The 30th of April, it’s the Queen’s feast in the Netherlands. Celebrating the birthday of our yet dead ex-queen. Besides all the boring festivals in the capital city and other big cities, we had Kings of Metal Festival on the car park of the Goudvishal in Arnhem. Finntroll and Naglfar were headlining, and I had the chance to have a conversation with Andreas Nilsson, lead guitarist of this big Swedish Black / Death Metal-band.
Naglfar started in 1992, yet 13 years ago. It’s the most cliché question I can ask and open with, but still I’m wondering how the band started and why.
Jens Rydén, the former vocalist who is now busy studying and stepped out of the band, was bored of all the Death Metal that was made in Sweden. He just wanted something different and decided to start a band with a total different style. This is basically how it all started.
After two years, the first demo – with a name I will not try to pronounce – `Andreas laughs and is pronouncing it correctly` was released late in 1994. I have never heard this demo, nor have I ever heard something about it. What was the feedback you got upon it?
Well, it was great! The feedback that was given upon it made us write the album which would come later, Vittra. It also brought us the labeldeal with Wrong Again Records, a quite big label at that time. But the guy turned out to be a dickhead.
Does it still exist?
No, I think not.
Vittra is now quite famous, because you profiled Naglfar yet from the beginning as a band which combinated Black and Death Metal in an interesting way. With the melodic intermezzo’s you made it all various. I personaly have Sunless Dawn as my personal favorite track on the album. Aggressive, but still melodic and typical Naglfar. What is (or are) your personal favorite(s)?
Hm, I’m playing those songs for like 13 years now, so that’s a tough question to answer. But…Exalted Above Thrones will be it then, I think.
Are there any bands you were putting inspiration from, when it comes to writing the first album? I suspect not, seen the fact that the bands who sound like you, are actually influenced by Naglfar, instead of the other way round.
Well, we grew up with old bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, so direct inspiration could not be found. We just wanted to make our own music with our own style, without having any serious influences. It is more ‘inspired by’ than ‘influenced by’, actually.
Now we’re talking about inspiration…I can imagine it gives a great feeling living in the knowledge that there are loads of bands, especially in Sweden, who look up to you and who are inspired by you, or am I wrong?
Haha, I must admit I’ve never thought about that. But when I think about it…yeah, that’s quite cool. I’m not really in the ‘scene’ anymore. I am focussing me on making music with Naglfar and am not really interested in new bands or so.
So you only listen to the old bands now?
Actually; yeah. I always think ‘why would I try to discover new and more bands, when I am content with the music I listen to, the old shit which learned me what Metal is’?
That’s very narrow-minded.
Yes, it is, haha. Although I have a good friend who is totally in the scene and listens to a thousand bands with names I have never heard. I hate the most music he lets me listen to, but sometimes I discover some new bands like Deathspell Omega
That’s a great band indeed.
Yeah, so I’m not always narrow-minded. It is more that I am too fucking lazy to check out new bands, but when I hear something great I will not say ‘no’ because it’s new.
Something different then…many people see Vittra as a fenomenal Black/Death Metal-album and give serious criticism concerning the later albums. Some label it as “thirteen in a dozen Black Metal like ‘those other’ Swedish bands”. Why have you chosen for this complete other direction on Sheol and Diabolical and what do you think of the commentary given to it?
I don’t give a shit about it actually. We didn’t had a specific plan, we just wanted to make music in the vein of Vittra, but without copying us like many bands do. It turned out in some completely different albums, but for me that’s fine. I love everything I make, and am not worried about the opinions others have about it.
When you look back on the period Vittra was released, what was the most prominent thing you would’ve changed if you had the change to?
I never do something like that. I mean, this album is released 10 years ago, why would I want to change anything about it? It is a great album, I like it. I don’t see a reason of changing anything.
What was the reason for rereleasing it through Regain Records in 2001, with 3 new tracks coming from the Maiden Slaughter demo?
We want that people can hear our music! It was sold out, but Wrong Again Records didn’t want to make any new copies.
So that’s why he is a dickhead?
Haha, yeah. Then Regain Records came up with the idea to make a rerelease and put the Maiden Slaughter demo also on it. We just said: yeah, why not! Recording the album in the studio was free for us, so we wanted to do it, because we love recording music.
2 tracks of those were covers from Kreator and Iron Maiden. A good choice in my opininion! We often see Black Metal-bands covering bands from the same genre, you’ve chosen the opposite…music from the other side of the Metal-spectrum. Just to show them ‘respect’ or what?
Well, we did some other covers as well who appeared on several tributes, but the reason covering Kreator and Iron Maiden were, besides the fact we think those bands are great, indeed because of the meaning they have in the Metal-scene.
So it is a bit about respect?
Yeah, you can call it that way.
3 years after Vittra, 2 demo’s and an EP further Diabolical came out through WAR Music, the same label which released the When Autumn Storms Come EP. Why this label?
Haha, that’s the same label as Wrong Again Records.
Oh, haha. Diabolical has a better production, which gives it a more dynamic sound. Was this the intention?
No, actually not. We just had better facilities to record the album.
For me it was quite conspicuous that the album was above all more melodic. Also quite ‘standard’. Not bad, but still not as strong as the debutalbum. Do you share this thought?
Hm, I actually equalize the albums we made. It is just a part of my live, every singel album. I love every album for what it is, and don’t have something like a personal favorite or so. I just think every album is from another point of view better, I don’t want to compare them in that way.
We heard nothing from Naglfar till Ex Inferis, an EP released by your present label Century Media. A year after that finally, after 5 years, Sheol was released. It is in the vein of Diabolical but at some parts a bit slower and heavier. What was the goal you had by releasing this album?
We don’t have specific goals or whatsoever. For us it is just important to make music, we don’t set out goals.
I see, and that brings me on the next question. It seems to be an emotional queste. Every musician says music is a way of expressing feelings and stuff. How do you think about that?
Ofcourse it is a way of express emotions, that is the mainreason I am still making music. But for me it is actually more.
Yeah, definitely! The first think I think about in the morning when I wake up is Naglfar, it is the most important thing in my life man.
And after all those years I can imagine that your best friends are from the band, he?
Sure, we became very, very close friends. That has to put the band together. We know eachother for so many years, I know some bandmembers for 20 fucking years now. I can’t imagine a life without Naglfar, nor without the bandmembers.
What about Jens Rydén? Do I pronounce it correctly by the way? Haha.
Yeah, haha. Well, as you know he has to finish his study which will take him 2 years. That’s the reason he left the band.
Does he have any influences on the band at the moment, or is he just totally out?
He does not have anything to do with the recordings, he’s now totally out. But it wasn’t the case that when he was in the band he did write all the music. Everyone writes a part of the music, so we can run the band also without him. But ofcourse, it is still one of my best friends!
Will he ever come back then?
We don’t know yet.
But he’s a great vocalist.
Yeah, sure, when he wants to come back…he may! Absolutely. He will always be welcome to return into the band, we’ll see if this ever happends.
Then about the new album, could you tell us something about this?
It was recorded in the same studio as we were before. It is in a forest in the middle of fucking nowhere.
Haha, really? That’s Black Metal, hahaha…
Yeah, haha, we had to walk 3 fucking kilometers before we found a road, haha. But wait, I’ll give you a flyer with information about the new album.
Thanks, I’ll read it later then. What are the biggest differences between Sheol and the new album – with the name Pariah as I can read on the flyer?
It is much more aggressive! The fans can expect a very aggressive release of a again a total different style!
Is it more Black or Death orientated?
I would say Black!
`What the flyer says about the new album:
“Pariah turns out to be a massive surprise, because their first album on Century Media Records manages far more than even “Sheol” to recapture the spirit of their big hit Vittra. Remorselessly driven by Mattias Grahn’s merciless drum-barrage Pariah delivers a thundering steel-inferno of razorblade-riffs. Arching melodies create sound-scapes of icy frost and those wizards of the strings Andreas Nilsson and Marcus V. Norman unite their dark abilities to shape harsh harmonies that are telling of evil epics! To the dark voice of the guitars Mr. Olivius adds his own raucous chords, spewing forth hateful lyrics into the world. Naglfar is back to the realm of Black Metal beyond any doubt to reclaim the Swedish crown!”`
A friend of my told me the sound in Eindhoven was very, very bad. You heard some more about this?
Jesus, yeah. The sound fucking sucks. But the sound yesterday turned out to be better, and that’s also what I hope for tonight.
Well, the sound today is quite good, so I don’t expect that will be a problem!
No, me neither, so we will just see!
Something totally different then…the Black Metal-scene is nowadays much about ideology. A big part of the scene deals about right-extremism and other ideological subjects instead of ‘old Skool Satanism’, and words like ‘Pagan’ and ‘Heathen’ are more used than ever. What do you think of this?
Hm, I don’t think it has to be part of music. It doesn’t matter to me, but still I think right-extremism is supposed to stay apart from Metal-music.
We Dutchmen always think our scene is so big and we have so many big bands…do you actually know any bands from The Netherlands?
Well…eh…let me think…
Oh, yeah, that’s a great band! But besides that I don’t know any bands from The Netherlands actually, haha. But I think that is more because of the reason I’ve given to you at the beginning of the interview; I’m not really interested in the scene and/or the underground.
A question which is asked in every interview…what are your plans for the future when it comes to the band?
Just continue making music and touring!!
Good luck with the gig tonight, and thanks for the interview. The last words are yours!
I also want to thank you for the interview!