Ever since the start of Black Messiah there has been a lot of hassle about the line-up. We’ve seen a number of changes throughout the years. Nevertheless Zagan and his band will deliver their fifth album this year. It’s called ‘The Final Journey’. Folk-metal.nl couldn’t get really excited about it. So we questioned Zagan about his opinion, inspiration and the Dutch fans.
Could you explain to our readers where ‘The Final Journey’ is all about?
Zagan: We made an album this time, consisting of two parts. The First contains 6 songs with different themes, all telling a separate story. There is for instance a song about the Nordic ice wind Windloni torturing the world with his storms. There also a song about a pagan, whose family, is killed in an forced attempt to Christianise him. And there is this song about a boy becoming a man and about the history of the first registered Viking attack in 793 A.D. on the monastery of Lindisfarne.
The second part of this album is one story. In the last 4 tracks we’re telling the story about the ship Naglfar, the ship of Death in the Nordic mythology. Because of the fact poor people can’t go to Wahlhalla, to Odins’ dish, they’re send to Helheim, to the goddess of Death. In our story this happens to a warrior. His punishment is to be on the Naglfar for the rest of his life. Al his prayers and pleads for mercy have no effect and so he’s sentenced to sail with the undead until eternity.
One of the comments on The Final Journey is it sound exactly like the previous albums. Is there a lack of musical inspiration. How do you look at this?
Zagan: To be honest, I haven’t heard such comments and I totally disagree.
The Final Journey sounds like a separate album. The fact the style on our albums is the same, is totally normal and this is almost always the case. If somebody criticizes this, he shouldn’t listen to Music like Iron Maiden, Slayer, Motörhead or bands like that. If this wasn’t the case you wouldn’t recognize the band. Because we’re always use new riffs and melodies, nothing is the same. So if anyone dares to say we had a lack inspiration then he listened not closely enough. I think our diversity is even one of our stronger aspects.
Why did you take four tracks for Naflfar Saga and not put the story in one track?
Zagan: Why should we shorten it? The story has a lot to offer for a nice and long story. When you look at it, the 4 tracks can’t be done differently; each song describes another aspect of the story. When you put the whole theme into one track it would have become a track of 20 minutes or so and the music has to be perfectly composed for such a long track. There should be space for lyrics and Music. And such a thing takes time. That’s why it had to be done in four tracks. On top of this we make epic music in which lyrics and story determine what kind of a song it will be. That’s why I don’t see any reason to reduce it to one track.
Something we’ll miss somewhat on the last album is a merry bonus like ‘Sauflied’ en ‘Soeldnerschwein’. Why didn’t you go through with this tradition?
Zagan: Because we didn’t feel like a party song. We’re no party band, but a pagan metal band and usually we write serious lyrics and songs. On the other hand, there’s the fact you can force songs. If we don’t have ideas at a certain moment it would be no good to create such a song, the sound would not be pure and it will sound tortured. It’s not our goal to put such a song on each record. This is our fifth album up till now and we only have two of this songs.
Where do you get the inspiration for the songs?
Zagan: Nordic and German mythology, historical events and stories about rejection of church and Christianity. From a musically point of view we’re interested in a lot of things. In our style are mainly metal influences. Besides this we’re very fond of the use of classical and folk elements and even soundtracks. Most of the times, one person brings a certain subject and we make a song of it all together, everybody brings his own share.
Can we expect songs about German history, for instance the fact there were many peoples in Germany? Or do you stick with mythology?
Zagan: We will definitely go into mythological themes, we like it this way. Mythology is a big part of Black Messiah. But we also have historical themes like Lindisfarne on the latest album. And before in ‘Eric the Red’. Besides this we have told a part of German history with Irminsul. On top of this Nordic and German mythology are quite equivalent sometimes even identical. But I can’t say which subjects we will handle on the coming albums.
You’re singing al lot about the Edda. Do you have a favourite story?
Zagan: In the Nordic mythology are a number of tales that are very interesting in my opinion. Like the war between the Aesir and the Vanir. We’ve already made a song about this, which is on the first part of The Final Journey. But on the other hand I also like the tales about the genesis a lot. I can’t say which one I like the best, because basically everything belongs together. Also worth mentioning are the stories about Loki coursing a conflict in Asgaard.
Ever since the start of the band there have been a lot of changes in the line-up. Is the band complete now, or are there more changes to come?
Zagan: You’ll never know of course if the bands will stay like it is now. But this is the best line-up we’ve had so I hope it will stay as it is. We’ll complement each other very well and it all fits nicely in a musical as well as a personal point of view. We have a lot of fun together. There’s no change on hand.
You did a fantastic of ‘Moskau’. Are you fans of Dschinghis Khan?
Zagan: No, the song itself is good and had potential to be played as a heavy metal song. It was a nice idea at that time and we made a song of it. But I wouldn’t call us Dschinghis Khan fans really.
Can we expect another cover in the future?
Zagan: I don’t know about that. I can’t tell what the future will bring and if we’ll do another cover at some point. We will just wait and see what we’ll do.
Do you want to say anything to the Dutch fans?
Zagan: I hope we’ll get to play in the Netherlands soon. We have very good experiences there and it’s always a lot of fun. Besides thas we hope people like our new album of course. And stay heavy!!