In an interview with EMP Spain prior to their appearance at this year's Leyendas Del Rock festival in Villena, Spain, guitarist Oscar Dronjak of Swedish metallers HAMMERFALL delved deep into the writing and recording process for their latest studio album, "Dominion". Like in previous interviews, Dronjak cited the stress-free and well-planned nature of the "Dominion" recording sessions as one of the reasons why it was so enjoyable for the band unlike the process for 2016's "Built To Last", which the guitarist has often cited as being "stressful."
"Our aim, every time we start writing and recording a new album, is to make the best heavy metal album we can make," Dronjak said (see video below). "The perfect heavy metal album. We don't always succeed. If you actually did succeed there would be nowhere to go but down. We're trying to make it as good as we can. Last time on 'Built To Last', we were stressed, both the songwriting and recording process was a little stressful. We wanted to avoid this this time, so I started writing songs really early. We wrote on tour. Joacim [Cans, vocals] and I had a really good back-and-forth with the stuff going on. We even rehearsed a couple of times for this album. I can't remember when we did that the last time. It's been a long time, actually. Today, you get a demo, you have everything mapped out, you don't need to play together for recording, really, but it always helps the songs, which is why we did it. When we rehearse together, you find out small nuances and subtle things, maybe David [Wallin, drums] plays a little bit different here or whatever, stuff like that on the drums, for example. Then you can go back also since we recorded it. We can go back and listen to it and change whatever needs to be changed for the actual recording. All these things put together.
"Also, we were doing, more or less done, with the songwriting several months before the recording was supposed to start," he continued. "It was really nice. We had the time, or rather, we had the luxury to give the songs the time they needed to mature. I think, also, all the little details, those are the ones that make a good song or a great song legendary in the long run. Those are the ones that distinguish the songs and we really had time to work on those this time. That's part of the reason why it sounds the way it does. Another part is because it was so stress-less, we could definitely put all our energy into the actual recording. There was nothing going around this time. We had our own studio, which we record in. There wasn't another band knocking at the door. If we wanted to, we could run long if we wanted to. We didn't need to. We treated this as sort of a normal job this time. We recorded from the same nine-to-five, or six or seven, whenever we felt like 'Now we're done for today.' Just let it go. Went to a hotel room. The studio is on my property, so I went into my own house. It's really nice. Pontus [Norgren, guitar] has to fly in because he lives in Stockholm. He went home for the weekend. Normally we go through the weekends a couple of times, like several days in a row. There was no need to do it that way. We had the luxury of taking our time and pacing ourselves. What we generally did was we recorded Monday through Friday afternoon, then he flew home to Stockholm, and just let everything go for the weekend. Came back on Monday morning and started again. That helped so much. We were all really fresh when we recorded. We peaked when we were actually playing. It sounds a little bit weird because when you have a stress-less environment, that's not really the best way to get the most energy out of it, really. But it worked that way because we were able to channel the energy when we needed it instead of on a thousand different things that needed attention apart from the recording. When we were actually playing, we were playing with a lot of focus and a lot of energy and that helped with the final results of the album, what you feel when you listen to it. Those are little things for us, as musicians, you can feel them. I think people feel them also, but they don't really know why."
"Dominion" was released August 16 via Napalm Records. For "Dominion", HAMMERFALL re-teamed with James Michael to do vocals at Red Level Three studios, and Fredrik Nordström of Studio Fredman at Castle Black Studios for the instruments on the 12-song collection.