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Tales from the Jugular

A Look at Metal Producer Peter Tagtgren

By: Eric Compton  |  Published: April 11, 2014

Twenty-four years ago Peter Tagtgren helped pioneer the Swedish death metal scene. At the time there were a handful of Swedish acts getting their knuckles wet with brutality. Tagtgren traveled stateside to Florida and picked up the art from Malevolent Creation, Suffocation and Morbid Angel. He carried that sound back to Sweden and planted the seeds for a fruitful career both as a musician and producer. His band Hypocrisy combined the Floridan death metal sound with a European flavor. It was different than what Dark Tranquility and At The Gates were doing at the time because Tagtgren was not a heavy user of NWOBHM melody or riffs. Bands like Hypocrisy, Dismember, Entombed and Edge Of Sanity borrowed heavily from US thrash and death to breed their own wicked children. Tagtgren not only enjoyed success with Hypocrisy, a band that is still very active today, but also reached superstar status in Europe under his industrial-metal band called Pain. The talented Swede has also played in numerous black metal bands in Europe including his own called The Abyss.

Aside from his contributions to the scene as a musician and vocalist Tagtgren might also be better known for his work as a producer. My first listen to his production came in 1994 with Hypocrisy's "The Fourth Dimension". Contrary to Tagtgren stating this is his least favorite record I think this was the first in a multitude of his excellent recordings. The Abyss studio came to fruition a few months later with an explosion of Tagtgren productions that captured various European extreme acts. Tagtgren's finest work, in my opionion, is the raw treatment given Hypocrisy's "Abducted". By 1996 Tagtgren and The Abyss studio were the proverbial "talk of the town" and since then the studio and Tagtgren have been in high demand.

Peter Tagtgren

Studio - The Abyss - Ludvika, Sweden (Studio A)

Notable Works:
Hypocrisy - "The Abducted"
Amorphis - "Circle"
Dimmu Borgir - "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant"
Enslaved - "Blodhemn"
Immortal - "At The Heart Of Winter"
The Abyss - "The Other Side"


Early on he worked mostly with extreme acts like Dark Funeral, Naglfar and Marduk. I think once Pain caught on in Europe then the studio and his production work came to light. For over two decades Tagtgren has perfected the black and death metal sound but also worked with thrash bands like Destruction and Overkill. He has also collaborated with traditional metal acts like Astral Doors and Sabaton. His experience both as a musician and singer allows him a well rounded balance in the studio to produce, mix and master catered to what the genre typically demands.

--Extremely faster sounds overall
--Raw guitar riffs with heavy distortion
--Tom drums up front, heavy use of cymbals
--Blast beats
--"Hellish" keys or orchestra backing
--Some loops or samples
--Proficient with drum machines and industrial sounds

Tagtgren normally works on about four to six albums a year. On the horizon is the new Kampfar.

Tagtgren's brother Tommy also produces out of Abyss Studios

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