Bizarrekult continues its rise.
The first signs of the band’s existence date back to 2005 in Russia, and despite several pauses the band is slowly growing. In 2023, the band consisting of Roman V (vocals/voice/composition), Dina V (female vocals), Ignat P (guitar/bass) and Alexander P (drums) is releasing Den Tapte Krigen, their second album, on Season of Mist.
Du Lovet Meg starts the album with energetic blast and dark but strange riffs, to which a tortured voice is added, then the sound suddenly calms down with a clean voice. The rhythmic bursts again, letting duality do its work within the track, one breaking the other or overlapping it to create an intense contrast which drives us to Kongen, a slower and mysterious track letting dissonant leads open the way to screams as well as to this oppressive heaviness. Heavy riffs will eventually fade away for Den Tapte Krigen to give free rein to its contrasted dissonance, giving voice to both softness and darkness. The sound is covered with haunting melancholy while remaining saturated and crushing before Hvis Jeg Bare Kunne… unveils brighter tones coupled with wild drums and oppressive screams. The raw voice gives the track an apocalyptic flavor as well as on Midt I Stormen which also draws from more energetic Old School roots, before calming down to a sad lullaby welcoming female vocals. The duo will reform shortly before the end to feed this intense contrast, then Kjære Barn returns to the crushing and suffocating slowness studded with airy lead parts and visceral screams. The break will ignite the rhythmic before recalling female vocals for a soothing finale before Løslatt puts bass in the spotlight to create heavy riffs inspired directly from Black Metal’s roots, especially when the other instruments and vocals will be added to the charge. The track slows down again before Himmelen er Utilgjengelig, the last track, which will mix in an extremely coherent and heady way softer parts with Post-Metal influences and raw Black Metal while placing some disturbing vocal samples before the sound gradually chokes in a final rattle.
Bizarrekult‘s sound is unique. As disturbed as it is fascinating, Den Tapte Krigen is a raw but rich album, worked but visceral, and above all intense and minimalist. It is the quintessence of this tortured, violent and heady mix.
Few words with Roman, mastermind of Bizarrekult.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Bizarrekult without using the usual music “labels”?
Roman (vocals/songwriting): Hi, thank you for your interest in Bizarrekult. My name is Roman and I started that project back in 2005/6 in order to pursue my own ideas. It has been on and off for years but finally brought back to life again in 2019 with help from my friend Ignat who has been my intellectual sparring partner for some years trying to motivate me to record music that I wrote in 2009/2010 when living in Bergen. We aimed at a pure studio project initially, but then I went further and gathered a live line up with fellow Norwegian musicians so that Bizarrekult exists in two forms. Musically, I have starting points here and there but at the same time keep it very open to how it turns out in the end and of course limited to my skills (I am not a musician in the first place, more like an amateur artist/composer/visionaire). You can say that Bizarrekult’s music has some groovy elements that can develop into more melodic themes, harsh, but at the same time filled with melancholic melodies, sad but enlightening.
Den Tapte Krigen, your second full-length, will be out soon. How do you feel about it? Do you already have some feedback?
Roman: It feels tempting and exciting. It is a great snapshot of where I was musically and lyrically in 2020-21 and then it was basically ready in the current form in December 2021, so there is a lot of waiting these days for various reasons. But so far the feedback was great! First, the sound producer admired the new elements and how the development went since the first album and then the team at Season of Mist really liked it! Single Kongen (“King”) was released back in September prior to the tour and we played it on every show getting lots of positive response, both with regards to music and also with regards to lyrical theme. The other singles were out a few weeks ago, together with music videos and these were also very well received. Some people might have mixed feelings if they only like bands that release the same album year after year, but I think if you followed the progression from rawer/harscher theme in the start of Vi Overlevde into slower and more dramatic realm with tracks Ensomhet and Siste Ord you could naturally follow the development and evolution into Den Tapte Krigen.
How would you sum Den Tapte Krigen up in only three words?
Roman: Romantic and mature.
How did you deal with the composition process for this album? What about its name meaning and the artwork?
Roman: It is all about inspiration and being passionate (and a bit of crazy I guess). I normally have different ideas here and there which can be in a draft form for a long time. I play the guitar on random occasions and if there is something interesting I try to remember it. Sometimes melodies can come into my head randomly on the street/outdoors then I just try to sing it into a voice recorder on the phone. Same with words that can be typed on the run, on the metro, in the forest. I arrange everything on the computer in the Guitar Pro software to check how it sounds with drums and bass and then record a demo with vocals and everything. My wife is of course the first person to hear it, provide help if needed, and sometimes we exchange ideas. She also provides bold critique (sometimes very harsh) that might or might not be accepted by myself. Some changes are introduced at a very late stage, during the recording of the final version, e.g. adding a few more vocal lines or additional text. The name Den Tapte Krigen means “the lost war” and when writing the lyrics I was thinking about meaningless goals and struggle that many people have through life when you put all your effort into something that you don’t really need, want, when you lose yourself through this process, including your identity, your family, friends, sacrifice it all for nothing. And at the end it is only despair, loss, fear and emptiness, you are feeling like you are buried alive or not really living, just existing for the goals that are maybe not even yours? And it is not possible to win that struggle/war with reality or/and with yourself, it is already a lost case as long as you go forward with pursuing these goals. I wrote the text while running in the paths and roads during autumn 2020, there was a lot of mud, rain and I thought about people being in trenches, how they had to be there, going for these goals that were not theirs, only to lose everything and get back into empty homes when there is nobody waiting for them any longer. This is how it went into “war” scenery. Now the artwork is reflecting on that as well. You see various insects with their “luggage”, castles of dreams, broken castles, burning houses. These insects fight, sometimes with themselves, sometimes with others, only to lose their battle. You can say it is a bit related to post-modernist imagery like Life of the insects by Viktor Pelevine.
What inspires you to create your music? Same question for the lyrics. Do you feel some changes compared to the band’s early releases?
Roman: Life around, experiences, stimuli from the past, reflections on childhood memories, culture conflict, literature, nature. The main change is that for Den Tapte Krigen I had a much more clear vision of what I wanted to do musically and lyrically, this is why for me the album feels much more mature. And as we live on we change (for good and bad) and I can already see that the 3rd album would be also slightly different.
Do you have a “favorite” song on this album? Or maybe the most natural one you wrote?
Roman: Very difficult to choose, iIt is like with children, you love them all, regardless of what they become. If I had to pick one right at this moment of time…let it be Kjære barn (“Dear child”).
Your music is a mixing of raw sounds and soaring elements, how do you manage to keep the balance between all the elements you take inspiration from?
Roman: I don’t know. It is all on the level of intuition. It just flows this way.
How do you decide to include Dina’s enchanting voice?
Roman: Initially I have not thought about it, but when we were recording Vi Overlevde she came with suggestion for one track For 1000 År Siden and I like how it fit into music, then I proposed to add her voice into another track I Trygge Hender that goes from straightforward black metal into jazzy final, or as one of the reviewers wrote “taking a rabbit out of illusionists hat”. Then when I was writing Den Tapte Krigen, I had a clear vision in mind to have clean vocals here and there, right from start, and I wrote most of the vocal melodies for her as well in this case. I think it feels very organic and natural in these tracks (Du Lovet Meg, Midt i Stormen, Kjære Barn). In live setting these vocals are performed by Fredrik, who has opera performance experience and it sounds very good. I wish I could sing like that as well, but this is beyond my skills and talent.
Do you have some plans for the band’s future?
Roman: Oh yes, the recording of the 3rd album is already happening, we have guitars and bass, as well as some vocals done. And of course I hope for some active live performance, few dates are already planned, and more is coming for sure!
You are the band’s mastermind and you create everything on your own, but are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, an album…
Roman: It is correct that I am the mastermind, but without the individual contribution of my studio musicians (Ignat on guitar/bass, Alexander on drums, Dina on vocals) it would not be possible. Their participation is essential and without them (especially Ignat) I would not have had these two albums. Not to mention that without Dina I would not be doing any music in my life in principle. Now, when it comes to collaborations, I have recently recorded vocals for one track on the new album of Myrvandrer (Norwegian Atmo/Blackgaze) plus I wish to invite 1-2 guest vocalists on the 3rd album but can’t reveal any names yet, sorry.
I didn’t have the chance to see you on stage for now, but what can happen during a Bizarrekult live show? How do you feel before and when you’re performing live?
Roman: It’s a pity! The shows in Lille and Strasbourg were a blast, especially Lille! What happens is that from a rather shy person in my everyday life I turn on “beast mode” and get very emotional and explosive in order to communicate the lyrics and sound on stage. It takes a lot of energy, but the interaction with people is rewarding. The tour with Regarde les Hommes Tomber and Der Weg einer Freihet in the fall 2022 was amazing from all sides, reaching out to new places and new fans.
Last question: With which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour (or just a single show) with Bizarrekvlt and three other bands!
Roman: Let’s do Gaerea, Kampfar (or 1349?), and then maybe Cradle of Filth? (or My Dying Bride?)
That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Roman: Thank you for this interview! And thank you to everyone out there in the world that supports and follows Bizarrekult – it means a lot!