Where Sleeping Gods Dwell

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Listen, I know we haven’t done an interview in a few years. But I thought I’d dip my toes back in the interview well and see what happens. And what better place to start than one of the year’s best Swedish death metal offerings from the multinational act, Abscession. I love me some Swedish death metal, and these guys are pretty much near the top of the peak for the genre.

8 years ago they released, Grave Offerings, an excellent debut album, with some killer songs and arguably one song, “Gargoyle” that’s one of the best in the style I’ve heard in the last few years. But then silence for 8 years. However, this fall the band finally released a follow-up, Rot of Ages on Transcending Obscurity Records, one of our favorite labels here at TOTD.  I fired off a few questions to vocalist Thomas Clifford, who was kind enough to reply back very promptly and give some interesting and insightful answers….

So let’s get the boring stuff out of the way lol, tell us about the forming of Abscession and when /how you guys decided to get together. it looks like all three of you are /were involved in multiple other projects.

Actually, a bunch of us used to frequent the Ultimate Metal forums back in the 2000’s and for some reason, Michael and Markus started working on a tribute to Dan Swano after he got the boot from Bloodbath. They asked several vocalists to perform on the track they wrote (which is still up on YouTube I think). I was one of those vocalists, and after the track was done, we decided to keep going. We released our debut EP Death Incarnate in 2009 I think. It was a tape-only release which wasn’t a very popular medium back then… Still, it sold out and is now pretty hard to find. Sometime after, Michael dropped out but me and Markus kept going, adding another Markus on drums and some guest artists here and there. Since we’re so spread out we all have other bands both locally and in other constellations. Abscession is a project that we keep working on in the background which means the process is very slow. Still, we take it seriously and see it as one of our main musical outlets.

Some of you are in Sweden, and Markus is in Germany- what are the challenges of a multinational lineup when it comes to writing and recording?
Funny story – we’ve played together for 12 or 13 years now and we’ve actually never met in real life. So that’s weird. But we’re so used to it now. Markus still feels like one of my closest friends. But we’ve been so used to texting since our days on the UM forums that we actually had never even talked on the phone until maybe a year ago or so. As for the production stuff, it all works out since we have our respective home studios and Markus is a professional studio guy. So mostly it’s good, but we do miss rehearsing and exchanging ideas in the heat of the moment.

Other than the last year with lockdowns/ pandemics etc are three any benefits to this band structure?

As a vocalist, it’s actually very nice to be able to take my time recording the vocals instead of rushing through them because you’re in an expensive studio and only have a day or two to nail everything. And since we’re already spread out we’re not stuck having to find guest artists in our area. They can join in from wherever.

So it’s safe to say Abscession is not a touring band?

Well yes, but we’ve talked about it a lot. If we could get a few festival gigs or a EU tour we could make it work. So we’ll see what happens in the future. I would love to rip out our songs for a live audience!

It’s been 8 years since Grave Offerings, why the long gap? (though it was totally worth it)

Well mostly it’s because we write stuff in between other stuff, but it’s also been a two year wait for the album to come out. So it’s been done for a good long while, but the pandemic messed everything up, especially for our label who got struck with some bad times in India.

How do you feel the band has grown in that 8-year gap?

I think we’re all better musicians and with a clearer idea of what Abscession should be. The music is both more ferocious and more atmospheric/melodic at the same time.

The Adam Burke artwork for Rot of Ages is particularly striking, almost has a classic art feel, what were you going for with the artwork, and what is the link to the rot of ages album title?

Actually, the artwork was already done. I spoke to Adam about creating a piece of art for us and he sent me a list of stuff he had ready for licensing. I thought that’s not what we want but I browsed through it anyway. And man, when I saw this piece of art called “Consequatur” something just clicked. This was the one! It had just the perfect feel, like a bizarre fever dream or nightmare. The beautiful execution contrasts with the wrongness of the scene somehow. So we licensed it straight away and have never regretted it once.

When can we expect a part 2 to the ten-minute epic,” Downfall pt 1″ that ended Grave Offerings?  it wasn’t on Rot of Ages?

Hah, good question! I’ve been waiting to see if someone would notice this. As for the answer, the general outline for Downfall part 2 was actually written long before Rot of Ages. But we felt that it didn’t fit on the second album so… Who knows what comes next!

Obviously, there is Entombed and Dismember influences in your sound, what are other influences fans might be surprised to know?

I doubt it’s surprising that we are both fans of Edge of Sanity. More surprising (for both of us too) is that we are huge fans of Fields of the Nephilim. I think their dark ambiance has affected us to some degree when it comes to creating atmospheric stuff. Markus is into a lot of folky stuff and some progressive music (as am I). And I’m into everything from AOR to black metal so I guess we just shove a wide load of influences into our creative process.

If you had to pick one band from the great history of Swedish metal, what would you pick?

That’s easy: Edge of Sanity. No other Swedish band has influenced me as much, especially with Dan Swano’s multiple other projects delving into prog rock, AOR, goth rock, etc. It has opened my eyes to a lot of great music. Tack Kulan!

And to follow up, you have to pick one song…

That would be “Crimson” by Edge of Sanity. A 40-minute track encompassing death metal, blackened metal, progressive, goth rock and blends it to perfection. Masterpiece!

How was it making the jump from final gate to Transcending Obscurity, one of the more popular growing, and respected labels out there for death metal?

Well Kunal at TO is a great guy and he really puts out a lot of amazing stuff, so he has built up a following of fans that check out most of his releases. So that’s a big thing, having the TO community as a platform for reaching out. And of course, the sheer amount of merch, colored vinyl, and other options are amazing.

At the same time, it’s been pandemic times so we haven’t really seen the label go at full steam, and it’s been frustrating as hell at times. But that’s not on Kunal and his team, it’s just the world gone to shit. Hopefully, we’re out of it now!

What can we expect next from Abscession?

Hopefully sooner than 8 years from now! The outline is done but a lot of work remains. I am currently writing lyrics and finding vocal patterns, then we’ll do some necessary cutting and rewrites. But with other things stealing our time I think it will be at least another year before we’re done with that… Time will tell!

Abscession on Facebook

Transcending Obscurity Records


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