Dark Funeral need no introduction, veterans of the second wave of Swedish Black Metal summarises them at the very best. Despite the comings and goings of many musicians through the grand halls of Dark Funeral, only one sole member from the start remains - Lord Ahriman. Taking a place in this majestic and grandeur embodiment of extreme metal is vocalist Heljarmadr, we spoke with the band's 4th vocalist at Bloodstock Open Air.
"Back in the day when you got hold of an album above the Arctic Circle, even if it's not the best one you would listen to it until you liked it!"
Your new album "We Are The Apocalypse" came out this year, what was done differently with this one compared to your previous releases?
"We had the same procedure for composing it, the main difference was COVID, because we were not interrupted by shows in between and so this meant we could focus entirely on the new album for once. I think that maybe allowed the album to take another leap, a progression from the previous but I also feel it's a natural progression from our last album."
You mentioned COVID which of course affected the entire world, let alone the music industry, ironically it gave you more time to focus on the new album like you said.
"Yeah! What else could we do? All of the festivals and concerts were cancelled – actually at the time we weren't touring that much, we was already planning to start the new album. So for that year we only had a few club and festival shows booked, anyway it gave us a window to work in peace and calm, because we could work until we were done. There was no rush."
Once the COVID lockdown had ended, how did the Swedish metal scene react?
"Well it was a bit weird in the beginning because concerts started happening again, but people were reluctant to buy tickets in case they turned into vouchers (for rescheduled shows), so it was a slow start I think. Now it's starting to wake up and I think this year, summer festivals, people are starting to go and understand that you're not going to die by having fun again, I hope this year will bring the live scene back."
With that thought in mind, it must be a huge honour for you to play Bloodstock this year?
"Yeah! I mean it's super cool to be out again, playing everywhere in front of thousands and thousands of people, it just proves we can get past this kind of s**t."
Looking forward to your tours for the rest of 2022 and into 2023, what countries will you be visiting and who are the support?
"Festivals are ending now, we have a show in Israel coming up which was postponed for a couple of years (they have since played early Sept), we have an autumn festival in Switzerland but after that a US / Canada tour with Cannibal Corpse. In September we have a festival in Mexico (since played), next year is going to be crazy but right now I don't have any information to provide – but there are a lot of things in the pipeline so keep checking our website and social media."
How did you personally get into metal music?
"I come from the very north of Sweden, right above the Arctic Circle, so it was not so easy to get hold of albums – it was through tape trading that I got into metal music, I traded with a cousin who is a few years older and through that I started off with Swedish death metal – bands like Entombed and Dismember, then I turned over to the Norwegian black metal scene, so yeah I've been around since the early-ish 90's listening to this music. When someone in the town had a new album out, everyone had heard it.
The kids today don't know how good they have it (with YouTube being accessible per se), they have it too good! Back in the day when you got hold of an album above the Arctic Circle, even if it's not the best one you would listen to it until you liked it! You'd give it more chances, nowadays if it does not grab your attention in two seconds it's gone. It took weeks to get something, you'd pay money to someone using a bank account and then hoped for the best hahaha sometimes you got ripped off, other times you got the stuff, sometimes you get something completely different to what you ordered because they were out of stock and so they would send something else because they could not get hold of what you ordered."
Suffice to say things have gotten better logistically speaking, but with regards to older mediums, how do you feel about vinyl's resurgence?
"I love vinyl, I think it's the ultimate medium when buying an album, I do listen to streaming services and CD's when in the car, but there is something special about putting on the vinyl and right now the vinyl pressing plants are so full up, all albums are being delayed because of this so it's kind of cool that it's become so big."
What did your parents think about you getting into and playing black metal music?
"I remember my dad in the mid 90's coming into my room and he was like 'oh this is the f**king noise', I think I was listening to Darkthrone (Transylvanian Hunger) quite loud on my CD player and he thought it was a tap running somewhere in the house and so he was looking for water damage. So no I wouldn't say he was too supportive back then, but now that generation sees that we're travelling the world and so they have to respect what it is, even if they don't particularly like the music they have to respect it, you cannot like everything."
Bloodstock cherishes and gives opportunities for unsigned and upcoming bands, what advice would you give them across all factions?
"Well I'm not sure because I also play in an underground band so playing shows and driving around in a mini van, I love that part of the scene too, if you love what you do keep doing it, if you don't like it, don't do it. That's the sole bit of advice I can offer, otherwise keep practising your instrument , the time will come when you have to play a show and haven't slept in two days, you have to play your songs so are you really sure?"
Swedish black metal cemented itself in the 80's and 90's, so what is the current scene like?
"I think there are lots of bands out there playing, this genre fixation has also been loosening up a bit, there's a lot of crossover genres going on and I think it's cool that every generation finds it's own path around it, because in some ways black metal has become adulterated rock."
Going forward and aside from the tours, what other plans does Dark Funeral have?
"I think the rest of this year and next year will be mainly touring, and then maybe we will start thinking about future music, but now we just want to celebrate the new album."
How would you summarise Bloodstock in 3 words?
"It's my first time here so I'm just embracing my first impressions here. But right now it's 'Warm As F*ck*'."