Belgium's finest black metal export, Enthroned, have returned with their ninth album, Obsidium, an album that has been receiving much critical acclaim. Here, guitarist and mouthpiece Nornagest takes time out with SoT's Jason Guest to discuss the gestation of the new album, the band's progression, and what it takes to be a real black metal band.
SoT: What's the reception to Obsidium been like so far?
Nornagest: The reactions are simply outstanding, we mostly see reviews claiming that this is our best album ever, which always nice to hear of course.
SoT: Did you have any goals in mind when you started writing for Obsidium? Were there ideas or any songs that appeared when you were writing Pentagrammaton that you wanted to develop and/or include?
Nornagest: Well, Obsidium is actually the follow up to Pentagrammaton and Tetra Karcist from the lyrical point of view and the music, just improved this way as well, to match the lyrical content, its atmosphere and feeling. We are very pointy on these details, as we are dealing with a strong concept the music has to follow the same direction, just like the soundtrack of a movie if see what I mean.
SoT: For yourself, what would you say is the most significant difference between Pentagrammaton and Obsidium?
Nornagest: It is a bit like if you would ask me what are the differences between chapter 2 and chapter 3 of the same book, they follow each other and are two part of the same saga, but the main differences are that "Pentagrammaton" was a very sombre and heavy album, as the concept deals with real lived experiences we went through dealing with the occult. "Obsidium" is more open as the concept is about the achievement and what has been learnt from those experiences.
SoT: What was the writing process for Obsidium? Did your approach differ in any way this time around?
Nornagest: Things flew naturally and it went very fast, each pieces fell in place directly as we all had the same ideas for the musical support. All in all it took us six month to compose and record the album.
SoT: Is there a concept or a unifying theme behind the album? If so, how did it inform the writing of Obsidium?
Nornagest: Well, the concept can be traced back from "Tetra Karcist". "Tetra Karcist" is dealing with the reality of occultism how it is, no gimmick, and no supposition, how things are within the occult. "Pentagrammaton" retrace experiences, real lived experiences through those doctrines and practices we talked about on "Tetra Karcist", now with "Obsidium" the concept deals with what we learnt, the achievement we reached in one form or another through those experiences, all written in a way that only people who are actually within the occult circle can understand fully. Some Lyrics were also written by, and co-written by, one relative being Frater Kerval, high priest of a certain Order (by respect of his own will, I will keep it confidential) who gave his external vision of our evolution and achievement through some experiences he is aware of.
SoT: For 2010's Pentagrammaton, you had more freedom and time to work on the material, a new line-up, and you spent more time on production and design. How has that experience contributed to Obsidium?
Nornagest: Exactly the same but faster.
SoT: 2007's Tetra Karcist marked a significant turning point in the band's musical style with the different vocals and conceptual approach. Has that approach manifest itself on Obsidium?
Nornagest: Yes it does, as it is the follow up and what Enthroned is all about.
SoT: Are there any particular aspects of this album that you want to develop for the next album?
Nornagest: Of course, but this is a bit too early to talk about this. "Obsidium" was just released in Europe last week, so we will see in time and will.
SoT: How do you see Enthroned's sound developing on future?
Nornagest: As it has evolved since 2007, improving this and that as we evolve as individuals. After all, Enthroned is a part of ourselves.
SoT: How has the chanting aspect of Enthroned's music developed? What's its significance for Enthroned?
Nornagest: The clean vocals or choirs used on our albums are there to add an accent on some moments described within the lyrics nothing more, nothing less. It is just like within a ritual/ mass.
SoT: How do you combine the individual member's inspirations and influences into the cohesive whole that manifests itself on your albums?
Nornagest: Enthroned is the catalyst of four individual, we are the limbs of Enthroned, so we work and talk as one. I guess we are lucky to be one of those rare bands where everyone is on the same level.
SoT: The artwork for the album is very impressive. Who is the artist?
Nornagest: Thank you, I and Neraath (the guitarist) are responsible for the artwork and layout of our albums. We are both professional Graphic Designers and this is an integrant part of the composition process, as much as the music and lyrics as far as we are concerned.
SoT: Enthroned has been around for a long time now. How do you view the scene? Have there been any significant changes that you've witnessed since your inception?
Nornagest: For sure a guy like Euronymous is turning and turning within his grave right now! I definitely preferred the old days, not by nostalgia, but for the mysticism, the aura that was present back then. Today, the scene is infested by bands that have no clue what Satanism is, I mean, there are some authentic bands sure, but 90% are using a gimmick and do not stand behind their lyrics.
SoT: With black metal being more widely available because of the internet, do you think the scene is as potent as it once was?
Nornagest: Haha, no it isn't, not at all, except for the few bands that are still or are doing this with honesty and their heart.
SoT: With a lot of bands being criticised for creating music that is more style than substance, what, in your opinion, separates a good death/black metal band from a bad one?
Nornagest: As I said above; Honesty towards themselves. If you wanna sing about Satan and this kind of doctrine or mantra, you just have to be behind these lyrics and practice those things yourself. There's a big difference in what I call nowadays "Black Metal Satanism" and the Occult. The first ones write cool texts, the others are putting their words into action and have jumped within the Abyss with body and soul.
SoT: What can we expect from Enthroned in the near future? Gigs? Tours? Festival appearances?
Nornagest: We are working on a few tours, in South America, the US and Europe, those dates will be announced as soon as everything is confirmed.
SoT: Thank you very much for taking time out to answer these questions. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Nornagest: Thanks to you. XEPER!
(Click here to read our review of Obsidium)