Code interview (12/2005)
Hello and congratulations on your debut album, "Nouveau Gloaming"!
Hello to you too and thank you.
Would you mind telling us a few words concerning the history of the band for all those that haven't heard of you yet?
The core of the band was formed in 2002 by myself and Kvohst (vocals). We were in touch through past projects and decided to form a new band. We wanted to focus on old black metal ideals but putting them in a modern context. We created the "Neurotransmissions" demo with the help of a second vocalist which led to us being signed by Spikefarm Records. We then focused on creating a full band line up for the debut album which was made up of Vyttra on second guitar, Viper on bass and backing vocals and AiwarikiaR on drums. We recorded the album in Finland 2003, mixed it in Norway mid-2004 and released it in the Spring of 2005.
The term "code" has several meanings and a wide use in many aspects, how do you conceive this specific term?
This depends day by day for me…..as you said, it can be interpreted in many ways. It is non-specific so to write absolutely what it means to me is impossible. The word moves and distorts in line with my thoughts.
You music sounds ominous and dark, concealing all hope and tranquility in the horizon; is this the outcome of what the gloomy rays of the "new twilight" will bring?
"Nouveau Gloaming" is a very gloomy and somewhat inpentrable album. The track order was extremely important for the album to work as a whole. Each track has it's own feel and mood, which is excentuated by the tracks that proceed and follow it. In some ways the final song "Ghost Formula" to me feels like the resolution of the album, the 'light on the horizon'. It is still a dark song but it has undercurrents of a more speculative and wonderous feel and as such I think lifts the listener at the end of the journey.
Let's move to the musical/production factor now. The production of the album is really good and someone can hear all the instruments clearly, even the use of the bass guitar is easily noticeable, something quite obscure for a black metal band in general. How much time did you spend in the studio working on the production of "Nouveau Gloaming" and how did the composing process of the album flow?
I am glad you noticed this as it was crucial for us to get the production just right on this album. All the work and feel could have been lost with a bad or inapropriate sound. We spent about two and a half weeks recording in Finland and a further week in Norway mixing the album. The guitar sound in particular was something we spent some time on to get the result we wanted. We had comitted ourselves to one certain amp so the flexability we had left was mainly in the microphone choice and placement. Thankfully we managed to capture a very grim yet comprehensible sound.
The prominence of the bass guitar was very important as well on this album, Vipers bass lines were developing into something very special so we needed to make sure that their subtelty and variation could be picked up at all times. The right amount of distortion on the bass guitar was vital in order to achieve this.
What can someone notice from your sound is the fact that you harmonize wonderfully the more traditional side of black metal with its more intelligent/avant-garde one, offering an album that seems to be a great opinion on where two different ways of expression of the same thing can lead if they pace together in such an inspired way. Where does inspiration lie for you and which bands do you think had a huge impact on you and the sound of the band?
The avant-garde side of our sound was not one that we developed consciously. Each member of the band has a particular attachment to the early 90s black metal movement, it was this that captured each of our imaginations and that is still with us today. When I was writing the music for the album I was writing to my taste, inevitably, the early black metal sound played a big part in that. But we are in the 21st century now, and with the passing of time comes the exposure to new ideas, an amount of maturing too of course, and a more balance perception of what music at it's core is about. It is because of these factors that the album is not a pure old style homage album, it has a number more facets than that.
I couldn't really pick out a handful of bands that particularly influnced me, it is more the ideals and the sound as a whole. Such a great amount of fantastic music was produced between 1991 and 1994 that it would be unjust of me to mention one over another.
The guitar work on "Nouveau Gloaming" is inspired and well-put in the album and it seems as if the riffs you chose were the most ideal ones for the passages they enrich. Whether the guitars have a more, let's say, lethargic or a rawer approach they never fail to sound menacing, having that razorblade sound, and they give the intention as if someone had been following you in the dark through the whole duration of the album. What's your point of view?
Again, I am happy you picked up on this. Although I am a massive fan of technical music, <code> is not about musicianship or showmanship. Everything is written to serve the song. I also had a strict rule when composing the riffs. If any particular riff didn't move me, it was omitted, nothing was left in just because it was fun to play or it was technically challenging. <code> is about the feel, whether that be aggression, uneasiness,, menace, foreboding…..whatever. as long as the music is portraying the mood I want to portray, then the means of getting there is irrelevant.
Concerning the other instruments that offer their sound to "Nouveau Gloaming"; the bass lines are exceptional and their pulse evokes that gentle yet lurking in the dark feeling that only Vicotnik knows how to evoke and the ex-Ulver Aiwarikiar pours his soul into the drumming of the album. How does it feel working with such personalities from important bands of the Norwegian scene and how did it turn to reality the fact that you're in the same band together?
I have to admit that it was quite surreal for me to begin with. Before we recorded, we spent two weeks in England rehearsing the songs. When I first plugged in my guitar in the rehearsal room with people who's music I had admired so much for so many years, it was a very humbling experience. I will never lose that feeling but now we all have a more personal relationship and we get on very well. Despite us all being very different characters we all meet in the middle somehow. It is beyond doubt that their inclusion in the band has improved the quality of the album no end.
It was just through mutual friends and old contacts from many years ago that we all ended up in the same band together. I was very involved in the underground scene between 1991 and 1995 so I knew a lot of people through that so when it came time to form the band, all this helped a lot. In addition Kvohst was much more involved in the Norwegian scene so he used his network to get the right guys for the job.
Well, I kept the vocals for a special question. Kvohst has an awesome voice, whether he howls in an eerie and unearthly way or chants the night with his clean vocals he sounds so… unerring! His clean chanting vocals bring to mind either Ved Buen Ende's Carl-Michael or Ulver's Garm, but he sounds so wonderful and his voice floats beautifully in the gloominess of your compositions. How does it feel having such a charismatic vocalist in your banks?
It is beyond doubt that Kvohst's voice and musical talents are a fundamental part of <code>. It would be a completely different band without him involved. He consistently amazes me with his ability to create such wonderfully obscure and haunting melodies. He is a very musical vocalist and knows where to play with space in music and when to let the music do the talking. The songs only really reveal their true character once Kvohst was imparted his skills and personality on them and they ofetn shape the way the whole song feels.
Keyboards have become a trend in the black or "black" metal scene nowadays and only a few bands tend to play real black metal using the keyboards factor wisely and well. You manage to evoke that ominous and menacing dark atmosphere without the use of keyboards, something that, in my humble opinion, is one of the purposes of black metal, to evoke its atmosphere with the basic instruments, this doesn't mean though that I reject bands that use keyboards well. You achieve this totally judging from "Nouveau Gloaming". What's your point of view in the keyboard-oriented black metal in general? Is there a chance of Code using such elements in their sound?
I think it is unlikely that <code> will ever use keyboards….an occasional sprinkling of an archaic sounding instrument like a mellotron is not out of the question but at the same time, by no means definite. I much prefer to create increased space and depth by using multiple guitar layers. I think it is possible to radically change the scope of a song with thoughtful useage of multiple guitar layers.
The "keyboard" sound is not something that I can really associate with <code>. But like you, I don't necessarily think that they can't be used effectively. Unfortunately I think that more often than not they are used clumsily but there are exceptions. They are just one of the elments that make black metal such a diverse genre now.
Black metal usually paces with a cold feeling. This coldness can be found as well in the lifeless and emotionless sound of electronics. Dodheimsgard, Mysticum etc managed to harmonize their black metal successfully with industrial elements making the industrial/black metal hybrid blossom and with it they gave alternative meanings to the word "frost", "coldness". What's your opinion on such bands and this specific hybrid? Is it the future of black metal in a way?
Electronics in black metal is something I am not really fond of. I am much more of a fan of using the basic rock materials to create something organic, it all comes down to chemistry. Chemistry of the artists, chemistry of the sound waves, the instruments, the amps, the microphones. It is all such a dynamic relationship that adding more fuel to the mixture is not always a good thing to my mind.
That said of course there are examples of the opposite such as the aforementioned Mysticum and DHG whom I am both very fond of. There is no solid rule in my mind, I like being surprised and I like being challenged.
The future of black metal? I don't think that it really needs to be taken anywhere different, I don't think it needs to change radically. I think all that is important for black metal to continue is to hold on to the ideals and passion that made it so special in the first place, that is the way to ensure it's continued success in my mind.
In general, how do you see the whole black metal scene nowadays? Any bands you would name as hope for the scene?
I think black metal is in a much better state than it was five years ago with the emphasis being placed back on what I consider to be the real essence of black metal. The frilly shirts and goth sensibilites seem to be getting replaced more and more with straight ahead black metal the way it was supposed to be played. The old bands are getting more credit and respect and all this makes me a lot more happy than certain more recent bands being given so much magazine exposure.
There have been a few bands recently that have caught my attention. The latest album by Behexen from Finland was excellent and I have heard good music from your local band Loits. There are others too but I mainly plunder my old collection for listening pleasure.
Are there any plans for a tour? How important is it for you to play on stage?
We have been talking more about playing live recently. A full tour is still to my mind out of the question, but a few gigs here and there are very possible. Most likely locations would be London, Oslo or Helsinki but nowhere is impossible. We will do some more talking and rehearsing over the next few months and see where it takes us.
Ending the interview I would like to wish you all the best for the band and thanks a lot for the interview, end it in any way you wish!
Thank you for the interesting questions….some of the best I have had to answer I must say. Feel free to check out our website at www.codeblackmetal.com and we also have some funeral t-shirts available exclusively from www.cvltvs.com . Look out for a new album next winter which we are writing at the moment. Thanks for the support and stay grim and frostbitten!
||Posted on 05.12.2005 by "It is myself I have never met, whose face is pasted on the underside of my mind."|
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