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Below (June 2014)

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    Posted: 22 Apr 2015 at 12:25pm
This interview was originally conducted for my website Heavy Metal Haven and is now reproduced to MMA due to the site's closure. Some parts of the article may therefore need to be taken in context, including the date of the review, which will not be recent. 


Below, from Sweden, a new doom metal act on the scene who have recently released their debut album Across the Dark River in April via Metal Blade Records. Drummer Doc answered Heavy Metal Haven's questions.

Heavy Metal Haven: First off allow me to give the band congratulations on the release of your debut album Across the Dark River for Metal Blade Records. How about we kick this off with an introduction about yourself and Below?

Doc: We are 5 wicked souls from Sweden. We have all known each other for a while and back in 2011 we decided to get together and create the kind of music that we really liked. 

Heavy Metal Haven: At what point did you guys know you wanted to be a doom metal act?

Doc: Well, before we even started, Zeb, Berg and Paud talked about the lack of melodies and influences from the 80´s metal in todays Doom. With that in mind we combined our influences to create the sound that we have and that we want to hear ourselves. 


Heavy Metal Haven: What particular bands have had the most influence on Below's sound?

Doc: Being an Epic Doom Metal band from Sweden it´s impossible not to say Candlemass, right?. Add to that some mid-era Black Sabbath and the fantastic atmospheres of King Diamond. Those are the three major ones, but we try to incorporate a whole lot of different influences into our music to keep it vibrant and diverse. 

Heavy Metal Haven: When I was reading the promos materials that I got with Across the Dark River I noticed they mentioned that you previously recorded a 4 track EP, which was sent to labels, magazines etc and that it was also this EP that led to your deal with Metal Blade. Did the songs from this EP make it onto the album or is there some Below music as yet unheard by the public?

Doc: Three of the songs actually made it to the album, with some minor changes to them.

So there is actually one, unreleased Below song locked up somewhere in a really dark place, haha. 

Heavy Metal Haven: How's the journey to this point been, any particular highs and lows?

Doc: It has been absolutely amazing, I don´t think I´ve really had the time to sit back and reflect upon everything that has happened the past three years. The highs I would absolutely say the tour of Denmark, Holland and Germany. The show at the “Hammer of Doom”, that was just crazy !

Everything from working with Metal Blade, recording at Sonic Train Studios to hearing from all the crazy metal-heads out there is really inspirational and humbling. And it makes us work even harder!

The only lows to me would be that we haven´t gotten booked for any festival this summer, but our time will come if we keep working hard. 

Heavy Metal Haven: In 2013 you contributed your song Trapped Under Ground to a two track split with Anguish, which was released via Dark Descent Records. How did that come about?

Doc: We got an inquiry if we wanted to do a split single with Anguish. We felt that it was a cool idea, we talked to Metal Blade about it and they were really supportive, that´s it basically.

The version of “Trapped Under Ground” on that split is actually the EP-version of the song, if you listen closely you will hear that the tempo is faster. 

Heavy Metal Haven: What was the writing process like for the album?

Doc: It went really smooth, we had everything done and well rehearsed before entering the studio.

When we write material someone usually presents a riff or a melody, we all then pitch in to twist and turn and bring our own influences to it. Sometimes the riff is just perfect the way it is and sometimes someone presents a really fast riff and when we are done it´s the slowest part we have ever written. I would say that all of this makes our song writing smooth, we don´t mind to change parts, no big egos. 

Heavy Metal Haven: I want to talk about the song Portal in particular. It's definitely been a highlight of the album for me. There's just something about it that sounds really menacing even for doom metal. What can you tell us about the track?

Doc: Well I would say that “Portal” is probably one of the heaviest tracks on the album (with Trapped and Across), it´s a song about a portal to the under world, you have seen it but no one believes you. The riffs are really slow and the spaces in between the notes bring a lot of space for the vocals. The melodies are really haunting and has a lot of King Diamond influences when it comes to the atmospheres and the storytelling. 

That´s one of the things we want, we want our music to create a particular feeling, and for Portal we wanted it to give people shivers down their spines, almost a feeling as if someone was watching you. 


Heavy Metal Haven: Do you have a favourite track from the album?

Doc: I love all songs, but the ones that is something extra for me is “Portal”, “Trapped Under Ground” and “Across the Dark River”. When it comes to performing them I would say “Mare of the Night”, I really like the diversity of that song and the fast part gets your adrenaline pumping. 

Heavy Metal Haven: How was it working with Andy LaRocque at Sonic Train Studios on Across the Dark River?

Doc: It was great, sure we were a bit star-struck at first, but when he told me to join him for a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll I felt right at home. he is a really down to earth, cool and professional guy. He and Olof Bergren did an amazing job, they really captured the vibes and atmospheres that we wanted.

I think the most important part was that they made is feel at home and relaxed. That really made us perform at the highest possible level and the end result came out fantastic. 

Heavy Metal Haven: Now that the album is out what further plans are there to promote it? Music video? Festival appearances and/or tour?

Doc: Well, without saying to much. We might have just recorded a video this week, and we might be going on a tour in the start of 2015, haha. 

No shows has been booked this far, but if any one feels they have a need for a really heavy Doom Metal band , just send us a message! 

Heavy Metal Haven: I know that you already played some live dates supporting Norwegian band Devil, how did the shows go?

Doc: It went really well, the response was amazing. We really love doing the live shows, getting to play in front of all the crazy people out there and have a chance to talk to them is what gives us fuel to create even more music. The guys of Devil is a bunch of really sick puppies, haha. We had a great time with them and the were really easy to work with. 

Heavy Metal Haven: I often ask about the cover art of albums, but it seems Across the Dark River's artwork captures the title perfectly. Who is the artist?

Doc: The artist is a girl called Amanda (can´t remember her last name), our manager Tobie knows her and asked her to do it. It turned out just perfect for the album! 

Zoom in (real dimensions: 500 x 500)Image
Across the Dark River

Heavy Metal Haven: This may be premature to ask, but some new bands tend to follow up a debut album quickly, while others leave it a few years. Do you have any particular timeframe in mind at this point regarding a follow-up album? 

Doc: We have already started writing a bunch of songs, and I can tell you that they are gonna be even heavier and menacing than the ones released this far. However, we will enter the studio when we feel that we have a really strong album ready. We haven´t really set an exact timeframe for the next album, but our goal is to release the next album 2015.

Heavy Metal Haven: Another question I always tend to ask towards the end of an interview, any recent album releases (2013 - 2014) that you'd like to recommend to our readers?

Doc: Well, of course I would recommend Below-Across the Dark River, haha.

Other than that I would say, hmm. Behemoth – The Satanist and Avatarium – Avatarium is two really good albums. 

Heavy Metal Haven: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and good luck with the album. Please feel free to add anything you'd like here:

Doc: Thank you ! Keep supporting the metal community. 

Don´t forget to check us out at and belowmetal on twitter. If you like what you hear, leave us a message ! Cheers !

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