Tortorum – Damned For All TimeThursday, 7th August 2014
This may be an un-black metal thing to say, but a band like Bergen, Norway’s Tortorum should be welcomed with open arms. (Or arms wide open if we’re referencing a Creed song. Jesus…) The band’s nihilistic front, compounded with a riff selection that is both unholy and technically-advanced makes their new Katabasis (WTC Productions) one of the year’s more unsung black metal albums. But frankly, this kind of stuff + presentation will never go out of style; a black metal band looking as such, playing as such, and adhering to the sound norms in such a superlative fashion is always a winner in DR’s book.
With that in mind, we connected with guitarist Skyggen for a chat of the electronic variety, where the band’s Bergen locale, new album, and general thoughts on the scene were discussed. And, big ‘ole bonus points for the use of the word “ass-licking.” Haven’t heard that in a while…
Dead Rhetoric: You have some great and unique lineage being a black metal band from Bergen. In a way, do you feel like you’re carrying the torch?
Skyggen: This place has its magic, no doubt about it. It was mainly this exceptional beauty of nature which you can find on the western coast of Norway that made me settle down here. And sure, this town had its great days when it comes to black metal, speaking both of bands and of course, the legendary Grieghallen studio, where most of the all-time black metal classics were recorded. But the scene is not as great as it used to be these days. Well, you can actually say it about the whole black metal scene or extreme-metal in general I guess. Sure, you can find some great bands here and there, but to me, the overall atmosphere of today’s scene smells like shit. All these hypes, contacts, deals, ass-licking, shit-talk on other’s backs… maybe I’m too old and nostalgic, but I see it the way that the magic of old days is long gone and nothing can bring it back. In general, there is lack of devotion, respect and discipline. I don’t really care if we’re “carrying the torch” in the eyes of the others or not. We just walk our own path, follow our own will and are true to ourselves, and that’s what really matters to me.
Dead Rhetoric: Growing up, and coming up through the scene, were you close to the likes of Immortal, Gorgoroth, etc?
Skyggen: I’m not originally from here, so I can’t answer this question properly. I, of course, was and still am into old Gorgoroth and Immortal, mainly the two first albums, as well as of course Burzum, which was probably the most important black metal band hailing from Bergen. I was too – helping Mr. Infernus with Gorgoroth as a live guitarist from time to time. You see, Bergen is quite a small town, so you “know” most of the people here, even if you don’t want to. But I don’t think it makes me “close” to them. I’m doing my best to keep me away from people in general, and I probably exist on a different level than most of “metalheads,” rather far away from this so-called “rock ‘n’ roll” style of life.
Dead Rhetoric: You formed in 2010, so, has the band (so far) met your expectations? I think you’re doing fine based off the debut, and now Katabasis.
Skyggen: Yes, I’m fully satisfied with what we’ve achieved so far and we’ll carry on as long as the flame is burning in our hearts. I don’t have any big expectations though. Tortorum is not a hyped band, we’re not the best in “keeping in touch,” “hanging out” or even ass-licking “people from the business” or promoters to put our name on a bill of a tour or a festival for example, so one can say that we’re doomed to stay in the shadows. Well, time shall tell. On the other hand, you still have this ocean of mediocre crap bands out there, which makes it pretty hard for those who create something of higher quality. I personally lost a lot of interest in the metal underground myself: I nowadays very rarely dig and search for any new interesting acts, and there is probably quite some people out there who think the same way. But it’s not my biggest concern anyway. To me Tortorum is a tool, a medium, which I use to express my emotions and feelings, views and beliefs and it serves me well.
Dead Rhetoric: To these ears, Katabasis is quite the step forward from Extinctionist. Going into the recording of the new album, what was the approach?
Skyggen: There was not much of special approach here, as we always do things with dedication and respect when it comes to Tortorum. Things basically just happens with this band and there is no big ‘planning’ or ‘calculating’ going on. We simply follow the voices of our hearts. The fundamental factor for us is that we are focused and work hard on each single detail/level and do our best to deliver things of high quality, things that we can later be proud of. We went through a really dark period as individuals after the debut, which you could easily call “the edification,” and progression came somehow along.
Dead Rhetoric: Was it conscious to be less raw than on Extinctionist?
Skyggen: Most of Extinctionist was recorded in a rehearsal room, with no budget whatsoever, so the sound and overall production was rawer. The music itself was more ‘in-your-face’ too I’d say, while Katabasis is way deeper and more complex album. The production just had to be more distinct this time when you think of all the details and complexity that are part of the songs, and which could easily disappear with dirtier sound. A cellar-like production wouldn’t simply fit Katabasis, that’s all.
Dead Rhetoric: The atmosphere at Necromorbus Studio…what was it like?
Skyggen: The atmosphere was just great. Tore (Stjerna) is a very talented producer, no doubt about it. We were discussing this session for quite some time, but it wasn’t an easy thing to make it work due to Tore’s tight schedule, but finally, we managed it. We decided to cut all this normal-life crap off, just go to Sweden and focus 100% on the album without any interruptions from the outside world. We rented a cabin not far from the studio, close to the woods and lakes which was just perfect combination.
The main reason why we choose Necromorbus was that we wanted to work with someone who “feels” black metal, and that’s rather rare asset among the “metal producers” these days I think. I liked some of Tore’s earlier productions quite a lot – Funeral Mist or Armagedda to name a few, so we knew that we’re going to work with the right man. Hope we’re going to work with Tore again in the future as Necromorbus has this special aura which fits Tortorum in perfect way. The only “negative” aspect about Necromorbus is the fact that all those fucking deaf morons out there are comparing EVERYTHING that was recorded there to Watain, no matter what kind of music you perform. But this sheep-thought pattern is so typical for humans, so it’s nothing new actually.
Dead Rhetoric: I’m curious about your approach to social media. It’s an odd thing for a black metal band to be posting about the mundane aspects of their lives/career. Do you place much stock in it?
Skyggen: I don’t care about others. If posting on some ‘social-media-thing’ makes someone’s life happier, fine by me. I personally don’t feel any need for sharing my thoughts and write about things that happen in my personal life with some virtual “friends” or whatever. It simply lays far beyond the circle of my interests. To each his own, though.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you think this medium has made the world smaller, and bands less “mysterious?”
Skyggen: I think this medium (as well as many others) is another tool to gain even more control over humans, make them even more enslaved by this; let’s call it, a global control machinery. Humans are getting brainwashed on a regular basis and this is just another way to do it, so have fun, folks. There are less and less “mysterious” things in this world of shit anyway. Even if you want to be “mysterious” as a band, there are always some internet-detectives out there who will sooner or later find out who you are, where you live, what you think, what you eat, et cetera. Mark of our times, so to speak. Thinking about this mental degeneration is nothing but waste of time anyway.
Dead Rhetoric: The live show front: Do you have any live dates in support of the new album?
Skyggen: None at the moment, but we’re working on few things for the future and I sincerely hope we can come up with some more precise news soon.
Dead Rhetoric: Any thoughts toward a follow-up to Katabasis?
Skyggen: It’s way too early to speak of it, but some ideas are already there, waiting and pullulating in total fucking darkness.
Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on deck for the rest of 2014?
Skyggen: We’re planning to record four new songs for an EP this autumn. Seems we will – again – present this rawer face of the band on this release, but it’s too early to unveil any details yet. Hopefully we’ll arrange some live-rituals this year too, so keep your eyes open!