I had the pleasure to have an interview with Bolverk, the guitarist of the Norwegian black metal band, Ragnarok. The Norwegians have released a new album this year under the name of Psychopathology.
Hails Bolverk, thank you for this interview, it is my pleasure talking with you again. The 8th album came out this year under the name of ”Psychopathology”. What is the concept of the album?
The album isn’t a concept album or anything, but most of the lyrics definitely deal with some kind of madness. The academic definition of “Psychopathology” is: “the study of psychological and behavioural dysfunction occurring in mental disorder or in social disorganization,” but we have taken the term a bit further (as usual) and are pointing the finger at how one can dissect someone’s mind. Two of the lines from the title track are: “I’m inside your mind. I dissect your soul”. It’s inspired by several things, but one of the strongest influences is definitely when Hannibal in the TV-series buries some people, keeps them alive intravenously and grows mushrooms on them. He is a psychiatrist, but way crazier than his patients. Another line from the song is: “The cure is worse than the disease.” And sometimes it’s like that, you know. Sacrifices are made in the name of science. Anyway, a lot of the lyrics deal with some kind of madness in one way or another. In short; “Dominance and Submission” is about sado-masochism. “Where Dreams Go to Die” is about madness, about the twilight zone between dream and reality and the fear of not knowing if you’re dreaming or awake. “Lies” and “I Hate” are pretty self-explanatory. “The Eighth of the Seven Plagues” is about religion being the worst plague of them all. “Blood” is about personal sacrifice. “Heretic” is also about religion, emphasizing that some of the most central religious figures might be the biggest heretics of all. “Into the Abyss” is about the path that most of us have chosen. “My Creator” is the lyric that Jontho contributed and it’s very personal to him. “Infernal Majesty” is simply a tribute to our master.
How does the songs are from the new album cover the live shows and what feedback do you get from the fans?
We do 3 or 4 songs from the new album in the live shows…it depends if we play for 45 minutes or an hour. There are several classic Ragnarok songs we just simply have to play, you know. We have really only done one festival with the new material and the feedback was very good, but we have almost 50 gigs this year, so we will know the final answer to that in a few months.
The artwork is made by Marcelo Vasco, the one who also made the cover artworks for bands like Dimmu Borgir, Slayer, Borknagar etc, what might this artwork suggest?
Marcelo is obviously a great and well known artist and we are very proud to work with him. He was given the music and the lyrics and I’m not sure if he made the cover from scratch or if he already had the idea. Anyway, we liked the cover immediately when we first saw it. It is a very fitting cover for the lyrical themes on the album. The details are plentiful in the cover and for me it symbolizes all the stuff that can go on inside a person’s mind. Even if someone looks calm and in control on the outside…a lot of other stuff can be happening on the inside.
What is your favorite Ragnarok release?
For me, it’s definitely “In Nomine Satanas”. That’s the album that made me a Ragnarok-fan and for it’s the epitome of everything Ragnarok is about. It’s brutal, intricate, creative and has a lot of elements that not necessarily would work in Black Metal, but they made it work. Listen to a song like “Angel Corpse” (my all time favourite Ragnarok song). Everything is allowed, no challenge is to big and this is the stuff that makes Ragnarok stick out from a lot of other Black Metal bands and it’s also the heritage that I try to live up to every day.
Are you going to tour this summer to different fests or other places?
There’s going to be a lot of activity in the Ragnarok-camp 2016. We’ll play several great festivals, for instance Steelfest and With Full Force among others, we’ll tour South America for over a month in the summer and we do a European tour in October.
How do you see the activity of Ragnarok all these years?
We are working hard all the time, but the business is tough, you know. Sometimes things will happen, other times they will not. When you play in a band and get some kind of good news, you can be sure that two pieces of bad news is waiting for you around the corner, but we struggle on, you know. This is what we are and what we want to do.
You heard about the Belphegor incident in Russia I suppose, what do you think about it and if you would be confirmed for Russia do you think things would repeat to you aswell?
What can you say? There’s crazy people everywhere. We toured Russia in 2010 and have nothing but good memories from that tour. Hopefully this is a one time incident and not something that will be a regular occurrence for bands touring Russia. The Russian fans are great and hopefully this incident will not discourage other bands from going there to play. At the moment, we don’t have any offers to go to Russia, so we don’t really have to consider the situation at the moment.
Have you discovered new Black metal bands, if yes, what do you think about them, how do you see the Black metal scene nowadays?
I discover bands all the time, both new and old bands. The scene is thriving, I think, and there are so many good bands that most of them really don’t get what they deserve. The last bands to make a good impression on me were Besatt and Slaughter Messiah when we played with them at a festival in France a while ago. Lately I’ve also been very impressed by the Danish band Satanic Assault Division. In a couple of weeks we are playing Steelfest together with one of my favourite bands ever, Impaled Nazarene, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them.
Beside Ragnarok, you are active in Images At Twilight, the debut release is very nice, I like it, what are the next plans for IAT?
Thank you. With Images At Twilight we are working on the new album and playing some local shows.
Do you have a message for the metalheads? Thank you again and hope to see you soon
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