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Interview - Alexander Dan Vilhjalmsson (Carpe Noctem)

Interview with Alexander Dan Vilhjalmsson from Carpe Noctem
by Azmo Lozmodial at 23 October 2013, 11:49 AM

Metal is a global force – that much is undeniable. But for most of us, the wealth of available material is so abundant that we still continue to discover new musical fronts every day. For Metal Temple’s Azmo Lozmodial, his first encounter with Icelandic Black Metal came in the form of CARPE NOCTEM’s immense debut album, "In Terra Profugus". It’s musical depth is only matched by the wit of vocalist Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson, who spoke of how national pride can be translated into a band’s music and how Black Metal is not about conformity to “kvlt” ways – it is about being yourself.

Hi there Alexander, how have you been? Thank you for taking the time for this interview with Metal Temple. Let’s start off with CARPE NOCTEM’s debut album In Terra Profugus, what was your vision about this album and tell us if you've faced any difficulties while recording it?

In Terra Profugus is a conceptual album about descent into the void, transcendence through hardship and subsequent transformation of the self. It is a dream-like narrative, a nightmare both real and profound. With In Terra Profugus we wanted to create a concept album, a work where music, lyrics and art were all connected on one, coherent whole. We wanted to communicate something very personal and profound, which is why it took us some time to complete the album. This was something not to be rushed.

Your intelligent music is obviously influenced by the real unholy Black Metal sound of the 90s. What bands influence your music the most?

We are naturally very conscious of the Black Metal tradition, both at its conception in the 90's as well as up until today, and we clearly work within that tradition. To name a handful of bands is a bit redundant, as it does not say anything of value about how we get inspiration. We are not a single entity, we are five different individuals who each draw from different types of music, art and experiences when making Black Metal. There is no one person who makes the music, we all create it together. As a result the creation process is both very personal and at the same time collaborative.

The lyrics of the album are not written in English, and most of the Black Metal fans won't understand a word about it. What are the reasons behind this decision?

There are several reasons why we chose to keep the lyrics in Icelandic. First of all, it is my native tongue, so meanings and ideas can be communicated in a personal and direct manner, not hindered by translation into another language. Secondly, Icelandic offers a vocabulary with a very different potential compared to English. Using Icelandic we can easily create new words, use archaic ones, use poetic kenningar and reference various sources of Icelandic inspiration in a very close and direct manner, like Völuspá and old Icelandic grimoires, for example. The phonetic properties of Icelandic fit really well with the sound of Black Metal, so that is something we wanted to utilize. There is also a wealth of English Black Metal already available. That ground has been well explored, but Icelandic Black Metal is not. Non-Icelandic speakers can either find an Icelandic speaker to help them translate, or use some of the countless translation services available online today to discover the meaning of the lyrics. It won’t be complete in any sense, but it will be enough.

The dark artwork was one of the first things that caught my attention; can you describe it with your own words?

The artwork very much speaks for itself. Each work of art, from the cover to the last song, is as connected to each step of the journey as the lyrics, music, and titles of the songs. The two magical symbols hold significant meaning regarding the essence of the album as well.

What do you think about the nowadays Black Metal scene? And why do you think CARPE NOCTEM is different?

This is not really something I concern myself with. If anything, what’s wrong with the black metal scene today is the glorification of stagnancy – of remaining always true, kult and grim. Any derivations from the status quo are condemned, and that is really something despicable. Black Metal cannot be stagnant, it has to change and evolve. No chains can hold it back. It is the ultimate expression of the self, of freedom and power. To hinder yourself by trying to adhere to some unwritten code in order to impress others goes against everything Black Metal stands for. As to how we are different, and what the scene is like as a whole, then we will leave that to listeners and critics to discuss.

Most Black Metal fans are not familiar with your local extreme Metal scene; can you tell us something about it and recommend some bands?

One of the most powerful musical projects happening in Iceland right now is NYIÞ. Both their releases and live performances are immensely powerful. Other notable bands include WORMLUST, GONE POSTAL, and PLASTIC GODS.

About your future work, do you think you will follow the same dark visions of In Terra Profugus or will you create something different? And will you write the lyrics in English in the next albums?

It is way too early to give up any details on the next release, except that we are currently working on it on the conceptual stage. We have no interest in recreating the same thing over and over again. The lyrics will continue to be in Icelandic.

If you decided in one of your concerts to play cover tracks, what tracks you would choose to play?

We wouldn’t.

This year was a great year for the extreme metal industry, what are your personal favourites of 2013 so far?

Some of the releases we found interesting were GORGUTS, CULTES DES GHOULES, PORTAL, AOSOTH, WATAIN, ABYSSAL, TRIBULATION, and BOLZER. I personally was looking forward for WOLVSERPENT’s release.

Alexander thank you for your time, I wish you the best of the luck with the new album, cheers!


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