Pale King is coming to make a mark.
Created in 2016 between Sweden and England, the band led by Jonny Pettersson (vocals/guitar, Wombbath, Massacre, Henry Kane ex-Just Before Dawn…), Håkan Stuvemark (guitar, Wombbath, Henry Kane, Consumption), Jon Rudin (drums, Just Before Dawn, Heads for the Dead, ex-Wombbath) and Hannah Gill (bass) had already proposed a first album in 2017. In 2022, the band is back with We Are But Memories, a second opus released by Iron, Blood and Death Corporation.
The album opens with We Are But Memories, an extremely effective composition which reveals incredibly melodic and solid riffs as the basis for the vocalist’s devastating screams. The track is perfectly balanced between epic tones and devastating parts, also allowing vocals a wide range of tones, then The Weight Of Reality brings melancholy back, sometimes coupled with aggressive and raw riffs. The Swedish influences are undeniable in this heady, cold and sometimes wild mixing the musicians master with a rare perfection just like on The Last Farewell which immediately makes us want to shake our heads. The jerky and sometimes sharp rhythmic also draws from more soaring influences, letting leads offer us these piercing sounds before Cursed unveils heavier and more thick riffs. The throbbing sounds are strengthened by straightforward and massive accelerations as well as by raw vocals, mixing the two parts of this universe before Drown comes to place its catchy warlike rhythmic. The band doesn’t forget heaviness nor softer melodies inspired by Folk tones in this composition just like on Under The Wings Of Solitude, a track which can sometimes be suffocating and dissonant while offering some quite majestic and worked moments. The end of the album takes shape with A Spectral Display which couples an aggressive and Old School rhythmic with a wave of cold and heady leads which feeds this devastating contrast, then Cold Shadow comes to put a final point to this chapter with very marked and effective Pagan influences which give the riffs epic and sometimes mysterious tones without weakening the fierce rhythmic.
While Melodic Death tends to evolve towards more modern sounds, Pale King offers us an extremely Old School album which finds its place perfectly between the cult titles of the style. We Are But Memories will be remembered for a long time.
Few questions to Jonny Pettersson, Pale King’s vocalist and guitarist.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Pale King without using the usual “Metal” labels?
Jonny Pettersson (guitar/vocals): Hello! I’m Jonny, the guitarist and vocalist in Pale King. We play music with strong melancholic melodies that touch on the epic side of things, firmly rooted in Death Metal with a rhythm section that pulls you in and drags you along through each song.
What is the link between the band’s name and the music you play?
Jonny: I think it’s just a cool name that fits the music well. These days it’s beyond hard to find a good band name, so I was very pleased that this wasn’t taken. Some bands use names that are borderline stupid, but then again, what can you do when all the good ones are taken. Though some bands chose stupid names back when there was a plethora of good ones to use, I should now, haha.
We Are But Memories, your second album, is just out. How do you feel about it? What does its name mean to you?
Jonny: I am very pleased with the outcome of the album. There were so many things I wanted to do differently on the first album that I got to make right on this album. Mainly in the production, but somewhat in the recording process as well. The name and the album is all about the inevitable destruction of everything. All life will cease to exist, I have no doubt about that.
How does the composition process happen for We Are But Memories? Did it change from the previous one, which came out 5 years ago?
Jonny: I record a demo for the other guys to hear and review, I then re-work it and once I have a foundation to work from, I send it to Jon who lays down the drums, after that Hannah records the bass and once I’ve recorded the vocals Håkan starts work on the solos. When I have all the components together, I start working on all the small details to elevate the songs. After that I start working on the production and mixing the album. This is where the biggest change from the previous album comes in. My growth as a sound engineer and producer is exponential which I think really shows on We Are But Memories.
What inspires you to create your music? Same question for the lyrics.
Jonny: I wake up thinking about music, and I go to bed thinking about music. I see and hear things all day everyday that gives me ideas for new riffs and songs. I am fortunate to have a job where I can listen to music all day long. I’m always in search of new music to discover, and finding those new bands that blow your mind is inspirational as hell. Along with that I watch a lot of horror movies, which is a huge source of inspiration. Not only the visual aspect, but also to hear the music behind the movies. Sometimes I’ll hear how they have built up all the ambient noises, and the tension it causes before the big release. To find that dynamic and use it when writing songs can be really powerful.
Which song was the most natural one to create on this album?
Jonny: The whole album came about very naturally. I started writing some riffs, and felt straight away that they would be the perfect fit for Pale King. And I had such a good flow that once I had those first riffs, I wrote the rest of the album in just a few days. However, I did record it with other vocals at first, but I wasn’t super happy with those. The album then got put to the side for a while as I was working with music for my other bands, and after a year or so I redid the vocals as they are now, and it was the best choice for the album as the end result speaks for itself.
I of course heard a lot of Old School influences on every song, but also few Pagan roots, like on Drown or Cold Shadow, do you feel the same?
Jonny: The Old School influences will always be there, Old School Death Metal is a part of my DNA. For the Pagan bits, I couldn’t really tell you. I don’t listen to any Pagan Metal and very little Folk Metal if I’d draw a bigger picture from that. I listen to quite a bit of really old Swedish Folk music, so it might be those influences that have worked their way into the songs.
Do you have plans for the band’s future? Whether it is about live shows, new material, or even anything else.
Jonny: We don’t have any live shows planned at the moment, though it would be cool to play these songs live. We are not one of those bands that can head off on long tours due to work and family situations. But some festival shows would be super cool to do. We don’t have any new music inline at the moment as we’re putting all our focus on promoting the new album.
Are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, an album…
Jonny: I’ve been fortunate to be able to work with old heroes like Kam Lee with both Nattravnen and my involvement in Massacre, and Dave Ingram in Ursinne. And thanks to Anders Biazzi bringing me into Just Before Dawn I got a chance to work with a lot of really cool people that I look up to. A dream would be to work with Devin Townsend or Tobias Forge.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour (or just a single show) with Pale King as opener and three other bands!
Jonny: I’d go for Strapping Young Lad as the headliner and Paradise Lost and Pale King as openers. I think three bands in one night is enough, add more and there isn’t enough time for each band to shine. Kind of what happened to Carcass on the latest tour with Behemoth and Arch Enemy. Carcass set was way too short and everyone I talked to was disappointed that they didn’t have a longer set.
That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Jonny: Thank you for a great interview and a huge thanks to all who support the underground extreme metal scene!