October Tide Studio Report
By: David E. Gehlke
“We will have tons of keyboards, clean vocals and a 7-minute pan flute solo,” begins October Tide drummer Robin Bergh. “Just kidding! The album is filled with traditional doom. There will be darkness, there will be some heavy groove riffs, and there will be some harmonic and atmospheric parts as usual. Perhaps this one is a bit slower and darker than previous albums. Quite exposed as well. Not packed with overlays. I’d prefer to say it’s a continuation of the 90’s doom metal. Naked, simple and dark.”
Music to one’s ears, eh? As if October Tide could get any darker than 2010’s awe-inspiring A Thin Shell, Bergh and co. have put themselves in a tough spot having to follow what is widely considered their career-defining album. The Swedish doomsters soon-to-be fourth album is due later this year via new label Pulverised Records, and according to Bergh, progress is tangible. “[We’re] pretty far I would say. Drums, guitars and bass are recorded. We had to take a break from the studio due to some live shows, so the vocals are still to be tracked.”
For the fourth consecutive album, the band will have a new singer, this time in the form of Volturyon and Spasmodic vocalist Alexander Högbom, who replaced Tobias Netzell earlier this year. The unstable singer situation started as early as 1995 with the band’s Rain Without End debut, where none other than Katatonia throat Jonas Renkse was in charge of vocals. But as fate (and history) would have it, Renkse would blow out his vocal chords shortly after the recording of Rain Without End, thus never returning to full-growl stages, prompting October Tide to recruit Mårten Hansen (A Canorous Quintet) for 1999’s Grey Dawn. While Netzell was a formidable vocalist in his own right, it seems as if Högbom is the right man for the job...
“Alex’s vocals could crack a stone,” states Bergh. “When we first tried him out, I thought our rehearsal room would collapse. He has a wide range, so he covers Jonas, Mårten and Tobias’s parts really well for the live set. There is also room for his personal style on the new album, so I guess you have to wait and see for yourself.”
The vocal spot wasn’t the only position in October Tide to see some turnover. Former Katatonia bassist Mattias Normann (brother of OT guitarist/founder and also ex-Katatonia member Fred Normann) replaced Pierre Stam, thus giving the band the Normann Bros tandem, which as Bergh notes, is already coming in handy. “Krypt was already like a ‘brother’ to the band, literally. He brings a solid performance and a good time on and off the road, as usual. Alex is a great guy as well and an entrepreneur. He sorted out a gig for us in Sweden! That does not happen too often.”
The stripped-down approach Bergh spoke freely about could translate rather well for October Tide given the atmospheric depth A Thin Shell portrayed. Thanks to an expanded live show schedule, the band was able to determine which direction it wanted to take. “One thing we realised over the year is that the old-school way might suit us the best,” adds Bergh. “By that I mean, don’t record more guitars than you can bring for the gig.
“As I mentioned, we are more trying to look back into the 90’s era,” he continues. “Back then music was not so much about a perfect production, complicated rhythms and guitar work. We kind of like that ‘less is more’ production with a feeling and atmosphere attached to it. Bittersweet guitars, heavy drums and brutal vocals.”
For the second consecutive album, the band will pair with up-and-coming producer Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry) for production and engineering duties. Kjellgren, of course, was largely responsible for creating the massive sound on A Thin Shell, even laying down the album’s bass tracks. Bergh was emphatic about Kjellgren’s input (“He likes our simplicity, which will make lot of room for him to find a good sound.”), but also hinted that outside of Kjellgren, some surprises may be around the corner in the songwriting department.
“Fred did most of it as usual but Emil (Alstermark, guitars) wrote one song. I came up with some rhythms that led to basic ideas for one song as well. When the ideas are presented we all try to contribute, rearrange and fine tune until we get it right. When it comes to the lyrics, we might have some surprises for you since no less than four different guys have contributed with texts for us. One of those names should ring a bell to the old fans.”
Guess-work should abound with the last quote (this scribe has some semblance of an idea, but doesn’t want to find out until we can get our paws on the album), so for now, Bergh is elusive when it comes to an album and song titles. “Yes we do, but nothing is official yet. I think we will make an announcement quite soon regarding that. We will have more info regarding that closer to the release of the new album so stay tuned on our homepage or Facebook site for updates.”
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