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Twenty years ago no one would have imagined that Black Metal would be so "normal" in 2019 ... the invitation from the Norwegian government for 1349 to create a theme for a Munch painting brought even more "normality" to the genre. Metal Imperium talked to Archaon about Munch, the new album and beer.

M.I. - 1349 and 3 other Norwegian artists were commissioned by the Norwegian government to write a track inspired by the work of Edvard Munch. Did you feel excited about the invitation? 

Absolutely. Edward Munch is regarded as one of the biggest greatest Norwegian artists throughout all time, I mean who doesn’t know the piece “Scream” for instance? I grew up with several pieces of Munch on the walls in our home, so I have a great relationship to many of his works. Therefore, it was also a great honour to be asked to fulfill this task, and a completely new angle in which one could approach a composition.

M.I. - How has the audience react to your track so far?

Great. I mean, it’s been like a huge majority of positive response from other bands as well as listeners. On the other hand, you will always have some haters - to which we pay little attention to. At the end of the day, what means anything is that we are satisfied ourselves. We were highly satisfied with Dødskamp. 

M.I. - Will the track be available at the Munch Museum for the visitors to listen to?

To be honest, I don’t know about that. I know there are some plans to incorporate it in the launch of the new museum, but the main focus has been on making the actual work.

M.I. - Many fans are saying 1349 are sellouts just because of this “partnership” with the Norwegian government. Now you’re older and wiser but do you think you would have accepted this challenge if it had been made 20 years ago?

That is an interesting question… What is mainly what mattered in regards to us making this track was whether it could be something that seems suitable for 1349, first and foremost. The incredible darkness in the picture itself and in several of his other works convinced us that it would. The fact that it could be linked to our nation and its history seems like another interesting yet fortunate factor and as a band, we are an entity aiming to be creative, rather than restrictive and limited/narrowminded.

M.I. - Was the painting “Death Struggle” assigned to you or were you the ones who chose it? If you chose it, why this painting in particular?

The choice was solely our free choice. There were a couple of alternatives, but “Death Struggle” felt so right. It’s embodies a lot of what you hear in our music... and the other way around. I suppose you can say that we have something in common with the painting artist when it comes to creating art… I’d like to think so at least.

M.I. - In the promo trailer, you say there’s similarity in the darkness where 1349 and Munch operate within. What do you mean by this?

In Munch’s paintings there are incredible layers of emotions. Not completely strange when you read about the artists actual history - he met some challenges along the way, one might say. A lot of these dark emotions in his paintings it’s somewhat similar to dark music like ours. Hence my speculation on nutrition from the same source.

M.I. - The single "Dødskamp" includes a bonus track "Atomic Chapel (live)". Why this particular song?

We wanted to include a track that we are fond of ourselves from our catalogue. “Atomic Chapel” felt right for this as a representative song after mutual consideration.

M.I. - Now that you’ve done it, would you consider creating other tracks based on paintings by other artists or even Munch’s? Would it be a great challenge?

Whilst the task is actually fulfilled and done, meaning that the challenge has been conquered - I see that that could be a natural prolonging of possible creations... 
We’ll see.

M.I. - In your official site, in September 2018, you announced that 1349 finally concluded the touring activity for “Massive Cauldron of Chaos”… so one assumes a new era is about to begin… enlighten us on that if you will.

We are currently rehearsing new material for our seventh album, so yes; A new era definitely lies ahead...

M.I. - After 5 years since the release of “Massive Cauldron of Chaos” the band comes up with “Dodskamp” and supposedly will release new material later this year.  Actually in early 2017 when the band signed to Season of Mist worldwide, you stated “We are currently in the early creative stages of our new art offering”… two years have passed and the offering hasn’t come out yet… what can metal fans expect of it? 

We never placed “efficiency” as such first when it comes to releasing an album. The main concern for us is to portrait 1349 in the way that we feel comfortable with, that feels right and that does justice to the way that we feel is representing our art in the best possible way. Take that the time it needs to - we are in no hurry as such. This is also why we have been writing material in between and rehearsing when the time is felt right to do so. This year looks promising though. Besides that, all I will say is that it will be very dark, very brutal and very heavy. Who knows? Perhaps even a surprising moment or two.

M.I. - The band has the “1349 Black Ale” and “1349 Pale Ale”… and supposedly you were working on a new one in 2017. Did it actually happen or not? Your site says both Pale Ale and Black Ale are currently sold out. Will they ever be available again?

We sure hope to see them available in the future. This was actually hands on work for my sides as well, as we are huge craft beer enthusiasts and have been so for the last decade. There are future plans for sure for those interested... And we like to think boldly when it comes to our brews.

M.I. - With this Munch stuff and Norwegian Black metal bands receiving Grammys and massive attention, do you think mentality towards extreme music is changing? Have people forgotten the burnt churches and everything?

Hard to say. What the business works like at given times, what are the audience expectations are like and our own ambitions, aren’t perhaps always on par with each other. However, will have to concentrate on what we like doing and what we think we do best, which is creating Aural Hellfire.

M.I. - The film “Lord of Chaos” is about to be released… are you curious to watch it? Do you think it is possible for it to portray the real truth?

I haven’t seen it.

M.I. - What’s the best way to understand who 1349 is? By listening to an album or by attending one of your shows?

Two sides of the same coin, albeit still very, very different. I believe both angles are very well worth exploring.

M.I. - Do you think 1349 are where they should be considering that you started off 22 years ago? Did you expect to achieve so much when you formed the band? Or did you think you’d be bigger after 22 years?

We have experienced a lot and grown stronger as a musical force. And this is something that we will continue exploring as we like to look ahead more than behind us.

M.I. - Has your approach towards metal changed a bit in these years or do you still see things from the same perspective?

It’s nothing but natural that will adjust the perspective with time - otherwise it would be quite sad, I suppose. That being said: we all listen to a lot of the same stuff we used to, we’ve just broadened our horizon.

M.I. - Many thanks for your time and for answering these questions. Would you please share a message with your Portuguese fans and readers of Metal Imperium? 

Hope to see you when we hit the stage near you next time!

For portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca