Back in early March this year, one of the more interesting and musically diverse Norwegian record labels, more specifically Gymnocal Industries, mailed me a delightfully dark and gut-piercing musical grenade entitled Omnivore Doctrine by a band appropriately named This Means War, and said album has more or less been in constant rotation here since then. Hard-hitting and vigorous death metal with plenty of groove and atmosphere to it is the order of the day, and this talented outfit undoubtedly deserves a wider audience. Geir Ingemar Henriksen (Kill-Tech) and Bjørnar Kristiansen (Dwaal) take turns on vocals and lyrics, while Birger Steneby (formerly of NoPlaceToHide) and Børre Jul-Larsen handle the riffs. RAMzine caught up vocalist Bjørnar Kristiansen for a brief chat about all things This Means War.
Hello Bjørnar, how is your day going so far and what have you been up to?
B: Hey! My day is pretty good, walked my dogs for a few hours and played some Diablo 4, so it’s close to perfect so far.
Let us start out by briefly discussing the history of This Means War and the events that preceded the release of the awesome and inspired Omnivore Doctrine. What was the motivation and reason for conceiving and launching the band and where did you all initially encounter and befriend each other?
B: First off, thank you for the kind words. The history of This Means War started when Birger (guitar) and Børre (guitar) decided they wanted to make music together again. They used to play in a band called Fallen Saint in the eighties and felt like picking up where that band left off. Then they contacted Geir and me to add vocals.
Do you recall what the first rehearsals and writing sessions were like? Did you guys instantly connect, musically speaking?
B: This Means War is a strictly studio-based project so far, with Birger and Børre either working together or by themselves. We don’t rehearse as no live gigs are planned. We have talked about it, but it looks like we are working towards the next release instead. As for the material, I can only speak on what I thought at first, and it was instant; I loved the groove-heavy mix of thrash and death Metal, and the lyrics came fast and hard.
While This Means War is classified as death metal, there is obviously quite a bit of groove and more than just a cursory nod to thrash metal to be found within your song material. What are some of your shared musical influences and what bands and artists have shaped your own creative visions over the years? And who or what inspires you to craft and compose music of your own?
B: I know that the thrash and death metal bands of the eighties and early nineties are the main inspiration for the guys. Bands like Slayer and all the other obvious ones. As for the groove, I hear a lot of Lamb of God, which makes me truly happy, as I am a huge Lamb of God fan. Børre was kinda out of the metal scene for a long time, so his weird riffs come from a sincerely genre-less space, and Birger has played in a few bands since the eighties and has a great insight into what works with no regard for limiting himself. That’s the true essence of This Means War. We don’t care about labels, and what feels right makes the track.
With respect to composing and arranging songs for This Means War, how does the creative process typically unfold, and do you share ideas digitally before meeting up to try them out?
B: Børre and Birger exchange files digitally and politely argue until they find gold. Then Geir and I get the tracks and we meet up in Birger’s home studio to record the vocals. Simple, but it works.
I absolutely love the album artwork and it immediately jumps out at you, but what does it symbolize and signify to you? It certainly is quite striking and wonderfully dark.
B: Thanks! One big theme on the album, for me at least, is how death consumes you and leaves rot but also new life. So, the artwork is a visual representation of those themes. New life through death by being consumed.
Tell us a bit about the lyrical aspects of the record and what the words, themes, and ideas of the album generally revolves around. I dig the short song titles ala ‘Outcast’ and ‘Deceit’.
B: I can only speak on my lyrics and themes, as Geir writes his own lyrics. My concept, loose as it is, was one of death and how new life grows from it. Either it’s a decomposing body in the river (‘She’s in the Water’) nurturing life underwater, or how war consumes everything and scorches the earth (‘Omnivore Doctrine’). That’s also why I suggested Omnivore Doctrine as the title for the album. It’s a title that embraces all the loose themes and is a true mission statement. As for the future, I plan to write in the same vein, as I love lyrical concepts running through entire albums.
What does the remaining part of 2023 hold for you guys, and what are you currently up to in terms of band activities? Working on any new material or perhaps organizing a few gigs domestically?
B: I know Birger and Børre have started working on new material, but nothing has reared its ugly head in my inbox so far. I would love to have something out soon so we can build on the energy around Omnivore Doctrine. When it comes to playing live, we definitely want to try to make it happen. We just need some more members and time to rehearse.
Thanks once again for your time – much appreciated. Best of luck with your future endeavors.
B: Thank you for talking to us and stay tuned.