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Slaegt Frontman Asrok Discusses New Album "Goddess," Artwork And Recording Outside Of Denmark

In recent years, the metal world has seen Denmark weigh in strongly on the music scene and join their Scandinavian neighbours as a true force in heaviness. From the blackened folk of Myrkur, the brutality of Baest and the grizzly doom of Konvent, there's an explosion in Danish metal and so much of it is good! Joining the ranks of the aforementioned are Slaegt, formed initially as a black metal band but over time, incorporating more elements of traditional and classic heavy metal.

Nowhere is this style more evidenced than with "Goddess," the band's fourth full length album and first since the 2018 release, "The Wheel." Unleashed only nine days ago, their Century Media debut showcases six examples of superb musicianship, well crafted lyrics and fascinating themes. To find out more about this latest opus, Metal Underground caught up with the band's vocalist and guitarist Asrok, who revealed all about the record. You can read or watch the interview below.

Diamond Oz: Congratulations on the new album. What can you tell me about the title?

Asrok: Well, the thing about me and titles is that I usually have a long list of song titles. Usually we have a title track on an album, which begins musically, then I pick the title and then come the lyrics and vocals. I had this title for a very long time and I thought it would be very cool for an album. For a long time, I've been fascinated by this Gnostic creation myth. I'm not an expert on it or anything, but originally there's the one that everything comes from and then you have lower levels, like archangels who are separate but all part of The One.

One of them is called Sophia and one day she, by mistake, veers too far from the original One and creates the material world and then realising that she messed up creates the Demiurge, or "God," to keep an eye on everything. So I thought, even though Sofia is not a goddess, tackling this theme would be good for that title.

Oz: Absolutely. I didn't know about that story but hearing that makes me want to research it and I imagine the song would be a great gateway to that. Does the album as a whole take influence from this story or is one of many topics covered?

Asrok: I would say it's one of many. Of course it played a huge part in the inspiration for the cover art but it's the only song on this album that takes inspiration from that. I've been inspired by it before, but it's the only one on this album.

Oz: You mentioned the cover art there, which was done by David of Teitan Arts. It's an amazing piece of work, very vibrant and he's done some awesome work recently with bands like Cosmic Putrefaction and Markgraf. How did you come to find David?

Asrok: Originally we wanted a guy called José Gabriel from Peru. We've worked with him before but he wasn't available. So we checked out who follow on Instagram and cool artists, asked Century Media if they knew anyone and then his name came up and I thought, "He seems like a good fit." Someone who would fit the music well and someone who we could throw ideas at and hopefully he would respond well to.

Oz: The songs on the album are very strong and very good. The band itself is very interesting, to see how far it's come and how it's changed, bringing in more traditional heavy metal elements, sort of like Greek black metal. Do you feel this was a very natural progression of your sound or did you decide at one point to try something new?

Asrok: I think it's completely natural. We've never sat down and said, "This is the kind of music we should play," or anything like that. We just try and make it flow and whatever ideas we have, musically or lyrically, we just want to make it natural.

Oz: And what would you say makes "Goddess" a different album from "The Wheel"? Obviously it's been about three and a half years in between the releases and a lot of things have happened personally and globally.

Asrok: Sure. I would say we as people have grown a lot since the last one. I have for sure. So that without a doubt factors in. I think we've become better players and better at our craft and this time around we haven't spent so much time trying to discover what we as a band are about. The first two albums are about trying to find out who you are. It's a little less anything goes nowadays, unless of course it's in the frame that we've built around ourselves, but earlier we were still building that frame. So we know what we're about now and we're just building on that. These songs are way more complex structurally and that's a lot to do with making it fun and challenging for ourselves but also knowing that we can't make it too challenging, because then it'll only be the uber geeks that find some enjoyment.

Oz: And you have to be able to play it too.

Asrok: It has to be a good song, that's what's most important. Usually when I have some ideas, I'll test them out on an acoustic guitar and if it still sounds good and has some kind of potency then you know you're on to something.

Oz: What was the recording process like for this album?

Asrok: It was done pretty quickly. We went up to Stockholm for it. We wanted to record outside of Copenhagen, we've only recorded here before. We thought it would be good not to have any distractions or whatever and just be able to focus on it. It was only ten days that we were there and with a bit of hindsight, at least for me personally, I would have liked to have spent a bit more time on it. Then again, recording an album is about making the best of the time you have. It's like a photograph of the band, when it's done, it's done and you move on. We did the basic tracking in the first days, which we normally do in the first few days, go through takes, find the best ones, correct some mistakes. So it was pretty fast. The guy we recorded with, a guy called Martin Ehrencrona, who's done Nifelheim and lots of other cool things, he's a great guy and a character and he knows what he's doing.

Oz: Was he a big factor in the decision to record in Stockholm?

Asrok: No, not really. We originally wanted to record in Nürnberg down in Germany. I don't know if you know the German band, Venenum, but we've toured with them, they're great friends and we really liked the sound of their album, "Trance Of Death." So we wanted to record in the same studio that they had used but the guy wasn't available. It's kind of like the artwork, we had an original plan that didn't work so we looked around and Martin in Stockholm was available.

Oz: As you said, you wanted to avoid distractions and everything. Were you intent on getting out of Denmark to record this album?

Asrok: Of course, we could have gone to another town in Denmark. It wasn't so much being in Denmark that was a distraction as it was being in Copenhagen. Up there (Stockholm,) we didn't really know anyone, so what's there to do but record?

Oz: You've got two music videos out for this album, "Kiss From A Knife" and "Fealty, Thunder Whip." These are very cool videos without being distracting. Why were these songs chosen to represent the album?

Asrok: Because they were the shortest. We write our songs as we write them with no dictation of how it should be. I know that might sound a little airy but that's just how it is and then we got the deal with Century Media and they said that there had to be two singles with videos, so it's like, "OK, pick the shortest ones." With that being said, they are good representations I think, not only for the album but also for the band. They're good at boiling down what we're about, especially "Kiss From A Knife," it's a good punch in the face, like kicking the door open and saying "Here we are." We made the videos ourselves, both of them were recorded in one evening and we invested in some editing software and edited them ourselves. I don't know if we'll do that again with the next album or next videos, but we wanted to get involved in video making because then when we work with someone else, we know a little bit about it and we can make suggestions.

Oz: Going forward, what's the plan in terms of live shows? Do you have any gigs booked or festival appearances?

Asrok: Not a whole lot. We're going on tour in two weeks time. We have a release concert in Copenhagen and then we're going out on tour in Europe, no UK shows unfortunately, but I suspect that's an effect of Brexit, or at least that's what our booking agent tells us. We're going out with Demon Head, who are close friends and we've wanted to tour with them for years and finally we're doing it. That's going to be seventeen or eighteen shows, playing every night, so that's going to be good. We've only got one festival lined up in the south of France, which I can't pronounce the name of, but it's down in the mountains with fires and all that, but bands like Conan are playing so it should be good.

Oz: That sounds like the perfect environment for you.

Asrok: Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully, now that the album is out, everyone will want to book us everywhere! You have to make people fall in love with you.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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