SFM: Congratulations on the successful release of your new EP, “The Edge of Existence”! How would you describe the EP for those who haven’t heard it?
Markus: Thank you! I think it would be best described as thrash metal with a lot of riffs, melodies and some arrangements previously unheard in thrash metal. The album starts off with some inyourface thrash, while pulling towards longer songs with more riffs and some cleaner, slower sections towards the end.
Fredrik: Thanks a lot, man! I’d probably describe it as something like: “Crushing riffs with unique dual workouts and great melodies, aggressive vocals that might remind you of a young Mille Petrozza, blazing guitar solos stuffed with shred, melody and tasty bends and vibrato… coupled with intense drumming that offers some blast beats here and there… and some clean instrumental parts to mix it all up a little even more!”.
SFM: What do you think are the biggest differences between “The Edge of Existence” and the last EP?
Fredrik: I think the two EPs are on two whole different levels when it comes to songwriting and technical skills. Obviously, we have been working really hard on improving on both areas. Heck, we formed the band at pretty much the same time that we picked up our respective instruments, so naturally the sound of the band has evolved side by side with how we evolve as musicians and reach new plateaus. Also, in my opinion, what you hear on “Pandemonium’s Rise” is a band searching for its identity, whereas on “The Edge of Existence” I’m pretty confident that we’re pretty close to finding it.
Markus: The biggest difference in my opinion is the songwriting. On “Pandemoniums Rise” we wrote songs that we felt like writing at the time, whereas on “The Edge of Existence” we wrote songs that we had a goal for, and that we worked hard for to get every detail exactly right. We knew the kind of sound we wanted for the EP, and we wrote songs to fit that sound. And meanwhile, we worked hard to get our personal skills up to par with the sound we had in mind, and I think that shows on “The Edge of Existence.”
SFM: It’s been about two and a half years between the two releases. What has the band been up to in that time?
Fredrik: We released the first EP, “Pandemonium’s Rise”, in late 2011 and followed that up by doing promotional work for it. We went out with a bang in early 2012, did shows around Sweden and went on a minitour. During the following year we did a couple of shows here and there while working a lot on compositional and technical skills, and of course started serious work on the material that ended up on “The Edge of Existence”.
SFM: Based on my impressions of the new EP, it sounds like you guys draw a lot of influence from technical thrash bands like Coroner and Toxik, among others. What would you say are the main influences in Paranorm’s sound?
Markus: Coroner and Toxik are of course legendary bands. We draw a lot of influence from this kind of technical thrash, but at the same time, we don’t shy away from other sorts of influences, like newer kinds of death or black metal. For me personally, when I compose new music, I draw the most inspiration from new thrash bands like Vektor and Hexen.
Fredrik: Besides these bands that have been mentioned already, we also draw influences from the good old classic thrash stuff, as well as NWOBHM. Those kind of things that we grew up on, you know? But it doesn’t stop there really. Personally, I listen to a lot of different kind of rock and metal, and you pick up little things here and there, either consciously or subconsciously, that influence you in different ways.
SFM: When it comes to more technical or progressive thrash metal, Vektor seems to be mentioned more than anyone these days. How do you think Vektor has affected the popularity of this sound, if at all?
Markus: I think Vektor has done an incredible thing for thrash metal. Vektor was the first band to really take thrash to a new level in this age that we live in, which in my opinion is exactly what thrash metal needed. Obviously, Paranorm draws a lot of inspiration from this new way of viewing thrash metal. Of course, we don’t seek to mimic Vektor, but seek to find our own sound within thrash metal. There are loads of areas yet to be explored within the genre!
Fredrik: Yeah, huge props to Vektor. They really have pushed the boundaries and brought something totally unique to the table. Truly inspiring!
SFM: Historically, Sweden has managed to pump out an impressive number of extremely proficient bands. Paranorm seems to fit that mold. How do you think Sweden’s metal scene encourages this high quality musicianship? Is it in anyway the result of Yngwie blowing everybody away in the 80’s?
Markus: Actually, there aren’t a whole lot of truly classic Swedish thrash bands. There are obviously a few, but I think the way Sweden has become a landmark in metal is more through melodic death metal and black metal. For Yngwie, I think he inspired a lot of emerging young guitarists in Sweden, just by proving that we can truly be the best, most groundbreaking guitar players in the world. However, I would not give all the credit for the success of swedes in music to him. I think it’s rather due to a huge interest in music among swedes in general.
Fredrik: Well, you gotta have something to get you through the dark and cold winter months, haha. No, but seriously, I don’t know… I suppose swedes are really passionate and interested in music in general, and with great passion comes great music. Regarding Yngwie, I’m a huge fan so my opinion is perhaps a bit biased. But, the way he decided to just go for it, leaving for the US, bringing pretty much nothing more than a guitar and a toothbrush, and ends up being one of the top guitarists in the world sure shows that even us from this little place called Sweden can be the best. I think it’s a great story and source of inspiration, and that possibly in ways have fueled people enough to dare dream and believe, take the leap, and just go for it!
SFM: What does the rest of 2014 hold for Paranorm?
Fredrik: Continuing promotional work for “The Edge of Existence”. We’re really psyched to get out on the roads and just gigging our asses off and promoting this new one and meeting the fans again. We’re working on booking as many gigs as we possibly can, and would love to get some kind of tour going during the summer or fall. It would also be great to broaden our horizons a bit by playing shows outside of Sweden. Besides that, we have started to take aim on our debut fulllength album. We have started writing little pieces here and there, and this process will most likely snowball during the year. I’m really excited to just take all the things we learnt writing “The Edge of Existence”, heading in the same kind of direction, putting the pedal to the metal and just getting together a beast of a record that truly will display what Paranorm is all about.
Markus: The rest of 2014 will probably see Paranorm playing in as many places as we possibly can, like Fredrik already said. Meanwhile, we are writing as much new music as possible to get a full length record going!
SFM: A lot of thrash bands in recent years seem to base their sound almost entirely off of some combination of Kreator, Exodus, and Slayer. You guys obviously have some other influences as well, but do you feel that thrash as a whole is stuck worshipping the same bands instead of moving forward? Is it a genre that should move forward?
Markus: Yes, I feel like a lot of new thrash bands are stuck in this way of thinking. Obviously, bands like the ones you mentioned are huge in the sound that they originally created. However, this was close to 30 years ago, and the thrash metal genre still hasn’t evolved a lot since then (apart from a select few new bands). I think every genre should always strive to move forward, and this is what we are determined to do as a band. The genre doesn’t have to change, but there are a whole lot of sounds that haven’t been explored, still to this day.
Fredrik: At the same time I think it’s great that some bands still stay confined within the areas that were the origins of the genre. It really shows that thrash metal is an enduring and longlived motherfucker. Also, at the risk of sounding like a mood killer, the classic thrash bands will, unfortunately and inevitably, have to call it quits at some time as old age kicks in or whatnot. And in my opinion it would really suck if touring bands sounding like the old school also would completely disappear off the scene. I think it’s healthy having a solid mix of both sides, but people should not be afraid to go nuts and experiment with the genre and push the envelope!
SFM: How does social media affect your interaction with fans? As Facebook continues to lower the reach of pages to fans who have liked their page, are you finding it harder and harder to get to your fans?
Markus: Facebook and the like have helped bands to get more in touch with the fans. Now more than ever, fans have a way to truly speak their minds to bands directly while the bands have a way to hear the opinion of the fans. As long as you distinguish the criticizers from the allout haters, you have a lot to gain from the possibility of faninteraction that social media offer.
Fredrik: It’s true what Markus said. It does simplify and offer a new way bands and fans can communicate with each other, which is nothing but great. In my opinion however, Facebook’s recent actions that limits and really puts a lid on how many people you will actually reach by each individual post is… very questionable, to put it mildly. It is counterproductive and the whole idea of having a platform where you easily can interact with fans kind of loses its purpose.
SFM: Any last words for the fans out there?
Fredrik: First of all; thanks for the interview! And to everyone out there; check out “The Edge of Existence” if you haven’t already, grab a copy from our webstore, share and headbang your brains out! And hopefully we’ll see you on the road!