Björn was our second writer, after founder Serge, but he has been an active reviewer, interviewer and allround metalhead for years. He can tell you countless of stories about the world of metal but for now, let's dig in his Songs With Stories.
I remember entering a local music store back in 1994 searching for new metal releases. I was already deep into doom metal like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Anathema (you know, the Peaceville 3), Tiamat etc.. and I had a fleeting interest in death metal. ‘Transylvanian Hunger’ was already out, but I noticed an album on display called ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’. I remember being intrigued with the (in my eyes at the time) minimal artwork and that Zephyrous dude on the cover. I had some small knowledge of black metal through magazines and even the belgian radio station Studio Brussel played some black metal in their Metalopolis radio show but for some reason the ‘click’ in my head hadn’t happened. Yet. That was about to change though as soon as the intro, with the chanting and the weird ‘backwards’ vocals started. And then: that riff, those vocals, the drums.. “DESEEEEERTTT!! NIIGHT!!”.. I was dumbfounded and nothing would be the same after it. It still sends shivers down my spine every single time I hear it.
This one’s a bit of mix of how this came to be one of my favorite songs ever. Apart from a music lover, I am huge (horror) movie lover as well. This track was used in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining for the ghostly ballroom scene. That scene influenced The Caretaker (aka noise musician V/Vm aka Leyland James Kirby) to release an album with reworked classic 1930’s ballroom tracks. Part droning noise, part ghostly ambient, The Caretaker -along with pretty much all of V/Vm’s output- has always been a favorite of mine and when I learned from James where he sourced the material from I decided to look it up. Quite a bit turned out to be from English orchestra leader Ray Noble accompanied by pre-war crooner Al Bowlly. And what do you know? Turns out it was just as brilliant in the original version...
I’ve always loved this track for the simple fact that it is, quite frankly, the best popsong ever. It is simply perfect. I always sing along with it. When I’m alone, mind you
My parents are folkies at heart, but my dad was also quite into krautrock and kosmische in the early 1970’s. So as a kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I’ve been fed quite a bit of quality music whenever we went on holiday to Scandinavia. In between Bert & Ernie tapes my parents also played things like Queen, Dire Straits, Ten Years After, classical music (things like Edvard Grieg). But they also played Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’ and even as a little boy it struck me how absolutely perfect it was for driving on the German autobahn to Denmark or Sweden. And the weird vocals and the synthesized car sounds were a source of great enjoyment and amusement. My dad gave me his (quite rare) 1975 ‘Doppelalbum’ LP in my early twenties. I say ‘gave’, I think I actually sort of borrowed it without ever giving it back. It’s in good hands though, because I regularly play it and it is just as awesome and timeless as when I was a kid. And it planted the seed for my love for krautrock.
Do you remember that one defining moment that you were converted to a certain genre? I do. Ever since my early teens I’ve been listening to the, let us say, harder spectrum of music. And one day, my 16th birthday to be precise, someone gave ‘Blessed Are The Sick’ to me, as a present. With the comment “Hey Bjorn you like heavy metal music like Guns ‘n Roses, Iron Maiden and Megadeth right? Listen to this..”. ‘Fall from grace’ opened the album and I was forever lost to the dark side of music, for the rest of my life. Sure, I’ve expanded into other genres since, but in my heart I will always be metal. Oliver, if by some freaky coincidence you might read this; thank you for changing my life..