Brendan Crabb of Utopia.com.au recently conducted an interview with guitarist Silenoz (real name: Sven Atle Kopperud) of Norwegian symphonic black metallers DIMMU BORGIR. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Utopia.com.au: The last album (2007's "In Sorte Diaboli") featured many orchestrations, was very over-the-top and theatrical, but was also very DIMMU BORGIR. How do you approach a new album after that — do you aim to make it more grandiose and over-the-top or aim for something else entirely?
Silenoz: I think it's as much as we like the previous album, which is a great album, we felt that we wanted to maybe go back a little bit and also add a real orchestra and choir, because of dynamic reasons, basically. It worked really well on (2003's) "Death Cult Armageddon" and we approached the writing process for this album the same (way). We went through so many details; we pulled the songs apart, put them back together and then took them apart again, all the way until we felt they were flowing as best as they could. We also worked with a friend of ours, who also helped us with "Death Cult…" and (2001's) "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia", scoring the notes for the orchestra. So he was also involved in the process early on and that really helped the whole writing go much smoother than you would think. So it's a lot of details, a lot of work, but at the end of the day it wasn't so very hard work, really.
Utopia.com.au: In what other respects do you feel it is a step up from the previous record?
Silenoz: We have a feeling of completeness when we hear the album. Everything comes together on a larger scale, I think, and we feel that we have topped ourselves, otherwise I guess we wouldn't have the album ready. (laughs) We would never release anything that we were not satisfied with, and as a band and as an artist, you strive to top yourself from the last one. That's the whole ambition in itself, so for us the album is already a success. We're happy and satisfied with it. It's a lot to digest in the first spin, so it needs a bit of patience from the listener, but I'm sure the majority of the DIMMU fans are going to embrace it, because it's old DIMMU, it's new DIMMU, it's contemporary DIMMU; it's everything that we're known for, so the variation in the album itself is going to speak louder than words.
Utopia.com.au: You mentioned the word "success." While it's a relative term to use for a band who play music as heavy as DIMMU BORGIR does, the band are indeed one of the most successful extreme metal acts of the past decade. Does that carry any additional degree of pressure from the public when you are writing and recording a new album?
Silenoz: I don't think there's any more pressure for us than other bands releasing a new album. I think if there is any pressure we put that on ourselves, in terms of that we want to outdo ourselves with a new album. We felt early on when we did the demos for the songs for this album that we had something really special this time around. It's very varied, it has so many different elements and what's really good about it, too, is that you can pull any song off the new album individually and it really has the identity of DIMMU. It has all the different layers that we're known for.
Utopia.com.au: Now, the band experienced two high-profile and well-publicized departures prior to this album. Do you wish things that happened a little differently and been kept more private?
Silenoz: Well, you know it's kind of like our curse (laughs) — to have these lineup changes all the time. I'm sure it was very surprising and also looked very dramatic for the fans when things happened last year. But for the three of us — Galder (lead guitars), Shagrath (vocals) and myself — it was something that was inevitable. We had the choice of saving the band or keep it going as it was and that wouldn't be possible, really. So we had to make a choice and instead of crying over spilt milk, we took the bull by the horns and just moved forward. We put out the statement explaining our side of the story and that's it; we just moved on and never looked back.
Utopia.com.au: So when you go on tour in support of "Abrahadabra", will you just be enlisting some session players to perform live or do you have some people earmarked to possibly join the band full-time?
Silenoz: No, I think the permanent-member thing is not ever going to happen again; we cannot trust people anymore (laughs), for obvious reasons, and we don't want to trust people anymore when it comes to wanting to be with us, play with us and be in the band. So it's better if we decide four ourselves and hire the people that we feel we can work with.
Read the entire interview from Utopia.com.au.
Fan-filmed video footage of DIMMU BORGIR performing the new song "Gateways" in Luxembourg in September 2010 can be viewed below.