Djevel is a Norwegian Black Metal band founded by guitarist Trånn Ciekals (born 1978) in 2009. Originally planned to be Ciekals’s solo project, Djevel eventually became a band with Mannevond and Erlend Hjelvik joining.
Ten years ago, Djevel burst into the Black Metal scene with the debut “Dødssanger”. With fierce, raw energy and a breathtaking, ominous melodic touch, the trademark sound of the band had been placed.
Now ten years into the story, the band has kept the sound and spirit but evolved through three stages of new musicians being added to the signature riffs of main composer Ciekals, developing the music to new heights, while still maintaining the sonic outlet that identifies Djevel.
So here we enter the third era, where Ciekals and Faust have been joined by new vocalist/bassist Kvitrim. This new constellation of the band has built the band’s 7th album “Tanker Som Rir Natten”, an album surpassing all that they’ve done before, and opening some new ideas within both production and composition.
The raw feeling is still intact, and the acoustic elements have returned. But the eerie, haunting atmosphere has grown stronger, making it the most varied output from the band thus far.
“Tanker Som Rir Natten” was unleashed for the public in spring 2021, and preceded by the first single, “Englene som falt ned i min seng, skal jeg sette fri med brukne vinger og torneglorier” on January 22, 2021.
This Is Black Metal Webzine talked with the founder Trånn Ciekals about their NEW Masterpiece “Tanker Som Rir Natten” and all the things you want to know about them!
This Is Black Metal: Hello Ciekals, thanks for giving me this interview. First of all, can you tell us how and when did you get involved in Black Metal for the first time? With which releases did you discover it and what kind of feeling and impact it had on you at that time? Also how Black Metal ultimately became the main expression of your creativity?
Ciekals: As a kid i was always very interested in music, and I was always looking for something «else» than the ordinary. I never had the classic «My older brother gave me an Iron Maiden album», nor did I start listening to Venom when I was 3 years old as many claims they did. I had a very brief period of maybe 6 months where I went from alternative bands like Sonic Youth, Dead Kennedys and Pixies, to Metallica, Sepultura, Entombed and Deicide. Then I was introduced to Bathory and «Under the Sign of the Black Mark», and it all went black from there.
This was around 1993 when all the classic demos and albums from Norwegian and Swedish bands started to come out, so it was like being an idiot at a Trump Rally, the best of times.
I have always been very intense and dedicated once I liked something, and this was no exception. I dove with my head first into black metal and have stayed deep down ever since. The intensity and darkness that reeked out of Black Metal those days suited me very well, and very early left a profound impression on me, and still to this very day does. I have never since that time stumbled upon something that has moved me in such a way, and although I have grown in many directions as a human, the black metal part of me is the very same as It was in 1993. I take this very seriously and it means a lot to me.
TIBM: Under which circumstances DJEVEL was born? What was the initial concept and idea behind it? Beside, how do you look at your past musical activities as you played in multiple bands since the 90s? Some remembrances or trivia to share?
Ciekals: Djevel was born on a hot summer day in 2010. I had up to that day been in a band called Ljå, which released a demo and an album called «Til avsky for livet». I had started composing for the next album, but I had also moved to Oslo, while the rest of the band resided in Stavanger. The distance did not work out, and I ultimately left Ljå. The last song on the Ljå album is called «Gjort til Djevel» / «Made into a Devil», hence it was a natural name to baptise my new band. A natural conclusion of former activities you might say.
My «concept and idea» of Black Metal has always been the same; Create what I feel and mean is Norwegian Black metal, no more no less. To manifest the ancient Norwegian heathen spirit.
In the 90`s I was more active in the tape trading part of Black Metal than I was in bands
I started my first band «Kjettere»/Heretics» in 1993, but that band never made it beyond some rehearsals I also joined Neetzach with amongst others Sanrabb from Gehenna. We released a demo before we split.
I unwillingly left the Black Metal scene at the beginning of 1996 when I was 17, due to the whole scene becoming more criminal and unfocused, and I was forced to leave it or face some consequences that I did not feel were with it. In a retrospect, this was a very good thing since it all turned into a Matrix movie after that, which I could observe from a distance and not having to deal with.
TIBM: You faced several lineup changes for over 10 years of existence. Do you think these changes contributed to develop and make the band stronger or would it be the same results in the end since you are the sole songwriter anyway? What is the input of the other members during the creative process?
Ciekals: At first Djevel was supposed to be just me. I never intended to bring in other people. After a while, I realized that I’m not much of a singer and that the bass I would do, would just follow the rhythm guitars. I decided to bring in other people to fill the spots where I myself felt too weak to get the result I wanted.
When it comes to the music and lyrics, it is as you say me that does it all. That being said I have always told others to do what they feel like with their respective instruments since they are better at it than me.
This is how it works: I give them the demos for the album and tell them to do their part, and then we meet up, record the album, and that’s it. This way I get a result back that I’m not sure what will be, which is both interesting and rewarding. This obviously demands that I involve individuals that I trust to know what Black Metal is, and how I see it. I would say all members have «been right» at the time, but it has also been very right for them to leave when they did. I think all members in some way have contributed to defining the different albums, both positive and negative.
TIBM: Talking about newer members, can you especially talk about your choice to recruit the legendary EMPEROR drummer Faust some years ago and now Kvitrim of MARE from the well-known Nidrosian scene?
Ciekals: I have known Faust for a long time, and we always had a common sense of «life». When I needed a drummer for Blant Svarte Graner I sent him some demos and asked if he would play on the album. His involvement was never based on his former merits as many probably think. He is a person I like in many aspects of life in general.
That being said he is by far the best drummer I could get, and he has without a doubt lifted Djevel to another level both on the albums and live.
Kvitrim was supposed to do vocals on one track on «Tanker Som Rir Natten», and when Mannevond left just before the recording I just asked if he would be the new singer in Djevel. He shares my view on Black Metal amongst other things, and he has played a big role in shaping the new album, and hopefully also will on the coming albums.
Djevel – Maanen skal være mine øine… (Track Premiere)
TIBM: DJEVEL means devil in English so how do you refer to Satan (an archetype, a deity, etc…)? Can you elaborate on your personal definition and approach to Satanism?
Ciekals: When I started getting into Black Metal I (as many others) started reading all the occult classics and tried out some rituals and invoking a few demons at my parent’s house. Not very successful, but it planted a seed. You must also remember at that time everyone said that La vey was fake, and Crowley was the path etc. When you are 15 years old it’s hard to take a stand for yourself and make your own path, so I went with the flow.
If you dig into all old books etc you will see that a lot of what’s written is not necessarily true, but that does not make it «untrue». I believe the mind of the beholder is what defines what’s real or not… Crowley’s funeral was said to be a black mass, but it turned out it was not, etc. But for some people that attended it probably was a black mass as they saw it that way and so on
For me, Satan has over the years gone from being a destructive figure and dark part of me, to evolve into the part of me that drives me to do things I really want to achieve. If you want to go places in life, you will most likely leave someone broken and hurting behind you. I welcome that if it`s needed.
I don’t see that as evil, more a natural thing we all are born with, but some choose to use and some not.
I still enjoy reading old grimoires but sometimes they can (as their name suggests) be difficult to understand, hence I make up my own mind of it and place it where I feel it is fitting. I also use it to mentally go places I can’t go physically.
What separates satanism from other religions is the fact that it is in its core rebellious and promotes the individual. Hence it`s also ´, at least for me, hard to define what it is for others. I’m sure some will disagree, good for them.
TIBM: I think that since the “Blant Svarte Graner” album the band took another dimension with more focused, accomplished, or highly inspired material compared to previous albums. Do you have this same feeling? Do you see “blant…” as a kind of new beginning/gateway in your discography?
Ciekals: Absolutely, I feel the same way. 2017 and Norske Ritualer was a very destructive year in Djevel, and the result was a personal Ragnarok (not the band!) and natural cleansing of the band. So it was also a very good year in that aspect.
I had already started composing the songs for BSG and the ruins of 2017 shifted me into a more profound and better way of composing music and my intentions with Djevel became much more clear. For me it is very much Djevel before and after Blant Svarte Graner.
Djevel – Blant Svarte Graner (Full Album)
TIBM: DJEVEL is deeply rooted in pure 90s Norwegian Black Metal. Early stuff from GORGOROTH, ULVER or SATYRICON come to mind if you ask me. How important is it for you to keep the former Norwegian Black Metal style in this nowadays scene (which has little in common with it by now as there are far fewer active bands playing it as you still do)?
Ciekals: I started playing and creating Black Metal in 1993, and for me, this is what is and became Black Metal. It is not something I concern myself with thinking «Oh I must remember to keep the hold Norwegian style alive when I write this next album». All the bands you mention had a big impact on me with their early albums, and I still keep these bands’ initial works very close to my heart. That being said both Satyricon and Gorgoroth lost me many years ago.
For me, there is no other way to do this. I have never been interested in mixing Black Metal with other kinds of music that I listen to. For me Black Metal is pure and I am very puritanical on the subject. I listen a lot to electronic music and post-rock bands like PinkTurns Blue etc, but it is not interesting to bring this into Djevel. Djevel is Black Metal. Nothing else.
TIBM: Still on the subject, what is your point of view on people arguing that to play the same music as in the 90s is pointless, outdated, or even ridiculous cliché? On another hand, if we worship Black Metal, it’s because of these particular codes, attitudes or musical references which once created its identity, defining a whole genre so, to put them aside or not take them into consideration would be proof of ignorance or to forget the past, no?
Ciekals: I have never been aligned with the idea of taking black metal to the next level etc like a lot of people and bands from my generation. For me, it`s about preservation and maintaining the spirit of Black Metal the way I see it fit. The way we did it in the ’90s. For me the evolution of Black Metal ended in 1995- But that’s me.
I know a lot of bands like Satyricon etc still claim to play Black Metal, but for me, it´s far from it. I don’t say what they do is bad musically speaking, it’s just not Black Metal the way I see it. You can’t just evolve into whatever you want and still call it Black Metal. Just like you can’t be an underground hip hop band and start playing pop and still call it underground hip hop. It just does not work. Having released some amazing Black Metal albums 30 years ago does not entitle one to do whatever you feel like and call it Black Metal.
Its another thing when you do it like Darkthrone etc, that doesn’t claim to play Black Metal anymore. I had a talk with Fenriz about this many years ago, and it’s about being honest and true to yourself. If they still meant that their albums were Black Metal, where would that leave Under a Funeral Moon etc?? You get my point.
I try to let people do whatever they want without getting annoyed, but it’s hard haha.
Englene som falt ned i min seng, skal jeg sette fri med brukne vinger og torneglorier
TIBM: The successive releases of “blant svarte graner”, “vettehymner” and “ormer til armer…” reminded me about the ULVER 3 first albums : “bergtatt” combined aggressive Black Metal with atmosphere, melodies and acoustic parts, then “kveldssanger” was purely acoustic and “nattens madrigal” a total raw assault. Was it intentional on your side to recreate a similar trilogy, so to speak, or simply the result of some particular emotions and atmospheres that you chose to explore through those 3 recordings?
Ciekals: No it has nothing to do with Ulver. Vettehymner was something I thought about doing for a long time since I do write a lot of the music on acoustic guitars. It could have been done years before or after as well.
That being said The Ulver Trilogy is absolutely brilliant. Nattens Madrigal came out when I did not pay attention to Black Metal, so I did not hear it before around 2010 I think, so it does not have that same value for me as Bergtatt and Kveldssanger
TIBM: Can you tell more about the genesis of the brand new album “tanker som rir natten”? What was your state of mind and inspiration during the songwriting and what were you aiming at for this album (especially after “ormer…” which I consider as your darker and grimmer sounding effort offering your most unpolished production so far)?
Ciekals: I tend to get a «reaction» after each album, so as you say «Ormer…» is a bit aggressive and Grimm, and maybe one of the reasons why «Tanker som rir natten» is very different;
It contains 6 songs which all are 10+ minutes long except for one acoustic track. I have always wanted to make an album with only long songs that would work as a transcendental meditation for me personally, and I think I made the best out of the situation at the time it was created. All Djevel albums have one or two long songs, but this time I felt like creating a whole album this way.
It’s by far the most «emotional» Djevel album where the feeling is very strong. The acoustic guitars play a big role, and the riffs and melodies are very repetitive and full of emotions. Another big difference is Kvitrim`s vocals; He made the songs his own and it’s easy to hear that this comes from his heart, even if it’s my music and my lyrics. His range and qualities are very high and rare.
TIBM: Basically, with each new year, there is almost a new DJEVEL release. How do you manage to keep being so prolific with such a level of creation? Can we say you are some kind of “overactive” musician who needs to express himself on a regular basis for intense cathartic purposes or any other motivations?
Ciekals: I don’t need to do anything, it’s more about the fact that I have a very intense relationship with the darker side of me, and in order to have a balance in my life with family and my professional career, I poor out this energy through my music. I see myself as a very complex person with many different sides, but I don’t think they would work so well together without this outlet of dark smoke, to speak figuratively.
TIBM: DJEVEL is signed on AFTERMATH who is a reliable label yet it’s quite difficult to get your releases outside Norway at times. So is it a priority for you to work with mainly a Norwegian-based, more “confidential” structure and network in order to keep the things directly under control, I’d say? Did you receive deal offers from other labels through the years?
Ciekals: Yes that sounds about right. I have never had any intentions to make Djevel into a «big thing», hence I don’t care about sales etc, and I would hate being on a big label that would see Djevel as a part of an economic puzzle. Obviously, Aftermath is also a business, but Haavard has never put his nose where it does not belong. Djevel is art, not something to sell and push so to speak, and he understands that. The communication is flawless and although I have sometimes considered moving to other labels, I always end up with «what’s the point». I have no ambitions for Djevel other than to create and go home.
Djevel – Ormer Til Armer, Maane Til Hode (Full Album)
TIBM: You happen to play only a few selected shows. What are the reasons for such a decision? What do you feel when being on stage compared to the work in the studio? Do you think the studio and live can allow to fully experience the essence and atmosphere of DJEVEL or gigs are simply more a matter of opportunities than mandatory events in the first place?
Ciekals: At first I never intended to play live at all. Creating the correct feeling with black metal is not easy. It’s extremely rare I see a black metal «show» that I appreciate. The whole «Hey Hey hey» thing can just drop dead. I think my main issue is that I don’t create this for other people. I never intended to sell it. So the reason for only playing selected concerts is that everything has to be in place. I need the atmosphere to be 100% for myself. If everything is in place it can actually feel rewarding and function as a very good «portal» where I can empty myself of all my demons, but if something is not in place it can be the other way around. It can be stressful and very annoying.
All this being said I have over the years started to appreciate the comradeship I have with the other guys when we travel etc, so I’m not as reluctant to do concerts as I used to be. Also sometimes I get to meet interesting people, old friends in other bands and see other bands I enjoy.
TIBM: It’s difficult to avoid referring to the controversial times of the 90s Norwegian Black Metal scene. Don’t you think this truly extreme aura and the more genuine, elitist spirit are severely missing nowadays in the Norwegian scene which rather became some kind of “professional musicians business” getting the recognition of media and society because Black Metal turned to be such a big export for Norway? Basically, the “outlaws” and “outcasts” of yesterday are the pride of today’s Norwegian culture! How do you react to this paradoxical situation? In such context, where is today the once unapologetic radicality and hostility which set Black Metal apart from other regular Metal genres and thus, that definitely made Black Metal more than just music?
Ciekals: On one hand I do see the need for evolution etc in life in general, and it is inevitable. It also happens to every sub-genre that has ever existed as far as I know… The problem with this is that in order to evolve, one has to turn your back on what once made you into what you once were, and within this lies the paradox. How can you avoid abandoning the principles you had when you started this and still evolve as a human? Well, ill let you in on a secret; let’s take Black Metal as an example:
It is natural for all humans to evolve, and to grow. I obviously have grown in many aspects myself since 1992 when I sat in my parent’s basement with my long black hair reading Necronomicon. When you were a 16-year-old kid in the Black Metal scene in 1993 you did not have any serious responsibility; you had the time to live a black metal life 24/7. all you had to think about was waking up, hating everything, go to school, go home, eat dinner, hate everyone, play in a band, listen to demos, write some letters, brush your teeth, hate Jesus, go to bed.. repeat…
Then when you get older, you all of a sudden realize; «Hey the world actually demands something from me»; I need to pay bills, I need to do things I thought I never would in order to not become looser. Remember that the way we saw ourselves in 1993 was as superior beings, but if I keep this hatred going, this image of the world, refusing to interact with «normal people and society», I will end up without an education, a job, a future. How much is that for being superior? Sitting alone, poor and hating?
So what you do then is that you take the black metal part of you, drape it in all the darkness you ever had in your heart, and then you bring it along into a life that has separate parts. And you take it out whenever its rights and you use that force when its needed. Never mix it with other aspects of life where it`s not allowed to breathe, if you do that you will water it out and weaken it.
So for my own part, I have evolved a lot as a human, but not as a black metal person. I am still, whenever it’s needed, that kid with long black hair and hatred for all. I have a professional career and a family etc that really is not something that goes hand in hand with black metal, but neither is being a loser black metal, so I don’t bring this part of me into everything I do, because it simply would not work.. It would wither and fade into something I could not tolerate. Obviously, you leave behind some of the most juvenile factors, but not the core of it all.
This goes for all extreme subgenres, cults etc; You simply cannot evolve hand in hand with the ideology and principles you started from without breaking a lot of the principles it was built upon.
I think the vast majority of people from my «time» has left behind a lot of what we had back then. Some have done it with dignity, while others have made fools of themselves, trying to justify all the time that they are still keeping this flame burning, only now they do it on talk shows and on mainstream festivals. Another thing is that all of a sudden everyone who plays Black Metal are «friends» haha WHAT THE FUCK?
A very fascinating thing with all sub-genres is the hate it creates within itself: in 1993 you hated other black metal bands as much as everything else if you did not think they had the correct approach to it.
Djevel – Saa Raa Og Kald [Full Album] (HD)
TIBM: On the same note, Fenriz stated that he always refused to quit his job because to do DARKTHRONE as his full-time activity for a living would mean to prostitute himself. Is it something you agree and understand?
Ciekals: It’s funny because it’s true… Absolutely. I could write a book on this subject, but to keep it short:
Last time I checked Lord Ahriman was selling soap with his face on it.
TIBM: As a lyricist, you only use the Norwegian language. The will to express a patriotic feeling or any other reason? Where do you find inspiration to write lyrics? Can you tell more about the topics you develop in them and especially for the brand new album? What meaning do they have for you and how do they spiritually relate to you? Can we speak about a poetic hint just as the title “tanker…” (“the thoughts that ride the night” in English) might suggest?
Ciekals: I started out writing in Norwegian in my first band in 1993, and I have kept it that way ever since. It just does not feel natural for me to express myself in English. For me, it`s a big part of my identity, and it feels more real and close so to say. It’s not about the «package» Norwegian Black Metal, it’s about what feels right..
The lyrics on «Tanker…» are mainly small stories/poems as you suggest. It`s not all to be taken literally, as they are expressions of my thoughts and spiritual/mental travels. They are a manifestation of what I feel and think when I bring out the black metal part of me. This also means I have to be in that place in order to write.
TIBM: The cover of “tanker…” shows a photo of a forest at night. How do you explain the fascination for such elements and landscapes in the Norwegian Black Metal aesthetic since the beginning? What do you wish to personally convey with it?
Ciekals: I think all humans can feel the powers that creep out from a dark forest. It has been this way since the dawn of time. Everything changes. Beautiful things become threatening. For me, it’s the ultimate place for letting my thoughts fly away and I take a lot of inspiration from walking in a dark forest. I am lucky to have a cabin where I can walk the woods to eternity to speak historically. A thing that is as dark and beautiful as black metal is supposed to be, I guess nature was an obvious inspiration for the bands that came before me as well.
For me personally, this photo is very fitting for both my music and lyrics, and it sums it all up.
Thanks for your time Ciekals!
Djevel – Tanker Som Rir Natten (Full Album)