ABRAHAM “ …Before You Wreck Yourself” 

By: Lord Randall

In which our intrepid Lord Randall boards a ship to the stars with Swiss post-whatever-you-want-to-call-it outfit, ABRAHAM, and learns from drummer/vocalist Dave Schlagmeister that all on the planet that sustains our life is, how to say, “not well”. 
“Look, Here Comes The Dark!” combines elements of metal, prog, space rock and even sludge to tell a tale of where humanity is headed unless we change course. 
We move into interstellar overdrive…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Coming out of “The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore” six years ago, when did you get the feeling that what was on the horizon was a larger, more grand project in scope than what you’d maybe ever envisioned?

DAVE SCHLAGMEISTER: After SP&W came out, we toured as much as we could for two years, in particular with THE OCEAN and CULT OF LUNA. At some point, we sat down wondering if we had even made something during this year. We listened to everything we recorded during this time span and found out we had about forty or fifty song projects lasting for like four hours... Someone came up with the idea of a double-album (in the sense of a good old 90's double-CD) and then we were writing this concept and things started to make sense.

WC: What was the recording set-up like for the new album?

DS: Generally speaking, we changed set-up for each instrument when moving from one part to the next. Guitars were recorded with a totally different set-up for each part so as to match sound orientation. Drums for parts I, II and III were recorded in a very big room with as much room mics as possible, so as to have the largest spectrum of sound depth. Magnus Lindberg who mixed the album could pick from them to create a somewhat different drum sound for each part. Drums for part IIII were recorded in a very small and dry room without any room mics. Moog and synths were re-amped on various set-ups too, depending on the final sound we had in mind.

WC: On the one hand, there are benefits and a sense of freedom to knowing you have a lot of space in which to indulge yourself sonically. On the other, there’s definitely the risk of overblowing everything, following every whim until the story or music suffers due to the supposed benefit. How did you both exercise your freedom and restraint over the course of LHCTD!?

DS: We knew what story each part should tell and determined how they should sound. From there on, the song projects found their place within the different parts and we could push them in the appropriate direction. Their place in the playlist determined structure, arrangements, sound, lyrics, etc. This really made us push further creative limits and question our writing habits. 

WC: We’ve all heard the old “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” quote – and there’s something to be said for just banging it out like AC/DC or MOTORHEAD – but when in the realm of the concept album, and even certain songs (some PORCUPINE TREE, VOIVOD, THE MOODY BLUES),  you really are “constructing” something. Was there a point (or points) during the writing/recording of the new album where you felt you were disappearing up your own ass, getting “too” detailed, and had to leave space open for freedom, emotion to pour through?

DS: No, I did not feel that. The concept is there to guide us, to help us make coherent decisions when needed. It helped us knowing where we were going but the way itself was a discovery for us too. We always leave enough room for spontaneity and creativity and I think we love to surprise each other with unexpected input. Although there is hard work and dedication, we like to keep it playful.

WC: Obviously the album is thematically dense, and this isn’t the place to get into a dissertation, but loosely, what are main elements of the story? Each section works within certain musical/sonic textures as well. How is each represented? 

DS: The sections are: I – Anthropocene, depicting the collapse of human civilization, the last attempts of escaping through technology and the use of weird crypto-drugs ; II – Phytocene, where plants overgrow and suffocate the remains of civilization ; III – Mycocene, the reign of a giant fungus that takes control over all conscious beings and drives them into a new proto-religion ; IIII – in Oryktocene, the fungus having crystallized all polluted particles into sand and stone, earth remains as an empty rock floating through space. What we wanted to convey sound-wise is, respectively, something quite dirty and up-tempo ; suffocating and harassing ; 70s rock synth-spacy-bizarre ; slow, minimalistic and dry. 

WC: The first section [Anthropocene] brings to mind ALAN PARSONS PROJECT’s album “I Robot”, which deals with the downfall of man beginning with the invention of the wheel. Burton from FEAR FACTORY told me about the book Future Shock by ALVIN TOFFLER, which opened my mind to a lot of what the Industrial Revolution actually did that wasn’t necessarily “good” for humanity. How do we draw a balance, then, today? Stay in touch with nature, yet live as part of “society”? 

DS: There is nothing like staying in touch with nature. We are not separate from nature, but we live as if we are. This has been driven to such a point that we will witness within the next decades the collapse of the globalized world, of most human-built systems, of ecosystems, etc. However, I still hope it will not come to the extent we depict in the album. There is no way to address this, it is too late. We can only prepare for the impact by building more resilient societies, within the limits of planet earth, in which mutual aid replaces competition and individualism. And I believe culture and music have an important role to play when building these bonds.

WC: Was that a theremin in ‘All The Sacred Voices’, and can you describe what point we’re at in the story when that song arrives?

DS: It is an old, almost dislocated, farfisa organ that was given to us by the goddess Mycelium herself. We used it at a point where our minds were all eager to chant and celebrate her beauty and our becoming one with her.

WC: The song ‘Wind’ brought to mind the more expansive PINK FLOYD tracks like ‘Echoes’ and parts, even, of More. Many bands try, but I’ve come to believe over time that the ability to conjure that “wide open” feeling has to come from within the band itself, moreso than planning things to the minute detail. It’s almost spiritual, wouldn’t you agree?

DS: 'Wind' is some kind of appeased meditation on the end of things with an introspective center part, so I am happy that you get the spiritual aspect of it that we wanted to convey.

WC: How are the songs carrying over live? Like with “The Wall” or “Operation: Mindcrime”, SF "Sorrow Is Born" – concept double albums, or items built around a theme – do you ever see a time when LHCTD! will be performed in its entirety? 

DS: We did perform all the songs at the Pelagic Fest on two consecutive shows in May. However, we do not feel like there is a need to follow the narrative when playing the songs live. Our shows are intended to convey the raw energy from our music.

WC: After such an album, where do you go from here? 

DS: In the close future, we will concentrate on touring for this album. We have not been on stage for a bit more than three years and we are hungry for this! Concerning new material and a next album, well, there are sparkles here and there of things we would like to do or try. It is too disparate and vague for now to know what shape this will take. But one thing is sure: we will keep it intense.