A Thousand Years Have Passed...
Ronni Arturo interviews Draakh Kimera
Mörk Gryning's Draakh Kimera offers Ronni Arturo, one of Profet's two newly turned Black Metal enthusiasts, exclusive information on the future of the band, in this interview about the state of the Black Metal genre, and Mörk Gryning's place in it.
Suddenly, Profet and its editorial squad has fallen headfirst for Black Metal. Both I and the magazine’s Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström have buried ourselves deeply in an on-going love affair with the dark, blastingly blasphemous genre and so we felt we just had to chat with one of Sweden’s eldest in the field; the seminal outfit Mörk Gryning (»Dark Dawn« in English), an entity that’s been around, perhaps off-and-on, for the last 25 years.
What is it that we do like in Black Metal? Well, I can’t speak on behalf of the esteemed Chief Ideologue, but what I enjoy is the scenic, almost theatrical presentation and the dark world of references that are commonly used. From a theological perspective, Black Metal is one of few modern musical genres that offer an alternative to known religion, an anti-thesis of what we usually are force-fed. Although at times a destructive one, the message that Black Metal bands send is basically the teachings of individualism and self-belief.
I ask original Mörk Gryning member Draakh Kimera a few question, all surrounding his thoughts on the development of both his own band and the genre they are inseparably connoted to.
Draakh and Goth Gorgon, the band’s two founders, has the final say-so on Mörk Gryning’s ideology, after the rest of the group has shared their piece. This has led to a streamlined, mostly neat-looking occult visuality surrounding Mörk Gryning’s work. The cover of their latest release, a live record from Stockholm venue Kraken, shares origin with other art that the band has used to present their music with.
»It’s a painting by artist Gustave Doré from his illustrations of Dante’s ’The Divine Comedy’.« says Draakh. »We also borrowed one of those pieces for the ’Tusen år har gått’ cover and since this live album was a special gig where we played all songs from that record, the circle was closed.«
»The support from the crowd was absolutely beyond our expectations. We know that our strongest fan base is in Sweden, but this exceeded everything.« Draakh says about the Kraken show, which was intended to be a potpourri of songs from all Mörk Gryning albums, with some emphasis on the influential 1995 record »Tusen år har gått«.
Since formation, several of Mörk Gryning’s members have been replaced time and time again, leaving only a few original ones left, Draakh Kimera being one of those few. Their first performance as a group took place in November 1996, strangely enough three years after the band was founded. When I want to know if Draakh misses anything from those trembling early days of Mörk Gryning, he answers swiftly.
»No, there is no idea in dwelling on past times.«
»How do you see yourself as a live band today, compared to that first ever gig?« I wonder.
»We’re a band that does an extremely limited amount of shows, so then there is a hyper focus on those occasions. We are also more professional today when it comes to the visuals and the performance.«
»Do you see an explanation as to why three years passed after the band started until you first took the stage together?«
»Simply because we, at the time of the founding, decided that this would never be a live band. It was supposed to be a band that released records, with members that nobody was supposed to know. Later, the urge to play live became too great, much because we became bigger than we first thought.«
Being a rare sighting, Mörk Gryning has taken several long live hiatuses, which has been wrongly interpreted as a ceasing to exist. Meanwhile, the Black Metal genre has risen to a greater popularity and secured a position next to mainstream rock, a development which I think Swedish frontrunners Watain have been greatly helpful in. I hastily ask Draakh Kimera if Black Metal’s recent uprising has encouraged their return, before I learn that Mörk Gryning has never really disappeared and therefore has nothing to come back from.
»There has never been a decision for us to never play again, just that it might take long between the occurances« Draakh tells me. »So, it has nothing to do with the genre’s influence. Black Metal bands seemingly increase in numbers constantly, so obviously there is a scene for it.«
And increased they have, the purveyors of the satanistic rock message. The music, though, is considered less dangerous, fans and performers burn less (to none) churches and scandals like Mayhem’s in-band lethal violence happened long enough ago to have become part of legend. Even the alternate theology is more accepted today, although not yet entirely. Draakh Kimera, who has seen Black Metal unfold for more than a quarter of a century, should be able to pin down whether The Fallen Angel’s mark is more or less perceivable in the genre than it initially was.
»That question is very difficult to answer, if it really is alternative beliefs that affect the development« he says. »But if the music leaves Satanism and Occultism, I personally think it’s not Black Metal anymore. I would say we make a very bad example within the genre considering that some of our lyrics escape this frame.«
»What, according to you, accents a modern Black Metal band?«
»I don’t believe in anything being ’modern’ or ’unmodern’ when it comes to creating music. Black Metal in particular is characterized by lyrical Occultism and Satanism, and the ambience is set in other ways.«
As one of few Black Metal bands including other languages than English, Mörk Gryning also write parts and entire songs in Swedish, which Draakh believes has set them apart.
»When we released ’Tusen År Har Gått’, we were more into the scene. Back then we were, to my knowledge, the only Black Metal band writing lyrics in Swedish, combined with English.«
Except for on the epos »Pieces of Primal Expressionism« (2003), Mörk Gryning’s tracks most often end up being between three and four minutes, a classic pop format length. Said record is the black sheep in the bands dark discography, with songs that span up to six or seven minutes. In my prejudice about the genre, I’d believe that the classic Black Metal song takes its time, and Draakh Kimera tells me the thoughts behind Mörk Gryning’s setup.
»There are some longer tracks on ’Maelstrom chaos’ as well, but generally it’s correct that they’re between three and four minutes long. The concept for ’Pieces of Primal Expressionism’ was to create something completely different, where the experimental and dynamic performance would be dominant. The building of the ambience was meant to happen through the nuances between calm and heavy parts, which makes the songs excel in time. I think we succeeded, but the record was ahead of its time and we were questioned for it. ’Pieces…’ is the one that differs the most from all our other albums, but ’Return Fire’ is also in a class of its own, where we almost entirely eliminated the melodic parts in favor of the raw and disharmonic.«
Finally, for the future of this long running Black Metal experiment, that weren’t ever meant to even be seen live, Draakh Kimera shares exciting, exclusive news only with Profet:
»We are writing new material…«