Interview: Pantokrator

Swedish melodic death metal band, Pantokrator recently released their fourth full-length album "Marching Out of Babylon" through Nordic Mission. The band comprises of Karl Walfridsson(vocals), Mattias Johansson(guitar), Johnathan Jansson(guitar), Jonas Wallinder(bass) and Ricke Gustafsson(drums). I got the chance to ask Karl and Jonas a couple of questions regarding the new release, the inspiration behind the new album, and upcoming releases they are looking forward to, among other things.

Marching Out of Babylon is your first album in almost seven years. What has kept you guys away for so long?

Jonas - We have never been away, we’ve been here all the time. We never intended to wait seven years, I guess we’re just slow workers. Actually, it was seven years between Aurum and Incarnate as well.

What inspired the album artwork and who designed it?

Karl - I think way back lies the artwork of Seventh Angel's The Torment. I painted a painting back in 2009, then a new one later in which Jonas helped me out with people we know. That one served as inspiration for the one by Timon Kokott that ended up on the album.

What were some of your biggest obstacles when making the record?

Jonas - I would say the fact that we these days live a bit too far from each other. So we can’t meet that often. Earlier in the band's history, we lived closer to each other and could work more intensely with the writing and recording process.

Describe your creative process.

Jonas - Karl writes all the lyrics and has always been years ahead of the rest of us so when we start thinking about the music we have a bunch of texts and drafts of concepts to start with. Regarding the tracks for this record, most songs have started with Ricke writing the framework of a song and then introducing the ideas for the band. Then we’ve come together to work on the arrangements and such.

What were your musical & lyrical influences for the record?

Karl - Lyrically it is inspired by the Bible, Governour Andy, Stephen King, the female form, earlier Pantokrator work, stories from my childhood, and whatnot.

The music video for “Wedlock” garnered a bit of controversy. Were you anticipating pushback from some of the Christian community and what was your reasoning when making it?

Karl - Well it really shouldn't. We made our very best to make it more beautiful than provocative. But it is an erotic song so can I say I am not surprised? No. The lyrics are way more graphic than the video, no reaction to that. There is something wrong with people’s indignation, I guess.

What is the meaning of the title track “Marching Out of Babylon”? Some lyrics seem influenced by current world events.

Karl - Define current. Those lyrics are over a decade old. Some would like to say over a century.

What’s the story behind the guest appearances on the record?

Karl - Flashes of inspiration resulting in mails, phone calls, or Irl questions that were answered with yes. In Mund's case with a silent nod.

How has the general reception to the new album?

Jonas - We’ve mostly received positive responses and are thrilled over the fact that the album has reached fans all over the world to such a degree.

Bands in other Scandinavian countries have sometimes faced persecution for claiming the name of Christ. How have you guys been received over the years in Sweden?

Karl - Nothing to weep over.

You recently signed to Nordic Mission after being on Rottweiler Records for several years. How did you get connected with the label and how has the transition been?

Jonas - We’ve known the guys at NM for many many years so when they started a record label we introduced our new songs to them. They value high quality and physical format as much as we do so it’s a perfect match. We weren't bound to any contract with RR anymore so the transition was smooth.

How do you guys feel the internet has impacted the music industry?

Jonas - The obvious way with the faster distribution of music but harder to sell physical records.

When you are not creating music, how do you guys spend your free time?

Jonas - I like to run. A lot. But the last year or so I’ve spent day and night building a house.

Karl - Marriage, fatherhood, workout, hangout, martial art, art in general.

The music industry can be a dark place. How do you guys stay grounded in your faith?

Jonas - Not spending all our life in the music industry.

What is your favorite book(s) of the Bible and why?

Karl - Psalms because it is so rich, Isaiah because it always inspires, Songs of Solomon because I can relate, and the letter to the Colossians because it is so liberating.

What are some recent Christian metal releases that you guys have enjoyed and are there any upcoming releases you guys are looking forward to?

Karl - I look forward to the next Crimson moonlight release whenever that will come, and the one after that, and also the new Symphony of Heaven album because I have heard the EP and they are at the stage of a band when you grow from song to song.

What is next for Pantokrator, are you currently writing new material?

Karl - After the latest 7-year interruptions that every interview torments us with, we better not say.

Thanks for doing this. Anything else you would like to share?

Karl - Stand and be True. Long days and pleasant nights.

Read our review here (opens new window)

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