Abbath—Approaching the Crossroads

Abbath is a second wave black metal musician from Bergen, Norway that is well known for being a member of Immortal. In 2016, he released his first solo outing. Recently, we discussed how his new release, Outsrider, came together, as well as the musicians and collaborators involved. Outsrider is available now from Season of Mist, and a fall tour is scheduled, with dates including Oct 19 at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC, and Oct 21 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia.

You spoke of using “Outstrider” as a theme for this album—where did that idea originally come from?

The music on “Outstrider” is pretty old. It was actually supposed to come out on the first album, but I chose to save it for this album. Outstrider is the rebel with probable cause. It is this guy that is kicked out of heaven and hounded out of hell. It’s like between two worlds. It is pretty much the Abbath character.  We decided to use it as the title of the song and the album.

What was the writing process like for the majority of songs on this album?

There was a lot less stress on this time around.  I still worked preproduction with Dag from Bergen Sound Studios. Me and Simon had been working back and forth from the get go on this album, compared to the first one when he came in pretty late.  He would be sitting in the studio writing one lyric when I would be singing the other. The lyrics to “Bridge of Spasms” came pretty much complete. We really didn’t change all that much with it. We made the music around it which was the first time I did that.

 Reidar, the lead guitarist, he came in late and did 4 solos for this album. He has been with me ever since, but on this album, he was involved on a much earlier basis. There is a lead on every song on this one except “Outstrider,” that is my own lead. I had Raud, our guitarist, in the studio with me and he put on some ideas for leads. The first one I heard was “Calm in Ire (Of Hurricane).” They put it in a new exciting direction.  This guy has pretty much become my Randy Rhoads.  This album is a lot like the crossroads between the old school and the new era. “Hecate” is the dark goddess of the crossroads.

When it came to working with Simon Dancaster for this album, what were your 2 or 3 favorite songs on Outstrider?

Mia, the bassist, and Ukri, our drummer, came together a few times before we went to the studio. We only played “Harvest Pure” a couple of times before we did the video. Hecate is also in the “Harvest Pyre” video. That was Mia. She plays Hecate with a sword. Then you have my wife who is a ballet dancer, playing the widow, Hecate’s pet. Raul came in and helped out. I like “Hecate” and “Bridge of Spasms.”  I know “The Artifact” is going to be a favorite to play live as well.

What was it like composing “Harvest Pyre”?

That song came about from listening to the old UK band The Exploited, one of my all-time favorite punk albums. I listened to was Let’s Start a War from 1983. There was a song on there called “God Saved the Queen.” It goes in that beat. Black metal comes from punk, it’s rock ‘n’ roll, metal punk. There is a break in the song and the drums just continue.  It is like a continuance of “Winterbane.” It was like the past was burned, and bursting from the ashes of winter. You burn the past to move on. It’s also like a Wickerman concept.

What do you have planned for the setlists for Outstrider’s touring cycle?

It will be 5 songs from Outstrider and 5 from Abbath, maybe changing some Immortal songs, playing one Immortal song we have never played live before, and one I haven’t played since 1998. We will play “Warriors” and “At the Stormy Gates of Mist” from Battles in the North. There is a tour in the States with Obituary.

What is the rarest Norwegian black metal album you have in your collection?

This is Swedish, but I think it still counts. I have a signed Bathory Blood on Ice album. I have Quorthon’s signature on my Blood on Ice. I rest my case.

Outstrider is now available via Seasons of Mist