The following interview with DIMMU BORGIR’s Silenoz is already quite dated, but as it still covers a lot of interested aspects and hasn’t previously been published anywhere else we decided to share it with you now… Hope you will enjoy it.
There’s one thing I have always been wondering about: your mysterious bandname DIMMU BORGIR. As far as I know it is of Icelandic origin, of which some guys stemming from Iceland apprised me. Anyhow, what is the exact meaning behind this expression? It hasn’t coincidentally something to do with a particular stone-site in Iceland? What made you finally employ this unusual moniker?
"Brynjard Tristan is half Icelandic and he had been telling us about the legends and myths and facts as well about the name of the place. He though it would suit our music pretty well. We got very fascinated and attached to this very unusual and special moniker, so we decided to use it as the name of the band. In English it means something like "The black castle" or "The dark fortress"."
As far as I am concerned, I have never heard of any demo/rehearsal-release of yours (neglecting your recordings with FIMBULWINTER). Did you ever release anything previous to the 7"EP "Inn I Evighetens Mørke" (on Necromantic Gallery Productions)?
"No, but there might be some different rehearsal-recordings around, with fluctuating sound and quality of course."
To get back to the aforementioned recordings of FIMBULWINTER: Some time ago the FIMBULWINTER demo was reissued on CD-format. Please reveal something about the now defunct project and its impact (if any) on your musical development. What made Shagrath commencing an label under the moniker of the shop he is, was respectively, working at (Hot Records) and releasing it there? Wasn’t the deal offered by Malicious Records attractive enough?
"As far as I know, FIMBULWINTER is totally dead and buried (Ed.: That is indisputable!). FIMBULWINTER has nothing to do with DIMMU BORGIR and it has never had any impact on our musical work in the band or whatsoever. I don’t have all the facts concerning the re-release of the FIMBULWINTER-demo, but I know Shagrath did it because there were a lot of people who wrote him and enquired for a copy. This resulted in him being totally fed up with copying the demo, thus he thought he could just as well release it on CD-format through Hot Records."
Your debut-album entitled "For All Tid" came out on the German label No Colours Records, succeeded by your second full-length "Stormblåst" on Cacophonous. How did you get the deals with these labels and are you satisfied with what they have done for the band? Seen from your actual point of view: Would you have approached things differently nowadays, is there eventually anything which you do in particularly regret?
"It is always easy to be wise after an event, but if we had the opportunity to do things all over again, I may safely say that we would have skipped the deal with Cacophonous. Together with bands as CRADLE OF FILTH, GEHENNA and others we are not satisfied at all with the work they have done. (Ed.: This goes for PRIMORDIAL and DEINONYCHUS as well…) No Colours have done a very good job, I think. They have always been honest towards us and the relationship between us and them works out just fine. We got the deal with No Colours just after the recording of "For All Tid", so as you see, we didn’t have a contract before we went into the studio."
Let’s once again turn to your co-operation with No Colours. As far as I know, they didn’t even cover the expenses you had for the studio-session. The latter enables me to conclude that your contract with No Colours. wasn’t the best. Weren’t there, at the point of time when you were looking for a label to pick you up, other labels interested in signing you up?
"Yes, as I remember it were a couple of more labels involved, but we decided to sign at No Colours and that is nothing we regret. As you said, we paid the expenses for the studio-session ourselves, so that basically means that we own the rights of the songs, in other words they can’t do anything without our permission."
Did you know that Fenriz originally intended to contract you? If he had really offered you a deal, would you have accepted it?
"Nah, that really depends. I know that he was ecstatic when he heard a rehearsal recording for the first time, but that’s all. I know he likes "ugly" sounding recordings, so that maybe explains the whole thing. I also suspect him having been under the influence of alcohol…hahaha…" (Ed.: Your suspicion is wrong. He was just about to commence boozing, haha!)
With the release of your MCD, entitled "Devil’s Path", you have apparently stopped focusing exclusively on lyrics in your native language. Unfortunately I am unable to comprehend the Norwegian language, therefore I would like you to roughly outline the lyrical concept (if there’s any) behind "Stormblåst" and its antecedent!
"Some lyrics on that album were written from a very anti-Christian point of view, while others were basically influenced by Satanism. It is almost impossible to translate the titles as well as the lyrics. We fruitlessly attempted to do so in order to permit foreign people access to them, but as you see, it didn’t work out at all. We have quitted writing in Norwegian, because we felt that the artistic side of doing it was more or less gone when everybody else started doing it. Moreover we realised that we obviously would be able to reach a lot of new listeners when signing to Nuclear Blast, hence we dropped it. We have kept the lyrical concept, perhaps focusing less on the anti-Christian part, though."
For what reason did you decide to come up with "Devil’s Path" shortly before the release of "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant"? There are people labelling it a "rush job", just quickly done to cash on DIMMU BORGIR before they are finally "lost" to a major label. As for me, I think that the comprised material can evidently not compete with the quality of your other tracks. Moreover it can’t be regarded a laudable thing to feature two (very similar sounding) cover-versions of one and the same song (I am referring to CELTIC FROST’s ‘Nocturnal Fear’ in this place). One might presume that this was done purposely to increase the playing-time
"Well, then your presumption is wrong. Firstly, we had a verbal agreement with Damnation in the Netherlands to do a MCD, but as things didn’t work out and we already had the material finished, we released it on Hot Records instead. The reason why we did the cover-song twice was because we had a lot of time left over in the studio. We simply thought that we could do another version as well, a "Celtically processed one" so to speak. We did this because we wanted to show our gratitude and appreciation towards CELTIC FROST for what they have done for us and how they have influenced countless people on the scene. We did this as a tribute, nothing else."
Since the song-texts of the MCD and "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" are entirely written in the English language, I am wondering whether Nuclear Blast might have "forced" you in one way or another to drop the formerly employed Norwegian lyrics. Further I noticed that your real logo was banished to the backcover and that you employed a normal computer-font logo instead on the front-cover. Frankly, I can’t help thinking that it must have been the label which demanded these changes (to reach a wider audience perhaps?!). Is this assumption right? If so, did you have to compromise in many regards?
"No, not at all. We haven’t been forced to do anything and as far as the logo is concerned, we didn’t think it would fit properly on the front-cover. Henceforth we asked the artwork guy if he could develop a logo that was more "readable" than the former one. As you can see, we have of course kept our old logo, it has after all become our trademark and it will never be neglected in our future releases. We want to reach a wider audience, too, so if having this kind of "logo" on the front-cover will help the sales, then it is of course a good thing."
I am not sure whether you know that Nuclear Blast has been mocking at Black Metal for quite some time, at least until they picked up DISSECTION. How do you feel being signed to such an ambiguous and disreputable label when it comes to Black Metal? What made you finally choose them and what are your expectations? Were there also other labels who manifested their serious interest after "Stormblåst"? If so, name the strongest contenders you seriously contemplated co-operating with please!
"Century Media was interested as well as some others. Cacophonous tried to "bribe" us with a large amount of money, but the offer from Nuclear Blast was of course the most attractive one. We have to think what is best for the band, not what is best for anybody else. We are so far very satisfied with Nuclear Blast and the co-operation is working out, to some peoples’ irritation, great. We have received big respect and admiration for our work and we will be thoroughly promoted and distributed in America and Asia as well." (Ed.: Unfortunately you have left out the critical question concerning Nuclear Blast’s past [on purpose?!]… Coward!)
But let’s bury the past now (hm, at least in the next questions…). "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" has become a real killer of an album. The most mature effort of DIMMU BORGIR for sure. Are you thoroughly contented with the work you have done this time?
"Yes, this time we are satisfied with absolutely everything. The sound is probably one of the best I have ever heard on an album before. As you say, it’s the most mature and undoubtedly best we output we have released so far."
Even though I like the CD in its whole, I feel that the tracks ‘In Death’s Embrace’, ‘The Night Masquerade’, ‘Entrance’ and the "hidden" bonus-track ‘Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde’ are the strongest compositions featured. Would you agree with me here? What’s your favourite track?
"I like ‘Mourning Palace’ a lot, too, but I can agree with you that the songs you mentioned are probably some of the strongest songs on the album."
What made you re-record ‘Raabjørn…’, which was originally comprised on the 7"EP and the debut-CD? Why didn’t you choose ‘Over Bleknede Blåner Til Dommedag’, which presents for me your greatest DIMMU BORGIR track ever! Please tell us how the co-operation with Aldrahn came into being back then.
"He had been writing some lyrics for us at that time and he asked, if he could do the vocals on ‘Over Bleknede Blåner…’ by singing the first verse. Things started out really good in the first few takes we did in the studio, but as he kept saying that he could do it a lot better, we decided to give him another try. But on the contrary it only became worse, totally out of tune. As Aldrahn intended to sing the verse with normal voice, we just had to keep one of the aforementioned takes. I also think this is a great song, but since it was Aldrahn who had done the vocals on that track, we decided to re-record ‘Raabjørn…’ and ‘Hunnerkongens…’ instead. In my view they deserve a better recording."
In all previous questions I simply dragged you into the "Black Metal-drawer", do you mind being labelled a Black Metal-band? As you know, nowadays it is very popular to "invent" new music-styles just to distinguish from the vast of other Black Metal-bands but in the end it’s nevertheless just Black Metal…
"We don’t mind being categorised as a Black Metal band, rather the contrary is the case."
If one has a look at your booklets, one will encounter mean looking photos of your line-ups, single members respectively. Especially your photo depicted in the debut-album’s booklet appealed to me, because your appearance is very eerie and evil there. You are also wearing much stuff like spikes, Satanic symbols, etc…, which make you look very Satanic and aggressive. But if one looks at your photos and listens to your music, one might probably come to the conclusion that your extreme outfit doesn’t fit the melodic and harmonic music you make. Is this outfit really necessary for you and why did you decide to use corpsepaint? Could you imagine to do without corpsepaint in the future?
"As long as it feels right for us to use make-up, we will do so. We have been using it from the start and it has always been a big part of our figurative expression. We will continue to use it in one way or another."
Today even Death Metal-bands make use of corpsepaint, seemingly to improve their sales, but the real medieval background of corpsepaint is being neglected more and more. There are even persons who claim to wear corpsepaint every day (ridiculous crap!), to emphasise their "evil attitude"… What do you think? Is corpsepaint a means to increase the exposure and attention a band receives nowadays?
"If a band uses make-up or corpsepaint, as you call it, I would say that the only people who know about the reason must be the members behind. (Ed.: Don’t tell me!) If someone decides to use full make-up all day long, that’s his business, but I must admit that it would look fucked up so maybe it’s good anyway…" (Ed.: A little twisted view, eh?)
As you live in Oslo and there were several plans from persons like Samoth and Ravn (MYSTICUM) to reopen Euronymous’ Helvete-store, I would like to know what is actually has been done to accomplish this. They were talking about benefit-concerts or something like that. Unfortunately I had never had the opportunity to visit Helvete, but you have probably visited it several times, haven’t you? Please tell us something about this cult-site. For example it would be interesting to know what was offered and sold there… was it a kind of place where all kingpins of the Norwegian Black Metal-scene met each other?
"It was just a specialised store in extreme Metal in which the MAYHEM members lived for a while. Actually there is nothing more to add about that place, except that it was at times hard to see something in there. It was fucking dark and hot in there… (Ed.: That’s probably why it was called Helvete – Hell…) I know there were some talks about reopening Helvete, but I haven’t heard anything more about it."
What are your feelings towards Euronymous then? Do you mourn his death or do you consider it as justified? Hard to stay impartial here, isn’t it?
"I can not say that I knew Euronymous (in fact who did actually know him personally?), but I guess he had some good ideas, although I don’t support all of them. I don’t mourn his death at all, though I noticed that some people looked up to him as a leader. I have never met Varg and I don’t give a fuck about what he stands for nowadays, so it’s pretty obvious on whose side I am, right?" (Ed.: Erm, actually not…)
Now we come to the philosophical part of this interview. Please complete the following sentence: Dark, bizarre mountains, endless lakes, impenetrable forests, eclipsed clouds, a howling pack of wolves straying around for prey, ominous silhouettes in the remote horizon…
"Read our lyrics and you will find that out!" (Ed.: Lazy dosser!)
If you met the pope, how would you react or treat him?
"I would shake his hand after I had been on the toilet without washing my hands properly."
Don’t you think that the religion of Islam is worse than Christianity and that religions in general should be condemned? What/who is your worst enemy in this context?
"I think both religions suck major arse, because Christianity and religions in general take the weak people off the world and put them all in one place because they need faith in something else than themselves. They need somebody to tell them what to do and how to think and they follow it blindly."
In case there is anything left that you would like to reveal to our readers, take the opportunity now. If you feel like questioning me, do so! What is your impression of my person (take care of your words, hehehe!), by the way?
"Actually, I have nothing more to say, except for thanking you for the interview and the publicity! Are you coincidentally a bit arrogant? Do you have enough self-confidence? If so, that’s good!" (Ed.: Needless to mention that I am as well arrogant as self-confident! That’s what essentially makes up the philosophy of Black Metal, isn’t it?!)
By the way – just to quench my inquisitiveness – to what music were you listening when answering this interview?
"W.A.S.P. "The Last Command"."