The Swedish death metal institution known as Dismember recently returned after an almost five year absence from the scene, an absence that wasn't entirely voluntary. But their new record Where Iron Crosses Grow witness of a band that is still as fierce and relentlessly aggressive as back in the early days. Vocalist Matti Kärki called me on a grey Thursday morning to explain what Dismember have been up to the last couple of years.

Matti Kärki interviewed by PSL

What's up in the Dismember camp at the moment?
We're just waiting for the album to be released and then we're just gonna play a lot of shows. That's actually the nearest future plans.

Do you feel you have the same drive and energy as back in the early days?
Yeah, definitely. We've been inactive for very long so we have gathered our strength again. And we are actually looking forward to doing all these things again.

Are you still satisfied with your early material or are there certain things you would like to have changed?
Yeah, definitely. All the earlier records were recorded in a rush and there are always details on the albums we feel could have been done better. But the new one we're actually very happy with. I don't think there's anything on it I'm not satisfied with 'cause we took our time in the studio. We also felt that we needed to do a really good and a really strong album since we've been absence from the scene for a while. So it was important to make a really strong album not a comeback album but a strong new album.

How do you feel Where Iron Crosses Grow compares to your previous album Hate Campaign?
I think it's more well thought. We had time to think about the stuff we did. We had time to plan and the execution and the recording of the album was much better than with Hate Campaign.

The material on Where Iron Crosses Grow sounds really strong. How long have you been working on it?
I think the making of the songs took about six months. We're not the kinda band that rehearses that much. When we started making the material we didn't live in the rehearsal room. So much of the material was actually made at home but every song was put together in the rehearsal room. We took the time that was needed to feel the songs, play the songs and yet have some distance to the material as well by having a couple of weeks of inactivity and then go back and say; okay this part in this song should be changed and something should be added here. So the making of the songs was actually much easier than before.

Your lyrics seem more and more war inspired. From where do you get the inspiration?
First of all I'm a big reader of second world war history. When you think of ideas and you're very much into something it rubs of on the lyrics. The blood and gore stuff we kinda went away from on the new one. So we just concentrated on the dark side of humanity and war is one of them and also mental sickness and of course our big dislike of religion.

It took almost five years from the release of Hate Campaign to the release of the new album. How come it took that long?
We just had millions of things to do. After we left Nuclear Blast we had to sort out things. Find a new record label and then there were just lots of things that needed to be sorted out. That part of the business is not very fun to deal with. So we just took the time we needed to sort out everything, a clean plate so to speak and then we could concentrate on writing new stuff and we didn't feel like rushing anything. Actually we've been signed to Hammerheart/Karmegeddon for quite a while now and the guys have been waiting for the album for a very long time so that was kinda the only pressure we had. But we still felt we didn't wanted to rush anything so we just said; let's take it easy so we don't make any mistakes. As I said before we felt we needed to make a really strong album so we wouldn't disappoint all the people who have been waiting for so many years.

Yeah 'cause some people actually thought the you had split!
Yeah, I've heard that [laughs], many times [laughs]. No, that was actually not the case.

You recently put out a double DVD called Live Blasphemies could you tell a little about that?
Okay, let's start out with this; it's actually not released yet. The guys who make the DVD have just released all the info for the DVD but it's far from being complete.

What? No wonder I couldn't find it anywhere!
Yes. There's still a lot of work to do but it should be released sometime during this year. I don't know when but it's not even close to being complete.

Have you ever considered putting out a live album?
We don't believe in live albums 'cause it's only old material with a new recording so we feel it's kinda a rip-off. The closest thing we come to putting out a live album is actually the DVD. So if people wanna hear us live then perhaps we're so fortunate to play near them sometime soon. So no we don't believe in live albums.

Oh, but it seems to have been a big trend in death metal in the later years!
Yeah, I know. There are a lot of bands that put out live albums but I don't think live albums give anything but that's just what I think. Of course there are classic live albums from old acts. I mean the best live album ever is No Sleep to Hammersmith.

Yeah, Motorhead.
Yes, it's one of the best but I don't think we're able to do that kinda recording. So we just feel; no live album. We just concentrate on playing shows and making albums. We have a hard time making albums; it took us five years [laughs].

Richard returned to the fold after the release of Hate Campaign what lead to the return?
I think the change of record label was a major part of it. He was still in the band or actually he came back to the band. We did a US tour for Hate Campaign and we needed a bass player for that so we asked Richard 'cause he was back in Sweden and doing nothing. So we did the US tour and then we did some festivals in Germany after the tour. At that time we were still signed or actually we were on Nuclear Blast. We had full-filled the contract but we hadn't talked about the future at that point. Richard got feed up with Nuclear Blast because of the situation Dismember were in. We couldn't do anything constructive and Nuclear Blast didn't believe in us and kept promising all kinda things that never happened. So he got tried of that and left the band mainly because of that. And after the US tour there were changes happening. We had almost decided that we wouldn't continue with Nuclear Blast and would find something else. He liked playing the live shows and the plans of making a new album and sorting everything out. So he came back to the band when we asked him.

What happened to Magnus Sahlgren?
He just lost interest during this period of inactivity. We did some shows here and there. I guess he just lost interest and found different things to do. And finding a good job that he really liked was a big part of it. He didn't show up for rehearsals for the album and he didn't even show up in the studio when we started recording the album and that showed us that he didn't seem to be interested . So in the end we just asked him to leave and he was cool about it and said; yeah you're right. You deserve someone who's hundred percent into the band and I have other priorities and I'm not interested anymore.

You got a new guitarist in shape of Martin Persson, could you tell a little about him?
He was originally in a band called Sins Of Omission and he heard the rumours here in Stockholm that we were searching for a new guitarist. I think he mentioned something in the interview we did with him a while ago that he felt he was going nowhere with his band and that he needed like a boost. Something had to happen to keep his interest in the music and then he heard the rumours about us searching for a new guitarist. So he actually called David and said; hey, is there any chance for me to try out and David said; yeah. He's a very talented guitarist and a funny guy so he fit in perfectly and so he became a member.

Where Iron Crosses Grow is your first for Karmageddon Media and the first Dismember album to be released on a different label than Nuclear Blast. What lead to your split with Nuclear Blast?
I think our relationship with Nuclear Blast turned to shit after the release of Massive Killing Capacity. We couldn't get any work done. They didn't believe in the band anymore. They actually told us to change style since they thought death metal was out and didn't sell anymore. They thought we should become more commercial and do other stuff. So if a record label says things like that to you then the relationship is not very good. So we kept doing our stuff and things went to the worse after that. So the relationship just turned to shit and after we full-filled the contract with Hate Campaign we felt; okay no more Nuclear Blast. We gave them a last chance to make us a new offer and give us a reason to stay but obviously they didn't do that.

Are you happy working with Karmageddon?
Yeah, so far so good, I mean this kinda promotional work, I haven't been doing it for years. I've been doing interviews since Monday from eleven in the morning until twelve o'clock in the night. So promotion-wise with interviews they've done a very good job. But I haven't really seen any magazine yet with adverts for the album. But I think they have some big promotional things in store for us.

You've used Dan Seagrave to do the artwork. I believe this is the first time since he did the artwork for your classic debut. He really seems to have become quite popular again. How come you decided to use him once again?
We were thinking on who should do the cover and some one of us said; what about Dan Seagrave and we were thinking, you know, 'cause he became very popular a couple of years ago and all the albums that came out had a Dan Seagrave cover. First we felt like kinda reluctant because he's done so many things. So we felt there was a big chance of our cover just being a Dan Seagrave cover and nothing special but then we came to think on what's the latest thing he's done has done for anybody and we couldn't really think of anything from the last couple of years so then he became an option and we sent him an email and he showed his interest. So we just sent him the basic ideas of what we wanted but only with a few guidelines, so the whole cover is more or less his fantasy; his work, his idea. He just used the basic idea and the guidelines but he also wanted all the song titles so he could get inspiration. I think he has done a very good job on this one.

Yeah, it looks really cool.
Yeah, I think he also went back to his old style 'cause during the later years he developed a new style. The first Dismember album, the first two Entombed ones and the Carnage he has a very organic feel to the stuff. He uses a lot of nature, uses a lot of water and stuff. But the on later stuff he did it became more high-tech machinery, stone buildings, high-tech stuff. I think on this one he has mixed both styles. His old style and his new style but I like the way the album cover turned out, I really like it.

You've recorded all your albums in Sunlight Studios with Tomas Skogsberg except from the two last records. How come you've decided to use other studios?

We felt the need for change. After Death Metal which was the last we recorded in Sunlight. Tomas was also becoming so popular that it was hard to get any decent recording time and Tomas was just overworked so he didn't actually participate hundred percent on Death Metal so he was more like a supervisor. So Fred was doing all the engineering and we felt like okay if Tomas isn't available hundred percent for this then we should really look for another studio since Fred has already proven his worth and Fred also got a job at Das Boot Studios and he knew the studio well and we decided to go there and record the next album. When we recorded the album we noticed that the guitar sound which is a Dismember trademark followed us to the new studio so we knew that the sound wasn't bound to what ever studio we used. We knew that we could get the same sound in a different studio with a little work. So we tried out Das Boot and made Hate Campaign there but when it was time to record the new album Das Boot was going through like a rebuild phase so the whole studio was like a construction site and that's not an environment you want to have around you when recording an album which is really important. And it was also overbooked so the recording times were not that great. We had to do it in bits and pieces which we ended doing anyway when we chose Sami Studios instead but that was more or less self-induced. We just picked some different times to get some distance from the music and the recording and then come back after a few days and some fresh air. So yes we felt we needed to try out some new studios.

Are you still involved in Murder Squad?
Yeah but I don't do anything's gonna happen with Murder Squad for a while. Entombed are busy with their stuff and obviously Dismember is gonna be busy with playing shows and doing all this new stuff. So I don't know when Murder Squad is gonna do the next thing but yeah it still exists.

Have you ever considered reforming Carnage?
No. Actually Carnage was Michael Amott's band and I think he was one of the creators of Carnage so when he left to play in Carcass we felt like; okay let's reform Dismember to have a band to play in. So we don't feel any connection with Carnage at all. We did the album and I just came in like two or three weeks before the recording of the album so I never really felt like a member of Carnage.

But you still play "Torn Apart" and "Death Evocation" live?
Yeah but "Death Evocation" is an old Dismember song. Half of the songs on the Carnage album are old Dismember songs. I think things went too fast 'cause they got a deal through Earache or Jeff from Carcass' Neurosis Records and he wanted an album really fast so just to fill out the album, Fred who had joined the band said we can use old Dismember songs and Michael was cool with that so fifty percent of the stuff on the Carnage album is old Dismember songs from the first demos.

So have you ever considered putting out those demos?
Actually we're thinking of it. When we get our website up and running we're thinking of putting the demos on the website so people can download them for free.

Any closing comments?
Check out the website Thank you for this interview and taking your time and showing interest. Hopefully we'll see you sometime near you soon.

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