Here’s another journey into the past and this time I decided to remind you all one of the greatest Swedish death metal bands ever – God Macabre!!!!! And…
…it seems like God Macabre was one of the first death metal bands from Sweden, as their beginnings go back as far as to 1988, when right after christmas four friends decided to start a grindcore band. Per Boder (vocals), Ola Sjöberg (guitar) and Niklas Nilsson (drums) had been playing together in a punk band before this and Tomas Johansson (bass) was an old friend of the guys. They started to write songs that were a mix of grindcore and hardcore inspired by bands like Heresy, Napalm Death, Carcass, Agathocles etc... The name at this time was B.P.B. (Botten Pa Burken). During the 1989 the band has recorded some rehearsal demos, after which they’ve opted into a new sound, a beast, which started to emerge at the time in Sweden, which was death metal (keeping just a small dose of grindcore parts in the music). This also led to the change of the name, for Macabre End and writing the lyrics in English. In 1990 the band met Jonas Stalhammar, who’s been a member of Abhoth. After he had heard some of Macabre End songs he quickly decided to leave Abhoth and join Macabre End permanently. With this new line up the band started to write completely new material. Three songs were completed very quickly and so the band went to Sunlight Studio and in September 29th recorded their first demo "Consumed By Darkness". This demo was limited to 100 copies only, but became a real classic and with a good sound and material quality it also ended up on a limited to 1000 copies 7”EP, which was released by Corpse Grinder Records (the same label has released also EPs from Dissection, Abhoth, Acheron and Ceremonial Oath among others). For this EP the band just changed the front artwork, added some keyboards and slightly remixed the whole stuff.
That remix was done in January 1991 and in June the record was released. Right after the EP was released they also decided to change the name to God Macabre as it felt better with the music and lyrics. During this time the band was also contacted by Relapse Records about making another 7"EP "Nothing Remains Forever" (with the songs "Into Nowhere" , "Lost" and "In Grief"), but they decided to nix that idea when they got the offer from the German label Mangled Beyond Recognition Records to make a Mini-LP, which then grew to a CD release instead. At this time Thomas decided to leave due to military service, so Jonas took the bass over (he first recorded bass in the Pantalgia compilation song "Ashes of Mourning Life" (former titled "Life's Verge") and the drummer Nicke also left, for a girlfriend. But Nicke was paid to be a part of the recording of the album as it would have been too hard getting a new drummer before the studio session. The recording of the album was done in the Sunlight Studio again, between 18th, 19th and 27th of December. But the album wasn’t released until the December 13th, 1993. In 1992 God Macabre was talking with Johan Axelsson (ex Carnage vocalist) about joining the band as bassplayer, but that never happened due to the long distances between him and rest of the band. And since there were also problems with finding the replacement for Niklas, someone who would sound the same as him, soon God Macabre decided to break up in February / March 1992. Per and Ola went to form the band Snake Machine which evolved into Space Probe Taurus, while Jonas became a member of Utumno in the meantime (http://panzerfaust666zine.blogspot.com/search?q=utumno). Thomas later was a member of Ceremonial Oath and recorded “Carpet” album with them in 1995 and as Charles Von Weissenberg he played bass in Decollation (a band, which featured also Kristian Wåhlin and which released just one EP “Cursed Lands” in 1992).
The history goes circles in 2001, when Ola got contacted by Tom Hailey from Relapse and asked about a possibility of re-release of the album. Per, Ola and Jonas went to remix and re-record the keyboard parts during the fall of this year. In 2002 the album was released again, with “Consumed by Darkness” EP as a bonus and in 2008 “The Winterlong” was also released on vinyl by Swedish Blood Harvest Records (it was actually meant to be released on vinyl also in the early 90’s, but due to the label not having money to do both it was only released on CD). In 2010 also another vinyl was released (by a Japanese label H.M.S.S.), titled “Eve of Souls Forsaken” and it is a live recording done in Forshaga Folketshus, Forshaga (Sweden) on the eve of September 27th 1991. But this LP is very, very hard to find, as it was limited just to 179 copies on black vinyl.
I’m going to take an occasion and recommend you here the new bands, which have God Macabre members involved – Bombs of Hades, which features Johan and Mordbrand with Per on vocals.
Please check out also this amazing interview with Ola for Voices From the Darkside zine at this location http://www.voicesfromthedarkside.de/Interviews/MACABRE-END--6888.html as well as this interview with Jonas http://www.voicesfromthedarkside.de/Interviews/ABHOTH-MACABRE-END-UTUMNO-BOMBS-OF-HADES--6814.html They will surely complete all your information about the band.
Recording line up: Ola Sjöberg (Guitars), Jonas Stålhammar (Guitars, Bass), Per Boder (Vocals), Niklas Nilsson (guest drums)
Recorded at: Recorded at Sunlight Studio 18,19 and 27 December 1991. Produced by God Macabre. Engineered by Tomas Skogsberg.
I’m not going to lie you that I’ve been knowing God Macabre since their demo times or something. Fuck, no, I was only 11 when they’ve released it, so I had no idea about this band at that time. It wasn’t until the late 90’s, when I’ve probably heard of this Swedish band for the first time and when someone taped me their album… and well, being a huge fan of the bands from this damn country I also loved God Macabre instantly. This phenomenon called Swedish death metal seemed like never ending, with so many amazing bands and albums and “The Winterlong” quickly became one of my real favourites, even though the band have never really achieved a position and status the bands like Grave, Dismember or Desultory had. A real shame, but no one should be surprised, as the label, which released the album originally, Mangled Beyond Recognition, haven’t done anything in order to help God Macabre in their “career”. And also to get the first pressing CD of “The Winterlong” is basically impossible and would cost a fortune, luckily Repulse has re-released this album, adding “Consumed by Darkness” EP as a bonus, while Blood Harvest Records should get a Noble prize for this awesome vinyl edition, which I’ve been looking for for some time and finally managed to buy one.
The way “The Winterlong” is constructed is quite weird. First of all, it’s relatively short album, going for about 28 minutes only, which is not much. And there are only seven tracks, of which two are instrumental, so at the first look one may have a feeling of dealing with an incomplete album. Definitely it would be great to hear maybe two or three songs more, but this is also why it’s great that the re-release version has those three tracks from the EP added, so the album is longer and more complete.
The musical value of “The Winterlong” is indisputable. God Macabre has composed some of the most thrilling and killer death metal tunes within the Swedish sound. It is infectiously melodic and possessing, I can honestly say that God Macabre managed to blend this atmospheric, dark side with the aggressive and relentless playing in one of the most effective ways ever. Of course it is disputable whether there’s anything what would distinguish their music from some other Swedish bands – and I also mean the production values here – but I can tell you one thing: yes, God Macabre sounds very close to few other bands from their country, but they also share a certain quality, which putted certain high standards in this scene. For the bands, which I can compare the music from “The Winterlong” I would definitely need to mention the likes of Carnage, Gorement, Cemetery, Desultory, Excruciate, Tiamat, Epitaph, Utumno and Necrophobic. All those acts play in very similar way and for instance the thing, which God Macabre has in common with Tiamat would be those guitar melodic leads, which both bands used so often (this is also where you can really spot how similar the guitars sound!). Take the “Teardrops” instrumental for example and see yourself if it would fit „Astral Sleep” album hehe. Otherwise songs like “Ashes of Mourning Life” and “Into Nowhere” are ravaging, classic Swedish beasts, which attack with straight forward riffing and which sound closer to the likes of Carnage, Desultory, Gorement, Necrophobic (first album) and Epitaph. There’s lots of dynamics, great harmonies, the riffs are catchy and aggressive and the vocals of Per Boder are standard death metal grunts, sort of similar to what you can hear on the early Hypocrisy albums. Sometimes I have a feeling like Boder could have growled in more emotional, expressive and effective ways – like in “Lost” when he screams “Fuck Jesus Christ”, it sounds rather flat like he just asked someone for a sandwich, not like the most blasphemous sentence of the whole album, you know? But he’s done an OK job anyway, I like his voice I can tell.
Ufff, listening to this album is still an amazing experience; it just doesn’t get boring at all. It doesn’t matter how many times have I listened to it, I still get thrilled by it and those amazing riffs give me gooseskin. And it doesn’t matter if it sometimes sounds like another band, it definitely isn’t a disadvantage, because as I already said, “The Winterlong” holds a certain quality, which many other bands would envy. It surely is one of my top 5 albums of all times in the death metal scene from Sweden! The highlights of the album for me personally are “Lost”, “Teardrops”, “In Grief”, “Into Nowhere”, but to be honest none of those tracks have bad moments, there are no fillers, even this acoustic instrumental “Lamentation” has its place on the album. Also having the EP songs on this vinyl is something I am very happy about, they’re brilliant, although they sound much more rough and cruel, with some similarities to Crematory for instance, so it’s awesome. So please check this album out and see yourself, why was God Macabre one of the best Swedish bands ever.
Final rate: 98/100