Swedish hard rockers Dead Lord were clearly born too late. Formed in 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden, members Hakim Krim (vocals/guitars), Olle Hedenström (guitars), Martin Nordin (bass) and Adam Lindmark (drums) are clearly more at home with 1976 (the year Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak hit stores) than they are with 2017. As time machines don’t exist, however, the members are stuck in the present, where they decided to form the hardest working, hardest sounding rock band since The Hellacopters took off with Grande Rock at the turn of the millennium. With three albums to the wind—the band’s newest In Ignorance We Trust hits stores worldwide in late August—Dead Lord aren’t hoping you’ll join them, they’re demanding you join them. Riff by riff. Hook by hook. Just don’t call their brand of rock retro.
“It’s timeless, not retro,” Dead Lord’s Hakim Krim asserts. “Instead, it is pretty much all the modern rock bands that sound dated. I guess something happened during the ‘80s and onward. People had all sorts of recording tricks at hand, which led much music to sound very dated. Different effects and tricks are usually a lot of fun when they’re new, but tend to sound very dated after a decade or two. Not applying any of the modern mega compressors, expanders or other macky mack, make things sound more—I hate to use the word but here we go—true. More honest, I would say. Not retro. It just sounds more like the way it actually sounds live. The modern way of glazing everything in stupidity is not really what we’re after. Same way man buns are stupid, so is the modern rock sound.”
As with man buns and murses so too with ultra-slick studio tricks and obscenely-expensive mastering jobs. They’re just not in the cards for Dead Lord. The Swedes prefer to rock hard the honest way, where riffs hook, vocal lines stick, and steady rhythms pound the floor. There is no pretense in Dead Lord’s denim ‘n’ leather swagger. There are no parlor tricks to Dead Lord’s sound. Like Zeppelin, Metallica, and, of course, ABBA—all influences to the Swedes—the music does the talking. It’s raw, unbridled, and ready for action. No wonder Krim had little trouble describing Dead Lord’s sound.
“[Our sound is a] mind-blowing, face-melting, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, twin-guitar infused smart-rock extravaganza,” laughs the frontman.
New album, In Ignorance We Trust, naturally picks up where 2015’s lauded Heads Held High left off. Dead Lord’s third full-length then pelts it with Six Million Dollar Man action figures, Venom choruses (think “Witching Hour” or “Die Hard”), and moustaches meaner than Phil Lynott’s famed lady tickler. The end result is a 10-track hard rock affair that sees the Stockholmites breaking strings and hearts with aplomb and unmatched style. It’s not something they had the balls to do on Goodbye Repentance or Heads Held High, but the follow-up, where things often go oblong for most rock bands, why not.
“We went a bit broader music-wise,” Krim reveals. “Part from some of our heaviest tunes, this album also has some of our softest and weirdest tunes so far. That’s what you do on the third album, right? [So, we] bring out the harmonica and jaw harp.”
Written over a mess of rehearsals between 2015 and 2017, In Ignorance We Trust was a collaborative effort from the start. Guitarist Olle Hedenström is the band’s file cabinet, crafting demos and persisting them for posterity. Meanwhile, Krim crams everything he’s thinking—music-wise—into his own organic hard drive. The high-spirited frontman then explains his ideas riff first as if he’s Jimmy Page. The rest of the band, drummer Adam Lindmark and bassist Martin Nordin, then tell Krim if he’s locked in or off his rocker. Like on In Ignorance We Trust’s ripping opener “Ignorance”, or the bluesy introspect of “Leave Me Be”, or the twin-guitar anthem of “They!”
“I prefer it that way,” admits Krim. “Each band member will bring their own flavor to the songs. Everyone shares their opinion and tweaks the songs. Usually, we write most of them individually. Some parts do come from jamming, and we all try to arrange and come with input and ideas. I can, for instance, tell Adam, ‘Go, full on Burn drum-fill verse mayhem’ and he’ll understand what I mean.”
Unlike Heads Held High, which was recorded locally in Sweden between David Castillo’s Studio Gröndahl and Nicke Andersson’s The Honk Palace, In Ignorance We Trust thrust the Swedes into the heart of Madrid, Spain, where they were enlodged for 10 days at Cuervo Recording Service. As a fully analog or digital studio, it’s pretty obvious which option Dead Lord and long-time producer Ola Ersfjord picked. They wanted the hiss of tape, the warmth of a manual edit, and all the hassle that comes with it.
“Our good friend Ola happened to be working there,” Krim says. “And it’s way warmer than Sweden, so we went for it. We recorded it on his small Fostex reel-to-reel machine and cranked it to get a bit of niceness going. Nothing fancy. We just trusted Ola’s studio wisdom. Nailing the basics for the songs is always fun and fairly easy and straightforward. We always do it live, to get the vibe right. Metronomes are the enemy. The more frustrating part is always the vocals. But it went down fairly smoothly. Guitar solos are always a blast to do though.”
Thematically, In Ignorance We Trust conspicuously plays on the United States motto In God We Trust. Clearly, the political swings (to the right), as well as the continual disregard and public contempt President Donald J. Trump has for science and the arts, have influenced Krim’s pen greatly. The frontman calls the trend in anti-intellectualism “terrifying”. But that’s not all In Ignorance We Trust is about or was inspired and informed by.
“A bit of heartbreak, a bit of LSD, politicians, hopelessness, and whatever came to mind while I was drunk in the studio,” Krim says.
While a good four years separate debut Goodbye Repentance from In Ignorance We Trust, Krim is adamant Dead Lord are the same dudes longing for the same songwriting sweet spot and a good leather jacket. Actually, the Swedes aren’t the same. They’re better writers, more observant lyricists, and superlatively more kick-ass on stage than they were all those years ago. Krim attributes Dead Lord’s rise to power to good looks and good luck. OK, maybe not good looks, but lady luck has winked a few times at the Vagabonds of the North.
“I guess we’ve gotten in more fights,” admits Krim, “Made even more regrettable decisions, become less handsome, gotten ‘randomly selected’ at more airports, etc. Other than that, things are pretty much the same. Working hard and playing as many shows as we can.”
Dead Lord unmistakably are: Hakim Krim (vocals/guitars), Adam Lindmark (drums), Olle Hedenström (guitars), and Martin Nordin (bass). They want to welcome you to the new city slang!