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Dawn Of Oblivion - Interview

Interview with: Victor Fradera
Conducted by: T.V.

If you ever wondered how the real gothic metal should sound than here's the receipt and the example is Dawn Of Oblivion's new, their fifth studio album titled Phoenix Rising which marks a return from a long hiatus of this truly legendary band which was formed in Sweden back in 1991 by singer/guitarist Victor Fradera and guitarist Per Broberg. The band which derives from gothic rock waters went through many line-up changes and the members of Dawn Of Oblivion in 2015 are Victor Fradera (vocals), Jonas Nilsson (bass), Stefan Rosqvist (guitars) and Tony Andersson (keyboards). Now, the band seems to be in full force like never before and Phoenix Rising is a testimony of creative energy inside the band. Interesting and even more surprising thing is that the album was mastered by the legendary death/thrash metal guitarist James Murphy (Obituary, Death, Testament, Disincarnate,...) and his touch certainly left an imprint on the dark and gloomy atmosphere of the album. Dawn Of Oblivion are certainly facing a new era that seems to be bright if the things will go like it looks like. We did an interview with Dawn Of Oblivion's founder and vocalist Victor Fradera, who gave us an insight into their new album which should not be missed by any fan of gothic metal and dark music at large. We talked as well about band's past events, future plans, influences and he kindly revealed some personal views and informations.

T.V.: Hi Victor! After a long hiatus and six years after your previous album, The Final Chapter, Dawn Of Oblivion is back to life. Tell me what was going on for all these years?
: Some years after the release of Mephisto’s Appealing the band went into a hiatus in 2004 and the band members pursued other projects. We had a lot of songs already recorded, planned for the next album release with the working title 'Malice In Wonderland' that were just collecting dust on our hard drives. In 2009 M&A Music Art asked us if it was possible for them to release the songs. We thought, well why not? It would mark a perfect farewell to our fans, hence the title The Final Chapter. We picked the songs after a long night with whiskies and beer at my house. In 2011 I played in a vampire metal band called After Midnight and we suddenly were in need of a guitarist. I called my old bandmate Stefan and asked him if he was interested to join. He accepted and when we played the first chords in the rehearsing room we felt that the magic was still there and we just had to re-unite Dawn Of Oblivion again. We contacted our bassist Jonas and he was all-in for a reunion. We took the drummer and the keyboardist from After Midnight and so we had Dawn Of Oblivion back on the roads 2012. The reunion was not really supposed to be writing new songs and record a new album. But between gigs we started writing new material and we felt that this is awesome, we had to put out a new album!
T.V.: But there's still quite a gap and I'm interested if you've been beside in After Midnight involved in any other musical project or a band?
Victor: Yes, I did lead singing in Tenebre, originally a thrash metal band turning goth, from 2001-2004 and released one album and one EP with them before going separate ways after the bass player tattooed virgin Mary over his chest. I’ve also been part of different projects like Hollow Eve with Children On Stun guitarist Simon Manning and a crust metal project called Hinside. I always try to explore new territories to develop my singing abilities.
T.V.: Even though you are the only one who's constantly in the band since the formation in 1991, the line-up didn't change that much after 1996 if I'm not mistaken, except for the drummer. Can you explain what's the story with Peter Wildoer who was announced as the new man behind the drums and now on the album we can't find him?
Victor: Yeah we wear down drummers almost like Spinal Tap! Seriously, yes it was planned to have Peter Wildoer to replace Mikael Skafar on drums. When we started recording Phoenix Rising we just had to face the fact that the schedule of Darkane and Peter’s other projects almost made it impossible for him and for us to get the time and dedication needed for the recordings. In mutual agreement we brought back the drum machine Miss Decibel that we used on The Final Chapter, but now programmed under Peter Wildoer’s supervision. So in a way he was a part of the work in creating the drums for Phoenix Rising, but he will not continue to work this closely with the band in the future. For our live shows we have Fredrik Joakimsson from Cloudscape and Cullooden on drums as we have yet not settled with a permanent drummer.
T.V.: Phoenix Rising is truly a fresh air in the gothic metal scene and I wonder how are you satisfied with it?
Victor: I am more than satisfied with it. I can definitely say that this is the musical production I am most proud to have been involved with, ever! All the pieces come together and have their own place. We experimented a lot and broaden our horizons with new beat patterns, slower songs, involving more influence from different music styles. All together it’s a modern gothic metal album with a cold, winter-like musical landscape spiced with oriental themes and mysticism. The only real struggle was to give the album a proper name. You know, having an album called The Final Chapter, how can you follow up on that without making it far too silly? We came up with the idea of the Phoenix because we had people very close to the band that were struggling with fatal diseases. Unfortunately and heartbreaking for all of us one of them passed away, but two of them came back to life after several years of hell – rising from the ashes like a Phoenix. One of those stories is also the theme for the last song on the album, "Years".
T.V.: So we are talking of a proper new birth of Dawn Of Oblivion here. I believe that in this regard also the lyrics were quite a challenge. What are the main topics and where did you get the inspiration?
Victor: The lyrics on "Years" are of course very personal, fragile and naked. The very sad b-chord minor on the guitar and the hypnotic bassline actually gave me the lyrics. All the members know the person it’s written about, but I also think it’s applicable to anybody who’s watching over a loved one battling a deadly disease. The lyrics on the album are quite varied and also here I’m trying to expand the lyrical universe. I have to agree that it was challenging in the way that so many tragedies happened around us and it definitely makes its mark on the album. There are songs about death, mysticism, occultism, faith and broken hearts. All in all I believe that with the title and the lyrical hope we bring with "The Pathfinder" and "Years" the listener understands that we can endure painful tragedies yet still come out stronger than what we were before.

T.V.: You are mentioning some tragedies that occured around you. Can you tell me some more about this misfortunate events?
Victor: We had people around us going through really tough times battling serious diseases, fighting for their lives. We were passengers just watching all of this happening without any chance of control. It takes a lot of energy, but we grew stronger helping each other through the pain. This had of course a serious impact on the atmosphere on the album.
T.V.: Now, if you'll compare Phoenix Rising with your previous releases, where do you see major differencies?
Victor: The maturity on ourselves as musicians and the mutual respect we have to each other. The album is wider and bigger than our previous albums. I believe this will attract a larger audience even though this was not our intention. We don’t let old fears of having too long songs hinder us. We give more space to let the songs live their own life, driving us as passengers to the final result. The development of the band is very natural if you listen to the albums chronologically. Starting off with goth-rock on the debut and then sliding over to more glammy gothic metal on Yorick before we settled in on gothic metal.
T.V.: A lot of people describes Dawn Of Oblivion's music as gothic rock, but in reality it's much more gothic metal oriented. What do you think is the reason if you even care about that?
Victor: I can agree with that we went from a more goth rock oriented band and then went over to gothic metal quite quickly. I believe we still attract a lot of fans not so familiar to the metal scene with our music and therefore we’re still labeled as goth rock. It doesn’t really bother me, people need to put bands and music into categories so that they can compare and eventually explore new bands in the same category. Therefore we label ourselves gothic metal because this is the genre I think we have our largest fanbase.
T.V.: I believe that this is the consequence of your musical taste, isn't it? And there's surprisingly even some black metal in there, especially in the magnificient opener "Demons Of The Cross"...
Victor: Yes I agree with you. There’s black metal here and there and especially in "Demons Of The Cross" it’s very obvious. We think that black metal definitely can be applied on gothic metal. The structure and odd melodies have an apocalyptic feel over it and we used it on a couple of songs on this album. So yes, it’s pretty much a reflection of our musical taste.
T.V.: And the track "Within The Realms Of The King Of Amur" has a strong vibe similar to Tiamat from Wildhoney or even more evidently from A Deeper Kind Of Slumber. Do you agree? Are you a big fan of those albums?
Victor: I see the similarity, but it was not intentional. The idea was to create a more atmospheric song in triple metre and suddenly we found ourselves listening to a song very similar to Tiamat or Pink Floyd. We all love those bands and said, yeah why not expanding the Dawn Of Oblivion universe and bring in some fresh influences. Normally I never use my voice in this whispering way, but it really suits the song and the choir we added with Sara really knocked us down on the floor.
T.V.: The mastering was done by the legendary death/thrash metal guitarist James Murhy, and I wonder how did you get in contact with him and how are you satisfied with his job?
Victor: He did an excellent job on the album. We brought him in on the project just to get that wiccan atmosphere we wanted for the album. If you have Death and Obituary on your musical CV you are most certainly the guy that can make a gothic metal band sound even darker than ever before. Our manager, Renée, knows him back from the old Testament days and she came up with the idea to contact him on New Year’s Eve when we were listening to the mix and felt that we needed that last missing piece to make the album complete. He accepted the challenge, though he is not completely unfamiliar with goth as he’s already a fan of Fields Of The Nephilim. When I heard the first tracks from his master I knew we made the right choice. He completed what we started!
T.V.: If I say that I find Phoenix Rising like a missing link between Tiamat, Paradise Lost, Therion, The Sisters Of Mercy and Fields Of The Nephilim, what would you say?
Victor: I say you’re right and I'm honored to be mentioned in the same sentence with those bands. It’s all there even though everything we hear inspire us. Sound wise we are in the land of bands you mentioned.
T.V.: And which one of the songs from the album is your favourite and why will you choose that one?
Victor: All songs are my babies and it’s an impossible task to choose one before the other. They all have their charm and I always remember what I felt when I wrote them. So no, I cannot pick one…
T.V.: The album was released through M&A MusicArt. It's quite a long time that you're loyal to them and I'm pretty sure that you are satisfied with this label.
Victor: We’ve been at the M&A MusicArt label since 1996 when we started recording Yorick. We got in contact with them after the release of our debut album and we felt that we had a mutual interest in gothic and the metal part of it. We like that a label is niched more or less in a narrow way as we know that music listeners also can be fans of specific record companies that they feel produce quality products. I think that this is the case with M&A, they always focus on quality and they care about the visual part of the production. There are other companies that release good albums with crappy 2-page booklet covers in black and white. As a music consumer I feel somewhat cheated by that.
T.V.: Any video clips in the making? If yes, then which track will have its video form?
Victor: There are plans for a video but it’s a little too early to say as it’s not completely decided yet. If we continue to pursue the making of a video it will most likely be one of the shorter/faster tunes like "Anubis" or "Catherine Wheel".
T.V.: Touring plans? Any festival appearances already scheduled? What can we expect from Dawn Of Oblivion on the live show?
Victor: We always put a lot of energy into our live shows. We really want to give the audience an experience they won’t forget. Dawn Of Oblivion live is not only music, we want to create an atmosphere of taking the audience on a journey through our musical and visual landscapes of occultism and mysticism. Our managements, both in Sweden and in the UK, are right up in the middle of bookings with lots of unconfirmed gigs but with a climax at the Bram Stoker Vampire festival in Whitby in October this year with Fields Of The Nephilim, VNV Nation, Gothminister,...
T.V.: How much do you follow new releases? Any recently released album that kept you hooked more than others?
Victor: My musical taste is very broad, but I really liked the new Placebo album that was released in 2013. I don’t really follow up that much on new releases. I check in once in a while to discover new albums and artists, but in most of the cases I just listen randomly and suddenly discover an album or an artist I really like. I think this is one of the things that make Dawn Of Oblivion so honest as we’re taking influences from a large variety of music.
T.V.: As you are from Sweden I must ask how proud are you of your country's metal inheritance, especially of Bathory and death metal legendary bands like Entombed, Nihilist, Dismember, Carnage, Merciless,... who were true originators of the style? Have you ever followed those bands?
Victor: We’re very proud of what the Swedish bands have accomplished over the years. Being a small country in population we’re really a superpower not only in metal, but also in music general with Abba and Roxette. In metal I think that the Swedish and the Scandinavian bands have this part of coldness and lack of warmth in the musical heritage that really comes very well with hard rock and heavy music. The Norwegians and Finns follow the same kind of recipe. It must have something to do with the long, cold winters up here.
T.V.: You are in the music scene for a long time, since early 90s if I'm not mistaken. A lot of things have changed during those years and many bands and artists are strugling more than ever to survive. What do you think that the future will bring if it goes this way?
Victor: The development is most unfortunate for many musicians and I don’t have a universal recipe how to solve this. I think much of the problems lie in the mindset that music is and should be for free. We don’t expect the plumber to come to our house and work for free just to build up his reputation to get more jobs in the future, right? Musicians are forced to have daily jobs while they still try to live their dream. It’s sometimes hard to fit that into your calendar when you’re 4-5 people in the band and many gigs lies ahead. Having this experience of 20+ years in the business I have seen the switch from CD’s to streaming/digital download and the decreasing pay-offs to the musicians and the industry in general.
T.V.: That's the sad truth... Now I wonder who's Victor outside the music business? What are your interests in life beside music?
Victor: I’m very different outside of the music as it’s almost impossible to make a living out of this. I work for a large medical company and I really need that kind of distance. When I meet new work colleagues they are very surprised when they discover my musical career and what I have achieved with Dawn Of Oblivion. I always enjoy some good beers with friends, whisky and discovering new cultures. I try to keep up with what’s happening in the world and always follow the news reports.
T.V.: Ok Victor, I think this would be all. Anything else that you would like to add at the end of this interview?
Victor: Thanks a lot Tomaz, it’s been a very interesting interview with a lot of deep dive questions. We’re very proud of the new album and we really believe that this will attract many listeners in the gothic and heavy metal genre. Follow the updates on our facebook page or our website to keep track on future gigs!

Dawn Of Oblivion links: Official website, Facebook

Photo credits: Renée Fradera (promotional pictures), Mikael Frodlund (live pictures)