- First, for the ones who don't know you again, can you present Aura Noir please ?
- Yeah. We're the UGLIEST band in the world. Not visually (we're actually kinda good looking. haha!), but musically. We play Black metal inspired by satanic thrash/black metal from the eighties, like early Dark angel, Exodus, Slayer, Possessed, Sodom and such. We're looking back in time, regressing. Playing the same kind of music that obsessed us when we were young and discovering music. Aura Noir is me, Apollyon and Blasphemer (guitar). Neither me nor Apollyon wants to be stuck with drum-duties, so we switch approximately every second track on an album (or midway through a concert) between bass/vocals and drums. Usually, on the odd-numbered tracks, I play bass and sing while Apollyon play drums, and on the even numbered tracks, vice versa.
- It's fucking great to have you guys back with a new release. How does it feel to have the honor of being the first release on Fenriz's new label Tyrant Syndicate?
- Most people familiar with the black metal scene are familiar with Fenriz and also with Peaceville. What does it mean to Aura Noir to have the backing of such a well-respected label as Peaceville and still be dealing with someone like Fenriz? I assume it's safe to say that there is no pressure to sell out - that you can still maintain your integrity and make the music you want to make.
- Well, of course we're deeply honoured. Being the first and all gives a lot of credit. And since we've been hanging out for ages and having the same musical "values" it actually feels very natural. Tyrant syndicate is run by Darkthrone´s Nocturno Culto and Fenriz, so, needless to say, there is NO focus on sell-out metal at all. Money is not the issue. The focus is on underground real shit primal black metal with no excess involved. No synthesizers, no nice female vocals, no drum-triggers, no over-paid producers, no top-hats or Christmas-tree decorations. Of course, dealing with them goes just smooth. And Peaceville is a professional label with real re-sources and ACE-distribution. For the first time in Aura Noir´s history we're actually on a real record label. I wont even call the other "labels" we've been involved with labels. Their idea of starting up in the first place was maybe based on their love for music, but at once they realised that there were money to be earned, they immediately started tricking artists out. Just selling our albums and taking our money. Anyway, for now that's the past, fuck them. This is a new start for us. And the way things are now, is ideal.
- The new album is called "The Merciless," and it is exactly that. Was there anything special you were trying to achieve with the new album? Any statements being made?
Our aim is to create thrashing black metal that we can dig for ourselves. And if people like it, that's a bonus. The statements being made doesn't differ too much from traditional die-hard black metal. It's all anti-religious and satanic.
- Although "The Merciless" is definitely Aura Noir, it has a different feel than your previous releases that might catch some people off-guard (like it did me). Why did you decide to take a different approach to the production this time around?
We have some slow tracks this time around. Other than that the album came out more or less the way we wanted it. Dirty, raw and unpolished. People say we have "better" sound now. If so, that wasn't the intension. The intension was to make an aura noir album that, as you say, sounds aura noir.
The Merciless, last album of the band.
- Aura Noir, as a band, has been around since 1993, yet "The Merciless" is only your third full-length album. Why the long delay between releases?
- All of you have been involved in multiple projects over the years. How have these projects affected Aura Noir as a band? Are there elements that you bring back from these projects and incorporate into Aura Noir? Do you ever find yourselves working on a project and thinking "shit - that would be perfect for Aura Noir, I'm not going to use it here"?
- On a similar note, have there been any projects that seemed good at the time, but afterward you find yourselves saying "let's NOT do anything like that with Aura Noir - ever"?
- We've been involved in some other bands in the meanwhile. Cadaver, Dødheimsgard... One day me and Apollyon thought; hell, why don't we just stick to our guns instead of spreading ourselves thinly like this. Playing in more than two bands just doesn't work out. So we quit both dhg and cadaver. And now Aura Noir is our main band. We have one side project each. I have Virus, he has Lamented souls. Blasphemer will always be in Mayhem. But that's ok since me and Apollyon is the core of the band. We make 95% of the music. It's ok to rehearse just the two of us when we make new material. After our last full-length "deep tracts of hell" aura noir hit a "depression". Hammerheart, our "label" at that time, didn't have the resources to promote and sell the album properly. The interest for aura noir was at an all-time low. But our NEXT album will be out autumn next year, so..... Some people have a tendency to compare Aura Noir and Cadaver. That's just so fucking wrong.... Cadaver was a death metal band with blast beats. How the fuck can that be compared with aura noir!? Playing in cadaver and dødheimsgard was mainly to fill in the time. While we waited for the right time to pick up Aura Noir where we left it. That's how I see it in retrospect anyway.
Its great to play in a band like Aura Noir, where everything is set artistically. Its not like we discuss how to make music at all. "Let's make a song that sounds like Celtic frost, but in the middle has blast beats like morbid angel". That just doesn't happen on an aura noir rehearsal. When we make music, it just sounds aura noir. It's very natural, really. There's no "concept" to follow up other than making music that we really dig ourselves. And staying true to the spirit of the band.
- You are all very well known and respected musicians throughout the scene, yet it seems like many of the projects you work on get more attention than Aura Noir. You have a very dedicated core of fans, but not the widespread notoriety one would expect of a band of your caliber. Does it ever surprise you that Aura Noir has remained such an underground act?
- Well, nowadays we're doing more interviews than ever, getting more reviews on "the merciless" than any of our previous albums. Our album is even to be found in mainstream record-shops. This is totally new to us as a band. I think things are picking up these days. The reason for us being an underground act is probably because we've never had a professional apparatus backing us up. Now we do, so...
- Related to the other projects, where do your priorities lie? That is, do you feel that Aura Noir is your primary band and the other projects are just projects? Or is Aura Noir a dark entity lurking in the background, only rearing its ugly head when you feel the time is right?
- As I said, nowadays and in the future our BAND is Aura Noir, and our side-projects are just, as you say, side-projects. But, hehe,,, yeah, between "deep tracts of hell" and "the merciless" Aura Noir was that dark entity lurking in the shadows.
- Many people not familiar with Aura Noir might assume that you play a certain type of metal simply because you're Norwegian. However, you have an extremely unique sound when compared to the other bands that came out of Norway in the 90's. Did you make a conscious decision to break apart from the stereotype of bands like Emperor and Dimmu Borgir?
- Keeping with the unique sound, I think it's safe to say that Aura Noir stands apart from both the over-produced "symphonic" black metal and the raw "true" black metal. Instead, you have this blend of styles that incorporates a lot of thrash. In fact, the title of your debut album "Black Thrash Attack" sums it up perfectly. How would define the origin of your sound?
- Our only conscious decision was to play eighties sounding Black Thrash metal. Other distinctions are due to us as musicians, how we play and perform. The fact that we're a trio, for example.
- Aura Noir has a very limited history of touring. You have mainly played big festivals, but not a lot of "traditional" touring. Do you have any upcoming tour plans? Any chance of Aura Noir playing Stateside? I know a lot of Americans (myself especially) would kill for the opportunity to witness the black thrash attack of "the ugliest band in the world" live.
- Lets see if your evangelist government lets us in at all. Our next tour will take place in South America, April next year, 10 shows. But first a mini-Scandinavian tour in mid December. Don't get me wrong, we really wanna come to the states as well. If only we could find a good promotor over there to arrange a DECENT tour for us. As a headline act and not one of those festivals on wheels tours with like 8 bands.
- Finally, where do you see Aura Noir going from here? Does the new deal with Tyrant Syndicate guarantee fans another album in the near future? Or are you going to make us suffer through another 6 years?
- We have four songs ready for the next album. We're hungrier than ever before regardless of what band we've been in.