1349 - BEYOND THE APOCALYPSE - CANDLELIGHT
1349 - HELLFIRE - CANDLELIGHT
One of the many black metal bands forged from the cold soil of Norway is Oslo-based 1349. Named after the year a plague ravaged the northern country, 1349 has translated the ferocity and catastrophe to music and become one of the pallbearers for pure black metal art. Ali "The Metallian" caught up with guitarist Archaon at his home following the release of the band's Hellfire album through Candlelight Records. - 01.03.2006
METALLIAN: Archaon, thank you for your time this evening. We are talking following the release of Hellfire. What is the latest news with the band and what was the band aiming for upon writing and recording the new album?
ARCHAON: At the moment we have just lost our management, Khaoz Productionz. They did our management and booking. I don't know what happened with our manager. She just decided to leave the music business and go back to her town. She had quit working for a festival here last year. We are now going to work with a new booking agency. Apart from that, we are getting ready for more live shows and festivals. There will be some new festival announcements. We like to visit North America. We have not been there yet. We have some problems with members not being able to get into the USA. We are looking at that situation. As you might know, our drummer Frost who is also in Satyricon cannot get into the USA. He is also touring with Satyricon. In other words, we have to work constructively in other ways. Nothing will stop us. He will continue playing in both bands, but we might have to find a replacement for when he is touring with Satyricon. We are looking for a guest drummer. We have some thoughts as regards to who would fit, but Frost would have a big influence on our choice. He is the drummer and therefore he has to tell us who can do the job. We had a plan to tour the USA in June and July with Cannibal Corpse, but that fell through because they changed their plans. We were talking to them about it and we were both satisfied with the plans. It did not happen. Of course, any plans we make have to be approved by Candlelight. They are behind us though. The bill has to be right of course, but Candlelight works very well with us. They want us out there.
We are also going to begin working on a new album.
As regards to our goals, we always try to develop and move from where we have been before. We are really happy with the Hellfire album as a band. It is, by far, the best album we have done. In the beginning, and before we entered the studio to record Hellfire, I was wondering whether we would be able to do so much and do something with better quality than the Beyond The Apocalypse album - I really like that album - but it is obvious now that Hellfire is even better.
METALLIAN: Norway obviously has earned a reputation for black metal and bands delivering the goods for the sub-genre. Having said that, when it comes right down to it, there aren't that many Norwegian bands playing black metal. Putting aside commercial acts with keyboards and so forth, it seems like the scene is not exactly as densely populated as people imagine. Does 1349 care for the style and the scene or is it not a concern for you?
ARCHAON: Actually, the answer is a mixture of both. I don't want to make it too difficult for you, and I don't want to say we don't care because we are very conscious of what we play which is modernized black metal; and we are proud of the genre, on the other hand we don't work towards having the 'black metal label.' The music comes to us naturally. It is personal to us, which makes it special as well.
Personally, I don't have anything against bands like Dimmu Borgir. I think they have created some great albums, although they are far from what I consider black metal. I don't think they play anything like black metal the way I know the genre. The way I know black metal is as a special genre with a creepy atmosphere. I am thinking about Burzum or old Mayhem, which give me a dark feeling. It gets to my body and my mind. When I listen to Dimmu Borgir it is absolutely nothing like that! It is easy entertainment and not black metal, although they want to label themselves as that because they have a background in it. They have changed too. Their first album is different from what they do now. I like some of their stuff, but when I talk about black metal I am talking about something different.
As far as Norway is concerned I don't have much time to follow the scene too much. Of course, I go to gigs now and then. I really like some of the newer bands like Code. Their album is fantastic. They have the feeling I described. I also look forward to the Satyricon album. Another album that needs a mention is Disiplin's Anti-life. I like their music. Even the new Darkthrone is good even though it is different than their past stuff. That is pretty much what I like in black metal nowadays. It is definitely not big and perhaps it is smaller than people think. Except Norwegian bands can express the black metal feeling better than anyone else. Also, given the population black metal is a large percentage of music here. We have strict quality control in Norway. The country still has a lot of potential. Another band that needs to be mentioned is Tsjuder. They are fantastic too.
METALLIAN: Tsjuder is one of our favourite black metal bands at Metallian Towers. There shall be no disagreement there. Taking that as our cue, what are your personal beliefs and ideologies you might carry around in your head?
ARCHAON: My personal opinion is mine, but is also in accordance with the rest of the band. I would simply describe it as Satanic. That is on the inner side of me. I also have some beliefs that cannot be broken down into words. I have never found myself interested in any religion that is organized that I am familiar with anyway. I have studied some regular Christianity at school - the first four years, I think - then I was taken out of that and put in a program where you learn about different religions such as Buddhism, new age beliefs and so on.
METALLIAN: Did your parents decide to transfer you into a different program?
METALLIAN: The man might be in a black metal band with all the extremeness that goes with it and have knowledge of the world and its religions, but that apparently does not mean bluntness or unbridled candour.
ARCHAON: I wouldn't comment on some politics or religion. I wouldn't want to comment on the Muslim protests over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, for example. I have my opinions of course. I wouldn't try to force my opinions upon others. Live as you wish and I will do my own things.
METALLIAN: Going back to the album we need to satisfy the readers' thirst for more specific data. Firstly, what is the object on the album's cover?
ARCHAON: It is a helmet. It is a very dark figure that is breathing hell fire. It really is not a historical figure. It is based on our concept. It was made for us. Frost came up with it first and we all contributed ideas and had it drawn by an Italian illustrator called Lorenzo Mariani and a Norwegian called Nina Oddsett. They drew it and since they were both good we merged them into one. Then a metal sculptor here made it. The cover you see is a picture of an actual helmet. We also take it on the road with us now. Money should not be the limitation standing in front of art.
METALLIAN: Talking about a couple of specific songs Nathicana is an interesting word.
ARCHAON: Nathicana is a goddess from ancient times. I think she was Greek (Lovecraftian actually).
METALLIAN: While most songs are fast and brutal, the title track is slightly different. It is monotonous and has keyboards. The riff is repeated over and over perhaps in order to reach the magical 13:49 mark.
ARCHAON: The length was not calculated. The riff you are talking about was written and the song was around thirteen minutes and twenty seconds long. So we said why not make it a little longer? At that point it was quite obvious for us to add some noise and make it 13:49 minutes long.
We were looking for a special, older vibe and we got it. It is our contribution to that sound. It has dark emotions. It is like a journey into the mind.
METALLIAN: Celestial Deconstruction is a song with slower parts. Is it necessary to have a song or two with slower parts so the band can catch its breath on stage?
ARCHAON: That is never a consideration. You have heard our two previous albums and they are pretty much full-on speed all the time. We wanted to include different elements here. The song needed to be brought down to a psychedelic darkness way. The riff turned out like that. It wouldn't sound very good if we played fast. We think about that. We need to think of the lyrics and the energy. That is why the song is the way it is. The slower parts were necessary.
METALLIAN: From The Deeps has an almost muddled intro or start. What is being said there?
ARCHAON: It is 'eeea eeea' repeated. As to what it exactly means you would have to ask the person who wrote the song, but I believe it is an old war chant from Egypt. Although I am not one-hundred percent sure.
METALLIAN: An obvious question to ask is regarding your recent Swiss show where you were joined on stage by one Tom Fischer of Celtic Frost fame during a cover version of the song The Usurper.
ARCHAON: Yes, that was in Switzerland. We toured Switzerland a year previously, in 2004, and we performed a cover of Celtic Frost's The Usurper then. We did not know that those guys were there standing in the crowd. They had a chat with us when we walked off the stage. They were really nice. With us being fans of Celtic Frost it was easy to create a relationship between the bands. So next time we were there Tom came on stage with us to sing the song. It sounded totally fucking awesome. There was no practise. He came on stage spontaneously.
METALLIAN: What is your perception of the Celtic Frost of today? Speaking to Thomas and his cohorts do you believe they are in the right mindset to record and release a Celtic Frost album?
ARCHAON: The new album of theirs contains a little bit of the old vibes of Into The Pandemonium and a little bit of new influences. Ravn, our vocalist, went down to Switzerland and listened to the album and checked it out in the studio. He also tells me that the album is really good.
Archaon ends the chat with the message that he, singer Ravn, second guitarist Tjarve, bassist Seidemann and Frost would really like to visit Canada and play some shows. He also would like the fans to know 1349 will be on stage all over Europe in the coming months. Check them out at www.legion1349.com if you can stand the heat of Hellfire.
If you enjoyed this, read Naer Mataron