Fast tracking a little bit, we started to create few songs and to collaborate with a drummer with which it didn’t work out. Then, our former drummer Sakke join the ranks and officially, he was featured on our debut album. He’s really a cool guy and if I correctly remember well, his primary instrument was the guitar, however I love his punk-y style which fitted us really well. I like when the music is sort of chaotic and that worked out really well.
At the end, we started the band and we created this album which was released on Mordergrimm. It’s a British label and I must say that worked out fine until the owner completely disappeared. Well, I don’t have any clear idea if it’s alive or not because he simply vanished from the face of the earth. Yeah, that’s a bit weird [laughs].
Though, it worked out because in February, you have signed a deal with Icons Creating Evil Art. So, how this collaboration started and so far, which impact had for the band?
Firstly, I say that one fantastic thing about Icons Creating Evil is about their location in Sweden, precisely in Stockholm. For us, it’s a huge advantage because it’s actually possible to talk with people and just simply head over there and have a chat. It absolutely helps when you want to build a relationship with a label.
Also, they we really cool guys, just consider a fact: we’re the darkest band present on their roster and personally, I think it’s a huge step for them to take. But, they are into darkness and that can be in several ways through a country singer-songwriter of it could be darkness in us, Serpent Omega.
So far, they are fine with it. Additionally, they have a feature which is really important for us: our material will be properly taken care by producing a proper vinyl, adding that special extra on the material that will be released. Precisely, I refer to fact on how they handle the material.
For example, it’s important for them that looks good and that’s high quality. That matters to us too because we don’t want to do anything in haste. It’s important that looks good, that feels good and that the band’s energy could be sensed by the person holding the vinyl, like you should feel it in your fingertips. Ultimately, you should be able to understand what Serpent Omega is.
Yes, I completely get your point. You are searching something more artisanal, and for example, it doesn’t respond to hectic deadlines from the market.
I mean, things could take long time as it has to as long as it does come out with the best result. Like to happened with our second full-lenght, which it took 7 years in the making. So, it’s pretty safe to say that we’re not stressing anything. We want to be great in what we release and in what we do. In definitive, we’re for the quality not the quantity. We rather prefer things to take time and its outcome, it comes out really really good. I think also ICEA understands that because they are into that.
On the 4th of September, Serpent Omega‘s second album was released. Considering the fact that the debut album was released in 2013, it passed a long span of time. Ultimately, this factor has its importance, right?
And, it’s of course. Actually, we have recorded this album twice. So, this album represents the second version of it. A lot of the songs present on the album are songs that have been finished for seven years. Like we have them ready after the first LP, we have already played a live few of the songs.
However, we are not a band that works in a democratic process on which most bands rely on. For example, if 3 out of 4 members say “Yes, it’s a go. Let’s do this”. Unfortunately, we don’t work in that way because every member of our band needs to agree or concur. It’s just enough that one of the band members disagrees that the entire project get stopped. We’ll simply don’t do it.
I admit that it’s quite a reply difficult method to deal with due to the fact that it takes a lot of time and it’s really time-consuming. Especially, since we are really super-stubborn people. Each of us can be considered to have some typical traits as a leader. It sounds quite difficult but as frustrating can be, we can all trust that the end result will be the best that we can deliver.
It can be weird but we have trust in this process. It’s different from most of the other bands but this is what we have decided on and we are completely sticking to it because we have noticed that the outcome is something we can really be behind and be proud of. Of course, this is one of the big reason why took so much time in releasing it.
Let me tell you something, Urskogr: it takes a lot of guts to admit this because of the bands would sugarcoat the whole story. I like that fact that you are straightforward and direct and you don’t have problems to come out clean.
No, and I really don’t. Actually, I’m kinda proud and this is not democracy units original form. This is a sort of super-democracy, I’d say. You have to have everyone on board, everyone has to agree which is cool and at the same time, mega super frustrating [laughs].
But we trust the end result, we all know that we can rely on that because it’s the best thing we can do. After we recorded for the first time the entire album, we also decided to change drummer and the reason behind that, it’s personal. However, we’re really happy that we faced that line up change which welcomed in our ranks Fast Feet Pete.
After his joining, we decided to re-record everything in order to have our drummer on the album that we worked so hard on. I can tell you that the second version of this album is better that the last one due to Fast Feet Pete‘s presence. He has this controlled way of playing drums but he does that in a sort of chaotic way that suits the band. He’s also one of the best drummers in Sweden.
So, you mentioned the new drummer Feet Pete and generally speaking, how this line up change reflected on the band and now on the light of this element, I think Feet Pete has added something. What’s that in your opinion?
I have to think [laughs]… however, what he has added is this controlled chaos and his super-skills to the band. I mean, it’s basically impossible to not feel like you want to fucking headbang your head out.
Also, he has this energy to his way of playing that a lot of bands envious us for that. He can drive you mad with his super-skilled drumming. He’s amazing, super-talented and he sounds so natural that probably it was born with it.
“II” was recorded in Stockholm by the guitarist Jonsson at Dark Prod. Studios., mixed at Studio Humbucker by Robert Persson and mastered by Magnus Lindberg Productions. As you called it the process is not super-democratic but how much difficult was to involve all this professionals and how do you think they have improved the sound of the band from the previous album?
That’s a good question. I think for us it has been really really difficult to let go of everything because on the first album we took care in every aspect of it. We had this sort of idea that would be able to cover for everything ourselves. And now, we ended up in a situation, we were felt like we would probably never release an album if we supposed to take a sit to even discuss the mixing and the mastering as well [laughs].
We needed someone for the outside to give us an extra push and we chose Robert Persson and Magnus Lindberg because we really really appreciate what they done earlier for us. So, we blindly trust them and they get Serpent Omega from the get go. They completely understand what we are about. Actually, it was a really really smooth process with a very little feedbacks and changes from our side because from the beginning, they manage to do a great job.
I would add that the end result is super-heavy, super-dark but at the same time, sound-wise, it’s of a better quality. Due to the sound of the album, it’s more accessible. If compared to the debut album, “I” was really punk in a lot of ways while I think that this last one might be accessible to more people.
Yeah, I agree. But, what the previous album had a lot of elements of crust. Personally speaking, I don’t mind it but if I have to put myself in people’ shoes and I think about it, I come to the conclusion that maybe everything was too much and that makes the approach even much more complicated if the listener is unfamiliar with it…
That’s in general the issue with Serpent Omega‘s music. We are simply not just one genre band. We mix whatever the fuck we want and that makes it difficult for people. Usually, people like to put music in a box. Is it black metal? Is it death metal? Is it crust? In general, people tend to have a problem to not have an easy label to put on the band, for example “What can of festival you’ll play?”
Due to this reason, I think that ICEA is the right place for Serpent Omega. Also, they never ever cared about labels.
No, they don’t and I completely agree. It feels really good about that. However, people in general tend to apply labels in order to have sense of the general situation. Of course, if you have a label everything makes much more easier. On the opposite, it’s difficult to deal with a band that it effortlessly fluctuate through different musical genres.
“What are you then?”, “I don’t like black metal but you play it”. You know what I mean? So, it has been really complicated on our debut but on the upcoming one, it won’t. Because this time, we opted for a more organic sound. Of course, I like “I” too but “II” represent a good step in forward direction. The songs present on it comes out in a peculiar way because the sound’s structure is so good.
So, do you think that collaborating with these two external partners helped to refresh the basic essence of the band?
Yes, I think it’s safe to say so. They contributed in that process, they really did. Also, it’s nice to have someone who can rely on them. Practically, they understand what you are about and their ideas are easily accessible for us when they have something to suggest. You can trust that because they really really did a good shit before.
Out of “II”, it was released there were released two singles “Orog Nuur” and “Land of Darkness” which also features a video. Would you mind to talk about these two songs and additionally, about the video? I’m curious to learn how was shooting it…
Actually, “Orog Nuur” is one of the songs we had finished not long after our first album was released. It’s one of the songs that we wrote after… it’s one of the oldest songs. I love that song and it’s one of my favorite on the album because it’s very atmospheric and brutal, in a way. As a matter of fact, “Orog Nuur” is a lake situated in Mongolia.
Instead, “Land of Darkness” is one of the newest songs that we wrote and in some ways, it sums up Serpent Omega in just one song with its intensity, brutality and its small parts of clean vocals. This musical cocktail outlines the mixture of differents moods. Personally, I don’t like to talk about to what the lyrics refer to because it’s better when artists don’t tell me anything about its contents.
Also, I think that our listeners are clever enough to figure things out themselves and I like when an artist has a firm opinion about something you have created. In the end, what really makes it art is the fact that when it meets someone else’s experience, its outcome can completely change.
Instead, focusing on the video, it’s actually close to what really happens when we appear on stage. When you attend a Serpent Omega‘s concert that’s pretty much what will happen. It’s just heavy smoke, dark and we have the skulls and the horn. There are a lot of symbols included in what we do. Our final goal about the video was to shoot something that would resemble to a live experience without the audience (sorry, it’s Corona times, sigh).
Usually, I conclude by asking which the next band’s plan but knowing you, I’m sure you’ll reply to me by saying “ask me this in 2021″…
Well, for us but like any other band and any person on this planet, what we really are aware of is that everything is uncertain. Like, the uncertainty is the new real and then, you have just to relate to that. Of course, our main ambition is play live as much as possible. Probably, it’s time to attempt and try out new forms for that and so, be creative. I know for a fact that watching Serpent Omega live means for a lot of people experiencing a catharsis.
Just people screaming their hearts out. There’s this sort of energy happening and that is hard to reduce to 50 fans with a distance of two meters apart from each other. However, let’s watch even the other side of the medal, this pandemic is giving to us, artist, a lot of time for writing, composing and be creative. Also, we’re using our energy that usually we use on stage to inwardly watching inside of us and use it for creative purposes.
So, Urskogr, we’re almost at the end and with this please be free to say hi to your fans and your readers. Thank you so much for this interview.
Just keep your eyes open for the album and I really hope to see everyone soon live at one of the Serpent Omega‘s rituals with our full-on experience.