1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
Work on Blutvial tends to be sporadic, we can go for many months without working on anything. Things have been pretty quiet for most of this year. I wrote some songs over the last year which are going to be recorded in a live format at some point. I don't mean live as in at a gig, but we will be getting together and playing the songs the first time through, at which point all instruments will be recorded simultaneously. The idea is to inject a more spontaneous element. The songs were all written very spontaneously. I went from first riff to finished demo, with lyrics and vocals, in about 2 hours for each song. They were written months apart, and in those months I didn't even pick up a guitar or write any lyrics. In order to keep that fresh feeling, we are going to record in the way I described, to capture the rawness of our individual performances. The songs may well change as well, based on whether or not we play them 'right' and how we react to that. We don't have a date to record the songs just yet, it's going to be at some point in the next few months. The artwork is pretty much complete as well, or at least once we know in which format we're going to release it, the date and other such things, then I can finish it off. Other than that, we are reworking a couple of older songs that are taking an interesting form, but there aren't any plans for release yet. Recently I've been working on a Blutvial website, which should be live very soon.
2. How would you describe the musical sound of the new album and how it differs from previous releases?
Aesthetically, Curses Thorns Blood is fuller than previous releases. Musically, it's difficult to say because I don't really think too much about it. When I write songs I just write them without thinking about what I've done before. There are some old Reign of Erebus songs on there (songs that didn't get released or in certain cases didn't get finished) as well as songs from much more recently, so there is quite some time differential in the composition of the album - if you think of time in linear terms. Equally, when Aort sends me a song he's written I don't compare it to anything else we've done, I usually trust his intuition and don't change much. Even though I won't have heard them with vocals at that stage, I trust that his songs will work even better with vocals. I have sometimes recorded the vocals without any planning, or I copied what I did on my vocal demos, which were spontaneous. Curses Thorns Blood, as I said, has both old and new material, but the recording process, whilst being distinctly in the style of our previous releases, is definitely stronger than we've managed before. I made some deliberate changes to the vocal style to our earlier recordings. The 'Orgone experience' was certainly beneficial and allows the songs to sound different to our others.
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
This album is based on a theme of civilisation's destruction for the benefit of the wild earth. At The Stones We Gather follows a spiritual force as the driver for civilisation's downfall, which Wethered and Broken-Mouthed reflects on after the process is about complete; The Immutable Hammer deals with the materialistic destruction of techno-industrial systems; Conspiracy of Optimism addresses the way humanity willingly ushered its own enslavement; and other such ideas. It can all be found in the lyrics, with perhaps a little thought and consideration into the macro- and micro-effects of civilisation, how it came to be, and what we could be without it. There's a strong theme of returning humanity to being part of ecosystems rather than trying to live apart from them.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?
There was little inspiration behind it, really. 'In the beginning', Aort told me he wanted to do this old school project and release a couple of songs on 7", and asked if I wanted to play guitar and perform vocals, I just had to write the lyrics and play the guitar parts in my own way if I wanted to. The whole idea was to release this early-90s style internal pressure that Aort was feeling, and he knew I had as well which is why he asked me, so the name Blutvial was just intended to express that, to not be thought about too much or deliberated over, because then the idea would be lost. We always take that same approach when we write and record.
5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
Blutvial does not play live.
6. Do you have any touring plans for the new release?
7. The new album came out on Mordgrimm, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support that they have given you so far?
Aort was involved in contact with Mordgrimm, so I can't say much on that. There seem to be more reviews and more interest in the album due to the re-release, so that's probably beneficial in getting the music around. Although, I'm not really that interested in what happens after we've recorded and completed the artwork. It's a process which I see as complete once the creation is published. I was happy with the Haintic release we had, so long as Haintic sold enough to cover printing expenses, that's all that really mattered. The Mordgrimm re-release seems to be taking a long time, which is disappointing, but eventually it will get the music out further. I think I have mixed views on that, but this isn't a solo project so it's easier to reconcile those, and because Mordgrimm is still a smaller label that works better with the idea of Blutvial.
8. What is going on with the other musical projects these days?
I'm not sure what's going on with Code, I think they're working on another album. I'm working with Andras (Code, ex-Reign of Erebus) on Amhghar, which has some excellent material and we're going to be recording a few songs quite soon I think. Amhghar is entirely Andras' work, he writes everything including lyrics, I just give some input and record the vocals, as well as having done some mixing on previous recordings.
9. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
Blutvial will continue to release music with the same attitude we have done so far. Although, there may be the odd left-field release here or there. We'll see.
10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
The only musical influence on Blutvial is black metal from the early 90s and some late 80s.
Personally, I'm listening to Biosphere right now. It's early and there's a crisp view over the forest from the window, so it's appropriate. Other things I've been listening to recently include Hammemit and Emit; Taake Doedskvad and Noregs Vaapen; Dead Can Dance Spleen and Ideal and The Serpent's Egg; Ildjarn, everything, but particularly Hardangervidda (both parts), Det Frysende Nordariket and Ildjarn-Nidhogg; Arcana Canta De Procella; Darkthrone Total Death and Goatlord; and Wardruna Gap Var Ginnunga. I listen to things which are completely unrelated to any of these feelings as well. As we move into colder months I'll be listening to things like Carpathian Forest Journey Through the Cold Moors of Svarttjern; Sibelius Symphony No. 4, Tapiola, Finlandia; Burzum Filosofem; Darkthrone Panzerfaust (particularly Snø og Granskog); more Ildjarn and Taake; and whatever else I can dig out to reflect the coldness, but it's getting more difficult to find things that can still do this.
11. Does Satanism or Occultism play any role in your music?
Satanism is a very easy thing to attach oneself to. Too easy. The term is so abstract and loose, it can be twisted to any simple meaning, and some people like to look like 'bad guys' even if there's nothing of substance to back it up. There are people who think they're 'Satanists' because they get drunk and listen to black metal, and 'fight the war against christianity'. Hedonism does not make one a 'Satanist'. Others think that if they take a position of vigorous opposition to religious doctrine and like the label, they must be 'Satanists' as well. These positions aren't 'Satanic', they just aren't of the Abrahamic religions. While it might be argued that any form of lifestyle or system of values not of the Abrahamic religions is 'Satanic', I don't really think that's valid, it's too vague, too easy for a term with such fervent connotations. Consequently, because each person has a different interpretation of the term 'Satanic', and some of those vary a lot, the term loses meaning. Language is a tool to communicate an idea from one person's internal world to another's. From a simple roar to the subtle implications of poetry, this is language's purpose, and calling yourself something that doesn't relate to what others understand that term to mean is mere contrived conceit. All that said, the ONA is (or was) an interesting group that didn't just seem to revel in playing dress-up. Their emphasis on pushing one's limits, of physical perseverance, of severance from civilisation.
Because of all this, it isn't a term I apply to myself or to Blutvial. I don't feel the need to identify with other groups like that, there's no instinct to say "I'm one of these people" or "I'm a *ist" (insert whatever movement one wants to be associated with). Life, and subjective experience, is far too complex for that. In fact, I actively avoid using these terms. Who you are is defined not by what you say or identify with, what clothes you wear (to make yourself 'individual') or any other bullshit, but what you actively do. That which you actively do according to a blend of intelligently calculated values and evolutionary instinct, and how you manifest these in both your short- and long-term experiences of existence, is what brings you closer to any kind of universal truth. Conversely, there are some people, probably quite a few, who fall into this category as well, and surely some from the black metal 'scene'. In most cases, only they will know who they are as judging that truth is an internal process.
Occultism is more abstract again, but the individual's interactions in this sphere are such that it's less contentious for me. It doesn't "play any role in [our] music" in the sense that we don't perform ceremonies or anything like that, or try to inject the essence of any occultist theory, but sometimes themes occur in lyrics or artwork presentation. That said, the process of creating music, right from conception to publishing, is something akin to a rite, as I was alluding to in question 7. This is something I have wanted to explore further, and the idea I mentioned at the beginning, of simultaneous recording a song that we've never rehearsed before, based on a demo from months previous, is one way of exploring that. Many years ago I heard a theory that Stonehenge may have been used as a musical venue, or that music could have played a key role in its purpose, because the acoustic response inside the circle is quite special. That idea stuck and I've often thought about what that may have been like, if it were the case, and not necessarily just at Stonehenge but at any of the stone circles and megaliths in Britain or Europe, and about how that could be incorporated into my musical processes. This is how we will end up recording in the manner I mentioned earlier. In the future we may expand on it further, but it's not just my decision.
Then, as we're a band, you have to consider the nature of sound. Vibrations. Physicists put a lot of emphasis on vibration in our perceptions of the universe. We still don't understand existence at an atomic level, we don't understand time, and we don't know where matter (or dark matter) comes from, what feeds into the essence of everything. But vibrations, on which level sound - and therefore music - exists, do have an impact on things, for instance, electrical impulses. The brain is a series of electrical impulses and these can be influenced by the vibrations that are music - it can change our mood. That's no small feat. The possibility of something that doesn't really exist in a physical form to influence the way a person experiences existence. I mean, you can't touch music, or see it, but it can give you chills down the spine, make you smile, or make you generate adrenaline, and the volume (the strength of the vibrations) can alter its effect. So what else could music do, in the right circumstances? Some governments and politicians (including those of the armchair variety) have long considered music a force that could upset their status quo. We don't know the extent of how far it can be taken, but the subjective experience of existence can be experimented with.
This is all too wishy-washy to say that Blutvial is occultist, and besides, even if we were, I probably wouldn't want to put a label like that on the band. I have a serious reverence for nature, for natural processes and try to reflect that in the lyrics and it can be easily seen in our song-titles. Working with this in my daily life and reflecting it in my art is as close as I get to spirituality.
12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?
I work outdoors, so I spend a lot of my time trying to mitigate the destructive effects of people on the natural environment, or protecting nature from them, trying to preserve habitats that would otherwise be decimated in the human interest. I am also studying so spend a lot of time reading scientific papers and researching assignments and things. Outside that, I like to spend time hiking and backpacking, either in the woods where I live if I need to get out quick or going to other places, but usually I head away from the main trails where everybody else is. I also read novels and the poetry of R.S. Thomas is suitably bleak for when I need that.
13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
For Code updates: http://www.facebook.com/codeblackmetal
For Amhghar updates: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amhghar/242942032416080