Sweden’s Darkane do the whole 360, folks -- rocking in the metal Now without pissing on the best of the past.
“Demonic Art” (on Nuclear Blast) is Darkane’s first record with Jens Broman singing, and he hasn’t remade the sound that took a decade to develop; he’s expanded it. This is a band with thrash roots, which can mean no hooks if you don’t got a singer what sings. On most every number, Broman gives you something simple to remember, even piling on Queenlike harmonies on the title track, for instance. His throat rages like a man, though, never making you feel like you’re reading his daisy-stickered diary.
The feel shifts often enough to suit your attention deficit -- symphonic, courtly, grim, triumphant, dignified, foreboding, hopeless. Arabic minor chords twine around “Absolution”; a bloody slog and a gloomy church organ on the concluding “Wrath Connection” gives way to victorious double-kick overdrive.
The twin guitars of Klas Ideberg and Christofer Malmstrom make for plenty of tech flash, concise and disciplined. But after I was drawn into the subtle ride-cymbal work and musical yet furious double-kick applications of drummer Peter Wildoer -- and especially after I heard he was a jazz hound -- I knew I had to exchange a few words with him via e-mail as the band cruised through my cloudy, rainy former homeland, the Pacific Northwest. They must’ve felt at home.
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Peter Wildoer on Tony Williams: “Truly one of the greatest -- perfect time, feel and groove. Hard-hitting as well -- which I like, hee hee! I love Tony Williams’ Lifetime and also everything else he did with Miles, Herbie Hancock and so on . . . to me he had the same intensity in jazz/fusion as a metal drummer has.”
On Chris Adler (Lamb of God): “Actually, I got to know Chris a bit some years ago. He’s a fan of Darkane and he got Modern Drummer to do a short spot on me, since he mentioned me as one of his influences, so THANKS! He’s a great creative drummer with great chops. I like drummers that you know who it is when you hear them, and Chris is one of them with personality!”
On Anders Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen, Hammerfall, Jonas Hellborg): “First of all, I’ve met Anders a couple of times and he’s a very funny guy and a great storyteller, ha ha! He’s got the classic hard-rock/metal groove like the classic ones (Cozy Powell, Tommy Aldridge, Vinnie Appice . . .). Simply put, a great metal drummer.”
Were you first attracted to thrash or jazz? Do you approach thrash rhythms differently now? When did you start using that big-bell ride cymbal I see on your “Demonic Art” bonus DVD?
“I actually started out with hard rock like Kiss and Mötley Crüe, and later, when I was about 15, got into thrash and death metal. Some years later I heard Dave Weckl’s solo debut, ‘Master Plan,’ and was blown away that it sounded like a drum solo all the time -- ha ha ha! So I guess the interest in extreme metal and jazz/fusion grew at the same time. I don’t think I approach thrash rhythms differently, since the interest for thrash and fusion grew at the same time, but I love incorporating more jazz-fusion type of drumming into metal! To me, Sean Reinert (Cynic, ex-Death) does it perfectly. I started using that Meinl Heavy Bell Ride something like four years ago -- I love it! Great with a cutting bell when you play metal.”
How has your study of African and Indian rhythms influenced your playing in Darkane?
“Perhaps not directly, but the knowledge of rhythms got bigger studying those other styles. Especially some more progressive parts can be very much influenced by ‘world music.’ One of my favorite drummers is Trilok Gurtu, and he has influenced me a lot, especially what I did in a previous band called Agretator.”
Do you find an emotional expression through mathematics?
“Not so much emotional, but it goes hand in hand with musical theory. Some higher mathematics is very cool when it tends to be more philosophy -- that’s inspiring. I guess my drumming style is kind of mathematical, but I also hope it has groove and feel!”
Has Swedish state sponsorship played any part in advancing your art?
“Yes, a very big part! In Sweden, state sponsorship helps bands and musicians to get music lessons, a place to rehearse and so on. It’s very important, especially for younger musicians. I’ve been teaching young drummers for years through this system, too -- a way of giving back.
I hear a Queen influence in Jens Broman's vocal harmonies. Was that a band you paid attention to?
“Ha ha, actually no! Queen is a great band but not a band that influenced either Jens or Darkane. Christofer(guitarist/composer in Darkane) likes different voicing and harmonies, and they are not very typical metal harmonies, so perhaps that’s what makes it sound a bit like Queen?”
Do you have any impressions of Los Angeles -- the city and its metal audience?
“Yeah, we played there in late 2005, and it was great! I love the city -- I mean, it’s a huge city and I like big cities. Also the record store Amoeba Music was great -- I spent hours looking through their used CDs. I remember buying a lot of Steve Coleman (saxophone player) CDs that were out of print. If I make it to the store this time, too, I will go through their DVDs, since I didn’t have the time to do so last time I was there. I do remember that the audience was kind of hard to get going since they get to see a lot of bands I guess, but we got them going, and I hope we will make them mosh this time around too.”
If you could choose to hit any person over the head with a stick, whom would you choose? What kind of stick would you use?
“I’m not a guy-hitting person, but there is an old saxophone player that I played with in a jazz big band something like ten years ago who was an idiot, probably the only person I met in my whole life that I honestly hate, that I would love to hit with a thick 2B drum stick! Ha ha ha . . . He just thought he knew everything and was an asshole, but in the end it strengthened me having to deal with him, so in a way I should thank him for that!”
Darkane play the Key Club with countrymen Soilwork this Sunday, March 8.