As the evenings come quicker and darkness comes thicker so we move into the time of winter. Returning after some time away from the Black Metal realm, Dark Funeral return once more into the fray of frost and fire. Currently on their European tour with Krisiun, we were able to catch up with both Lord Ahriman and Heljamadr on their London appearance. Sat ironclad and without the usual corpse paint get up its clear to see that both Ahriman and Heljamadr, when not on stage donning their imposing gear are simply fans of Black Metal. Revealing to us the process in which Where Shadows Forever Reign was brought to light and some of the inner turmoil members experienced and its cathartic release. We welcome you, once again, into the realm of shadows.
You can read the entire transcript or listen to the Soundcloud file below for the full interview.
I’m here with the two main dudes of Dark Funeral! How are you guys?
Heljamadr : Just fine thanks.
Lord Ahriman : Yes, doing just fine thanks.
So the classic boring question, how is the tour going?
LA : Very good.
Hel : Great so far.
Have you been on tour for quite a long time?
Hel : No, we pretty much just started last week in Asia. A couple of gigs, then we came back to Europe and now we have started a twenty six date European tour? This is date number six now? Five? I think we have twenty more days before we go.
Are you looking forward to going home hahaha!
LA : No, no already haha!
You guys are playing London tonight, are you excited?
Hel : Of course!
LA : Its been, I don’t know, we never really expected much of London so we have always been taken by surprise. We played Incineration Fest a while ago.
Hel : In May, I think it was…
LA : I was really surprised, the crowd was fucking awesome!
Especially in London, the crowd in London can be very judgemental and not very easy going.
LA : I’ve been really surprised every time, we always enjoy playing London. Of course maybe they let us down tonight!
What have you guys got planned after this tour is finished then?
Hel : More touring I guess?
LA : We still have more shows confirmed after this tour. Have a little break then more shows…
Is that for Christmas?
LA : Early December?
Hel : Mid December we’re going to Bulgaria, Greece, Romania…
Is that for a little stint?
Hel : A small tour, four or five dates or something like that.
Then is it more touring for 2017?
Hel : Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of touring.
What was the actual recording process like for the both of you, I remember that we did speak about this briefly before but what about for you Heljamadr?
Hel : It was tense but we made pre work pretty well. We had all the demos done and it was like four weeks of intense recording basically. Slept in the studio, woke up early, got coffee, started recording again. Sometimes we went to the gym just to move the legs a bit you know!
Hel : Pretty much everyday? Did we go home on the weekends?
LA : I think one weekend we went home. I can’t remember it was up until eighteen hours working days.
Hel : It was interesting and quite fun.
Do you think that the fact that you were there for such a long time, it made for a more intense album?
LA : This was the first time that we had really good preproduction done before the studio with everything, guitars, drums and especially vocals. Vocals we normally don’t have arranged and set out as good as we had this time. I think that we could work on things before the studio.
Hel : The producer could do his job instead of waiting for us to fix things. He had everything and he could pin point a couple of things that could be improved and be a proper producer. Instead of waiting for us to come up with stuff to record.
Did you have a time constraint as well, were you quite pushed for time?
LA : We always have a tight budget. You always have a tight budget. Now Daniel in the last couple of days was tearing his hair apart. “Its always like this! Super stressed and tight!” It doesn’t matter if it was six weeks it would still be the same those three or four last days. Its just stress its just the way it is.
Maybe two weekends going home not just one!
LA : Once you get in the working mode in the studio, you just want to keep on going. You don’t want to lose that energy. To have too much breaks is not good but of course you need some kind of break to clear your head because otherwise you get blind in what you are doing. You need to go back and listen on everything.
When you were recording, as you did prepro, was it literally just nailing everything everything down and making sure that everything was perfect or was it coming up with little things, changing things?
LA : Of course we tweaked a few things, made it even better. Daniel is really picky that everything has to be so well played. More small stuff in the rhythm section, for example on the guitars. If there is one picking that Daniel feels is not the right feeling, then you just keep on going until he feels that right vibe. Its good! Its the same, I have my take on how I want to have it but if he hears it with a fresh ear and can improve the small things that maybe you wouldn’t really understand if you saw what we were doing but its sort of subconscious, when you listen to it, it makes a difference. Those kind of small things are something that we worked really hard on.
It was the first song that you wrote lyrics on for quite a while?
LA : Yeah it was since the Secrets of The Black Arts.
What was it like going back to writing lyrics then?
LA : I don’t know but when I started working on this record, I was going through a pretty dark period. I had some stories I just needed to get out of my system and I find it very important. I had certain things in the music, the music meant this and that. For me it was very important that those songs were also lyrically about what I had in mind and what I went through in those periods. Those two songs was what gave me new energy to actually get back in the writing mode. Those two songs mean a lot. I think, we sat down and we I had the stuff I had written, I gave it to Heljamadr and was explaining what I had in mind then said have your take on this but its a very important story. I think when I saw the lyrics, I thought “Yeah that’s fantastic!”.
Hel : We really understand each other really well.
LA: As I said, I would have been super picky if I felt that he didn’t understand but somehow he really did understand everything so well. I think that we talked a lot and discussed different things. I explained more what I had in mind when I wrote certain stuff and he said “Ok I have this in mind” and stuff like that. Then we talked about it and I think that those discussions gave everything more depth behind everything, more impact in the final result. I think it made a great deal of impact on the final result.
What about recording for you as the first time you had done it?
Hel : The recording or the writing?
Hel : Well, I think that there is a certain framework in Dark Funeral. I mean I have been a listener of Dark Funeral since they started pretty much. I want to stay in there but also incorporate my own thoughts. For those two songs that we co-wrote he (Lord Ahriman) had the theme and I put the words to that. Its not a concept album, every song is stand alone but you can see glimpses from older albums, from older songs with some new input.
Little easter eggs from all the songs kind of thing?
Hel : Both yes and no, maybe and more of a continuation of some themes that I felt weren’t fully explored. I went a bit further with those, incorporating my own ideas. When I got the demos, you get a feeling, you get an image in your head. This song is about fucking a hot chick while the world ends. You just have the explosions everywhere whilst you’re humping. That song is “We Shall Conquer” that’s what I saw in the music and that is how it turned out. Things like that.
There isn’t an overarching theme to the album as such?
Hel : No, the framework of Dark Funeral is the theme. Its a Dark Funeral album of course so that is the theme. Then each song has individual paths and walks in different directions. Some are more in your face, others are more from the back of my head. From my own philosophy.
Various different life experiences then?
Hel : Yeah, yeah
What about influences for the two of you, do you have particular musical influences?
Hel : I listen to a lot of music. I listen to a lot of The Doors, I listen to Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. I like the lyrics there, there is always thought behind it. You can read them in layers and when I listen to Metal music its usually the old nineties stuff. If I want to listen to a good Black Metal album, I will put on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas because I know what I will get. Usually I don’t have that much time to listen to music so I don’t take chances.
You want to make the most of the time.
Hel : Exactly.
And what about for you (Lord Ahriman)?
LA : Musically I have never had much influence. I have always tried to go from my inner self, my own music. Already when we started, there was no band that sounded like we do. This was one of the reasons that we started the band, we wanted to start a band that was more dark and extreme than anyone out there. We couldn’t find it anywhere else, we had to create it ourselves. That is how it started in the early days! I guess we were kind of wicked minds and a little bit of luck that it turned out as good as it did. Things exploded right away for us within the underground. It was nothing that we had planned or expected, we were just doing this for ourselves and then things just went out of control.
What is it like actually being back now?
LA : Of course, always when you manage to bring out a new record its really draining to actually be in the writing process. Some of the things that go on in your head and inside of you. When its done, its such a big relief! All of those kind of years there have been different kind of things happening in my life. I think all of those experiences, I had learnt a lot about myself but I also think that it also had a big impact on the new record. It seems that before I can get into the writing mode I need to fall into a dark black hole and just try to crawl up from there.
Has that happened previously?
LA : That’s pretty much what “As I Ascend” is all about!
So its coming out of the darkness then? Onto something a little bit lighter. As Halloween is coming up, what is your favourite Horror movie and what is your favourite Horror movie villain and why?
LA : I started collecting movies when I was twelve years old when there was a big censorship in Europe. Especially in Sweden, Sweden has the oldest censorship on movies and art, stuff like that. Now its gone, fortunately but I think it was 1912? No 1911, Sweden brought in censorship in movies. Still were very open with sex and stuff but when it came to violent, blood and killing… When I was twelve years old, all movies you could rent they had cut off maybe five or ten minutes. All the good scenes!
A friend’s older brother was collecting movies and I had some connections all over Europe. It was the same like when you did tape trading with other bands. I was tape trading with the music scene, well maybe a little bit later but I started with Horror movies. Uncut movies, I was trading uncut Horror movies with people from all over the world. There were some countries that didn’t have movie censorship and stuff, you would always try to get the most uncut version. At that time it was a lot of Giallo movies. Lucio Fulci, Argento…
Is that Zombi?
LA : Sort of but you have Suspiria, Phenomena, lots of great movies! I was highly into that. They had an American take, George A. Romero, he was the one working with the more bigger zombie movies. This was more underground, Italian slasher and Giallo movies. Of course I liked Halloween, Jason all those movies came and I liked that of course too! I was a big fan of underground movies.
Are you still a fan of underground movies?
LA : Of course but I don’t collect. I have a huge collection at home. I have several boxes with all the original VHS tapes Phenomena, Suspiria, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox. Hard to remember all the titles!
Do you have any Horror movies?
Hel : Yeah! Well it was basically the same thing with the tape trading. I had a friend who had a lot of movies with weird subtitles, from different countries. Sometimes they were copied so many times that you could barely see what was going on. It was kind of fun but I don’t remember much of the titles. I just borrowed it, watched it and then I gave it back. The old Texas Chainsaw Massacre film that’s one I have been watching the most times.
That’s one of the best Horror movies ever made.
Hel: In the second film, I think that grandpa is the best one. The second film is actually really good, I love Dennis Hopper.
Its really good! Isn’t it an abandoned fair ground?
Hel : Something like that, I think its an amusement center!
Dark Funeral are currently on their European tour laying waste with Krisiun.