Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I am aware of the fact that recordings of your next full-length are being done right now. How is that going for you?
After our full-lenght 'Krater', we started to write new tracks. The recordings for the new album are now in full swing in our improvised home studio. We have developed a demo track to try out some new recording techniques. Despite (or maybe because) the fact that the material is a do-it-yourself production, it sounds exactly like we want it to sound. We take all the time to work out everything in detail and to make sure that everything is audible. That is a challenge because it is going to be a very multi-layered record.
Asgrauw evolves around apocalyptic thematics and I presume the next record will as well. On the split record with Meslamtaea, the main theme evolves around Jim Jones. Why Jim Jones? Why not Charles Manson, for instance?
The theme of the split 7 inch is Utopia and it reflects our cynical and somewhat pessimistic world view. A paradise that is destined to go up in flames. Especially the psychological aspect of Jim's 'People's Temple' connects to this theme: in fact it more or less represents what happens to humanity on a global scale nowadays. The People Temple was a Utopian sect, led by the charismatic leader Jim Jones. A wolf among the sheep, that walked from the beautiful green cliffs into the abyss.
Another thing Asgrauw seems to be inspired by, is the nineties black metal sound. I, for one, really appreciate you folks going back to the roots of the second wave. We are not going to discuss why, cause, simply said, this is the golden era in black metal. What I want to know, is why it is so rare that the magic of that era hardly ever is grasped in the nowadays black metal releases?
The bands that we like from the second wave of Scandinavian black metal, were inspired by the forces of nature. Nowadays the black metal industry is inspired by scoring Likes on Facebook. We are now twenty years further and black metal has hardly changed. But the magic of that era is gone because the world is different now. It's not the typical nineties sound that us important, but it is that typical vibe of that era. There still are quite a lot good bands. But it will never be like in the nineties. Nowadays most of the bands play to entertain the audience, unlike the old days. Black metal is not supposed to be a Muppet-show. It the best when it's completely apathetic and introvert, or when danger or mysticism is involved.
I also have the feeling that too many black metal artists are self-absorbed, and busy writing catchy hooks, rather than letting emotion and a natural flow speak. What is your opinion on that?
It does not matter what someone else does. Everyone should make the music they like. We do not listen to catchy shit anyway. Of course, emotion and a natural flow is paramount. For us, for example, it is important to let expressionism and our musical roots play a role in our music. We share an interest in the second wave of Scandinavian black metal, but there is more than that. Kaos, for example, has his roots in hardcore-punk (like GG Allin) and we encourage him to literally spit the vocals aggressively into the microphone. Batr listens to Fusion and he is not stopped to be creative with rhythms and accents. Vaal likes the more unpolished, old skool type of black metal and you can hear that in his guitar riffing. Batr kills that raw sound again (on the records) with a layer of atmospheric synths. By encouraging to play what one feels, we get our own typical Asgrauw sound. Writing and recording for us is thus a very interesting process.
Without name-dropping a load of bands; what are newer black metal bands that, besides you, are able to come close to the nineties feel?
Bands like Kjeld, Gheestenland and Sammath play black metal with that good old intensity. Also unusual and expressive bands like Murw we can highly appreciate.
Not a lot of bands release split albums nowadays. Why did you?
That actually happened by accident. After an Asgrauw gig, Alex of Zwaertgevegt, asked Batr about his old and almost forgotten project Meslamtaea, which last recording was a split vinyl with Cultus ten years ago. Batr said that he likes split vinyl’s and that he – after a decade - would record a new Meslamtaea track if that possibility would occur again. The alcohol may have played a role in the fact that Alex promised to release a split 7 inch with Asgrauw on his label.
Considering he is a member of Asgrauw as well, does this make the process of releasing a split more easy, or more difficult?
Both tracks are written in the same period, and simultaneously recorded and mixed by Batr, who is in both bands. In terms of lyrical theme, atmosphere and sound, therefore, there are similarities and that makes the 7 inch a sort of concept-split.
What is another band you would love to do a split with?
We are working on a EP that would not be out of place on a split record. We would like to share a split with any other idiosyncratic, non-trendy band with the same non-conformist attitude as we have.
What can you tell us about the new album, without revealing too much? Will it stay close to Asgrauw's roots, or will noticeable changes be featured?
Just like 'Krater' it will again be a nature-inspired concept album. It becomes a recognizable Asgrauw record with a cold atmosphere. Even more than on the previous album, this atmosphere will be emphasized through the use of spoken vocals and a thin blanket of synthesizers. Despite the clear nineties influences, the album will have a more own sound.
What else is in store for the band? Any big upcoming shows, for instance?
Any final words?