We have all lost our virginity to metal, this is true and confirmed; our first time may have been awkward… fumbly, though it cracked open our little minds and broadened our horizons… Dimmu Borgir on the other hand was that first great fuck. The turning point where lacklustre became lust. Dimmu Borgir have transcended over three decades, and continuously fill our cups with the darkest anima of symphonic black metal. With the band’s first studio album in seven years; Eonion – the Norwegian beast has managed to forge their past with their present and kept the homefires burning. Sentinel Daily caught up with founding member, guitarist Silenoz, to chat about Eonion, cultivating twenty five years of Dimmu Borgir into what we live and breathe today and the highly anticipated and commonly dubbed ‘the about bloody time’ Australian headline tour.
The first studio album for Dimmu Borgir in seven years; Eonion – released just this May, in circulation for around five months now, so how are you all feeling around its release and how has 2018 been for yourself and the band? “It’s pretty much like any other time, we release an album – it feels like a fresh start. Like a renewal so to speak and I don’t think this time is any different. Obviously we feel the response to the album has been awesome and of course we’re the type of band that once we release something it’s kind of like polarising and to me personally, this is something I really like – that we engage people in any possible way”.
Now this is longest gap between albums, however I understand that the low profile was on purpose to regain some of the mystique surrounding the band, among other reasons “Right, I think from the outside it looks a lot more dramatic than it is really, as we’ve always taken our time with albums – this time, our usual break got a lot longer than we anticipated and we were also working on getting the orchestra DVD out [Forces of the Northern Light, 2017, Nuclear Blast] and that had a few hold ups. We basically wrote this new album in three to four years, so we haven’t spent all this time on it, though we have been working on new music since the last album came out [Abrahadabra, 2010, – also through Nuclear Blast] it’s just that it has been the last few years we have pulled most of the weight”.
Every Dimmu Borgir fan has been chomping at the bit over the last seven years, waiting for the next release and as it was very quiet in camp Dimmu – of course the rumours start circulating – It’s always good PR though “Yeah, I mean, we wanted to have that low profile – try to maybe get some more mystique going again because in this day and age social media is a platform for, as you say, rumours, drama, and as frustrating as it was to see how certain people think and how they were behaving, we still felt that we would do it at our tempo and I know that once we got to spend the necessary time to create an album and finalise the album, we knew that there were people who are going to love it and people who were going to hate it before even hearing it [Laughs] that is being a part of it – being out in the open, with your art – it’s there for people to enjoy or to not enjoy”.
With the Dimmu catalogue, especially, there are always certain sections where fans are enjoying it – either the early days, the latest material, or the days of 2003. Have you had a favourite period of Dimmu? “Apart from the few down times, there has been so many great things happening to this band ever since the beginning. There are periods within the history of the band that really sparsh my smile thinking back [Laughs] I would say the main big thing apart from the big festivals we played early on in our career, like Ozzfest in 2004 in the US for instance – this was a milestone. Every time we get to release a new album, that’s a milestone in itself. There are so many times in the band’s history which make me really proud and happy but I think each time we release an album, that’s where our focus is”.
The new album – it speaks volumes about the creative harmony within the band over the last twenty five years. This album in particular has very detailed, very sophisticated material – the band have successfully tied the past to the future. Do you feel you have achieved everything you set out to achieve with the album? “I feel so, maybe even more so than ever because the difference this time around from the past – we did it in our own time, in our own tempo. Other bands may have obligations, time wise, to the record label but our label know that if we can spend the time we need to finish a product, they know it will be something they can sell without thinking twice. This was really helpful for Eonion. The detail’s important for this album also and there is nothing left to chance with this album. I’m glad you say that there is a real thread through this album, we feel the same! It not only shows new Dimmu, but captures the whole back catalogue. Definitively it has ties to the past”.
And it is just also so symbolic that such a record would reveal itself for the twenty fifth anniversary of the band – was that in your mind when writing the album, did you feel you were cultivating twenty five years into Eonion? “Yeah, I think so because the way that some of the song structures were built – I mean you cannot really compare it to how we wrote and recorded the first couple of albums – but the atmospheres we included just sound like Dimmu, a glimpse of the past and of course the current form of the band”. The band are getting more and more ambitious with each album, Dimmu always thought bigger than within the general landscape of black metal – was this ultimately the goal from day one or had it just evolved this way over time? “I think it has evolved over time but once you start a band – you don’t start with an ambition of being successful, although this is probably subconsciously in the back of your mind anyway, you know, when you’re six years old and standing in front of the mirror with a fly swatter [Laughs] but yeah – as things come and go, ambitions come with it. I mean, we never made it easy on ourselves with the way that our music has progressed but at the same time if you try to control your art it’s bound to fail. It needs to live on its own and you try and form and adapt to it as best you can”.
The music has transcended nearly three decades, it is still very relative, raw, a complete melting pot of creativity – this album in particular, what would you say you have learnt about the band after twenty five years and after recording this album? “I think after so many years you get to know each other really well, you get to know each other’s strengths, each other’s weaknesses and I think we have gotten a lot better over the last few albums that we focus on the strengths, each person’s strengths within the band. Stuff like this isn’t achieved overnight or over the course of one tour. It takes years to get to this point. And that is something I’m really proud of too, this and that we’re still here after you say, yeah nearly three decades. And also playing the type of music that we play, I mean it’s not exactly radio friendly, easy listening music” We both chuckled… It totally is…
Now that the band have been very quietly moving behind the scenes with Eonion and hadn’t played a live show since 2014 but the stars have aligned and Dimmu Borgir are playing your first headline tour of Australia “It has been a long time coming and we have some unfinished business to take care of. We’ve been looking forward to this opportunity for several years now and it’s just as frustrating for us as a band to not be able to go play when we want. As you say the stars have aligned and I think it’s going to be a really great run. I wish we were playing more cities but that’s just another excuse to come back later”.
I can imagine over the last seven years – the amount of requests that have come in, asking for the band to play here or there. Have you been storing these requests and is this how the world tour eventuated? “The bank account would look a lot better had we said yes to the offers [Laughs] but we have always taken quality over quantity and our fans know that once we do play live, although not often, it is something special. Our last visit to Australia was not ideal, daylight is not Dimmu. It reminded me of a few of our earlier European festival slots, starting early [Laughs] – but you do have a choice, you have to ask yourself; do you want your band and your art to reach a higher audience or do you want to sit on your high horse and think that everything revolves around you – we made that choice a long time ago. Though this is why we are now coming back to Australia, making up for it. Music for us is all about atmosphere. We don’t think in technical terms, we think with feeling”.
Now I understand you guys are also travelling with a new bassist, Victor Brandt – how has Victor settled in with Dimmu? “We’ve known Victor for many, many years now and he has also shown his interest in being a part of Dimmu though the timing was never right until now and I feel he is definitively a great addition to the band, in a live sense and also on a personal level. He is a total professional, he knows his stuff. He has been around long enough to know how things work”.
And what are you looking forward to next for Dimmu Borgir? “Our focus is first and foremost this world tour and of course we have quite a lot of material left over from our last writing session. There is no shortage of material because we write all the time”. And I bet you have missed all the interviews over the last seven years, can’t wait to get back into all those no doubt? [Laughs] “The last album cycle for Abrahadabra, I alone was close to 800-1000 interviews [Laughs] this time hasn’t been as much…. Yet” [Laughs]
You Can See Dimmu Borgir performing at the following Venues Next Week:
October 14th – Auckland, The Studio
October 16th – Melbourne, 170 Russell – SECOND SHOW
October 17th – Melbourne, 170 Russell SOLD OUT
October 19th – Brisbane, Eatons Hill
October 21st – Sydney, The Metro