Swedish brutal death metallers Strangulation recently released their debut Atrocious Retribution through U.K. based label Retribute Records. The album is a lethal dose of US inspired death metal with roots in long running bands such as Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation. I recently got the opportunity to ask founder and guitarist Juha Helttunen about the new album as well as some other things.

Juha Helttunen interviewed by PSL

How are things going at the moment?
Everything is fine, thank you.

Please tell the story of how Strangulation was formed?
I started the band together with Tobias and Larsa in late 2001 after quitting another brutal act called Butchery. We just started rehearsing and writing songs the usual way so…

How does it feel finally having your debut album out?
It feels very good. Especially hearing the music with a better production and playing compared to the demos. People pay more attention to the band now as the album is out so it's cool.

Was recording Atrocious Retribution before you had a proper record deal the only way ahead for you?
Yep. We sent out a whole bunch of demos to labels all over the world without much response but when we sent out some tracks from the album the interest was way bigger. But again, we sound so much better on the album than on the demos so it's understandable. We got some standard underground offers without any studio payment etc. on the demos but refused them.

Do you have any idea on why more and more bands have to record their debut album themselves before they get signed?
I guess its easier getting signed that way. At least if the band like in our case doesn't record expensive good sounding demos.

How would you in your own words describe Atrocious Retribution?
Classic death metal full of pure mid-90's riffing with maybe one or two modern riffs.

Would it be entirely wrong if I said that you seem heavily influenced by Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and the US death metal scene in general?
No! You just mentioned my all-time favourite death metal bands. Its impossible to top albums like Effigy of the Forgotten, Despise the Sun, The Bleeding, Tomb of the Mutilated etc. We love bands like Gorgasm, Severed Savoir and Dying Fetus too.

Do you have any idea of why more and more Swedish death metal bands seem to lean towards the US death metal instead of seeking inspiration in the native scene?
I have no clue. Maybe people find the US scene more technically challenging and interesting. But we have some cool bands playing the old Swedish style like Paganizer and Verminous.

Is Atrocious Retribution solely made up of new material or have you reused some of the material from the demos?

From the beginning the plan was to record a mini-CD with 6 new songs but as the work progressed in the studio we decided to record an album instead. So 3 tracks from the second demo Withering Existence is included on the album and 2 of them with new lyrics and titles.

Could you elaborate on why the bass seem far more apparent in the soundscape than on most other death metal albums?
I love that chunky bass sound ala Suffocation. It kills! The first mix we did had even more bass. The studio guy thought we where crazy when we wanted that sound but as we listened to the mix for some time we understood he was right. So he did a new mix with lesser bass.

Could you tell a little about your new bass player and the reason for the switch of bassist?
John has or had some serious personal problems and as he is not a major freak of US death so he quit after the recording. He has his own project called Plutonium and has recently recorded a demo. I haven't heard it but I have no doubt that it sounds good. So we asked Olle Karlsson to take over Johns duties which he does very well. He played old school hardcore in Misconduct before joining us.

Do you have any plans of playing outside Sweden this year?
At the moment, no. But if somebody hooks us up for some cool gigs and we're there.

Do you have any closing comments?
Thanks for the interview and keep Supreme Brutality brutal!

© 2 0 0 3  -  2 0 1 2   w w w . s u p r e m e b r u t a l i t y . n e t