ENSLAVED guitarist Ivar Bjørnson recently responded to a fan question about the changes in the group's sound caused by the departures of guitarist R. Kronheim and drummer Dirge Rep."Of course, I think [Kronheim and Rep's departures] will affect the music, as you will hear on the new album. 'Below The Lights' is more consistent and 'tight' than the previous efforts like 'Monumension' and 'Mardraum'. Especially in terms of songwriting, I think the absence of R. Kronheim kind of invigorated us, to be cynical about it. Sure, when he entered the band around the time of 'Blodhemn', we were kind of burned out and lacked ideas and vision. He really injected life into the band at that time, he started to withdraw his deposits, so to speak. There was no longer a sense of unity in the band, and in combination with his neck-breaking, MÖTLEY CRÜE-ish drug habits, there was no way out. So, to get to the point, the new album is a kind of 'best of both worlds'. We have kept the 'new' direction from the previous two albums and at the same time returned a lot to the 'source'. You know, me, Grutle and Dirge are all kind of 'old school', even though we sound 'experimental' and 'new' from time to time. This is easy to hear on the new album. Please also keep in mind that I still wrote 70-80% of the songs and lyrics still when Kronheim joined the band, it was more a case of him overtaking Grutle's share of song- and lyrical writing when he joined. And now that he is out of the band, and Grutle still doesn't write a lot, I am doing all the songs and most of the lyrics. This is because the others [don't] write simply, if they had wanted to, they could have had all the songs they wanted. I guess some people think it is close to dictatorship in the band, which is totally wrong.
"About Dirge, it was a loss for his excellent drumming, of course but more important for the concept and lyrics, which he was getting more and more into. But we already got Freddy as a new drummer (he was on BLOOD RED THRONE's first album and played the UK March 02 tour with us), and he is simply the best fucking drummer I've been in the same room with. No kidding." ENSLAVED's new album, "Below The Lights", will surface on March 3 through Osmose Productions.