Just a year and a half after their acclaimed eponymous debut album, Danish progressive doomers ALKYMIST set out once more on a trip that takes you far beyond this world and into their strange and crushingly heavy realm of brutal, yet beautiful and grandiose soundscapes. On Sanctuary, ALKYMIST offers the listener an immersive, spiritual, and transcendent journey. The record revolves around metaphysical questioning, soul searching, mental and cerebral escape, and ultimately, the quest to achieve the redemption of spirit and flesh.
Sanctuary’s six tracks create two sound collages totalling forty-three minutes, the album fully living-up to the band’s eclectic vision. As on the first record, Sanctuary was recorded and mixed by producer Lasse Ballade (Orm, Slægt, Solbrud) and the artwork created by Anders Kidmose.
We spend a day with them to get to know them better.
Wake up call. Are you morning people or do you find it easier to work and create at night?
Some of us are very much “night owls” and some of us get up early in the morning. Our work-flow varies a lot, and sometimes it is a challenge to hit “the sweet spot” simultaneously. But we usually have periods where we work very intensively. For example; time leading up to a new string of live shows or recording sessions. But we try to get at least one evening together per week as a full band.
Let’s grab a bite together. What are we having?
Healthy, varied food that gives you energy. Fruit, water and nuts when we are working, and then, of course, the occasional big ol’ burger with fries, when we relax… We have a tradition on tour, to go to a specific small harbour cafe on route to the ferry. There we have a traditional Danish pork burger with red relish. Good!
Assuming it’s a work day, how do you prioritize your projects and set the work flow?
We usually have two new songs in progress and if we are rehearsing for a show, we concentrate on two songs at a time from the set. Play it a couple of times to point out the parts where we need to pay extra attention to tempo, have eye contact or just give it some more feeling. It is very important not to overload.
Do you all get together often or prefer to work in solitude and meet up only when necessary?
Very often basic sketches are worked out in Logic (music computer programme) and then vocals are added. If everyone likes the outcome, it’s taken to our studio to be recorded live. As mentioned earlier, we differ in pace. We do a lot of work individually, rehearsing parts, vocals and riffs so when we meet up, we are very much prepared. We’ll Also have several separate sessions with for example vox/guit, bass/drums where we dig deeper into the material to see what is most suitable for this particular song.
Ok, enough about work! Take me out for coffee. Which is one place in Copenhagen that I can’t miss?
We don’t go out much. We bring our own coffee and go into nature. Celebrating the release of Sanctuary, we hung out all day at the local cemetery in Copenhagen. Very peaceful.
June 20th, we celebrated solstice out near the coast in a vast landfill just south of town, with good friends and kindred spirits. We seek tranquility and serenity.
Let’s share thoughts over coffee. The new album takes us on an immersive, spiritual journey. Lots of soul searching there. Is the process of composing something like that mentally aching?
No, not as a rule. We write what we see or feel. It usually comes very naturally and we might have a very clear vision form start, but sometimes it takes another direction, almost on its own. The lyrics has to fit the atmosphere and the vibe of the song and is usually about the challenges of life, some self-experienced and some witnessed otherwise. Something that most people can relate to in some way and hopefully has a little meaning and can trigger your imagination… It is in the process of finetuning it, making demos, recording and mixing, that all the small, but important details are added, which gives it another dimension. We are very much perfectionists.
The recording of ‘Sanctuary’ video is very artistic and well made. Do you think that the future of the music videos is heading towards this ‘backstage’ kind of direction instead of cinematic, movie-like videos?
The media has definitely changed over time and still is. It is equally enjoyable to watch a well-made docu-type behind the scenes recording session, as it is an over the top produced video with a storyline and all. Or an impressive live concert from some cool venue. We are very fortunate to have all the super talented people we get to work with. Good friends who share our passion for the music and are equally excited to work on a production.
What’s your favorite memory with the band?
Couldn’t say… Playing Roskilde festival last year was pretty special. Also recording Sanctuary with Lasse Ballade was fun as always…
Do you guys have any traditions within the band? Like stuff that you do together on repeat, certain rituals and so on?
Not really… ha ha
What’s something you want to achieve in the next year with the band?
We hope the album can generate some interest that provides us some cool shows and festivals in the future. We want to share our music with an audience and give a great live experience. We are currently planning concerts both in Denmark and outside.
We will keep on doing what we are doing. Rehersals, creating new music and we definitely want to make more records and hopefully take the music to the next level…
Let’s call it a day. How do we unwind after such a long day of me asking you annoying questions?
Go and hang out and have a drink at the cemetery to honour the dead. Maybe by the sea, which we have a lot of in Denmark or the forest to have a moment in an environment that is not man-made!
Until we meet again,