Even though it was released late last year, 'Xes Haereticum', Enthroned’s 6th studio album, is still one of my first choices when I have some time to listen to anything rather than the several promos that I receive daily from the record labels. I was trying to find a way to arrange an interview with the band, when Karl Demata told me that Nornagest was available for that exact purpose.
This is exactly what was discussed between the two of us. Well, it seems that regardless as to what some people think, there is good quality Black Metal music outside Scandinavia after all...
Hi Nornagest. It is a great pleasure to be making this interview with you. Your band has been around for more than eleven years now, and has also been given cult status among the fans of the extreme Metal music. That must make you feel quite satisfied, especially since you have been through many difficult times during all these years. Which was that thing that kept both you and the band going during those difficult times?
Nornagest: Our dedication, I guess; always doing this stuff for us first, without caring about the opinion of the masses. Since the very first days of Enthroned, our aim was the mixture of our beliefs with the music we like. It’s still the same thing today, and it will always be like that until the end…
My next question is with regards to the band's current line up. You have been together with Sabathan for ten years now, so there is no question as to how important your contribution is to Enthroned's music. The press release leaflet that I received mentions Nguaroth as the second guitar player, something that we were first informed about in 2003, but there is not any reference as far as the drummer is concerned. Am I to assume that you once again had Alsvid sitting behind the drum kit, or is there a new person involved?
Nornagest: Nguaroth joined Enthroned in 2004 not 2003, he was integrated within our ranks around April 2004, Nerath Daemon recorded the second guitars for 'XES Haereticum', not Nguaroth and Alsvid did record this album as well, so it was the same line-up as 'Carnage in worlds beyond' there! Alsvid had to quit the band due to his lack of time, his job did not allow him to tour etc… same goes with Nerath Daemon.
Our Actual line up is: Sabathan (lead vox/Bass), Nornagest (Lead guitars/Vox/fx), Nguaroth (Lead Guitars) and Glaurung (Drums).
Enthroned is quite a hard working band - since the year 1994 when the "Scared By Darkwinds" split EP with Ancient Rites was released, you have been making new recordings almost every two years. Most of these recordings took place while you were signed with Blackened records. Why did you decide to leave them after a four-year relationship, and how did you end up with Napalm Records?
Nornagest: We compose music when we feel like it, when it comes naturally.
We do not work, like, searching and grafflin’ about a riff here or there, we just wait and see and when it comes it comes. Concerning this Blackened thing, well , let’s say that when you are not happy with the work of one of your collaborators you throw this 'relationship' away… that’s what we did. Napalm offered us the best contract and we are fully satisfied with them!
There is a very good reason why we are doing this interview, and that is of course the release of the band's sixth studio album "Xes Haereticum". Allow me to say that I was very pleased with that release. Are you guys equally happy with the final result? Did you manage to successfully ‘put into notes’, the vision that you had for this release long before the recordings had started?
Nornagest: The process to release 'XES Haereticum' took long, even some small details were changed in the last minutes; it’s an album that covers the feelings of a long period.
Some parts of it were composed during the studio sessions because we wanted to have a full representation of those two years between 'Carnage' and 'XES', some ideas were crossing our minds during the sessions and we used those at the right time. All in all, I can definitely say that 'XES Haereticum' got the sound, production, result that belongs to it and it’s a perfect album in its purpose and objectives!
There is something very interesting about Black Metal bands that do not originate from Scandinavia. Bands like Enthroned and Ancient Rites have a totally different vibe from that of Burzum and Satyricon. My opinion is that central European extreme Metal outfits have been pretty much influenced by the 80's Thrash Metal movement and bands like Sodom, Kreator and Destruction - something that they never failed to present in any of their releases. How important was the 80's Thrash Metal movement to you, and how much has it influenced Enthroned's sound and general attitude, even on the new album?
Nornagest: The musical influences of enthroned are indeed coming from those bands and period; we were really influenced by the three bands above but also Maiden, Priest, Iron angel, Slayer, Bathory, Venom etc…and of course some other band like Beherit, Archgoat, old Mayhem, Samael, Morbid…
On the new album, and since the previous one, we are not really influenced by any bands in particular, we are just creating riffs that we compose and mix everything together!
Which was the main source of inspiration for the recordings of "Xes Haereticum"? Is this new release of yours going to be a new testimony of your disapproval of religion and the power that it has over people?
Nornagest: 'Xes Haereticum' is the result of two years where some members were exploring other corners of their minds and beliefs, when our feelings got developed towards the extremes by events beyond our control and will…
What does "Xes Haereticum" mean? Why did you choose that specific title for your new album?
Nornagest: It means the 666th Heretic, the general concept of the album deals with heresy, along other factors, that’s one of the reasons why we chose that title for the album.
Enthroned is a band in which every one of its members has an equal chance to contribute both in terms of writing lyrics and creating music. A perfect example was your previous release "Carnage in Worlds Beyond" - where the vast majority of the lyrics (eight out of ten songs) were written by Nornagest. What about this album? Are things equally "democratic" nowadays in the band?
Nornagest: I still write most of music and lyrics, it’s not because I’m in charge or anything, it just happened this way. Everyone can bring his own touch as long as everyone likes and feels it.
There is no doubt that the band has progressed during these eleven years of it's existence, but the most admirable thing of all is that this didn't happen at the expense of the band's style and general attitude. That's mainly why I find "Xes Haereticum" so damn attractive. It seems like there are two worlds, the old and the new, that collide in this album, and the result is certainly interesting. Is that what you originally intended to do?
Nornagest: No not at all, we never try to be original or so, each album is the reflection of a determinate and precise period, our emotions at that time if you see what I mean.
There’s no plan made in advance with Enthroned, perhaps just about lyrics and even then - everything is very spontaneous.
I believe that there is a certain strength that each of these ten songs has - a strength that was beautifully presented by a very smart production. I say smart, because even though it is quite strong and intense it preserved a certain atmosphere that every respectful Black Metal album must have. Who is the person responsible for such an achievement?
Nornagest: Harris Johns produced once again our album, he’s quiet famous for his work with bands such as Helloween, Kreator, Sodom, Celtic Frost, Sepultura…
Tell me a few more things about the recording process of the album. Is there a specific attitude that the members of the band have towards the recordings of your albums? Describe to our readers what they would witness if they were to spend a day in the studio with Enthroned.
Nornagest: They would witness pure madness, believe me, even Harris almost shit in his pants one night!
Was the recording time that was given to you enough to help you do the best possible work? Any special tricks that you use when the A-DAT tape started rolling?
Nornagest: We used our skills and brain that’s all. We had enough time indeed, just took like two more days than planned for the mix of the bonus tracks.
Maybe the artwork is the last thing that a band should consider when making music, but in Metal music it is the first thing that will potentially generate the interest of the crowds. This is also another section where progression can be witnessed. Who is the artist that created this interesting and very blasphemous album cover, and how does it relate to both the musical and lyrical context of the album?
Nornagest: GRAAL did the artwork of 'XES Haereticum' his work represents perfectly the mystique and concept of the album: heresy, the splendour of disgust and blasphemy.
This attitude that the band has towards religion must have caused quite a few problems in the past. Can you recall any specific incident where you had to face people that did not understand what Enthroned's music is all about?
Nornagest: Some problems occurred in the past with authorities, that’s the most 'special' thing that we faced in the past.
Which are the countries that you plan on visiting when the promotional tour of "Xes Haereticum" begins? Is there any chance that you will pay a visit to the United Kingdom so as to meet you in person? Which is the country that has been most loyal to Enthroned throughout the years?
Nornagest: France is pretty good as well as Scotland but the craziest place was without doubt South America. We don’t know which countries we will visit but we have already plans for Germany and Italy besides Belgium.
You have visited quite a few times countries in South America. Which are the main differences that you found between these audiences and the ones that you normally meet in continental Europe?
Nornagest: In South America, they live and breathe for metal, when it comes to BM they are really into the philosophy and concept, pretty the opposite of Europe and the US.
I am ashamed to admit that I have never seen the band live before. What am I to expect when I finally do manage to attend one of your gigs? Do you guys put up a specific show like bands such as Mayhem and Gorgoroth do?
Nornagest: We just need the four of us on stage, maybe some gear we’ll see it depends …one gig can be different from another visually ,we just give what we got in our guts and that’s all that matters…
I want to take a trip with you back to the early days when you first decided to form a Black Metal band with Cernunnos. How easy was it back then for a non-Norwegian Black Metal band to be accepted by the fans of this extreme genre? I guess that things have changed quite a lot since then.
Nornagest: Well, our purpose was to mix our beliefs with the most extreme form of sound and music we liked which is metal. We did not (and still don’t) care if we were going to be accepted by anyone, we are (were) doing our thing for ourselves and Satanas. Of course we had critics due to the origin of the band but that’s a sheep birdbrain reaction so why should we care about that? Smart people know that dedication has nothing to do with the name or location of your country.
Which are the best memories that you have from your collaboration with Cernunnos? What kind of person was he?
Nornagest: He was deeply into Satanism, some would say too much, but there are no boundaries to your own faith if you keep it for yourself, he was my brother, he could be an asshole as well, but it’s like with anyone.
I would really like you to tell me your opinion about the Black Metal scene nowadays. Is Black Metal as dangerous and provocative as it was ten years ago? Is there any Black Metal band whose work and general attitude you find to your liking?
Nornagest: I respect bands which are true to themselves, bands who know what they are talking about and who do not pretend! I have respect for bands such as Gorgoroth, Arkhon Infaustus, Darkthrone, Inquisition, Adorior and some more…
What are your plans concerning the future of Enthroned? Are you satisfied with what you have achieved so far? Any hidden desires?
Nornagest: Things happened how destiny decided, some good things as well as some bad ones, all in all I’m proud of what we achieved, we have some plans concerning some releases but until it’s not 100% confirmed I won’t say anything about it. I have plenty of desire for what I want to achieve and I hope the future will bring me those things but for now I live day by day…
There are quite a few musicians out there that mention you as their inspiration, one of which is Jason Barron form Harkonin. That must be quite a compliment for you. Which advice do you have to give to all the young Extreme Metal musicians out there?
Nornagest: My advice would be: If you start a BM band because you are crazy about the music don’t do it! BM is not only music, it goes way beyond that, you must have a good reason to start one. Besides, if those persons are really into it, they do not need any advice, their heart and soul will speak by themselves.
Nornagest, thank you very much for this interview. I wish that one day we will be able to have a one-to-one chat, hopefully on the backstage of a London venue. The last words are yours!
Nornagest: Thanks for the interview and pay tribute to the horned one! D.W.T.W.S.B.T.W.O.T.L. XES
Interview © 2005