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Crest Of Darkness's Ingar Amlien: "We all believe in something. It could be God, it could be a football team, it could be a political idea, it could be believing in “nothing", it could be everything you can imagine."

Interview with Ingar Amlien from Crest Of Darkness
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 22 January 2020, 11:14 PM

The prospect of belief, believing in something is an enigma. No matter how you put it, belief, or faith for that matter, are personal, even though some people think that it is possible to enslave in the name of an idea, or a created icon, or speaking on behalf of a supernatural power. It is undeniable that us humans make our own gods, each to his or her own, and those gods cannot be overpowered on no one. With the new release of the long running veterans Crest Of Darkness, titled "The God Of Flesh", something cold, even disturbing, but intriguing is at the threshold. Steinmetal had a talk with Ingar Amlien on what is to expect out of the music and philosophy on the new album. 

Hello Ingar, I am highly pleased to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

I've been doing very well thanks! I've been through a very busy period, I have a lot of things going on, but that’s the way I want it to be!

Crest Of Darkness, one of the early voices out of Norway, in the scene of Black and Death Metal, returns with “The God Of Flesh”, after the intriguing “Welcome The Dead”. With the album out for over a month, how have been the reactions to it, its acceptance in your local and outer fanbase? Did you have a chance to play live some of the new songs?

The response of our new album has been absolutely great! I am very happy with this new release myself, but I never take it for granted that others also think the same. Whatever, most of the reviews so far have been great! I’m of course very happy about this! We have our very own style. I find inspiration in many different musical styles, it's a lot of variations in our music. The whole album is meant to work as a “journey" when you’re listening to it from the start to the end. Many people like my way of thinking, they like my way of making music, but I can understand that some people might not understand the concept. Anyway, the "God Of Flesh" is here, and from now on its living its own life. That's the way I look at it.

Live…. so far we have played two of the songs live; "Endless Night" and "The Child with no Head". This year we'll add more songs from the album to our set-list.

When I first looked at the title, it sparkled something that a lot of people have been contemplating on, like if there is a god. Not merely on a religious basis, but also as a concept. From what I can understand, a flesh God means that we make our own gods, which some of them are human like us. Is that the direction of your perception? What is your viewpoint on the matter?

For sure I mean that we are making our own Gods, and I could say that "The God Of Flesh" is a symbol of this, but I'm also going deeper into this, and on some kind of level it lies a kind of religious belief in my way of looking at this. My standpoint is that everything in my world is based on scientific proofs, but I know very well that we, the human beings, probably understand only very small parts of the world we live in. I do believe that there is a close connection between the human mind and our bodies and the nature. "The God Of Flesh" is everywhere, both in the material world and in what some people would might call the spiritual world, nerve fibers and chemical reactions. I don’t believe in a metaphysical God, I don’t believe in an almighty God, but I do believe in energies. You could might call it the natural forces. It lies a lot of power in the human mind, and I believe you can get a lot of power from your surroundings and from the nature itself. In other words, it's some kind of logic in the hedonistic beliefs, and I guess it's right there, in the crossing between the modern world and the old hedonistic world, where you'll find my God Of Flesh.

Who are the gods of flesh in our present day? Is it the moneymakers? TV stars? Presidents? Is spirituality a mere thing down the drain?

The Gods Of Flesh could very well be the money makers, but it could also be you and me, it could be all of us. My God Of Flesh isn’t necessarily connected to evilness, greed and destruction, but it's a mighty entity we can evoke both for good and bad intentions. It can of course be discussed what we are lying into a religious belief, but I do believe that most people are religious in some kind of way. This could of course be discussed; I guess it's a matter of definition. We all believe in something. It could be God, it could be a football team, it could be a political idea, it could be believing in “nothing", it could be everything you can imagine. We are creating the world in our picture. When all comes to all we are all our own Gods! The difference is that most people are not aware of this.

I must say that I found the artwork quite interesting, of course, also well crafted. Marius Engli Andersson did a terrific work. What was the vision behind it? What does that this sacrificial ceremony symbolize?

I do believe that Anders and I are sharing a lot of the same thoughts and ideas, and that’s also the reason why he came up with this amazing artwork. Whatever, with big respect for this artist who is also a good friend of me, I don’t want to say very much about the artwork itself. Me and Marius talked about the album concept before the release, and based on this conversation Marius made this masterpiece. It fits the concept perfectly and I guess that says it all!

When it comes to its essence, it is said that “The God Of Flesh” is on a personal note. What makes this album a personal journey to you? Does it entail past experiences metaphorically transcribed into the songs?

Behind every lyric lies some personal thoughts, some deeper reflections from my side. The lyrics might seem to be quite violent and destructive, but it lies some deeper meanings behind all of them, and by understanding them many people would might look at them with other eyes. Whatever, I must be honest, I really don’t want to go very deep into explaining my own lyrics. Not because I can’t. They all have a very clear meaning from my side, or I could also call it a message, but I like it the best when the songs themselves are standing on their own with no explanations from my side.

With “The God Of Flesh”, and additional examples like it, comes also the evolution, the next stage, of Black Metal coming from Norway. In comparison to your past, there is a vast change in the musical perspective, gazing towards directions that even eventually cross paths with Traditional Heavy Metal, and I might even indulge a little bit of Punk. How do you capture this evolution in your music and how do you think it bore fruit on “The God Of Flesh”?

Through the years I've become more open minded than ever before. In my world there are no rules, and for me today that’s all what Black Metal is about! I know very well that in the early nineties it was a lot of unwritten rules about how to create and play Black Metal, but already at that time the bands were quite different from each other. It has most of all to do with attitude and the will to create evil and brutal metal music. It might sound like a cliché, but Black Metal has to come directly from your heart. It's not something you can learn, it’s something you are! It's a reason why I'm still going this after all these years. It's a lifestyle! It's my life! I don’t have to pretend to be like anything. I'm just being myself. It's as easy as that!

Talking about evolution, there is also looking sideways. Of course that most bands don’t really care what happens around them, as if they are in constant competition, yet I believe that the next question in order would be what do you think makes “The God Of Flesh” unique in this new stage of development in the market of Black Metal, sharing loads of albums coming out nowadays?

I do believe that Crest of Darkness has always been able to create something unique, something a little bit different from all other bands playing our kind of music. That doesn’t necessary mean that we've got a lot of credit for this. Some people might also disagree, but I've been in this business for more than thirty years now, and I really don’t know any band sounding very similar to us. We are finding inspiration and using elements from all kind of musical styles, and I guess that many people will find musical parts in our music they feel that they have heard before, something familiar. On the other hand, if you're listening through our albums from the start to the end you’ll find that it's a strange mixture of different moods; - aggression, hate, sadness, melancholy.

While writing the music for “The God Of Flesh”, what influenced you in particular? Were you listening to references or perhaps going back to the basics? What were you thinking while exploring your thoughts to come up with the music?

I'm listening to lot of music all the time, both my old favorites and brand new music, all styles. I do always think music, it comes up new ideas all the time. The new album is a result of this never ending process. When it comes to the lyrics I'm describing what I very often think is a wicked world. I'm describing the most destructive sides of the human race. "The Child With No Head" is probably the best example I have when it comes to this kind of song. "The Child With No Head" is an innocent child killed with cold blood in an meaningless war. The person in the song is watching this madness on the TV, and by watching this terrible scene of the dead child, this person is breaks down and forever his own life is ruined. This person’s life has no meaning any more, everything is dark, all hope is lost….

How would you describe the songwriting process of “The God Of Flesh”? Were there changes in how you work while writing the material, or recording in the studio, with this release in comparison to your previous works?

The songwriting process has been quite similar to the other releases with Crest of Darkness. I'm sitting at home with all my ideas, I'm recording ideas all the time….  Based on these ideas, I'm making new songs. Later in the process when I feel that I have something really good to work on I present the songs from my bandmates, and from there on we are working on the songs together. I'm very much open for ideas from the other guys, and without them Crest of Darkness wouldn’t be the same. I love my band!

I have to say that once I listened to the instrumental passage of “Forgotten”, I was in chills, near a total shock. The ambience, the constant woman’s crying and the haunting keyboards. That is quite disturbing and I am sure that it is what you wanted. On what is this passage all about? What made you come up with it?

Witch hunt is the keyword here. This song is dedicated to all the women (in particular) and all others who have suffered in the name of God. I guess this says it all. It lies a lot of suffering and injustice in this song. This is really a bad chapter in the history of the mankind, and it makes it even worse that religion also today destroys the life of so many people…

Certainly one of the tracks that truly left a mark in terms of music is “Blood”. At first I wanted to make sure that I was listening to the same album, needless to say band. It has a rather simple song arrangement, yet what captured me was its course and influences. It was like listening to an extreme version of Savatage meets Mercyful Fate. What is your appreciation of this tune? Is this direction also to be expected in the next Crest Of Darkness albums?

It could might come up new songs in the same direction in the future, but it feels like (also for me) that this song is something special. One of the reasons why I chose this song for the new album has to do with the fact that I feel it fits in very well together with the other songs. You know, as a part of a journey. I would definitely recommend the listeners of Crest of Darkness to listen to The God Of Flesh from the start to the end.

The studio teamup of Nils Harald Mæhlum, Rebo and Tom Kvålsvoll made its mark quite profoundly on the sound production of “The God Of Flesh”. Was this pattern according to how you envisioned it in the first place? How do you find that Norwegian signature sound in general?

I'm very happy with the result of the production and I knew from the beginning that with team around me I would be able to make my vision of the album become a reality. It must be said that I have been very much involved myself in all the steps of the production, but I do also know that without my band and all other involved the result would never be the same!

As a Norwegian myself, I very often think it’s difficult to talk about “a Norwegian signature”, but it seems like many Norwegian bands have more in common than we are aware of ourselves. And when all comes to all it's understandable. We have the same background; we have shared many of the same experiences. The Norwegian nature means a lot to us! So perhaps it's right to talk about “a Norwegian signature”?

With Crest Of Darkness being out there closer to three decades, and of course after a set of praised releases, do you think that the band has been left out, I might even say ignored, of the first league so to speak? Would you say that it is a challenge to actually make a name for your music nowadays in comparison to the past, even though there are plenty of means to do it?

It’s not easy, if possible at all, to talk about this. Very early in my career I understood that it's really no fairness in this business. I have always lived with the hope that more people should open their eyes for our band, but there are so many bands out there, and I guess it's many more thinking exactly the same thoughts as me. But I must say that we've always had some great supporters all over the world. Some of them have been there from the very first start of the band. This people mean a lot to me.

I must also say that I've always got a lot of respect and recognition for my musical work. In many ways I've had a great career. I don’t forget, and most of all I'm thankful for the life I have lived. And it's more to come!

How do you intend to support “The God Of Flesh”? Are there already plans set in motion?

Within a few days we'll release a new music video of the title song of the album. I'm doing quite a lot of interviews. We are of course planning to play more live gigs, hopefully a tour in the autumn / winter this year. Before that we'll play some selected live shows during the spring and summer. I do also have some more ideas for how to support "The God Of Flesh", but I can’t say more about that for the moment.

Ingar, I wish to thank you for this interview, you made another amazing experience within the rather vast world of Black Metal from the Norse lands. All the best. Cheers.

Thanks a lot for your support!  Crest of Darkness and myself hope to visit Italy again very soon. We'd really love to come back. Hopefully this year!



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