In the past week or so, I've made contact with Lord Theynian of Dødkvlt, one of Finland's most unique sounding artists right now. Though he made the innitial ok for the interview, I found him to be a very focused person and also very personable. Here are the results from my interview with him.
Ian: How did Dødkvlt originally form?
Lord Theynian: I created Dødkvlt as my other band was withering to it's slow but sure demise.
I had been giving my all to my previous project for almost five years, but it didn't seem to progress anywhere mostly because of the progressive and hard-to-approach type of nature of the music.
Dødkvlt was a breath of fresh air to me, because it gave me the freedom to do something more simple, spontaneous and perhaps more primitive in contrast to my previous bands technicality.
"Inn i virvelen..." was the first song that I created and from the positive feedback I recieved, I decided to make more, which ended up to be Dødkvlt's debut album "I".
What you hear on the album are the absolute first recordings of Dødkvlt in the order which they were created. It's interesting, because you can hear the evolution of the concept as the album progresses.
Ian: From what I already know about Dødkvlt, you're a solo project, was it always your intention to have Dødkvlt be a solo project?
Lord Theynian: I have always been creating music by myself. In my previous project it was the same. I created the songs, that others played. The difference is, that in Dødkvlt there is no one to complain about the directions the songs are progressing, which is healhier for my creativity.
Others opinions killed my inspiration far too often, that's why I prefer working alone. I have too many bad experiences of others opinions suffocating my fire when it comes to composing songs. One vision, one clear path, one stream of inspiration flowing and letting the song build on it's own terms. No compromise.
Ian: When I first found Dødkvlt, you were described as a depressive/experimental black metal project. How would you describe Dodkvlt's sound?
Lord Theynian: I don't see the first album as experimental in the common sense. I have seen many reviews where the writers complained about the misleading tag of "experimental black metal" when they thought that the experimentation was nowhere to be found.
I appreciate the fact that you were one of the few that found that side beneath the melodic black metal surface of "I".
Black metal is too small box for me to stay in fully. Too many rules of what you can and can't do to stay "true". To me "staying true" is about doing what you feel is natural. You can't force anything and claim that you are true to yourself and the music you make. The music I create is still black metal to me, no matter what the "rulebook" says, for it has that dark prime force behind it.
I have always been a fan of pushing the boundaries. It's an interesting struggle to try to keep one foot inside of that black metal box while the other is reaching various of other genres. I use the genre definition of Experimental Black Metal, because it gives me that freedom to reach beyond the walls of black metal.
The fact that my music has been described as depressive and sometimes even suicidal is a bit misleading.
The lyrics may have themes of death but not certainly about suicide. I understand that when you don't have the lyrics before you, it's easy to make wrong assumptions, like in The Rain "...suicide NO solution...". That song and it's prelude (Mitt Epitaf) is about death and the overall meaninglessness of one human life in the bigger picture and the lost struggle to substance abuse.
You can't be preaching of Satan and be self-destructive at the same time. You should all know where I stand. Satan needs no weak sheep.
Ian: Your debut featured a lot of different sounds on it, within the opening track, Inn I Virvelen Av Brennende Sjaktene Av Skjaersilden, you make use of a 70's organ, honky-tonky piano, and more Dimmu Borgir-esque symphonic stuff. Was it your intention to create such a diverse album?
Lord Theynian: When I was making the album, I had the feeling that I was making something traditional, at least that was my original intention. I wasn't even trying to be experimental to begin with.
I guess it all just came naturally, because I have a twisted way of thinking when composing music that has been developed thanks to all the progressive and diverse music I have been making and listening for years.
The debut album was created in a really short period (composed and recorded at the same time) of two weeks or so. It all just poured spontaneously out of me.
Ian: Who would you cite as some of your biggest musical influences, as there's a lot of different sounds going on throughout the album?
Lord Theynian: This is always a difficult question since there is tons of influences from here and there.
I listen to so much music in a daily basis and I'm always seeking for new music to absorb.It is almost impossible to pinpoint one or two or even ten musicians/bands that have influenced my music so strongly that they are worth to mention, cause it really is just a mixture of small portions of everything i enjoy to listen mixed into it's own unique blend.
I mostly listen to Black Metal, I rarely listen to other types of metal anymore, but I have a stong backround in listening to progressive rock/metal and that is propably where my love for experimentation comes from.
Ian: Do you get any influence from film composers, there are several points during the debut where songs become very cinematic sounding?
Lord Theynian: Maybe subconsciously, because you can't really escape that type of music. It's everywhere. I have a lot of melodies going through my mind as I have the skeleton of the song done (guitar, bass & drums) and even when I listen to music made by others.
On the first album I gave myself the freedom to make it as big as I wanted. On my later works, I have toned the orchestrations down. I want to create contrast with fewer instruments, because I find it more powerful than to go all out and bombard the listener. The debut possibly has a bit too much of the symphonic elements trying to fill every part. On some parts it works, but it eats away the contrast which is crucial in heavier music.
I have had a dream to make purely cinematic music one day with an orchestra, because I find it really challenging and rewarding to have so much going on and still keep it together and flowing, but that dream is still lightyears away obviously due to the fact that it's so damn expensive (even proper orchestration software costs a fortune).
Ian: One track that stuck out on your debut for me was Uhellig Haer Stiger. That song to me really had a symphonic black metal sound to it, but the strings that are used during the chorus actually made me think of a ballad. What were you aiming for with this track in particular? How do you view that track?
Lord Theynian: Uhellig Hær Stiger is one of my personal favourites on the debut. I must admit that I really enjoy cathcy choruses, I love good hooks. This song is an interesting marriage of technical melodic black metal madness and that catchiness of the chorus.
I didn't really see it as a ballady type of chorus, but now that you mention it, I see what you mean. The strings are just another example of my head naturally composing melodies on top of the spines of the songs.
I orginally feared that the chorus was too out of place on the album, but in the end it fit really well. The guitar melody/solo you hear on the last chorus before the outro was originally intended to be on every chorus as a lead, but I replaced it with the piano and strings to create variation.
Ian: From what I've listened to of your second album, it seems like your expanding your sound even further, I hear a lot more of a thrash metal influence on it as well as a bit of power metal. How would you say the new album, "II", differs from your debut?
Lord Theynian: The second album is definitely more diverse and original than the debut. As I mentioned before, the debut was intended to be traditional, but evolved into something else. The second album is taking that evolution even further, expanding inside of black metal into it's various sub-genres and outside of it into something that can be described as my own, fused from all of my influences.
To put the evolution simply:
If the first album was peeking outside of the box, the second one is one foot out of the box and the third album (that i have already started creating) is knocking down the walls of the box.
There has been various versions of "II". Many songs have come and gone because I experimented a lot with styles and some of them just didn't fit the bigger picture. These songs will be released on splits in the future (I have tons of unreleased songs worth releasing), so you will still have the chance to hear them.
Ian: Would you say your personal style leans more towards a progressive or melodic side of metal? I ask because there are songs that you've written that are fairly straightforward sounding while others will move into more experimental and left-field directions.
Lord Theynian: Progressive elements come naturally to me as I create music due to over 10 years of experience in making music and listening to a lot of progressive music as mentioned earlier.
The songs tell me when they are done and usually they just become long as I let them naturally grow without giving them too many boundaries. I always want to make every song unique and recognisable, an individual if you will. It is always an interesting challenge to make an album flow and work as a whole with such a different type of songs. To me they all still sound like Dødkvlt and that is the most important thing.
It is hard to say if my way of composing music is somehow different compared to others, but some musicians that I have worked and played with have mentioned that due to my style of playing and making music, they have learned new things about their instrument, because my style is not that traditional due to the fact that i am 100% self-taught.
I have a visual way of thinking when it comes to making guitar parts and that possibly makes me different from other players. I'm more of a composer rather than a guitarist anyway, even though it is my main instrument.
Ian: You've said that Buried Beneath The Rust will not be on the upcoming Dødkvlt record and doesn't represent a change in sound for the band, how did you come to decide that this track won't make it onto the new album? Do you have other songs that are similar to it that are/might be on the album or future albums?
Lord Theynian: Buried Beneath The Rust was one of the most difficult songs to create ever. I have never spent so much time in composing a single piece of music, even though I have a long experience of making long and progressive pieces. I have a love/hate-relationship with it due to the fact that I spent so much time molding it.
When it originally was done (there have been many versions of it as I mention on the video at youtube), I felt that it didn't fit the album at all, since I wanted to tone down the symphonic elements a lot and BBTR was really epic, massive and progressive.
The second album had few other songs like that in it's earlier incarnations, for example a song called 'Goddess', but as they were cut out, BBTR didn't fit anymore either.
The song originally was only seven minutes long, but it felt unfinished and pointless when I listened to it, so I decided to let it loose and make it as long as it needs to be. The second half of the song is what made it special and I'm really glad that I decided to continue it.
The biggest challenge in long songs is making the lyrics. I wanted to create a story that logically progresses through the whole song and that is always a difficult task for me for I have little experience in writing stories. However, BBTR was a success lyrically. I don't want to uncover too much about the lyrics, but I can tell you that it's a modernized and twisted version of Pinocchio. Listen closely and you might understand.
Lately it has grown on me again and now that the label wanted to make the first pressing of "II" a limited digipak, I intend to add it as a bonus track since it has recieved so much positive feedback from the listeners of Dødkvlt.
I am really proud of the song, because it was really hard to keep together for its whole lenght and it manages to do that flawlessly.
In the future releases (upcoming split with Goats of Doom from Finland and the third album), Dødkvlt will have much more longer songs that take more of a doom-influenced direction. BBTR is a really unique piece and I don't think that there will ever been others like it.
Ian: What do the following terms mean to you.
A strong tradition, elite, a code and sometimes limiting boundaries that have to be torn down.
Inner circle of strong individuals with a vision pushing for the same goal. To me black metal is a Cult.
Masochism, for some it is testing your strength and boundaries of pain and making yourself endure more thus making you stronger. Mostly it is weakness, as is suicide. Can't handle life? Kill yourself, we don't need you.
A dark prime force that makes me reach for the next level and making myself stronger, better & faster, a superior individual. A source of inspiration, strenght and wisdom.
Ian: Since it's the end of 2010, what were some of your favorite releases from this year?
Lord Theynian: This year has been a great year when it comes to black metal releases.
My favourite release this year was definitely Deathspell Omegas "Paracletus", they never fail to amaze me. Possibly my favourite active black metal band at the moment.
Abigor's "Time Is The Sulphur In The Veins of The Saint" was also amazing. I loved "Fractal Posession" and this new album pushed that sound even further. I also have to mention Agalloch's "Marrow of The Spirit" that came out awhile ago. Breathtaking music.
There were many more great new releases this year, but these were the ones that stood out to me.
Ian: That's all the questions I had, thanks for the interview, hopefully we can chat again once the album is released. The last words are yours.
Lord Theynian: Definetely. It was my pleasure.
The album should be out January/February 2011 through Ewiges Eis Records. There's also a possibility that a vinyl version will also be released of both, the debut and the second one, through another label. That split with Goats of Doom will also be released in the near future.
For latest news keep your eye on Dødkvlt's facebook page
"Deny false gods, join the cult!"
I'd like to thank Lord Theynian for extending his hand to me and allowing me to interview him. I found his responces to be quite informal and revealing. If you haven't checked out Dødkvlt, definitely check out their debut and look out for the upcoming one as well.