|by Sabrina Haines|
Picture Bloodthorn, a tower looming in the distance. Allow your mind to rest from reality and envision this fantasy world that echoes the violent and aggressive strains of our own. A world where warriors, dragons, knights, and evil all battle for the soil of Tower Bloodthorn. Flash forward past the heralded millennia to a time when Under the Reign of Terror exists. Borne in the fire of battle, perhaps Bloodthorn can shed some light on our future, enlighten us to their past and show what the future holds. Our guide is Harald, the ground shaking bass-rumbler and a particularly charismatic and imaginative guy, whose steady bass beats rumble out of hell to control the chaos unleashed by Bloodthorn. Harald is also responsible for partially creating the band's saga and its musical mayhem, unleashed recently through Red Stream with Under the Reign of Terror. Some will say the very title of the disc is eerily prophetic to the recent days of fear, planes, and bloodshed. Sure, maybe. But maybe there are a pair of imaginative individuals walking this planet that could echo the prophecies of ancient days, wrestle it into a musical time machine and plunge it out into the future. And damned if they weren't right. Or real close. Too close.
For collectors: Under the Reign of Terror is released now in a bloodstained slip case CD limited edition of 800. Watch for the album to be released on limited gatefold LP--500 pieces only.
Harald: The only release before those albums was the 1996 Natteskyggen (Nightshadow) demo, which can also be found on the LP version of In the Shadow... on Merciless Records.
Tom (guitar) started Bloodthorn in 1992 and it was just him for a few years, then Krell (vocals) became a part of the band and so they recorded the demo. The first album was still just the two of them, but they got help from some friends playing drums, bass and so on. After the release of the debut, they wanted to try out the band in a live situation so most of the people from the recording session were brought in as full-time members as well as me on bass and another guy on lead guitar (Kai Nergaard--now in Griffin). This line-up lasted until after the recording of Onwards into Battle, after which over half the line-up was dismissed, leaving Tom, Krell and me.
Today we're a five piece band who's been together for just over two years. In addition to the three already mentioned members, it's Alex on lead guitar and Jehmod on drums. Each full-time member is equally important to the sound of Bloodthorn.
Each of your recordings seems to follow a theme: war on Under the Reign of Terror, and the "Bloodthorn World" created on Onwards into Battle and In the Shadow of Your Black Wings. Does a theme make it easier to focus on creating the music because you kind of slip into a persona much like actors rather than randomly writing songs based on daily life?
Harald: I wouldn't say the theme of the lyrics really affects the musical output of the band, except for a few occasions when the lyrics are written more or less separately from the music and added as we go on. What we write is what's naturally coming out of our heads, and that's gonna sound however it sounds no matter the theme. I'd rather say that the lyrics and the theme is inspired more from the music than vice-versa.
Earlier releases credit a Torstein D. Parelius with some lyrics. Is this a pseudonym for anyone we should know or just a friend with a terrific imagination?
Harald: Torstein is a friend of ours who helped the band a great deal in the beginning. Neither Tom nor Krell were very into writing lyrics and so they passed their ideas on to him and he put it down on paper. Except for "March to War" and "Nightshadow," which were written by Tom, he did the story and lyrics for the first album in collaboration with the guys.
The Bloodthorn World is a remarkable epic. The story moves through the music and appealed strongly to me. The art on the covers ruled, too. How long did it take to write the story line, or did it just sort of create itself? I've read that the story is a trilogy. Is that so, and where would one locate the missing part? Or is it one of those legendary releases we'll have to track down and ransom off a child to own?
Harald: It's a trilogy, as you say, but there are no missing parts of it. It started on In the Shadow... and ends on Under the Reign of Terror. I'm not sure if you have just the promo or the whole booklet, but if you have the latter you'll find the last part of the story printed there. It differs a bit from the two first "chapters," though, as it takes place in the future rather than in the medieval setting present on In the Shadows... and Onwards.
To move the history forward in time was an idea that Krell and I created while mixing Onwards in the studio. We wanted to end the "Bloodthorn saga" in a massive way. So the story tells of how the world's been plagued by wars and oppression for centuries, even millennia, and how the forces of darkness finally bring the final doom to the planet.
As said, Torstein wrote the first part of the tale with Krell and Tom, so I'm not sure how of that whole process. But for me, writing the lyrics and story for the second and third albums was a fairly easy task, as when I started writing everything came to me pretty much by itself. The lyrics for Onwards were written in a very short period of time--most of them in a few days just before Christmas 1998. Under the Reign of Terror was written over a longer stretch of time. "Deathmachine" was written in mid-1999, and the rest within the next year to year and a half.
I feel like an idiot, but I never realized that Under the Reign of Terror was the missing third part. Why did you choose war as a theme for Under the Reign of Terror? What inspired such ferocity and hate?
Harald: I've always been interested in war and history--World War Two in particular--as well as craving horror and gore movies. Also, we'd been through a lot of bullshit with our former label. And then there's the general situation on the earth with all this religious bigotry, the scum that walks our street, and all kinds of shit. All those things fueled and inspired the imagination and, in turn, the lyrics and theme of the album. Also, as the Bloodthorn saga is put to its end, it had to be done the most violent, dark, and depressive way possible.
When you listen to the music, I think it's clear why the lyrics embrace that theme.
Notably so. The violence and vitriol are evident in the slashing guitars, earth-crushing bass riffs and jackhammer drums. Were you disappointed in the millennium excitement (or lack thereof), like a few other bands--most notably Impaled Nazarene? According to their press release, it just pissed them off to no end.
Harald: I never cared about the change of millennium or anything concerned with it. For a year everybody was talking about it, and it was "millennium this" and "millennium that." and I was just sick of it. Everybody was expecting some big change to take place, and then you wake up on January 1, 2001, and you have the same hangover as before and everything's the same. It's another fuckin' new year. Did anyone really expect the world to end or Jesus to come down from the heavens or Cthulhu to rise from the seas?
Or the mothership to come back for them. Yeah, I guess there were quite a few disappointed folks. Whenever comets near the planet, it seems to happen as well.
This time around your sound is heavier and more wicked compared to the sounds on early recordings. What did you change in the song structure to emphasize such warlike belligerence musically?
Harald: We were not pleased at all with the outcome of Onwards. With the exception of a couple of songs, the album pretty much sucks. This was also the reason why we kicked out so many of the members at the time. Neither Tom nor Krell nor I are into that kind of shit and we were longing to play extreme metal again. So we got Alex Colin-tocquaine from Agressor on lead guitar and Jehmod from Perished behind the drum kit, and we started kicking up some dust at the rehearsal place.
To have this new line-up where everybody is into extreme metal and shares the same ideas and goals was like a new beginning for the band. We started writing new songs in late 1999 and everything turned out so much harder and more brutal than before. We knew immediately that Under the Reign of Terror would be something totally different.
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