KHOLD – Till The End
A four-year period between April 2009 and September 2013 witnessed the issue of three full-lengths from Oslo, Norway-based black / thrash metal outfit Sarke, spearheaded by drummer and namesake Thomas ‘Sarke’ Bergli. And as well, fellow Bergli-related black metal group Tulus returned to studio activity, arriving in the form of March 2012’s Olm Og Bitter. Until the release of September 2014’s Til Endes, meanwhile, Oslo-based black metal concern Khold hadn’t issued a studio full-length since June 2008’s Hundre år Gammal. Til Endes marks Khold’s sixth proper outing overall and first in six years, Khold also boasting Bergli among its ranks.
“I think it has been a natural break, if you can call it that,” Thomas observes. “I’m not sure why it has taken so long. There haven’t been so much concerts, and stuff. I think also Gard (vocals / guitars) needed a big break, and I think that the years just went by. We got new management, and that helped. Then we did some concerts, and started doing some new songs. It’s hard to say when writing started, because I always write some riffs and ideas.
“Writing was the same as always, though. I make some riffs and ideas. When we take it to rehearsal, sometimes we add things. Sometimes some of the other guys in the band also make riffs and ideas, and sometimes we take away some riffs after the song is done. On this album, I made most of it, almost everything – I would say maybe 90%. On the last album, Gard made a song or two and Rinn also made a couple of songs, so it’s varied between albums. When it came to Mørke Gravers Kammer (April 2004), I made everything on that album, so it depends on the time and the period. On this album I made the most, and Gard also made some riffs, ideas, and parts.
“We did this album, and then of course we got a new deal with Peaceville. We had known about Peaceville for a very long time. They bought up our first albums, and so when we were done with Tabu, it was just natural for us to go to Peaceville. Luckily for us, we worked out a deal. I think Peaceville is a bigger label than Tabu, and they also have a good reputation. They have some good bands, so I think it was a good thing for us to come to Peaceville. After talking to Peaceville, I talked to the guys, and said that we were doing a new album – I guess that that was only half a year before we actually did the album. Most of the songs were written within half a year, maybe. Why it took six years, though? We don’t actually know why. Time goes fast.”
Albeit penning riffs and ideas for three separate acts, the sticksman can differentiate as to which riffs are better suited to which act. “For me, that’s very easy,” he reckons. “When I write music, it’s the period a band is going through to release a CD, so I feel it’s very easy for me to separate the bands. For me, they’re very different bands, actually. I think it’s mostly in my head that I can hear it’s for a certain band, but when I make music for Khold, I take the time to make Khold music. I don’t make songs at the same time for every band. When it’s for Khold, I feel that I am making music for Khold, so it’s very easy to stay on that path for that album. Sarke is a bit different – I feel it’s a bit different music. It’s not so easy to explain, but for me it’s three different bands, and it’s easy to separate them.”
Til Endes shares musical traits with previous Khold affairs. “I would say that it’s in the same style, and that we have kept everything that Khold is known for,” Thomas critiques. “I think this time, we have maybe more changes in the songs. It’s also a bit more aggressive and a bit more uptempo I guess, but of course we still kept some of the heavy parts. We just try to make it a bit better each time, and keep our own style, and develop it a little bit each time – maybe add some small, new elements each time. We just try to make it sound even more Khold each time, so we really get our own trademark in terms of our music.
“For me, it’s just heavy black metal music. I definitely feel we’re a black metal band these days, but we don’t play so much faster. We have heavy parts and we play heavy black metal, but we’re not pure like some black metal bands only play fast and they have a very thin sound. We like more to have a good, heavy sound, so I guess we are a bit different than many black metal bands. When we make music, we’re not trying to copy anyone or sound like anybody else, but of course we’re always influenced. It’s better to say influenced rather than inspired. I would say we’re influenced by everything from Darkthrone and some early Mayhem stuff, and also some death metal bands like Obituary and Death, and some Kreator and Motörhead, and other different bands.”
Hilde ‘Hildr’ Nymoen – wife of frontman Sverre ‘Gard’ Stokland – handled lyrical duties for Til Endes, once again. “Til Endes’ is ‘till the end’,” the rhythmist divulges. “It’s about death, different ways to leave this earth – voluntarily, or not. It all comes down to life, and then things will end up dead. That’s the main lyric. We also have some lyrics about nature and some older myths, but it all comes down to death.”
Recording sessions took place at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden during June 2014. “We were in the studio late one Friday; we recorded Friday evening, Saturday, and half of Sunday,” Thomas informs. “It was all one weekend. We worked with one guy called Johan Henriksson, who was an engineer. We always produce our own albums, because we have done this lot. Of course Johan helped out with the sound, but the songs were done and everything. It’s just to do the mikes, and so on. We do the sound until we are happy so it’s not like a big production, like Metallica and stuff, where they’re in the studio for one year and they change the songs around all the time. We made it very simple; I just miked the drumkit and played the songs through, listening to one guide guitar. Then we added guitar and then bass, and then vocals.
“It goes quite fast in the studio. We don’t edit and use triggers, and stuff. We just put mikes on the drums, play, and then do the guitars, bass, and vocals – like I said – and nothing else. We don’t copy guitars, and stuff. We play the whole songs through, so we work very fast in the studio. It’s not like it needed to be produced too much, because I wanted it to be a bit like a rehearsal with a good sound.”
The percussionist describes Til Endes’ drum parts as being “very spontaneous. I don’t make drum fills and stuff, usually. I know if I’m going to play slow or fast, and that’s it. In the studio, I just play what I feel like. It’s a lot of first takes. For me, it’s not so important if it’s perfectly played or not. If it sounds cool, I’m happy. When I record the track I just do the whole thing, and then if I feel it sounds good I just keep it.”
Translated as ‘Dommens Armé’, Til Endes includes a cover interpretation of ‘Troops Of Doom’. Authored by Brazilian metal assortment Sepultura, its original rendition was included on November 1986 debut Morbid Visions. “We wanted to have a song to play live,” Thomas reveals. “It was very hard for us to find a song that fitted Khold, but then we thought about this cover song that we did in the early 90s. We just brought it back in; we tried it at rehearsals, and it sounded good. We also thought that it would be good to have it on the album. I like the Sepultura version of course. We wanted to do it a bit Khold-like. You can still hear that it’s Sepultura, but I also think that we have added some Khold feeling to it.. That’s also translated, by Hildr. Not exactly, but almost. We have just a bit of original lyric on it.”
Cover artwork responsibilities for Til Endes fell to erstwhile Sarke skin-beater Asgeir Mickelson. “He also took the pictures for the album,” the drummer notes. “We just take band pictures generally, and leave it up to the guy doing the layout. He comes in with some ideas, and we either like them or we don’t. If we like them, then he does the whole thing. Usually, they’re much better at doing layouts than we are, so as long as we think it looks good, we keep it.”
A music video was filmed for the title track. “There is a small story added, but we also play as the band,” Thomas shares. “Half of it was filmed in Sweden, and the other half was filmed where we rehearse here – near Oslo. Half an hour outside of Oslo, we have a rehearsal space, and that’s out in the forest. We just recorded the band where we rehearse.”
Live dates are scheduled for 2015 with regards to Khold. “We have booked some shows, but they’re not quite yet,” the sticksman tells. “We are going to play Wacken, and some other concerts that will be announced soon.”
At the time of writing, Thomas has no plans with respects to Tulus. “Khold is out now, and the next album that will be out will be by Sarke,” he discloses. “Sarke has become a band now; Sarke will release a new album, but I don’t see it as being a solo album. Only the first album was a solo album where I played everything by myself.”
Sarke’s next studio platter will not feature the drumming services of Asgeir Mickelson, whose departure surfaced in early September 2014. “No, no big reason,” Thomas comments of the exit. “He left the band, and we have a new drummer now – Terje Kråbøl. Terje isn’t so known. He used to play in Minas Tirith a long time ago. I have known him since the late 80s, and he’s very good. I’m very pleased to have him in the band. I guess Asgeir wanted to do something else, and we wanted another drummer. It just happens; it’s no big thing.”
Til Endes was released on September 29th, 2014 in Europe and subsequently on the 30th in North America, all via Peaceville Records.
Interview published in October 2014. All promotional photographs by Asgeir Mickelson.
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