Ván Records proudly presents “The Wheel” – the new full-length of Denmark’s SLAEGT and follow-up to the critically acclaimed “Domus Mysterium” from 2017. SLAEGT have found a very own, unique style of playing heavy metal and they expand their legacy with “The Wheel”, in my opinion a step further and better than the previous effort, that was already brilliant. We deeply analize the work behind their new album with Oskar J. Frederiksen, who has given as full details about it.
Hi Oskar, it’s incredible that we just talked last year about your great album “Domus Mysterium” and another masterpiece of yours is in the streets already
Yeah well, we just wanted to keep going and be as creative and productive as possible in the time that followed “Domus Mysterium”. No time for sleep or rest, at least not more than necessary. We keep going.
One could think that you dismissed some songs from the superb “Domus Mysterium” and you are releasing them now as a second album with “The Wheel”, is that the case?
No. We have no unfinished tracks or hidden things out there. All songs we’ve written have been recorded and released. We try to make really good songs, and not necessarily so many, rather than spitting out a big bunch of songs where only 25% or less of them are worth anything. Quality over quantity. Always.
Same lineup, same great staff…
Yeah, it’s been unchanged since last time, we also used the same producer for the new album as with the last one. It feels like we are on a journey together, growing collectively and venturing into unknown territory. It’s all good.
Stylistically, we still can breath, as “The Wheel” delivers the blackened heavy metal that you execute so well
True. This time around we tried to keep the essence from “Domus Mysterium” intact (sound, attitude, etc.), but in a more compact form, not spending more time on a riff or part than necessary. You could say that “Domus…” in some way was an experiment for us. We tried to see “how far we could take it” and wanted to discover our limitations and maybe also our sound/expression. It was a good thing we did that and tried things out, but I’m sure some of the songs could have benefited from some trimming. We tried to do that with the new one, being more critical with arrangements and so on.
How was the album composed? Just after “Domus Mysterium” or it started in some moment before? You still have time to hang out with friends or go to the cinema haha?
We actually already had some of the ideas for the new tracks before we recorded “Domus Mysterium”, but we didn’t work seriously on them until that album had been recorded. As per usual, sometimes we worked on the songs collectively and sometimes one of us came with an arrangement (sometimes almost done) and we just had to do the rest collectively. It varies from song to song. But everyone is welcome to contribute. It’s not important who brings the ideas, what is most important is that we make the best music we possibly can. And of course we had time to do other things, together or in private. It’s important and necessary to work a lot and hard on what you do, but if you are in a creative endeavour you also need to go out and experience things, otherwise, you will have a hard time expressing anything. Something needs to go in before something new can come out.
How were the songwriting tasks distributed among the members, can you elaborate a bit more?
Whoever had ideas brought them to the table. The are no limits to who is “allowed” to contribute to this part of the process. And we try to avoid having egos involved. The best ideas are the one we go with, no matter who made them. Same goes for lyrics, even though I am still the one who has written all of them. The other guys are for sure allowed to contribute to lyrics, but they don’t.
Yes and you do it so right that that behaviour from your mates is quite normal. The lyrics continue to be based in personal experiences as in your previous album?
Yes and no. My lyrics have over the years mostly dealt with personal issues or experiences, as you mention, but sometimes they deal with more general matters or themes. I usually try and veil what I do, so that the precise meaning will most likely only be available to me. I do this with symbolism, metaphors, references to various other things, etc. I hope to achieve a lyric, that can stand on its own as a poem almost, and which can create images in the head of the listener, that makes them feel something.
It also calls our attention the cover artwork shade evolution, from black to white directly. Any meaning on it?
Not in the way one might think. It simply worked best with the illustrations we chose to use for the cover and booklet. So no – no symbolic meaning or the like behind that “change”.
Musically, if something offers this new album is the confirmation that the motivation and hard work is still there, no time for relaxing and playing mandolin yet…
You always have to work as hard as possible and strive for more. If not, why even do it? Relaxation is necessary of course, but one must be aware, that it has to go hand in hand with the hard work. Too much of either is not good. Balance is key. I don’t see the problem with playing the mandolin? Not that I do it myself, but I’m sure it can be very beautiful and effective if used in the right way at the right time.
Hmm… so there lays may be my contribution to your legacy, the mandolin role haha. Well, the album was mixed and mastered in your hometown, Copenhagen. A question of comfort or something else?
Yes, we used the same studio (Ballade Studios) and the same engineer/producer (Lasse Ballade) as last time simply because it was easier logistically, and because we worked with Lasse before, so we didn’t have to build up an entirely new working relation to the person. Turned out pretty well if you ask me.
I think so. “Gauntlet of Lovers” is a track with the guest appearance of local musician Felix Havstad playing cello, viola and violin, a wise move that pays off in terms of atmosphere…
Yeah, we had the idea to add strings to the more quiet part of that song in the middle. We didn’t really know how or who could do it but we mentioned the idea to Lasse (producer). He then wrote to us some days after and said he knew this guy Felix and asked if he should contact him to see if he was up for the challenge. He was and he came down the studio one day with all those string instruments. We hadn’t written anything out for him, we just more or less hummed what we thought he should play or showed him on guitar. He then went for it, recording some basic tracks and then added a ton of layers. Lasse then mixed and arranged it. It definitely adds some other colour or spice to that song. We are very happy with it.
If I had to choose between “Domus Mysterium” and “The Wheel” I would have a big deal…, it’s like… who is better, mama or papa
Who says you have to choose? Haha. To us, it’s just a continuation of what we do. We are basically saying many of the same things, but the angle(s) may be different, as well as the colours or light/shade. It’s just another step on the way.
After two intensive albums in two years I suppose it’s time to have a break creating new songs, isn’t it?
No. We have started the fire and we have to make sure the flames keep burning. So no – no time to rest more than necessary. We intend to go hard and keep writing, rehearsing, touring, etc. Might as well do the best job we can while the band is still alive.
Awesome, great spirit. Any tour dates? A visit to Spain maybe…?
Yes, we will hit Germany and Austria, the Baltics and Scandinavia right after “The Wheel” drops. First leg together with Maggot Heart and the second leg with Venenum (who we toured with in February). For 2019 we have things planned or in the making, but nothing to make official yet. You will see.
We look forward to hearing the news about it all very soon. Oskar, thank you very much and congratulations for the outstanding work, if you wish to add something…
Thanks for reaching out and for the questions! Salutations to Sven and Ván Records family and as well to our supporters, near and far. Without them, none of this would be possible in the way we are doing it now. Thank you.