Satan Berserker Mongo [2003-02-15]The time when 666 International was released will never be forgotten. It stands as one of the most innovative albums in modern black metal, and is perhaps still way ahead of its time; no band has come near the combined strength of black metal and the electronic effects. But what most fans are waiting for is a follow-up, or at least some news around DHG, aka Dødheimsgard In the contrary, it has been oh so quiet around DHG and since 1999, when the above mentioned album saw the light of the day, we only got one re-recorded track on the Moonfog 2000 compilation. And I had to wait about four months to get these answers to the interview! What the hell is DHG doing these days???
Hologram Magic-Logic: We’re rehearsing like hell so that we’ll be able to actually play the songs that have been made for our next album. The current plan is to enter the studio in May. We’ve had a lot of entering-the-studio plans, but I really believe in this one.
musique[machine]: Has the DHG line-up changed since the release of 666 International and what is the role for each member in the writing process like nowadays?
HML: Since the last time you asked that question, I have been writing several characters on my computer. Jens (Ryland from Borknagar, ed.) joined and left. I don’t think he really liked our music, from what I heard he preferred Kronet Til Konge to 666 International and that does not give him the proper musical preferences to play in this band at the time being. Now the crew consists of Fixit (guitars), Aldrahn (voice), Czral (drums), Tom Kvålsvoll (guitars), Chirstian Eidskrem (bass) and me, Hologram Magic-Logic on computers and keyboards. Fixit has been making all the guitar stuff, providing an excellent framework for the rest of us to add stuff on top of it.
m[m]: Why was the name changed from Dødheimsgard to DHG? Was it because the old name was too much related to black metal and DHG is more “universal”?
HML: It’s not an actual change, rather an abbreviation. Just like NATO, which is an abbreviation for “North Atlantic Treaty Organisation” or PERL, which expands to “Practical Extraction and Report Language”? I always refer to the band as Dødheismgard, since that’s what I’m used to. But I write DHG, because that’s more flashy-crazy-kuul.
m[m]: Now that we’re updated considering abbreviations, let’s talk about your latest album. Do you feel that 666 International has a much bigger impact on the black metal scene now than it had when it was just released? More black metal bands are now experimenting with different sounds, and it is accepted more by the fans. Do you feel that the album is a kind of blueprint or at least a starting point for other bands to evolve with their music?
HML: It is not consistent of my arty avantgardish image to answer such questions.
m[m]: But do you think when the album was released two years later, it would have been a bigger success? Are you actually still satisfied with it or are there things you definitely want to change?
HML: No. I think that much of the success of 666 International was due to it being the first black metal album to use electronics to such an extent. It might have been more of a success if the band did not enter a zombie state immediately after the release of the album. I think 666 International is an excellent album, but we will never make an album like that again, since everything about that album needs to be changed.
m[m]: The piano parts and the extreme metal parts provide a contrast for two emotions, one being very melancholic, the other aggressive, both on Satanic Art and 666 International. In what aspect do the atmospheres on the albums reflect the personalities of the members?
HML: It would be easy to say that I (who made the piano pieces) am more calm than Fixit or Aldrahn who play aggressive guitar riffs and scream like mad, but that would be too superficial. This theory does not, for instance, account for the fact that I also make extreme noise through the computer. Or perhaps it does, since extreme noise music can actually be rather meditative. Sometimes. Anyway, we have consciously used the piano parts on 666 International and Satanic Art to amplify the impact of the extreme metal aggression.
m[m]: The image of the band was taken to a radical new direction when 666 International was released. What will happen with the image in the future; will you keep the colourful paint you used last time? Do you find the image as important as the music for a band or is it a secondary aspect?
HML: No colours!!! I see the image as an integrated secondary aspect, in the sense that image and cover artwork and all the peripherals are important, but you can not get away with shitty music and wonderful peripherals in the same way that you can get away with wonderful music and a horrible appearance.
m[m]: The tour with Dimmu Borgir that followed after the release of your last album ended up to be quite a disappointment. What would you like to change if you could do it over again?
HML: I would change the sound, the musicians, the songs, the crowd, the stage, the catering, the drugs, the venues, the bus, the stage crew, the tour manager, the food, the composition of bands, the merchandise salesperson and the current president of Bolivia. The result of that tour that I enjoyed the most was the massive amount of disgusted reviews that people wrote about our shows. More of those, please.
m[m]: Some bands just follow the success of their previous album, some bands experiment further. But how far can you go? Ever thought of making just a plain jazz album or something about that?
HML: I do not like bands that get worse with every release. I do not think that you really need to change that much of the musical style as long as you manage to do something interesting, whatever that might be. Take for instance Johnny Cash. He hasn’t changed the external characteristics of his music, rather plunged even more deeply into the matter that he’s been working with and managed to do something fresh with his expression. I do not think that it would be fruitful for DHG to make a jazz album, since our expertise lies within the field of black metal and we have very strong opinions about what a black metal album should be. Personally I would like very much to do other styles of music than black metal, but I do not find DHG to be the proper forum for that. I think that DHG should be a black metal band, and in my opinion 666 International is deeply rooted within the tradition of black metal. People who do not perceive 666 International as a black metal album have not been paying attention to what’s going on the album of what’s been going on in the discourse of black metal since the rise of the second wave of black metal in the early nineties. This period defines for me the framework of black metal as something that has to do with a certain emotional sensation that is hard to reduce to limitations of instrumentation. For it is only the instrumentation of 666 International that makes people question whether it is a black metal album.
m[m]: So, black metal and its philosophies are still important to you?
HML: Black metal is still important to me, perhaps more important than ever, but having absorbed black metal fully during the last more-than-a-decade, I do not feel that I have to follow the rules of the game. The philosophy of black metal has its local definitions within my mind. I use the mental and social apparatus given to me through black metal every day. It does not turn me on in any way to wear black leather or spikes or claim that I subscribe to the medieval & over-simplified world view that dominated my thoughts during the first half of the nineties, but I’m more concerned with satanic philosophy than I’ve been for a long time.
m[m]: How is it like working with Moonfog? Do you have complete artistic freedom and support to stay with them? Can you imagine yourselves on a major label, with much more technical, studio and touring possibilities and perhaps an income enough to make a living out of it?
HML: We have complete artistic freedom, yes. We want a higher studio budget, but understand that we need to be able to make sure that some money flows in the right direction too. I can imagine DHG on a bigger label, we ought to become mega-stars. Oh yes.
m[m]: Are any of the DHG member working on other projects at the moment? It’s awfully quiet around Fleurety too...
HML: The only thing happening around Fleurety these days is that we are going to re-release our first album Min Tid Skal Komme through Candlelight Records. We have re-mastered the entire thing and added the 7” ep A Darker Shade Of Evil and a song that we did for a compilation. We have made an entirely new sleeve that looks stunning in my view and added annotated lyrics. When it comes to other projects, I have a couple of other projects, mostly computer music. I want to release some stuff as a solo artist, and I’ve been working with a guy called Kim Sølve on some material. Apart from that I try to participate in a project that includes some serious computer programming. Czral has Cadaver Inc., Virus and Aura Noir. And probably more. Apart from that, nothing else, I think?
m[m]: How far is the new album actually? You worked with Bjørn Boge as producer, Ginger God in processing the drums... Will you use the same people again on the new album? Can you reveal anything at all already?
HML: The working title is Satan Berserker Mongo, but I do not know whether that will be the final name of the album. We will be working with Bogus, but not Ginger God, and there won’t be many guest musicians present, I think. Kim Sølve will most likely be doing the artwork. It’s going to be pretty interesting, the whole thing.