Posthum – Fire in the Hole in the Sky

Sunday, 31st March 2013

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Does Euronymous turn over in his grave every time he sees a supposed “true” Norwegian black metal band posing like Posthum duo Morten and Jon above? As most are aware, image was everything to the deceased Mayhem guitarist/black metal figurehead, going as far as to infamously rail against the sweatpants and t-shirts Floridian death metal bands like Death and Obituary used to don. To him, the look of black metal was supposed to tie into the music: cold, dark (read: black), and evil, and if such parameters weren’t met, the very-elitist guitarist wanted nothing to do with you. Curiously, the poser patrol that once swamped Norwegian black metal has all but dissipated, and we’re probably all better for it.

Visuals aside, Posthum’s sophomore Lights Out (Indie Recordings) is a venerable dose of Norwegian black metal, played with rigid authenticity, able to include enticing variables like atmosphere and melody at will (see: “Leave It All to Burn,” “Summoned at Night”). The aforementioned duo of Morten and Jon (no silly monikers here too) paint this tribute to isolation and nature with colors as vast as the deepest Norwegian forest, and judging by the responses below, the tandem is as “troo” as it gets… In comparison to your self-titled debut, you’ve received quite the promotional boost from Indie Recordings. Being that this is your first album released in North America, what do you hope to achieve?

Morten and Jon: First of all, it makes people aware of who we are and what we do, and furthermore it makes it more interesting to come and visit you and do gigs! We had some connection to North America with the last album as well. Some airtime on radio, and stores and American websites that sold the debut album. But of course, it was more underground with the first one. With the second album it seems like things are happening in a bigger scale! It would be about time to go on tour across the Atlantic as well, but it`s not in our hands alone to decide. Based on your promotional pictures, you guys aren’t one for gimmickry. It makes me wonder if wearing corpse paint in 2012 is dated. Do you feel that way?

Morten and Jon: We wanted a set of minimalistic pictures for this album, the sound of Lights Out isn`t the sound of corpse paint and up-side-down crosses. The honesty and melancholy within the album demanded something else. We never felt like using it, and it`s still this way. There are so many interesting ways to unite with the music, corpse paint isn`t one of these ways for us. But it`s still dated it seems, there are so many bands using it. But yeah, is it ever going to end… Do you feel more in common with the likes of early Ulver and Borknagar, than traditional black metal favorites such as Darkthrone, Emperor, et al?

Morten and Jon: We are a bit inspired by Ulver and feel we have something in common with them, indeed. More than the traditional black metal bands, thoughIn the Nightside Eclipse is close to our hearts, together with many other Norwegian releases. We want to have a Norwegian sound, so we can`t deny who we are inspired by. At the same time we feel connected to lots of other bands, or at least we get inspired by bands that are not connected to black metal at all. While you are located in Norway, you are isolated from many of the country’s metal hotbeds.

Morten and Jon: The band has been isolated from other people and bands ever since the beginning. It was never in our interest to hang around or become part of a scene. It just felt right to keep it to ourselves. We worked with the music for four-to-five years before we even did a gig. In fact, our first gig was the gig in Antwerpen playing together with Shining and Satyrion. The start of a 21-day tour in Europe. there a literal interpretation of the album title? As in, does “Lights Out” correlate to the album cover where the man is leaning against the mountains?

Morten and Jon: The mountains on the cover represent the purity and divinity we find in nature. Some of the lyrics and the music are inspired by this. The man who leans his head back is a symbol of dreams and nightmares. He is paralyzed. The ambient/diffuse parts of the cover represent the frustration and weird feeling within some dreams. I (Jon) had some problems with a sleeping-paralysis which occurred quite often for about a year during the writing-process for Lights Out. These experiences around being paralyzed are also a lyrical inspiration. Sometimes after I experienced this it was impossible to go back to sleep, so I wrote a lot during the night. Lights Out was a title we wanted because of this, and the nightmares/psychedelic sleeping-issues. We knew the album would be released during the autumn, when the sun is fading and the days are getting shorter. Here in Norway the winter is coming as well. The aggressive parts of the album fitted the title as well, in fact the title is taken from the track “Down in Blood” when it`s written “the lights are out” in the lyrics. So, the album-cover is the best image we could get to describe what the album is about. It was amazing to see the cover for the first time! Describe the writing and recording process for Lights Out. How long did it take for you to pull the new album together?

Morten and Jon: We recorded it in August/September in 2011. Two and a half years after we released our debut. We have worked with it more or less for these years. After we came home from the tour with Shining and Satyricon we were really inspired to pick up on the creative process (December, 2009). We went rehearsing a lot, one idea led to another, and suddenly we had some things going. After releasing our debut album, we didn`t know how we could write anything like that at all, but time goes by, fortunately. Sometimes a theme or a whole track is written before we rehearse and sometimes we create something right there and then as a band. Rehearsing is sacred to us, going into a unique state of mind and just sharing the musical passion within the band. What type of influence do your surroundings have on you when songwriting? Do they inspire the music you create, or serve as a place for you to go to collect your thoughts before writing?

Morten and Jon: The surroundings will always contribute to how the songs are written. It contributes to how you feel and is a part of the experiences you have as a human. Many times a tune or a melody just sticks to my head, this is often if I`m surrounded by mountains or some of the beautiful scenery we have in Norway. The soundtrack of what you see, in a way. But other times it`s the soundtrack of what I feel like inside. You never know when these melodies find their way inside the head, so it`s urgent to pick up a guitar or find a piano as fast as possible. Or in worst case, just sing the melody on a recorder or something. Sometimes it feels like encrypted messages sent from somewhere, they are suddenly crystal clear melodies inside my head. It`s no doubt a lot of the music is inspired by our surroundings. Perhaps the best quality of the album is its melancholic undertones. Such methods always work well with black metal, so, do you prefer this angle over the more blast-beat riddled and aggressive side of black metal?

Morten and Jon: Well, calling it a method is a bit cynical. This is just the way this album was written, it came naturally. It made sense to us to keep the songs heavy and with airy production. This gives more room for the undertones to shine by themselves. The music was never made “more” melancholic as an effect. It became melancholic this time, but it might be more aggressive in the time to come. Black metal bands are generally hit-or-miss when it comes to playing live. Why do you think your songs translate so well in the live front?

Morten and Jon: It`s a lot of energy in our music, even though some parts are mellow. The grooves and the melodies are often presented quite stripped, so it`s not too difficult to pick up. Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2012, going into 2013?

Morten and Jon: We are having a release-party 20th of October and after that a mini-tour in Norway with Solstafir and Dunderbeist from 25th to 27th of October. Besides these dates nothing more is planned. Hopefully, we will go on a European tour, and maybe we will play in North America some day! We are ready to hit the road no matter where it starts and ends!

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