||ZORN TALKS ABOUT HIS LOVE OF CONCEPT ALBUMS AND THE IDEAS AND INSPIRATION BEHIND ZORNHEYM'S GROUNDBREAKING DEBUT
You probably know Zorn for his work with Sweden's Black Metal giants Dark Funeral, but his work goes beyond that with involvements spanning a whole range of Extreme Metal genres over the last decade and a half with Death/Black Metal/Crust/Grindcore outfit Aktiv Dӧdshjälp, Black/Death/Thrash band Devian and Melodeath band Suicidal Seduction.
MetalTalk managed to track him down to discuss his latest, and in our opinion his best undertaking, the hugely exciting Symphonic Black Metal concept band Zornheym.
Zorn, thank you for taking the time to chat to MetalTalk about your new project Zornheym. Your past work with Aktiv Dӧdshjälp, Devian, Suicidal Seduction and Dark Funeral has given you a solid grounding in the music industry. What aspects have you learnt, good or bad, that have helped to shape your new project Zernheym?
"I always think you can learn from every situation. It doesn't matter if it's good or bad. In fact, some of the best lessons are from bad experiences. The first tour I did with Devian, back in 2008, really taught me how to act on stage and really give the audience a killer show! Our singer, Erik Legion (ex-Marduk, ex-Devian & ex-Witchery), was a great inspiration; he is really one of a kind as a front man.
"I took on the latest full length Aktiv Dödshjälp album to record, write and produce by myself and that was a great time for me to evolve as a songwriter and producer. When I started writing this album, I had the sound ready so I could start presenting it to the other members and I feel this was very important. From the very beginning, everyone had something to get them as excited as I am about the music which has been evident in the motivation and drive we've put behind making this one hell of a debut album!!!"
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The whole Zornheym concept encompasses every aspect of the band, not just as a conceptual album but becoming part of the huge idea of an audio visual project. What inspired you to embark on such an ambitious undertaking?
"I have always loved concept albums. Ever since I got my hands on King Diamond's 'Voodoo' back when I was in my early teens, I've had this urge to make concept albums myself. Later, when I heard Blind Guardian's 'Nightfall In Middle-Earth' I was blown away by the album's structure and how they tied it together with interludes between the songs. TV shows have also been a huge inspiration for the general concept of character building and the multiple layers involved in telling a good story."
It's a pretty exciting new chapter for Symphonic Black Metal; do you think it will shake up the genre and inspire others to push their boundaries further, maybe encourage them to also think outside of the box, so to speak?
"Oh, I don't know haha! Guess that would be cool. I have had some of the ideas since I was in my mid 20s. I'd been throwing them around since then and some time ago I felt it was time to make them a reality. My best fuel is when people tell me I can't do it, so I have to figure out a way to do it. Especially in today's music scene as a new band you need to be very creative. We really try and really want to make it obvious that we're offering more than 'only' a couple of great songs on a plastic disc or download. If you want more, there are so many more layers to explore!"
What inspired the original storyline and idea for Zornheym?
"The idea of making something about an asylum has been lurking in my mind since my mid 20s. I started with composing the music and when I had the music to three songs I started to think about how I would tell the story. I figured it would be more interesting to make it like a collection of stories that occur in the same environment/setting. So it felt natural to base every song on one of the inmates, almost to let the song represent the cell and the feeling you would get to enter the cell and meet the person.
"So 'Where Hatred Dwells And Darkness Reigns' will be an introduction of Zornheym. We already have several ideas for at least another four to six albums. Inspiration is taken from myths, urban legends, tons of documentaries of criminally insane people but also from people that I have meet in life."
You have a very experienced line-up of well respected musicians working with you in Zornheym. How easy was it to get them onboard with such an ambitious project?
"Something I have experienced in the past when you start up something new is getting people to understand what exactly it is you envisage your sound to be. So instead of trying to explain the sound in words I simply started writing this album without any other members. Angst was the first one on board. We are from the same area in Sweden but now both are re-located in Stockholm and we've been waiting to do something together for years. I always knew he is an ace drummer (as is massively evident on his drumming on Diabolical's new release, 'Umbra') so it felt natural to call him and he accepted as soon as he heard the ideas.
"Scucca was someone I'd met through some mutual friends shortly after he moved over here from Ireland a few years ago. I first really got to know him when he set up my guitar and fit it with my Deathbuckers from Lace pickups. After installing them, he started showing me some interesting computer programs that he had for orchestral samples and soon he was helping me with recording some crazy percussion. After one killer take he said 'Man, this is just the kind of music I wanna play...'
"Since everything between us had been working out so far it seemed like a good match because apart from him being a good guitar player, he also has a ton of education in music at college level and in all sorts of music technologies which opened up a load of possibilities. So we have a great time shooting arrangement and orchestration ideas back and forth. He was an excellent fit.
"Last to join the party, Bendler. We actually grew up in the same town, but back then he was a guitar player. I remember I saw a clip with him in 2009 or something filling in for Roberth in Scar Symmetry on a show in Sweden. Saved it in my memory bank. When I started thinking about looking for a singer, I checked out some of his more recent stuff and I was totally blown away by the versatility and power in his vocals; he was just the perfect fit for Zornheym. He has a really dark growl voice, the higher screams rip through your soul, and his clean vocals are just amazing!"
Given that there will be a cinematic narrative, this will presumably also be a live undertaking. How do you envisage Zornheym coming together as a live event and what can fans look forward to?
"We have some really cool ideas for live shows! Since we have made the record epic we have to bring that grandiose feeling to the live shows too. Some promoters have actually already approached us, even though we just have one single out, so live shows will happen. Since we have such a visually strong concept then stage props are of great importance so we're working together with a small army of dedicated and motivated professionals ranging from blacksmiths (Mikael Hrafn Karlsson - smyckessmedjan on Facebook) to makeup artists (Ingela Larsson - ingelaviolamakeup on Instagram) and illustrators (Anu Bring - artbybring on Facebook) to name but a few! Be sure to check out their own work and give them some love."
Thank you again for taking time out to chat to MetalTalk. Any final words?
"First, thanks for setting up this interview and thanks to everyone that has sacrificed their time to reach this final paragraph! I hope it has been worth it! I also wanna send a big portion of thanks and respect to everyone that has been helping Zornheym with spreading the word. We are incredibly overwhelmed by the massive response we have gotten with 'The Opposed' single so far, so keep on showing us your support because we truly appreciate it.
"More songs to be released soon amongst other exciting announcements so stay tuned!"
'Where Hatred Dwells And Darkness Reigns' will be available on November 4th on Non Servam Records and is reviewed here. Prepare to be blown away.