Frost, Fenriz, Sci-Fi, and the New Album: An Interview With Execration
A little while back I helped you find your new favourite Norwegian metal band in the shape of a four part quiz, and one of the most frequently occurring results seemed to be the amazing four-piece band Execration. After relentlessly spinning their most recent album (2014’s Morbid Dimensions) for the last year or so, I became incredibly excited to learn that they have been studiously working on a new record for us to immerse ourselves in. Read on to find out details regarding the recording process, some of the inspiration behind the music, winning a Norwegian music award (a Grammy with integrity), Fenriz, and some of 2016’s best albums.
Lacertilian: Hi there, how are you? Who are we talking to today?
Hola, I’m Chris, wielder of guitars and vocals in Execration.
How’s the new album coming along?
Pretty, pretty good. We finished recording it in October, and it is now being mixed.
Excellent! Do you have an estimated release date or any sneaky details you can inform us of?
Well, there’s no official release date yet, but I think we’re looking at April. As for details, the album consists of nine tracks, two of which are short instrumentals. It’s our shortest album to date – we finally have an album that fits on a single LP. After two hour long albums we challenged ourselves to do a more terse one, and the result is 41 pretty hectic minutes of metal.
So far all of your full-length albums have been released approximately 3 years apart, are you the type of band that gradually pieces ideas and parts together over that time or do things happen relatively quickly over a short period of time prior to release?
Somewhere in between. There’s a period of creative downtime after the completion of an album. We try to make each album stand out from the rest, and to do that we need some time in between to reset, and to figure out where we want to go next. When we do start writing, the process is typically slow in the beginning, and speeds up as the album is shaping up and taking on its own life. For the three last albums writing has stretched out over roughly a year.
Speaking of recording, did you have a favourite piece of equipment or an effect you found yourself looking forward to using in the studio?
If you’d asked me this before we recorded, I would have said “dunno, we’ll see what we find”. Having completed the recording however, I can tell you that we did some really cool things with a 12 string Rickenbacker guitar. It sounds absolutely amazing, and added some haunting depth in a few places. We also played some guitar lines backwards and then reversed the recording to achieve that Twin Peaks Black Lodge effect, of which I am a huge fan.
When writing/recording these sorts of things, does the potential difficulty in transposing the various parts to a live setting ever factor into the recording process? Have you ever decided to limit the arrangements so as not to hamper being able to play the track live?
Not really. The main focus is on making the recording sound great, and then we figure out how to do it live later. Usually we use synths/effects in a fairly subtle manner, not in a way that completely changes how parts sound. It’s the same with vocals – we usually figure out the vocal patterns etc in the studio, with no thoughts on the practicalities. Afterwards we rehearse a lot to be able to pull it off while playing the guitar at the same time.
While your style is often referred to simply as death metal, I hear a lot of elements from other genres blending together in there. How would you describe your sound to someone who is unfamiliar with your music?
Well, it’s metal, for sure. Some defining characters of our music are frequent shifts and turns in tempo, attitude, and harmonics, and a heavy atmosphere. It’s progressive at times, it borrows heavily from thrash, death, and black metal, and sometimes even doom and heavy. I haven’t thought of us as a pure death metal band for many years. Not that it bothers me, I just don’t find it to be an accurate description.
Agreed. I’ve read that some of your lyrical content concerns Incan and/or Aztec mythology, is this the case? If so, will the upcoming album follow a similar concept?
I would say that’s an exaggeration. We’ve touched on some concepts in the past, but it’s never been a defining theme. The new album follows a new-ish path for us, lyrically. I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction the past few years. I really like the philosophical aspect of science fiction: where our society is headed, moral ponderings in settings unlike our own and so on. The lyrics on the album definitely reflect this fascination (although I did not write all the lyrics).
Awesome, I’m sure many of our readers will be glad to hear that, we have a lot of avid sci-fi fans in our community. Any books or series in particular that you’d like to recommend?
I’ve been reading up on some classics lately (more work to be done here), and really enjoyed some of H. G. Wells‘ early books, like The Invisible Man and The Time Machine, visionary and genre defining work. Philip Dick has done lots of cool stuff, Ubik probably being my favorite – a truly surreal read. Lastly, I’d like to recommend House of Suns, a newer space opera type novel by Alastair Reynolds.
Apart from being asked dumb questions about the award, did much change for the band after winning the 2014 Spellemannprisen (Did I spell that correctly?) for Morbid Dimensions?
Hah! Well, you spelled it right. I wouldn’t say “much changed”, but it definitely has helped. We’re now on Metal Blade, that certainly isn’t completely unrelated. And it gave us attention from places we haven’t gotten it before. It also helped us reach a wider audience, which was a little surprising to me – at least in Norway. I mean, it’s a small country, and I figured that if you do a band for almost 10 years, most people will know about you. Turns out to not be entirely true, and the award sent people to our shows that haven’t seen us before. So it was definitely a boost.
I’ve noticed some similarities in the style of death metal being created in Norway in recent years; long(ish) progressively structured tracks with vocals and riffs that harken back to the older death metal sound of bands like Autopsy etc. coupled with what seems like an organic approach to production (compared to the more synthetic prevailing modern direction). Do you think this is a sort of natural retaliation to the digitised sound?
Everything goes in waves I guess. When we started out, we were very conscious about being an opposing force to a certain kind of modern extreme metal that was rampant. Turned out that there were more people thinking the same thing (Obliteration, Diskord, Execration and many others started up around the same time). Nowadays we still value a production that retains some dynamics, and actually sounds like a band, but we’re less interested in what everyone else is doing (e.g. being an opposing force etc). We’re doing music the way we like it, and hopefully others will like it as well.
How close are you guys to your countrymen in Obliteration and Reptilian? I noticed you have recently performed with them at a festival, do you prefer to play live shows with bands of a similar style or would you rather mix it up with some bands from different genres?
We’ve played with Obliteration (and the guys’ other bands) a lot, and we live roughly in the same city, so I see them every now and then. The Reptilian guys live on the opposite side of the country, so I’ve only met them a few times. All of them are great guys. Live shows can work either way. For two or three bands, the same genre can be a cool thing, but for larger line ups like festivals etc, I prefer more variation, at least as a member of the audience.
What are your thoughts on the recent news stories of Fenriz being elected into the local government for his hometown of Kolbotn?
I happen to live in Kolbon. First of all, it happened two years ago. Second, he’s a stand-in, and would only need to go if someone else is prevented from going. And I don’t think he’s ever gone. I think it was blown out of proportions.
Say you could elect a musician (living or dead) as the government representative for metal, who would you choose and why?
Hah. Well, since we already have Fenriz enrolled in the system, I vote for him. Also, if there was to be a “government representative for metal”, few people would fit the bill better than Fenriz, with his extensive knowledge of everything metal.
Scandinavia has consistently produced some of the most revered metal bands over the last few decades, what factor(s) do you think could be attributed to the prolific nature of the region? Is it just too damn cold and dark for half the year to do anything else?
It must be something to it, as we have the world’s highest number of metal bands per capita up here. Finland (not part of Scandinavia), which is even colder than Norway, ranks right at the top. I certainly think the cold and grim winter brings out the metal in people. I always have a craving for the grittiest and most bitter black metal during the cold times of the year.
What are some of your favourite things to listen to in your spare time? Any albums that have impressed you this year?
I have a somewhat poor musical upbringing. As a kid, I didn’t know many of the classic bands, and so I keep “discovering” old stuff. I was really late to the Rush party, but for the past few years I’ve been insanely into them. All their first 10 albums are really great, and I’ve been spinning them _a lot_.
This year has been pretty good in terms of releases. I liked Cult of Luna‘s Mariner – Julie Christmas’ vocals are ace. Blood Incantation‘s Starspawn was very good. Virus did another great album (Memento Collider) that I’ve listened to a lot, fantastic band. John Carpenter‘s Lost Themes II is classic horror movie music, excellent working music. My favorite release this year is Vektor‘s Terminal Redux. It really is huge, I haven’t enjoyed an album this much in years.
Finally, very recently I’ve had my mind blown by the new Deathspell Omega, and as the winter is setting in, I turn to the two first Leviathan albums.
Anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Watch out for our new album in April!
Thanks for your time, can’t wait to hear the new album!
Thanks for having me!
Now while you join me in waiting for April to roll around, you can head over to Execration‘s facebook page to keep updated, and (if you haven’t already) you can pick up the acclaimed Morbid Dimensions here.