Crest Of Darkness - Interview
Crest of Darkness has existed within the shadows of black metal since 1993. They have since erected a throne of brutality and mysticism that many are unfit to even imagine. MetalBite sought out the vampire, Ingar Amlien heading the esoteric establishment for an interview in support of Crest of Darkness' 8th full length album, aptly cursed, The God of Flesh. Set to devour the life force of the meek on October 25th, 2019, The God of Flesh reserves a spot for those willing to walk the path of the blind; do you dare submit to the devils stare?
It is an honor to be able to interview one of black metal’s most passionate musicians, thank you for giving MetalBite Magazine this opportunity.
Thank you and MetalBite Magazine for your support!
How have you been keeping, how is Norway at the moment?
I've been through some very busy weeks. I've played some concerts with both Crest of Darkness and Conception, beside of this we're about to release a new album with Crest of Darkness in October. This is actually the first interview where I can go out with this news. The new album will be named The God of Flesh. For sure we'll come back to this....
How is the relationship between Crest of Darkness and My Kingdom Music?
We still have a very good relationship, and My Kingdom Music will also release our new album this time.
I had listened to your previous record Welcome the Dead and enjoyed it, it holds up well in the catalog, thus, how do you view the record in retrospect?
I'm very happy with this album, but I think it's difficult to compare with our earlier releases. They are all my children you know, they were made in different periods of my life, and they all mean a lot to me!
Is there anything you would have done differently in terms of songwriting?
No, to be honest I've never been thinking like that. When I have finished the production of an album, I'm most of all thinking forward. I don't dwell very much on the past.
I understand a new Crest of Darkness record is on the way, how has the recording process been? Also, can you describe the sound of it, and does it share any similarities with past material composition-wise.
Yes, as I've already mentioned there’s a new album on the way. The recordings were actually done quite a long time ago, but it is first now we have found the right moment for the release. There are many reasons why it's like this, but together with our record label we have finally taken this decision. And it's really about time! When it comes to the production, we have worked very much in the same way as we've done before with our earlier recordings. We're working pretty fast with the basic tracks. Bass and drums are recorded almost live in the studio, simply because we want the band to have a kind of a “live feeling” also on our albums. But we are of course working a lot with the sound, the details in the music are very important, and I don't leave the studio before I'm happy with the result. And the music this time.... dark and brutal with a lot of variations, some very aggressive parts, some progressive and more melodic parts... what shall I say? It's Crest of Darkness!
Having brought up the topic of past records, my favorite from the Crest of Darkness catalog is The Ogress, the bond shared with each musician was reflected brightly throughout the songs. The atmosphere on The Ogress is so potent that each time I listen to it I’m dragged back to the late 90s early 2000s. Hence, do you still keep in contact with any of the members that played on that record? Also, will there be any returning guest musicians from The Ogress to play on the upcoming record? I ask because I miss the supporting vocals of Kristin Fjekkseth (her voice is so beautiful on that record) and Roy Khan.
The Ogress certainly means something very special for me too. I'm happy with the album as a piece of art, but it's more than that. The album stood out as something unique at its time, and still today many people are talking about this album as one of the highlights in my career. And for some people, like you, it defines a certain period in time. The mixture of dark brutal music and growling vocals, combined with moody parts and melodic vocals, all this to tell a story, it was very special, and many people thought this was fantastic, and they still do! When you get this kind of feedback on your work it will affect you, and it has done that to me. Don't know how to explain, it's just like that... When it comes to the musicians on this album - for sure I am still good friends with most of them. Arve Heimdal, the drummer, and Roy Khan who did some important vocal parts, played with me in Conception in the nineties, and as some of you have might noticed we (Conception) are back with new music, and we are also playing live again. In other words; we are very good friends! Kristin Fjekkseth - well I don't see her very often, but we are friends. Don’t know what will happen in the future, but on the upcoming album I'm doing all the vocals myself. In the future it might happen that I'll invite some guest vocalists again, but The Ogress will forever stand out as something special! It's not possible, I believe, to make "a new" Ogress album. The times have changed, and I'm searching for new challenges!
What’s the climate of the relationship amongst the current group of musicians in Crest of Darkness?
I'm very happy to tell you that Crest of Darkness of today works almost perfectly as a group! The musicians are great, and they are my best friends! What more can I wish for?!
Is Crest of Darkness an autocratic entity or do you accept constructive criticism and input from the other members? In addition, are you confident with the effort being put into the new record as a unit?
For sure I do accept constructive criticism from the other members! I want to have a certain amount of control, that must be said, but the most important thing for me is to bring the same energy, the same kind of "monster" farther. I created Crest of Darkness with the purpose to realize my darkest and most extreme visions. It's like a child for me, it's like a part of me.... But I want Crest of Darkness to be a real band, where all the band members feel that they are worth the same. I'm for sure the leader of the band, but when the musicians come up with good ideas - I try to listen as best I can.
Can you give us a glimpse as to what concepts are highlighted on the new entry and are, they in any way related to vampirism as I am aware you have a keen likeness for the subject?
The music of Crest of Darkness reflects parts of my inner world, my fantasies, my fears, but also the strongest parts of me. It lies a lot of power in our music, you could might call it religious undertones... The concerts of Crest of Darkness could be looked at as rituals. Rituals meant to build a stronger ego, learn to worship yourself, believe in yourself.... Like a God, like Satan!
This is also what lies behind the new and upcoming material from the band. And of course, the vampire is always there. Both strong, dangerous, driven by instincts, a survivor addicted to blood. The vampire has no choice. Strong and weak at the same time....
Are there any other topics being discussed on the record that you would like to disclose?
Not really.... Don't misunderstand me, but sometimes it just feels wrong going too far into explaining the lyrics. It always lies a special meaning behind the lyrics from my side, but I like it when people get different thoughts when they are listening to them. It's a good thing that the songs work on different levels, and people have different interpretations of them.
As I have mentioned the subject of vampirism, could you say what drove your infatuation with the theme?
I guess I have already said something about this... It lies such a lot of symbolism in the vampire myths. You're coming so close into the life itself.... the meaning of life... life and death, addiction, and much more.... I love this dark universe!
Would you be kind to share some of your favorite films and literary works regarding the subject?
It's difficult to pick out favorites, but here's a few of my favourite vampire movies:
The Hunger (1983)
Near Dark (1987)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
The Addiction (1995)
La den rette komme inn (Let the right one in) (2008)
A girl walks home alone at night (2014)
When it comes to literature, I do of course have to mention Bram Stoker's Dracula, first released in 1897. This literally work, and the creation of Count Dracula has become a part of everything we are associating with the vampire. This novel was built on folklore, and old traditions. The werewolf and the vampires did already exist, but Bram Stoker really gave the vampire "new fresh blood" and still today the vampire is very much alive in the consciousness of the "modern man". The vampire is very often described in the literature also today, and I must admit that I like some of the novels of Ann Rice quite a lot. (Interview with the Vampire, Queen of the Damned, and more) What else should I mention?! Not sure... Beside of different novels I think it's interesting to read historical stuff about old traditions, folklore, where did it all start? Where do this myth come from? What is the origin of the werewolf and the vampire and other similar creatures? Why have people always been so afraid of the dead, or should I say, the undead?
With regards to Crest of Darkness’ music, how much of an influence is vampirism instrumentally and more so lyrically?
Very often vampirism comes up as an inspiration when I'm working with new songs. Most times it's not planned, these ideas just come up as from nowhere... Don't know why, but it does of course have to do with the fact that during the years I have built a whole universe around Crest of Darkness, a dark world built on my inner dreams and visions. My alter ego, the "other" Ingar Amlien, "The Priest from Hell", is a kind of vampire, and I guess that explains it all!
Satanism is also mentioned as one of the aspects of Crest of Darkness’ lyrical concepts. Has your perception of the topic changed since the days of conceiving Crest of Darkness? Is it still a main element within your music? Hence, have you ever thought of venturing outside of vampirism and Satanism in search of something different to add to the music?
I am always searching for new ideas, and to a certain point I do feel that I have brought new elements into the universe of Crest of Darkness. But I must admit that whatever lies behind my music and my lyrics, I am using very much of the same symbolism as I did in the mid-nineties. It just feels right... Since the start of Crest of Darkness, I haven't really changed very much as a person, and even if I try to develop as an artist, I don't want Crest of Darkness to become "something else". So, the short answer is; Satanism and Vampirism today are still the most essential elements in Crest of Darkness.
Apart from musically, would you be kind to share your Satanic philosophy? In a quote made many years ago, I do remember you stating LaVeyan ideologies as being the branch of Satanism in which you acknowledge the most. Has that changed since?
For me it was with no doubt LaVey and The Satanic Bible who brought me into Satanism. So, nothing has really changed. Well, as a human being I hope that I'm a little bit wiser, but to be honest.... what really happens to most people is the fact that they are coordinating themselves in the society. I don't wanna be one of these sheep’s!!!!
What does being a Satanist mean to you? And how does it affect the music you create lyrically, instrumentally and thematically?
As you understand that Satanic philosophy lies behind almost everything I'm doing! But remember; being a Satanist has nothing to do with following a lot of rules made by other than yourselves! LaVey and The Church of Satan have given me a lot of inspiration, I am also a member of the church, but I have my own will, I am my own God!!! .... exactly the same message The Church of Satan are preaching!!
Also how does the atmosphere of where you dwell entwine with Crests of Darkness’ music? I ask because I'm aware you have a YouTube channel (Amlien666) in which I see you uploading videos of Norway’s natural beauty, amongst other things. It’s great to get a glimpse of your activities outside of music.
My inner world, my darkest thoughts and visions come out through the music and art of Crest of Darkness. My inner world, what is that? Shortly I can tell you that is everything with an importance for me! Nature, music, art, religion, history, and much more.... A concert with Crest of Darkness is like a ritual for me. You can't get closer to my inner soul than that! For some people this is hard to understand, they "only" know the me from my "normal life" where I have to do a lot of compromises to fit in the society. In Crest of Darkness there are no limits, and the Priest from Hell, me, can do whatever he wants!
I admire the aura of Crest of Darkness music, it has a distinct sound that immediately sets it apart from other black metal bands. Is that effect something you consciously strive to achieve, or would you say it manifests naturally?
It manifests naturally! No doubt about that! I've said it many times before in different interviews; you cannot pretend to play black metal! It has to come from the heart!
With regards to the upcoming record, does the atmosphere bare any similarities to that of The Ogress, or Project Regeneration or any of the 90s material?
Yes, in many ways we have gone back to our roots with The God of Flesh. Well, we are not going that much in the direction of our most gothic stuff like The Ogress, but some of the new songs still remind me a lot of our earliest recordings.
I find it very difficult to obtain live professional footage of Crest of Darkness performing at a venue; are there any plans to shoot a live DVD any time soon?
Yes, we've talked about it several times. We have no concrete plans for the moment, but quite soon we wanna shoot a live video... maybe a full DVD, at least a few songs.
Will there be a promotional video for the upcoming album? And can you share any information regarding the video?
We will have some videos in the near future. I can't say very much more here and now...
Prior to the release of Welcome the Dead you mentioned it was a very personal album for you, would you be kind to elaborate a bit on that statement?
In my earlier days of my career I "killed" so many of my own songs in interviews by trying to explain "everything". I've learned during the years that sometimes it's better to let the songs live "their own life". I've experienced so many times that people are getting different meanings out of my music and lyrics, and that's the way I want it to be! Whatever, I can give you a few keywords when it comes to Welcome the Dead....
God / Satan
meaning of life
Does the upcoming album share the same sentiment lyrically?
Yes, it does. Don't really have anything more to say about this....
Would you be willing to recommend some favorite books that may or may not have influenced the band’s music and lyrics?
Here's a few of them:
The Lord of the Flies, William Golding'1954
Hunger, Knut Hamsun'1890
Dracula, Bram Stoker'1897
The Satanic Bible, Anton SzandorLaVey'1969
One thing I have noticed is after so many years your vocals have barely changed, they still possess the same level of aggression as heard on an album such as Evil Knows Evil. How do you maintain that effect?
By being myself! By believing in myself! ...and a lot of practicing!
Have you encountered any problems vocally during the creation of the newest installment in the Crest of Darkness’ catalog?
No, not at all! My vocal technique is getting better and better.... I'll probably continue making these demonic voices as long as I can breathe.... and longer than that! - I'm a vampire, you know!! (laughing)
Do you know when the public will hear the first single off the album? Or is it entirely up to the record label?
Not sure about this, but you won't have to wait much longer now....
There is so much more I would like to ask but I have already burdened you with too many questions, thus I extend my best wishes for the upcoming album, Crest of Darkness as a unit and yourself. Thank You for granting MetalBite this opportunity; it has been a pleasure interacting with you.
Thanks a lot, to you my friend! I consider you being one of my friends now! It's people like you in the scene who give me and the band the motivation to continue making dark art! Perhaps not for the big masses, but for the listeners who want to get closer to the dark.... to the real nightmares .....to the abyss!
Is there anything you would like to say to conclude?
Believe in yourself!
....and most important of all I wanna send a big THANKS to our supporters all over the world!! ...we'll always stay together!!
The God Of Flesh
Welcome The Dead
In The Presence Of Death
Give Us The Power To Do Your Evil
Evil Knows Evil
Quench My Thirst
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