Aeon's Rise to Dominate (reviewed here) did just that as one of last year's best death metal records. Perhaps that's not saying much; 2007 wasn't exactly a banner year for the genre. But cut through the hordes of MySpace pretenders, and you'll find quality like Aeon – real songs, real vision, real death metal. Anyone can do "br00tal"; memorable songs are another matter. Aeon have them in spades. On only their second full-length, they found a maturity that eludes bands for entire careers. Catchy riffs, hooky melodies, blasting only when necessary – these are the ingredients that set this Swedish band apart. Last year, drummer Nils Fjellström joined Dark Funeral, causing Aeon to drop off Metal Blade's 25th anniversary tour in the US. After booting him out, and a subsequent period of limbo, Aeon recently announced Fjellström's return. Guitarist Daniel Dlimi answered some questions about the drummer situation, the artwork for Rise to Dominate, burning churches, and Swedish fish.
What's going on with Nils?
Nils has always been playing in many other bands besides Aeon, so that's nothing new for us. But the main difference now is that Dark Funeral is a pretty much active and touring band, and that can obviously cause us problems. He does not want to quit Aeon and we sure as hell do not want to lose a such talented drummer, either. We will see if he is able to handle Aeon, Dark Funeral, and all the other bands he is in. One thing is for sure, though, we won't tolerate always coming in second like some fucking side project. We will have to give this a little time to see how everything evolves.
Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse seems to be your #1 fan. In every interview with him, he cannot stop talking about you guys. How did this happen?
I am not sure, but I think it started with Erik at Unique Leader sending Alex a copy of Bleeding the False and telling him that we really wanted to tour with them if possible. He really liked the album ,and we got a spot on their tour as well. I can't even tell how fucked up it feels to hear him and the rest of the Cannibals raving about how good we are. I mean, I have been listening to Cannibal Corpse since the early '90s and they are one of my favorite Death Metal bands. I am the one who should be raving about how good they are, not the other way!
Whom do you consider influences and inspirations?
Death metal bands that have given me a great deal of inspiration through the years are Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, and Deicide. Zeb [Nilsson, other guitarist] might be a little inspired by Suffocation, among others as well, but I am not sure.
"When the War Comes" has a crazy diminished arpeggio passage at 3:00. Is someone in the band musically schooled?
Nils and Max [Carlberg, bass] are the only ones in the band that are schooled. However, Zeb is a real guitar masturbator and knows all that shit about scales and whatnot. He is the one who pulls all the solos off. I must confess that I am almost completely retarded when it comes to musical theory. I just create music in a way that I think sounds good and don't give a fuck what scales and shit I've used.
Technical geekout time – favorite guitars, amps, drums, effects?
I really love my Schecter C7 Hellraiser guitar! I have exchanged the bridge pickup on it from the stock EMG 707 to an EMG 81-7. The guitar looks awesome, sounds amazing, and feels damn great. As for the amp, an Engl Powerball with two Engl 4×12 standard cabs…it kicks all kinds of ass. I am not using any effects otherwise. As a note, we used my Engl Powerball + cabs when we recorded the guitars on Rise to Dominate. Hmmm, why the fuck am I raving about this gear, it's not like I am endorsed or anything. So Engl and Schecter, feel free to send me an endorsement offer if you read this.
Zeb is using an Ibanez RG1527 with EMG 707 pickups that he obviously likes. He is using a Rocktron Velocity power amp and a Sans-Amp PSA-1 preamp with Marshall 1960 cabs. But I doubt that it's his favorite amp. I think he would go for an Engl as well, if he had a chance.
Max uses a Spector bass (I don't know what model it is) and an Ampeg SVT-4 amp.
Nils doesn't want to talk about his gear, since he is kind of looking at endorsement alternatives right now, I think.
Why do you hate Christianity so much?
Why not? Religion is fucking stupid. And Christianity is pretty amusing to pick on.
"House of Greed" goes, "Burn the church down / Burn it down". Have you burned any churches down? If not, would you?
No, I haven't burned anything down… yet. But I am seriously thinking of burning down the postal office right after I finish this interview, since they seems to have fucked up the shipment of my new Full-HD LCD TV that I have ordered. It's not a church, but it will do for now.
You say "There will be no heaven for me". What comes after death?
A pitch black nothingness. Simply the end.
"Caressed by the Holy Man" seems to be based on a historical story. Can you go more into that?
Yes, it is based on facts. It's all about the founder of the Watchtower [Society]/Jehovah's Witnesses. Tommy thought that he deserved a song on his own. And as he was chatting with me on MSN, trying to figure out some good lines, I told Tommy, "I am sure that this fucking bastard was a child molester." And after some quick Google researching, there of course he was. I think it was easy for Tommy to write the rest of the lyrics after these facts came along.
So you guys don't like Jesus. This much is clear. But are you Satanist? Atheist? You can't have it both ways, you know.
I can only speak for me, but I am 100% atheist.
You did the artwork for Rise to Dominate in less than a week. What was that like?
What a fucking trip it was. I almost had a fucking heart attack every night for 6 days straight. After I did the artwork for Bleeding the False, I told the guys that I won't do this shit again, ever. And when it was time for this album, we did hire an artist who painted the cover and put together a layout for it. He sure did, and he did a great job The only thing was that it just didn't feel right for us. When we were looking at the cover, it felt so wrong and NOT Aeon at all. I was trying to convince myself that it would work.
But a week before the album was going to print, I totally panicked and realized that I/we couldn't live with this artwork. So I asked Metal Blade how long a time I would have if I wanted to create a completely new cover, artwork, and layout. The answer: 6 days. 6 stinking days. I just had to give it my best shot. So I was working my ass off for 6 nights. And since I had to take of my daytime job as well, insomnia was a fact. But in some strange way, I managed to pull it off, and it turned out pretty cool despite the utterly shitty time frame I had to deal with.
What tools did you use?
A Canon EOS 350D camera, some royalty free stock photos, and Adobe Photoshop.
Do you do other artwork or graphic design?
I have done a couple of other album artworks before this, like our previous album Bleeding the False, Sanctification's Misanthropic Salvation album, and Souldrainer's First Row in Hell CD. And some other demo CD artwork as well. Otherwise, it's just hobby artwork stuff and some web design.
What was it like mixing and mastering with Dan Swanö?
It was the easiest thing I have ever experienced when it comes to getting something mixed/mastered. He was so damn professional. We sent him the whole project on DVD-R's and gave him a couple of CD titles that we thought had a killer production, just so he had something to refer to. He started to mix the damn thing for a couple of days, and then he was mailing us some preview mixes. We told him what we didn't like and he changed it and sent a new mix and so on. About 10 days later, he was finished and we had a killer mix/master on our hands. Completely satisfied! I hope we will work with him again in the future.
Aeon are from a city called Östersund. What is your hometown like? Is there a metal scene there? All I know is that the city hosts biathlon championships.
It's a small little town in the middle of Sweden. The metal scene here is pretty good. There are some quality bands here with really talented musicians. However, there is a lot of inbreeding in the bands. But that's a typical small town problem, I guess. I hate sports… I almost didn't know we were hosting biathlon championships, hahahaha. Fuck biathlon, they'd better get a guitar or some shit like that instead.
When I visit Sweden, I must eat ____.
Surströmming (a stale fish that reeks really bad that people here eat – I sure as hell don't).
When I visit Sweden, I must drink ____.
Norrlands Guld (Swedish beer that tastes like shit).
Any last words?
Thanks for taking your time reading this interview. Take care.