Stormblast has long been considered a classic in the Dimmu Borgir discography by the loyal fans of the symphonic black metal band. However, the less than stellar production values and sound of the album has long haunted the band for many years, who have always wanted to either remaster or preferably re-record this classic album. Well, the latter is what finally happened as Shagrath and Silenoz got together with a few friends and producer Peter Tagtgren to realize their ambition and re-record Stormblast from start to finish using modern recording techniques and equipment. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with Silenoz to talk about the reasoning behind the new Stormblast CD and the future plans of the band.
Read on for the full interview!
SoT: Where are you calling in from today?
Silenoz: From Los Angeles, at the Nuclear Blast office actually, doing press for Stormblast, and it's going pretty good so far.
SoT: Cool. What made you guys decide to re-record Stormblast?
Silenoz: We've never been happy with the sound or the production basically since it was first released, but we've never been able to do anything about till now, due to the contract on the original album. Well, we wanted to completely re-record the whole thing instead of just remaster it, which we couldn't do anyway because we didn't own the rights to the record, so that's why we chose to just recreate it again.
SoT: Funny, most bands just go out and do a quick remaster, but you chose to do the whole album over again because you couldn't remaster the original.
Silenoz: Right, but frankly we didn't want to do that. We just wanted to have a better sound all around.
SoT: For those who have maybe never heard the original Stormblast, or for those who adore the original and are afraid to check the re-recorded version out, what would you say are some of the differences between the two?
Silenoz: The main difference is that the sound is really powerful now. It's not lacking that tact that the original had, you know. It's really beefed up, with a wide, rich sound, which is basically what we wanted to chance-we didn't wanted to change the riffs, or the songs, like add an orchestra or anything. We just wanted to keep it close to the original playing wise and to what is essentially one of our greatest albums.
SoT: It really has a beefier guitar sound I think.
Silenoz: Compared to the original, yeah. We kind of did the same mistakes that we did on the first one, repeating them again. Back then we didn't realize we could have four rhythm guitars instead of two, we never thought about things like that. It's stuff like that that you learn later on that makes all the difference.
SoT: What kind of advantages in technology, as far as in the studio and musical equipment, does the band have at their disposal today that you didn't have 8-10 years ago?
Silenoz: Even though I think our own personal home studios are better than where we recording the original Stormblast album (laughs!), the change in that department over the last 10 years is extraordinary. Of course it makes it easy in the studio these days but you still have to record and play the whole song the right way, you can't cheat in the studio, or you shouldn't anyway. It certainly takes less time in the studio these days.
SoT: How has reaction been to the album so far from the fans and media?
Silenoz: Actually, mostly positive, but of course you will always have some negative responses…"you should not have done that!"…
SoT: "Sacrilege!" right….
Silenoz: (laughs!) Yeah! It's expected actually, since we are aware that in the eyes of many of our fans Stormblast is like their favorite album, and they will talk shit about the new version, but hey, they don't have to buy the album, they have the original. At the same time there is no rule that says you can't have both. I have no problem taking criticism as long as it is valid, but I'm not going to sit around and listen to people who say "oh, you shouldn't have done that, it's going to be shit" and have never even listened to or given the new version a chance. Listen to it first and then judge it, and then I will take you seriously.
SoT: Exactly. Honestly, each one, while the same album and same songs, sound a bit different from each other, and plus the new one has some bonus tracks and the extra DVD with the Ozzfest set on it, so most fans will probably want to own both.
Silenoz: Right. The bonus tracks are worthwhile as they have never before been released, so for most fans these will be like brand new Dimmu Borgir songs, plus with the concert DVD included you get all this for the price of a single CD, it's a good deal actually.
SoT: Did you ever intend to get the original line-up back together to record Stormblast, or did you always intend to use the modern line-up that you actually re-record the album with?
Silenoz: No, that was never the plan. They are not in the band anymore for different reasons, so it wouldn't have made sense. Shagrath and I played guitars, bass, and vocals, and we had some help from Mustis on keyboards, and Hellhammer on drums. We just decided not to use the current line-up for this recording, and they were fine with it, and overall it went smooth, less hassle, less stress, and less expensive.
SoT: Who is in the band now?
Silenoz: It's the same line-up from Death Cult Armageddon, Shagreth and I, Galder, Vortex, and Mustis. We are leaving the drum position open for now instead of getting a permanent member.
SoT: Any plans to tour at all with this, or are you going to wait until you finish the next studio album?
Silenoz: We are going to wait until we finish the next album. Of course we will play a few festival gigs this summer (in Europe we are confirmed for Gotham Metal in Italy) that will feature some Stormblast material, but there won't be any real touring for this album.
SoT: Symphonic black metal, which many feel was created by Dimmu Borgir, is pretty hot right now. How do you feel about the state of this genre, and extreme metal in general?
Silenoz: I think extreme metal in general is very strong at the moment, and there are a lot of hard working bands out there right now. It's really great to see this type of music getting recognition and attention, even if it is happening slowly. As far as symphonic black metal, that's really something that we in the band really don' t listen to that much. We tend to listen to old school stuff, so I know it sounds strange that we play this new style black metal but only really listen to the old school black metal. I listen to the most brutal stuff to blues and country, even some prog stuff. I'm like the biggest Rush fan as well. I'm trying to recapture some of the great stuff of the 70's-I think I missed out on some great music due to my tunnel vision of the early 90's.
SoT: So, what can the fans expect from the next studio album?
Silenoz: Well, we are still in the beginning stages of it, but expect it to be heavier as far as the guitars are concerned, maybe slightly less orchestral, although there will still be plenty of symphonic keyboard bit.
SoT: What kind of time frame are we looking at?
Silenoz: Probably early 2007 is a good estimate.
SoT: Sounds good! We are looking forward to it. In the meantime, best of luck with the Stormblast promotion!
Silenoz: Great Pete, good talking to you. See you on the road maybe next year!
(Click here to read our review of Stormblast)