Prior to the release of DYNAZTY’s newest album, “The Dark Delight,” (out 3 April 2020 through AFM Records), we took the opportunity to talk with vocalist Nils Molin about the record, dove into some of the songs and themes, and discussed what it takes to be a musician. Read the entire interview below.
Hello Nils, how are you doing?
Pretty good, considering the state of the world at the moment. Enjoying some time off touring in a while.
How would you describe the last couple of years for the band?
Hard work and lots of developments. We didn’t exactly rest on our laurels going from the “Firesign” album into “The Dark Delight.” Last year we were writing and recording in between touring. Basically a non-stop year, but one where we wrote the best album we’ve done so far.
Now that the release date for “The Dark Delight” is approaching, how are you feeling? Are you relieved, excited, exhausted…?
Once the album was finished, there was a sense of exhaustion after so much work was put into it. But not for long. Excitement takes over and releasing the album is the highlight of making an album.
Unfortunately, the world is in a very strange place right now with this coronavirus outbreak where entire countries are in lockdown. We’ve had to postpone our touring for April which is really sad. Though the album will be out as scheduled, and I believe music can be a really helpful source of strength in these times.
The singles released so far sound very fresh and exciting, albeit with a certain 80s vibe to “Heartless Madness” and a bit even to “Waterfall,” while “Presence of Mind” is melodic and heavy. What made these songs fitting singles, since most everything on the album could be a potential single?
Choosing singles for this album was a near-impossible task. There are lots of other songs that would have been just as viable for singles.
We wanted to strike a balance with the singles, and I think these three songs complement each other well and give people an idea of what the overall album will be like.
And speaking of “Waterfall,” the video seems to deal with depression, drinking, and loneliness/isolation. How far off the mark am I in my interpretation?
Actually it’s quite far. It’s more about determination. Breaking free of a destructive or hurtful environment or path with conviction.
The idea for the video is actually drawn from a personal experience with me actually sitting in a hotel room shower with a bottle of wine, making up my mind to break out of something I found to be detrimental in my life. I wrote the lyrics for “Waterfall” about that, and what would be more fitting for the video than to use the actual source of inspiration.
As far as I can tell, “The Dark Delight” feels like a combination of “Titanic Mass” and “Firesign” in terms of heaviness and melody. What can you tell me about the album from a musical standpoint?
That’s a pretty valid point. “Firesign” was probably a less “metallic” album than “Titanic Mass,” and with “The Dark Delight” we’ve sort of fused the elements of the two, while adding others.
We did not have a particular game plan with the album besides writing a strong and dynamic album.
While you produced the album yourselves, you also worked with Jacob Hansen (AMARANTHE, VOLBEAT, CYHRA, ANUBIS GATE) for the mixing process. Was there a certain sound you wanted to have on this album?
The kind of sound we’ve always sought after. A huge natural sound. Which is what Jacob Hansen does best. He is one of the very best working in rock/metal today and we could not be happier with the result.
On the day “Firesign” was released, you took to Instagram and stated that the album “contains my strongest vocals to date, as well as my/our strongest songwriting! Proud of this one!” By comparison, how do you feel about “The Dark Delight?”
Exactly the same (laughs)! My strongest vocals to date, as well as my/our strongest songwriting. And I’m very proud of this one. AGAIN!
In all seriousness though, I really do feel that and I’m very proud of the fact that we manage to one-up ourselves with each album we make.
You show a great deal of versatility with your vocals. What vocal lines were the most challenging and which were the easiest to record?
Usually when you record a full album, there will always be a day or moment when your head is so tired after so many hours and days of recording, that whatever song you are recording at that particular time will be difficult. One such moment was when I got completely stuck while recording a song called “The Shoulder Devil,” which is by far one of the easiest on the album. My head was just so tired that I couldn’t get anything right (laughs). Then what happens is, you take a break and then you go in and smash the song in 20 minutes.
You have very beautiful and intellectual lyrics on your albums covering a lot of different themes and situations (for example: “Free Man’s Anthem,” “My Darkest Hour,” “Presence of Mind.”) What are some of the main lyrical themes of the album?
Some of the overall and recurring themes are self-reflection, self-improvement, and the search for redemption. But the main one, exemplified by the title track, “The Dark Delight,” is temptation and the negative and positive consequences of indulging in whatever delights might tempt you. Overall I try to strike a balance between positive and uplifting -themed lyrics with darker and more introspective ones.
Let’s talk more in-depth about the music on the album, and let’s start with “Paradise of the Architect,” which has this bombastic, symphonic sound to it. It actually makes me think of EPICA’s big, majestic sound. How did this one come together?
I think “Paradise of the Architect” is in many ways a spiritual successor to some of our earlier songs like “Starlight,” “The Human Paradox,” “Roar of the Underdog,” etc. Fast-paced, heavy, but very melodic at the same time. Since that style was more or less absent on the “Firesign” album, we wanted to bring it back in style for this one. So hence we wrote “Paradise of the Architect.”
Next, the surprise of the album – “The Road to Redemption” with its western, country flavor. Personally, I love the fact that you experiment with different sounds and different genres, but how do you think fans will react to it?
My personal philosophy about songwriting is that you need to follow your heart and not overthink possible reactions too much. It will cloud your judgment and halt your inspiration. Therefore our policy is more or less, if we like whatever experimental curveball in terms of sound that we are working on, we will continue with it.
“The Road To Redemption” is a track I loved from the start simply because it’s very inspired and has a sense of uniqueness to it that is hard to come by. With that said, I’m positive that other people will appreciate that kind of experiment just as we do.
Another interesting track is “The Man and the Elements” with its Scottish/Celtic sound. Did you actually use bagpipes for this one? How did you produce those sounds?
Nope, there are no real bagpipes there (laughs). It’s just guitars layered with synthesizers making it sound like there could be bagpipes in there somewhere. The Celtic feel is very real though, which is another element present in earlier songs like “Ascension” and “Titanic Mass,” this time though, we took it a few steps further.
For “From Sound to Silence” you collaborated with GG6 (AMARANTHE’s Henrik Englund), and the dynamic between him and yourself is very well balanced. How did this collaboration come to be?
Henrik knows all the guys in DYNAZTY and loves the band. We always talked about him making an appearance at some point. Once “From Sound to Silence” was written, there was a suitable song for it. I love the chemistry between his growls and my harsher kind of vocals, and in this song, they freakin’ soar together like never before. The final chorus is gold with the trade-offs.
What do you hope fans will take away from the album?
Twelve tracks to listen to for the rest of their lives (laughs). Nah, I hope they find it a very dynamic album with lots to love regardless of which DYNAZTY era you prefer.
What about the last album? Which songs from “Firesign” had surprising fan reactions?
My predictions were pretty much on point. I’m not surprised that “In the Arms of a Devil” would be a fan favorite, for example, despite it not being released as a single.
You use a lot of synths/keyboard melodies in your music, especially on “Firesign” and “The Dark Delight.” Will you add a keyboard player to the band or will you continue with this line-up?
There is no one keyboard player that could play all our keyboards (laughs). In all seriousness, no. We will not add a keyboard player, unless we would want to perform with piano at some point. Jonathan [Olsson]’s brother is an absolutely amazing pianist/keyboard player. We would use him.
DYNAZTY is scheduled to tour Europe with SERENITY and AD INFINITUM in April. In light of this whole COVID-19 pandemic, will the tour still happen as planned or will it be postponed/canceled?
That tour is postponed for now, unfortunately. Not much we can do at this point. The world is upside down at the moment.
With seven studio albums under your belt (including “The Dark Delight”), how difficult is it to create a setlist, and how good of an indicator are streaming numbers in this case? Are popular songs also the best hits live?
In my opinion, you cannot simply go by streaming numbers when making a setlist. You need to look at creating a dynamic set, which songs trade-off each other, how to raise the tempo and how to lower it, etc. And in some cases, some songs simply don’t work well in a live environment despite sounding great on the album. Not because the band doesn’t play it well, but rather because in a live venue, the sound is so different from a stereo or whatever headphones you are listening with. A straight and simple groove will always work wonders in a live environment, for example. More complex grooves and patterns are more difficult to understand in a boomy venue.
Are there any plans for a live DVD in the (near) future?
At some point, yes.
What are some of the things you think people don’t understand about what it takes to be a musician? Can you shed some light on the struggles and perks of being in this industry?
I don’t think most people know how much hard work it really is. How much blood, sweat, time, and effort goes into making albums. And how tough physically, as well as mentally, it is with touring. How little sleep you get, flying from one festival to another the next day, etc. It is not uncommon to play a festival weekend with only 1-2 hours of sleep in 2 days and still having to play shows where you physically give it all you got.
Then again, it all makes sense somehow. It’s the lifestyle that I love and most likely always will.
What do you think about the way music affects people’s lives, even changing them?
It is something I can totally relate to. That’s how it’s been for me. Finding rock music as a kid changed my life forever. And has brought such color to my life. It’s a fantastic thing, really.
How would you continue the sentence “Music is…”?
In my case, a blessing and a curse (laughs).
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Nothing, but saying thanks to all our fans for all the support. And do remember to listen to “The Dark Delight” when it drops on April 3rd! A perfect thing to entertain you at home if you’re still in COVID-19 quarantine!
Interview by Andrea Crow