Do you remember the good old days of Swedish death metal back in the 1980s/1990s when berserk bands like Entombed, Grave or Dismember showed us how insanely brutal and relentless, yet immensely captivating and technically adept extreme music can be? And do you miss them, too? Well, four established Swedish musicians did miss them, so they put things right: They brought the old Swedish Death Metal back.
„If you listen to Entombed’s ‘Left Hand Path’ today, it still blows everything away. And it’s over 20 years old,“ says Jesper Strömblad, main musical force behind Stockholm/Gothenburg based squad The Resistance, about an album classic that still gives him the shivers after all those years. Hang on a second: Jesper Strömblad? Rings a bell, doesn’t it? Indeed, it’s the former In Flames guitar player and founding member who quit the band in 2010 after 17 long and exhausting years. „I had lost this feeling of enjoying playing music, it had become like a day job for me,“ he recalls, feeling no regret about leaving a band that had reached their commercial peak after almost two decades of struggling hard. „Regret? It was a relief! I was quite burnt out, tired of playing, tired of the whole scene, the whole business. Plus the band had taken a musical direction that I didn’t really enjoy to be honest. I kind of lost the creative control – not that I need to have control but a lot of the creativity disappeared and I wrote the songs in a mechanical way. And if you don’t have the heart in it anymore you should simply call it quits.“
Which Jesper did, allowing him to take one step back and view his numbed musical passion from a different perspective. After six months of basically doing nothing but playing online games, the fire slowly returned. By chance – or fate, depending on which philosophy you believe in: One Marco Aro saw that Jesper was playing the same online game as he did and after not having spoken to each other in ten years the two connected again “through the magic of gaming” as Jesper puts it. And the more they talked about making music together the more their excitement resurged. Hold on a second: Marco Aro? Exactly: The man who was the brutal vocal force on the albums “Made Me Do It” and “One Kill Wonder” of Swedish thrashers The Haunted. “I had always loved him as a singer and as a person,” says Jesper. “And we were kind of on the same level because we both have other ambitions today than 20 years ago when it comes to how much we are willing to sacrifice. We don’t have anything to prove anymore. We are established musicians, we’ve had our great careers. We don’t need to please anyone, we don’t need to do this album for a label, we just do exactly what we want. Which is really raw, really honest old-school death metal.”
Of course everybody involved (Jesper got ex In Flames guitarist Glenn Ljungström on board, Marco brought in former Kaamos drummer Chris Barkensjö) was aware of the fact that from a commercial point of view, this old-school thing is maybe not the brightest idea. However, they couldn’t care less. If it’s raw death metal that gets their passion for music rekindled, then raw death metal it be! Driving 15 hours for playing to a hundred people for almost no money? Sounds crazy, makes sense nonetheless: You can’t put a price on the feeling of being proud of and enjoy what you’re doing. And let’s be honest: Who doesn’t put on those classic albums of bands like Entombed, Death or Morbid Angel once in a while when they are fed up with the clinically produced and polished standard metal albums of the last decade?
“I don’t know if it was a conscious decision but as far as music and production are concerned the sound of The Resistance is pretty nasty and dirty. Personally, I’m getting tired of all those slick and perfect productions, everything sounds so good because you just can do it. You can put a monkey in the studio and make an album, with all the equipment you have today. But there’s no heart in it – it’s good sounding music, but it’s very shallow in a way. So we tried to reach for a more organic and dirty sound, and I think when you listen to our songs they are really dirty but in some twisted way also really refreshing.” You could say this is reactionary, nostalgic or antiquated – but then you would be mistaken, ignoring the true metal scene’s identity, evolution and needs. “All music and especially metal is always reviving itself. We try to incorporate the old-school spirit in a modern package. I don’t think people listen to our band as some kind of nostalgia thing, I never saw it like that. This form of music is relevant now and it will always be.”
The overwhelming feedback to their first musical vital signs, the recently released EP “Rise From Treason” and some live gigs in Sweden, proved The Resistance right: The metal heads want this beefed up old-school stuff as much as Jesper and his buddies enjoy playing it. And this is only the prelude to what’s coming later this year: The Resistance are going to release their full length debut in summer, followed by a European tour and several festival appearances. When asked what can be expected of the upcoming album, Jesper doesn’t shy away from demanding high standards of his new band: “The new songs are more complex than those on ‘The Rise From Treason’. We are trying to make the greatest album of this year – and I’m pretty sure we’re gonna make it,” laughs the guitar player whose excitement for this musical fresh start is genuine to the core. Expect first class in your face death metal, uncompromising and brutal like a karate chop. You don’t call yourself The Resistance for nothing, do you?
The final words are due to riff master Strömblad himself, a declaration as steady as a rock: “This is not a project that we have on the side. This is a brand new band, as genuine as any other. We don’t say this is groundbreaking music – because it is not. It’s just awesome death metal.”