Christopher Porter of Washington Post Express recently conducted an interiew with Ivar Bjornson of Norwegian masters of progressive/experimental metal ENSLAVED. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Washington Post Express: You guys still use Nordic mythology as inspiration for your lyrics, but the words on "Vertebrae" feel more of this world. Have you been consciously moving toward more real world or personalized themes?
Bjornson: The key word is personalized. It's more an internalization of things from the mythologies, as well as magic, the universe, and all that. It's a way of trying to describe the indescribable, no less. The human mind is too complex to allow us to grasp it in simple terms ... so we have to go the route of metaphors and mythologies. What we're seeing in our songs is the gap between what we want to express and how we express it is closing in all the time. It's becoming more internalized, becoming more of our own language, rather than describing someone else's. ... We do feel heavily of what's going on now, we feel a part of it; we want to be here and change things. But mythology is the way we know how to express things. ... Like some philosophical directions, [mythologies are] the basic building blocks of moral writings. But they're all very logically sound; there's more of a functionality to them than ethics. ... It's a lot simpler: It's not about choosing the right kind of ethics; it's about realizing what's naturally right or wrong. And that's a lot easier to trace in these mythologies and in naturally based religions rather than the monotheistic ones, which defy some of the natural logic and are more like political structures; they're about diverting power and making it all flow upward toward that point on the pyramid. They're crossing natural boundaries, which makes it necessary to use suppression and force to keep it all in balance because it's going against the natural order. Obeying leadership or forming a hierarchy is a natural thing, but it has to be based on a natural thing.
Washington Post Express: You've said you were so inspired by the way "Vertebrae" turned out that you want to write another album right away. How's that coming along?
Bjornson: That's happening. I was writing quite a bit yesterday, and we're rehearsing here on tour. Right now, I'm in the preliminary stage where the ideas are just fragmented, and that always happens because imagination tends to run before my fingers, so I have to practice to do the stuff. Also, with the addition of each album you become a better musician and make something that's a little bit above our abilities from when we start to write it. The first song titles are starting to pop up and there's a concept forming. And the whole thing about being on this tour, and these crowds and playing with OPETH, has been very inspirational and is going to make the process very energetic. ... I just feel now is the time to write, and if I can I'll go away from home and go somewhere quiet. Either go to a small town in Norway and check into a hotel for a week, or borrow some friend's summer place. But right now I'm on a bus and if the guys see me writing, they just let me use the back lounge on my own. ... If I wait it out for three months, I'm not sure what would happen if I went past that writing phase — and I'm not sure I want to find out.
Read the entire interview from Washington Post Express.