» II13 - Kampfar
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Soaring over mountains with black wings amidst icywinds biting and blowing in this hoar's frost; embraced by the blood truth, with very little gnostic awareness for this Norwegian pagan ravenheart's history or passion for the opera; I accepted Nathan from Napalm Records' challenge to interview the drummer II13; with no intention to mock or confound. Tack to Thomas who willingly assisted with my vitreous voracity for veracity.

MettleAngel: What does the name Kampfar mean to you personally as a musician?

  • II13: Kampfar is something unique. Not that this is unlike anything you've ever heard, but no band has ever sounded just like this either. It's the combination of Dolk's black metal roots and Thomas' classical and folk music liking that has given Kampfar this sound. To me it took some time to understand the realm of Kampfar and adapt to it, but it is now a place I call my musical home.

MettleAngel: How do you view your music as reaching out beyond a certain stereo-typed metal genre classification? What style would you say you play...is there even a sub-classification for it, or do you despise labelling your art?

  • II13: The style long ago was defined as Norse Pagan Folklore Metal. What it is? Kampfar. Regarding reaching out, it seems that people outside of the metal community find things in our music they like. I've personally got feedback from people in diverse musical backgrounds like noise core, classical music, jazz, pop, blues, punk and so on, where they seem to connect to what we do on some level. To me music is not genre, it's not a social activity, it's not a society. Music is a collection of personal emotions, and in Kampfar we express ours, which a good amount of people seem to pick up on.

MettleAngel: Does your Norwegian heritage influence your writing proclivities, if so in what manner?

  • II13: Well, listen to Edvard Grieg. His music sounds the way the nature of Norway looks. And there is an element of him in our music. What we do is to describe images of the darker side of our world, the underworld. A song like "Lyktemenn" deals with the world beneath. Not in the bullshit II13tian/Satan way, but in the way it was perceived through old myths. Imagine shadowlike men, blue glowing, moving fast towards you. There are also the images of the ruling powers against the free spirits, in songs like "Hat Og Avind" or "Svart Og Vondt", which is something that can be traced back in any heritage, but in these cases come from ours.

MettleAngel: Are you influenced by other types of music, other than metal, if so enumerate...

  • II13: The strongest musical influence outside of metal is the heavier forms of classical music, like the Russian composers, and Grieg and Wagner, to name some. But there are also other strange influences, where just a note or passage in a piece of music may trigger something very different in our expression.

MettleAngel: Do you support the caliginis underpinning of the Norwegian Black Metal Underground? By this I mean do you sympathize with Church burners and those mentioned in the book - "Lords of Chaos"? If you choose not to comment on this, that is your right.

  • II13: Every person has to define what is right and wrong for themselves. If you choose to burn down a church you also have to deal with the consequence of it. I never did, and never will, but I see it as an honest and strong expression to do so. I believe there are wiser ways of opposing religion than that, and I follow my own path in that respect.

There is a new DVD out now called "Metal - A Headbanger's Journey" conducted by an anthropologist who is a die-hard metal head and fan. He interviews some Norwegian Black Metal musicians who take their message too far, this is why I asked the previous question. Many people automatically assume that if you are from Norway and you play Black Metal that you are some evil fanatic. Clearly this is just not the case, do you care to comment on this?

  • II13: I watched this movie a few days ago, actually, and found it to be one of the best documentations of metal I've witnessed. They managed to put a lot into the one and a half hours, and did so in a non-speculative nor defending manner. I find it ridiculous that every time mainstream media portrait metal bands or -personalities they need to make them look very un-dangerous. To make it legitimate to play metal Fuck that, we don't need everybody's approval, we know that what we do it to our best anyway. So this movie was a liberating and personal look at what we all spend our lives being a part of. Regarding the misconceptions about Norwegian metal musicians, I've met some of them the last years. I live in The Netherlands for a period now, and I often get into discussions about the past in Norway, and often the right/wrong side of it. Like it's some black and white thing. There are a ton of different personalities in the metal world of Norway, just like in the rest of the world, and everybody decide for themselves who they are and how they express that. The reality nonetheless, is that almost all metal heads are people it's possible to hang out with, even the ones perceived as the worst ones. And evil musicians? Those are the ones making the teeny pop.

MettleAngel: What is your take on the Nowegian Black Metal scene presently? Several successful band from Norway, no longer consider themselves as being Black Metal, which just incites the purists, what do you think?

  • II13: I think there are a few interesting bands here, but there is a much more diverse expression now than 10 years back. I am very curious about how Dødheimsgard will sound now, for instance. For the purists I can recommend Alverg or Framferd, for instance. When it comes to black metal I see it as more of a foundation than a musical style. We have black metal in our music but we don't play it. Same with many bands out there, both in Norway and the rest of the world. To me black metal is not about Satan or about screaming vocals and no bass. It's about darkness, on a mental level. In that respect I think Celtic Frost have made a masterpiece with "Monotheist", which is an album that hits me right in the chest and spreads in my system like cancer, just in the good way.

MettleAngel: Where do your seek inspiration for your lyrics? Does Norwegian folk-lore speak personally to you, or is it an avenue of communication for expressing deeper - seated sentimentalities?

  • II13: I've spent time getting into Dolk's words, and we've discussed them many times. The inspiration comes from old literature as much as from the spirit of the person writing them. A song like "Ravenheart" for instance is to me about the freedom of the people involved in this band. But it can be about any person who follows their own path ignorant of the norm, whatever that may be. A song like "Til Siste Mann" deals with war, but in a different way than in many metal lyrics. Imagine the last man of a tribe, left at the field of war, with the triumphant victor riding away, and then listen to the screams at the end of the song. It's all about images.

MettleAngel: What captivating aspects of Nature do you find enthralling and spiritually uplifting?

  • II13: Nature has so many sides, so many aspects of beauty. Whether it's the blooming or decay of a tree, a still or storming ocean, a day in the mountains with sun or heavy rain, there is beauty that I connect to on a level I can not describe. Nature is freedom and freedom is what I crave. I grew up with the forest and ocean right outside my door, and that does something to you, I believe.

MettleAngel: There has been a seven year break since your last recording, what is the primary reason for the hiatus?

  • II13: The first part of it was due to some personal issues that had to be dealt with, and that demanded that Kampfar was put away for some years. The second part was that Jon and I came in 3 years ago. We immediately started writing music ("Ildverden" was created the first month), and then we decided to start playing live. This took away the focus from writing for a while, before we managed to do both things simultaneously. So the last three years have been the most productive part of Kampfar's existence.

MettleAngel: Do you feel that you have solidified the best line-up for the music you yearn to create?

  • II13: They say so.

MettleAngel: You are now on Napalm Records, are you happy with this decision? Did your Hammerheart/Karmageddon Media contract expire, or did you just decide it was time for a change; new band/new label association? I see that Napalm plan to re-issue your back catalogue, will there be bonus tracks and rarities?

  • II13: Hammerheart have a bad reputation, and they've earned it themselves. So they agreed to hand over all rights to the material Kampfar released there to us. This material, and the first album (released on Malicious) are as you mention being re-released. This is not to make an extra batch of cash from people, but because it's been difficult to get a hold of these releases. We've not changed anything, as the albums are the way they are. The only difference is that two songs from the "Norse" EP are on "Fra Underverdenen" now.

MettleAngel: Thank You so much for taking the time to answer my curious questions...

  • II13: Thanks for a good interview! Keep the banner high!

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