Darkthrone - 28/11/2007

In 1986, Norwegians Gylve Nagell, Ted Skjellum, Ivar Enger, and Dag Nilsen formed the band Black Death. Just prior to their first release, Soulside Journey, the band changed its name to Darkthrone. With guidance from their friend Euronymus, of the famed Mayhem, Darkthrone decided it was time for a new, darker image. Like their black metal cohorts they covered their faces in corpse paint and changed their names to represent the evilness of their music. Nagell became Fenriz, Skjellum became Nocturno Culto, and Enger adopted the name Zephyrous. Nilsen left the band but not until after recording the bass parts for their third album, ‘Ablaze In The Northern Sky’. ‘Ablaze’ established Darkthrone as a genre originator along with other Scandinavian black metal bands such as Mayhem, Emperor, and Satyricon. Their next two albums, ‘Under A Funeral Moon’ and ‘Transylvanian Hunger’, also make most lists of must-haves in the genre.


Darkthrone is known for creating albums that sound raw and dirty. Even when modern equipment and recording budgets available to them have allowed for better production they go to great lengths to make their records sound as if they were recorded in a garage. In 1994, Darkthrone switched from the Peacville label to local Norwegian label Moonfog, owned by Satyr of Satyricon, and released what they have called the ultimate tribute to Celtic Frost, ‘Panzerfaust’. After the recording of ‘Panzerfaust’, Zephyrous, as the rumor goes, went missing never to be seen again. The follow-up to ‘Panzerfaust’, ‘Total Death’, was recorded only by Fenriz and Nocturnal Culto. The two later brought out some old sessions, added vocals, and released ‘Goat Lord’. In 1999, Darkthrone released ‘Ravishing Grimness’, continuing in the vein of old school thrash/black metal.


In 2000, ‘Plaguewielder’ came roaring back with the "necro" style of production. Darkthrone were becoming comfortable with their "new" evolution and direction, one which would follow on into their next albums. The importance of holding onto the old ways and fans, and too stubborn to evolve themselves, was, as always, the least of their worries. After a long break, Darkthrone released the album ‘Hate Them’ in 2003. Going even further back to their "necro" roots and sound than the two previous albums. In 2004 they released ‘Sardonic Wrath’. Even beyond previous works, this was considered the true return to their old form, and would almost dictate the future style and progression of the band over the next release and singles.


In 2005, Darkthrone confirmed they had returned to Peaceville Records, after leaving the label in 1994. They had also started up their own record label, Tyrant Syndicate Productions, which will release their albums in the future (with Peaceville/Snapper Music distributing). Darkthrone released their 12th album, ‘The Cult Is Alive’, in early 2006. This was preceded by an EP titled ‘Too Old, Too Cold’, which featured exclusive tracks. Additionally, they filmed a video for Too Old, Too Cold, which is included on the Special Edition CD of The Cult Is Alive. The album brings with it a punk aesthetic/style to the songs. This album was the first Darkthrone album to be featured on chart in Norway, debuting at number 11.


In July 2007 they released the EP ‘NWOBHM’, a "teaser" from the forthcoming album that came out September 13. Darkthrone released their 13th full length album called "F.O.A.D.".



Recently we had the chance to ask Fenriz (Gylve Nagell) some questions about his latest release, so here we go!!!

How did you launch into writing the material for ´F.O.A.D.´ after your previous album, did ideas come easily or was it more of a careful composing thing?

We recorded the first 2 tracks for ‘F.O.A.D.’ even before our previous album ‘The Cult Is Alive’ was released. We record when we both have a song each, our writing process is “eternal”, we don't write for albums now, we write and record “continuously” and release it as album when the material is around 35-40 minutes. very honest, no bullshit.


Did you have a certain idea of what you wanted to do on ‘F.O.A.D´,  any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

No, we don't plan. Our riffs come to us, then we feel we must make songs and record them. We follow our hearts, our hearts are now more in NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) style (my heart) and classical metal (Ted´s heart).


How do you manage to come to one musical agreement when you work on a new record?

We made songs together until 1991. After that we each started making our own material, no-one can criticize the others songs, they have all been recorded since then - that way. The only exception was the last song on our album “Sardonic Wrath”, which we wrote together.


Was this a natural thing?

øhhh, as I said we just record what we have. We don't have any plans or style direction in mind, but of course no modern metal styles are allowed - but we know that.


Have you taken into account your old school fans while writing your new album?

We have ONLY cared for our old school fans since we recorded our second album.


For the first time we actually see Nocturno Culto writing some music and lyrics. Can we expect more songs like this?

Biggest mistake I have seen. Ted started writing material already in 88/89, the only thing he didn't write songs for was ´Transilvanian Hunger´ and ´Panzerfaust´ which I wrote, played, and recorded myself. The first time he did the lyrics was in 1995/96 for the ´Total Death´ album. He wrote almost ALL of ´Ravishing Grimness´ and ´Plaguewielder´ albums (I had writer's block from 1996-2005, in that period I still wrote 8-10 songs, but it was difficult). For the first time since 1995 I have written more than half of the album on ´F.O.A.D.´, and I wrote 50 % of the 2006 releases, ´Too Old Too Cold´ and ´The Cult Is Alive´. I write primitive stuff. Ted writes more complicated riffs.



On ' F.O.A.D'  Darkthrone has developed yet another sound than on ' The Cult is Alive'. Can we expect another hailing of epic heavy metal on the next album, or will it be something else?

My songs seem to be very Motorhead NWOBHM with Iron Maiden symphonies style on our next album nr 14. I son´t know much about Ted´s material, it´s probably more classic HM in a Darkthrone style ofcourse. The sound will be just like on ´F.O.A.D.´ and ´THE Cult Is Alive´.


In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to Darkthrone?

For me it is that it is in 4/4 beat (straight ahead). And that it rocks.


Is it important to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?

No, I never do HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I never hear what the vocalists sing about.


How did the recording process proceed, did you work differently than on your previous album?

No, we recorded 2 and 2 tracks with some months in between. It can be read about in the LINER NOTES on our very cool booklet for the ´FOAD´ album.


In the video made for Metal Hammer we could see Nocturno Culto introduce us to your brand new Necrohell II studio aka oven. Has it fully satisfied all the demands that you guys had for the new album?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! yeah, even more necro than expected HAHAHAHAHA.


Not that you usually care about it, but how is the response to the album?

How would I know? I am busy tenting in the forest (26 trips this season), doing interviews, trading music, hanging with my girlfriend, drinking in private with my crew, writing more songs. I DO NOT read reviews or people´s opinions.


Why did you decide to include the Testors cover-song again on the ‘NWOBHM’ EP while it's also been released on the ‘Forebyggende Krig’ single?

Why? beats me, it wasn't even my idea to put out that 7", that was the last thing Hammy wanted to do before leaving his label Peaceville.


Are you already in the process of writing new material, or are you having a break?

No, since January I wrote material and we recorded the first two songs last Friday. I have 80% of the material for our next album ready.


Can we expect another EP before the next album?

We are thinking no. I prefer only album releases anyway, like for instance with ´Omen´, it would be cool if they didn't release that EP, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.



Just like Satyricon and Mayhem, Darkthrone seems to be yet again evolving to another kind of black metal. Do you think it is something that happens due to the long running time of Darkthrone (and others) or just mere coincidence?

We are a universe away from those bands when it comes to inspirational sources and musical cycles. The black metal anarchy was started in Norway by Darkthrone and Nattefrost, according to Ivar from Enslaved. and I think he is right. Mayhem has always done their own thing, many other of us fell into some trend grooves at one point or the other - or even worse, we started the trends by releasing a good album that was then misunderstood and copied in commercial ways by other plastic sounding bands.


What is your opinion on the blackmetal scene these days, is there anything missing?

I care about metal in general, and I like the raw bands with the old sound. Anything newer sounding (production) than 1987 is completely uninteresting to me, but more importantly I am mainly looking for metal up to 1985 now, newer bands that play these styles are also very interesting, like Atomic Roar from Brazil, Nocturnal from Germany, Deathhammer from Norway etcetera.


With more than ten albums and several EP’s under your belt, how far has Darkthrone surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?

My only dream in music as a child and adolescent was to get a record deal and record albums. After  I got that in 1989 I have had no goal and I just want to make the right decisions by following my heart in metal always. No goal. It is rewarding when people really understand what we do now (now being what we do in any point in time) and also when people in bands I like really like us too.


What can we expect from Darkthrone in the future, any touring plans?

Next  April, we start a 14 month tour in Antwerpen. Only Antwerpen. In 14 months.


Is here anything you’d still like to share with us?

No, support real metal with soul! Demon's Gate and Alpha Centaury.


Thanks for your time!


Eugene Straver / Thomas van Golen



Current members:
Nocturno Culto (Ted Skjellum) - Vocals, Lead Guitar, Bass, Lyrics (since 1989)
Fenriz (Gylve Nagell) - Drums, Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Lyrics (since 1986)

Former members:
Ivar Enger (Zephyrous) - Guitar - (1988-1995)
Dag Nilsen - Bass - (1986-1991)
Anders Risberget - Guitars - (1986-1988)

Studio Albums:
Soulside Journey - (1990)
A Blaze In The Northern Sky - (1992)
Under A Funeral Moon - (1993)
Transilvanian Hunger - (1994)
Panzerfaust - (1995)
Total Death - (1996)
Goatlord - (1997) Recorded In 1990 - 1991
Ravishing Grimness - (1999)
Preparing For War (Best Of, 1988-1994) - (2000)
Plaguewielder - (2001)
Hate Them - (2003)
Sardonic Wrath - (2004)
Preparing For War (Re-Released as a Box Set + bonus CD & DVD) - (2005)
The Cult Is Alive - (2006)
F.O.A.D. - (2007)


Singles / EPs :
God Of Disturbance And Friction - (2000)
Too Old, Too Cold - (2006)
Forebyggende Krig - (2006)
N.W.O.B.H.M. - (2007)