Sweden's Skyfire are back after some personell changes to release what is without a doubt their strongest release to date, Esoteric. Combining elements of melodic death metal, symphonic progressive metal, black metal, and the majesty of power metal, Esoteric has turned into one of the surprises of 2009. Bassist Martin Hanner tells Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo about the recent changes in the band, what makes the band 'tick' on a musical level, and future plans for Skyfire.
SoT: The new CD Esoteric is quite an achievement, especially considering how
much has been going on with the band recently. Can you talk about the events since the last album came out, and the line-up changes specifically?
Martin: Well, our old bassist left and I filled in on bass for a Spanish tour. Johan became the new guitarist, and then right as we were ready to record "Esoteric," Henrik left and we now have a new vocalist named Joakim Karlsson and a very stable lineup!
SoT: Can you give us some info on your two new guys Joakim and Johan (though
our readers should be well familiar with him seeing as Andromeda are a very
popular band in SoT-land) and how they came to join the band?
Martin: Johan and I have been friends since we were kids, and it was pretty much a no-brainer to ask him to join. With Jocke, I saw his other band Mark:Black play a gig and I was pretty much floored by his live performance and I knew he had to be our new singer.
SoT: The music on Esoteric is very powerful and epic, and includes many styles of
metal coming together into one unstoppable force. Do the guys in the band favor
the more extreme styles of metal, or the more classic or progressive sounds?
Martin: We all listen to different stuff! Some of us listen to prog metal type stuff, others listen to more extreme death metal type stuff, etc! We generally share similar tastes though! I'd say overall as a whole, we prefer more classic type stuff to the more extreme stuff, but even then it's tough to say!
SoT: Relative again to styles, how would you classify the music of Skyfire for
someone who has never heard the band? Black metal? Death metal? Progressive
metal? Power metal? Or none of the above?
Martin: Swedish progressive death metal!
SoT: On many of the new songs, keyboards play just as important a role as the guitar. How hard is it to craft songs that have a melodic, epic feel, yet still retain the brutal, heavy nature the band is known for?
Martin: It can be hard. Especially since Andreas and myself write both guitar parts and keyboard parts to different song. A lot of the times, we build riffs on the keyboard melody though.
SoT: What are some of your favorite songs on the CD, and why?
Martin: I'd say the title track, because it's the catchiest in my opinion. It hooks you in, which is why we've made it the opener.
SoT: How do you feel Esoteric compares to your past releases?
Martin: With Mind Revolution and Spectral, we were basically rushed to finish the songs. While I love those albums, I definitely prefer Esoteric, because we had the most time to reflect on our songwriting and write the best Skyfire album ever!
SoT: Has the reaction to the new CD been positive so far?
Martin: It's been Great! I don't think we've gotten a bad review yet!
SoT: The songs on Esoteric seem like they would go over well live, especially here in the US seeing as symphonic metal of all kinds is pretty popular. Any chance we could see the band over here at some point in the near future?
Martin: Unfortunately there are no plans to play the US anytime soon. We will be touring Europe though!
SoT: Thanks again for doing the interview! Lastly, what are some of the other bands on the scene that you listen to and admire?
Martin: Bal-Sagoth, Symphony X, and Dark Tranquillity are definitely high on my list!
(Click here to read our review of Esoteric