TO CAST A SHADOW: ‘In Memory Of’ track-by-track

TO CAST A SHADOW: 'In Memory Of'
TO CAST A SHADOW: 'In Memory Of'

TO CAST A SHADOW’s tale begins with a group of three friends coming together in a basement to play loud and pounding grooves, and continues through epochs of experimenting within a range of heavy musical stylings. Influenced by THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL, MY DYING BRIDE, TYPE O NEGATIVE, SATYRICON, ANATHEMA, TOOL, PARADISE LOST and BLACK SABBATH, the band’s musical expression has landed firmly within the domain of melodic doom/goth metal. The sound was finally complete when a female singer was added to the mix.

Marcus Granlien, guitarist of Norway’s TO CAST A SHADOW, commented on songs of upcoming sophomore album ‘In Memory Of’, due on February 14, 2011 in U.K. (February 18 in the rest of Europe) via Kolony Records:

Tormented: This is a very different song, and a new side of TCAS. So we thought it might be fun to surprise a few people out there and start the new album with this (in a TCAS sense) extreme song. It started out with a couple of riffs that gave Kent the opportunity to really experiment on the drums, and there is even a blastbeat at 3:40. Not very typical TCAS stuff!  We invited Hans Kristian Nørgaard to do some male vocals on this song, and he came up with a couple of lines that  really lifted the song to another level, and it matched Gunnhild ‘s dark and hypnotizing voice. All in all a good song to illustrate some of the changes and progress we ‘ve had these last years. The intro to this song was created by Rikard Lofgren at Leonmusic, Sweden.

Morose: Kent surprised us all when he came up with this weird and creepy tune, based on a true story. It has a smooth, progressive rhythm that almost feels off-beat, and it matches the strange story told in the lyrics. Gunnhild returned to the studio to record another version of this song, and it resulted in a lot more presence. The tom-tom drums were fine-tuned and somewhat highlighted in the verses of this song, and the resounding attack of the birch drum shells is well displayed here. We recorded the guitars with a Fender strat, although a Gibson Explorer is used on some lead parts. At 2:05 you can hear me play my 20 year old beat-up, worn out acoustic guitar. In a strange way it has aged well, even though it belongs in a scrapheap. Gunnhild’s amazing operatic voice at 2:57 is worth noticing.

Nightfall: Nightfall is one of those songs that just oozes of that classic TCAS sound. Some of these riffs came to life during one of the bands many jam sessions, and the whole song is based on the opening riff.  At 0:22, co-producer, Kristian Sigland came up with some tapped harmonics for the verse, that almost sounds like a harp if you listen closely. It sounded so good that we simply let him play it himself. On most parts of the album Stian uses a MarkBass amp along with a distortion pedal from EBS, and it sounds really dirty and gritty on this song. The guitar solo is the exact same solo that I’ve played the very first time the band jammed on this riff. It had the right sound immediately, and a very bluesy feel, so there was no point in changing it. During this solo you can hear Kent playing the drums along with the leadguitar in a way that defies description. The drums and the guitars just seem to match and fill each other out perfectly.

Oceans apart: A very dark and romantic song, that is played on a hot-rodded baritone guitar to get that deep and wonderful low sound. Even though TCAS has always played doom metal, this song introduces a new chapter in the bands history, when I growl throughout the refrain at 1:36, making it almost sound like some old-school Paradise Lost stuff. Being one of the heaviest songs on the album, it is surprising to hear how the ending turns into something completely different. Once again, we got HK Nørgaard to add the final howl at 4:07 to release the full aggression that lies within this tune. Kent’s Yamaha Recording Custom set gets some serious beating on this one.

Betula: A very short, special little song, for someone special…?  We had the honor of working with Nell from Theatre of Tragedy on this one, and she really gave her heart and soul. All the additional background voices were created by Nell at the spot while recording.  It fades in with a synth-guitar effect from a Boss GT-8 board, and you might recognise it from the first album, where the same effect was used on “A suicidal mind”.  My beat up acoustic guitar is still hanging in there…

My Misery: Even though these pounding grooves and catchy guitar parts might sound like classic TCAS stuff, the arrangement and the vocals lift this song into a new and dark dimension for the band. Filled with emotions, frustration and anger it simply stands out as one of the most intense songs on the album. We re-arranged this song several times, and my growling became the lead vocals while Gunnhild’s somber voice lies beneath.  At 3:05 the intensity and aggression disappears, and the song transforms into a depressive state.  When the bass enters along with the rhythm guitar at 3:23, they are both dropped all the way down to a low A-tuning, just to make your speakers rumble a little bit more.

When you leave the room: This heartfelt and personal song is actually Stian’s debut as a songwriter and singer for TCAS, and what a fantastic debut! It starts off with Gunnhild’s amazing operatic voice and  continues with some really heavy, classic doom metal chords. All male vocals are performed by Stian himself, and like most of the other songs it’s based on a true story. As opposed to some of the other songs, Stian displays a more introverted song writing style in terms of the actual vocal lines for Gunnhild, and this broadens the quality and versatility of the entire album. And when Gunnhild added a personal touch to the vocal lines, the circle was complete. At 2:03 you can hear another guitar synth pad from my GT-8 board. The first 15 seconds of the guitar solo was created by co-producer and The Crest guitarist Kristian Sigland, due to the fact that I wanted a different approach on this solo. Although performed by me alone, hardcore fans of “The Crest” might recognise Siglands unique approach to guitar solo’s.

Set afire: Once again Kent came up with a delicate and catchy tune with a groove that just keeps on going. Inspired by old-school black metal guitar riffs, I had to switch the JSX amp setting to the Extreme channel, to produce that angry evil sound that Kent wanted for this song. Although being a pretty straight forward metal-rock tune, Gunnhild’s superb voice creates a spine-tingling sensation that might cause goose bumps. Set afire reaches an intense highlight at 3:45, when Gunnhild empties her lungs and produces so much raw energy that the input level on her microphone went way beyond the maximum peaks, and you can actually hear the speakers cracking up. A very cool effect that we decided to keep!

The answer: “Time has forsaken me”. A very honest, sore and fragile intro that introduces a Rhodes-piano for the first time in TCAS’ history. Rickard Engborg helped out, and created some very cool keys, while Gunnhild and me perform a duet. Apart from the intro, this song is just raw energy, and Gunnhild really pushes her voice to the extreme to enhance that “live-sound” that this song was written for. This is the second song with the baritone guitar, and at 3:13 you can hear the guitars turning into a deep, dark and massive Black Sabbath-style riff.

In Memory of: Although this is not a typical title track, this beautiful, but tragic and heartfelt song managed to capture the essence of To Cast a Shadow. Gunnhilds performance is simply stunning and features so much presence and sincerity. In the final stage of the recording process, the band decided to add a guitar solo, and the one you can hear at 2:55 was written and recorded in 5 minutes, and it turned out to be perhaps the best solo on the album. Due to the fact that we had already started to disassemble the guitar gear, it was accidentally recorded with only 1 Shure microphone, instead of the standard 4 microphone set-up.

The CD was recorded at Hamar Recordings in Norway with producer Kristian Sigland (THE CREST, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY) and was mastered at Leon Music Studio in Sweden by Rikard Lofgren. The artwork was developed and realized by Matthew Vickerstaff of Darkwave Art (MY DYING BRIDE, CRADLE OF FILTH).

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