The UK undergound extreme metal scene is currently at one of the strongest points it has ever been. Following the astoundingly quick sell-out of 'This Hollow Land by Sykelig Englen on cassette, Clobber now prepares to release the EP on limited edition CD digipak. As the interest in this band continues to grow at a rapid rate, we thought it high time to catch up with Nattskog, the Norwegian born musician behind the band.
Hey, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First off, let’s talk about the history of Sykelig Englen as it may not be familiar to some. How did the band come about? And how did you, a Norwegian musician, come to be based in the UK?
It’s a pleasure dude, the project was started by me wishing to make my own Heavy Metal back in ‘08 though nothing was released until the 2012 demo “Immortal Throne”, I was inspired by the normal things such as going to local shows and being an angst filled young person, that manifested as some eerie Black Metal debauchery. As for my location, my father was from Lillehammer Norway though my mother is British, I was raised in England where they decided to relocate to both take their art degrees. Although I have lived in Norway for a short spell I am grateful to the U.K. scene for making me feel at home.
The new EP ‘This Hollow Land’ sold out rapidly as an exclusive tape release on Clobber. It’s a bleak, absorbing trek through Northern tundra and stands in a realm of its own within the UK extreme metal scene. What are your inspirations for the record and tell us a little about your writing process? Specifically, what is the ‘hollow land’ that you refer to?
The EP took its name from a book on Norfolk folklore which nicely continues what I was saying about the U.K. scene indeed. Norfolk being where I live I wished to make a new tribute to the woodlands and barren rural landscapes in which I dwell. “This Hollow Land” and it’s lyrics follow the Horror themes of the 3rd full length “To Walk Among Death And Pestilence” but with the more tangible local tales of morbidity and the occult. My inspirations are drawn from a medley of things such as listening to a hell of a lot of Heavy Metal from the underground of course but also nature, horror, literature and human psychology / spirituality which all makes for a rather unique blend.
How rigidly do you adhere to the true origins of black metal? And do you feel that advances in the sound and imagery of the scene over the years have strengthened of detracted from the true spirits and folklore that lie at the core of this genre?
For me Black Metal is like many other subgenres rooted in a tradition and certain elements such as the raw production and blistering aggression should be upheld. That being said I do believe the chaotic spirit is best kept fresh with potentially juxtaposing and strange ideas just like bands such as Mystifier did in their day by throwing new ideas into a classic soundscape. Never stagnate.
You have taken your music to the live stage on occasions. Do you plan to further this portrayal of your art or do you experience greater internal fulfilment as a recording artist alone? If the former, what are your plans for the foreseeable future?
Ah yes, a handful of shows have been played including the recent mini tour in England, while I definitely feel more fulfilled by putting out records, playing live is something that can truly allow me to convey the music in the most honest manner and invoke a truly interactive concoction of horrors for attendees. Thus, I do wish to perform more in the near future.
Who do you admire musically/artistically? How have your tastes and inspirations changed over time?
The list of bands I review and work with endlessly gain my admiration for their passions and skills. My tastes have remained solid but naturally they have grown more into the underground web of obscure bands and strange relic albums that are as difficult to find as they are to interpret in some cases. For me the main musical inspiration on Sykelig Englen is a mix of classic Black Metal bands from Scandinavia mixed with some DSBM and South American extremities.
You have mentioned that you enjoy horror movies. What have you watched recently that you would encourage others to see?
Ah an excellent question. I always recommend Romero’s work and on the subject of zombies I certainly recommend “Plague Of The Zombies” which was a Hammer film I actually just watched before this interview began. Other favourites of mine include Donnie Darko (the keen eyed will recognise I have a tattoo from that film), The Mummy (Hammer version), The Blind Dead series and of course classic stuff like Nightmare On Elm Street and Halloween etc. For the more disturbed fans I suggest Martyrs, Din Of Celestial Birds and Necromentia.
As far as the current UK underground scene goes, who do you enjoy and which records have you found to be truly influential for humanity at the present time?
Ahh the brilliant U.K. scene, the bands who we played with on tour included some favourites for me such as Abduction, Heathen Deity, Aklash, Patient and Saarkoth. Also projects such as Thy Dying Light, Skiddaw, Absinthropy and Crom Dubh I would say are essential listens. The list is never ending and perpetually growing which I am certainly glad for. As an artist it keeps me inspired and as a review writer it keeps me busy working.
Finally, what’s next for Sykelig Englen? Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
Sykelig Englen of course has the release of new EP “This Hollow Land” with Clobber Records which I am incredibly excited for. Following this I am certainly going to begin demo ideas for album 4 though little can be said at this moment. Many of my projects have been put on indefinite hiatus due to me having some new ideas which will be unveiled in due course. Recently Arboretum (Death Metal) and Violés Par Les Cygnes (Black Metal / Noise) also unleashed albums but I think people will be surprised by some of my new endeavours for certain.
Thanks for asking these questions, it’s been a pleasure working with you guys and to talk about what matters most, Heavy Metal! A massive thanks to those in the scene who support what I do or what similar musicians do and keep it Brutal folks.
'THIS HOLLOW LAND' - SYKELIG ENGLEN is released on CD digipak on 19.07.2019.