Naglfar – Unleashing a VortexThursday, 11th June 2020
Snarling melodic black metal act Naglfar have long been a part of the Swedish scene, jumping in with a significant splash back in 1995 with Vittra. While the band doesn’t necessarily make a record per year, they’ve nonetheless maintained a consistency with each release since then. Bombarding the listener with razorsharp melodies, tremolo riffs, and blastbeats, they continue to know how to whip up the fury. We chatted with guitarist Andreas Nilsson to get some details about the band’s latest, Cerecloth, as well as look back at the release of Vittra and the Swedish scene.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s been 8 years since you released an album – what’s the band been up to in the meantime?
Andreas Nilsson: We have been playing shows and writing the album, but in a slow pace. We noticed that just right after we released Teras in 2012, it was right around the same time…Kristoffer [Olivius] and I both had kids. Before that, we had already noticed that we had troubles scheduling meetings to create music together due to job situations and whatnot. Adding kids made it more difficult to meet up like we used to do. That, combined with the fact that we had fulfilled our obligations to Century Media, we didn’t feel there was any rush. The offers for festivals and shows kept coming, so we focused on those instead of writing music. And time went by!
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that fans stick around, since you aren’t the type to release an album every year or two?
Nilsson: It might be. We never really take it for granted, or anything like that. But yeah, we have never really been that band that pushes an album out every year or two. It has happened during a short period when we were actually living off of the band and weren’t taking day jobs. But after we realized that this was not the type of band that we were going to be, we focused more on the music than the business.
Dead Rhetoric: Knowing that you aren’t surviving based on the band, do you really have to have something that is up to your own standard in order to release something?
Nilsson: Absolutely! That’s the good thing about Naglfar. I’m not sure how it works for other bands, but we have never rushed. People still seem to have interest in what we are doing, so there was no sense in rushing things. We had to prioritize other things in life.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you compare Cerecloth to your previous material?
Nilsson: I wouldn’t say that it’s a huge difference or anything like that. I think our releases have been pretty consistent in the way that they sound. I guess the difference from Teras would be that we went with trying to make this really big fat sound on that album and being very strict in how we were playing the riffs in the songs – being very thorough and basically micromanaging details. But this time around, we went for a more relaxed approach in the recording process, and I think you can notice that. Also, in the way that we wanted it to sound, we wanted a more rough and raw feeling – similar to the live experience. I guess that’s big difference between the two albums.
A big thing when we received the drums from Efraim [Juntunen] – he had such a cool groove in it, we didn’t want to mess it up by being super strict with the guitars. We just went with our gut feeling instead of playing things exactly correct. It’s more organic and live-like experience.
Dead Rhetoric: Where does the drive come for continuing to make music with Naglfar being around for so long?
Nilsson: It’s still the only thing I know. That’s what keeps me going. I have been writing music for so many years, even before Naglfar. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be doing this until I die. It is a compulsion, I have to do this. There’s this flame that doesn’t go out, and I doubt that it will. When I haven’t been doing Naglfar, I have been playing with other bands, so it is going to continue. It’s a lifestyle, I would say.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel that you have changed as a band over the years?
Nilsson: That’s difficult since I think that’s more suited for the listeners. The focus has changed since we have known each other for such a long time. There’s a more relaxed vibe in the band. Musically, we focus on what we like playing ourselves, rather than if it is up to date. I don’t think you will notice a huge change in us for the last 3-4 albums.
Dead Rhetoric: I think there’s something to be said for consistency too, and just tweaking the formula each time around.
Nilsson: There’s really no thought or idea behind it. I guess when you do it for a long time, you get better at it. That’s how it is.
Dead Rhetoric: Vittra was released 25 years ago this year. What do you remember about the time when you released it?
Nilsson: We were very young and very dedicated. It was the first album for us, and we had just been signed to this cool label that we felt was a good label. It was just a feeling that things were very new. All of the music we heard – it was new. At that point, it was the beginning of the new wave of the scene, if you will. Everything that we were listening to then, it was like you never heard it before and that was a cool thing. That’s not something I experience in the same way today.
Dead Rhetoric: Along the same lines, what do you remember about the Swedish scene back in the ‘90s?
Nilsson: We were kind of separated from a big part of the scene because we lived up north. We weren’t hanging out and going to that many shows, other than the ones that actually came up to us. But I remember it being good times.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you want someone to take away from Naglfar when they hear one of your albums?
Nilsson: I hope that they notice the dedication and the honesty that goes into it.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel that the genre of black metal has evolved over time?
Nilsson: When I discovered black metal, it was around the time that Darkthrone released A Blaze in the Northern Sky. I haven’t been paying that much attention, or have been a part of the scene in that sense that I notice a huge difference. The bands come and go, but I think the general vibe has been the same. At least for me, but then again, I haven’t been deeply involved in the scene. We didn’t really hang out and socialize in that way. I like the idea that there are still new bands that can still give it a new take and make it sound interesting. For example, a band like Sinmara.
Dead Rhetoric: As you said, some bands have come and gone. What has allowed Naglfar to stick around?
Nilsson: I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the friendship between myself, Marcus [Norman], and Kristoffer. We have done this together for such a long time. We haven’t had any pressure from the outside – not from labels or anything – to rush things. So there hasn’t been many issues. So there haven’t been too many problems. We would have hung out together anyway, so why not make music while we do it?
Dead Rhetoric: What’s next for Naglfar?
Nilsson: There’s the release of the album, and like every other band, we have had to postpone some shows. But we are hoping that there will be a live scene when this is over. We want to continue playing live and showing off the new material. We don’t know how long this is going to last, but if it starts to take a long time, we are already starting to write new material. So we’ll start to play some shows or start making new material.
Dead Rhetoric: So it’ll be less than eight years next time?
Nilsson: [Laughs] I can’t promise anything. Previously between Harvest and Teras, when it took five years, people asked me about that and I said it wasn’t going to take another five years. It took eight year instead. So I’m going to keep my mouth shut this time [laughs].