LEGIONS OF WAR (Swe) - Back To The Front ! (Interview with Martin HOGEBRANDT)

06 July 2021
LEGIONS OF WAR (Swe) - Back To The Front ! (Interview with Martin HOGEBRANDT)
LEGIONS OF WAR are one of the best-kept secrets of the swedish underground scene... If you're into "War-themed" METAL bands, please just don't stop at those bunch of "playmobils" from the same country using the same theme for years, as LEGIONS OF WAR are far more authentic & more interesting if you ask me... They have just released their 3rd album - which is the right time for an interview with drummer Martin.

- Hej Martin ! Hope you're well and ready for a chat with ROUGH TIMES, to let our readers know more about LEGIONS OF WAR ? How do you feel today ? How is life in the cold North ?
Hello! Its a good evening, a little wine and sitting outside in the warm weather with my computer in the cold north :) If these climate crises continue I will soon have palmtrees in my woods around here !

- Well, you have just released a new album ... but first, let's talk about the changes that have happened with the band.. First, you are now continuing as a 3-piece band.. Guitarist Claes is out of the band.. what has happened ? Was it his decision to leave ? How do you feel about this, after so many years playing together ?
Yeah, Claes had to leave the band after been with us from the start. Its sad, yes. It was just an accident really. I have to admit that he was a bit tired of playing on the later years but that he had such a bad luck too. He got injured and hit his head really bad. The doctor forbid him to keep on with growling related to a small bleeding. For about five years I think they recommended him to stay away from growling. Its a dangerous job to growl in band so it seems !! Besides from that he couldn’t use his finger properly after the accident. He is now recovered and back on full-time job but he felt that it was the right time for a break from the music. I know he plays guitar again today and our door stands open for him if he wants to play with us again.

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- Did you try to find a new member or you simply decided to keep going as a threepiece band ? How do you feel with this formula ?
We had finished the recording of the drums for the album when he got injured so we finished the album as a three-piece band and afterwards we wanted to continue with this collaboration. Now we have rehearsed a live-set which will work for three but then the covid came down so who cares hehe!! But I think it will work okey. One positive thing in this sad story is that its a bit easier to find time for rehearsal. We are familymen and now its one family less that have football training or other activities on chrashcourse with our rehearsals Hehe! Another positive thing is that Robert has taken a step forward as bass-player now I think, both on the new album and when we write new songs. Its more bass-lines and stuff that fills up for the missing guitar now.

- Second change.. you're not on INFERNO Records anymore.. you were working with this label since 2009.. in 2020, the label stopped all activities .. what could you say about the collaboration during all these years ? Do you understand the reasons why the label stopped ? It seems it's a strange time for all undergound labels... your feelings ?
It worked very fine! The communication and honesty between us and the label was very good. I felt like we both where there for the music and not only the business. Of course it was a small label and they could not support us for tours or festivals but on the other hand I’m not sure we could have lived up to scheduled tours for weeks either. We are a small band with full-time jobs besides of the band. In the future when our kids are older we may change on that. Its sad that the label have to close but I understand Fabien. He put in a-lot of time and money from his own pocket in the business. Today its harder to sell records I guess. I still buy records, too many sometimes haha, but most people go for streaming today. An underground label don’t have the money to get recognized in the media either compared to bigger labels who can buy their places for commercials and so on.

- You now joined a russian label called CARELESS Records ? Hey.. that name "CARELESS" ... it could have scared you when it comes to the seriousness and the implication of the people who are part of it ? hehe, just a joke ! How did you team up with them and WHY ? And how do you feel working with them so far ?
We are vikings and not afraid of anyone hahaha !! Its from Kazakstan to be more precise, or Andrey who I’ve been in contact with live there, anyway, I can admit that its a bit strange name but Andey is very serious and absolutely not a careless man ! So far it worked alright. He is also part of Narcoleptica records and got many bands on the list. He did what he said he would do so far. He pressed a digipack and it looked really nice!

- The album "Dark Dimensions" is now out.. but only on CD/Digital from CARELESS Records.. I see you also have pressed a limited CASSETTE edition on your own.. Was it important for you to have this on that little thing called "Cassette" and why ? Nostalgic reasons ?
We also got another deal with Take this torch records from Netherlands which will press another Cd on jewelcase. Its a cooperation between Take this torch and Narcoleptica so Andrey is helping us out again with a record (Thanks Andrey if you read this). About the cassette, I like that format and its not that expensive to press so we ordered a small amount to sell on gigs when this shitstorm is over. I also bought a new cassette player (which hopefully will not eat my old cassettes) so that may have affect the decision hehe!

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- Are PHYSICAL formats something you can't live without ? I mean - nowadays, more and more bands go "digital".. but I guess for old nags like you & me, this ain't enough - right ? Do you appreciate the music better when you have something in
your hands ?
So true !! The digital music services is only a complement to me, its good when you are away from home on vacation or something. I pay for Spotify but its not everything that I like that I can find there. And when the application don’t work properly I curse a-lot I can tell! I always collected records, both vinyl, Cds and cassettes. I give more attention to records that I can hold in my hand and look at, I can see who’s playing what instruments, where its recorded and stuff like that.

- Talking then of physical formats, do you plan to release this album on vinyl ? If so, this would be the first vinyl release of LEGIONS OF WAR.. you never did one in the past.. right ? Reasons are mainly financial, I assume ?
Yes, hopefully it will be a vinyl release. Yep, the first time for Legions of war. We never got the opportunity before through a label. Of course we have thought of doing vinyl-release on our own before but as you mentioned it cost a-lot of money. But this time we got some financial help from TPL records from Sweden. We also put in a-lot of money so its more like a cooperation between the band and the label.



- Ok, let's talk now about the album itself, its content.. First, I love the artwork.. it perfectly shows the chaos & brutality of wars.. who made it ? That was first handpainted right ? No photoshop or whatever-too modern kinda art ? Who came with the idea & are you pleased with the way it looks like ?
Personally I think its our best artwork to this day!! Its Andrei Bouzikov who has done artwork for Municipal waste and Warfect to mentioned a few. Yes, its handmade and I liked it so much that I had to buy the artwork from Andrei. Fits perfect on the wall in my music room!! Robert and I came up with the idea but its also influenced by Kreators Coma of souls album. The big different is that on their album you look into the skull but here its more leaking out or flying out of the head. And of course A different skull and all the soldiers etc. Andrei was excited when I mailed him the ideas and when I talked about the Kreator influence he was just ready to dig into it but after all I think Andrei got his own touch on the final work.

- Musically, as i said it in the review, your style hasn't changed too much since the previous releases... still that same "blackened" THRASH METAL style with HEAVY guitars.. but you keep the whole thing catchy and interesting by incorporating more variations, tempo-changes which keep the listener attentive and interested, it's never boring if you ask me.. is that something you were aware of when you composed the album, i mean something you were heading for.. or it just happened naturally ?
Thanks for the nice words about our music. I think we just have refined our style a bit. The more heavy metal parts has developed and take more place in the music today even if the tempo and blackened thrash is there. Maybe the blackier parts has toned down a bit. Claes was the one who came up with a-lot of the ”blackier stuff”. He contributed on three songs on this album so he’s still in there but not as much as before. We try to have some good refrains so maybe that contribute to the catchy parts. We are from the ABBA land you know hahaha!!!

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- If you had to describe your music to someone who never heard it before.. what would you say ? I personally think it is the perfect balance between what THRASH METAL (okay "Blackened" Thrash-Metal) and HEAVY METAL can bring.. it is intense as fuck and at the same time always catchy and melodious, especially in the guitar works, influenced by the like of the greatest Heavy-Metal bands with guitar solos full of feelings and melodies... do you agree ?
Describe your own music is always difficult I think but yes, the heretic from old heavy metal is strong in Legions of war besides from thrash. Sometimes we just prefer to say that we play METAL and thats it!! Mikael is a sucker for more melodic heavy metal solos so even when he try to play a more fast and thrashier solo it often ends up with an old school solo from the eighties. But we like it that way. Well, compared to many many other bands today we are not so intense I think, we are definitely not the fastest band on the earth either... but we are definitely good looking and pretty fast for our age hehe! Nice to hear that you like the guitarwork, Mikael and Robert put in a-lot of time on details in the riff and melodies this time. Good to hear that someone noticed that !

- Since the beginning of the band, you always have an interest in releasing official videos.. is that something you like making ? Do you see videos as important as the albums themselves ? I mean it is surely a great tool to promote a band online... since nowadays, less & less people read magazines/fanzines, they take infos/discover bands online..
Personally the answer is no. I don’t watch so many music videos and I think its a-lot of work as well compared what it gives back to me personally. But Mikael always have liked that and forced us in that direction. We are all involved in the process but he’s the one who start it up. Youtube is huge and today a video is something that people expect from bands and maybe its a good promotion as well. I still read magazines and buy fanzines so I discover bands more from that media.

- What is the video you had most fun releasing ? I'm asking you this question, 'cos since 2016, I"m still amazed by the one you made for the GARY MOORE's "Out In The Fields" cover ? This one blew me away.. and still does I admit ! Was it a good experience & souvenir ?
Hmmm... tricky question.. I think it was more fun when we were fooling around and did the videos for mission to kill and deep in the dark from our first album. Just because there was so loose and easy, not so serious. But of course ”Out in the fields” filmed by Sebastian is a-lot better and serious. Probably more fun for others to look at I think. We did a new video with Sebastian again ”Heart of war” from our newest album. It turned out very good. We drank a-lot of beers because it was summer and hot, so well, it was also fun to do that one hehe !



- Another aspect of the band that interests me a lot is your lyrical content .. from the very beginning you have always dealt with WAR .. in all its aspects .. the horrors, the atrocities, the psychological effects on human beings, the sequels .. always done in a fair and objective way .. who is behind these lyrics and what are the sources of inspiration that such and such subject will be treated in the lyrics? Books, movies ..?
I have written most of the lyrics through the years but Robert has contributed later on too. Objective I don’t know about really, I’ve been lucky to never been in a war situation. I take influence from books about war or documentaries. Mostly from world war two. An endless source of inspiration. The madness of mankind as its best, right? Sometimes the lyrics has a more ”punky way” too dig into the subject but sometimes its more written in ”a Manowar honour way” but always with a slight of critics in it I think. Or its my intention even if its not obvious to the listener.

- It seems you're not that active when it comes to play gigs.. why ? You don't like that.. hehe ? Or is your geographical situation (Tanumshede - from here, it's like you're lost in the GREAT North haha!) that is a disadvantage ? Are there bigger cities around where it is possible to play live ? What about the local scene ? Are there many bands to share stage with ?
We have been lazy when it comes to gigs, yes, just a few per year. Its also about the geographical place we live in. Its a little bit out on the countryside and that effect the gig situation of course. Well, we are not lost when it comes to the roads in the forest, we got maps here too you know!! But maybe when it comes to the metal scene yes, haha! We have about 170 kilometers to Gothenburg and about the same to Oslo so its not that far but far enough. You don’t bond with other metalheads down at the pub so to speak. Hmmm, I just have contact with a few bands nowadays... in our area its not so many bands that are active. There is a little scene in Bohuslän which is the name of the landscape here. Warfect, Suicidal Winds, Rawhide, Protector (yes, the german thrash band are living in Sweden nowadays) and some other bands of course.

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- Now that the new album is out and also (fingers crossed) the Covid19 SHITuation is getting better, can we hope to see you playing gigs in the future ? Any plans now ?
I hope so. We had just finished a good setlist for Legions of war as a three pieceband and talked a little with some clubs in other places in Sweden but then came the Covid19. I really hope we can go back to normal soon. I talked a little to a bar owner in our nearest village who has opened up for metal and punk gigs lately and he thought that through the autumn it may be time for something.

- I guess that's now time to say good-bye.. Thanks alot for your time and answers.. This space is now yours, feel free to add whatever you want to !
Thanks for showing interest in Legions of war!! Good luck with your Magazine/blog Rough Times and I hope we’ll soon can get drunk on festivals and gigs again in every corner of the world !!

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Fabien

Fabien

Born 1969, grew up with the NWOBHM sounds, musically educated with cult french magazines that were ENFER and METAL ATTACK, definitely nailed to the style when "The Number Of The Beast" by IRON MAIDEN was released... From 1982, it was clear life would never be the same ! Young & getting wild to the HEAVY sounds of SAXON, VENOM, BLACK SABBATH, MOTORHEAD, Young Fab also discovered thanks to school mates the NOISE, FILTH & FURY of Hard-Core/Punk bands like G.B.H, DISCHARGE, BROKEN BONES but also CRO-MAGS, BAD BRAINS, FUGAZI... Passion grew up as years went by ... Fate was SEALED... no turning back ! No Music = No Life !

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