Beyond The Veil Of Darkness
Siebenbürgen's MARCUS EHLIN
interviewed by Octavio Ramos Jr
Founded in 1994, Siebenbürgen (an old European word for 'Transylvania') established its reputation by crafting tales of vampirism and creating music that mixed strong elements of black metal with gothic metal, darkwave, and even folk music. With each album, the band has evolved its sound, not once repeating a similar musical approach.
With Darker Designs & Images, Siebenbürgen moves beyond the world of vampires and in the process liberates itself from clichés perpetuated by the saturation of Ann Rice clones and fanatics. Here, guitarist and vocalist Marcus Ehlin shares his thoughts about vampires and blackened music.
Siebenbürgen continues to undergo personnel changes as the band evolves. However, Marcus Ehlin and drummer Anders Rosdahl, the founders of the band, remain as constants. Is this because both of you have a good idea about where you want Siebenbürgen to go musically and lyrically?
ME: It's correct that many members have left us in the past years. It seems like it is our curse (laughs). [Vocalist] Kicki Höijertz left the band, together with our guitarist Linus Ekström, after the recording of Plagued Be Thy Angel. They didn't even join us on tour. Even to this day we actually don't know exactly why they left, but we have our suspicions. You can say that the relationship between us was kind of tense (laughs). Instead of Kicki, another girl joined us, Turid Walderhaug, who turned out to be a real bad choice. She joined us on tour and [did] a really terrible job on stage, so we fired her immediately when we arrived home. After that tour, our bass player Fredrik Brockert left us, too. As a replacement for Linus, we got Fredrik Folkare, a guy who seemed right in the beginning but as time went by he didn't fit Siebenbürgen, so we parted with him as well just a couple of months before the actual recording of Darker Designs & Images. [Drummer] Anders is still in the band because we share the same thoughts about Siebenbürgen, the same goes for [guitarist] Richard Bryngelsson.
Tell me about the musical approach displayed on Darker Designs & Images. Describe the music as if you are conveying it to someone who has never heard the band before.
ME: Darker Designs & Images stands for the new machine that defines our latest album. This album is a more dark and vicious album, both lyric-wise and musically, than our previous albums. How I would describe our sound? Pure metal!
How would you describe the musical progression of the band from its debut Loreia to this present release?
ME: In the beginning of Siebenbürgen, we wrote all our lyrics in Swedish. Nowadays, we write mainly in English and have one or two in our native tongue, and the topics do not deal that much with vampires anymore. Music-wise, I think that we write better and stronger compositions now, anyway I like to think that (laughs).
Do songs like The Crimson Coronation, Of Blood And Magic, and Born Of The Black Sun deal with vampirism? Can you articulate your interest in vampirism?
ME: Actually, those songs really don't deal with vampirism. They all deal in one way or another with demon resurrections. My interest in vampires and vampirism is not as strong as it was ten years ago. I think that I got fed up with all this fruity Anne Rice vampire bullshit. I liked the raw part of the vampire myth, not the fairy gothic junk that everyone is so keen about...
Do the songs on Darker Designs & Images take place in the imaginary world of Grimjaur or are these tales rooted more in ancient myths and folk tales?
ME: No they don't. Actually, the tales of Grimjaur ended with the Grimjaur album. After the intro of the new album, which is about the resurrection of an ancient war demon, Rebellionstarts the album and tells us about the battles of Nozterra. This album is as close to a concept album as we've ever done. Most lyrics are about this ancient legend of the battle-lord Nozterra. The lyrics are all about this beast and his army of the dead in one way or another. Our next album will continue to reveal the truths and mystique about the great Nozterra legend.
How does the band set out to compose music? Do you work independently, together, or both? Does the music come first or do the lyrics?
ME: When I compose, I always start with the music and then the lyrics. That is the best way for me. When other members in the band and I compose, we usually write independently and then we show it [to] the rest of the band. And if all of us like it, we take it, or if someone has a better idea, we change it. It's a rather democratic way, I guess.
Tell me about your stage presence. What should fans expect to experience at a Siebenbürgen performance?
ME: 110 percent pure metal and aggression! We really love playing live and that reflects in our shows, I think.
What's next for Siebenbürgen? Any tours or festivals lined up? Are you thinking about the next album yet?
ME: Yes, there are plans right now for an upcoming tour, but I am sad to say that my knowledge about it is as modest as yours. We have just begun the discussions. But I hope that it will be soon. We haven't been on a longer tour since 2002, so it is really itching in the tour-nerve right now. Yes, we have a few new tracks that are really kicking ass, and we are working on other new melodies as well.
Any last words for the fans out there?
ME: First of all, thanks for the interview, and our future plans are to get the album out to our fans and to hear what they think about it, and then I hope that we will go on tour again - it was really too long since last time. [We also have plans to release a] DVD, but nothing is decided yet. After that, we will begin work on the next album, and hopefully get it out before the end of next year. It will certainly not take four more years this time (laughs).