1. How did you form the band, who were the original members and why did you select this name?
F.Rex: I formed the band back in 2006. Back then it started out with me and a friend of mine on drums. You could say it was your standard garage-band, but the difference was my early ambitions. I created the band out of "need". I did not find the sound I wanted anywhere. I knew exactly what brand of black metal I wanted to create, I just had to create the vessel to put it in. The winter of 2006 Blodsgard came to birth. The name is inspired by my family’s ancient history. Back in the 14th century there was a wedding that went bloody. My ancestors stormed the wedding with knives and took out as many as they could. It was based on a wrongdoing towards them involving prime farmland etc that was stolen from them. It was basically a just cause, and they took out the bastard thieves that had taken from them. My ancestors were known to be large and fierce men that you didn’t mess around with, true vikings, you might say. The name Blodsgard means "Blood farm". To me, Blodsgard is about fighting our modern day righteous cause.
2. This is very interesting. Why did you decide to make music in the genre of black metal, and not, say, folk metal, Viking metal, or something else?
F.Rex: The format we make music in is of course massively important. Black Metal is, for many people including myself, an anti-religious musical genre. As such, the genre itself contains a meaning that viking metal for instance does not. Viking and folk metal are not known particularly for their message. Black Metal is meaningless without a message. The message of what we want to say through our music is 50% of the meaning of the band. We have a number of causes that we are fighting for, causes that we can address through the music.
Musically, Black Metal has larger ties to classical music than it does let’s say blues or heavy metal. The techniques might be similar in all of metal, but particular for Black Metal the songwriting is built a lot like classical music. There are revolutionizing themes, experimental song structures, etc. We in Blodsgard definitely work musically to get closer to Fauré then to Slayer. That is part of an identity-issue as well as a musical choice. We feel closer to classical than to anything else. Black Metal will always be a black sheep, a stranger in the musical landscape. That experimental difference that came with Burzum's monotony and Mayhem's experimentation is the foundation upon with we are building a modern day Blodsgard. We are musically closer to classical music than to pop. I don't think that would be possible if we played viking metal for instance.
3. As we touched upon such topics as the message, let me ask, what is Blodsgard’s message; what are Your songs about?
S.Akslen: There are certain obvious references to our anti-religious agenda, but it is shaped more as a higher piece of art. Monument demands a certain form of contemplation, an existential outlook and extreme self-awareness. The whole album of Monument deals with a form of journey through not only self-discovery, but self-creation. If I were to have a message to our listeners, it is that you need to create yourself in your own image. Stage your life according to your rules. Take charge. Expand. And be proud of who you are, if you manage to live up to your own high standards. Often you will need to burn the whole world around you to able to differentiate yourself from your surroundings and see clearly. That is the basis for our debut album: a self-imposed exile, I suppose. It is a nearly nihilistic, yet hopeful, philosophy.
This tremendous focus on the individual itself is of course a part of our anti-religious agenda, that goes without saying. I see our Black Metal, our sonic landscape, as a higher form of art, dedicated to the few strong elite individuals who are able to find a spark, the light, in our music.
5. Some of the famous Norwegian black metallers sought inspiration walking in the mountains and forests (including at night). Where do you draw inspiration?
F.Rex: Yes, absolutely. Blodsgard is no exception to that. I would dare say that is extremely important to me as a musician as well. Norway has massive desolate mountains, dark forests with pitch black foggy waters, snowstorms and glaciers, landscapes filled with ice. You can find caves of ice you can walk inside. Black Metal IS the Norwegian nature to me. Norway speaks to me. It 'tells me', or it reveals, the sound of True Norwegian Black Metal. For instance Kaoskonstruksjon from our debut album Monument, that was written by Stein Akslen and I deep inside a forest in the middle of the night during the first snowfall of 2010. I am absolutely positive that track would not sound like that if it hadn’t been for the nature we wrote it in. It is a part of it.
6. Many groups make contradictory statements in the spirit of "we are against religion; we are for Satanism; we try to revive the pagan traditions of our ancestors". What is your opinion? I would like to hear from Stein.
S.Akslen: First of all, I have to tell you that we in Blodsgard really couldn’t care less about what other bands say, do or mean. I refuse to have prejudices and the shortcoming of other artists projected unto myself. Their flaws are not mine. I will, however, take the time to explain my personal philosophy regarding this matter. It is then important to me to point out that this is my philosophy, and is not transferable to other bands. I don’t care what they mean or say, and I have to tell you that 99% of the so-called Black Metal artists out there are brainless idiots anyway. We in Blodsgard are far above them, both in intellect and creativity.
Now, to really answer your question. It is a legit question, but it is also a little uninformed. These things you list, Satanism, anti-religiosity, Paganism... It’s not necessarily mutually exclusive. Nurturing one doesn’t mean the death of the other. This all will come down to definitions, with is an ongoing academic debate, of course. I’ll break it down shortly: Satanism can be seen as an anti-religious philosophy focusing on the egocentric, decadent and animalistic parts of human nature. In addition, it can be a theistic path with a deity, or it can be a romantic philosophic idea making anything that embraces life and is anti-christian into Satanic. As you see from my brief explanation, Satanism is a child with many faces. Paganism in a way shares this clouded being: it can revolve around a certain code of ethics, a love for the personifications of the different aspects or nature, and be downright religious. When we in Blodsgard say our core-foundation is an anti-religious doctrine, it should be rather easy to see my approach on these matters. In a way, it boils down to who you speak to. To identify yourself as a Satanist in a modern Christian world doesn’t necessarily mean you worship an inverted Christian deity, it means you oppose the Christian values of contemporary society. In the same way, speaking about and relating to pagan forces doesn’t mean you sacrifice alcoholic beverages to a constant deity, it means you embrace a certain weltanschauung and renounce the impact of the imposed Christian world.
So I don’t see this as a contradictory statement. I see it as changing your language depending on who you talk to. It’s like when you talk to a child, you don’t use the same vocabulary when you talk to a 5-year old as when you talk to your co-workers. At the moment, Christianity is a dominant cultural force, and that brings a certain value to the word «Satan». At the same time, if you don’t speak to Christians – there’s no need for this word, it serves a purpose where you define yourself away from something. Language truly is a beautiful thing. Pagan traditions or pagan virtues should be the goal of any man, and going to great lengths to succeed, to gain knowledge and power – which most definitely are pagan values, are in their core – anti-Christian. There’s no submission in the old Norse ways, only glory. So, to sum it all up: these things are not mutually exclusive. But you need a certain amount of knowledge and skill in abstract thinking to fully embrace it as a coherent world-view. Many lack this. I don’t.
8. Demo 2008, the track "Intermission". What can you say about this? What is your opinion on this "masterpiece"?
F.Rex: Between 2006 and 2008, hip hop was and R&B was a big part of mainstream/popular culture in Norway. It still is today, but not as big as it once was in my opinion. I dislike 99% of mainstream music with a passion. The intermission track on Nuclear Extinction was a hate-track to the hip-hop mainstream music that seemed to follow me everywhere. Hehe, masterpiece, I wouldnt call Nuclear Extinction a masterpiece. I wouldn’t even call it an album today. I would call it a first demo. In many ways, it is interesting to look back at it now. Blodsgard is a vastly different band today compared to 2008. Both technically, in terms of songwriting, but especially in terms of lyrics and concept.
9. Why after the first demo, did you switch from English to Norwegian?
F.Rex: The first demo was not an official release. As such, it was never sent to any record companies. It is not available anywhere to my knowledge today. If you get your hands on a physical copy, it has come directly from me at some point during 2008-2010. The demo was written 100% for the fans. You can look at it as a pack of tracks that represented the very early days of Blodsgard, not a complete album like our debut album Monument for instance. Nuclear Extinction also had English lyrics, yes. I do not write lyrics in Blodsgard today. Stein Akslen joined Blodsgard in the summer of 2008, and together we took the foundation of the old Blodsgard and shaped it up to become what it was meant to be: An absolutely uncompromising and modern black metal band. A part of Monument was to seek Norwegian roots. Writing lyrics in Norwegian fitted the concept of Monument. We may write lyrics in English at a later point.
10. Sjeler vil Brenne. Why was the video chosen for this song? What is the point of the video?
F.Rex: The Music video for Sjeler Vil Brenne was made in Australia by a company called Shining Dark Productions. We gave them freedom to produce whatever they wanted. It was made generously by the Australians for us. The concept and meaning of the video is something you will have to ask the director about. I like how it is open to interpretation. Art should not be obvious. We like having a video for our Black metal band that is not a complete cliche. A part of pushing the boundaries of Black metal is sometimes doing things that are unexpected.
11. Your drummer has been in the group since 2006. If I'm not mistaken, he was not involved in the records and it is not on any photo. Why?
F.Rex: Kenneth Mellum has been a big part of Blodsgard for many years, but there is a logistical issue that has made some setbacks during the recent years. I moved to the northern part of Norway. Kenneth will be implemented heavily once again into the next Blodsgard album.
12. Tell us about your concert tours?
F.Rex: Blodsgard does not play live. if we do, it will be something truly unique. We will not play normal gigs in bars and small scale festivals. If we decide to play live one day, it will be something that normal bands do not do. Blodsgard is a different kind of blackmetal band. We want to go our own ways.
13. What is the state of the black metal scene today, in your opinion?
F.Rex: The size of black metal is rapidly decreasing, in my opinion. There has been too high inflation in the genre. Every shithead with a computer and an electric guitar makes a one-man band and tries to play some sort of Immortal/Windir-type of black metal. (I'm not saying names, but we have an ongoing argument with a USBM-band that even refuses to change their Norwegian band name that is spelled wrong. Unbelievable...) It is horrible.
All these small scale operations combined with a generation-stagnation on the upper level (such bands as Darkthrone, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir, Gorgoroth, Emperor have either quit or started playing something other then Black Metal). The new bands that are signed today on big labels are absolute shit. All of them, without exception. Blodsgard is probably the best band out there today, at least if you factor in the attempt at actually revitalizing the genre and continuing true Black Metal.
Believe me when I say this; Black Metal will die slowly and painfully. The only salvation is Blodsgard, or someone like us. Foreign Black Metal bands don't play True Norwegian Black Metal, they play metal and call it Black metal. Black Metal is Norwegian. It simply cannot be anything else. It will either die with us or flourish by us.
14. What new works in this genre do you consider worthy of attention? What bands would You recommend our listeners?
F.Rex: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
F.Rex: hehe! I'll elaborate. There are several new Black Metal bands out there today. None of which are particularly noteworthy of attention. I can't even think of one single new band that has made me go: "wow"! This is very sad, of course. I think part of the reason why Monument got such amazing critics (such as album of the year multiple times), was partly because of the sheer lack of great new acts. We released our debut album in a void of quality. There are some bands that are interesting though, such as Caladan Brood and their album "Echoes of Battle". But it is nowhere near Black Metal, and it is also extremely soft music. Apart from that, I cannot recommend anything.
16. What music do you hear yourself? What are some of the most favorite albums?
F.Rex: The classics, of course. Such as early Burzum, Darkthrone. My personal favourites of recent years is Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam (2006) by (the real) Gorgoroth, and Satyricon's Volcano (2002). I also listened a lot to Archetype by Fear Factory (2004). I am a musician, and I listen for new and magnificent ideas. Ad Majorem had some magnificent songwriting that will stand as a pillar for many, many years to come. Fear Factory used digital synth in a fantastic way on Archetype, and Volcano had brilliant guitarwork and vocalprocessing.
17. What are your future plans?
F.Rex: We are in the process of writing our next album. Our debut album Monument received excellent reviews and was named album of the year several times. We have a great deal of work ahead of us with the next album. We will not be satisfied with producing a "Monument 2". We are going to invent something New. Like we did on Monument; Blodsgard is about pushing Black Metal into a modern direction, but without losing the old sound in the process. We are all about the roots of True Norwegian Black Metal. But at the same time, we are not going to be an old-School BM-act. We are a modernistic band. Hopefully the future album will even better, louder and bigger then Monument. Just wait and see.
18. The Sound of your works, even the demos, is very good. Tell about the process of recording, studio, producing.
F.Rex: Thank you for that! The technical aspects is mostly my table. I have set up a home studio with ProTools. We use Ibanez guitars, LTD bass guitars, digital amps, m-audio/korg synthesizers, AKG high-end studio mics and a ton of studio magic. It takes an insane amount of experience and knowledge to get it right. It isn’t done in one week. ProTools can be pretty tricky at times, especially if you're down to tweaking hertz like we are. I have an absolute ear for tones and a love for punchy sounds (generated by sweet sounding compressors).
However, the Blodsgard studio has its definite limits. For one, we used a digital drumset on Monument. It sounds alright to be digital, but it took a lot of processing. At least 40 compressors and equalizers. It goes without saying that the next album will sound even better. I dare say it will be a black metal hifi-experience of the century. We can reveal that we will make use of even more organic instruments on the next one. Such as horns, different kinds of drums, classical instruments, etc. It will be down to earth and sound absolutely amazing. It will reach deep down into your soul, or I swear I will refuse to release it. That is the Blodsgard-standard. The bar is set very, very high. All I can say to the fans out there is this: We will not disappoint.
19. The interview has come to an end. Thank you very much for your answers, it was very interesting to talk to you. What would you say in conclusion?
F.Rex: Thank you for the interview! I hope these words provoked, but also inspired. Blodsgard is about revitalizing Black Metal. If you listen to our album Monument you'll see how it has some new ideas without changing the old foundation. The world doesn’t need another old-school blackmetal band. It needs a modern day big band that doesn’t flip over to play thrash metal because they can't stand the pressure of conformity.