DIMMU BORGIR: Shagrath shares his sacrifice


May 9, 2007

With their eighth studio album, In Sorte Diaboli [VIEW E-CARD HERE], Norway's Dimmu Borgir continues to amaze extreme metal fans with a brutal and complex, yet melodic and majestic sound. In recent years, the band has set obvious goals toward the United States with an appearance on Ozzfest 2004 and now headlining the Invaluable Darkness Tour in 2007 with Unearth, Devildriver and Kataklysm. Lead vocalist Shagrath's strange, demonic voice is the driving force behind Dimmu Borgir, making them instantly recognizable and guiding them to their current standing as one of extreme metal's most successful acts.

While earlier recordings and on-stage corpse paint suggest they are a black metal band, In Sorte Diaboli, just like their previous release Death Cult Armageddon, combines so many styles that it is now up for debate. In a recent interview, Shagrath talked to's Jeff Maki about the
Invaluable Darkness tour, the new album, Ozzfest 2004 and whether Dimmu Borgir is a black metal band or not.

How has the Invaluable Darkness Tour been going so far and are there any interesting stories to tell?

Shagrath: Not too many interesting stories to tell, but I think the tour has been pretty good so far. We had some technical issues, problems with our sound guy and we changed the sound guy during this tour. And we've had a lot of other tour problems, but it's shaping up and getting there, absolutely. You know, it's also been, like, over three years since we did a tour, so it takes a while to kind of get into it again.

When was the last time you toured the U.S.?

2004, when we did the Ozzfest. After that, we had that long break. We played festivals later on, but it's the first tour we did since 2004.

What can fans expect from the stage show from this tour?

We have some cool stuff. It's like your regular show, basically. We don't have any bombs or flames or anything like that.

With your new album, In Sorte Diaboli, it is a concept album?

Yeah, so to speak. The lyrics are kind of linked to each other, but I don't know if it's right to call it a story album. It's a concept album in one way. That's one way of putting it, but the lyrics are kind of linked together like a story.

What is the basis for the story?


Basically, the main theme of the story focuses around a fictional character, and after years spent in priesthood and searching God, he discovers [his] bloodlines to the devil. The best thing, of course, is to read the booklet. You have the whole story inside the booklet of the album.

Did the band again work with an orchestra on this album?

We decided to use just keyboards this time. We use real orchestral samples, but it's all played by keyboard. And the reason for doing that is that we didn't want to work with an orchestra this time because we had so many troubles with it before when we did the previous albums. So we decided we could do it better ourselves. It's more work, naturally, but it still sounds like a huge orchestra.

With your material being so complex, how long does it take to compose an album?

This album, we spent six months of creating the songs together. We were working on our computer and stuff like that, but most of the material we jammed and rehearsed within a period of six months.

Do you consider your band to be a black metal band?

Yes and no. We have a lot of ingredients that can be linked to the black metal genre, of course, but we are so much more than just a black metal band. We combine so many different styles of music that it's hard—I don't want to put a label on the music and say that we're a pure black metal band.

Do you worry you will lose diehard fans by making videos, appearing on Ozzfest and somewhat infiltrating the mainstream?

We may lose some hardcore fans, but we also gain so much more.

I did an interview with Infernus of Gorgoroth [READ INTERVIEW HERE] where he said to be in a black metal band you have to be a satanist. What do you think of these comments?

You don't have to be a satanist to be in a black metal band, but it's important that you're into the darker side of music and life, because it's such a big part of your life. You're just challenged to work with that type of music if you're into it, but I don't think you have to be a satanist to be in a black metal band.

Are you guys satanists and, if so, to what extent?

Not in that sense, but we have our own kind of things that I don't want to talk too much about.

I understand. What do you think the biggest misconception about Dimmu Borgir might be?

I have no idea, and I don't care so much either about what's said about this band. They can say what they want, and we never really cared. We've had so much going on throughout the years, people complaining about this and that, but you can't please everybody, so we just do what we think is right.

Have you had any protesters at shows either in the U.S. or overseas?

Playing a festival in the U.S. in 2004, we had some protesters coming up to us saying we should go home, but I thought we gained more attention from this.

What is your opinion on organized religion in general?

I am against all kinds of religions. I think religion itself, organized, is the worst kind. I despise it. I hate it.

I saw the new video for “The Serpentine Offering” recently. [WATCH VIDEO HERE] How did that wholeexperience go?

The whole thing was pretty cool, actually. We had one day of recording all the stuff with the band. The producers spent a couple of days working with different actors to complete the video with all the fighting scenes and all that stuff. How many people were involved actually, I'm not sure. I was only there for one day.

Is the band's lineup now set, with Hellhammer the most recent member coming in 2005 or will there be more touring lineups and session members?

Hellhammer is just a session member. We're not going to have any more permanent members in this band for a long time. We had so much trouble and problems with that in the past, and we decided that we are a five-piece band. We work with Hellhammer as much as we can, and he's worked with all the touring and stuff. So in the future, hopefully it will stay that way for a long time.

Was there one main reason for all the lineup changes?

You know, people just can't get along. We have been a five-piece with the same lineup now for seven years, and that's a new record for this band. We are a very hardworking band, and some people can't handle it, so thats basically how it goes.

After the Invaluable Darkness tour, where does the band go from here?


We're doing, like, five or six festivals in the summertime in Europe, and then we'll start the European tour in September and October.

You mentioned earlier about playing Ozzfest. Would you consider doing something like that again and was it a good experience overall for the band?

It was kind of a good experience in a way that we sell much more records in the States now than we did before. In that sense, it was very good, but I think it's unhealthy to be on the road for that long. Basically we had shows on Ozzfest on every second day and we had headlining shows in between. When you've got so much every day it can become very boring and you hate each other in the band. I think it was a good thing for us, but I don't think we will do Ozzfest again.

What is the meaing of the album title?

In Sorte Diaboli means "in direct connectivity with Satan." That's really the best interpretation.

You had your side project of Chrome Division [READ REVIEW HERE], a kind of Motorhead punk metal type of thing in 2006. Are there any plans for future recordings and how was the whole fan response?

Some people have been very negative about it because they can't believe I can play in a rock n' roll band but also play in a black metal band. But I'm much more into rock music than I am into metal music, so for me it was a good thing to have a side project doing something totally different. I've been working in Dimmu for almost 15 years, so it's just very positive for me to do something else and to work with other people. Dimmu will always be my main priority, but it's good to have a side band as well.

So will we have another Chrome Division album sometime in the near future?

Yeah, we have eight new songs, nine new songs for a new record, and they are actually testing a song in the studio at the moment. We're gonna try it and probably gonna record it sometime this summer.

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