Air Raid from Gothenburg in Sweden were formed in 2009 by guitarist Andreas Johansson. After a two-track demo in 2011 and CD EP called »Danger Ahead«, the band’s debut album »Night Of The Axe« saw the light of day in 2012, followed by the critically acclaimed »Point Of Impact« record for the High Roller label. Along with similar acts such as Ambush, Black Trip, Bullet and Robert Pehrsson’s Humbucker, Air Raid are hailed as one of the most accomplished protagonists of the new wave of traditional Swedish heavy metal.
»Point Of Impact« was issued in 2014 and received a lot of really good reviews - especially in Germany. A fact which nearly went unnoticed with main man Andreas Johansson: “We were surely very happy about the great response for »Point Of Impact«! But to be honest, I personally never read reviews at all, so I don't really know about that part. But we heard from many people that they love it, and that’s the most important thing for us, we do care about what our fans say!”
It took three years for the new Air Raid album »Across The Line« to be
released, that's quite a long time. What happened between 2014 and 2017? Andreas Johansson explains in full detail: “The main reason is simply that we had a really messy time after »Point Of Impact«. In mid-2015 we parted ways wit Johan Karlsson (guitar) due to his lack of time and ambitions. Later on, Magnus Mild (guitar) was brought into the band. We appeared at the ‘Ruhrpott Metal Meeting’ in December 2015, followed by ten dates in Europe some months later. Shortly after this, we started songwriting for new album. In the middle of the composing process, our singer Arthur decided to quit the band after long discussions about the future of the band. He wanted to dedicate more time to his family, so we respected his decision. However, this was a hard blow for us, and the songwriting went on hold for several months while we searched for a new singer. In late 2016, we found our new vocalist, Fredrik Werner, from our home town Gothenburg. After all, here's the album, better late than never!”
Air Raid played at the Rock Hard Festival in 2015 opening up the Sunday proceedings, always a hard spot to play. “We had a fantastic time at Rock Hard,” says Andreas Johansson. “The location, the people, the weather, everything was just killer! We played very early on the Sunday, so we didn't expect there would be much people. But really, there was a good amount of maniacs seeing us performing one of our best gigs ever! We surely made many new fans there and then!”
A nice thing to say. But now it’s time to move to the brand new album »Point Of Impact«. It always is kind of a cliché, but »Across The Line« is without doubt the band’s best effort by far... “Thanks alot for the kind words, man!,” says the guitarist. “First of all, we have two new members in the band as mentioned, Magnus Mild (on guitar) and Fredrik Werner (on vocals). I would say »Across The Line« is more guitar-oriented than our previous release. It's really packed with screaming solos and riffs. We always had lots of guitar leads, but we took it one step further. The overall feel of the album is melodic but with a very powerful edge. It comes natural for us to blend in neo-classical elements along with the ususal heavy metal, so that’s another significant thing on this record.
Last but surely not least, Fredrik delivers an amazing performance on vocals. This guy has a monster voice!”
Stylistically, Air Raid’s scope has become a bit broader, would that be a
fair thing to say? “Yeah, this might be right,” remarks Andreas Johansson. “It's not something we were thinking about in the process though. We pretty much let the creativity take over and see where it leads us. The whole album was written in an intense period of eight months, so all songs have the same feel. That's the most important for us!”
The vocals and the guitars on the new record are still pretty much outstanding... very refined stuff. “Well, personally I don't think I'm a better guitarist or songwriter than before,” says the guitarist. “But one very important thing to mention is that my personal life is much more steady than some years ago. It helped incredibly much when composing for this album. To be in the right mindset is crucial, and I think the result speaks for itself!”
The production values of the new album are very much superior to what the band has done in the past. Especially the guitars sound so full-on. I think all in all »Across The Line« might be a big step towards reaching the next level for Air Raid... “We are fortunate to have Magnus in the band,” is Andreas’ answer. “He is very skilled in how to get a great sound in the recording procedure.
Also of course, really important is to mention the mixing that was done by Victor Olsson. He made the album sound exactly as we wanted! Then you have the icing on the cake, the mastering, that was done by Patrick W. Engel. All those guys made an amazing job!”
Is Andreas Johnansson listening to contemporary metal at all? Or just to the old classics? I think it is always difficult for musicians not to be influenced too much by what has been done before (by the great masters of the genre). “I basically never listen to new stuff,” is his straight answer. “If I listen to heavy metal, it's almost always some old 80s stuff. And about the songwriting influences, it's never any specific artist we take inspiration from really. I would say its more the feel of the 80s sound that shines through in our music. I think we do it in a personal way!”