Hi. I'm glad to interview Nastrond after such a strong release as “Muspellz Synir”. To start with this interview, I'd like to know what happened between the release of "Age Of Fire" until the split with Nocternity in 2005, as the band seemed to have stopped its activities, only releasing two compilation CDs, "Conquering The Ages" and “From A Black Funeral Coffin” in 2004. Did you stop or simply take a break and kept working on Nastrond in the shadows?
KARL: There was no formal break, the band existed all along during this period, but for my part focus was moved away from music, atleast Black Metal. I spent more time with the works of journals and art. Creativity could be directed in several channels, and this was the case. It was first after this passage I could see what direction the band should take.
In fact, there was another album released in 2004, entitled “Celebration Of The Forth”(which I didn't know until I prepared this interview), containing five tracks in more than one hour of playing time, dedicated to the four primordial elements, which was released by yourselves and was not so easy to find. Can you introduce us to this recording a bit more? As a follower of your band, I'd like to find that CD, is it still possible to find it in some way?
KARL: It is not sold in the present, but will eventually be released in a official way, probably as a vinyl. So, I suggest everyone to wait this one out. It is a very different work and shows more of the ritualistic and personal side of the band. The pieces was concluded in the fifth element of spiritual awareness above the material.
Your new album, "Muspellz Synir", represents for me the only Black Metal album that I have heard of this 2008 (until now) that shows really original and progressive ideas although remaining in a really obscure, raw and ritualistic sound, and I must admit this is not an easy album you put and "understand" the first time you listen to it. As I said on my review, this is not an album but more a ritual itself. How would you describe the musical progression since “Age Of Fire”? What do you think of other bands like Deathspell Omega or Blut Aus Nord that are following, just like you, other ways to see and create Black Metal? Which Black Metal bands have surprised you recently?
KARL: I find strength in several active bands, which follows and develops the path of the authentic and sincere. Yet, “Muspellz Synir” is a creation without direct influence, musically. This is possibly a result of being without present reference, as I have very limited overview on present Black Metal, which probably serves in a both positive and negative way. But for me, it is without need to attend and transmit other ideas than my own thorugh this music. This sets the expression without a “scene-context”. The ritual forms are fundamental for this creation. It is the same situation with the meditation, which forces the subconscious to inflict the forms of creativity.
Still about the album, the most impressing for me was to find such a variety and progression of athmospheres and feelings and at the same time being a really basic album, technically speaking. How much time did it take you to complete all the writings and record it? Was it produced by yourselves? It certainly doesn't have a usual or standard production.
KARL: The album was recorded and produced during a longer period of time. This also let me experiment more with ideas and sounds. I wanted the production to be more basic, without any un-necessary parts and qualities which are only technical. Instead I wanted the atmosphere become of its own, as a corresponding voice to what was thrown into the darkness. In this way a work of art could become something living and shaped from its own inner forms. The structure then builds out and becomes itself. I only walk with it.
Nastrond means “the beach of corpses”, a place where the oath-breakers, murderers and adulterers are sent to, and it is related with norse mithology, but there is another way to understand it, as a separation between body and soul. Can you introduce us a bit more into the meaning of all this for you and why did you take that monicker when you created the band? Do you focus only on norse mithology when you speak about demonic or infernal visions or you use others that share the same visions when it comes to these subjects?
KARL: Perhaps it was a sub-conscious choice. Initially I wanted a name which better corresponded to the dark side of Nordic pantheon and cosmology, but there have never been a dividing line between the traditionally Satanic and the Nordic Sinister aspects. Both this and other ancient ideas and tradition have had an important part, and this is basically because there is some archetypes and symbols which pass through all the cultural differences, and speaks to the foundation of man, but also to the future. Nåstrond is the stage of passage and in a esoteric understanding of this meaning, it is the moment where a being of spirit is seperated from the material, in order to evolve into a higher non-material being. The greatness of our own Nordic culture and its pagan visions of the cosmos, is the way, we best understand and relates to our surrounding universe, as it is the result of our anscestors thoughts, instead of the minds of the nomads of the desert.
"Muspellz Synir" (as it is said on the booklet of the CD) deals with the call for the end of our world, but does it have a direct connection with some kind of invocation or rite about that or it's from the norse mithology too? I think this new album(as well as the two splits you released before) bring Nastrond again closer to nordic mithology. Where you tired of satanism and related stuff? How have you evolved on that side? Do you put reflections of your life's feelings and happenings on the lyrics or they are more about universal subjects?
KARL: It is true that there is no reference to the “Satanic”, such as put down by groups such as Church of Satan. Instead the Sinister archetypes are present through the Norse corresponding forms, such as Surtr and Loki. It also projects the Pagan form of Satanism, where the feminine aspects are corresponding to the male polarity, relating to forms such as Gaia and Uranos, Earth and Heaven. The idea of the music is presented through the destructive, as it is demanded to create a new dawn. In this last moment we hail Surtr in his form of destroyer. The music are the generator of such events. It is also the symbolic killing of the old humanity/earth and rebirth of the new stronger beings. In this esoteric meaning you are able to understand much more of the record as several parts hold direct reference to the killing of self (of Odin for example). This also relates to Nåstrond, as a concept, as it is the parting from the material to the spiritual.
I'm interested in the cover of the album too, and its relation with the lyrical contents of it. What does it exactly represent? It's certainly not a typical Black Metal cover at all. Does it have any relation with Nidhöggr, the dragon who lives in Nastrond?
KARL: I am already touching this meaning, as it is showing the killing of self through the battle of the lesser inside. It is the parallell of ascending and descending. The Sons Muspell (Fire) are shown here as the forerunners of Surtr, who stirs up the plains for the final blow. The idea of the music are a parallell, where this is the given the meaning of forerunners of real destruction. There is no moral aspect to this, just the law of cyclical change: The death of lesser being, the death of static universe. Death is the great transformer, portrayed in the picture of Hela, the goddess of the dead. Nidhöggr is also a physical embodiment of this action, it is the consumer of the material, a great changer and creator.
I'm not sure about this, but I think Naströnd has never played a live gig. Don't you want to bring your music on stage? Is there going to be a change about this? Have you thought about getting some live session musicians and make some shows or Nastrond is meant to stay only a studio band? Why have you decided that in the second case?
KARL: This is the situation and I dislike regular Black Metal shows (or music shows altogether), so it would, if ever done, be something much different, based on the ritual shapes. I would prefer something like a cave and no show to it. It would demand much of both the situation and the listener. I cannot tell if this will be real, but it is my idea.
This new era of Nastrond was marked by a cooperation with a new label, the french Debemur Morti, which is simply perfect for a band like you, and sincerely it is one of the best Black Metal labels around nowadays. All the releases I've had the ocasion to see from them are great, with a good artwork and layout, they don't release every piece of shit they find with a black and white cover and no booklet. How do you feel with them? You already released two split EP's, one 10” split and this new album with them, will you remain on their roster for the future?
KARL: I think the collaboration has turned out very well and I am happy with the results of the releases. It is a label with integrity and earns my respect, also because it is not attempting to force any sort of commercialized direction.
I'd like to know a bit your point of view about Black Metal and especially all the myth and image it created, making people think Black Metal bands were some kind of occult monsters living in caves and all those stupid things. Don't you think all that, and especially because of the press and some fans, distracted the real depth of what Black Metal should represent? What is your view about Black Metal?
KARL: Public media is much to blame for the creation of the stereotype Black Metal image. Especially since the picture portrayed in media did not correspond to reality, it has attracted what is only a surface with no content. I have realized that the reason why I was initially corresponding to Black Metal, was because it stired up something from the sub-conscious, which is a call from the ancient past and the dark force of youthful aggression, madness and violence. It is, if understood correctly, very different from other forms of sub-cultures, as it is not mainly a surface interest, nor mainly musical one. It is the irrational dark sub-conscious, the supressed dark collective spirit. For me this is not music, it is sonic ritual.
These last years, Swedish underground Black Metal scene received again a lot of attention because of some bands which received a lot of attention and raised it's popularity, just as Watain, Funeral Mist, Armagedda, ... What's your oppinion about your country's scene? Don't you think it always remained in the shadows of the norwegian one, even if nowadays it is becoming stronger that it? Do you think it was due to the quality of the music or to all those facts we all know that happened in Norway?
KARL: In the early 1990s Death Metal was huge in Sweden, while some Norwegian bands turned in a totally different direction, probably as a result of some well known personalities, especially the circumstances surrounding Mayhem. Playing Black Metal in Sweden around that time, you were much more isolated. I could only guess, but I should think this is still the case in the way that Death Metal has resulted in a Swedish Black Metal style in general is more based on the “Marduk type” of fast and massive Death Metal sounds and themes. I personally are more attuned to other forms, but could appreciate much of the Swedish material.
Some short choosing questions: (please explain why did you choose them)
- Politics or religion: If understood correctly, I would see them directly integrated into a total world-view or perennial philosophy.
- Abruptum or Arckanum: I have to say Abruptum, but only because of Morgan (Evil).
- Past or present: As future is not the option, I would say the past, according to cyclical order , this is also future.
- Earth or fire: Fire, the element of change and new dawn.
- Peace or war: War, as conflict would engine evolution.
Thanks a lot for your time and I hope to see a new release of yours coming out sooner this time. If you want to add anything else, it's you time...
KARL: Thank you.
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