MINNERIKET – interview

MINNERIKET – interview

Described as Norwegian Romantic Black Metal, Minneriket is the work of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Stein Akslen, who created the project for as much a philosophical and spiritual channeling as a musical outlet. Drawing on influences as various as punk and goth yet steeped in the intensity of the early Norwegian black metal scene, Minneriket came into existence in 2014.
In the below interview you can read what Stein is up to lately and find out more details about his intriguing music

Introduce your band, and describe your latest release:
My name is Stein Akslen and I play in the Norwegian romantic black metal band Minneriket. Minneriket is a one-man studio band with roots in the old-school Norwegian black metal and branches far into experimental, avantgarde and goth music. Minneriket utilizes a lot of classical composition patterns, diverse vocal arrangements, deeply personal lyrics and ice-cold riffs.

In 2022 Minneriket released the majestic “Gjennom meg går ingen til hvile», an album consisting of 6 ruthless metal tracks and 4 instrumentals, containing more than 20 session musicians/vocalists and it took almost 6 years to complete.

What’s the hardest part about being a band in this day and age?
Since Minneriket isn’t a traditional band, and I only collaborate with the very best people, most of the drama of ordinary bands doesn’t concern me. On the flip-side, being a one-man band means doing all the work yourself. Since I also release the music myself, I am in charge of writing, composing and recording everything, mixing and producing the music, planning artwork, promotional work, release and distribution and just about anything you can imagine.

Since I’m mostly interested in creating music and not building an empire, I find the hardest being able to put time and effort into the administrative work. It bores me.

When did you realise that your project had the potential to be much more than just a fun idea?
When all the pre-orders of the debut album in 2014 sold out even without even having released a single, I understood there would be some interest from the audience. Even if I approach this very business-like, Minneriket is still a band making music mainly for one person: me. If I let go of that, or treat it as something other than what you call a “fun idea”, I think I would lose a lot of what makes me enjoy creating music under this banner. So it’s still a fun idea – but I’m also glad to see it have evolved into something more!

Tell us about your latest release, why should we check it out?
Gjennom meg går ingen til hvile” really cemented my departure from traditional Norwegian black metal. Six years in the making, and with lyrics dating back all the way to 2003, Gjennom meg går ingen til hvile was an extremely ambitious project to make, and there was a lot of obstacles along the way.

The goals for the album’s music were huge, and I included several session musicians to bring forth this rather complex vision, and for the first time I included instruments such as cello, strings, piano and saxophone, and I collaborated with different vocalists with diverse styles such as opera, clean vocals, throatsinging and a choir.

Due to the graphic nature of the artwork the album was hard to promote, and even reviews got taken down from social media. The artwork on Spotify is the censored version, but the original version is available to purchase online in a very limited edition.

How does a song typically come together for you?
I take a long time to create. It takes years of trial and error, shaping the songs, throwing away ideas and starting over. I usually start with a word, a feeling or a sentence, and let the music will itself to life based on this.

There’s never a real plan, until there is. What I mean is that the music takes me where it wants to go. Words come to me, and are joined in with feelings, and together they create sounds. From there I try to dive deeper into it, finding what is the essence of the idea, and then I map it out how it would work as a song. That’s why Minneriket rarely have a traditional song structure, and why the songs are more like stories with a beginning and an end rather than the usual verse, chorus and bridge.

How would you describe your sound to an unfamiliar reader?
I create what I call romantic black metal. It is a gothic blend of black metal with punk-vibes and heavy atmosphere. The sound of black metal is often hard to accept for outsiders, but in my mind I try to create music which is accessible and can be appreciated for both musicality and artistic integrity without removing the sharp edges of the mother genre.

I aim to make music which rewards the listener for listening thoroughly and really focusing on the music – there should be plenty of details to the advanced audience, but I also want the music to have a melodic, almost primitive approach. It keeps it more real and grounded.

What do you want listeners to take away from listening to your band?
I make music mainly for listeners who want to invest in the listening experience. That means I don’t aim to write short songs for your favourite playlist, but rather have a holistic and conceptual approach. I wish for the listener to isolate his- or herself, turn of the light and just exist surrounded by the music.

Meditate on it, don’t headbang like a monkey on speed. Focus on the atmosphere.

Where would you really like to tour that you haven’t done so yet, and why?
Minneriket is a one-man studio project and will not be a touring band.

How would you say that the sound of your band has progressed over the years?
It’s always changing. The first albums were pretty raw and ruthless black metal, but you could still hear the more atmospheric approach. The music evolved further into something more experimental and more riff-based, before the heavy classically inspired Gjennom meg går ingen til hvile. The next one will be different again. I have no wish to release the same album 14 times in a row like Darkthrone.

How excited are you for 2023, and what can fans expect from you?
I’m well on the way with new music, and will be working on it the rest of the year. It’s shaping up to be a heavier album, simpler perhaps but still with a lot of variations. All guitars, keys and cellos are completed, and drums are on their way. Be sure to check the Minneriket website at www.minneriket.com for the latest official news when the time comes, and follow Minneriket on social media for current updates.

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