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Desighn by:Brandon Marshall 

 

THE BOOK OF LAW ACCORDING TO DIMMU BORGIR

 Interview and Photographs by: Brandon Marshall

Sonic Excess images and staff authored work are copy written and are not to be used without the written permission of the Editor(s). ©

Photo by: Brandon Marshall. Do not use without permission 

 DIMMU BORGIR (the Icelandic translation for ďdark citiesĒ or ďdark castlesĒ) formed during the height of the second wave Black Metal scene that gained much notoriety in Scandinavia during the early 1990ís. While many of the genre pioneers have faded into obscurity and Heavy Metal history books, DIMMU BORGIRís 16-year career has steadily brought new audiences and attention. The band seems more relevant today than ever. In some of the bandís more recent works, DIMMU may have surpassed the Black Metal underground, but the roots and spirit remain. In the fall of 2010, DIMMU has released their most complex body of work to date, entitled Abrahadabra. 

 While on tour in support of Abrahababra, I had the chance to sit down with founding member and guitarist, Silenoz, to discussÖ..

 "I was always looking for the most extreme stuff in a musical sense, when I got into more heavy music, I automatically felt a kinship with that type of music."

 

 

SONIC EXCESS: When you first started to gain interest in music, was it classical music or more rock based that influenced you during your formative period?

SILENOZ: It was, at first, rock based. I started listening to the music of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, then when bands like TWISTED SISTER, when they started to get big, bands like KISS, W.A.S.P., and JUDAS PRIEST, all that stuff. I was about 6 or 7 years old when I got into music.

SE: Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to pick up a guitar, or bass, I should say?

SILENOZ: It was not really a decision I made; it just happened that way. I subconsciously knew that I wanted to be an artist or a performer when I was a kid. I would dress up, stand in front of a mirror, and play air guitar.

SE: How did the second generation of Black Metal affect you growing up in Norway? Was it bands like MAYHEM and EMPEROR that inspired you when you were first forming DIMMU BORGIR?

SILENOZ: Ohh, for sure. I was always looking for the most extreme stuff in a musical sense, but also in a more artistic sense. In 1990-1991, when I got into more heavy music, I automatically felt a kinship with that type of music, and I took it from there, basically. 

SE: When you write, do you have to channel into a certain part of yourself to draw inspiration, or is it more of a natural process?

"We have had our fair share of line-up changes over the years. That has been for different reasons, why people have come and gone, but I think itís because people loose focus after a while"

 Photo by: Brandon Marshall. Do not use without permission marshall@sonicexcess.com

SILENOZ: Well, it all depends. Sometimes, it has been months and months before I write a small part of the lyrics, and other times, it may take me only a few days to have basic song ideas. So, it all depends, inspiration comes and goes. I can get inspired just by seeing something on the news and channel it differently, then use that as a constructive force, I guess you could call it.

SE: Over the years, DIMMU BORGIR has had sort of an interchangeable line-up. Do you find it difficult to work with session musicians and temporary band members due to a lack of chemistry and not entirely understanding the habits of one another?

SILENOZ: Yeah, itís like you really donít know until you have been on tour for 3 months, unless you know the person from before. The person could be the best guitarist, drummer, or whatever, and thatís cool, but you have to get along on a personal level as well. We have had our fair share of line-up changes over the years. That has been for different reasons, why people have come and gone, but I think itís because people loose focus after a while and take things for granted and become dicks.

SE: Over the years, DIMMU BORGIR has recorded with synthesizers. How was it to work with a full orchestra on the scale that you did with Abrahadabra?

 Photo by: Brandon Marshall. Do not use without permission marshall@sonicexcess.com

SILENOZ: Itís a whole different ballpark for sure. As much as keyboards and synths can create a great atmosphere, they (synthesizers) donít create the dynamics that a real orchestra and choir can add to the picture. On this album (Abrahadabra) when we recorded the orchestra parts, it was amazing to see a 65-piece orchestra play our songs, and that is something that really adds to the final product.

SE: Did you arrange the music for the orchestra, and was it recorded collectively?

SILENOZ: No. We had some help from a friend of ours who had helped us in the past to get everything down on notes and put the layers for the orchestra to play, because we donít know notes; we just know what we play. The orchestra recorded just off the click track, and they didnít have guitars or drums. The orchestra didnít know how it sounded, until the finished CD.

SE: The orchestra gives the album (Abrahadabra) a complete sound.

SILENOZ: Yes, that it exactly the word I would use. I think this is our most complete effort in combining the old elements that we have done over the years. It takes a lot of preparation and a lot of planning. We were so lucky to use one of Scandinaviaís best orchestras and some of the most professional musicians I have seen to this day.

SE: Is the reason why there was such a gap between In Sorte Diaboli and Abrahadabra because of the high level of production involved?

SILENOZ: Not really. We were concentrated on touring, and we donít really write music while we are on tour. Our touring cycle is one to two, or three years. Then, we start from scratch with the album. So, that is why it took us a few years.

 Photo by: Brandon Marshall. Do not use without permission marshall@sonicexcess.com

SE: Has there been any discussion about performing live shows with a full orchestra and choir in selected cities?

SILENOZ: Yes. We are actually working on that at the moment, with one off show in Norway this spring. I think itís going to happen, but it takes a lot of planning. There is a lot of stuff that needs to be worked out, but itís possible, and itís time for us to do something like that. We have wanted to do it in the past as well, but the timing hasnít been right. Now, with the band as it is now, we are the tightest we have been with any line-up we have had so far. If it goes well, then there is no reason why we canít take it around the world with selected dates, because, letís face it, touring with an orchestra is not really feasible, except for some cities, letís say for example, Los Angeles, Sydney, Tokyo, or whatever (tour dates). It would have to be the bigger cities.

SE: So, Iím assuming the show in Norway will be recorded for a CD and DVD?

SILENOZ: Ohh, for sure. It will be a whole documentary and everything. It will be something really special. It is something a lot of the fans would like to see also.

"For us, (DIMMU BORGIR) each time we release a new album, we renew ourselves".

SE: Abrahadabra is yet another DIMMU BORGIR album that has reached the top 50 US record charts. Is this type of success important to you, and do you feel that sales validate an artist?

SILENOZ: I donít think record sales really validate an artist; you can view success in many different ways. Success to me is to release an album that we are satisfied with. Whenever we release an album, it is already successful with our eyes and ears, because we are happy with it.

 Photo by: Brandon Marshall. Do not use without permission marshall@sonicexcess.com

SE: The album title Abrahdabra is a chapter in Aleister Crowleyís ďBook of the LawĒ. Crowley has been a topic for many artists over the years, but how is DIMMUís version different?

SILENOZ: I think we focused more on the constructive and positive sides to Crowleyís works and writings. I think we have deciphered it in a more forward way. A lot of bands just focus on the dark stuff. After growing up and learning so much about him as a person, and his view of magic and stuff like that, it makes you perceive him differently. Not all the lyrics are Crowley inspired, but he had a hand in forming some of the lyrics.

SE: Do you agree with Crowleyís philosophies and beliefs in regards to his mystical ideologies?

SILENOZ: There is certain stuff that we share in common symbolically, because he was also very obsessed with the idea of rebirth or reincarnation. For us, (DIMMU BORGIR) each time we release a new album, we renew ourselves. Now itís even more so than ever, because we have had line-up changes. So, we kind of started from scratch. We have proven to ourselves and the fans that we can still do it. So, I think we share a lot with Crowley, symbolically for sure.

SE: That brings me to my next question. DIMMU BORGIR  is a progressive band by nature, never releasing the same album twice. Do you think it is important for a musician to grow and mature musically?

"If we were out to do something mainstream or commercial ourselves, we would have to change the band name for starters".

SILENOZ: It is very important, but, then again, you look at bands like AC/DC who still sell out arenas in Europe. I donít know if you can call their music progressive, because, if you have one AC/DC album, in a way you have all of them. For us, it is different, because it is natural. For some bands, it is natural to progress, and, for others, it is natural to stay where they are. For some bands that works and for some bands it does not work. For us, it wouldnít work, because we could easily do another Enthroned Darkness Triumphant, but what would be the challenge in that? It also wouldnít make Enthroned Darkness Triumphant that special of an album, because then you would have two. It doesnít make sense for us from an artistic point of view.

 Photo by: Brandon Marshall. Do not use without permission marshall@sonicexcess.com

SE: Iím glad you brought that to point, because no two DIMMU albums sound the same.

SILENOZ: I donít think so either. You can pull out the new record (Abrahdabra) and still hear itís us. I feel like we kept the trademark, and that of course, is important, but if you sit down and decide what type of music you are going to make, of course it is going to go wrong. It has to come naturally; it has to flow naturally. When I hear bands say our next album is going to be like this or that, I think, ďDonít go there; just to with the flowĒ. We have a formula, if you can even call it a formula. Whatever we think sounds cool, we keep.

SE: Many old school fans have criticized DIMMU as going more ďmainstreamĒ. What do you think of this?

SILENOZ: If we were out to do something mainstream or commercial ourselves, we would have to change the band name for starters (laughs). It just does not make sense, if selling 10,000 copies of your album in the states in the first week of release, then if thatís being commercialÖ You canít please everybody, and we stopped thinking like that 15 years ago. We got shit like that from the beginning. Itís weird that some fans donít realize that. Letís say we did Enthroned Darkness again. That would be selling out, because you would have a product that certain fans would buy no matter what. Thatís being sure you would be selling more copies, and to me that is wrong.

SE: Any last words?

SILENOZ: Thank you very much. It is great to be back in Denver, even if the altitude is making us feel a little bit dizzy. Itís going to be a great show tonight.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Sonic Excess images and staff authored work are copy written and are not to be used without the written permission o f the Editor(s). ©