Interview mit Vargher von Ancient Wisdom

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17 years fans of ANCIENT WISDOM had to wait for a new album of the doom project of Vargher (NAGLFAR, BEWITCHED). In the interview the Swede reports why it took so long to release „A Celebration In Honor Of Death“, whether the pandemic has ended the BEWITCHED comeback and what other projects he is currently working on.

How are things going with Corona in Sweden at the moment?
Still quite the high infection rate but vaccinations are currently taking place so it will be interesting to see how the situation develops during the coming months.

You had to cancel many festival shows and tours with Naglfar – do artists in Sweden get financial support from the state to compensate for this?
I believe there were ways to receive compensation for loss of income but that was not of interest for me since I’m not doing this for a living.

How happy are you at the moment to have decided against a life as a professional musician years ago?
I’ve never had the intention of doing music in order to finance my living and especially during these days that choice seems more correct than ever.

Soon you will release an album that nobody would have expected: a new full-length from ANCIENT WISDOM. The last album, „Cometh Death, Cometh Doom“, was released 17 years ago – are you working so slowly, or was the band completely on ice in the meantime?
I can’t actually believe that it’s been that long, feels unreal thinking about it. I started to write new material almost directly after the release of the last album but then things simply got in the way. I’ve had some of technical issues in my home studio as well which has made things difficult in the past but finally all those problems have been solved and things are running smoother than ever.

When exactly did you start songwriting for the new album – and how did it feel to work on new material for ANCIENT WISDOM?
As stated before, I’ve writing for this album a long time. The oldest material is probably from around 2005 and the final parts written in 2020. So it’t definitely not like I all of the sudden decided to write a new Ancient Wisdom album. Rather, I never really stopped working on this album. Anyway, it felt great to finally have the time and possibility to finish everything.

Vargher in a NAGLFAR interview with, 2018; © Afra Gethöffer-Grütz

And how was it to sing on an album again? Did you have to practice again, or do you never forget how to scream?
At first I had doubts that I would be able to find that specific nerve which I’ve always strive for, but I can honestly say that as soon as I started recording it all fell into place. It my best performance yet if you ask me and it came more natural than I could have wished for.

The album reminds me more of the early ANCIENT WISDOM albums like „The Calling“ than the last one. Would you agree, and did that just come with the songwriting, or did you make an effort to revive exactly that spirit?
Hard to say really, I kinda feel like it’s a natural progression from the last album. I didn’t plan on any specific direction with this one, I usually just write and let the inspiration take me wherever it might go. All I need is to decide which band I’m going to compose for and then just dive into that musical universe.

At the same time, I think it’s the most versatile album, it contains doom as well as black metal elements and various additional instruments. Did you arrange and record everything yourself?
Thanks. Everything is written, performed and recorded by myself this time as well. There are definitely more orchestral parts this time around, especially the choirs which I haven’t had the possibility of using earlier. Apart from that there are some special elements, like bells played with human bones for example.

Did you also do all the production yourself? What did you pay special attention to?
Yes, it’s all done in my own studio here. I simply wanted to make it sound good, yet a personal sound and I think I succeeded.

What is it about lyrically, and how important are the lyrics to you as part of the overall album? Does „A Celebration In Honor Of Death“ have a concept?
The lyrics are of course as important as ever for me, that’s always been the case with Ancient Wisdom. The whole album deal with death, in all its different ways and is indeed a celebration in its honor.

Vargher live with NAGLFAR, Dark Easter Metal Meeting 2018; © Afra Gethöffer-Grütz/

Now that ANCIENT WISDOM has been revived – can we hope (after this whole pandemic, of course) that you will also bring the project on stage sometime, or will it always remain a studio project?
From time to time I get an urge to bring this upon a stage, but I have no idea when, or if it will ever actually happen. Still, I’ve learned never to say never so we’ll simply have to wait and see what the future might bring.

In 2020, you reactivated your black ’n‘ roll project BEWITCHED for a show – the first since playing Party.San in 2007. Do you plan to play more shows if that is possible again … or even write a new album?
Yeah, we did a gig at House of Metal here in Umeå, had the Dark Easter Metal Meeting confirmed and were booked to do some more shows after the one as well. BEWITCHED is more alive than ever… a new album is pretty much complete and we can’t wait to desecrate some more venues as soon as it is possible. The Hellcult will strike again, harder than ever!

And what about your project EUDAIMONY? Is there any new material?
Yes, there will be a new album in the future. It’s more than half-way done so hopefully it will be recorded during the end of the year. Apart from that a full-length album with TRINITAS is being recorded right now.

Besides the music – did you use the concert-free time to get a new „Corona hobby“?
No, I’ve pretty much spent all the time in my home studio writing material for my different projects here.

Thank you very much for the interview. Lets wrap it up with our traditional brainstorming:
Last album you listened to:
rainy days: no pollen allergies, and hopefully the beginning of the flood
Black Metal: blood, fire, death
Gojira: sushi
a food that always makes you happy: I’m a sucker for great pizza
ANCIENT WISDOM in 10 years: at least one more album finished

Once again thanks for your time. The last words are yours!
Thank you for the interest in my works and I’m more than grateful for all the support over the years.

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Vargher and the interviewer in 2007 at Party.San Open Air after BEWITCHED’s show; © private

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