Some time ago we published the review by Troll on Axenstar first album. Well, it wasn't the most flattering review that we ever wrote, but you should know beforehand our old friend Troll. First of all, he doesn't like power metal, he prefers brutal extreme metal, just give him "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" or "Heading For Tomorrow" - he'll blow them up, though he'll recognize them… and blow up in his reviews nevertheless! Second, though he speaks cruel words, but he is professional reviewer and reviewer impartial. So it's not bad to listen to his opinion. And third, it's pretty good review from our old grumbler Troll for a debut work! But time passes by quickly and the second Axenstar album is ready. So new questions are ready as well and Thomas Eriksson (guitar) kindly answered them.
MetalKings.com: Why did you change the name of the band? POWERAGE suited really well for the style of the band.
Axenstar: Well, that's true. But we found out that there were other bands that already used that name. At least one band in Germany and one in the US. So we decided that since we hadn't recorded an album yet and were pretty unheard of, the best thing we could do was simply to change our name. Both to minimize the risk of being mistaken for one of the other bands and to avoid any possible legal problems. So we changed the band's name to Axenstar.
MetalKings.com: Can you tell us the meaning for AXENSTAR?
Axenstar: It actually has no meaning at all. It's just a made up word. You know, these days it's hard to come up with a name that means something, sounds cool and isn't already taken by another band. So we decided to make one up ourselves. It was our guitarist Peter who came up with the name, and we all thought it sounded cool and it's obviously original. So we decided to go for it.
MetalKings.com: Why you, Tomas, were not in the band from the very beginning? Did you have your own project?
Axenstar: No, I wasn't just in the mood to play in any band at that time. I had been part of many bands prior to joining Axenstar, but at that time I was kind of fed up with the whole band thing. Something worth mentioning is that I had never played in a power metal band before, I had only played thrash metal. So when my brother Magnus had been in the band for a while he asked me if I wanted to join them. I was reluctant at first, but finally decided to give it a try. And need I say that I really liked it? I got back my inspiration and motivation to play in a band again, and here we are today…
MetalKings.com: Now you are the main composer in the band. So do you feel that there are many differences in the sound before your appearance in the band and nowadays?
Axenstar: Actually, I kind of joined the band pretty fast so the band hadn't written that many songs without me. But the songs that they had written were typical power/heavy metal songs so it wasn't that much of a difference. Although our style has changed a bit from when we first started. From more heavy metal to more power metal. But that change happened during a longer period of time after I had joined the band and the line-up was as it is today.
MetalKings.com: Why you didn't include the song "Seventh Labyrinth" into the first album?
Axenstar: As I said, the style has changed a bit during these few years that we have played together. And that song sounded a little bit more like our old style, so we didn't feel that it would fit in on the album. And also it was an old song so we were pretty bored with it when the time came to choose songs for "Perpetual Twilight".
MetalKings.com: The artwork of the first release, "Perpetual Twilight" doesn't have some standard picture that are typical for epic power metal releases. Why you didn't place there mighty riders, flying dragons and wise old men?
Axenstar: We are kind of fed up with that image for power metal bands. It seems that if you play power metal you must have dragons, knights, swords and all kinds of fantasy stuff on the covers. But we think that it is really boring. Too many bands have done it, so we didn't want any fantasy stuff at all on our cover. Instead we have a cover that is not so typical for power metal bands, and I must say that we have gotten great reactions about it. Just because it isn't so typical.
MetalKings.com: Is there any concept that unit both albums?
Axenstar: No, no concept at all. Just great songs. Ha ha.
MetalKings.com: How did you succeed to sign a contract with Arise Records and do the mastering at Finnvox Studio, as you are a young band?
Axenstar: I honestly don't know really. It all happened pretty fast I guess. After we had recorded our second demo, "Promo 2001", we started to send it out to different record labels all over the world, and Arise Records was one of them. Just a couple of days later we got an answer from them that they wanted to sign a contract with us. We got some offers from other record labels as well, but the deal with Arise was by far the best deal. As for the mastering in Finnvox as well as the artwork that is made by the well-known Travis Smith, we are just thankful that Arise made it possible for us to get them. I think that they simply believe in us so much that they are willing to take some chances in order to promote us. And we couldn't be more grateful.
MetalKings.com: I have a lot of releases of Swedish power metal bands: DragonLand, StoryTeller, Supreme Majesty, Nostradameus, etc. How can I distinguish one from another, what's your major distinction and advantage?
Axenstar: As I said earlier, we don't have the typical power metal image with dragons and all that. And if you read the lyrics you won't find any fantasy themes there either. Maybe one or possibly two, but not more. So that is one major distinction. Other than that, we just try to write as good and catchy songs as we possibly can do in order to stand out from the rest of the bands. But it is hard these days with so many bands around to be recognized and not just blend in with all the others. But we work hard to do it and we'll try even harder in the future.
MetalKings.com: Where is this unusual title "Children Forlorn" taken from? And what's the story behind?
Axenstar: The lyrics deal with the issue about children that are forlorn, that is they are abandoned and forgotten. I didn't have any special children in mind when I wrote the lyrics, but in this world that we live in there are a lot of bad things happening and I think a lot of children are directly affected by it. So you can relate the lyrics to all children that evil things happen to, whether it's from war, starvation, abuse etc.
MetalKings.com: The song "Blackout" reminds me of Sonata Arctica songs. How do you think, is there any difference between Swedish and Finnish power metal?
Axenstar: Hard to say. Generally I don't think it's that much of a difference as it isn't that much of a difference between power metal bands from any countries. I mean, it's still the same genre. But if we should really narrow it down I think that Finnish bands use a lot more keyboards than the Swedish bands do. The Swedish bands have more guitar based metal I would think. But that's just my opinion. Other than that I don't see a huge difference between us. As for myself I'm a big fan of Finnish metal bands, and have many of them as a source of inspiration, so I think it's natural that "Blackout" reminds you of Sonata Arctica. We've been compared to them before. Also, I really like when there's a lot of keyboards in the music and have tried to write songs with a lot of keyboards in them. I think that's one of the main reasons why we've been compared to Sonata Arctica and other Finnish bands.
MetalKings.com: You took part in Sweden Rock Festival 2002 and that was a big step in promotion of the band. Were there any interesting offers after that? Did you meet some "idols of childhood" back stage? How are these old metal monsters treat young metal warriors?
Axenstar: Yes! It was great. Sweden Rock Festival is for me, and the rest of the guys, the highlight of the summer. I've been there the last 4 years, as audience, and it's always a really fun experience. But this time we got to play live and it was awesome. The biggest show for us so far with a couple of thousands in the audience and perfect weather. Just great. But we actually didn't meet any "idols of childhood" backstage. We just hung out with some of the smaller bands on the festival, the bigger bands had a special part of the backstage to themselves. A little bit sad, but maybe next time…
MetalKings.com: Are you going to change radically anything in the sound and concept of the next album?
Axenstar: Nothing radically. Maybe just try some new stuff here and there, experiment and try to be progressive. Simply to evolve. But it will definitely still sound as Axenstar and the power metal that we play. We just have to try to make an even better and even more interesting album than "Far From Heaven".
MetalKings.com: And the last question. What are you impressions on the Europe reunion and what's the reaction in Sweden on the news?
Axenstar: I think it's great news! Europe was an excellent band when they existed and if they are still as good who knows what the future may hold for them. As for the reaction in Sweden it's not really a big deal. I mean all the metalheads are pleased I guess, but people in general don't care that much. Metal still have a long way to go before it's something that common people can relate to.
MetalKings.com: And now your final words to the metalheads in Russia.
Axenstar: Be sure to check out our album "Far From Heaven", I think it's an album that will please almost any metalhead. And also visit our website www.axenstar.com for all the latest news and updates. Hope to see you on tour in Russia in the near future. Cheers!
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