:: Interview with Toxaemia
Interview with Toxaemia
Swedish death mongers Toxaemia formed in the late 1980s, a period that defined Swedish DM and death metal in general. Swedish DM legends Nihilist and the bands they spawned— Entombed
— plus their cohorts from Stockholm, Grave Dismember
all emerged in the late ‘80s. The scene was small back then and Toxaemia shared the stage with likes of Entombed
and an early, death metal version of Therion
Toxaemia’s sound reflected the raw, sanguinary qualities heard on albums such as Carcass
’ "Reek of Putrifaction" or Deicide
’s self-titled debut. Skin-peeling guitar licks that find balance between speedy chugs and crunchy ring outs, gore-strewn, cavernous vocals and a punishing rhythm section defined the the group’s three recordings. Just like the briefness of these three recordings—an EP and two demos—the group only lasted three years.
If not for Dark Descent Records releasing a two-disc CD best of album—"Buried to Rise: 1990-1991 Discography"—which contains all these recordings, in various forms, this Swedish DM gem would have remained a memory to only the few who experienced them doing that short, glorious time. The first CD offers cleaned up versions of the original recordings, courtesy of legendary death metal producer and musician Dan Swano. The second includes all their songs in their original, raw form.
Bassist Pontus Cervin, one of the band’s original cast, spoke to Metal Ship via email about the resurrection of Toxaemia.
Metalship : Toxaemia formed in 1989, during the formative years of Swedish death metal. What do you remember about the death metal scene in your country during those years?
Well there are lots of things to remember, for me it was growing slowly with the tape trading scene and finding new bands from that scene. When it really took off in Sweden, there were two gigs, one with Carcass
at Nya Strömmen in Norrköping, and then Morbid Angel
show in Fagersta. After that, death metal bands popped up all over Sweden. I missed out on the Carcass
gig myself but most of my friends went. However, I did go to Fagersta for the Morbid Angel
gig. It was awesome! The one problem we had was places to play live, so we started putting together our own gigs with similar bands. We arranged three or four in Motala. The most successful one we had over 300 paying customers. We had Entombed
, Morbidity and Toxaemia on stage that night! That was a night worth remembering!
Metalship : Toxaemia hails from the Motala and the Östergötlands län areas. Were musicians that shared an interest in extreme metal hard to find in this area? Were you a long distance from Stockholm—the area credited as the hotbed for Swedish DM?
Well it is a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Stockholm from Motala, so it’s not that far away. Through tape trading and so on, we had good contact with most of the Stockholm based bands. Although in truth, there were not many musicians or even people that were in to DM in our area, but over time more and more people got into it.
Metalship : Toxaemia shared the stage with bands that have become Swedish death metal legends such as Entombed, Merciless and Therion (they were a death metal band in those days). Do you feel that if you had stayed together you would be a major death metal act in your country today?
Well I think that is impossible to answer. We had a good run when we were active, but we were never as big as those guys, so I guess my answer is I don't know.
Metalship : You tried other names such as Anguish and Mutilator before arriving at Toxaemia. Do you recall how you came up with this name and why it stuck?
I am not entirely sure but I think Emil came up with the name (Editor Note: according to the freedictionary.com, the word means "a condition characterized by the presence of bacterial toxins in the blood.") I think he had found it in a medical dictionary, and as soon as we heard it we knew that was the name. It was nothing like the other DM bands names, but still very cool in our ears!
Metalship : You released the "Deadly Coronations" demo under the guise of Anguish in 1989. Do you or any of your mates still own a copy of this recording? Was the style different from future Toxaemia recordings?
Yeah we did release a tape; it wasn't a proper demo, though. I believe we called it a rehearsal tape. It was recorded using a Porta studio or possibly Emil's cassette recorder. I cant remember. The style was similar, but we had a different singer called Holma and the songs were less structured. It wasn't bad but it wasn't Toxaemia either. As far as I know, there are only two tapes left of the Anguish rehearsal tape, and I am in possession of them both.
Metalship : Your first demo, "Kaleidoscopic Lunacy" consisted of 200 white cassette tapes. One of the songs, 'Crematorium' appears in its 1989 and 1991 form. Some demo tapes from back in the day sound incredibly shitty, but these sounds quite good. Dan Swano mixed and remastered the first CD. Did he leave 'Crematorium' in its original condition?
and no. Dan did remaster the first demo ("Kaleidoscopic Lunacy") and the "Beyond the Realm" EP from the master
tapes we had saved from back then. However, the DAT tape that contained the "Buried to Rise" master
has been lost during the years since we did the recording. Luckily, we kept the 8-track tape with the unmixed tracks, so Dan remixed that from scratch, so to speak. The versions on CD 1 have the ‘89 version of 'Crematorium' and the ‘91 version remixed by Dan. CD 2 contains the songs in their original mix taken from the best quality versions we could find from the demo tapes and EP. That's as close as we get to the original sounding mix.
Metalship : "Buried to Rise: 1990-1991 Discography comes with two CDs." The first disc contains Swano’s remixes and the second features songs in their original state. Why did you feel it was important to offer buyers two versions?
I have to credit Matt from Dark Descent Records for that idea. He said we could do a double CD release. We had heard that some people were unhappy with earlier remix/remaster releases, so we wanted to make sure everyone got what they wanted when they bought the CD. For me personally, I wanted the CD to sound as good as we could, and I knew Dan could deliver that. I have known Dan since way back when he was in Edge of Sanity
, so it was a no-brainer who would do the remix/remaster! There was only one name on the list, so to speak.
Metalship : One problem with death metal demos, from your era and the current one, is they come out unlistenable because the production is so murky. Do you think Swano helped you find a sound that is both raw and intelligible?
I think Dan did a fantastic job of cleaning up the recordings with out taking away any of the rawness that was there. It is always a fine line but in my opinion, Dan's remix/remaster sounds awesome! The 8-track tape we had for him
to remix was in very poor condition after almost twenty years. For him
to get that to sound this good shows the guy is a genius!
Metalship : The vinyl version contains only the songs from disc two—the tracks in their original state. Do you feel vinyl is a better medium for hearing these tracks than a CD?
Personally, I prefer the CD medium, but vinyl is damned old school. I think it is great to release some old school Swedish death on old school vinyl! Ted at the Crypt has done a great job creating a fantastic package for the vinyl release. I am really looking forward to sticking it on my vinyl player at home! It’s gonna be awesome!
Metalship : According to The Metal Archives, you guys have split up. Does the release of Buried to Rise: 1990-1991 Discography signify Toxaemia’s return?
You should never say never, but unfortunately I don't think that is going to happen. We live far from each other and we all have families and lives to live. As I said, though, you should never say never...
added by Darren Cowan, on January 25, 2011 for Metalship