It’s not a secret that I’m a big fan of Swedish metal scene in general – the land from which emerged part of the most important extreme metal bands and famous rock bands. One of these bands is Cemetary which is part of my most listened albums ever. I didn’t discover Cemetary when they released their first album. It was in 1993 when I discovered “Godless Beauty” and I became a die-hard fan. One year later the band released one of my favorite albums ever, Black Vanity, and that same year I bought “An Evil Shade Of Grey”, their debut album. Their singer and guitarist, Mathias Lodmalm has a different and unique style, and his voice was probably the thing I really liked the most. There’s a long story behind Cemetary and and it’s successor, Sundown. Design 19 is a masterpiece in my opinion, and it’s probably one of the 10 most important records outside extreme metal and outside traditional goth that is in my record collection. It has a great personal value for me. It was an honor for me to interview Mathias. (Oskar Terramortis – Feb 13th 2013)
So let the beast speak.
Hi Mathias, how are you? How’s the winter?
Lodmalm: Hey! Winter, the season of delayed planes and trains.
Before starting the deep interview, there’s a couple of things I would like emphasize. The demo of Cemetary, ”Incarnation Of Morbidity”, that was released back in 1991, will be released in 7″ this year. Where did the idea for that come from? These are wonderful news. Personally, I tried to find your 3 demos for many years, with no success. And when I finally found them, the guy asked me to pay 150 euros for the 3 copies.
Lodmalm: Thank you! Quite to my surprise it seems like Cemetary stuff is quite expensive these days, and also hard to find. Maybe because we were never part of the Swedish Death Metal hype machine but went our own way. I think the guys responsible for getting the release out is Micke Andersson of Act 3 (bugging me for years, in the nicest way) and Cronis from To the Death for being the genuine guy that he is. So, it felt right doing this as some kind of “anniversary” or whatever. These tracks were always unreleased, so I put together a nice little package with my friends for my friends.
A few months ago we saw with a lot of enthusiasm how Cemetary almost resurrected. What happened? Which version of Cemetary did you try to take out from the abyss: the Cemetary that plays old school death metal, or the Cemetary that plays goth metal?
Lodmalm: Well, Jussi the original drummer and myself are good friends and he comes to my house for Christmas so of course, after some years and some beers, we talked about it. Doing the original 3. But in the end I didn’t want to do it. It would be wrong. I was against it all the time and I never saw Cemetary as one of these reunion bands. Also, playing only tracks from 92-93 would be weird right? How about if people wanted to hear something like Sweet Tragedy. Nah, too messy for me. I always tried my best to be a little different and if NOT reuniting sets me apart, then its the easiest thing I ever did in music, haha!
Another update behind your name is that you’re involved in a new band called Lords Of Saturn, which is your comeback to the heavy riffing guitar after a long period of silence. Can you tell me more about this new band? What kind of doom we will hear?
Lodmalm: LoS has been in the works for 7 years. I wrote the tracks in Idaho while living in Jasons basement. I think LoS is a natural continuation of my writing. Then again people might not always agree w/ me on those matters, haha. It’s not however a straight up metal band. My influences from 60s stuff is now free to roam without any baggage. It’s not a fucking retro band though, but I try to give a nudge to the past while heading into space with some of my best friends.
I tried to recognize the other musicians behind Lords Of Saturn, and to be honest I didn’t recognize anyone. Are there Lake Of Tears members in it?
Lodmalm: No LoT members in LoS. Well, Bo did fill in on guitar on their last tour but he’s not a member. LoS is more of a boys club consisting of like-minded friends, some of which I have know for 25 years and been with me on this journey since the very beginning.
When can we hear the final result of Lords Of Saturn?
Lodmalm: Depending on the pressing plant a little bit. But I’m guessing the 7″ Pillars of Deception will be out in april / may.
Talking about Lake Of Tears, you participated for the second time – I think – with them, this time doing the vocals in the last album of Lake Of Tears (Illwill). I knew it since the first time I listened it on YouTube, that it was you singing. When I received my physical copy, I felt really great and I thought for a moment ”Cemetary or Sundown can be resurrected” – and that was two years ago. How was the experience to sing like in Sundown era?
Lodmalm: I’ve spent most my grown life together with Daniel in one way or another. Funny thing is that we never get around to do much music together considering the amount of time we talk about it! So, for the Illwill record, it was a lot of me, Daniel and Johan hanging out, drinking, listening to the same old records we have been listening to since we were teens, getting fucked up. That us doing this in the end resulted in me putting down some riffs and vox was a highlight indeed as I loved that album from the sec I heard the first riff in Daniels basement.
Let’s jump to the past. There’s no doubt that Cemetary is an important part of the Sweidish Death Metal. How do you see the resurrection of old school death metal?
Lodmalm: Mostly I think it’s bullshit with way too many Johnny come lately’s trying to rewrite history and make themselves out to be more important than they were. Then you have the Hype crew bands the same dicks who are in all the documentaries and books. But sure they might have boring lives and bills to pay, so, hey… Go play some festivals. Some bands do it in cool / honest way, it was nice that Morgoth got back together and get the respect they deserve. I love underground music, death metal is a part of that. However, I was never gonna stay in one place for too long and I’d rather do other music instead of making an ass of myself in broad daylight on some energy drink sponsored festival stage. I still have my underground values intact, however pretentious that might sound.
Cemetary was one of those bands who made kind of a progress and evolution to gothic metal together with Paradise Lost. For me Black Vanity from Cemetary and Icon from Paradise Lost created, let’s say, the true goth metal. How did your old fans receive your new sound? Because I remember at that time a lot of bands that were changing their styles, were crucified by the media, and of course by the most conservative part of the fans.
Lodmalm: Thing is. We never tried to be “Gothic” and for many years I kinda scratched my head about it. We just did more stream lined arrangement, metal, punk, simpler playing, less dungeon and dragons. However that all went to shit years later when “Gothic” started to mean that you look like LARP guy and play stock metal riffs with cheap workstation synth presets. For me the true “Gothic” is Fields of the Nephilim, Sisters, The Damned, Joy Division, Samhain and very little else. Cemetary always took ALOT of mouth for switching the sound around. But I stuck it out. And today, the catalogue has aged rather well if I may say so myself. 10 records of pummelling Entombed knock off riffs is not what I wanted to do. Other bands might have though, haha.
In my opinion, Cemetary making goth metal in albums like Black Vanity, Sundown and Last Confessions, was better that a lot of bands who were with major labels. Do you think Cemetary could be a better band in the hands of a major label, in terms of marketing?
Lodmalm: Thank you Oskar! Actually, I’m very satisfied and proud that in the end, Cemetary turned into an outsider / oddball band that was hard to chew when the records came out. I like the obscure and while nothing was ever “planned” with Cemetary, I’m glad that it turned out the way it did.
This is one of the questions I’ve always wanted to ask you. What is behind that dead skeleton bird in your album covers?
Lodmalm: It comes from the Phoenix mythos. Which was also never planned to be a symbol for the band but as per usual, it turned out to be the ultimate one.
One thing I’ve wondered for a very long time, is that the Cemetary album Sundown is like a premonition of the Design 19 album. Why did you use the same name for an album with Cemetary and your new project, Sundown?
Lodmalm: I like word games and references to this and that. So in a quasi cheesy way, it turned out like that. It worked at the time, kinda, and honestly maybe I listened to some manager types too, haha.
Back in 1997, on March 28th, the last Cemetary album Last Confessions was released. A few months later, on June 24th, your debut album with Sundown was released through Century Media. How was that possible, 2 albums the same year? That means you were really busy composing. Or was Sundown the continuum of Cemetary, under new name, with a new label?
Lodmalm: I think Black Mark held on to the record to ride the promotion from Century Media. Between 90-99 I wrote a lot of music as well, so, it was not that strange at the time.
This is another question related to those albums. Cemetary’s guitarist was Anders Iwers, who was the new bass player of Tiamat (A Deeper Kind Of Slumber). With Sundown’s Design 19 your bass player was Johnny Hagel, who left Tiamat and Anders Iwers took his place. I know it sounds very complicated. But believe me, if you see it from outside it’s more complicated. This means you are very close to Tiamat, it’s not a secret. Can you tell me something about those times?
Lodmalm: I must seem really weird I know, but the way it happened was more of a fluke. Anders played bass w/ Tiamat way back in the day for a short period. I shared management w/ Johnny so we met that way. Also Cemetary and Tiamat was never really that close or anything but I can understand that it can seem that way from the outside. Great times though however and we had some fun hanging out together here and there.
In 1997, 3 of my favorite albums of this ”evolution of bands” were released: Last Confessions by Cemetary, Design 19 by Sundown and A Deeper Kind Of Slumer by Tiamat. What do you remember of that year, which was your favorite records of that year? Ultra by Depeche Mode?
Lodmalm: Wow, great company! Probably Ultra or that record by Birmingham 6 (not sure if it came out in 97 but I bought it then…).
Let’s go to Sundown’s Design 19. I still remember the first time I listened to it. When I bought the cd, I didn’t know you were involved in that band. I was hooked. The atmosphere of this album is very different, and probably I will never hear anything close to it. What things inspired you to compose this album? In my opinion it’s a blue (for the original cover) masterpiece. How was the reaction of the media at that time?
Lodmalm: To me, I was not satisfied w/ the album for many reasons. Half of it is the last Cemetary demo and half some studio experiments that could have worked out a lot better. But the label stressed us cause they had booked a tour and other stupid stuff. When it came out, nobody really liked it or “got” what it was cause the expectations was a Cemetary vs Tiamat record, which we never, ever had the intention to do. I wanted to do a disco infused industrial record cause that was what I was into at the time. I am really glad though that it found a home with people who fucking love this record and say it is my best work. But for me it’s a confusing one, haha.
It was funny when I got the collector’s digipack edition with extra tracks. I think that edition had the wrong track list of the bonus tracks, and this fact makes this item more rare nowadays. What did you think when you saw the mistake?
Lodmalm: I hate that re-issue. Awful cover art, they just put it out because the PL tour and CM HATED the original cover so they put some total bullshit on it and tried to capture some of that new Goth metal crowd.
In 1999 the second album of Sundown came out – Glimmer. I bought the Halo single, and I was shocked because it was so different from Design 19. The sound was more industrialised, like Ministry style, with a new line up. This was the last episode of Sundown. What happened?
Lodmalm: This is probably the album I am most satisfied w/ in the sense that I accomplished what I set out todo. A druggy industrial record with a disco feel. I was very into dnb at that time and to be really honest, my plan to leave all things metal and the business behind it was already in full effect. So, as usual, the album didn’t do well straight away and the label wasn’t much into pushing things outside their pre-set mailing list so…I started to pack my bags.
In 2000, Cemetary 1213 suddenly appeared. Why the name Cemetary 1213? This new Cemetary 1213 was very different from Sundown and gothic metal Cemetary, you only released one album, The Beast Divine. What’s the story behind it? And once again we can see the skeleton bird on the cover.
Lodmalm: This album was my “tribute” to the world of comics of all things. All recorded and mixed in my 24m2 apartment. As Marvel had done their 2099 run. I thought, why not a Cemetary 1213 run. This is the truth. Not the story about getting out of a deal, cause I was out of that already. I’m quite happy with that record.
Five years later Cemetary with Phantasma appeared once again on Black Mark Productions. I can remember the reactions of the media. Some people said it was horrible shit. Another thing that i read very often was that you were listening too much Marilyn Manson. From my point of view, it’s not a bad album. It’s experimental and different from the rest of your discography. What do you remember about that time?
Lodmalm: Like many of my records, Phantasma was another experiment. I took a laptop and some other bits and traveled to 3 continents recording this. It more of a musical diary, sounds pretentious sad but true. It was a strange time for me personally filled with the darkest days of my life. I was facing the end and this record reflects that. It’s the darkest, most true Cemetary record ever made. It is not for everybody. I can’t listen to it personally cause it reminds me of the person I was at the time and I never ever want to revisit that. It got some of the worst reviews ever, but also some of the best.
You continue making music but more close to electronic, and that’s another episode, and I stopped following your career. What can you tell me about these silent years of metal rock music?
Lodmalm: When I “left” the metal scene, I stepped into the shadows. Working on whatever I felt like musically, producing bands, building studios, music technology things and I found out that I could do other things in life than being a guy in a fucking band so, I found a job in culture and education. Did some really nice projects where I was not the centre of attention and I was a much happier person. I had to put many things aside in my life because I was so young when Cemetary took off so, I finally got some breathing space to develop better skills as a human far away from the very ego centric world of the music business.
Thank you Mathias, it was a great pleasure doing this interview. I hope to meet you personally some day. Thanks for your time.
Lodmalm: Thanks for the very nice interview Oskar, my pleasure. One day we shall meet and drain the taps! (that actually happened)