Eight years have passed since Dimmu Borgir’s last studio album, “Abrahadabra”. After a long pause away from the scene and a live album which framed up the symphonic essence of Shagrath and Silenoz’s band, the Norwegians announced the new album “Eonian” expected in early May and we’ve been lucky enough to exchange a few words with the guitarist, at the promo day in Milan a few weeks ago. Silenoz was extremely friendly and told us something about what happened recently, about what’s life for a metal band today and obviously about their new work. Enjoy!
Thank you for the opportunity to be here and chat with you, we’re glad of this. We have listened to the new album “Eonian”, which is finally coming out… what are your feelings, would you describe it as a natural development in your career or something completely different?
I think you summed it up perfectly, because yes, it’s different but it also has many elements which we are known for. We can link it to the older albums, but it is also the expression of today’s Dimmu: after eight years since the last album we put new elements in our music, otherwise it would have been weird to stay on the same path. Yes, I think the music we’re making now is a natural evolution of the previous one, it might sound as a cliché but it’s the truth. And our feelings about this is that it’s great to see that we’re still capable of managing the styles which made us famous and incorporate new elements. I think this is the very essence of the band, we are known for this and we’re making steps forward with each album.
We heard some electro/industrial sounds here and there… did you take inspiration from other artists or… ?
No, not directly. It’s something we don’t like to do, but now that we’re a bit older and more open-minded in listening to other music genres compared to when we were sixteen, it’s something that helps, when you’re creative, because it revolves in your head and it comes out in a different expression compared to what you took inspiration from. It’s not about copying ideas in the band, but when you take your guitar and you begin putting something down you have the feeling of expressing something different about yourself, something you love creating.
What can you tell us about the writing process for this album? You kept us waiting for so long… you created quite a bit of suspense!
We are that typical band who doesn’t love to write music while on tour, because we only think about playing live and do our best. And then, at the end of every tour, we take some time off. This time, obviously, the break has been longer, but we have already started working on new music since 2012/13. We wanted to keep a low profile in order to try and recreate that “mystic” halo around the band. We wrote some drafts, but we knew we were starting a pretty important work, so we had to be able to look forward. Time flows quickly. Only in the last three or four years we focused on creating some new pieces, from which the new songs were born. I know that from the outside it looks like we haven’t done anything for all this time, but it’s all part of our idea… true, we kept you in a lot of suspense, but at least we’re putting an album out before Rammstein and Tool!
You have put much melody in this new album, there’s a lot of orchestras and choirs. In your opinion, what your fans will think about this?
I hope and believe that they will find something they like or, even better, they love! I don’t expect everyone to be open towards what we’re doing with this new album, the first times you listen to it there’s a lot of elements, a lot to digest – or at least I hope it will be like this, from our fans’ perspective – all the time and care we put into it… they had the patience to wait for eight years, we know it’s a lot, but if they’ll take their time to go beyond their first impression of “Eonian” they’ll find all the links with the past, to their favourite Dimmu albums, until now. I hope everyone will be curious and open-minded.
Aren’t you araid that they will think of this as a loss of power and strength for Dimmu?
No, or better, we can’t obviously control what people think, but if we didn’t believe strongly in making something big and new that our fans would have loved, we wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t have made this. We’re not one of those built up bands who record an album, go on tour, record another album, go on tour and again… luckily we have never been that type of band. We put everything we had in this album. We hope the fans will recognize the huge work behind hit and even if they won’t appreciate or even hate some songs, well, one of the best things about music is that everyone can express their opinions. I do that as well with my favourite bands!
If you had to rate Dimmu Borgir’s albums, which one would be your absolute favourite?
Impossible to say, but… well, obviously I’d say “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”, “Death Cult Armageddon” and this last “Eonian”, because they’re the strongest, the ones that stand the test of time. And if I’m here now, talking about our new album, it’s because we strongly believe it’s a great work, otherwise we would be still working on it!
And your favourite Dimmu songs?
This is the hardest question… in the same way, it’s the songs that can’t be left outside of the shows, the same songs that our fans love the most: “Mourning Palace”, “Puritania”, “Progenies…”. It’s fantastic when we play them live, feeling you’re still yourself and see that people still love these pieces is the best feeling in the world, unbeatable.
Speaking about orchestra and choirs, you did a great show some years ago atthe Oslo Spektrum, spectacular one. Do you think you’ll do something similar in the future?
Currently, no, but at the same time we’re open to everything that will come, without limits, so never say never. Now we’re focusing on the so-called regular shows, but in the future, if the circumstances will be right, we will keep it mind as a viable option. It was magnificent to be on stage with a real orchestra and a real choir, and we now for sure it was something they loved doing, something completely different from what they’re used to, it was a real challenge for them. It was also spectacular to play Wacken with them, in front of 90 thousand people, in the open, for they always played indoors… they flew there straight from Norway and they proved how good and professional they are.
This summer you will play various festivals in Europe and one in the United States, can you tell us something about this?
Having not played live since 2014 and starting again wth festivals is like jumping straight in the lion’s mouth. We’re one of those bands who need very long soundchecks before playing. During festivals you practically can’t do soundchecks, so it’s like stepping out of our comfort zone, a challenge, so we told ourselves: it’s the right time, let’s go and do what’s expected from us. Our shows will be a little different from what we’re planning for the tour, but we decided to start with festivals, with a more selecrive setlist, so that people will perceive it’s been our choice, because we want to be there and not only because it’s our job.
And what about the tour?
We’re working on the dates right now, we’d like to visit Russia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, besides Europe and the States, where we’ll be already in August. The tour is expected in November and December and all the dates will be announced soon. Many things will happen this year, we created many expectations and we know it, we hope to satisfy them all!
What can you say about your many lineup changes?
One of the reasons why we changed our lineup so frequently in the past is because what we do requires a great sacrifice, which not everyone is ready to make. It’s understandable, every one of us has family and we often have to be far from home, because that’s the priority our job needs. It’s a brutal path, the one we chose, it’s not for everyone and we respect the ones who did otherwise. But to maintain the band level as we want it to be, we need everyone to be ready to make these sacrifices.
This leads to a spontaneous question, what’s life like in Norway, for a metal musician?
To be honest, sometimes it’s not simple, because we don’t have a regular income to count on, as a bank employee has, for example. We get paid royalties twice a year, and like everyone we have everyday expenses and taxes to pay. During the long pause period we sometimes had to find side jobs out of the band, because without tours and new albums the income was lower, it’s natural. It’s not always easy but thinking about our real job, about the band, we know we’re lucky to make a living by doing what we love. It’s a privilege, even if it’s hard to stay away from our families, even if during tours we’re tired between flights, waiting times at the airport, sleep deprivation and everything else… but we’re happy to be together, we try to make the best out of every moment.