First of all, how are you doing?
Mads G: We're doing great. Working hard on new stuff and keeping the old and older stuff sharp. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.
Since this constitutes the first Pantheon I interview for Lords of Metal; could you give our readers a short history of your band?
Mads G: Short history: We came into being, we saw what was needed and filled that need.
Sagstad: Yes, I agree with Mads, but the tad longer “short” story is that the band got started in 2002 as an outlet for our hunger of extreme and melancholic music. When we started the band we wanted to add some extra elements to enhance the melancholic aspect of the music, and we ended up using a cello and violin. The thought of using synth NEVER crossed our mind, as this is the most horrible instrument ever to have been allowed into metal! And why the hell use crap when you can use the real deal? After some years we excluded the violin as the music of Pantheon-I started to head for a much darker landscape. Ever since the beginning of the band we have had many changes in the line-up, been through a whole lot of shit and met a whole bunch of assholes. But on the brighter side, we have also met a lot of insanely cool people, played many unforgettable concerts and are now about to release our third full-length album.
I wish to congratulate you with your excellent third album 'Worlds I Create'. I think it's a definite improvement over 'The Wanderer And His Shadow'. How has the response for 'Worlds I Create' been until now?
Sagstad: Thanks for the kind words! It has not been until the last few days that we have started to see some reviews popping up and they have been really good. And before the reviews we have only showed the album to friends and our label, and it is kinda difficult to get a good reading from them. But I must say, from what we have heard, we have definitely done something right on this album!
The production has been improved significantly. It is powerful, clear and still not too polished. Do you feel that you obtained the sound you aimed for?
Sagstad: Yes, we are very satisfied with the sound this time! Me and Kvebek finally found the power we have been looking for in the guitars from Mesa-Boogie amplifiers. One of the best feelings ever is the feeling of Mesa-Boogie making your balls shake from the guitar chugging;) We are also very satisfied with Strand Studios who did everything from recording to mixing the album. He did a good job making the audible hell clear and powerful! As you may have noticed, we are not strangers when it comes to adding a lot of melodies to our music. So I guess Pantheon-I is not the easiest band to work with in a studio setting.
Your new album is, compared to your earlier work, generally faster and more aggressive, but also has extra layers beneath the surface. How did the song-writing differ for this album to get to this new type of songs for Pantheon I?
Sagstad: As the years have gone by we have experienced a lot of new things as persons, evolved as musicians and generally gotten older and more grumpier. All of this tends to kick in when we make music and colour it some way or another. The song writing process has been exactly the same as for the previous albums, and that is all of us joining in and making the songs at rehearsal. We have always tried to push our limits when it comes to making songs, and our philosophy is that there is no point in making a new song that has less potential than the previous one. So every new Pantheon-I song have to CRUSH all the other songs, or else it will not be approved!
The use of the cello is particularly interesting since they not only play a supporting role but also take the lead at times. Could you tell us about how you feel the cello enhances your music?
Sagstad: The cello plays a very important role in Pantheon-I, and when i say the cello, I also talk about the girl behind the cello. She has an insanely awesome talent when it comes to making the perfect cello melody to the songs. And on the new album she has really outdone herself; I have lost count of how many times the cello have made my hair stand in the back of my neck. The cello is also one of the most powerful instruments ever made, so it fits perfectly into our vision for the music of Pantheon-I.
Do the songs deal with one specific subject? What inspires Pantheon I?
Sagstad: We have a really strong focus against humanity and religion on our new album. Our old albums also dealt with these subjects but not as focused as our latest effort. Living in a country like Norway with so many 'over the top, happy go lucky'-Christians, and with the plague of Islam grasping its hold, there is no problem in finding inspiration. A walk down the main street in Oslo, seeing all these sheep-minded-religious-idiots gives me tons of inspiration to make both music and write lyrics. We are not an anti-Christian band, we are an anti-religious band. It doesn't matter if you believe in Satan, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, Paul McKenna or any like-minded jokers, it is still the same thing!
The drumming on the album is top-notch! Done by Mads G., how much of an impact did he have on the musical direction of Pantheon I?
Sagstad: There is nothing top-notch about Mads G, or, okay I agree, his drumming is top notch. BUT THATS IT! Getting him to join Pantheon-I have made a huge impact on our music! His technical skills and speed have pushed the entire band to a new level. Sadly Mads G was only involved in making two songs on 'Worlds I Create' as he got asked to play with us two months before entering the studio. BUT We have already started making songs for our next album, and I can already say that they crushes 'Worlds I Create'.
My personal favourite song of the album is 'Ascending'. This is because of the beautiful clean vocals it harbours. Truly emotional. What is your favourite song? And why haven't the clean vocals been used on other songs as well? I wanted more of them!
Mads G: My personal fav is 'Burn the Cross'. I like them all, but this song is just one nail above the other ones. It's such a heinous brutal assault on the ears. Starts of nice and slow, and when the hammer drops, everything is just reduced to ashes. I love the odd-time, multi layers of vocals, hypnotic sickening guitar riffs and the massive build-up at the end. I like the rage and violence of the song.
Sagstad: The song that stands the most out for me at the moment is 'Defile The Trinity'. This was actually the first song we made for the album, and I just love the riffs and arrangements in the song. The chorus of this song is also a big rock 'n' roll moment for me!
What's next on the agenda? Touring? Festivals? What do you want to accomplish with Pantheon I in the near and distant future?
Mads G: Yes, touring, festivals, new songs, gig's and world domination. It's an eternal ongoing process.
Sagstad: We hope to be able to do a lot of touring in Europe this autumn, and judging by the things we are working on now, things look really bright! So keep checking our website or MySpace for updates and maybe we'll roll up in your town and wreak havoc!!!
Thank you very much for your time and the final words to our readers are yours.
Sagstad: We just released an e-single available on iTunes and amazon.com. The single is called 'Serpent Christ' and consists of two songs. Our new album 'Worlds I Create' will be released 27.July, be sure to check out! And of course, burn the cross! Action speaks louder than words!