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INTERVIEW: Lord Ahriman – Dark Funeral

DARK FUNERAL have been a pinnacle part in the black metal genre since their beginnings in 1993, now ahead of their upcoming album, Where Shadows Forever Reign, Distorted Sound‘s Jessica managed to sit and have a conversation with Lord Ahriman, the founder, guitarist and songwriter of the Swedish black metal band about the album, the black metal scene and much more.

How are you today?

Lord Ahriman: I’m doing pretty alright, been packing and everything to go on a short vacation. It’s been sort of a busy month so I just need to sort of take a quick break before we roll again.

Where Shadows Forever Reign is your first album in six years and with a new vocalist, Heljarmadr, how has it been for you?

Lord Ahriman: Very good, it’s good to have a new vocalist that’s so dedicated and professional as Heljarmadr is. The co-operation between him and me when on the new record was really good and inspiring, it was really good to have him on board.

When you released the single Nail Them to the Cross, you introduced us to a new bassist as well, but he departed, was that a difficult process in terms of recording for the album?

Lord Ahriman: Well I had to record the bass myself but that was the plan from the beginning when that didn’t happen, when he come to terms that it was just too big shoes for him to step in. So, at that time we didn’t bother to try and find a new bassist, so when we start again we’re going to be bringing in session bassists, cause we haven’t had good luck with bassists in the past, so we’re going back to the status we had before with session bassists. I can do the bass on the new record myself, I mean I’m not a bassist but me and Daniel in the studio, the producer worked really hard to make really good bass lines, they ended up down in the mix but they still colour the songs really well I think, even if I can’t play the notes that super well but it will surely make a difference. It’s quite technical stuff on the bass and it was interesting to work like this so, to do some real bass lines instead and not just for the rhythm guitar, it was a couple of tough days for me to do the bass but very inspiring to.

Do you think it helped add a little more character to the album knowing it was something new to you?

Lord Ahriman: Maybe, it’s hard to say but for this record it’s been a long time since I have felt so inspired and creative, I had so many ideas that I hadn’t thought about before. I was in a very good place when I worked on this record and of course all in all it makes a difference on the sound.

How do you feel about Where Shadows Forever Reign in comparison to your previous releases then, if you felt as though you were in a better place recording?

Lord Ahriman: I think it’s the most decent album we’ve done so far, it’s already at a time where we recorded the last album I told the other guys that one thing I want to work on myself for the next record it was to work on more rhythmic drums, more bombastic drums and more rhythmic guitar leads and stuff. I mean, I still have my way of playing and writing music but compared to previous records this one is more groove and rhythm overall, it’s also more dynamic. I think it’s a big step from the previous works to this one, of course the core of the sound is the same but there is still more going on and there’s more complex guitar structure and stuff like that. For me it’s a very interesting record as a guitarist.

As you said, it is a bit more complex compared to your previous releases and you’ve added a little bit more in there in terms of styles, do you think that it might impact the way people might listen to DARK FUNERAL as a black metal band, considering that a lot of fans still like to have the sound as raw as possible?

Lord Ahriman: We’ve never been one of those bands that follow any weird rules that some people might think apply to black metal, those people are from newer generations, they don’t understand how it was when we started when the scene was new, at that time we had to invent what we was doing ourselves and we couldn’t look at other bands and what they was doing because when we decided to start DARK FUNERAL it was all about doing something different, doing something darker and more extreme than everybody else. We had no-one to look at, we had to try and come up with our own formula and that’s what I have been doing ever since, it’s like pushing the limits, trying to invent myself but still at the core of what DARK FUNERAL is about music and spirit, that’s always had a big impact, we still try and push limits for every new record. Whether people like it, I don’t know, I could not care less, this is me, this is DARK FUNERAL, this is what we do, we are not afraid of pushing the limits and doing things our way. That is what black metal is all about originally, it’s not about to lock yourself up in some weird rule that someone thinks is what it is all about, neither music or spiritually. I guess it is the newer generation, more the newer generations take on black metal, if you speak to people that were part of the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, they would probably still feel the same as me, we are all just from scratch and we create our own thing and that’s what we’re still doing.

Does that make you think that the genre itself is evolving for the better in terms of appealing to the fans and helping them gain an understanding on the more cultural side of black metal when bands like yourself are still trying to push the limits?

Lord Ahriman: Maybe, whatever you’re doing to stagnate completely is quite boring and quite uninspiring, I think it’s important that at this status you should be tough enough to push limits and bring forward the newer things and everything but I wouldn’t compromise in our sound in anyway and I don’t think we have ever done that. This is our darkness and we just keep on bringing it forward and trying to walk down our own dark path, that’s the scene that’s still alive, they are the people who are not afraid to push limits.

You’ve recently played Incineration Festival, do you see a change in the black metal scene when coming to places such as the UK that aren’t particularly as exposed to black metal as opposed to Scandinavian countries where it’s more popular?

Lord Ahriman: One thing we talked about after the show last weekend was that the last couple of times we have played London, it’s always been a great audience and it’s always been really supportive and energetic crowd and I don’t know why but we are always surprised, we don’t really expect it. Then we realise that the last couple of shows in England have been extremely good, so we’re really happy to play England.

Are you planning on doing some more English dates after the release of Where Shadows Forever Reign?

Lord Ahriman: Yeah, we’re working on a European tour that kicks off in early October, dates should be announced within the next two weeks and I know that there is at least one UK date. Once the new record is out, we are open, there are going to be a lot of new offers coming in, so agents all over the world will see that we’re really back. We are always open to play wherever they want us to play but I want to do more and more gigs in England over the next 2-3 years cause there is going to be lots of touring I guess.

How do you feel Where Shadows Forever Reign will be perceived to fans in a live atmosphere?

Lord Ahriman: Yeah, as I said the new songs we played at Incineration Festival were very well received, I think I have a really good feeling with this new record, so far the feedback have all been over the top and I think we’re all just sitting on nails, we all just want to get this record out so we can start touring again, this is what we’re all waiting for, we’re looking forward to meet the crowd.

That’s it for today, thank you for the time out of your day and good luck with the album release!

Where Shadows Forever Reign is due out June 3 via Century Media Records

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Jessica Howkins

Co Editor-in-Chief for Distorted Sound Magazine, Music Journalism student.