To celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary, Kampfar came back last year with a new label and an excellent new album which has a deeper exploration of the band's sound.
We had the chance to interview the leading vocalist, Dolk, at the Fosch Fest 2015.
Your last album continues the process started with Maer. The process of researching new sounds. More meditative, intimate and reflective, less tied to the Viking sound of the band's origins.
Is this due to the contribution of the new guitarist, Olle, or this is something that the band decided together and why?
D: This is not something coming out of the box like no one knows, this is planned in every single detail so we totally wanted to move in that direction, all of us.
And we will continue in that direction.
I also noticed that the lyrics are gradually moving away from mythology and starting to tackle new themes. For example, social criticism, in the song Swarm Norvegicus. With this in mind, how do you see the Norwegian society today?
D: The Norwegian society turned more into a European kind of style, it is not that isolated anymore as it was in the old days. Europe in general is becoming a big kind of pot together in a way, I think, so society also forms that. I think that in some way we lose a lot and we win a lot.
I think all kind of folkloric stuff and the history start to lose value.
People abroad are more interested in Norwegian culture rather than Norwegians are themselves.
Can you elaborate on this further?
D: Ever since I was a kid, I have been very lucky to have a grandmother who told me a lot about superstitious stuff and that is a fire that still burns in me. It has never left. I have studied a lot of history and culture and wanted to learn more and more. At the same time I try to find my own path and find out what is the truth because I think a lot of history you've been told at school is not so correct. You need to elaborate it yourself.
This leads exactly to my next question. There is a strong sense of tightness to Norway which comes out from the lyrics. How would you describe it for someone who is not Norwegian.
D: In Norway we've been stuck to our roots for many, many years. We didn't get the influence of other countries before late.
I think that all the folkloric superstitious stuff that people believed in is still kind of connected to my grandparents for example. If you go two generations back, this is something still they believe in. We are the second generation of something that the Norwegians strongly believed in because they were isolated and did not get that much influence from the rest of the world.
This seems contradictory to the tendency of more bands abandoning English for singing in their own mother tongue. You guys have been highly criticized at the beginning of your career for singing in your mother tongue and now after 20 years people are doing what you started years ago.
D: I cannot say anything about it because it sounds like a clichè. We focus on what we do and what is right for us.
After being with Kampfar for 20 years and in the music industry most of your life how has the Norwegian black metal scene changed over this time?
D: I don't even know where to start. It has changed so much. I am actually writing a book about this. I want to get the stuff out of my head. It started as a personal thing but has developed into the project of releasing a book.
Back then black metal was a completely different thing because it really meant something but at the same time there was a sort of “pack” that was working against each other. In the media now you hear all the time that there was this great brotherhood going on. That was not the fact. The fact was there was this pack and I had to watch my shoulders all the time. This does not exist anymore. Now black metal is music, it's an extreme kind of music and people can see it on television.
It does not matter to me. For me nothing has changed. The feelings I have are the same, maybe they are stronger than when I was 20 years old. I would have not been here if it was for fame or glory or money. I would have been fucking stupid. Black metal for me this is a lifestyle, this is my life. That's why it is even more important to me now. I tell you a story about that. When I was a 10 year old kid, my teacher asked in the class, what do we want to do when an adult. My answer was: “I want to play metal. I want to play in a band”. Metal was my life even back then. I was already pretty sure about what I wanted to do in life. To be honest I must admit that Norwegian black metal is getting less and less interesting and I am so sorry about that.
You say that Black metal is a lifestyle for you, that it is your life. Is the Kampfar Dolk also the private, daily Dolk?
D: My feelings and attitude towards life have been like that from the beginning.
I now have small kids and I try to be a role model for them without putting them inside certain roles in life. They have to figure that out for themselves. It's kind of a hard balance. I do not go to the church, let's put it that way.
Who is Djevelmakt?
D: Djevelmakt is a huge thing that we wanted to develop. In short it is the devil power in our society today. Religion and churches talk all the time about the devil being the mean thing in the world but actually the devil power is the total opposite. The devil power in our world today is something completely different with respect to what the media tell. That's the whole idea of the album.
I'll pass the baton to you for a final word...
D: I'll see you on the road soon again!
Interview by Eir