It seems like Naglfar doesn't spoil its fans with too much music. Since their outstanding debut "Vittra" in 1995, they've released only one full-length album, "Diabolical," and one EP, "Ex Inferis." That is until now. After five full years since their second effort "Diabolical," all fans of intense, dark yet melodic death/black metal can finally unite and stab their teeth into Naglfar's most complete work to date, "Sheol." I won't go into details since you can read my review, but just keep in mind that if you haven't give this album a chance you're missing one of the best releases of 2003. After getting this out of my system I think it's time to give the voice to Jens Ryden (vocals) who explains long breaks, the new album and gives some more insight on his side project Dead Silent Slumber.
First of all congratulations on an outstanding new album, but why the hell did you make as wait for it so long?
[Laughs] There are tons of reasons. Simply lots of small problems, lots of small and big delays and all of them resulted in one huge delay of 5 years. Actually recording of this album was finished last year but than we had some delays due to problems with front cover pictures and layout and release date was moved to 2003.
In 2001 we've heard 'Of Gorgons Spawned Through Witchcraft' on "Ex-Inferis" and it still took additional 2 years for the world to see the rest of the album. Why, I won't give up...?
We put that EP out just for the fans to let them know that we're still around. That EP was delayed quite a while too but like I said, since then there were lots of small problems like finding a rehearsal place and shit like that which delayed the whole process. When we recorded that EP we had many songs for this album finished but... then we did some shows for which we had to rehearse and it took time from completing the new material. It all might sound like some lame excuse but all those small elements that took time off from the songwriting ended up being a five-year delay.
I'm sure you're aware of the fact that such long breaks don't help bands preserving their status among the fans. No matter how good and successful your previous album was fans tend to have short memory if not reminded in timely manner. Weren't you afraid of losing a good part of your crowd with such a long break?
Well, yeah of course we were aware of this fact. We were very frustrated too. Like I said, this album was recorded and ready last year and then new problems arose, like problems with the cover took which took way too much time... but we always take our time with stuff, I mean from the first to second album it took us like 3 years and that's a pretty long time too, but that's the way we work. We don't want to rush things just to put out an album every year; instead we work on every song until we're totally satisfied with it. If it takes a year or five it doesn't matter because we want to put out the best album we can do and that's the most important thing for us. Of course no one wants to lose fans because of big breaks but I'd rather make one good album than five shitty ones and at the end only the good bands will be remembered and we want to be one of them [laughs].
Speaking of long breaks, what's up with Dead Silent Slumber? It's getting close to 3 years since your solo debut.
[Laughs] Well, it's this same thing... no, just kidding. I don't have enough time to work full time with Naglfar and Dead Silent Slumber at this same time so I have to work with one at the time and since Naglfar is my main band, my top priority I've been busy with Naglfar for a long time and that's why I didn't put new Dead Silent Slumber album yet. I mean, I have like pretty much half of material done but I have to wait until I'll have more spare time before I can sit down, relax and really work with new album. I don't want to rush anything with this project either cause it's like my spare time hobby...
Dead Silent Slumber is a project where you do and control everything. How come in Naglfar you only handle vocals? Are you happy with a singer role only? Have you ever though of grabbing a guitar or any other instrument?
Well no, not really. It was me and our bass player Kris that formed this band in a first place and since day one I've always been a vocalist and that's not a problem. Of course I play guitar and write songs for Naglfar as well but the point of forming Dead Silent Slumber was that I wanted to try out to have full control over everything but that doesn't mean that I'm dissatisfied with my situation in Naglfar. We try to write songs together as much as possible, arranging the songs and so on and I want to keep it that way because that way we get the best of us all. I write some music, guitarists write their music and we mix the best parts and that's what at the end becomes Naglfar in its best form.
Plus there're other positive sides of it... you don't have to carry all those cases, amps, you can concentrate on banging your head.
[Laughs] of course, but remember that the voice is the most fragile thing and I'd rather carry three guitars than one sore throat.
Does Naglfar work as a team regarding writing music and lyrics or is there a one person handling most of the work?
When it comes to music we work as much as possible together. On this "Sheol" album there are two exceptions, the second song called 'Black God Aftermath' was entirely written by me and 'Unleash Hell' was written by Kris but rest of the songs were written together. When it comes to lyrics it's me, Kris and Andreas, one of our guitar players, who's responsible for almost all the lyrics. We try to work as a team.
Why did you choose Hebrew as a language for your new album's title?
Oh man, that's a good question. Actually, it was Kris who come up with this title in a first place, it was his idea and I don't exactly remember what was the idea behind it. I remember he presented it to the rest of the band and we thought it was a great title... We wanted to keep the album's title really short, with one word like our first two albums and with word that fits the lyrical concept of the album. "Sheol" accomplishes both; it's an easy word but at this same time it's different from all other album titles nowadays and still fits great with both the music and the lyrics.
The album starts with not very optimistic verse 'Humanity, what have you ever done for me?' Are you so disgusted with the world around you?
This world, humanity, whatever... it's no secret that mankind are fools. We'll put an end to this world sooner or later, count it as a fact and that's why we're not very optimistic. Every once in a while we all get very pissed off about it and Andreas was very pissed on that day when he wrote 'I Am Vengeance' [laughs].
How much do you think Naglfar changed over the last 5 years? I'm sure each member are more mature musicians, but is there same enthusiasm as when you started it in 92?
Well, of course we matured and progressed as a band, you have to do that [laughs], but I think we are still this same band since our first demo. We're not the best musicians in the world we just do our thing and we don't really care what the rest of the world thinks about it. I mean, if you compare all our albums you'll see that we progressed through the years but we still have the same sound that we had at the early days. What we basically are trying to do is to play music we live for but you have to develop as a band because it's boring to do same album over and over again yet still we don't want to lose our basics.
...But is there this same enthusiasm as it was 10 years ago when you formed the band, practiced for the first rehearsal, played the first show?
It's not exactly the same thing, it's not, because it can never be. When we put out our first demo tape or our first album it was really exciting, now we're on our third album and we've done it before, we know what's going to happen, we know how it works so, that kind of feeling is gone and we can't get it back but we do this thing because we live for it and we love music and that part will always be exciting. So, it's a yes and no answer.
One of your interests outside music is graphic design. Why than did you hire Niklas Sundin (Dark Tranquillity) to do artwork for "Sheol"?
Yes, I have graphic design interest in my spare time, but I know what I can or cannot do. I know that I can do a great layout and design for a booklet, but personally I don't think I'm good enough to do a front cover, even though I did a few of those in the past.
With Century Media representing you in States is there a chance of finally seeing Naglfar on a proper tour on this side of the ocean?
We'll see, hopefully yes but we haven't been able to take this discussion properly with Century Media yet. We'll see how "Sheol" sells because it's always a financial question. We live in Sweden and it's very expensive to go to North America.
What are you long term plans and goals? Do you see yourself living from music only?
I have no such plans at the moment. I know only very few bands that can entirely live from the music today. Death and black metal as a style is very difficult to sell in amount that you can live from; only few bands can do it nowadays. As I said before we do this because we love what we do and I'm satisfied with what I have right now. I mean, of course it would be great to release albums, tour and live from it but I don't have any plans for it at the moment.
What recent album made the biggest impression on you? Are you pleased with the quality of today's releases?
To be honest I don't listen to the new releases that much and I very seldom buy any new albums. When I was younger I was very into new bands and I was checking out all the new releases all the time but today I'm satisfied with my collection of my favorite albums. Of course I'm always interested in listening to new, good, quality music but I don't have that urge to check out all those new bands.
Not to mention that there're way too many bands to even dream of checking them all out.
Exactly, I know what bands I like and when they release a new album of course I check them out and in between there are many good bands too but I don't search for them personally. If I have a chance I get them otherwise I'm satisfied with what I have.
I know is way too early to ask but can we count on more regular releases from now on?
[Laughs] hopefully yes. Well, I can't make any promises but we all in a band agreed that 5 years if far too long and we'll start working on the new material for the upcoming album as soon as possible.
Entered: 6/25/2003 4:16:17 PM