» ICS Vortex - Dimmu Borgir
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Interview conducted April 20 2007
Interview published April 30 2007

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Thank you - yes, it has been a few years, we know.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: OK...very good...

I mean if I was speaking with Shagrath, I would definitely discuss his participation in Chrome Division, as I so enjoyed that CD. Also, if I was communicating with Galder, I would be inclined to mention Old Man's Child. Actually, Simen I have met you previously when you came to the US with Borknagar, Witchery, Peccatum all opening for Emperor. You were really drunk that night; so you probably don't recall, obviously. Then I also briefly spoke with you when you toured with Dimmu and Samael.

  • ICS Vortex: Oh yeah, that's been a few years, like '98, I think?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: OK, but please no pictures - I prefer - alright?

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...

  • ICS Vortex: I just prefer no pictures, OK?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, we had like a ten hour flight, and we are all still jet-lagged. It was not our choice to play Cleveland first, that was how it just worked out. Normally, I would be on auto pilot for the question/response; but I see this is going to be interesting. Can I offer you something to drink?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, you are my first interview on this tour and my first in a couple of years, I guess I'm a bit rusty - eh?

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?

  • ICS Vortex: Well, yes, but we are used to that, by now. It is almost the same in Europe, anyhow. We did have issues with gear getting lost, like the lights, otherwise we really had no problem when we flew in to New York - I think which was Wednesday?

MettleAngel: So you flew in two days ago? Would we prefer us to address you as Simen or Vortex?

  • ICS Vortex: ICS Vortex is fine - its easier to google, that way, you know?

MettleAngel: That's cool, I'll stick to the stage names. Now, were there any press engagements in the US prior to this tour?

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, I think Shaggy and Sven did something like that in LA last month.

MettleAngel: Shaggy? (Confused) Oh, you mean Sagrath and Silenoz? (so much for stage names). Yeah, because, the CD is not out yet.

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, it comes out very soon...

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Festivals in the US - I did not think you had those?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Yes Ozzfest, of course, we played... that I remember...

MettleMaiden: You were on main stage too, and that helped you to really become popular and well-known here in the US, correct?

  • ICS Vortex: Yes with Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. That was a great tour!

MettleAngel: Also, Lamb Of God were on that bill and, they will return this summer to headline with Lordi mainstage.

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, Lamb Of God, I remember now - are they doing well here in the US?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: You said we will play New England, but I'm not sure I saw that on the schedule.

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?

  • ICS Vortex: Well, customs lost our back-drop and since this is the first day we expect the usual "muck ups". We are not the "well-oiled machine" from the get go. We always expect more hassle until we get into a groove. It's been quite a while since we toured and we need to really decide what works best for us again.

How is your tour bus and accomodations?

  • ICS Vortex: Well, it's not top of the line, but the bus does have internet access - so I am happy about that. Also, I finally fit in my bunk - which is nice, for a change.

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?

  • ICS Vortex: (giggling) Yes, I'm glad to fit into my bed given my size and stature.

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!

  • ICS Vortex: Actually, no, we are only going to do two new songs tonight. Serpentine will occur in the middle followed by The Chosen Legacy. You like the video? It will be on Headbanger's Ball I think?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: We will open with Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse. We want this tour to be more of a reminder that we are still here and shit. Yes, we finally recorded a new album after four years. Diaboli is not out yet - so that won't be the focus. We want to play songs our fans recognize. We look at it this way, if we went to see a band we really adore, then we want to hear all these songs which we already know, you know what I mean?. There is no room for more new songs in the set, for now. Maybe next year, after the album has been out for a while we will concentrate on adding the newer tracks.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Exactly, this is how we decided for this tour. Like I said, maybe in 2008 we will focus on In Sorte Diaboli more.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: (laughing) Shaggy is my bitch - no - yes his vocals do really sound quite good on the new album - you're right. Have you heard the 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?

  • ICS Vortex: We are all fascinated by the Middle Ages, where a lot of good stuff happened. After Shaggy and Sven approached us with the idea, we were a bit concerned, as how to proceed.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Exactly, we all had our concerns, but once we got into the story we were at ease with the whole affair.

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?

  • ICS Vortex: No, I don't think so - why do you say this?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, I definitely see the similarity...Sabbat - Dreamweaver, I need to look into that and discuss it with the band - hmmm...

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?

  • ICS Vortex: I love Iron Maiden, but Geezer Butler inspired me to play bass. My uncle gave me my first Sabbath tape. Before that I never noticed the bass lines in music. I also played guitar, at the time; so I had an ear for guitar, primarily.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Actually, I never saw that video - it's not on DVD?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Yeah, I see what you mean. I did watch the videos on Headbangers Ball, so I guess I began to copy his style on stage, inadvertantly.

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?

  • ICS Vortex: Ozzfest really broke us in the US. That and being on the Hellboy soundtrack. With this new album we look forward to playing for our older fans, as well as gaining quite a bunch of new ones.

Well, with the individuality of bands performing on this tour, and the diversification of line-up and style of metal being played - most likely you will. Kataklysm draws the grindcore death fans; Devildriver has a loyal death cult following - as does Unearth. So fans of those bands, not familiar with Dimmu are in for quite a treat. Also on this tour you are bringing Hellhammer along, correct?

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, we have Hellhammer with us.

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?

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, this is true....

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?

  • ICS Vortex: We are not black metal no, not anymore.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Thank you so much for this. I like the way you describe the lyrics. You get it.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: This is because Dimmu Borgir consists of six totally different characters. We have no major expectations. When we sat down to write the new CD, we had to brush the rust from our fingers. We had quite a break between albums. All that touring really wore us out. We decided we needed a break because we were all getting on each others nerves.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: I know this sounds cliche; but it is true. Bands break up citing artistic differences - when really whey hate each other's guts! We all want to have a good time, just take it easy, and avoid pissing everyone off, all the time.

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?

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, definitely, we needed that. Once we hear the crowds excitement and enthusiasm, it really helps us to get back to business which makes it all worth while for us.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Really, there's no pleasing everyone - but we had to do what we did.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Exactly, that is why Sven and Shaggy did this. It was personal . They hated the original recording. They knew there would be oppositions, but they mostly did it for themselves. This is why we did not tour for this release.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Those two had been wanting to do this for quite sometime. They were never happy with the original. It was not a silly thing to do at all. They were not worried about losing or gaining fans. They were only concerned with pleasing themselves.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Also there were separate versions released. The US version was on Nuclear Blast; the European was on another label, I think; or distributed by another, something like that. There was some messed-up contract agreement. The guys did not see it as a win/lose situation, they just followed their hearts, and this is what they achieved.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: I agree, and thank you for saying this - the band will be pleased to hear you feel this way.

MettleAngel: So here you are in Cleveland - you ready for the Spinal Tap "Hello Cleveland" feel?

  • ICS Vortex: Spinal Tap - ha, ha how so true that movie really is. Yes, we are still jet-lagged and tired. Pre-production was a real bitch when the PA exploded. We had our difficulties setting up the drum kit. Our lights and back-drop are stuck in custums. Hello Cleveland, Spinal Tap indeed! Still, every band says that here, so I don't think Shaggy wants to do so.

MettleMaiden: Do you anticipate quite a solid turn-out tonight?

  • ICS Vortex: Pre-sale was 800 - not bad for our first show. The weather is good and it's a Friday, so We'll have to see.

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!

  • ICS Vortex: Really?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Ah yes, Polish metal like Vader, of course, and...

MettleAngel: Behemoth, Decapitated - yeah, everyone claims these; but what about their influences like Kat, !Turbo, Hammer, Stos - have you heard any of them?

  • ICS Vortex: Kat - She is a guitarist - no?

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.

  • ICS Vortex: I did not know this - I will have to look up those bands.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: Yes, this was fun, thank you both - enjoy our show - we hope there are not too many problems.

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.

  • ICS Vortex: No problem, we are finished then?

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

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