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Interview with Bornholm

Hungarian Black/Pagan Metallers Bornholm are back! Their new album “Apotheosis” was released in early November and is their debut on Napalm Records. 
The band has built a flowing, epochal sound concept that combines explosive guitar/bass lines with thunder-fast drums, spiced with choral elements and leading into a heavy blend, which Bornholm present successfully in all kinds of variations.
Metal Imperium interviewed Sahsnot, the mainman behind the band, and he enlightened us about their 5th opus, their new label and their upcoming tour.

M.I. - “Apotheosis” is the band’s first album to be released on Napalm Records. How are things working so far?

The album was released a few days ago and we were waiting so much for this moment. I think we found the best place for the band, it is so smooth the work together with Napalm. There are a lot of interviews and there is so much to do around an album release and they help us a lot. 

M.I. - What has changed for you now that you’re signed to an awesome label such as Napalm? 

Everything is different. This is more professional than ever, there are so many possibilities to show ourselves and we can select the one which fits us best. We are taking care to be authentic, we don't want to walk against what we are.
They do professional work and they are great partners. We can focus on the real important things.

M.I. - This is the band’s 5th full-length in over 20 years of activity. Does making an album get easier with time or does it get more complicated?

Every album recording is different, you always learn something new in the studio, during the writing of the songs. If you are looking for your limits or if you try to step over them, it is never easy. I never walk the easy way so it doesn't matter to me. If something is hard, that is natural to me, that is the right way. There are complications always if you work, problems are gonna come that you have to solve.

M.I. - There are some musical variations throughout the 11 tracks of the album. How long did it take to write this masterpiece?

I think it was 2 years, but I write the music basically, and sometimes a song has a long story. We form the songs even in the studio during the recordings if we feel it's necessary. We let the creativity flow, we had demo versions when we went to the studio but nothing was carved in stone. If I have inspirations I work, and this method it's hard to measure. Everything depends on the inspirations, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer... for me this is an expression of art and not a job. If there is something that has to be born, it will be. If not, I have to wait until a song takes form in me.

M.I. - In my opinion, the title “Apotheosis” seems to be the perfect option for this majestic piece of art... do you think this is Bornholm at its best, hence the title?

I hope not, and I know there is a long way ahead. I am never satisfied and now we are closer to the original vision but I know that there are more albums in us. I feel the inspiration to do something more but, so far, this is a peak, a milestone, the beginning of a new era. That is true. We like the album, and it is essentially our music. Something that we are, a mature record. We found a path and it is just ours, the listener can feel it also. We are under transformation as the title says. The title doesn't refer to us, it has a deeper meaning and much more levels of interpretation.

M.I. - Your Facebook page states that you have reached number 1 in Hungary promoting the new album. How exciting is it to be so appreciated in your country? Were you always appreciated like this or have things changed with time?

This is a good thing, but a list is just a list. In our country, metal music is not part of the mainstream media, so it means nothing. It’s very good for us, but it doesn't change too much on the taste of the bigger public. The people who like this music are the most important, the real metalheads, they are the base of the whole genre. We got very good responses, and this is great for us. This is what matters. The musical scene here in the mainstream media is far from metal, this is not Sweden or Finland, if you know what I mean.

M.I. - “I am war god” and “Spiritual warfare” are the two videos to promote the new album. How have people reacted to them so far?

Yes, very good reactions came for these two songs. But I don't like to read comments or reviews, because I simply don't care. Of course, it is good when somebody likes your music, it is always a great honor, but I write the music from my soul. From deep inside and not because of the reactions, the trends, or something like that. This is an expression of art, it is what it is. If somebody likes it, great, if not, no problem. But we felt that now the reactions are so strong and who understands what our music is really about, can find it to be an unique experience. Some people have different interpretations about the word "pagan" than us. We are not the kind of pagan metal bands that they are today. To be pagan, to be a heretic is to walk your own spiritual way. Not ruled by organized religions, and for us, it has nothing to do with worshiping nature or something. It is a relation to God. A pagan individual is the god of himself, his god is inside him, not outside. A rebel like Lucifer, or Prometheus, is the same. For us, the occult relations and the black metal elements are more important. We are not like a common black metal or pagan metal band and for the people it is strange. In our music there are never gonna be folk elements, this is metal, the old school way how we like it. No other instruments than metal is our music played with, just the atmospherical tracks in the background. We live in the present and not in the past. I think things as they have been written, here and now... it is not a fairytale from the past or fantasy. We play our metal, and we don't want to follow a style or a path that others are walking on. We walk against our spirit of the age.

M.I. - Will more songs be released prior to the album release?

Yes, when this interview releases, the whole album is gonna be out, and a third video for the song 'Black Shining Cloaks'. That was the song we decided to do a video. And if you’re gonna check it, you’re gonna understand what I've been talking about when I say we are not a typical pagan metal band. People don't like the truth, they like to live in the modern world but this is a lie, it never existed, it’s just an artificial playground. A cage where they were locked in to separate them from reality. Reality is behind the curtains, behind the masks and the closed doors. The power behind all ages, a force that governs and creates everything. The secret is the origin of everything. What is hidden, is the only real thing, everything else is just a playground for the simple souls. This is what this song is about. There are conspiracies. The biggest fake is the fake reality that people believe in... and it's called the rational and modern world. Now you can see it collapsing as it was planned.

M.I. - The recording and mixing of the album took place at SuperSize Recording Studio in Hungary with the contribution of Viktor Scheer and the mastering was completed by Maor Appelbaum. Has the album and its sound turned out the way you had envisioned it?

We are satisfied with it. I always have a vision about it, as you say, and it is so close to it. Always can be better everything but we did our best. You know it is like a neverending fight, finding the right sound. Always and always getting closer. Viktor and Maor did an awesome work, and we are so thankful to them.
This is a long process but everything depends on the recorded sound of the instruments. That has to be good, the base of everything.

M.I. - To celebrate the release of "Apotheosis", you will be holding an album release party on Friday 12 November at 8pm in Vokál Rock Bistro, where the fans will be able to listen to the whole new album with the band members, accompanied by video projection and a discussion. You could play a few songs live as well, right? 

No, we won't play any songs that evening. That place is well-known among musicians in Budapest, sometimes it is a meeting place and sometimes it hosts events like ours. We are planning a unique event, more personal. We’re gonna listen to the album, there's gonna be a journalist interviewing us, we show the video clips, photos about recordings, etc. I think much more people would like to come than the ones who can come in...so we’ll see what’s gonna happen. The original version of the cover art image is also gonna be exhibited, there's gonna be a signing session and it's gonna be an evening with close friends and people who like our music. It is a celebration, not a concert.

M.I. - I find this album to be quite intense and awesome and I can’t choose a favorite track, even though I truly appreciate “The Darkened Grove”. What’s yours?

Mine is 'Sky Serpents' and 'To the Fallen'. These two songs have very good remembrances and are tied to a certain part of my life. Both are different than the ones we did before, but you know it is always different to see something from the outside. All of the songs are mine and, of course, I like them, but it is harder to choose one. 

M.I. - Sahsnot is the only member that has been in the band ever since its inception. Is he the leader of Bornholm or does the band work as a unity?

In the early era, I was under the name 'Astaroth' but from the second album, it has changed. I founded the band and I write most parts of the music since the beginning. The other person is D, the drummer who writes his parts, he is so talented and we create the songs together. He works on the drums, every other instrument is mine.

M.I. - Now that covid is about to let us live a normal life again... does the band have any plans to tour and promote “Apotheosis”?

Don't be so optimistic, (laughts)... who knows what the future will bring?! People stopped everything and not a virus. They started to reorganize the world and it’s never gonna be like before, it is continuing. But I hope we have possibilities to play, we are planning to tour from early 2022. I cannot say much more, I hope they announce it soon. We are waiting and I hope it can happen.

M.I. - What can fans expect of Bornholm in the near future?

We do what we do. We’re gonna play live much more if possible, we’re gonna do everything for it. And I think the band stepped into a new era and we are also excited if we think about the future. Until we meet, enjoy the album!

M.I. - Can you please leave a final message for the readers of Metal Imperium Webzine and Bornholm’s fans?

A final message is always so hard. Why do they need a message? Just go and do what you want! Doesn't matter if it is allowed or not... just do it!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca