A veteran of bands such as CANDLEMASS, THERION and YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN, and a touring member of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, acclaimed Swedish vocalist Mats Levén has finally released his first solo album under the name of SKYBLOOD. The self-titled album features guest contributions from past and present members of KING DIAMOND, OPETH, THERION and WITCHERY, and leans heavily on Levén's rough-but-ever-soulful vocals.
In a recent interview with Sebastian from The Metal Gods Meltdown, Levén shared his feelings on having an album to call his own, as well as the various reasons why he waited so long to release a solo outing.
"To me it's amazing," he said (hear audio below). "For all those years, I always knew that I wanted to do something by myself. Twenty years ago, I didn't feel like I had the knowledge. I didn't feel like I was writing good songs. I didn't feel good enough about it. Then, over the years, I've been doing other stuff, especially the last five or six years I played with CANDLEMASS, I didn't want to put this solo album out because I felt it was disturbing what I did in CANDLEMASS because it's hard to play in CANDLEMASS, anyway, with so many singers before and you just want to be a part of the band and be on the team, so to speak. I guess I just waited for the right moment to release the album and that happened after the split with CANDLEMASS last year. I've been waiting for this for a long time. [Laughs]"
Levén was then asked why he chose the SKYBLOOD as the moniker for his solo material instead of simply releasing the album under his own name.
"I started thinking about names a year ago," he said. "It's so hard. It's so hard coming up with a name. [Laughs] They've all been used before. I think it all came from the start. It just came from the James Bond movie 'Skyfall'. I liked how it sounded, kind of that short kind of word. Then I forgot about that. I had things with 'blood' that this was really me and true, coming from myself. Then I saw the picture that ended up on the artwork. It didn't look exactly like it does on the artwork, the foundation of it. And I saw that picture and it was just that red color and the blue color behind and it just suddenly struck me, 'SKYBLOOD'. And I suddenly felt this guy was called 'Skyblood'. It was natural to call it that. To me, it was really obvious. It was cool as well because it really helped me to write the lyrics and write through another character even though it's kind of myself as well. So yeah, I guess the SKYBLOOD thing felt really right when I saw that picture or that artwork."
SKYBLOOD's debut album was released November 22 via Napalm Records. Among the guest musicians who appear on the disc are Martin "Axe" Axenrot (BLOODBATH, OPETH, WITCHERY), Nalley Påhlsson (TREAT, THERION), Snowy Shaw (ex-KING DIAMOND) and Petter Karlsson (ex-THERION, DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA).
Mats, who was in CANDLEMASS for six years, began his professional musical life with SWEDISH EROTICA from Gothenburg, Sweden in 1989. In 1990, Mats got an offer from TREAT and moved to Stockholm where he still lives with his wife and two kids.
After recording albums with ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA and AB/CD, Mats as approached by Yngwie Malmsteen to join the guitarist's band in 1997-98 and to lay down his vocal tracks on the "Facing The Animal" LP.
Over the past couple of decades, Levén has been involved with a number of different bands and projects, including SOUTHPAW, DOGFACE, ESSENCE OF SORROW, AT VANCE and KRUX.
In 2004, Mats supplied lead vocals for THERION's two albums "Sirius B" and "Lemuria". This led to some 150 shows with the band over the course of the next four years. THERION's 2007 album "Gothic Kabbalah" saw Mats co-writing six of the tracks, including the epic "Son Of The Staves Of Time". In 2010-2011, Mats toured with ADAGIO and FIREWIND before joining CANDLEMASS as the replacement for Robert Lowe.
Between 2016 and 2018, Mats toured with rock theater sensation TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, whose 20th-anniversary trek visited 65 cities across North America, for more than 100 performances.