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INTERVIEWSInterview with Demonaz from "Arrow Lords Of Metal" (September 2009)
One of my first face-to-face interviews, for a at that time well known and in the meantime defunct webzine, was with Immortal. This Norwegian band has always had quite a large following, with both underground and those who only listen to Black Metal very little or not at all. From the at the time new form of Black Metal the band slowly involved on their later albums to a more massive and technical sound, especially after guitarist Demonaz had to leave the band because of an arm injury (later more on that one) and perhaps also because Peter Tägtren took over as a producer in stead of good old Grieghallen. So my disappointment was rather big when Immortal called it a day somewhere in 2002 or 2003.
A while after the band was put on ice, there was an in-between project called I, which also happens to be the first syllable of the band's name. It was a nice album, but not like the Immortal albums and meant as a kind of bridge to new Immortal material. And now, this September 25th, "All Shall Fall" will hit the stores, in the line-up of Abbath, Horgh and Apollyon. Yet there is still one man who is very much into and about Immortal, a man most of us know as Demonaz Doom Occulta, together with Abbath Doom Occulta the founder of Immortal. Due to label policy there was no promo available, so we had a brief talk with Demonaz about the new album and the band.
"All Shall Fall"; it is kind of hard to talk about an album, especially since there are hardly promos available. I have heard that the new album is somewhere in between "Battles In The North" and "At The Heart Of Winter": what do you hold of that comparison, is that true?
I don't think it is that easy. I feel that it has something of every period on it. I think we covered anything we did from the past on this album.
How did that happen: was it a conscious mind setting from the band or did that just happen by itself?
This was the first time that we didn't have any pressure. We had more time to write the songs and we had more time to arrange it all. The arrangements and structures should be perfect to make the songs stronger. I think that makes every song more unique.
What do you think will be the biggest surprise to all the fans that hear the new material?
That we still kept to our sound. I think the fact that nothing has actually changed, so indeed, no big surprises. There will be no changes compared to earlier material like on earlier albums: it just all sounds much better.
As far as I know, the official line-up is still Abbath, Horgh and Apollyon, yet we are talking to you, who left the band as an active musician in 1997 due to a muscle injury. For those who are not that familiar with the scene, what is your involvement within Immortal nowadays?
It's my band! Hahaha. Me and Abbath started this band, and I got problems with my arms back in 1997. Instead of finding another guitar player, Abbath just took over the guitar and we went for a new bass player. But I still tour with the band you know...
Yeah, I know... In an earlier interview with Abbath it became clear that it was a muscle injury for playing right away instead of practicing and warming up a bit, something which caused Abbath to warn about starting to play without loosening the muscles first... Anyway, talking about your own active musicianship. A while ago you had a MySpace with your own name and new material. Now that the "All Shall Fall" album is about to be released, what is the status of the Demonaz project?
Well, I was talking to Nuclear Blast about a release in 2010. We already recorded the drums and the guitars. We should be ready by then I think.
Why did you pick "All Shall Fall" as the album's title?
Because all shall fall!
Even your own band Immortal?
Well, almost all shall fall. We chose it because it is an apocalyptic title. We have always been into that apocalyptic feeling, not in a negative way but in a powerful way. The title is a reflection of most of the songs, of which about four or five have to deal with that pretty apocalyptic feeling. I think it is written in a way that people love to go away to home, hahaha. For us it gives us that spark we need you need.
You just said you had a lot more time to work on the album. How many time did it take for you to work on the album, to write, record and so on?
We started to work on this album in the autumn of 2007. We did other gigs in between, we did not have to rush, we worked on it the right way. We wanted to do it this time in a natural way. We never worked like this at all before, without all the pressure...
Did you like it that way, as some people always need pressure..?
I really liked this way, because we had a better time for every songs and all the arrangements, so no pressure and no stress.
Are there any special guests on the album?
Just us, no guests on the album, but this time we worked for the first time with two producers. We recorded the drums at the Abyss studio from Peter, and the guitars, bass, vocals and some stuff like on our earlier albums at the Grieghallen. This time we really wanted the best sound.
Of course Immortal is a genuine Black Metal band, yet not the most evil band around, regarding your music and lyrics. You are regarded to be one of the top bands in Black Metal. In what way do you feel Immortal is leading or still embedded within today's Black Metal scene, if there is such a scene still left nowadays?
Well, we never write about politics or religion, and many times that satanic image is totally ridiculous. If I still want to hear that stuff, I listen to Venom and Bathory (who neither were Satanists - Neithan). It is all about the glory of darkness. And there are still great bands in Bergen, like Tåke and The Batallion.
Hell yeah, The Batallion is great. I saw them with Tåke in Rørmond this year, and it was the best show I have seen in three years or so.
Yeah, the singer is an old friend. We know each other you know.
Talking a bit about history: why did Immortal take a break after the release of "Sons Of Northern Darkness"?
We needed to have a break, everything around us did not work out, so we had problems with management, everything was getting on the wrong stream. So we decided to put it on ice for a while.
Wasn't that hard, because "Sons Of Northern Darkness" had just been released...
Yeah, but that was just how we felt, and Immortal is not like working in a factory.
In an interview with Abbath he once said that of course Immortal would play live, since conquerors don't stay at home. So, tell me, when will Immortal hit which stages and where?
Of course, the management is working on that for next year. With the new album it's gonna be much more touring than before.
Okay, and do you have any influence yourself on the package; I mean, it would be cool if you could bring The Batallion along..?
No, we don't have any specific plans for any band, the management will look after that.
Perhaps a crazy question, but from other people in Norway I always hear that the Bergen people are the noisiest people in Norway, but Bergen is still the only place I know with a local scene supporting each other: what's the secret?
I don't think there is a secret about it. All Bergen bands never took after anyone else, like Tåke, Gorgoroth, Batallion. They follow their own.
Another thing that struck me: Immortal is one of the few bands that still brings people to festivals (like the past two years) without having released any new material: what does that mean to you?
It means that we still drive people crazy, and that's a good sign.
Any other news about Immortal I should mention in this interview?
Well, we try to tour for the next year. We are planning to go to the USA next year and do a lot of festivals, and I think we will play in Holland as well.
A personal question: in a few weeks I will be at Bergen (by the time you'll read this I will have returned from a trip around Norway for two weeks in August): is there any chance that any of our friends over there might have a copy of the new album so that we can hear it in advance?
Well, if I have the time and you have the time in that period, try to pass a message to me, or call us when you are here. If I am at home, you can listen to it over here perhaps... Maybe it will work out!
Well, I can't make it promises, but I hope that our busy schedule will leave us some time in between enjoying the sights of Norway.
Author: Neithan (© 2009 "Arrow Lords of Metal", NL)
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