Storming the Black Castle
CoC speaks with Silenoz of Dimmu Borgir
by: Henry Akeley
Although they're certainly not the most notorious black metal outfit to emerge from Norway in recent years, Dimmu Borgir are definitely among the best of them. More emotive songwriters than most of their corpse-painted brethren, they give distinct and stirring expression to black metal's unquiet spirit, weaving together compelling tapestries of sound from moments of quiet sadness, desolate majesty, and charging anger. And the band's quality has not gone unrecognized: after releasing two solid full-length albums (_For All Tid_, on No Colors Records, and _Stormblast_, on Cacophonous), they have signed to Nuclear Blast, and their new CD-single _Devil's Path_ (just out on Norway's up-and-coming Hot Records), has sold thousands of copies in quite a short span of time. In the midst of this flurry of activity, guitarist/vocalist Silenoz recently sat down to share his thoughts on the band and the scene with CoC. And he certainly didn't pull any punches... so just remember, the beliefs and attitudes expressed are -his-, not necessarily those of anybody here at CoC.

CoC: What is the meaning of the name "Dimmu Borgir"?

Silenoz: Dimmu Borgir is an Icelandic name (as well as a place on the northern part of Iceland), and in English it means "The Black Castle."

CoC: On both _For All Tid_ and _Stormblast_, your music evokes a feeling of majestic sadness which few other black metal bands seem to be capable of creating. What inspires you to craft such somber and moving songs?

S: Well, I guess the inspiration mainly comes naturally, as the music and the lyrics mirror our souls and reflect how we actually feel deep inside. To say it short, if we had been feeling good and happy about ourselves inside, we wouldn't have been making this kind of music. That should be pretty obvious by now, as we would probably have been making some Hawaii-sounds, or whatever, instead, if we hadn't been honest to ourselves. We play what our heart tells us to do - not necessarily the sane parts of our minds.

CoC: When you're not making music, what kinds of music do you listen to?

S: What I really appreciate is good, old heavy metal, a lot of classical music, and opera such as Wagner and Dvorak, synth/dream music such as Schulze (the genius with a big G!) - and of course, black metal of the eighties and of today, as well as some death metal.

CoC: Is there a particular message or theme which you want your music to communicate? (I am especially curious about this, because I like your music very much, but I'm unable to read the Norwegian lyrics, inscriptions, and so on.)

S: One thing that is highly important for us is to show the world our massive hate towards God and the messengers of Christianity. Almost every lyric is written from a Satanic perspective, drawn out of ideas and notions of what we want OUR world to be like. We feel an obligation to represent Satan, the dark and evil side of life - and if we are able to both possess and provoke the other human beings on this earth through our music - together with the written part, which in our case is just as important - we have done exactly what we feel our mission is. But since the lyrics so far have been written in Norwegian, a lot of people have misunderstood and thought that we are a band that sing about the Vikings. Even though I don't blame those who thought so, I still think it is too easy and narrow-minded to jump to a conclusion like that. We have therefore decided to quit writing Norwegian lyrics and instead concentrate on writing them in English, not only because of this matter, but also because we have signed to a bigger label (Nuclear Blast), where we obviously have the opportunity to reach a lot more people and new listeners.

CoC: What does black metal represent to the members of Dimmu Borgir? Do you regard it simply as a particular style of music, or do you think of it as something more significant than that - an overall outlook or way of life?

S: I would, without a doubt, admit that black metal, in its true word and essence, has become our life, the reason why we still exist. I dedicate my entire existence to my band and everything that may follow. For me, it is not only important just to record albums and play gigs; it is also about dedicating myself mentally. I don't work. In fact, I don't even have what you would call a hobby either. I have no time and space left over to collect stamps and cards. We are putting so much energy and work into what we are doing, so if once in a while we are lucky and get laid, I guess we are as shocked about it as anyone else around us... Ha ha!!

CoC: What do you think of the current state of the black metal scene in your country? How would you compare today's scene to the more tumultuous period of a couple years ago?

S: If our scene was tumultuous a couple of years ago, it sure as hell is an even more tumultuous period we are going through now! Before all those newspaper-scribblings started, everything was under control. It was law and order. But suddenly, when the media got into it and started to fuck up really bad, everything got totally out of hand - especially after the death of Euronymous, when people started to choose sides. Should they stand behind a murdered man, a legend - or should they back up the newcomer who so endlessly bragged about "killing another weak human," as he put it? It became pretty pathetic, if you ask me. You know, he actually stabbed the man to death in his underwear... a very honorable and heroic act indeed. So after these happenings, there popped up a lot of new bands, some very good and some that never would have lasted more than a few days if Euronymous had still been alive. Everything has its positive and negative sides. The positive must be that our scene really has been "placed on the map" as one of the best scenes, maybe the best one ever, with a lot of different-sounding and ambitious bands. The negative side must certainly be that a lot of kids and "children" without knowledge and respect for the music and cult came into the coven. Even though they never will be looked upon as a threat, I would prefer that they disappear and fade away - escaping the earth, possessed by us.

CoC: What is your opinion on the current state of black metal in general?

S: I suppose the black metal scene in general mostly holds a good standard. There are also a lot of shitty and terrible acts, certainly, but in my opinion, Norway and Sweden undoubtedly have the best bands. Each to his own taste, of course, but I think no bands outside of these two Nordic countries are able to compete, music-wise. I do not exactly know how the scene in the States is right now, even though I know you also have some really good bands, too.

CoC: When did Dimmu Borgir first come together?

S: Shagrath (lead guitar and vocals) and I formed the band together with Tjodalv (percussion) back in '93, and after some weeks, Brynjard Tristan (who has now been replaced by Nagash) joined on bass. We also have a guy who handles synths/choirs and piano for us.

CoC: Did any members of the band have any involvement with the black metal scene prior to the band's formation?

S: Yes, we all played in different bands, although with varying success, before Dimmu Borgir was created. The only band that is worth mentioning must be Fimbulwinter, where Shagrath played guitar until they split up in '92.

CoC: Did the band release anything prior to _For All Tid_?

S: We released a 7" EP entitled _Inn I Evighetens Morke_ ("Into the Eternity of Darkness") on Necromantic Gallery Productions in '94. It was sold out within only a few weeks.

CoC: _For All Tid_ features contributions by Aldrahn from Dodheimsgard and Vicotnik from Ved Buens Ende. Have members of Dimmu Borgir collaborated on any other musical projects?

S: Tjodalv also plays the drums for Old Man's Child, and Nagash, who is the second part of Covenant, has a side project named Troll where he plays all the instruments himself. Troll is out on Head Not Found these days, and the full-length can be expected to come out very soon on Damnation in Holland.

CoC: Are there any current bands which you regard as especially important or relevant? Any which you would especially recommend to fans of your own group?

S: Well, I guess checking out Arcturus, if some of you still haven't done that, might be a good idea if you are into black metal with piano parts and synths. Also, the long-awaited Covenant album is on its way, and that is something you cannot miss if you like majestic, melodic, but grim black metal.

CoC: What does the future hold for Dimmu Borgir? How would you like to see the band continue to develop?

S: We hope the good development will continue, as we have got a new member, and we have been signed to Nuclear Blast, which gives us the opportunity of touring. Maybe we can do some shows in the States in the future? Our third album, _Enthrone Darkness Triumphant_, will be a mixture of heavy metal; classical; ultra-fast, harsh, and evil black metal; slow and melodic, dreamy parts, and so on. I think we have about all the possible ingredients of metal in it! Hopefully it will be released in early spring of '97. We will also do a European tour in the beginning of next year with Dissection, In Flames, Night In Gales, and (maybe) Satyricon.

CoC: Any parting words for readers and fans?

S: First of all, I would like to thank you for doing the first Dimmu Borgir interview EVER on the Internet! You are now historical! I would otherwise thank our fans and listeners, bands and individuals that we cooperate and are in touch with. Great fucking hails to you all!!

(article submitted 18/11/1996)


CHATS
5/8/2007 J Smit Dimmu Borgir: Diabolical Masquerades
4/29/2004 P Schwarz Dimmu Borgir: In Deep With the Deacons of the Dark Castle
8/22/2003 J Smit Dimmu Borgir: The Death Cult Beckons
5/13/2001 A Bromley Dimmu Borgir: Majestic Visions, Triumphant Sounds
8/12/1997 S Hoeltzel Dimmu Borgir: Up From the Underground
ALBUMS
4/20/2007 K Sarampalis 8 Dimmu Borgir - In Sorte Diaboli
11/24/2005 J Smit 7 Dimmu Borgir - Stormblast (2005)
9/21/2003 J Smit 8.5 Dimmu Borgir - Death Cult Armageddon
3/26/2003 Q Kalis Dimmu Borgir - World Misanthropy
3/13/2001 C Flaaten 9 Dimmu Borgir - Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
3/14/1999 P Schwarz 8 Dimmu Borgir - Spiritual Black Dimensions
11/19/1998 P Schwarz 5 Dimmu Borgir - Godless Savage Garden
7/14/1997 P Azevedo 9 Dimmu Borgir - Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
4/9/1997 S Hoeltzel 8 Dimmu Borgir - Devil's Path
8/12/1996 S Hoeltzel 8 Dimmu Borgir - Stormblast
GIGS
10/20/2003 J Smit Dimmu Borgir / Hypocrisy / Norther One Step Closer to Armageddon
8/12/2001 C Flaaten Dimmu Borgir / Destruction / Susperia Puritanical Destructive Predominance
5/13/2001 M Noll Dimmu Borgir / In Flames / Nevermore Crimes in the Mourning Palace
5/19/1999 P Azevedo Dimmu Borgir / Dark Funeral / Dodheimsgard / Evenfall The Darkest Night of the Year
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