Have you ever experienced a feeling, when you expect something to turn out one way and then it turns out the other way round? Well this is exactly what happened with us and Lord Arhiman from Dark Funeral, who has kindly consented to give us an exclusive interview, and discuss the latest developments in the band's camp, talk about the soon-to-hit-the-market 'Diabolus Interium', and just chat the evening away on the phone. Lord Arhiman - the living horror of all grandmothers and clerics, the person who promised to teach children to worship Satan, the mastermind behind one of the world's most brutal and uncompromising black metal bands, the man who dared put the picture of his very own baby-daughter between the two inverted cross on the sleeve of his EP - turned out to be nothing you would have expected of a person with such a reputation. Thoughtful, polite, almost unbelievably serious, quiet-voiced, smart, and friendly, in normal life he was the total opposite of the blood-smeared, corpse-painted, beer-devouring and flame-spitting psychopath you see on stage. A devoted father of two little girls and by the same token a 100% percent dedicated metalhead, Lord Arhiman pronounces himself the man of the world and the man of this world, except for his neverending hunger for what he is doing... But all of that was revealed later, and in the meantime I was sitting at home by the phone, dragging on a cigarette, expecting a call from the Lord of All Evil...
MetalKings.com: How's things been going lately?
I can keep on fucking doing this, this is my fucking life and I can't just stop doing this! - Lord Arhiman
Lord Arhiman: Well, we've been pretty busy doing interviews last couple of days.
MetalKings.com: How many interviews have you given so far?
Lord Arhiman: I think we were up to 40 by now…
MetalKings.com: OK, that's a lot, are you tired of them yet?
Lord Arhiman: Yeah, I am starting to get a bit tired of hearing my own voice.
MetalKings.com: Alright, nonetheless let us proceed with the questions, and the first one will be a quote from Joey Jordison of Slipknot: "First of all, Dark Funeral is the shit. If they read this, thank you so much for sending this over! I'd piss myself if I got to talk with Lord Ahriman! They're one of my favourite black metal bands. People never give me stuff like that, and it means a lot to me, 'cause I'm a huge black metal fan. For them to recognise a band like us, which some of you might think is at odds with what we play, that is a very nice gesture." - so what do you make of all this?
Lord Arhiman - tired of hearing his own voice...
Lord Arhiman: Well, I was kind of startled when I heard about that myself!
MetalKings.com: You already heard that?
Lord Arhiman: What I did couple of months ago I was talking to a journalist here in Sweden he was then about to leave to meet up with Slipknot. They started their tour in Lisbon that was the premier of the tour. And this journalist said, hey do you want me to… do you wanna send something to the band? I was like, hey well, give them an advance of our new album and a t-shirt. I also wrote a few lines in a letter and then I heard it was a big thing out of it, which I didn't expect. I mean I know that the guys from Slipknot… there's lots of people who don't respect them for the kind of music they are doing. But I guess people are a bit too narrow-minded. They don't know the background of the guys
and the band, and stuff like that. But the way I found out about them myself, the more respect I get for them. Well, and when they like us as a band - a big band like them its kinda amazing.
MetalKings.com: Would you ever consider doing a tour together with Slipknot?
Lord Arhiman: I guess depending on the circumstances, you know. I wouldn't see a problem to do that. I guess it would be a kind of interesting experience to play in front of their crowd and see the reaction.
MetalKings.com: Ok, with the new album as good as unleashed onto the market, what are the first impressions and expectations, do you feel it's gonna be that very special breakthrough release, as it is the third full-length album. I know you answered this question a thousand times already, but… still?
Lord Arhiman: (Cracks) I don't have really too much expectations for the new album, I mean how it should be received and that thing. It's just an album that we have created and its a way for us you know to put our personalities on issuing the music. And so far I've been kind of surprised at the response, when you see it… I didn't expect that. I mean its very extreme metal album and usually its not that many people who get appealed by this extreme metal. It seems like more people start to get into this kind of music at this time I guess. Yeah… (long pause) Well, I don't really know what to say.
MetalKings.com: Let's put it another way then - is there anything you don't like about the new album?
Lord Arhiman: Not really… I mean… there is a few things… I am not sure whether we did the right thing on some guitar arrangements. It's always gonna be stuff like that. There is more details in all of our albums that after the recording I been a bit sceptical about, but hey that just you know give me more hunger for the next recording, you know, to make sure to do it differently the next time.
MetalKings.com: Another thing which puzzled me, is your recent statements about introducing some of the recent Rammstein 'Mutter' sound into your new album?
"...but it was not like we were trying to do a similar kind of music as Rammstein, because that's not Dark Funeral"
Lord Arhiman: Well, I guess many people have misunderstood what I really meant with that. What I have said was that in the studio… this is not only for Dark Funeral, this is for every band that goes to the studio and records something. You always you know put on some albums that you like or like the production of and use it as a song model. The song model isn't the same as, you know, influence. It doesn't mean that you're doing similar kind of music. This is just the production we were talking about. And we received an advance copy of that album while we were in the studio. It was an advance copy of the Rammstein album. We listened to it, and how the production, I mean its an amazing production. Its really powerful, bad and really big-sounding song-picture. And that was something like we thought, man if we can achieve that kind of power in our production that's gonna be something totally amazing. And that was something that we tried to achieve, but it was not like we are trying to do a similar kind of music as Rammstein, because that's not Dark Funeral.
MetalKings.com: Do you like Rammstein anyway?
Lord Arhiman: Well, not all of it, but I like a lot of it.
MetalKings.com: You think they ever gonna write anything better than 'Du Hast,' or 'Buck Dich,' or 'Du Reicht So Gut'?
Lord Arhiman: I think the song Rammstein is very good!
MetalKings.com: But that's an old song. I mean the new album didn't impress me much.
Lord Arhiman: There is a few slow ballads on the new album that I don't like. But I think its track number 10, I can't recall the name. It's totally kind of speed metal guitar, that's really cool I think
MetalKings.com: As far as I understand your latest was again produced by Peter Tagtgren, and that's already what - the fourth straight album he does?
Lord Arhiman: Let's see… (thinking) it's the third album.
MetalKings.com: Didn't he produce "Teach Children to Worship Satan"?
Lord Arhiman: Oh, it was Tom - his brother.
MetalKings.com: However, as some people might know, earlier in your career you also worked with the infamous Dan Swano? Why didn't you ever use him again?
Lord Arhiman: The cooperation between us and him wasn't that good. It was very good on the mini-CD but… We actually wanted him to record The Secrets of the Black Arts. That was a big mistake. We relocated to another studio and had to start from scratch and re-record the entire album. And after that we felt comfortable of working with Peter and up till today we make a great team together. He's like an additional member to the band. It's important for us of course.
MetalKings.com: What is the lyrical concept of the new release?
Lord Arhiman: I guess Caligula has worked on the explicitness in the lyrics and the message is taken to the more extreme level. And it all goes together - the music and the lyrics. The new album is still based on our satanic point of views and our extreme hate for organized forms of religions. Its all about the war between God and Satan. We also included some new elements within the lyrics new themes, there's one song 'Goddess of Sodomy' - that song is more based on sado-masochistic scheme. Its about finding the pleasure in pain.
MetalKings.com: What are these satanic points of view?
Lord Arhiman: My satanic points of view? I guess over the years I have developed my own kind of philosophy and life-code. I found lots of influences… or maybe not influences… I can find my own personality in a lot of stuff that LaVey was talking about and I have full respect for COS, I have a good connection with them. I even have a project with one of the high priests in COS (namely Vincent Crowly, formerly of Acheron -- MetalKings.com).
"I'm a consultant and I run my own business. I work with graphic designs and marketing."
MetalKings.com: Recently I noticed a new trend in black metal imagery. When it al started it was all about distinctive corpse-paint, swords, and axes. Nowadays bands like Behemoth and Troll are taking this further and on their latest releases they appear armed to their teeth with 12-gate shotguns and hand-cannons. Why do you think is that happening?
Lord Arhiman: Well, I guess it's a natural progression within the scene. Of course to me its very important to stay to the roots. But, still I mean, you need to improve yourself not only musically but also visually. There is a few bands how they visualize their characters in the band nowadays. I can't really agree with everyone, but I am sure not everyone really agree with the way we as Dark Funeral visualize ourselves. But in that prospective you have to find new ways… I have a feeling, you know these pictures you were talking about I can't really make opinions about I have to see them myself, but, as I said, you have to improve yourself also visually and find new ways. As long as you have a real foundation or the spirit behind it, it's all ok with me.
MetalKings.com: You just said that you don't agree with all of the image that goes on the black metal stage nowadays - any names?
Lord Arhiman: Err…. No..
MetalKings.com: OK, who's image do you like the most then?
Lord Arhiman: (Sighs) I don't know. I mean, as long as the bands are really dedicated to what they're doing, and totally live and support their band on the scene as much as they can, as long as they are dedicated to the whole concept they get my respect, you know. And, I'm not the one who should put up any rules, about things so…
MetalKings.com: It's not about putting the rules per se, it's about personal liking or disliking?
Lord Arhiman: You know, I mean, I'm not like an alien or anything. I'm like everybody else. I like some people, and some people I don't like. And you can't work it out liking everybody. But I get a great respect to people who stand strong on their own feet and try to do their own thing, their own way, without letting anyone interfere. You know them people who are dedicated to metal this is something I totally respect with bands. It's lots of them out there but there's also lots of shitty bands.
MetalKings.com: Like what?
Lord Arhiman: I can't really come up with any names right now and I don't like to badmouth people through the media. If I were to meet someone I don't like I'd make sure to let them know that! (cracks and shows he wants to dismiss the subject)
MetalKings.com: Ok, dropped. What were the most weird questions you were asked during these two days?
Lord Arhiman: I think, something I really couldn't get what's with this guy in Germany. He said "Don't you think that the album cover on the new album isn't it too good-looking for a black metal release?"
MetalKings.com: Excuse me?!
Lord Arhiman: I just couldn't get that. I found that a kind of a weird question!
MetalKings.com: Coming to gigs, I guess the strangest one you ever played was in our neighbouring Belarus where you were staged in a circus. What do you think should be the next top-weird place for DF to play?
Lord Arhiman: In a church I guess.
A cover that is too good-looking for a black-metal release...
MetalKings.com: (My turn to crack) That would be certainly weird
Lord Arhiman: Some day.
MetalKings.com: What are your touring plans? Any chance of seeing you, guys, in Russia?
Lord Arhiman: I've been in touch with someone in Moscow who wanna bring us over there to do some shows I would definitely like to go back there, it's interesting. I mean it's so much different in the eastern block countries compared to Scandinavia. I find great interest to travel around the world, and see different cultures. I may not like every country but you need to you know be there and check it out yourself before you can make up you own opinions. And I think its interesting to see different countries and cultures and especially see how the metal scene is in different countries. To meet people with the same music taste as I am in a country far from Scandinavia. That's kind of cool, you know!
MetalKings.com: What was the best ever gig you played?
Lord Arhiman: I think it was Poland and Mexico these two countries we really enjoyed playing in.
MetalKings.com: What was the best support act for Dark Funeral?
Lord Arhiman: (Taking a long pause) I'm thinking, the one tour that I really enjoyed was the tour we did with Cannibal Corpse and Infernal Majesty. That was a great tour Infernal Majesty is a cult band. This was a bill with three bands that played totally different but still had the same hunger for metal. It was indeed an interesting combination for a tour. And it was good to play with Infernal Majesty.
MetalKings.com: What was the funniest ever thing that happened to you on tour?
Lord Arhiman: I don't know. I very much enjoy it when these Christians gather outside the venues trying to blockade the crowd from coming in and trying to close down the show.
MetalKings.com: By the way are pig heads still part of your show?
Lord Arhiman: Sometimes. But not to all of the countries and all of the shows, because people should not know what to expect from a Dark Funeral show. I mean its also a matter of money, we are definitely not a rich band and we can't afford to do the stage show that we would like to do every night. Let's say we have to put up special events and see how much money we have in our own pockets and you know spend it on special events, you know.
"Caligula... took the message to a more extreme level"
MetalKings.com: Does it mean you have to do day jobs?
Lord Arhiman: Yes we have day jobs, all of us.
MetalKings.com: Where do you work?
Lord Arhiman: I'm a consult and I run my own business. I work with graphic designs and marketing.
MetalKings.com: Crematory recently decided to quit the scene and one of the reasons as they stated it was that they were not making enough money on their music, and they couldn't fully concentrate on what they were doing. And besides they had to settle in with their personal lives, and getting a real job, you know. And with the albums not being sold and tickets to their gigs not being sold, the felt that they were forced to quit, Do you think DF might find itself in a situation like that some day?
Lord Arhiman: If we were to, we would have already been in that situation. I mean I have a family myself, I am married, I have kids.
MetalKings.com: How many?
Lord Arhiman: I have one of my own and a step-daughter. It is my own daughter on the picture of the 'Worship' EP. That's my daughter. So I mean I have family, I have kids to raise and I am still totally dedicated to metal.
MetalKings.com: How hard it is to combine both the family and metal?
Lord Arhiman: Its not easy, but its not impossible. And I think people who say, oh, we gotta quit the band because you know, my girlfriend, my job, and shit, they are not fully dedicated to metal, its just a cheap excuse. Because I'm a living fucking prove that it is possible to combine it. That's what I used to say when I heard someone telling that story, well I gonna quit the band because that's happened a few times, I heard someone saying I gonna quit the music, because I gotta do this, and that, and blah-blah-blah - and I'm like, just look at me, I can keep on fucking doing this, this is my fucking life and I can't just stop doing this!
MetalKings.com: Alright, I'm thru with the serious questions, and I saved a bunch of off-the-wall stupid totally shitty questions…?
Lord Arhiman: Well, time is up but make them quick.
MetalKings.com: OK, blast beats were invented by the band called S.O.D., do you agree with that?
Lord Arhiman: I'm not sure. What year would that be? When did they release their first album?
Lord Arhiman: They might have been one of the first couple of bands.
MetalKings.com: Phil Anselmo and his recent connection to black metal what do you make of this?
Lord Arhiman: Just great hunger for metal.
MetalKings.com: A friend of mine, a huge fan of Motorhead and all the other old bands, once said about black metal: "I personally think that Alice Cooper and Kiss should get together and sure everyfuckingbody" - anything to reply to that?
Lord Arhiman: (Cracks) I don't know what to say about that…
Spinal Tap of black metal? - "No, I'm Not Afraid of that..."
MetalKings.com: Given the constant drummer problems DF experiences, do you feel you might soon turn into the Spinal tap of black metal?
Lord Arhiman: No I'm not afraid of that.
MetalKings.com: What's the strangest rumour you ever heard about yourself?
Lord Arhiman: Not long ago I heard that me and Caligula were sent to jail because we have murdered someone. The new album was put to knife, because we were sentenced to lifetime in prison.
MetalKings.com: Who did you murder by the way?
Lord Arhiman: That's something I don't know actually. I just know we were in jail because we have killed some people.
MetalKings.com: How many people did you kill?
Lord Arhiman: A couple.
MetalKings.com: Alright, and as usual whatever you wanna say to your fans in Russia?
Lord Arhiman: I hope to see you all on tour real soon. We hope to be playing in Russia real soon. And… Make sure to check out the new album. Keep on supporting the scene!
-- The authors would like to express their unspeakable gratitude to Iris Bernotat of Focusion P&M for making this interview possible. --
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