A Quest For The Unseen Empire - Henrik Ohlsson Speaks Out.
Sweden always comes up with some fine metal acts throughout the years, from various styles such as Hard Rock, Melodic Metal, Heavy Metal, Power, Thrash, Death and even Black Metal it just keeps on coming and just excites so many young metal heads out there. Scar Symmetry are no strangers to the world of new age of metal bands that are coming out of Sweden such as Soil Work, Arch Enemy, In Flames and bands of that nature . The band have continued to grow with each album since the bands debut album back in 2005 'Symmetric in Design', the band were set to release more fine albums and it wasn't until the later albums such as 'Holographic Universe' in 2008 onwards that the band found their own sound. Mixing the likes of some of the above band they also combined the likes of some Progressive Metal bands like Fates Warning mixed with Death and Into Eternity style of metal which really does work for the band. I have to admit it wasn't until the bands new album 'The Unseen Empire' and Dark Matter Dimension' that I have become a fan of the band. I managed to chat with drummer Henrik Ohlsson about the the formation of the band and a little bit about the bands past as well as their new stunning new album. here is what he had to say, so sit back balst out your previous Scar Symmetry albums and read on...
Ok Henrik, 1st of all please tell the people reading this when the band were formed. Were you in various bands before hand?
"Well we were formed back in 2004 and the band really aren't that old and we have released 5 albums to date. I think that is pretty impressive really and special I guess. We all come from various parts of Sweden when we 1st formed and we all met really at Jonas studio from other bands and we had all recorded their at some point with our previous bands so I asked him if he wanted to form a new band. I had been playing in some progressive acts before I joined the band and it was Jonas who asked me if I would like to join his band. One of the bands I was in were called 'Mutant' and we were really over the top progressive metal, we recorded 1 CD and the music was so complicated we could not go forward, we were just too technical it got silly!!"
So how did you come up with the name Scar Symmetry? Were there any other names for the band?
"Well we wanted something which was brainstorming, something that would mix the harsh sound with the melodic stuff we are doing in the name and in the music, so the name 'Scar' represents the more brutal side of the band. Whereas, the 'Symmetry' is more melodic side of the band. At that point we didn't know what the music would sound like but we had some big ideas. As for other names we did have other names in mind, I think I had one name called 'Slain' but it didn't get far."
So has all the band members been into the same style of music prior to forming Scar Symmetry? Which bands have inspired you all to start up Scar Symmetry as a band?
"Well not really, everybody has their own influences and tastes in music of course, but this is something that we can all agree on. It all worked out really well in the end. I guess each of us have different influences and when you bring them to the table I think the overall results have worked out really well for us. With the influences we have our music is a collaboration of individual tastes, one of our guitarist is really into the progressive stuff and also none metal stuff too and I think he bring that to the table. Jonas is into 80's heavy metal and some death metal and that is how we write the music for our songs."
So how many demos did the band record before the debut album?
"Well we only did the 1 demo, it was half a song and we sent it to a label and that was pretty much it. (Ed: So why half a song?) Well Jonas had been in contact with the owner of label called 'Cold Records' and Jonas has explained the music to him and he had known Jonas because he had been in 'Carnal Forge' and Jonas had told him about the other members of the band. So the record manager was interested in the band from the very start, he just wanted to hear something so we recorded a song called 'Seeds of Rebellion' which ended up on our debut album."
Please tell me a little bit about the debut album 'Symmetric in Design' which was released in 2005 on Cold Records.
"Well it was released on Cold records, and in 2005 we were so lucky that the label were in collaboration with Metal Blade Records back then that Metal Blade released it and I think it got more attention because of that. It sold really well actually, we really didn't expect anything really and we had no idea that it would do so well with the sales. It was that good with the sales figures that Metal Blade wanted to sign us but our own label Cold wouldn't release us and let us sign to Metal Blade. It was all down to the fact that Cold Records had invested money into the band and they just didn't want to let us go. We got so pissed off with that because we thought that they were standing in our way so we forced them to look around to see if any other bigger labels wanted us. In the end that is what they did and they started to talk with Nuclear Blast to which the label offered Cold some money so they agreed to release the band from the contract."
Since signing to Nuclear Blast have thing gone really well for the band? Do they look after you?
"Yes things are going really well now, it was amazing to sign a contract with them in the 1st place as we had all been following the label with their artists throughout the years and when they released our 2nd album 'Pitch Black Progress' in 2006 it was amazing and it was our 1st time we had the opportunity to go on a European tour. We ended up also going to the U.S.."
Since the debut album, has each album been similar in style? I have to say I have become a fan of the band from the 'Dark Matter Dimensions', really like your music now.
"Well thanx Jason, glad you like our music. We have been progressing from album to album and there is always some difference to the approach when we write the music for each album. We always go with the flow for each album with the stuff that comes up at that time and we don't plan our music or sound. For me it is really hard to be really objective about it when I am so close to the songs. I do see a difference in each album that's for sure. Each album has the same style of vocal arrangements on each album."
Out of all the albums you have recorded so far Henrik, which is your past favourite album and why?
"Well apart from the new album I would have to say the album 'Holographic Universe', I think that on the 1st album we were still trying to find our style and we weren't sure what we were about at that time, it was full of experiments in the beginning and on the 2nd album we were getting better but it was still our early years and on the 3rd album I think we really found our own identity. I think we had created something really unique. The album did really well but at that point we had gone through a line-up change so that but things on hold for a while with touring but the sales were good I think. I think the album that sold the most is 'Pitch Black Progress' which was our break through album."
Have you used the same producer for each album since you started or have you used different ones for each album?
"Well Jonas does all our albums, he has been producing all the albums since day one. His day job is a producer of albums so he has a lot of experience. I think he has mastered the last Over Kill album."
Have you ever thought of using somebody else as a producer?
"No not at all, you see Jonas studio is next door to Peter Tagtgren's 'The Abyss' studios so it is 2 studios in 1. When we recorded the last 2 albums we recorded them at 'The Abyss' studios so we really don't need to go outside but we may in the future we are nor sure yet."
So lets talk about 'The Unseen Empire', why the title?
"Well the title represents the conspiracy theory that there is a shadow government behind the real government in the world. This shadow government is ruling the world secretly and are pulling the strings that is happening in the world. That is why it is called 'The Unseen Empire'. The 1st idea we had for the title was 'Event Horizon', it was an idea that came into my head but it didn't fit the concept of the album."
Please tell me about the art work for the album? Please tell me that the eagle on the cover is not the end results? It is so basic?
(Laughing) "No it was an idea from our label, the label had been using that cover in everything when it comes to promoting the album and every one thinks that is the cover when it actually is not. I did a track by track thing on the internet and and if you look at that you will see by the end of that there is a video clip with the eagle. There is also another cover in the corner which is actually the real cover. We didn't not have a clue what they were going to do for the promotion of the album, but we left it to the label to sort out."
So what is the actual cover concept?
"well the cover is like a circle with a monk like figure and there is a light coming down from the sky and there standing in a cryptic like room with a symbol on the wall. That bird is actually one of the symbols but it looks a lot better on the original cover. There are 10 pictures that are included in the booklet of the CD, you really have to see it. It is related to the new world order."
So what are the songs on the new album about briefly?
"Well the 1st song is called 'The Anomaly', that is about the paradox where you cant have 1 thing without the other or maybe you can. Next is 'Illuminoid Dream Sequence', is about a mind that leaves the body for some reason and enters a world of strange things happen that actually control the minds of the Illuminati, a very strange subject there. The whole idea for that song came from a guy called David Ike. Next is ' Extinction Mantra' which is based on the Georgia guide stones which are found in the U.S.. Next is 'Seers of the Eschaton', this is our most political song ever, it is basically about the Illuminati executes their politics. Next is 'Domination Agenda', which is about searching for the truth were ever it may lead. Next 'Rise of the Reptilian Regime', this is also some of David Ike's ideas about some reptilian based theory, a guess it's a bit like the TV show 'V', at times it's about people using their reptilian brains which stand for 'domination, control, lack of empathy'. I write all the lyrics for the band, this is something I have been doing since day one. My favourite song is 'lluminoid Dream Sequence' because it is so diverse."
So how long did it take to record the whole album? Are you happy with the end results?
"Well we started recording the drums back in November 2010 and then we went onto doing a tour with 'Epica', so that kind of throw us of course for a while. We did that for 5 wks and came home and continued to record the album in January 2011 and finished in early February. It was a really spontaneous album and I am happy with the way it has turned out."
So what type of reviews has the new album been getting from the press world-wide?
"Well the only reviews I know about are the ones I am doing for interviews, they have been positive and we've had some great response so far."
Is the time right now for you to record a live DVD?
"Yeah I think it is about time we did a DVD, but we have never talked about that to the label."
Are you doing any festivals this year if so which ones? Any touring here in the UK too?
"We are playing some festivals this year, one is 'Summer Breeze', one in Sweden, maybe 'Sweden Rock'."
Well Henrik thanx for doing the interview do you have anything to say too your fans reading this?
"Yes thanx to our fans for their support, we hope you like the new album, it's another step forward in our career. Thanx for the interview and check us out live!!"