Before you read this interview, I would like to add that there are some NEW songs available online in MP3 format. The songs are available since Tuesday, November 2nd, 1999. The interview is much much older. Somewhere in early 98, if I remember well...click on one of the following titles to listen to their new material.
Stranger - Rift - Precious Discovery - Chased By A Shadow
After we met Mattias Holmgren, vocalist, drummer
& keyboardist of the group on the internet, we arranged a small interview for
his work with EMBRACING...
Hello Mattias... For start, I would like you to tell us a few things about Embracing...When did the band begin, which are the members etc.. ?
Greetings Dimitris! It was back in 1992 we started the band under the name Beyond. At that time we were all much into the old school deathmetal music like Grave, Bolt Thrower, My dying bride, Deicide & Hypocrisy played. So we wanted to play that kind of music. Then in 96 we released our first CD on a german label called Invasion records. We recorded the album called "I bear the burden of time" during 8 days in a local studio called Dunkers and was quite satisfied with the result, even though we knew we could have done far better. As the years went by we evolved as musicians and also begun to explore new areas, like progressive rock & powermetal. Before the recording of our second album "Dreams left behind" we kicked the old singer, because he almost never showed up on the rehearsals and could not handle the vocals very well. So I did all the vocals on the "Dreams left behind" album. I must say I'm very satisfied with the result since I didn't practice my voice or the vocal lines before the recording!!! We have got very good reviews on that CD, and everyone seems to like what we do. But Invasion didn't do any good promotion or advertising for the album. They are more a blackmetal and pure deathmetal label. And now when we have taken steps in other directions they maybe thought that we wasn't going to sell very well. But I've only heard excellent words about "Dreams left behind". I get lots of mails all the time from people who bought the CD, and they all say that it's one of the best albums they have ever heard. So it feels very warm to hear and read that all the time. Our deal with Invasion Records was for 2 CD:s, so now we are free to move on!!! I hope we can find a suitable label that wants to release our professional, variated and beautiful music.
The current line-up for the band is:
Mattias Holmgren: Vocals, drums & keyboards
André Nylund: Guitar
Ola Andresson: Guitar
Mikael Widlöf: Bass
Except «Dreams...», did the band have any other releases in the past?
Yes. First we recorded a demo, but under the name Mishrak. We named that demo "Of beauty found in deep caverns" but never released it officially, because we didn't like the sound after the recording. And our first released demo is called "Winterburn" and then the 1:st CD is called "I bear the burden of time". "Dreams Left Behind" is our 2:nd output. We have also recorded a new promo with 5 songs, it's called "Inside You". It will be sent our to some labels in order to recieve a new and better deal.
What about «Dreams Left Behind». Are you satisfied with the result? How are the fans reacting to it?
Yes, we are very satisfied with the result. Well... there are always things you could have done better. But it's very professional music and the arrangements are very fresh. I sing in 4 different vocal styles on the album to strengthen each part of a song & lyric with even more feelings. Most fans thinks that it was a natural progress for us, since we've always liked to play a little more complicated than most bands do today. And if you listen to the first CD, you can hear that we tried to indicate something new even though we didn't really know what it was at that time. Now we really know what we want with the music and what we must do to make the songs as alive as we wanted.
The music that you play is very difficult to be defined, because of the plethora of many different music elements. You are not playing black metal and you aren’t playing classical heavy metal. What name or «tab» would you give to your music?
We never wanted to be classified in a special folder, and as you say...it's definitely not blackmetal. Our close friends calls our music Hero Metal, so what more is there to say about it!? It's something like... hmm... progressive metal/gothic/death/powermetal/heavymetal/hardrock & put in whatever style you like here: ..................... We don't care, we do the music as we always do. With an open heart and making what feels right at the present time. The songs are much more alive in that way. We never need to push the songwriting in any way.
Could you tell us a few words about the lyrical section of «Dreams...». Unfortunatly, we don’t have the lyrics in the promo version... Where are the lyrics reffering to?
Too bad you don't have the lyrics to "Dreams left behind", because I always put alot of effort in my poetry. They are containing lots of different aspects of life & death. Someone who loves & hates, kills & makes life, lives on and mourns at the same time! Some of them are about dreams and what the dreams do to you. But it's up to everyone for themselves to explore and learn about life. "Stolen Memories" is connected with the forthcoming story of "Gelhein Thari", the EMBRACING dragon. And some of the lyrics are about lost friends and the quilt after you have betrayed someone. "For the angels and for me", is about someone who escapes the reality because he thinks the truth is twisted with lies. He is also mourning for a reason he can't understand. He enters the dreamland to escape suicide and finds himself in a world where only he and the angels can dwell.
And finally "...No one can have anything except their own thoughts & dreams..."
Before you play with EMBRACING, you were singing in NAGLFAR... Why and when did you leave Naglfar?
Hmm...you must have got that all wrong, I didn't sing in NAGLFAR (SLATAN: Yes, my fault, sorry). I played drums with them for some time. But after the recording of the CD "Vittra", I realized I could do so much more with my skill as a musician, since I thought NAGLFAR was a very narrow type of music...Not much of variation and stimulation to me. So I left them and started to focus totally on my main band EMBRACING. It resulted that I grew alot as a drummer, as I can play whatever I want. I like it that way, and it feels so good to have the other bandmembers in the same calibre as a musician as I am. We have a deeper understanding as friends & bandmates that way.
Have you ever heard any Greek metal bands? If yes, which ones? Did you like them?
Allright, I've heard Rotting Christ & Nightfall from Greece...Not any more that I can remind myself of hearing. Anyways, the ones I have heard have some strong songs, and I think Rotting Christ's latest material is turning out to be very great. I bet there are alot more great acts from your place, I have no doubt of that.
Do you have any influences from other bands? If yes, from which ones?
That depends on what you mean. Because we don't listen to this and that, and then say...Hey we should play like these guys...We make music in the rehearsing room, direct from our hearts. Every arrangement turns out to be very unique and interesting. We like it that way. Always something new and fresh in the songs as we never get stuck in something special. And nowadays I try to figure out all the vocal melodies after a song is totally finished with music & lyrics.
What inspires you to write your music?
The inspiration that gives us the will to write our music comes from deep feelings, the love for something/someone, the nature that surrounds us with it's arms, the friendship and magic that is in the air when we get together and bring our musical dreams to life.
What bands are in your likes and what bands are in your dislikes? (If you want, you can name some)
I like the bands that stands for what they believe in, but not makes a big deal of everything. We have those bands who really think they are vampires and stuff, that is in my opinion very defect way of thinking. Almost like believing in a fucking god... They should instead act and be themselves, strenghten their own personality if they are ashamed of who they really are, and of course evolve as musicians. Instead of thinking about what paint they should use for the next concert... Band that I can mention I like is: AZURE (The CD "Moonlight legend" I recorded with him will soon be out.) A CANOROUS QUINTET (Very great friends, but they should learn how to party like us!!! =) NOCTURNAL RITES (My cousin plays drums with them and we live in the same area, so we meet alot.) DARKSIDE COWBOYS (Cool band with lot's of weird stuff going on.) WITHOUT GRIEF (Their vocalist is from the same area as we live in, and they play great music.) DAN SWANÖ (Very good producer & musician, and an never ending inspiration for me. (See you at the "Purgatory Afterglow" Dan! =0)
From the titles of the songs of «Dreams Left Behind» someone can see a strong emotional feeling of love, combined with a dark feeling... Especially the song «Lay The Rose Upon Her Grave» seems to be written for a woman... Is that right?
That's somewhat correct, it's not just love but also love for the nature and everything in it. Not just some special kind of person or thing. It's a wider dimension of feelings, like thoughts, anger, hate, love & despair. The song "Lay The Rose Upon Her Grave" is about the strong feelings we feel just after someone has left us (died), and how much a person can long for the return of the lost. And that time never heal the wounds, they are always there. Even though some of us can deny them better than others... In this particular song the lost woman returns to the mourning man, because she is denied entrance to heaven as her rage and sorrow can't be viped away / purified.
Do you have any LIVE plans? Are you about to tour or something?
We have done some live gigs. Just after the release of "Dreams left behind" we did a real great gig. But as I do both vocals and drums on the album we had to use playback drums from a special mastered CD, so I could perform all the vocals without difficulty. That gig was very apppreciated by all the people. It was totally awesome, very great sound and we did the best show we have ever done. But after that we have only done some gigs. And the last concert we did was with: A canorous Quintet & Without greif in Stockholm (sweden). But for that gig we had a session singer to handle most of the black & death vocals so that I could play drums (and sing the normal vocals). Anyways, he was a big misstake and couldn't handle the black & death vocals very well. We want to go on tours and everything, but then we would have to use playback drums on most songs. People want to see a drummer behind a drumkit. So it feels a little wrong for me even though I like to do the vocals very much. I don't need to sweat behind the drumkit...hehehe. But I think it's more important to make a performance that sounds like the real thing (like on the CD:s)
I will tell you a few bands, just add a short comment next to them!
a) Dimmu Borgir
d) Rotting Christ
Dimmu Borgir - Not my kind of style. I listen more to progressive metal. But if I ever get the idea to listen to blackmetal & pig screams, I want speed... So I put in some Dark Funeral in the stereo, they have it all.
Therion - I have respect for Cristofer Johnsson, since he has been within the scene for so many years and always made great and fresh music. One of swedens greatest bands. Therion is great combination of natural pure talent & feelings.
Covenant - Hmm...well, I've not heard much of their music. But enough to hear that it's like all the other blackmetal acts around. Keyboard based and with no particular musical or vocal skill.
Rotting Christ - Brings a few new ideas and they've made some great songs in the past.
Naglfar - Eh..what can I say. I don't like their music, if they could speed up a little and play real solos, it could have been interesting in my ears.
EMBRACING - We're not playing music, we are a stream of feelings that transformes into music...I think.
Any last words? Something you would like to add?
Well, thanks for your interest in EMBRACING. It's always great to answer a few questions. Hope everything will go well with your zine and that the scene will grow stronger. Watch out for future EMBRACING releases.
Questions made by Manolis Dialinas.
Interview taken by Dimitris "SLATAN" Petrakis