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The Malice - Swedish death metal with oriental tones | FESTIVALPHOTO

The Malice - Swedish death metal with oriental tones


The Malice is a new addition to the Swedish death metal map. A genre that seems to be narrow but popular worldwide. The band released its debut EP 2016. The sequel of Lamashtu, 2018, has received very good reviews from several music media across Europe. The essence of oriental instruments and tones gives the band an identity that stands out. Swedish artist Hubbe Liljegren plays together with German artist Claudio Enzler and the two other members of the band.
I met Hubbe in an open and personal interview where he, among other things, talked about his background and how it has influenced the direction and texts of music.

The band's history and production

Hubbe begins by telling about his personal journey like this;

- I have been unable to work for few years when I suffered from a mental collapse in 2014. I went to psychologists who tried to investigate the cause and at first we thought it was related to access amount of work load. It might have been a contributing cause, but for about a year ago, after a long wait, I was diagnosed with ADHD.

- ADHD can be expressed in many ways, but most people feel that their brain functions at high speed and is highly focused all the time, which is a major strain to the brain. You get the feeling that something is wrong and unable to understand why you have become like this. When I got the diagnosis ADHD, there was a lot that fell in place, and many questions were answered.

- During the time when I was sick, I needed to do something creative as I am a musician by profession, went to music high school, played guitar and played in metal bands. Now I felt that it was much needed for me to free myself from all the issues I experienced mentally, so I created The Malice as a project, to sit home and write music. It was a lot about like fighting a mental MMA match with myself, what I had been keeping inside.

How did the collaboration with Claudio start?

- Claudio and I met when we both were out and toured for many years ago," said Hubbe. Then when social media had a break through, we began collaborating with each other.
Claudio and I began to work and I learned about studio technology which is much easier today.

- I write all the arrangements, including the singing arrangements. What one must understand is with death metal is that the growl is a separate instrument with its own pace. What is a bit unique with Claudio is that his growl is well articulated so that you actually hear what he's singing. He sounds a bit like my old idol David Vincent from Morbid Angel, which I started to listen to as a 12-year-old. My brothers used to check out Headbangers Ball (Part of MTV) and late at night came Morbid Angel. It was my first contact with death metal, its expression and music, and it fascinated me a lot.

How does it work to cooperate from two different countries?

- Claudio plays the song in a studio in Germany and then sent to me here in Sweden where I edit it. The first EP was released on CD and digital. Now we only create digital. In a later stage when we are well established on live scene, we will release more physical material.

The background of music and the lyrics

Hubbe is a musician with broad knowledge and a genuine interest in composition. He tells a lot of interesting history connected to both music and text.

- I like the hard music like death because it makes my thoughts calm.
The Malice should be the feeling of getting our deepest human nature from us. To make people feel that it's ok to think for themselves and that it's ok to feel feelings like hatred. Denying such feelings is what makes many people to become dangerous individuals.

Hubbe has grown up in an environment where free thinking was not a matter of choice, but their perceptions and approaches were connected to a strong Christian environment. Like all children, he accepted his parent's beliefs, but in adulthood he built a very strong sense of exclusion and insufficient. To feel bad and not to be human in its full nature. Then he began to wonder what faith really was all about. He describes;

- I realized more and more that I am a humanist. I believe in human ability to change things in the world. Therefore, many of my texts deal with violence, darkness and stupidity - The Malice (translation of evil, madness). The lyrics usually reflect what I'm working on the inside. "They might be, for example, religiously-critical because I can see that people can become slaves under certain circumstances, and are not been able to think about themselves and question. The text of The Pestilence of Ibra, is about how religion makes people slaughter and justifies violent acts. For my part, I grew up in a safe and loving family with good values about how to treat people, but I do not buy the concept of salvation, hell and god. As a humanist, I think it's us who change our future and that our destiny is something we shape ourselves. Journey from reading the Bible to being interested in history is not so great and if you choose to see the Bible as a history book, there are many interesting links to other sources.

- I like Sumerian (Sumerian period 3220 BC - 2000 BC, Mesopotamia / Old Iraq) and use it often in my expressions, says Hubbe. It has a mysterious cult about it. What we do not know so much about fascinates me. Just that dark has always fascinated me, both fictitiously but also because there are people in our lives. This interest has certainly been characterized by years in an environment where dark and evil could not take place.

Many people associate death metal with Satan worship incorrectly. On the other hand, Satan is often a form that may symbolize the dark message.

- What is the Devil? To me, something is blamed on, says Hubbe. Basically, it's people's mistakes and actions that have created the myth of the devil. La Mashtu in Sumerian history is one of several myths of evil deeds such as Satan, Set, Hades, which we can find in several religions and myths. She is a female demon in Sumerian history, where you can read about a rebellion against the highest of gods, to be excluded later and remain the fallen.
This is exactly the same story that can be found in Christian and Jewish history. It's taken from there, only with changed names.
When I realized this, I also wondered where Abraham came from? He came from Uhr in old Mesopotamia. He lived in the Sumerian culture and was influenced from there. There are other texts such as a Messiah born from a virgin and Noah's ark, among others. That's when I seriously realized in my life that I do not believe in all this.

Since both me and Hubbe have a background in strong religious environments, there will be a lot of deep conversations about how religion affects us people. I do not tell you everything here but it's an interesting background that makes The Malice feel like an extra interesting concept. It gives a greater depth to the music because all this affects the sound and the lyrics.

The oriental sound

The other part that makes the music special is the oriental elements. Hubbe explains the background;

- The first material with The Malice was just pure death metal but now I felt I wanted to develop my musical expression. I have a great love for oriental music. It came a lot during high school days, including bands such as Myrath and Orphaned Land. It is more of a progressive music but they use the Arabic influences in metal.
I did not want to do what the musician called the Frygian scale, which Dio in Rainbow has used, harmoniously.
Instead, I wanted to move on to the Arabic scale, where it is called as micro notes. There are tones that lie between our tones and which our ears can be perceived as "false" when we use the 8-ton scale. I went on a course to musician from Iraq so our new EP is more a test of getting this into death metal.

Responses, fans and future

How have fans and reviewers received your music?

- The response has been overwhelming and we have received many positive reviews from both Europe and the rest of the world. We have received many comments, among other things, and it's a great fun. I have learned music and harmonics from scratch and it's clear that I gain benefit from it. If you violate the rules you must be able to regulate them, otherwise you are wrong. I like that the production is clean and clear, and our producer Ulf Blomberg has done it very well.
- There is a style called as Swedish Death Metal but it's not like what The Malice plays. This also means that many of those who buy our music are those who like the American sound, but there they get themselves a Scandinavian touch and oriental instruments. Among other things, we have a pretty big fan base in the states.
To play live is something that The Malice looks forward to.

- Now we are looking for musicians who want to play with us live so the idea is that you really get to know the music and see the expression. How awesome is it not to go to a death metal concert and feel the baskets bang in your chest?

Personally, I'm not a super fan of death metal in general but one thing is safe; I look forward to seeing The Malice live and I think there are many who want to do.

Writer: Elise Pavicic
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