IHSAHN Discusses Tracks On The New Album
Source: Candlight Records
This is from Candelight's PR for Ihsahn's new album, so here is a little more meat than usual. There's a lot more on the candlelight site.
“It has a similar feel to the opening from ‘The Adversary’, but lyrically it’s clear cut and hard hitting from the start. I deliberately wanted a similar start, although that wasn’t exactly planned, but lyrically too, I wanted a good opener that sets the standard for the album. I felt it okay to be a rather harsh and probably more typical black metal theme on the opening track. It doesn’t really cover all the other elements or give any hints to the more experimental parts of the album. The whole album builds in a different way from ‘The Adversary’, but for me it was a natural thing.”
“I started to have these rules with ‘The Adversary’, trying to be more focused and use more traditional song structures. I wanted this album to be more focused and not as all over the place as ‘The Adversary’ was at times. I wanted the songs to have a particular feel too, but also to stand out alone. With ‘Misanthrope’, it’s kind of straight forward. ‘Scarab’ is much groovier. The scale it’s built around, it has this Egyptian feel, in the tonality of it, and also this theme, the symbolic idea of the scarab, it’s almost a ‘Powerslave’ tonality to it. So I tried to be specific and more focused on the feel, and not necessarily bring in all different emotions and arrangements into all the songs.”
What are the lyrics about on this one?
“It reflects around the symbolism of the scarab and the reinvention of itself. The scarab is a symbol of reincarnation. It dies and a new scarab is born from the shell of the old one, so that’s how the lyrics go. From my experience, you build a new version of yourself, then you fall on your face when confronted with yourself and you have to start over. I’ve been very much inspired by Nietzsche and the re-evaluation of all things. You can’t stop that process, it’s always ongoing. You have to re-evaluate constantly, unless you want to stagnate and become one of the static people. That’s the theme of the song.”
This song features vocals from Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt. Was it written with his voice in mind or did you originally intend to sing it yourself?
“I originally intended to sing it myself. I wrote all the songs first and then I tried to work out which one would be most suitable for bringing in Mikael, when I first got clearance for doing that. It was written first and then chosen later. It worked pretty well, I think, with the things he did with it. It was kind of easy to pick that song for him.”
“I’m developing as a songwriter. Me and Heidi have discussed this. On her album (‘The Thread’, Starofash), she wrote all the songs on the piano and they worked in that context, and so then she started to arrange it. I think I tried to take a similar approach, just using guitars and drums and getting the riffs down, so the songs themselves were just basic ideas which you colour later. You need to have a very clear motive for each song. It’s a much more interesting way of working, rather than coming up with all these different pieces and trying to fit them together and make something that makes sense, which was very much the case in the early days. You can hear that in very young bands. They’ll reach a certain technical level and start to have ten-minute songs with 30 or 40 different riffs in there, with no apparent link between them. Eventually, you learn to appreciate form.”
Obviously this song is about freedom, but freedom from what?
“It’s about emancipation from everything else around you trying to lead you to decisions. It’s building on the same themes that I’ve always had. The re-evaluation of all things, but also setting your own standards for own things. When you’ve reached a point where you can find certainty in a certain belief and you can make your own moral decisions and moral values without having them dictated by society or religious history and all that, then you can become more immune to all these other factors. These themes are on ‘The Adversary’ as well. You have to try to build a wall, so as not to get too distracted and try to have some trust in seeing things through your own eyes. It’s also about being liberated from caring too much about what people think, and their impression of you. Particularly since going solo, I’ve stopped caring. I used to worry about interviews and whether I’d said the wrong thing. But having done as many interviews as I’ve done, and having said all the stupid things I’ve said, it hasn’t really mattered one way or the other. These days I probably do better interviews because I don’t have a second self judging me at the side. I just try to make good conversation and enjoy it, rather than telling myself to do the right thing.”
“It’s a very aggressive song. It’s probably the most black metal-sounding of the songs. Both the title, the music and the lyrics express that. I haven’t really been trying to do something that sounds evil, but somewhere inside that kind of teenage rage still lives on and once in a while you need an outlet for that. ‘Malediction’ is probably an example of that.”
“It’s building a song on the Goethe Faust story. You’ve experienced the same thing so much, and you want to experience something else, something more. You want to experience something other than the little cave you’ve built around yourself. It’s an interesting perspective. You’d rather take the risk, like Faust. He does the deal with Mephistopheles, rather than keeping with the same old thing. As with Icaros and Prometheus and the others, it doesn’t really go that well for him but at least he has a go at it! It’s about dealing with that type of thing. The riffing and all that is more experimental in a way. I’ve used a different tuning, so I feel it has some kind of alchemist’s feel to the music as well.”
“This one didn’t start with a riff or a lyric. It just started with a title. I had this idea that I wanted to write a song called ‘Elevator’ and I wanted to have the feel of the elevators in ‘Angel Heart’, going downwards, because that image and that movement has made such a strong impression on me. I wanted the song to be like that, hence I wrote the riffs that descend, all the movement is downwards. For me, it’s a new perspective. I have a particular goal and then I try to fit the music to that. I’ve tried to do that with all the songs, have a clear cut idea of what the song should be before I write all the parts. I’ve been able to stay focused, and that’s been a general rule of the album, having a very strong focus. We have our own studio and huge sound libraries and many guitar effects and sounds, and you can get really lost in all that, because you can do practically anything, so you need to have a real musical focus and try to use those tools to achieve that, rather than letting the tools lead you away.”
“I’ve always layered my stuff so much, so I wanted to challenge myself and just use the guitar and vocals and not necessarily use ten extra voices. I’m challenging myself and trying to make things work without all the extra bits around them. It’s a very simple, pure idea, having a go at that type of ballad. It’s a very different thing from ‘Astera Ton Proinon’. It’s much more stripped down. It was kind of scary to do, but very liberating once you get past the ego thing of ‘Do I look stupid naked?’, you know? I’m very pleased with the way it came out.”
“It ends in a similar way to how the album starts. It’s lyrically very harsh, with the symbol of standing alone and relating to the whole desultory, solo experience, and the fact that you end up doing this alone. It’s really a statement of ‘Like it or not, this is what it is’. It’s a bit of an arrogant attitude, I guess, but it should be expected! You can’t be too polite or too humble.”
Jaco died for our sins so that modern bass players could be free to play more and be heard.