RAGNAROK – There is just one way to hell
To celebrate the release of Ragnarok’s latest ‘Malediction’ we sent Eternal Terror scribe Peter Loftus to the Gates of Hell to talk to drummer/vocalist Jontho. Here’s what he found out…
Your latest album ‘Malediction’ is due out on Agonia Records Nov 6th. Tell us a little about it.
We are very happy with "Malediction". We have tried to look back to "In Nomine Satanas" and "Blackdoor Miracle" and combine the special Ragnarok stamp on these albums with the energy and the brutality of "Collectors of the King" and the old albums. The result is a seriously brutal album, but also an album with a lot of variations and a lot of melody. The album is a brutal, extreme and annihilating attack on your eardrums, but still you hopefully will be able to pick up new details every time you listen to it. We think this is an album that grows on you after the tenth listening rather than getting boring after the tenth listening.
Do you enter the studio with a solid idea of what you are trying to achieve (in terms of the sound of the record and the basics of the tracks) or let things happen organically? How does the writing and recording process work?
Everything was practically done when we entered the studio. We had eleven rehearsed songs that we recorded. Bolverk comes up with the songs and then him and me work on the arrangements and finish the songs in the rehearsal room.
We record with Devo from Marduk in his studio Endarker. Devo understands Black Metal and he understands Ragnarok. He knows what we are aiming for and he is a wiz in the studio. This time around we spent about two weeks recording, which gave Devo about two weeks to mix. That’s a decent amount of time for mixing and mastering and we think it shows in the new album. "Malediction" sounds killer.
Where do the ideas for the lyrics come from?
Bolverk writes the lyrics, and there is a fair amount of hate, violence, Satanism, occultism, black magic and blasphemy in them. The ideas mostly come from ideas and philosophy he picks up from things he reads that brew in his twisted mind until a lyric comes out. Very often there is a lot of research for a few lines of lyrics. Other times a lyric can be spawned by something from the media or some of the shit that happens in our lives.
How important is it for the band’s output to reflect and spread the ideologies of the individual members?
That’s very important, especially mine. Also our basic common ideologies and feelings are spread out through this band. A lot insanity for all of us personally that you can see and feel though our music
The cover is pretty amazing – what can you tell us about the artist and the concept behind the piece?
The cover is made by a Polish guy who calls himself Perversor and is close with Filip from Agonia. He came up with several different pieces of artwork but when I finally came up with the title the creativity of this guy just exploded and this was what we got out of it. All the elements go hand in hand with the tile and the essence of the lyrics and also with our mad minds. It represents the true meaning of "Malediction" (A curse). Simply told, as a curse – don’t have sympathy or regrets and don’t care if a child, a mother dies. When the "malediction" is released from the caster nothing can stop it.
What pisses you off most about modern life/the world?
There are too many followers in this world. Too many people just follow others instead of thinking for themselves. Don’t be a follower, be a leader instead. Follow your instincts and make your own decisions about your own life. Praise individual thought.
You know that a plane is going to crash and everyone on it will be killed. You can choose the passengers. Who would you like to put on this plane?
Oh man, there are a lot of people I would like to put on that plane. A lot of them know who they are and those who don’t might find out. I do however think that it’s in everybody’s best interest to not mention any actual names!
Seven albums and 18 years in, it seems to me that the profile of the band is lower than one would expect, given the quality of your output and how highly those who know you speak of your work…
We agree with you obviously. We believe that Ragnarok would have deserved to be bigger. We are still working hard though. We are never giving up, and hopefully "Malediction" will give us the attention we deserve. There have been a lot of factors working against Ragnarok. Poor promotion and lazy record companies have definitely not been an advantage. With our new label, Agonia, those thinks seems to pick up though. Agonia have worked hard for Ragnarok so far and we are very happy with them. We think this is a partnership to believe in and we are going to work even harder in return.
Tell us about the move from Regain to Agonia…
Regain wasn’t going to release any new albums for two years, so that obviously wasn’t the right label for us anymore. We shopped around a bit for a new record deal, but Agonia worked really hard to sign Ragnarok. They are fans of the band and we have faith in them giving us what we deserve in terms of promotion. So far Agonia has worked hard for Ragnarok, and we are very happy with them. Hopefully we have a team around the band now that will last for many years.
Obviously, it takes time, money and energy to play in a band – what keeps you going and makes the whole endeavour worthwhile?
We are just metalheads like all the other metalheads, you know. We love the music and we thrive to play live. We believe strongly in what we are doing and it’s an outlet for all our demons. We would play in Ragnarok even if it wasn’t a recording and world touring band.
Which is more important to you – playing live or creating and recording the songs? Why?
Definitely playing live. It’s great to record our music, but it’s the meeting between music and audience that is the moment of truth. You never get away with a half-assed show. We give everything all our shows and we thrive on the energy we get from the audience. It’s during the shows the music comes alive and playing live is what music is all about.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment we are working on booking European and American tours. 2013 will probably take Ragnarok over a large part of the world. We have many places we need to return to as well as many new places to level to the ground. Several festivals are already booked, among them are Metal Legacy Festival in Sweden, Messe des Morts Festival in Montreal Canada, The Kings Of Black Metal Festival in Germany and Wacken Festival also in Germany. We are also hoping to record a video for "Malediction".
Any final words for our readers?
Thank you for your support and for being one of the guys together with our fans that makes us stronger!
‘There is just one way to hell- Ragnarok!’