This interview comes in a bit late, being conducted back in April as Norwegian black metal band Den Saakaldte prepared for the release of their latest opus, Kapittel II: Faen i Helvete. Aside from the band’s Shining influences, along with the weird-fuckery that was on their previous release, All Hail Pessimism (which reminded me strongly of Japanese weirdos Sigh), the band goes back to their roots this time, and one can spot influences from compatriots Mayhem to the earlier works of bands like Ragnarok and Setherial on Kapittel II. Sykelig, founding member of the band enlightens us and tells us more about the creative process behind the album.
Greetings Den Saakaldte, congratulations on the recent unleashing of Kapittel II: Faen i Helvete. Before we talk about Faen i Helvete, would it be possible to give us a background of the band? The band was formed in 2006, by Sykelig. Under what conditions was the idea of Den Saakaldte conceptualised?
Sykelig: It started as a one man project as back then I thought that no one could really understand the way I was feeling either about music or about life in general. I guess as time goes by and one gets old, things and perspectives change…it felt natural to share ideas and feelings with people that I can consider as friends…so..it be came an actual band.
Den Saakaldte was always to represent the outcast. The one in life that opposes to the “normal” or generally accepted.
For those who do not speak the language, what does Den Saakaldte mean, and how does it relate to the craft of the band?
Sykelig: It is a word mindfuck really. Main meaning is the “so-called”…with the addition of “t”..one could also get the idea of the “so cold”. As said…it represents the outcast. The one that is left outside the circle by choice and the one that gets all criticism by choice and with pride.
3 years later, the band released it’s debut album in the form of All Hail Pessimism, with a full lineup. What was it that made you decide to move from a solo project to a full band?
Sykelig: Common thinking and goals with friends I was drinking with.
All Hail Pessimism was an album that nicely put together elements of the avant-garde to the rather depressive mood and atmosphere. How did the musical style on All Hail Pessimism come about?
Sykelig: I assume based on things I was feeling and listening to back then. Influences always matter. The album wasn’t made as such, in order someone to name it “avant garde”..i do not really care if people think of it as such. I find it actually funny that lately all people that review albums try to “achieve” finding if something is “avant garde” or not and separate releases as “traditional or avant-garde”… Music is music. Music is made by feelings and not based on what someone else expects. Listen to the god damn music and write down how you feel and not how you would expect it to sound like.
After the release of All Hail Pessimism, it took 4 years for fans of the band to finally hear new material from the band. What was the reason behind this 4 year studio silence from the band?
Sykelig: Personal issues and matters and also the fact that we did not want to make an album just and because a contract was forcing us to. Agonia showed great respect waiting for us to feel “ok” doing the new album. We appreciated that a lot.
Since 2009, the band has seen quite a shift in the lineup, resulting in half the lineup that is present in 2014 being different from the time of All Hail Pessimism. How did the current lineup come about?
Sykelig: Den Saakaldte has always been a band were people that felt for the cause would be a part of. If someone would think that the cause is not there anymore then, there would be no point this person be in Den Saakaldte, right? There is no bad blood with any of the previous members. Life goes on for all of us. The new members joined Den Saakaldte over a beer and after years of friendship…just as almost everyone had joined the band before really.
The first new material this year surfaced as the split with Horna. How did this decision and collaboration come about?
Sykelig: Me and the Horna guys are close friends and we share mutual respect and wanted for once to do something together. That is all really. We are way satisfied with how everything came out. Blut & Eisen Productions did a terrific work for this EP release.
In May, the band will release the sophomore full length effort in the form of Kapittel II: Faen i Helvete. The first thing that caught my attention was how on this release, the band goes back to the roots of black metal, at the same time shedding that avant-garde elements (such as the usage of saxophones) in the music as well. What was it that caused the band to do so?
Sykelig: Emotions. This album contains all the rough emotions we have been having in us for 5 years now. There was lots of hatred and pain and that reflects to the song writing. As said…we will never make music on demand. We will make music based on how WE feel and not what others expect. And in fact…what’s better that opposing to all the other bands that try being avant-garde by playing good old traditional Black metal?
At the same time, the experience has not reduced in intensity, with the music on Faen i Helvete sounding like classic Norwegian black metal. Compared to All Hail Pessimism, what was the songwriting process like on Faen i Helvete?
Sykelig: I would say that “Kapittel II: Faen I Helvete” has 10 times the intensity “All Hail Pessimism” had. It is a darker, more hateful and more punching album. Production wise, the new album is more dynamic and dirty. The way it should be. Songwriting wise, the main difference is that while “All Hail Pessimism” was mainly my work, the new album is a fine mixture of me and Tjalve. Horizons have more width now both lyrically and musically.
The album title, Kapittel II: Fael i Helvete translates as “Chapter 2: Fuck in Hell”, and along with the music portrays the band’s negativity towards all things in life. Where do you conjure up so much negativity when writing the music and lyrics for Faen i Helvete?
Sykelig: That is the whole point…Den Saakaldte was NEVER this suicidal band many would like to portrait. The lyrics are about negative elements in life allright, but never in a nihilistic way…there has always been an uprising message somewhere in the text. Where do we get the negativity..!? Look around you. Our world is shit. We fall apart and we hide behind our finger pretending that we are hiding from it.
Are there any specific concepts or running themes behind Faen i Helvete, and would it be possible to enlighten us and our readers? Apart from the sarcastic take on humanity (Forbanna idioter) and anti-religion (Djevelens verk), what are some of the other themes on the album?
Sykelig: Individualism and self acknowledgement through a dark, due to our life, prism; is the main concept of our lyrics. Sarcasm has always being a part of Den Saakaldte. Either by using metaphors in our text or addressing it directly like with Forbanna Idioter. Many people think for example that some backprints on t-shirts of ours are not “serious enough” for a black metal band…well…for the dumbasses they are, those cannot really get the right meaning i would say. There are “things” behind the words..meanings. And those “meanings” are WAY more serious than having “Satan kill 666”…
Like on All Hail Pessimism, Faen i Helvete was written in the band’s native Norwegian language. What was it that made the band decide to do so?
Sykelig: We like the language.
In June, the band will release another split with Varathron. With so much activity for Den Saakaldte this year, what else does the band have in place for fans for the rest of the year?
Sykelig: I guess with 5 years of silence we have had, things owe to be a bit more active now. Some more release announcements maybe and some festival announcements will eventually come out within the year, so….keep an eye.
We have come to the end of the interview. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! All Hail Pessimism!
Sykelig: Thank you for your interest towards Den Saakaldte. Ugh!
Read Heavy Metal Tribune’s review of Den Saakaldte‘s Kapittel II over here.