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Bijna negen jaar stond de wereld op muzikaal gebied stil bij het Noorse Immortal. Uiteraard hebben alle conflicten rondom de relaties tussen Abbath en de andere bandleden voor genoeg gespreksstof gezorgd en zullen sommige dingen rondom Immortal altijd een vraagteken blijven, maar hoe levensvatbaar is Immortal zonder Abbath? Het antwoord daarop geeft Immortal op 6 juli wanneer hun negende langspeler ‘Northern Chaos Gods’ via Nuclear Blast uitkomt”, en met de gelijknamige single, die al sinds een aantal weken te beluisteren is, bewijzen beide heren dat we op nog meer ‘Blashyrk’ mogen rekenen dan in de jaren daarvoor. Wij mochten gitarist (en bandoprichter) Demonaz en drummer Horgh voor Lords of Metal alvast aan de tand voelen en hebben een fijn gesprek gevoerd met deze twee unieke en sympathieke persoonlijkheden.

Door: Elisabeth | Archiveer onder black metal

band imageIt has been nine years since the release of ‘All Shall Fall’, Immortal’s eight studio record. A lot has happened since then in the Immortal camp. Can you tell us something about what went on in the last years?
Demonaz: Of course it hasn’t been nine years without music for us. It’s been a long road and after the last album the three of us started to make the next Immortal album and just when it was finished we had this conflict and Abbath took the music with him for his solo album. We had to start from scratch with this new album and when we put all the complications behind us by the end of 2015 it was easier to focus on the music. So from the outside I can understand that people thought it was a long time, but before it was just a struggle to get to the point and put our energy into the music. When we started there was this process and we just wanted to take it step by step. You know like: writing process, the final pre-productions, then go to the studio to record it and after that you have to do everything to promote the album. Photo-sessions, getting the artwork done, because that’s a process too and then press as well as other things you have to do to release an album. So, now we are here and the album will be released the 6th of July and when we come home we will probably have some days off and the we will focus on the next step which will be preparing for live-situations . Nothing is committed yet, but we will break the news later.

Cool, so you are going to take the band out on the road again?
Demonaz: Yes that’s the plan, but we haven’t thought everything out yet. But yes, from the outside it looked like nothing happened, but that wasn’t intentional. We wanted to put all the energy in it and don’t have a deadline. We knew we will have the new album one day.

You have never thought about stopping after all the troubles?
Demonaz: No, and we never stopped in a way. We never said ‘‘Shall we stop or shall we go on?’ But we had to get out of the trouble for sure.

So, I wondered, because you said you had an album written and Abbath took the music for his solo-album. How come the album you wrote now is so different from the material you wrote with Abbath?
Demonaz: Maybe because I did all the riffs. So maybe that’s why it sounds a bit different.

I think it’s way different, because it’s more like ‘Pure Holocaust’ and the older stuff. More aggressive and it’s more extreme again.
Demonaz: I think from the point that we were able to just concentrate only on the music, there was no live playing and no trouble anymore and no disturbances and the only task was to do the album, was playing a part in it. Because we were just focused on the tracks and we wanted to be intense and furious.

It’s less mainstream music this time, the last four records at least I think were a bit more commercially written…
Demonaz: We were just following the good feeling. You don’t start playing guitar and play some kind of riffs. It was kind of natural. ‘Northern Chaos Gods’ was the first song we wrote and the first lyrics I wrote for this album. So after we got that song we just continued with the next track. After the first song is written you have all those riffs and you will find the right themes how the second song could be. There was no big plan like ‘we are going back to the roots’. There was not even a conceptional album from the beginning. It came through the writing process and after 4-5 songs it starts to give you a vision and you see what is missing. What do we have to get on the table to make it complete. So, no plans, no going back to the roots intentionally. Just putting everything into it: drums, bass, guitar and the right lyrics to get Immortal listener, we also think about that. You know, they don’t participate in the writing, but you want to make a streamline. Four keywords like > dark, grim, cold and timeless.

Speaking about cold: it’s a pretty frosty and cold album… and you bring it out in the middle of the Summer?
Demonaz: *laughs* Yeah, maybe it could help you when you sit in the heat and you listen to the new Immortal album to get some refreshing. At least it was recorded in Winter.

And then again, you finished writing the material by May 2016 but you waited until the winter to get in the right mood to record the album…
Demonaz: Yes, we recorded the drums in January 2017 so I guess you can say that.

Horgh: Yes, that’s right!

Demonaz: We actually wanted to release it earlier, but Nuclear Blast waited somehow.

Until your birthday…
Demonaz: *shocked* …How do you know? Where did you read that?

Just on Metal Archives I think, I wouldn’t have recognized it if my daughter wouldn’t have the same birthday.
Demonaz: Oh, congratulations ! It’s a good day for birthdays and it’s a Friday this year and the beginning of the Summer vacation! But it wasn’t intentional, I found out about the release date on the internet and back then I first didn’t recognize it, but then I was like… ‘what….? Someone found it out somehow’. But it’s just a coincidence. But it’s a good day. So, now let’s go back *laughs*.

Good plan ! You always kept writing the lyrics for Immortal as I understood, even though you haven’t played the guitar since ‘Blizzard Beasts’. Were you involved in composing the music for the last four albums?
Demonaz: You mean like the Immortal riffs? Me and Abbath always worked together with everything. The three of us where like the main reason why the tracks became for what they became. But it has always been a cooperation between the three of us. It’s like, he never wrote a whole song and I neither. I also didn’t wrote a whole song. Normally it’s a product where we work with and it always changes. It doesn’t have to be one man’s wish. We are a band and all the elements are important.

On the new album you cooperated with Peter Tägtgren who played the basslines for this album. Did he contribute anything the songs or did he just play the basslines that you had written before you went into the studio?
Horgh: On this album we made a pre-production first and then we went to the studio, so he didn’t contribute to the music. But it’s really cool to have him on the album.

Demonaz: And he literally produced almost all of our albums and he knows Immortal and we were very confident with getting there and letting him produce it. We already recorded some of the guitars in Bergen at Horghs house and we recorded the drums at The Abyss. So he has recorded enough of our albums to understand the band and we were really comfortable with him.

Did you tell him what he had had to do?
Demonaz: Peter is just a genius when it comes to music. He just made the basslines himself.

And is there a chance that he is going to play live with you guys?
Demonaz: We are going to find a bass player where we live. And yes, he lives in Sweden and we think it’s better…but nothing is planned yet. We break the news later *laughs*. We really don’t know yet, we haven’t recruited anybody yet.

And you? After quitting playing live with Immortal in 1996/1997, can you play live shows again?
Demonaz: I will try to explain. I have had acute tendinitis in my left arm and I had to stop playing, because it stressed my arm way too much. That was pretty bad in the beginning. It got better, but in 2012 I was at the hospital and the doctor found out that a muscle was sick, it was broken on two places and it had to grow back together. And I had to go through a recovery for 9 month. Four months of them without playing guitar at all which was really depressing. And after that I recovered to maybe 80-90%. So I was able to play without getting stressed and I think when you listen to the album you will probably hear that it works *laughs*. But for the live situations I will do the vocals, because you have to perform a lot and I don’t want to risk the problem again.

band image

That absolutely answers the question. I was wondering about that, because you also recorded your solo album in 2011, ‘March of the Norse’.
Demonaz: Oh yes, but that was kind of a side-project to Immortal. That was a different thing. I had all those riffs, you know like a big inspiration is Manowar or also the ‘Blood On Ice’ from Bathory. More like Power Metal in a way, old school in this case. So I did a solo album, because I wanted to have a more heavy metal sounding album. More the metal warrior on a mountain with a sword. No Blizzard Beasts like Immortal, more or less.

I already mentioned it earlier that I hear a lot of influences from ‘Pure Holocaust’ on the new album, and also more slower songs. A lot more Bathory influences.
Demonaz: Yes of course, Bathory has been there all the time. It’s a part of our music. A big influence from when we started and in particular I like the epic sound of ‘Blood Fire Death’. Those are songs that stays in sign and it’s a big influence, maybe not that big when I was making riffs for this album. There are some chords we used in ‘Gates To Blashyrk’ and ‘Mighty Ravendark’ which are not the same as Bathory’s, but it’s the same type of playing and we used that before. I guess you can maybe hear that I am on the guitars on this album instead of Abbath, because we are not the same person. I think it’s also an Immortal signature anyway with the way we work together. Just put us three together and we sound like Immortal and when you put the lyrics on, the package is there. This is what we are comfortable with. We like a lot of the other bands. Black Metal from the 90s or whatever, but a lot of them tried out different directions with orchestras, female voices, keyboards. We just do what we like to do and this is how we regard our power. When I started listening to music it was a powerful feeling. Bathory sounded powerful and it’s the same with Manowar, its powerful. You want to bring in the powerful riffing, big and epic things and I think that you can do that with a guitar, drums and a bass. You don’t need all those extras. It’s not like ‘we don’t want to use this or that’. It’s more like : this is what we have and we have to work with it and how we do it. This is the way we are confident.

And maybe what the fan expects from you? They don’t want orchestras.
Demonaz: I don’t think so either *laughs*. Maybe it’s like: when they are not nice to us we will bring an orchestra! *laughs*.

Seems like a plan, haha! And what about the lyrics? You have always written them, most of them are based on a fictional world. Is there a story on this album?
Demonaz: Well, I think music is fiction too. Since in the beginning we wanted to have a unique sound with a kind of riffing and an image with the make-up. We wanted to stay out of the lane and bring all this to one package in a way that is Immortal. Back in those days we were also listening to punk bands or even hardcore music, because it was not like only black metal or death metal. You were listening to extreme music. So we took inspiration from a lot of things, but never from politics or never from the satanic stuff. I wanted to have lyrics that was about the nature, the woods, the forest. We come from there, it’s the area we are from and we have always been out in the woods. In the beginning we just get out there and were drinking whiskey, making fun, paint our faces and hold tortures *laughs*. It was just magical, it was exciting ! A great thing to do. Blashyrkh was made from a word missing in the dictionary. You have wood, trees, grass and snow on the planet, but there was no word for the grim and the frostbitten forces. It was time to find the nature and the inspiration by its own. Blashyrkh means the cold and dark around us. And when we first took it into our music it became really important. And the name Blashyrkh came up back then and it stayed until our last album and we wanted to bring it in our newest album as well. Not as a concept, really into the music. So after many albums it became something we used for the t-shirts and the titles. It became a kind signature. Blashyrkh just goes with the Mighty Ravendark. Also on this album we wanted to bring him in, it was important for us to use it and in a way it became a conceptional album with a lot of Blashyrkh, yes! It’s way more than a theme for us.

I am really fascinated by the nature and the unexplainable force we don’t have control over. We can’t decide about it when it kills us with blizzards, we just can’t do shit about it and that’s fascinating. It fascinates me more than religion, culture or anything else. It’s everything that takes my inspiration. Being out there in the mountains, away from all the disturbance, is like an spiritual thing and then I clean my head and think about music. When we went to the studio at Horgh’s place and we recorded music, I bring the tape with me or the file or whatever on the headphones and I go to the mountains and it lands to your head. And then you feel it in a totally different way. At home it’s not the same. The inspiration comes from there, then you give it a name and it becomes Immortal.

When the news came about that you and Horgh were continuing Immortal and Abbath was going solo a lot of people were skeptical about it, saying ‘Immortal without Abbath isn’t Immortal’ and stuff like that. How do you feel about that?
Demonaz: I really think that it will always be like that, because there will always be that ‘Internet Troll’ or whatever they call them, on the internet. There will always be critics when something happens. I don’t know them, so it’s not so easy to understand. But it seems like a lot of people make comments on Facebook or wherever and they will always be like that. Even if it’s a great album they will be full of shit. You can’t pay attention, because you have to be better. We can just answer with our music. We will let the music speak and they will see it.

They don’t know the music yet and I am pretty sure that they will be surprised. It’s a really good album. We love it!
Demonaz: Thank you, It’s nice to hear that. It’s always like when they have a comment on Immortal, it will always be Immortal. Of course Abbath was the face of Immortal, but just give us a break and a chance and we will show you what we have in common!

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