(The heavy-hitting Swedish doom band Ocean Chief will release their sixth studio album on April 17th via Argonauta Records, and in this new interview Comrade Aleks talked about it with guitarist Björn Andersson.)
Long-liver of Swedish underground scene, Ocean Chief close toward their twentieth anniversary. Since 2001 this hard crew has driven their ugly and heavy drakkar through sonic tsunamis of sludge, doom, and stoner. I found them with the release of their third album Sten (2013) and was blown away with its massive and thick sound representing the primitive power of the ocean at full capacity. Their next work Universums Härd (2014) was a bit different thing with twice shorter tracks (in comparison with Sten’s 15 – 20-minute huge monsters) and then…
Then Ocean Chief almost disappeared from radars, so I was surprised when I get the promo of their new CD Den Tredje Dagen. I hope that virus panic won’t delay its release and that we’ll witness Ocean Chief’s return on April 27th through Argonauta Records. The band’s guitarist Björn Andersson sheds some light on this work.
Hail Björn! How are you there in your Ocean Realms? Do you endure the coronavirus panic successfully?
Hey there! We are just fine. No panic. It’s interesting times, this shows how vulnerable our society is in many ways. Let’s just hope things will go back to somewhat normality as soon as possible.
As I understand, there was a lineup change in the band. Who’s left and who’s still on board?
Yes, since the release of our previous album Universums Härd there’s been a few changes. Jocke Pettersson left the band after many years as a bassist, and also we decided to move forward without a permanent synthesizer, which led to Johan leaving as well. That left myself, Tobias (drums, vocals), and Christian (guitars) as a trio for a couple of years, before we recruited our old friend Magnus Linhardt on bass. And this is where we stand now.
Your previous album Universums Härd was released in 2014, and I started to think that Ocean Chief had disbanded after that. Where have you been all this time?
Well, we’ve been quite inactive, doing live shows, maybe two or three each year, although we have kept on rehearsing on a regular basis. Not as often as before due to myself moving away from Mjölby in 2016, but still enough to keep the fire burning. Writing new songs is a process and takes time when not being able to rehearse as often as we would like. I think this is a common development after 20 years as a band. The older you get, life tends to get more in the way, unfortunately…
Taking into account this big break between the albums, I’d like to ask you how much time did it actually take to shape the material which turned into Den Tredje Dagen?
If I remember correctly, the songs for Den Tredje Dagen were more or less finished back in 2018, and we recorded it in early 2019. Adding the line-up changes and other distractions mentioned above, and you have a timeframe of about 3-4 years for the writing process since Universums Härd.
Ocean Chief – Slipsten
The album sounds hard, crude, and bulky, with some lighter psychedelic touches. Did you aim to evoke the same feelings as Universums Härd brings?
I fully agree with that description. But I think Den Tredje Dagen is more brutal and heavier than Universums Härd, which was kind of an experiment with shorter melodic songs. We aimed to make a heavy-as-fuck album, no more, no less.
How did you spend your time at studio? Did you stay focused all the time or was it relaxed and rather fun session?
We had just one weekend in the studio recording all but vocals, so it was quite busy. On the same time we allowed ourselves to enjoy it as much as possible. You know, there was some beers and just chilled hangout between takes. It was a good time really, good memories.
By the way, how was Ocean Chief’s sound born? Which bands guided you in these sonic realms of distortion and dissonance?
If you listen to our very earliest work you might hear a lot of Sleep and Electric Wizard. I remember us being quite blown away by Dopethrone when that album came out… the production and the simplicity was really alluring. As years pass the influences changes of course. These days I very rarely listen to the same doom/stoner genre as we evolved from. There are so many bands out there with, sorry to say, no identity whatsoever. At the same time I’m always searching for new music in the doom metal spectra, and there’s a lot of great stuff out there, but I would file my doom-preferences under ”extreme” or ”experimental” doom rather than ”stoner doom”.
Ocean Chief – Den Tredje Dagen
The Swedish scene isn’t known for a significant amount of sludge bands, Shadowmaster from Sundsvall, Västernorrland jumps into my mind. and that’s all… So how is the big sludgy scene in your region? Which bands personify “Swedish sludge”?
I was gonna say ”pass” on this one… but I’ll do my best to give some sort of answer! As mentioned before, I have not the best knowledge of the scene of today (especially when it comes to sludge!) but one band that I’ve seen live a few times the last couple of years is Ockultist from Stockholm. Really filthy. I was not aware of Shadowmaster, but I’ll check them out then, thanks for the tip!
Den Tredje Dagen translates like “Third Day” — what are your lyrics about?
Death and doom. Simple as that.
How do these two albums differ concept-wise? Or do you see both as two parts of the massive Ocean Chief body?
I don’t think we over-analyze our albums. One album always stands for itself. The music always comes first and the lyrics are second-handed in our universe. Personally I have never cared about lyrics at all. I listen to Bob Dylan because of the melody and phrasing, and rarely reflect over any messages or lyrical poetry.
What are your plans considering gigs for 2020? I didn’t see if you have any schedule at all, but I bet the virus ruins all plans for touring nowadays.
Most gigs that we planned for the release of Den Tredje Dagen have been cancelled or postponed. Hopefully we will re-schedule when things go back to normal, if they ever do!!