Rage and FrustrationExtreme Music Reviews & Interviews
Candle – Demo 2016 (Review and Interview)
Band – Candle
Album – Demo
Country of Origin – Sweden
Genre – Heavy Metal
Release Date – February 15th, 2017
Label – Fighter Records
Author – Hayduke X
Hailing from Sweden, Candle play a gritty brand of traditional heavy metal. These four brief songs comprise a demo, and you can tell that everything is a little bit rough, but those edges just serve to give the release some grit. The demo was certainly enough to catch the interest of Fighter Records which formally released the demo back in February of this year, making the title Demo 2016 a bit of a misnomer. The demo is the sort of sound you might have heard coming from garages and basements in the early 1980’s and wondered how soon before this band broke it big. Candle has potential in heaps already a creditable release to their name.
Formed back in 2015, the band features brothers Juhani Pihlajainen on bass and Jorma Pihlajainen on drums, founding duo Markus Janis and Christian Kanto on guitars, and Erik Nordkvist on vocals. Janis and Kanto provide a dark heavy metal riff-fest with psuedo solos that pull into the abyss of chaos, but never get noodle-y. The rhythm section of the Pihlajainen brothers is lo-fi madness, with chunky bass lines and echos of rock and roll drumming past. Nordkvist on vocals is a real find. He belts it out with the best of them without ever getting to pretty. Let me make a plug too for the song Betrayal, which is thematically about discovering that you are being cheated on. This is a time honored concept in music, well beyond the world of metal. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better rendition of this theme.
See that guy? The one over in the shadows at the end of the bar? You know, the one with the denim battle vest over the leather? The long hair and scruffy beard? The one who looks a little dangerous? That is the personification of Candle.
Recommendation: Get on the Candle train early. You can say you knew them when.
Hayduke X: Congratulations on your signing with Fighter Records and the label release of your Demo. After hearing it, I think the label has made a good choice. How has it been received since it came out?
Markus Janis: Thank you! We have gotten quite a few reviews from different sources, and in general they have been very positive, which is a very nice surprise for us since it was originally only planned as a promo to labels etc.
HX: You guys are basically a brand new band that sounds like you have been around for 40 years. How do you achieve that sound?
MJ: I take that as a compliment, haha! Well, I guess it comes down to influences, really. We wanted an old school but still heavy kind of sound, and add in some theatrical bits and as much atmosphere as we could possibly conjure up. It’s basically heavy metal of the old kind, done in the way we want it to sound.
HX: Can you give me a breakdown of the formation of the band?
MJ: It all started with some songs written on the side from our other band, Corrosive Carcass, written by me (Markus), before there was even a mention of starting a band. I wanted to get back into my main instrument as guitarist, from many years of drumming for CC. Kanto (guitar) heard the songs and we started rehearsing the songs as a duo before we picked up the brothers Jorma (drums) and Juhani (bass). After that, we managed to find Erik to finish the constellation with his powerful and theatrical vocals.
HX: What is your songwriting process?
MJ: Usually I write the songs at home, providing inspiration strikes. But Kanto is also a key person in the songwriting process, and usually an idea turns into a collaboration that we piece together. Jorma and Juhani are of course also vital in the songwriting, as their skills and ideas help lift the songs. Also Erik has been contributing with several lyrics.
HX: What is the album about thematically?
MJ: Well basically it will be a concept story about murder, betrayal and vengeance.
HX: Tell me about Betrayal. Is this based on personal events?
MJ: No, all the songs are works of fiction, spawned in our minds. Basically, we just want to tell stories in a theatrical heavy metal format, as I think this is a great combination.
HX: What are you musical and non-musical inspirations? What do you listen to when you’re not making your own music?
MJ: Horror stories and movies are of course a big source of inspiration, as are mythological topics, history, basically everything that has a dark theme. Personally, I listen to many kinds of music, but lately I’ve gone back to a lot of older heavy metal.
HX: Are there many bands in Sweden still playing a traditional heavy metal style or has it mostly moved onto other more modern sounds?
MJ: There has been a surge of new bands playing heavy metal in Sweden. I think as a result, many people may have rekindled their love for heavy metal, after listening to more extreme or modern bands. At least this is what happened to me and people I know.
HX: Do you have any touring plans? Can we expect to see you in the United States at any point?
MJ: Well, you never know, for sure we’d love to tour the States, but planning a tour is not always easy, and as of now, we’re concentrating on separate gigs around Sweden. But after the album release, who knows? Of course we’re eager to get out on tour!
HX: Tell me about opening for Blaze Bayley. Is that still the band’s only live performance?
MJ: As it was our debut performance, we were quite nervous, even though we all had experience from playing in other bands. Luckily, it was very well received and really fueled our enthusiasm to keep writing and play more shows. So all in all, it was a great first show! No, since then we’ve had several other shows, for example a little more than a month ago we were featured at an after party of Accept and Sabaton, and some other shows at pubs and clubs around our hometown.
HX: What is your dream tour? Where would you go and what band or bands would you want to tour with?
MJ: Tough question. I think it would be an amazing experience to have an international tour no matter where it would be, but a tour through Europe or the US would be awesome. Or South America. The crowd there seems pretty wild! What bands to tour with… In a perfect world, opening up for King Diamond would be pretty sweet! Or perhaps Judas Priest!
HX: What does playing music give you? Why do you play?
MJ: To me personally, it’s the best therapy. Whether it’s stress or anxiety, playing music always calms me down. It’s also an outlet of inspiration, when you really have a creative itch you have to scratch, nothing feels better than spending half the night finishing a song! Also, music is the one thing I could never picture myself getting bored of.
HX: Tell me about the album art. Who is the artist? How well do you feel it reflects the album?
MJ: Well, if you’re talking about the demo, Kanto is the one who made the composition for the cover art. We just wanted something simple and fast, but that would speak for the band, to give people a feel for our music. As for our debut album, artwork has not yet been created, and we are still brainstorming ideas for a fitting cover. But it will definitely be something fitting to the songs of the album.
HX: What’s next for Candle? Do you have more music coming?
MJ: We’re always writing new stuff, coming up with ideas and riffs. Since it’s a brand new band, with many for us untouched territories, it feels like this is a great opportunity to keep the creative flow running. We already have some ideas started for our second album, haha!
HX: Is there anything else we should know about Candle?
MJ: Only that Candle’s music is a lot about the atmosphere, as much as it is about the heaviness, and that we aim to put on theatrical shows that will hopefully make people remember our performance, as much visually as musically. Also, we’ll be hitting the studios in may to record our debut album, which will be released later this year, so make sure to keep an eye out for that!
Thanks very much for your time.