Last month, I had the pleasure of reviewing an album that will already be on my album of the year list. That album is Evocation’s The Shadow Archetype. This album personified everything the listener would want for a Swedish death metal record with exceptional song writing from beginning to end. Now that Evocation have been snapped up onto the Metal Blade roster worldwide, only good things can happen for the band in the near future and beyond. I had the pleasure of emailing founding member and guitarist Marko Palmen on his thoughts of the record and where he sees Evocation going from here.
How does it feel to finally get The Shadow Archetype out there after
such an arduous process?
I feel huge pride and satisfaction in the accomplishment we did this time around. There is just so much blood, sweat and tears invested into the tracks of The Shadow Archetype and I think people that listen to the album can hear the passion behind it. In my opinion this is the most important album we have ever released.
This is the second time that you have signed to Metal Blade Records; however, this is the first time that you are now on a worldwide deal. How have things been so far with all things Evocation and Metal Blade?
Yeah, that’s correct! The first time we were signed to Metal Blade it was for our first three albums on a licensing deal for the US & Canada. For us it was a natural decision to sign with Metal Blade Records for the release of The Shadow Archetype. We were really pleased with the co-operation we had previously with them and also on the label there are friends of the band since the early 90s. To work with friends of the band is probably one of the most important factors in this stage of our career. And another thing is, of course, that Metal Blade Records is, in my opinion, the best independent record label for extreme metal in the business. Huge thanks to our old friend Andreas
Reissnauer and Brian Slagel for welcoming us into the label!
One of the many highlights for me throughout The Shadow Archetype was Thomas “Tjompe” Josefsson and his vocal performance. As far as I am concerned, this is the best he has ever sounded in Evocation. Was this due to the recording in three separate locations or the frustration of the delay in getting the album out there?
First of all I have to say that I totally agree with your opinion on Thomas’ vocals; the performance he did on The Shadow Archetype is definitely his “Oscar performance”! But concerning your thoughts on the reason why I think I would say none of the above was the key factor for Thomas’ amazing vocals on the album. I simply think that he
has grown and matured as a vocalist during the years and on The Shadow Archetype all the planets and stars were aligned for a perfect performance.
If you listen to his vocal performance on the cover EP we did in the Autumn of 2013 he is quite close with his vocals on that one in comparison with The Shadow Archetype. I think he, as well as all other musicians on the album have matured and are better than ever before. We really pushed all our limits on this album and to be honest, I’m not sure we can make a better album than The Shadow Archetype.
Again a particular highlight is the constant mix of old school riffs from Marko and the new school riffs from Simon. Was there clear vision between the guitarists or was there some compromising to be done in the studio by both guitarists?
It was as if Simon and me unconsciously shared the same vision of how we wanted the album to become. So the creative process for the album was really smooth between us. We just threw riffs at each other and then we melted them together when we met up and made the pre-production tracks. Some ideas were thrown away and some were kept. The stuff we threw away we just felt didn’t fit in for Evocation. We both just shared the same vision and goal for the album – to make the best Evocation album no matter the cost! Also we didn’t have any deadline when working on this album and that’s probably also one of the reasons behind the long period of time that we worked on the album. We just felt that we would take all the time necessary in order to make the perfect Evocation album. No compromises!
Moving onto the sound of The Shadow Archetype, it is so much more brutal than its predecessor, Illusions of Grandeur. Is this the sound that you have been looking for with Evocation or do you feel that there is a constant need to evolve?
I totally agree on your opinion there on the brutality. I think The Shadow Archetype became an unconscious reaction towards the Illusions of Grandeur album. When I listen to Illusions of Grandeur today I feel it is way too polished in the sound. It’s overproduced in my opinion. We wanted to go in a more brutal direction both with the sound and also with the songwriting. When I listen to The Shadow Archetype today I feel that it has the perfect Evocation sound.
This is the sound that we have been looking for all the years that we have been working together. At the moment I would like to change the sound on all previous albums to the sound we have on The Shadow Archetype. It is the essence of Evocation and I don’t think we need to search for a better tone/sound in the future. I have always been hunting for a better guitar tone, but now it feels like I have found home!
The Shadow Archetype was complemented by the addition of Per Moller Jensen, previously of The Haunted fame. Everybody knowing everybody in Sweden, was it quite easy to hook him up for the album and did it take much persuasion?
Per actually lives in Copenhagen, Denmark nowadays. But anyway, we were friends on Facebook and we/Evocation have always had his drumming as a huge source of inspiration so it was a natural choice for us to turn to him. When we were almost done with the pre-production tracks for the album I saw a post that Per did on Facebook saying that he was searching for session work. So I contacted him and immediately got a reply back saying that he was really interested in doing the drums for The Shadow Archetype. So we just sent him the pre-production tracks and then he prepared himself in Copenhagen until we meet in Gothenburg some six months later for the drum recordings at Crehate Studios. I would say that there was no persuasion at all needed in order to get him as a drummer for the new Evocation album. He did an amazing job I might add and he also contributed in the creative process with his own ideas for the drum tracks. Per’s drumming and his creative input really raised the tracks to a whole new level. Huge thanks to Per!
The artwork for The Shadow Archetype is incredible and huge credit must go to the artist Xaay of Behemoth and Nile fame. I feel that he grasps the concept of the whole album perfectly. Was it an easy decision to go with Xaay again after the Illusions of Grandeur album?
Yeah, Xaay totally nailed the artwork and the concept behind the theory of The Shadow Archetype. It was an easy decision to go for Xaay again. He has delivered the most magic artwork for us since we started to work with him on the Apocalyptic album in 2010. We actually consider him as the in-house artwork artist for Evocation nowadays. I don’t see us changing artwork artist in the future. He always captures our vision in the most perfect way and it was the same with the artwork for The Shadow Archetype. It’s almost as if he can read our minds or something.
His artwork exactly captures what we have in mind. He has never failed us. One of the reasons that he captured the artwork for The Shadow Archetype so perfectly is probably because he did a paper at Cracow University some years ago on Jung’s Archetype Theories. When I wrote to Xaay about the idea, and the title he was all fired up and said that he would make something spectacular that captures the idea behind the title. I think the artwork for The Shadow Archetype is the best one he has done for us and for me it’s pure magic.
The Shadow Archetype is based on Carl Jung’s interpretation of ourselves that everybody has repressed thoughts or emotions that the individual wishes to keep to themselves. Could you elaborate on a few of the lyrical themes within The Shadow Archetype?
The Shadow Archetype tackles topics that stem from vocalist/lyricist Josefsson’s interest in control themes. Whether it’s psychological issues, drug dependencies, sex, the media, or greater, more nefarious government-driven forces at play, songs on The Shadow Archetype read less like teenagers into gore and horror movies and more like observations of a lettered adult.
We are all well aware of the situation that nearly killed off the band. The phrase goes “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”. I feel that Evocation has never sounded so good and alive and wondered if you felt the same way?
I absolutely agree! The band feels stronger then ever before and the album turned out amazing. I actually think that when we lost the brothers Janne and Vesa after the Illusions of Grandeur album there started to grow a small feeling of revenge. We wanted to show people that yes, we are almost down for a knock-out but on the count of nine we will rise like a phoenix from the ashes and show that we are back even stronger then before…at the moment I’m just really pleased that we took the decision to continue when the album turned out as amazing as it did. I must however point out that if I, somewhere along the way would have felt that the new material wasn’t as strong as the previous material, then I would have pulled the plug and buried the band for good. I have a lot of pride in the back catalogue and I just couldn’t stand it if a new album isn’t better then the previous one.
Evocation is playing their album release gig on the 8th April in Sweden. What are the touring ambitions of the band or are these restricted due to everybody’s work commitments?
At the moment we are gearing up for live shows and we want to do as many shows as possible on this album. But just as you say we are a bit restricted due to family and work commitments. Shorter runs are no problems, but longer runs could be difficult. However if the “right” touring opportunity would come up then we would of course do
everything to make it happen. Festivals and weekend shows are the main focus for us at the moment.
As I have stated in my review over at The Shadow Archetype is already on my album of the year list. Where do Evocation see themselves going from here?
I thank you so much for the nice review! I really appreciate it that people can see and hear all the work and the passion behind the album. I hope Evocation will play some territories that we haven’t played before. US would be awesome to play or perhaps South America etc. I’m quite modest so I’m pleased whenever we can come out and play and meet people that share the same passion for death metal as we do.
The focus at the moment is to come out and play as many shows as possible in order to support The Shadow Archetype. Thanks a lot for the interview and the awesome review at Moshville Times. Hope to meet the readers at some live performance in the future!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Metal Blade and Marko for this interview to happen. I wish a great future for the band Evocation and they deserve you to listen to their album and support them any way you can.
The Shadow Archetype is out now