God, I love this column. More than any thing else we publish on the blog, The Anatomy Of breaks down the walls between listener, journalist, and artist, allowing us a sneak peek not only into specific artists and their influences but also the differences between individuals and their relationships with music. This installment is no different; ORM‘s muscular type of black metal, flamboyant and epic in its size, might lead you to imagine their influences as equally bombastic and majestic. But because of Andersen’s approach to this post, choosing albums which inspired him while working on their upcoming (and excellent, let me tell you right now) Ir, we get a more varied and personal list of choices.
From the unique trappings of one Karin Dreijer (seriously, if you are unfamiliar with that name, correct that immediately), through the classic and intricate Crack the Sky and finally to the downright seminal Storm of the Lights Bane, it’s obvious that these choices play a personal role in Andersen’s life as a musician and composer. Upon listening to ORM’s previous album or the upcoming one, you won’t necessarily hear any of these influences immediately and that’s the beauty of it; musical inspiration don’t have to translate to a one-to-one influence on the end product. Instead, every musician works from a complex and non-trivial web of sounds, histories, and themes.
Which brings me back to the beauty of this column and how it gives us a glimpse into these networks, glimpses that might not be available through the music itself. Enjoy this installment and don’t forget to watch out for Ir, releasing on August 30th via Indisciplinarian. You can pre-order it here.
Simon Sonne Andersen (Vocals, Guitars)
It’s always difficult to pinpoint a few albums among your favorites but my approach to this short list of favorites is simply to highlight the albums that inspire me to write new music, in this case for ORM, but also as a composer in general. So I picked 3 albums that meant the world to me and helped me evolve as a musician and songwriter; bands, and more specifically albums, that directly made me want to pick up my guitar and write music for the new ORM album.
Fever Ray – Fever Ray
This album by the Swedish music genius Karin Dreijer is something really special to me. I actually get closer to this feeling of nature’s majestic spirit than listening to any other release that should be more obvious for achieving this state of mind. I’ve always enjoyed her music when The Knife was still around and active, but when I heard this debut album by her new project, it all fell into place. The goofier and happy songs (which were amazing as well) they used to play in The Knife, were in Fever Ray replaced by more melancholic and minor chord atmosphere, that brings clear associations to atmospheric dark music. I actually used a chord progression from this in our track “Blood of your Blood”, from our first album, without noticing it at first. I was so in love with that part, and eventually found out why. Do yourself a favor and check her stuff out.
Mastodon – Crack the Skye
Mastodon’s 2011 masterpiece Crack the Skye is to me a perfect example of how to write lengthy songs without losing the listener’s attention. The small, beautiful, and clever details in songwriting, intelligent well placed repetitions, and overall production makes this such an interesting ride to throw yourself into. I’m not at all bashing traditional songwriting in Black Metal’s longer tracks, but I’ve not yet come up with a riff so good that it’s sustainable for 8 minutes without changing. There are other bands who can do this to perfection and who really master this repetitive song writing. We tend to pay much attention to small changes in tempo, tonality, and other subtle variations, so there’s space for the listener’s curiosity to grow.
Mastodon did it with progressive hard rock, but I always wanted to explore the opportunities with this kind of song structuring, combined with the aesthetics of black metal music. We just couldn’t stop ourselves at 12-13 minutes, because the song just wasn’t finished, so therefore we let the limitations of a vinyl side-length make the decision for us.
Dissection – Storm of the Lights Bane
As cliché as it may sound, we hit a dry spot during the writing of the new album where we just couldn’t come up with one single riff or theme. I was totally uninspired and emptied of any ideas. My girlfriend and I went to Mexico for a month at this point, and she, being pregnant with our daughter, was sleeping and just enjoying the benefits of laying in the sun and relaxing. As it should be. I was feeling restless and frustrated over the insane amount of “Despacito” playing through the speakers at the beach, so I put on Dissection’s SOTLM and walked along the beaches, feeling like a misunderstood teen, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Purely pathetic.
The energy and madness of that record inspired me once again, and even though it’s not that present in the music on our new album, it had its place and fueled some ideas. Of course, I didn’t want to let this ungrateful behavior influence our well-earned vacation together, so instead I started humming riff and theme ideas, whenever I got the chance back at the hotel. I didn’t touch a guitar for a month and had more ideas on that trip than I’ve had the last 6 months before that back home.
Many of the classic albums by great metal and rock acts like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Slayer and Iron Maiden could have made the list as well, but I thought it would be more interesting to focus on the albums that directly influenced the creation of this new album of ours and how some albums certain energy can fuel creativity in unexpected places, at unexpected times. These three albums, as different as they could be, were the first that popped up in my mind when thinking of what inspired the songwriting on our new effort, although many other albums have certainly had their share on the inspiration-credits-list too.