I was pleasantly surprised by your demo 'Attergangar' and I noticed that I wasn't the only one. Did the many positive reactions surprise you?
Thanks, I'm glad people enjoy the demo. We have put a lot of time and effort into it, and of course it is rewarding to get good feedback. I can't say that I'm surprised that the overall response has been very
positive, because I personally think it's a quality demo. We have worked a lot with both arrangements and details, and I think the production is good for a demo. But having said that, I'm surprised at the fact that we still haven't gotten a single bad review. With the diversity in musical tastes you find within the metal genre, we are bound to be verbally slaughtered by someone sooner or later.
As Cor Scorpii is still a young and unknown group can you give our readers an introduction?
Cor Scorpii is a Norwegian band that was founded in 2004. The band originally consisted of six members. Stian Bakketeig (lead guitar) Jørn Holen (drums) and I (Gaute Refsnes, keyboards) used to play in Ulcus and Windir. Rune Sjøthun (rhythm guitars), Inge Jonny Lomheim (bass) and Thomas Øvstedal (vocals) have been part of the local metal scene for years and they are very skilled musicians. Recently Jørn parted ways with Cor Scorpii due to his obligations to Vreid, but we hope to have a new drummer in place shortly. The idea of starting a project of my own came years ago, but it wasn't until the tragic death of Windir frontman Terje “Valfar” Bakken, the idea turned into a real band. The band released its first demo entitled Attergangar, at the end of 2005. The four tracks combined extreme metal with classical and folk music.
Musically you are clearly very much in the vein of Windir, which isn't surprising because three of you were members of Windir. Should Cor Scorpii be considered as a continuation of this band?
No, not at all. Windir is a finished chapter, and the band will only live on in our memories and through the music. None of the members in Cor Scorpii wrote music or lyrics for Windir, so even though we have common members, the band environment is totally different. I also think that the material on the demo is quite different from what we did with Windir, but most reviewers seem to disagree with me, hehe. Anyway, I don't really care about the comparison, because I'm very proud of what we accomplished with Windir. This is who we are, and I think it is only natural that you recognize some of the elements from our past. We have the same influences and musical background, and we grew up in the same surroundings. We will not change our style and musical preferences just to make something different. In fact, I think some of the new material is more similar to Windir than the songs on Attergangar.
By now most of you are known musicians in the black playing in other bands. Bands that have a record label behind them. Why is it that Cor Scorpii is still lacking this? Are there any labels that have showed interest yet? Because I sure would like to hear a full-length album!
When I decided to start this band, it was like starting from scratch again. We had not been very much involved in the business side of things with our earlier bands, and it didn't feel right to start contacting labels with nothing but namedropping. We wanted to present our own material rather than what we had done in the past, and in the end we recorded this demo. It was originally meant as a “teaser” for labels only, but we ended up pressing both cds and covers, and a limited number of demos were made available for fans and media. We recently signed a deal with up and coming Dutch label Descent productions. We were in contact with a few other labels, but we soon realized that Descent was a good place for us to be. They are ambitious, believe in the band and communication is good. If everything goes according to plan, we will release our debut album during the first part of 2007. I can promise an epic journey packed with melodies and harmony hell.
When writing melodic pagan black metal like you do, how do you prevent the music to start sounding “happy”?
Our music is influenced by classical music, a genre that's exceptional at portraying emotions through music. We are drawn towards the darker parts of the genre, and we bring this into our music. The choice of chords and melodies determines the atmosphere of a song. We like our metal black, thus we use minors extensively. Switching between minors and majors also works fine for sad and sombre purposes.
The incorporation of classical styled piano in the music is a new element, compared to the music of Windir. For me it works excellent, it gives the music extra depth. You are currently working on new material, will it feature more of this type of instrumentation?
I have always found the piano to be a great sounding instrument. It has a lot of depth, and it is perfect for creating different moods. When incorporated in extreme metal, it mixes beauty and aggression, and I really like to use this effect in my compositions. There could have been a lot more piano on the demo, but we dropped some parts that didn't contribute enough to the songs. I also think the impact gets stronger when used moderately. It's hard to say to what extent, but the classical piano will definitely be a feature on the upcoming album too. It is pretty much used in the same way as on the demo, to create the desired atmospheres of certain parts of the songs.
Do you have a certain fixed subject you deal with or are your topics of a wider nature?
On the demo, each song has its own life and topic. The lyrics mainly focus on the darker sides of existence and the human mind. They are written in both English and Norwegian, depending on the mood of the song. “Transcendental Journey”, for instance, is an aggressive song which deals with rage and hatred. “Fall of man” looks at how the universe can hold the key to Mankind's evolution and/or sudden extinction. One of the Norwegian songs, “Attergangar”, deals with a northern tale about a child who is born outside of marriage and left in the woods to die. According to old superstitions the dead child would return and seek vengeance upon his mother. We have a few ideas for concepts that we are working on, but I can't say when or if we'll ever actually use them. In general, I think a fixed lyrical concept can make a record interesting, and give it a strong identity.
Has Cor Scorpii been playing live already? Do you have something special to offer live?
We haven't played live yet, but we have standing offers to do so. As soon as we have found a new drummer, we will focus on rehearsing a live set. It's a challenge to recreate our music in a live environment, because there is a lot happening all the time. As something must be left out, the expression is more brutal and straight forward. Judging from our rehearsals so far, it will sound killer. Whether or not we have something special to offer is hard to say at present time. We will not be running around in Lordi outfits on stage, that's for sure. The goal is to create a package where the visual and musical aspects go hand in hand.
What are your ambitions for the future besides getting a deal?
Our main ambition is simply to make the best fucking music possible. We want to be able to listen to our albums, and be proud of our work. That's the motivation for making this kind of music, and the reason we spend every waking hour doing so. Another goal is to do some touring. To be able to travel around doing what we like the most, meeting fans and like-minded people face to face and seeing their reactions to what we do. Metal is a lifestyle, we might as well live it.
I wish you the best of luck and I leave you with the final thoughts…
Thanks for the interview. I hope to see you all when Cor Scorpii destroys a stage near you. Until then, check out www.corscorpii.net for samples and updates about the band.