A gate to and from my inner darkness and the one master that watches from beyond…
Released in November 2014 through his own label, Werewolf Records, 7 April 2015 will see Satanic Warmaster’s Fimbulwinter released through Hells Headbangers on CD, LP and Tape. Here, Werwolf talks to MR’s Jason Guest about the album, its production, the artwork, the benefits of running his own label as well as working with Hells Headbangers, and the corruption of black metal when played live…
Thanks for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Fimbulwinter. It’s an incredible piece of work.
Thank you. I am glad others besides myself enjoy my creation as well.
Can you tell us what you set out to achieve with the album? Does the album mark any sort of development for you?
I wanted to create a timeless album that reeks of the age when for me most of the important works in the genre were created, a monument of winter and darkness. I could have done a more “professionally” produced album at any time, but I only felt the desire to do that this time, as I consider all my albums entities of their own. For me there is no progression in the common sense of the word when speaking of music, but more of general development, different visions and overall change.
It’s been four years since Nachzehrer. Why so long between albums? What have you been up to during that time?
The long gap between albums usually just comes because of the amount of time I put into preparing them; it took years to create Fimbulwinter as well. Besides that, all my other activities in life and live concerts take their time as well.
The album title Fimbulwinter – the “Mighty Winter” – refers to the prelude to Ragnarok, the end of all life and of the world. Why choose this theme for the album?
The vision of the final winter has always fascinated me, to see the world covered in eternal snow until the start of a new cycle. I think it suits the overall themes of the album perfectly.
As well as acoustic guitar, you include numerous ambient passages and synth on the album, the album closing with the ambient eight and a half minute ‘Silent Call of Moon’s Temples’. Why so?
I’ve had non-metal tracks on my previous album, and that’s one of the aspects in my creations that has always been present. In this case I felt the songs would benefit for additional instruments, and the production methods made it possible, so I did it.
Rather than the “lo-fi” sound of your previous albums, the production on Fimbulwinter is very different to that of your previous works; it’s much more robust and the sound is fuller. Why did you choose this approach?
I did not want to stagnate my work with another primitive production, and to reach the majestic and furious sound I wanted, I followed this kind of a path this time.
The artwork for the album is by David Thiérrée. Why did you choose to work with him? And how much direction did you give in its design?
I have known his work for many years, and it was a great honour to work with him on this album. His vision is very much on the lines of what I had myself, so there was not much need for direction.
As you work by yourself for Satanic Warmaster, when it comes to making music, what challenges do you face? And how do you overcome them?
The only challenge I have is to constantly change and to top my previous works. Other than that, I really don’t think of it as a challenge, but rather channelling things from within me – a thing that comes naturally.
How does the Satanic Warmaster of 2015 compare to the Satanic Warmaster of 1998?
17 years older.
You release your material through your own label, Werewolf Recordings. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having your own label?
The main reason for it is to have total control over my creation. Of course it takes it’s time and a lot of hard work with very little compensation, but there’s nothing else I’d rather do.
You also work with Hells Headbangers for album releases. Why choose to work with HH? And do you plan to continue releasing future works through them?
It was in both sides’ interest to have an exclusive distributor in North America, and Hell’s Headbangers had proven themselves to be a force worthy of conspiring with. We’ll continue to work together in the future, yes.
Between 2010 and 2012 you released 3 two-track “singles” (released again in 2014 as the Luciferian Torches compilation). Why release these separately? Were the tracks ever intended or considered for inclusion on an album?
Those three EPs were recorded on the impulse during a few rehearsals on a tape recorder, and we wanted to make a series of releases out of those to portray a more barbaric and raw side of Satanic Warmaster. ‘Winter’s Hunger’ from those EPs is on Fimbulwinter.
You’ve been involved in black metal for around twenty years. What changes have you seen during that time?
The single most important change for me has been the total destruction of all illusions surrounding Black Metal. Still, I found my way within it and grew into it rather than out of it.
What does black metal mean to you?
A gate to and from my inner darkness and the one master that watches from beyond.
Many argue that black metal has become commercial in the sense that, because anyone can access the music, the true spirit of black metal has become diluted and dulled. Do you agree? And do you think black metal can ever retain the potency it once had?
I really cannot respect anyone whose personal relationship with Black Metal is dependent on others’ relation with it. Black Metal will never again have the same mystery surrounding it as it had when I was younger, and nobody will ever experience it again in these times in the same way I did. However, one can still create a strong connection to the emotions and beliefs Black Metal can evoke within.
What is your opinion on the intellectualisation of black metal? Is black metal something that can – and perhaps should – be rationalised and understood?
I hate it. You cannot trivialize or understand things of which Black Metal is just a more mundane reflection of.
Satanic Warmaster rarely plays live. Any plans for shows in support of the new album? And will we be seeing you in the UK anytime soon?
I wouldn’t really say so. Last year we toured Mexico and Japan, and this year we’ll conquer new shores as well. As a band we don’t tour as much as many other bands, and that’s a conscious choice made already years ago. Maybe something will happen for UK as well, we’ll see.
What would be the ideal setting for a Satanic Warmaster performance?
I don’t think there is an ideal setting for a Satanic Warmaster concert, as already the whole concept of me creating music initially for myself is corrupted when performing live. I do this as a gesture to all the devoted fans and maniacs in the world, so take it as it is.
What does the act of creating music mean to you?
Freedom, power and fulfillment.
What does the future hold for the band? Is there more music in the pipeline?
There are some new recordings planned, and several concerts for 2015 are already booked.
Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Thanks for the interview. LUX EX TENEBRIS – HEIL LUZIFER.