TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with Byron of Bal-Sagoth was done through e-mail in March 2001.
Hello, how are you?
Supercharged with lunacy and primal energy, ready to release it at any given moment.
Your new album "Atlantis Ascendant" will soon be released on Nuclear Blast. Could you please tell us a little about it? Is it any different from your previous works?
Yes indeed, "Atlantis Ascendant" is the latest episode in the epic saga of Bal-Sagoth, and contains elements of all our previous works to date, as the grand story arc draws ever closer to its cataclysmic climax. When we were writing the new album I made sure that the new material was a shade darker than that of our more recent albums, maintaining our trademark bombast and lunacy whilst also hearkening back to the more agressive pieces which appeared on our early albums. So, fans of the band will recognize the fact that we have painted this newest picture with the same cosmic colour palete which we've always used, whilst simultaneously mixing a few new and exciting colours specially for the new opus.
Could you tell us a little about the lyrical concept for this album?
Yes, the new album has a very powerful narrative theme throughout, and several of the new songs are actually linked by a mini-concept which will become evident when fans read the lyric booklet. The text of the concept lyrics are presented in the form of excerpts from the fictional journal of a nineteenth century archaeologist who has been travelling the globe in search of ancient sites of arcane power. The tales of sword & sorcery, arcane fantasy and occult SF are related via this explorer's experiences as he discovers terrifying knowledge about the ancient antediluvian world and the fate of mighty Atlantis. Additionally there are several songs which, although taking place within the same alternate-reality of the Bal-Sagoth multiverse, are not strictly part of the mini-concept. One such song is the long awaited final chapter of the Hyperborean Empire saga, which relates the final stages of the King of Hyperborea's epic struggle against the dread forces of Chaos. All the Bal-Sagoth lyrics are connected to a greater or lesser extent by being components of the same great saga, and all are different chapters of the same galaxy-spanning fantasy story arc. Anyone interested in learning more about the Bal-Sagoth lyrical universe should check out the Glossary at our official website: http://www.bal-sagoth.co.uk/.
The plans for Bal-Sagoth were conceived already in 1989. What happened during the years before 1993 when you recorded your first demo?
After I found the suitable personell to enlist in the epic Bal-Sagoth crusade, we spent a few months jamming and honing our skills in a non-serious band until I deemed the time was right to implement Project: BAL-SAGOTH. Some of the rehearsal tapes for this early non-serious band are still hanging around somewhere, and they actually feature our later session bassist Alistair on lead guitar! When the time was right for Bal-Sagoth to emerge, we kicked Alistair out and I implemented the Bal-Sagoth project, and shortly afterwards we recorded our 1993 demo.
In 1990 you left Cacophonous for Nuclear Blast. Were you not happy with your first label?
Cacophonous was a pretty cool label for the most part, but we just figured it was time to move to a label with a bigger worldwide distribution network, and of course NB is probably the best label for metal in the world these days. People always had difficulty finding our first three albums on Cacophonous, which was not a good situation. If anyone is still having trouble finding copies of the first three albums, contact Cacophonous directly via their website: http://www.cacophonous.com/.
You have developed an extremely unique sound over the years. How would you describe the kind of metal you´re playing?
Our sound and style is very difficult to describe... At its core it is definitely based on black metal, but of course we infuse our material with a great variety of other influences, such as classical music, and epic film soundtracks to name but two. We have always strived to be unique and original, and our peculiar brand of epic avant-garde symphonic fantasy metal can ultimately be best described simply as: Bal-Sagoth!
In late 1995 you were involved in a serious accident. What really happened?
I have always been a very enthusiastic stage-diver, and on this particular occaision (a Cannibal Corpse gig) I was performing very acrobatic Jackie Chan style flips and dives... and unfortunately towards the end of the gig I impacted with the floor in a rather serious way. I fractured my sternum (the big bone at the centre of the chest) and was also concussed, and thus I was out of action for a few days. But luckily, my mutant healing factor enabled me to recover in a very short time... (!)
You have done a lot of shows over the years. How do you feel about playing live? Are there any particular memories from the touring you would like to mention?
Playing live is OK, and we have done quite a few shows in the past, including tours with both Dark Funeral and Emperor. I think our absence from the stage in recent years may have added somewhat to our mystique. We're part of the "No Mercy" festival tour in April, and this tour should certainly be interesting. It will be our first tour since the 1997 tour with Emperor. There are of course both pros and cons to being part of a bill consisting of so many bands. Obviously we won't really get a very long time to play each night, so we must certainly maximize our time on stage and play a good selection of material from all our albums. Hopefully the attendances at these shows will be good, and we will convert more people to our grand metal crusade.
Do you know what your former members Vincent Crabtree, Jason Porter, Leon Forrest and Alistair Maclatchy has been doing since they left the band?
These guys are all leading normal lives these days, and are not involved in music in any way, apart from Alistair who I think has some kind of (non extreme) project going on. We are still in sporadic contact with them, some more so than others.
Has the current band members been in any other bands prior to Bal-Sagoth?
Myself and Jonny were both in old bands in the past. I had a weird project called Yog-Sothoth (nothing released), and Jonny was in a thrash band called Igniter. Also, Dave and Mark have also been in bands previously, but nothing that anyone will have heard of.
What do you think of the British metal scene at the moment? Are there any new up-coming bands worth mentioning?
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anything new and exciting coming from the British extreme metal scene these days! A lot of the new British bands are playing that "nu-metal" kind of shit.
Your top five bands ever?
My top 5 bands of all time are:
Bathory, Celtic Frost, Sabbat (UK), Morbid Angel, and probably Manowar or Iron Maiden.
Any final thoughts or words?
Hail to all our fans reading this... and remember, if you want to experience the arcane multiverse of Bal-Sagoth on the net, visit our award-winning Official Website at http://www.bal-sagoth.co.uk/ where you will find a plethora of unique and exciting features as well as exclusive info on all our releases so far. Blodu Ok Jarna... Imperius Rex!
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