Interview with Ronny Hemlin, vocalist for Steel Attack --by EC

Sala, Sweden's power metal export, Steel Attack, have been making waves and climbing the proverbial ladder for the last seven years. Their first album was released on the AFM label in 1999, and since then the band has had line-up changes, three different record labels, and a trip around the world. Not bad for a seven year trek? Let's ask Ronny Hemlin, who talks to Maximum Metal about the band's newest album, "Diabolic Symphony", out now on Massacre Records.

Maximum Metal's EC - Well Ronny, good to talk with Steel Attack again. I believe the last time I spoke with the band it was an interview with John back in 2003. At that time you guys were supporting "Predator Of The Empire" for Arise Records. How have things been going for you? Have you had a great summer thus far? What are the Summers in Sweden like? Do you get warmer temperatures from April through September and then mild weather before winter hits?

Steel Attack's Ronny Hemlin - Hehe...that's a question I've never gotten before, the answer is YES, your guess is a perfect hit!!

EC - What are the ideal vacation spots if one was to travel to Sweden? Best drinking towns? Best sports towns? Best food? Which town has the most heavy metal clubs? I don't like disco or techno or whatever the Hell the dance music is over there.

RH - Well, if you would "for some reason" visit Sweden on purpose as a tourist I guess the southern parts of Sweden would be the best, as that part of the country is the sunniest and I guess all the cool clubs is in the capitol of "Stockholm".

"Live your life in anyway you want as long as it makes you happy, and do not harm people around you."
EC - Ronny, Steel Attack has just released their fifth album to date. This one is called "Diabolic Symphony" and it is out now on Massacre Records. Let me first ask you about the split with Arise Records, who released the group's last two albums. Do you care to talk about the relationship with Javi and Arise and why did the band and label split?

RH - Well, we (Arise & Steel Attack) parted ways, due to the fact that our contract was fulfilled, and we thought that we should try to reach a bit further with our next album, and to do that, we needed to try another label. WE WERE NOT AT ALL unhappy with ARISE and the way they worked... but new blood "in whichever for" is always a good thing.

EC - I would imagine that the band's last album, "Enslaved", probably received the largest amount of praise thus far in the band's young career. Would you agree with that statement? Perhaps Arise Records heavily promoted that release and gained the attention of a wider audience? Would you say that is the case?

RH - Absolutely!!! But I also think that "ENSLAVED" was so different to its previous albums and fell in the taste of a broader audience. By now I can tell you that "Diabolic Symphony" has gotten EVEN MORE great reviews from all over, which of course makes us very glad and thankful to all who has written them.

EC - Now the band has signed on with Massacre Records, a label that I'm sure the band thought of in high regards. When shopping for a label did you have intentions of signing with something like SPV, Nuclear Blast, or Century Media? Was Massacre Records high on the list of labels you wanted to sign with? Were there a lot of offers for the band?

RH - YES YES, Massacre records was the label we were hoping to sign with, and lucky us we got that deal. I don't know really which labels or how many offers we got, 'coz we have a management fixing all that boring jobs for us. www.ssg.fi

EC - Is this a multiple album deal with the label or simply just this one record?

RH - As things look today with downloadings and stuff, it would be unwise to sign a deal for multiple albums... one at a time is our advice to all who's fishing for a label. (for more info. folks, plz send me an e-mail hehe)

EC - Okay, tell us a bit about this new record. It was recorded at Black Lounge in Sweden. Why did you pick that studio?

RH - This new album is in the same vein as ENSLAVED but even more heavy and with a much stronger sound, by this album we'd like people to understand that we've left the traditional POWER METAL and entered another genre which can be described as "Heavy Melodic Metal" with a touch of symphonic prog." Am I Right or am I right??

EC - I have listened to the new album a few times all the way through while reading the lyrics. "Diabolic Symphony" is a sort of concept album based on an innocent, good person who goes to Hell simply because he doesn't believe in God or a higher power. Is that a correct description of this storyline?

RH - Actually this isn't a concept album, the lyrics are about different things really, and there's not as many religious aspects this time as it was on "Enslaved" (which had religion in different angles and points of view as a theme). There are some religion related allusions on "Diabolic Symphony" as well, and that is, of course, due to my interest in the subject. I am not a religious man, I am just fasinated by it and a simple believer!.

EC - On a song like "Invisible God" you write that "we live to serve and to hail an invisible God, never seen, still we're afraid to bleed for our carnal sins". What is the meaning behind those lyrics?

RH - I just mean that people are afraid to be punished by something they've never seen ("a higher power") and therefore they dare not do things they would have done if it wasn't for "words preached by simple humans just as all of us". For Example ... you shall not do your woman until you've married her, it's a sin and you will pay for it in Hell...hehe...that is "in my opinion" BULLSHIT!! Live your life in anyway you want as long as it makes you happy, and do not harm people around you... If the "higher power" is supposed to be a good one...it won't punnish you for making yourself happy right??

EC - I have always been torn on the ideas of Christianity. I am a good person and try to do the right things in life. I don't worship God in the proper ways and at times I feel that if there is a Hell then certainly I will go there based on my religious beliefs instead of my good Earthly deeds. I ask you Ronny, why do you think a great and loving God would punish someone like me in a never ending fire simply because I refuse to bow my knee to an invisible God? I can sense you have those same ideas and thoughts based off of this album.

RH - I don't think that God will punish you, and as I said if it's a good "higher power", which in this case is God, it will most definely not!

EC - Musically, how does this album differ from "Enslaved"? I can hear a large amount of keyboards and those heavy, groove laden riffs that John and Johan do so well together.

RH - Well .. there you have it, and also a full two years of gained experiences.

EC - Your vocals on this album are probably the best they have been since you have come into the band. Did you do anything differently to prepare for the recording? Do you feel your voice is stronger now since you have played multiple gigs all over the world?

RH No preparations... just doing lots of gigs "as you said" and again, those two years of extra exprerience. And thank you for those words.

EC - Would you say that this album is strictly a power metal album or one that would be rather symphonic and progressive?

RH - Nope not power metal at all in my opinion, and yes, symphonic and progressive is two of the ingredients of the NEW sound!

EC - This is the first Steel Attack album to feature Tony Elfving on drums. Tell me about the change in drummers.

RH - Things didn't work so well with our former drummer and, due to that, he had to leave the band. Since I'd played together with Tony for many many years in different constalations and also was aware of his abillities, I asked him to join the band and he did. The rest is history.

EC - Who handled the album cover and who came up with the idea?

RH - The cover art and booklet is made by Brazilian girl, "Isis Sousa", based on ideas from both her and the band.

EC - It looks like the band is hitting the US this Summer. What gigs are you hitting here and, also, how many times have you been to the US thus far?

RH - YES!! Awesome!! For now I know that we're going to attend at the Minneapolis Mayhem 3 in Minnesota, and Power Prog West in Hollywood. There will also be a bunch of club gigs while we're there.

EC - What would you consider Steel Attack's home in terms of audience reaction? What city treats the band the best?

RH - Oohh!! Tough one...I think we've been royaly recieved at all shows we've done.

EC - Which album are you looking forward to the most in the coming months? The new Guns 'N Roses, new Slayer, or new Damageplan (with Dimebag's un-recorded tracks)?

RH - I would have to say .. DAMAGEPLAN 'coz none of the others are any of my favorites and Damageplan was as close to one of my absolute favorites of all time, "PANTERA", as can get.

EC - Vocally, who do you think is the best represenation of a Heavy Metal Icon?

RH - Ray Gillen and Dio, I had to pick two.

EC - For traditional heavy metal and power metal, the only band that has really made it here in the US is Dragonforce. They were invited to play the Ozzfest festival this summer. Why do you think a band like Dragonforce has made it big globally after three albums while other metal bands of this style have not? Do you think Steel Attack can make it on an Ozzfest type tour someday?

RH - Their record label probably has a lot of dollars to spend on them.

EC - If this was the year 1984 and Steel Attack just released "Diabolic Symphony", who would the group tour with you think? What older band would fit their style the best?

RH - 1984...hmm...even before Final Countdown. Black Sabbath maybe??

EC - What is your dream opening gig? What band would you like to open for or tour with?

RH - Iron Maiden...no doubt!

EC - We are halfway through the year now. What is your favorite album of the year thus far...besides your own?

RH - Diablo - Mimic 47

EC - Ronny, that is all for now. We at Maximum Metal wish the band the best of luck and congratulations on the new album!

RH - Thank you so much!! Hope you love the album and use it to scare your neighbours with!!

Ronny HemlinEric Compton7/25/2006
John AllanEric Compton5/2/2003

Carpe DiEnd
Vinaya Saksena7/17/2009
Diabolic Symphony
Eric Compton7/25/2006
Eric Compton11/12/2004
Predator Of The Empire
Eric Compton5/2/2003

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