Forty years have passed since Heavy Load released their album Stronger than Evil (1983). Now, at last, on October 6th, Heavy Load will release their long-awaited comeback album titled: Riders of the Ancient Storm.
Heavy Load’s comeback album reflects their well-known sound and songwriting. Still, many songs echo these pioneers’ famous Viking themes and existential lyrics. The compositions are dramatic and render a great variety of moods. At the same time, passionate innovation and creative fervour shine bright in every song on the album.
The first Swedish heavy metal band and the first Viking metal band...
Heavy Load started in the middle of the 1970s. In addition, they are considered to be the first Viking Metal Band.
The first Swedish Heavy Metal Band It is a generally held belief that Heavy Load was the band that started the Swedish wave of heavy metal. The band was formed by the brothers Ragne and Styrbjörn Wahlquist in the middle of the 1970s: first concert in 1976, first album release in 1978. Before long, the brothers started their own studio. As time went by, many famous bands would come to record in the brothers’ Thunderload Studio. Among those were Candlemass with Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, which was produced by Ragne Wahlquist and came to create a new sub-genre “Doom Metal”. Candlemass next album Nightfall was also made by Ragne in the Thunderload Studio. Examples of other famous bands who worked with the Wahlquist brothers in their studio are Hammerfall, Morbid, Electric Boys and Yngwie Malmsteen.
The first Viking Metal Band The Viking heritage has been an important source of inspiration ever since their childhood. The brothers’ emotional connection to people of a remote past, people with whom they share everlasting human challenges, was destined to find an outlet in their music. As a consequence, the brothers merged 70s Hard Rock with Viking settings and sentiments, resulting in the band’s distinctive style of music, lyrics and artwork for their album covers: Viking Metal – a style that came to inspire later bands in Sweden and elsewhere, a style that now has many followers around the globe. However, although the Viking themes have always been a salient trait in Heavy Load’s songwriting, some of their songs rendered stories with other settings. For the new album, this variety remains. No matter the setting, however, all songs have their source deep down in the brothers’ emotional life.
Their start in the mid-70s Heavy Load was established in Stockholm during the grim winter of 1974-1975 by the two brothers Ragne Wahlquist (vocals, guitars and keyboards) and Styrbjörn Wahlquist (vocals and drums). The vision and the passion of the Wahlquist brothers were always the kernel of the band’s determined drive – their drive to venture out on musical journeys and to spread their music and lyrics to the world; and now, this time around, also novel writing.
Original line-up: Three out of four members From 1979 and onwards, Heavy Load was a four-piece band. Besides the founding Wahlquist brothers, the band members were Torbjörn Ragnesjö and Eddy Malm. Torbjörn Ragnesjö is still the bass player, and Eddy Malm is an occasional special guest and joins the band on a few songs at certain concerts.
Niclas Sunnerberg on rhythm guitar – a fan since childhood
For the reunion concerts in 2018, the former Steelwing member Niclas Sunnerberg joined Heavy Load on rhythm guitar. Niclas grew up as a huge Heavy Load fan and played Heavy Load covers with several bands. In Niclas’ own words:
“The song that opened my eyes for Heavy Load was “Run with The Devil” (Stronger Than Evil, 1983). I came to love Heavy Load. […] When I found out that Heavy Load was going to play at Sweden Rock Festival , I bought my ticket the very moment they were released. […] Sometime later, I was stunned by the fact that the Wahlquist brothers asked me to join the band. I ended up on the stage in front of this enormous audience myself. Yes, life can really have the most unexpected things in store for you!”
Riders of the Ancient Storm – tracks (A) Ride the Night We Rock the World Walhalla Warriors Angel Dark
(B) Slave No More Raven Is Calling Sail Away Butterfly Whisperings* *bonus track on CD
The re-releases of the classic records Thanks to an epic pact between the band and No Remorse Records, high-quality re-releases of the band’s whole back catalogue are being released. The first one was released in 2018, the second one in 2019, and more will follow. These releases come with bonus tracks, old recordings, never before heard by the public, and extensive booklets.
Stronger than Evil, 1983 Re-released in 2018, including six bonus tracks
Death or Glory, 1982 Re-released in 2019, including four bonus tracks
Metal Conquest, 1981 **To be re-released in 2024, including four bonus tracks
Full Speed at High Level, 1978 **To be re-released
CONCERTS HEAVY LOAD IS BACK
The release of the new album, the first in 40 years, will be followed by concerts – long awaited by people in various parts around the globe. Heavy Load is back and will return to the stage.
The comeback concerts of 2018 after 33-years of absence.
The passion of their fans rekindled the passion of the Wahlquist brothers. They had tried to stay away from music for decades, since it always took over their lives, but finally the brothers could not resist any more. During the spring of 2018, Heavy Load returned to the stage after 33 years of absence. For the fans of classic heavy metal, it had been a long time coming to finally see this legendary band, a comeback no one ever thought would happen. For the band, it was amazing to meet both their old and new fans. The band members were astounded by the fact that most of their new fans were not even born when they did their last tour in 1985. In addition, 2018 was the 40th anniversary of the release of their first album, Full Speed at High Level (1978). Heavy Load headlined Keep It True Festival in Germany, as well as Up the Hammers Festival in Greece. At Sweden Rock Festival they were positioned as one of the main acts, and performed their show on the ”Rock Stage” in front of a sea of people, late in the evening. The size and setting of the stage gave the band the opportunity to give the audience a Heavy Load show like in the old days – bombastic, with fireworks and all. Just like before, this is a band that loves the stage and always plays their heart out.
The passionate love and joy that greeted the band ignited their flame even further. As a result, this new album, the first in 40 years, is being released, followed by concerts – long awaited by people in various parts around the globe. Heavy Load is back!
RAGNE WAHLQUIST’S NOVEL
The tale finds resonance in Heavy Load’s music.
So intimate is the proximity between the music and the novel, that where words paint the scenes and images of the novel, music creates atmospheres with timbres, tones, and lyrics.
The brothers’ Viking-inspiration has also found its expression in yet another artform. Ragne Wahlquist is the author of Wahlgaard Saga – a series of novels soon to be released in both English and Swedish. The series is a family saga in a Viking-age setting. Several scenes in the novels are also rendered in the lyrics on the new Heavy Load album. These scenes are most evident in the songs “Raven is Calling”, “Angel Dark”, “Walhalla Warriors” and “Sail Away”. The book’s preface is written by Styrbjörn Wahlquist. A special edition of Ragne’s novel will be released in conjunction with the ”Keep It True Rising” festival in Germany on the 6th of October this year – the same date as the release of the new album, Riders of the Ancient Storm.