I can’t think of too many concept albums within extreme metal. But Norwegian VESEN has done it with their latest album. So to find out more about it I interviewed Dag Olav. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Where did the idea to release a concept album come from? What is the concept about?
-Hello, Dag Olav from Vesen here. Thank you for your interest!
We had the grand idea to create a concept that would actually span four albums, no less. Then we cut back to three albums, before we ended up with just one album. Lazy bastards, eh? We did write songs for the three-album concept, but scrapped some of them, some of them ended up on “Rorschach”, and we have one or two that will probably end up on our next album. We decided to keep the concept more in the lyrics, and to a lesser extent the music. In short, it´s about a person who tries to escape from the demons of the past, only to find that they are really a part of him/her. It´s also a story of mental unstability, which is probably the most common theme in Vesen´s lyrics.
When you release a concept do you have to compose the music accordingly or can it still be written the same way as the previous album?
-We started out writing music accordingly, but ended up with a looser definition of what would fit, and so it´s mostly the lyrics that hold the concept together.
How would you like to describe your sound today compared to the one you had when you started? Did you ever envision back in the day that the band would sound like this in 2016?
-We started out with an idea of doing black/thrash. Somehow we got to experimenting a bit on the way, but I think we´ve always had one foot in black/thrash.
But the album that I think gave us a real direction was probably our last album, “This time it´s personal”. We felt that we hit something unique there, and we will for sure follow that path when we begin focusing on our next album. I feel that “Rorschach” is in a way a natural reaction to “Personal”, it steps back into our safe bubble a bit, and it´s more of a “back to our roots” kind of album. There are a couple of straight thrashers on “Rorschach”, and I´m not so sure we will be doing many more of those, but it was natural for us to do that now as sort of a touching stone to help orientate ourselves before we move forward into the unknown. There are a couple of more “modern” Vesen songs on “Rorscach” as well though, so I guess the total collection of songs in a way represents Vesen from the beginning till present day.
When you take 4 years between album how do you avoid that people will not forget about you and that nobody will be interested in you once you return with a new album?
-I guess you don´t. It´s been too long for sure, and probably in a way we start from scratch again, but I think the next album will come considerably faster after “Rorschach”.
When you pick art work for an album you usually do so from the album title or a song title on the album. But when you do a concept album how do you go about showing that the art work reflects the concept?
-This time we struggled for a long time to find a fitting album title. Exactly because of what you mention, nevermind the artwork, it was actually difficult to find a title that would span the entire concept. Focusing on the mental problems in the story, we somehow landed on “Rorschach”, as it is a psychological test that tries to map out mental problems. It´s not a poignant title, but it fits with the overall themes, however a bit on the sidelines. For sure, none of the song titles really covered it, so it was a good solution in the end. The title, in turn, made the cover art ideas fall into place relatively easily, as our cover artist Monica Frivoll toyed away with our ideas of using the Rorschach test as the basis of the entire album.
When you now are about to release a new album what state is metal in? what do you expect your new album to do for you?
-Just hoping to reach more people, more of those who are specifically interested in our genre, whatever genre that is.
I am still very much old school. I like my music on physical, I like to read about my bands in paper magazines. Am I a dinosaur that will soon find myself totally lost in the digital era? What is your opinion on how we consume music in this day and age?
-Vinyl is coming back strong, so clearly you are not alone, and I guess it´s a normal reaction to changes, that anything new will get a recoil of sorts, and people go to the extreme opposite direction. For me personally, it´s all about the music, and I think that if a band has a total package with artwork, image, music… that´s great, and it may look very good, but every band doesn´t have that kind of complete vision. I think a lot of bands are just focusing on the music, and I think they should be allowed to, if you know what I mean. For instance, I think band photos are totally irrelevant, what does it matter what the ugly dudes in the band look like? It has nothing to do with the music, unless you have an image of sorts, but most bands don´t, and in my opinion you shouldn´t have to invent an image just for the sake of it. And so I think the digital age is better for just focusing on music. I can certainly appreciate the “old ways”, the physical format and everything, but it´s not as important for me as the music itself, so I´m a bit indifferent to the changes. I think that we will eventually land on something that suits most people, and who´s to say that everything has to be done in the same way anyway? Let´s try to see the possibilities, not just the limitations.
This could just be me but I feel that the Norwegian metal scene has kind of stagnated in a way that the Finnish or Swedish hasn’t. There isn’t the same talk of the town feel to it anymore. What’s your opinion?
-I don´t know the Swedish and Finnish scenes that well, but I agree, the Norwegian scene isn´t particulary innovative at the moment. Seems it´s more important to copy 80´s and 70´s bands. There are still some interesting bands around though, and some of the bands that never quit pushing the limits are still doing it. But I like that music is global, and it shouldn´t matter where you´re from, what matters is the quality of the music.
Can we expect a world tour to spread the new chaos and destruction that is VESEN in 2016/17?
-I wouldn´t mind that. Any interested booking agents, feel free to contact us.
What lies in the future?
-We have some gigs lined up to support our new album, and right now we are quite busy with promotion and everything around this release.
Thanks again for your interest, really appreciate it!