2014-09-04 Darkthrone

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To cut the whole story short: “The Underground Resistance” is the best DARKTHRONE-album since their terrific masterpiece “The Cult Is Alive”. The album also ties a record for the band as it contains the longest DARKTHRONE-song ever: "Leave No Cross Unturned". This all is reason enough to ask drummer and Black Metal-icon Fenriz not only about the formation of this album but also about strange liner-notes and even stranger codes...Interview

Who or what is the "Underground Resistance"? Is it an explicit commitment to the Metal underground, to the “Church Of Real Metal”?

Both! Well spotted! For those who never forgot MANILLA ROAD or CIRITH UNGOL, the old old sound, those who started old heavy metal up again WITH OLD SOUND in this new age.

Writing and recording “The Underground Resistance” has taken more than two years, and “The Underground Resistance” has been released about exactly three years after your last regular record “Circle The Wagons”. So that has been one of the longest breaks between two DARKTHRONE-albums ever. Have you needed that longer time for creativity or have you had some breaks within the process of songwriting and in the studio?

No, we both got new girlfriends from TOTEN, and with that came of course life altering situations and this had to be prioritized. Also, after having our second wind since 1999 with 8 albums out the last 11 years, I think a break was much needed anyhow. And the biggest work are the interviews, I have now soon used 4 months on 80 interviews, this is Nr. 80 actually. And there is still many more to do. We just write as usual, one song each, each on our very own, no discussing style or direction as usual. All we do is to write what we want and need to make and then meet and record. The first two songs were recorded in February 2010 and then the rest of the songs were done in the first half of 2012. Writing “Valkyrie” took forever, so it was a good thing no one was hurrying us. 

The sound of the new album is in fact pure dirty fucking DARKTHRONE, but all in all it sounds more powerful, in-the-face and even more melodic than your last albums. Have you wanted to move a little bit away from the raw, basic productions that for example “F.O.A.D.” and “Dark Thrones And Black Flags” had?

We used the same recording method as on the previous album, every album Ted and me try to just make an ok product, the portable studio is rather primitive, it can only use effects on two tracks, and on this one it was the same as on “Circle The Wagons”. We recorded with the guitar in another room and used headsets with VERY fucked up and low sound on them. It never gets fixed either, so we have to concentrate max to hear ourselves so it’s a miracle we actually get through the songs.

The big difference is that Punk idol Jack Control which is also a life-long fan of Metal and NWOBHM and DARKTHRONE too, had put up his own studio and said he wanted to master our next album. For free, even. So we let him master, and he got a very phat organic punch to it all with some added delay which we can’t put there ourselves cuz´ of studio limitations. And we were so pleased with the mastering that we paid a symbolic 666$ for his job. Wo ho!! If it’s more melodic, it means that it’s more heavy metal, more epic. It’s no way near how melodic our 1988 "Snowfall" song is anyway, that one didn’t have vocals, though.

“Leave No Cross Unturned” is the longest song in DARKTHRONE-history ever. Had that been a plan, or has it turned out this way?

First I had made the verse and refrain-loop. And I thought it would be maybe one and a half minute, I don’t time things like that when I am making songs. And then I waited for the next idea for a while. When that came, the riffs were slow and CELTIC FROST ´85 and ´84 style, and of course I needed to loop them and then so as to not just have a loop on the Speed Metal and loop on the slow stuff alike, I needed an additional riff, which turned out to be just a Heavy Metal riff. Then back to the Speed Metal loop. I think maybe I stopped there and looked at the time when I had played just one guitar at home, recording it so as not to forget it. And holy shit, I thought it was maybe just six minutes but I think it was nine! And I realized that the song couldn’t just end there, I wanted to make a fast medley of the middle part riffs to end it, but that didn’t sound right either. So I needed another end riff, and I had one that I had never forgotten about from a song I made but never used. And then that sounded a bit thin after all the other stuff so I wrote it in two keys and decided to replay - loop, that’s what I mean by looping - it another time, but it STILL didn’t sound like a perfect ending, so I had to do four extra notes which was the perfect ending to it all. But now it was nearly 14 minutes. When finally going to record it, I decided to record the whole thing and maybe edit it later. I mean fade it perhaps. And when I finally got it home to mix it, it sounded too long in my ears. I wrote Ted that I considered to fade it at just before ten minutes or something, but he asked me to reconsider. I thought it was nice that he wanted the whole song so we left it without tampering with it much more.

In contrast to Nocturno Culto you put down liner notes to every song that you have personally written. These ones even contain explanations of the way you use to sing and descriptions of musical parts. Why is it so important for you to make the listener know that for example the line “Unite! Fierce Fight!” in “The Ones You Left Behind” is an “obscure MINOTAUR-reference”?

Because no one would EVER get it if I didn’t write it. It is precisely THOSE things that people wanna know in movies about bands and so on, and it’s always interesting what bands can be namedropped. I also write these things so that all the journalists can get them before they do the interviews so I don’t have to write stuff over and over. But they ask anyway, haha! Anyway, I am in a period of my life when I like to inform all about what my Metal is all about, it certainly hasn’t been like that always. I’d like to add that when I do all the interviews, it’s extra hard when I know nothing about Ted’s inspirations or why the songs are the way they are or any knowledge about why the lyrics are the way they are in his songs.  But it is his choice to just let the music do the talking. I don’t talk so much about my songs so it’s good to at least do that in interviews and on the albums. And if naming that MINOTAUR reference can actually lead someone to listen to their “Power Of Darkness” album, then everyone wins! Metal wins, I win and the person who gets into that great album wins. And MINOTAUR wins.

Your personal vocals on the album are in my opinion much more melodic than ever before. Even a Halford-like scream in the middle of the mentioned “The Ones You Left Behind” can be heard. Have you trained your abilities for singing within the last years?

I already did that on the song “Dommedagssalme” for ISENGARD in 1992. I started to sing like that a lot back then on private parties and out on the town whenever there were vocals like that, after all I had listened to those kind of vocals since 1974 when I got that “Sweet Freedom” album by URIAH HEEP. And when I started my drinking career in 1990 I noticed I could actually sing like that. So everyone of my friends knows I could do that since the early 90´s but I didn’t use it much. I have done ALL kinds of vocals since I started “grunting” in BLACK DEATH in late ´86 and already did this a bit, and now it came again. Also, I have problems doing it in the studio in front of a microphone. I did A LOT of those vocals on the VALHALL song “Made In Iron” on the album we recorded in 2000, by the way. But that album didn’t come out until 2009 or something.

Nocturno Culto not only abstains from personal liner notes but also from a long thanks-list in the booklet. Instead of that he sends a big fuck off to people who “try to fuck his face”. Why is there such a big difference in the number of people and bands that you and Ted note down? And why does he present himself so pissed in booklets?

Wasn’t it always like this? Since before I met him I had been very involved in the global underground, he just wanted to play guitar mostly.

By the way in this context: what the hell is an “ANTIBYGDETULL002”?

That displays the problems he had in the BYGDS - tiny Dorfs - I guess.

The cover-artwork done by Jim Fitzpatrick does not show this emaciated Punk any more. To me personally it had become some kind of DARKTHRONE´s "Eddie". Who was this guy, and where is he gone?

I wanted drawn art and Ted wanted Dennis Dread, he already did great work for ABSCESS so it was a natural choice. Also Dennis has immensely cool music taste so it was all a happy family doing those covers. I wanted the person to have the feeling of the skeletons on the “Strappado” cover for Canadian SLAUGHTER, an album we both have loved since it came out in ´87, and Ted wanted a helmet on him so that became the look. Very Metal-Punk of course. And then Ted wanted something else. It’s not more complicated than that, DARKTHRONE is a natural project, changes just like persons change. I hope Mr. Necro is listening to “Identify The Dead” by BASTARDATOR right now, watching “Mad Max 2” perhaps.

In the booklet of “The Underground Resistance” you recommend several bands to the listeners as you already did in the booklets of your last records. What other actual underground-bands or albums can you recommend? And to what records are you listening to these days?

Everyone check the “Band Of The Week” page or “Band Of The Week” on "Facebook", that’s my whole taste right there. Next interesting bands up for Band Of The Week are ZODIAC (traditional Doom), INFANT DEATH, SWALLOWED and THE OATH from Germany, I think.

Your Norwegian colleagues OLD FUNERAL have just re-released a compilation of all their material ever recorded. Am I right when I suppose that you are one of the owners of the partially very funny designed original demos?

Nope, I had an AMPUTATION logo and that was that. In ´87 and ´88 and ´89 and ´90 there was very little contact between Bergen crew and me, I was already so involved in the global underground scene and so were they, I reckon. Bergen was kinda further away than Sweden, where I had many contacts for years. I listened to VOMIT and IMPOSTOR and then CADAVER mostly from Norway then. MAYHEM was Nr. 1 of course, “Deathcrush” was my bible all of ´87 and ´88 and it still rules IN HELL!!!!!! !!!!!! !!!!!!

The final question in every DARKTHRONE-interview has to be: through how many countries will the world-tour for the new album lead you this time? Rumors say that you are going to headline two Old School-festivals in North Korea and Zimbabwe. Is that correct?

We’re trying to get Richard Clayderman to play bass and then James Last as stagedive freak, if we succeed we will tour north of Köln on a weekly basis until north of Köln expands. Then we will also play north-north of Köln.

Do you have some special final statement for the fans of DARKTHRONE in Germany?

“I Love The Night” by GRAVESTONE is one of the best simplistic freedom-Heavy Metal songs in the world, if only the drum sound was more ´70s, more ´70s SCORPIONS style it would be even better. Even BUTTER!!!! And don’t forget to listen to HOUR OF 13!!!!!! !!!!!! !!!!!!