** Norwegian thrashers Nocturnal Breed have been kicking it old-school for the better part of the last 15 years. Formed by guys originally associated with the black metal scene, but are now fully entrenched in the rigors of thrash, Nocturnal Breed know exactly what they’re doing on new album, Napalm Nights, the group’s first in almost a decade. Horns up and high tops on to S. A. Destroyer (aka Kenneth Svartalv Skibrek Halvorsen) and his band of ‘Breeders!
It’s been seven years since Fields of Rot. What prompted you to get Nocturnal Breed together again?
S. A. Destroyer: It has kinda been a long slow buildup to the point we’re at now. The band never broke up or anything like that. But we needed to get that good old feeling back in the band. Too many years had gone burrowing down into personal shit and since the start of the band 18 years ago, and we needed to find back to that original path we were on. We actually spent years talking about how we should do things in the future and to re-kindle that feeling that really inspire us to do what we do. And when we lost our two former guitarists Ben Hellion and A.E Rattlehead back in the end of 2010 and the start of 2011, we understood that it was about time to get the wheels rolling again, but in a more concentrated version. So, we just started talking more and more about doing a new Nocturnal Breed album. And when V.Fineideath joined the band, the spark really lit up like a new flame. He had been a friend of the band since the early beginning, and he’s been sharing bands with T.Terror in a bunch of different death and thrash metal bands in the hillbilly area of ‘Fetsund’ since the early ’90s. So he was a natural pick for us. Also, it must be honored that he more or less carried the band on his shoulders to make this whole thing work again, and we are eternally grateful for him being this dedicated to the band. Then I.Maztor decided to join the band early in 2011, and it felt like someone just flicked on a switch, and the old feelings came creeping up the spine again. Another big driving point to keep the band going and to record a new album has been the way the whole metal scene has evolved into the toilet through the last 20 years. Facebook and its like has also contributed to a shitty vibe, I think. It’s just not hard enough to break through as a band anymore! And it is at times too easy for the old long-distance runners, in all genres, to surf the waves of past glories, without being put to question for the quality of their music, like all upcoming bands have to answer for endlessly, like being trapped under ice, before getting the approval stamp and the keys to the realm. But all in all, shielding the eyes from some ugly ‘bumps in the road’, I’m very glad the whole metal scene, as a unison, is rising out of the muck again. This decade bears much more promise than the last two did I think. And this is really inspiring us to give it a go again.
What were the members of Nocturnal Breed doing in the years between records? I’m sure you guys have day jobs.
S. A. Destroyer: Well, the other guys in the band have got day jobs; T.Terror owns a car-saloon shop, where you can get your vehicle shined and pimped and blinged up. I.Maztor is a chef and makes some killer food. And V.Fineideath is the computer tech in the band and works at a big export company. Personally, I refuse to be driven through the grinder like that. I spend my days writing and recording music as well as writing books and scripts for movies and TV series. I live in the middle of the woods, with no Internet and humans around, and I’ve got my studio and production office based here as well, in a 300 year old cabin next to my house. So, I guess I’m taking this creative shit as far as I can run with it. [Laughs] During these last seven years, all of us has spent time doing all kinds of different other music projects and bands. I spent several years finishing a bunch of albums and projects I had been keeping in the drawer for way too long. Such as Aiwass, Antikrist, Combath, Svartalv, Nåe and Cold Orbit. I also do a lot of the lyrics for the 1349 albums, and I guess I’ve been with them as a ‘shadow’ member since they got started way back then. It has been through these projects I think we in a way built up the urge to give it a go with the new album. Especially [the Conjuration [EP] has been an inspiration to do. Exploring a much more wicked music style, both lyric-wise and musically. It is a death metal project that included, apart from myself, my right-hand Breedsters T.Terror and V.Fineideath. In fact they almost had to kick my ass to get me into doing this project. I was kinda drifting into too much personal shit. T.Terrors’ consistent nagging for me to get up off my ass and to do this project helped me get my head out of my ass. And this again made me think more about getting Breed moving again. So, after recording Conjuration, The House on Nuclear Hill, and doing some gigs related to that, we really got down to renovating the Breed. In a way, The band has been cursed with bad luck ever since the very get-go of its creation, and these last years has been no exception to the rule. There has been a lot of shitty obstacles and hurdles to get through, from personal shit to more band-related stuff. So, I’m glad we came out ‘head first’ and ended up in a place feeling much more comfortable than we’ve ever felt before.
The lineup’s slightly revamped. Sounds like you’re “in for the kill” with the current members.
S. A. Destroyer: Most definitely, man! The atmosphere in the band nowadays really flipped on the ‘kill-switch’ for us. And I guess the last seven years building up for this really has made the blood-lust in us grow to the point that we’re pretty damn hungry for some new meat and to kick some ass again. As I talked about earlier, that good ol’ feeling is back, and that just takes the band to new levels, man! The fact that we got V.Fineideath on guitars really lifted the band to a new stage of aggression and ‘steadiness.’ He riffs like no one I’ve ever played with before. He’s steady in that Exodus, Slayer kinda way, you know. And this lays down a very tight and machine gun-like mortar to the new songs, that makes it so much more pleasurable laying down the rest of the music. As well as Live, he’s like a wall off tightness and precision, taking the live act to a more aggressive layer than before. Then there is Mr. I.Maztor, who was a big part of the early days of the band, and forging it into what it is today. He was our first permanent lead guitarist, and he did some wicked work on the albums No retreat… No Surrender and The Tools of The Trade, as well as a bunch of EPs, 7″‘s and all the tours and gigs in the ’90s. He took a 10-year retreat back to Alta, at the very top of Norway, in 2001 to take care of his family and re-group his forces. But still playing in bands like Slogstorm and other projects. He came in and added that very rare extra touch to the band. And we almost immediately started working on a new album when he joined us again. kinda like having our personal Randy Rhoads back from the grave. His style, that is very inspired by Adrian Smith and Andy La’Roque, amongst many others, makes up quite an impressive array of feelings and techniques that suits our sound very well, I think. And it makes it feeling like we’re back in the starting pit again, in a positive way of course. This and the fact that T.Terror and I really have found the sound and feeling we’ve been after for so many years, makes the band kick and scream like a mother fucker again.
Looking back on Fields of Rot, what did you do differently on Napalm Nights?
S. A. Destroyer: I guess a whole bunch of things, really. The months leading up to the recording was a bit chaotic in terms of how, when and where to do the actual recording and mixing. At the start of the album process we intended to record the album more or less live, and planned to build a studio in our rehearsal place, having Ravn from 1349 doing the engineering. But we never really got down to doing this because the songs weren’t finished yet and we still worked on how we wanted the sound to be and details like that. We were very sure that this time we wanted the album to be darker and more ‘cruel’ sounding than the previous ones. This is probably just a result of the before mentioned irritation over the weakling sound that overtook the last decades. We simply wanted this album to be raw like a fresh wound and heavy with the influences that made metal into metal in the heydays of the ’70s and ’80s without turning it into a cliché act. Monkey see monkey do, you know. And you add your own twist on it. On the Fields of Rot album we also had most of the songs pre-written and planned out, but the studio was very inexperienced and was only built shortly before the recording. Thus making the album recording a very prolonged adventure both for us and the engineers. It resulted in a very good album and some awesome tracks, but there was a little here and there that should’ve been dealt with. Like the drum sound, for example. It’s a bit too cardboardish’, I think. And my throat was very fucked up around the time I did the vocals, making a lot of [the songs] sounding far from what I had in mind. This time around every key really fitted the lock, so to say. Opposite of the last album and more in thread with what we used to do on the first albums, al ot of the music and sound, and the actual outcome of the tracks, was made and created while in the studio. Killer studio and our co-producer Nicolai Ryen Christiansen is very much to thank for the final outcome of this album. ‘Nico’ really got the clue and essence of what we do and what we where after. And he had tremendous patience, time and effort to put into this album, and I think it really shows in the individual songs and the totality of the final product. He really let us experiment more with sounds and recording settings than we’ve had on previous albums. As well as taking the time to let us write the music in the studio, something I’m sure all engineers find pretty damn boring at times. [Laughs] Compared to former albums, this time it just felt 100 percent right, and the lineup we have now just gave the band back that rotten ol’ feeling we shared in the vile infant days together. I guess this really shines through in the aggressiveness and intensity we ended up with on Napalm Nights. But the most important factor and difference I think, is that we really let all four individuals in the band have time to explore and record their parts to their own fashion and liking. The drums T.Terror put down on the album has a lot of the intensity similar to that of a drummer like Mickey Dee or Lombardo, and that drive was just crucial to getting the songs to plow on like they do. And this comes very much from having the time and right feeling without time pressure and shit like that. When we record we really don’t give a damn what other bands play or how we should try to fit into this whole mishmash of genres and terminologies of it all. We just do our shit as our souls spew it out. And what comes, comes. And like the way I live, out here in the boonies, I have almost no influence or clue of what is really going on out there in the metal landscape. In my mind, it’s still mid-’86, man. And the killer music is chain bombing our ears just outside the door, and the room smells fresh off patches, denim and bullet-belts. So, I guess this makes it easier to create stuff straight from one’s own core of the bone. And that was important during the recording process, to just listen to one’s self without putting down too many boundaries. Playing the songs as they, in a way, asked to be played.
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