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Silenoz – Guitarist for Dimmu Borgir

Date: 04/26/07
Location: Nokia Theater, NY
Interviewed By: Rich Catino



Backstage pre show. So it was good to once again hang a bit with Silenoz, we tried to meet up when Dimmu were part of Ozzfest, that fell through, but since have spoke as I recently did a phone interview with him in ‘06. We first met at the 2003 edition of the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany where we both happened to stay at the same hotel and shared a few shuttle bus rides, plus several beers in the backstage area where press and artists convened (I also got to speak with Timo Tolkki and Timo Kotipelto from Stratovarius which was very cool being a long time fan).

Conversation with the Norwegian is easy, like talking to a friend you see all the time, and I always learn something. He’s a die hard metalhead and if we had the time could probably talk about it for hours. When it comes to his music he knows his shit and explains very well the art of Dimmu Borgir, the core to Black Metal which is Satanism, and what inverting a cross means to him which you learn in our interview.

So this is how our conversation went….

1. So what are your thoughts on the new album “In Sorte Diaboli”?

SILENOZ: I am really happy with it. I think it’s a nice mix of our last two records “Death Cult” and “Puritanical”. Maybe this one is more guitar based, maybe more spontaneous sounding. It has a more directness to it.

2. Did you use an orchestra again?

SILENOZ: We didn’t use one this time because we wanted there to be less symphonics in total. Plus our keyboardist knows how arrange those sounds anyway so we worked with him for like three weeks creating building the sounds like an orchestra. Some songs are like thirty tracks with different instruments put together.

3. But the album doesn’t sound overly symphonic or pompous, I think the album has a great sound with a nice separation between all the instruments. Do you feel the same?

SILENOZ: Yeah I do. I think people were expecting us to do “Death Cult Part 2”, more orchestral and more grand but it was more back to basics in a way. We did a lot of jamming for this album.

4. Well I also hear some more of the older type Dimmu riffs from albums like “Enthrone Darkness” and “Spiritual Black Dimensions”.

SILENOZ: That’s true and I hear that also, we relied more on older type riffing, simpler. Like if there was a part that was more symphonic then we keep the guitar simple in the background, and vise versa. But if you have too much going on then it sounds chaotic. I would like to maybe have some more solos on the album but as we experimented with them sometimes they just didn’t work. But maybe for the next album we can work some more guitar solos into it. Like for the song “The Serpentine Offering” we tried to have a solo over Vortex’s part but it was just too much going on at once. We tried to keep in mind that less is more.

5. Did you write the music for the album?

SILENOZ: It was mostly myself and Galder (guitarist), Shaggy (vocals) did some, its was mostly us three. Everyone has their say at some point but it wouldn’t work if it was always democracy all the way up to the top. Its more like Dimmuocracy (laughs).

6. What did your new drummer Hellhammer bring to the table?

SILENOZ: He came in with ideas for drum patterns but between him, me and Galder we were mostly jamming the album. He is really layed back guy and easy to work with, has good ideas and a diverse player. There’s no limits with him, not that there were with our other drummer, but for this album it was good to have him as the backbone so to speak.

7. Who designed the album artwork?

SILENOZ: We wanted to go with a Medieval Dark Ages look so the guy who did our previous cover he found this old painting by a German painter from the 16th century I think, and he changed some things around added the baphomet in the middle and worked on it. There is a lot of symbolism in the cover, we wanted more earth tone colors too. I’m really happy with it. We also went for the maximum pages for a booklet which is 32 pages I think. We wanted to really make a nice presentation for the artwork and the booklet so it reflected the lyrics of the album and the story.

8. Can you tell us about this more feminine interpretation of Satan with the breasts?

SILENOZ: Actually that’s the correct one, the tits are supposed to symbolize fertility, the head is supposed to be a goat but not as evil as it is usually drawn because it is supposed to resemble not only a goat but a bull, a donkey and a dog. I’m not really sure of the reason why but it is the correct version. So many times in the underground scene people draw Satan looking as evil as possible but its not necessarily correct.

9. But this version of Satan is still based on the fact that he was a fallen angel and cast out of Heaven by God?

SILENOZ: Yeah it is, the whole symbolism of the artwork is a balance, Satan has one hand raised and the other lowered which is a good opposition to what religion is all about because to me religion doesn’t have balance. According to many religions there is only one way of thought and everything else is wrong.

10. Is there a moral to the story for “In Sorte Diaboli”?

SILENOZ: I think it is this character in the story has to suffer because he finds his true identity because in those times, and with today, people were and are generally afraid of what they don’t know and see those things as negative. I think people should look into themselves because we all have a dark side you know, and why not become a little comfortable with it instead of being afraid of it. And that’s what this character in the story is dealing with, this guy is like being looked upon something negative and suddenly finds out he has a totally different identity than what he first set out to have. In that sense its very personal to me because I grew up in the bible belt when I was young, still kind of live there, I grew up on a farm.

11. Is your family religious?

SILENOZ: No not at all really but growing up on a farm in the country side people were really closed minded and that mentality I really hated even at an early age. But now a days I’m having the last laugh because I get paid to do what I love and travel the world, so in a way I should thank those people that always put me down for what I believed in. So that part of the story is quite personal for me but I didn’t realize it until we got into the studio and started recording the vocals where I got to really decipher my own lyrics you know. Some of the stuff was written almost in riddles and you may not understand it the first time reading them until you read between the lines.

12. Does Dimmu Borgir still get flack for the imagery that comes with the band?

SILENOZ: Not really but we never payed attention to it anyway but the people that protest us or say bad things about us is just more promotion for the band. You really cant look upon it any other way. Lets say a rally or demonstration is happening outside a show it just brings more attention to what we do.

13. Since we are the topic of imagery you have an inverted cross around your neck. What are the misconceptions people have of that image? What does inverting a cross mean to you? Is it what many people think which is denouncing all the things that Jesus represented?

SILENOZ: For me it is not negative its positive and I always tried to use it as a constructive thing. Inverting the crucifix is my way of showing rejection to not only Christianity but most modern religions in general and how they make people conform. They prevent people from thinking for themselves. That’s not what it is about, its about being an individual that’s what life is about.

14. So it is not a personal attack on Jesus?

SILENOZ: See I don’t question the fact Jesus existed but even back then there were still con artists and magicians, he could have been a magician who knows. You never know how many of those stories written in the Bible are true.

15. Plans to do another live DVD?

SILENOZ: Yeah it has been a while since our first one. I would really like to release a full show for a DVD but there is always something that we may not like in a show and I don’t want to go back and fix it in the studio. I think what we may do is tape two shows and compile them together. We are only doing about thirteen songs for this tour and for a full performance you should have like eighteen. But I like what we did for our first DVD where you get different clips from different locations so we may do something like that also. I didn’t bring a video camera for this tour so I don’t know how much backstage stuff we are gonna have for the next one. We thought about maybe playing the entire new album.

16. Well speaking of you know Iron Maiden recently did that and Judas Priest are suppose to as well for the new album and Maiden didn’t get the best reaction for that idea. Did you see the Maiden show?

SILENOZ: No I didn’t but you know what Maiden come around so much and they always play the same stuff, they need to do some more obscure songs like they did for the “Early Years” tour. I mean they did all that rare stuff from the first four records that was fucking killer. That’s what will keep the fans interested and not just doing the entire new record and a couple of the same old classic tracks. I would like to see Priest do the same thing next time which I know they have already talked about doing. I would love to hear them do “Starbreaker”.

17. The new video is out for the song “The Serpentine Offering” which I heard is doing great. It apparently got thousands of downloads within the first couple days? Plans to do another?

SILENOZ: Yeah it was the most viewed video on Myspace that week and it was not just for metal videos. I mean its hard to get the whole story behind the album from that video, I tell people that if you look upon the album as a whole movie then this video would be the trailer.

18. Who filmed the video?

SILENOZ: It was done by Patric Ullaeus who did our other videos. He did a great job and it looks like a short movie. I know it was quite expensive to make and I want to know how much it cost (laughs).

19. Do you know that the new album is on the new release board at Best Buy?

SILENOZ: Yeah I know that’s still pretty unheard of for a band like ourselves and still something I can’t think about too much. I think metal in general is on the up and up. I mean look at Maiden they still sell out shows over seas within like a couple hours its crazy. I think the metal scene has gotten so much better especially here in the States and kids are starting to realize that there is more metal outside of the U.S. I think for a long time kids in the States only thought that the heaviest band was Slayer which is fine, but there is so much more out there. I think the crowd is getting younger too and they find the newer bands very exciting especially when the European bands come over. Its good that metal has diversity too, different sounds and styles, the more broad the horizon is the better. And I think this nu metal thing is fading out too, I never really liked that anyway but I don’t want to get into that, Haha.

20. Well what bands would you then recommend to check out?

SILENOZ: Well I’m listening to this band called Scarve a lot and the album is called “Undercurrent”. There are like a hybrid of a lot of stuff with melodic vocals, I’m really digging them.

21. What about Black Metal bands old and new?

SILENOZ: Mostly when I listen Black Metal its old school stuff like Bathory and Darkthrone. Newer Darkthrone I am not so fond of, its not as interesting because it’s a little more……. rock n rollish. I mean I love rock n roll don’t get me wrong Motorhead and stuff like that but when Darkthrone released “Blaze in the Northern Sky” back in 91 no one expected what they were doing. The band Possessed was great too.

There are some newer ones I like but not many. But we don’t play old school Black Metal. There is one thing to be inspired by something and then there is copying it. I like to be inspired by the classic stuff but I don’t want to copy it. I use it to channel it into my own music.

22. I recently saw 1349 what do you think of them?

SILENOZ: Yeah I like them, I really have to be in the mood for them because its really intense. You have to really be in the right mind set to listen to that stuff because its full on.

But I really like the direction we have taken Dimmu because we like to keep that old school heavy aggressive side as well as incorporating the more melodic sounds. And I think that’s what makes us rather appealing too. Plus now we actually get some girls coming to the shows Hahaha, which is cool because who wants just a bunch of dudes at your shows (laughs). I think the world is always becoming more extreme so the people adjust to more extreme heavier sounds because what was considered heavy 20 years ago is not so much compared to bands out there now, you know.

To me its all still art though.

23. Plans for the rest of 2007?

SILENOZ: Well we were only going to do a couple summer festivals but the demand has been so great for us I think we will do a few so we can save some motivation for the European tour in September. We also have a Norwegian tour planned and we will do South America, Australia and Japan for the first time in 2008. We get a lot of emails from fans in those parts of the world so that will hopefully be a success as well.

I know we are playing a couple festivals with Heaven and Hell this year so I am really looking forward to that. Dio is my favorite Sabbath singer. I want to see W.A.S.P. too. I am also looking forward to the Judas Priest album. The new Behemoth should be killer, the new Nile. I love the new Mayhem album too but I don’t think a lot of people understand it yet, it takes getting use to. I tried listening to the new Iron Maiden album too but its just not working for me. I can hear some greatness in it but for me but generally I think the album is too long and the songs are too long. I think they should have mastered it too. Really I love the Bruce Dickinson solo stuff, “Chemical Wedding” and “Tyranny of Souls” really inspired me alot. Those records have a great sound. But all of Maiden up to “Seventh Son” is the best I think, I love that stuff.

Official website: www.dimmu-borgir.com

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