The lordly gods of death metal looked down with searing eyes and triumphant hearts when Firespawn unfurled its villainous banner in 2012. Then known as Fireborn, the Swedish supergroup—conceived by Necrophobic bassist A. Impaler, Entombed A.D. vocalist Lars-Göran Petrov and bassist Victor Brandt—transformed malignly over the next two years. The addition of Unleashed guitarist Fredrik Folkare and Usurpress drummer Matte Modin ultimately sealed Fireborn’s diabolical deal. When a foul wind from the North descended on the plains of Central Europe, it didn’t take long before labels, like Century Media, started asking questions. Shortly thereafter, Fireborn was unveiled as Firespawn. Now, curious minds will think: why Firespawn? Why indeed. Petrov and Brandt aren’t suffering from lack of work in Entombed A.D. The duo are still neck deep in the group’s sophomore effort Dead Dawn. Likewise, there’s still life left in the Usurpress’ The Regal Tribe full-length on which Modin drummed. So, what’s driving the members of Firespawn to form a band outside of their main labors of irrepressible love? A need. A ceaseless, endless need for the metal of death. That the members of Firespawn represent—collectively—25 years of experience can be translated to one thing: it’s in their blood.
“We have quite a few years of death metal together,” says Impaler. “To us, it is as natural as putting on a pair of pants in the morning. To be doing death metal in our 40s means that we love what we are doing and love our way of Life. I don’t think any of us could see us doing something else. This is who we are. Death metal is the path we have chosen. It’s not just a musical style. It’s a lifestyle.”
“Yeah, it is definitively a lifestyle,” Brandt adds. “Even though death metal is something extreme, it feels and comes natural. It’s in our blood for sure. This is something we must do. I’m not interested in doing anything else. And we all like to work hard and get things done. Blessing and curse, I guess.”
Motivated by an unnatural need to craft, however wicked, the deadliest metal, Firespawn quickly set to work on what would be their debut full-length, Shadow Realms. The group officially signed over to Century Media in 2015. To celebrate their blood-red signatures drying on proverbial paper, the label set free the Lucifer Has Spoken 7” to immediate adulation from fans and critics. When Shadow Realms landed later that year, Firespawn’s savage brand
expanded, with the press labeling it “Creepy”, “Hard, brutal, and dark as fuck”, and “Hisses and boils”. The reaction to Shadow Realms was equal to slogan—“Dedication Discipline Death Metal”—manifested by Firespawn.
“The slogan means different things really,” asserts Impaler. “In order to do what we have been doing for so long takes dedication. We have over 25 years of death metal within the band and no one without dedication would go on for 25 years. Dedication also means that we support the scene and attend gigs as fans. We love metal. And not just our own. The word ‘discipline’ came up during the writing of Shadow Realms, where we pushed ourselves further than ever before. We needed discipline to practice, so we could play as we wanted to play and in order to practice a lot it takes dedication. So you see, it’s all combined.”
CREATIONS TOO MALEVOLENT
Between the miasmic smoke of classic Florida death metal and the tormenting fire (and efficiency) of Polish death metal, the nefarious brother to Shadow Realms was born. In many regards, the debut conveyed Firespawn’s collective (and varied) experiences and influences could, in fact, meld into something invariably lethal. Shadow Realms is proof the exigent demands on dedication, discipline, and songwriting paid off. Naturally, Firespawn had to move on, if only musically, with new album, The Reprobate. Written and refined by Brandt, The Reprobate features not only Firespawn’s best material to date, but also some of the sickest death metal in recent memory.
“To me, it is a natural step,” Brandt states. “Progress and continuation, both as a band as an album. Some parts of Shadow Realms I had written 10 years earlier. I wrote the main riff in ‘Necromance’ in an apartment in London on a day off on a tour several years back. But some of those riffs and parts never became songs. I did not have anywhere to make use of them really. So, in a way Shadow Realms took longer to write. The Reprobate was a much faster process. We even had material ready before Shadow Realms was released. The new album is more direct. But we have added something new while maintaining our style.”
“Musically, it’s way different,” counters Impaler. “On The Reprobate we have a found our sound. It’s on a whole new level. We also know each other way better musically. There is more thought behind The Reprobate. It’s a bigger, faster, more evil album. You can compare the two like this: Shadow Realms is mad doctor slicing you up, while The Reprobate is a grand coliseum with gladiators and carnivores slicing you up.”
Recorded over three different studios—Studio Maskinrummet, Necrophonic Studios, and Chrome Studios—across a twomonth span, The Reprobate sounds like a great beast roaring between pangs of insatiable hunger and stabs of bloodthirsty inspiration. Songs like ‘Serpent of the Ocean’, ‘Blood Eagle’, and ‘The Whitechapel Murderer’ are brutal yet grandiose. They ravage yet have an air of sophistication. That videos of the band in their various studio environments displayed a different side—hardworking but jovial—of Firespawn says they separate work from the Work (of the Devil).
“They were good,” Impaler offers. “As they always are. Hanging out with your good friends, drinking coffee and creating the best death metal yet. All the guys in Firespawn are very easy-going dudes. So it’s all great fun.”
“It can often be quite a demanding and draining process to record an album,” says Brandt. “But not with Firespawn. It’s a really relaxed but focused atmosphere. No fuss. We know want we are doing, how we want it to sound, and we get things done fast. It’s a liberating feeling to be able to work fast and smooth.”
A MAJESTY INFERNAL
Between the blasting drums, the gravel-throated vocals, and impious riffs (check out of ‘A Patient Wolf’, ‘Full of Hate’, ‘General’s Creed’, and ‘Death By Impalement’), Firespawn’s name and the horrific cover art—painter Paolo Girardi (Inquisition, Nocturnal Graves) reprises his role excellently—don’t exactly communicate priestly interests or a choirboy outlook on life. They’re all firmly rooted in evil or interpretations of evil. That The Reprobate is the title isn’t by folly or accident either. Make no mistake, the lyricists behind Firespawn are entertained by a reprobate being a person, a collective, or the King himself.
“The Reprobate is all those things,” Impaler clarifies. “It is also a state of mind. ‘A’ or ‘the’ reprobate is a person/creature that is totally shameless and morally unprincipled in his/its actions. I would say that it is correct to say that the Fallen One was and still is a reprobate. A reprobate is also condemned to eternal damnation. He is so deep in his hate for greater good so there is no ‘salvation’ in sight.”
With Girardi’s ‘Great Beast’ cover art—a mix of Titian and Hans Memling—haunting chaste and virtuous minds the world over, Firespawn’s invitation to journey into the darkest recesses of the mind is absolutely delightful. They ask
frigthfully, ‘Who’s in the dark?’ They ask in disgust, ‘What’s that acrid smell?’ They ask fearfully, ‘What is the dark saying to me?’ Turns out, Firespawn knows. Certainly, in Hell there’s no redemption.
“The Great Beast is the central theme in our music and lyrics,” says Impaler. “On this album, we took a journey into peoples’ minds and the dark side of their inner selves. But still it is the Devil who is behind it all. A trickster lurking in the shadows.”
Clearly, Firespawn embody the art and vision of death metal classic and contemporary. They understand its ominous energy. They are one with its corrupt soul. To wit, the Swedes are death metal. Through and through. This spring, Firespawn will prove The Reprobate isn’t just another offering on top of the pile of meaningless offerings to the gods. The Reprobate will be crowned king of kings by fans and the press.
“There is a lot of effort, time, work, and heart put into The Reprobate,” Brandt says. “I hope it will shine through. And I also hope it will make you drink insane amounts of beer and bang your head for Satan.”
LG Petrov – Vocals, Entombed A.D., ex-Morbid, ex-Nihilist
Alex Impaler – Bass, Necrophobic, Naglfar (live)
Victor Brandt – Guitar, Entombed A.D., ex. satyricon
Fredrik Folkare – Guitar, Unleashed, ex-Siebenbürgen
Matte Modin – Drums, Raised Fist, ex-Dark Funeral, ex-Defleshed, ex-Infernal