The foregoing legacy of Dissection’s ‘Storm Of the Light’s Bane’

Jon Andreas Nödtveidt
Jon Andreas Nödtveidt

‘Storm Of the Light’s Bane,’ the only album to be released through German conglomerate Nuclear Blast Records, was supposed to be the breakthrough effort for Swedish melodic death metal hopefuls Dissection. In comparison to ‘The Somberlain,’ the record went for a more traditional and streamlined death metal sound. Much what made ‘The Somberlain’ unique had been jettisoned for a more marketable sound. Their label gave the album the required marketing push, but extracurricular activities of frontman Jon Andreas Nödtveidt would capsize the band at the height of its power.

Before settling down to pre-produce second album Jon Andreas Nödtveidt busied himself with two projects in between the ‘The Somberlain’ and ‘Storm Of the Light’s Bane’ songwriting sessions. First, there was the very short-lived Terror, a grindcore project that existed for about three weeks, and released a single demo tape. Second, Jon Andreas Nödtveidt recorded the ‘The Priest Of Satan’ album with The Black, with whom he had some involvement a year before the recordings of Dissection’s own ‘The Somberlain.’ Once both projects had run their course, Jon Andreas Nödtveidt focused on the completion of the second album from his project which was to be the first release for the new label.

Due to internal conflicts (which some sources attribute to apparent laziness) co-songwriter, John Zwetsloot was ousted from the band before the recording sessions but was allowed writing credits to two of the album’s most celebrated songs. ‘Night’s Blood’ and ‘Retribution – Storm Of the Light’s Bane’ were co-written by John Zwetsloot. All music was written by lead guitarist Jon Andreas Nödtveidt with input from other musicians. ‘Unhallowed,’ ‘Thorns Of Crimson Death,’ and ‘Soulreaper’ were co-written by Johan Norman. The outro piano piece was written and performed by Alexandra Balogh.

The album was the recording debut for rhythm guitarist Johan Norman, who had previously only recorded a live demo tape in 1992 with Runemagick. Returning from ‘The Somberlain’ are both the vocalist and lead guitarist Jon Andreas Nödtveidt, bass guitarist Peter Palmdahl, and drummer Ole Öhman. As expected of a unit onto its sophomore offering ‘Storm Of the Light’s Bane’ is far more streamlined and concise in its writing. One of the biggest improvements was that the acoustic guitar breaks, previously provided by former guitarist John Zwetsloot, were now fully integrated into the band’s music. Ole Öhman had improved in leaps and bounds from the debut, displaying some incredible flexibility in regards to his footwork, and creativity with fills, rolls, and cymbal crashes.

‘Storm Of the Light’s Bane,’ an album released during the death metal explosion of the mid-nineties, is more straight-up death metal oriented than ‘The Somberlain.’ This was probably due to the popularity of the Florida death metal sound. One of the most lauded tracks is the uniformly savage ‘Unhallowed,’ which lyrically deals with Viking conquest, almost borders on black metal stylistically. ‘Where Dead Angels Lie’ was written around the time of the ‘The Somberlain’ sessions – and was part of the band’s ‘Promo ’93.’ It was never properly recorded before its appearance on this album. In comparison to the rest of the album, it is a semi-ballad. ‘Thorns Of Crimson Death’ and ‘Retribution – Storm Of the Light’s Bane’ are the most compositionally ambitious.

There are two notable guest vocalists to be found in this effort. ‘Soulreaper’ has contributions by Tony Särkkä (from Ophthalamia, and Abruptum) and Erik Hagstedt (Marduk frontman) lends his throat to ‘Thorns Of Crimson Death.’ Erik Hagstedt would appear on the Ophthalamia album ‘Via Dolorosa’ the same year before being enrolled in the more established blackened death metal force Marduk.

As before, the lyrics are well-written with a poetic quality. While various dark entities have alluded to the mythical figure of Satan (or its related figures) is never mentioned by name. The band’s connection to black metal is tangential at best, and non-existent at worst. Only Jon Andreas Nödtveidt’s serpentine rasps and his ideological convictions tie him to the Scandinavian black metal of the day, but musically Dissection is most obviously a death-ish thrash metal, albeit it a very noble and traditional metal one.

Dissection - 'Storm Of the Light's Bane'
‘Storm Of the Light’s Bane’ was released by Nuclear Blast Records on November 17th, 1995

‘Storm Of the Light’s Bane’ was recorded in just over two weeks at Hellspawn Studio (a later incarnation of Gorysound Studio before it changed its name to the popularly known Unisound Studio) with prolific producer Dan Swäno. The studio had earlier produced the formative works of former death metal band Marduk and Norsecore pioneers Dark Funeral. Typical of the time the bass-heavy production possesses a lot of crunch and weight. The drums sound very concrete with powerful snares and toms. The kick drums provide much of the record low-end together with Palmdahl’s throbbing bass guitar that sounds both tonally deep but clear-cut.

An early rough mix was released on cassette format in late 1995 that had a different track order and included the ‘Feathers Fell’ guitar instrumental from the debut album. In its final form the record omitted the ‘Feathers Fell’ track and switched a few tracks around for the album to reach optimal flow and better pacing. As before the stunning artwork was rendered by the much-in-demand graphic designer Kristian Wåhlin (Necrolord), a respected scene veteran famous for his work with legendary Swedish proto-deathened black metal band Grotesque, who was becoming a household name.

Touring for the album included a jaunt with headliners Cradle Of Filth as part of The Rape and Ruin Of Europe Tour in 1997, which also included up-and-coming Norwegian band Dimmu Borgir as openers. This touring campaign would later be immortalised by the band’s appearance at the Gods Of Darkness Festival in Köln, Germany that was recorded for the ‘Live & Plugged: vol. 2’ videotape, which also included a young Dimmu Borgir. A recording of Dissection’s appearance at the Wacken Open Air Festival, in Germany would see release in 2003 as the belated ‘Live Legacy’ album.

After Dissection fell into disarray, rhythm guitarist Johan Norman, and touring drummer Tobias Kjellgren regrouped with new musicians in Soulreaper. Jon Andreas Nödtveidt meanwhile released an album with De Infernali, an industrial yet techno hybrid before a manslaughter conviction effectively put Dissection on ice permanently. Tobias Kjellgren himself had featured on the lone Decameron album ‘My Shadow…’ in 1996 before figuring into the newly formed Soulreaper, a band that capitalized on the growing interest in American-styled death metal (specifically Morbid Angel) after the second wave black metal boom. However, Soulreaper itself fell into disrepair after releasing two mediocre albums. Öhm Olean (drummer) resurfaced with populist industrial metal band Deathstars, whereas Peter Palmdahl featured on two Deathwitch albums before disappearing into the anonymity of civilian life.

On August 13th, 2006, Jon Andreas Nödtveidt was found dead in his apartment in Hässelby, by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a circle of lit candles. Early reports indicated that he was found with an open copy of the Satanic Bible, but these were later dismissed by Dissection’s guitarist Set Teitan. According to him, “it is not any atheist, humanist and ego-worshiping The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey that Jon (Andreas Nödtveidt) had in front of him, but a Satanic grimoire. He despised LaVey and the ‘Church of Satan’.”

Despite the reprehensible actions and sceptical philosophies displayed by Jon Andreas Nödtveidt in his short time on Earth, his work with Dissection outlasts until date, still unparalleled. ‘Storm Of the Light’s Bane’ was proven to be his greatest accomplishment in life and a monumental reference to many of the musical scene newcomers. Either you admit or not, Dissection left a mark that sacrificed today’s metal circles, and I would like to know how it impacted your life, as a music aficionado or a musician, and if you held any vivid memories from their touring, feel free to comment below.

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