At Dawn He Sleeps
CoC chats with Marcus Norman of Bewitched
by: Jackie Smit
If records like the tawdry _At the Gates of Hell_ or 1996's _Diabolic Desecration_ didn't quite manage to capture your imagination, then don't think by any means that Bewitched's new platter of splatter, _Spiritual Warfare_, is an album that you can simply ignore. A vast improvement over all of its predecessors –- bar none -– it's Bewitched's latest and most fully realised fuck-you to any and all things modern. I caught up with frontman Marcus Norman (also of Naglfar, Ancient Wisdom et al) to discuss the new record, and discovered that I was also speaking to one of the busiest men in metal.

CoC: It's been a while since we've heard anything from Bewitched, and I do recall seeing a note on your website as early as last year mentioning that you were in the process of tracking the drums for the new record. Therefore first and most obviously, what took _Spiritual Warfare_ so long to hit the shelves?

Marcus Norman: Well, we had to redo all the guitars, and since I recorded it myself, we'll just stick with blaming the equipment. <laughs> Also, we all had a really busy schedule, especially with some us being involved with Naglfar, and we had to take a lot of breaks in between the recording sessions to rehearse with that band as well. So, basically we ended up just recording whenever we had the time to do it. Plus, I won't hide the fact that we're a little lazy as well. I think that if you work in your own studio the way we did, it slows you down a little because you have the luxury of taking as long as you want to.

CoC: Are you doing the new Naglfar album in your own studio as well?

MN: Most of the new album was recorded by me, yes. But we used a different studio to record the drums and now for the mixing. It definitely does give you a different vibe when you're doing the album, and obviously we've been doing this for a long time, so we know what kind of sound we want and how to get it.

CoC: Back to Bewitched -– what was your intention with this record? Having been away from the scene for a few years, did you want to remind people that you were still around, or did you wan to give black metal in general a kick up the ass?

MN: Actually, the mini CD that we released a few years ago was to remind people that we're still around. <laughs> We see this release in a similar vein to the others we've done; we just feel like we can push the band a little further now. With the last few albums we did on Osmose, there was really nothing going on for the band in terms of promotion. There were no interviews and everything was just going very slowly; no tours, nothing to really push us. I mean, the last tour we did was in 1997, and since then we just played a couple of shows. With this album already we've had a lot of offers, although unfortunately we've had to turn it down because of the Naglfar recording.

CoC: I read recently that you're already confirmed for next year's Party.San festival.

MN: Yeah, and as soon as we're finished with the Naglfar album we're definitely going to look at some of the touring offers that we've had and try and get out on the road as often as possible. We definitely want to be more visible with this record.

CoC: _Spiritual Warfare_ sounds deliberately old school to a far greater degree than your previous records, and in many ways has more in common with early thrash than with black metal. Would you say that's a fair assessment?

MN: Definitely, although it's quite hard for me to judge the new album. We didn't really have a plan when we started work on this album. We usually just sit down and say: "Let's do a Bewitched album." So we never set out to do anything particularly different with this one. We certainly didn't want to repeat ourselves, but we were all kind of surprised when the record was done, because it turned out to be quite different to the previous releases. There are definitely quite a few songs that are very different to your typical Bewitched song. There are slower, darker songs, which has never been our typical thing.

CoC: Something I love about the record in particular are the surprises and the clever touches you've added, such as the clean vocals at the end of "Fucked by Fire".

MN: That was actually a friend of ours who did that, and it's the perfect ending to that song.

CoC: So that brings me to my next question, which is how a Bewitched album typically comes together?

MN: Well, all of us are involved in creating the record. We all live in a small town, so we're just a short distance from each other and we see each other often. Both me and Chris [Olivius] are in Naglfar, so we spend a lot of time together, and especially when you're on tour and you have nothing to do, a lot of riffs tend to be written. One of the songs off the new Bewitched album was actually written while we were doing a video for a Naglfar song. So you never expect it, it just happens.

CoC: Your bio states that you started Bewitched because you were unhappy with the state of music at the time. As the extreme music scene has evolved since then, do you feel that -– in the larger scheme of things -– Bewitched is still as much of a necessity and as relevant as it was then?

MN: I think in retrospect it had less to do with being displeased with any particular scene and more a case of reading interviews with bands who were claiming to be influenced by bands like Bathory and things like that, and when you listen to their music then you hear none of that. They'd just sound like a typical death metal band. Of course you can be influenced by a band and sound nothing like them, but what we wanted to do was just basically take that in a different direction and really create something that reeked of the old days. It's been working for us so far, and people seem to enjoy what we're doing, and with this band as long as we're satisfied that's all that matters. Good reviews and people getting into the band is just a bonus for us. It's more about creating something that pleases ourselves and that we'd listen to.

CoC: So being in Naglfar, and Ancient Wisdom as well -– what does Bewitched give you as a musician that you don't get from those two acts?

MN: Just the pure simplicity and the dirt. Being able to do things in a rougher, simpler way. With Ancient Wisdom it's all about atmosphere and trying to capture a really dark, melancholic mood; something that doesn't have a typical song structure. With Naglfar, it's more about aggression and creating something unique using melody. With Bewitched it's just straightforward. It's all about the groove, dude. <laughs>

CoC: Apart from your various forays into what could all roughly be regarded as black metal, what other projects do you have on the boil?

MN: I've done an album with a band called Havayoth, which is very different -– much softer than something like Bewitched and done completely with clean vocals. As far as taking it to a more extreme level, I'm working a mixture of industrial and extreme metal which I have about three or four songs done for. It sounds very broken and I use a lot of technology, so we'll see what happens with that. I'm always creating new stuff, and when it doesn't fit into any one of my other projects, I just start a new one.

CoC: Between Naglfar and Bewitched, you're going to be a pretty busy man in 2007. What are your plans at this stage?

MN: Well, I'm mixing the new Naglfar album at the moment, so that takes priority. Once that's done we'll look into the tour offers we have for Bewitched. We're also headed out to Japan with Naglfar in January for three shows. Next year will be really busy if things go to plan. We'll hopefully do plenty of touring with Naglfar and Bewitched. I'm also doing the new Ancient Wisdom album, a new Havayoth album and maybe even a new Bewitched album.

CoC: Of course, because I imagine that much of what was included on _Spiritual Warfare_ comes from 2004 and 2005?

MN: Yeah. We could quite easily have done a double album, but we didn't see the point in that. The new material is quite similar -– maybe a little faster even, but there are even more basic, groovy numbers with a sinister touch to it.

CoC: Excellent. So is there anything you want to say to wrap up the interview?

MN: Well, I want to thank you and everyone else for supporting us. I hope we'll be able to head out to the UK and US soon, and I hope that people will check out the new album.

(article submitted 12/12/2006)


ALBUMS
12/12/2006 J Smit 8 Bewitched - Spiritual Warfare
7/3/2002 Q Kalis 7.5 Bewitched - Rise of the Antichrist
12/9/1999 P Schwarz 6 Bewitched - At the Gates of Hell
2/13/1999 P Schwarz 3 Bewitched - Hell Comes to Essen
6/9/1996 S Hoeltzel 5 Bewitched - Diabolical Desecration
GIGS
2/5/1997 P Schwarz Dark Tranquillity / Enslaved / Bewitched / Swordmaster / Demoniac / Dellamorte We Must Dominate, We Will Dominate
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