Interview with KRIEG

Interview with KRIEG

- in Written interviews

(c) Kassandra Carmona

Hi! “Ruiner” marks KRIEG’s return after a nine-year hiatus from full-length albums. Can you elaborate on the creative process during this period and how it influenced the album’s sound and themes?
There really wasn’t much of one, to be honest. I’d begun writing the follow up to “Transient” in 2015 but it just wasn’t right, I had no direction. We were thinking of recording at God City and doing a heavily Killing Joke inspired record or something really weird and unexpected but I couldn’t follow through. For years after I continued to try to work on the record and, while there were some good ideas and riffs, nothing was cohesive. I just sort of abandoned the whole thing. Then in 2021 the idea for the split with Crucifixion Bell came up and then a few more splits and small releases which took us back into the studio after a long break. When “Ruiner” was taking shape there was no idea that it was going to turn into the record. I had spent most of the year revisiting old albums that I cut my teeth on, Gorgoroth’s “Pentagram” being the main one. “Ruiner” was written mostly because I wanted to create a record I would have worshipped when I began this journey in 1995.

Could you delve into the inspirations behind “Solitarily, A Future Renounced,” and how it represents the essence of the album?
It’s the only song on the record that was “written” before the sessions. The main riff had been something in my head for a while. I’d never written a “triumphant” toned song in the old 90s tradition before, but there’s definitely a lot of that as well as a lot of Drudkh influence. The song itself was inspired by Edouard Leve’s “Suicide” with a line out of it stating “you renounced your future” which just really stuck with me.
I don’t know if it does represent the essence of the album, it’s just another face on a head with many faces.

How do you perceive the evolution of your music and ideology over the years, and how does “Ruiner” fit into this progression?
Everything has matured, become more focused, less constrained by dogma or outside perception. It represents my evolution as a person, which makes sense since Krieg basically stands side by side with myself.

How do you balance paying homage to your influences while creating something innovative and unique to KRIEG’s identity?
I don’t think about it. I don’t try to create anything boundary pushing, I just write what comes to me naturally, what I’m passionate about. And if that somehow translates to something special to others, terrific, but my motivation is entirely selfish.

Could you share the symbolism and meaning behind the artwork, and how it connects with the album’s overall concept?
The spectre represents every facet, every face of the album in small details. I gave Rob, the artist, a very detailed overview of what needed to be presented, most importantly the lamps, the red halo and the face of thorns. I think he did a fantastic job with it and that it’s perfectly representative of the themes and lyrics.

KRIEG’s earlier works like “Destruction Ritual,” “The Black House,” and “Blue Miasma” are considered classics in the black metal realm. In what ways does “Ruiner” draw inspiration from these albums, and how does it differentiate itself from your previous discography?
There’s always going to be traces of “The Black House” in everything I do. That was probably the most important, personally anyway, Krieg album, the one where everything changed and became introspective, more about the songs, less about the caustic and chaotic sound I had worked in for years prior. There is also some influence on the themes in the record as there are different “rooms”(dreams) that I drew from for inspiration.
I don’t know where “Ruiner” fits in the discography. It’s the third in the “trilogy” (“The Isolationist” and “Transient” being the other two) but all three records sound different. It’s just another exploration, I suppose.

How has your perspective on black metal and music in general evolved over these years, and how does it manifest in the new album?
I went through a long period where I hated most black metal and stopped paying attention to anything new, mostly out of petty jealousy and depression, but a few years ago my love for the genre was reignited starting with Nyredolk’s demo into exploration of the Korpsand Circle bands, the early Lamp of Murmuur, Kommodus etc. Everything felt fresh and exciting again, albeit it in a totally different way than when I was 15.
I’ve never stopped loving music of all kinds or allowing it to be the driving force in my life. I’m 45 now and I’m still hungry for new sounds in any genre.
It manifests itself in an almost ethereally nostalgic fashion in “Ruiner” since so much of what I wrote (musically) was based on inspiration from my youth. But my approach is the same as it always has been-to create what is sincere and authentic to myself.

Could you elaborate on the thematic elements explored in the album, and how it relates to the current state of the world or your personal experiences?
I don’t think it has much to do with the external, more with the internal. It’s a theme of taking control of sickness, taking command of the self. Taking ownership of being, rather than thieving through victimhood. I don’t pay attention to the outside world much in these things.

How do you channel your emotions into your music, and how does it translate into the listener’s experience of “Ruiner”?
There’s no really good answer here that would make sense to anyone but myself. I don’t control the listener’s experience nor do I want to. If they get something out of this or anything else I’ve committed to tape then great, but that’s not the goal here.

KRIEG has remained active through splits, collaborations, and EPs leading up to “Ruiner.” How have these experiences influenced the band dynamics and the overall direction of the new album?
Any of the splits or collaborations besides the Crucifixion Bell split were recorded in 2014 and before. 2014 was a very fertile year, which made it difficult to sow the earth for some years to come. I don’t think any of it had much to do with “Ruiner”, at least not in a very discernable form.

Could you elaborate on the challenges faced by the band in breaking away from conventions and how it impacted the creative freedom in “Ruiner”?
I’m sorry but I don’t think this was ever a consideration. Like I’ve said before, we were a lot more ambitious to do that right after “Transient” and really wanted to explore different genres, mostly post-punk-which I guess shows up a bit on “Ruiner” but after so many years away there was no real conversation about conventions or evolution of the sort. What you hear on the record is entirely organic, an almost spiritual experience writing it.

Are there specific philosophical ideas or concepts that you explore in “Ruiner,” and if so, how are they woven into the lyrics and music?
Read Edouard Leve.
Jesus Christ that sounds pretentious. But that’s who I was reading when I wrote the record.

KRIEG’s music has a distinctive atmosphere, often described as harsh, sorrowful, and cold-blooded melancholia. How do you create and maintain this unique ambiance in your compositions, and how does it contribute to the overall narrative of “Ruiner”?
I think part of it comes from years of being a DJ at a college radio station and trying to consistently have some kind of aural narrative when it comes to track placement. I don’t want to have a record that is just one pulse, one feeling. I may not consciously plan where Krieg is going but in that respect I pay it a great deal of attention, to have it flow and to have it tell a different story to different people.

Looking ahead, how do you envision the future of KRIEG and its role within the broader landscape of black metal? Thank you for your time!
I make no plans. Every time I do, I tend to fuck it up and disappear. I don’t really think about Krieg’s place in the broader world anymore, I only think of how it reflects in mine. But I’m pretty sure I have another album in me somewhere.

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