Crimson Dreams
CoC interviews Sigurd Nielsen of Madder Mortem
by: Pedro Azevedo
Madder Mortem's first full-length _Mercury_ [reviewed in this issue] reveals another Norwegian band whose lead singer is female, but a band that is not only very talented, but also determined to avoid falling into the synth dependency that most of the genre's bands have. In a way that occasionally brings to mind early The 3rd and the Mortal, Madder Mortem's music is based on guitar work and the female vocalist does not perform any duets with a growler (as a matter of fact, there are hardly any male vocals to be found). The result, thanks to the band's musical skills, is refreshing and very enjoyable. I e-mailed drummer Sigurd Nielsen some questions about his band and _Mercury_; here is the result.

CoC: What's the meaning of your band's name, Madder Mortem? I suppose it has something to do with madder, the plant?

Sigurd Nielsen: Hmmmm... I've never heard about the plant. [Madder is indeed a plant, the colour obtained from which dyes as "crimson madder", which explains what you are about to read. -- Pedro] Agnete [Kirkevaag, vocalist] was the one who created the band name and she got it from one of the colours her father uses, as he does some art painting. Madder is actually some kind of red colour. If you were to translate it, it would be "red death", but the name isn't meant to be that way. We decided to go for it because it sounded cool and not for what it means, because "red death" doesn't describe what we do.

CoC: What was the idea behind _Mercury_'s cover, an autumnal image with three dark figures walking beneath some trees?

SN: The idea behind the cover wasn't anything in particular. We wanted a cover that didn't look like it had been made entirely on a computer. It was natural to use photographs. If you see our full cover, it has a lot of these red/orange pictures all taken at the same place. In the back, you have the text printed on a composition of many pictures in blue. They make a great contrast effect with the red/orange ones. The pictures were taken in Norway at a place where they've just built a twenty meter high protection over some ruins of a medieval cathedral. You can see this building made of glass and steel inside the cover. I think there is a lot of harmony between the cover art and the music.

CoC: You have released a self-financed MCD called _Misty Sleep_ in 1997; since then, you have signed for Misanthropy and released your first full-length album, _Mercury_. Was everything as smooth for the band as this indicates, or did you have any problems finding a label and releasing a full-length album?

SN: To be honest, I think it all went too smoothly. I see bands struggling so much to find a label and all that. We've just been concerned with making the music. Misanthropy gave us a quick response after we gave them our demo CD, and we were very satisfied with that, of course.

CoC: So are you happy with Misanthropy Records now?

SN: As I said, we were happy and we still are. They give us a lot of artistic freedom. The only thing they control is money. <laughs> They really have a good promotion network and give their bands a lot of support that way. Another positive thing is that they only sign a few good bands, instead of a hundred shitty ones.

CoC: What would you say your musical evolution was since the MCD, considering that some of its tracks have been included in the full-length _Mercury_?

SN: We've had time to work on our material very much, so every song you hear on _Mercury_ has gone through a long process, during which we have tried to be as critical as possible. Our goal was to make the songs come out exactly the way they should be. We achieved this on _Mercury_, I think.

CoC: How satisfied are you with _Mercury_? What areas will you try to improve the most in future recordings?

SN: Right now, I don't listen to the record at all. I need to get away from it for a while before I can say what I really think about it. A lot of things happened in the studio; good things and bad things. You'll never be satisfied enough while you're working in the studio, but what is important is to think about the whole production. That way, I'm very satisfied.

CoC: There are, of course, many Norwegian metal bands using female vocals right now. However, you don't depend on keyboards as much as most of them do; there's more guitar work in Madder Mortem than usual in the genre. Some of the album's softer parts even remind me of early (i.e., Kari Rueslatten's) The 3rd and the Mortal, whereas most bands in the genre nowadays opt for a more "symphonic" sound; but your sound is usually quite different from most of what's being done in the genre right now. What are your thoughts on all this?

SN: I'm glad you don't categorize us as a symphonic band. We started without a synth and that way we discovered what sounded good without one. After a while we wanted the synth, but only to improve some parts of the music. We have never used the synth as the basis for a song. It's very easy to move in the wrong direction with a synthesizer, and this way we've done well, I think. The effects should be added, not used as a basis. The 3rd and the Mortal does this very well.

CoC: What are your plans for the near future, now that _Mercury_ is being released?

SN: We will do anything we can to tour with another band. Apart from that, we are already rehearsing new material. Right now, we are preparing our release party in Oslo.

CoC: Any concluding remarks?

SN: Nope, since I'm extremely tired right now. Have a nice one...


(article submitted 13/2/1999)

4/24/2006 C Flaaten Madder Mortem: The Musings of Mother Mortem
8/2/2003 A McKay /
P Azevedo
Madder Mortem: A Dream Come True
7/5/2009 K Sarampalis 9 Madder Mortem - Eight Ways
3/22/2006 P Azevedo 9 Madder Mortem - Desiderata
3/26/2003 P Azevedo 9 Madder Mortem - Deadlands
8/12/2001 P Azevedo 9 Madder Mortem - All Flesh Is Grass
2/13/1999 P Azevedo 9 Madder Mortem - Mercury
3/21/2003 P Azevedo Opeth / Madder Mortem / Kormoss Morningrise in the Deadlands
1/14/2002 D Rocher Tristania / Rotting Christ / Vintersorg / Madder Mortem A Night to Remember, a Bill to Forget
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