It has just happened so that Sweden is mostly known either for some completely poppish acts, or on the contrary for its Death and Black Metal scene. But any rule has an exception, and the band in question is exactly that - the Umea-based Nocturnal Rites stand for the ideals of true old-school heavy metal. The Rites have been around for over 10 years now, but, as luck would have it, so far have not been able to make it to the top league. This situation is likely to change pretty soon though, at least the Swedes' latest 'Shadowland' has all the potential to up the band where they deserve to. This was the reason for us to talk to the band's leader Fredrik Mannberg.
MetalKings.com: Hello, how is it been going?
Nocturnal Rites: So far so good, can't complain.
MetalKings.com: Have you been playing some sort of a gig tonight?
Nocturnal Rites: Not tonight, we had a gig… (pauses) let's see… last Saturday.
MetalKings.com: We are a bit late in doing this interview, basically for the reason that some albums tend to reach Russia later than the rest of the world. But anyways better late than never, so let's proceed with the questions. Nocturnal Rites have been in the biz for over 10 years, releasing five albums so far, however the press coverage and the promotion honestly could have been better. But at the same time the new album has already received a massive positive response from both fans and press worldwide, so do you feel that this might be the start of a new era?
Nocturnal Rites: I hope so yeah, we are very, very satisfied with this album.
MetalKings.com: How is it been doing sales-wise, I mean so far its been two months already?
Nocturnal Rites: Oh, I have no idea.
MetalKings.com: Also one thing that I have noticed with this album, is that is has a very strong Manowar vibe to it - was that intended and were they a major inspiration for you?
Nocturnal Rites: I do listen to Manowar, but they were not really an inspiration for this album. For our second album, probably.
MetalKings.com: Classic metal have been pretty much undeservingly forgotten for the past few years, and I am not talking about speed power melodic metal, but more of the, you know NWOBHM sound. Do you think that the genre has a chance to regain it's positions?
Nocturnal Rites: No, I don't think so. Although I do hope that it will be gaining more fans eventually over the years.
MetalKings.com: Who did the cover for the record and what is it supposed to symbolize?
Nocturnal Rites: Actually it's a guy from Russia who made it.
Nocturnal Rites: Ha-ha, yes. Let's see his real name is… wait… Nikolai Simkin. And the reason why we chose this guy from Russia is firstly because we like his works, we wanted to have him and it turned out to be very-very good. We sent him a pencil sketch, like an idea, and then he made it. (ed: In fact the guy's name is Leo Hao and he also did the artworks for a mega-popular Russian act Aria. Nikolai Simkin is simply his artistic agent).
MetalKings.com: Was he doing any artwork for any other bands?
Nocturnal Rites: Yes, I think so. But I don't know whom, I've seen his paintings on the Internet you know.
MetalKings.com: Also you have worked with a new producer this time, who has previously worked with bands like Strapping Young Lad and Meshuggah, which is quite a change. So how was the experience.
Nocturnal Rites: Yeah, that's correct. Well, everything is a new experience and when we first went there… Like we were recording four albums here in our hometown and we wanted to start something new, and for the new Nocturnal Rites album we wanted both melodic and hard sound. And we liked the stuff he did with Meshuggah, and he also jumped at the idea, cause he wanted to produce a heavy metal band. So it was the first time for him as well.
MetalKings.com: I was browsing through your site today, and didn't find any lyrics for the new album, so you will have to tell me.
Nocturnal Rites: The lyrics follow the same line as the old lyrics. They are dark lyrics about nightmares and strange times that can pass, about life behind the Universe, but anyways you will have to ask the guy who wrote them. But at least that's the impression that I have gotten.
MetalKings.com: You went through quite a few lineup changes in your history, how did that affect the development of the band?
Nocturnal Rites: You know, it's hard to say because it was me and our bass-player who kept this flame burning. And I guess changing the drummers and guitar players, of course when you have new members they have their own personal fire, and we finally found Johnny on vocals, who is a good singer and a very nice guy, and the drummer - Ulver - is also very nice, so everything is just perfect at the moment. Well it has been perfect since the previous album. But then you never know what to expect from the next album. Right now I hope that the whole band will stick together cause this is the first time we use the same lineup for two straight albums so I hope it keeps going like that.
MetalKings.com: By the way, do you miss singing yourself?
Nocturnal Rites: Yeah, but we used to play death metal in the beginning, you know.
MetalKings.com: The title of the album - Shadowland - what is that supposed to mean?
Nocturnal Rites: Actually it's form the song title. We had different opinions about the album title, we wanted a short name, because the first album and the second album had very long names. And we had other variants before, and we didn't know which one to choose, and we had this song called Shadowland and the drummer thought that this was a good concept. So we chose that.
MetalKings.com: Is this pretty much where the Earth is headed right now in your opinion?
Nocturnal Rites: Like on the front cover there is the dark side and the light side. But I think people should get their own idea of what it means. You know like read the lyrics and figure it out.
MetalKings.com: Okay, now let's shift to our traditional stupid questions. Imagine that you are sitting in a small pizza restaurant in Chicago. When suddenly you are approached by an Italian-looking guy, who is a representative of one of the mafia clans and he starts to have a problem with you - how you gonna handle it?
Nocturnal Rites: Actually I think while we would have been sitting there I think we probably could have had a few beers and we would be a bit drunk at that moment. So first I think we would laugh, it's gonna be like a funny situation, but after a while if we noticed he would be getting angrier and angrier… Actually I don't know how to handle it, I think we could try to be nice and try to calm him down, and maybe try to get out of there as fast as possible.
MetalKings.com: While you are sitting in the same restaurant more trouble ensues and you get a huge plate of pasta, start eating and you find a plastic bag with a handgun in it - obviously brought to you by mistake. What you gonna do?
Nocturnal Rites: It's a hard situation. We'd probably be very scared after being approached by this mafia guy attacking us, and then finding a gun, so we'd probably try to run away from the whole situation.
MetalKings.com: Another extreme situation: you personally get caught by a small African tribe who see a white guy for the first time in their lives and most naturally they proclaim you their god - how would you deal with that situation?
Nocturnal Rites: Oh, of course I would be happy to be around, especially if they are nice to me. So if I was treated as their god… You know, I think I would be a nice god, I wouldn't be angry and stuff, I would be nice to them.
MetalKings.com: The god of what would you be?
Nocturnal Rites: I don't know. I can only promise you, I would be nice…
MetalKings.com: So what is your final statement?
Nocturnal Rites: I hope we can play in Russia some day, although naturally it's up too the promoter to decide. But we will never stop playing metal cause our hearts are going for it.
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