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Kjetil Ytterhus, Bjørn Nørsterud, Ronny Thorsen, André Aaslie (Profane Burial)

Interview with Kjetil Ytterhus, Bjørn Nørsterud, Ronny Thorsen, and André Aaslie from Profane Burial
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 15 March 2018, 9:57 AM

PROFANE BURIAL is a new Symphonic Black Metal Project based in Norway. Founded in 2013 by Kjetil Ytterhus and André Aaslie, the aim was to merge cold Black Metal with epic and solemn orchestrations. They recently released their debut album "The Rosewater Park Legend." Metal Temple Editor-In-Chief Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell had the pleasure of speaking with Kjetil Ytterhus, Bjørn Nørsterud, Ronny Thorsen, and André Aaslie about the band, the album, the great country of Norway, the genre of Black Metal, and much more. Here is what Dave had to say about the new album:

Overall, I found the album to be quite enjoyable. The key for me is the balance that the band used in the final mastering. Orchestration plays a fundamental role but does not take over, which is exactly what makes its use so well connected.

Greeting from Metal Temple and thank you for the opportunity to interview! “The Rosewater Park Legend” is the band’s debut album. How did you all come together and were any of the band members involved in past musical projects?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

Thank you for contacting us regarding Profane Burial. "The Rosewater Park Legend" is our debut album, and we have actually been working on this since 2013/2014. Due to some obstacles things sadly took longer time than anticipated, but finally we are very proud to release our album through Apathia Records 23. March 2018!

Profane Burial was founded in 2013 by me (Kjetil Ytterhus) and André Aaslie known from such acts as Images At Twilight, Funeral, Abyssic. It all started in 2012 for my part when I was supposed to help out with editing on Images At Twilight's mighty "Kings" record. I started to learn Cubase and orchestration, and I thought the quickest/best way to learn that was to compose something. One thing lead to another, and suddenly I had enough material to an album which André then worked further with.

In 2016 all tracks had been finished for some time as a "pre-prod", but we were lacking band members and Profane Burial was also booked for a gig! We got in touch with the highly skilled drummer; Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow (Viper Solfa, Trollfest) and he recommended Jostein Thomassen on guitar (Fracture, Viper Solfa) and Ronny Thorsen on vocal (x-Trail of tears, x-Blood Red Throne, Viper Solfa) to have a listen at our music. They really liked it, and we started right away composing new guitars, drums and adding vocal to the music.

What can you tell me about the album as a whole when it comes to the music? What was the band’s vision for this debut? I’m not sure if it would qualify as a “concept album” per se, but I definitely heard some connections from track to track.

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

Some of the first thing me and Andre agreed about when we started Profane Burial was that the band had to differ from Andres other bands he is involved in (Gromth, Images at Twilight, Abyssic, Funeral). The first step was to drop the incorporation of Mellotron and Moog, and other 70's approaches. We have astonishingly similar music taste!  Andre was also comfortable with the composing method, as he could rather strip down parties, usually down to the chord progression, and create his “footprint” with it as a starting point. That way, it did not come across a pure conflict with composing for the other bands. Because of our similar music taste, Andre nevertheless felt a hundred percent of artistic freedom, dedication and ownership of the songs. It is not strange the difference in mindset between us when it comes to chord progressions. However, pure orchestration, we have a different approach, which has given the songs a very rich and divergent expression. Another element is the pace of the songs. We agreed on a more normal pace in around 80-90 and not 110-130 as in Images At Twilight.

When it comes to the guitar, drums and vocals they all have artistic freedom, as far as they do it within Profane Burials boundaries. We want the same quality and sound on every song, so there has been put a lot of effort and work from all the members in order to get the result we strive for. We always want to create a musical orchestral piece which also could be played without the metal part and be enjoyed, hence prominent but not to dominant orchestra since we after all are an extreme metal band. All the orchestral arrangements first, then we add the metal! Because the lyrics are one great epic story the album classifies as a concept. Bjørn Nørsterud, the writer, will explain further on the following question.

“The Stench of Dying Roses” for example, definitely felt like a detailed story to me. Can you talk about this song and the meaning?

(Answered by: Bjørn Nørsterud)

It is indeed a detailed story, as is every song. And together they make up an entire story, so yes, this is actually a concept album. That particular song takes place after the witch is dead, and there is peace in the village. The children mock the witch in their little nursery rhyme, and everything is fine. Until …

The story itself is mainly about a witch and her revenge on those who killed her (through her granddaughter) and it follows different persons through the ages. It has it's twists and turns, and things may not be as straight forward as one may think. Yes, it has elements of a ghost story, witch-hunt and religion, and the last song is written in Norwegian.

Why, you might say? Well, Profane Burial is a Norwegian band, and we felt it suited the album. This song deals with a letter that was written by an old Norwegian Witch, and it was a nice way to end the story.

I loved the orchestration on the album. I found it was very supportive of the music but did not overwhelm the Black Metal sound. How was all of it recorded and incorporated into the album as a whole?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

Thank you very much! The orchestration is a collaboration between Kjetil and Andre. The main composer in Profane Burial is me Kjetil Ytterhus, I send finished orchestral themes to Andrè Aaslie, and then he makes interpretations of the themes and re-arrangements. Sometimes stripped down to just the chords, and then he orchestrates it the way he feels. The result is an album extremely rich in ideas around the same themes. The funny thing here is that the guitarist seldom knows which parts are André's and which are mine, which really is the same part in the basic chords. So he actually adds new ideas to each theme, instead of just playing the identical riff on the two themes. This way of working can perhaps make the songs too chaotic for a listener who is not willing to make an effort to go deep within the material, but we try to have some repeating substantial chorus themes in the songs that will bind it all together.

We have recorded everything by ourselves, except from the drums which we did in a professional studio (Strand Studio) in Oslo. We also did the mix/master in that studio due to his experience with similar bands and other bands some of the members are involved with, and the fact that we know the guy!

Black Metal is such a diverse genre these days. How did you see if growing and developing from the early days?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

I have been an active listener/fan of Black Metal since 1987/88, but never really into the scene despite that I live in Kråkstad (where Mayhem lived in the legendary “red house” a certain period). From my early days until now it is completely crazy how things have changed. Everything was very “exclusive” and hard to get by and also extremely mystified. Now it is just the opposite. Writing letters (snail mail), tape trading, fanzines, spending time to get by a release or discover new bands is now replaced by the Internet where you find everything with just few clicks. If you can’t find it there, it does not exist…

I actually embrace the technology, but maybe I do not appreciate releases at the same way I did before when they were harder to come by, now it’s just “browse, click, play”. There are “oceans” of bands out there, and maybe what I think is the biggest difference from earlier is the dedication that lacks from many bands now-days. During the early Nineties, when a new release was out you could buy it “unseen”, in 99% of the cases it was a safe buy and very enjoyable – often a classic, he - he. Today everyone can record something, even on their phone and spread it through the Internet without thinking. It’s not the same pride among a lot of bands as before, which results in my opinion in many poor quality releases. Luckily there still are those out there who knows how to play and compose!

What were some of the bands that influenced all of you as musicians? What kind of music did you listen to when you decided to become musicians?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

I started to listen to metal music when I was quite young around 1980 with bands like Kiss, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and other NWOBHM. In 1987/88 I discovered harder music (Thrash/Death and Black-Metal) and has followed that scene ever since. In addition to metal I really enjoy classical music and also movie themes and compositions from games. "Subconsciously" I have combined my passions for these genres into Profane Burial which I started to work on only a few years ago.

Some of my favorite bands are actually Burzum, Darkthrone, Satyricon, Kvist, Ulver and Tartaros where I find none references to Profane Burial. I have of course my fear share of listening to bands like Limbonic Art, Bal-Sagoth, Septic Flesh, Dimmu Borgir and Carach Angren where more inspiration and links might be natural to compare.

(Answered by: Ronny Thorsen)

For me personally, I got into hard rock and metal at a very early age courtesy of my father. He was heavily into bands like early Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rainbow and so on and spun those albums constantly. I guess I was 6-7 years old at the time. Things developed from there and during the 80`s I listened to a lot of the classic bands, like Maiden, Wasp, Metallica, Ozzy solo etc and later on Sepultura and Pantera before I got struck by death metal and black metal in the early 90`s. A lot of my roots can be found in death metal with bands like Morbid Angel, Deicide and Obituary as well as the Swedish scene with bands like Entombed, Dismember and perhaps most of all, Edge of Sanity. Dan Swanø along with David Vincent were key figures in making me want to become an extreme metal vocalist myself. And needless to say, the Norwegian early black metal scene made a huge impact as well.

I think music is a very inspiring medium. What inspires you as you are composing music?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

When it comes to writing music I can be inspired from almost everything. It does not necessarily has to be directly music related to come up with an idea; experiences and sensations are quite as important. When I lack words, music is a great way to express feelings. As an example, the music on track #2 "The Stench Of Dying Roses" was inspired as a result of a great trip with my family… not the lyrics, he he. I guess the music I compose really reflects my present state of mind at that precise moment(s).

…but of course I am also very influenced by music. Since I started quite late composing music, I had the advantage of being a fan/listener for many years and have discovered tremendous fantastic bands which must have inspired me one way or the other!

What can you tell us about the Metal scene in Norway? Any insight on why are there so many wonderful bands coming from your home country?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

The metal scene in Norway is constant growing and evolving. New bands are born every year and great music being created from all age groups. Today there are too many bands, and I have lost tracks and are sadly not as updated as I would like to be like I was 10 years ago.

We have a great welfare system in Norway, so if you don’t want to work you automatically receive money from the State which gives you spare time and freedom to play 24/7 with your band… ha ha -  just kidding! It’s very hard to answer why many great bands comes from Norway, because I think other countries produce numerous good bands as well. A lot of the “Black-Metal pioneers” came from Norway so we might still get some extra attention due to that.

(Answered by: Ronny Thorsen)

Well, it`s always difficult to answer this one. I believe that just like everywhere else, there are good bands and shitty bands in Norway. The country is without a doubt highly responsible for carving the way back in the 90`s with some of the genre`s most iconic bands, many of them still active today. I think that much can be explained by the fact that Norway is a small country and the scene, at least back then, was very intimate and personal. People allowed themselves to be influenced by each other and by doing so, new directions were created. It was also extremely competitive, and each band wanted to outdo each other. There was a hunger back then that is missing a bit today in my opinion. There are still great bands of course, but personally I think there are just as interesting things happening in other parts of the world today, than what is the case in Norway.

Are there any plans to tour on the new album? Have any of you been involved in tours with other bands? If so, what are some of your best or funniest experiences on the road?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

So far we have planned a release concert in Oslo (24. March – please come), and we are also booked for Southern DisComfort festival in September. We are working on a deal with a management/booking bureau so hopefully more gigs/tours might happen in the near future. I have only played live with Profane Burial, but the other members have played a lot live with other bands so I leave it up to them to share some memories.

(Answered by: Ronny Thorsen)

I guess most people know me from my work with Trail of Tears, where I spent close to 20 years. During that time, I was fortunate enough to tour the world several times over and I have performed concerts in well over 40 countries on four different continents. So it is really difficult to single out specific events during all those years. As a person who loves to travel, I think the best thing has been to simply be allowed to visit an insane amount of places and countries that I would never have been able to reach had it not been for the music. Touring China, all of North America, most of Europe as well as places like Belarus, Morocco and Tunisia has created lifelong memories and also some friendships still valuable today.

What have been some of your best and worst experiences in the music industry as a whole?

(Answered by: André Aaslie)

I’m quite new in the business, my first album release came as late as in 2011 (Gromth “The Immortal”). In fact I haven’t experienced any kind of adversity so far. We got a distribution deal with Indie Recordings for the Gromth album which helped us very much. This led to the Indie-contract we now have with Images At Twilight. Based on the huge amount of reviews we got (over 30) we can’t complain about that labels portfolio to say the least. They do what we can expect them to do for a debut band. The same goes for Abyssic and Osmose. Apathia Records is a smaller company but we are extremely satisfied with their work for Profane Burial so far! I’m especially happy with the close communication we have with the guys in the label. That’s quite different in the bigger labels.

(Answered by: Ronny Thorsen)

Tons of both! It`s always a great experience every time an album is released, or every time you walk offstage after a great gig. Getting to see new places as I mentioned is always fun, and I always celebrate every time I can check a new country off my list. Of course, there is no shortage of bad experiences either over the years, shady promoters, industry people out to rip you off or a venue that treats you like absolute shit after you have travelled for hours to play on their stage. There is nothing I hate more than venues and promoters who deliberately ignore riders and agreements and think that it`s perfectly ok to treat metal bands like shit. And those exist in large quantities unfortunately.

What advice would you give to bands who are just starting in the industry?

(Answered by: André Aaslie)

Be patient! It takes time to build a new band. Profane Burial is my fourth release with a new band, and I see the same pattern in all of them. The reputation grows slowly brick by brick. You play bigger live shows and you find yourself a bit higher on the festival posters. This autumn I’ll release a follow up album for the first time in my life (new Abyssic album). Believe me, I haven’t thought much about taking steps in my career. I have just composed music - which give me the ultimate happiness. I can’t see that more commercial success will give me much more happiness, BUT, a second album will nevertheless give me an idea about the bands development. It’s nice to reach more people with your music, of course, but nothing can compare to the feeling I get when I create new music in my studio. I feel very privileged as it is. Good record deals in all bands let me focus on making and perform music. So… Don’t strive for commercial success, judge your “success” on your happiness, not on monthly listeners on Spotify. THEN I’m sure more commercial success will come naturally.

(Answered by: Ronny Thorsen)

Rehearse, practice and believe in yourself and your music. If someone tells you that you suck, go into the rehearsal room and do it all over again. Don`t compromise on things that are important to you and whatever you do, do it out of passion!

What do all of you do when not composing and recording music?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

I guess we all live what might be characterized as quite normal lives. We all have work and/or studies, some of us kids as well, but speaking for my self “the unholy trinity” in my life is family, work and music! The only extra hobby I have time for these days is gaming on PS4. I have always loved computer games and find it to be a good relaxation from reality.

Where do you see the future of Black Metal and Metal in general heading?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

The problem with the majority of Black Metal fans, at some point even myself, is the need to compare everything to the past or actually not at all listen to new bands/releases. I am aware that things will never be the way they were, I often think back to the Nineties and  Burzum’s first release – magical era, but everything changes over time; even Black Metal. You just have to accept it or you will never discover new great bands e.g. such as Slagmaur. There might not be as many great new bands releasing albums to be considered as classics after a few years as earlier, but there sure as hell is happening great things today as there will be in the future. The big difference is the amount of new bands you have to browse through to find your new gem… I am therefore very positive towards the evolution due to variety as a result of some cling to whats “tr00”, and some tries/dares to experience with varies of luck depending on who you ask.

What is next for Profane Burial?

(Answered by: Kjetil Ytterhus)

The plan further, musically speaking with Profane Burial, is that I would like the band to start working with an EP. I have already finished the basic material and arranged together a song. The EP will probably only consist of that one song (about 18:40 min). Andre will first do his magic on the track and (maybe) some re-arrangements. Then when we have approved the orchestration we will start with drums and guitar ideas along with lyrics. Hopefully we will release it next year as a bonus side on the vinyl issue of “The Rosewater Park Legend”. We also have new amazing cover art planned/ready for this edition.

When we finish the EP, we need to get started working on album #2. I have not been lying on the lazy side, and actually have 4 songs ready, as well as 3 songs with only minor tasks left from my side to finish.  As with the EP; Andre then will start doing his work and signatures with the songs and then the other instruments will bring metal to the compositions to create a follow up album!

Thank you very much for the interview and fantastic review of our album!


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