Abbath: Black Metal’s Immortal Being
All hail – the year 2015 has borne witness to the return of Abbath (real name: Olve Eikemo), frontman and founding member of Norwegian black metal titans Immortal, who have spawned thousands of imitators and about as many hilarious memes. Abbath last year attempted to secure rights to the Immortal moniker, but the move was blocked by lyricist/former guitarist/co-founder Demonaz and drummer Horgh. The pair have since confirmed they will soldier on as Immortal, and are working on an album via heavyweight label Nuclear Blast.
Meanwhile, Abbath has launched his titular band and crafted a debut solo album, due for release next year. The new outfit heads to Australia this week, performing classic Immortal songs, tracks from 2006 project I (also featuring Abbath bandmate King ov Hell), and new fare. “I have a good band with me, but we’re only going to play one new song,” Abbath explains. “We also have a lead guitarist [Per Valla], so the old Immortal stuff is going to sound much better. Actually I wanted a second guitarist in Immortal already… But it was always turned down. All the stuff sounds killer with two guitars.” Having already played festivals abroad, these will be the Abbath band’s inaugural club shows. BLUNT spoke to the (somewhat under the weather) main-man in preparation for the most grim and frostbitten tour of the year.
So, the Abbath album is completed and just awaiting release now?
Yeah, and we are preparing, planning to also do a video for it at the end of the month, beginning of next month we’re gonna start shooting. I’m very pleased with it; it sounds killer. I think it’s the best stuff I’ve ever done. I have a great lyricist with me called Simon Doncaster. It came out actually better than I expected. I can’t wait to get it out there.
Why do you feel it’s the strongest music you’ve created?
It’s better playing, my singing is better than ever I think, and my riffs, the drumming, the production, everything. Killer lyrics. Everything is just better than anything I’ve done before I think. This is the beginning of something greater, something bigger than I’ve done before, definitely. And I have material for two more albums standing by.
You’ve remarked in other interviews that you never intended to become a solo artist.
Yeah. I guess they did me a favour [laughs]. I’m having a kick-arse time now, just feeling fresh and great. I don’t miss Immortal at all; it was not a good atmosphere in that band for a long time. I did my best to try to… If it was up to me, Immortal would have been on tour now, but instead it’s on tour with Abbath instead.
How do you feel towards your former Immortal bandmates now – anger? Disappointment?
No anger, I’m just very disappoined at both them and the record label Nuclear Blast. They handled that in a very, very bad way, and they lost their… They forgot who was running the show, simple as that.
Are you in the loop regarding their plans to continue?
Actually, I really don’t have any comments towards that, you know?
You just want to make a fresh start?
I just don’t want to look back; I’m looking forward now. I don’t really care what the fuck they are doing now. I’m done with those guys.
Is it an exciting prospect, having the opportunity to build something entirely new?
Yeah, it’s great and I have a great fucking team, dedicated people and there’s a lot of passion in the guys I’m playing with. They’re guys who enjoy the process of things… It’s a lot of hard work, it’s very intense times but we fucking love it and it’s what I missed for all these years.
What’s your take on the current state of black metal and extreme music overall?
I think the scene nowadays is a bit boring. There’s some good bands out there, but in general it’s a lot of copycats, and there’s just so many bands that sound the exact fucking same. But you know, we’ll see. There’s still some good bands there [like] Behemoth, some good bands out there who wave the flag.
What’s your typical reaction when you hear an Immortal/Abbath copycat, or a band borrowing liberally from you?
Well, I guess we’re all inspired by all bands, what bands that were before. Sometimes in the early stages, these bands can easily sound like [someone else]. But they move forward and they will find their own thing, their own style. I really don’t… Good luck to everybody. I listen to very little [new] music nowadays, I mostly listen to my old [records]. There’s very little new I listen to. Sometimes I get something, but it’s mostly crap what I hear in my opinion. But sometimes there are, like, I’m really looking forward to the tour with High On Fire in the States in April next year. I like High On Fire, they’re good.
Abbath Tour Dates
Thu Oct 15th – Max Watt’s, Brisbane (18+)
Fri Oct 16th – Manning Bar, Sydney (18+)
Sat Oct 17th – Max Watt’s, Melbourn (18+)