King of Asgard – From Here, To North
By: David E. Gehlke
”We create out of devotion.” That’s something you don’t here every day and even if it was uttered, a furrowed brow would probably be raised. The above quote can be attributed to King of Asgard drummer Karsten Larsson when discussing the near-unanimous positive feedback for their 2010 debut Fi’mbulvintr. For a band that is slotted unfairly in the folk metal rat race, KOA’s unrelenting, yet no less triumphant brand of epic death metal has struck paydirt once again on this year’s fresh …to North. It takes brutality in this realm to another level, as evidenced by searing cuts such as “The Nine Worlds Burn” and “Plague-Ridden Rebirth.” It’s the type of album that should give the Swedes ample room in which to operate down the road, plus, did we mention how brutal the thing is? Here’s our exchange with Larsson…
Blistering.com: You had quite the run of success with Fi’mbulvntr, so were there worries at all about hitting the sophomore slump with …to North?
Karsten Larsson: Yeah, Fi’mbulvintr was for sure well received which of course was a very appreciated welcome for being our debut. So when we further on started working on the songs for ...to North we just rode that wave and let creativity flow. We never had any worries really as we never thought of it as a success or similar, we just kept on and still do. Of course there was some small 'goals' set of what we wanted to accomplish, but that is rather for keeping up. This is what we do and we’re obviously not the innovative kind. That is not the intention with King of Asgard. We’re not really breaking any boundaries; we rather protect and serve the ways of old. Clearly, judging of the response on the debut as well as the few we’ve seen on the new one, this is something that is appreciated not only by us, but by our fans and followers as well. As long as we're satisfied and feel we're doing something out of satisfaction and worth, I guess we won’t have any major worries as this is not made for success, we create out of devotion.
Blistering.com: Which album was harder to make: the debut or the new album?
Larsson: This is two different stories actually. Fi’mbulvintr was pretty much finished when we signed to Metal Blade so there was basically just a couple of songs, arrangements and finishing touches left and thus we didn’t have the time to go deeper into it but rather get the songs recorded. While as getting started with …to North it was full focus from first second. It was a natural and a new way of working for King of Asgard with complete line-up and focus. We kind of build songs on a solid ground and work from there with putting melodies, or what it takes, upon it. Building it brick-by-brick to get to the sensation we're looking for and to erect and hopefully reach the peak. This takes more care in songwriting and demands more out of us and a careful structure. We record our stuff all the time throughout writing and listen to it a lot during the process so when we finally enter the studio, there shouldn't occur any surprises, really. It is basically done and the result comes as a reward of countless hours of hard work in advance. Andy at Sonic Train studios also helps out if there is something we feel is missing so that's why we still choose to work with him. So I shouldn’t say we changed, we more or less just started.
Blistering.com: Being that some of the members already had success with Mithotyn, is it safe to say that the second time around is even better?
Larsson: That’s a totally different story if talking in terms of success. The thing with Mithotyn was really that people showed their appreciation first when the band was about to disband, which of course was a pity. The struggle Mithotyn had with the label Invasion Records was also a least, say weary story that made the bands existence far from good. The success came as Mithotyn reached the dead end which was really unpleasant actually. So make sure to support your bands and interests while they’re active and the opportunity still is present.
Now with King of Asgard, it’s really the other way around, which is great. We’re getting immediate support from label, fans and followers which is a cool thing indeed. It’s a privilege to get a reception like the one we have received both for the debut and now for …to North. We’re very grateful and glad for this of course and it shows there are people longing for this kind of music still. Guess back when Mithotyn was active, the internet and such was not very common and made realizing success etc. harder while as now you’ll get feedback in the very next second of releasing a single, album or whatever. It is, very, safe to say. This time IS better!
Blistering.com: How quickly did it take for the material to come together once Lars [Tängmark , guitars] joined?
Larsson: Lars started playing with us just as Fi’mbulvintr was released so he’s been with us throughout the whole process of creating …to North. Naturally it takes time to fully get in, but it’s really been good having him and it makes things a lot more easy thinking of creating and trying out new ideas in the rehearsal. Still, the material takes about the same time to create as we’re more accurate and precise while working in this current situation.
Blistering.com: Describe to me how beneficial it is having a second guitarist at your disposal…the sound is so much fuller now.
Larsson: It really is and it facilitates the creative process whereas we reach such goals. Getting the sound fuller was the whole thing with King of Asgard getting another guitarist. Of course, being able to perform the songs in their entirety, especially live, and be able to add loops and the like and still have left a guitar at the bottom. So it feels absolutely great. At the same time it helps considerably when writing songs and trying out new ideas when you can benefit from the possibility of having two guitars to work with.