|"Hellfueled – Volume One". Winter 2004. One listen and I concluded that deceit and treachery were knocking at the door. Ozzy singing for Pantera? How did I miss this collaboration? Little did I know that this colossal record was from a little known Swedish band. Furthermore, three more phenomenal offerings would follow suit: "Born II Rock – Volume Two" (2005), "Memories In Black" (2007) and "Emission Of Sins" (2009). The last album was five years ago? |
Five long years.
What happened to the sensational Swedes? Well according to the band's former guitarist Jocke Lundgren "People change, including me. That's just life".
So what brought about the hiatus of Hellfueled? Why is there smoke on the mountain? Those are all questions I had for Lundgren. He and drummer Kent Svensson had played in bands together since the early 90s, eventually forming Hellfuled in 1998. They soon recruited guitarist turned bassist Henke Lonn and school friend Andy Alkman as vocalist. The band signed to Swedish label Black Lodge and recorded their debut, "Volume One", at the famed Studio Fredman under the watchful eyes of the esteemed Fredrik Nordstrom and Patrik Sten (In Flames, Dream Evil, Hammerfall). The album's success stoked the fires of a career that would span ten years and produce four albums.
In May of 2011, Lundgren posted a simple and concise statement: "Left The Job At Hellfueled". When asked about that decision Lundgren said, "I contacted our record label and live promoter and told them that I'm just leaving the band. No drama or hard feelings toward anyone, just didn't feel for it anymore. My number one thing has always been the creative part and making music. The other things that came along just didn't make any sense to me. That feeling just got stronger through the years". He elaborates further about his decision and reaction from his former band members. "My message to the band was that you can get another guitarist and do what you want. I guess it just faded into the sunset after that. As I said, no drama. I was just done with it."
After the departure Lundgren still needed a creative outlet, some way to express himself. "After the Hellfueled departure I went on and started a new band with Patrik J. Sten (Dream Evil, Passenger), the long time studio engineer of famous Studio Fredman in Gothenburg. I had recorded three albums there with Hellfueled so we had been friends for ten years. He is a tremendous songwriter and drummer as well. That didn't work out in the end because of the long distance between us geographically. Shortly after that I started making my own music again. That's just what I do, make songs all of the time."
Lundgren has been best friends with Andy Alkman since school. The two obviously had a tremendous working career during their tenure in Hellfueled. When asked about continuing that relationship Lundgren says, "Andy Alkman was very supportive since the day I left and started the band with Patrik J. So it just felt natural to ask him if he was interested in some new songs. The other half of Hellfueled reacted in the opposite way and kind of disappeared after I left. I can fully understand if they were disappointed. So here we are now with Firegod Mountain, doing the exact same thing we did in the early nineties. Just making music and having fun without any pressure from labels and such things. I'm enjoying every single minute of it."
"For us the whole thing with releasing a record and trying to get people to pay for music today is pretty much dead. Firegod Mountain's mission is to give the music to the people absolutely free."
Where one door closes another opens and that statement certainly rings true with Firegod Mountain. This new collaboration of Lundgren and Alkman seems to have that same passion and focus we heard back in 2004. Fans can hear eight new songs on the band's You Tube channel and Facebook. These are a precursor on what we may hear down the line. When discussing the goals and creative freedom of Firegod Mountain and its contributors Lundgren explained, "Everything has its time and Firegod Mountain is the new chapter. For the moment there is just me and Mr. Alkman in the band. Time will tell what will happen. All I know is that we will make tons of music. We have had a little recording break currently but very soon we will start again and the process will be much faster."
The eight songs that are streaming on You Tube were written two years ago. When asked if these will be re-recorded for a possible album Lundgren said, "No plans for that at the moment. We got so many new songs that are just waiting to be recorded. For us the whole thing with releasing a record and trying to get people to pay for music today is pretty much dead. Firegod Mountain's mission is to give the music to the people absolutely free."
The word FREE always creates some form of dialogue and this is no different. After asking Lundgren how bands can make money in a "streaming free" environment he explained, "Let's put it like this. If an eight year old kid is born with a Macbook or iPad with Spotify in his hands and loves music there is no way the old generation is gonna tell him/her to pay for music like in the old days. Just live with it. This is the new time. Technology will never go back. Me personally, I think it's wonderful. It feels great to be maybe the last generation of "small bands" that actually got to release some CDs and make some proper money out of it. Then, of course, there is always the "big bands" that want more. The giants always want more, that's just the way giants work."
How does Firegod Mountain compare to Hellfueled? Would it be a fair statement to call this new project "Hellfueled V?" Lundgren responds, "I think the best thing is just for people to listen by themselves. No, I don't really think you can say it's a "Hellfueled V". This is gonna be so much more varied in sound and elements. The difference I guess is that this is totally about the love for music while Hellfueled became "we've got to record this new album now!" Music should be all about the fun. Firegod Mountain is that."
After a decade of Lundgren's heavily distorted guitar playing it is interesting to hear these new songs. One that really stands out is "Gordo", a track that doesn't have the familiar distortion. Lundgren tells us, "We just love all kinds of music. I think that can be heard in the song "Windom Earl" as well. Just enjoying that kind of darker softer sound just as much as the raw power of songs like "Just Another Grey". This is just the freedom with Firegod Mountain that we love so much. We just do exactly want we want and nobody is questioning it."
The band chose to record a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Don't Say A Word". Lundgren explains the reason behind the song choice. "I have always enjoyed recording old Thin Lizzy songs and doing the vocals by myself. There will be more Thin Lizzy songs soon. That particular song is just an old favorite. Next one will be a pretty odd one. You will see when it's done and up on You Tube."
In terms of a new album or compilation of these songs Lundgren tells us there is no sense of urgency. "The time table is just record new songs all the time and put it on You Tube for free. We like the songs and if there's more people liking it then that just comes as a bonus. Pretty simple I guess. It is all about the creativity and fun!"
You can hear all of the eight Firegod Mountain songs on You Tube. Lundgren continues to express himself with his posts on Facebook, Instagram and You Tube. You can follow him using these links: