TSJUDER – Legion Helvete
To celebrate the return of Norwegian Black Metal stalwarts Tsjuder and the imminent release of their fourth full-length album ‘Legion Helvete’, Eternal Terror scribe Peter Loftus made a journey to the frozen north to get the latest from frontman Nag.
I’m one of many out there celebrating the triumphant return of Tsjuder. What made you want to start playing together again after a hiatus of roughly five years?
When we put the band on ice, we all knew that someday we would get back together again. We stayed in touch and after a while we started talking about starting up again. During the time when Tsjuder was on hold, we all got inspiration from playing in other bands, and with other people. This gave us all new motivation to start making new Tsjuder material, and get back together again. I also think all of us felt that something was "lost" when not playing in Tsjuder. It’s been our lifework, and it was time to continue it.
Did you feel that Tsjuder had unfinished business or something left to prove? Has your mission as a band changed from what it was back in the early 90’s?
No, we just felt a longing for playing together. Our "mission" has always been to make the most raw and brutal music possible and to create something that we like, rather than make anything for anyone else. We still have the same inspiration, ideas and opinions that we’ve always have, and we will continue on the same path as we’ve always done.
Tell us about the forthcoming album ‘Legion Helvete’. (I’d imagine that many will feel it is your best yet…)
Well, yes, of course we feel that it’s our best album, but for the audience, it’s up to them to decide. The album has the same feeling as our previous albums, and musically it’s in the same vein. Like on, especially "Desert Northern Hell", we have a lot of variety in the music. We have thrash, death and punk riffs, along with "standard" black metal riffs. I think this gives a good dynamic to the music, and album.
The drums for the album were recorded in DuB Studio by Endre Kirkesola, who’s also done Carpathian Forest, Blood Red Throne and Tyrann, along with a bunch of other bands. The rest of the album was recorded and mixed by Harald Værnor, who has done everything after "Kill for Satan". The sound has improved, but I think that we still have a unique "Tsjuder sound".
I’d agree. I think it is fair to say that it is a pretty typical Tsjuder album – did you spend much time discussing a sound and direction for the album or just set out to lay down the best tracks possible in the inimitable Tsjuder style?
No, we did not spend much time in advance discussing the sound. We have always used two reference albums: "Pure Holocaust" and "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas", along with a few others. So, that’s always the starting point, even though the album doesn’t sound the same, it’s got many references to those albums. Musically we just make what we feel like, and there’s no discussion about how each song will turn out. They just turn out the way they do.
I understand that you (Nag) and Draughlin are the core members of the band, but was delighted to see Anti-Christian behind the kit again. Do you think his approach has become an important element of the Tsjuder sound?
Yes, without any doubt. We’re a trio, and every one of us has a special position in the band, and makes the band complete. Even though Draugluin and I make the music, and have been in the band since the beginning, Anti-Christian contributes a lot, and forms the songs with his drumming. This is a stable line-up, and it will probably stay the same for the lifetime of Tsjuder.
Would you say that the BM scene has changed since the release of ‘Desert Northern Hell’? If so, in what ways and for better or worse?
I think there’s been a bigger gap between what I would refer to as real Black Metal, and all the other shit. In the late 90s, beginning of 2000 it was just a spaghetti of music styles, and much of it was considered to be Black Metal. Now when you talk about Black Metal, people seem to understand that you’re talking about old school, hardcore Black Metal. So, I think we’ve come to a new era where Black Metal is Black Metal (or at least it’s better than what it’s been the last decade).
I know that Tsjuder are proud to be referred to as True Norwegian Black Metal. Why do you think Norway are world leaders in the BM genre? Do you think that there are elements in the Norwegian psyche that attract musicians and fans to this type of music?
Norway was one of the early countries who had any Black Metal bands. Personally I don’t see Norway as leading as there are bands from, for example, Sweden and Finland who have given me lots of inspiration over the years. I think they are pioneers on the same level as some Norwegian bands, if not even more. But, Norwegian bands tend to have a special sound and feeling around their music. I think that’s what differentiates Norwegian Black Metal from bands from other countries. I know some bands from Italy and Germany for example have stated that they play Norwegian Black Metal. Regardless of whether the music is good or not, you can hear that the band isn’t from Norway. The reason for this distinct sound must come from our state of mind, nature and inheritance.
What has been the highlight of your musical career to date?
I’m not sure. I think it must be one of the concerts we did on the 2005 tour with Carpathian Forest. I remember Munich was extremely good, with a small stage, and the audience more or less up on stage with us. I think we might have some new highlights pretty soon. It seems the interest around Tsjuder is pretty intense now, and I hope we’re able to do some spectacular shit.
What does the future hold for Tsjuder?
Actually we’ve started to write riffs for our 5th album. No songs are done yet, but I think we’ll start putting together new material quite soon. Other than that we’re doing two concerts in Italy on the 4th and 5th of November, then Kings of Black Metal in April, and then Maryland Deathfest in May. That’s the only confirmed gigs at the moment.