In April, I had the pleasure of reviewing an album that I know will already be on my album of the year list for the simple fact that I cannot stop listening to it. Wretched Fate’s debut album Fleshletting is an ambitious debut record with twelve songs lasting almost an hour in duration would be too much to endure for most bands. I can categorically state that after multiple listens, I have yet to skip past a song as each and every effort oozes class and makes this death metal veteran smile like the Joker in the Batman films. I had the pleasure of interviewing the band who were all too welcoming to talk about the obstacles of being in a band, the recording process and what lies ahead for Wretched Fate. I would like to thank the band (vocalist Adrian, guitarist Mats, bassist Robin and drummer Samuel) for one of the best interviews I have read in my time with The Moshville Times and I urge you to contact the band and buy the album.
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
Adrian: Mats grew up in Orsa, while Robin and I grew up in Mora, which is about 2 miles south of Orsa. Both are very small towns with quite a lot of folk culture but no real metal or rock scene worth mentioning. The exception would be Craft since they actually originate from these parts, but since the local metal scene drastically stagnated after the 90’s there hasn’t been much contribution since.
Samuel: I was born and raised in the northern cold of Sweden’s Luleå, but have been living in Uppsala since 10+ years now, just about 1 hour north of Stockholm.
How long have you been playing together as a band?
A: Mats and I started out in the summer of 2016. It was supposed to be this celebratory one-time thing, a tribute to the many colossi of the Swedish metal scene that flourished in the 80’s and 90’s. I believe Robin and Samuel joined Wretched Fate in 2017. We all hung out at Gefle Metal Festival that summer and Mats and I showed the others what we’d come up with so far.
R: Me, Mats and Adrian used to hang out a lot back when we were still living in the same town. I got to hear what would later become Wretched Fate for the first time when they had just finished writing “Only Death to Abide” and were working on “Embedded in Flesh”. Mats showed me some of the bass work and naturally I got hooked, so after that, I would learn the bass stuff as soon they would finish a song. As Adrian said, I think we started talking about the possibility to turn it into a full band around early 2017. We brought Samuel with us to Gefle Metal Festival and the rest is history!
S: I’m the latest guy to join the band and the guys really needed a drummer. It’s funny because I know Robin, from my other band Incised and he asked if I wanted to play in Wretched Fate. I was like, “yeah, for sure” and I met the other guys and they are all assholes, but we get along. I have been listening to this kind of music most of my life but I’ve never played it as much as since I joined this band.
Wretched Fate released their debut album Fleshletting in February of this year through Thomas and Redefining Darkness. How did it feel to put all your blood sweat and tears and get an album out there?
A: Writing and recording this album definitely required a lot of time and hard work, but it was an absolutely thrilling experience! You really get a rush when you come up with a great riff, lyric, vocal line etc, and it’s such rewarding work! We wrote the material mostly through 2016 and 2017. Mats and I live quite some distance apart so we’d meet as often as possible. Mats did an overwhelming majority of the writing, which is the way we intended. I can’t write music to save my life. Mats is on the other hand an absolute genius, which becomes evident in his multifaceted musicianship. I was just supposed to scream into the microphone once the writing was more or less done, and that’s what I did! We recorded most of the album during the summer of 2018. We were both working day jobs in our hometowns and did the recording during the nights. It was very exhaustive, but we are really happy with how it turned out!
How did you get signed with Thomas and Redefining Records?
A: We basically e-mailed multiple labels with a demo attached, I think it was “Altars of Misery” or perhaps “Wretched Fate”. I have an aversion towards contact forms, probably because I’m too incompetent to fill them in properly! I accidentally messed up the spelling of our email address, which resulted in Thomas’ replies bouncing. He was persistent enough to contact us through Facebook and we took it from there! Thomas has been very confident in us from the start and offered us a win-win deal, it really was an offer we could not refuse! Collaborating with Redefining Darkness Records has been a fantastic experience, from communication to promotion strategies and album release. Thomas is such a hard working, overall great guy and it’s evident that he puts his heart and soul into the industry.
Your cover art for Fleshletting was drawn by artist Skaðvaldur. Some people would think with a working title like Fleshletting, your cover art would be full of blood and gore. What made you choose Skaðvaldur and out of interest, what information do you give in order for him to come up with his art?
M: I was adamant about the album not having a typical death metal cover artwork that would get lost in the crowd of dark gore/blood filled albums, and Adrian agreed with me there. We both admired the artwork for The Plague Within by Paradise Lost and used it as a reference when contacting the artist. Two of my favourite albums (Burial by Extol and Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll by Rainbow) have a similar style and probably played a role in what I wanted to go for as well.
A: We didn’t want to go for the generic gore-obsessed (pun-intended) album cover. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of gory album covers that look absolutely fantastic, but I feel that theme has been done to an excessive extent already. There’s some gore on the Fleshletting cover, but it’s not the main focus. We decided to work with Skaðvaldur because we wanted a cover that would stand out in the multitude of death metal records. What we ended up with perfectly displays what you’re going to get from the album, but it has at least a drop of uniqueness.
Fleshletting was mastered and produced by your guitarist Mats Andersson. Did it seem natural to use Mats and did he enjoy the experience of producing his own work?
M: Producing music is something I do a lot in my own time anyways and since Wretched Fate is something that I started working on ‘in my own time’ it was very natural to keep doing it like that. It also helps keeping the spontaneity there in the workflow. I loved writing and producing Fleshletting and I’ll keep doing the producing for as long as I enjoy doing it! That’s where the music came from to begin with. I did the mixing for the album but for the mastering, we sent it to John Bart Van Der Wal at Hewwetover Studios who did an awesome job.
What are the lyrical themes of the songs for the album? Is there a main lyricist in the band?
A: I guess I’m the main lyricist, though Mats and I often work together on the lyric writing. The lyrical themes of this album are mostly made up of horror. Mats has a thing for 80’s and 90’s horror, so that naturally bleeds into the music as well. I’m definitely a fan as well, but perhaps not to the same maniacal extent! Some of the songs are directly inspired by movies, while others are concepts of our own.
M: A small part or just some ideas for the lyrics often starts getting written early on when the music is being arranged. It’s mostly some words that fit a certain rhythm here and there and then we keep writing from there.
How often is the band able to get together and rehearse in the studio? Where do you get together and record?
M: As we all live in different cities it’s a bit of a problem to get together as often as we’d like to. But we try to meet at least twice every month at a rehearsal space in Falun. The recordings we do mainly take place in my apartment. That’s how Fleshletting was made: me and Adrian at my place with a lot of coffee and ölkorv.
How are the songs constructed in the studio? Are there the main songwriters of songs that take care of everything or is Wretched Fate a band where all members contribute to the songs?
A: Sometimes I’m involved in Mat’s writing process, offering suggestions on how to rephrase a riff or add some minor detail, but it’s often the case that Mats complete songs and I get to hear them when they are finished drafts. We usually try out most ideas we get, kind of throwing all we have at the wall to see what sticks. Even if one of us isn’t very fond of a given idea, we have an unwritten rule of at least trying it out before we make a decision. I think this leads to a very refined end product.
M: As Adrian said I tend to finish about 90% of the writing of the songs on my own before showing them to anyone else. This tends to let me focus on my visions for every song before letting others viewpoints intercept them. I am a control freak and have a hard time letting anyone else influence my songs. Adrian has somehow managed to tolerate this for so long that his ideas for our songs has granted him the honor of becoming a co-writer. So the first half of the writing process of Fleshletting is mostly me telling Adrian to shut up until it’s time to record the vocals and the second half is me asking him for advice.
Recently you have become a four-piece band and having different musical influences within the band, is there sometimes a lot of negotiating in the studio or do you feel you are writing the music you want to for the band?
A: We haven’t really begun to write the next record yet, even though Mats has come up with some riffs, and I’ve been writing some drafts for the lyrics. I’m guessing both Robin and Samuel will have some inputs on the next record, I know Mats has been wanting to compose along with a drummer for quite some time. He’ll probably do the majority of writing this time around as well though.
R: I trust Adrian and Mats to the fullest when it comes to the song writing. I feel comfortable with them writing our songs because I know that the finished product will be exactly what I want Wretched Fate to be. They are both way better songwriters than me anyway. Plus, that gives me time to work on other stuff, since I handle the more administrative and “business” side of things in the band, if you will.
S: In other projects I usually have a lot to say and I like bringing ideas to the table. In this project though, Mats has written all the drum parts and he has done a fantastic job. It has been a lot of work for me to get the hang of it but I’m also glad to be “just the drummer”.
How hard has it been to juggle the touring side of things with the everyday jobs? Do you have plans to go on bigger tours and further afield in 2019?
A: We haven’t really gotten to the touring part as of yet. I’m finishing my bachelor thesis in psychology right now and it’s been quite stressful to balance with rehearsals, administrative tasks, social media and all these things that come with running a band. The payoff is immense though, getting up on stage makes it all worth the stress and hard work that we put into this. We’re planning to delve into touring this fall though, we’ll see where we end up!
R: Sure, sometimes it’s quite tough. Especially all the travelling, since, as we mentioned before, we all live in different cities. So even if we haven’t really gotten to the touring yet, there’s a lot of travelling and planning involved with all of the rehearsals and get-togethers and things like that. And then there’s the administrative stuff, which can be quite stressful as well, at times. But most of the time, I find it pretty relaxing. Sometimes our everyday jobs get in the way of things, yeah sure, it happens. But we always find a way to work around it. So at the end of the day I’d say it’s working out pretty well!
So, what are the plans for the year ahead in 2019?
A: We’re looking to get out on the road as soon as possible! Before we do that we’re playing Gamrocken Festival the first of June! We’ll be grinding in our rehearsal place to diversify our setlist a bit as well so that we can deliver more of Fleshletting to the masses! We’re also looking into expanding our merch outlet, we recently revealed a new t-shirt design for instance, with patches, stickers more shirts etc.
How hard is it for a metal band like Wretched Fate to survive in the current climate where bands have to tour non-stop and sell merchandise in order to bring money back into the band?
A: We basically finance the band out of our own pockets. We would never survive solely on our current sales, so there’s definitely been some financial sacrifices in our daily lives. I live for this so it’s a no brainer to invest what savings I have in this band. That’s not much, being a student, but we do what we can to keep this thing rolling!
R: It’s been worth every penny and we love doing what we do, otherwise there would be no point of doing it. So it’s been rough at times, sure, but it’s because of that, that it feels even more rewarding when we get a positive response and people support us. Besides, I like a good challenge. Imagine not having to work for your success – where’s the fun in that? (laughs)
S: Knowing what the music business is like nowadays, you got to have some other carrot than money if you want to get on a more “serious level”, so to speak. Money is miles away but as Robin has mentioned I believe we’re all just very hungry, passionate and hard working. To wrap it up in a cheesy but true way: nothing worth having comes without sacrifice.
Being from Dalarna, are there any other bands from your local scene that you would recommend?
A: As I mentioned earlier, there’s not much coming out of either Mora or Orsa at this point. I would definitely recommend Carnosus and Obscene Illusion from Örebro though, which is where I currently live! I very much believe there’s potential in the emerging metal scene in Örebro. There are some up and coming bands and Axis of Despair is from around these parts as well!
R: I second that. Carnosus and Obscene Illusion are sick bands and they’re really cool guys as well. I live in Stockholm, so when it comes to my local scene, there are a ton of bands to choose from. I would recommend a band called The Overthrone, which I believe has huge potential. I can also recommend Mass Murder Agenda. It’s an industrial hardcore band, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, but their latest album is killer.
S: I live in Uppsala and I believe we have lots of bands but none are very famous except for Watain as far as I’m concerned. I’ve played in various bands here in Uppsala but the most recent is my second band called Paranorm. We’re gonna record our debut this summer!
Sweden has always been the place to be for the best form of death metal in my eyes. In the last couple of years, I gave my album of the year to Evocation with The Shadow Archetype and last year with Lik’s Carnage. Is it fair to say that some of the old school Swedish bands have moved away from the scene and the new school like yourselves are taking it back to where it all began?
A: There is no substitute for the great old ones, such as Dismember, Entombed, and Merciless, but we can at least celebrate their revolutionary impact on the death metal genre as a whole. I think the fact that they spawned in a very specific point in history made an impression on their music that is hard to recreate. There just won’t be another Bleed For Me, And So Is Life or Left Hand Path. There’s lots of these originators that have split-up or just called it quits. Some of them have formed new bands, one I particularly enjoy is Firespawn. Since Dismember split-up before I got really hooked on their music, I made sure to get myself tickets to their reunion gig at Scandinavia Deathfest as soon as they were available!
R: Yeah, sure! A lot of the iconic Swedish bands have either split up or quit and I think it’s only natural for the next generation to pick up the torch in order to keep that flame alive, so to speak. With that being said, as Adrian mentioned, a lot of them are still going strong though, which I really admire.
A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?
M: The first one that comes to mind is Extol’s Synergy.
S: Very tough question but I’d probably bring Opeth’s Ghost Reveries simply because it’s just hauntingly beautiful, dark, mysterious and heavy.
A: If I were to bring an album to a party it would probably have to be Kill ‘Em All by Metallica! Not because it’s the best album I know, but it sure goes well with some good company and a couple of beers! It’s a killer record with some very catchy riffs and I think it’s more or less the perfect soundtrack to having a good time and excessive drinking! They weren’t referred to as Alcoholica without merit!
R: Anything by Burzum, because nothing gets a party going like a nice, warm fire. All jokes aside though, I would have to say Dance of Death by Iron Maiden. Partly because it’s the album that got me hooked on metal to begin with, but also because it has all the elements needed in a good party album.
If we could bring a last album collectively, it would definitely be The Wacken Carnage by Bloodbath. We always listen to that album from start to finish at least once every time we hang out. No joke. It’s a great mix of their early stuff and it’s recorded during Åkerfeldt’s peak in Bloodbath. It’s a masterpiece!
Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?
Cheers to having a good time moshing in Moshville! Keep supporting the underground!
Fleshletting is out now