ENSLAVED – Mardraums II
Lyrics. Some like to interpret them in their own ways. Others like to know what the writer mean. Message. Does Enslaved have anything to tell us? I mean, you choose to let us know about them…
"We write about subjects which are interesting to us. Our thoughts and philosophies concerning these. What we try to achieve is to make people think for themselves, to get away from the extremely materialistic mentality. Several of our lyrics deal with this subject, like the "Ormgard (The Hive)"-lyrics."
Why do you not play popular music, where you are able to spread this message to a wider audience? Grutle laughs a bit. But, what’s wrong with all these people who buy Aqua, Di Derre, Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, playing this music out loud in their family cars, sport cars, great apartment or whatsoever…
"I leave that to them. We, in order to realize our own desires, create under Enslaved. I could never write a pop-song, though it would be cool doing such under a false name."
And give me half the money, eh! I think some of the bands in our scene have a great message, and a quite constructive way of criticise our society. And not only critic towards Christianity…
"Well, some of the critic is still based on Christendom, though not to the same extent as earlier."
I agree with Grutle on that, and says it is pretty natural since Christendom is the plague of our society. Damn, we even learn about it when we’re three years old. Brainwashing, anyone.
"There are a lot of different elements among people which have nothing to do with Christianity, positive elements. The Norwegian stubbornness has nothing to do with Christendom. I think it’s a leftover from the old Norwegian heritage of the past. I think this is positive, that you stand proud behind your words and thoughts. So, if somebody read our lyrics and ends up thinking longer than to their own nose, it feels great."
Evil. At a certain point ‘everybody’ was so goddamn evil that they had to sleep all day, isolate, walk the forests to realize themselves. Bullshit. In my opinion you realize yourself in social environments, with other people…
"Yeah, there was nobody who went into the forests with corpse-paint just to have a nice walk. Of course, you have to be alone in between. When I’m fishing, I’m alone for hours. But you don’t come closer to yourself if you’re always alone. You’re probably becoming more of a jerk, if you weren’t already."
The cool thing about this critic, is that it’s deeper than most people see. Grutle agrees:
"Our critic has nothing to do with politics. We’re looking at the people, and try to see the society as a whole. It’s not like AP is better than FRP or SV."
Yeah, those political parties. In Norway, FRP is a party which heads more to the extreme right-winged side. But somehow I think it’s great that a party like this can do something, if nothing else than to wake up our society.
"If the Norwegian society could stand two years with Bondevik (prime minister from the Christian party in Norway), why can’t we stand two years with Hagen (leader of FRP), or even two months?"
In Norway we have the materialistic necessities, no doubt. To realize yourself is to search for something beyond the traditional A-4 life, to step outside your little square. Grutle says that two years in the same kind of job is enough to him (as he says directly translated from Norwegian "I get worms of doing the same thing for two years"). He also says that you have to develop the social life in between, if not everything gets boring in the end. Though, with the band it is different since they try to develop and search for new ways of expressing themselves.
We have been talking just a little bit about Christendom. I think that "For Lenge Siden (A Long Time Ago)" (from "Eld") is your most describing point of view, and it makes me raise this question about the subject. How the hell are we going to get rid of Christianity, looking at our society today?
"Well… You see, today we witness the increase of Islam in our Western society, with their view upon honesty, women and more. And you know how they regard criminality, and what kind of crimes they bring along. Which doesn’t have to do with the colour of their skin, but with the attitude and culture.
Islam is an extremely strong religion. You can compare it to how Christendom was like 500 years ago, when people feared God. Today, nobody fears the wrath of God. Christianity is about to fall apart. I mean, you have gay priests. Some bishops are against this, others not. ‘…hmmm, I don’t like the thought of a man fucking another man’s arse…’ (we laughs) – the discussion is on this level. To put it like this; Christianity is about to be flushed straight down the toilet. Cheers to that!
It has begun, and if we manage to make people think more for themselves, Christianity is lost."
I can but agree with Grutle. In our metal scene, the burning of churches and the destruction of tombstones have resulted into a ridiculing of the metal people. The metallers have had strong opinions, but lacked the necessary skills to make a good argument. I think this is about to change. Grutle agrees:
"Yes, you’re right about that. Christian people can’t argue for their ‘views anymore, since God ain’t feared today. I mean, others than the most pietistic Christians and the Church do not argue for or against homosexuality. The world has passed the Church some time ago now, and the Church does not get it. In fact, I have problems believing that high priests, bishops and other ‘intellectual’ Christians really are Christian.
The rules should be strict from a Christian point of view. When the bishops themselves begin to fight about various subjects, well… It’s like they bury their own graves, if you see what I mean.
Personally I have strict rules I follow. I know what I think and believe."
Islam, to us who don’t know it in full (does anybody?), is seemingly stronger than Christianity and other religions. It seems more focused. And that’s way more scary than the schizophrenic Christianity.
"Imagine a black metal band from Saudi-Arabia, heh. During the first rehearsal they would’ve been executed. Though, I find the thought of a anti-Islam black metal band amusing.
Oh, when I think of it, there are some black metal bands from Turkey, and several from Eastern-Asia."
The development of Islam is as you said, like 500 years after Christianity. So, maybe the rebel begins soon. And with Internet the possibilities are present. Grutle comments:
"Maybe there’ll be a Arabian black metal scene in 500 years from now" and we both laughs heavily.
Favourite beer? And you’re not allowed to say Ringnes (water I mean)?
"In Norway I go for the regular Hansa pilsner. In Europe it’s definitely German Weiss-beer, and let me especially name you Franzisckaner Weiss. For America, it has to be the Canadian Labbatt. I prefer Ringnes instead of Tau. Tau sucks big time."
After this small drinking break, we went touring. How does it feel playing live? Grutle’s eyes shines:
"Ahhh, it feels truly great. You become exhausted, aggressive, focused, ‘turned on’ – you realize yourself. If things work the way they should, and you don’t have to think about the bad sound or other such annoying aspects, you’re in a form of ecstasy. You’re doing well, and the audience is great, ahhh! Damn, I can’t really describe it – it is just so out of this world!"
Over the years you’ve toured quite a lot. How do you see the development of touring?
"Well,, you are able to handle it in a better way all the time due to your experience. You learn to look away from the more irritating aspects."
So, I guess you were pretty annoyed in the beginning of your touring?
"No, not at all. It was all a new experience, and you swallowed everything in that connection. But after a while you began to notice the more irritating aspects of the touring business, and once you started to allow yourself to be irritated, there was no way back.
Now, when we begin touring the first few days can be quite hard. But soon you get into it, and doesn’t care that much about the lack of sleep, feeling ill due to way too much alcohol and all those annoying persons you meet."
I think you should demand a few certain things, while being humble at the same time. Grutle ain’t too sure about this.
"Well, maybe. There are those things you can’t do anything about no matter, and it’s just a waste of time use your energy on that. In fact, it’s pretty important to save your energy and use it when it’s supposed to be used. You must try hard to not let outer things annoy you too much."
I wonder, what do you demand of your audience? Or, can you demand anything at all?
"I don’t think you can demand anything at all. It’s you, the band, who shall make the audience enjoy the show, to move them. You can expect the audience to act good if you’re just standing there yourself. If you expect that, I don’t think you should be up there at all as a band.
At the same time I expect the audience to not just stand there. I mean, if they go to a show just to stand there, they can just as well be in the bar, or stay at home to wash the floor, do the dishes or whatsoever."
Without any problem I agree with you. We all know this ‘zombie’-attitude a few years ago… Grutle continues:
"I mean, why would you gather if you’re just going to stand there, probably having quite a boring time. Of course, if you don’t like the band it’s OK to stay behind in the hall, but when you’re a fan of a band you go up there in front of the scene to support it. I remember myself how I used to go totally crazy when I went to a show with one of my favourite bands.
To answer the question about demanding; I would say that you can’t demand something of the listener, but you can surely expect something. After all, they’ve paid to see you. And as I said, besides that it is your mission to move the audience. It’s difficult, but it’s possible."
I guess you learn how to handle the various kinds of crowds as time passes by. Grutle confirms that. I wonder about the German crowd, as I know they can go to a show way too often. I don’t know, but I’ve the feeling that a German audience demands more…
"The thing which is special about Germany, is that the public is quite trendy. You know, when black metal was the big thing in ’95, everybody went to the shows. And when power metal was in, the same people went for Hammerfall, and so on."
On the forthcoming Monday, 25th of September, there will happen something special. Grutle surely knew what I meant:
"Yeah, the new albums from Morbid Angel and Napalm Death."
We’re laughing a bit before it gets serious again. "Mardraum – From The Within" is the new album from Enslaved. There is one ‘problem’ with it, and it’s the innovative aspect of the album. I’ve played it a lot of times, but still I have ‘problems’ comparing this album to other bands. There’s no ‘aha, this is Morbid Angel, that is Mayhem, there you had Slayer’ and so on.
"Thank you for saying that" says Grutle and I have to ask him if he thinks the world is ready for such a special album? He thinks for a moment, no answer. Could it be that you’re ahead of your time? Without any more hesitation he says:
"I’m sure the public is ready. In those parts we’re doing better, like in the States, in Great Britain and a few other countries in Europe, I feel they’re awaiting the new album. Maybe even Norway is ready. I think it’ll sell quite OK. But I don’t know about pre-sales yet."
I’m sure it’ll do fine. It should. The material is wider, and contains a lot of different things, and could I suggest different styles as well? So, how has the process been up the realisation of "Mardraum – Beyond The Within"?
"I think the most obvious influence this time has been music from the ’70’s. You know, after we’ve rehearsed we’ve drunk and smoked some and listened to such music. Bands like Fogus. And I think you can understand that when you listen to the album."
No problem. But as I asked earlier, is the public ready for such an album? And I guess they are. But, are they ready for such an album from Enslaved?
"Well, I think a lot of people are ready for it. But some will definitely become surprised. However, when you think of it there’s no reason people should become that surprised. If you look at our development, I’d say we’ve become a bit more progressive for each album, without making progressive rock or metal. As I said, a lot of people will anticipate it, while others will be surprised."
I know. I didn’t understand anything the first couple of spins.
As said earlier, the album contains a bit death metal. Like the ending of "Æges Draum" ("Aege’s Dream"), where both the solo and the ending riff could’ve been placed on a death metal album.
"Yeah" Grutle says and I ask him if this happens due to a lot of death metal albums played lately, or is it basically a coincidence or something?
"We’ve not heard much death metal lately, so in that matter it may be a bit strange. But, Ivar and me have played in a death metal band before we created Enslaved. So, we’ve been playing around with using some death metal in Enslaved before. After all, Enslaved was and has never been connected with death metal in any aspect. The first promo, though, had a little bit of death metal in it, but luckily only a very few people have heard it.
We’ve always had some death metal within us, and have never stopped listening to bands like Autopsy, Carcass. We wanted to include some of our old influences this time, and develop it from where we ended it ten years ago. Anyway, nobody can accuse us of begin death metal, as there’s only a couple of spots where you can find any death metal."
Yes, and that’s where you’ve succeeded I think. Some bands, like Behemoth and Gehenna, have entered a death metal domain in full, while you’ve just made some small hints of where you once were. Keep in mind that I really like both Behemoth and Gehenna. Grutle continues:
"This has something to do with the use of my vocals as well. To avoid boring myself to death I try to vary my vocal-style in between. I mean, earlier I basically screamed. And today, well, I guess I’d tear down the walls in the studio if I only should scream. By all means, screaming is cool and it’s what I use most of the time. But it’s cool to put some variation to it.
It was great to sing a bit death metal again, as it was like ten years since the last time I did it. I guess my death metal voice was better ten years ago, but still I think my voice on the new album sounds a bit old-school, as that’s what we liked and like most. As you by now know, our death metal inspiration is from 10-15 years ago."
The opening sequence is pretty special, and very progressive I’d say. And after 1.50 minutes there’s one of the best death metal riffs I’ve ever heard. How do you think the fans will react to this?
"Well, I guess we’ll get a lot of different questions about this track as a whole, and especially the beginning. It’s shoots off with a very progressive part, a kind of Rush if you ask me. And is continuing with a more epic part before the brutal sequence.
We think this song feels very natural, and we find the structure to be very good. I mean, even though "Større Enn Tid – Tyngre Enn Natt" ("Larger Than Time – Heavier Than Night") is pretty straight-in-your-face (‘bang’), it has a natural structure. I think people will say ‘wow, what the fuck was that?’, and rewind several times to sort it out. It’s definitely an album the listener really has to pay attention to."
I think it demands something of you.
"Yes, almost everybody I’ve spoken with has said the same. "Hemisphere" by Rush is such an album which demands something from you. The first time you listen to it you understand there’s something really interesting going on, but you don’t get it. So, you end up playing the first song several times before you see what’s happening, and then you’re ready to continue."
There’s one aspect with this first song on the album. If you compare it to Satyricon’s "Rebel Extravaganza", both albums shoots off with probably the most progressive songs both bands have made. Then it calms down a bit, and you get straighter songs, before it becomes progressive again. However, I must add that your albums are very different as a whole. You ain’t a bit afraid the listener could be disappointed about the rest of the album due to his/hers anticipation that the whole album should be like that?
"You could say that after the first track we totally change direction. I mean, "Daudnigekvida" ("Deadhymn") is a pretty straightforward rock’n’roll song, if you see what I mean. We kinda tell you that now the first track has ended and you’ve entered a new song. Then again, the third track "Entrance – Escape" ("Inngang – Flukt") is different from the second track again. The track-order is very conscious."
With this new album I feel that you’re more enthusiastic compared to the last two-three albums. I don’t really know why it is so. We can try to use "Det Endelege Riket" (The Ending Empire") as an example. When you start to sing in that track, it’s feel like rock’n’roll and the riffs are pretty light. It feels like you’ve dared more this time compared to earlier. Grutle says:
"We were extremely enthusiastic when we went into the studio. And also during the whole process we’ve had this feeling, and thought that our new material is just so way better compared to in example "Blodhemn". We had a great time in the studio, no doubt. And when we heard the tapes during the evenings we focused on what was good, and what could be changed into something better. Then we knew what do to the next day. So everything was pretty scheduled from day to day (as he says ‘dang dang dang dang dang’). Like, ‘today we shall do this, and we’re going to do it fucking good’."
And suddenly Grutle asks me a questions: "Did you know that Ivar did the backing vocals throughout the track in question?" Err, no. I had to admit though I was a bit curious on that. Grutle laughs and says:"He did all the dark vocals, and it’s a pretty funny thing you know. On the album his vocals are turned pretty much down. But I have a tape at home where his vocals are turned higher than mine, and it’s very funny to hear. It’s damn funny. Our engineer almost fainted when he heard the result."
May I suggest you use that as a bonus somewhere? Grutle laughs and says:
"I want to do it without telling Ivar about it."
Has the vinyl any bonus this time?
"No. But we do have one track laying around which needs vocals, but we don’t know what to do about it right now."
While being on "Det Endelege Riket" there’s one peculiar thing. Like, suddenly there’s a total change in the atmosphere. It’s when the solo, the melodic solo, begins.
"There’s one reason for that. Roy has got himself a new Stratocaster with a new Mig-system. He is extremely enthusiastic about this new system."
I feel the solo is very ’70’s. Grutle confirms that and adds:
"The whole riff if that. The bass, everything you know. The first time I heard it I was like ‘wow, what is this?’, but I must say it’s just meant to be like that, it’s perfect.
Why should you put limits to a song? I think the solo, even though it’s different, suits fine to the riff, and the riff to the whole track. I can understand if you react to that solo the first time you hear it, but later on you will understand the whole I’m sure."
The first time I heard that solo I though ‘what the fuck was going on’.
"It’s cool" says Grutle. "Things like that is cool. If we take a band like Fogus, the first time you hear a song you find it funny. But after a while you find it so good that you don’t even thing it’s funny anymore, it’s just that good."
In "Krigaren Eg Ikkje Kjende" ("Warrior Unknown") there’s something strange happening after 40 seconds. Did you have King Diamond as a guest vocalist there for a second or two?
"Do you think of the synth line?"
Upppppsssss. I hope none of you saw me blushing there. Back on track, this last mentioned track and the album as a whole is very varied. There’re just so many different things incorporated into the music. Do you think this will help Enslaved gaining new fans, making the album more accessible, and at the same time making Enslaved more interested for the older fans?
"I don’t know if it is more accessible. I think it’s too special to sell, let’s say 100.000. But of course it’ll be interesting for the older Enslaved fans, no doubt."
I guess it will be exiting to hear what newer fans have to say about the album, as they will see it from a different point of view.
"Yes, that’s right. And it has been like that all along the way, something I consider to be positive."
Throughout the album there are small things here, there and everywhere. Are small things which makes you go ‘huh, what was that?’ conscious from Enslaved’s side, or are they just coincidences?
"Oh, they are basically there for the sake of the structure. If you take that wind in "Krigaren Eg Ikkje Kjende", it’s meant to be a ‘wake up’, now something’s going to happen. And it does."
I think it’s cool with such small things, and I believe some do it only for the sake of experimentation. So, it’s great to hear that you’re conscious.
"Yes, it must feel natural. It has to be conscious and to fit into the structure."
We move over to "Entrance – Escape", and my first thought is ‘what the fuck is such a song doing on an Enslaved album’?
"As I asked earlier, why should you put limits to a song, or music in general? This was a song Ivar made. We liked it, thus it became a part of the new album. I see that you find it peculiar, but to us it’s not like that at all."
I still don’t understand this track, and especially the beginning of the track with its psychedelic twists. I guess my ‘problem’ is that this song is this different.
"Well, it’s not the only track which differs, though it is the most special track, I see that. I think this track suits just fine. The first track is like that, the second is different from the first, and now the third is different from both the other. The result is that you’ll think this is an interesting and varied album."
I haven’t asked about lyrics this time, and nor did I intend to do it either. But, I asked Grutle if he could just tell us some about the whole of the lyrics. Well, what happened is this.
"I can tell you something about each lyric, in brief.
"Ormgard II – Kvalt I kysk Høgsong" ("The Hive II – Strangled By Purity") is basically the same as "Ormgard I" (The Hive"), which is a critic of the materialistic society.
"Krigaren Eg Ikkje Kjende" deals more with the forces inside of yourself. There’s a bit astrology involved, where you have the forces of Jupiter against Uranus, or Odin against Thor. In other words, strength against wisdom. You don’t solve the problems only by fighting. You have to know when to fight, why you fight and if you could do things differently.
"Frøyas Smykke" ("Freya’s Necklace") is an instrumental. Great lyric (agree – RoyED).
"Stjerneheimen" ("StarHome") is Ivar’s thing with the runes. It’s very complicated and deals with the meaning of various runes.
The same goes for "Æges Draum".
"Større Enn Tid – Tyngre Enn Natt" is on the same track as the two previous songs. But I think it clearer. If everything goes to hell, you still keep your head above water if you believe strongly in yourself. It’s like the material you is not most important as long as your mind is clear and strong. It quite spiritual. To use a picture – ‘even though you should be tortured, you will not feel the pain if your mind is strong’.
"Daudnigekvida" is Dirge Rep’s lyric. It deals with the same as the above. It’s the tale of a dead man, and what he thinks when he’s laying there.
"Entrance – Escape" is Roy’s lyric. The theme is that you choose yourself no matter environment. You’re not there, you’re here! It’s individualistic.
You could say that "Æges Draum" is pretty free philosophy. Imagine when your mind is at ‘seventy and thousand feet below’ how you then view things. Nothing matter, but at the same time everything matters. If you see a pink elephant passing by, that’s just the way it is. Everything and nothing is possible.
"Det Endelege Riket" deals a bit with the same thing."
I feel the lyrics are different compared to earlier. They are metaphoric to a higher degree than anything you’ve done before, seeing it from my point of view.
"I think all our earlier lyrics have been metaphoric, as well as personal. The main difference has probably been that the starting-point has been different since we’ve related way more to the actual Viking-themes.
The main philosophy has always been the same. But you develop, and you think more about things than you did 6-7 years ago. Like, now we see things more from inside and out, while earlier we saw things more from the outside and in. Like, what did the powers of Loke, Fenriz and others mean to us.
The you are in focus now."