March 1, 2018 Interview – Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral
The art of Black Metal has seen various shifts in style over the past three decades, but fortunately there are a few bands who stay true to the dark and melodic nature of the music. One such is none other than Sweden’s Dark Funeral, a veteran band who has been going strong for 25 years now. From the begining led by Guitarist Lord Ahriman, while other acts have altered their sound to better fit a new audience, Dark Funeral has remained true to who they are while continuing to master a sound that is both intense, dark, and irresistibly melodic.
Taking home the P3 Guld, the biggest music award in Sweden, for best Rock/Metal 2016 for their latest album, Where Shadows Forever Reign, Dark Funeral now return to North American soil for the first time in 5 long years. Out on tour for most of March with Septicflesh and Thy Antichrist, Lord Ahriman and company are ready to make up for lost time. Recently we caught up with the band’s leader to talk the history of Dark Funeral, Where Shadows Forever Reign, returning to the USA, Horror movies, and more.
CrypticRock.com – Dark Funeral has been established now for 25 years, and, in that time, have become leaders in Black Metal. Being there through all the twists and turns, what has the journey been like for you and the band?
Lord Ahriman – Well, it has been a constant struggle because I really have a high demand for myself and the band. I always really push the band forward in all the ways possible. There is always this pressure and struggle, but still that paid off. I guess that is what has brought us to where we are now. We are never satisfied, we are always working to improve everything around the band, push everything forward, but still keep the core of the band intact. For us, it is very important that Dark Funeral is Dark Funeral, that we don’t go too many weird ways. It’s been an interesting journey so to speak.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and the band has stayed very consistent to who Dark Funeral is.
Lord Ahriman – Whenever I write music, whatever comes out, comes out. It is not like I am forcing it into it has to ‘sound like this’ or it has to ‘sound like that,’ it is just the way it turns out to sound. Some bands think they need to really try something super different to reach a new crowd. That is not what Dark Funeral is about. This is what Dark Funeral is about – the music.
I always wanted to keep it without keyboards and other elements. It should be very intense, like a roller coaster. It should be melodic, dark, aggressive, and melancholic all at once. I want to keep a really special balance between all of those and I always try to improve that. I never thought about putting in keyboards, clean vocals, and stuff like that just to sell more records. I have always felt, this is what it is, take it or leave it. This music is from our innerselves. It is something we really give much of ourselves, either you hate it or love it. It has been going pretty well so far.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and the sincerity is real in the music of Dark Funeral’s albums. It seems Black Metal is misunderstood as a genre of music as well as a lifestyle. Interestingly enough, it seems Black Metal has sort of broken through into the mainstream a bit, even in the USA. What are your thoughts of Black Metal in 2018?
Lord Ahriman – It’s hard to say. Some bands have managed to reach a new crowd outside the normal Black Metal scene. When it comes to Dark Funeral, we always had a crowd from people who normally don’t listen to Extreme Metal, but for some reason they find Dark Funeral really good. I hear that a lot, even people on this tour saying, “I really don’t listen to any Metal bands, but Dark Funeral is something really special.” I don’t know why really.
I personally think the last record, Where Shadows Forever Reign (2016), is one of the most extreme and darkest records we have written, and we reached out to a whole new crowd. We even won the biggest music award for that new record, the best Metal record of the year. It’s all mainstream, I couldn’t understand how we could do that, but we did. It’s hard to tell exactly what it’s going to mean as a scene going so far outside the actual Black Metal scene.
CrypticRock.com – That is really interesting. Yes, some Black Metal bands have gone outside the Black Metal scene to attain success, but what is special about Dark Funeral is you have stayed true to your sound all these years. It is not as if Dark Funeral are changing to fit a new genre, you are doing what you do.
Lord Ahriman – Yes, we are staying true to ourselves, not to anyone else, really. As long as we stay true to ourselves, that’s the most important thing.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely! The band recently kicked off their first North American tour in 5 years last Thursday night out on LA with Septicflesh and Thy Antichrist. The tour seems to be going really well. Is there going to be a long span of time between Dark Funeral’s visit to America, or will we see you return sooner than later?
Lord Ahriman – Well, it is very expensive to come on tour in the US nowadays, it costs shit-loads of money. The setup is a ridiculous amount of money to even get here. The good thing is we have visas approved for 12 months, so if we get more offers within 12 months, it would be financially way easier for us to book airline tickets and come back. It wouldn’t have to be as expensive. We will see, things are going well now so hopefully the interest will bring us back here. We already told our booking agent for next 12 months we are just a fee and a couple of airline tickets away, so we could come over for festivals or whatever. We are here!
CrypticRock.com – It would be great to see you return sooner than later. As you said, fans are responding well along this current run. There have been changes with Dark Funeral in regards to the lineup through the years, but you have been there through it all. How is the chemistry with this current lineup?
Lord Ahriman – It’s really good. Everybody’s on the same page, everyone’s focused on doing absolutely the best show that we can. We are rehearsing a lot, we need to be alert, we need to be in shape to pull off a good show. The good thing with the current lineup is everybody is focused on doing the best we can every night. Everybody is staying in really good shape, trying to sleep well, trying to eat well, but at the same time trying to have a good time. On this tour, we are trying to be more open with the fans. Everyday, we try and spend a little bit of time to talk to the fans before and after the gig. When you are in good spirits and in good shape, everything is so much easier to do. Everything around the show is really good. Everything feels really good.
CrypticRock.com – That is great, and obviously when you are in good spirits, everything feels a bit easier. Since you have been dedicated to Dark Funeral for so many years, what have you learned from this life experience as a career musician?
Lord Ahriman – Never take anything for granted and you always have to work hard, 24/7. You can never sit back, relax, and think it’s just going to happen. That’s the secret behind many bands who have reached a level of success, they always have someone in the band realize as soon as you sit back and relax, you are fucking done. You have to really work hard, at all times.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly takes a lot of dedication. It is a great accomplishment that Dark Funeral has continued on.
Lord Ahriman – For me, it’s never been an option to stop, this is my life. It’s never been a question about it, of course, there has been a period where you feel like, “Fuck this, I’m done with this.” That is a just a couple of days and then it goes over.
CrypticRock.com – Right, that is only natural to feel frustrated at times. Last question for you, we cover both music and Horror as well as Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of these genres of film, what are some of your favorites?
Lord Ahriman – Oh yea, I am a sucker for old Giallo movies, always been. At the moment, I am wearing a Nekromantik (1987) shirt. I was a huge movie collector when I was younger. We had a big censorship of movies when I was younger, so I was collecting uncut Horror movies from when I was 12 years old. First movies I ever was focused on was Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1981), that was the kind of genre I was into at that time. I still like Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci movies. There is a special feeling in those old movies.
CrypticRock.com – There is no question. What are your favorite Argento and Fulci films?
Lord Ahriman – For Argento, Suspiria (1977) or Phenomena (1985), it is a hard line between those two movies. House by the Cemetery (1981) from Fulci is good, but The New York Ripper (1982) isn’t too bad, and you have The Black Cat (1981) also. One of the really good movies from Argento was always Deep Red (1975).
CrypticRock.com – Great selections. Italy had a wonderful Horror scene back in the 1970s and 1980s. Dario Argento has a very interesting style, relying on colors, etc. What are your thoughts on a remake of Suspiria?
Lord Ahriman – I haven’t seen it, I am afraid to watch it. (Laughs) It could be good though. The last remake which I really liked, which I didn’t expect much from, was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Especially The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), I thought that movie was fantastic.