Morten Kaalhus aka „Morten Shax“ has quite a story to tell. As Singer of Urgehal, Beastract and Hagl he already had an undeniable impact, not only on the norwegian scene. With Endezzma, he is about to take his art to the next level. Time for us to ask the important questions!
UG: Hi Morten!
Morten: Hi Grave, thanks for your attention.
UG: So, I heard numerous rumours about your new album and of course some upcoming gigs like Dark Easter Metal Meeting – Feel free to give our readers the insights!
Morten: That is correct, your sources obviously aren’t lying. We are knee-deep into the making of the album as we speak. About 7-8 songs are already partly completed and the last polish on the diamonds is about to be finished It’s an intense crafting with details and precision. We really work hard on this one and I'm proud and very sure into stating, that this will be our most monumental and dark work so far in the bands history. It will resonance the scene and mountains with full force and fierce energy! Also the artwork on the album will be very dark and unique, we also put really intense effort into the visual aspect of release this time. So everything looks darker - just how it’s supposed to be! We have some coming festivals the next months yes - and one of them is the DEMM in Munich, that’s right. It’s gonna be a putried delight to bring out our energy and open the doors to „The Arcane Abyss“ in front of the audience in Munich. We’re looking forward to it.
UG: That indeed sounds promising! Your last album „The Arcane Abyss“ was released in 2017 – What will the new material be like - Stick to your roots? Reach new shores?
Morten: We are deeply rooted, so our work and art will always be recognizable. Our heart and mind is still placed far beyond the dark side and we’re operating in a rather perished bleak and death painted landscape. But it’s there we find our source, our energy and forces. It must be up to the listeners to deicide however we redefine ourself or develop ourself into new levels. But we aint stagnating and we aren’t afraid of breaking boundaries so Im sure it will be slightly different, but also darker. We let our energy speak, leading us into the unknown! But buzzwords may be death-like majestic and grand!
UG: As singer of all those bands and with Mattis at the guitar (with whom you share quite a history bandwise) – who is the creative mastermind behind the new album? Or do you share the creative part?
Morten: Together with Mattis/Malphas I probably share the main creative part behind the outcome. But line up is altogether very dedicated and we all know what we want and what we have to do to get there, so we work rather good as a unit, where everybody contributes in the end and has an impact on the material in one way or another. ENDEZZMA also has quite a history and tradition that needs to be served and is a universe on its own, so every composition has a basic foundation so to speak. Mattis makes the basic riffing and starts out and we throw the ball for awhile concerning riffs and atmosphere and the song structure. When we feel we made a well crafted frame we bring it to the rehearsal studio where we all drill and kill out the very best of each composition. I am the one that executes the philosophical side and write all the lyrics. The lyrics are made pre-hand of the songs, whenever I’m in that special place which is a dark euphorically deep.
UG: Just by reading your answers I can most likely hear the music. This might be the most eloquent interview I ever had laughs. So it's 2019 - Considering your past experience with recording albums, what's the biggest change in the process?
Morten: Well, that might be reasoned by the fact that the universe of ENDEZZMA is rather complex and can’t be explained in few words. One should be braught into the paradigm light of our expression to fully understand the substance and core of our energy. The process with the recording of our new opus will be very much like how we worked and carved out the „The Arcane Abyss“ album I guess. We are lucky enough to have a full functioning studio in the same loaction we rehearse and that gives us have a rare freedom to proceed how we like and do things in our own tempo and own way. Mattis is actually a professional producer in the very same studio doing recording jobs for various other bands and is very skilled when it comes to recording. This weekend for instance you have the Norwegian band Svarttjern recording their new album in this studio with Mattis behind the desk. The studio is beeing upgraded all the time making it a top notch studio with all but the best and modern gear you can find. In this case we are very privileged to have this site as a playground both for rehearsing and recording material. We will record all instruments in this studio and we later hand it over to Tore Stjerna (WATAIN) and Necromorbus studio for mixing and mastering.
UG: Wow, okay, this is a real jackpot! Not only to have the creative freedom but also the gear and the time to straight work on your ideas practically immediately. But on the other hand this sounds like you are in your own sphere, that is only touched by those bands? You are around the scene quite a long time – what do you think about the todays Black Metal scene? Do you draw any inspiration out of it?
Morten: Like you said it’s a rare privilege, yes. But on the other hand it takes a real determination and structured way of working not to make the whole process „float“ for too long. When you go into a booked studio for a set period of time, you need to execute and do your work in that time, period! Some like to work under that kind of pressure, needing the push to perform so to speak. But we are rather picky with sound and the end result so we feel this way of working is the best for us. And besides labels, live schedules and other agendas keep us under a certain pressure to get things done anyway. Well, when it comes to the scene today I think you have to look upon it in two ways: We have so many skilled musicians with great resources and possibilities today that the sky or the bleak starless night is the limit. Especially compared to the early 90’s where bands were driven by the hunger for change and rebel deeds. If you solely looking for getting your musical fix I say that you have great ocean of music to choose from today compared to earlier on. But if you look for something special, that very uniqueness and intensity you suddenly don’t have the same ocean to pick from, but rather a dried out pond of dirt! Before you had bands setting out with a totally different agenda. Extreme individuals formed bands for same reasons as biker clubs were founded and on the journey you learned how to improve your skills as a musician, and it that way often the most unique and extreme forms of music was created. I must admit that there are not many bands that inspire me today, I rather look for that path to create something inspiring and being relevant in a different way myself. My heart is first and foremost kicking solely to create art that satisfies myself and my hunger for for the dark art, then secondary wrapping the art into a drape of gold and energy that makes it unique. But again, you always hear that saying “keeping the old flame alive”, I say it’s time to lit a new flame, a new flame based on new values and new exceptional contradictions with the establishment. If we’re revolting against something, it needs to be based on your own ideas, not riding other bands agendas.
UG: Well said and yeah, I know what you mean. Personally I found beauty in different styles and subgenre of Black Metal – let it be Black'n'Roll or DSBM. But in the end it always comes back to the foundation of art. Dedication and „hunger for impact“ as I would call it. If you listen to music long enough you most certainly can hear/feel if something is fake or not executed with passion. But yeah, back to your plans. Let's imagine the album is released – Is there a tour coming up?
Morten: True that. Speaking of words like fake and real I think these are outdying terms that have no hold or values any longer. Because it will always be individualistic what is fake and real and who sets the standard and rules. But like you said, representing what you stand for with certain glow and intensity that shines through is the keyword. Bands doing this operate on another level in the first place and will always be the one that last. When it comes to touring we have been extremely picky. So far we haven’t booked a tour for the support of our upcoming album since the album is stil in the making and we are also sort of in a situation that we have to solve out issues concerning what label will represent us and stand behind our upcoming journey. We are stepping it all up some levels with this new album so we will eventually see how it all will be. A tour will come, but with a solid bunch of bands that we can stand behind and invest our time and effort on. We had various offers both doing European legs and U.S tours. But it will all be set when the conditions and correct timing is there. To this point we have the focus on festivals and will do so until the new album is out.
UG: I don't want to ask which bands you would deem „worthy“ to play with as this is highly hypothetical at this point – But the next question would be about the label? Are you planning to release it under another flag?
Morten: Yes, exactly. We are looking into every aspect of our future journey and of course the label that we sign to will define that journey as well. We only signed up for one album with Pulverised and we are now evaluating the situation. I have nothing but good words to say about Pulverised so if we move on it will not be based on any grudge towards them.
UG: Then I hope that your search will lead you to to a suitable partner in crime. The last question is of course our classic. Imagine you could meet your younger self in the late 90ies. Which advice would you give yourself?
Morten: That’s a damned relevant question because I really should have turned back time to grab the younger myself in the neck and said: „keep your focus straight, make the right choices and be determined“. Don’t have that approach thinking that your choices ain’t that important because you have your whole future in front of you to correct and turn all those bad choices into personal success. Because that’s what it’s all about, personal success that makes yourself proud of what you are doing and in that way progress into a better person and better executer of everything you deliver. I would like to have that way of seeing things and the drive I have today back in the dayss. But who wouldn’t wish to have the strength of youth in one hand and the tons of life experience on the other - it would make me a demigod!
UG: Well I guess there is always time for dedication and I am really looking forward for Endezzmas new work - Thank you for your time, have a good one at the Dark Easter Metal Meeting!
Morten: Thank you for your time and attention. See you in Munich.
This interview features Morten Kaalhus, singer of Endezzma. He was interviewed by Grave from Undergrounded.