Turn loose the wolves...
Although "Blackdoor Miracle" dates back almost
seven years, for drummer Jontho it's never up for discussion to forsake RAGNAROK. With a new line-up and the highly anticipated
"Collectors Of The King" he hauls off the next blow.
"In many people's eyes it would be the best thing
to bear RAGNAROK to its grave but I'm a fighter and I have more or less focused the whole time on what I'll do next to get
RAGNAROK back on its feet instead of letting it go. It has been hard from time to time and I have been digging deep inside
myself to find inspirations to continue - but every time it comes to the same decision: DON'T GIVE UP."
Thence it feels great for Jontho to be waiting in the wings with a new album. "Of course, and it makes life worth
living again. I'm looking very much forward to being back in the scene and play our music to the masses once again." This circumscription makes us prick our ears. Does he think that things are different 2010 compared to
2004? "Well, besides that the scene is overloaded with shitty bands trying to play black metal I haven't noticed too
much difference yet in the scene. But I have a feeling that I will soon enough. On the other hand the scene and the world do
change too fast, and it's hard to keep up. But we're back and hungry as wolves so I see everything as just another challenge
Listening to "Collectors Of The King" one can't help but notice immediately the ace cooperation of
the Norwegian quartet. In spite of the fact that we're talking about a new line-up the constellation Jontho, HansFyrste, Decepticon
and Brigge has been in existence for several years already. "That started as early as 2006 when I met Brigge through
some friends in some bands you maybe know from before? They are called Dimmu Borgir and Khold or something like that. Anyway,
I started to talk with this guy and really liked his attitude and person right away. He was a big fan of RAGNAROK from before
and told me that he knew many of our songs already on the guitar. That made me very interested and I really wanted to hear if
he was full of shit or onto something. That resulted in a rehearsal down in the basement of my biker-club and I'll be damned.
That guy played four or five songs immediately except some minor wrong tunes here and there. He was also very enthusiastic
about playing in RAGNAROK and I wanted to try him out more. I then got him in touch with our former guitarist Rym to learn
all the details he didn't know right and also to get tablatures of the songs I had planned for future live sets. Rym was
very helpful, and suddenly Brigge knew eight songs and we continued to rehearse and get to know each other better. After doing
this for a while I looked at Brigge as a fulltime member."
Brigge in turn establishes the contact to
HansFyrste who is very dedicated to the black metal life style. Jontho's interest is sparked again but before a rehearsal
takes place, Brigge brings along another friend named Decepticon. As Brigge and Decepticon can rehearse together in Oslo,
the pressure of the first rehearsal as a band weighs predominantly on HansFyrste. "And that was
something you could really feel, too, but the little man with the strong voice scored full pot in my head." The live
performance at the Storm Of Destruction festival turns out to be the acid test which is passed by all with flying colours.
"All of them did a great show and then became members of RAGNAROK. But it would be a bit too early to talk about this line-up
being stable. They have to be strong when we have ups and downs and stay professional, do great live performances on hard
tours but also keep on showing their enthusiasm to help the band grow bigger and stronger."
With Jontho being sort of a control freak he keeps an eye on everything regarding RAGNAROK but appears democratically when it
comes to creating the music. "I know and tell what the basic lines in our music will be and what is my
vision concerning the music and lyrical themes. But from there on everyone in the band can come up with ideas and I'm very open
for it if it's constructive. Brigge is the main composer and HansFyrste is responsible for the lyrics. So far it works out
nicely." Still we also find some old lyrics which were written by Espen Dyngen back to 1994. As Espen helped out with
lyrics on "Blackdoor Miracle" as well it seems almost like a dear tradition. "I wouldn't call it a
tradition but I have to say that Espen Dyngen is a guy who knows what he's talking about, and he's a great poet as well as a
friend that we felt had lyrics that had aspects to it that also took part in the rest of the philosophy. It also marks the
band's 15th anniversary, being in existence from 1994 to 2009 as the album was supposed to be released then."
The rest of the philosophy... at this point HansFyrste doesn't miss the chance of contributing some insights on the lyrical concept of
"Collectors Of The King". "The lyrics all work around the true passions towards our misanthropy. The
doom of mankind will come in many forms, possessed souls gathering his wisdom, occult rituals bringing or demanding power,
and torture just for the pleasures. I truly believe that in order to gain full wisdom and awareness you have to please the
portal holding the secrets. Whether you define this portal to yourself as Satan or not is not my decision to take but I know
what I call mine..." And regarding the album title Jontho adds that "the king is the force and
era of Satan. The collectors are the ones gaining everything from wisdom, power and trust to the honoured to enter through his
portal and fully gain a conscious mind."
The production-related portal is located in Sweden's Norrköpping and guarded by Magnus Devo Andersson. Jontho is full of
praise about this cooperation and the resulting sound as "Collectors Of The King" has a rougher, slightly dirtier and more
natural sound than "Blackdoor Miracle". "Hey, something tells me that you really have done your homework
listening to the album:-) Because I totally agree with you on this one, and I feel that we've created a more old school sound
with this album. Also the songs are much more aggressive and faster. I really like the sound of "Blackdoor Miracle" but compared
to "Collectors Of The King" the sound is more 'clinical' I think. All of this at the same time is an improvement for us. But
I need to mention that we've managed to keep the RAGNAROK 'feeling' in the songs! I'm happy about the whole production and the
cooperation with Devo.
He is a solid musician and a hell of a producer. He knows his stuff behind the wheels and is a great laid-back guy who fits
in with us perfectly. It was great to work with someone who understands black metal and also gave some pointers when we needed
them concerning the sound and producing in general. Yes, I'm 100 per cent satisfied with the result having in mind that this
was the first recording with a totally new line-up and working in a new studio. We spent one month in the studio and that's
a long time living in a bunker without windows. A lot of negative forces where flying around in those rooms and affected our
minds to come out with the final result I can tell you, hehehe." The lion's share of the material is in the bag when
RAGNAROK enter Endarker Studio but still one song comes into being between recording sessions.
"Yes, more or less everything was done except the song 'Wisdom Of Perfection' which was created in the studio. This is also
one of my favourite songs on the album. A real old school black metal bastard the way it should be. We have a tendency to make
good songs while recording because the title song to "Blackdoor Miracle" was made in the studio as well."
A myspace blog of March 2009 reveals studio activities - drums being laid on eight songs and the recording of the
guitars about to begin. Now it's the end of January 2010 so one has to wonder why there's such a huge span of time between
the recordings and the album release on March 22nd, 2010. "Well, first of all we used all in all a
whole month in the studio and the plan was to release the album in September if I don't remember totally wrong. That would not
be too bad because we need about three months for promotion, and to release something in the summer months is almost suicide
for both the band and the label. No one sells a lot of albums in the summer. But then we had to face the fact that the label
needed to take care of other, more important priorities first. So bands as Marduk, Dark Funeral and Gorgoroth were released
throughout September and October 2009. I totally understand the label's decision, and it was better to wait and then get the
proper promotion we need instead of drowning between the bigger bands. But one day we will be that big priority so not hard
feelings. Now is now so we rather enjoy the work with a late release than no release at all."
With a label like Regain Records this should be no problem as they never stop believing in RAGNAROK.
"Well, we still had a valid contract but renegotiated new terms for a new contract. But Regain have always been interested
in us and right now I feel the promotion is very strong. So I just hope that the albums will sell a lot and everyone gets
happier and happier."
Happy are those who are able to attend one of the few and rare live appearances with the current line-up but have to wait for new material mostly in vain, though. "There were only two live performances I think. One was at the Storm Of Destruction festival where we played only older songs. As I said before that was to check out if the new line-up could manage them live. The second festival we did was in Austria one year later. There we did play two new songs and the feedback was great. We performed 'Collectors Of The King' and 'Burning The Earth' which will also appear in our live set on the Russian tour, together with a song never played before - 'Murder'. I bet a lot of our German fans look forward to hearing that song live as at every gig we did back in 2004 someone from the mosh pit was asking for it. Now you will get it together with nine other songs!!!! Certainly it's too early to say how the audience will react but if you are refering to the gigs mentioned it was just GREAT!"
There is a reason for RAGNAROK making themselves scarce and one has to say it's beyond their power. Tours are repeatedly planned and canceled again. Russia will finally know the true promise of a small RAGNAROK tour but there are no plans for Europe yet.
"We also had a tour planned for Mexico but it was canceled just a week before departure, and we always get pissed off when that happens. But the whole music business is crowded with dubious promoters so what can I say. Getting used to it, even that I would rather be without that kind of shit! I feel that the Russian tour will be something good for us because we have only played one gig there back in 2004 so that's something I'm looking forward to. And so far everything looks like it will happen. I'm not the most positive guy in the world so I don't take anything for granted before I'm on my way, though. About Europe we do have some different offers but nothing too good yet so, no, I can't tell you anything concrete at this time. But with that being said - and to the promoters who will read this article - we can be reached for booking at this address: BOOKING(at)RAGNAROKHORDE.COM or INFO(at)THEFLAMINGARTS.ORG"
Finally to something wholly different. In another interview Jontho states that it'll take a hundred years until people would be able to exist without religions... when all who know what religions are have died. Going back in the history of man this seems to be a bit unreproducible as religions must've come up from some people's mind in the first place. So wouldn't it be rather a never ending story that people crave for explanations and would start developing religions over and over again...? "Yes, that's maybe how it'll develop because humankind will never be strong enough to live without religions and to start believing in itself. But I like the thought and beliefs that it'll be people who can believe in themselves and never crave for false explanations and then developing religions again! But it'll take hundreds of years after the death of religions. So long that no one has heard about it... maybe after the end of this world, and maybe in a new one - if the world will be a place to live in after the big death when the sun swallows the earth or something!!! Anyway, science as well as more and more people walk that way and religions are continuously growing weaker... One day it'll be like that I think. Not in my time but some time in the future... I'm a psychic, you know, hehehe."
Alas, let's hear the infamous final words from the mouth of the prophet: "Thank you very much for showing your interest in RAGNAROK once again and for a great chat. Looking forward to meeting you in Europe again this year when on tour or at festivals. As I have been told we'll play at the Ragnarok festival in Germany and the Infernal Damnation VII at the Underworld in London.
Hopefully more festivals will book us - please write to the addresses mentioned above!"
For further information check out the RAGNAROK website
or their myspace page.