Published Apr 14, 2015German death metal outfit Morgoth recently released their fourth studio album, Ungod, marking the band's first full-length in 19 years. But as guitarist Sebastian Swart tells Exclaim!, Morgoth had no intention of releasing new material when they decided to regroup.
"When we reformed in late 2010, the initial plan was to play just a couple of festivals and not to continue much longer," he explains. "But we had so much fun playing live again and being on the road that we finally decided in 2012 to work on new material. We live widely spread all over Germany, so we also had to figure out the logistics to write new material. The internet helped us a lot."
The new release follows 1996's Feel Sorry for the Fanatic, which was particularly industrial-influenced. Ungod is a return-to-form for Morgoth, featuring the classic, churning death metal sound that encompasses their first two records, Cursed and Odium.
"We knew that we wanted to record a death metal album. Yes, we wanted to close this gap between Cursed and Odium, but still we wanted it to sound like it was 2015 and not 1991 or 1993."
Despite the hiatus, the process remained largely the same, aided now by technology.
"Harry [Busse, guitarist] and I started writing riffs, a lot of them. I lived in Spain at that time and Harry in Germany, so we bought iPads and this GarageBand software that makes it very easy to write quickly and then sent the riffs back and forth. The second step was to make rough pre-arrangements, also with the computer. This was how songs like 'God Is Evil,' 'House of Blood,' 'Die as Deceiver' and 'The Dark Sleep' came alive. A couple of months later the whole band met in the studio, we finalized the songs and later we developed the lyrics to the songs."
Swart explains that Morgoth did face some challenges. "The songwriting process was pretty natural, but the actual recording process was a bit challenging. Instead of three weeks recording, it took us almost six weeks. That was because some solos and licks were missing and had to be developed in the studio, and also we lost like one week because we had to find a new singer."
Replacing longtime vocalist Marc Grewe in the middle of recording was a major change for Morgoth. However, new vocalist Karsten "Jagger" Jäger of Disbelief, rose to the occasion.
"Karsten really jumped into icy water. He was there 48 hours after we decided not to work with Marc anymore. Jagger had to find our mindset and how we wanted the lyrics to be presented. Of course he also added some of his own ideas and even contributed a couple of lines for two songs. He is a very relaxed and friendly guy and very cool to work with."
For many bands, having to replace their vocalist during recording would be a huge struggle, but Swart says it worked out rather quickly.
"We made this tough decision and our management acted very quickly by calling Jagger. His voice was just perfect from the start, so we just continued recording after a bit of delay. [Ungod] is exactly what we wanted to do and it sounds exactly how we wanted it to sound."
Ungod is out now via Century Media.