Interview – Christofer Malmström of Darkane

When reflecting on the early 2000s era of Melodic Death Metal, Sweden was one of the top importers of talented bands. Of course there was In Flames and Dark Tranquillity peaking at the top, as well as Arch Enemy, but you also had leading contenders in Darkane. Initially formed in 1998, their 1999 debut Rusted Angel was well-received, thus laying the groundwork for bigger success with such albums as 2002’s Expanding Senses, 2005’s Layers of Lies, and 2008’s Demonic Art. Then, after 2013’s The Sinister Supremacy, Darkane had been dormant for almost a decade… that was until 2022 when they released Inhuman Spirits.

With such a long span of time passing, the question many followers had was – would the return of Darkane be a letdown? The resonate answer was absolutely not, because Inhuman Spirits recaptures Darkane’s essence with some very well-crafted tunes. Proud of the work put into the new music, co-founding Guitarist Christofer Malmström recently sat down to discuss the history of Darkane, the long layoffs, and plans for the future. 

Cryptic Rock – Darkane was established twenty-five years ago and in that time the band has put out seven studio records and solidified themselves as a leading force in Sweden’s Melodic Death Metal scene.  Tell us, how would you describe the journey of the band?

Christofer Malmström – I think when we started playing together the goal was to play together and hopefully release an album and maybe do some shows, but it quickly escalated and right after the release of Rusted Angel (1999). We got invited to play some really large festivals in Europe and also do some tours.

The first ten years of our career we released albums continuously and played a lot live. Then most of us got kids and we decided to step down a bit, but we have always been active. In March this year we did an awesome tour in South America and we plan to play more live and release a new album as soon as we can.

Cryptic Rock – The band has certainly had an interesting timeline and it is exciting to see it more active as of recently.

Darkane emerged onto a Swedish scene where legendary bands like Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates and In Flames had arrived roughly a decade earlier. Were these bands an inspiration for Darkane. and what was the initial artistic intent of the band?

Christofer Malmström – When we started out in 1998, we were influenced by At the Gates, Arch Enemy, Meshuggah, Death and Testament… and a thousand more. However, from what I remember we listened a lot to Slaughter of the Soul (1995) by At the Gates when we started to write the first songs, and that was the direction we wanted to go for. Then in the studio we came up with the idea to not only growl, but to sing clean choruses as well, and that went on to be a trend in the coming years after that.

Cryptic Rock – That is very true; a lot of bands followed that trajectory thereafter. As time would go on Darkane would further develop their style. That being said, some fans would say 2002’s Expanding Senses was a turning point. What was that time like for the band?

Christofer Malmström – We were very satisfied with our debut album Rusted Angel, but not so much with the follow up Insanity (2001). I don’t think we planned out how the third album would sound like. It just happened. The vocals were a bit more basic and the sound is quite heavy. It was probably a natural development.

Darkane – Rusted Angel / Relapse (1999)
Darkane – Expanding Senses/ Nuclear Blast (2002)

Cryptic Rock – And it worked extremely well. Darkane remained very consistent for fifteen years, but there would be a nine-year gap between 2013’s The Sinister Supremacy and last year’s Inhuman Spirits. What led to this lengthy stretch of time between new material?

Christofer Malmström – Time passed very quickly and some of us had other duties to focus on for some time. It was way too long, but it had to be that way, and we sure aim to release the next album a lot faster.

Cryptic Rock – That will be something to look forward to. Inhuman Spirits arrived last year and it is really a great listen. Featuring well-written songs, plus featuring a balance of vocal styles as well, what was the writing and recording process like for this album?

Christofer Malmström – I wrote a couple of songs myself, and some together with Peter Wildoer. Klas wrote one song, Lawrence wrote one, and then we all shared the lyric duties in the end. We recorded the drums and guitars and did some vocal pre-production in our own studio in Helsingborg, then sent it to Lawrence in Uppsala where he recorded his vocals, and did the mixing and mastering.

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a collective effort. As mentioned, this album really displays all sides of Darkane really well. That in mind, this is the second album the band has worked with Lawrence Mackrory since he rejoined Darkane back in 2011. What has it been like working with him again?

Christofer Malmström – He is a great singer and we are very happy with what he has recorded with us. He is a big part of the Darkane sound. But he lives like six hours of driving from us, so we don’t meet that often; only before live shows or video recordings. But it works out pretty well, I think.

Darkane – Layers of Lies / Nuclear Blast (2005)
Darkane – The Sinister Supremacy / Prosthetic Records (2013)

Cryptic Rock – It does work and it is nice to see him a part of the band again. As mentioned, Darkane recently completed a South American tour in March of 2023. How did the tour go, and can we expect some further touring soon? Perhaps a return to North America?

Christofer Malmström – The tour was awesome and we had a blast. The South American people made us feel extremely welcome and the tour organizer was also top notch. We played ten different cities in eight different countries in fourteen days, so it was pretty intense. We hope to play more in both South and North America, but it seems like times are tougher these days and the economy to bring bands on decent tours is not that strong at the moment.

Cryptic Rock – Yes, it is rather unfortunate. Speaking of which, we are living in very strange times. Darkane has always produced records that contextually observe humanity, society, and hypocrisies right in front of our eyes. How would you describe these modern times in which it appears humanity has taken one step closer to self-destruction with social media obsessions, division, and narcissistic behaviors? 

Christofer Malmström – I’m afraid it’s just a natural progression. Many people want to be famous and are prepared to do whatever it takes; even when they don’t have any talent or anything to show. As long as there are followers and “likers” they can continue. I have a bigger problem with the followers than the “content makers,” especially when it comes to flying monkeys following obvious narcissists. But I guess it’s because of bad self-confidence. We can all be in situations where we don’t know what to do or what to think. That’s human. Be okay with it and enjoy life as much as you can despite not being perfect.

Darkane – Inhuman Spirits / Massacre Records (2022)

Cryptic Rock – Very good point. Last question. If you are a fan of Horror and/or Sci-Fi films, what are some of your favorites? 

Christofer Malmström – I’m mostly into older Horror movies. The classics like The Exorcist (1973) and the first Hellraiser movies. I’m just not that attracted to modern horror movies, which is too bad. 

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