The latest album from the Swedish melodic death/Viking band King of Asgard is Taudr. Bassist Jonas Albrektsson fills us in on a couple of lineup changes, the new record, their new label, tour plans and other topics.
Chad Bowar: You’ve had a couple lineup changes since your last album. How did guitarist Ted Sjulmark and drummer Mathias Westman come to join the band?
Jonas Albrektsson: Yes, we have a new drummer and guitarist on board. There’s several reasons for these changes and different things occurred, mainly personal, during a long run as well as things that almost brought this band to an end. There was a certain lack of interest and dedication, so to speak, which made these changes happen and our plans even changed after the execution as well. Anyway we all agreed on this and it came as no surprise that we went different ways (with former members Karsten and Lars) and had different ways and interests in approaching King of Asgard.
It was a really hard decision for us to make, absolutely, but it had to be done for the future of the band. We all agreed and went our separate ways without any hard feelings. Of course it was no fun, but at least we stayed friends and still are to this date so nothing is changed in that sense apart from that we don’t play together anymore. So, all the best to them for what they’ve done and will achieve in the future. During this period we also recruited Mathias and Ted, who we knew from the past and they both were interested in trying it out and thus the story goes. Now they’re both part of the band with full force and for some years now already.
How did that affect the songwriting process for Taudr?
They’ve had huge influence in terms of their playing skills. Both Mathias and Ted are masters of their craft so it’s been a very pleasant ride to have them along our journey. The foundation of our songwriting process has been pretty much as before though, with Karl and me sorting most things out but surely they have set their marks and ideas to the song for sure and thus affect the process. Mathias by improving the drum patterns and arranging them along with us in the rehearsal and Ted as well with skilled guitar solos and other awesome leads. They really made us step further in our development and it is an obvious improvement when listening carefully to the new songs. Things went easier and their influence shines through in many ways, both in the works and behind the scenes.
What led to it being an EP (albeit a pretty lengthy one) instead of a full-length?
Due to several reasons, but mainly for some personal hiatus which forced us to concentrate on the material we had as well as we put some songs/ideas aside for later use. We made a decision to focus fully on those songs and thus carefully take care of them and release something we could stand behind and not let half-hearted stuff out just to bring you all a full album. The length is as you say, still fair enough for almost being a long player. Remember Deicide’s debut is only 33 minutes yet perfect, for example. We glad we did it and are more than happy with the outcome and our followers didn’t have to wait for ages either. We almost see :taudr: as a full-length album as it’s so complete and as we decided to skip some songs for just that purpose. There’s no filler, just the very best of King of Asgard and I think that will last for a while for sure.
How has the band’s sound evolved/progressed on this album?
As a band/writer I guess such thing as progression occurs somewhat without being aware of it. It comes naturally and take its own turns, blended with our own intentional directions and targeted goals, musically. But anyway, I guess it’s more epic as a whole probably and the songs are more built upon senses. More carefully arranged as well and varied in terms of mood , melody and i.e. vocal patterns. The production, sound wise, differs quite a lot from our previous works as well. It’s warmer, yet more powerful and harsher. It’s always hard to compare and explain as we don’t really look back and consider on where our progress goes. This is where we’re at and this is how things went and came out. The album is more epic than ever, it’s more skilled musically and if that is how we’ve evolved I’m not sure. We’re satisfied with where we’re at and wherever this will lead us we will follow.
How did you decide to work with producer Magnus Andersson, and how was the experience?
King of Asgard has thought about going there before actually as we’ve considered the sound might suit us well. This time around Mathias, our new drummer, had been working at Endarker and talked very positively about the studio and Devo as an individual and thus we figured it was about time to try. We spoke to him and he really was enthusiastic on having us as well and wanted to give it a try. The studio is also located just one hour drive by car from here and thus way better in terms of connection than for example Sonic Train where the other albums was recorded.
Now, with the result in our hands we’re more than satisfied and don’t regret the decision a bit. Everyone in the band was satisfied with the session and the result as well as Devo, whom really was fond of the result and working with us. So Endarker was a newfound, perfect match. Devo for sure strengthened us as a band as well and is a great part in the result being so surprisingly impressive. I believe this was a very important move for King of Asgard along with the other changes we’ve gone through. So, greatest of experience for sure.
After covering Bathory on the last album, what led you to cover a song from Karl’s former band Mithotyn this time around?
It all started with us being asked by a Brazilian concert promoter if we could do a Mithotyn song for a show we did over there last year. As it was a rare gig, we figured we could give the audience that surprise. Also as we’ve had a tradition of recording a cover song, as you say with Bathory and also Isengard, on our previous albums, we thought we might do that with this particular one instead of anyone else and thus recorded it.
Actually we’ve been asked to do a Mithotyn song several times during the past, obviously due to the fact that Karl and Karsten were a part of the band Mithotyn. As well as KoA and Mithotyn share similar concepts in music and in lyrical approached. We felt “Upon Raging Waves” was the one that would be most appreciated and also the one that we could do most justice to. But there were other ones discussed as well. So, it was merely something that just happened and led us to cover that song, but surely with the result and all it was well worth it and also it represent an important piece of King of Asgard’s past and personal history.
What is the meaning/significance of the album title?
Well, actually it’s pretty tricky to explain in detail, but the word ‘taudr’ is self translated from a runic inscription on a rune stone close to where we live, which also is the actual title, written in runic letters. It’s actually ‘tauther’ to be correct, but we thought ‘taudr’ was better off both in text and as well as in spoken word (for reading and pronunciation) as it sounds closer to the Swedish word that is; ‘döder’. Döder (old Swedish) being dead, death or the like depending on the actual sentence. I guess that grammar wasn’t that important when carving a rune stone. The actual tribute and monument was crucial. So we borrowed that word from this particular stone as it fit one lyric as well as it also serve as the album title very well and in somewhat the same tradition as the previous albums. It was Sätor who erected the stone in memory of his dead brother Tore… nothing to to with the lyric or album though. To sum it all up, a word from our region, a heritage tribute, carved for more than a thousand years ago which has covered its shadow over the album and its concept as well as can be heard in the in the song “:taudr:”
How did you come to sign with Trollmusic after leaving Metal Blade?
This is due to some factors that have happened during the last years with us, as a band, almost facing the end but rose again. Anyway, our years at Metal Blade were really good and we’re pleased with those years and albums. A very good cooperation and very professional staff. Our contract just ended while we had some difficulties and such. Thus we agreed on letting go instead of sending them new demos and so forth. We had some other interests as well, but figured the best thing would be stepping down and rebuild. Thor (Trollmusic) and I has been friends for quite some years and we just came across the idea on working together. An idea we figured fit us very well at that moment in time and here we are accompanied by the guys over at Prophecy Productions. I believe we’re more comfortable with this situation at the moment and lets just see where it leads. King of Asgard’s fans will most likely find us no matter how or what as we’re more situated in the underground as well. That’s where we feel safe and probably belong.
How does that affect your expectations for the album?
We still have pretty much the same expectations, but of course in a smaller scale naturally. Thor and his partners have pleased us well and we’ve pretty much gotten all we asked for and mutually expected. The production is as good as everything we’ve done previously and also the actual products, if not better. So our expectations are well served and we’re pleased with where we’re at.
What are your upcoming tour plans?
Unfortunately none planned at the moment. Guess we’re known for our few appearances soon I’m afraid. Anyway, we’ll try to get out more than we’ve done before if our schedules are along with the Gods. It would really be great, of course, to meet the fans and greet them with our bastard son, :taudr: as much as possible. Still the occasions are rare but this could change. We can show up when least expected. Beware.
What has been your most memorable King Of Asgard live show or tour?
It’s always memorable at almost every trip or gig, especially for us as it’s quite rare quite some time between the shows and such. Hard to pick any specific one as we enjoy every moment, every time. Most memorable is often all the crazy and awesome people you meet, be it fans, organizers or other artists. But surely the trip to Brazil last year was a special one for sure.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Apart from this :taudr:-album, (laughs) is Bölzer’s Hero, unequaled and continuously rotating since its release. Masterpiece! Also spinning; Panphage – Drepskapr, Antaeus – Condemnation and MGLA – Exercises.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thanks, HMHQ, for having us and supporting King of Asgard! Awesome. Make sure to check out and support the album, you wont be disappointed, I’m pretty sure. Hope to see you, Enhärjare, from stage… Horns up!
(interview published March 17, 2017)