Salutem Aki, finally here are the questions for the interview. Let's start with the very beginning. The band was formed in 1994 (exactly 10 years ago). Whom was the band formed by and why?
Hail Boros! Yes, the band was formed ten years ago by Raven, Lord Wakboth and J. Möttönen. It started with a few different names back then, but it soon came to UTGARD. I was just learning to play at the beginning of 1994, so I was not part of the band until early 1995. UTGARD was created to play aggressive metal music, and to spread satanic philosophy and the beast in man behaviour, and also give people time to think about their existence in the vast cosmos.
As this is your first interview for a Transylvanian zine, let's review the band's history. There was only one demo (Northern Glory) released in 1995. Looking back, how do you see it now?
I think, even if it's not played at such level we do nowadays, it has some precious memories and the overall atmosphere is what still stands before the others, which I'm quite proud of. It certainly has something special on it.
Tell me all necessary information about this release. Personally, Northern Glory is my absolute all time favourite demo, I think Utgard (with Warloghe) was the pioneer of “Finnish primitive black metal”.
Thanks for your kind words! I do agree that we and also Warloghe build our career on solid ground on our first releases. What can I say about it? Actually, it was not planned intentially to create anything specific sounding demo, but it just came to happen - and maybe that was the reason how it turned out - uncompromising and natural sounding raw black metal demo with a lots of feeling.
In that period every Finnish band was a copy of Beherit and Impaled Nazarene.What was your personal favourite band at that time?
I was not listening many Finnish bands at that time. I prefer more the bands from Norway's, Greek's, Swedish scenes for example. Overall I have always had a very wide range musical taste, so it has maybe influenced our style and it has came to sound just our own, you know. My few fave bands were and still are likes of: DARKTHRONE, BURZUM, ROTTING CHRIST, NECROMANTIA, ANATHEMA, DEAD CAN DANCE, DEICIDE etc.
Tell me something about the lyrical side of Northern Glory, I’m interested in songs like Wotan, Alla Mustan Taivaan, Tytar Pohjoisen!
I'm not the best person to speak about our lyrics, as they are done by our vocalist Raven. The lyrics deal about personal life and all the matters that surround us; the nature, animal instincts, society, about everything which we have our own word. Wotan is about war and destruction aided by the northern gods. Alla Mustan Taivaan speaks mostly about suicide. Tytär Pohjoisen is a love story with an elements from war and hatred and the survival of our Northern Race.
How often did you practice at that time? Did you play covers on rehearsals? When was Utgard’s first gig? Which was the best and the worst gig of the band?
We practiced about two to three times a week, sometimes more sometimes less. We haven't played many covers at all, and I don't think it fits to our concept of working. It was just like when I first picked the first notes on my guitar, I just started to do my own song. I think that is the best way, if you really want to develop your own style. If you just play other bands songs, you might end up sounding like the other bands songs.
I have heard too much bands like that nowadays and back then. UTGARD's first gig was 1994 at our town, Saarijärvi, and it has nothing really important to mention. We have played about 10 gigs and I don't consider it a must to play gigs. I don't even really like to visit other bands gigs either, so it's not our biggest goal to play live. Also we haven't almost never had enough members to perform live, so that also leaves a hole to fill up. Maybe we will someday play live again when the circumstances allows us to do so, but it doesn't look like that at the moment.
What is the meaning of Utgard, because this is not an English word, is it? Why did you choose this name for your band?
UTGARD is the land of giants in the Germanic mythology and we were interested about that stuff those days (and still are). We live here in Scandinavia and this place has it's own mythologies and believes, and it was natural option to get caught up with them. Even if those believes does not straightly belong to Finland's landscapes, it is still common subject here. Our country's national tale must be considered "Kalevala", which I never haven't been quite interested.
After “Northern Glory”, the 2nd demo called “Nightly Verses” was released. This release was a more melodic and atmospheric stuff. How many copies were made and spread underground? How do you see now this release compared to the 1st demo?
It isn't so good, but it has very good moments on it. I still want to mention that I like the different atmospheres on each of our releases. "Nightly verses" has a bit of light approach on it, but still below the surface I can enjoy it's harshness. We have regretted using the keyboards on that demo, and now learned that we should not use them anymore. The result could have been much better without them. Overall it's pretty good, though.
In 1998 the band's name was officially changed from Utgard into BURIALMOUND. Why did you change the name, and why Burialmound?
Simply because we dropped those Nordic mythology parts in our approach. That was not also done intentially, but as we didn't have studied them intensively during the years, it just dropped from our repertuare and the name was changed along the way. We leave those subjects to bands that really know how to write them and focus on our best sides.
BURIALMOUND means burial mound, simply. It has this "Death theme" and it's also gloomy enough for our songs. Nothing big revelations on it.
The first release of Burialmound was a 7” Ep called “Horror”, released by a very small label from Sweden, Arte De Occulta. As I don’t have this rare stuff in my collection, please tell me all necessary information about Horror 7”, how many copies were there pressed, etc.
In my humble opinion, "Horror" Ep is maybe our best piece ever recorded. We just maintained everything from our souls to these two songs. There simply isn't any down moments on them, they just work as we hoped for. The tracks are very straight and raw black/death metal. It was pressed 666 copies and maybe it's still for sale in few distros.
After the 7” Ep you got a contract from the Portuguese label, Sound Riot. This label is a rip off, unserious label with crappy bands (of course, this is my own opinion), why did you sign for Sound Riot? Didn’t you get other offers from other underground labels? Sound Riot is a very small label and it has no name in the underground world.
We have had a few problems with them, you're right. Once we get this new album out, we'll sign some another contract with other label. We didn't get many offers from other labels that time - that was mainly because we didn't contact any labels.
The debut album of Burialmound, called Black Death, was released in 2001, after a long delay, by SR. Black Death is a good mixture of old school death and black metal. Why did you change the band's initial primitive Black Metal style to Black/Death? What is your present opinion about this debut album?
The album has a few great songs and a few not so great. Those songs were done in the same era and it shows as a similarity on each song, which might get you bored at times, but on the other hand that also serves as a continuum towards the end and along the way. As for the atmosphere which I always like to talk about, it's very close to darkness, coldness and death as a feeling and a sense. It's very true to it's form and completely natural as our all releases are. Even if the sounds are more polished, it's still played almost live and all the little playing mistakes are present. Naturality leaves you a room to breathe.
Utgard had 4 members, then, when you changed the name into Burialmound, there remained only 3 guys, what happened with the bass-player, Lord Wakboth? Have you had any other line up changes over the years?
Lord Wakboth is today playing with his own band ABSENCE (I'm not sure is it nowadays called WAKBOTH again), which is a mixture of black/thrash/extreme hardcore. They have released a couple of demos, and I assume that some new releases are now on their way. Lord Wakboth and us were having some musical and attitudal difficulties, but those problems are now solved and we're ok. I wish him all the best on his musical career.
Last year Mirgilus Siculorum released Utgard’s Northern Glory demo on pro-tape, with a different cover. Do you like this release? What is your opinion about the new cover? Do you know that Utgard's “Northern Glory” got very good reviews in serious zines, like Vampire Magazine, Martwy Zmierch, Stygian Shadows, etc?
Yeah, I like this re-release! Covers are just as great that can be and the songs have the same charm as before. It's good that some people interested in primitive Black Metal got a chance to listen it, as it offers some serious work past the decade that wasn't for sale before.
Your 2nd album, Devil’s Work, was planned to be released at the beginning of 2003. Now we are in 2005 and the album still hasn't been released. What happened? Did you have some problems with the label?
You are right - some problems with the label. They just keep delaying the release for reasons unknown to us. They even sign new bands that got their album released before ours, even if it's recorded two years ago! But now the covers etc. are ready and hopefully it's coming out within two months. Still we won't give up! We have made many new songs and someday we'll record them and send them to some other labels to get new contract, or just release it with ourselves. I'm just starting to burst with ideas and have no intention to stop this band!
What is your opinion about the Black Metal scene in Finland? In my opinion, Finland has the best Black Metal bands worldwide nowadays, such as Clandestine Blaze, Diaboli, Barathrum, Beherit, Bloodhammer, Uncreation’s Down, Baptism, Musta Surma, Pest, Satanic Warmaster, and of course Warloghe. Are you in contact with the mentioned bands?
Well, I'm not really familiar with other Finnish bands. I just keep concentrating on my own band and I don't really want to take contact with the other people, just because it's fun to hang out with them. No, no, I feel comfortable with my very few friends and I don't need them any more.
I know you are a great comrade with the guys from Warloghe. Tell me some news about the band!
I don't actually know any news about them. They just released their new album and I think you have wait for a new one some time. They are going to play at the Germany soon.
Utgard has a very informative website. What would you say about it? Is it important for a band like Utgard to have their own website?
It got all the information that is necessary and I don't need to update it regularly, only the news section when it's needed. We have in coming a new and a simple web-site with updated biography, discography etc. It's just black and white with a more text paced outfit.
How often do you use the internet? Do you like writing e-mails or doing e-mail interviews? What is your opinion about the MP3 stuff, and other internet shit?
I have nothing big against internet. Even if I liked more the old way of sending ordinary letters and receiving them over the world, the internet is much cheaper way to spread news, send letters etc. here in Finland. You don't have to spend any money to send letters or doing interviews, that are expensive to send overseas. The ordinary letters may be more heart warming and nostalgic but not so economical thing to do with my limited budget.
What do you consider to be the essence of black metal? What does black metal mean for you? What is your all time favourite album? Do you collect rare stuff, vinyls, etc?
The essence of Black Metal, huh!? It has surely left something on me, but I can't really recall anything specific. I grew up with Black Metal and Death Metal, so it's has always been a part of my life. It is a way of thinking to me and a behaviour too. I don't think that if something is Black Metal or not, to what I'm doing. I don't usually dress in those black leather stuff etc, you won't even notice me walking by. I'm better on my own, and I don't surely need any attention from unknown people.
My favourite Black Metal albums are BURZUM - Hvis lyset tar oss, DARKTHRONE - Under a funeral moon, BATHORY - Under a sign of black mark and many others. I don't have now many rare albums or such. I have sold almost everything, because I have needed some money to live etc. I listen mainly just my copied tapes, demos and few CD's.
What do you know about Transylvania and about the Hungarian-Finnish (Finnugor) relativeness/kinhood (I'm a Hungarian, you know)? Do you know bands, zines, labels, etc. from Hungary/Romania?
Sadly, I don't know many bands from Hungary. Maybe you could enlighten me a bit from your scene. About Transylvania, I know you got great landscapes with massive castles and interesting history overall. It's one of those places I'd like to visit someday.
Have you ever made any shows, gigs? I’m asking this, because there was announced on your website, that Burialmound is a studio band only.
We have played some gigs years ago, but now we've been a studio band only. We have lack of members, and because we are very definitive of our members, we don't want to take just anybody to play with us. Our members must be at the same level as us, and if we won't find someone suitable enough, we'll continue with this lineup and won't do any gigs.
What do you do in personal life, beside creating music?
I study right now. On the other hand, I live mainly a pretty simple life - mainly focusing on myself and on my thoughts, developing my behaviour and instincts. There's a saying that when you gain more knowledge, you gain more pain, and that's pretty much true. It's safer sometimes to do nothing and live just as you want.
What are your future plans? When will Devil’s Work be released? Can you give any other news about the band?
Well, everything is unsure about "Devil's work", but I hope it's going to be out before the summer - it is not in our hands. The two rehearsal tapes of UTGARD will be released shortly by Mirgilus Siculorum, and they contain some previously unreleased material during the years 1994-1997. Get them! We have also plans to release a 7" Ep during this year, called "Brethren of wolves", and it will contain two new songs in the old vein of our material. And also I have written ten new songs for upcoming album, in the style that "Devil's work" was, but it's going to take some time before coming out.
Ok, that's all for the moment, have a nice day, I wish you strength and health, Utgard rules!! Aki, I hope my questions weren’t boring. Please, close the interview! I hope my questions inspired you to answer them.
Ok, thanks for the interview. Your questions were great and inspiring to answer. I haven't done in years so definitive interview as this! Best luck to you! CHTULHU FHTAGN!