Review 1683 : Mezzrow – Summon Thy Demons – English

Mezzrow comes to Thrash back!

Created in 1987 in Sweden, the band will release one album, then will end its history in 1993. In 2005, the band reunited for a single filmed show, then we had to wait until 2021 for Uffe Pettersson (vocals) to announce the reformation, accompanied by Conny Welén (bass), Jon Skäre (drums, Consumption, Gore Brigade, Leper Colony…), Magnus Söderman (guitars, Leech, Nightrage) and Ronnie Björnström (guitars, ex-Aeon, ex-Bone Gnawer, ex-Ribspreader…). Summon Thy Demons, their second album, is released in 2023 by Fireflash Records.

King of the Infinite Void, the first track, reveals a dark sample before letting jerky and aggressive riffs appear, quickly followed by vindictive vocals. Between the sharp solo, the epic break and choruses, the band confirms its motivation, just like on Through the Eyes of the Ancient Gods and its solid rhythmic which combines an Old School approach with a more modern mix. The sound remains effective and catchy, letting lead parts deliver frantic melodies before Summon Thy Demons places impressive and occult sounds in its charge. The ominous but also catchy eponymous track also reveals a heady parts on the final, which leads us to What Is Dead May Never Die, a composition which perfectly couples the verses’ aggressiveness and the choruses’ unifying side to create a rather accessible sound. De Mysteriis Inmortui goes back to Thrash’s raw sounds without forgetting to slip in some more disturbing influences as well as some bewitching leads before Beneath the Sea of Silence comes to create a cold atmosphere. The riffs’ energy feeds the contrast with the heavy and dissonant sounds, then On Earth As in Hell will create a chaotic atmosphere again to place its aggressive riffs and ferocious vocal parts, including this scream at the beginning. Blackness Fell Upon the World offers us a short break with its introductive softness, but we feel it getting darker before the other instruments enter, recreating the aggressiveness while keeping darkness, which leads us to Dark Spirit Rising, a much more lively track. Vocal parts are also tinged with pure energy, but we have more measured leads before The End of Everything comes to bring the final touch between powerful Thrash and heavy atmosphere, completed by this mystical final.

Even after thirty years of being almost silent, Mezzrow proves with Summon Thy Demons that the band has more than one trick up its sleeve, skilfully mixing vindictive Thrash Metal with an unusual but welcomed occult theme.


Version Française ?

Few questions to Conny Welén and Ulf Pettersson, respectively bass player and singer of the Swedish Thrash Metal band Mezzrow.

Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Mezzrow without using the usual Metal “labels”?
Conny Welén (bass): Haha… I don’t know what you mean by “usual metal labels” but I’ll give it a try. I’m Conny Welén, bass player in Mezzrow and Ulf Pettersson is the lead singer. Mezzrow is actually an “Old School” Thrash Metal band from Sweden. We released a couple of critically acclaimed demos in the eighties and kind of a Thrash Metal cult album in 1990 called Then Came The Killing. The band was buried in 1993 but rose from the dead in 2021. The birth of our second Thrash metal creation will see the day of light April 21 through the new record label Fireflash Records.  

Summon Thy Demons, your second full-length, will be out soon, how do you feel about it? Do you already have some feedback?
Ulf Pettersson (vocals): To this day it still feels really good, despite having been listening to it a thousand times, and I’m very satisfied with the final product.
Conny: We all are very pleased with how it all turned out and the feedback has been overwhelming.

How would you sum Summon Thy Demons up in only three words?
Ulf: Thrashy, competent and well sounding!
Conny: Eh, that was actually more than three… haha. But I’ll try. Fast, tight, brutal! 

How did you deal with the composition process for this album? How does it feel to create again and come back to a studio after so much time?
Ulf: Well, we started writing new material in January 2021. I phoned my old friend Magnus Söderman on guitar and asked him to join Conny and me in the writing process. We wrote the first three songs kind of fast with different inputs from the three of us. Especially Magnus had lots of ideas and inputs based on his riffs. The pre-production period was really funny and it felt good creating music again! We later on recruited Ronnie Björnström on guitar, who had a really big ”riff treasure” recorded on his computer. He sent the whole package to us and we were stoked about the material. The four of us kept writing songs and recording demos, and by the end of December 2021 we were ready with the pre-production. The recording of the actual album began in January 2022. We really wanted to keep the old-school thrash feeling overall and I think we’ve managed to do that in. Anyway, Summon Thy Demons is lyrically a very dark record and it was created during the worst Covid-times, which reflects on both music and lyrics.
Conny: I’ve actually never left the music industry as I’ve been writing and producing Hard Rock and Metal all my life. I own two music studios and have kept on in the business ever since I started when I was 13 years old. But I must say it was a bit special to start writing/arranging/producing Mezzrow again. And I was very surprised we still had the energy and anger inside of us to play Thrash Metal like that again.

While listening to the album, I noticed some songs have such a dark atmosphere, like Blackness Fell Upon the World, or What Is Dead May Never Die. What’s your secret recipe to melt the ambience with Thrash Metal’s aggressiveness?
Ulf: Well for one thing, I think we have matured a lot when it comes to songwriting and influences in general. Also, Conny works a bit in the Doom Metal-world with the band Sorcerer and they use different tools and ingredients to create their epic atmosphere. That also reflects a bit in our songs.
Conny: Yea, I’ve moved some of the tricks from working with other bands into the world of Thrash and perhaps it adds something new. But I let others decide if that’s the case or not. I just do what I like and try to strengthen how the music sounds. haha

I also noticed your thematics are far from the “usual Thrash lyrics”, how did you have the idea to melt demons, aliens and stuff to your lyrics?
Ulf: The lyrics were written in a dark era of the world in general. The Covid-perspective was affecting the whole world and my lyrics reflect a bit on that, mostly in a metaphorical way. At the same time, I’m a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz. Some of the lyrics are really inspired by themes surrounding these authors! There are no personal experiences in the lyrics more than maybe some views, in the Metal kind of way, about the overall situation of today’s society.

Maybe you have a favorite song on this album? Or the one you just can’t wait to play on stage?
Conny: Oh, that’s a hard one. It tends to change over time. I really like King of the Infinite Void right now since we’ve started rehearsing for live shows and it’s a massive Thrash Metal beast of a song. I also like Summon Thy Demons. Yea, and What is Dead, May Never Die of course… That one is also very fun to play.
Ulf: My personal favorite is What is Dead, May Never Die, I think. But I really think that all the songs are really good!
Conny: Yea, it’s really hard to pick one. One can say we’ve made one hell of an album! haha

Mezzrow splitted back in 1993, what gave you the idea to bring the band back to life?
Ulf: The reason for doing this again was more or less a coincidence actually. When our beloved guitarist Staffe Karlsson-Hefling passed away very tragically in colon cancer in 2018, me and Conny Welén decided to finish a song in Staffe‘s honor that the three of us had written in 2011 at Conny‘s studio. So, we finished the song in 2020 and came to the conclusion that it sounded pretty good. Personally, I was a bit surprised how easy it was to sing Thrash again. It felt kind of natural! Anyway, we wanted to make more Thrash Metal based on what we did with that previous song, Dark Spirit Rising, and we decided in early 2021 to start writing new material

You signed a record deal with Fireflash Records, how did this collaboration happen?
Ulf: When the album was more or less ready, we pinpointed ten record companies that we believed were possible to sign for. Joacim Cans from Hammerfall suggested through a friend of mine that I should contact Markus Wosgien at Atomic Fire, which I did. Markus answered within two hours and was completely blown away by the five new tracks that we’d sent him. And despite hearing positive reactions from other companies, we decided quite early to sign with Markus. He’s a great guy, knows the business and most of all really believes in Mezzrow. It felt awesome from the start!
Conny: We also had a great collaboration with Hammerheart for the re-release of Then Came The Killing and the new limited edition of Then Came The Demos, the year before this. They did an awesome job with those releases so we had a serious discussion with them as well, but in the end we went with Markus. So far, he’s been living up to our expectations. Like Uffe says, he’s a great guy.

With which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour (or just a single show) with Mezzrow and three other bands!
Ulf: It would be cool to join Testament, Exodus and Death Angel as a special guest !
Conny: Yea, that would be very cool. But, hey, I wouldn’t say no to play with Metallica either. Even it’s a long time ago since I was really into their music, they’re still the reason why I started to play Thrash Metal in the first place back in the eighties. And Slayer of course, but that would be difficult… haha 

That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Conny: Thank you. Once a Thrasher, always a Thrasher! haha

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