The Whipping Post presents...
Admonish Interview - Added 05/26/05
Considered one of the first ever black metal bands with Christian members...after ten years, Admonish has finally released their first album, Den Yttersta Tiden. Read along as I chat with vocalist, Martin Noren about the band's roller coaster ride to finally seeing this album reach their fans.
The Whipping Post: Although Den Yttersta Tiden is Admonish’s first release, you guys have been around since the mid-90’s. Tell me about the history of Admonish and why it took you guys so long to record your first album.
Martin Nóren: Emanuel started the band in 1995 but member changes in the early years prevented a stable line-up. I joined the band in 1998. The band then consisted of Emanuel on guitar, Per on guitar (he'd played drums at first, but then moved on to the guitar) and Mattias on bass. I already knew Emanuel and Mattias and I'd mentioned that I was interested in doing vocals for a band, so when they needed a new vocalist they called me up. At the same time Joakim joined on keyboards and in spring 1999 Robin moved to Stockholm and joined on drums. He'd previously been the drummer of death metal band Obsecration, but they had split up and the other two members had started a band called Crimson Moonlight. Anyway, with a full line-up we were all set on recording a demo, with "Den Yttersta Tiden" as title track, but later in 1999 Joakim moved out of town and commitments of other band members caused the band to take a break. When we met we often spoke about playing again, but it wasn't until late 2002 that things started to happen. Meanwhile, Per had also moved out of town and joined that Crimson Moonlight outfit... Emanuel, Robin and I remained, with new member Joel replacing Per on guitar. Mattias wasn't really into metal anymore so we needed a new bass player and also a new keyboard player. When Jonas of Taketh moved to Stockholm, he was immediately recruited to play bass in Admonish. He then decided black metal was more fun than metalcore and left Taketh altogether. We tried a few keyboard players but it didn't really work out, so we decided to drop that idea eventually. Anyway, we were scheduled for a reunion gig at Luccemetal '03 and things were moving on nicely, but just a few weeks before that gig, Joel decided to leave the band for personal reasons. Fortunately, Samuel, a friend of Robin and Jonas, could help us out and play with us on that gig. After the gig we looked for a new guy on the guitar spot and as it happened, Jonas's brother Emil decided to leave Taketh (they weren't black enough) and joined us instead, in January '04. Since then the line-up has been stable and that's what allowed us to finally record that long-awaited EP!
TWP: When you try to think of the first band with Christian members to play black metal, there are a handful of bands that could argue that they were the first. I’ve heard it said that you guys were one of the first, although you never released anything official. Horde made a huge impact with their Hellig Usvart album that was released in 1995. Horde even showed up as Beheadoth releasing a lone black metal song on a compilation in 1994. Then many claim that Antestor was even before that, although they were more of a death/doom band back then and not really black metal. When you guys say that you were one of the first, do you ever hear complaints that since you didn’t release an album until now that you really shouldn’t even be included in that list of bands that first forged into black metal in the ‘90’s?
MN: Well, although the band was inactive for a few years, we've still been part of the Christian underground metal scene in Scandinavia. We know the guys in the scene and they know us. We've had an internet presence since 1996 or '97 (I'm not sure, really) and quite a few people remember seeing our old website. There was even an anti-Admonish website in those days. Search groups.google.com for +admonish +"black metal" and you'll find some interesting old Usenet posts. Back in 1999, Metal Hammer had a black metal special in their May issue, with in-depth articles on Emperor and Deicide, and Admonish were mentioned as one of the leading "Christian" black metal bands. The only complaints we've heard is that we haven't released anything, but now that's been taken care of!
TWP: Now that you have a recording under your belts, what are your future plans. Do you plan to tour any to promote your EP, or are you already hard as work on your next disc?
MN: Right now we're focusing on promoting our EP, though we have no set plans for touring. There's been some talk of another recording session, but unless there's some label interest I don't think it'll happen this year.
TWP: What do you guys have in mind for your next album? Is it in line with the newer song on the EP, “Epiphany”, or will you take a different approach?
MN: Well, Emanuel made most of the music for this EP, but we also have stuff written by other members, which is a bit different. Still, you hear it's Admonish and we'll stay black metal!
TWP: Your EP was recorded and mixed by Torbjörn Weinesjö of Veni Domine. How did this relationship come about and how did the recording process go? Will you use Weinesjö for your next album?
MN: Well, Emanuel has known him for a long time since Fredrik Sjöholm, the vocalist of Veni Domine is Emanuel's brother-in-law. We've also gigged with them a couple of times and at one of those gigs Robin approached Torbjörn, asking about a studio which Torbjörn was a partner in and whether we could record there. He replied that he'd actually been thinking of helping us out with a recording and if time permitted he'd be glad to record a demo for us. Eventually, we booked a Saturday in January and recorded three songs that day. Torbjörn then also did a great job mixing it. There are no set plans for our next album, but if Torbjörn can find the time, I wouldn't mind working with him again in the future.
TWP: Have you guys had any interest from labels that may want to release future material that you guys may record?
MN: We were actually offered a record deal for a full-length in fall 2004, but in the end the label bailed out because of insufficient marketing resources; there were already too many other releases coming up on that label. Since our EP is just a month old at the time of writing this, we haven't received any label feedback on it yet.
TWP: You guys chose VERY unusual cover art for the EP. What is this cover a drawing of and why did you choose to use something that doesn’t resemble what most people would think of when they thought of a black metal band?
MN: Well, especially within metal there is a framework for what a cover should look like, but we felt that it was important to have a cover that connects with the title of the release and not just a random forest or graveyard picture. Therefore we chose to have a scroll with seven seals on the cover. The EP title Den Yttersta Tiden can be translated from Swedish to English with The Last Days and this is the scroll holding the secrets of The Last Days, as described in the Book of Revelation. There are more meanings of the cover, but I'll leave that to the eye of the beholder...
TWP: Your EP has two songs in Swedish and one in English. What language will we see the next time around? A mixture of both, all Swedish, or all English?
MN: Probably a mixture of both, but most newer material is written in English.
TWP: What musical bands influence the Admonish sound? And what bands do you guys in the band enjoy listening to the most?
MN: Well, I haven't written any music for Admonish myself, so I'm not the man to ask, but I think it's safe to say that Antestor and Dissection have influenced our music. All of us in the band are of course into metal and as for me, I really like heavy speed/thrash à la early Deliverance, the doom of Veni Domine & Ashen Mortality and the black metal of Sanctifica.
TWP: How important is it to the band to let their faith shine through in the lyrics that you guys write?
MN: The important thing is to write lyrics from our hearts and our faith in God is what our lives revolves around. So, obviously our faith is reflected in our lyrics, because we have it in our hearts. As you might have guessed, the lyrics of Den Yttersta Tiden are pretty in your face. I guess I should put up an English translation of it on our website...
TWP: What is one thing that God is doing in your lives right now…maybe something that He is teaching you, that you would like to share?
MN: Patience, to never give up. We've been at it with Admonish for many years now and even when not much was happening on the surface, we still had that longing in our hearts to do this. That's true also for other things in my life. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that when I look back on my life at the end of my days I want to be able to say that I didn't give up, I stuck with what God put in my heart.
TWP: And I’ll end with a series of short answer questions:
Favorite album ever: Deliverance - Deliverance
Favorite movie ever: Das Boot
Favorite book ever (besides the Bible): Beware the Fish ...or... Crime and Punishment... I can't decide!
Favorite live band: Veni Domine
Favorite food: Stekt fläsk & morotsstuvning (can't be translated, only experienced)
Favorite Bible verse: "'Vanity of vanities,' says the Preacher; 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'" Ecclesiastes 1:2
TWP: Any final comments?
MN: Check out our website at http://www.admonish.org