. From the ancient and cold lands of Scandinavia, the dark- and heavy rock quintet NOCTURNALIA comes with a new album. The folklore and culture of their country are connected to the essence of III: Winter, their last work which in early 2018 they started to write and later last year they recorded, their third full length album to be released by The Sign Records in November 2019.
Hello guys, the last years you have been sharing your time with other projects, what is the status of Nocturnalia nowadays in your agenda?
Dennis: Hello! Yes, that’s true. The status of the band is that we’re alive and well. We have some upcoming shows in Sweden this winter and will hopefully head out on a European tour sometime next year.
Being a band from Scandinavia, how has that influenced your music that in fact has an important atmospheric load?
Dennis: I think that the Scandinavian nature, weather and atmosphere have influenced us and our music in many ways. As an example; To live in a region with such long, dark and cold winters can absolutely be as awful and demanding as you want, but it can also be something beautiful, rewarding and quite special. The silence and vastness of the Scandinavian winter landscape is something that can make any person feel very small and isolated and I think that’s something useful, not only for contemplating over the bigger questions in life, but also as a creative tool. Especially when wanting to shape a sound that reminds you of that feeling.
Winter is your third album, how was the composition process?
Dennis: Usually we write the songs together when rehearsing. Most times it starts with me or Kalle having an idea but in the end we shape the songs as a band. For this album we started out with the conceptual idea because we wanted to achieve something that is deeply connected with the atmosphere that suits the sound we’re aiming for, or as in this case, that we ought to create.
How do you consider this new album compared to your previous releases
Kalle: I always think that you have to push the envelope in some sense with each new album – and this is one essential force that drives me, and indeed the entire band, to continue and make more music. Our first album ‘Nocturnal’ (2013), for instance, is kind of childish in a way, and people did not really seem to get what we were doing. Which could be a bit frustrating at times. Now, I think, we are still curious explorers but we are more experienced by simply becoming better songwriters as a result of continuous writing and evaluation. And this, I hope, has led to that we can still be experimental but the songs are better written, and, therefore undeniable and more convincing, in some sense.
There has been some changes in your lineup lately, how has it affected your music?
Dennis: No, not really. The latest lineup change was before our last album ‘Above Below Within’ (2015) when our long time friend Linus L joined the band as the second guitarist.
You are not the typical rock or heavy band, what has been your main influences and how did you blend up all that?
Kalle: Yeah, we get that a lot. People seem to struggle a bit in defining exactly what sort of band we are based on how we look and sound. I think we are just passionate craftsmen and we want to make it interesting, not just for ourselves, but for everyone else as well and, as a result, we move around in the grey a lot – the outer reaches of genres were the boundaries are more blurry than people make them out to be. And it’s quite rewarding, actually. To challenge people’s perceptions and concepts about music and reality.
How would you define yourselves nowdays?
Dennis: It’s really difficult to answer that question. We have decided to call our music “dark rock” because it’s as close as you can get without digging to deep into different sub genres, but it also leaves some room for interpretation. We don’t want to insult people’s intelligence by telling them about how to perceive our music, we think they are fully capable of drawing that conclusion by themselves.
Although your music has an important atmospheric approach you have also playing live, this third album will have also its chances on stage?
Kalle: This is correct. The atmosphere plays a very important role. By creating a nurturing environment, allowing for every instrument to stretch into space and interact and resonate with one another completely, without being hemmed down, compressed, separated and controlled. It is about being a force of nature and not to fear the chaotic infernos that sometimes emerge from order and structure by letting it come into fruition, peak and collapse on its own accord. This is more evident during our live performances where this sort of thinking is in its proper element. Recordings are kind of unnatural in a way because you try to emulate that which comes to life spontaneously and naturally in live performances. The new album definitely fits the bill and goes along wonderfully with our older songs.
What are the lyrcis about?
Dennis: Dennis: The lyrics is mostly based on tales of Swedish folklore and also the essence of/the darker aspects of being human – strength, weakness, vulnerability, to miss someone or something etc. Regarding the folklore theme we have a song called ‘Spell of the Night’ which is about “Bäckahästen” (roughly translated into the horse of the stream) – a creature that can be interpreted as a spirit of the water stream and also as a beautiful but fickle horse that’ll lure children onto his back so that he can drag them down under the water into certain death. Many tales in Swedish folklore is based upon wisdom and often carries a hidden message, like not going near the water for it can obviously be dangerous, especially for children. Another song, called ‘Forsaken’, is about the ‘myling’ which is the ghost of an unwanted child, killed by its own mother, that will haunt the place where its body is hidden until it finds peace, either by being buried in folded soil or to be given a name.
Looking at the cover artwork one could think we are in front of a black metal band…
Dennis: I can relate to that but as you already know that is not the case. We wanted this concept to radiate something cold and hostile and with full length albums it always starts with the cover artwork. The artist behind the artwork for all our albums, Mattias Ekeblad, understand us very well and he did grasp our conceptual visions right away and we are truly satisfied with the outcome.
Former records were released by local label Gaphals Records, this time you bet for The Sign Records, mostly another local label?
Dennis: It’s basically still the same record label, The Sign is just a filial of Gaphals. And yes it’s local (Linköping) and it’s still run by the same people that first signed us back in 2012.
Is there a music that follows no trends and always be there or everything is under the influence of time?
Kalle: Probably not. Music, like any artistic expression, is a direct reflection of that specific slice of time in which the art was created. The surrounding environment, whatever it may be, has such an undeniable impact on art that you can’t or shall not underestimate its importance. What plays a role, however, is the artist and what sort of experiences they think are particularly pressing to share. But they can always be traced back to that contemporary society and its rich and its many-sided complexities.