Planetmosh caught up with King of Asgard bassist, Jonas Albrektsson to chat about the Norsemen’s latest album ‘Karg‘.
1. The new album ‘Karg’ was released in July, what would you say are the main themes and influences on this new album?
“Karg”, (barren) the actual word, pretty much set the atmosphere and influenced us during the period of writing this album. It also in the way kept us as well as the musical approach stripped down. The outcome is darker and there is less hope and joy to say it metaphorically. Imagine a dead landscape stricken by the harsh wings of history. The old times was difficult times and that’s something we tried to capture and solely as to begin with with the word “Karg” as a guideline along the way. Guess we came close to it as it’s not as easy to get into this album as the predecessors but once there the landscapes takes its shapes and beyond the “barren” our creation manifest.
We picked the title “Karg” right away whence we came up with it, we just felt it was right due to where our first steps of this album were aiming and from there on influences and themes unraveled themselves to us during the process. it all shaped in a King of Asgard form. It’s also more personal this time dealing with our immediate surroundings. The close by ancestral remnants we daily pass by but not really consider, so we’re influenced and honour our homestead area and its rich historical ground.
2. How do you feel the King of Asgard sound has progressed/changed since the previous album ‘To North’?
The difference these days I would say is that we’re much more picky on the material and focus much more on finishing with details and structures. That’s probably not very clear when listening as you only get to hear the finished result but for us the songs made a lot of runs in change and so forth. So, for our progression these two go hand in hand. We demand much more of perfection all the way from writing and until the final recording and with that our experience comes helping us out as we these days know how to work and has during the years learnt which way to go. This being from the very first steps to adding words and to record the stuff in the best possible way. I wouldn’t say “Karg” was easy to put together but somehow it worked out fine as we really know how to deal with stuff these days, especially me and Karl who put all the basics and overall material together. We’ve found a good way of working together and we know eachother extremely well which removes lots of trouble and unnecessary elements. We’ve put higher demands on our selves and King of Asgard which, in a positive way, pushed us further and to the highest peeks. Our worst enemy is time rather than demands and thus a more professional output. It’s also more mature and in a way true to ourselves and thus it reflects upon the result. “Karg” marks a natural step into a more personal sound and showcase a brand that present King of Asgard.
3. How did the band go about the whole writing process for the new album?
I think we worked on the songwriting, in full focus that is, for about a year on this album. The last song was finished just a few weeks before we entered Sonic Train Studios but nothing’s set until it’s on the master. We constantly change things during the writing process going back and forth. Same goes for the recording, things that comes up like background choir, guitars in different harmonies and stuff like that are carefully taken care of. There are parts written already back on the “…to North” session or even earlier that never fit in the songs or for whatever the reason. The music is made and put together by Karl and me into full songs before we present it and take it to the rehearsal for further work and progress as well as input from the others. So there’s countless of hours and wide stretched period of time where this process take form, where creativity flow, sometimes on its own and sometimes to be forced. I guess we felt a couple of weeks before the studio that we were done and finished, pre-productions of all songs were made and we felt safe on entering the next level, being the finalization of “Karg”.
4. Are there any plans to tour this record in the UK?
Unfortunately there’s no tours nor festivals planned at this writing moment in and through the United Kingdom, too bad. Right now we’re putting all our focus on the release and the promotion of the album but hopefully we’ll be able to come out sooner than later and meet our followers. Would surely be awesome to present some of the new songs from stage.
5. How well has ‘Karg ’ been received from fans?
Really well. Up until now the reaction on the new album has been great and a bit above our expectations. Reviews, press/media, the fan reactions and general comments etc. thus far have been awesome and underlined what we also feel about this release. The reaction to the first single “The Runes of Hel” was great, no doubts on that, and from there on it just kept on coming, which of course is flattering and some kind of a relief on that something is going in a good direction. We felt very safe, and are sure, and confident that it’s a good album; but it’s in many ways a new gem coming for the fans and thus we were not sure on how and what the reactions would be like. People seem to take the time they need to get into “Karg” and embrace it with an open mind. So, we were indeed excited and eager as to how it would be received, but in a confident way. We feel strong and victorious with an ounce of uncertainty, just the way it should be. We feel really good about the album and are very proud with what we achieved and as a bonus, the fans seem to think so as well.
6. If you could tour with any one band, who would that be?
Since Bathory is counted out of the picture in this manner it’s of course and sadly out of question but sure would be something. Anyway, I think probably some like Ereb Altor or maybe Einherjer could be a fitting choice. Not that important really, what we need is to get out there but sure, a good companion we appreciate would be great.
7. For anyone checking you out for the first time how would you best describe King of Asgard’s sound?
In brief, we create the music we appreciate the most ourselves, praising our personal masters with power and atmosphere. Discovering the roots of death and black metal and to that we add folkish tunes and traditional melodies from our part of the world. Not very innovative but that’s never been a purpose from our side.
8. You recorded ‘Karg’ with Andy LaRocque at the helm, as on the previous albums. What is it King of Asgard like about working with him?
We once again invited Andy LaRocque to join our crusade. This for the third time as the last two albums were recorded at Sonic Train Studios. It’s a steady relationship we’ve built up and it’s a comfortable and a somewhat safe choice for us as we’ve got limited recording time in the studio. We have returned to Sonic Train Studios and Andy because it is very, as said, comfortable and great to work both with him as person, engineer and co-producer as in his studio and also this time we also got to work with his co-worker Olof Berggren. We have built a strong partnership where both parties are pleased and work very effectively together. We are both driven to constantly take King of Asgard a step further and with Andy as co-producer it gives us a lot and we push ourselves constantly to the ultimate. It has never been said though that it is the only studio for King of Asgard. It’s just the way it has turned out and the future will show where the next turn will take us. Andy is an awesome dude who has the right tools for us as a band to use and thus to accomplish what we want to achieve. Our visits gets more relaxed and at the same time more professional and more effective, so our sessions looks pretty much the same but are on a higher level. We enjoy working with Andy, as does he with King of Asgard. A great combination and basic foundation for an even greater production where he makes realization of our visions or as you put it a quite good production.
9. You’ve released a video to accompany ‘The Runes of Hel’, are there any plans to produce more videos for this album?
Nope, no such plans at this moment. Not saying it ever would happen but most likely not as it demand much time, effort and some cash to that.
10. ‘Omma’ is to my ears the best track on the album can you briefly describe its meaning and the story behind it?
Well, it’s a special song in many ways that’s for sure, at least for King of Asgard manners. We built this song solely on the chorus (“choir singing Omma”) to start with. We built pretty much everything based on that and thus it turned out being quite different as we wanted it to take turns and show different moods. Me and Karl wrote about half each so that’s also something of importance regarding the outcome. We felt right away it was special and for me personally I rank it, as you, really as one of the top songs. I think maybe this one has most thought behind and it’s written with intention all through and also at an early stage. “Omma” is probably the one we most hit the spot on with harsh and stripped down song writing, really a perfect mix and still with emotion and presence.
“Omma”, the Queen of Mist, is an enchanted queen who, is said, should have lived during the pre-Christian times on “Omberg”; Omberg being a mountain close to where we live and also the mountain depicted on the album cover. Omma is mentioned in several series of stories covering the surrounding countryside. and she’s part in many myths and legends covering this particular mountain, written in book or mouth to mouth tales etc. but this is our story.
11. You base your music on local legends and folk tales do you see this as a modern medium for keeping these stories alive for future generations?
Hm, not thought on why really, but sure it’s a good way to keep them alive and retell them in a new forum or medium. We mainly do it in honour of our forefathers and praise our ancestral ground, to let others know of our rich history and immediate surrounding. We have so much around us so why not take the opportunity in using it in such a perfect fitting medium and thus as you say, future generations can take part in it as well. Make ends meet.
Cheers and thanks for supporting King of Asgard!
You can read a full review of the album HERE.