About Me

Interview with Bizarrekult

In 2022, Black metallers Bizarrekult established themselves as one of the cult visionaries of this decade. Despite the project’s inception 16 years ago, Bizarrekult’s music did not make its debut until the release of “Vi Overlevde” in 2021. Now, Bizarrekult is ready to enter a new chapter, forging a new union with Season of Mist and completing the work on its sophomore full-length, “Den Tapte Krigen”, which “contains a message of hope and reconnection, of necessity to make peace with yourself, accept what you are, your identity, and share forgiveness and love.”
This seemed to be more than enough for Metal Imperium to want to interview Bizarrekult... so here is the conversation with Roman. 

M.I. - First off, many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

Thank you, the pleasure is mine!

M.I. - Roman has stated that: “Bizarrekult since the beginning was a quest of identity and philosophical search for answers on the questions that bother the mind at night and day”. Have you got answers to most of your questions so far or are you even less enlightened?

That is a very good question. I think it is difficult to compare myself almost 20 years ago and now. A lot of time has passed since then, I have had a lot of experiences, both negative and positive.  Some questions have been answered, but I got more of these. Especially the last 4 years have been spent on reflecting on my previous years and what has happened in my childhood, teenage, youth years and what direction I have. I think life is a never ending experience and as long as my mind is functional I will continue to question myself, my actions, thoughts, feelings as well as people and processes around us. 

M.I. - Roman began the project Bizarrekult in Siberia, where he recorded a demo and half a split EP. However, three years later, he put it on ice. Why? Was it a difficult decision?

It was a turbulent time, I finished my university, relocated 3 times within 2 years, so it was not a very active project anyway. Life challenges, job, family were standing in front of me and it was not a very difficult decision. You have to prioritize, make choices. 

M.I. - Roman moved to the land of black metal, Norway. Why Norway in particular? Was it because of your passion for Black Metal?

I was looking for my next career step and when I got a job offer at the university in Norway I decided to try it. Music was not part of the motivation to move here. It was simply about professional development.

M.I. - You found inspiration again there. What inspired you?

Life, people that I can relate to, my family, but also nature of course. I use forests close to my home to ventilate ideas and relax from stress.  

M.I. - In your opinion, would Bizarrekult be who Bizarrekult are today if you had stayed in Siberia? Did this change help define the band’s path?

It is a bit hard to speculate on what would have been if something had not happened, but in case of Bizarrekult and also my life, career and family situation I don’t think that I would have been at the same place (mentally) if I did not start my movement 15 years ago. Being in Norway of course affected that I ended up using Norwegian, my second language.

M.I. - The debut album “Vi Overlevde” was released in 2021. Did it include any tracks from the demo or did it only feature new tracks?

All tracks on “Vi Overlevde” are material that I wrote in Bergen in 2009/10, we have been rehearsing it with few local musicians but I had to prioritize job and family so it ended up as a demo on my own laptop. I am glad I kept the files! But then of course as we re-worked them in 2019 we finalized a few things here and there, added additional guitar lines, vocals and the lyrics were written in 2019/20. 

M.I. - Considering that it was released during a pandemic, what topics did it deal with? 

I wrote the lyrics before the pandemic started and it is mostly and primarily a retrospective on life events before 2019. Childhood, relationships with people, reflections on some events around me, a bit of societal perspective (Skrik i tomhet). I put a translation on Bizarerkult bandcamp as people were asking about that.  

M.I. - How different is Den Tapte Krigen from its predecessor?

I think it is a bit slower, more melodic, both with regards to guitars but also with vocals. The sound is a bit more dynamic (less compressed) in order to accommodate all the melodies and interesting things that happen on guitar here and there. Lyrics are more bright as well I guess, less angst about the past events, more into acceptance of yourself. 

M.I. - According to Roman, the new album “Den Tapte Krigen” contains a message of hope and reconnection”. How important is it for you sharing a message like this? Do you think the world is tired of negative messages, hence the need to send out a positive one?

I think there is enough negativity in the world around us, newspapers, media, social media, politics, violence. So when we are looking for escape from all this into culture (although culture can also be filled with propaganda and negative stuff) I think there should be a place where you can enjoy the beauty of life, because everyone should have a meaning, see their value, their beauty. I know for myself, I need it, and many other people that I have talked with have been grateful for speaking up, opening up the wound, the soul. 

M.I. - “Midt I Stormen” is a desperate hymn of a loss. Losing loved ones is always a shock. Writing lyrics about this topic is a way of therapy for you? Do you exorcize your demons in your lyrics?

This particular one is dedicated to the passing of a family member over a decade ago. I wrote it from another person’s perspective, putting myself into her place. It is a tribute, but also a moment of reflection, a place to forgive (yourself or the others). It speaks about the turbulence of life and that it is sometimes not possible to value the moment, until it is too late to turn back time. Definitely all lyrics are a kind of therapy, psychoanalysis if you prefer, especially when you dive into something old and forgotten you can discover new perspectives. 

M.I. - This album has the lyrical concept of self-assessment. How did you decide to dedicate an album to this?

It is probably the most relevant topic for me. But not only self-assessment, but also reflections on societal issues. For example “Kongen” is dealing with animal violence. You can say that it is inspired by books like “Eating animals” and the discussions about mass farming, animal mistreatment and so on, but it has a few other hidden lines that also connect it to violence in human society. So some people would say it is almost a political statement.

M.I. - Why do the tracks have the original title in Norwegian and the translation in English? Why did you feel the need to do that?

So the translation is only given in press-releases or comments, if you look at the album (digital or physical edition) there is no English next to Norwegian titles. It is a helping hand to those that would like to know what the songs are about. I will later add the translation to bandcamp for the new album as well. I think I am rather outspoken about the meanings with the new album, but still see people having their own interpretation…which is normal for art I guess.

M.I. - You are from Siberia, yet your tracks are in Norwegian. Did you learn the language in order to be more “faithful” to its meaning or do you have help when you’re writing the lyrics?

It would have been a shame not to be able to speak/write in a language that you actually use in daily life most of the time - at work, in the store, schools, etc. So, no, it is not a tribute to anything other than a matter of identity. I see Bizarrekult as a Norwegian artist, and here it is rather common to use Norwegian language for music. I can always check the vocabulary to see if I get the meaning right if I would like to have a very specific expression but otherwise I don’t need any help.

M.I. - All the female vocals on this album were done by your wife, who’s a member of the band. In what moment did you realize her voice was perfect for the album and Bizarrekult? Is she also involved in other musical projects?

I owe a lot to her in this life, also when it comes to my achievements and motivation. She provides a lot of critique and help. When we were recording vocals for “For 1000 år siden” from “Vi Overlevde” she suggested that we add a clean voice in it and I really liked her idea. So after that I realized this is something that we should probably use more and started writing melodies for clean vocals as well. Otherwise she is a teacher of music on her daily job and has musical education. 

M.I. - Does she see the world the way you see it? Does she understand your vision?

Yes and no. And I think it is very good that we have different points of view with regards to music and life. After all, if we would have been identical we would have probably been bored of each other many years ago. But the flame is still burning and I am very grateful to her for sharing her time with me. 

M.I. - The album was released a few days ago. What are your expectations?

I am excited to hear what people think. What they like about the new tracks. What they don’t like (that I probably already know, (laughts) ). 

M.I. - The special vinyl edition is already sold out. How does this make you feel? Scared or proud?

I don’t think it is sold out, it is possible to order it from North American store (Season of Mist). It is nice to see that people appreciate what you do, they like the effort put into the physical edition of the album, design, lyrics, fonts. That is cool, so not scared for sure. Proud… yes, people should be proud of what they create.

M.I. - There was a listening session in Oslo on the 26th January. You have invited fans to join you. What did fans expect from this session, apart from pizza and beers? Did you play some tracks live? Why do an event like this during the week?

So this was a listening session in a small concert venue that is also known as a great pizza place. They have a stage on the second floor and cafe/bar on the first. I put on “Den Tapte Krigen”, I was there to talk with people that would like to do that, have some t-shirts with me and ran a DJ set with music I like. Just a small celebration of the new album. I didn’t to play any music as my live band is now stretched over different cities in Norway and I think the nearest appearance on stage in Oslo will be only in April. During the week because normally there are concerts on Fridays/Saturdays and also because I wanted to have it before the album actually came out (which was on a Friday).

M.I. - Bizarrekult’s album covers always feature an animal with abnormal characteristics. On “Vi Overlevde” there’s a reindeer (or an animal of that sort) with trees all over its back and horns. Now on “Den Tapte Krigen”, there’s a spider with what looks like doomed places on its back. What’s the connection between the animals and the message? Who’s responsible for the artwork?

“Vi Overlevde” has a moose on the cover, this is a symbol of loneliness, a person with burden (thus the trees, etc on the back) and the animal is superimposed over mountains, showing his/her feelings how the burden is heavy and difficult. “Den Tapte Krigen” has two bugs that are fighting for a reason (or no reason), you can also see it as one bug fighting a mirrored image of itself. On the back it has castles of broken dreams. It is somewhat similar to moose from “Vi Overlevde”, but by going from something large and individual into something small and numerous I would like to show that people are all having their problems and we are… a legion of weared souls. Humans are battling themselves and each other for no reason, often driven by society, family, constraints, countries, media, crazy ideas... and we lose this battle, our dreams are ruined, so are our lives. The artworks are from Ivan Gladkikh (St.Petersburg based artist) and are reflecting on lyrical themes in the albums. There are more pictures and characters in physical editions of both albums, all connected to lyrics. 

M.I. - How do you describe your sound? I’ve seen the band being described as Norwegian Black Metal and as Siberian Black Metal. Which one do you think fits you best, if any?

Hmmm, what is Siberian black metal? We can say that the music is based on Norwegian black metal but with extension into other genres like post-rock, post-metal, doom metal, so it is a mix that many people call “progressive” black metal or post metal. We have a solid foundation in riffs but also beautiful harmonies, melodies, balance between different elements so that it does not get boring. On “Vi Overlevde” I even had a jazz-like part in “I Trygge Hender”. I like to use seventh chords.

M.I. - Some say Bizarrekult’s sound is for fans of Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Ellende. Do you agree with this? 

Yes, because these bands also play post-black metal, but we are all very different. This was also clear when we were on tour with RLHT and DWEF last fall. We have something in common, but we are clearly different, with Bizarrekult being on a groovy/punchy side, closer to the “classic” 2nd wave Norwegian black metal.

M.I. - What does 2023 hold for Bizarrekult? A tour? What can fans expect of the band?

We are going to play at a few festivals and hope for some touring later in the Autumn. Also recording of the 3rd album is in process so I am excited to see how it will turn out in the end. 

M.I. - All the best for you and for the band. Care to share a message with Metal Imperium’s readers?

Thank you for asking these questions and to readers for reading and listening to the band. I hope to meet you at a concert or online. Spread the word, let the organizers know that you would like to see us in your town!

Listen Bizarrekult, on Spotify

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca