Interview With ‘Pantokrator’


panto-artSwedish death metallers Pantokrator are working on a new album, the follow up to 2007′s “Aurum”. The album is titled “Incarnate” and will be released in Januari 2014 via Rottweiler Records & Soundmass. So before the release of the new album let’s have a chat with these Swedish guys:

TMR: Hey guys this is ‘The Metal Resource’ from Holland, how are things going there in Sweden?

This nation is going straight to hell. Apart from that all is fine.

TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the band please ! [name and instrument]

Mattias – Guitars, Karl – Vocals, Vísions and words, Rickard – Drums, Jonas – Bass, Jonathan – Guitar

TMR: Tell us the brief history of ‘Pantokrator’

Pantokrator was originally formed in autumn 1996. Our first gig was planned before we actually had written any songs so we started by playing covers by Tourniquet and Mortification. Our own music took a turn against heavier domains and a couple of demos were released the first years before the EP ‘Songs of Solomon’ was made in 2001, later to be released as a split-CD with the band Sanctifica by Rivel Records. In 2003 Pantokrator released their debut album ‘Blod’ (Rivel Records), partly recorded at Slaughterhouse studios engineered by producer Rickard Bengtsson. The contact with Bengtsson led to a continued collaboration for the next album ‘Aurum’ (Whirlwind Records) released in 2007. This year Pantokrator also released their 10-year anniversary CD ‘A decade of thoughts’ (Momentum Scandinavia). Since then the band has been touring europe a couple of times playing shows mostly in Germany, Czech Republic and Switzerland, but also in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Holland and France a few times. Last year Pantokrator played at main stage at the Trutnov open air festival, CZ.

The line-up has been unaltered since -97 with the addition of a fifth member in 2003 and thus the band was complete. Being fortunated free of line-up changes, the band has developed into a group with a strong spirit of understanding both musical and artistic.

In january our new album ‘Incarnate’ will be released by Rottweiler Records & Soundmass.

Pantokrator-2013TMR: Are you guys full time musicians? If not what kind of job or school do you do beside the band?

No we are not, we all work in different fields. service, manufacturing, architecture, design and programming.

TMR: What is your musical background? [for everyone personal]

Mattias: I,ve always been interested in music. Rock became interesting when I first heard Europe as a small kid, then after a few years I discovered thrash metal and then i was destroyed…     ….for life…
Karl: From childhood the hymns of revival, then came the Rock´n roll on the fifties, When I was 13-14 I found Death metal.
Ricke:  Started to whistle at the age of 6 months and after that I’ve just kept on going. Played in various constellations and styles of music all my life and love every aspect of it.
Jonas: I started to play classical violin when I was 7 and for many years that was my main instrument and I still play. But when my older brother got an electric guitar I wanted to be like him, so I bought a bass. Shortly after that, me, Rickard and a friend of ours started a doom metal band and a year later me and Rickard joined Pantokrator. This was 1997.
Jonathan: My brothers paved the way with hard rock and metal for me. I used to steal/borrow their cassettes/LPs/CDs. Then after a while i started to play the guitar and started to play in bands with my friends. Which lead to bands like Crimson Moonlight and Sanctifica at first, then I joined Pantokrator in 2003.

TMR: Why the name ‘Pantokrator’? Is there a story behind it?

Found it, liked it, kept it. we found it in the thanks section of a metal album, we found the translation of the word in the index of a swedish bible.

TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in ‘Pantokrator’? … how do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influences you for writing music and lyrics?

The lyrics is mostly Karl, either creating or editing older sources. The music is all the others.

Mattias: My ideas come from all kinds of music, since I listen to a lot of different genres which I think is true for most of us. Some parts we write on our own and some parts we write together it’s like everything has to pass through the “pantokrator filter” regardless of who it was that actually wrote the piece.
Jonas: I try to write music that has the same feeling as a building or a piece of furniture that I like or have created.
Jonathan: I usually get all the ideas late at night when I really need to sleep, as to make sure they are to be forgotten forever. I guess that is the time when my brain is processing all the music I’ve heard during the day…
Ricke: I’ve ideas all the time. I try to record them instantly on my phone so I can pick them up when it’s time to write a song or contribute to Jonas, Mattias or Jonathans ideas. Think that I am the mood of writing music all the time … hehe….

TMR: How do you describe the music of ‘Pantokrator’ the best?

Music is not meant to be described in words – the only way to really find out is to listen. The genre is metal though…

TMR: For a lot of bands the lyrics are just a accidental circumstance, but for some bands they use them to communicate ! ..can you tell us how that is for ‘Pantokrator’ ?

We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds…

TMR: Is there a highlight you will always remember, since the beginning of ‘Pantokrator’?

Among other things.. The genesis of  “Separated by night” ( songs of Solomon ), we were just about to go home from rehearsal, packing our instruments and other stuff, all of a sudden Mattias said: – Wait! and started to play the same little melody over and over again. The others took up their instruments as well.. it was a moment of true inspiration.

Jonathan: When we travelled 1000 kilometers and it turned out that Mattias had forgotten his guitar at home! Luckily we had a backup one with us.
Ricke: Beside the “incident” that Jonathan mentioned I really loved the moment when we’re confirmed for the Gates of metal-festival as the first “christian” band ever to play there. We played together with bands like Dimmu Borgir, God among inesects, Evergrey, Edguy to name a few.

TMR: And the worst thing were? [if there is one]

Even the worst stories get pretty fun in retrospect, what is bad in life is often good in stories.
The real times of darkness is when we get nowhere with the music, but that is just sad and makes no stories to tell.

Pantokrator-studioTMR: What is the last album you bought? [for everyone personal]

Mattias: I dont remember, haven’t bought any albums in a while, maybe the “heaven and hell” album? Dios last album. I don’t know I mostly listen to Spotify nowadays.
Jonathan: I have no idea… These days I mostly listen to music on Spotify as I work at the computer all day long.
Karl: In the shadow of death (compilation ) bought from Pilgrim 4 days ago
Jonas: Can’t remember me neither…
Ricke: Drottnar “stratum”

TMR: What makes you laugh? [for everyone personal]

Very often the other four members of the band

TMR: What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked? [for everyone personal]

Is the coffee to strong for you?

TMR: What are some key principles or philosophies that you hold onto as foundational stones as who you are as a person? [for everyone personal]

Mattias: A tricky question, maybe to not judge someone before you get to know them. I easily judge people so I need to think about that
Karl: let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one. If you do not say what you mean do not expect to be understood. and remember you do not lose until you give up.
Ricke: Try to treat people with love and respect and hopefully you’ll get that in return.
Jonas: Trying to stand firm to my key principles.
Jonathan: I guess its all about finding out who you really are, and accept that person.

TMR: As a Christian what is your relationship with God like at this point in your life, and what sort of message would you share with the readers at this time, that would inspire and encourage both believers and non believers to cling onto the things of God. [for everyone personal]

Our personal relationships with our creator is precisely that “personal”. But as a band we would like to say:

Come! We will bring you revolution, it begins in the heart of man.
The light shines in darkness and the dark cannot prevail
I ask you to believe, not to understand.

TMR: What is the Swedish metal scene like?

Sweden has always been spitting out a huge quantity of quality bands. Most of these – including us – don’t really play live here though, they just go down to Europe instead. When attending concerts, most people like to stay in the back instead of starting a moshpit. Or you know, just stay home and complain about the ticket prices and how cold it is outside.

TMR: What are some of the things you like to do away from the band? [for everyone personal]

Mattias: I like to spend time with friends, having a barbeque, having a beer, making music, traveling and playing RPG:s
Karl: Love, rest, eat, drink, pray read, create in words and pictures, train and teach self defence.
Ricke: Write music, playing video games, watching movies, fishing and spending time with my wife and kids to name a few.
Jonas: Art and running.
Jonathan: Play games, complain that its time to eat or go to bed again. : P

PANTO_LIVETMR: How do you promote your band and shows?

Mainly through facebook, twitter etc. and together with our labels.

TMR: How do you prepare for a show? [for everyone personal]

Mattias: I try to rehearse on the songs a couple of times in the days before the gig. I also put on a new pair of strings before I go. Before gigs I try to play a little backstage but sometimes I’m too lazy for that.
Karl: listen and rehearse in the car at work. write, think, pray and put the merch in order
Ricke: I try to practise at least once a day at least a week before a show.
Jonas: No special routines really. Just rehearsing and make sure all the gear works properly.
Jonathan: The days before a show I put new strings on the guitar and play through the songs a few times. Right before the show, nothing special really.

TMR: What can you tell us about your upcoming album “Incarnate” [the recording process, the songs, who did the artwork etc?]

For the last album ‘Aurum’ we went to an expensive studio, but this time we recorded everything ourselves. That gave us more time to work on the details, which we felt were sometimes missing on Aurum.
Musically we think it’s both heavier but still more melodic than Aurum. On Aurum we had more thrash-influences but this time we are more focused on the melodies and the mood. It’s in our opinion a better and more diverse album.

TMR: The album will be released in Januari 2014 through ‘Rottweiler Records’ & ‘Soundmass’ How did you get signed by them?

We sent out songs to a LOT of labels, and these two responded in a positive way. Because they have different markets, we decided to sign with both.

TMR: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?

Behold, the sower went forth to sow;
and as he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the birds came and devoured them:
and others fell upon the rocky places, where they had not much earth: and straightway they sprang up, because they had no deepness of earth:  and when the sun was risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
And others fell upon the thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked them:
and others fell upon the good ground, and yielded fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
He that hath ears, let him hear.

TMR: Are you visiting many gigs and what do you listen to these days? [for everyone personal]

Mattias : I don’t visit a lot of gigs since I live in the middle of nowhere but I listen to a lot of music (thank God for internet!!!) I listen to a lot of different bands and genres including really soft stuff as well as extreme black metal. I don’t have boundaries when it comes to music.
Karl: very seldom unless we are there to play
Ricke: I wish that I could attend more shows but sadly there are so many other things that occupies my time. I listen to different kinds of music.
Jonas: Like Karl said, I mostly got to see other bands if we’re playing at the same venue. At home I listen to all kinds of music.
Jonathan: I wouldn’t say I go to a lot of shows, but since I live quite close to a large town I go there sometimes when there’s a band playing that I really want to see.

TMR: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?

Lack of time, Lack of cash and life in general.

For us I guess the biggest obstacle is that we live so far from each other.

TMR: What advice would you give to fellow bands?

Write, play and record the songs that you yourself want to hear. Play unto others as you yourself would have others play unto you!

TMR: What are your plans for the near future? [European Tour maybe?]

Once the new album is out we sure want to go out and play again.

TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview, we wish ‘Pantokrator’ all the best for the rest of the year and already for 2014 … Is there anything you wanna say at last? [any final statement?]

Remember that most of the worst evil deeds and crimes against humanity is performed not by evil men but by the obedient following orders.

Ancient Path – Unclean Plants [Demo] 1997
Even Unto the Ends of the Earth [Demo] 1998
Allhärskare [EP] 2000
Songs of Solomon [EP] 2001
In the Bleak Midwinter / Songs of Solomon [Split] 2001
1997-2000 [Compilation] 2001
Blod [Full-length] 2003
Leviathan [Single] 2007
A Decade of Thoughts 1996 – 2006 [Compilation] 2007
Aurum [Full-length] 2007
The Initiation [Single] 2010
Incarnate [Full Length] 2014

Band members:
Mattias Johansson – guitar
Karl Walfridsson – vocals
Rickard Gustafsson – drums
Jonas Wallinder – bass
Jonathan Jansson – guitar

Weblinks: Facebook / Website / Twitter

Video below ‘Revolution’ [teaser]

Video below ‘Nephilim’  [off the album “Aurum”]


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