“The modern palaces or institutions have set themselves on fire, and we see no reason to put these fires out”
~ An interview with the enigmatic creators of ´Nordic Black Metal´ about paradoxons, the end of modernity, and of course: Smørrebrød ~
ANGSTSKRÍG is a brand new and mysterious entity, consisting of two guys completely shrouded in blackness, who just unleashed the beast which is their debut album ´Skyggespil´ (read our enthusiastic review here). Their unique, overwhelming yet bilious mixture of styles is highly addictive, and also comes with a touch of special humour, which may not be easily understood outside of their homeland of Denmark. No wonder, we were very curious to ask them some questions…
Hey Gentlemen! Even though it’s rude to jump right in, I’ll have to ask the most burning question that’s been bothering me and our readers right at the beginning – what do you carry around in the heavy sacks in all your videos? Do you have a band philosophy they relate to, or is it just your past that you can’t get rid of?
We’re very sorry to avoid the question but the world isn’t ready to know.
So let’s return to the present. ´Skyggespil´ is surely one of the most surprising debuts of this year. Your combination of genres is unique and captivating, but surely also a bit challenging for some not-so-open ears. How are the reactions towards it? Do you think the metal scene, be it in your home country or beyond, is ready for this glorious mash-up, or even desperately in need of further development? And how have all those prominent guest musicians involved reacted to the material you presented them?
The reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. There have only been a couple of negative reviews so far – one especially by a BM purist, who was so prejudiced that he, in his review, had to excuse his preconceived judgement. Yet, that is exactly how it should be, when you offer something different and challenge boundaries. Everything is always already evolving. Same goes for musical genres but there are almost always conservative forces that will try to fight change, which are perfectly normal and also serve important mitigating and/or corrective purposes in the development. In short: yes the metal scene, in general, is always ready for something fresh and new. And our guests have only reacted positively – that’s what friends are for.
You define your style as “Nordic Black Metal”, which is quite a bold statement. When I read this, my first idea was to expect something rather old school and limited to genre borders – but what we get is the exact contrary, a heavy crossover between harsh Black, Death and Thrash Metal with quite a lot of classic Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, and even Doom and Punk vibes infused to it. Is this your typical Danish sense of humour, or are you just children of the 90ies who believe that crossover is the only true and possible way to define and play metal? Which bands have influenced ANGSTSKRÍG heavily?
We are by no means purists. On the contrary, we have a constructivist mindset and build our creation with the tools and materials at hand. Angstskríg is merely the consequence of decades of rock and metal history. We’ve cherry-picked and incorporated elements from a lot of branches of this history. That doesn’t mean that this is the only true way to do it. It’s just a way for us to have fun being creative. And since Norwegian black metal is at the core of the album and Swedish death metal is another important building block, this creative approach might stem from the playful 90s.
Even though you draw influences from many musical sources, the shiny black core, as a musical basis, feeling or attitude, is always very present. What does Black Metal mean to you personally? How do you see its future? Looking at the global triumph of modern styles like metalcore, nu metal or djent – which subgenres will finally win the race, and which ones may get extinct at some point?
We can’t overestimate the importance of black metal for our existence. As you say, BM is a core ingredient. BM will develop like it has done since its conception. Today, BM is many things and it will become even more complex. To our knowledge, no metal genre have ever become extinct. One branch might lay dormant for a while but then wake up at later time. The examples are many. Also, metal music is wonderful, because so many subgenres live side-by-side. Sure the modern styles have the upper hand on streaming services. However, the traditional genres still rule the physical world.
To keep with the humour – I enjoy a lot watching the clips on your youtube channel, especially the pronunciation course of the song titles (as above), the pre-Christmas announcement of the „festive composition“ which is ´Lucifer Kalder´, and also the backwards statement about black metal and politics.
Again, one gets the impression that you take Black Metal extremely seriously, even so seriously that this already raises justifiable doubts. How trve is ANGSTSKRÍG really? Is there an existential right for humour in Black Metal?
We are not trve. Yet we respect and are obviously inspired by “trve kvlt” black metal. However, the increasing inclusion of national socialism in black metal is extremely lame. It seems like these people ran out of ideas, when satanism became a lot less scary. So they had a meeting to come up with the next politically and socially disruptive thing. Idiotic. If they were capable of an original thought, they would go up against a dogma even greater than the Christian church, namely modernity. Now THAT is disruptive. So yeah, we take our music seriously but that doesn’t mean, we can’t have fun being serious – it’s not mutually exclusive. And it’s practically impossible to be a musician in Denmark and don’t have some underlying humour and/or irony. It’s the way we are brought up.
You also put a lot of effort into your youtube channel and music videos, ANGSTSKRÍG is clearly very much visually oriented. Keeping everything so classically black and white, you of course don’t need any corpse paint…How important is the overall artistic concept for you? Is the whole thing more than a hobby, is one of you a professional in the audio/visual industry, and the other is a musician? And why does only your singer take care of all the PR?
It’s very important. Yet, it’s secondary to the music. The “artistic concept” is determined by the music. In other words, this is how we think the music wants to be manifested visually at this given time. Also, the music videos pay homage to the Norwegian black metal tradition and the connection to the Nordic landscapes. We can’t discuss our other physical forms. Yet, how do you know, it’s the singer doing the interviews?
True, at least the guy with the hat and the suit is pretending to sing in your videos – but we can never be sure…
Your anonymity really is another paradox – it’s meant to ease keeping the focus solely on the music, but of course everyone wants to know who’s behind the masks… especially when they’re presented with such high media impact. I like this concept and also the dichotomy, because I always like to find out what bands want to express by only listening to their music, without more given information. Is that also your own approach when you discover new music? What is currently on heavy rotation in your players? Which bands do you recommend to your fans to better understand ANGSTSKRÍGs concept?
It sure is a paradox and it’s the sort of complexity we thrive on. And yes, we listen to music with as little prejudice as possible, because maybe we strike gold, if we keep our ears open. The new DARKTHRONE, TRIBULATION, Jonathan Hultén, DÖDSRIT, SETH and Re-Sepp-Ten (an 80sfootball song because of the Euros).
You revealed that you know each other since youth, and have already played together in those days, guided by a mysterious mentor. Is this person also involved in ANGSTSKRÍG in some way? Obviously, you both continued to evolve your musical skills a lot – have there been other projects in the meantime, maybe also in other genres?
Not directly, but we still remain in close contact. And we still get advise and support. Again, we’d like to refrain from discussing our other physical forms. However, there has been a lot different music involved over the years.
For a debut, ‚Skyggespil‘ is extremely mature. Each song is stylistically completely different, telling its own story. How do you write your music? Where do you find your topics? And who in ANGSTSKRÍG is actually playing which instruments besides the drum and guitar parts?
The music is riff-based, which means the guitar is the defining instrument. The topics we’ve picked up from the French thinker Bruno Latour and the like. Traditional Norwegian black metal heroically took on the Christian Church. We take on modernity and the modern way of thinking, which has brought a lot of good but also led us to the brink of extinction. As far as we can tell, modernity isn’t capable of cleaning up after itself, so a new way of understanding reality is needed. We are playing all instruments and singing all vocals except those mentioned in the credits.
Looking at the list of guest appearances, it is clear that you are very well connected in the international metal scene. How about the Danish scene, which especially in the last years became a hotbed for new sounds? Which role in the making of the record has producer Frederik Brandt Jakobsen, and his very timely named “Hikikomori Studio”? Is music a shelter from the world for you? Which other ways of escapism do you use (if any at all)?
Definitely! The Danish metal scene is booming at the moment. But the question always remains, if any of us from this new generation will become international names, and more or less make a living from our music on the international market. To our knowledge, no Danish extreme metal bands have ever “made it” and lived full-time off their music. So our aim is to become the first. Frederik played a crucial part in creating our sound. He was more than able to translate our thoughts into sound. He’s an amazing producer talent. No, on the contrary we use the music to get closer to the world to understand it better. ‘Skyggespil’ is our offering to the world of everything that exist. We see no reason to escape.
How much Skyggespil / shadow play is included in this band? What is its purpose – to highlight the stark contrasts of traditional Black Metal, or breaking up its inherent contradictions? Is ´Lad Paladserne Brænde´ a call for rebellion, in the wider view on the global situation today, where we only seem to have winners and losers? Should the apocalyptical art form which (Black) Metal is also have a political dimension?
Black metal and Norwegian black metal especially sought to break or at least challenge conventions and convictions by offering something very different, which right to exist was as valid as everything else. Something the purists of the black metal genre seem to have forgotten nowadays. You can fight against change all you want, but the fact of the matter is that everything is always already changing, developing and evolving. Not saying that the purists don’t serve an important mitigating purpose. No, we don’t believe in rebellion but the “natural” slow and gradual evolution of things with regulations and adaptations as the vehicles. The modern palaces or institutions have set themselves on fire, and we see no reason to put these fires out. The alternative way of thinking we put forth, will by design create a more common and egalitarian world, not just between people, but also between people and the things that surrounds us – natural and produced things the like. By its sheer existence, metal music has a political and societal potential and sometimes direct impact. Look at Iran for instance. Also, we can’t rule out that Norwegian black metal had an impact on the power of religion in Norway in the 90s. In other words, we would like to see the shadow play of modernity end; to see reality unveiled.
Every fan is currently looking forward full of hope to again visit concerts and festivals. How does the future look like for ANGSTSKRÍG in this respect, what do you have planned? How will you solve the personnel problem live?
It’s not a problem, it’s a challenge, and an interesting challenge to boot. Our live show is going to be different from your regular metal show [you bet! Ed.], and we can’t wait to get on the road. We have a few shows around Denmark planned in November and hopefully go international some time next year. Furthermore, we expect to start recording our sophomore album in December. But we’re still in a pandemic, so things are up in the air still.
As usual, we’ll close with some synesthesia questions, but continue with the live concert topic:
Name three bands who you dream of supporting on tour (no matter if still functional or not, it’s just a dream…) – in which materials would they dress, which colour had their aura, respectively, and how would they smell?
RAMMSTEIN, KRAFTWERK and DIE TOTEN HOSEN. They would wear ballroom dresses in the colours of the rainbow and smell like petrichor.
Starting a rebellion against the palaces and their inhabitants, you will probably need fire and some special weapons, which temporarily, but effectively affect their senses so that they faint. What would be your secret weapon? How would it work?
Our secret weapon would be evidence-based arguments, and they’ll work like a charm!
Denmark is famous for their delicious Smørrebrød, consisting of various layers of mouth-watering ingredients. Please design a very creative one for a prominent Black Metal musician, and describe its flavour!
There already so many great ones. Yet, smørrebrød has several categories from the extravagant “højt belagte” made for knife and fork down to “håndmadder”, which you most often eat with your hands, hence the name. This one is a håndmad and it’s tried and true. First and foremost you need a piece of quality rugbrød as base. You can add a thin layer of salted butter (never understood why in some countries they don’t salt their butter) [me neither, I’m an addict! Ed.] if you like. However, the butter isn’t crucial because next you add a piece of soft, “mittelalt”, Danish cheese. Then a couple of slices of quality rullepølse (rolled pork sausage). Topped off with “italiensk salat” made from mayo and al dente carrots and peas, which has nothing to do with Italy but is more of an Eastern European thing. You can finish with some fresh (red) onion or chives. And there you have it: A smørrebrød with the best from all worlds rich in texture and flavor. Of course, all ingredients are sustainable and/or ecological and the pig lived the best life before getting slaughtered.
If your instruments got stolen on tour nowhere in the desert, and you would only be able to built something quickly from junkyard findings – how would they look and sound like? Give those beasts a name!
Firstly we’ll try to find a broken chainsaw, fix it and call it Texas. For the rhythm section we’ll build a classic scrapheap drum kit from different size oil drums, jerry can kick and metal plate cymbals. We’ll call it Reuben Skimmel Paradesh.
If three songs from ´Skyggespil´ were liquors, which one would be what? How would they taste, and how would you feel when being hungover as hell from them?
‘Uhygge’ would be a bitter. But the exact opposite of Gammel Dansk (probably the most well-known Danish bitter now produced by Norwegians) and NOT spread ‘hygge’ at all, but instead give you a ‘uhyggelig’ time from the moment you drink it till the moment your hangovers leave your body.
‘Slæbt Gennem Sølet’ is a filthy whisky that taste like molded wood, and your hangovers will feel like being dragged by a horse through a soaked and muddy forest path.
‘Knæfald’ would be a flavorless 90% alcohol that knocks you to your knees, and you can’t get up before it has left your body.
The last questions and words are up to you – you know each other since quite a while. Is there anything you would like to ask the other one?
No, not really. We just want to wish you, your readers and each other a great summer. It’s time to kick back for a bit, collect our thoughts and get ready for an exciting autumn.
Thank you, I guess we all now need a sunny summer as a break and time to relax. Of course I understand that you now have to leave those sacks in the basement for a while, and enjoy a more carefree life. And what could be better than sitting comfortably sated, with some friends and a bottle of beer in hand, by the water or fire, listening to good music?
I can only repeat myself and recommend ´Skyggespil´ as the perfect soundtrack for that – I mean, we will all support ANGSTKRÍGS dream to become the next Danish shooting stars, won’t we?