One of Denmark's most brutal bands Exmortem is ready with their fifth studio album, Nihilistic Contentment, an album that shows a more diverse side of the band but without compromising the sincere brutality that the band has been known for. Guitarist Sigtyr called me on a grey and dim Saturday in mid-December to talk about the new album, drummers and the Danish metal scene as well as other things.

Martin Thim interviewed by PSL

If you were to compare Nihilistic Contentment to your previous release Pestilence Empire where do you then think the biggest progression has been?
I think there's more than just one. First off I think we have once again achieved a better production, but then again, you change your view of that all the time. At the moment I am definitely most satisfied with the production on the new one and furthermore it has become a far more varied album than what we have done until now. I'm very satisfied with the slower songs that we have included this time, because this is something that we haven't really done in the past. Playing-wise I also think we have become better, so there's actually more than just one thing.

I sense a little inspiration from newer Immolation and Malevolent Creation on the new album, are these bands that you listen to?
Personally I've always thought that Immolation was a cool band, ever since the release of Dawn of Possession back in '91 so it's a band I've followed throughout the years, so in a way they may have been a source of inspiration, but I've never played coversongs or been inspired that way by how other people play. Unconsciously you probably always get inspired by what you listen to and think is cool, so it's definitely something that has inspired one way or the other.

What do you think that sets Exmortem apart from the masses?
That a good question. Basically I think our records are far more interesting than a lot of the stuff you get through the door. I think it's a little broader and a bit more varied. I think we have more strings to play on, if you can put it like that, than a lot of standard death metal bands these days. Lots of bands have a tendency to be technical and have this vacuumcleaner-like vocalist in front which often makes it very monotone but I think we are different on that front.

Does having only one guitarist limit you in some way?
Yes in a live situation it does and it's something we have talked about on several occasions - that perhaps it would be cool to have another guitarist in the band again. The problem is that we haven't meet the right one, - on the other hand we haven't really done anything in order to find one. But there are definitely things that can't be done live with only one guitarist, and if we find the right one it's possible that we would have a second guitarist again.

Reno is he already out of Exmortem again?
Yeah, it's a little confusing all the stuff that is going on, but we have a new permanent drummer called Morten. He has really caught us with our pants down - we were really positively surprised by his playing, so he has become a permanent member now. Reno had a lot of issues that he needed to take care of, a lot of personal stuff which I won't go further into, but there were a lot he needed to get sorted out and I actually also think he wanted to do something slightly different with his music than we would so in a way I think this is for the best.

What about the new drummer, what has he been playing in before joining Exmortem?
Actually he has only been plying in a few different demo bands, so he's really not known in any way. I can't actually recall which bands, but his playing is fucking great [laughs]. His playing is very tight and stable tempo-wise, he has no problem keeping the pace, and he is even more hard-hitting than Michael was, so that's really cool. I think there will be a little more energy in our music now.

It seemed like your split with Osmose was a bit sudden!
Yes it was. They were in severe financial difficulties. We had actually finished recording all the basic stuff for the new record and the day before we were going to start mixing, they contacted me and said that they had no money, so there wouldn't be money for the studio for a year or something ridiculous like that. So I told them that it probably would be for the better if we ended things right there and then, - then I called Dan from Earache. I was in England this summer and we agreed on signing a contract.

So you went straight over in Earache's fold, there was no other labels in over?
Yes, Unique Leader, who has been interested in us as far back as before Bezerker Legions but I didn't really let others know because Earache's interest seemed genuine.

You have once again chosen to record in Antfarm, what lies behind this decision?
The main reason is that Tue is a good acquaintance and he's insanely easy to work with. He understands what it is you want him to do. He's very easy to get to work towards the goal we want and achieve it. It also seems a little stupid travelling to another country when the best man is only five minutes away [laughs]. The way I see it I would like to make different albums each time, so at some point we may have to look for another studio, but I feel he has helped to devolve our sound on the last two albums, so we'll continue with him a while longer.

You have been toying with a DVD for some time, is this release right around the corner?
No, it was something that we had already talked with Osmose about as far as I recall. It was something that we had started planning when the split with Osmose occurred and we decided to continue with the work, because we had everything planned. But then it was on a new label and things changed a little. They have seen the material and the result is insanely good. It is also Tue who has done the sound and the footage is very professionally shot etc. It's fucking great material and we would love to use it for something, but to release a DVD now is something that the label isn't interested in. They would rather wait until the album has been out for a while so the focus and attention is on that one. We are going to shot a video on Monday so we would try instead of just rushing things to let things grow a little and perhaps even record one more live show so people would get a little more value for their money. That of course lies in the future, though it doesn't make the material we already have any less good.

What do you think of the Danish scene, I mean Exmortem has been among those laying down the groundwork to what it is today!
Definitely. I think back when we got signed on Hammerheart there wasn't any other Danish bands on foreign labels, so in a way we were among the first ones to go in that direction and hopefully we inspired others to follow. I think up through the 90's, or the old scene if you will, everything was mostly focused on Danish bands being signed on Diehard, Mighty Music and whatever they were called. Back then we were also signed to Euphonious Records. I never could understand that particular way of seeing things - I think it's far more interesting to look at foreign countries because the potential is far greater there. Denmark isn't that big in a lot of ways, so if you want to become better and play more professionally, then it requires you to travel outside Denmark, where there's a lot more competition. This again means that the Danish bands become better and thereby able to give the audience an even better performance. At the moment we have a scene where the Danish bands can actually compete with the foreign ones, as opposed to back then and in that way everybody benefits. Even though I'm not a big fan of a lot of the bands that are big in Denmark, I still see it as a positive thing because it lifts the scene as a whole - and that is something I strongly support. I just hope a few new bands would surface in our genre, in the extremer end of the scale that is, because that's something I've missed - we kinda stand alone out there. But as I said before it all helps to give new bands the faith that it is possible. Back when we played in the mid-90's there was no one to look up to in that way. There was no one who had done anything, so the belief that a Danish band could travel outside of Denmark was almost nonexistent back then - fortunately this has changed.

Is it correct to speak of a definite metal scene in Aarhus?
Yes, definitely. I am chairman for Aarhus Fee Metal, an association which arranges an annual Fee Festival but we are also involved in something called the Grand Prix which this year has been made national with qualifying competitions in Aalborg, Odense, Copenhagen and of course Aarhus and with the final in Voxhall here in Aarhus. So Aarhus is definitely the leading city when it comes to initiatives like this. Not particularly because of the Grand Prix but in general with what is going on on the Danish scene at the moment. If you look at the map, you'll soon discover that a lot of the bands with the greatest success is from this town. There's definitely a very strong scene here and it seems to grow all the time.

And yet concerts are a little thin on the ground in Aarhus?

Yes, that's probably the only place where we are a little behind. I think the problem might be that there is no real rock-club here. Voxhall is close but they also cover a lot of other genres. Take for instance Copenhagen's The Rock, the name says it all. But a place like Voxhall and I'm saying this without any inside information, probably has certain rules that prohibit them from taking in more metal and related stuff than they already do. You could then discuss whether that is right or wrong but since they receive funding from the state they are obliged to make room for all genres. That's definitely one of the reasons why we don't see that many concerts here.

How are things going with Pestifer and why did you terminate Superion Distribution?
Because there was no goodwill from the shops. I didn't really have any big bands which I could sell to the shops and then throw in some unknown stuff with it. The stores wouldn't even give it a chance, they weren't even interested, because it was simply too underground and I was all putting far to much time into it without getting anything in return and when you have band, job etc. there wasn't time. I chose to concentrate on the music instead so that's basically the reasons for this.

So Pestifer is also laid to rest?
It's pretty much on ice I would say. Right now I wanna concentrate fully on the new album and hopefully we will be playing a lot og jobs and I also have job, school and a lot of other shit to attend to. I prefer to do things 100% but that's difficult when you have lots of stuff to do. I would like to do things properly, if at all and I simply cannot find the time at the moment. Plus I also work a lot with graphics and stuff, so I may actually have a bit too much to do.

You're going on tour with Behemoth early in the new year. Have you anything planned besides that?
Nothing besides a few concerts in Denmark but there's something else that hasn't been confirmed officially yet. People are working hard and we have a bid in on a very, very interesting European tour in the spring but nothing is certain yet and things always change, so I hate to talk to much about it, at least not before I have a contract or something because, as you know, these things get cancelled from day to day.

Anything you'd like to add?
It's always difficult to come up with something. I think people should give the new album a listen, also those who think the band has been a little to one-tracked in the past because I think there's more variation this time around. People are also welcome to use our website and forum and contact us etc.

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