DIMMU BORGIR Chess With the Abyss

dimmu3‘’Abrahadabra’’ is the title of the upcoming Dimmu Borgir’s full-length. While their previous record ‘’ In Sorte Diaboli’’ was, more or less, done in the typical band’s way, already the first track ‘’Gateways’’ has unveiled some new and fresh elements in Borgir’s music. Since ICS Vortex and Mustis are not a part of the band anymore it is very interesting how their forthcoming effort is going to sound. Already with the first video Shagrath & co. have annouced that they are going to explore some new dimensions of visuals and sound. There’s no doubt that ‘’Abrahadabra’’ is the top-priority for Nuclear Blast!

Joakim Luetke who drew the cover art said that it was inspired by Lovecraftian elder gods, tell us something about that topic and your fascination about Lovecraft.
Yeah, absolutely, I mean it’s basically Lovecraft and the cover is also based on occultism and Alister Crowley, too. So, it’s kind of link together: of the visions of the band and the lyrical content of the record, mixed together with our dark imaginations, with the music so basically we wanted to find something most suitable that will also go with the content of the record so that’s how we created that cover artwork and also layout for the booklet.

„Abrahadabra“ is word that was initially used by Crowley, is that in connection with the lyrical concept of the upcoming material?
Yeah, I mean, as I said some of the lyrics are dealing with the occult and they’re linked with the title of the album „Abrahadabra“. But, since we have already done a concept album on the previous record, this time we decided not to limit ourselves, to move forward into new direction, so each song stands on its own feet – it’s basically dealing with the different subjects. So, it’s the new start for the band, this is the new era of Dimmu Borgir, it’s linked with karma and reincarnation. It’s also about the everlasting flame of Dimmu Borgir, the strength of the band.

I would also like to ask you about your extravagant promo pictures since you have went over the top in image this time.
It’s based upon the fact that we are Norwegians and that we come from Scandinavia. We used this so called Nordic approach to visualize the music. It goes in hand with hand where we live and from where we are come from. And it’s also based more on Nordic aspects. We didn’t want only to change our musical direction but we wanted visual aspect to be different, too. We are not afraid of trying out some new ideas, no matter what people say about it. It’s very important to develop into some new direction and try to not repeat ourselves not to much.

You have used the biggest orchestra in the history of the band, tell us something about that experience? I have heard that you will play one gig with full orchestra, tell us something about it.
Yes, we have a plan like to next point to achieve, sometime during next year, to do one show with orchestra and the real choir, in the castle in Norway. That’s the idea. And the working relationship that we did on upcoming record with these people from orchestra worked up really, really great this time and also we found a good way for working and communicating together, but to make of show like that needs a lot of pre-work to be done and a lot of people have to be evolved and it’s a very expensive process. It’s not 100 percent confirmed yet, but, we are hoping to make it happen.

The first track from the forthcoming record definitely sounds different from what you have done before with Dimmu Borgir. ”Gateways” sounds very orchestral, bombastic but also mysterious in a way. Is the entire upcoming issue going to sound different comparing to Borgir’s previous full-lengths? And there’s also a track entitled “Dimmu Borgir”…
Yes, absolutely. I mean, you cannot judge only from ”Gateways” since, you know, that song doesn’t represent the entire material from the new album, but it’s definitely direction into something little bit different. We decided to have a song entitled “Dimmu Borgir” because the band is at the scene for 17 years, and since we are live band, we wanted to make a song that will link the band together with the crowd, and it’s a very touchy title in a way, there are all elements there that Dimmu Borgir are known for. We noticed that it would be really great idea to called this song by the name of the band. And also the lyrical content is also about the forces of the northern light and the ever-lasting flame of Dimmu Borgir.

dimmu2Agnete Maria Forfang Kjølsrud (Djerv) has done a perfect job when it comes to female vocals…
Yes, she is from Norway and I basically discover her voice from the band Animal Alpha, it’s a band that I really like. I was looking on the Internet and checking out her videos and I noticed that she has a really strong appearance and the character of her voice and we have some mutual friends so I was asked here if she wanted to be a part of one song of Dimmu Borgir to get contrast from my voice so we invited her in studio and she did one really, really, fantastic job on ”Gateways”.
„Abrahadabra“ is top priority of Nuclear Blast in this year, what are your personal feelings and expectations about it, can Dimmu go even further in popularity?
Well, it’s hard to say. In first place we are making the music for ourselves but I am sure that we can reach some other people that haven’t discovered us before due to the fact that we incorporate so many different styles into our music. It’s not just pure black or heavy metal, there’s everything in there! So I am sure that a lot of people who are not usually into the genre that we play… that they will be still able to find something what they like so I would like to think there are no limits in our way where we can go. Of course, the extreme music is a little bit limited but I still believe that we can reach higher goals together and it’s also very important to have a record company who is believing in you to promote the record.

What’s your opinion if the same people like Borgir’s music and for example the music of some Power or Heavy Metal bands? (for example if somebody likes Dimmu Borgir and Blind Guardian or Helloween, too)
Yeah, it is totally fine with me. It’s different ways of the discovering the music. And some people are into it just enjoying listening to the music. But there’s also another side of Dimmu Borgir that you will discover if you dive into the concept and you can really be part of the underworld, so to speak. There’s the visual aspect and there are the lyrics so there’s another world waiting to be discovered. But the either way is fine with me, of how people are getting in the music. It’s pretty ok if you are also into different kinds of music because we also like all kind of different musical styles. It’s definitely good to be open-minded and not being one dimensional.

There are already two tours announced, one with Enslaved and Sahg and the second one with Korn. The one with Korn caused a lot of controversy, so give us your comment…
Well, first of all, it’s more about the timing, that we have the new album coming in the same time when they have new album out, so instead to tour separately we decided to link the tours together. I know that there’s a big contrast between our music but I don’t see the problem because it happens all the time when underground or extreme metal bands play the huge festivals. There are also different kinds of bands so I really don’t see a big problem here. If you don’t like either Dimmu Borgir or Korn, then just ignore it, and don’t listen to it, or you can go somewhere else, but we are trying some new things and we are not afraid to tour with Korn even if some people don’t like it. But, its all about moving forward and taking some chances in life.

As a matter of fact your country-mates Keep of Kalessin just recently took a place on Euro-vision competition. They didn’t pass the first level of national Norwegian competition but it was very interesting to saw one Black Metal band taking the part of such sort of event. What’s your point of view about this? Can we also expect Dimmu Borgir to be a part of this kind of musical competition?
Yeah, I mean, I don’t see the problem that they shouldn’t. I think that it’s good to take some chances and not being afraid of trying some new things and I have a lot of respect for Keep of Kalessin doing that so if we are going to do that or now only the time will tell. But to take a place on this competition is also a good way to promote your own band, to expose yourself to bigger crowd and also some ordinary people could watch you on television and that’s great.

Obviously your pseudonym is Shagrath but if you now would have a chance to return to the past would you also choose that particular name or something like that or would you used your real name Stian? It seems that for some bands pseudonyms are playing quite important role…
Yes, definitely I will use the character to represent my art, because I don’t think that my real name goes together with the musical content in what I am doing. You’re kind of releasing the beast within yourself when you are in the band setting so I think its very good to have pseudonym – it’s like extended version of yourself. It’s very important for our type of music.

Answers by Shagrath
Interview was done by Marko Miranović