Karl and Konstantin from the Swedish old school Death Metal squad KAAMOS
Interview and live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen
Kaamos, this old school Death Metal foursome from Sweden, is undoubtedly highly respected and appreciated amongst so-called true Death Metal crowd these days who are being able to capture all those musical elements tightly together one by one that are essential and vital for this kind of Death Metal. When the band hails such Death Metal pioneers as Possessed, Autopsy, Grotesque, Dismember and the likes as their main influences, it?s pretty obvious which school Kaamos comes from.
The band?s latest album, apptly titled LUCIFER RISING on Candlelight Records, is a great effort to prove what makes old school Death Metal so old school sounding that it manages to throw you through a time gate back in time; back to those times where bands like Autopsy, Morbid Angel, Incubus, Grotesque and such wicked and grotesque sounding old school Death Metal leagues reigned supreme. Kaamos has found that precious heritage of the old school Death Metal legends, and they are doing amazingly good with it.
I hooked up with both band?s vocalist and bassist Karl and guitarist Konstantin before their show in Helsinki 4th of February 2006, and we talked about one of our favorite common topics ?old school Death Metal? what it is all about – amongst other things, and lots of Kaamos -related issues were naturally touched upon as well.
You played a gig in Turku yesterday along with Slugathor and Sinister Creation. How was the response in the crowd toward Kaamos?
Konstantin: It was good. It was really cool.
Karl: I liked to play there. The place was really small and tight, so the general spirit was quite intimate, y?know. The place reminded me of sort of place for Punk/Hardcore bands, but it was alright.
Konstantin: I haven?t had this sensational for being way back with Order From Chaos or shit like that.
How many people showed up to see you guys playing there last night?
Karl: Huh, I don?t know. Probably about one hundred or so.
Konstantin: Yeah, I guess it fair to say there was like approximately 100 people there to see us playing, so that was pretty cool.
Did you manage to follow these two other band?s shows as well?
Karl: I watched a couple of songs from this Slugathor, but since they played just before us, unfortunately I had no possibility to see more them as we had to get ready for our own show. I know Slugathor is a good Finnish Death Metal band.
KAAMOS FROM A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ? AND MORE…
Kaamos was born as their main intention to play real Death Metal in 1998. Can you tell were you kind of fed up with the current ?so-called Death Metal? scene in Sweden at that time as all these melo-Death Metal bands, especially from the Gothenburg area, started to come out like mushrooms after the rain (In Flames, Euchachrist and so on), so you kind of wanted to bring things back to the basics of Death Metal with Kaamos where bands like Entombed, Dismember, Seance, Edge of Sanity, etc. started from musically?
Konstantin: I think that the main reason why we started this band, we actually felt like that the (Death Metal) scene at that time there weren?t that good bands that were playing true Death Metal as we saw this situation from our point of view. So we wanted to somehow ? and first and foremost ourselves to prove that there are still bands and people who are into such extreme ways of Death Metal. And that was pretty much the reason why Kaamos was born. It?s not as if we spoke about it or anything like that; it?s just a way of our mentality that it must be either that way or nothing at all. I mean, to form this band came naturally to us; we didn?t plan anything. It?s much more of a mental thing from the musicians that this band sounds like it sounds. It?s important to us that Death Metal in our music sounds a certain way, in order to be and sound cool Death Metal, so…
Karl: That Gothenburg ?style had been around for a couple of years in 19998 when Kaamos was born. But I think the difference with Kaamos compared to other old school Death Metal bands was at that time, some bands just sat down and had a few beers and were like: ?Hey, let?s start an old school Death Metal band…?, y?know, they wanted to play this certain style because it seemed to be so ?funny thing? to do back then, and we just played naturally old school Death Metal. We never sat down and discussed each other whether we wanted to play this or that style; it was in our blood already. Some bands really ?tried? to sound ?old school? as a ?thing?, y?know.
LUCIFER IS RISING
Your latest album was released in the fall of 2005, and it was titled LUCIFER RISING. I have been seeing lots of pretty damn rave reviews for that album, so I assume you must be pleased for all the feedback you have been receiving for it thus far?
Karl: It?s of course kind of overwhelming when you read all the great reviews as you say. Our last album LUCIFER RISING has been receiving very high rates all of the time because nowadays I think it only proves people have really started to like this kind of style we do. But when our first record came out (on Candlelight in 2002), only a few people were embracing it as a fuckin? good album and we didn?t get that much response out of it. Still, we were very flattered by all those responses we received toward that album at that time.
Konstantin: I think that one of the bigger things about LUCIFER RISING is actually that we used the analog way of recording. It gives this special sound picture; it gives it a certain intense sound that you just don?t find on records these days that often any more because most of the records have been created by such a high modern technology that cuts away, y?know, this certain character of bands in my opinion. For us it?s very, very important to record an album a certain way, too, in order to manage to capture all that what Kaamos characterizes as a band because after all it?s our specific character that actually creates Kaamos. So that has to come through in the music.
To me now when I have been spinning your LUCIFER RISING album like crazy, it brought such old school Death Metal names musically to my mind like Finland?s Demigod (especially the band?s UNHOLY DOMAIN demo/SLUMBER album era), German?s Fleshcrawl and naturally Autopsy. Do you somehow subscribe all those abovementioned three bands as influences in Kaamos? sound, at least partly?
Karl: Uh, I wouldn?t say that Demigod and Fleshcrawl have influenced us at all, I think. None of those two bands have, but of course Autopsy. Autopsy of course is a big influence on every old school Death Metal band, so…
Konstantin: Demigod was such a weird sounding band when their debut record SLUMBER OF SULLEN EYES came out. And I have actually started to appreciate it more now ? much later on, than what I did in the past. But, y?know, when it was released in 1992, it was so strange for me personally, so I really didn?t understand what was going on that particular album. It?s really hard for me to say why?
You have the same ?dark vibe? on LUCIFER RISING as Demigod had on SLUMBER, so in that sense some of these comparisons are quite easy to draw from that album to your latest record, I think.
Konstantin: Oh, alright.
But Autopsy is undoubtedly one of your main influences in Kaamos? sound…
Konstantin: Oh yeah ? of course!!
Karl: They mean everything to us musically as far as their influence in our sound is concerned.
And I guess you guys have been following that band since they crawled out from the dark basement into the light for every old school deatheads? lips…
Konstantin: Yeah, of course!!
You got signed in 2001 by Candlelight Records by your 5-song CURSE OF AEONS demo. Why did you end up signing a deal with them eventually? As far as I know there were a few other labels out there as well that were interested in signing Kaamos…
Karl: Yeah, there were… quite a few actually. But we decided to take Candlelight?s offer.
So, what made you to pick up their offer then?
Karl: It was the distribution part that we thought that Candlelight has a decent distribution which unfortunately was missing from the first album when it was released because it seemed to be so hard to get. But overall, I think that the distribution was one of the main points why we ended up signing with them eventually.
Konstantin: Yes, that ? but also we somehow felt quite a lot of business talking behind many other labels when we spoke with them at that time while we spoke to Candlelight, it was much more ?level-to-level? -thing I?d say. It was like: ?Well, this is what we are about. We are not gonna change anything in Kaamos? ? just trying to explain the situation to them. With Kaamos we are not gonna sound like ?the next popular trend? on our 2nd album, or follow some popular trend on our 3rd album and try to sound like it or something like that. Kaamos is Kaamos and they didn?t have any problems understanding this. I mean, they didn?t mind when we told this to them because the fact is quite a lot of labels nowadays are only interested in catching bands that are gonna be a part of next trend or stuff like that. So it felt more comfortable to sign with Candlelight Records.
What kind of contract do you have with them anyway? For how many more albums is your contract with them?
Karl: I think we have this contract for two more albums with them, but it?s option kind of deal. So they have two more options on Kaamos, so it?s really up to them if they still want to release albums with us.
The CURSE OF AEONS demo has also been released as a 10? E.P. Where did the idea to release in that special format come from exactly?
Karl: Actually the idea was up when we recorded the first songs for the demo, but Anastasis from Nuclear Winter Records from Greece, he wanted to release it as a 10? E.P. In the beginning CURSE OF AEONS was only supposed to come out in that particular format, but I don?t know why it never happened back then. So we released this demo-tape, and now a couple of years later he came up with the same idea again: ?Hey, let?s release it as a 10? E.P. as well…?.
Was is sort of a limited edition as well; like to 500 or 1000 copies or something…?
Konstantin: It was limited to ? hardly surprise, 666 copies.
Ok, I see… of course!!
SWEDISH DEATH METAL: A BIG HIT ? OR EVEN MORE CLEVER TRICK?
What do you think of the current Swedish Death Metal scene these days? To me it seems like it sort of has gone at least one full circle because many bands have started to adopt these more brutal and heavier sounds for themselves again; I mean bands like Spawn of Possession, Nominon, Insision, Godhate and the likes…
Karl: Yeah, we have lots of new Death Metal bands in Sweden that play a decent style old school Death Metal like Verminous, Necrovation… hmmm, what else we have got?
Konstantin: … and of course Katalysator.
Karl: Oh yeah! Also Morbid Insulter is a new band. They are just great!
Are Godhate still around, by the way?
Konstantin: Yeah, the are…
Karl: I don?t think they?ll ever quit.
Konstantin: They are still going strong as far as I know.
So what are some of your favorite new Death Metal bands coming from Sweden? Can you recommend some band especially?
Karl: Yeah, like I already told you, Necrovation is one of them. But also Katalysator and Morbid Insulter are both great bands. You should keep your eyes on those three bands as they are really great, I think ? not to forget Verminous either, but I have no idea if they still exist any more. However, they already released one killer album titled IMPIOUS SACRILEGE (on Xtreem Music in 2003) and I really like it a lot.
How do you feel the fact you still have got your long running Death Metal bands like Dismember, Grave, Unleashed and let?s say, Centinex keeping their flags high for an old school Swedish Death Metal sound? Do you think they are into playing it for money, or do you believe they are doing it for real?
Konstantin: I don?t really know how much…, or let me just say, I cannot speak for them, but it might also be that as soon as a certain genre gets some more attention, automatically more bigger bands will get more attention as well. So, perhaps you just have to shift the focus from melodic Black Metal which was ?the thing? for a couple of years ago to much more extreme Death Metal and then, well, Grave and Unleashed are some of the biggest Death Metal bands from Sweden that are still going and making records. And also Dismember, of course! And of course some of the focus will be on . I don?t have any idea or clue how these bands see their own positions in the Death Metal scene these days or whether they are only for it because of money or for real. I cannot comment on that any further tho.
What?s your opinion of this sort of ?all-star? Death Metal project band Bloodbath? Do you think they are merely around there because of this on-going hype for old school Death Metal? Or are they real in it?
Karl: To be honest with you, I have never heard of their music. And I don?t think I need to hear them either.
How about you Konstantin?
Konstantin: I have actually heard them, but it wasn?t my cup of tea, so to speak.
Karl: There you have it what I spoke about earlier. ?Hey, let?s get a band together and start playing old school Death Metal ? just for fun?, y?know. Instead of going out to play some soccer or football or something else with the other guys, they decided to play ?old school? Death Metal. Like I said, I haven?t heard their albums, so I shouldn?t say a thing about them, I guess.
Konstantin: I think that I really would like to stress now is that in many reviews, a lot of people have mentioned that: ?Even if Kaamos comes from Sweden and plays old school Death Metal just like many other bands around nowadays that are up?n?coming and getting some attention now, Kaamos seems to mean a bit more…?. As long as that comes across, then I?m pleased. I mean, people can actually hear that it?s not a little ego trip from our side for being… how do you say, ?nostalgic? about this old school Death Metal thing.
Karl: We are not doing this for fun…
Konstantin: No. We are doing this for death.
And from the blood… and from the heart… and from the soul, or something like that, he!
Konstantin: Yes, exactly.
DEATH METAL ? AN ART FORM FOR EXTREME PEOPLE
What makes Death Metal so fascinating and exciting to play for you exactly? Is the overall feel of power and all strong emotions that go hand by hand along with it; or what then?
Konstantin: I think it has a really profound aura. I mean, extreme metal in general, has a profound aura that mesmerizes in a certain way. I mean, that aura does not cover all the bands that say they play Death Metal, but some bands really carry a certain aura. When you are tapped into it, it?s almost like drug would be my word, he-he!! But it fucks you up mentally and it?s an art form which, how do you say, appeals to certain people with a certain mentality ? and there?s an actual possibility to understand what it is all about. And that?s what I think is what really, really captures a person who loves real Death Metal. I mean, that?s only a really extreme side, but that?s I think is what captures the interest in our case personally.
How important do you find lyrics for the band anyway? Are they more like sort of ?necessary evil? for the songs that simply need to be there ? or, is making them as important as making music for the band?
Konstantin: As I write all the lyrics for our songs, for me personally I must say I find the lyrics as important as the music. And mostly because they co-operate, both lyrics and songs together. I mean, what you sing and how you play it when you sing a song, it co-operates – either giving a deeper meaning for a song, so for me it?s very important that Death Metal lyrics should deal with death, darkness and a morbid heart of humanity; with those really dark aspects, y?know. I think that if I really enjoy a song that I really don?t understand what it says about ? and from that standpoint I can either come to enjoy it even more if it has good lyrics in it. Or, on the other hand, if a song has badly written lyrics, I may not want to hear the song at all. So, that?s why I think that lyrics are very, very important for me.
What kinds of things do inspire you to write lyrics for the band? Do you have to be in some certain mood in order to be creative and inspired for a lyric writing process in general?
Konstantin: Hmmm, kinda tough question. Well, I have always found that my lyrics are either ideas or philosophies – or general patterns in occultism, and especially the ?Left Hand Path?. It doesn?t matter if it?s a book or if it?s a movie or if it?s some music, but as long as I feel like it?s something for me personally that inspires me one way or the other, it can put my mind into a certain state ? and from there I can start writing.
Have you already written some new tunes after the writing sessions for your last album LUCIFER RISING?
Karl: Uh… no.
Konstantin: To be honest with you, we are kinda slow song writers and it?s not because we are lazy or not creative, but it?s because we throw away so much material, and we only keep like one thirds of everything that we do. I mean, for each song that ends up on an album, you can easily count that we have thrown two songs away when we have written material for Kaamos.
You are also going to play Party-San Open Air festival in Germany on August 10-12th this year. I guess you guys are really looking forward to playing there as you had to cancel your show in that festival last year. Why did you have to cancel it anyway?
Karl: To put it shortly, the reason for that cancellation was a tragic event in a family of Kaamos. It stopped us performing for a while, but hopefully we are gonna play there this year.
Karl & Konstantin looked exhausted after a merciless interview session… ;=)
And what kinds of expectatations do you have toward that festival. It?s become quite a popular festival amongst metalheads anyway…
Karl: Yeah, I know. As for expectations, I don?t know. For me it?s gonna interesting to try to deliver our Death Metal onstage; I mean, on stage of that size. That kind of a bigger audience, y?know, it?s quite different from playing, let?s say, in Turku for 100 people in the basement without any stage, and standing on the floor face-to-face with people. I really don?t know if it?s gonna work or not, but why don?t try?
To continue asking about playing live a bit more, what can people expect from your tonight?s gig? I think you are gonna have lots of more people here tonight compared to your gig in Turku yesterday…
Konstantin: I?m really looking forward to it. I think it will be really good for us.
Are you aware of any of these Finnish bands (The Scourger, De Lirium?s Order, etc.) that will share the stage tonight with you ? not to forget the headliners of this event Face Down?
Karl: Sorry, but I haven?t hear any of them at all.
What else is supposed to happen for Kaamos in the gig front? Do you have any longer tours in sight or anything?
Konstantin: Not tours, but we?ll be doing Greece in May 2006 and we?ll be going there for two gigs. But those are the only dates that have been booked for us…
Karl: … and the Party-San ?festival.
Konstantin: Yeah… and that one, too. That has been confirmed for us so far. Otherwise we have received quite a few offers to play some more live, to do both tours and single-off gigs, but it?s important that we do ?the right gigs? and not all the gigs that we have got some offers for.
SLAYER 1984, MORBID ANGEL 1989…
Are there any bands out there that you?d hope to go on tour some day, like getting sort of a ?dream tour line-up? together and hit on the road with it?
Karl: OH YEAH, Slayer 1984!!
Like going back to the past times by some time machine and making that happening for you, he-he!!
Karl: Yes, exactly!! Slayer 1984 and Morbid Angel 1989. That would be a really cool tour…
But no Slayer 2006…?
Karl: No, thank you.
Konstantin: I don?t think that the crowd that goes to the Slayer ?concert would actually enjoy the Kaamos ?show much these days.
As time is running up so fast, I wanna ask what are your 5 favorite Death Metal albums of all time?
Konstantin: Possessed?s SEVEN CHURCHES is definitely one of them! I think both Karl and me can agree on that. So, SEVEN CHURCHES is one. Then ALTARS OF MADNESS by Morbid Angel… and what else?
Nothing from your own home ground like Entombed?s LEFT HAND PATH, for example?
Karl: Well. maybe… But Grotesque?s IN THE EMBRACE OF EVIL is absolutely one on our ?TOP 5? ?list.
Konstantin: Oh yeah, Grotesque. How was I to forget that masterpiece…!?
Karl: And then, MENTAL FUNERAL from Autopsy.
Konstantin: Yes, that one, too. How many was that? Fourth or fifth?
It was fourth pick from you thus far, so one more…
Konstantin: LIKE AN EVERFLOWING STREAM from Dismember.
Karl: Yeah, and that one. So, it?s five. That?s a good mix… and then you can go on tour in a tour bus, no problem.
Alright, thanks guys. All the best for your gig tonight and have fun tonight…
Karl: We certainly will… thank you.
Konstantin: Thank you.
"HORNS UP & FUCK OFF!" everyone…
The official homepage of KAAMOS: