Interview with vocalist Alexander “Backe” Backlund | By Nicholas Senior
Some bands simply “color within the lines,” never breaking new sonic ground. But what if a band chose to rethink the spectrum, using bright crayons instead of dull pen and pencil? That’s only part of the appeal of Vignette, the brilliant debut record from Swedish prog metal group Letters From The Colony. Their magnificent, colorful first impression—due out Feb. 16 via Nuclear Blast—is a hell of a start, as it showcases a band reimagining the sonic color palette of modern technical metal.
“We decided early on that we weren’t going to do anything ‘traditional,’” vocalist Alexander “Backe” Backlund explains. “We draw a lot of our inspiration from elsewhere, [outside of metal], and we wanted that to carry through into the visual domain as well. Metal album covers are generally very dark, so we thought we’d do the opposite of that. Metal videos are generally very macho, so we thought we’d try something different. Ultimately, it’s just about doing whatever we want to do, and we like all things vibrant and surreal.”
That vivid mindset resulted in the band’s unique paradigm, which shifts the emphasis onto melody. Backe expands, “We really focused on the melodies on this album and did our best to give them adequate space within the sonic landscape. A lot of bands in our genre tend to bury what little melody is there behind a wall of growls and rhythm guitars, but we like to build our songs around the melodies rather than using them as just a complementary element.”
That example of thinking outside the box translates to the band’s whole package. The result is a masterpiece of modern rhythmic metal, one that recalls the behemoths of the style—Gojira, Meshuggah, Between The Buried And Me—while brimming with thought-provoking ideas and haunting melodies. Vignette is a record that will immediately grab listeners with grade-A riffing and lodge itself deep in their craniums. It sticks with you like bright pink gum to the sole of a Converse sneaker.
“Lyrically, there is a general theme, but it isn’t a concept album,” Backe explains. “In a way, it can all be tied to the deer on the cover. When [guitarist] Sebastian [Svalland] first played me the instrumental version of the song ‘Vignette,’ I had this image in my head of a bright orange sun rising above dark blue rooftops—it could have been 100 years ago or yesterday. It made me think about the progress of humanity, all that we have achieved and how easily it could all be lost. If we perish, another being will rise to take our place. Nothing is forever.”
With a stunning debut to unleash, Letters From The Colony won’t last forever either, but Vignette is certainly the start of a bright and promising career.