AETERNUS

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This live interview with Aeternus was done by Your Majesty at the Inferno Festival in Oslo, Norway, on Friday, April 9th, 2004.

The Norwegian dark / death metal band Aeternus was formed in Bergen in 1993. Since then they have developed a unique brand of extreme metal and have released five full-length albums. Our journalist Your Majesty spend some time with them in Norway.

Hi, what’s your name?
V'gandr: [typical Norwegian accent, medium-deep voice, diaphragmatic] Ole.

What?
V'gandr: Oh, uh, V’gandr.

Oh ok, hello V’gandr.
V’gandr: Hello Hello!

How was the show tonight?
V'gandr: Uhh, it could have been better I think. We did some mistakes that’s not uh, regrettable if you know what I mean. It’s regrettable, some of these things but all in all in was ok. But, we had done better gigs.

Do you guys have a website or something cause I can’t find any current information about you.
V'gandr: Yeah, it’s aeternus.ch.

It’s not working.
V'gandr: Oh, I know, I don’t know what’s happened. Because I tried to get in myself but nothing happens so, I don’t know what’s wrong. . o O(Maybe it is not paid for…?!?)

[Enter Ares in an old, broken in brown leather bomber-style jacket, Norwegian Army pants tucked into boots, slightly messy hair and some eye-liner residue]

V'gandr: [To Ares in “bergensk”] %&/”.

Ares: [to V’gandr] % &#? /%#)/?

V'gandr: &/#% så skulle vi gøra vad (?)… vi gør tillsamman.

Ares: Vi gør tillsamman.

V'gandr: Ja. We do it together then.

And what do you think about the show tonight?
V'gandr: (to Ares) %&/”# dårlig. [Ares laughs]

Ares: Uhh, Overall?

Yeah.
Ares: [in a bastardized American accent with traces of New York, Californian and Norwegian, the latter nearly undetectable, though both Aeternuses have this “rambling” type speech typical of Norwegian spoken language, with variations in speed and volume, complete with run-on sentences, pauses, “like”s “um”s, “well”s, and so on.] Um, well I think we had some personal mistakes that could be avoided but then again it was caused by, not-so-good monitoring so then we can’t do anything interesting. You think you got it right and then you don’t, so, it happens. Uh, so, I won’t take, well, you know I had some personal mistakes so I take the blame for that and we’ll move on. But generally I think it was good, and the audience I think were pretty satisfied. So far I talked to people who has been quite satisfied and content. So all in all, it was pretty nice.

[Me already at a loss for words…] How has the cooperation been with Nocturnal Art Productions.
Ares: Uh, we’re satisfied. Yeah, it’s good. Better than what we used to have. Well, that was before his time so he wasn’t really in the shit. He was lucky though. Nocturnal Art Productions is very old and the percentage of what we have done so far, we chose a not-so-big lable because it was better for us. I think the stage we were, coming from Hammerheart Records, it was not good to, get on a bigger label. We had the opportunity to have, check out bigger labels but we decided not to. Nocturnal Art Productions was interested in Aeternus, and that was good because um, I was, we were basically interested in it so uh, it went fine.

[explains the North American scene and how Aeternus is not huge but much bigger than many others] Why not a bigger label? Wouldn’t you want to touch a bigger audience?
V'gandr: I mean, we were not big enough for a really big label to appreciate us, I mean, we’re big on a small level. For example Nuclear Blast and Century Media would not appreciate us. Uh, we would be like ants… on a farm. [Ares laughs]

Ares: It’s like broadway you know. Um, friends of ours in Bergen from Hades Almighty, a really great band, and like uh, regardless that they’ve been around for a long time and they really make good music, and they came to Nuclear Blast and they became, VERY very tiny and uh, what happened was not too, which was not what they had in mind at all being Nuclear Blast. I feel that that could very easily happen to Aeternus as well. It’s just too big you know. And uh, but then again of course, you’re right, you never know what could happen and we felt it was too, too big risk to jump on it you know?

V'gandr: It’s more like, for example next album, if a bigger label would contact us and give us a deal we can appreciate, then it’s ok. We won’t approach a bigger label ourselves.

The latest album is quite different than the others. Was that a conscious decision for you guys or did it have to do with member changes or what?
Ares: Uh, basically, the category that we have chosen for ourselves has always been dark metal as it speaks of the more emotions you would have will give you an overall picture of what we do. Um, but we felt that change was needed so we started to fuck around with death metal elements. Now we’re trying to put a lid on that. We never really wanted to be a death metal band. Out of the releases on “Ascension of Terror”, we pretty much are a death metal band on that album, because we really took it hard, and on “A Darker Monument” there is also some stuff there that can be related to death metal and nothing else. But, we’re trying to put a lid on it, especially now when we’re going to the studio now in June, to record the next album, we’re going to put a lot of lid on it, we’re gonna really just get that stuff away and aside you know. It’s just something we used to make a change, because we needed to get out of what we had in the beginning, cause we were repeating ourselves, we had these long songs with 200 riffs on each song, and so forth so, but now it’s time to just put that death metal away and try to go a new way and be original.

Are you more pleased with your older stuff or “A Darker Monument” or, which specific album is your favorite?
Ares: Every album was good for what it was back then and uh, when I think about the earlier stuff I have my own songs that I like better than the other songs but I just try to focus ahead and think about what’s going on right now. I don’t dwell too much on what we’ve done, of course I do when I record a new song, you need to do that but, uh, huh.

V'gandr: I like the three last ones.

Ares: Yeah, more structure you know. In the beginning of course we were really trying to make this big wall of sound and just having a bunch of old black metal, death metal, we mixed a lot of shit together and a lot of people really like that, a lot of people think it’s sad that we don’t do it anymore but this is something we really have, we’re taking a step away from it and we won’t go back to it. What we will do maybe is just grab some of the essences that we have, and use them but only now more to the point to get the feel of Aeternus, it’s like “Ok, I know what I’m listening to now”.

V'gandr: I think it will be a big surprise to people. It will be varied but maybe some of the old stuff will be more present than the last three ones instead of death metal.

Ares: And maybe the older Aeternus albums.

V'gandr: But still not the same.

[I repeat to them what I think they just said to me.]
Ares: Yeah, yeah. In a lot of ways more structure and yeah, you know it’s in the middle of making the songs, making the riffs, and I got a lot of shit on my computer that none of the guys have heard it and it will be like everything you’ve ever gotten from us but it’ll be like, plus plus.

V'gandr: A notion I have about the new stuff is like, the music is like this (Norwegian intonation, rising tone) “da da da da da”… Ok, let’s not do it that way. We’ll do, the way, twist it around, not do the first thing that comes into mind.

Ares: Yeah, more thorough.

V'gandr: Yeah, think backwards.

Ares: Yeah.

What was the response from the fans to “The Darker Monument”? Did they like it better? Did they not?
Ares: Yeah, pretty much, you know. Some of the reviews were uh, basically, the bad stuff I read about “A Darker Monument”, it’s not that much but people have said there are some dead points like here and there, during the album, I can relate to, and I can understand, then again of course I disagree.

V'gandr: Uh,

Ares: You try to look at what people don’t like about it, you try to do some changes. But then again it’s like, it doesn’t really matter what people say cause you do what you wanna do and as long as the four of us are satisfied of what we will be putting on the album anyway. But generally people really like “A Darker Monument”, they like the original feel that it has, they like the death metal parts that we had on it, it’s not a negative thing you know.

[I ask about the artwork on the albums.]
V'gandr: It was a new one (artist) on the last one. Two first ones were the old bassist.

Ares: Yeah, I mean Morrigan, she did some paintings that we photographed. And they became the cover. As a great artist, we just felt it was just cool to use her. She has on both covers, basically an idea, and it was an idea that everybody liked, just standing in flames and (?) but it was cool anyway. “Ascension of Terror” was an artist that Hammerheart Records had. Took like three, four months to do that cover. It was during a time when they really had a lot of problems. It ended up being something that I liked. Um, anyway, and uh, we had a German artist doing this last cover for “A Darker Monument” where we wanted to have a dark monument, like out of the title, so I just told him like, yeah, just make whatever you wanna make, just, use the title.

“I just want a dark monument!”
Ares: Yeah, and he made a dark monument, and put the Aeternus emblem in there you know, and um, it’s just very um, very kind of metal you know and very suitable, more than ever before, it was very suited to us.

V'gandr: Best one so far.

Ares: Best yeah, totally.

Going back to the reviews, have you ever read a review where you’re like “What the fuck are you talking about” where you like totally disagree with them?
Ares: Yeah. Some people write a lot of weird shit. It’s just, people comparing us with different bands that I don’t really listen to that much, I don’t really like that much… metal, really, but, we have been compared sometimes with this and that song, sounds like this and that band. Sometimes I just really disagree, I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, I can’t understand it. It’s ok if people talk about Glimp (?) and Micheal who’s blah blah blah. I’m inspired by him and I can admit that, and uh Morbid Angel, Deicide influences here and there, that’s a fact. I’ve used those bands to be inspired but people talk about different bands like Immortal and Emperor and different things, just this specific song, and there’s no relations at all. I’m thinking, yeah, what the hell is going on.

V'gandr: Yeah he has quite a unique style in using, it’s something I know a lot of being in the band. And that is he uses a lot of black metal type of chords sometimes. But with a different approach. And I think that makes, sometimes the music quite special, death-metalwise. Of course, as I said, he’s inspired by (?) that’s shining more through if you know what I mean but uh, people have to say whatever they… I mean cos, cos this kind of way of writing music, you can’t throw many (?). I think it’s good, instead of just doing one, and everybody’s doing that., then you’re a copycat. Definitely, we are not so I think it’s better to, many different bands, and people disagree, then, you’re independant if you know what I mean.

When is the next album coming out, do you know?
Ares: Well, we have booked four weeks now from the 14th of June and hopefully we, and the plan is just to do everything, 100% full production. And if that goes well, then there’s probably a possibility to get the album done before next year. But I’m not gonna guess something more detailed than that. During the winter, something like that. That will be good at least, just to be around. I know I don’t want to wait until two thousand uh…

V'gandr: Five.

Ares: (laughs) 2004 or 5? So, you know, we’ll see what happens. In the studio, a lot of things can go wrong, anything can happen you know, it could even like break down or, we could break a hand or whatever, sometimes work in a studio can be really halted. You never know. But if everything goes smoothly I think we’ll be able to just master it and get it on.

Is there any particular album that you feel is ideally Aeternus? If you listen to this album you think “This is us, our sound”. Like if someone has never heard Aeternus and you wanted to show them “This is my band, this is what we sound like”, what would you recommend them.
Ares: I think automatically, any one four of us would recommend the latest one because that’s what you’re more satisfied with and you just did that and…

V'gandr: But I think I would say “Shadows of Old” because it’s a breakthrough. It’s kind of a mix of the old and the new. It’s a kind of a, new direction if you know what I mean. So I would probably recommend that one soundwise (Ares agrees).

Ares: The latest one and “Shadows of Old”, that would do it. And he’s right you know, the big changes in our music style and sound soundwise also, was in “Shadows of Old”. I started using different amps, and we tuned out the guitars, it did something to the songs you know, it made it clearer, and the only thing I didn’t do right then and there was like stop using the reverb on vocals. That’s kind of bad, I should have done that then but, we’ll just do it now. But, a lot of changes on “Shadows of Old”. The latest album will give you a feel of what’s going on, “Shadows of Old” was a turning point of something good to just, do that, kind of…

V'gandr: I think a handful of…(?) (Ares laughs) But the idea of the new album right now is probably a mix of “Shadows” and “A Darker Monument”.

Ares: That’s very true.

V'gandr: I think it’s kind of a hybrid of those two. That’s my little idea actually.

Ares: I agree, never thought of that.

[to Ares] Have you lived in Norway all your life cause you have this weird Americanish accent.
Ares: I know.

Or you just watch a lot of movies? [great laughter from V’gandr]
Ares: You know, that’s the weird thing. I watched a lot of movies when I was a kid and my best friend (V’gandr laughs), and me and him used to play these games in Star Wars and shit and we’d talk American all the time. A lot of times I have managed to make Americans believe that I am from America. I told a girl once I was from New York and she said “Ok” and uh, I sound like I’m kind like from L.A. I’ve heard and I look like I’m from L.A. (we laugh). I’ve seen this guy from France (?) and he was like “Dude! You should live in L.A.!” and I was like “No, I’m gonna live in Norway.” “Yeah! You look like you’re from L.A.! That’s Los Angeles!” Yeah…

What kind of movies did you guys watch?
Ares: Today?

No, when you were a kid.
Ares: Well you know Star Wars and all that.

V'gandr: Star Wars.

Ares: Star Wars, basically. You should have been there, we had a lot of fun.

V'gandr: Action figures.

Ares: Action figures. I made my own lightsaver thing out of this wooden thing and painted it like, you know, it was really cool. I hacked the shit out of this big wood. So I guess it started there. I had problems in school with my teacher actually because I couldn’t talk this fine English upstreet thing. It was always the same reasons and it’s much easier to talk American than this nice English and it sounds better. And Americans, you know, they’re pretty much cool people and… except Bush.

Why?
Ares: Nah, he’s kind of nuts, isn’t he.

V'gandr: Who?

Ares: Bush. You know, I mean, it’s kind of cool everything he did to Sadam Hussein and everything I guess I mean he could be a threat and that but he’s not better than any of these people with the crazy religions. He’s not better at all.

V'gandr: He uses God.

Ares: Huh?

V'gandr: He uses God.

Ares: Yeah, he uses the Christian God and they use Allah, (mocking) Allah u ackabar…! Yeah, so, he’s not better at all. And as long as they now continue to just… now, everythings heating up down there, and uh, they blew up this holy place not long ago and I’m sure they’re gonna treat him like he’s dead (?)… You can be glad you’re here (slight pause). You know, I wouldn’t wanna be in the states, I think something really big’s gonna happen soon and I think Bush is to blame for everything that goes wrong. He’s taken everything too far, he’s been hanging out in Iraq too long I guess… and I think they prepared a lot of their plans in addition to… make Saddam just leave.

V'gandr: He thinks he’s Clint Eastwood.

Ares: Yeah, you know, he’s Clint Eastwood. And bad preparation for what to do after the war and uh…

V'gandr: Let Europe take the shit.

Ares: Yeah.

V'gandr: Make the EU clean, sweep things.

Ares: We’ll see what happens. I guess it has nothing to do with personal… (fades to mumbling).

V'gandr: Politics.

Ares: Politics are just, bad ass bullshit anyways (laughs). We’re metalheads, we don’t need it.

[I ask if they’re going to states anytime soon.]
Ares: Yeah, a lot of Americans, they really want us over there. Uh, I spoke to another American earlier, I did an interview with him and uh, he was saying the same thing and I get a lot of e-mails from Americans.

V'gandr: This goes on everywhere.

Ares: Yeah, everywhere and…

V'gandr: Come here, come there, you know.

Ares: It takes a lot of money.

V'gandr: We can’t just go there ourselves, we have to have someone to, pay us.

Ares: We need a big budget. It’s expensive just to fly us over there and you gotta pay the band for the gigs and you gotta get around, it takes a lot of money you know. Like Samoth, our record label boss, he told me when they went over there with Emperor it was, they lost so much money you know. They’re not going to see royalties until they’re 60 years old I guess.

But you want to definitely get there.
Ares: Oh yeah, totally. I’m so ready. I know that a lot of people enjoy what we do, they really like us and uh, we can’t do anything else than hope that. It’s all about the money, it’s about what the record lable can do for us, and the contract that we have, it’s not a contract where we have the permission to toil with every release, it’s something in addition and Europe has to have the first priority because it’s cheaper, so we won’t go around and talk too much about America before we know we can sell a bunch of albums in Europe first.

V'gandr: What would be good if a festival would get to (mumbling)… Milwaukee or... And in addition to that, we will do gigs.

Ares: Preferably not Milwaukee though because I hear it’s really hard and shitty. Not worth it you know. I mean I’d rather stay home and lay down than do that gig, but then again…

V'gandr: There’s lots of, back and forth about it. I heard good stuff and I heard bad stuff about it.

[I talk about the “fests” in the states and tell them if bands like Lullacry who barely have a fanbase in the states can get over than they can definitely do it, and that they should despite the downsides, just to get out there.]
Ares: Yeah, we’re ready.

V'gandr: I played at Metal Meltdown once in uh… Ashbury Park (NJ). It’s a little brother of Milwaukee.

What band?
V'gandr: I was just a session member. But that one… it was quite ok. I mean, as you said, you can’t call it a festival in a way, it’s really crappy sound and everything but, we got what we wanted. A good crowd and, I really enjoyed it so. You have to, it’s a different culture and you can’t compare it to Norway, and all the different places in Europe and all of that. You have to, get into the… (?) so of course European bands may be unsatisfied but then again American bands on the other hand were really satisfied so.

Ares: We’ll be there. One day. In a decade or two.

V'gandr: What will we be, 60.

Ares: Nah.

I don’t have anything else but, do you want to say anything to the readers?
Ares: Nah I mean, all the usual shit I mean, “Stay Metal!” and… “Drink!” and uh…

“Rock on!”
Ares: Blah, blah. Well, you know…

“We got a new album!”
Ares: Yeah… we got this new album coming out, hopefully during the year 2004 and we’re going to record this in June. So that’s our next plan and if people wanna check it out they can just do that.

V'gandr: Stay pagan…

Ares: Yeah, cool…

Alright thank you.
V'gandr & Ares: Thank you.


Links of interest:

Aeternus
Nocturnal Art Productions