Mårten Hansen interview (This Ending)

Swedish Melodic Death Metal band This Ending has recently released their 4th full-length, “Needles of Rust”, a fierce and melodic back-to-the-roots album of this style. I had the pleasure of reviewing it for Blessed Altar Zine, and shortly after Mårten Hansen (vocals) kindly agreed that I asked him some questions for the zine.

Hi Mårten, hope you are doing ok. How do you feel now that your band’s latest album finally came out?

Hi Silvia. I’m for sure doing fine and am very pleased to have the new “This Ending” album released. The reviews have been looking great so far. I’m looking forward to Needles of Rust being released later, on vinyl format as well. This will be the first This Ending album released on all available formats, so that’s great.

“Needles of Rust” is at least as brutal and melodic as your previous album, “Garden of Death”. When did you guys start working on it? And how was all the creative process?

We started working on the album already in 2016 but getting all the pieces together took some time. We had a change of rehearsal places and with Fredrik Andersson (one of This Ending’s founding members and a skilled drummer) leaving This Ending for other endeavors. This put us in the position of needing a new skilled drummer to replace him. It turned out that our guitar player Peter Nagy who is recording the drums for his other band Mörk Gryning wanted to have a go at it. He did an amazing job and made it easy for us to finish the pre-production of the new album. The creative process has involved lots of rearrangements and new versions of riffs and melodies. We even went back into our archives (which holds numerous ideas for new songs) and finally managed to get the right sound for some of our older ideas. It was a great experience hearing how each song evolved over time and in the end, we got such a flow that the album felt finished. In my mind this is the most coherent album This Ending has made this far. I get the feeling that each song connects to the next and the album has an interesting flow. We worked on each song until it was recorded and final. Personally, I have never changed so many details when it comes to rhythmics, vocals and lyrics before the final recording. I think and hope you can hear that we put a lot of effort into making each song as interesting as possible. Take your time and listen to the album closely and you’ll discover lots of new small details.

Which is the song you are most proud of from “Needles of Rust”?

I’m proud of each one of the songs, but when it comes to the vocal parts I even surprised myself on the song “Devastate”. There the vocals range from deep rooted death metal to raw black metal. We also had the honor of having some guest vocals by Paul “Themgoroth” Nordgrim the singer in early Dark Funeral. Musically it’s also a very potent song with some elements that are new to This Ending. If you want a song that is brutal, thrashy, heavy and yet melodic you should give this song a listen.

The cover art is simply amazing. It’s like in your previous album, showing a kind of apocalyptic image from the world, as it’s shown in your lyrics. Who is the lyricist in This Ending, and where the inspiration comes from when writing?

I totally agree that the cover artwork done by Björn Gooßes is amazing. We could have a lot of input so the cover artwork should fit as well as possible with the music and lyrics. I’m the lyricist in This Ending, and the inspiration for the lyrics comes mostly from the world we have around us. Sometimes the inspiration comes from when I see how people act around me and how we as humans treat each other. It’s hard not to get inspiration when you read the news and all the sick and weird things that happen around the world. For this album, I have also put some focus on the theme of nightmares and how you sometimes get trapped in these weird scenarios. It’s sometimes hard to wake up and escape these dreams and sometimes they might reoccur. I draw my own conclusions and try to envision what I see and what I think might happen if we continue to strive in what I would call the wrong direction. It could be small things as respect for one another as individuals to greater issues that affect so many.

You all must be eager to be on stage again. Do you already have some gigs scheduled?

We are for sure eager to be back on the stage. We don’t have any gigs scheduled yet but when the time comes, we will be armed and ready. Doing live shows is something we truly enjoy and to be able to play the new songs from “Needles of Rust” will be nothing but pure headbanging joy. So if you need an energetic kick of melodic death metal make sure to book This Ending and we will do our best to blow your metal mind.

How do you see the musical evolution of This Ending?

We started out in 2005 writing songs that we thought would differ a bit from what people would expect from us given our history with A Canorous Quintet. The music was a bit more technical orientated and more “machine” like. However when we got the offer to release some music with A Canorous Quintet around 2010 we started to dig into our history and realized how much we enjoyed playing the more classical Swedish melodic death metal sound. So with that in mind the evolution of our sound gradually changed which I think you can clearly hear on Garden of Death. With Needles of Rust we have taken this evolution even further without neglecting the more riffing and brutal parts you can find on earlier This Ending releases. As a whole I think Needles of Rust might be the most diverse album we have made this far with some elements that should surprise our old fans. We hope this evolution will gain us new fans and also satisfy our old fans.

This Ending was formed some years after A Canorous Quintet split up, by the same members that were in the named band at that moment. How was joining Linus, Fredrik, Leo and Jesper again and starting a new musical project with them?

It was great to be back together since we all are old friends. We decided early on that if we didn’t reform as A Canorous Quintet we needed to do something interesting that differed from our old sound. Thus This Ending was born, although our first choice of name was The Plague but at this time Metal Blade records had just signed a band named The Seventh Plague and they asked if we could change our name. We were really creative and wrote loads of songs during this time, so it was great times.

Looking a bit further back in the past, can you tell us how A Canorous Quintet began? What moved you and the other guys to start a band?

We all met because of the common denominator, extreme metal music. Going to shows and listening to the growing extreme metal scene inspired us to be part of this movement. In 1991 we formed our first band called Departed which soon became A Canorous Quartet and, in the end, A Canorous Quintet when we expanded the line up with another guitar player. We wanted to do our own thing and got inspired by bands like Disharmonic Orchestra, Morbid Angel, Death, Grotesque, At the Gates to name a few. It took a few years but around 1993 we had found the basics of our sound. Unconventional melodic based death metal. We did loads of shows and had parties in our rehearsal studio, and it was all about having a great time doing what we liked.

Who are your biggest influences on your vocal style, Mårten? And can you say to us some of your favorite vocalists?

When I started my main influences were singers like Chuck Schuldiner, David Vincent, Nick Holmes and Brett Hoffman to name a few. They all did something special and unique at that time. During the years I’ve found my own range and vocal style and try to do the vocals in a way I see fitting. The goal is always that the vocals should fit and make the songs even better and interesting to listen to. When it comes to favorite vocalists, there’s loads of them. But an all-time favorite has always been Rob Halford. I also loved how Warrel Dane wrote lyrics and with the emotion he sang. Another sometimes overlooked vocalist is Jorn Lande.

Which bands would you love to do a gig with?

We never had the opportunity to play with Dark Tranquility, so that would be great. Playing again with At the Gates would also be loads of fun. Autopsy would be a dream to get the chance to do a gig with. There’s loads of bands out there that are doing great stuff so to name a few “newer” bands I would like to do gigs with is In Vain, Throne of Heresy and our label mates Kvaen.

And now, asking your inner metalhead, can you say which bands have you seen live that have impressed you the most? And which ones you still haven’t seen but you are dying for it?

There are a lot of great live acts, but to mention a few that has left a mark in my memory is the madness of Faith No more in the 90’s, Pantera, Rammstein and of course Judas Priest, especially during the Painkiller tour. Another moment to remember is the first time I saw Jon Oliva’s Pain and they played some Savatage classics which really blew me away. The At the Gates live shows were always extremely energetic during the 90’s and the inferno of stagediving at a Massacre and Immolation show in 91 also comes to mind. There are way too many great concert memories to recite them all here. Two bands I haven’t seen yet, but really want to see are Autopsy and Helstar.

What does Metal music mean to you in your life?

I have been a metal fan since the early 80’s and have shaped my life a lot around metal. Most of my long-time friends have a connection to metal. I have travelled far and wide to meet likeminded individuals and to see bands both abroad and here in Sweden. I have never found a music style that is so diverse and emotional as metal. Playing metal music is also an important creative outlet to me. I even met my wife at Wacken. So, you could say that metal plays and has always played a huge part in my life.

Do you listen more to classics, or to new stuff? And what are some albums from the underground metal scene that you love the most?

I listen to both the classic stuff and new stuff. I have a genuine interest in the metal scene so I listen more often to new stuff than the old classics. When it comes to the albums I love most from the underground scene it’s the old classics but also some newer albums. I’ll give you ten albums you shouldn’t miss out on if you’re into extreme metal. Here they are in no particular order:

Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness, Death – Scream Bloody Gore, At The Gates – Slaughter of the Soul, Dissection – The Somberlain, Autopsy – Severed Survival, Pestilence – Consuming Impulse, Paradise Lost – Gothic, In Vain – Aenigma, Throne of Heresy – Decameron and I have to mention the new Mörk Gryning – Hinsides Vrede. There are of course so many more albums that deserve to be mentioned. Give these a shot and if you like them I have loads of tips for alternate great albums.

Can we expect a new album from A Canorous Quintet in the future?

That’s a good question. I don’t know at the moment. I really hope so, but time will tell. There is some material in the works and we’ll see what comes out of it. However, we have discussed a possible tour, where we would play the entire Silence of the World Beyond album and some other great stuff. I hope we can make a reality of this.

Many thanks for taking your time answering this interview, Mårten. And congrats for your outstanding new album with This Ending. Is there anything more you want to add?

Thanks a lot. We’re really happy that you enjoyed the new album Needles of Rust. We hope lots of people discover This Ending, and like our take on melodic death metal. If you like what you hear, spread the word about This Ending. We need your support and appreciate all the help we can get. Hope to see you all at a stage in the near future. Stay safe and keep it metal.

Make sure to check out music from A Canorous Quintet also

For more about This Ending, please visit:
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And about A Canorous Quintet
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NOTE: photos by Jens Rydén.

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