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Battered

Na een tiental jaren van goede, afwisselende en immer groeiende albums onder de naam Einherjer was het uiteindelijk toch tijd om de handdoek in de ring te werpen na het uitbrengen van het laatste album in 2004, en ik verwachtte dan ook de eerstkomende tijd niet veel van de oud-muzikanten van Einherjer. Totdat opeens anno 2006 een promo op de plank van mijn kruipkelder onder de brievenbus ploft. Het blijkt één van de betere thrash releases van dit jaar te zijn, gemaakt door een paar kerels onder de noemer Battered. Het blijkt te gaan om een aantal ex-leden van Einherjer die samen met een paar vrienden het debuut album 'Battered' hebben opgenomen. Oprichter en brein achter beide bands, Frode, legt uit waarom Einherjer opgeheven moest worden, hoe Battered hieruit voortkwam en hoe je een knaller van een debuut neerzet.

Door: Jean | Archiveer onder speed / thrash metal

Hilser "Grimar". First, congratulations with your debut album 'Battered' which was really one of the finest thrash releases I've heard lately. Since your biography on the website is detailed, can you please tell our readers shortly how Battered was united?
Grimar…. Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time. Anyway, thank you! I'm glad you liked the album. Battered was formed more or less immediately after the demise of Einherjer. The initial line-up was the Einherjer trio, but the search for new members soon brought us to Ole. A talented bassist who originated from the band Headblock. We continued as a four-piece for a while. We recorded a three track demo with yours truly handling the vocal duties. Definitely a position I never applied for, but the lack of other candidates gave me no choice. I always wanted to bring in another vocalist, simply because that would bring Battered further away from Einherjer. We continued writing songs for the album and during the recording sessions Siggy came by the studio to do a vocal audition and he totally blew us away. The band was completed.

We wrote some letters to each other early 90's considering Einherjer. I have watched the band very closely with its movements and releases ever since. I regret the fact that you guys did split (with many others I think). What do you think was best for you, as a musician and songwriter?
The best thing for us was definitely to move on. After eleven years in the service of Viking metal we came to a point where we needed a change. Einherjer developed a sound that was very special. We didn't want to ruin what we built with Einherjer with a total change in style, so a new band was the way to go. A new way to unleash our aggression, other than wrapped up in 1000 years old myths.

As Einherjer founder and main man, was it hard to send Einherjer to its own Valhalla for you?
It wasn't exactly hard, but it was definitely a bit strange. Einherjer had been a very important part of my life for many years, so naturally there were some mixed feelings when the band was laid to rest.

Were you walking around in Einherjer with the idea and ambitions in the end of 2004 to start a totally new band like Battered?
Well, Einherjer split up in February 2004 so we were well under way with writing material for Battered by the end of 2004, but I guess the idea for Battered came pretty early. I remember when we travelled from Stavanger to London, to play what was to be the very last Einherjer gig; we discussed what it would be like to form a thrash metal band. So I guess the seed was sawn even before Einherjer split up.

Why did you invite Gerhard and Aksel - both ex-Einherjer - to join Battered?
I didn't. They were both there from the start.

How did you come up with Siggy for vocalist and Ole as bassist. Both of them are familiar from their former band Headblock. What is the link between Headblock and Einherjer?
Both Ole and Siggy were friends of ours. Ole was the first bassist we considered, and he was totally up for the job. Siggy came at a later stage, mainly due to the fact that we, or at least I, didn't think he was singing anymore. We auditioned a few other vocalists before Siggy, but none made an impression worth mentioning. Siggy had all the right qualities we were looking for. Both of them originated from the local underground act, Headblock. They did a few support jobs for Einherjer during the Norwegian Native Art period, so we knew what they were good for.

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In my review of 'Battered' I've mentioned that the music was not what one should expect from musicians whom shared membership in Einherjer as well as Headblock. Why did you choose to play straight, fast thrash metal?
Thrash metal is probably the genre we praise above all. We all grew up with bands like Slayer, Kreator, Metallica and thrash metal in general. After many years mixing music with visual imagery, we were all up for doing something that needed little or no ornaments at all. Added the fact that thrash metal is definitely the genre that has inspired us the most, the choice was simple.

With all your individual musical interests and influences Battered succeeded to make a debut that is right in the middle of all kinds of genres and styles. Was this not sometimes hard for all of you when you wrote material? Does everyone contribute his parts or is there a certain leadership in the band in the existence of one person?
The album was quite easy to write when we finally woke up from the Einherjer mode. In the beginning we didn't quite know what direction we were heading, but when the songwriting started to shape up songs just kept coming. This album was basically written by the Einherjer trio, but everyone contributes in one way or the other. Democracy is the key in Battered. Einherjer was an institution lead by dictators, and that was another element we wanted to change with Battered.

Siggy really kicks ass with his vocals on 'Battered'. His style reminds me of a mix from (older) Kreator/Slayer/Pantera. I even recognized some Cathedral gutturals on the track 'Demagog'. Is Siggy always that variable or does Battered releases all the best out of him?
Yes, I am very happy with his contributions to the album. His vocal style is just as intense as I like it. All the songs were already written when Siggy joined the band, so he only had a few weeks to come up with lyrics and vocal arrangements. He did a great job, but I'm sure we'll hear other sides of him as well on the next album.

You produced and engineered the album all by your self. Being objective as a musician in the same band of which you produce the album from is hard to manage. What are your tricks on that?
No, wasn't hard to manage at all. It was an advantage. When you know all the songs really well, it's easier to determine what the songs really need to achieve what's already in your head, so to speak. In terms of engineering it's also an advantage, because you know exactly how the song is arranged. It's definitely the working method we will use for our next album as well.

Are you satisfied as a musician AND as the bands producer with the result of 'Battered' as a debut album?
Yes, definitely!

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Are you not afraid that Battered will be labelled as the extension from Einherjer? After all, the more important musicians from your former band are re-united in this band. Einherjer fanciers will make this link very easily. Understandable, don't you think?
Actually, all members from Einherjer are "re-united" in Battered. Well, "re-united" is not the right word, because we ended that co-operation, but yes, I've noticed that in almost every review of the Battered album, Einherjer is mentioned and I have no problem with that. Battered is a new band and the readers need a link in order to sort out who these people are, but comparing Battered to Einherjer does not serve any of the bands any justice. We are looking at two totally different musical expressions here, and I think it is important not to mix it up.

Well, to ask who your influences are in general while making music is a bit obvious by now, seen your background in discography. But what I dearly want to know is what bands/artists are responsible to make this twist to thrash metal in which Battered easily succeeds to create.
I can only speak for myself, and my most important thrash metal influences are bands like Slayer, Kreator, Destruction, Coroner, Sabbat, etc

Lyrically the band talks about modern problems and feelings and how to find solutions to them. In contradiction to Einherjer this is also quit a big difference on concepts and interests. Why make also a lyrical departure from your old habits? Who writes the lyrics for Battered?
Keeping the same lyrical approach as Einherjer would be meaningless. Viking themes have nothing to do with Battered. 'Demagog' was written by Gerhard, 'Industrial Killing' are my harsh words and the rest was written by Siggy.

Where do you think Battered stands in about three years from now?
Above all the rest, laughing in everyone's general direction…. No, seriously I wish Battered will be working on the follow-up for our hugely successful second album.

Are you guys powered by a management team? If so, is there any movement in the band towards festivals or touring opportunities this year?
Yes, we have a manager, and we are currently working towards this summer's festivals. Several gigs are booked for Norway and Sweden and a tour is vaguely planned for the autumn. Check our website for updates later.

Why is the debut album released through Tabu Records in Europe and through Candlelight Records in the States? Is this purely a distribution matter?
European import is poor solution. License is the way to go. Candlelight Records knows the US marked very well, so the co-operation with them is very good for us and for Tabu.

Are there plans to kick some serious American asses overseas with touring in the States?
We will definitely try to get something going in the US in the course of 2006. As I mentioned, we have several gigs & festivals planned for Norway and Sweden and we are currently working to set up more dates and festival appearances across Europe and the United States. Festivals and gig promoters should feel free to contact us. We are very eager to present the band and the album from a stage, where our kind of music belongs. Keep checking our website and we'll keep you posted!

Let us move away from the band for a while. Please give your comment on the following persons/artists by putting some reactions behind their names.

Trey Azagthoth (guitarist Morbid Angel): Great guitar player.
Lars Refn (Danish cartoonist for Jyllands-Posten): He got way more than he bargained for.
Bon Scott (former vocalist AC/DC): A legend!
Byron Roberts (vocalist Bal Sagoth): No opinion
Abbath (guitarist/vocalist Immortal): Great musician, good friend, and possessor of the best vocals in the history of black metal.

Next but not least question appears to become my trademark to end an interview. I guess I'm just curious what artists will do in the following situation: Suppose your house is on fire and you can only save THREE releases from the devastating flames. Which albums will escape the flames?
Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss
Einherjer - Blot
Battered - Battered

Well Frode, I wish Battered all the best for the future. May success and health shine on your path to become a great band. Thanks for filling in all questions asked and all space below is yours to express some mind haunting ideas or words in general. Anything is permitted since Lords of Metal is a patron of freedom of press. So curse, shout, vomit or kindly say anything you come up with that you want to share with our readers.
Thanks for the interview! I encourage all readers to visit your local CD store and pick up a copy of "Battered". If you are in doubt, download "Oblivion Awaits" fromhttp://www.battered.no

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