Henrik Petersson & Andreas Wikström


Good vibes along with old school music, what can be more uplifting than that? Following the Swedish Heavy Metallers, Screamer, there is no surprise there. No matter the looks of the book's cover, the inside is vibrant, energetic and positive. Releasing their new album, "Kingmaker", the nature of Heavy Metal is at full extent. Steinmetal had a good talk with the band's Henrik Petersson and Andreas Wikström, about the new album, its experience and of course the soul of the music.
March 3, 2023
Screamer's Henrik Petersson: "From the start this band has been an adventure spreading feel-good vibes
Hello gents, it is great to have you for this talk about what is going on Screamer as of late, how are guys doing?

All is well thank you Lior

You certainly waited for the right time to release another album, after years of drought on the live front due to the Covid pandemic, which took the world by surprise. Let's look back a bit, how were you able to cope with it, even though I know that Sweden didn't exactly have restrictions back then?

Henrik: Well, yeah - it was quite the blowback since we only had the opportunity to do the one tour on our previous album before the world shut down. I think we did our last show on February 29th 2020 before the pandemic shut the world down. We were lucky that we had material recorded to be able to release a live album in early 2021 called "Live Sacrifice". We did become very good at working remotely and wrote all of 'Kingmaker' that way during the pandemic. Even if we didn't have lockdowns, it was very much not recommended to meet up and we avoided that as much as we could.

Coming up with the successor to the efforts of "Highway Of Heroes" was quite the challenge, but I believe that you came through, and even nailed it, with "Kingmaker". Other than the fact that the title shares a bit of heroism, what can you tell about its origins?

Andreas: I think the songs pretty much came about in the usual way for the most parts, a riff, an idea, and then we collaborate from that. There wasn't like a plan for a concept album or anything like that.

From what I could tell, "Kingmaker" takes the listener into other ventures, let's call them that, that Screamer is after. Not just the grandeur of the music, and feel of freedom, but actually taking on aspects of life that are crucial and important. Was it a sort of a natural selection to refine yourselves lyrically, simply to freshen things up, or was there an intent?

Andreas: Not really an intent at all, but the songs often reflect, at least to some degree, whatever is on my mind at the moment. With the world in the state it is today I guess it's not that surprising that a few more somber things crept into the songs.

I can sum the main changes in your lyrical perspective in three words: Melancholy, social and fantasy. To be honest, and in connection to the previous question, these are three elements that have been shared by a variety of Metal bands over the years. So what makes these so special for you guys to dwell on?

Andreas: As you said, these are common themes. I guess they just fit the genre. And even though I might base any given song's lyrics on what's on my mind at the time it still has to "fit" you know. But that's kind of the beauty of it as well, it leaves a lot of stuff open for the listener to interpret their own way as well.

This is the part where there is a need to know what the listener can take from "Kingmaker". I bet there is also the spirituality of the genre the lives in there, as a moral basis, but do you believe there other than that?

Henrik: I'm not the lyricist, but live and breathe Screamer. And from the start this band has been an adventure spreading feel-good vibes, though sometimes cloaked in melancholy, urging the listener to believe in themselves and live life to the fullest. Andreas probably has another answer to that though haha

Andreas: No, I agree! At the heart of it, there's always going to be a positive vibe to our stuff, but that doesn't mean that you can't stop to think and reflect about less positive things every once in a while.

I really liked the artwork of "Kingmaker", and I bet that it looks explosive on a t-shirt. Anyways, this looker artwork features something that could have been part of Lord Of The Rings, featuring Sauron in its earlier form. David Paul Seymour was the one behind this great piece of art. What can you tell about the vision behind this art, and what makes it a "Kingmaker"?

Henrik: The cover depicts our Demon Rider, our mascot if you so like, that we've been using as a reference in lyrics and artwork since our second album. A renegade that lives on the road, fighting for what's right and just. The main thought was to try and tie the lyrics together from both our old and new musical outputs. It's more like picturing the Screamer-world from a dystopian future where there's no boundaries between science and perhaps even some fantasy elements. Think more Dark Tower than LOTR, because I do believe that is way more accurate. At least it makes sense to me, and it's how I presented the idea to Andreas. It feels like he should give his thoughts about it as well.

Andreas: Yeah, exactly. Again, anything goes as far as the origin for a song's lyrics, but then you kind of make it fit that "Screamer-world" mold. Everything could take place there, but some stuff might be applicable to real life as well.

Ever since my first listening to Screamer, it has been about old school Metal, but not just old school, the early 80s, going British and US from time to time. With simple structures, grooves and crunchy riffs, along with sweetener melodies, you were able to accomplish a lot with "Kingmaker". What can you tell that was done differently this time around, musically?

Henrik: We had the approach of what we wanted the album to be pretty much from the start in terms of what type of songs we wanted on this one. I personally have always wanted us to create a fist-pounding epic song, and when Andreas presented his idea of the chorus to "Ashes and Fire", I instantly got an idea that Jon managed to make flesh. I think we worked on that one the first time me and Dejan ever met up to jam with him, to be honest. And we leaned heavily on the melodies this time around, that was probably one of the details, besides the arrangements, that took the most time to finish. Dejan and Jon sure did a great job there. All in all, I think Jon added some flair with the guitar works and Andreas was definitely on top of his game for this one.

In my view, "Kingmaker" stands not just as a hook machine, but also a step back into vintage Metal, probably in a fiercer approach than previously. Since the revival of vintage Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal, is quite strong at the moment, would you say that it was only natural to pursue deeper into nostalgia?

Henrik: We don't really consider what we do to be 'nostalgia'. It's obvious how the listener can perceive it that way, but we as a band have no interest or intention of sounding like a tribute band to the past. Even if we do know  that the 70's and 80's music has given us the solid foundation we stand on, we strive to move forward all the time. Guitar melodies, hooky sing-along choruses and a pounding rhythm section is what get us all going when listening to music and attending shows, and that's what we want to return to the listener as well.

When it comes to the songwriting, and I mentioned that briefly, there are the structures of the songs that aren't messing with your head, letting you the straightforward feel to the maximum. What can you tell about the songwriting process?

Henrik: Nah, calling us a progressive metal band would probably be an overstatement, haha! We do like twists and turns, but serving the song and keeping it interesting for a live crowd is what we're into, simply put.

Recently joining the band is the ex-The Embodied guitarist, Jonathan Aagaard Mortensen, also known as Jon Mortensen. From what I can tell, since his joining, you have been enriched musically. What can you tell about his contribution to the efforts behind "Kingmaker"?

Henrik: He's actually Jonathan Morheim these days. Most of the album was 'done' by the time he joined the ranks, but he did a great job in presenting a few ideas of his own and putting a new flare to the musical approach of it all. Can't wait to see what's in store for the next album with him on board.

You spoke of melancholy, mentioning one of your lead singles for the album, "The Traveler". Yes, there is something about being lonely, on a journey, also to be forever alone on that journey, that makes it a sad overcome. Nevertheless, the musical part, which is direct, simple and to the point, wins the game. This is so 80s that it kills. It can be said that being technical doesn't mean that much in relation to this song?

Henrik: Well, just because it sounds simple, does that mean it is simple? There's quite a lot of intricate guitar parts and a ripping solo in there. But this is definitely presented as a highway anthem for sure.

Going a little more energetic, with a kind of riffery that is British as it can be, there is the magical "Burn It Down", crispy, catchy and blasting in its own form. This is pre-Speed Metal so to speak, with a shriek of Motorhead. I could feel the loose vibe, the craving for the enchanting spirit of the old school. What is your appreciation of this track?

Henrik: I think it's very important to have one of these songs on any album made. The vibe and intensity differs a bit from the rest of the outputs on the album, but it deserves its place when it comes to building a dynamic listener experience. And yah, it works out fantastic in a live situation as well!

After these two crunchers, I have to know more about the sound of the record. This is a step forward for you guys, as this sound reflects the rightful pattern for you, a great service for your efforts and intentions. Who engineered this album and how do you find the end result of the production?

Henrik: We definitely kicked everything up more than a few notches this time around. We went to Gothenburg and Top Floor Studios where we did pre-production with Jacob Herrman for 4 of the songs and I felt that helped us a lot in finishing up the album. While Dejan recorded all of the guitars and bass in our own recording studio, I took the drums and went back to Gothenburg and Jacob for a week-long session. It was a greatly rewarding experience to get to work with a drum producer and also a drum sound wizard. After all the revising was done, Dejan reached out to his old friend Henrik Udd (Hammerfall, Powerwolf, Architects among others) who mixed and mastered the album. Already when we got the test mix back we felt that we nailed 'Kingmaker'. We're very proud of the outcome!

I noticed that you have been quite busy on the live front and scheduling forward. What can you tell about the recent live activity and also your plans ahead for 2023?

Henrik: We have a European tour with Skull Fist coming up in April, as well as some Scandinavian dates around Muskelrock in May/June. What happens next we will see, we're looking into crossing the pond to go on yet another North American tour. The future will tell!

Guys, it was good to have you for this talk. I have been following for quite some time and I am glad that we are able to catch up with Screamer. Well done for "Kingmaker" and I am waiting for more. All the best!

Thank you Lior for the interview

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