Over the years, Dark Funeral has been an important face in the Black Metal scenario. Unquestionably, one of Sweden’s biggest Black Metal exports. Here I am interacting with the man himself, Lord Ahriman, about the career, shows, life and music. Excerpts from the interview:
MJM. Having been in the music industry for more than 2 decades, how did you get into music initially ?
Lord Ahriman: I grew up in a somewhat music oriented family, so music have always been a natural and a big part of my life. I was around 5 years old when I first discovered Black Sabbath and ever since I’ve been a great fan of Metal! During my childhood I played several instruments until I finally got hooked on guitar.
MJM. Your first band was ‘Satan’s Disciple’. How did you form that back in early 90’s?
Lord Ahriman: ‘Satan’s Disciple’ was formed by myself and a childhood friend named Mika Laine in 1989/90. We were shortly after joined by Hasse.D on Guitar and a drummer, who I unfortunately can’t remember the name of right now. This was when I was still living in Luleå, a town up north in Sweden where I grew up. The band split up when I decided to move to Stockholm in 1991. During our existence we never released an official demo, only rehearsal tapes and we did 2 live shows only.
MJM. Dark Funeral is arguably one of the most influential black metal bands in the world. Tell us about the early days and journey of Dark Funeral.
Lord Ahriman: Thanks. It all started in early 1991 when I decided to move from Lulea to Stockholm. As soon as I had got settled in the capital, I started to look for members to form a new band. My idea was to continue to built on what I originally had started with Satan’s Disciples, yet go in an more extreme direction in all ways possible. At this time Death Metal were on the rise, so to be into Black Metal were quite controversial to say the least. But I stood up for myself. I had a vision that I simply had to follow no matter what. After a year of auditioning various people within the Stockholm underground scene, Blackmoon showed interest in my vision, whereof the two of us begun to plan to form the most extreme band around. We continued to look for members together to complete the line-up. Once the first lineup were completed, the band were called Ahriman, but since that was my artist name if you will, we all felt that we needed a real band name. So in early 1993 DARK FUNERAL were born, featuring a different drummer then the lineup for Ahriman.
MJM. The ‘Secret of the Black Arts’ is among the best black metal albums in the world, even today. How does the typical song writing process take place?
Lord Ahriman: Thanks! When we wrote that record, Blackmoon (RIP) and I were basically spending all of our free time in our rehearsal room, practising on the guitar as well as working on songs. At this time the writing process was a lot different then it is today, but it proved to be very successful after all.
MJM. Tell us about your family. How has family been an influence on you, as you come from a musical family?
Lord Ahriman: Hard to say, but I guess my genuine and natural interest for music comes from the fact that I’ve always been surrounded by music in various forms.
MJM. You are well known for using/endorsing BC RICH guitars, one of the best and among the most popularly used metal guitars. What is it that attracted you to play with BC Rich guitars ?
Lord Ahriman: Yeah, I’ve played BC-Rich for over 20 years now. And nowadays I’m even endorsed by them, which is absolutely amazing of course. Over the years I have basically just become one with their Warlock model. Spiced up with the Seymour Ducans “Blackouts” humbuckers it’s the ultimate Guitar for extreme Metal I think. And it, the form, suites my somewhat weird way of playing too.
MJM. In ‘Secret of the black arts’, the guitars bring out an atmospheric feel, using unique shredding techniques, even though there are no keyboards. How does the recording take place in general?
Lord Ahriman: Well, as simple as possible, which means that we did not, nor do we now cheat with various effects and stuff in the studio to achieve this special atmosphere. It all lies in the way we use and combine various chords and harmonies that creates this certain atmosphere. And I guess by now it has become some kind of signature for me when I write songs.
MJM. Do you think ‘Secret of the black arts’ laid the foundation for the future albums?
Lord Ahriman: In a way yes, but still. When we wrote that album we were not trying to direct our music in a certain way, we just went with the flow, what felt right for us to do. After that album I personally wanted to go in an even more extreme direction and continue to improve myself as a guitarist, built on the atmospheric part amongst other things. If you listen to its precursor “Vobiscum Satanas” you’ll hear what I mean! And I guess it’s still like that, a constant race to challenge oneself as a guitarist and songwriter.
MJM. Dark Funeral covered Bathory ‘s “Call from the Grave” and “Equimanthorn” for the Bathory tribute ‘In Conspiracy with Satan’. Brief us about that.
Lord Ahriman: Bathory were, and is still a very important band in the history of Swedish Black Metal or within the Black Metal scene in general. And we were obviously great fans of the band. Blackmoonwanted to put together a tribute album to them. So we decided to record those two track for it, “Call from the Grave” and “Equimanthorn“. Two songs that I still think are totally amazing!
MJM. Its definitely not easy to play black metal. What techniques do you think aspiring black metal guitarists should work on ?
Lord Ahriman: I’d say they should try and find their own way of playing and writing music, just like I did, and still do. I’m self learned, doing things my way. I can absolutely no music theory or such. Well, I do understand tabs, but that’s about it. I just play and write by ears.
MJM. A new studio album is coming out in 2015 after almost 6 years from the previous studio release and undergoing massive lineup changes. A single, ‘Nail them to the cross’ was released featuring the new vocalist- Heljarmadr and bassist- Natt. Tell us more about the upcoming album.
Lord Ahriman: Yeah, our new single will be released on February 23rd. So far we have released 1 out of the 2 songs featured on the single. Both songs shows a somewhat different sound. “Nail Them To The Cross” will be available as a hand-numbered 7 inch limited to 1000 copies worldwide, of which 500 copies are on black vinyl and 500 on blue vinyl, and also as digital download.
MJM. You are now currently signed to ‘Century Media Records’ after a string of legal battles with the previous labels. How is it working with the new label?
Lord Ahriman: Yeah, we’ve had quite some bad luck with our labels over the years, but now when we are signed to Century Media, things feel and work absolutely great. It’s the worlds biggest metal label after all, so things ran on a high and professional level.
MJM. You have played in over 45 countries. That’s a huge number. Any plans of playing in India ?
Lord Ahriman: Basically, we play in any country that we get invited to play as long as it’s financially possible of course. I love to bring our music to as many countries and fans around the world as possible. We seem to have a huge following in India, so I don’t know why we haven’t been invited to play there yet!? Hopefully it won’t take too long until we’re invited though. We’re ready for India. Is India ready for DARK FUNERAL?
MJM. Thanks for your time! It was a pleasure talking to you!
Lord Ahriman: Thanks for your interest and support! Along with the single, there will be NEW MERCHANDISE available, featuring the cover artwork of the 7 inch.
T-Shirts, Girlies, Backpatches and Strappy Dresses can be ordered from our webstore: DiabolisWear
DARK FUNERAL live: 20.02.2015 Blastfest – Bergen,
NO 15.05.2015 Steelfest – Hyvinkaa,
FIN (Special TSOTBA set) 19.06.2015 Nummirock – Nummijarvi,
FIN 04.07.2015 In Flammen Open Air – Torgau,
DE 22.08.2015 Kaltenbach Open Air – Spital am Semmering,
TRACK DARK FUNERAL TOUR DATES: http://bnds.in/ir9miw
DARK FUNERAL online: Website
Century Media Records online: Website
Century Media webshop: Buy