Nordjevel Unleashes Pure Enmity On “Gnavhòl” (Interview)
Norwegian black metal is alive and well with Nordjevel leading the charge for the newer bands of the genre. The quartet forges elements of second wave black metal with sinister atmospheres and a blend of melody and aggression on its third full-length release Gnavhòl. Founding members, vocalist Doedsadmiral and bassist DzeptiCunt, are joined by guitarist Thor Anders “Destructhor” Myhren (Cadaver, ex-Morbid Angel) and Swedish drummer Nils “Dominator” Fjellström (ex-Dark Funeral, 1349).
Nordjevel is one of the most vicious of the newer bands who know exactly what it takes to create authentic, scathing black metal in this day and age. With each subsequent album released, Nordjevel has grown stronger in their songwriting abilities, while their musicianship has become equally as dominant. The band’s intensity is easily heard throughout the nine vicious tracks on Gnavhòl. In addition, the band’s anti-religious views are loud and clear.
Capturing a decent fan base in their native country and parts of Europe by performing explosive shows, Nordjevel is setting their sights on a possible US tour next year. Vocalist Doedsadmiral spoke about the band’s origins, their new album, his vitriolic vocal approach, and their upcoming touring plans.
Nordjevel formed in 2015 by yourself and Nord (no longer in the band), what was your impetus for starting the band, what were you out to achieve?
I actually started Nordjevel first in 2008, and we wrote some music but it never sounded right. I myself went on a hiatus and started working on Svartelder instead. In 2015 I really wanted to give the band life again with more experienced musicians. So the first one then to join was actually Fredrik Widigs from Marduk. He also drew the band’s logo. All lyrics where finished and written already. And then I got in contact with Nord who then joined on guitars and wrote the music for the debut album. The reason was only to make music we wanted to listen to ourselves. So, it was for our own egos so to speak. It was supposed at the beginning to be a studio project actually. We didn’t really set out to achieve anything else than to release our music. All that has changed through the years.
Although your influences may be easy to recognize; ie.: Dark Funeral, Immortal and 1349 (to my ears anyway), I feel you have successfully merged your own style that displays both old school influences and modern elements. What is Nordjevel’s musical approach and mantra?
It has never been a goal to sound like a certain band, we actually on every album write very freely and don't aim to sound a certain way. The most important mantra and also musical approach is to keep things spontaneous, to not overthink everything we write. Keep it fresh and in the moment. We write without any limits at all. I personally, who works closely with the music, can’t see the direct resemblance to Dark Funeral or anyone, but it’s easy to do so and I think that’s mostly based on (the fact) that we have the same drummer (Dominator), and that the music is fast. But with every band and music there will always be resemblances.
What’s the meaning or translation behind the band name and how did you decide on choosing it?
It was a combination of words. You have the name Nord, northern, and djevel which means devil. So it was a combination of those two words which made a cool meaning that sounded big.
How would you compare new album Gnavhòl to your previous two full-length albums and how do you feel you’ve progressed with your sound?
Gnavhòl for me is a much more mature and well thought out album. The music and the basis of it was very spontaneous as I always demand it to be. But when the basis was there we had much more time to work on the details, and that`s why I think it`s more dynamic and complex. It has so many layers. It`s a growing album. Sound wise, I think this has the best sound also, although both Necrogenesis and Nordjevel have also a perfect sound for the time they were made. It`s all about where the band is in that moment.
Lyrically, it’s obvious that Gnavhòl is driven by war, destruction and anti-Christian beliefs, but what specific themes were you inspired to write about for this album?
Not any specific theme, actually. I always write a lot of lyrics that I have lying around. I always keep many possibilities of lyrics open for a new album, and when the music is done, they somehow fall into place by themselves. They get an identity. On this album there is a variation of everything. You have many extremely furious dark songs like “Of Rats And Men,” “Antichrist Flesh,” “Gnawing The Bones.” And then you have “I Djevelens Skygge” and “Satans Manifest” in Norwegian that is a bit more old school in how they are written.
Opener “I Djevelens Skygge” I believe translates to “In the Devil's Shadow“ in English. Can you please explain the concept behind this track?
Correct. It`s about having the devil’s shadow on your shoulder as guidance. You always follow his shadow, because he’s the one you trust the most. He is the guiding light, and we’re in it to take revenge on god and religion.
“Of Rats And Men” is an awesome, scathing diatribe against the clergy and the church, with the video being equally as vitriolic. What message are you trying to convey musically and lyrically?
Lyrically, this one is pure hate. There is pure anger, despair, frustration in that. It’s a direct hate against everything; religion, humanity, and the world. We were trying to convey a maelstrom of pure negativity set out to destroy all.
Your vocal approach possesses a clear-yet-raspy enunciation, which is perfect for black metal. How did you apply yourself in the studio and what emotions were you feeling while recording the tracks?
The vocals on this new album is a bit deeper than on previous releases. I always try to channel what an album needs vocally. And this album felt like it needed something a bit darker from the vocals. Something menacing and dangerous, not only direct screaming hate. It was actually hard to channel that in the beginning. When we recorded with Fredrik Nordström in Studio Fredman I was extremely frustrated and angry in general before the vocal recording. And when we started we were somehow suddenly there. It fell into place due to where I was mentally, which was pissed off. And I channeled it.
The production is sharp and clean with a fuller sound compared to your debut album. What were you going for sonically and what were you trying to achieve with the overall mix and mastering?
I don't think we actually knew directly what sound we were aiming for, but we knew early after Necrogenesis we wanted to record at Studio Fredman, and to have Fredrik Nordström as a producer. It was about stepping out of your comfort zone, and work with someone who would push us to the extreme, and he sure did. He did so many legendary albums throughout the years both for Norway and Sweden and internationally. We needed a clarity on this album as the tracks needed a lot of that to not drown sound wise, which is very hard sometimes with this fast music. But he did a great job. I think when he presented the first mix, after some guidelines what we wanted, he was 100% on spot.
The cover art for Gnavhòl is awesome, created by Stefan Todorovic (Khoas Diktator Design). How does the art, the overall album theme/concept, and the meaning of the album title all tie together?
When the demos where finished, I already started working with Khaos Diktator Design on the artwork to have time to tie all together. Artwork for me is almost just as important as the music and the lyrics. So I think we started working on this already in June last year already. He gets all lyrics and music from me. We talk a lot on the phone for me to explain what I feel is the main principle behind every track. We work very closely on everything.
Since forming in 2015, do you feel you’ve been progressing in the right direction and what do you hope to achieve or accomplish going forward with Nordjevel?
I feel we have moved in the right direction without doubt. All three albums we have released sounds very different musically and it`s very easy to tell them apart. And that’s what I wanted to achieve, that all albums/eras should sound different and have a very special sound.
What type of production goes into a live Nordjevel show and what are your upcoming touring plans? What do you have planned for 2023?
We have two different productions. We have the one with just stripped down with the band without anything, and we have the production with fire, which requires much more. A lot of more people working with us with the big production, but with or without it, the energy and fire within the band is the same. Some of our best shows is at small club scenes. 2023 will be a lot festivals, Latin America tour and a European Tour, and possibly a USA tour.
Gnavhòl released September 23rd via Indie Recordings.