interview with Harald conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #23
I must make clear that my tone in these questions is respectful toward thee, even though it might seem that I am picking apart little details. Letus begin with a look at the vocals. They seem not to be as up front as before, and that might be caused by all the reverb. Or is that not the way that the final mix will sound?
I’ve never thought about the vocals place in the mix as any different from the other albums really, and actually we’ve never really been concerned as far as if the vocal should be up front or whatever. Of course the vocals are normally high up in the mix, but we’re more concerned about what sounds good as a whole. It might be a possibility that as the guitars are more powerful now, and also there’s “more” guitars when it comes to the actual riffing, so I guess that might take some from the vocals. The vocals still sound fuckin’ brutal in my ears and they sound great with the music. Also as you point out, it’s not the final mix you’re listening to, so there will be some changes and everything will come out a bit clearer.
I immediately noticed a more straightforward approach, and then I read about some artistic differences which resulted in the line-up change. Have the artists of the band left, being that there are no more experimental songs like “The Brighter the Light, the darker the Shadow?”
I don’t think you really can call it more straight forward as there’s not much that is more straight forward than “Onwards…” That one had about two different rhythms, ha ha! “Under The Reign of Terror” is much more varied when it comes to structures, tempo changes, and definitely when it comes to the riffs, which are the most complex stuff we’ve done for sure. The old songs were very streamlined, if I can use that word, and the riffs were simple and the arrangements also, with a few exceptions, one of which being “The Brighter…”. This song was a collaborative effort between Krell and Knarr, our old drummer, and I must admit that together they came up with some very weird stuff. There was too much problems with having Knarr in the band, though, and we had to let him go. No hard feelings because he’s a cool guy, but he didn’t have the time to make the commitment that was needed for touring and such, and also he was not interested in playing fast, which was one of the main reasons I think that our old stuff don’t have any really fast parts. He just didn’t have the stamina I guess… As for the other guys I can say that their departure has nothing but gained the band and our music.
The role of the keyboard has greatly diminished. Didst thou not consider that to be a trademark of thy sound?
No, actually not. The keyboards were never an important aspect of the band in our eyes, even if some might think that sounds strange considering they are very much present, especially on “Onwards…”. But in the original mix for that album the keyboards were much more in the background, however Season wanted to remix the album as they thought it sounded too messy, so we said “Ok, you contact studiomega and pay for it and get them to do it and it’s fine with us” because we hadn’t really got the sound we wanted anyway. We had at that time gone back to Norway and couldn’t be present at the remix, and so when the new one arrived the sound wasn’t much clearer at all. All that had changed was more bass and the keys were a lot higher! I guess Season told them to put up the keys as they probably thought it would sell more albums or something… I’m not sure, but all I know is that this wasn’t what we were after as far as the sound goes. Also, that album was as far as the music goes, too much compromising with people in the band who wanted to pull it in a softer direction, people who don’t know shit about extreme metal or metal at all, for that matter. Some of us wasn’t happy with that because we wanted Bloodthorn to go in a harder direction after the “In the Shadows…” and especially after “Onwards…” so they had to go. We also noticed that in a live situation the keys didn’t play such an important role ,and before we went on tour we actually simplified some of it which made it sound heavier.
Alas, the girl is gone. What has caused her departure?
We felt we didn’t need her and we saw the label (Season of Mist) and the press focusing on her and trying to make her like the front person, which was totally stupid as she didn’t write any music or lyrics and sang for about maximum five out of the fifty minutes on the album, so it was another attempt to commercialize the band, which we felt very uncomfortable with. We didn’t want the people to get the wrong impression and buy the album because of a female singer – which would’ve made them very disappointed since she’s barely on the album. Also, she didn’t show up on rehearsals, and live, she couldn’t do her job properly even if she only sang those little pieces, and therefore we didn’t see any reason for her to continue with the band, especially now that we’d got rid of the other elements that had hindered our progression, and the music turned harder.
I enjoyed the odd things in thy past material. But it seems to me that many unique elements have been eliminated. Of course, there will always be the telltale vocals. Yet I wonder, will the changes unmake thee?
I don’t know what you see as odd things, so it’s hard for me to say anything on that, but as far as we see it we’ve made our best album by far in every ways. We still feel that we have kept the things that for us made Bloodthorn in the past and that will make Bloodthorn in the future, and that’s what’s important for us. The band has progressed and we’ve done an album that we stand one hundred percent behind, and we don’t see how that can unmake us. The new album is just so much stronger, so much more interesting. It’s intense, heavy, aggressive, all the things that we wanted it to be, but I can’t predict if it’s gonna make us sell less records or more, ‘cause you will never know until it’s out there in the shops. The album is good, and with Red Stream backing us up I think it’s gonna go well. We got good feelings for this album.
Are any former bandmates bitter?
I don’t know and I don’t care. We talk to Knarr whenever he comes up of his basement and as said he’s totally cool, and Krell sees him quite often, but the rest I don’t care about. We know they talk shit behind our backs, but as long as we don’t have to see them, let them do whatever fuck they want. If people want to be assholes that’s their business and as long as we don’t have to mingle with them, let them be assholes. It only proves what miserable human beings they are.
Is Krell considered a national treasure? He is king of both black metal vocals and death metal vocals. I usually feel irritated by black metal vocals except in bands like Tristitia and Gloomy Grim. But I think that another reason why they are so tasty is that they do not ride atop music that is black metal. Bloodthorn does not adhere to a particular system. It seems that the best elements of many styles are selected in the crafting of thy songs.
He’s more likely a national disaster – and king of the forest – ha ha! No, he’s doing a great job. He’s definitely one of my favourite vocalists as far as black/death metal goes. He’s always equally powerful and not loosing any strength or brutality, and that’s very important. You’re right by not calling our music black metal, and we’re not doing so ourselves either. This was an issue we talked to Mica about, him labelling us black metal in the ads and shit, and for the second album we said ‘don’t write black metal’, but he did anyway – ‘atmospheric black metal’ or some crap like that. I mean, we definitely don’t see ourselves as a black metal band, not to say anything bad about the genre, but we’re just not doing that, and I think anyone with something between their ears will say the same. The first two albums actually had a lot of more doom metal oriented stuff in them as well, as the more aggressive parts, but for this one we’ve more or less forsaken the doomy parts and sped up a bit, but still keeping it heavy as fuck. I think it’s closest to what one would call death metal, and the lyrics and everything are really death metal, and the music is very heavy and aggressive and it got a bit of this and a bit of that so it’s hard to put a label on it. Some people said it reminds them of early death metal, others said it was like early ‘90’s black metal, so we hear at lot of different shit, and I think it’s up to each and everyone to put their own label on it. I guess it could be called something like “blackened death metal” or some shit like that. It’s not really important.