It’s a busy day for Lord Ahriman – he’s doing a huge interview run for the Australian metal press while hanging out in Stockholm, Sweden, birth-place of black metallers Dark Funeral. Ahriman is bracing himself for the upcoming tour as part of the Direct Underground Fest (with, among others, Immolation and Christ Dismembered). He tells me “We’re going to start rehearsing in a couple of days,” – in a new rehearsal room no less….
Last here in 2012 (Oh yeah! That was a long time ago! Time flies!”), I mention that I thought it was much more recent that – what is Lord Ahriman’s perspective on the passage of time? “Sometimes [time moves very fast] and then sometimes I just stand still. But time does fly a little too fast – but I always seem to have such a hectic schedule so everything seems be moving fast all of the time. I normally have to keep on going forward all of the time with my thinking and my mind…” Moving from the past of Dark Funeral’s most recent album, 2016’s Where Shadows Forever Reign, is there new material being worked on? “I have started writing a little bit but it’s very early in the process, but I have two songs that are getting along.” He mentions playing some demos to the rest of the band, and there appears to be a distinct attitude of Slayer to the new music. It’s a comparison that he’s heard before, and he clarifies “It’s not musically the same but the riffing and the attitude…I don’t know…we’ll see.” He appears slightly bemused by the comparison.
I raise the band’s 2016 success with the P3 Guld, perhaps the biggest music award in Sweden’s musical industry, and his bemusement deepens. “Yeah, we got three awards for the last record – well, two awards for the record and I got one personally as songwriter…” Disbelief permeates his voice, as he puts it, exceptionally mildly “It was a big surprise.” So do you care much for accolades? “Not really – even if no one liked what I was doing, I would still keep on doing it because it’s what I have to do. But of course, if people really enjoy what we are doing, and we’re getting really good reviews and feedback then it does help us to move forward with the band. And it does help us to play in other countries.” He pragmatically sees the awards as something that enables the band to play around globe, and not a goal to be chased in themselves. Wise man.
I remind Lord Ahriman about one of our previous conversations, and how he was getting a bit pissed with the business side of the industry getting in the way of tours etc – is it even worse now, after getting these awards? “I don’t know. It seems to be everyday now – I just spent a couple of days in Poland, on vacation, and my phone was going all the time, taking care of business, so I can never really rest.” But he does mention that he also has difficulties relaxing and will find work for himself. Personally, I’m still off, imagining him on vacation, lying by a pool on a sunbed in full corpse paint…
I ponder the recognition of the awards, given the band has always done what it does, and he responds “As you say, we haven’t tried to become more commercial, and I guess with the last records; they’re just good songs even though they are extreme metal, and maybe business people have got their eyes open on us?” He doesn’t know what to say about all of these awards, and is perplexed such a scenario could come about. I move him out of the confusion onto the topic of the recent European metal summer festivals, including as Wacken and Gothoom, that Dark Funeral have just played.
Will it be nice to play the smaller venues in Australia after the massive stage shows? “Yeah! It’s always great to mix the super big shows with going back to club shows. You get two different kinds of feeling when you play those different sizes of stage – but the small club stages are the best. I like to do the big shows too – it’s a privilege to be able to do both – but the smaller shows are more intimate, and you get closer to the crowd, and it’s easier to exchange energies with the crowd.” His words are making me hungry for a pit in a sweaty club.
Do you pick your setlist according to the venue, size of stage, etc? “We always try to put a setlist together that brings a decent mix from every record. Even though we focus on the last record, we always try to bring in something from the other records – but it also depends on how long the set time that we get. Sometimes we’ve only got forty minutes and it’s hard to play something from every record – fortunately we don’t get forty minutes very often but when we do, we’ve been struggling, trying to cut down the setlist. For us, it’s always ideal to play seventy minutes, that way we can bring in songs from every record and give the crowd a good show. A shorter show is kind of a rip-off – though we did do a tour with a ninety minute set. It was a long set for this kind of music.”
Quite frankly, I’m amazed no one in the band or crowd died…He laughs as he adds “I’m not sure if it was good for us or the fans!”
So that’s what you can expect next month – seventy to seventy five minutes of pure black metal filth. And I’m sure that I’ll be speaking to Lord Ahriman again in another couple of years. All hail Satan.