KING OF DOOM
It’s hard to imagine Doom Metal without the creative input of Leif Edling (aka ‘The Doomfather’). As co-founder of bands such as Krux, Abstrakt Algebra, Avatarium and especially Candlemass, the Swede’s place in the annals of traditional and epic Doom is indisputable.
The Doomsday Kingdom is the name of Leif’s new band which is debuting with an album of the same name. Born of spontaneous circumstances, the band is typically introspective and quintessentially Doom. With Leif in the band is long time friend and guitarist Marcus Jidell (Avatarium, Evergrey, Royal Hunt, Candlemass, Pain, Krux) as well as vocalist Niklas Stålvind [Wolf] and drummer Andreas Johansson [Narnia, Rob Rock, Royal Hunt].
Wanting to find out more about his new baby I grabbed my phone and after a while Mr Edling was giving me the rundown of things…..
What do you think are the strongest qualities of The Doomsday Kingdom, a band whose debut album should be released very soon?
Leif: Tomorrow actually, the album is officially out tomorrow. I think there are a bunch of pretty cool songs on the record and the production is great. The members play like demons and the style is in the vein of early Metal, which I find very attractive. The kind of Metal that I grew up with, that I love. I’m very proud of the end result. Hopefully the fans will pick up the album. Until now reviews have been really good. So so far so good.
What is your relationship with your other bands?
Leif: I only write the songs for Avatarium. We are great friends but I don’t play live with them. I don’t have any commitments with Krux because Krux is no more. Candlemass is no longer recording albums although the band is playing live without me. So really I only have 1 band and that is The Doomsday Kingdom. We’re going to release this album and I’ll take things from there. It’s only the start of my return to the scene but things are looking good.
So after the live debut at Roadburn festival (Holland) later this month will The Doomsday Kingdom be touring?
Leif: No. I cannot tour yet because of my doctor’s orders. But we will play at Roadburn, we will play at Stockholm and I’m currently booking a few gigs that we have in the pipeline for the summer. We’re going to do the Malta Doom festival and the Hammer of Doom festival of Germany. So there are a few things coming up this year but I have to take it a little bit easy because of my health. But hopefully, if everything turns out well this year, I can go full throttle next year. That is what I hope for. You know, I build my schedule slowly and hopefully next year I will be able to do maybe a hundred shows. [laughs]
I’m sure many fans will be happy to know that. Speaking about the band’s line-up, at what point did vocalist Niklas Stålvind come into the picture?
Leif: Right in the middle of it, actually. I wrote songs for almost a year and all the songs were almost all written when he joined. The guitars were there, the bass was there…..and I think there were some drums on a few tracks. He started to do his vocal overdubs pretty much in the middle of the recording process. He did a great job I think. He sings like a motherfucker throughout the album and I have admired his voice in Wolf for many years.
So you knew Niklas long before he joined the band……
Leif: Oh yes. He lives just 2 hours from Stockholm and I had met him a few times here and there…backstage at a festival, at airports and a couple of times in Stockholm. And he was very interested to sing on the record and now we’re very excited at going out to play together.
The guitar solos of Marcus Jidell seem particularly important in giving the album its character. Would you agree?
Leif: Oh yes, absolutely. I mean he plays like a demon on the record and he’s a very talented guitar player. You can also hear that in the upcoming Avatarium record. He can play like Leslie West or Ritchie Blackmore or like Jimi Hendrix. He plays like Vivian Campbell from Dio……
He’s definitely very versatile….
Leif: Yeah….I mean he’s got a good ear for music and he can play pretty much anything. Some of his solos on the record are fuckin’ amazing….such as the solo in ‘Silent Kingdom’ or the solo in ‘A Spoonful Of Darkness’. Those solos blow me away, man. And his rhythm guitar playing is also fantastic. So yeah, I think the guitars are pretty much the essence of the record. Very strong and very hard…razor sharp. Just the way you want it to be.
The album artwork contains the Latin phrase “Ad Infernum Cum Dignitate” which roughly translates as “To Hell With Dignity”. This can be taken to mean very different things. How is that phrase linked to the album and to yourself?
Leif: Well, we needed some kind of slogan on the album. The phrase can translate into a couple of things, actually. It can mean ‘To hell with dignity’ and it can also mean ‘Into death with dignity’. So keep your backs up straight as you walk towards your destiny. Or it can mean sending dignity to hell because sometimes you do what you’ve got to do, go against the rules. I think it’s a cool slogan that fits the record good and…yeah, I like it.
I’d like to ask you about lyrics of some songs that impressed me from this album…..
‘Hand Of Hell’….what is that song about?
Leif: That is about the warmongers in the world today and in the historical sense. About those that point their hands and others who follow them blindly in killing for reasons that are very unclear. There seem to be a lot of people who are willing to kill other people just because some fanatics tell them to do so. That’s what the song is about. About all the Stalins, all the Hitlers in the world, all the terrorists, the regime of North Korea…..that’s what the song is about.
[It’s ironic that just a few hours after this interview, a deadly terrorist attack took place in Stockholm, Sweden, where Leif lives.]
‘The Silence’…. how much of that song is about you personally?
Leif: ‘The Silence’ is a lot about me, how I felt when I was sick. In fact there are a couple of song on the record which are very personal. ‘The Silence’ is an accurate portrayal of how I felt. When you’re sick for a prolonged period things can get pretty difficult, remaining silent for so long. It’s not easy. The songs I wrote were my only therapy for some time but it ended up being a good record anyway. So I’m very happy about that because something good came out of my situation.
‘See You Tomorrow’ is quite an enchanting instrumental. What was going through your mind when you composed it?
Leif: It was pretty much the same thing….me being sick. I was in a particularly shitty shape when I wrote that one and the title of the track says it all. You know, a lot of people were trying to contact me and wanted me to come to dinner or go to see a show or have a beer or, you know, go and see my family, for example. And I couldn’t do it. So the title is a sort of ironic joke, me telling them “See you tomorrow” even though I knew it wouldn’t happen ‘tomorrow’ and it wouldn’t be before another couple of months or half a year that I’d see them.
You mentioned Candlemass earlier on….so won’t there be a Candlemass album with Mats Levén on vocals?
Leif: No, there won’t be any more Candlemass albums. That’s why now there’s The Doomsday Kingdom. Candlemass are doing several live gigs without me and I do The Doomsday Kingdom stuff. That’s how things are and they [the Candlemass guys] are doing fine too. I can tell you we’re going to do some Nightfall shows this summer………
In fact this year is the 30th anniversary of the release of “Nightfall” (Candlemass album), right?
Leif: Yes, absolutely. I’m going to play Sweden Rock and Wacken and a couple of other gigs and do “Nightfall” with Candlemass. That’s going to be fun and I’m looking forward to it.
Your music and lyrics always seem inspired by the esoteric, spiritual and ethereal paradigms. Where does this inclination of yours come from?
Leif: Oh….well everybody is different. Personally I’m interested in a lot of things and other people are interested in other stuff. I can’t really say where it comes from….that’s impossible. I mean I just write about the stuff I’m interested. It’s a very difficult question to answer I think and I don’t know if I can do that.
I wonder if you managed to see Black Sabbath on their recent farewell tour…..
Leif: Yes, I did see them in Stockholm about half a year ago.
And did knowing you were seeing such a hugely influential band for the last time make you thing about your own musical career and what your own swansong might be like?
Leif: Absolutely not. I mean I’ve been getting progressively better and I’m just looking forward to getting back into the full stride of things. We’re going to do a lot of gigs with Krux, not only with The Doomsday Kingdom, next year. So I’m going to be pretty busy soon.
But I can understand why Black Sabbath are quitting. They’ve been going on for a very long time, Iommi’s got cancer, Ozzy is what he is, the Bill Ward situation is what it is….so I don’t think it’s that easy for them. And of course it’s a shame that Dio had died. It would have been great to have another Heaven & Hell record out….that would have been fantastic. But it is what it is [sighs] and they have given me so many great moments. Good luck to Black Sabbath….they are the kings, you know.
Amen to that.
(Leif Edling was interviewed by Chris Galea.)