BLOOD RED THRONE “Congregation Will Rise...”
By Dr. Abner Mality
Norway...home of picturesque fjords and face painted black metal terrorists! But wait! Not all bands from this Nordic paradise are of the trebly, Satanic variety. You can find some gut-munching death metal there as well and there is none finer or more brutal than BLOOD RED THRONE!
These guys have been active since the mid-90’s and have never failed to put out a skull-crushing album. Yet finding all of those albums might be hard, as the band suffered through some lean times and less prominent labels. That situation has now been corrected in a major way as BRT’s bull-headed persistence has finally paid off with a new album on the biggest independent metal label in the world, Nuclear Blast. This must surely feel like the pot of blood at the end of the black rainbow for the guys.
The guiding force behind BLOOD RED THRONE has always been Daniel Olaisen, so he was the guy I recently hooked up with to learn the secrets of new album “Imperial Congregation” as well as the past, present and future of the band...
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to BLOOD RED THRONE! "Imperial Congregation" finds you coming full circle and arriving on Nuclear Blast Records. How does it feel to be with the #1 independent metal label and was the path back to them difficult or smooth?
DANIEL OLAISEN: Well, it's the first time on Nuclear Blast, but it feels damn good and deserved after all these years. I wish they'd picked us up 20 years ago, but a new chapter is about to begin now. What better way to celebrate with our 10th and by far best album!
WC: The band has been grinding it out for many long years. Was there ever a low point when you thought about maybe hanging it up?
DO: I started BRT 24 years ago and I'm the only member being around all the time. Original drummer Freddy, has been back in the band since 2013. Every band experiences highs and lows. I really thought BRT would break through many years ago, but we've been somewhat unlucky with several things. Quitting however, has never been an option. Death metal is my passion and I can't stop!
WC: You were one of the first Norwegian bands to embrace pure death metal back when black metal was all anybody talked about in Norway. Do you feel you were kind of the leaders in opening up the Norwegian scene for death metal?
DO: Both Tchort and I played in SATYRICON when we started BLOOD RED THRONE and we were part of the black metal scene. Tchort even started GREEN CARNATION in the late 80's and played death metal and bands like CADAVER and DARKTHRONE were around at that time as well. However, we were pretty early on ,too and definitely the first Norwegian band to play the US kind of death metal. It really doesn't matter, because I would play this style above any other metal style if I had to choose. There's still no other Norwegian bands today playing this style, except our friends in DECEPTION which have some elements of US death metal. It's all about good music in the end!
WC: "Imperial Congregation" deals a lot with the hypocrisy of religion. Has religion impacted you personally in a negative way or is your approach to it purely philosophical?
DO: It's anti-religion for sure, but more an encouragement of individualism. One path is not right for all beings. Your perception is what matters. Not the others. I have nothing against people believing what the fuck they want. But never claim it to be true for everybody else. I've had my share of negative experiences with this matter, but atheism has been natural for me since early on. I believe in death!
WC: You've got a great album cover with a lot of detail to it. Tell us about the construction of this artwork and how it relates to the album.
DO:The title, “Imperial Congregation”, came up early and I constantly envisioned the cover. I wanted it to be old-school with many old priests gathered to discuss their oppressing people with laws. It definitely connects with our anti-religious lyrics and Marcelo Vasco nailed it pretty good!
WC: The songs on the new album are all traditional death metal on the surface, but they each have their own quirks that make them different. How important was it to come up with distinct songs instead of just the same brutal hammering?
DO: I don't claim BRT to be super-original, but on the other hand, I can't think of one single band sounding like us. We got our inspirations for sure and I like to say that we play US death metal with a Scandinavian twist. The main difference the last decade is me becoming a way better songwriter. Arrangements are important to me instead of just bringing 20 riffs to the table. We have never been a ultra brutal and fast death metal band, but we combine all elements and focus a lot on groove and strong riffs.
WC: I detect a strong thrash influence on tunes like "6-7" and "Consumed Illusion". Is that an accurate take on those tunes or are they coming from a different place?
DO: Death, thrash...it's all how you see it. I think the drum beat often categorizes the style. There's even some heavy metal in BRT. “Consumed Illusion” was the first track I wrote on this album. It has some tricky picking riffs, but mostly simply groove. “6:7” has some DEICIDE and SLAYER in there, but also a really heavy groove riff. I play all kinds of stuff and my only rule is that it has to be quality.
WC: What is "6-7" about lyrically? It's hard to pick anything up based on the song title.
DO: It's taken from the bible. Genesis 6:7. Just another remark of all the flaws this book has to offer.
WC: "Zarathustra" is an epic song that has more atmosphere and keyboard texture than the others. What's the origin of this song and could you see yourself doing more in this direction?
DO: The intro riff is an idea I had for many years. I wanted an epic tune to finish the album and when I started working on this intro again, the riffs were just poppin' up. We somewhat did the same on our previous album and the track “Deal It Or Die”. It's just something I had to get out of my system. Time will tell if there will be more tracks like this. We don't limit ourselves. This is also Bolt's all time fave lyric of his.
WC: How did the pandemic affect BLOOD RED THRONE? Did it increase your creativity because of the lockdown?
DO: I released 4 albums during the pandemic, so I would say the opposite, haha. On the other hand, I have never played as little guitar as in the last year. I'm heavily into sports and I practice a lot. Will start making more music when winter time comes. I sometimes need a break and when I come back to the guitar, those riffs keep pouring out.
WC: A lot of the recording was done in home studios. Is this the way you'll be going from now on?
DO: It's the way I've been going the last 12 years. Actually, I don't remember the last time I recorded guitars in a different studio. When I compose, I record the stuff 100% right away. Drums are done way after the guitar and bass. We don't rehearse. I like working this way. I write most of the music and I know how I want things to sound.
WC: Any live plans? I'd imagine you'd get more tour support from Nuclear Blast.
DO: It's a common mistake to think that label give tour support. That doesn't happen. However, we have signed with Continental Touring and they've already made offers. Many of the festivals and shows we were supposed to do in 2020/21, will happen next year also. We will play as much as possible in 2022!
WC: Any other bands or projects you are involved in? Any other projects for other members?
DO: Oh, that would take ages to go through. I'm probably the metal musician in Norway having most album releases. I have 4 bands today. BRT, BIG CITY, ZEROZONIC and VALDAUDR. I also release some instrumental solo stuff every now and then. Both Gunner and Meathook play together in SON OF A SHOTGUN and Gunner also has several other bands and projects. Freddy is a part-time musician and play with a bunch of bands and people. I believe Bolt is the only one not having other projects.
WC: Any up and coming bands you've encountered that you'd like to alert us to?
DO: Our friends in DECEPTION are worth mentioning. Young guys really good at their instruments, making kick ass death metal. We've played together many times. NEXORUM is also a fuckin' great death/black band put together by ex members of KEEP OF KALESSIN. Well-established, but my guys in THE DEVIANT really keeps the old-school death and black metal alive. Also looking forward to thrash metal kings WYRUZ releasing a new album.
WC: If you could have dinner with any 3 people from history, who would they be?
DO: Chuck Schuldiner for sure. My fave guitarist and band. I never got to see DEATH live. It's a shame. Would also invite my two other fave guitarists, Dimebag and Joe Satriani!
WC: Have you guys ever been in a Spinal Tap moment where things went crazy that you could tell us about?
DO: All bands have. Last one happened on our last mini-tour in the US/Mexico. This guy, was supposed to be our driver for the US dates and he actually picked us up as planned. However, he was looking like a mess and we knew right away this was sketchy. He kept driving out of the lane on the highway and his pills were all over the floor in the car. Freddy was pissed as fuck and had to keep him awake several times. Had to make him stop and drink some water and asked him to rest for 10 minutes. No fuckin' way. He was a retard and insisted on driving us. A couple of hours later, we made it to the first destination. He was also the promoter of this show. The venue was pretty ok, but the advertising was like shit and nobody knew we were playing. 10 minutes later, this moron just vanished. Didn't return my calls and no one at the venue knew anything. We are professional and did the show in front of 9 people, but where did we go from there? No accommodation was taken care of. No driver for the rest of the tour. We were basically left on our own. Luckily, a friend of us living in Texas offered to drive if we rented a car. We also slept at his house that night. Everything sorted out, but we never heard from this guy again. A year later he was on TV. He was running for mayor, haha. Luckily, they found about his background, and he's been in jail for several things. Jerry Warden is his name and he can go fuck himself.
WC: Last words for the faithful?
DO: Death to the people!