27 years in the music business is quite admirable and not all bands manage to have such a long “life”… but that’s how long Crest of Darkness from Norway have been around. Last December, their latest output “The God Of Flesh” saw the light of day. In order to understand why this band is so great but still so underrated, we caught up with the band’s mastermind Ingar Amlien.
Hello Ingar, I am highly pleased to interview you for our readers.
Thanks for showing me and Crest of Darkness your interest!
With the album “The God of Flesh” out for over a month now, how have the reactions to it been so far?
In general, the reactions have been very good, and I'm of course very happy about that!
Where do you find inspiration in order to write great albums like “The God Of Flesh”?
I find inspiration everywhere in my life. Both from my own experiences in life, and from the inspiration I find in reading books, watching movies, and of course listening to music. I'm listening to I wide specter of music from classical music, folk music to extreme metal and black metal in particular. I'm interested in history, especially myths and legends from ancient times. Other keywords I can give you is vampirism, magic, Satanism, and much more…. I've always felt most connected to the “dark world”, and that is probably reflected in most things I think and do.
These days people seem to have replaced the idea of an unearthly invisible god by material gods such as money and other stuff… is this the main idea behind the title? Is religion as we know it slowly dying?
I believe that most people have kind of religious longing, most people want to believe in “something” that can help them out of difficulties and give them hope. The ultimate questions have to do with life and death and the meaning of life. With this knowledge I’ll still assert that the big world religions of today are about to day or get weaker, -less important for most people. That doesn’t mean that we're not “religious beings" any more. Well, I guess it’s a matter of definition in many ways, I just try to say that people are changing.
The God of Flesh is perhaps a symbol of the physical earth, but even if I don’t believe in any metaphysical beings, I don’t believe in a mighty God running this universe, but I do believe that it lies a lot of power in each individual, in the mind. These forces can be used for good and bad depending on what we want to achieve. Crest of Darkness is first of all a project dedicated to one and of each of us, it's supposed to be a “place" where you can find dark energy to lift you up from this very often quite miserable world. I don’t preach about what people should do, I don’t tell what’s right and what’s wrong, I just tell people that everyone can become God in their own universe! In my world I guess The God of Flesh is living in the borderline between the physical world and a world of dark energies, a source where everything and nothing exist. -A universe where we are all God’s. This is the place where many artists find their inspiration, -this is the place where everything is possible.
Is society doomed? We seem to take everything for granted… look at the state of our world, at what men is doing to nature and how the natural forces are fighting back…
I'm not very optimistic about the future. As it looks now it’s hard to believe that the human race will be able to change the way of living in such a degree that we can solve the problems we see today. -The climate crisis, never ending wars, hunger…. But it is of course allowed to have a hope. Without any kind of hope and ambitions for the future I believe it will be hard for most people even to exist on this planet. Most people need something to find “the meaning of life” as I’ve already mentioned several times in this interview.
So, your lyrics share your vision and have a meaning for you… how much thought do you put into them? How long did it take you to write the tracks for this album?
Making the songs is a never-ending process for me. So, it’s difficult to say how much time I'm using, at least when it comes to the songwriting itself. The recording process is something else. This time the band was very well prepared for going into the studio so we could work very fast with the recordings. Especially the basic tracks drums and bass. After we had made the fundament we worked more relaxed over a period with guitars, vocals, keyboards and other effects, but all the time we tried to keep the live feeling from the first recordings.
As you understand the lyrics mean quite a lot to me, but I'm not very fond of going very much into explaining them for others. I want them to live their own life if you understand. It’s cool if people are lying different meanings into them, I come closer to the listeners in that way. But for sure I have my own thoughts behind every lyric!
Crest of Darkness’ Black Metal has evolved throughout the years… do you think it is a consequence of experience, maturity and age?
Yes, all these factors you are mentioning is important. The bands and the musicians have changed together with the rest of the world. It's no doubt that Black Metal as a musical gender is much less provocative today compared to what it was in the early nineties, but for sure it lies a lot of power in this music also today. But it’s important to mention that there is existing many different kind of bands today. Some bands and artists are very extreme, both in lifestyle and attitude, while others are using the music mostly as an artistic way to express themselves. I believe that that the audience are also understanding that. I guess that as a listener or fan you will be dragged in the direction to the bands that give you something, make you feel something, and that’s a good thing I think.
Were there any changes/differences in the writing, recording and production of this album in comparison to the previous ones?
No, we've worked very much in the same way as with our earlier releases. With Crest of Darkness I’ve found a way of working that works very well for this band. I don’t necessary want to work like this with all the bands and projects I work with, but when it comes to Crest of Darkness I’m very happy with the situation as it is today.
Ingar is the main man of the band and is responsible for most of the lyrics and melodies. Do the other guys also get involved in the process and give you some ideas or they blindly trust your instincts?
Yes, absolutely! I'm very much open for ideas from the other guys, but their ideas have to fit in in my “masterplan". I do have very strong visions when it comes to what you could might call “the world of Crest of Darkness”, and nothing can change this idea, -my universe. In that case it wouldn’t be Crest of Darkness.
The song “Forgotten” is basically dedicated to all suffering women… in a time and age in which equal rights are constantly advocated… do you believe there will ever be gender equality?
It's hard to say, but it’s obviously a long way to go I'm afraid. With the song “Forgotten" my thoughts goes to the time when women were burned like witches, that’s a strong symbol of how women have been treated in many societies through all ages. Unfortunately, many women all over the world are still suffering a lot, and it's hard to be believe that it will ever be gender equality. But again; we cannot lose the hope!
There’s a wide variety of “styles” present in this album alone… from “The Child with no head” to “Blood”… there’s something there to please a wide range of metalheads… was this planned? Or do the songs “ask” for a certain type of sound?
It makes me very happy when people like my songs, but I never really make songs to please others. I follow my own instincts, my own visions, without really thinking it very much over what others will think about the results. I'm not motivated by money and prestige. My goal is to come up with something personal, something that comes directly from my heart. I could might say that through the music of Crest of Darkness I'm trying to express the darkest sides of myself. Through Crest of Darkness people can get a glimpse into my dark universe.
Ingar is featured in the cover of some of Crest Of Darkness’ albums and is on “The God Of Flesh” as well. How do you decide this? Aren’t the other members “hurt” for not being featured as well?
What’s the meaning of the cover? Why do you seem to be yelling?
I've never used an artist name, but through the years it seems quite sure that my face, my “altar ego" in the band, is somehow getting more and more synonymous with Crest of Darkness. Even I myself have a kind of distance to how I'm acting in Crest of Darkness. I'm honest in what I am doing, everything come from my heart, but I have made up a I quite recognizable “character” in Crest of Darkness, and both me and the band want to keep this creature alive!
If my bandmaster had wish about getting more exposed as the members of the band for sure I would like them to take a bigger place on promo shots, in the album art, and more. Whatever, they like to stay more in the background and focus on the music, and I am respecting them for that.
There are a few videos of songs the album… do you think videos are great promotion? Do they influence people to buy more albums?
I hope that the videos give us good promotion, but making videos in our kind of way can give us both good and less good feedback. Many people might don’t understand that it lies a lot of selvironi in the videos. We are using a lot of clichés, but that’s exactly the way I want it to be. I'm a grown-up man “playing" with life, “playing" with different kinds of art. I have a lot of respect for my own musical gender, Black Metal, but sometimes I think that some Black Metal fans are taking themselves much too seriously. Black Metal is a very big part of my life, and I am the first one to understand that you can get very much obsessed of living big parts of your life in “the dark spheres of the mind", but everyone should really find their own way in life, and not follow the expectations of others.
Crest of Darkness have been on a steady relationship with My Kingdom Music for 15 years now… how complicated is it keeping a relationship like this? Is there a need to make compromises from both sides?
I guess we both need to make some compromises now and then, but we have cooperated very well through all these years. One of the reasons why it is like this has to do with the fact that we are both realistic, we're not working with very big budgets, but we're always trying to promote our releases in the best possible way. My Kingdom Music has always believed in Crest of Darkness, and they have always given us a great support! I appreciate that a lot!
What plans do you have for the promotion of “The God Of Flesh”? Many shows and festivals or a tour?
Because of the corona-virus it's difficult to say anything for certain for the moment. We had plans about doing a few selected shows during the summer and autumn, and then try to organize a tour in Europe later this year. Right now, it’s difficult to plan anything in the near future, actually the whole year is difficult as the situation is now. Maybe we have to be realistic and work on live dates in 2021.
Beside of playing live, which is difficult in these days, we've released one official music video for the new album, and there are also other videos out there. We do also have plans about releasing more music videos, and also be more active on the Internet in general.
And, of course, we are doing interviews like this, that’s important!
The band has been quite active live. How do you conciliate your life and the band? What’s your top priority?
Crest of Darkness and my life goes hand in hand. Crest of Darkness is a part of my lifestyle. I can’t imagine a life without this band, and that says it all I guess! Everybody around me knows this, and I’m pretty sure that all my closest friends and family wouldn’t even think about changing my lifestyle. Honestly, my own family give me a fantastic support, and I can’t possibly tell you with words how much they mean to me. I'm a lucky man!
I know your live shows have had positive impact in many people around the world… would you say that’s the best part of being a musician? Being able to help people you don’t know in their dark times?
Yes, if I can help people in their dark times nothing can make me happier! People very often misunderstand people like me, people who are following the left-hand path. This has nothing to do with being “evil". I don’t have a wish about hurting people unless they have done something terribly wrong against me or my closest family and friends. It’s rather the opposite way around. If I can help someone I'll normally do that.
How do you take care of your vocal chords… you’ve been ripping them apart for 3 decades already so what do you do in order to still have a voice?
Practicing is the keyword here! I've learned a lot about vocal technique through the years, and nowadays I have a much better technique than what was the reality 25 years ago. In my younger days I actually had more trouble with my voice than I have today. So I still have a strong voice today, maybe better than ever before…
Ingar has been in the music industry for over 30 years now… did you ever thought this would happen? What’s your biggest accomplishment as a musician? And your biggest failure?
30 years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would still do this in my age, but now it feels like I will continue doing this forever.
Biggest accomplishment…. I don’t know what to say. I've been through such a lot, and it's hard to come up with one special episode. I love standing on the stage! Both in front of a small audience in a intimate setting, and on a big stage in front of thousands of people. I also love to travel, well it can be hard, but I'm always excited when I see new places. On tours I've had the possibility to stand on the top of the Empire State Building, the same with the Eiffel Tower, I've watched the Fuji mountain in Japan, I've watched the beautiful mountains in the Alps from the nightliner. I ’ve seen so many cities…. Most of this probably wouldn’t have happened if it was not because of my musical career.
Biggest failure… hmm… even more difficult to answer. I guess I have never made a complete fool out of myself, but I guess there have been episodes on tour where I have been very tired of travelling, it has perhaps been too much partying. In this situation for sure no-one are able to perform at their best, and it’s the same with me. Whatever, I've learned a few lessons, and nowadays I always try to get as focused as possible when I'm going on the stage. The audience, the fans, they deserve that me and the band are always trying to deliver our very, very best on the stage!
Do you think mistakes are stepping stones to evolve or do you see them as setbacks?
Mistakes are steppingstones to evolve, it's no doubt about that!
I know you are an avid music consumer… what have you been listening to lately?
A couple of days ago I was hiking in the woods while listening to Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”. That was absolutely great! When it comes to classical music I've also listened quite a lot to the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg lately. I've always had the music of Grieg with me in my heart.
Other artists I've listened to lately is Killing Joke, Depeche Mode, Mayhem, Electric Wizard, and of course Alice Cooper! …and many more…
Do you believe the music business / industry is fair? I think many bands are completely underrated whereas other are overrated! Then again, life isn’t fair!
You're right! Life isn’t fair, and I learned that a looong time ago. It's exactly as you said. Some fantastic bands are totally underrated, while others with no talent at all are overrated. Anyway, it doesn’t help anyone dwelling on this, because there ain’t no way to change this. It's very often a matter of taste what you like or not, and when it comes to the business it seems to be quite random who's succeeding or not. Whatever, it must be said that if you have a good plan for your musical career, if you're taking clever choices, making good deals, doing good business… Well, then you make the change bigger to succeed. But again, the music business itself very often isn’t fair. That’s for sure!
If you could summarize your life as a member of Crest of Darkness in a few words, what would you say?
I have a lot of good memories!!! That’s what comes up in my mind first. But for sure I’ve been through periods of hard work, I woken up in the nighliner feeling like hell without understanding how I shall be able to survive the rest of the tour, but I am a positive person, and when this negative feelings come over me I’m always able to turn them into something positive. If I couldn’t do this I wouldn’t be able to survive. Even when you're doing what you like the most in the whole world you sometimes feel down, that’s life!
Well, back to the good memories!! The tours, finishing the production of a new album, learning to know a lot of great people... All this make it more than worth to keep on working in this sometimes very tough business. I'm a survivor, and nothing can stop me now!
You are a Satanist and a fan of The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey. What truth did you find when you first read this book? In your opinion, what does it mean to be a Satanist?
To be a Satanist is basically to be your own God! That was also what I learned the first time I read The Satanic Bible and learned to know Anton LaVey and The Church of Satan. Everything certainly made sense when I understood this. I'm not worshipping any kind of supernatural beings, I don’t believe in a almighty God! I believe in myself, and I am the master of my own universe. Through Crest of Darkness you can might get a glimpse into my dark world, but first of all I want people to find their own “reality”. Don’t care about people like me unless you need inspiration to be able to take “the next step".
Being a Satanist is very often a lonely life. It’s not many of us, and most people don’t understand us. But following the left-hand path is a something I do because it feels like I have no other choice. When it comes to that I'm might possessed, but if it's like this I am possessed by my own ego. I don’t fear any Christian made demons, I don’t believe in Hell, I don’t believe in any of this bullshit! First of all I believe in the science. Me and all other Satanists I know is literally very much “down to earth “, but we are worshiping our inner world and we are closely connected to the dark forces of the nature. It lies a lot of power in our minds and in our nature, and most people have no idea about what a human being can actually be able to do. Most people don’t want to know…
Asking you which is your favorite Crest Of Darkness’ album would be a bit like asking who’s your favorite child, wouldn’t it? But if you had to pick up one album of your discography (except for the latest one which is always the musician’s favorite!!), which one would you pick and why?
I think I want to go all the way back to the start. I do now see that “Sinister Scenario” has a lot of qualities which makes it pretty outstanding. I've always believed that this was an early, unfinished state of the bands career, but that’s not true. It’s much more focused and thoughtful than what's been my feeling through the years…. I mean, without being perfect it has some qualities that makes it quite unique. I might say something else tomorrow, but today “Sinister Scenario” is my favorite!
Black Metal seems to be accepted by society these days and many bands of the genre even receive awards for their music. Do you appreciate the current situation of the metal scene in general and of Black Metal in particular? Or were things better when we were “ostracized” by society?
I don’t have any strong opinions about this to be honest. Don’t misunderstand me, I'm proud of my career, I’m proud of playing Black Metal, but I do understand that the times are changing. All and all the metal scene is standing very strong today, and for sure Black Metal as its own gender is very much alive! I believe that’s a result of the fact that the scene is developing all the time. Classic rock and metal, old school Black Metal, progressive metal, together with new more experimental bands are living very well together. I like that! It’s something for everybody. If you like your metal dark and obscure, if you're mostly into the underground, it's a lot of interesting bands to find. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to check out all the music I would like to give a listen. It's only 24 hours a day, life is too short…
Many Black Metal bands wore corpse paint in the early 90’s and then they dropped it off, yet Crest Of Darkness’ frontman Ingar keeps on wearing it… what’s the importance of corpse paint to you?
For me, it's absolutely necessary to use corpse paint. It's like I'm going into another state of mind when I'm changing my look. It helps me with entering my own dark universe and become the demon I am in the world of Crest of Darkness. I couldn’t live without this important “ritual" without loosing some of my identity so I have never even considered to quit my corpse paint. With other projects it's different, that must be said, I'm talking about Crest of Darkness now!
Ingar is a huge fan of Alice Cooper and the band even did a cover for his song “Sick Things” released in the “Evil Messiah” EP in 2015. Is this your favourite song by Alice Cooper? Is there any other track you have covered or would like to cover at some point?
“Sick Things" is definitely one of my favorite songs by Alice Cooper! I love the whole album, “Billion Dollar Babies” is a masterpiece! I have actually never really considered to cover any other tracks, but who knows what the future will bring? It’s so many great songs written through the history. Maybe I should make my own versions of some of them? …as I did with the track from Alice Cooper?! -Time will show!
Conception is another project in which you are involved and which reformed in 2018… how are things with Conception these days?
We were about to play some gigs with Conception in the near future, and we were supposed to tour in Europe in the early summer. All the dates are now postponed. Maybe we are playing at ProgPower in Atlanta in September, but I have the feeling that also this date will be cancelled or postponed. Right now, I have no idea what’s going to happen.
Whatever, what is sure is the fact that Conception are releasing a new album, “State of Deception”, on April 3rd. We have released a few singles. The feedback has been great, so let’s people will also like the full-length album.
Thank you so much for your time! All the best for you, Crest Of Darkness and all your other projects! Any last words you’d like to share with us?
Thanks a lot for your support!
Take care! Follow your inner voice! Be your own God! I love you all! HAIL SATAN!!
Interview by Sónia Fonseca