Uppsala seems to be just a perfectly normal Swedish city with roughly 130,000 inhabitants. But when it comes to Rock bands, there is nothing normal about Uppsala at all. It has been the number one breeding ground for great Metal bands over the last couple of years (and quite a few of those acts have been snatched up by High Roller Records). Noctum is the newest sensation from Uppsala, a brand new '70's Doom/Hardrock band of the highest calibre. I asked their bassist Tobias “Tobbe” Rosén why it is that so many great current Heavy bands are coming from Uppsala? He can't really explain the fact: "I can't give you a proper answer to this one. Each band represents itself and I don't really know why but loads of great music is created in our town." So is Uppsala the Rock capital of Sweden? Why are far bigger cities like Stockholm or Gothenburg lagging behind? In this case, Tobbe begs to differ: "I can't agree about this, in 'our' scene (the '70's Rock scene) I would say that Örebro and Gothenburg are the biggest ones but if you play/like Death Metal/Heavy Metal/Black Metal I think Uppsala is the best place and has a lot of bands to check out." So does Uppsala have a lot of great clubs, are there many rehearsal facilities? What's the secret of the city's phenomenal scene? Tobbe does not only play in his own band, he also supports the scene in another capacity: "I actually have my own club in Uppsala called Club Oblivion. Other than that I only pay attention to Club Digger which is a great club. Regarding the rehearsal facilities, I would say that we're lucky, there are loads of good rehearsal facilities and we receive support from our commune." Tobias' favourite band from his hometown is In Solitude. Noctum, on the other hand, are a really new band, they formed in September 2009. "The Seance" on High Roller Records is their first ever album. Before that they only produced 100 promo CD's and brought them to the Keep It True festival in order to make people aware of Noctum.
"The Seance" is a great '70's Doom Rock/Metal album, the young band already shows great songwriting ability. Their influences go back to the '70's, as Tobbe explains: "That would be Pentagram ('70's demos), Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, early Witchfinder General and November." There is one track on the album "Den Onda Trollpackan" which is sung in Swedish and it is quite a wonderful number. Unfortunately, currently this is the only Noctum number sung in Swedish, as their bassist lets me know: "We've got no more songs sung in Swedish at this very moment but I'm sure you will hear more of that later on." For me, "Den Onda Trollpackan" is one of the outstanding songs on '"The Seance" but the band initially had their doubts about this number: "To be honest, I wasn't sure if a song in Swedish would fit our sound and I had never heard David sing in Swedish before, but I was stunned when I heard him perform. In my opinion it's the best song performance on the record."
Noctum have only appeared live twice up until now and played two cover versions in their set: "Sign Of The Wolf" by Pentagram and "Doctor Doctor" by the mighty UFO. The band also cites Witchfinder General as an influence. I think some legends are better to be left alone in the past. The last Witchfinder General studio album is awful: terrible production, poor songwriting and ridiculous lyrics. What does Tobbe think? He answers: "To be honest, I haven't heard the last album, I've been warned about it and decided not to listen to it. I'm satisfied with 'Death Penalty' and 'Friends Of Hell'." Tobbe himself writes the lyrics for Noctum and he seems to be very versatile: "I use movies, books, dreams, feelings, history and inner struggles to create my lyrics."
Sweden has produced some mighty fine Metal bands over the years (starting in the '70's with acts like Neon Rose). So what would Tobias say is the most important Metal band from Sweden of all time: Nemesis (pre-Candlemass), Heavy Load, or somebody else? He does not take long to answer: "Both bands you named are really great bands even though I think Candlemass' first record is the better than Nemesis/later Candlemass records and I think Gotham City is better than Heavy Load but overall I would say that the new scene with bands such as Graveyard/Witchcraft/Horisont/Brutus has something very special. But of course November would be one of the best Swedish bands ever!"