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Dead by April
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Type

Album

Released

  • May 13, 2009
  • August 3, 2009 (UK)
  • October 7, 2009 (Japan)

Recorded

End of 2008 - Beginning of 2009

Producer

Henrik Edenhed

Length

47:48

Dead by April is the self-titled debut album by Dead by April released on May 13, 2009. It is the only album to feature former guitarist Johan Olsson. The album entered the Swedish album charts at number 2, with Relapse by Eminem at #3 and 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day at #1.

The first single of the album was the track "Losing You" which was released on March 6, 2009. On April 18 the track listing along with the album cover was released.

Background

On October 24, 2008 it was announced that Dead by April had signed a contract with Universal Music. After a long time of negotiations with several labels, Johan described the signing as "It is truly a great honour to be part of the worlds largest record company with many of the best bands and artist on the planet!" 

Universal Music wrote in the official press release "It's not often you meet bands with such driving force as Dead By April. They are amazing songwriters, a convincing live act and have great potential to reach success. We are incredibly proud and excited that they have chosen to work with us." [1]

It's a bit unclear when the recordings actually started. According to Dead by April's press release the band went into the studio on October 27, 2008. It is comfirmed however that the band did record guitars in January. Therefore it's hard to say wether the recordings started in January or earlier.

Songwriting

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The first Dead by April album consists primarily of re-recorded demo songs, except for two new tracks called "What Can I Say" and "Sorry for Everything". Minor changes were made on some songs, like the lesser amount of scream vocals in "Promise Me". According to Jimmie the band brought in around 25 songs to the sessions. Out of these, 16 songs was recorded. [2]

Like all DBA releases it's hard to say how involved Jimmie Strimell actually were in the writing process. Musically Pontus did probably write almost all of it or even everythig. Marcus Wesslén hinted in an interview wih Slavestate from May, 2009 that Jimmie wrote a huge part of the lyrics. "I do not keep track of the lyrics because I don't write them, Jimmie does." [3]

Jimmie also enhanches his part in the songwriting as helping out both with the music and lyrics. Here from an interview done in 2008 "Pontus and I have written almost all the music and Pontus listened to Michael Jackson who is his biggest idol and In Flames has always been there too. I like and listen to everything from pop to metal but the band Meshuggah is my all time favourite I have been listening to them since I was like 13 until now and I will never quit listening to them!"

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In another interview with Edge Magazine from April, 2009 Pontus states the complete difference. "I probably do everything musically, usually the melodies first and then I then I write lyrics." With no further evidence we can only believe that both of them had their share in the writing process.

When asked to describe the lyrics on the album Pontus has numerous times choosed to answer the question very briefly. "The lyrics are absolutely important, just as the melodies. It is private, I don't want to comment that. Although I can say that your experience is differently so it's sort of pointless. What you experience is perhaps not what I want to convey." Pontus describes the lyrics simply as "Things that happens around me and others. Very private." [4]

Jimmie on the other hand is a little more open about his lyrical work. "The lyrics that I have written are partly about me and personal things, I think that Pontus feel the same about his songs. It is my own feelings, a lot based on my own experiences. When I come into the studio and Pontus has the idea for an entire song done and ready and I hear it I can really fast make the lyrics and the music in my head cause I get such a huge inspiration from Pontus music." 

Recording process

"I can tell you there is big variation on the songs, some of them are more metal and some are more pop metal. There are a lot of different styles that hopefully works for a lot of people" - Jimmie Strimell regarding the sound of the record.

The choice of main studio fell on Studio Cosmos in Stockholm, Sweden. It's a classic recording studio that have been used by artists and bands such as Abba, Lady Gaga, Swedish House Maffia, Roxette etc. Even though the main part of the album was recorded at Studio Cosmos, some parts was also recorded and mixed at Soundtrade Studios (former 301 Studios) in Stockholm, Studio PH in Gothenburg, Kingside Studios in Stockholm and Wolfsound Studios in Stockholm. The album was mastered at Cutting Room in Stockholm by Björn Engelmann. 

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Everything except keyboards was re-recorded for the album. First thing done for the album was drums by Alexander Svenningson, recorded at the Soundtrade Studios. His set consisted of one kick, one snare, one tom-tom, two floor-toms, a hit-hat, a china and a number of cymbals. A fun fact is that the kick sound on the album is the exact same as on Dr. Albans "Hello Africa" album from 1991. "In My Arms" and "Angels of Clarity" were among the first tracks recorded for the album. 

After the drums was done, rhythm guitars was recorded between 15-22 January, 2009. The guitars was recorded at Studio Cosmos in the B-studio. Unlike the other DBA albums this one was recorded mainly by 6-string guitars. It's also the only DBA record to have two guitar players on it (except "Crossroads" from Incomparable). 

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Acoustic guitars by Pontus and lead gutiar by Johan was up next before moving into bass recording by Marcus at Studio Cosmos. It's not known where the vocals was recorded. It's probably not a to wild guess to predict that many of the vocals was recorded at Studio PH in Gothenburg, like on Incomparable. Strings was recorded for "Losing You" as well as Jessica Gustafsson singing in some background vocals for "Angels of Clarity", "Losing You" and "Promise Me.

According to David Mortimer-Hawkins live-blogg on Aftonbladet during 2009 the first complete product with mix and master was completed on February 16, 2009. [5]

About the record

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The band members themselves have showed up different opinions towards the disk over the years. During the summer of 2009 Pontus Hjelm described Henrik Edenhed as "best known for working with pop and it's perfect for us. I can not think of any other choice as producer." [6]

Even though Dead by April spoke with a number of other producers before settling with Edenhed, Johan seemed confident that he was the right man for the job. "We spoke to several producers. Most of them were more ”classic” metal producers, but for us it all clicked with Henrik, even if he mostly has worked with other genres of music. He understood what we wanted to achieve and had an angle of his own to approaching our music." [7]

Two years later, in 2011, Pontus had changed his opinion. In an interview with Slavestate he indicated that Edenhed made the record sound too much pop. "No offense to Henrik, I thought he did a damn good job on the vocals but other than that... He understood what we wanted but did not get the mix right. I mean according to me he is pretty damn good but it just didn't fit. If we would have been a pop band it would have been wicked." [8]

Alexander shared Pontus opinion about the album sounding too much like a pop-record. "It was too much pop over the mix, too stripped-down." One thing that definitely is true is that the drums was much less computerized than they would be on upcoming DBA records, for better or worse. 

Some inner conflicts also seemed to go on within the studio between Pontus and Johan during the recording. "Me and John did not get along so well, we argued a lot during the process."

Artwork

The album cover was shot by Fredrik Etoall (Karlsson) on March 2, 2009 at the old restaurant LeRouge in Stockholm, Sweden. The restaurant opened up in 2007 as is more of the traditional and classic cut. Except the restaurant shoot, some pictures were also taken at a photo studio on Jungfruagatan. 

Dead by April's former A&R manager on Universal (nowadays on Sony Music) David Mortimer-Hawkins about the day of the shoot. "Today, Dead by April was in town for a photo shoot with photographer Fredrik Karlsson. Calle Rydberg called and said that we would start at the restaurant LeRouge in Gamla Stan at 9.00-9.30. As the dutiful A&R I am I summoned myself in the cold at Brunnsgränden by 9.45 to be greeted by locked doors. At the third call attempt, Calle responds "We're on Jungfrugatan to prepare for everything. We're leaving in half an hour " as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The photo shoot went absolutely brilliant when they finally started."

Critical response

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The album entered the Swedish album charts at #2 with 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day at #1, surpassing DBA with only 14 records. It stayed on the charts for 19 weeks with 5 of them in top 10. Except for Sweden, Japan was the only chart DBA got into at #163. [9]

Sweden's major newspapers gave Dead by April pretty good reviews. Aftonbladet described the album as "sensational effective." They compared the album to In Flames, Soilwork, Linkin Park and Within Temptation. Dead by April was given 3/5 and "Angels of Clarity" was named the best song on the record. [10]

Expressen also awarded Dead by April with 3/5, saying "No band in the world has previously combined pop and metal in such an extreme way. It is soft, massive and comfortable contagious. "Trapped", "Promise Me", "Sorry For Everything", "Carry Me", "I Made It"... It's just to throw a dart at the song list and whatever you hit is a hit." Not bad at all!

On an international level, AllMusic found the album lacking originality but still saw the material as catchy. "The singer has a clean and convincing (if typical) croon that goes well with the crunchy but melodic riffs punctuated by start-stop drumming -- a classic combo that works for that very reason, much like the 12-bar blues."  

Ratings
Aftonbladet  3/5
Expressen  3/5
Ultimate-Guitar 9/10
AllMusic 3,5/5
Imperiumi 6/10

Singles

The single covers

Losing You was released as the first single of the album on March 6, 2009 and was backed with a video on March 23, 2009. The song debuted at #36 on Sverigetopplistan, March 20, 2009. From May 1 - May 15 Losing You topped the Swedish charts. The single was mostly backed with a radio edit of the song, which excluded all the scream vocals and also was 26 seconds shorter. The UK CD single differed and had My Saviour as B-side instead. 

What Can I Say was released as the second single on September 16, 2009. Just like with "Losing You", the song was released as a physical CD single and it's also the second song by the band to include a radio version were the screamed vocals are replaced with clean. The single entered on the Swedish charts at #43 and reached it's highest position #38 on September 25, 2009. It disappeared from the charts after four weeks. 

Angels of Clarity was released as the third single-EP on September 28, 2009, only 12 days after What Can I Say. The single was released for the UK market as DBA started their first UK tour on September 30, 2009. Shawn 'Clown' Crahan's remix of the song backed it up, as well as acoustic versions of Promise Me and Losing You. It didn't chart. A video was also released to back up the song. 

Though not offically a single, a video was recorded for Stronger and released on December 6, 2010. The video consisted of material shot during Dead by April's second UK tour in October, 2010. Both Zandro Santiago and Joel Nilsson was in the video, though none of them actually played on the recording.

Live performances

Dead by April toured with only the debut album released in over two years, from May 2009 - September 2011. Add to the fact that many of the songs from the debut album was played live as far back as 2008, which clearly shows that many of the songs have been played live diligently. 

Angels of Clarity, Losing You, What Can I Say, Promise Me and Stronger have been played live virtually on every show since its release. Stronger disappeared from the live set in 2014 after the release of Let the World Know, but was played at every show up until that point. 

Trapped, Erased and In My Arms were played live on virtually every gig up until the release of Incomparable. Trapped opened every show in 2009 and parts of 2010/2011. Erased returned to the live repertoire during the summer of 2012 and was played sporadically up until Jimmie's departure from the band in late 2012.

Dead by April in support of the first album.

Falling Behind, Sorry For Everything, A Promise and I Made It was played more sporadically and not regularly. A Promise was however played during most parts of 2009 and survived in batches up until the release of Incomparable in 2011. Falling Behind and Sorry For Everything was always played back to back but was only performed when the band was allowed to play longer live sets. They were played for the last time in November 2010 but it's possible they were played in the early parts of 2011. I Made It didn't survive in the live set is longer than 2009, and even then it was never a regular, except for a period during the autumn. 

Carry Me is the only song of the album which has never been played live, although both Pontus and Zandro have expressed that they are both fond of the song and that it would be a fun song to perform live.

It's worth mentioning that the first album is the only album whose songs have been sung live by all three singers in Dead by April, Jimmie, Zandro and Pontus.

In an interview with Pontus and Zandro from 2014 both of the members admitted that they would be willing to play the entire first album from start to finish sometime during the band's career. [11]

"I guess we can do that. If that's what people wanna hear I'm sure we can play the first album on a couple of shows." - Zandro 
"I think it's a good thing. As you build your catalog of songs and albums over the years, people will always have different favorite songs. I think new songs shouldn't necessarily exclude old ones." - Pontus 

Track listing

1. Trapped Pontus Hjelm 3:08
2. Angels of Clarity Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell 3:41
3. Losing You  Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell 3:57
4. What Can I Say Pontus Hjelm 3:08
5. Erased Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell 3:26
6. Promise Me Pontus Hjelm 3:34
7. Falling Behind Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell 3:26
8. Sorry For Everything Pontus Hjelm 3:44
9. In My Arms Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell/Negin Djafari/Thomas Gustafsson/Hugo Lira/Paolo Lira 4:25
10. Stronger Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell 4:00
11. Carry Me Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell 3:48
12. A Promise  Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell/Johan Eskilsson  3:37
13. I Made It Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell 3:49

Bonus tracks

14. Leaves Falling Pontus Hjelm                                                                                          3:23
15. My Saviour    Pontus Hjelm/Jimmie Strimell                                       3:13




Personnel

Players
  • Jimmie Strimmel - Screams and Clean Vocals
  • Pontus Hjelm - Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Keyboards, Clean Vocals
  • Johan Olsson - Guitars
  • Marus Wesslén - Bass 
  • Alexander Svenningson - Drums
  • Jessica Gustafsson - Background vocals on "Angels of Clarity", "Losing You" and "Promise Me.
  • Erik Arvinder, Aleksander Sätterström, Andreas Forsman, Conny Lindgren, Rikka Repo, Erik Holm, Pelle Hansen, Gudmun Ingvall - Strings on "Losing You"
Production
  • Henrik Edenhed - Producer, Mixer, Engineer 
  • Pontus Hjelm - Co-mixer, additional engineer, programming
  • Ronny Lathi - Additional engineer
  • Ian Agate - Additional engineer
  • Otto Wellton - Additional engineer
  • Kasper Lindgren - Additional engineer
  • Björn Engelmann - Mastering 

Sources