Echoes of Decimation
CoC chats with Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson of Marduk
by: Jackie Smit
It was just over six months ago that CoC last sat down with the always affable Morgan Håkansson to discuss his band's latest and undoubtedly most jaw-dropping effort to date. Even then, the message was ringing at two hundred decibels with crystal clarity: Marduk was very, very far from running out of steam. Far from it in fact, as the response lauded on _Rom 5:12_ was nothing short of stunning, considering that it was for a band who have regularly been criticised for repeating themselves. Even Morgan himself seems genuinely surprised:

CoC: : Morgan, we caught up a few months ago to discuss the new album and some of the concepts behind it. Clearly since then, you've had a fantastic response from both the critics and the fans to the new material, and I was wondering how you're feeling about all things Marduk now that the dust has settled.

Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson: Well, of course it's great. I don't think that we've ever had such a strong response from the media and the critics. Our fans have always been supportive, but with this record in particular they seem to be very much into what we're doing. So it's just been tremendously flattering, and perhaps even bit surprising. That said, I don't tend to spend too much time reflecting on things like this. Right now I'm already working on the next Marduk album, so for me the focus is to always be looking and thinking ahead.

CoC: In terms of touring in support of the album, it was a bit of a blow, I'm sure, when the Excess of Evil tour was cancelled, but since then you have made it out to Australia...

MH: Yes, we went there during the spring and along the way we also did Russia, the Ukraine; we were meant to do Belarus but that got cancelled because of the local authorities. But we've also done a few local shows and the response at all of those has been amazing -- I've been very pleased.

CoC: I understand that the show in Australia was filmed as well?

MH: It was, and I think that we may one day release it as an exclusive of some sort. I haven't seen it yet, so I don't know what the quality is like. But Australia is incredible. It's one of those fanatical metal countries, and they have a long tradition of good bands. Unfortunately not a lot of bands like us actually make it out there, but certainly the vibe and the enthusiasm over there is amazing.

CoC: How are plans faring for you to make it out to the States?

MH: That is definitely going to happen. We're busy finalising the last few details, but we will definitely make it out there soon. We're also going to be headed out to the Balkan states, which I'm really looking forward to because I'm extremely interested in history and I feel a very close connection to those countries. With this album we want to cover as many areas as possible before we really start work on the next one.

CoC: You mentioned earlier that work has already begun though?

MH: Well, I've been recording riffs and half-songs and things like that. I haven't completed anything yet, but I have a shitload of good ideas.

CoC: Can you let us in on any secrets?

MH: <laughs> Not really. I don't have a strong concept for what I want to do yet, but from what I've written so far I think it will take a few people by surprise. It will definitely be a little different to _Rom 5:12_.

CoC: You've been a very prolific figure in black metal for many years now. If you look at the genre at its present state of evolution, do you still feel the same level of enthusiasm and passion for it that you found, for example, a decade ago?

MH: I feel a huge passion for it. This is what I live for. You know, people change, the scene has changed, the band has changed, but for me personally I still feel exactly the same way about this music I did when I started. Maybe I see it slightly differently in some respects because I've grown a little older, but if I didn't feel the same passion I wouldn't be here anymore. If I felt like I don't have the dedication any longer, I'd go out and do something else.

CoC: When you look at how the black metal genre has developed and changed since the early days, do you feel like it's in a good health at the moment as an artform?

MH: It's been hollowed out to an extent and in some cases I think it has lost its spirit. There are so many people who refer to themselves as black metal just because they use screaming vocals. That's not how I view black metal. There's a big difference between extreme metal and black metal. You feel more of a spiritual connection to black metal, and personally I need that in music. And that doesn't just include black metal; regardless of what I listen to, I need to feel like the guy singing means what he says -- whether it's Lemmy from Motorhead or David Edwards from Woven Hand. If someone means what they say, I can have respect for that and I can connect with it. When it comes to lyrics -- especially in black metal -- there's a lot of crap out there and a lot of people who don't seem to care about what they're writing or what they're singing about. For me, lyrics are extremely important. When we work on an album, the lyrics are fifty percent and the music is the other fifty percent. The two need to come together and become one unit.

CoC: Does that tie into the fact that Marduk has moved away over the course of the past few records from what could be described as typical black metal lyrics?

MH: Yeah, absolutely. I like writing lyrics that don't have a straightforward meaning and that you can consider and look at in many different ways and interpret the way you want to. As I mentioned before, I think that as people grow older they change and that's definitely what happened to us although at the same time I think that we still keep to our roots. The way that we've developed and changed and been completely natural; we never made a conscious decision to stick to one style, because personally I would rather just keep doing the same thing for as long as I feel comfortable doing it. The new album has been called experimental by a lot of people, but I don't think it really is. There are a few small changes, but nothing major.

CoC: Being a hard-touring man such as yourself, what are the differences you see in the audiences now versus, say, ten or fifteen years ago?

MH: It tends to be different every time you play, to tell you the truth, and I think that the reason for that is that there are so many tours going on at any given time -- especially in Europe. But when we play, my only real focus is on doing what I do to the best of my ability. That's all I really care about.

(article submitted 31/1/2008)

11/4/2009 J Smit Marduk: Unholy Blasphemies
6/10/2007 J Smit Marduk: Hosannas From the Basement of Hell
11/29/2004 J Smit Marduk: The Plague Rages On
3/14/1999 D Rocher Marduk: Far Beyond the Grace of God
7/1/2012 J Carbon 7.5 Marduk - Serpent Sermon
6/26/2011 J Carbon 6.5 Marduk - Iron Dawn
10/24/2009 J Ulrey 8.5 Marduk - Wormwood
5/1/2007 J Smit 9.5 Marduk - Rom 5:12
11/29/2004 J Smit 8.5 Marduk - Plague Angel
5/13/2001 M Noll 8 Marduk - La Grande Danse Macabre
8/12/1999 D Rocher 9 Marduk - Panzer Division Marduk
4/13/1998 S Hoeltzel 7.5 Marduk - Nightwing
8/12/1997 S Hoeltzel 8 Marduk - Live in Germania
10/11/1996 S Hoeltzel 8 Marduk - Glorification
10/11/1996 S Hoeltzel 9 Marduk - Heaven Shall Burn When We Are Gathered
12/2/2007 J Smit Marduk / Vreid A Doomsday Celebration
5/13/2001 M Noll Marduk / Mortician / Vader / God Dethroned / Amon Amarth / Mystic Circle / Sinister / ...And Oceans / Bal Sagoth Baptized by Fire and Beer
8/12/2000 M Noll Deicide / Immortal / Cannibal Corpse / Marduk / Vader / Dark Funeral / Hate Eternal / Vomitory There's No Mercy in Satan's Oven
1/15/2000 P Azevedo Marduk / Angelcorpse / Enthroned Night of the Living Corpses
1/15/2000 M Noll Cannibal Corpse / Marduk / Angelcorpse / Aeternus / Defleshed Two Corpses, One God and No Flesh
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