Blood Red Throne – Skepticism in DeathSaturday, 23rd October 2021
Reliable in a groovy brand of old school death metal that combines US aggression with European musicianship and finesse sensibilities, Blood Red Throne have reached their tenth studio album for Imperial Congregation. Signing with Nuclear Blast for the first time, this record could vault this Norwegian outfit into more followers unaware of their vast discography. Many acts in the old guard can still churn out brutal material that is memorable, without having to succumb to all the intricate technical prowess and aural extremity which can be prevalent these days when it comes to the various sub-genres of death.
We reached out to guitarist Daniel Olaisen who filled us in on the background of the new album, the religious/mankind skeptical lyrical content, signing with Nuclear Blast, his grumpy old man status when it comes to the state of death metal these days, plus how he picked up some new hobbies during the pandemic downtime.
Dead Rhetoric: Imperial Congregation is the tenth studio album for Blood Red Throne. Did you ever imagine that you would reach ten albums with the group – and where do you see this record slotting in the long discography of the band?
Daniel Olaisen: Of course. Death metal is my passion, Blood Red Throne is my band and I’ve invested almost 25 years in this. Finally, things seem to pay off. It’s our tenth album and our first release on Nuclear Blast. We definitely wanted it to be something special and bring the best work to the table. It has to be our best album so far. No question about it!
Dead Rhetoric: Much of the lyrical content this time focuses on religious skepticism and mankind in general. Would you say these aspects have grown over the years due to the numerous scandals and upheaval that has happened on a worldwide basis – making it easy to point out and match up seamlessly to the aggression and brutality within your music?
Olaisen: We always did. We’ve always been skeptical to religion and mankind. It’s also an encouragement to individualism. Man will always fail. No worries though. Mother earth will take care of everything. I would make death metal in hell, heaven and on earth!
Dead Rhetoric: Brazilian cover artist Marcelo Vasco designed the cover art this time around – how did you choose him, and what did you enjoy specifically regarding the final product he delivered for the band?
Olaisen: I guess he’s done a lot of work for Nuclear Blast and they put me in touch with him. Super-nice guy and he understood my ideas right away. I wanted an old-school look and he nailed it.
Dead Rhetoric: Obviously with the pandemic, recording and tracking for this effort differed a little from previous efforts. Do you believe the seasoning, knowledge, and experience you all have made things much easier to get the workload done in the comfort of your home studios – and were there specific songs that you believe benefitted from this approach where you could take more time to nail the final takes?
Olaisen: The pandemic meant nothing in regard of this recording. I have done twenty-five albums and at least ten of them are recorded in my home studio. We don’t rehearse. We just record our stuff and meet at the venues we are playing. Actually, we had one gathering this time to shoot the music video. Other than that, we don’t see each other. I always record riffs 100% when I make them and therefore all my songs and albums are recorded over a long period of time.
Dead Rhetoric: You are now a part of the Nuclear Blast roster. How does it feel to be on such a well-regarded, prestigious label and do you believe you’ll get the proper support compared to some of the other labels you’ve been on over the years?
Olaisen: It feels right and deserved. I’m sure this band would be way bigger if they signed us one or two decades ago. But, there’s a time for everything and things are already happening. We also signed on to Continental Touring and they will take care of US/Canada/South America, while The Flaming Arts Agency is responsible for Europe. I’m also talking to an agency for Scandinavia only. BRT is comin’ your way!
Dead Rhetoric: In a previous interview we did a few years back for your other band Zerozonic, you mentioned as great as young musicians may be getting more proficient at their instrument thanks to YouTube tutorials at a younger age, you prefer the craft and art of a good song. Do you believe things have improved in that regard, and if not – how does one get better to become a solid songwriter?
Olaisen: Very much so. To be honest, I don’t give a shit how sick people are on their instruments. My respect goes to the ones writing epic songs. Everybody can make riffs and put them together. Not everybody can write good riffs and put them together into a well-composed song. I focus a lot on this and arranging my music. It’s definitely a skill I’ve developed further the last few years.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you assess your music career now that you are in your mid 40’s compared to your 20’s and 30’s? Has your definition of success changed over the years – and if so, what has changed?
Olaisen: Sure, I wish things would have happened sooner, but on the other side, I’ve been able to see the world, meet some great people and released tons of music. Music is not fair. Sports is. There are many great bands around never succeeding. It’s often a coincidence. I’m successful in life in general and music is just a bonus.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the state of death metal currently compared to the origins of the 1990’s? Do you enjoy the versatility between veteran acts and younger artists, as well as the different sub-genres that have come into play – or do you prefer more of a purity to the genre?
Olaisen: I might get old and grumpy, but I really find a lot of newer extreme/death metal to be boring. It’s all about doing the fastest and craziest stuff it seems. What about the epic riffs people will remember forever? What about the groove that just wants to make you go apeshit? Of course, it’s not as black and white and there are some cool bands of today. I just miss the sound and riffs those legendary bands did in the 90’s. I understand times are changing and both musicians will explore new territories and listeners also want something different. I’m just not one of them…
Dead Rhetoric: How did you spend your time during the pandemic downtime – did you develop any new passions, hobbies, or interests? And how do you think humanity will handle coming out of this situation?
Olaisen: I certainly did. This might come as a shock, but I have barely touched the guitar the last year. I’m totally hooked on table tennis, and I practice every day. I have always been into sports, and I still play football (soccer) as well. It’s important for me to stay fit and also have fun in life. A pandemic is always good. It’s a test to mankind. I don’t wanna discuss further, but this situation totally shows the sheep mentality among many people.
Dead Rhetoric: What is on the agenda for Blood Red Throne over the next year to support the new release? Will there be any special shows or celebration that takes place for the 25th anniversary of the group – or anything else in the pipeline for the musicians of Blood Red Throne with other acts/records?
Olaisen: Tour as much as possible. Some of the festivals supposed to happen in 2020/21 will take place in 2022. We’re working on a European tour, and we will come back to the US and South America. 2023 is our 25th anniversary and this will be marked indeed!