Immortal’s Abbath and Demonaz on Guitar Riffs, KISS, and Partying (Or Lack Thereof)
Norwegian black-metal legends Immortal are currently on a four-date North American tour, supporting their latest album, All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast). For this installment of Revolver’s lengthy interview with frontman Abbath and the band’s lyricist and former guitarist Demonaz—who had to stop playing due to severe tendonitis—we talked about guitar riffs, both for Immortal and Abbath’s band I, which he formed during Immortal’s hiatus. Click 1, 2, 3, and 4 to read the previous parts of the interview.
REVOLVER How did you record All Shall Fall?
ABBATH Horgh went to Abyss [Studio] to record the drums and I did the guitars and the rest here in Bergen. Then I went to [producer] Peter Tägtgren’s place and mixed it. When it came out, the final results of All Shall Fall, it was like “Wow.” At least five of these songs are great live songs.
We’re trying to stay a little fit, none of us are in our 40s but very, very close. I think Demonaz is first, he’s 39 now, and Horgh is becoming 38, and I’m 36 and Apollyon is also 36. We can’t—and we don’t want to—party like the way we did, you know. When we’re out touring we never party the night before a show. If we go to a festival I don’t drink the day before we travel or the day after, you know, and I just can’t wait to get up on that stage you know.
Demonaz, you don’t play in Immortal anymore, but you still play guitar. Did you contribute any riffs to All Shall Fall?
DEMONAZ There was this night I was sitting at my home, very late at night. I couldn’t sleep ’cause I got into this strange mood and had this vision of an opening of a song and I just call Abbath, and said, “Hey, what about this?” It became the opening of “Norden on Fire.” I didn’t even play it on guitar. He worked on it and it came out just the way I showed it to him.
What time of night did you call him?
DEMONAZ 2 o’clock or something.
Did you wake him up?
DEMONAZ He was awake, ’cause he was also in the working process that night. I think that it’s a little telepathic. I can’t explain it when I called him, he was like, “Yeah, just wait two seconds.” He found his guitar, and it just like that. We know that even if we didn’t speak… it just happens sometimes.
Abbath, what other elements inspire your riffs?
ABBATH You can also hear on, for example, [Immortal’s 1999 album] At the Heart of Winter, some of the main riffs there are inspired by AC/DC, the “Hells Bells” song. The opening riff on “Mountains of Might” is inspired by Star Trek, the song when the Bird of Prey from when the Klingons come flying in, with the disguise… And you have this riff on [the band’s 1993 release] Pure Holocaust, which is inspired by the imperial march for Darth Vader, from Star Wars.
But for example, the opening riff on the I album, “The Storm I Ride,” that’s inspired by “Ladies in Waiting” from Kiss, from the Dressed to Kill album in 1975. On the I song “Cursed We Are,” felt more that the opening is inspired by “Bark at the Moon” from Ozzy and at the same time the whole thing is inspired by “I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire)” from KISS from their 1984 album Animalize.
Why do you think the I album was a success?
ABBATH I didn’t have to prove something to nobody else but to myself with I. I just felt free to make and do an album that I felt like, at that point, without thinking Immortal and it became a very special album I think.
Interview by Kory Grow // Photos by Peter Beste