Being called the love child of JUDAS PRIEST and hit songwriter Desmond Child, Swedish horror-themed metal band, CARNAL AGONY, recently released their sophomore album, “Back from the Grave” on 10 July 2020. We had the chance to talk to guitarist Mathias Wallin about the new album. Read the complete interview here.
Hi there! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. How are you doing?
Hi Tuonela Magazine and thank you for your interest in CARNAL AGONY! I am doing great, the album is being released today and the reception so far has been overwhelming. To top it off, it is my birthday so things are dandy!
Sweet! Happy birthday. You are releasing your new album, “Back From the Grave,” on 10 July 2020. How are you feeling about the upcoming release?
We are very eager to hear people’s reactions to the album. We are very proud of what we’ve achieved with the record and it is one that we ourselves would love to hear. We hope that you who are reading this will agree!
For those who are not familiar yet with CARNAL AGONY, can you briefly introduce your band?
We’ve been around for about ten years and released our debut album “Preludes & Nocturnes” in 2014. Since then a couple of the guys have started families, moved to other cities, or gotten new work, so we’ve made some line-up changes. The core, however, remains and a few years ago, we decided that there were too few great new albums being made nowadays and we thought, why not make our own? The kind you’d like to chant along to with your friends on a muddy festival field!
How would you describe your sound to people who haven’t heard your music before?
We’ve been described as the bastard child of JUDAS PRIEST and hit songwriter Desmond Child and it is a fitting summary of what we sound like. Melodic, heavy, and power metal spiced up with some 80s flavor. Top that off with some ALICE COOPER-like horror themes and you’ve got the CARNAL AGONYsound!
This is your sophomore album; what lessons did you learn from your debut album? How does “Back from the Grave” differ from “Preludes & Nocturnes?”
I am still proud of “Preludes & Nocturnes.” In retrospect, the album suffered from too many ideas crammed into the playing time, which probably confused the listeners. We had power metal songs, thrash metal songs, and even death metal influences on that album. They still exist in the back of my head but for this record, we decided what was our unique selling point, which we feel is our sense of melody combined with heavy riffing. We also took the horror theme from some of our songs on the debut and elaborated on that to create the image of “Back from the Grave.”
How do you usually write songs? Is it a collaborative effort or is there one main songwriter?
I write all music and lyrics, from guitars to keyboards to drum patterns, but we are all involved in the process of developing the songs, giving feedback on what works and what doesn’t, plus of course adding our own personal flair to our respective instruments and vocals.
You have quite a campy style in your songs, lyrics, and also aesthetics; is this somewhat important in your band’s identity?
Some people might think that campy is an insult, but I take it as a compliment! I think that it is important to not take yourself too seriously when you play the kind of melodic metal that we do. I think the best art is created when you feel a connection between the music, the vocal delivery, and the visual and lyrical image, so that’s what we’ve been striving for. I hope you think we’ve succeeded in that endeavor!
What are your main inspirations? I somehow envision those classic 80s horror movies to be a bit part of your inspiration sources for the lyrics?
You are spot on with that observation! I enjoy reading a lot and based a lot of my previous lyrics on literature like H.P Lovecraft, John Milton, and Edgar Allan Poe so that kind of wording is still present in my writing, but in order to fit with the music, I’ve rather turned to movies like the “Evil Dead” series (best movies ever?) and “Nightmare on Elm Street” for inspiration. Listening to the music and reading the lyrics should ideally paint the image of a movie soundtrack in your mind!
Some of the lyrics have a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek element in there. Is it important for you to keep the lyrics somehow a bit lighter by using things like humor?
Absolutely. If we’d been dead serious, like some of the lyrics on the first album, it would have been a strange mix. To hear political statements or CANNIBAL CORPSE -like stories to melodies like those on “Werewolf of Steel” would probably be absurd or fun, but not necessarily great. I also particularly enjoy the mix of brutal imagery and humor, it creates a welcome respite from the otherwise so-serious world.
What are some of your favorite songs on the album and why?
This is like being asked to pick out your favorite children! It also changes from day to day, but one that I hold very dear is “Luna” since it is the first ballad I’ve written and it also has a stylistic difference from the other tracks. It is still a horror story but without the tongue-in-cheek feeling, since that wouldn’t work with the sad and folksy mood of the music. It would be a great wedding waltz for a metal couple! Other than that, I am fond of the ACCEPT-like riffing and Max Martin-like chorus of “The Cellardoor” and the different layers of guitars and melodies in “Love Will Tear You Apart.”
Due to the global pandemic, touring doesn’t seem to be an option anymore for an unforeseeable amount of time. A lot of bands have organized live streams – is this something that CARNAL AGONY is also interested in?
We are definitely interested in letting people watch us perform our music in any way possible. Festivals, small venues, or live streams are all viable options! Our main focus right now will be playing live 2021 as we are a fairly new band and we think it is important for us to let people have the full CARNAL AGONY-experience up close and personal the first time they see us.
Lastly, do you have any thoughts you would like to share with your fans/our readers?
Thank you for reading this and if you like your metal with a dose of melody be sure to check out “Back from the Grave!” We hope to see you live once we’ve vanquished the evil Corona-beast. Take care!
Interview by Laureline Tilkin