Picture me, if you can: I'm chilling in my corner office at the non-existent Metal Abyss tower, eating a Ding Dong, reading a Garfield comic, and doing my best to emulate George Costanza and look bothered so that the editor will think I'm busy. In-between sugary processed treats I get a message from our Dutch friends Nimblkorg & Skirge, better known as the Netherlands' greatest metal duo, Shylmagoghnar, and instantly I'm reduced to nerdy fanboy status. Of all the albums that played a role in my metal evolution, few can claim to be as influential (or frankly as good) as Shylmagoghnar's debut LP, 'Emergence'. As punishing as it is uplifting, that record solidified me as a fan of extreme metal, and my signed copy is rarely out of my CD player. Now about that message. Not long ago Shylmagoghnar announced that recording of the follow-up to 'Emergence' was complete and that a release date would be forth-coming. I reached out to the band, hoping against hope that they'd have a few minutes to talk with little 'ol us. As always, what you see below are the questions exactly as asked and answered. We filter nothing; meaning that, as you'll soon see, the guys offered candid, insightful responses to amateur inquiries from a pseudo-journalist. Again, it's the price the editor pays when the help is free. To say that I appreciate the time and energy Nimblkorg & Skirge put into their responses is a gross understatement. I hope you enjoy hearing what they had to say half as much as I did. Rage (and read) on! JPR
MA: First off, allow me to publicly express my gratitude to you for taking time out of what must be a very hectic schedule to answer a few questions. Emergence has been on heavy rotation not just in preparation for this interview, but also to tide me over until the new album drops. How close are you guys to having a finished product and when could we expect an announcement on a release date? N&S: Our absolute pleasure of course! Thank you for having us.
We finished the last recording session for the upcoming album “Transience” roughly a month ago and I guess the victory rush must have kicked in, because mixing and mastering went unusually well after that. The album is done. Being able to say that feels surreal. You are chipping away at a rock for years to free the statue you saw in it – first in broad strokes and then with ever-increasing precision –and all of a sudden one day you put down your hammer and your chisel, because you don't see anything that doesn't belong there anymore. It's a bittersweet feeling. The announcement for the release is coming up very soon! MA: Can you tell us about the conception of Shylmagoghnar and how your sound has evolved since you guys first started writing music together? N&S: We think that its conception was inevitable. The two of us have met in early high school and just instantly had a strong connection on a personal level and many shared interests. Music was one of the themes we spoke about constantly, and despite neither of us playing any instruments at that point, we were already dreaming up projects back then. Shortly after that, one of us started playing guitar and the other writing lyrics/doing vocals. After a period of jams and casual recordings, we started to get more serious and slowly we started to develop our own sound – creating some demos in the process. While those demos were often very basic, we felt very enveloped while working on them; like something meaningful was happening which we could not control. We loved that feeling and it became one of the core aspects of the band. Every song had to give us that particular feeling, or else it would be no Shylmagoghnar song. We do generally base our sound on atmospheric black and melodic death, because we feel they offer a wide variety of expression, but other than that, genre is irrelevant to us in this project. The aforementioned feeling is also why we chose the name Shylmagoghnar. It's supposed to feel other-worldly and bizarre. Alive. MA: There’s a learning curve with just about everything in life and I have to assume that that’s the case for writing and recording an album. What can you tell us about the recording process for the new record and how it differed from when you wrote and recorded 'Emergence'. N&S: There certainly is, and a never-ending one at that. One thing that helped was knowing that we had undertaken the journey before and made it through. Of all the hurdles in a DIY production, negative morale is probably the hardest one to overcome, so it really made a huge difference. I wish I could say that our previous experiences with 'Emergence' made this one easier, but with developing skill came growing self-criticism. We feel that self-criticism is absolutely essential if you want to create something worth anyone's time. However, too much of it can cause you to just freeze up completely. Both of us have experienced this harshly on multiple occasions during the creation of this album. Luckily we are surrounded by spirited friends and family who heavily support this project and they helped us break through those inner barriers. On the plus side: all in all we did feel more confident in our writing and production abilities for this album, which allowed us to broaden our scope. MA: For me, 'Emergence' is an album of vast, open, even epic musical spaces. Will fans of your first album find your new record to be a big sonic departure from 'Emergence' or will it pick up stylistically where your first LP left off? N&S: It's something we are curious about as well. It's very hard for us to predict, as our perception of our own work is probably extremely subjective. However, this album is certainly meant to be a continuation of where the debut left off. It fades in with a short symphonic intro, referring to how “The Sun No Longer” faded out 'Emergence' and from there on departs onto the new journey. Our goal was to take the essence of what made “Emergence”, and approach previously unexplored themes with it. 'Emergence' was largely an apocalyptic album, with a focus on humanity. 'Transience' turns the camera inward and upward. We think that the result is an album which sounds more open and feels like it plays out on a larger scale than 'Emergence', while still staying connected to those original roots. Hopefully you will feel so as well!
MA: From a lyrical standpoint, 'Emergence' was largely an indictment of humanity and the wrongs we’ve committed not only against the planet, but also against one another. You’ll hear no argument from me that as a species, we’ve gotten and continue to get a lot of stuff really, really wrong. What really struck me lyrically was ‘A New Dawn,’ as it wasn’t just the last statement made on the album, it seemed to offer a sense of hope in humanity’s redemption. Am I reading this wrong or did 'Emergence' end on a hopeful note? N&S: Lyrically, the album most certainly ends on a hopeful note. However, it is more about individual, personal triumph in the face of tragedy than one of our species as a whole. It is about overcoming and the importance of fighting stagnation. The final instrumental, then, has multiple layers. There is also a shred of lingering hope there, but the key elements, I would say, are reflection, solitude and melancholy – the sadness as well as the beauty and healing qualities thereof. MA: Everyone Metal Abyss talks to gets asked this question: What was your first metal album and your first show? What’s the metal scene like in the Netherlands? Skirge: I have to admit that I can't recall the metal album I first heard. It may have been Kill 'Em All, that's one of the first that struck with me, and one of the few I can still enjoy to this day when the mood strikes me. As for the metal scene in the Netherlands, I was never really fond of scenes as a whole –I feel they tend to get pretty dogmatic. For me it is all about the music. And for such a small country, we have a very impressive musical spectrum going on. Strictly speaking of black metal, we also have some awesome bands such as Fluisterwoud, Kjeld, Cirith Gorgor, Fluisteraars and Sammath. Nimblkorg: I'm not 100% sure, but I think it was either Brave New World by Maiden or Master of Puppets by Metallica. Probably not the most unique answer ever, but those albums really fueled my desire to play metal! The album that got me into playing guitar before I discovered metal though was Smash by The Offspring. Hearing that for the first time was truly a life-changing experience to me. I can't remember what band I saw live first, but the first event I went to was Pinkpop. It's a local 3-day festival which has been running for decades. I cannot comment on the local metal scene – I'm schizoid so I am usually very disconnected from the outside world. MA: Looking back now, were there any albums that you were listening to (metal or otherwise) during the recording process for the new album that influenced either the song writing or the recording process? N&S: Quite the opposite: during the writing of the music we’ve made it a point to listen to almost nothing at all, as we wanted to concentrate on the concepts and make sure outside influences were as minimal as they could be. Not that we have any illusions there: with the grand total of 12 notes to work with, perfect originality is almost impossible. We've had plenty of proof for that from the title track of the previous album, which has been compared to so many bands we hadn't even heard of that it has become an inside joke. But at least we can say with certainty in our hearts that we tried! MA: Shylmagoghnar has not, up to this point, been a touring band. Now with two LPs under your belts, have you given any thought to rounding out the line-up and taking your music on the road? N&S: Yes, the lack of touring is not a matter of technical limitation, but of lacking personal health. Due to his circumstances, it's nigh unbearable for Nimblkorg to leave his home or be among people. It's one of the reasons why Shylmagoghnar is a homemade 2-man project. So we've decided to just focus on what we can do as a studio project.
MA: Where can fans go to purchase your music and keep up with the band? N&S: Generally our most active hubs for news and conversation are the music videos on our Youtube channel and our Facebook Page . We're a bit behind on it at the moment due to focusing on preparations for the release, but anyone should always feel free to drop by and leave a message. We're happy to receive those and we do our best respond as much as we can! For a CD/vinyl of our debut album “Emergence”, you can visit our personal store: http://shylmagoghnar.bandcamp.com/ The vinyl is also available through the Napalm Records online (we especially recommend this to people outside of the EU, unless you want a signed copy, because shipping is substantially cheaper there) Digital download/streaming is of course also available on most popular platforms like iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. The upcoming album 'Transience' will be distributed through our new label Napalm Records, which means that CD's and vinyl will become more widely available (details to be released in the future). It will still also be available through our Bandcamp though!