1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?
Blot: We are trying to promote our album and hope that the people support it.
Mallorn: We have not been lazy since then, but are already working on our next album for which most of the songs are already written. We are rehearsing on a regular basis and thus working on or refining our material.
2.Recently you have released a new album, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
Blot: The big difference is that in the past I used to play guitar for svartalfar and wrote the whole music. Since the reunion I have switched to drums and Mallorn is the main songwriter so maybe he can explain the difference between the past and now.
Mallorn: Personally I think, that the music on our new album is not vastly different from our two previous releases. I’d say, compared to „Raunacht“ it’s a bit more subtle and sophisticated, which has also to do with the overall concept of the album. While „Raunacht“ was about traditions and folktales of the Alpine regions, which is reflected in a more straight forward kind of song writing, capturing the atmosphere of bonfires in a snowy winternight, „Geisterwerk“ echoes haunted forests and abysses of the psyche. Thus, it has more of an eerie, spectral vibe to it. Take for example the main riff of the opener „Von Geisterhand“, which has this ghastly, yet mournful melody that sets the stage for what is yet to come.
3.The band was broken up for 14 years, what was the cause of the split and also the decision to reform?
Blot: A few different things came up in 2005. Our drummer went to America to study and the other members were more focused on their other bands. So we lost our rehearsing room and there was a lack of motivation. I had wanted to reactivate svartalfar for a long time, so I got in touch with mallorn so we were able to come back from the dead.
Mallorn: It was Blot’s idea to come up with something to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band and I immediately liked it. We had barely ever seen each other in the years since the split, but when we met in the rehearsal room, the old magic was still there. We started jamming and straight away the first songs for our ep „Von Niedergang und Neubeginn“ began to develop. Hence, it soon became clear to us, that this was more than just a nostalgic meeting of former band members, but that we wanted to continue making music together. At first it was a bit disappointing that none of the other members shared our motivation and dedication, but now I think that everything works perfectly well with our current line-up as a duo.
4.The lyrics on the new album where inspired by the writings of Gerhart Hauptmann', can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in his writings?
Mallorn: Gerhart Hauptmann was a German writer of the 19th century with a focus on poverty and social criticism. Although he was by no means an author of horror or gothic fiction, many of his works have a very dark and eerie atmosphere and „Bahnwärter Thiel“ is a prime example for that. It is the story of a simple, pious protagonist from the working class, who gets mentally unhinged by the early death of his wife. He finds consolation in the woods where he cherishes her memory to such an extent that he starts having visions of her. After the death of his son in an accident he totally loses his mind and becomes a murderer. It’s not so much the plot itself that I found intriguing, but rather the way Hauptmann tells it – the detailed and beautiful descriptions of the forest and the protagonist’s longing for his deceased wife; his visions of her and how you can’t be certain whether they are just in his mind, or actual spectral apparitions; the overall melancholy and hopelessness of the story. I found all of this very inspiring and fitting to the music we wrote at that time.
5.What are some of the other lyrical topics and subjects the band has explored over the years with their music?
Mallorn: Since we are looking back at a fairly long band history and three different lyricists, our focus has naturally changed over the years. The lyrics for our first albums were written by Firnwulf and mainly deal with paganism, when Herr Grimm took over, the focus shifted to topics dealing with mental issues and nature. I have written the lyrics for our three most recent releases and my approach is largely inspired by philosophical and literary topics. Generally speaking I’d say that the lyrics have always played an important role for our music and we never tried to adapt the typical black metal chlicés, but create something of our own.
Blot: We have always dealt with topics like sadness, darkness and misanthropy but were also influenced by prose or classical literature.
6.I know that the bands name comes from the 'Prose Edda', do the band members have an interest in Nordic Paganism and Mythology?
Mallorn: In one way or the other, mythology has often played an important role in our music. It’s true that our band name derives from Norse mythology where it refers to dark creatures who shun the light and are generally up to no good. Alberich of the Nibelung circle is probably the most well-known example. However, I’d say that our focus has shifted over the years, as our lyrics deal with mythology from our home country rather than with that of Northern Europe. As already mentioned, our ep „Raunacht“ is an example for that and the lyrical concept of our upcoming album might also go in that direction.
Blot: I have been very interested in this topic since my youth. I also like to read about nordic mythology. I love nature and like to roam through the forests, lakes and mountains. i would say I am nordic spiritual. I am also into runemagic.
7.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
Mallorn: The artwork was made by Varises Otak, who is an incredibly talented artist and has already worked with big bands, such as Amon Amarth. When the lyrical concept developed it was clear to us that we wanted a cover artwork that represents the vibe and atmosphere of the album. Especially if you make a concept album, it is vital that each part of it fits and supports the overall atmosphere and usually the album cover is the first impression people get. So we summed up the most important aspects of our concept and sent it to Varises. It only took two or three sketches for him to come up with the perfect artwork for our album. In my opinion it perfectly expresses the dark, mysterious and melancholic vibe of our songs.
8.Currently there are only 2 members in the band but the band had a full line up in the past, are you open to expanding the line up again in the future or do you prefer to remain a duo?
Blot: I am fully satisfied that we have only been acting as a duo since the beginning of the year. For me it definitely has more advantages than disadvantages. There are also other great black metal duos like Darkthrone or Satyricon, hehehe; and for live performances we get support from a other band.
Mallorn: I definitely agree that at the moment we are perfectly fine with working as a duo. We are both very motivated and invest a lot of time and energy in our music and personally I think it’s better to have two members with 100% motivation each than four with 50%. However, it was not a conscious decision to be a duo, but rather the outcome of a natural process. When Blot reformed Svartalfar in 2019, the two of us were the only ones who really were into making music. Hence, it might be possible that other members join us in the future, if they share our motivation and vision.
9.Has the band done any live shows or open to the idea?
Blot: We did a few live shows back in the days before the hiatus and yes, we would actually be very motivated for live shows. We rehearse regularly as a duo, but because of covid it’s very difficult to do live shows at the moment. But if anyone wants us on their show, they should just contact us or Pesttanz. We would love set your stage on fire with our songs!
10.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your newer music by fans of black metal?
Blot: we got great feedback from all over the world and there is a massive support from (fan)zines, youtube channels and listeners. We are really grateful that after our long break there are so many people out there who like our music.
11.What is going on with 'OnlyBadEndings' these days?
Blot: At the moment i'm writing a few songs if I have time and there is still enough unreleased stuff. But it is not yet clear when it will be released or in which constellation. I don't want to limit myself with onlybadendings and have also planned songs with other musicians. At the moment all my other bands have to accept Svartalfar’s priority, hehehe.
12.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Mallorn: As in the past, we do exactly what we want. When we released „Von Niedergang und Neubeginn“ there were people calling us „anachronistic“ and „nostalgic“ because we didn’t heed any trends or what was popular at that time. Others perceived „Raunacht“ as extremely raw, which is equally weird if you take the subtleties in songwriting and songstructure into consideration. When it comes to our music, we follow our individual path, regardless of what people might expect or what is currently on vogue.
Of course there are also certain elements of continuity. Since our reunion both of us have developed as musicians and certain ideas that we couldn’t quite realize by the time we recorded „Von Niedergang und Neubeginn“ work much better nowadays.
13.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Blot: I listen to a lot of different styles and music: Spectral wound, Maiden, Grab, Paysage D´hiver, older stuff like Lunar Aurora, Taake but also the new Killers album is great. Listen also to the album by our friends Plaguepreacher. Really great black metal
Mallorn: As far as black metal is concerned, my favourite bands are Dissection, Naglfar and Emperor. But I also listen to other genres a lot, such as melodic death metal, power metal and classical music. To me, it’s not so much a question of the genre, but rather of the atmosphere.
14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Blot: Thank you for your time and the interview and we hope to see you soon on some live shows. And get our album it's worth it.
Mallorn: Thanks a lot for the interview and your interesting questions. Be sure to check our new album „Geisterwerk“!