Today, the Norwegian romantic black metal band, Minneriket, talk about their upcoming album “Anima Sola” plan in January 2nd 2018. Let’s meet Stein Akslen, creator and lead composer of the band, ready to tell us more about his universe.
Hello, to begin, I would thank your for taking time to answer few question for distrolution. At second, would you please introduce yourself and your band to our readers?
My name is Stein Akslen, and I play in Minneriket, a Norwegian Black Metal band which is about to release a new full-length album called «Anima Sola» under the first full moon of 2018. I write and compose all the music myself, in addition to also recording all instruments and vocals.
MINNERIKET is described as « Norwegian Romantic Black Metal ». Can you describe the romantic part of your music?
If you look back to the Romantic era in Western culture it was an artistic and philosophical view on life where the appreciation for nature, the individualism and the strong and yearning emotions were in the center. By definition, all real Black Metal will be romantic.
As I in Minneriket also focuses more on the fragile human, the deep emotional desires and the connection to something outside of yourself, I use the term «romantic Black Metal» to really emphasis the significance of this approach.
Your new album « Anima Sola » will be release at january 2d 2018. Could you tell us more about the story of this album?
I ventured deep into the cellar of myself, only to shed some light in the darkest corners and bring forth the focused and deranged being of «Anima Sola». Parts of the music on this album pre-date even the first Minneriket album, and parts of the lyrics go back more than 10 years. I re-visited a lot of my past lives and focused on presenting only the purest darkness possible.
It was a long and painful process, which culminated into this pitch-black sonic landscape.
Can you describe your composition process in a few lines?
Yes, all the members in the band contribute to the song writing. The current bass player kind of sucks, so I turn him a little down in the mix, and the vocalist is a little too full of himself, so I need to argue a lot with him – he’s way too adamant about his ideas. I guess the guitarist is okay, at least when he shows up for recording sessions.
This album sounds with a certain duality, a concept that I particularly appreciate. In songs such as “Tro, håp og kjærlighet” (Faith, Hope and Love),”Alle hjerter Banker ei”, (No All Hearts Beat),”Smerte, skjønnhet og Satan” (Pain, beauty and Satan), this duality is strongly felt through a powerful and violent sound but which also includes passages borrowed from an enchanting and poetic atmosphere.
Hence my question: where does the inspiration come from when writing your songs?
Yeah, I know a lot of this will seem like a dichotomy to many people, but to me the combination of pain and beauty, of life and death and of good vs. evil… God vs. you, is essential. None of these things are mutually exclusive. Roses have thorns, and beauty will hurt you. Death brings destruction, but is necessary for life to grow.
I like how everything has two faces, one that comforts you and one who tries to destroy you. There’s no right or wrong in the lyrics of Minneriket, but there are consequences and some actions that might be more noble than others. This is just my view on life, and what I put into words when writing the songs. I find beauty in the most macabre places, as well as loneliness in the crowd. I think translating this into music brings forth a personal touch that many bands fail to achieve.
Why are some of your song names in Norwegian while others are in English?
The natural thing for me is, of course, to write in Norwegian. But it’s a hard language to write good lyrics in English flows so much better, especially for foreign listeners. It all comes down to who I’m speaking to in the song and what the song is about.
I realize that by keeping true to my Norwegian lyrics I alienate a lot of the listeners, but I need to choose the language that fits the song and how I feel the most comfortable in presenting the subjects I talk about. Sometimes I want the distance in the language, and sometimes I want it very up-close and personal.
Anna Marine Art have produced your artwork. Can you tell us more about this artist and the artwork?
I was looking for an artist who could bring forth the imagery that I wanted for this release. I’m not interested in the typical Black Metal artwork that’s been done to death over and over. I wanted a more gothic approach, something more romantic, borderline feminine and with a strong nightly atmosphere.
Luckily I got in touch with Anna Marine who is a fantastic artist in the domain of gothic and alternative artwork, and presented my ideas to her. She was able to really translate my ideas into her style and colour pallette, and with her art as a supplement to the atmosphere of the lyrics and music I think we created something special.
Can you explain why you choose Nagasaki Sound (Houston – Texas) for the mastering of « Anima Sola »?
Previously I’ve done all mixing and mastering myself, but I know instantly that I wouldn’t be competent enough to achieve the kind of sound I wanted on my own. I heard some excerpts from what Nagasaki had done, and I responded to the warmth and dynamic of the final product. I was thinking that if I could bring this kind of depth and air in the sound into the ferocious riffing on the album, we’d have a unique sound.
So I got in touch with him, told him what kind of sound I was after, and he was helpful to give me some tips on the mix itself first, and then did the mastering. This is as far away from a traditional Black Metal sound as you can come, but with the bass heavy mix, the depth and range of it, paired with the ice-cold guitars and really rough vocals, I don’t think anyone will question the choices I made here.
Do you already have concert dates for the promotion of “Anima Sola”?
Minneriket does not play live. There have however been some exclusive listening sessions for the album.
ABAR (Akslen Black Art Records) is your own label. Why did you choose to create your own label instead of another one? And do you have any other bands produced at ABAR?
The music industry consists of a bunch of greedy amateurs wanting to profit on other peoples art. 95% of every industry person don’t give a fuck about your product, your integrity or your art, but only cares about how to market it and profit on it – if even that. I can’t work under those kind of conditions, and I refuse to compromise my art for the sake of some company asshole trying to earn a few dollars. So I run everything myself and I get to release the product that I want.
You’d have to be a really special label in order for me to sign off Minneriket to someone else care. I’ve of course had a lot of offers, but if you’re trying to dictate what I should present or how it should be released, then I’ll show you the door right away.
Distrolution is mainly based in France. Have you ever visited our country?
Never been to France. You guys eat snails, don’t you?
Any last word for your fans?
I’d like to thank all my listeners for the tremendous support I’ve had for the first two singles from this album. I’d never expected this kind of feedback, and I’m honored to receive it.
Anima Sola will release on January 2nd with 10 songs I’m sure will challenge and surprise the listeners, and please those who appreciated the first two songs. If you wish to show your support for Minneriket, there’s also been made merchandise available for the first time ever over at www.minneriket.com