Interview with Bjørn Aldrahn Dencker (The Deathtrip, DHG, Thorns)

Black Metal in the mid-nineties was not so orthodox as one might think in retrospect. Of course there were major albums like “Under A Funeral Moon”, “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss”, “Transilvanian Hunger”, “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, “Storm Of The Light’s Bane”, etc. (which are copied to a point of irritation today), but the main mentality (at least all over Europe) was in my opinion originality and individuality in the material and sounds of the bands. A good example of this was the Norwegian scene of course, with highly gifted young individuals making groundbreaking music in bands such as Arcturus, Thorns, Ved Buens Ende and of course Dødheimsgard. Bjørn “Aldrahn” Dencker’s vocals were always to me perhaps the most atmospheric and emotional of the Norwegian scene, and now that the man has (in some ways) returned from a sort of a hiatus to the music world, it’s an honour to have a talk with him.

Hello Aldrahn! How has the autumn and winter treated you in Norway so far?

Hey there, and thanks a lot. Autumn has been unusually grey and wet this year, we`ve had this thick clouded carpet hanging over our heads for several weeks now, but few signs of snow so far. I changed to winter tires tho, just in case.

Reflecting upon the early nineties, did you and guys like Vicotnik, Galder and Shagrath grow up together, and decide to go Death Metal and then Black Metal at some point, like the case was with a lot of kids in those days?

I met these guys early in my teens yes, and we hung around with each other playing punk rock and such until we came across Death and Black metal at the beginning of the nineties, and became quite obsessed with it.

The music of bands like Dødheimsgard shifted to different direction and styles on every release, which gave the impression of course that you guys found new interests as you grew up and matured. When thinking about those times now, the radical shifts in styles happened quite quickly, in matter of a few years in case of some bands?

For me it was a journey to complete, still is, and on the way there was many occasions where I trembled upon all kinds of impressions and experiences that influenced the music. Surely there were big transformations but I guess it reflects the transformative youth behind the wheel the way all teenagers evolve. Some go through dramatic changes and some less dramatic but still it is what it is.

I think experimenting is one of the great things about art, it`s what makes it interesting and mindbending.

Personally I was pretty bored with the usual Black Metal mentality by ’97 (already), so albums like Arcturus’ “La Masquerade Infernale” and Dødheimsgard’s “International 666” came at right time and were really important to me, still are. Was this common with most musicians taking leave from the more black-and-white parts of the scene, getting “fed up” with the usual patterns, or were the ones that did so frowned upon by the majority?

I guess all people involved had different reasons for what they did and didn`t. Personally I had by far went on in another directions, exploring others thoughts and visions, digging down in all sorts of mental fluids, and it felt natural to incorporate it into the music, thus we painted our own special portrait, which many people hated at the time. We got the finger and people shouted “Fuck off” when we played live with the 666 int. material, called us “gay-band” “anti-racist band” and “nazi-band” and all kinds of ridiculous stuff, hahaha, so it was clear that the people wasn`t ready for it back then and that it stirred up all sorts of mixed emotions, which was pretty much the idea, and eventually it grew in peoples ears and landed in a more defined landscape for most listeners. But I don`t know if I was “fed-up” with the genre, I just wanted to move on instead of being stranded with the corpse-paint and the childish approach to the art. Not that I think corpse-paint is a bad thing, I just thought it had grown a bit dull to me. So much more to evince and proclaim than the copy-paste imagery of others.

Aldrahn 02

These days it’s unfortunately hard to find anything really original in the BM world, since most of the younger acts seems to copy some classic album more or less, and there are a few very evident trends going on all the time. Do you personally find anything of interest these days, or do you stick with the old classics?

I also find it difficult to get my ears around something I really enjoy these days within BM, sadly there`s only one, perhaps two bands and releases out of a hundred that grabs me by my balls, so I agree there`s few acts that provides me what I want, but this is a matter of taste, so it would only be my subjective opinion, and newcomers enters the scene too, young people with no real knowledge about the past other than what they`ve read and heard, which makes up the so-called “Scene” of today, which I have no problem with I may add. I think it`s good that the genre lives on, even if it`s a more settled and accepted one than before. However, as I said, there`s always a few good bands that reaches my keen attention now and then, and so I`ve had the pleasure of getting to know some real good dealers these past years, few from Norway, but more from Germany, France, Greece and U.S.A . Better check out a band called ACRIMONIOUS if you haven`t already, and also THY DARKENED SHADE..

As the new The Deathtrip album is now released, how has the response been so far? There are probably many young dudes checking out what this Aldrahn-guy has done in the past, although most fans of the music are very aware of your past actions already I’m sure.

There has been a tremendous positive feedback so far, of course there`s always someone who disapprove and dislike, and that`s good, certainly one important thing that makes up for the dynamics in a release.

Loads of great reviews and nice reading  Seems to hit the right spot for many and seemingly something that`s been missed. I`m glad, as we set out to recapture some of the old school feelings and by the look of it we managed to pull it off.

How did you hook up with Host (Paul Groundwell)? It’s pretty clear you guys click well when it comes to this kind of music. It may also come as a surprise to people, that despite his position in the music industry, he chooses to perform minimalist and quite low-fi music such as yours?

It was Khvost who first introduced me to him, or better said, the songs he had made, and I instantly felt an urge to do vocals on them, and so I contacted him through the internet and there it began. We connect perfectly in our sense for this music so collaboration with him is a pleasure.

You have also been (always?) fascinated by Electronic music and Psychedelia. Have you done, or thought of doing anything in those circles, or do you take those influences into your more Metallic art?

I became fascinated with electro music at the age of seventeen when I first heard the magical work of Klaus Schulze, the 60`s most interesting psysound artist and one of the innovators of Ambient music. I was blown away by it and hugely inspired. Then as I heard more and more psychedelic electronics I mapped out numerous acts and bands that really did and still do great stuff, but personally I`ve never been so into it that I`ve set off into any considerable making of such stuff. However I`ve certainly been influenced by it and I think in some ways I`ve taken with me some of it into the metal sphere, but more in the sense of feeling rather than technical performance as most of the psy music I`ve come across and listened to has been and is more of the instrumental stuff, little or no vocal themes, besides some voice samples here and there.

The lyrics of The Deathtrip give an impression of a man who loves contemplating the nature of the human consciousness. Is any form of “Spirituality” present in your daily life, or are these mostly Psychological and Philosophical ponderings (which might be of course labeled “Spiritual”)?

I doesn`t really conduct a spiritual lifestyle in the way of being self-sacrificing and bound to a certain set of rules and daily rituals in order to fulfil any ideology, if that`s what you mean. I live quite isolated emotionally from my surroundings and thus I spend a lot of time with my self, too much perhaps, haha, and the result may be contemplation and reflection as I like to explore this existence for what it is to me. And even though our consciousness is intriguing, I prefer the Subconscious, perhaps more, as it holds so many riddles and dark secrets.

I write mainly about myself, my inside world views and my external interpretations.

Now that you have been active in the recent live-performances of Dødheimsgard, can you reveal anything about the future of this band (who’s moves are always waited with anticipation by many)? How has it felt singing on stage again?

The next album is finished now as we speak, and will be released in February 2015. It will be like a continuance of 666 int. with myself on vocals throughout the whole damn thing 😉

Photo by: Nekrographie
Photo by: Nekrographie

Being on stage with DHG has been a smooth experience. I love doing it and it feels like a natural place for me to be.

How about the future of Thorns? I personally have been waiting for years for any news of the new album, which still apparently has your vocals, or am I mistaken?

The next Thorns album is more or less done , but I still have to do some vocal work, and Snorre has a lot of mixing left, so eventually it will be out, but “a year in the THORNS camp, is equal to ten regular years”, as Snorre says it himself.

If I’ve understood correctly, you have tried out a few occupations, such as a hairstylist, and lately you’ve worked as a tattoo-artist? Also, at one point you located to more rural surroundings from the cities? These choices in life have proved to be good ones I guess?

Yes, that`s right, I`ve tried out some different things, to figure out where to put my heart at ease.

“Hairstylist”, hehe, yes, even though it may sound very gay, it was actually lots of fun, at least the creative side of it, but it wasn`t exactly what I was looking for. Five years ago I got in at a local tattoo studio called “Lena Tattoo studio” as an apprentice and I made it through those three years I needed to complete and become what I`ve searched for for a long time, as of now I`m a tattooer on a daily basis with returning customers and lots of things to achieve. I love what I do, as being a tattooer really grants me a good deal of satisfaction and contentment.

Aldrahn 01

I live in a very small village with the woods all around me, yet it`s not that far to the city and my friends and shit, so it`s good.

Thanks for this great opportunity to talk with you! Any last words?

My pleasure, and thanks for the die-hard interest you show my work.

“Sonic lapses of sheer joy, makes no material on the globe, track down such splendor as the brethren of Black Metal.”

The Deathtrip (Facebook)

DHG (Facebook)

Thorns (Facebook)

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