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Out of Sweden comes black metal band Sanctifica. Their debut album entitled Spirit Of Purity was released earlier this year. The album features atmospheric black metal sounds and biting guitar tones. Bassist Jonathan Jansson tells about the recording of the album and their live-experiences.


Discography: Spirit Of Purity (2000) Available through: Sanctifica & Little Rose Productions Official website: Sanctifica   Interview by:  mpo Date: July 13th-November 23rd 2000


Earlier this year you released the album Spirit Of Purity, produced by Mick Nordström and the band. What do you think of this effort and is it kind of what you set out to achieve?

The album was recorded and mixed in just seven days. That's not very much for a full album. There are some things that could've be done better, if we had more time. But since we didn't, I guess we're quite satisfied with it.

You don't sound really convinced. How do you prepare for such a short time in the studio?

As I said, it could have been better with more time. To prepare for a short time in the studio is to rehearse, a lot! (And to bring much microwave pan pizza and gorby's) You don't really have the time to record a song over and over again to get it real tight. That was our main problem. So we had to accept small misses in the basics and go on with the rest of the song, extra guitars, vocals and stuff.

Have you been recording stuff before?

Yeah, two years before the recording of   Spirit Of Purity (October 1997), we recorded our demotape In The Bleak Midwinter. That was the first time for us in studio, but we had great help from Carl-Johan Grimmark (guitarplayer of Narnia). He heard every little hertz of mistuned guitarstrings, poor guy... I still like that demo. Unfortunately, the DAT tape got lost when we were preparing the Spirit of Purity album. I hope we'll get it back soon, at least we know who had it last.

What appeals to you the most on Spirit Of Purity? What song?

Personally, I like the song The Wanderer the most. Partly because of the clean vocals, but it's also very fun to play. The song Spirit Of Purity is also very fun to play. I think Henrik and Aron create very good songs together.

The Wanderer is one of my favorites too because of the use of clean vocals by Per Hagström which is in a nice contrast to the black metal style of vocals by lead singer Hubertus. Who is Per Hagström by the way?

Per Hagström is a friend of us, who usually does the vocals in a band called Delta. They play something like 70's hardrock (very good). Carljohan Grimmark of Narnia also played guitar with them for a while. I think most people don't expect those clean vocals right at the end of the album, when it hasn't been any until then. Am I right?

Yeah, right. Is that something the band wants to do more in the future, incorporate such elements?

Yes, actually, we are searching for a permanent member to do clean vocals in the future. Hubertus would like to concentrate more on his guitar playing and give that more room in the music, so we need someone who can do both clean vocals AND shrieking. I and Hubertus would then handle the backup vocal duties. That would give us more room to experiment with the music.

On the new album from Extol there's a picture of the band standing before a wall with figures on it. This same wall is the background of the band picture of Sanctifica used for the inlay of Spirit Of Purity. Who did this photo and where was it taken?

It was taken at an industrial area here in Jönköping. The wall was found behind a furniture shop. The sofa we're sitting in was found next to a container. It wasn't very nice to sit in since it was kinda messy by rain and i-don't-wanna-know-what! When we shot the photos, we had no idea that Extol had taken their photos there too. I mean, it's quite far away from Oslo, so who could've guessed?

What are the main influences for the band?

We take musical influences from everything. Emperor or Björk. It doesn't matter, both are great musically and very good to take influences from. I think you get influences either you want it or not, when you hear something you like. Lyrically, the main influence is life.

The music of Sanctifica has been compared with Emperor before. However, lyrically your band seems to come from a Christian background which is clear in a song like The Dark Embrace Of Night. Now black metal is sometimes referred to as "holy unblack metal" by some. What do you think of the use of that term?

I understand the term "holy unblack", since the original name of black metal was "unholy black metal". Though I think that "unblack" sound quite lame. Many people, who are not christian, claim that we cannot call our music black metal, since we are not satanic, and black metal is supposed to be. But we feel that "black metal" is just a "label" of the music, so that people could get a view of what genre it is, before they've heard it themselves. We'd rather call our music just "fast and brutal metal", or something like that. But sometimes that's not enough to tell what it's like. That's why it's called black metal by some.

The album came out through Little Rose Productions from Finland. You're also with CL Music & Publishing which is a company of Christian Liljegren, lead vocalist for Narnia. How did the deal with Little Rose come about and what is the exact relationship with CL Music & Publishing?

Christian Liljegren is the big brother of our vocalist/guitarist Hubertus. We are signed to CL Music & Publishing, and CL has the deal with Little Rose and Manu.

The coverphoto was shot by Jaako Lehtinen, a brother of Little Rose boss Manu Lehtinen. He died last year.  For what reason was that photo taken as a cover?

The reason that the photo is on the cover is that Manu thought that it would fit as our album cover and also it would be very special for Manu himself.

Did you know Jaakko personally?

No we didn't.

What do you think of the cover then as you didn't pick it yourself?

Actually, we told Manu what kind of cover we wanted, and showed him a preview of what we were thinking. Then he found that picture that his brother had taken, and saw that it was what we wanted. So, in a way, we did pick it ourselves. But he found the actual picture.

How is the feedback on the CD so far?

As far as we have heard, people seem to like it. We haven't got any negative response, except some for the production. But that is because we didn't have more time. So we only heard good stuff about the music itself.

Mmmm. The music, yes. But I've also heard that some people discharge you because of the lyrics. There was a negative review in Aardschok, a Dutch metalmagazine (sort of like Metal Hammer). How is the feedback like on the lyrical side? And what does it mean to you that some critics discharge the whole album because of its lyrics?

There are so many people not caring about the music at all if they find out that the lyrics are Christian. Like in the example you gave us. I have read so many of such reviews of christian bands. But I bought this scandinavian magazine called Metalized some days ago, and found a review of our album in there. They did not care about the lyrics in the review. They noted that we were Christian and wondered what our pastor thought of our music though, since they thought we didn't sound so happy... That's a review. "Hey, I don't care what you believe, this is about the music". Of course everyone should be allowed to have an opinion, but don't judge the music after the lyrics. Judge the lyrics separate in that case.

Earlier this year you played the Bobfest in Sweden, the Nocturnal Metal Fest in Finland as well as the DP Festival in Norway. How did people receive you on those   occasions?

I think we were well recieved at all these gigs. It was very fun, and we'd love to do it again....

Okay, if it was fun tell more!

The Bobfest was pretty much trouble. Not our show but the arrangement around it. When we came there, the location where we were supposed to be was occupied by somebody else (because no one really checked if they had booked it), so we had to play in the church main hall. And how good sound can you get when playing metal in a room made for gospel before thousands, when you play metal for a couple of hundreds? Not very good. BUT, we had Phil Powell (of Screams Of Abel Magazine, mpo) visiting from the States, and he seemed to like it, cuz we saw him sing along on the video! =)

We had never been to Finland before, especially not to play, so just that was quite exciting. And since we were the "main attraction" and people actually came from all over Finland to hear us, and sing along in our songs, that was very special for us. And afterwards, we had a real Finnish sauna in the middle of the night, before it was time to leave to head for the boat home. The show itself was maybe not the best we've done, and Daniel was actually a little sick, but the feeling of it was great.

At the DP festival we hung a big Swedish flag behind the stage to show that who's more powerful... or something. I don't really remember all about the show, apart from that it was fun.

And how's the scene over there in Scandinavia? Are there good opportunities to play live?

The scene here seems to be resting at the moment. But we have some cool gigs
to look forward to. More info about those will be at our website, when it's more secure.

And how's the contact with other bands?

I think we have pretty good contact with the other bands around this area. At least the bands with a somewhat similar music style.