Borre, Norway's Nidingr has gradually transformed into the nexus of its nation's black metal movement. Formed in 1995, its lineup has since accrued members from most major bands associated with creating the subgenre. Their latest effort reflects this, drawing together musicians from legends like Mayhem and Gorgoroth alongside newer acts like 1349 and Orcustus. 2010's Wolf Father thus boasts black metal's defining bleakness, accentuated with death metal's slam and a focus on Norse lore. I e-mailed founding member and guitarist/bassist Teloch and talked about what's next for Nidingr.
Mark Hensch of Thrashpit.com: Thank you for taking time out of your schedule and answering my questions. Wolf Father is an absolutely ripping album and I'm interested in hearing more about it and Nidingr overall.
Teloch (guitars/bass): Thank you. We are satisfied with the album and overwhelmed by the nice reviews it has received so far.
Thrashpit.com: Many of my readers are unfamiliar with Norwegian. What does "Nidingr" mean in English?
Teloch: "Nidingr" means a shameless person, outcast, thief or any other person you wouldn't want in your life.
Thrashpit.com: Take me back to when Nidingr was a new band just starting out. How did you get to where you are now?
Teloch: The history of Nidingr began with a solo project I had called Audr. I don't even remember what it sounded like anymore, but it was some kind of black metal I guess.
I was eager to do more of that music but with other people. As such, I got in touch with our guitarist/bassist Blargh, who I had already been working with in a death metal band for some time. At the same time I had a friend that wanted me to play in his band – with a nice logo and shirts already made – before ever making one note of music. Turns out my friend did not know the difference between musical instruments and farming equipment – he couldn't play an instrument at all. I then made a deal with him to get all the shirts he had printed and the right to use the logo and band name. I traded for these things with the vinyl records I had at the time and have had Nidingr ever since.
At first it was Blargh and me recording demos and we where only giving it to friends and such. In 1996 we got a drummer and a vocalist that I had played with together some years ago. We recorded some songs at the rehearsal and then released it on vinyl in 2006, titling the compilation Sodomize the Priest. It did not work out with that lineup of Nidingr, and therefore we carried on by ourselves for a bit before we got tired of singing and recruited a local guy we already knew named Estrella Grasa in the band. Once he was in we recorded our full-length debut Sorrow Infinite and Darkness in 2005 and for our latest album Wolf Father we got Hellhammer to join the band on drums.
Thrashpit.com: Nidingr hails from Norway, black metal's birthplace. What does black metal mean to you? Has your perception of it changed since you first began Nidingr?
Teloch: I don't know anymore. I think I'm fed up with the phrase "black metal." Black metal was a trend, and as all trends, it eventually dies with time. I have no idea, and I don't care either. We have always called Nidingr's style simply "metal" as we cover so many styles within heavy metal. I'm not a big fan of putting labels on things anyways.
Thrashpit.com: You've played in bands as diverse as 1349, Orcustus, Gorgoroth and Ov Hell. How have these bands affected your approach to Nidingr and vice-versa?
Teloch: Gorgoroth maybe wrecked my playing style because of how their songs are played. I try not to mix up Nidingr with other things I have done – that's not hard with Gorgoroth for instance, since I have never liked their music. 1349 and Orcustus were hard to keep away from Nidingr, but I think I have managed to steer clear so far.
Thrashpit.com: Wolf Father is Nidingr's first album since 2005's Sorrow Infinite and Darkness. Was it difficult recording another album under the Nidingr name after so long?
Teloch: It was a hassle with Wolf Father because of line-up changes and re-recordings. Then, when we finally had it ready, there was some screw-ups with the label situation.
We could have released this album two years earlier if everything went according to plan. That's just the way things are with Nidingr, nothing comes easy. It always takes at least twice as much time as foreseen. It's not like I have been sitting around for five years either – I have been on the road for that time. The amount of music created in that time is not much to brag about.
Hopefully that's going to change now. I've got some new releases coming out this year with other bands. First up is the debut album from a new band called The Konsortium that I played all the guitars for. That will be released on Agonia records.
I also have an Umoral full-length with Hellhammer and Zweizz (the former keyboardist of Dodheimsgard) ready that we are hoping to get recorded as soon as someone shows up with some cash for a studio.
Thrashpit.com: The new album has a heavy lyrical focus on Norse mythology. What made Nidingr decide to explore this topic and what do you hope listeners learn from it?
Teloch: We had some songs and needed a theme. The six songs did not fit the plans we had for an Aleister Crowley-themed album like the Sorrow Infinite and Darkness album was.
Our vocalist thus came up with the idea of using our country's Old Norse Gods instead. What everybody has to learn from Norse mythology is to be a better man. It's no pointing fingers but only tips and guidance. It's possible to find your own personal gods too – it's not like you can have only one.
Thrashpit.com: "Baldrs Draumar," the second song on Wolf Father, features vocals from Garm, the lead singer of Ulver. How did Garm end up as a guest on the record?
Teloch: I was living with Zweizz for some time, and he is a friend of Garm. Zweizz played some Nidingr for Garm and he was totally into it.
Some years later, when I made the last riff on "Baldrs Draumar," I could hear Garm's voice on it. It turned out it was a perfect match and all I had to do was ask him to do it. He did not need any guidelines or anything – it turned out exactly as foreseen, maybe better.
Thrashpit.com: A musician is his own harshest critic. Do you have a favorite song on Wolf Father, and if so, which one? Why or why not?
Teloch: "Hymiskvitha" is the song I am most into right now, probably because that is the newest song on the album. It was made out from a drum track to another song that Blargh did not like the drumming on, so I deleted the guitars and made a brand new song out of it.
I think "Baldrs Draumar" also stands out. There are good dynamics in that song, and it was cool to involve someone outside Nidingr on it.
Thrashpit.com: The cover art for Wolf Father is a powerful image. Who thought it up and what do you think of the way it turned out?
Teloch: Actually that was our designer and good friend Metastazis that came up with the art. He did all the photography and all the design on it. I think the cover totally fits the music, and combined with the music it became a powerful package.
Thrashpit.com: Wolf Father is a short listen at just under 25 minutes. Was this run time intentional or something else?
Teloch: Five of these songs were originally intended as bonus tracks for a re-release of our 1999 demo, but we had some label disagreements for how the release should be. We thus had to tell them to push off. Thus, Wolf Father was born.
Thrashpit.com: What does the future hold for Nidingr? Are there any touring or additional recording plans?
Teloch: We start off easy for now with three festivals here in Norway, the first one in a month or so. No touring plans so far, we will have to see how everything goes and how things work live. I guess we will start making new songs this summer. Who knows though? Things never go as planned with us.
Thrashpit.com: Many thanks for your time Teloch. I wish you and the rest of Nidingr the best of luck in the New Year.
Teloch: Thanks for the interview and have a nice one in Washington. Say hello to President Obama from me.