Although The Contaminated Void. the debut release from Relapse recording artist Coldworker is not due to hit the shelves in the United States until after the first of 2007, there’s already a considerable buzz surrounding the record.
Coldworker was formed by ex-Nasum drummer Anders Jakobson in January of 2006 and from there, things have moved at lightening speed, as Jakobson recruited members of Relentless, Carnal Grief and Ruin, assembling the latest big thing to hit the Swedish Death Metal scene and in short order, writing and recording the band’s anticipated debut, along with inking the deal with Relapse Records.
Describing the band as grinding Death Metal, the quintet (fronted by the suitably aggressive upstart belter, Joel Fornbrant) will certainly appeal to those who appreciate a substantial degree of extremity along with their listening entertainment. Jakobson speaks to Digital Metal about the rapid rise of Coldworker and its earthmoving debut…
Your debut album is entitled The Contaminated Void. What particular significance does this title bear in relationship to the music on the album?
The title really hasn’t much to do with the music, but it could be used as a sum up of the lyrical themes on the album. We’ve made a decision to write about the dark side of man, the psychopathology. And the sort of psyche we try to explore and describe in our lyrics could be considered as a contaminated void.
What was it about the new project that most caught the attention of Relapse?
It’s hard to me to answer on behalf of Relapse, as this question should be asked to them really, but I guess they saw some sort of potential in the rough instrumental tracks they signed us on. Let me quote one employee who wrote me this regarding our rough tracks: “All of it was really aggressive and impassioned and most importantly well-thought out and executed. That's very rare in hardcore and metal these days and to hone in on that so early-on in the bands progression is really exciting to hear.” So I guess that’s it!
Recording for the new album commenced on 06/06/06, a most auspicious date in the minds of many metalheads. Do you think that getting started on the so-called “heavy metal holiday” gave you some sort of supernatural advantage?
Ha-ha, I had already forgotten that we started on that date, so much for any supernatural advantage, then. No, it was just a funny coincidence that we started on that particular date, and in reality we sort of started on the 5th as I was sound checking the drums on that date.
The debut was actually recorded in a very short period of three weeks, but those weeks were very intensive. Being that Coldworker is still a relatively young group in comparison to most, how did you find the energy and enthusiasm to throw down so much material in such a short period of time?
Finding energy and enthusiasm was our least problem – this band is filled with creative minds so we work fast and effective producing our material. We rehearsed a lot before starting the recording and while in the recording process everything went very smooth and easy. Everything about this band so far has been very smooth and easy.
Dan Swanö was tapped for the mixing of the new record. Although the reason that Swanö was chosen is obvious, what is it specifically about his work that made him the right person for this important task?
It wasn’t much of a choice really. I’ve known Swanö for 15 years or something like that and we’ve worked together many times in the past. He’s helped me setting up my recording equipment and 50% of his profession these days is to mix albums. Our idea was to keep the costs down by doing the recording ourselves and saving all the money for the mixing and mastering. I’ve heard parts of his latest mix jobs and I’ve heard the sources for his mixes and consider the really bad quality of the source material, we could really prepare our recording so everything was tracked in the right way to make his work easy. I mean, the rough mixes we made right after everything was recorded were almost good enough to release, so he had really good stuff to work with.
You went for a really huge sound on the album, with plenty of multi-tracking. When coupled with the signature Swanö mixing work, what is it that most stands out about this record sound-wise?
Well, we aimed for a good sound and the multi-tracking wasn’t really that extensive compared to what other bands do. I think what stands out is that we’ve gotten a good production considering the conditions. We tracked everything in our rehearsal room on a little laptop with a few preamps and a good set of mikes and I think the final result sort of proves that you don’t have to spend five or six figure amounts in an expensive studio to make a good sounding album.
It seems that you were all very comfortable in the studio. Do you feel that making this record on your own terms ended up in a better overall result?
Since it was our rehearsal room it wasn’t really that different from rehearsing, and of course that is quite a comfortable feeling. We decided to do it this way because we knew that the equipment we had would be good enough to do a real recording. It was also important for us to feel safe during the recording and not be under the well-known pressure a real studio brings, where every minute costs something. So for this particular record it was the right thing to do and it certainly affected the final result, but I can’t say today that we’ll do it all over again with the next album.
Which of the individual tracks on the record do you feel are most representative of the overall sound of Coldworker? In turn what track in particular do you feel is the bands most experimental?
It’s hard to say because even if I feel that we’ve sort of found our sound, we are still developing it and exploring our options, but I guess that tracks like “The Interloper”, “D.E.A.D.” and “A Custom-made Hell” where there are lots of different things going on could be representative for the band. From our sound’s point of view I guess that “Return to Ashes” would the most experimental one as it’s an all heavy, slow song, that’s really cool in my opinion.
The artwork for the record, both the CD and LP, looks fantastic. How much planning and effort went into making this excellent presentation? What can you tell us about the concept behind the album’s artwork and how it’s related to the music that fans will be hearing?
The artwork is all the genius work of Orion Landau at Relapse, we had very little to do with it. Our instructions were very brief: we wanted a light cover both color- and content-wise, and preferably something special. Orion got that and the lyrics to work from. The result was a stunning idea about positive and negative space constructed through combinations of silhouettes and disturbing collages. Orion has pinpointed a few of the lyrical themes and transformed them into images well worth some sort of award. It feels quite great to have such a classy cover on the first release, especially in these times where the concept of albums doesn’t exist anymore among the kids.
To date, Coldworker doesn’t have a great deal of live experience as a unit, having played your first gig in June ’06. You’ll be venturing out with Arch Enemy and Path Of No Return on the “CloseUp Made Us Do It Tour,” which will take you through Sweden and Denmark. How will you cope with this opportunity to prove yourself as a live act?
Well, as you said, it’s an opportunity for the band to slide into the touring world, a world that most of the members have yet not experienced. It’ll be a mostly relaxed tour, as it’s in Sweden to 90% and it’s quite short, so it’ll be a really good training for the band as a touring act. We have lots to work on as a live band so this will be very good for the band.
Originally, some of the tracks on the record were intended to come out as sounding a little more hardcore. Why was gravitating toward a more metal-oriented sound the best possible decision you could have made for the music of Coldworker?
As we wrote more and more songs, and while all of the members contributed to the overall sound, it became evident that a dominating death metal sound was what was best for the band, and what felt most natural to do. So we looked back on our earliest tracks and reworked them slightly to just even out the overall feel of the songs. It would have been strange to have more hardcoreish songs mixed in with the really metal sounding tracks. To sum it up: it took a little while to get the hang of the Coldworker sound.
No matter what, this debut is guaranteed to turn a lot of heads when it’s finally unleashed. Do you expect that a lot of people will be surprised when the record drops?
Unless they haven’t downloaded it after the writers have leaked it (Jakobson says cynically), they are in for a – well, perhaps not a surprise – but to say the least a quite strong debut album. I am very satisfied with the album – with my drumming and the other guys playing, the songwriting and the production, so hopefully it will be well received.
What do you feel Coldworker will add to the long-standing legacy of Swedish Death Metal? Is it your goal to make Coldworker one of the largest names in this highly competitive and well-respected metal scene? If so, how do you aim to achieve that goal?
I think it’s quite impossible to start a band with such a goal. We just want to write, record and perform kick ass songs – world domination isn’t really in our plans… I don’t even know who should be called the biggest death metal band in the world, which makes it hard to join the competition. I don’t even like to compete, so I guess we’ll try to do our thing as good as we can and not have any other goals that just keep on getting better at being ourselves.
With the European release date set for November and the US issuance of The Contaminated Void expected after the first of the year, your anticipation must be tremendous. Coupled with the excitement of being such a new act and having gained so much ground in such a short time, how do you deal with all of the pressure?
Right now we only want people to get hold of the album! It’s quite frustrating that the US release is NEXT YEAR, but the reasons have been explained to me and of course been accepted, but I think that the vinyl loving Americans will have the chance to get the album this year. To answer the question – I wouldn’t really say that I feel any pressure at this point. People don’t know what to expect and we feel that we’ve made a great album so we don’t have anything to worry about right now.