ENSLAVED’s IVAR BJØRNSON Talks Upcoming Album “Utgard”

Interview with Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved

Norwegian avantgardists Enslaved were supposed to release their 15th studio album this spring, but that has changed due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak. The band will instead launch Utgard this fall via Nuclear Blast.

Band’s guitarist and songwriter Ivar Bjørnson talked recently with Niko Savic about themes Utgard portrays, the creative process behind the new album, their recent appearance at an online festival which was streamed live on YouTube, Enslaved’s evolution, and more.

In the Norse mythology Utgard is known as a dangerous, chaotic and uncontrollable place. Asked how much of that transcends to the world we live in, Bjørnson commented: “That’s up to each and everyone to make that interpretation, if they feel that’s relevant metaphor for something. I guess there’s not right and wrong about that. The thing that’s exciting about it is that, as it’s been pointed out also with Carl Jung’s psychology when speaking about the mythologies and not necessarily Utgard directly. But this concept of these unknown places—the dark places or the shadow places—it doesn’t mean that they are necessarily bad. It just means that it is a suppressed place that is not dealt with. For me it is a good metaphor for the world in not confronting a lot of things that do exist.

About the ideas that sparked Utgard and how the creative process for the new album differed from their previous releases, Ivar says: “The concept came very early, and it’s been in several steps. First, the lyrics started becoming more involved during the process of composing, because we come from very old band model where we made the songs and then we started doing the lyrics. I have stories about the bands that write the lyrics in the studio—of course, it wasn’t that bad but it was still after the music was ready. Which makes sense because then the song can tell you something about the mood—particular type of the song will give you particular mood of writing. I think now, especially since the time of writing ‘Vertebrae,’ like pretty much over halfway in the catalog, I discovered, since I am the sole songwriter in the band, that having the titles for the songs and some bits of the lyrics in the same time was also influencing the other way. Not only how this thing with the lyrics being influenced by the mood in the music, but having a thought behind it also really enriched the selection that I could pick from in writing. And this just developed and we came to this album, the whole thing was ready to concept, and then they were sort of made in parallel. Grutle writes lyrics together with me—we write 50-50 on an album. We have a couple of songs that we write the lyrics for ourselves, individually, and then this time we have as many where we write the lyrics together in the same time as I’m writing the music. We get this really nice feedback loop where a good idea in the lyrical section influences back the music, and the whole thing just gets a little bit more life. I think that’s also the biggest difference that there was everything—also including rehearsing, arranging parts, making vocal lines—everything was happening in a big parallel path that everyone was going through.

Stream the full interview below, and stay tuned for more news about Utgard by following Enslaved on Facebook.

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