In the Meet The Band spotlight this week are the Norwegian group Hypermass. They recently released their full-length debut album Empyrean. Vocalist Markus Sundet, guitarist Thomas Pedersen and guitarist Sindre Dagestad introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Hypermass.
Markus Sundet: We are a bunch of boys who met in junior high school, and started jamming together really young. We were 14, 15 years old when we first made a band together. At that time we practiced a lot, and participated in various talent competitions for young people, in addition to playing at school graduations etc. After some replacements in the lineup, we became the core we are today, I would say late 2013. Then we recorded our first demo Into Oblivion. In the school year 2014/2015, we went together to a music school where we wrote and recorded our EP Clouded Visions. We rehearsed every day, and were productive as a band over a long period of time. In 2017, we recorded our stand-alone single “Deviants” which was released in February 2018. In between all the recordings, we have played a lot live, especially in our hometown.
The work with Empyrean started in earnest in the first quarter of 2019, where we started the process of writing demos for the album. Since then, there has been continuous work to get the album finished. Now the plan is to tour with our debut album, and eventually write an another record, hopefully!
Describe the songwriting process for Empyrean.
Thomas Pedersen: The first day we wrote anything for this album was sometime in 2019. We were all hanging out at Martin’s apartment, not really planning to do any writing for Hypermass. We jammed together and came up with the main riff from “Null and Void,” and the rest of the song came out really fluently within a few hours. It instantly sparked our creativity and we got eager to write new stuff. Because I live in a different city that the rest of the guys, we usually only get to write together a few times a year. We decided to meet up every once in a while a write a new song each time, and try to get an album done. This was a time consuming process, but each time we met, we turned up with different inspirations from the previous time. I think that’s why all the songs sound quite different from each other, and pulls inspiration from many places.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Thomas: For me personally, it was writing the song “Motherdome” (or “Shponglat” as we called it during writing). It’s the most fun I have ever had writing anything. Also, the memory of us all sitting down and listening thorough the whole album for the first time together was a very special moment.
Did the pandemic affect the process?
Thomas: The pandemic affected the process somewhat, but in some ways for the positive. We would have planned a lot of shows in usual circumstances, because playing live is one of the best parts about playing in a band. However, because of the pandemic, we had to stay hyperfocused on the task at hand; writing the album. I believe that it actually sped up the album writing process somewhat. I’m sure that would be the same for other bands, being there was a flood of post-pandemic releases.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
Thomas: Prior to this album, our comfort zone had always been melodic death metal with tech elements. On this album we wanted it to be more groove-oriented and more interesting. We also wanted to introduce sounds that we had not done before, for example synthesizers. We still kept the Hypermass DNA in there, so however much we experiment, it’s still recognizably us. I’m really pleased with how the sound of this album turned out. Getting Adam Nolly GetGood (ex-Periphery) to do the mixing was the right move. He enhanced the unique character of the album and made it sound huge!
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Sindre Dagestad: The lyrics are up to each and every one to decipher, but the recurring theme of the album is about feeling alienated in the modern world. We cover a wide array of topics like artificial intelligence, religious extremism, desensitization, misanthropy etc.
What led you to go the independent route for the album release?
Markus: The idea of making the release independent was that we feel the job can be done just as well ourselves as if you have a record company behind you for bands of our size. Today you can do almost everything yourself, so we made an active choice to do it this way. We have learned and experienced an incredible amount by doing it this way, and have therefore brought with us good experiences towards a new album process. If the right record company shows up, with the right agreement for us, it is of course very relevant to sign with a company. It has been a lot of work to do everything ourselves, so hopefully we have a company behind us at the next release. If not, we will happily do it again independently.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Markus: The goal of the album is to create a foundation that we can build further on, in form of fans first and foremost. We are in it for the grind! I personally hope that many will like the album, but you never know, so it’s hard to set any expectations, really. We’ll see what happens!
What has been your most memorable Hypermass live show?
Markus: That must be when we were support for Emmure in our hometown Trondheim. It was cool to have the opportunity to share the stage with a well-established band with a charismatic frontman who knows how to deliver on stage. Kudos to Frankie Palmeri.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Thomas: We have just now managed to get a live drummer on board, and we will now start to plan for touring. Follow us on social media to stay up to date on where we will be playing in the near future!
How did you get started in music?
Markus: It started with an interest for Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth and Judas Priest. Then it spiked over to the point that I started taking guitar lessons. Shortly after I started “mastering” the guitar, we started playing in bands. When our vocalist left at that time, I took the vocals since I was the worst guitarist. Instead, we got Sindre Dagestad on guitar, perhaps the smartest decision I’ve ever made. That created the core of Hypermass, and we are still going strong!
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Thomas: The earliest song I remember really falling in love with as a kid, and may have been my start in music in general, was Boomfunk MC’s “Freestyler.” The only reason I mention this is because that was the sort of vibe I was going for when i made the synth melody in “The Constant.” Anyway, the first metal band I ever listened to and fell in love with was System Of A Down. I remember seeing the music video for “BYOB” on TV and being overwhelmed by the craziness of Serj and Daron. I then went on to be really into old school thrash metal and punk, before eventually heading into death metal. I also had a period where I was really into progressive metal, and this was when I discovered Periphery. That band is to this day the most influential band for my musical writing.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Markus: The first metal concert I remember attending was with the ’80s band TNT in Trondheim, it was in 2004. The most important band for me as a young kid was Iron Maiden. I remember flying to Oslo in 2006 to attend a gig. I was 11 years old, it was HUGE for me at the time, I can remember. Still love them to this day.
What are some of your non musical interests and hobbies?
Markus: I watch a lot of football, and I play Counter-Strike with my mates when I want to chill. As of late I’ve also started running, never thought I’d be able to enjoy that. Other than that I listen to a lot of music.
Thomas: Right now I’m really into weight training and running/walking long distance. In a month or so, me and some friends will attempt to walk 100,000 steps in a day. Should be reasonably challenging.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Markus: I love the new records from Malevolence and Decapitated, both are absolutely fantastic. And not to mention the new Meshuggah record, I thinkt it is my favorite from them. There are a lot of good records coming out these days. It’s exciting. I also have a sweet spot for classic rock, so I listen to that a lot also. Bands like The Black Crowes, Oasis, Whitesnake, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses, etc.
Thomas: The newest offerings from Malevolence and Decapitated, for sure. After listening to the new Meshuggah album (which rules), I’ve re-listened to their older catalog and fell back in love with Chaosphere and Destroy Erase Improve. Really groundbreaking albums for the time. Also, something I discovered a few days ago, releasing on the same day as our album; Buried Realm. Holy shit, their new self-titled album goes hard and will definitely be in my rotation going forward!
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thomas: Empyrean is out everywhere now, and we would love for you to check it out! You can find it on your preferred streaming service and on Bandcamp, where we also sell CD’s, vinyl, and soon merch. Follow us on social media for updates on where we’ll be playing shows!
(interview published June 25, 2022)
Watch Hypermass – “The Degenerate Strain” Video