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Inflabitan's Sigmund Hansen: "I am amazed with the success of Norwegian Black Metal in general, and how big impact it has had on the whole Metal scene internationally."

Interview with Sigmund Hansen from Inflabitan
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 05 February 2021, 11:12 PM

Being one's own boss, the main man on the scene, deciding when is when, the master of the schedule, and of course the master of the material. A project can be put on ice and to be returned to later on, even years. Even though this one man show thingy has been around for decades, it is still amazing how much dedication and effort one has to make to produce a creation. Early 90s Black Metal veteran, Sigmund Hansen, also known by his band name, Inflabitan, returned to the scene to find out that it has gone through changes and for the better. After decades without an album, Hansen finally released a debut, "Intrinsic", via Soulseller Records. Steinmetal wanted to know more about the experience of the record, getting back, coming up with a surprising release and its musical direction.

Hello Sigmund, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Fine, thank you, and I appreciate that you are showing interest for Inflabitan’s new album “Intrinsic”.

Things have been rather shaky, in particular with the current news of mutations of the virus going on worldwide, as if every week they find a new variant, this is crazy I’d tell you. How have you been coping with this situation on your end? Were you isolated on some point throughout this pandemic?

We are experiencing strange times, for sure. There have recently been discovered some cases with the British mutant in the eastern part of Norway where I live, so for the last one and a half week we have had a lockdown. Just a few shops have been open, so we could buy food and the most important stuff. Sometimes it feels like living in a ghost town, but I am not suffering. I have still not been sick, so I cannot complain. I feel sorry for all those who have suffered because of the virus, either being sick, or have had to undergo restrictions and a limited way of living. I feel lucky as it has not affected me much. Hopefully the global situation will get much better very soon as the vaccines are being made.

I believe that perhaps one of the few answers to how to sustain this period of time, currently with an ending unknown, is focusing on your main thing and I noticed that you re-emerged with your old project / band, Inflabitan. Just to be clear on that, is Inflabitan considered a band or a sort of a project that you come back to every now and then?

Inflabitan started as a one-man band back in the early nineties, and even though it has been a very long break, I will still consider it as a band. I am very pleased to finally release a full album of Metal, thanks to Soulseller Records. Hopefully you will hear more from Inflabitan in the coming years.

It is safe to say that you were there, back in the early days of the Norwegian Black Metal scene, which became a totem of the second wave of blackened Metal, you rode the wave back then with two demos of Inflabitan, also became a member of a local band, Strid. Looking at the scene in the last decade, what is your take on it? Do you like what you hear and see?

I am amazed with the success of Norwegian Black Metal in general, and how big impact it has had on the whole Metal scene internationally. A genre that was supposed to stay underground has gone through a ground-breaking development. Some of the bands that started as amateur youth rebels came out of the cellar and have now entered the stage on some of the biggest festivals. That is awesome! I think the Metal scene will always be interesting, because it shows a great variety. Some bands are preserving old sounds, some are being technical, some are adding new elements to the music and some are moving on to new subgenres like avant-garde, for example. There are so many great bands to explore all around the world today.

In a way, as it appears, Inflabitan was never shut down, perhaps on a hiatus all these years until recently, what led you to lose focus over it in the last two plus decades?

Despite being inactive for several years, I always had in mind that I would return someday. I just accepted that I had to prioritize other things than creating music at some stages in life. I have been busy with a lot of work and family life, but have a better structure nowadays, so I have time to also concentrate on creating music again. Now, I am just satisfied with the fact that I am still creative and got the inspiration to make something out of it.

Not long ago, you signed with Soulseller Records for the release of the Inflabitan’s debut album, “Intrinsic”, I guess that this record is the product of this pandemic, when those old, and perhaps new ideas, were forged into a single unit that it was time to release into the night’s cold air?

It is a good guess, but actually the ten new tracks were recorded in November and December 2019. Only the vocals were recorded after the virus outbreak. If it had not been for the virus, the album might have been released in 2020. We have had some delays caused by the pandemic situation. Anyway, I am very pleased with the signing with Soulseller Records, and on “Intrinsic” you can hear riffs made during the last two decades.

Though the lyrics were written by Aldrahn, you probably had a vision in your mind in regards to what “Intrinsic” is all about. What is the main concept, or leading theme, that defines this record?

I got to know Aldrahn when joining Dødheimsgard for the European tour with Dimmu Borgir, Dark Funeral and Evenfall in 1999. Aldrahn, or Totembjørn that he wants to be called now, has always been very productive when it comes to writing lyrics. In lack of having those skills myself, I am overwhelmed by his generous contribution to the “Intrinsic” album. He is a great and well known lyricist in the Black Metal scene, so I am honored to perform some of his works.

In his own words, the lyrics are interpretations of the inner universe. Not meaning his inner universe, but the universe surrounding us. For me it is important that the lyrics are open for interpretations, because that is what makes art interesting. In that way, the listeners can make their own journeys through the record.

What is the prime aspect of the philosophy of “Intrinsic” that you capture on a personal level?

The meaning within the word/title “Intrinsic” describes the value the record has to me regarding calling this an unexpected comeback. It is a new beginning and I had a great number of riffs piled up, so it would have been a pity if I had not made anything out of them.

The album’s cover art is rather simple, it is Grey just like the overall spirit of the record, rather cold, even with the swinging melodies. Why this particular mountain top, simply because of the view or it actually symbolizes something?

All graphic design is made by Pia Isaksen, and I am very satisfied with her work. She chose a dramatic landscape due to the intensity of the music. The pictures are cut, to illustrate that things are not always what they seem to be. This is associated with the lyrics, that are interpretations of the inner universe and the world around us. It is made like this to give a hint that things can be seen in different ways.

Honestly, I thought that I was going to land over an old Norwegian Black Metal kind of recording, and here I was listening to a melodic piece, with interesting riffs, of other Metal subgenres, and a measure of intriguing song structures. Throughout the years, even if you haven’t always been making music, how would you say that you have been developed as a songwriter?

The main intention for the new album “Intrinsic”, was to make it sound intense. I want to attack the listeners with aggressive riffs. There are not many repetitive sections in each track. This is on purpose, because I want the listeners to get the feeling that new things happen all the time through the whole record, giving the listeners no rest. Instead of having many repetitive parts, it is better to play the whole album again. The change from the old stuff is intentionally, because I see no reason to recreate what I have done before. Someone says that music are feelings, or expressions of feelings. If so, I was in a different mood during Inflabitan’s first chapter, then I am now. Besides that, I also need to see some development, or it will get boring. The present musical expression is basically a mix between Black, Death and Thrash Metal. I guess I missed playing the attacking Thrash Metal riffs, but at the same time wanted to keep the dark voice of Death Metal and the atmospheric melodies of Black Metal. I think these genres complements each other in an energetic way on “Intrinsic”.

I think that one of the challenges is to create that fine integration between the lyrics and music, since the lyrics weren’t yours, how would you say that you were able to find that cohesion?

Totembjørn has a lot to convey, so the lyrics fills up every tune completely. I see a lot of frustrations in the lyrics that suits the aggressiveness in the music. Or opposite, the aggressiveness in the music fits the frustrations in the lyrics, if you like. Due to that it felt easy to put in the lyrics were it naturally belongs.

What kind of influences were your guiding lights while creating the foundation of “Intrinsic”? I presume that it was a dangerous meeting of old and new under the same platter?

It is not easy to say, because a lot of things are going on in our subconscious minds. The following bands might have had some shades of influence in the shaping of the forthcoming album: Iron Maiden, Slayer, Death, Pestilence, Deicide, Carcass, Old Man’s Child and Revocation. I also have to admit, that being with Dødheimsgard, even it was for a short period, had some impact too.

How did it feel to be that multi-instrumentalist once again while making the record?

No one to argue with, so it went smoothly being my own boss. It is a good feeling of having control when you perform several tasks by yourself. I have to mention that I had great support from the producer, Christer Krogh, at Velvet Recording.

Beaten To Death’s Anti-Christian recorded the drums on “Intrinsic”, how did you feel that his abilities and approach to the music contributed to the overall outcome of the record?

About Anti-Christian, it was the producer, Christer Krogh, at Velvet Recording that helped me get in touch with him. Anti-Christian had been in that studio before, so Christer knew that he could deliver what I was looking for. Luckily Anti-Christian willingly and eagerly lined up his kit in the studio and recorded the drums in just two days. He said that the sessions were exhausting, because the music is much more progressive than he expected, so we joked about it and associated it with being in a tumble dryer for 35 minutes. I am very pleased with the skills he shows on all the ten tracks. His superb drumming has helped binding the tunes together. Anti-Christian immediately understood how I wanted the drums, and he executed his tasks perfectly.

One of the album’s interesting tunes musically is “Divine Prostitution”, its melodies I believe make quite an impact on the song as if taking the lead role from the vocals to a certain extent. What is your take on this particular tune?

The second riff is actually one of the oldest on the entire album. I think it was created around 1999. It is very melodic and the rest of the riffs are either varieties or similarities to substantiate the melody. The producer was kidding with me saying this is the album’s radio hit. I think this might be the closest I ever get to create a ballad. Anyhow I feel that the raw vocals and the fast middle part crushes that term, but at the same time shows the album’s vast variation of themes.

A kind of blackened Thrash Metal input can be found on the slaying “The Evil Mainframe”, a track that felt somewhat loose, taking it back to tradition but with a twist. What can you tell in regards to this song’s creation?

In my opinion this track is the one that is most different from the others on the album. I agree with your description. The first riff is very nice to play, as it slides and thrashes into groovy rhythms, that after a while transforms into rhythmic variations with an almost rock and roll-like catchy beat before it blasts away at the end. This track is about twenty years old.

I know that it may cause a headache, yet it would be great to know which track of the record do you find as a chief influence, a kind of motivational segment of music that makes you want to continue forward?

I can find segments in every track, but if I can pick only one, it will be “Children Of The Damned”. This track contains several elements I feel I can develop and bring on to the next level. I hope to release at least one more album in a couple of years. I am already working on new material, but do not have enough for a whole new album yet. I am not rushing this, because the inspiration must come naturally.

Looking forward, past the pandemic, will there be a full Inflabitan band on the horizon?

As you insinuate, it is more difficult than ever to predict what the future brings. Right now it is not easy to find motivation for planning gigs that might get cancelled, so I cannot give you an answer that is “yes” or “no”. I have to admit that it sounds a bit interesting, but if it eventually will happen, Inflabitan needs guest musicians to play live. I know Anti-Christian is in, because he wants to play as much as possible, but additionally we need a guitarist, a bass player and a vocalist. We just have to see what happens.

Sigmund, I wish to thank you for the time and effort on this interview, I think it was time to listen to something from Inflabitan and that day came. Great record. Cheers mate.

It has been a pleasure and thank you very much for showing interest for Inflabitan and “Intrinsic”. Cheers!


 



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