Gorgoroth’s Infernus and Tomas Asklund Discuss Their New Album, Lineup Changes, and Satan
In Revolver’s March/April issue, we interview Gorgoroth guitarist Infernus and drummer Tomas Asklund about the band’s new album, Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt (Regain), the band’s new lineup (to read about the band’s split with former members Gaahl and King, click here), and Satanism. For those of you who didn’t get enough (or are too cheap to buy the magazine), here’s the best of the rest of our wide-ranging chat.
REVOLVER You’ve taken a new direction toward more mid-tempo songs on this album. What led to that decision?
TOMAS ASKLUND I don’t think we planned too much. We came up with riffs and started jamming, and I put my kind of drumming to it. It was a natural development.
INFERNUS I wrote the material and introduced it to him. And we arranged and rearranged and rearranged again until we were happy.
Did you write the lyrics as well? Or did Pest, the vocalist from an earlier Gorgoroth lineup who returned?
INFERNUS No. Two friends of mine have been contributing the lyrics this time. They are not musicians. They are committed Satanists and friends.
Whose names you don’t want to say, right?
INFERNUS The album will have its credits.
You’ve told me before that the mission of Gorgoroth is to “spread the word of Satan.” What guidance did you give your friends to write the lyrics?
INFERNUS We are very close. They are brothers in spirit. We socialize every day and we’ve been doing so for many years, so I don’t need to guide them.
When you wrote this album, after everything that happened with Gaahl and King. Did you feel you had something to prove?
INFERNUS No. It’s the duty of whoever the responsible person writing and performing music is to do his best. If not, he has the responsibility of removing himself from the market. So every day should be a test. I didn’t feel more pressure than before. That’s the wrong angle to have on it. But we have been working as hard as we could up until now. And we have an album which we can stand behind, which we’re happy with.
How did you two first meet?
INFERNUS The first time was in 1999, briefly, when we were in Stockholm to record the Incipit Satan album, and we stayed in touch after that.
I guess that’s all you need. Talking about the history of Gorgoroth, why did Pest originally leave the band?
INFERNUS It was for practical reasons. The old cliché of a story, but he met a girl and to make it very short, he had to leave for the U.S.A. And he’s been living there now for 10 years. When we needed a new vocalist [this time], we couldn’t just pick whoever. And we wanted someone who could just come in and deliver. He didn’t even take his time thinking about it. And he’s back. But, of course, probably your next question would be an issue of logistics. We now have to plan our everyday life a bit more than before. We don’t meet to have a beer or phone up every second day to talk about personal issues. But we do have to plan when to be where, and to be a bit more practical thinking, in terms of when to rehearse or something. Then again, it’s a modern world.
Does that sense of responsibility detract from the times that you do just kick back beers?
INFERNUS I wouldn’t say so. Personally, and I know [to Asklund] for your concern as well, we don’t really miss all those social events.
ASKLUND No. I’m a serious misanthrope. I want to work when we get together anyway. To not waste any time. I never hang out in bars. I hardly ever drink at all. I’m just not that kind of social guy.
INFERNUS Of course, we talk a lot when we’re working in the studio. We joke around of course. Speculate.
Any jokes stand out from recording this album?
ASKLUND It was a good time. But there are some things to be kept within the studio and some things to be presented outside.
We were just talking about Pest coming back into the band. How about Tormentor?
INFERNUS Basically he’s been one of my best friends since forever. I could probably show you stains of paint if I undressed; I even spent the last days helping him paint his house. Yeah! We hang together every day. We are close in spirit. We needed his presence, so we just asked him, and he was astonished and he said yes, because the reason he quit in the first place back in 2002— namely King ov Hell—was not in the band anymore.
Talking about the album, what do you mean by the word in the song title, “Aneuthanasia”?
INFERNUS It means the opposite of euthanasia. It means to remove life from someone not by compassion.
ASKLUND But because it needs to be done.
Wouldn’t that just be murder, though?
ASKLUND It depends on how you see it, really.
Obviously I’m going off the title, but is the song “Building a Man” related to “Carving a Giant” on your last album?
This is the first record where you can really hear the vocals a little bit more. On your last few records, the vocals were pushed to the back, I felt. But on this album, Pest’s voice is much more piercing. Is that deliberate?
ASKLUND That’s just Pest’s approach.
INFERNUS Yeah, yeah. For sure he is, too. He’s distinct and intense.
ASKLUND He’s nice to work with and very deliberate. It’s just the right pitch and the right approach.
I feel like you took the album a little slower, tempo-wise, except for “New Breed” and the first song. Is there a reason?
INFERNUS I would say there is no reason behind it, except for the simple fact that each piece of music demands being performed at its own optimal tempo, the tempo which suits that particular piece best. So we must do our best to do justice to this isolated piece of music.
ASKLUND We’re just trying to choose the best tempo for any given part of the song. We’re not trying to break any speed limits.
INFERNUS We don’t have to prove how fast we are. We are too old to feel we have to prove anything tempo-wise. All we care about is creating good music. It just came naturally. There’s a variety of music on this album, also in terms of tempo.
ASKLUND It’s so boring when every song is pretty much the same. There’s not much true dynamics in metal music, so you need to use the dynamics with tempos and such, and maybe different moods, so there’s some movement.
INFERNUS It’s the best key to make a non-classic, to be doing blast beats through the whole album, then you create something boring.
Interview by Kory Grow // Photo by Christian Misje