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Interview: DIMMU BORGIR
Title: Black. Metal. Brotherhood.

When front-devil Shagrath enters the stage with his conspirators, not only are clustered dark and mystical energies released.


But the dominant Norwegian Black Metal icon Dimmu Borgir knows for many years the relevance of orchestral pulsating opulence and aesthetically abysmal, ghostly beauty in the frosty song material.

Globally, whole armies of glowing fans have been waiting for new, icy night-hymns since the 2010 album „Abrahadabra“. For the end of 2017 the extraordinary successful ones announced a new study longplayer.

Until then the devoted followers of the band can now enjoy the live release „Forces Of The Northern Night“, an elaborate double-DVD with everything included. Two very special, bombastic shows have been recorded, each in Wacken and Oslo.

I talk to guitarist Silenoz.

How do you feel, having „Forces Of The Northern Night“ at the start, after the longer release pause?

„We feel very good! This double-DVD should have been out earlier, but due to several reasons it took this long and I guess it’s for the best now, as we have an album coming out at the end of this year and it’s good to introduce the band back into the scene now with this upcoming DVD. But technically, we’ve never really been away – we’ve only been flying under the radar, haha!“

How were the global reactions of fans after the announcement in 2016 about the new DVD release - unbroken enthusiasm for Dimmu to experience?

„Yes, the reactions were great and very supportive. Of course people have been asking why it wasn’t released earlier and that’s fair enough, but most people focus on the fact that we are finally back now and here with a great release that is actually worth the wait. Now it feels like everything is back to normal and I find it important to stress the fact that you can’t force something that you expect to be great. It has to come in a natural way and that’s how we want to work.“

What means the title „Forces Of The Northern Night“ for you personal?

„Since we’re a band from Scandinavia, it’s dark here most of the time. But we have the northern lights, the aurora borealis, and I see us as the night answer to that. It’s nothing really deep… just a cool title and a sentence from the song ‘Dimmu Borgir’, so I found it quite representative for the band.“

The complete recorded show in Oslo - what is mainly to tell about?

„The Oslo show is the perfect part of the DVD, it was such a huge place and we got to do a practice runthrough of the entire show inside the venue before the actual show was happening in the evening. This made things a lot easier, while in Wacken we of course couldn’t use the stage beforehand to see how everything turns out. In Oslo, this was a relief and we went through every single detail to make sure that the show became perfect.“

How was the work there with Kringkastingsorkestret, the Norwegian Radio Orchester & Choir?

„You work with the best and you understand that as a band, you are not very professional, as these guys really teach you what being professional means, haha! No seriously, it was mind-blowing to see how they do their part of the work and how well it connected with our music, especially when you have Gaute Storaas who transcribed the notes and helped arranging it for the orchestra. They made it sound the way we wanted and it was incredible!“

The recorded, bombastic performance at Wacken Open Air - how was the work with the National Czech Symphonic Orchestra to bring all that on stage?

„Someone suggested that we should check them out and since we already worked with another Czech orchestra in the past on the ‚Death Cult Armageddon‘ album, we noticed how great it is to work with Czech musicians – even if none of us speaks their language. But they did a great work and it didn’t change much in comparison to the Norwegian musicians, they played the same notes as the Norwegians they did and it ended up being very similar.“

What can you tell about the included documentary with interviews and behind-the-scenes videos about the gigantic stage production in Norway?

„We also filmed a little making-of-documentary during the rehearsals for the Oslo show. The little movie shows the preparations, how we worked together with the orchestra and choir members and you can find additional interviews with us band members and of course the conductor of the orchestra and several people working behind the scenes.“

Whole 3 hours of Symphonic Black Metal cult, with nearly 100 musicians on stages, are you touched while thinking about? Any outstanding, unique, or deeply personal memories regarding these shows to tell?

„You cannot help but feel really proud when you stand on stage with 100 people behind you. We had it in the back of your mind for several years now that we wanted to perform with an orchestra – not just on our albums, which is great also, but bringing everything on stage is of course even more spectacular. It was a life goal. We didn’t really chase that goal, but as the opportunity came up we had to try it, even if it scared us. But it ended up as a milestone for us as a band and I feel a lot of pride. Not just because you stand on stage with 100 people, but also on a personal level. You create this music out of nothing basically and suddenly you can execute it in front of people who really look forward to it and come to see you from all over the world. We had people from Australia, Asia, the United States and all this made it extra special!“

What can you tell about the chosen Dimmu songs for these shows?

„Half of the setlist is already there, as people want to hear the classics and that’s fine for us. But then we also tried to find songs that we thought would sound great with an orchestra – ‘Mourning Palace’ for example worked really well. But I have to admit it’s difficult to make everyone happy, since you can never play all the songs that you would like to and it’s getting harder and harder with each album.“

Be so kind and bring the work and preparations for the huge visual representation of the recorded shows a bit closer.

„Yes, we worked with light effects, pyros, a big stage scenario and of course, for many years already, Shagrath is changing his outfits several times during the show. It’s something that every Dimmu show needs and we put a lot of preparation time in it, as of course it needs planning to change costumes and every member knows what he’s doing at which time. And then you need to trust your crew, especially when it comes to pyros or switching instruments. Every little step needs to be coordinated.“

Would you name the current members Shagrath, Silenoz and Galder as the ‚real core‘ of Dimmu Borgir?

„Yes, I would say so. We have been the creators of the music the whole time and Galder has joined us in 2000, which is now 17 years ago! Wow! But this combo works very well for us.“

How is it to work as a trio in direct comparison with the previous line-up’s?

„We were also working in a trio back then, even though the members were changing. But every member contributed to the Dimmu sound and therefore our music sounds differently in each era, also because we had different members being involved in the songwriting. I don’t want to take anything away from the past members and don’t want to question their dedication to Dimmu, but when it comes to songwriting and execution, the three of us have always been the core.“

The collaboration with Nuclear Blast Records will go on also for the upcoming new studio album, as the band has announced. Still a fully win-win connection therefore, as it seems. What is the recipe for such a good and long lasting partnership?

„I think it’s about understanding and sharing the same vision about reaching out to a bigger audience with this type of music. And I think it’s also important to have patience towards one another when you’re working in such a difficult landscape as the music business. It’s important to have an open dialogue and to work on both parts strongest points but also admit each other’s weak points. But we’re all very happy that we have extended the partnership and that we can continue to work together in the future, especially for the upcoming album!“

How important is authenticity of attitude and passion for Metal still inside Dimmu Borgir?

„I think it’s very important, because if it’s not there, sooner or later it will shine though and then you’ll make an arse out of yourself, ha! That’s why it’s necessary that, whenever we do something (whether it’s a DVD, single or album release), you have to make sure that even if you make quick decisions, you have to make sure that those quick decisions don’t come and bite you in the ass one day. But then you learn from it and move on and notice that you shouldn’t do this shit again.“

What still counts most for you in making music in Dimmu Borgir?

„The most important thing for me is atmosphere. You can create an atmosphere in many ways… with words, sentences, a technical guitar part or keyboards… but it needs to make it sound a whole and when you have an album compiled of many songs, each song should be able to stand on its own and reflect the mood for the rest of the songs of the album. That’s sometimes hard but when it doesn’t work, you have to start all over again, until it sounds great. And that’s the good side but also the bad side of making music. It needs to come naturally and be authentic.“

2017 will bring a new full-length album, finally! Would you please describe the main musical character of these upcoming song collection with your very own words?

„Nothing, hahaha – well, we’re still in the early recording process and it’s too early to judge or say something objective. But we have done our best that we can do at this point in our career and none of us is tired of the songs yet, which is also a good sign. We’re just eager to get a really good production that resembles our vision when it comes to how we want it to sound, as in the past we have not always been happy. But this time we want to go for a warm, analogue, human sounding sound. But that’s basically all I can say so far.“

What details about can you list so far, how many new songs are finished to date?

„All the songs have been written at this point, but we’re still in the recording process and some things might change. We just recorded the choirs, now we work on the drums and next week we’ll take care of the guitars.“

Please tell a bit about the songwriting process - same procedure as always, or something new in the way of proceeding?

„It has been pretty much the same as for the previous album. This time we have been even better prepared, we concentrated on small details, even though others wouldn’t pay notice, but we know that we’ve done our best then. And I’d be negatively surprised if after the recording I couldn’t say that this will be a great success for us as a band. I don’t mean fame or chart positions, I just mean that delivering the master to the label will already feel like a huge huge success for us.“

Who did the frontcover artwork and the graphical stuff for „Forces Of The Northern Night“?


„Artwork and filming was once again done by Joachim Luedtke.“

Any additional words to the curious readers out there?


„Thanks so much for not forgetting Dimmu Borgir over all those years – we are extremely happy about our loyal fans and 2017 will definitely be the year of Dimmu’s return!“

© Markus Eck, 16.04.2017

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