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Interview

Abbath Comments on Debut, Solo Recording

Immortal will always be a classic Norwegian black metal band. From the icy riffs and artic-wind-swept lyrics to Abbath’s yeti calls to the band’s warrior imagery, few black metal artists emulate the mighty Immortal. Their reach goes beyond merely the realms of black metal. There is a beer company called Jester King that produces a Black Metal Stout. The artwork depicts a black metaller who curiously looks like Abbath, as well as the title of the beer, “Suds of Northern Darkness,” which is a parody of the Immortal album “Sons of Northern Darkness.” Also, there are a million memes on the Internet including the one showing Immortal with Grumpy the Cat, who also resembles Abbath’s face paint in it’s facial fur.

Immortal remains near the top of the black metal hordes, but no one knows where the group goes from here. Abbath is no longer with them, so his trademark looks, voice and guitar are no longer present. Abbath has moved on to what he feels is a step up in his career. At the beginning of the year, he released his debut solo album. The self-titled effort is by no means a step away from Immortal. Abbath has a song writing style that is legendary, one that he continues with this recording. Blasting drums via Creature and creative bass lines support Olve Eikemo’s (Abbath) subterranean shrieks and icy guitar tones. Those who mourn the loss of Abbath in Immortal, mourn no longer.

Abbath is currently touring around the U.S. as part of the Decibel Magazine tour with High on Fire, Skeletonwitch and Tribulation. Metalunderground.com caught up with Abbath before he took the stage in Austin, Texas to talk about leaving Immortal, recording the self-titled record and his thoughts on the future of his solo project.

Rex_84: Your first solo album dropped a few weeks ago. How do you feel now that the album has been released?

Abbath: Proud. I have great lyrics. I have great musicians playing on it. It came out way better than I expected. I’m blown away with the whole process, these guys coming in and helping me carry on. I’m very fortunate to still be able to carry on with what I love to do, what I’m suppose to do. I think it’s been a very good start. I’m going to the next level. I feel like I’m taking a large step with this album. I had to make a decision: Where do I go? Do I go on or do I retire? I decided to move on.

Rex_84: Where these songs written for Immortal?

Abbath: Yeah, some of it.

Rex_84: Did you have King Ov Hell in mind at the time as your bassist in Immortal?

Abbath: I think I’ll have to take the Fifth Amendment on that.

Rex_84: Can you tell me about bringing him into the band?

Abbath: Me and Tom [Cato Visnes], me and King have been friends since ’99. He always had a good tone and when he came in and put on the bass for the whole album, I realized there was something special about this guy because he’s a guy you don’t have to fucking baby sit in the studio. Just give him a riff and he plays. He’s extremely creative, a true bass player. Very creative, a fantastic musician. He has fire. He is a burning spirit. I love him to death!

Rex_84: Did he write all his own bass lines?

Abbath: I had all the blue prints, all the ideas, and he works around them and just lifts it up in a way I would have never thought myself. So in many ways, yes.

Rex_84: What was the recording process like? Where did you record the album?

Abbath: We did the drums in Sweden with Daniel Bergstrand. Kevin [Foley—Creature] went over there and recorded the drums. He didn’t even need help on the guitar. He just had my riffs. We just needed to agree on a tempo. Then we did the rest in Bergen Studios.

Rex_84: How does this compare to I? Did you think once you were out of Immortal, you would do another I album?

Abbath: No. I was a project. It was just something that happened. Immortal was down for a while there and had all this music, riffs and stuff, that came about when I was working on Immortal songs. Sometimes you have something…for example, “Storm I Ride” I never saw as an Immortal song. We just didn’t have any rules. It was just me and Ice Dale helping me out, making this pre-production. So I sat down with him…it was just a thing that happened, like everything, really. I never planned going solo. It was just something that happened. The so called “Immortal problems” didn’t start last year. They started almost twenty years ago when Demonaz hurt his arms. We never became that unit again, which we were. We never gave up. We had this great thing that we just needed to carry on. Demonaz’s got kids, twins. It was just a lot of shit. I also blame myself. We could have done something a about it a long time ago, but when it first happened it was too late. There was a lot of bullshit building up and none of us had a way to deal with it, I guess.

Rex_84: You did a tour back in 2011. Were those same problems present back then?

Abbath: Kind of. There was something in the sub consciousness. We didn’t see it, but in hindsight you can see it, all the things we could have done differently. I don’t want to look back at that now. It was time for it. I’m forty-three-years old. I just want to do what I do now. Go out and tour and play and do what I love, not sit at home and rot on a fucking sofa.

Rex_84: On the topic of your lyrics, do you have your own mythos or do you draw more from Norse mythology?

Abbath: It’s symbolic. It’s open, but at the same time there is a lot of substance. For example, “Winterbane” is about inner conflicts, your own personal battles. Simon Dancaster came him and helped me write the lyrics because he also helped Demonaz write the lyrics for the “Blizzard Beasts” album. I met him by accident. I had a couple other guys standing by who were willing to help me out because I have ideas and themes, but writing the lyrics is a special craft. When he came out and we sat down, he just blew me away. The worst thing is his lyrics are so long. There are so many words to learn in a such a short time, so at the beginning I needed a teleprompter. It’s only for so many lyrics. I’m starting to get them now. We also have words that haven’t been used in the English language since the Dark Ages (laughs). He’s a shaman, a very special guy. He comes from a band called Bastard Son of Buddha.

Rex_84: Please talk about making the video for “Winterband.” Did you take some of the imagery and lyrics into the video?

Abbath: Yes and that’s actually my girlfriend in the video. The process was very difficult because we didn’t work with the right guys at first. We couldn’t have a dialogue with them, so it was a very stressful process. Me and Kevin went to Greece, to Athens and finished it there. I think we made it the best way we could out of the circumstances, but in the beginning we had all these drones that you can see their propellers or parts of the drones. There was a lot of stress and chaos. We worked it out somehow and felt that it was ok for an audience (laughs).

Rex_84: Creature plays in the video, but since then you’ve replaced him with Gabe Seeber.

Abbath: Kevin Foley, he also plays on the album. Great drummer, great guy. Unfortunately, he left. We were fortunate to have Gabe step in for him. There are forces pushing this. It’s not easy, but it’s going in the right direction. I felt we are building something good and strong. We are very fortunate to have Red, he was just a guest lead guitarist on the album but he has joined us on tour. His name is Ole [André Farstad], but we call him rød, Red.

Rex_84: “Ashes of the Damned” contains a horn. Was this taken from keyboards or did you use real brass? Who played the horn?

Abbath: Yeah, that was just an idea I got because we’ve got this part (mimics the riff) and I was thinking about this movie, “Cape Fear,” with Robert De Niro (mimics the horn). I go, “Ok, let’s try it.” It was cool but we only had it in the beginning and in the end, so it kind of makes it intense. It’s like, “Oh! What the fuck is that!”

Rex_84: It’s reminiscent of Sigh.

Abbath: Don’t forget Celtic Frost.

Rex_84: Are you going to play any Immortal songs on this tour?

Abbath: Yes, everyday we play “Nebular Ravens Winter,” “Solar Fall,” “One By One,” “Tyrants.”

Rex_84: So a lot of material from “Sons of Northern Darkness?”

Abbath: Two from there. “One By One” and “Tyrants.” Tomorrow we have a day off and we’re thinking about rehearsing “In My Kingdom Cold” because that’s a great live song. We have to play that one. Maybe “Mountains of Might” in a couple of days.

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An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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1 Comment on "Abbath Comments on Debut, Solo Recording"

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Anonymous Reader
1. Jenny Fear writes:

Great debut album! Anything the people still calling themselves "Immortal" come up with will have to be pretty amazing in order to compete with Abbath, who truly IS immortal.

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