Consider Blistering to be in the ranks of those who raised immediate concerns when Dimmu Borgir announced it was shedding keyboardist Mustis and bass player Vortex last year. Line-up stability was something the band was just starting to revel in, even if it possibly contributed to the rather bland In Sorte Diaboli from 2007. Mustis was like the quiet sorcerer behind some of Dimmu’s most spellbinding (spell-bounding?) constructs, while the larger-than-life persona of Vortex gave Dimmu a dual-threat both on the bottom-end and in the clean vocal department. By now, the story of royalty squabbles and laziness are well-known, yet it’s rightfully clear that Dimmu circa 2010 is altogether better than the Dimmu many had grown accustomed to seeing over the last decade, proving they in fact, made the right decision.
Now operating solely as a three-piece (which our interview subject Galder confirmed), Dimmu rolls on with this year’s Abrahadabra, an album that is easily the most orchestrated and overblown thing they’ve done. And it’s excellent. Guided by the sonic thrust of “Gateways,” “Born Trecherous” and the melodic “Dimmu Borgir” (no, it’s not like their “Iron Maiden”), Abrahadabra proves that Dimmu is a more intelligent band than many give them credit for. It’s black metal for the new decade (age), that’s for sure.
Wanting to hear it from the horse’s mouth, we tracked down Galder on the band’s North American tour with Enslaved, Blood Red Throne, and Dawn of Ashes. And since yours truly and Galder are the of the bald headed-nature, an instant bond was formed, prompting us to share shaving tips for a few minutes before we got down to business, but once we did, here’s what ensued...
Blistering.com: The session guys [bassist Cyrus, keyboardist Brat, drummer Daray], how are they working out?
Galder: We sound tighter now than we ever have before, actually. We’ve had Daray around before for some session work, so he’s been around the band for a few years now.
Blistering.com: How does he stack up against [Nick] Barker or Hellhammer? What’s it like playing with him?
Galder: Everyone has their own unique style, and Daray is very fast with his feet, so he’s very tight. We have some old stuff that he plays with no problem. And the new album, there’s a mix of fast and slow stuff, and he does it without a problem.
Blistering.com: Word is that you’re planning on staying a trio for the time being. Is that true?
Galder: That’s the plan for now. We’ve experienced so many problems with so many other members. It keeps lesser ideas; more ideas are more chaotic.
Blistering.com: You’re also approaching 10 years of being in the band, right?
Galder: Yeah, it’s gone by very, very fast. We’ve done so much stuff over the last 10 years that I have a hard time believing it when I think about it. When you’re a young band back in those days and you look at Metallica, it’s like, “Whoa, those guys have been playing together for 10 years!” Dimmu has been playing for 17 years now.
Blistering.com: With this tour, how have you gone about putting together a setlist?
Galder: We have a good balance of new and old songs. We try to mix it up and include some new songs because we have to. We don’t play any songs from the first album, though.
Blistering.com: As orchestrated as the stuff is live, I’m curious to see how it translates. I don’t think it’s a reach to say this is your most orchestrated stuff to date.
Galder: It’s hard to bring a full orchestra, so you have to compromise on tape, then add the keyboards. It actually sounds really good, so maybe that’s the whole reason it sounds so tight right now, and we’re using the click, so that helps.
Blistering.com: Since you have so much orchestration, does it cause the writing process to take longer than you would initially like?
Galder: We use our time on the album and to make it to perfection. We like to keeps things mysterious and not tour everywhere, so we keep two years or three years between albums, and work really hard for one or two of those years. The Ozzfest tour [in 2004] was probably the longest tour we’ve ever done, but we wanted to push that album [Death Cult Armageddon] really hard. Of course, when you release an album, it’s a lot of work, so you have to push it to get somewhere.
Blistering.com: Perhaps that is the reward for putting so much time and effort into your albums – you get to headline in North America.
Galder: True. There’s not very many Norwegian bands that get to do this. Of course, that’s the reward when you work really hard on album. Coming here, the crowds were better than expected, they’re a bit more dedicated. It’s more exotic for them to have a band from overseas, and our style is a bit different than most American bands, so maybe that’s the reason it always been very good for us over here.
Blistering.com: What’s the status of Old Man’s Child?
Galder: Right now I’m taking a break from it. My contract [with Century Media] is now over, so I want to push this now.
Blistering.com: Will you use Peter [Wildoer] from Darkane again? He did a killer job on Slaves To the World.
Galder: Yeah, he did an amazing job. I’d like to use something different next album because it’s a tradition to use a different drummer with every album. I think if I do another album, I’ll use a new one, just for the fuck of it.
Blistering.com: You’ve been in the thick of the black metal for so long, going back to The Pagan Prosperity. Did you think it would reach this level?
Galder: I didn’t think it would survive back in ’94 or whatever. I thought it was going to be a big thing for a few years and that would be it, but it’s strong as ever. Enslaved are here with us, and they’ve been around since ’92. Of course, every music style changes within 10 years, so you can see a different crowd now. You can see more than a typical black metal crowd – you see old people, young people, everything. I’m a bit wiser than I used to be in many ways, and so is black metal.
Blistering.com: So what do you see on the horizon for the next year and a half?
Galder: We’re definitely coming back here next year, but we don’t when know yet. We have a tour in Australia and New Zealand, so we’re going to focus on that and then we do a bunch of festivals in the summer in Europe, and hopefully be back in the States before then.