Morrigan Interview

int_morrigan_hed2Over the years, Germany’s Morrigan have become one of my favorite bands due to their excellent combination of underground black metal with more of a mid-paced, triumphant metal pride by way of Viking era Bathory. This musical union of extremes is perhaps a tired blend when it comes to this style of metal, but Morrigan are one of the few bands that can pull it off every time with successful/ emotionally charged results. “The Damned” is the latest installment to Morrigan’s prolific legacy and once again finds Balor (drums) and Beliar (guitars/vocals) striking the mark with their own blend of epic sound and appreciation for ancient times. The following interview was recently conducted through email and even though his answers are unfortunately brief, Balor shows us the heart of Morrigan with his straight to the point responses. – Marty Rytkonen

Greetings Balor! Your musical inception began back in 1992, along with Beliar as the band Mayhemic Truth. Morrigan does share a lot of stylistic similarities obviously with your past band… I was wondering why you decided to change the bands name to Morrigan? Was there a different purpose or ideology you wanted to express with Morrigan that you maybe felt didn’t fit in with what you had created in Mayhemic Truth? What do you see as the defining differences between both bands?

Mayhemic Truth split up in 1997 and Morrigan was formed in 2000. As you can see it’s no name changing, it was a new beginning…

You have never attempted to hide the impact Quorthon has had on the music of Morrigan. After so many years of writing this style of music, do you still feel comfortable upholding the true spirit of the Bathory aesthetic? I feel that Morrigan have always taken this style and made it seem so vibrant/relevant in the underground black metal genre…

We saw Morrigan not as a tribute band like Warhammer is to Hellhammer, we see the band as “our” band and it was never our idea to hold the spirit of Bathory high. We just create our own music and it doesn’t care if it sounds like Bathory or not.

What has Bathory’s music meant to you over the years and how did you take the passing of Quorthon? I actually heard he was working on an album called “The Vikings” when he passed… I’m completely saddened that we’ll never get to hear/feel this opus. I feel this makes Morrigan’s inclusion of that triumphant metal sound even more necessary… to keep the flame burning so to speak. But on the flipside of that coin, have you ever desired to obtain a completely original/defining sound, rather than people saying, “Oh yeah”. Morrigan. That band that sounds a lot like Bathory? Has that ever been a concern?

Well, everybody have to die when his time comes to pass and Quorthon’s time was over a couple of years ago… Well to speak the truth, I think Quorthon has entered his musical cenit with the Blood On Ice album. All other albums after this more or less sucks and also maybe its better that the album you mentioned never comes out. Well, by the way… It doesn’t interest us if people say that we sound like Bathory…

Your musical relationship with Beliar has been a longstanding one. How has Morrigan, functioning as a 2 piece, affected the band over the years, both creatively and in a live situation? Are both of your visions for this band so concise that you never wanted to bring in anyone else in to pollute the music with unwanted ideas?

Well, Beliar and I are a sworn duo and we don’t really accept a third or forth person beside us in the band. We write all the music together and it’s no problem playing live for us as a duo.

Tell us about the Halls of Manannan? This is your own personal recoding studio I’m assuming. I have always appreciated the completely warm, yet raw production the band has achieved over the years and was wondering what kind of gear you keep relying on to capture this sound? Would you agree that having your own studio at your disposal is beneficial in the speedy way in which Morrigan works? Have you ever opened the doors to other bands as well to record there?

Yes, the Halls Of Manannan are our own home studio. We work mixed with analog and digital gear. The most reason to do all ourselves is, that we can take the time needed to complete an album without the typical studio-stress. No, till now here was no other band beside Morrigan.

Upon hearing “The Damned”, I am once again impressed at how prolific you 2 are as songwriters, and the music sounds just as fresh and vital as it did on “Plague Waste and Death”. It seems after several albums, most bands often lose their direction or spirit for writing music with substance. “The Damned” is a very smartly paced album… skillfully interspersing the more epic tracks between the more caustic attacks. What were your intentions for this album since “Welcome to Samhain” seemed to embrace the more aggressive side of your sound?

We always write songs like they came without a real concept behind it. Also the way from “Welcome to Samhain” to “The Damned” was nothing more than a natural process…

As previously mentioned, the music of Morrigan embraces several distinctive musical styles… that of a blood curdling black metal persona and the more majestic, 6/8 plod of mid-paced and highly melodic metal. What style do you prefer to play, feel more of a connection to, and which do you feel defines Morrigan the most effectively?

As I said before we don’t work with a concept from album to album and it comes natural how many mid tempo songs or high-speed songs comes on an album. We like both styles and we will always do this mixture.

Morrigan releases have been supported by 2 labels over the years, Barbarian Wrath and Undercover Records. What has each label done to bring your name to a wider public consciousness? Since both have been of a diehard underground status, do you feel that these have been the proper home for Morrigan, or has there been restrictions? Is it important for the band to be supported by German companies, or is this of no consequence/just the way it has worked out?

We are an underground band and also we think, that Morrigan fits better with an underground label than a money label like Nuclear Blast or shit like that. In underground labels there is more enthusiasm than on the mainstream orientated big labels.

Lyrically, Beliar’s concepts center around the Celtic people. What do you think he’s trying to present to the listener with his lyrics? Possibly trying to bring an awareness of ancient times to the forefront? Do you 2 as a band feel some sort of connection to the Celts, be it their way of life, their teachings, or what they represented? How do you feel this appreciation for an ancient society has affected you as a person or the way you view this modern society?

We live in a Celtic dominated part of Germania and here you can find some great places that inspire us or especially Beliar for his lyrics.

Time has changed a lot in the extreme music world since the early 90’s… Do you still feel a connection with the musical world around you? How has the Internet affected you/the band, both good and bad? I’ve personally noticed a decline in attendance at metal concerts over the years and I attribute this to the fact that people would rather stay at home and download music, rather than go out and be a part of something. Have you noticed this in Germany as well? Where do you see all of this heading? Will extreme metal fade away into the digital age, or has the true essence of metal transcended all of that?

Well, to be honest: The current situation in the extreme music doesn’t really interest us. There are some good bands around and on the other hand, many shit.

Thanks a lot for your time Balor in giving our readers more of a glimpse into Morrigan. We here at Worm Gear are total fans of your art and wish you continued success! The closing comments are yours…

Thanx for the inti!!!

~ by martyworm on January 3, 2009.

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