Terra Odium is one of those musical megaprojects that has Steve Di Giorgio on bass as musicians within its ranks. But in that sense and with that trajectory of other musicians such as Øyvind Hægeland, Asgeir Mickelson and Bollie Fredriksen. This new band is much more important, because Øyvind and Asgeir resided in one of the most important Norwegian progressive metal projects of the early 2000s, belonging to Spiral Architect and having their only album “A Sceptic's Universe” (2000). Which, personally, is one of those albums that cannot be made twice and the band in 21 years could not make another one. But who knows their motives. So, within this framework of surprises you have Bollie from Manitou, a band from the 90s with progressive dark element that you will ojust find in Norway, since “Entrance” (1995). One of those records that you need to listen many times to find a light in the dark. Those being the reasons for led me to look forward to see this trio again with “Ne Plus Ultra” (Frontiers Records), and Steve's theme is like the addition to so many other technical and progressive monsters.

Leer la entrevista en español: Entrevista a Terra Odium

Øyvind Hægeland (guitar and vocals)

DARGEDIK: Welcome Øyvind to the Dargedik webzines pages, it's a great pleasure to talk with you about Terra Odium and the new album “Ne Plus Ultra”. Tell me, what motivated you to form a band again like Terra Odium? Coz since "Entrance" (1995) and "A Sceptic's Universe" (2000), I don’t remember to hear more productions from you and unique voice. 

TERRA ODIUM: Hi! Thank you, it’s a pleasure! Terra Odium was forged from the ashes of the Norwegian progressive metal band Manitou. The guitarist, Bollie Fredriksen, and I started writing songs together back in 2011 when we reunited Manitou which disbanded in the mid 90s. After a few live shows, Manitou was put back into the grave. Bollie and I worked really well together, and the creativity was really blooming, so we decided to keep on writing songs and form a new band. In addition to the albums “Entrance” (1995) (with Bollie) and “A Sceptic’s Universe” (2000) (with Asgeir Mickelson), I’ve done vocals for ScariotMomentum Shift” (2007) (with Asgeir and Steve Di Giorgio) and guest vocals on MayhemGrand Declaration Of War” (2000), plus guest vocals for various other projects and bands. 

DARGEDIK: Another detail that I was seeing within the biography of Terra Odium is that you recruited old comrades like Asgeir from Spiral Architect and Bollie from Manitou. Did you think about recruiting more members of your past bands like Steinar, Kaj, Lars, Tom and Jam? And what do they think of your return with "Ne Plus Ultra"? Are you still communicating with them? 

TERRA ODIUM: Yes, we first asked both Per and Tom from Manitou, but they declined. We then formed Terra Odium and recruited Asgeir and Steve. We wanted to do something different and have a different sound. Asgeir’s approach to music is different than most other drummers, and we felt our music could really benefit from that. Steve’s fretless sound and virtuous playing was also a sought-after factor that we thought would fit really well. Our sound is a result of this. Since I also play guitar, there was no need for an additional guitarist. I talk with the guys in Manitou and Spiral Architect from time to time, but I don’t know quite yet what they think of the music. 

Asgeir Mickelson (drums)

DARGEDIK: For many lovers into extreme metal, a plus point is the addition of Steve Di Giorgio on bass, a musician from other progressive and technical influences. For you, how does Steve's technical style fit into the dark music of Norwegian progressive bands? and will he be a long-term member or is he staying just for this album? Coz Steve plays in Testament and his schedule will be busy again when the shows happen again. 

TERRA ODIUM: Well, we want all instrumentalists to stand out in Terra Odium, so Steve is a perfect match. He really adds his own colour to our music, making it sound more mystic and different. He is a permanent member, but only time will tell if he will have time to join us on stage due to his busy schedule with Testament and Death To All

DARGEDIK: Within the Norwegian progressive theme, the detail highlighted on the dark and gloomy sensations. They are always present in bands like Spiral Architect, Manitou, Twisted into Form, Conception, Leprous, Ark and now Terra Odium. Why these sensations are always into Norwegian progressive music? Or perhaps it is a social factor that is presented from family aspects?

TERRA ODIUM: I thrive in the dark, I thrive alone, I love dark music, films and dark humour. I suspect it is because of the land we were born and raised in. The dark woods, the mighty mountains and treacherous seas. The winters are long and dark here and that doesn’t bother me at all. We love our nature and everything that comes with it. I think that somehow reflects in our music. 

Bollie Fredriksen (guitar)

DARGEDIK: Returning to the theme of Terra Odium and this "Ne Plus Ultra". For me it is a great satisfaction to hear your voice again in a new recording, which has remained intact since the 90s. Tell me, how do you keep your voice with the same intensity after so many years? Is it difficult to have a different vocal timbre/tone from many vocalists in the world? Coz your voice is distinguishable over many other vocalists around the world. 

TERRA ODIUM: Thank you! Back in 2003 my voice was in a really bad shape after years of, let’s say, a bad lifestyle. It killed my voice, so I quit smoking. It took years to get back in shape again. Now I exercise every day and keep myself in a healthy shape. I also experimented with new techniques and ideas and that has made all the difference. If my voice differs from others, that hopefully makes me stand out. To me, that is a plus. 

DARGEDIK: Speaking of vocalists, when I first heard Manitou, I always believed that your voice had a John Arch influence. So, what are your influences as a vocalist? And what do you think of voices like Leif Knashaug (Neon Night / Twisted into Form), Einar Solberg (Leprous / Ihsahn), Jørn Lande (ex-Ark) and Roy Khan (Conception)? Who were and are into the progressive world in Norway. Especially within Metal. 

TERRA ODIUM: I’m heavy influenced by Geoff Tate on “The Warning” (1984) and John Arch on “Awaken The Guardian” (1986) and “The Spectre Within” (1985), but Ray Alder, Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, Midnight, John Cyriis and Demis Roussos are also important to mention. Leif Knashaug sang on the first Spiral Architect demo and on some songs for Anesthesia, so he actually inspired me back in the day. I love Leprous, and Einar really stand out from the rest of them. Jørn Lande is a real powerhouse and I was amazed the first time I heard him. Roy Khan has a fantastic voice and his own style of singing. All amazing singers. 

Steve DiGiorgio (bass)

DARGEDIK: Focusing a bit on Terra Odium and "Ne Plus Ultra". The remarkable detail is that you use Latin, French and English. Why does the band use these languages? Maybe it's to give the album a global perspective with that Babylonian approach? 

TERRA ODIUM: Most people need to google Latin to understand what it says. It appeals to me that it’s educational, that you need to do some work to understand it and sometimes it’s not at all what you thought it would mean. It fits well with our progressive and complex music, and adds more mystique. 

DARGEDIK: Relating this Babylonian theme and languages, could it be related that the entrance to the labyrinth on the cover art represents a global challenge? o What is the concept that relates the labyrinth with the name of the album? Who was in charge to do the cover art? 

TERRA ODIUM: The cover photo is by Marcin Sasha, and Asgeir has done the cover design. The labyrinth could mean many things. It could illustrate a global challenge, as you said. It could illustrate the listeners way into our album or our music entering the music scene, and it could illustrate so many other things. I love that, that you can interpret the art in so many different ways, just like the lyrics or the music. Maybe you’ll experience “Ne Plus Ultra” in there, if you conquer the labyrinth. It also fit very well into the progressive metal genre, and you kind of know what style it is just by looking at the cover. 

Jon Phipps (keyboards  and orchestrations)

DARGEDIK: And within this theme of the concept of lyric and music, where does your inspiration begin to create your themes, in the lyrics, in the notes? Do you think that music complements the lyrics or vice versa, perhaps you have two paths that become one or is it just one with many paths? 

TERRA ODIUM: Our main goal with our music is to evoke emotions, to take the listener somewhere. When we write songs, it always starts with the guitar, with the riffs. Bollies guitar riffs really inspires me and often I get the vocal melodies at once. I read old poems and sometimes a poem is so visually fascinating to me that I choose to use it in a song, if I can get the rights to use it. If I write the lyrics myself, I write without a specific melody or music in mind and I seldom use rhymes. Using lyrics that way creates rhythmic challenges and that too inspires me. Sometimes we need to find unorthodox solutions to make that work. The lyrics are always meant to compliment the music, but the music is also meant to compliment the lyrics. I think “It Was Not Death” showcases this well. 

DARGEDIK: What I really like about your songs is that there is always a good sense of melody, great guitar work and I can feel a lot of passion in the way you play your music. What is your main inspiration to achieve these darker melodies into this first album “Ne Plus Ultra”? 

TERRA ODIUM: Wow thank you! Back in the day we always tried to tone down the melodies in fear of sounding too sell out or commercial. In the later years we’ve discovered that the music is still heavy and that it never, in our ears, sound too melodic or “commercial”. We’ve now learned to embrace the good melodies, though we feel we have our own style that is a bit too weird for the man on the street. We know we’re not for everybody, but that has never been our intention either. I can only speak for myself regarding the inspiration, but my melodies come from improvising over Bollies guitar riffs and conjuring inspiration from old favourite albums. 

DARGEDIK: Now we will change the subject completely and we will focus on other subjects that are always within the metal world. Into the matter of how an underground band and a mainstream band was should be considered, there are patterns that more vinyl or cassette productions stick to the underground concept according to the fans, and the CD only expanded the collections. What do you think are the factors for fans to stick to this underground metal concept? And where is located the digital platforms? 

TERRA ODIUM: It seems that the fans of underground metal are more die hard than the fans of more commercial music, and they cherish physical copies, like vinyl and cassette, more than streaming. It is something special to have a gatefold album with large photos, and actually put a physical object into play. The digital platform will never be able to reproduce that, and it kind of makes music “cheap”. 

DARGEDIK: Other detail is about the listening methods of the fans, coz this new generation prefers to hear one or two songs into the digital platforms. What are you think about the albums doesn’t have the same impact in compare of the 80s or 90s? And what does bands need to do for improve the listening of all songs in albums? 

TERRA ODIUM: Some aspects of this are very positive, but it can also be very damaging for the band. It’s great that you can hear a random song and discover a band, like the old sample albums with multiple bands back in the day. It’s positive that it’s only a push on the button, and you can discover a new band. 
The downside of this is if you heard of, say Iron Maiden, and you want to check it out. You choose a random song from a playlist of maybe 100 songs. That song will be your first meeting with that band and will have a huge impact on what your perception of this band will be. You may get a song with D’ianno, Dickinson or Blaze. For me, the first five albums are fantastic, but maybe I’d never been a fan today if my first meeting with Iron Maiden was a song from “The X-Factor” (1995). The songs on “Ne Plus Ultra” are not random songs in random order. They are carefully put together and meant to be listened to in that order and as a whole album. The songs obviously stand on their own feet too, but I hope people will enjoy and “understand” the album as a whole. 

DARGEDIK: Personal question, I'm a huge fan of your music with Spiral Architect and Manitou. Tell me, are there plans to release new productions with both bands? And if the answer is yes, when will they release it? This year or next? 

TERRA ODIUM: Cool! As of now there are no plans to release more from Manitou. Regarding Spiral Architect … you never know. Maybe there’s coming something one day … We never disbanded, but the years simply just go by … 

DARGEDIK: Well, Øyvind, the sad time arrives at this interview, I hope you enjoyed this one as I did, thank you very much for your time. Congratulations for the new album. Take care of our best wishes from this part of the world. Any last words for your Latin American fans and Dargedik readers? 

TERRA ODIUM: Thank you! I’m honoured that you wanted us to participate in this interview, it was both fun and interesting! I hope that one day – when the world is back to “normal” – that we can bring Terra Odium to Latin-America. It would be great to play some live shows there. In the meantime: I hope you all enjoy “Ne Plus Ultra”! Hails from the mountains and fjords of Norway.

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