BLACK ROYAL is yet another really cool Finnish metal band. Check them out if you like your music heavy with a touch of death and doom. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
We all come into music with our own baggage. We want different things from the music. How does the vision you had for the band when you started compare to the vision you have for the band today? What is this band really all about? What do you want with your music?
– From the start we have had this idea of combining all the good stuff from heavy music into one collective sound which includes our own personal likings and our favourite types of metal. We wanted to create our sound with -70’s heavy rock, -90’s death metal and modern sludge and our aim hasn’t changed through these years. The vision is still the same but for each record we have pushed the musical boundaries further and found more epic stance or killer stoner vibes or some doom riffs. I think Black Royal is all about having fun, playing the music we like and also wanting to play live as much as possible. As a band we want to be convincing, uncompromising and stay true to our music.
Is there a difference in people’s attitude towards you if you don’t come from a cool place like LA or NY or London?
– Scandinavia has long been a well-known place for good metal music and people abroad are pleased that we are from Finland. So we think it’s cooler not to be from those big cities. Also, some reviewers have said that nobody but Finns could play our kind of music or even have the idea of trying to do metal music this way and still make it work properly, hah!
When you release an album that get pretty good feedback, how do you follow up on that? How important is that I as a fan can identify album to album?
– A good feedback ensures us that we are on the right path and our music has something to offer instead of being just another metal product among thousand others. A well-written review is like a friendly tap on our shoulder so we know that there is people out there that feel the same way as us and have similar taste in what metal should be about. It gives us assurance to continue doing what we do and trust in ourselves that we have something great here in the making. And because we have so clear idea of what we should sound like, all our albums have enough similarity so we don´t lose listeners but they can easily say that we have improved and become a better band. We are trying to evolve continuously and try to be worth of people’s praises.
What is the biggest challenge in the creation of an album? How do you write the really cool songs?
– In an album-length the most difficult thing is to make it a tight, solid package as a whole. The song order is really quite important thing to arrange and to ensure the common flow of the entire album is crucial in creating a proper record. Of course the artwork has a big part in all that as well. When it comes to the songs – we just write them! I mean, when we jam together with new riffs and compose a song out of that, we do not think that “this will be the next big hit”, actually quite on the contrary. Usually we try different riffs together as long as needed to make the whole song work. And for five years that we´ve been a band we’ve had this method of making the bridges or c-parts called “how to ruin the song-method”. Using unorthodox riffage or ‘wrong’ type of influence in metal is a biggest mistake you could do but we’ve managed to pull it together quite nicely every time still. I guess that’s kind of gives us a head start.
I saw Dave Grohl’s documentary about Sound City and it made me wonder what it is about analogue recording that you don’t get with digital? Have you ever recorded analogue?
– People can argue for days about which is the better way to record stuff but all of us and all of our friends are old enough to have lived in the analogue times! So analogue is better, hah! We have never recorded analogue with Black Royal but have with our previous bands and we know what is the ‘catch’! Recording analogue you do get that bit of compression and distortion that is very pleasing to ear. That’s why many people describe tape as “warmer”. However, our aim is to get a natural yet crushing sound that breathes nevertheless it’s digital or analogue. Recording “Lightbringer” we never used a real recording studio at all. The drums and bass was recorded in a gym hall of a far-away school. It allowed us to have a big room sound that we wanted for the drums. That would have never been possible if we had used tape. We did have a very high end gear – rented and loaned – available for this record and we are very pleased in how it turned out. When you are as poor as we are and a studio costs can be expensive, digitality saves time. A lot of time. Maybe in the future it would be interesting to try to get “best of both worlds”, For example record basic drum, bass and guitar tracks with tape and then do the overdubs and vocals digitally in a more cost-efficient enviroment.
What is it like to sit there with a finished album? Do you think much what people will think of it?
– It feels really good! “Lightbringer” is our debut album and ofcourse we wanted to make our best with it. Especially it feels good that we had a theme record in mind and we made it happen. It was a quite huge task to complete but we succeeded. Especially with lyrics and the storyline we had to stretch ourselves to the limit to make it blend in with the songs. In our opinion the album sounds more epic, darker and serious than the previous EP’s so we were a bit unsecure how people would take it but it had a better response than we’ve ever had before. Since we started five years ago, we have built a small fanbase that follows us daily and for us to be able to please their expectations and even exceed them is a worthwhile reward itself. Playing a show to a empty venue is not that mindlifting experience compared to a show in front of a crowd that is there on purpose.
How important are the lyrics and what message do you want to purvey?
– A content of the lyrics are more important than the separate lines in a song. I’m not a poet or an author of any kind but I try to maintain a certain philosophy within the lyrics. Our main message has always been that organised religion is the biggest threat to our intellectual growth and the biggest cause to the worldwide chaos at hand. Us humans should focus on our inner strength and release ourselves from the shackles of the false prophets. We should abandon all Christian doctrines and recall the ancient powers that are hidden deep within us all. From then we shall flourish.
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
– Like I said, we are old a.f. so the album artwork is everything for us! We’ve had a privilege to work with talented artists and we are very pleased with their contribution. The artwork itself is crucial as is the graphic design, the whole package. That’s why we want to release albums on vinyl too because the artwork represents itself best in a bigger fold.
When you play live do you notice a degree of greater recognition from the fans with each new time you pass through town?
– Yeah, so far it has increased. More people come to shows, buy more merchandise and so on. A lot of it comes from wider promotion, of course. The more promotion we do and more tours we arrange after the album release the more people get to know of us and it shows in venues. And of course interviews help us spread the word and maybe get things going even further.
What do you see in the future?
– Beer! A lot of beer! Hah, seriously – we are touring in Finland for the rest of the year as much as we can and this has been our best year so far. A deal with Suicide Records, a debut album released, couple of mini tours abroad, a show in Tuska Open Air Festival etc. It has been a hell of a ride but we are still hungry for more! Next year we are planning to tour more in Europe, actually we are booking the tour as we speak. We are also thinking about the next album already and started to write new songs as well. We have been talking about the lyrical content of the new album and which corner of our “unholy trinity-sound” we would like to explore this time. The main goal is to remain active and grow as a band and accomplish more things in future.