It's a brand new Immortal, totally metamorphosed that comes back with their fifth opus... An album which will make you discover a new face in the evolution of the group, which should quickly place them among the best black * heavy * metal bands of this end of century... won't it Abbath?
Tell us a bit about this new album which presents a completely new Immortal...
- "We concentrated a lot more on the music and the production, now it's better, more powerful, and the music is more melancholic. Furthermore, the subjects we've been writing about are forming a more homogeneous ensemble now. We reached a new step in our evolution; our goal was to progress and I think we succeeded in this way. This time I composed all the music by myself, without help of anybody. When it was Demonaz and I, we used to cooperate concerning the general song structures and lyrics. Now, I'm also doing the guitars... We rehearsed a lot with Ares and we get along very well. The fact that we now are using some recording equipment during the entire development of the songs, makes the task easier for us. Then we can look forward to all the other ideas that are coming up and things are getting better that way."
By now, Demonaz has definitely left the band, what's the line-up then?
- "Demonaz hasn't declared that
he has left the band forever, but we must be realistic; as time goes, we will
improve our technique, while he will stay at the same point. That means he will
be unable to reach our level the day he decides to come back again. Anyway,
it's highly improbable. He's got his own project now, which is quite far from
metal. It's very special and it's not really my cup of tea. But it is also
necessary to mention that it's extremely well done.
Besides that, he's searching for a record company and he's building his own studio, which is called "Visionary". Therefore he'll be among us for the tour that begins in April. I'm pleased with that, we are having good times together, he is still one of my best and closest friends and he will always be. We accomplished so much things together in the past... However, he's the manager of Immortal now, Immortal still means a lot to him, even though he's not part of the band anymore. On the previous tour (in -98), Ares of Aeternus handled the bass, but we are now searching for a permanent guitarist because I want to concentrate on the bass playing myself. Not to play it on rehearsals or for compositions doesn't obstruct me, but on stage I really miss it!
Right now, we haven't found a guitar player that's good enough. I don't say that I'm a brilliant guitar player but I got my own style and it's pretty hard to adapt. For the tour that'll begin on April 27th, the line-up will remain the same as it was, in other words, Ares and me."
I've heard that Peter Tägtgren contacted Osmose by himself, because he really wanted to produce the album, is that true?
- "Effectively, Peter contacted us before the recording of our last album, but everything was already on the run. He did the same offer again some months later: To record the new album in his studio in Sweden. As you may know, it's very difficult to find a good producer and a good sound engineer in our town (Bergen). We knew Peter through his work for other bands and we knew he was a big fan of Immortal, so we thought he had a lot of good things to add to the band. We sent a demo to him and when we entered the studio in his home, everything was ready for a quick start. The recording took only 20 days, so it's needless to say that we cooperated very well. Anyway, we don't like to rehearse in the studio, and we always manage to do nothing but the recording works there."
Is the band still rehearsing at the hellish frequency of 8 or 10 hours a day?
- "No, we don't do that anymore! By now, we only work 2 or 3 hours a day. We prefer spending a lot of time working at home, however, I spend all my time alone to compose. I like to bring new ideas and stuff at each rehearsal we're doing. We never compose during the practices. We try to play as often as possible, but not as long as we did in the past. On a rehearsal session, only the two first hours are actually productive, and then if we play for a long time, ideas and creativity are all gone."
This fifth album may look a bit misleading for the die-hard fans, as it's got strong heavy metal influences. Aren't you afraid of being drowned in the mass of bands that evolve in the same direction as you, not being as brutal as you were?
- "Maybe be our brand new fans will be disappointed... Whatever happens, those that have been supporting us since the beginning will probably enjoy this record, as it's far richer than the previous ones. To evolve, we had to play a definitely more evaluated music. Take Slayer for example, after their "Reign In Blood" album they didn't follow the same recipe or rule, they didn't release "Reign In Blood" part 2 either, but they stuck with the style they were into, we do the same... Some fans will be disappointed after the first listening, but as time goes, they'll like it. To quote Slayer once more, the first time I listened to "South of Heaven" I was deceived, but the more I listened to it, the more it was pleasing. It's necessary to give yourself the possibilities to progress from album to album, and not being locked up in a monotonous routine. I'm a very open-minded person, but I think we should keep the old atmosphere and spirit alive. The spirit, which prevailed when bands like Celtic Frost and Bathory began. We don't want to follow any musical trend. We prefer to stand close to these old values, and I know a lot of people will appreciate this...."
Do you agree when I say that this new album isn't essentially composed of tracks in the vein of "Mountain of might" or even "Blashyrkh"?
- "Yes! None of the new tracks sounds like any of these two songs. The songs don't divide themselves into 2 parts, which contains slow ones on one hand, and fast ones on the other. Each track shows many different sides and faces, so that everything is getting richer than the previous ones. In the past, it occurred that we entered the studio without even listening to the songs we had just composed. I really don't think it's a good way to work. We are spending our time in the studio because we can't choose the right tracks and we're loosing some time rehearsing them for nothing. This new album is dedicated to our fans that have been with us since the beginning and understand our music. Otherwise, this album should be a good opportunity for people who don't know Immortal, to discover the band and therefore start listening to all that we have done in the past."
What are your immediate projects just after the release of "At The Heart Of Winter"?
- "We have a project, and it's to record a live album at the end of the upcoming tour, if the conditions are right and we have enough songs that we like. Maybe this year... wait & see... At the moment, I'm composing material for a new album, and I hope we can enter the studio to record it before the end of the year. One thing that's for sure, is that we will manage to get the live album out before the new studio recording. After all the troubles we've had with Demonaz's injury, we really want to look forward. Moreover, we have now a good drummer, and we want to leave the past behind. Now everything is running very well. Yeah, it's true that we have to find a new guitarist, I'm keeping high hopes that Ares will accept to stay, he's really a great person and a brilliant musician. Of course I can become the guitarist, but Demonaz's solos are too difficult for me. We really need a permanent guitar player, which will allow us to make some more concerts. We would also like to play in the U.S. soon. We want to go everywhere, to places like east Europe, Mexico and Australia... We have plenty of fans in these countries and we surely don't want to let them down."
Speaking of that, you created your own fan -club by yourselves, how does it works today?
- "We are too busy to run this fan-club by ourselves now. Until very recently, it was a female friend of us who run it, but she went to a foreign country for her studies and no one took over place. Maybe it's time for our fans to run the club by themselves. Right now, we are getting help to create an internet site, which will allow us to keep our fans aware of what is going on concerning Immortal, and communicate with them."