1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the solo project?
Of course. I am from south Wales (UK not Australia) and I seem to go by the moniker Asbjorn mostly (although my real name too). I from the black metal band Black Pyre, and recently the atmospheric black metal band Ofnus too. I have dabbled in a few other musical things, but nothing as serious as those two. I'm a multi-instrumentalist, although I am a vocalist first.
So, the solo project! Well, it was born out of a number of reasons. As much as I love creating music as a group, sometimes you want the sole input because of a vision you have. And that vision, you cannot possibly compromise on. As well I wanted to differ slightly in theme from say Black Pyre. So, I opted to create music alone with a very specific vision.
The solo project focuses initially on connection with nature, and everything following has branched a little more into general black metal themes. I feel this creative output has enabled me to explore some slightly different avenues, and future releases will continue that.
2.So far with this project you have released a full length, split and a couple of singles, musically how do they differ from each other?
The full length, Primordial Forest, really focuses on a theme. I guess you can call it a concept album. It is, in a sense. The album was all written rather rapidly, and each solo fully improvised. For this album I wanted songs more memorable and melodic compared with what I had written prior for Black Pyre.
The production on the album is clean enough, although these days I'm not quite happy with it. You'll notice the use of sampled drums. This was not by choice. I would have preferred a drummer, but could not secure something I wanted. Now, I could have drummed myself, yes, but at that time I did not have the facilities to practise or record myself to the standard I needed. I may in future re-visit to record drums au natural.
The split... That one was a strange time in my life that I would rather not revisit too much. It definitely embodies a low point for me and I needed to convey my dissatisfaction with my life. I longed for change, but the change was not what I had hoped for. I became someone whom in hindsight I find abhorrent. I have since de-listed my end of the split as I would prefer to forget about it and all that went with it.
The recent single Utter Death is really about my distaste for religion. It's somewhat of an atheistic outlook, but also a musing on the indoctrination of organised religions, especially of Christianity. Not a hugely original theme, but I was inspired after visiting Rome and marvelling at the Catholic centre of the world, but couldn't help seeing the brutality on which is it was built. Utter Death also has a change of sound to the previous music. It's definitely a rawer sound, featuring some real drums too, but the feel is more authentically old school, more Norway. I think this is in part owed to my recent trip to Norway to play Northern Deception Festival with Black Pyre.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you have explored with this solo project so far?
As touched on, the full-length album is really about the forest and silent introspection one does whilst sat amongst the plants. It's about our connection with nature through the spiritual and astrological realms. It's about the soul's tether to the aethers of the wilds, it's about tranquillity amongst the trees, it's druidic, it's about Paganism. It's funny in a way, because I'm not a Pagan myself nor am I spiritual. But I've always found a deeper connection with the forest and found that intertwining it with spiritualism would make it more relatable to my experience.
The recent single Utter Death focuses on religion. It focuses strongly on the sheer farcical nature of religion, but also of the frauds who worship "the devil". This is about how we kill in the name of religion and see hate in other's eyes. This is about free will and free thinking. I'm a way, it's LaVeyan (atheistic) as opposed to theistic. I've always identified with the tenets of LaVeyan Satanism, although I don't practice.
4.With some of your other projects you have also covered some satanic and occult topics, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in the dark arts?
Yes, indeed. I do have an interest in the darker arts and occultism, even though I don't strictly believe in it. It's fascinating for me to study. I enjoy to read about the history and culture surrounding occultism in the past, but also find out about alleged rituals and demonic texts.
Black Pyre especially had a focus on occultism. A lot of songs taking excerpts from grimoires and the black mass of a certain sect of theistic satanism. Ave Sathanas features one such excerpt. Another great example of demonic calling is Tenebrous Obituary, which is almost a prayer to deliver a soul of a late friend to rule in Hell. A nice thought at least, and although I may not believe in the whole "Heaven and Hell" ideas, it seems no harm to "hedge your bets" when faced with the end.
Thinking again back to "Heaven and Hell", the Black Pyre song Hellfire is rather biblical. An alternate re-telling of the rapture. Angels and demonic forces interlocked in an epic battle.
5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Asbjorn Daemonium de Noctis'?
Asbjorn, Demon of Night.
I came up with the name on a whim. I liked the name Asbjorn, and wanted it to sound a little more "satanic". I think we may have been inspired by all those 90s bands who had to have pseudonyms.
6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the full length cover?
Of course. It is a photograph I took of the waterfall at devil's bridge in mid Wales. The old folklore story goes, an old woman tricked the devil into building the bridge and he never returned to Wales after that. A whimsical story, but the general air of the place felt different and perhaps a little special. Making it the cover felt right, as the place shown has some spiritualism and fit the forest theme.
7.With this project you record everything by yourself but have experience working with musicians in other bands and projects, do you prefer to work solo?
A tricky question. It's really a yes and a no. With my solo work it is more that I have an uncompromising vision and am unbending in my application of the music. My solo work is released as such because I feel nobody else would fully comprehend it, and so it must be done alone.
I do however, enjoy working as a unit too. There is something equally satisfying about creating a group effort. As with Black Pyre I would often write the underpinning structure to a song and the others would plug in, offering their respective instruments. Or some songs would be more of a group effort (in the cases of Aeon and Black Magic Heresy). For others, Olthigor (Olly) would write an underpinning and we would contribute and offer changes.
For Ofnus it's a little different. Alyn writes the songs almost in their entirety. The drums and bass would then play around and find something to fit, similar to what was already written but with their own flair. I would then contribute the vocals in their entirety, writing the vocal lines and about 85% of the lyrics. I find it refreshing to work where I only need to input the vocals and the rest of the music is sorted for me.
8.In 2021 you were a part of a split with 'Abyssielle', what are your thoughts on the other project that had participated on the recording?
That split, it was a darker time in my life as it was for them too. I did contribute to both elements, offering my vocals to the other half of the split. I will be amicable here - the other music was well made. I just no longer identify with the split myself and have since de-listed it. It contributed to a downward spiral for me, and I became a person I look back at and despise, so I could no longer bear to have it around.
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black metal?
I think I have had a fairly positive response. People seem to enjoy what I make and for that I am very grateful. I make my music for me, and if other like it that is truly humbling.
I think generally speaking Black Pyre has seen the best success internationally so far. But I think that is down to us investing more time in the promotion of that material.
10.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that you are a part of?
Black Pyre are working on a new album. It's written in principle; it just needs the other members to work on it and offer their spin. The new album will mark a minor shift in style to a slightly more melodic and riff focused style, but still wholly black metal. I think it will offer a more refined and better conceived album. Black Pyre is for fans of Mayhem, Watain, Satyricon, Dissection
Ofnus has completed their first album, which is due to release end of June on Naturmacht Productions. We are also well on the way to album 2. It is more atmospheric and melodic than anything I've done before, with much catchier tunes. As Ofnus we have secured a slot at Bloodstock this year too and are planning to tour the UK around late autumn / early winter. Ofnus is for fans of Alcest, Borknagar, Cân Bardd, Saor, Winterfylleth.
11.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician during the future?
A good question, and a tough one. I'm a realist; so I know music is unlikely to yield a fruitful career for me. I doubt I will need to give up a day job, but you never know. But for me, it's about the enjoyment. That fulfilment you get when you create something beautiful. So, it's unlikely I would ever stop music. I would just like to be in a position where my music is known by the community and hopefully widely enjoyed.
12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
I think my influences shift around a lot. For Black Pyre it was always the old school Norwegian bands that inspired me. Over time my influences diverged and branched, both within and outside of black metal. For instance, Primordial Forest was heavily inspired by Asagraum, Watain, Necronautical, and Imperial (US).
I think my style of vocals for Ofnus has been inspired by the likes of Grima, Borknagar and Rotting Christ, perhaps with a touch of non-black metal influence too.
More recently, I've been listening to Opeth, At The Gates, Rotting Christ, Winterlore, Këkht Aräkh, Secret Stairways, and Weakling.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
I would like to thank you for having me for this interview! It has been a pleasure to indulge in a bit of soliloquy.