Gutter Instinct just keep getting better and better. There, I said it. From the rumbling Swedish death metal monstrosity of The Insurrection, to the blackened death metal of Age of the Fanatics, and now the band’s latest grim opus Heirs of Sisyphus, Gutter Instinct are like an unstoppable juggernaut of carnage and mayhem.
Heirs of Sisyphus sees the band travel even further down the blackened path, while still retaining their core brutality. It’s a real ugly joy to listen to, and lets the listener completely wallow in aggression and darkness for an immersive 46 minutes of total morbid atmosphere and guttural destruction.
Rhythm guitarist Hannes Hellman talked to us about his band, how the new album came to be, and what lies ahead for Gutter instinct…
For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!
We are Gutter Instinct, a five-piece death metal band from Helsingborg, Sweden, with lots of thrash metal, grindcore and most of all black metal influences thrown into our sound. We have released a demo, an EP and two full length albums so far, the latest release being our sophomore album “Heirs of Sisyphus” which was released on 2xLP and CD formats by Pulverised Records on June 8th.
Give us a bit of background to Gutter Instinct. What are your influences?
Well, I can only speak for myself, but I know that both me and the other songwriter in the band (Oscar Persson) have very similar musical backgrounds and influences since we’re been friends since childhood basically. I’d say that we were influenced pretty much by the ‘standard bands’ when we were kids. You know…Metallica, Kiss, Guns’N’Roses, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, stuff like that. Ever since then we’ve always aimed to dive deeper and deeper into more and more extreme music of all sorts. As for metal, some of our favourite bands in recent times include Teitanblood, Black Witchery, Cult of Fire, Revenge, Katharsis, Inferno, Portal, Irkallian Oracle, Pseudogod, Infernal War…the list is endless.
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
The list above pretty much covers it. My two personal favourites that I always come back to are Teitanblood and Cult of Fire. They represent two ends of the ‘extreme metal’ spectrum and I try to incorporate elements of both bands into my songwriting. I have such respect for what they’re doing. Pure genius.
How do you feel that you fit into the wider extreme metal scene?
I guess you could categorise our music as ‘blackened death metal’. I don’t care about any particular ‘scene’ at all though and I’ve never really felt like a part of the metal scene personally. We just make the music we love, mostly for ourselves, and if other people like it as well that’s definitely a bonus. Of course we’re always happy about reading nice reviews and such. For me personally though, being a part of the ‘extreme metal scene’ is not something I ever think about. I listen to so many different genres of music and metal is just a small part of it.
Give us a bit of background to Heirs of Sisyphus – any particular concepts or ideas you want to discuss?
Like Sisyphus (in Greek mythology) was condemned to push that giant boulder up the hill, just to have it fall all the way back down again (for all eternity), the human race is condemned to make the same mistakes over and over again. History repeats itself, and it all goes in circles. That’s a very basic summary of the concept behind the album title.
How does the album artwork relate to the album title?
Looking at the cover and reading my short explanation above, I hope it will be pretty self-evident.
How were the songs written?
Me and Oscar usually write 50/50 of the music and lyrics, mostly while sitting by ourselves in our apartments writing riffs or lyrics. Sometimes though, we get together and write a song more as a collaboration. Often the songs end up being collaborations anyway, because when we show our material to the other band members in our rehearsal space, we usually ‘build’ a song by using riffs from both me and Oscar. We have slightly different styles of writing and I’d say the two styles compliment each other really well.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
My personal favourite is the title track. I especially like the intro, but the whole thing is just perfect in my opinion. It has many different styles in the same song, but still never feels incoherent. Great lyrics too, written by Oscar.
Your sound has continued to develop since your inception – how would you compare Heirs of Sisyphus to Age of the Fanatics and The Insurrection?
Our style develops very, very naturally. It’s something that we don’t even have to think about, it just comes naturally with new inspirations. In general you could say that in the beginning we were more of a pure death metal band but have since evolved to incorporate more and more of a ‘black’ atmosphere into our music. From a lyrical perspective, you could say that we’re slowly moving away from a more ‘political’ viewpoint and instead delving deeper into more esoteric domains, while still keeping our original anger and hatred towards the society around us.
You’ve said in a previous interview with this site that the increased amount of black metal in your sound on Age of the Fanatics was a conscious decision. Was this still the case with Heirs of Sisyphus, or, having made the decision previously, was the further development of this side of your sound more of a natural progression on your latest release?
I’d say it was a very natural progression. We hadn’t discussed a conscious change in style as much as we did before we recorded Age of the Fanatics. I guess our music just gets darker and darker as the band members are buying and listening to even darker music each day.
You have now changed singer – how did this happen, and what impact do you think this might have on the future of Gutter Instinct’s sound?
This was all due to our previous vocalist (Thomas Ernemyr) not having the time to put enough effort into the band. We ended it on very good terms and are still good friends. On our next release, which is likely to be an EP, people are definitely going to hear the difference right away. Our new vocalist Simon Fridlund has a completely different vocal expression. If Thomas had a typical ‘death’ sound to his voice, Simon definitely has more of a ‘black’ sound. More shrieking, less growling.
How did the recording process go?
We recorded this album in the same studio as we’ve recorded all our releases so far – in Studio Mangelrum. The recording process was way too drawn our for our liking, but looking back, at least the end result was amazing. After recording it, we sent the material to Tore Stjerna at Necromorbus Studio for mixing and mastering. We have great respect for him and love many of the bands he has worked with, so we were convinced that working with him would add an extra dimension to our sound, which it definitely did. We are very happy with our decision and hope to work with him again in the future.
Do you have any upcoming shows you want to talk about?
The only thing we really have planned at the moment is a Swedish festival called Roars From Below, which will be held in Linköping 28-30 September. There we’ll play alongside such great bands as Nifelheim and This Gift Is a Curse.
What would be a perfect tour lineup for you?
Gutter Instinct, Cult of Fire, Black Witchery, Iron Maiden.
What does the future hold for Gutter Instinct?
We’re just gonna keep writing new material. Our next project will be writing material for a 4 track EP, and that work has already begun. We have one new song basically done already. Before recording the EP though, we’re hoping to play a lot more live, and not just local shows. So if any booking agent or club owner is reading this – feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any final words?
“Art still has truth, take refuge there!” ~ Matthew Arnold