DIMMU BORGIR frontman Shagrath recently spoke to Metal Edge magazine about the Norwegian black metal band's unprecedented commercial success and their participation in this year's Ozzfest festival. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Metal Edge: It must feel good to be considered the No. 1 black metal band in the world today.
Shagrath: "Well, of course, it's a good thing for us. I mean, we worked so fucking hard to get where we are today. Basically, what separates us from the other bands — other than the amount of touring we always do — is that we have never been a traditional black metal band. We have always been a band that went our own direction yet still had the black metal roots, ya know? We're proud of what we've done, but it really is all about hard work and dedication."
Metal Edge: What's your take on all these black metal and death metal bands combining the two into one overlapping sound? It used to be, you'd hear from death metal fans who hated black metal, and black metal fans who hated death metal. Now, the best bands seem to combine both and the once diametrically opposed sub-genres are melting into one.
Shagrath: "You have a point there — all these bands that used to be black metal are playing death metal riffs and singing death metal vocals, yeah. I think the reason, though, that a lot of black metal people, at least here in Norway, hate American death metal, is because they simply don't take it seriously. And I can see why. It's almost as if with a lot of these American bands, as long as you have a death metal t-shirt, smoke weed and have long hair, you're a death metal guy. Black metal deals with so much more — inner feelings that come with a definite reason for existence, not just because you think it's cool. That's why black metal is on a different level. Also, there's just not many true death metal bands around about the actual subject of death. And if you play in a death metal band, you should deal with those subjects."
Metal Edge: Who is playing true death metal today?
Shagrath: "MORBID ANGEL. DEICIDE."
Metal Edge: Now you've brought your blackness to a whole other level by reaching tons of people via Ozzfest. Looking back on the experience, what was the highlight of it all?
Shagrath: "Everything Ozzfest was very cool. It was so professional compared to what we're used to. We played such big places! We played with a lot of bands that we grew up with. BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST… How cool is that? The crews were nice, everyone was nice to us. It was all arranged so well. We didn't even have to think, just play. And yes, it certainly was an opportunity to show our music to a wider type of audience, to people who haven't heard our music before, and they were getting into it! That was such a good thing for us."
Metal Edge: So what's next?
Shagrath: "We're going home for a long, long break. We'll do nothing but start to work on some new material. We toured so much! We're actually getting a little bit tired of it. It's okay to tour, but when you're constantly away from home all the time, you really just stop and think, 'What the fuck am I doing here?' We all want to go home. You get a little bit burned out sometimes, ya know? It's time to go home to Norway now, relax, and refuel the batteries. It will probably take us one-and-a-half to two years before we have a new album out again. It's time for a timeout. That's the plan."