There’s a new band emerging from the depths of the dark and frozen Swedish forests, and its name is In Aphelion. They bring devilish and unholy Black Metal to all of us who are ready for it… Well. I’m ready. And you?
Sebastian Ramstedt is well known for being the lead guitarist in Swedish Death/Black Metal band Necrophobic, and he has recently formed In Aphelion, in order to play his own stuff and unleash his full creativity as a musician. Sebastian took the time to answer some questions for Blessed Altar Zine about his new band and some other more personal things.
Hi Sebastian, thanks for agreeing to this interview with Blessed Altar Zine. First off, how has been this last year and a half for you as a musician? With all gigs cancelled, not being able to go on tour… In which way have you been active, musically speaking? Have you been able to rehearse a lot, compose …?
Sebastian: We were in a bit of luck with Necrophobic cause we were recording and promoting Dawn of The Damned. The album was produced in less stress and we had all the time in the world for videos, interviews and promotion. But on the down side we could not promote it on the roads. I took the opportunity to write music in a different direction with In Aphelion. I felt that the time for a Necrophobic follow up was to close even before we had the chance to play live with the songs on Dawn of the damned. Necrophobic has not rehearsed at all during this. But I have played more guitar and written more music than ever. So for me this has been a very intense time.
Was In Aphelion born in these times of pandemic? Or was it an idea you had since long ago?
Sebastian: I have always written music that goes beyond the Necrophobic frame. But in the beginning of the pandemic I realised that it was time for me to do something else. To form my own band. I was not at the beginning of Necrophobic and it is not me who laid out the map so to speak. Even if I write from my heart it is still Joakim, David Parland and Stefan Zander who once started the band and what I write I do in honour of them. I would never put anything on a Necrophobic album that I thought David Parland would hate. So In Aphelion is how my songwriting sounds with no bars held.
Can you tell us about the name of the band? Why did you choose this name, and what does it mean to you?
Sebastian: When the earth is furthest from the sun on its orbit it is in aphelion. I came up with the word as a title for the intro on Dawn of the Damned. To me it symbolized the depression I was in back then. That album starts in solitude and I thought the word was just spot on. It stuck with me and when I needed a name for this new band I just felt it was great on many levels. I isolate myself during times of writing. This is a side project far away from Necrophobic. You could say this band is ”in aphelion” to the mothership of Necro. I also wanted a name that sounded serious. The music and the lyrics are very serious and I did not want just a ”cool” satanic name that would be typical for the genre.
You said once (if I’m not wrong) that initially you started this project as an instrumental thing; how was it that you decided to write lyrics for your music and do the vocals yourself?
Sebastian: Yes, initially I had no intentions of putting this out for people to hear. You see I don’t really see myself as an entertainer. I am not in this business because I want to be in a band or a brotherhood. When it comes to creating music I am in every aspect a lone wolf. The guitar is my voice and I felt that I could express myself through instrumental songs. But as the songs became more and more worked I felt that it might be a possible thing to actually release the music. And that was when I felt it needed vocals. To be able to express what I feel when I create this I need words to channel it to the listener. And when I started to add vocals the song took a leap to the next step. I arranged things differently and it was by then I realised that I was creating a Black Metal album. Before the vocals I had no intention to label the music.
How would you describe the music you play in In Aphelion? And what are the lyric themes about? Can you tell what inspires you when you write your lyrics?
Sebastian: To make it easy I call this Black Metal. I mean, the music is on the darker side and the vocals are definitely Black Metal vocals. The lyrics are dark themes that match the music. I write dark poems. Often inspired by something I have read or events that occur around me. They are philosophical in a way. To make it interesting I often make the narrative around a myth or religion. I would probably call myself an atheist. But even if I don’t believe in an actual god it does not mean I am not spiritual. Religion is a big part of our lives and being real or not it will affect us as human beings. I have practiced a lot of dark magic. It really makes your brain create worlds that would not be possible to enter without the rituals. So I don’t really care to find out if there is a deity or not. It does not matter as it affects my life as if there was one. But there is more than Black Metal to this. Everybody knows I mostly listen to Heavy Metal and that I am not very fond of Death Metal. If I say I listened a lot to Accept during the writing sessions people will hear that. If I say I listened to Bathory then people will hear that. I find guitar playing in the Black Metal genre limited. You can use a guitar to express yourself in so many more ways than what is common in the BM genre. I try to break the rules and incorporate more than what is expected within the scene.
The other members in the band are Johan Bergebäck at rhythm guitars (also in Necrophobic, and who has been with you in some other bands such as Black Trip (now VOJD), Nifelheim, Morpheus, Ordo Inferus…), and Marco Prij at drums (he is from the Netherlands and is in the band Cryptosis). Have you had the opportunity of doing any rehearsal together, physically I mean?
Sebastian: Sadly no rehearsals. We had to create this on our own communicating on the net. But the technique is brilliant these days and that makes this thing possible that would not have happened 20 years ago. Marco is a fantastic drummer. I could not have wished for a better man. An advantage is that he is not used to playing Black Metal. That means he thinks differently. Like me he has a different approach to the music and is not limited by what the genre expects the drums to be like. Johan is of course my long-time companion in music. I realised I could not do this without him. He brings the last piece of the puzzle and everything sounded just right when he entered the band. Hopefully the three of us can meet soon and start to work as an actual band on this.
You have already released a demo, only available in cassette and you only did a very few copies, that are sold out. Do you plan to re-release it? Have you thought about having a Bandcamp site, maybe?
Sebastian: We have saved a few copies except for the 50 that will be a very limited package with the EP, LP and more. More details about this later. It will be an extremely limited edition in no more than 25 copies.
You have recently announced that your debut EP, “Luciferian Age”, will be released on November 5th on CD format, and the vinyl versions will come in February 2022. Let me tell you I’m really eager about it, and even more knowing you guys do a cover for Kreator’s “Pleasure to Kill”. Are you personally a fan of Kreator? Has this band been a musical influence for you, Sebastian?
Sebastian: Yes we are so eager as well to release this! Too bad that we could not get the vinyl version out by the 5th of November. Apparently the vinyl manufacturers have really busy times and the wait is almost a year for print. But the vinyl will be out in February. We wanted to do the Kreator song to show our roots. In the 80’s when I heard Kreator, Sodom and Destruction my life took a big turn and I have dedicated my songwriting to extreme metal ever since. We wanted to do a cover very true to theirs but maybe a little more structured. The rage is still there but drums and guitars actually play the same thing at the same time! Haha!
There will be an upcoming full-length album, “Moribund”, that’s already finished. Can you tell us something about it? Do you have a release date?
Sebastian: It will be released at the beginning of March. It is a double album with over 60 minutes of music. This is something that I am normally against. I think albums should be around 40 minutes. But this is a different beast. It sucks you in and it does not let you leave until you are fully devoured. The average Spotify listener does not listen to whole albums anyway and if they think it is too long then they can just switch to another playlist. Those buying the album on physical media will probably appreciate the length of the album. We did not want to sacrifice the epic songs for the ferocious and vice versa. So we kept it all. It demands your attention and you can listen to it many times and always find something new.
Do you have any plans for doing some gigs soon? Or maybe are you thinking of doing a live stream?
Sebastian: We are talking about right now. It is very hard to make actual plans but we really feel we need to take this on the roads. It will be a challenge as we have not yet rehearsed together so we need some time to get into the groove and find each other’s pace.
Now, going into some more personal aspects about you; who is your ‘guitar god’ that you would like to know in person but you still haven’t had the chance?
Sebastian: I am a fanboy in many ways but it does not mean I want to meet my heroes. I don’t want them demystified. I do not want to take their time with questions about this and that. I think Jake E. Lee and Uli Roth are my biggest inspiration. If I could watch them practice it would be a cool thing.
Of all the guitars you own, do you have one favorite to play with? Or do you love them all equally?
Sebastian: I love the search for the next guitar. That is what keeps me collecting them. The chase. I always end up being inspired by one of them when I write a new album. When I wrote for In Aphelion I did it entirely on my blue crackle vintage Jackson strat. Not the kind of guitar you would think fits within the BM genre. But it spoke to me and all these riffs came out of it. I like to have about 4 or 5 for my needs at home and 2-3 on the roads. I play the classic super strat models at home and more pointy ones on stage.
As a metalhead yourself, do you listen more to classic or new stuff? Can you name some of your favorite artists and bands?
Sebastian: There is so much classic stuff left that I have not heard. I have yet not really had the time to pass 1984 in my listening. I am interested in new stuff too of course. New Netherbird album Arete is fantastic. The upcoming Kvaen album is brilliant and we have great new stuff from Myronath and Trident. My all time favourite bands are Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept, Saxon, Wasp, Mötley Crüe and so on. That is where my heart is and those bands are my biggest inspiration.
Do you have a favorite album (or maybe one song) that is very special for you and you could be listening to it forever? Not only for the music, but also because of the emotions it can trigger you?
Sebastian: There is really nothing like the first albums I heard. The Number of The Beast, Defenders of the Faith and Crusader. But I think Ozzy Osbourne and Bark at the Moon might really trigger what you mean. It is perfect. It is another world. I become 12 years old again but at the same time I hear new stuff and feel new feelings every time I spin it. Perfect album.
And, if you can give us just some hints about how things are in Necrophobic nowadays; are you guys working on some new material? Or maybe rehearsing for any upcoming concert, now that it seems things are going into some kind of “new normality”?
Sebastian: We are just about to start the rehearsals to promote Dawn of the Damned. Not until we have hit the roads again we will talk about what might be the next step.
Many thanks for taking your time answering this interview, is there anything else you want to say to our readers?
Sebastian: Hope to see you all on the roads soon! I am really eager to see what you think about In Aphelion! It is a different beast!
Interview by Sílvia
Check out the lyric video for In Aphelion song “Let the Beast Run Wild” and get ready for new music coming soon!
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