I would give all the skin from my left armpit to hear a DJ at the local 80s/90s soft rock station –which right now is exactly one week deep in their Christmas All The Time holiday barfaganza – say, “Weather and traffic coming up, but first, here’s new music you’ll love from Bhleg!” I don’t even care which song gets queued up after that; just the announcement itself would be preposterous enough to make me proud.
Given the opportunity to listen to a band called Bhleg, most people would elect not to. In fact, the choice between listening to a band called Bhleg and feeding a beloved family member to crocodiles would at least cause the average workaday American to hesitate before deciding. At Decibel, we have already listened to Bhleg, and even so, we saw no reason to let the crocs go hungry. (Sorry, Uncle Gary, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes.) And we’re offering you the same choice, though sadly we couldn’t send any toothy reptiles your way.
Bhleg are a Swedish duo (with a session drummer for recording purposes) who play music that dances on the fulcrum between savage black metal and misty forest atmospheres. Today they release their first album through Nordvis, the label who has recently brought us material from Lustre, Skogen, and Stilla (if none of these names ring a bell, find crocodile, insert head). Stream the full album below, and read about the band’s origins and dreams in our interview.
Welcome to December. Don’t forget to brush.
Who are Bhleg? What kinds of backgrounds, musical or non-musical, do the members have?
We are two individuals from Ale, a suburb north of Gothenburg. We have been writing together since 2007, the same year we got to know each other. Neither of us had any earlier experience of writing music before that. The way I learned to play instruments was through expressing myself and write music. Neither of us are any good at the theoretical parts of music or music in general to be blunt.
What were your inspirations to start this project and play this particular type of music?
Our first thought was initially to be able to express ourselves together once again. Because there had been a couple of years when we didn’t write music together. We really didn’t have any expectations or hopes that we’d sound in a special way. But it felt very natural to express ourselves through metal, because that is something we have been very passionate about since we first met when we were both 13 years old. Metal is a very forgiving genre when it comes to the creation of abstract and atmospherical music. We gather our inspiration from the great mystery called life. The great megin within all that lives and dies, the sun and the moon, the stars and the great space in-between them.
I find it interesting that the album starts out being very obviously metal, but the next couple tracks back away from that aggression quickly. What role does this play in you intent and pacing of the album?
I didn’t really think of that when the album was being created. I just wrote the songs, and placed them in the same order they had been made.
What does the album title mean to you in the context of your music?
Draumr Ást, To fall in love with the dreams. We want the listener to be able to dream themselves away amongst the tones, and hopefully feel the timelessness of which the album was inspired of and maybe fall into a different state of mind. We do not claim to be able to speak Old Norse, nor to be correct in the small parts where we are using it. The reason why we won’t release any of the lyrics is that we don’t want to chain your mind to the ‘meaning’ of the lyrics. We want you to be the interpreters. We want those who hear it to be able to reflect their own emotions and lives into the music. Of course there is an inner meaning for us in all of the songs, but that we will keep it to ourselves.
How long did it take to write/record Draumr Ast? Was this an easy, natural process or were there any difficulties along the way?
It took us about 3 months to write the instrumental part of the album. And another 1-2 months to write the lyrics. The writing process came very natural. Although the mixing and mastering of the album was a bit tricky. At first we recorded the whole album with another drummer, but we weren’t satisfied with the results. So after a while we came to the conclusion that we wanted to record it all over again. This time with a different drummer. The first drummer Vidar had been rehearsing the album with us since we started rehearsing. He played on our rehearsal demo which was actually recorded on our first ever rehearsal. So he already knew all of the songs. Whilst Robert hadn’t heard a single thing from our album. But he didn’t have any problems what so ever. And it all turned out very well! Our last recording session was this fall, when we recorded two guest artist on our title track. The mixing of the album was a long and outspread process. We didn’t even work on the album for a few whole months. But we managed to finish it this summer.
What is your opinion of the final results on the album, compared to your original ideas?
We actually didn’t have any clue or thoughts of how we would sound. To us, the most important thing is the atmosphere and the emotions you might feel whilst listening to the music. I think we have managed to capture the feelings that I felt while I was writing the songs. The sound can always be discussed, changed, improved and so on. But as long as the music carries the emotions to the listeners, I don’t really care about the ‘sound’ of the music.
Does Bhleg play live?
No we don’t. Considering that there are only two of us, it never felt really natural. Although Bhleg is still a very young band, and we know of a lot of interesting musicians that we’d like to work with. Only time will reveal where Bhleg is headed. Thanks for the interview. Árs ok fridr!