Upon returning home from Wacken Open Air and being honored with the 5th place in the Wacken Metal Battle final, Convivium found themselves greeted by the greatest forest fire their nation had seen for generations. Already coming down from the adrenaline rush that playing in front of 6000 people will give you, the smoke and flames only helped solidify the feeling of surrealism each of the members felt.
”Everything was happening so fast”, says guitarist Pär Jansson. ”We never expected to play a huge gig like Wacken at this stage in our career. What started out as just jamming with friends was suddenly turning into something much bigger… ”
Convivium was formed in 2011 and consists of Oliver Henkel on vocals/guitar, Pär Jansson on guitar, Isac Danielsson on bass and drummer Kim Filppu. They released their third EP Staring Into Black in the fall of 2014 after a hectic summer with appearances at both Wacken Open Air and Rockstad: Falun.
”It’s a very dark record”, says Oliver. ”The title track deals with anxiety and a feeling of dread when facing an uncertain future, and seeing everything fall apart around you. I think it’s a reflection of what our generation feels now, with environmental changes and political events making the world seem very unpredictable.”
”We wrote these songs during the course of a very intense year, and when we released them we almost didn’t know where to go next. We really let go of a huge part of ourselves”, Pär says.
There’s a recurring theme of fire and burning in the songs on Staring Into Black, so Convivium thought it very fitting to visit the wasteland left by the wildfire of 2014 and see it for themselves.
”It was a very intense experience” says Isac. ”We were just driving on a small road in the woods and suddenly the trees opened up and there was this huge, almost alien, landscape before us. It really made us think about our place in the world. All it took was a small spark to create this huge inferno. We felt a very strong connection to this event as it coincided with our return from the biggest gig we ever played and also really fit in with some of the lyrics we had written.”
The record ends on a hopeful note, with Rise to Remain calling for an uprising against oppression and wrongful power.
”It’s meant to be empowering” says Kim. ”We can unite and make a lasting change if we only decide to do something about the things we find wrong in the world. And this also ties in with the forest fire, because among the charred stones there were some spots where we could already see grass shooting up from the soil. And if you look at the big picture, it’s only a matter of time before the forest will be vibrant with life again. The fire not only destroys but also cleanses and leaves room for change and improvement.” Oliver fills in:
”And that’s what we want to say with our music as well. Even in a song like ”Eternal Sleep”, that deals with suicide when suffering from pain and overwhelming grief, it’s not meant to be depressing or encouraging suicide in any way. We’re just telling the story and hope that something good will come from it.”