Kyle McGinn of Dead Rhetoric recently conducted an interview with vocalist Shagrath (real name: Stian Tomt Thoresen) of Norwegian symphonic black metallers DIMMU BORGIR. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that the new DVD ("Forces Of The Northern Night") was a milestone for the band, being able to do the live recording with a full orchestra and choir?
Shagrath: "It's definitely a career highlight so far. Especially if you check out the earbook edition, it comes with a huge 48-page booklet with both of the shows. For me, this is a power statement of what we are able to do. I'm really glad it was released so we can share it with the rest of the world. So that the people who were not a part of the shows are able to see it in their living room and be a part of it. I'm very proud of it."
Dead Rhetoric: In one of the press releases, I believe the term pinnacle was used to describe the release. In that regard, where do you go from here?
Shagrath: "To the moon, I guess. [Laughs] I think 'Forces Of The Northern Night' puts an end to an era for the band. There were a lot of songs on there related to the 'Abrahadabra' album. So now we are starting with a blank page — we have a new album, and it has a different approach. We did not use an orchestra for the new record. So it's a new start with different things… Where we take it from here? Only time will tell, you know."
Dead Rhetoric: You mention a new album — how much progress has been made at this point towards it?
Shagrath: "We have completed the new album. I've spent almost three years creating it. It is done and complete. Right now, we are focusing on the other aspects around the release. We hope that it will be out in the fall."
Dead Rhetoric: So it's completely done and finished. What are you working on going towards its release?
Shagrath: "We are focusing on all the details. There's a lot of work that needs to be done in the future… music videos and preparation for live shows, and world touring [plans]. All sorts of different aspects around the release. There's a lot of hard work in front of us."
Dead Rhetoric: Can you give any sort of hints as to the direction outside of having no orchestra this time around?
Shagrath: "It's still really grand and epic, of course. I can't reveal too many details since it's so early, but what I can say about it is that it includes a lot of elements DIMMU BORGIR is known for. You can hear references from 1993 up to today. It's been 25 years and it's a tribute to DIMMU BORGIR, so to speak. It has all the elements we are known for, and the song structures are really well arranged. The production is nice, it's very atmospheric and there is a huge choir on the record. It also has more primitive elements — straight-forward, primitive black metal elements. It's quite catchy, and each song is different from each other but it all has a riddle between them. We are very happy with the results and can't wait to share it with everyone."
Dead Rhetoric: That's great, I'm really looking forward to hearing it. It's been a long time since there's been new material…
Shagrath: "It's been a long time, and I know a lot of people have been complaining about that. But it's not like we've been lazy or anything like that. We can only do one thing at a time. It's been seven years since the last record, but we don't want to be that hamster-wheel-type of band where we release albums every year. We want to give the fans an honest, authentic, great product and this takes time. On top of that, we have toured the world in connection with the previous album. There's a lot of things happening behind the scenes that people don't realize."
Dead Rhetoric: Going back to the live album, YouTube is a major source where people watch things at this point. Do you feel when you create something like this, do you feel you need to do something extra or make it spectacular in some way so that you don't just have people viewing a stream of different clips on YouTube?
Shagrath: "If [they] watch DIMMU BORGIR on YouTube, I just feel sorry for them. They don't have the right sound quality, the right picture quality. If you want something real, you should buy the real product and support the artists. Buy physical editions — it's very important for the survival of bands for the future. I know that things have changed a lot because of the Internet, but watching music videos on YouTube is not the right way to experience DIMMU BORGIR. If you want to maximize the experience, buy the real product."
Read the full interview at Dead Rhetoric.
"Forces Of The Northern Night" was released on April 14 via Nuclear Blast. The set contains two of the band's live performances: their legendary show in Oslo, presenting DIMMU BORGIR on stage with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and a bombastic choir, as well as their entire performance at Wacken Open Air festival in 2012 in Wacken, Germany with almost a hundred musicians on stage.
DIMMU BORGIR's most recent touring lineup included Geir Bratland (APOPTYGMA BERZERK, THE KOVENANT) on keyboards and Terje Andersen (a.k.a. Cyrus; SUSPERIA) on bass.