ICS Vortex - Dimmu Borgir
Tis my sinister awakening: a week of computer failure, and not-stop stress. Already it's the first day of the Invaluable Darkness Tour, time to journey to Cleveland. Operating with an unprepared aspiration, Wendy and I, soon were thus graced with a candid conversation with Frost Giant - ICS Vortex - The Master Of Disharmony - bassist for Dimmu Borgir. We were spellbound by his devilish insight and catharsis, given his extensive exhaustion from such an enduring flight overseas. This was his first interview in quite some time; therefore, we endeavoured not to bore, nag, or excoriate beyond the surface.
With this indoctrination, we seek
to avoid any sacriligious scorn, such that we may honour this viking of
carnal creation - a true progeny of the great accomplishment. Here the
fundamental allocation occurs, and the serpentine offering entwines; so
we invite you to watch as the conspiracy unfolds...
MettleAngel: Hey man, how are you doing this evening - Welcome back to America, we sure have missed you.
MettleAngel: This interview was scheduled just four hours ago, and confirmed after we arrived in Cleveland. I was not informed with whom I would be engaged in conversation; so I really don't have a set formula of questions - as each member of Dimmu would lead me onto a different path of interrogation. This is alright, though, as I don't like the question - response mechanics; rather I create each interview as being a conversation, which is more relaxed and fun.
MettleAngel: Yeah, and I was just a fan - nothing professional or organized. Although this is why my wife and I do this; because, we are fans first and formost, then writers. Wendy is my personal photographer. She is really quite good.
MettleAngel: Oh sure, we understand. We'll just use live photos from later tonight. (MettleMaiden:) I guess you don't want to be seen without your stage make-up...
MettleAngel: Absolutely, we totally respect that. So let's begin...This is the very first day of The Invaluable Darkness Tour for America. I'm surprised you chose Cleveland. I assume you flew in to New York. It seems that would be where the debut show would naturally occur.
MettleAngel: (after participating in Vortex' s kindness to share his beverages of local beer and a Sprite) So I guess I am your very first interview. I assumed there was going to be a press conference.
MettleAngel: Talk about your extremes - my last interview - in person was with Phil Demmel of Machine Head on the last day of their tour with Lamb Of God. He was exeedingly burnt out, and unprepared for my candour; now I have you, and what an ice-breaker! Given your exhaustion, I will strive to keep everything interesting and exciting, cool? (MettleMaiden:) Vortex, did you encounter any difficulties with the airlines or your flight? Did you have to deal with all those regular security measures?
MettleAngel: So you flew in two days ago? Would we prefer us to address you as Simen or Vortex?
MettleAngel: That's cool, I'll stick to the stage names. Now, were there any press engagements in the US prior to this tour?
MettleAngel: Shaggy? (Confused) Oh, you mean Sagrath and Silenoz? (so much for stage names). Yeah, because, the CD is not out yet.
MettleAngel: Tuesday, here in the States - I can't wait. I think Best Buy will have a special version available with a DVD. I know a guy who works there. You also have been chosen as the headliners for the New England Metal & Hardcore Fest happening this month, (April 28th). Actually, this is a great month for spring Metal Festivals.
MettleAngel: We do not have festivals in the European sense like Wacken or Sweden Rock Festival. Yes, we have big concert gatherings like Ozzfest which you played in 2003. We also have Gigantour, and a few Metal Fests in Milwaulkee and Chicago. Actually, this weekend is the Chicago Metal Fest headlined by Solitude Aeturnus with bands like Novembers Doom and Thurisasz playing. We opted to cover Invaluable Darkness instead.
MettleMaiden: You were on main stage too, and that helped you to really become popular and well-known here in the US, correct?
MettleAngel: Also, Lamb Of God were on that bill and, they will return this summer to headline with Lordi mainstage.
MettleAngel: Definitely, they are the most successful new American metal act around - maybe even the next Metallica! They are a great band and deserve all the success they have garnered. They headline or top-bill all the major tours. We just winessed them again with Machine Head. It's interesting, because they have such die-hard fans and they really are perfect gentlemen, married and quite professional. Actually, tonight you begin this Invaluable Darkness Tour with another great American band - Unearth. They, too, are really fun guys with a tremendous amount of energy on stage. This will be the third time we have seen them; having just caught them as openers for Slayer recently. They are a wonderful addition to this tour, too.
MettleAngel: Oh yeah, that will be Boston for you. Actually, that will be a really big show for you because Metal Blade will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary. Many signed bands will perform. I would love to attend because Hallow's Eve will be making their re-united stage appearance - the first one with Stacy in over 15 years. Lizzy Borden will also play with Jack Frost and Ira Black on guitars. Wendy and I considered going, but those classic Metal Blade artists are still sandwiched between a bunch of new acts. This means they get little stage time. If they co-headlined with you, that would be a consideration. Last year we wanted to see Gamma Ray and Dragonforce - but we actually saw and met Draggonforce for the first time right here. So as far as tonight's show, can we expect the usual stage persona and theatrics?
MettleMaiden: Yes, indeed you are a very tall man, so I can see where that may present quite a problem. (MettleAngel:) Yes, before it was like the mythological Greek Procrustes bed. He is just so damn tall that his legs always hang over the edge, but, of course, they are not chopped off; otherwise, where would those spiked Gene Simmons steel boots find their footing?
MettleAngel: So will you focus on the In Sorte Diaboli tracks as a prime theme for the show? I assume you will open with The Serpentine Offering - what an awesome epic video you have made! Such a big budget!
MettleAngel: That surprises me since this is called The Invaluable Darkness Tour. I thought for sure you would include that song as well in the set and a few other new ones too.
MettleAngel: So unlike Iron Maiden who play the entire Matter Of Life And Death on tour - you are concentrating more on a greatest hits approach? I can understand why you are doing this. Afterall, it has been sometime between albums; so you want to play the songs all the fans know, I get it.
MettleAngel: Well then we can count on those killer songs replete with your amazing clean vocals balancing Shagrath's rasp. Although, I must say, Shagrath's singing is the best he has done so far on the new CD.
MettleAngel: My fellow writer and site authoritarian Tommy has reviewed the CD for Metal Covenant. So yes, I have heard it, but I don't own it yet. I really like it a great deal. The songs, the production, the concept are all exceptional. My only complaint is the rather short running length. This is really short for a concept album; especially, where there are like two bombastic overture/interludes included. So let's talk a little about the new CD. This is your first concept album ever. What made the band decide to do this?
MettleAngel: I imagine so, since everyone is doing this nowadays, and fans might feel that Dimmu Borgir is jumping on the bandwagon, following a certain trend, or, god forbid, losing their originality.
MettleAngel: I would suggest the band was perhaps playing some classic Sabbat at the time or inspiration, as the overall concept on In Sorte Diaboli has to be inspired in part by Dreamweaver?
MettleAngel: Well, on the Dreamweaver album, which was inspired by Brian Bates book - The Way Of The Wyrd, Martin sings about the character Brand - who was a devoted monk, sent out into the wilderness to convert the pagans. Once he spends time with these mystical men, he finds his true calling, forsakes the Church and joins them; realizing that they are not evil like the Church claimed. In Sorte Diaboli also has a member of the clergy who finds his true vocation with so called dark side, correct? This is what I gather after playing the CD, and watching the Serpentine video, at least.
MettleAngel: Now as I mentioned, I have seen you play with Borknagar and Dimmu Borgir in the late 90's. I always enjoyed your Steve Harris type emulations and maneuvers on stage. Is he one of your biggest influences?
MettleAngel: I know what you mean. You did not realize bands like Iron Maiden wrote several songs on bass. When I first saw you live you seemed to do your best Steve Harris imitation with one leg up on the amp and the bass in the forefront just like on the Live After Death video.
MettleAngel: Not officially, not yet. I've seen it so many times, I could recite it. We have it on VHS and Beta, so that is why I suggested you tend to follow his stage antics.
MettleAngel: All bass players do this in one way or another. I've seen Lemmy clones, Joey DeMaio, you name it. Getting back to this tour, do you expect American audiences to continue their devotion to the band like they did when you played Ozzfest?
MettleAngel: He is till just a session member who recorded the new CD and will tour with you - he has not officially joined the band, correct?
MettleAngel: And I would suggest that given the diversification of talent for all members in Dimmu Borgir, that you are really not a black metal Band - right?
MettleAngel: (Then I point to the patch on Vortex's jacket with the old Dimmu Borgir logo) Look, Wendy this is the older logo I mentioned; but like In Flames, they got Andreas Marshall to do their awesome artwork in the 90's. Then, they relinquished the older logo for a more block and pronounced image. Vortex, this is why I really enjoy Dimmu Borgir, but not so many other stripped-down and primitive, so-called authentic Black Metal acts. I really enjoy the evolutions of the Dimmu sound from For All Tid to Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. I love the music and the lyrics. They are not "Satanic" per se'. They are philosophical, soul searching; yet diligently dark, and hauntingly poetic anthems.
MettleAngel: No, seriously, I mean it! Dimmu Borgir's songs are pedantric poetry and perfidious prose convoluted in a bleak suggestion of melancholia, which really just makes you think. They are not just bland band banterings of hate and anger, poorly expressed.
MettleAngel: Being in a band is like a marriage - it is a constant struggle. It takes all your heart and passion; otherwise, it will end, usually quite painfully.
MettleAngel: So, the break really served to rejuvinate the band. The time apart recharged you batteries, and helped you to realize what Dimmu means to each and every one of you?
MettleAngel: I am so glad to hear this. It seems that when you took a break from touring and re-released an updated version of Stormblast last year, fans were really complaining and belittling the band.
MettleAngel: I totally agree! I really enjoyed the newer version of Stormblast. You kept the original feel, but beeffed up the sound and production. Several black metal enthusiasts claimed you sold-out doing this. Then again Destruction receved a shit load of slack for doing Thrash Anthems. When I spoke with Schmier, he explained why this was necessary. Re-recoding the songs helps the band achieve the sound which they originally intended. Now Tankard are also doing this, which is so damn cool.
MettleAngel: I totally understand their frustration. When I compare both versions it is like night and day. I prefer the modern production; then again I'm not into poorly recorded black metal, either.
MettleAngel: I understand where they are coming from. You have to please yourself as an artist, essentially before you can appease your fans This is how you maintain your integrity, and earn their respect.
MettleAngel: I'm grateful they followed their black hearts - this keeps the music pure. Besides, the updated production enhances; rather than depletes the overal sound.
MettleAngel: So here you are in Cleveland - you ready for the Spinal Tap "Hello Cleveland" feel?
MettleMaiden: Do you anticipate quite a solid turn-out tonight?
MettleAngel: 800 pre-sale is solid. You will easily go to 1000 with a 2000 capacity venue. Not bad for your first day. The venue has a great stage theater. As for the weather - who knew, we had snow just a few days ago!
MettleAngel: Yes, typical Ohio intermittent, schizophrenic weather. I am so looking forward to tonight's event. We are going to celebrate Wendy's birthday and just relax and enjoy the show. I am also going to do a total live show review report for Metal Covenant, once our computer gets out of the repair shop. Just this morning I was listening to the new songs and I really enjoyed the article in Metal Maniacs with the band on the cover which reads " The Power Of Christ Repels Them...". I found that to be both honest and humorous. Actually, other than all this great Polish metal which I've been playing, new Dimmu has been in heavy rotation, for me.
MettleAngel: Behemoth, Decapitated - yeah, everyone claims these; but what about their influences like Kat, !Turbo, Hammer, Stos - have you heard any of them?
MettleAngel: You are thinking of The Great Kat from the US. She is an exceptional guitarist, who is classically trained; she dedicates all her recordings to classical composers like Beethoven, Rossini, Vivaldi, Wagner, etc. I am referring to Kat from Poland. Their name translates to Executioner. They inspired Vader. They have been around forever and changed their style over the years. Have you ever heard !Turbo - they are amazing. The Polish scene is awesome. I'm not into all those Polish Black Metal bands like Graveland. The thrash and classic metal bands are definitely worth checking out though. There is even an act called Lord Vader.
MettleAngel: This is why the internet is such a great tool for metal these days. Man, it has been so cool to sit and chat with you. Thank you for agreeing to do this. We look forward to a great show tonight.
MettleAngel: No worries, I'll be honest and accurate with my review. Thank you for the Sprite and beer too, we truly appreciate you hospitality.
MettleAngel: Yes, we will let you get ready for tonight's debut show and the desecration of our christened souls!
See also: review of the album In Sorte Diaboli