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Draconian Vocalist Anders Jacobsson Discusses New Album, "Under A Godless Veil"

Some bands seem to burst on to the scene seemingly the week after they formed. For others, it's a hard road with many bumps to endure, but a journey which will nonetheless see a better, more wisened group finally emerge. Such was the case for Sweden's Draconian. It took nine years for the band to release their debut album, "Where Lovers Mourn" following their formation, but what an introduction it was. Since then the band has released five more albums and become essential for listeners of doom and Gothic metal.

This month sees the release of their highly anticipated new album, "Under A Godless Veil," the seventh endeavour which already has fans delighted and critical praise rolling in. Like everything with Draconian, it's far from a simple affair, with a title drenched in subtext and philosophy, striking artwork and of course, music which touches every aspect of soul. To find out more about the album, the lyrical content and how Draconian are once again overcoming the odds by pushing back a pandemic and reaching listeners around the world, I spoke with harsh vocalist Anders Jacobsson, who lifted the veil on their new opus.

Diamond Oz: First of all, let's talk about the new album, "Under A Godless Veil." Where does the title come from?

Anders Jacobsson: The album title is a little bit of a complex thing that originates from gnosticism. It's the idea that between this world, the material world and the higher realm of pure being exists a veil or cloud where the god of this world or the material god is looking over his creation. This being the god in the bible. So, according to the gnostics, this god is not really a god at all. He is an imposter, a parasite, a highly glorified A.I. system if you will and he can only copy from this creation, he can't create from nothing, he can only copy and project shadows on the wall and this is the reality that we see. Plato talked about it thousands of years ago and so under this veil is the material world, a godless world, a world of matter, imprisonment and parasitic life.

Oz: The album also has really impressive artwork. How well do you feel it represents the music within?

Anders: It fits wonderfully and that's why we chose Natalia Drepina to represent so much when it comes to this album, also the video for "Sorrow Of Sophia" where she did an outstanding job. She's also doing the work for our new video which will drop on the same day as the album comes out. Johan (Ericson, guitarist) came across this artist and this time we wanted to go with something different. We wanted to go with a photographer and not an illustrator like before and it was a good idea. I think this image suits the album very very well. You don't even have to know the story, or what I mean with it to feel the vibe and understand the emotional world behind it if you will. We're very very lucky to have worked with Natalia and we will definitely work with her again.

Oz: It's been five years now since the release of your last album, "Sovran." What would you say the main musical differences are between "Sovran" and "Under A Godless Veil"?

Anders: Yeah, five years. There's been many delays on this album, almost like there was something working against us. Some inorganic, supreme being working against us! Considering the concept of the album... Who knows? But the main difference I would say is that "Sovran" is a little bit heavier. It might have more atmosphere in the sense that there's more soundscapes, keyboards, choirs and stuff like that, but it goes a little bit all over the place in my honest opinion. It's a wonderful album but there's a whole story around that. With "Under A Godless Veil" I think it's a more subtle album. It's darker, rather than heavier. It's more together. It's an album that tells a story and it's more cohesive. Almost every track on the album, apart from "Night Visitor," deals with a gnostic concept in one way or another.

Oz: This is the second album with Heike (Langhans) on co-vocals. What does she bring to Draconian and what makes her different from Lisa (Johansson)?

Anders: I really have nothing bad to say about Lisa, she's a wonderful person and singer, but I would say she was more focused on other things in life. In the beginning, when we started working with Lisa, it was more that we needed a female vocalist for our last demo, "Dark Oceans We Cry," but then it turned out so good and she was so fascinated with this music that she wanted to join the band. She doesn't come from a metal world or anything like that, she's just an amazing vocalist and you can hear that she has a more "schooled" voice compared to Heike, who is more of a singer/songwriter.

So bringing Heike into the mix after Lisa left brought more of a creative force to the band, which we need. We want everyone to have something to contribute. With Heike, me and Johan don't have to write so many vocal parts, like we did for Lisa. Heike has an idea, she comes from this world, she has experience and she's a very colourful character, which also brings something to the band. So in that respect, I think Heike has made us better. The Lisa years, five albums, terrific. That' our foundation and I'm nothing but grateful but this is the new evolution with "Sovran" and we're building on that. Heike has proved herself yet again, if not more, that she's the right vocalist for this band.

Oz: At the moment it seems that there isn't a permanent bass player in Draconian. As times goes on, are you still hoping to recruit someone or are you going to put that on the backburner until the pandemic is over?

Anders: Yes, we worked with Daniel Änghede for a few years. He helped us out on bass but he decided to leave in January, I think it was and then this COVID thing happened so we had to cancel some gigs, like so many other bands. We have been brainstorming about a bassist, but it's not that easy, especially when you live in a small town like Säffle. So we're going to try out a guy in Stockholm and it's going to be very exciting because we do need a functioning live band, especially in March when this tour will happen and also our upcoming gigs because there's a lot of interest right now with the new album. The four singles we've released have got a lot of good feedback so that means we're getting more often. So I think if we just keep at it, we will have a working band for next year.

Oz: Speaking of the COVID pandemic, how difficult has it been to promote the album during such a time. Obviously you've released four lyric videos so far, but what else is there to do?

Anders: It's a good question. I don't really know what to say about it. We had a lot of help from our management. I think the label has wanted us to do more promotion on social media. They think we're a little bit too lazy when it comes to that, but the fact is it's just not really our thing. Draconian has never been into shameless promotion. Sometimes when we see too much or hear too much from an artist you like, it takes away the mystique a bit.

Of course I'm speaking for myself here but I think I can speak for a lot of people from my generation and the people in this band. Johan has never wanted to do this kind shameless promotion stuff, so I try to sit and talk a bit about these lyric videos so people get a better understanding of what it's all about, because I understand that it can be a little bit complex with these things. In the end, I just don't feel very comfortable in front of a camera. I can't do editing. I know people who can, but in the end I decided not to do it. What I will do however is to write a little about each and every song before the album drops. But the lyric videos and trying to promote the album beforehand with different vinyl presses and t-shirts has helped and of course interviews. There's been interviews all year but now of course, there's a lot more of those to do!

Oz: Next year of course you're scheduled to do a European tour with Nightfall. This to me is a dream pairing and so I was very disappointed to see that it isn't coming to the UK. How did this tour come together?

Anders: Well our management put it together, along with Roman from District 19 which is our new booking agency. I think this tour was first suggested by Yishai Swearts from Raven Music in Israel. He's also a manager and booking agent there, working with a lot of bands. He used to be our co-manager, but he's been working with us for many years. I haven't seen the UK on many European tour schedules. I don't know if that's to do with practical locations, because there's no Sweden, Norway or Finland either. There's very little promotion in our part of the world and the UK is only about an hour away by flight, but it might also have to do with Heike's visa situation, there's been some problems there before. There's certain restrictions or certain rules when it comes to South Africans. But yeah, it's a bummer, we played once in the UK and we had to use a stand in vocalist because of this reason, but it was great and I really enjoyed the atmosphere in Camden. I really hope we can get there this year, even if it's just for one or two shows.

Oz: Already now, festivals are booking for next year. Some are simply moving this year's lineup to next year. Do you think you'll be added to any festivals next year?

Anders: Yeah actually, all the festivals we were supposed to play this year have been moved to next year, so there's not going to be any real change there. There has been one or two festivals which have changed dates, but apart from that everything is as planned. There have been a couple of festival additions and I'm really looking forward to being out on the road again. Playing festivals is such a delight and it's probably my favourite way of performing. There's a certain intamacy on tour though, which makes you better as artists and musicians I would say.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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