Interview - Ancient

Djarv/exr: Hello and congratulate with a fucking great album, that knock out most of the releases in the first half of 2004! Do you feel that Night Visit is your best album?

Ancient - Thanks ! A lot of people seem to enjoy it and that’s cool. I like this album a lot, though it’s maybe less typical Ancient than the older albums I think.. It’s always hard for me to say which album I like the most and so on, cause I see them all as very different works, I don’t think we have 2 albums that really sound the same, as we always want to do something a bit new and interesting, tho still keeping the roots of the typical Ancient sound. I think this album is great in it’s way, and I think the same about ”Svartalvheim” and ”Mad Grandiose” and the others, so I can’t really say which is better.. For me it would kinda be like asking me which one of my children do I like the most, cause I really feel it that way, the albums are all like pieces of me, they’re just different and everytime we want to put out something great that we still haven’t done. Maybe this is our best album, but then again, I think that mostly depends on each person’s taste, but I think it’s great for what it is, no doubt, if someone doesn’t like the style of it, that’s another thing, but I think it’s a great album and we also have a killer production this time.

Djarv/exr: What du you mean is the biggest difference between Night Visit and Proxima Centauri? Personally i feel that Night Visit have more band-feelings.

Ancient - Yeah, Night Visit does have more of a band feel, and it’s mainly because this time around the whole band was involved in the songwriting process, it’s the first time Dhilorz contributed to write riffs etc, and you can hear that in some songs, like ”Envision the beast” was mostly his riffs actually, I think we found a good balance between mine and his style of writing, it’s different but works well together, he usually doesn’t write so melodic as me, but more aggressive and basic somehow. We also spent a lot of time on performing the songs together before recording them in the studio, so that was also good for the way the album was recorded, it was less stuff done spontanously and in the last minute, like many times in the past.
I think musically, this album sounds more straight forward, even though it’s not as simple and basic like ”Svartalvheim” for instance, and there’s also many elements that is a bit more ”new” sounding than Proxima. I think Night Visit has a sound which is more fresh and interesting to people who have started to grow tired of the old black metal style as many bands have been playing over and over.

Djarv/exr: On Night Visit you did not write as many lyrics as previous; is it so, that you are going to give this part away totally on the next record?

Ancient - It was just the way it turned out I think, Jesus did the lyrics for his 2 songs, Grom had done 2, I asked Kaiaphas to write the lyrics for ”Rape the children of Abel” and then I did the remaining 3, I enjoy writing lyrics, but sometimes I am more inspired than other times, I guess this time around I was too concerned with the music or I didn’t feel so much like working on lyrics, and we didn’t put so many tracks on the album, so… I will surely continure to write lyrics though.

Djarv/exr: Tell us about the instrumental bonus-tracks included on Night Vistit.
- Why have you used them here, and not in a sideproject?

Ancient - Well, these tracks were actually just tracks we had available and we thought they could be cool to include as some kind of bonus tracks on the end of the album, and maybe we will use one of them on live gigs. ”The Arctic Mirage” was actually recorded back in 1996, and I do have other tracks kinda similar like it recorded, they were supposed to be for a kind of side- project but I never finished work with those songs, and wasn’t really satisfied with the rest of them. ”Out in the haunted woods” was a track we recorded in february at my apartment, all done by the keyboard, microphone and the pc, it was just some kind of experiment we did, but in the end it turned out quite enjoyable we thought and decided to have it on the disc, it does have a certain atmosphere I think, even if it’s mostly a lot of noise, hehe.

Djarv/exr: How was it that you came up with the title Night Visit, and what is the song/lyrics about? Where there, in the writing prosess, any other titles involved?

Ancient -
At first, Grom wanted to call the album ”Envision the beast” ( the opening track ) but we decided that title wasn’t so special and interesting etc. Night Visit is a title I like more, I think most people don’t know exactly what it means and they can have different kind of ideas around it, I guess. The song is about a girl who is haunted by a deceased person close to her, so this is actually about a visit from the dead. It’s not very unusual to hear about people trying to contact the spirit of persons that have died, but in this case it’s the spirit who is trying to contact the girl, which is a bit more rare, and interesting as well I thought. When I was working on the main idea for the lyrics I was a bit inspired by the movie ”what lies beneath”, tho it was just that basic concept I based it from. In the song Night Visit, the spirit speaks to the girl in her sleep and says that if she is willing to welcome him back to her life, he will return to the land of the living, but she is scared ( it’s quite freaky for a person to re- establish a relationship with a person who has been dead and says he can come to life again, u know ). It doesn’t say exactly what the end of the story is, just that she gets into a panic and shock, also in the video you can see some scenes of this.

Djarv/exr: Personally i mean that there is some similarities between what you do and what Immortal came up with, pretty much trash-metal in your Selv mener jeg at det er en del likheter mellom det dere gjør og det Immortal leverte, ganske mye trash-metal i låtene. Hva hører du på selv for tiden? Går det for det meste i ekstrem-metal?

Ancient - Yeah, I guess on this album especially there are some thrash metal influences, tho they mostly come from Dhilorz I think.. I like Immortal but I don’t think I have been much influenced by them directly.. I always listen to a lot of different stuff, and not a lot of black metal actually, I usually check out the latest releases of the most important bm bands, mostly for curiosity etc, but I don’t listen very often to extreme metal at home, I listen to a lot to stuff like Dead Can Dance, some gothic/ ambient stuff, old ’80s metal, not so much from the ’90s ( apart from black metal ), I think the only metal I liked in the ’90s ( apart from extreme metal ) is Type O Negative and maybe some of the stuff from Danzig, but that’s about it, I think the ’90s didn’t bring out much good metal at all, just in extreme metal.

Djarv/exr: Ancient/you are not the typical liveband, and we havent been spoiled with a tour here in norway. When could we expect to see you in the homeland?

Ancient - We haven’t done so very much touring in 2003 and 2004, mostly separate gigs here and there. We played in Norway in 2000, in Bergen, Trondheim and Oslo. It was cool gigs, tho the organization and promotion of them etc. wasn’t the best, which resulted in not too many people showing up, but we did enjoy a lot this trip and we hope we can do it again in the end of this year or next year. We actually haven’t had a lot of promotion and contact with the organizers and promoters in the norwegian scene lately, and that’s something we need to work on more, so we can build up the name again a bit in the Norwegian scene, which is a very strong and important one, and is after all the scene where Ancient started off back in ’92 when I was still living in Bergen. If there is a good enough interest from concert promoters and people in general, we will be more than glad to travel up again and do some more gigs, be it headliners, support for some bigger bands, festival or whatever. We have received a really good response from people in Norway as well for Night Visit, so it shouldn’t be too hard to set up some dates I would think/ hope…

Djarv/exr: There has been some changes and splitups within some of the well known norwegian black metal bands this year. I assume that this is not the question for Ancient?

Ancient - I have said it before and I will say it again: the night that Ancient dies will be the night the dead will walk the earth !
I really think that even if it came to a point where we could no longer even get a record deal etc. I would still continue to create my music, cause it’s my greatest passion and interest, even if it came to recording music at home, with the pc and in cheap studios etc, and just launching new material as mp3s on our website, then so be it. We were never into it for the money ( though money does certainly make an important difference for how the band is being managed ) and I can’t imagine just quitting the band like that. I don’t see myself running out of inspiration for doing new material in the near future either, so I am really quite confident that Ancient will remain in the scene for many years to come, in one way or another…

Djarv/exr: What would you say or describe, as your best years, working with Ancient? Do you feel that you have reached your goals?

Ancient - Maybe the years I found the most enjoyable was 1997 and 1998 when we toured a lot and did those albums with Kaiaphas, I really like ”Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends” although it had a bad production, everything was very cool around that time cause there was a great working atmosphere in the band, and everything was still very new and exciting with everything, and I enjoyed staying in the USA, although I got tired of it in the end.
I don’t think I ever set myself any specific ”goal” apart from keeping the band going on and enjoying what we were doing. I guess things have gone more or less o.k., we could have toured a lot more and sold a lot more albums, but it surely could have gone worse as well. I am glad that the band is still alive though and that we still have a strong fanbase following us, even if it isn’t a hundred thousand people. In many ways we have maybe been kinda lazy with working out the management and promotion of the band, but that has improved lately as we now have a manager working with us. I guess you could say some goals we have now is to go and tour in places we haven’t been before, like south america and perhaps Asia and anywhere else where it’s possible.

Djarv/exr: Could you decribe Ancient's development from "Svartalfheim" and
"Det Glemte Riket" until today?

Ancient - Hmm, I usually don’t like to describe our music so much, as I often feel it’s too hard to explain music with words and find it not so cool, but I think that Ancient slowly have developed it’s own personal sound with each album we put out. People always tell us that it’s always easy to recognize Ancient, cause it just sounds different than the other bands, in the later years I guess our influences from ’80s metal ( all of us are into this stuff ) have shown more than it did back in ’94- ’95. I guess you also can say that the Ancient of today is more ”developed” or so, not so old school as in the beginning, but we always work on having that strong black metal spirit in our music, that’s important, it’s not enough just to sound good, but we want to have that special strength which is black metal.

Djarv/exr: I have got hold of a vinylversion of"Det Glemte Riket", which contain a heavy and solid cover of Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf". I must admit that i have hoped for some stuff like this again, is this something that you would do?

Well, we also did a cover of Iron Maiden’s ”Powerslave” which appeared on the God Loves The Dead mini album.. but nothing else.. We’re planning to do a cover of Bathory on our tour, kind of like a tribute as Quorthon recently passed away, and his music was a strong influence on me always.. We like doing covers, and will probably do more in the future, we’ll see..

Djarv/exr: One last question: If you could choose one of the folowing Albums, which would you pick? Bathory - The Return, Slayer - Hell Awaits
or Immortal - Battles In The North.

- A difficult choice, but I think I will go with Slayer- Hell Awaits, that album is just so… unique and special.

Thanks to Aphazel

Interview by Djarv / Exraven

Visitors Visitors #157 - Since 05 2004