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Ola Englund - Polar Star

Issue #31

When it comes to recordings, it's essential you check out The Haunted's 2014 offering, Exit Wounds as it features Ola as lead guitarist. And then there's his pride and joy - his own band, Feared. Their debut album, Vinter, is a must hear for fans of Metal.
Levi Clay

So how do you get to be a guitar superstar in 2015? Sweden's Ola Englund took the direct route - via YouTube. Now heavily endorsed and internationally famed, Levi Clay took notes.

In terms of musical exports, Sweden has a rich history of talented guitar players to its name. From pioneers like Yngwie Malmsteen, the list of players from this wonderful country just goes on and on; Mikael Åkerfeldt, Andreas Öberg, Fredrik Thordendal, The Amott brothers and Mattias Eklundh are just the tip of the iceberg. So when we bring up the name Ola Englund, the chances are he's worth taking seriously!

Born in Stockholm in 1981, Ola Englund picked up the guitar at about the age of 13 with the intention of making a mark on the ladies. Back then he was listening to bands like Nirvana, but it wasn't long before he fell into the metal scene, devouring hours of Pantera, Slayer and Machine Head.

The thing with Ola is that while he's one hell of a guitar player, he's managed to gain even more respect as a producer and tone freak for no reason other than it being a huge part of what he was interested in when growing up.

In Ola's own words, “I heard the song Walk, by Pantera and I was like 'wow that’s the most awesome guitar sound I’ve ever heard, it’s ballsy and aggressive and it makes me tingle inside!' How did he manage to sound like that, and why can’t I sound like that with my Squier Strat and Fender Concert amp?”

That level of interest resulted in Ola hanging out in studios and asking experienced guys questions, along with spending lots of time on the Internet reading up on forums like the Andy Sneap one. In the pre-Facebook world, message boards were huge and there was a much bigger sense of community and family than you see today, so while trying to learn to record at home, Ola had all the help he needed from his online peers.

This embracing of technology and change in the industry was always Ola's forte though as his first big break outside of a minor record deal was his dedication to YouTube. Being a self confessed gear nerd, he loved the idea of checking out all the latest gear on YouTube, but in his own words, “Every video clip sounded and looked like crap, probably recorded with their Nokia whatever phone or compact camera”. So to his little studio he went, taking one of his amps and miking it up properly, recording lots of guitars, capturing proper video and mixing and editing it all carefully. His videos were a hit, and soon he was spending his weekends playing with all the top gear which companies would send him to demo. It's not the most traditional path into the industry, but it's certainly becoming a more popular one.

It was also enough for him to achieve celebrity status at NAMM, which actually came as a shock to Ola, but one that was enough to urge him to quit his job as an accountant and do the music thing full time. This paid off rather quickly, as within a year he'd been both a member of Six Feet Under and The Haunted and was quickly gaining serious tour experience and more fans, because, under all this talk of production, we haven't focused on just how fantastic a player Ola is: if you want modern Metal, he's absolutely one of the best.


When it comes to gear Ola has a couple of notable endorsements, Washburn currently offer nine variations on his Solar signature model, with some great features like Seymour Duncan pickups and the Evertune bridge. He also has his own Randall amp, aptly named the Satan. This 120 Watt beast offers a wide variety of tones, but ultimately it's designed to be the definitive modern Metal amp. The Evertune, meanwhile, is a fantastic tool for recording tight Metal guitars as it stops strings from going out or tune, or sharp when you hit them hard, so from the guitar to the amp everything is finely tuned to deliver Ola's brutally tight rhythm style with a sonic authority not heard from the average player.

When it comes to recordings, it's essential you check out The Haunted's 2014 offering, Exit Wounds as it features Ola as lead guitarist. And then there's his pride and joy - his own band, Feared. Their debut album, Vinter, is a must hear for fans of Metal.

The beauty of his Ola Englund's YouTube strategy is that over time, his band Feared have been programmed into his subscribers' minds, and with over 80,000 subscribers and 25 million hits, that's a lot of people who know your music, and a lot of fans ready to buy. Purists may object that it's a far cry from slogging your way to the top but guys like Ola are here to stay, and after checking him out live, I think that's fair enough.

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