(Comrade Aleks brings us this new interview with Nicklas Rudolfsson, founder of the Swedish band Runemagick, whose first album in more than a decade was released not long ago by Aftermath Music.)
Runemagick was started as a death metal project named Desiderius in 1990. They chose their current name a few years later, and alongside that developed a more doomy, low-tuned sound. Nicklas Rudolfsson took his time to gather a full lineup, and one by one, the first three albums — The Supreme Force Of Eternity, Enter The Realm Of Death, and ‘Resurrection In Blood — appeared in the 1998, 1999, and 2000, respectively.
Despite a ten-year-long hiatus and other issues, Runemagick is still alive and their eleventh album Evoked From Abysmal Sleep was released by Aftermath Music on the 20th of July. More death, doom, and damnation! I feel it’s the right time to clarify few facts from Runemagick’s history, so here’s Nicklas himself.
Hi Nicklas! So Runemagick started its way in 1990 under the name Desiderius. How was it then? How did you spend the first years of the band?
At first, it was only me who wrote and recorded simple demos. Then Robert Pehrsson joined and we became a duo. I do not remember exactly, but I think we changed the band’s name to Runemagick in 1991 or 1992. We recorded demos on a Fostex 4-tracker at my parents’ house — early versions of songs like “Nocturnal Creation” and “Curse of the Dark Rune”, amongst others.
Your first songs wore such names as ‘Dark Necro Metal’, ‘Fullmoon Sodomy’, ‘Desecration Of The White Christ’, etc. You were deep in the death metal scene — what formed the band’s sound in that period?
At first, it was messy about the band’s identity, so to speak. We were inspired by different styles and had many influences. Our biggest influence was certainly Bathory. We listened a lot to Bathory and more bands too, like Grotesque, Treblinka/Tiamat, Autopsy, Candlemass, and so on…
What made you slow down when you skipped to the doomy way of playing with Runemagick’s debut album, The Supreme Force Of Eternity?
Personally I do not think that album became so “doomy”. The songs are too speedy compared to the early demo versions. I blame Studio Fredman for the up-tempo, hahaha. But people seem to like the album anyway, even if I do not like it so much.
But I guess the influences of Candlemass and the heavy Autopsy stuff, and of course some Black Sabbath, began to inspire more and more when writing riffs and arrangements.
What goal did you set before the band when you entered Studio Fredman to record your first full-length?
I do not think we had any special goals. We went there and recorded for a few days, it was not more than that. Century Media handled everything else.
You managed to record three full-length albums over three years – The Supreme Force Of Eternity, Enter The Realm Of Death, and Resurrection In Blood. What inspired you to keep that good creative pace back then?
Many of the songs from Enter The Realm Of Death were already written or partially written when The Supreme… was recorded. It’s also a thing I regret, as I probably said in many interviews before, that we recorded old songs on The Supreme… when there were newer and better ones (in my opinion). The debut album should, according to me, be Enter The Realm Of Death. But as said, it became as it became.
I had (as often) a high level of creativity over those years so the train kept rolling and Century Media supported it.
Runemagick – Enter The Realm Of Death
How much time did you spend in the recording sessions for these albums? That would seem to have been not only a time-consuming but also a money-consuming process, so I wonder if you felt you could keep both quality and quantity from your point of view.
I do not remember exactly, but the first album was around 5 days. I was a bit stressful and there was a lot of arguing back and forth. The other two albums, between 5-10 days, there around at least. No stress for those. Great time in the studio with Andy La Rocque! The record company was responsible for all costs. But the budgets were quite low.
And it was all analogue back then with the first two albums. The third one we used ADAT.
The band’s lyrical concept had also changed a bit in this period. What influenced you to write the songs on those fantasy / fictional or horror topics? How serious were you about that?
It was/is a mixture of “primitive” horror, darkness, life and death, and partly existential subjects. Much about death of course. Sometimes there were some elements of ancient mythology, often inscribed in metaphors. In fact, it is still about the same elements and themes. But also much about rebirth by death, or is death life? or is life death?
But we have no message we want to convey to the masses. It is up to the listener to interpret what they want in our musical journey. We do not see ourselves as a serious poetic band, although sometimes there is a seriousness and depth in the lyrics.
Who inspired you as the lyrics’ author?
Everything from various moods to ancient civilizations. Lost wisdom and cultures. Various forms and interpretations of doom.
Do you have Runemagick songs based on certain horror movies? Any examples?
Don’t think so. But I had a period in the late ’80s and early ’90s with an interest in horror and b-action movies. The atmosphere in the film Korpen Flyger has inspired a bit.
You recorded Darkness Death Doom as a trio alongside Emma and Daniel. Why did you turn to this format, and was it easy and natural?
We thought we worked best as a trio. Less hassle and easier to plan rehearsals and gigs. We were (and are) a good unit together.
And how often do you play gigs nowadays? What was the most intensive period of Runemagick’s live activity?
We have not played live since 2005. So it will be fun and a bit challenging to do it again this year! The years 2000-2005 were the most intense, with many rehearsals, recordings, and gigs.
Darkness Death Doom and The Pentagram were both released in 2003. How did you manage to do two albums in one year? Were you afraid that you might lose the albums’ quality with such a fast pace?
The Pentagram is just a bonus CD to one of the Darkness Death Doom CD editions. It was recorded the day after we finished the album. A strange and largely improvised recording. Don’t know if it was a good idea. Apparently, we thought so back then. As I said, it’s just a bonus thing. Not an album in itself. I have not listened to it since it was released.
What are your memories of working on Darkness Death Doom? Do you usually have a certain plan or aim you want to fulfill with each album?
We rehearsed and worked on the songs a lot. We were well-prepared when we started to record. Most of the album was recorded for only a few days. We wanted the album to be like a “journey” in darkness, death and doom. The concept of making music as a long journey has been on several albums. No quiet spaces between songs.
Nicklas, why did you disband Runemagick in 2007? Were you disappointed from some point or something?
Hard to say exactly what it was. I think it was a combination of lost interest, lack of inspiration, we all had other things and bands/projects to keep up with. In fact, we stopped rehearsing as a band already in 2005. After that, it was more a project at recordings.
Runemagick was resurrected in 2017, and I’m wondering how you managed to gather together the lineup with whom you recorded most of the albums?
I and Daniel have been playing in a band called Heavydeath since a few years back. Then I and Emma live together with our family. So it was not that difficult. We all have good contact. The only “small problem” is that Daniel lives in Stockholm on the other side of Sweden. So we are not able to rehearse so often. We actually have not rehearsed yet. But we’ll meet a weekend in August and rehearse a live set for upcoming gigs. We are all looking forward to this!
There are ten years between the Dawn Of The End album and the new work, Evoked From Abysmal Sleep. How did these recording sessions differ from one another? Was there some big difference for you? Did you want to try something new, such as new equipment in the studio, for these songs?
Difficult to say for me. Perhaps easier as a “fun” experience. But I think the new album sounds a bit more like some of the older albums, at least in my ears. Not so much extreme slow parts. More mid-slow death/doom maybe. I hope and think it sounds like Runemagick 🙂
The drums were recorded in a rehearsal place in Stockholm. Daniel was helped by Mattias Reinholdsson (Dead Kosmonaut) with the recording of the drums. The rest was recorded in a rehearsal place near where I and Emma live and at our home.
Then everything was mixed and mastered by Johan Bäckman (also in Heavydeath). Despite the low budget and the short time for recording, I think the final result sounds ok. We use other brands/models of instruments now than we did back then. Nowadays I mostly play on Hagström Viking Baritone guitars. Possibly I recorded some melody with a Solar Baritone as well. As for the guitar sound, I wanted to get a similar sound like I had on the Darkness Death Doom album.
Runemagick – Runes Of The Undead
How long did you actually compose the songs for Evoked From Abysmal Sleep? How would you describe the features of this new album?
I wrote the songs in 2017 and the beginning of 2018. It’s possible that some older riffs are included too. I “constantly” record riffs/ideas on the phone or computers when I have the time and opportunity. The features, well I hope old (and new) fans will recognize our style.
The new album was released on Aftermath Music, just like almost the whole of your discography. So what are your relationships with the label? How do you collaborate?
We have had good contact over the years. Haavard at Aftermath has also released other bands and projects I’ve been involved in. We own all the rights to the recordings/songs and give Aftermath Music a license to release it on LP and CD. Flowing Downwards (Sweden) released the MC version. Parasitic Records (US) will release the North American vinyl version in September.
What are your plans now that the album is released? To play a tour, to write another album, or just to lie back and relax?
As I mentioned earlier, we will meet and rehearse for the first time in many years now in August. Then we will play at Kill-Town Deathfest (Denmark) in September and in New York in November. We have decided that we will do some gigs this year and next year (one festival booked so far next year). We are not able to gig so often due to various reasons. Don’t know if we will continue doing gigs after that, we’ll see.
Then I can admit that I had huge Runemagick inspiration now in the summer and wrote a lot of riffs and arrangements. But there are no plans for new recordings. We will first see if people like our new album and if there is a demand for more and new material after that.
We have no hurry. But then you may have to “take care of the smith while the iron is hot” too. We’ll see, as I said.
How would you summarize Runemagick’s message?
Evoked From Abysmal Sleep…