Rexoria’s Martin Gustavsson Talks His Musical Inspirations, “Imperial Dawn” and More!

Ryan Murray | Co-Owner | Chief Editor | Contributor

Rexoria, Sweden’s own power metal band released their third full length album “Imperial Dawn” on February 3rd, and this album definitely sees the band’s most cohesive and strongest album yet.

Boasting incredible melodies, really effective keys adding incredible layering, and heavy, and at times beefy guitars, this album is sure to get you on your feet.

Martin and I had a great chat via email in regards to some past influences, what he’s currently listening to, inspirations for past works as well as “Imperial Dawn”!

See our email interview below, and if you haven’t already, be sure to order your copy of Rexoria’s “Imperial Dawn“ HERE!


R: Hi Martin, thanks so much for taking the time to chat! I’m Ryan with Ethereal Metal Webzine based in the USA and it’s great to chat with you today!

M: Hello Ryan! Thanks for reaching out to me and it’s a pleasure to be here with you.

R: First I wanted to ask – while Sweden took a different approach to the pandemic with minimized lockdowns, the pandemic still took its toll on everyone. How are you, your family/friends and band mates really doing?

M: Compared to other countries, Sweden probably had “lighter” lockdowns, that’s true, but the pandamic time itself was still a pain for all of us. I feel very good myself! The band is fine and so are our families. Everyone managed to get out of the pandemic without any tragic consequences.

R: That’s great to hear! Yeah, it was definitely a hard time for sure, even in places with lighter restrictions and less lockdowns it must’ve still been very difficult at times! So with Imperial Dawn having a great sound, mostly influenced by melodic/power metal, I wanted to ask what your personal music inspirations are, and who did you grow up listening to?

M: Thanks! My inspirations are, in general, very wide. Like I use to say, “I listen to and can draw inspiration from anything that sounds great!” Mainly it’s pure hard rock and metal, but also softer music like Heart and Starship. When I listen to a band, whatever the genre, I just want the music to have great melodies. I don’t listen to thrash or typical black metal etc. They are usually very good musicians for sure, but the music style just is not for me. During my first “metal years” I listened a lot to Hammer Fall and Iron Maiden. (Iron Maiden is still one of the best bands ever!) I’m also a big fan of Hardcore Superstar and have been for a very long time.

R: Oh wow, Starship! I haven’t heard them in years! But I agree, the music needs to have great melodies for sure! What are you listening to currently?

M: A lot of different bands and styles, but here are some from my Spotify list: Thunder, Fatal Smile, Janne Schaffer, Korpiklaani, Supersuckers, Status Quo, Boston, Meat Loaf, Ghost & Steel Panther.

R: That’s a great list! I was actually just listening to Korpiklaani the other day! Before chatting about “Imperial Dawn”, I wanted to ask about your two previous full-length releases. “Queen of Light” released on Jan. 19th of 2018, which for a debut album has a pretty solid sound, with the only negative in my mind being the mix is ever so slightly muddled. I enjoy the vocals and instrumentals throughout the debut! “Hurricane”, “You’ll Be Alright” and “My Spirit Will Run Free” are three stand out tracks for me. What specifically inspired these tracks?

M: I can absolutely agree with you. Queen of Light is obviously not well mixed, and this is crucial for how you experience any album. The mix must be good to elevate the songs, it’s just that simple. Thanks! I also like “Hurricane” and “You’ll Be Alright”! These are two good songs to play live and they are a lot of fun! “My Spirit Will Run Free” is a bit too slow and dull I think, but glad you like it! It’s very hard to say what gave inspiration for those songs. “Hurricane” can relate to Hammer Fall I think, especially for the drums. Basic metal drums with some double bass. Just what I have listened to for many years! “You’ll Be Alright” is a party song to me and I remember I thought this song should just be fun to play and needed to push the song forward with the drums. The intro guitar is melodic and sweet. “My Spirit Will Run Free” is a slow song and I just tried to fill it out the best I could. We didn’t have much keyboards at this time, which was quite bad because it can be very thin without any to create layering. Especially in this kind of song that really needs more than just the very basic elements.

R: I can understand what you mean about it being slower. I think for me it was more the melodies that were nice. So “Ice Breaker”, which released on October 18th, 2019, heard an even more mature sound. The mix seems quite a bit clearer on this album and the overall feeling has even more energy than the first full length. “Fight The Demons” has a very Sabaton-like feel to it, especially in the choruses. The title track “Ice Breaker” has an epic, stadium-ready feel to it. What was the creative process with this album like and how did it differ from the process used during the writing of “Queen of Light”?

M: The mix is better in “Ice Breaker”, yes. Studio Fredman made that mix. Most of the songs weren’t not written with Jonas and Frida together. They came up with the ideas separately and wrote the songs that way. That worked surprisingly well! Compared to “Queen of Light”, we added male choirs and more keyboards to get a bigger sound. The song writing for “Queen of Light” was all made in the rehearsal studio!

R: The male choirs and the layering of the keyboards definitely did make the sound bigger, no question! “Imperial Dawn” having released on February 3rd, 2023 sees, in my opinion, the band’s most cohesive and mature sound to date. Growing upon the growing strength over the years, this album sees a renewed energy and a renewed sound. The album was mixed by Stefan Hellblad from Within Temptation and mastered by Thomas “Plec” Johansson. Did you have a chance to work with them directly, or was this done remotely?

M: Once again, I agree with you. The sound is much better than before and the song writing is a couple of levels up as well. We actually never met Stefan! We had chats almost everyday for like five months, though. We live so far from each other which made it hard for us to meet up. We had plans to meet but instead he went on tour! (Opening act for Iron Maiden!) Thomas made the master and we simply didn’t find it necessary to meet up.

R: That’s great that you were able to chat constantly about the process with him, and can understand the distance being a challenge to meet up. “Imperial Dawn” is most certainly my favorite Rexoria release to date! So first, huge congrats on the release! How does it feel to finally have the new material out for all to hear?

M: Thank you so much! It’s an amazing feeling to have released it since we have been struggling with Imperial Dawn for a long time now. We can finally give it out and be proud for what we have created. Can’t wait to play the new songs live! The response have been overwhelming from fans and reviews. Imperial Dawn is really appreciated which we are so thankful for.

R: Congrats again! It’s definitely a strong release! In regards to the writing process on this latest album, while Frida and Jonas did the writing, was the entire band able to provide input into the album?

M: Frida and Jonas are the song writers and they started working together and came up with ideas when it was time to start the writing process. Jonas makes ideas with guitar and Frida with the piano (quite a cool combination, I think!) Everyone is free to give input into the songs, but I must say Frida and Jonas do a great job together.

 R: As a guitar player that plays a little bit of keyboard as well, I agree! That is really cool! “Imperial Dawn” has given us three music videos so far, two of which are lyric videos and one is a full music video. “Light Up The Sky” sees a full music video that is really well done! “Set Me On Fire” sees a straight up lyric video while “Paradigm” sees a lyric video, but with the band performing throughout, which I thought was a cool change!What was the inspiration behind the video for “Light Up The Sky” and who shot it for you?

M: We had no particular plan for the music video at first since all of our energy was used for recording the songs. We just knew we needed a cool location for the recording and needed to know what format we wanted. It all started up when we contacted Owe Lingvall who has produced a lot of great music videos, and he also plays the drums for Nocturnal Rites. It turned out that Owe was interested in helping us with a music video and he knew some locations as well that we liked. Everything worked out very well and the film team, as well as Owe did such a great job.

R: Ah, yes! Owe Lingvall does great work, I’ve seen the video he did with Seventh Wonder, as well as videos for Kamelot! So I wanted to talk about the album art for a moment. What was the inspiration for the album art and who created it for you?

M: The band had a lot of discussions about the cover and we knew it needed to “pop out” and to be a great match with the music. I think the “pop-out” was created with the strong colors and the depth within the layout. Overall it looks modern and in some ways futuristic. The amazing man who made this album art is our Brazilian friend Jobert Mello.

R: That’s great! So “Paradigm”, “Rage and Madness” and “Horizon” are currently my three favorites from the album! What are your favorites and which ones are you most looking forward to playing live?

M: I see! My favorite song is “Fading Rose” and that’s the one I’m most looking forward to playing live. The melodies in this song are outstanding, as well as the guitar solos, keyboards and vocals. I arranged the drums, and made them a bit more progressive, which I think is quite cool! (At least I enjoy playing it!) Another good song to play live is “The New Revelation”! The chorus is in two parts – the first one is more of a basic structure and in the second part the double bass is there and just hooks you. The intro/outro guitar is awesome as well.

R: Yeah, the drums are really great on this track, and I enjoy the the double kick pedal in the second chorus! Speaking of playing live, in addition to playing at The Crypt, in Linköping Sweden, do you have any plans for a headlining European tour in support of “Imperial Dawn”?

M: We have plans together with other bands right now, but nothing is fully confirmed yet. You all should keep your eyes out for it!

R: We definitely will! Can we expect to see the band in the USA either late this year or next year?

M: We have no shows in sight in the USA! But if we get a chance to come over we will, I can assure you that!

R: We definitely hope to maybe see you here in 2024! Thanks very much for taking the time to chat today, Martin and congrats again on the release!

M: No problem, I enjoyed it very much! Thanks for taking the time and take care. Til next time!

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