Monday, May 27, 2024

In A World Destined For Decay – An Interview With Omegashift

A few weeks ago, yours truly received a digital review copy of a most evocative and musically intriguing EP titled Doctrine of Dust by the Norwegian act named Omegashift. Consisting of five lengthy and dynamic compositions that weave influences from doom metal, classic rock, stoner rock, heavy metal, and even progressive rock together to great effect, this one is an impressive slab of passionate, heartfelt metal with a gloomy atmosphere to it that certainly deserves a wider audience. RAMzine caught up with Yngve M. Jacobsen (drums), Tor Eivind Johnsen (bass), and Bjørnar M. Jacobsen (guitars) to learn and discover what makes this excellent outfit tick and what the future holds for the four-piece.

Greetings, how are you doing and what have you been up to lately? 

Yngve: Life’s good, thanks for asking. Too much work, I guess. I have two jobs in the healthcare system, which is occupying basically all my time, in addition to having two bands and doing some work as a writer in online media. But this rather than boredom. And I’ve been busy running some projects for some local bands, securing releases through a Greek label – killer demos from the 80s are killer demos in 2022, ha-ha.

Yngve M. Jacobsen

The excellent and superbly crafted debut EP titled Doctrine of Dust was released a few months ago, and it is a great piece of work. How and when exactly did Omegashift come into being and what prompted you guys to hook up with each other and spawn this most interesting concoction of gloomy music? Did you start out playing a bunch of covers to discern whether the musical chemistry was there or not, or did you more or less start writing material of your own right from the get-go? 

Yngve: You know, my brother Bjørnar and I have been bandmates for years, doing time in two bands prior to Omegashift. A thrash band (Salem’s Lot from the late 80s towards the mid-90s), and Tonka, a band not too far from Omegashift musically but with a male vocalist. This was from 1997 (Bjørnar joined a bit later, more specifically in 1998) towards 2004 where the band played the Inferno festival as the swan song.

When our second guitarist Andreas, who had also been trying out as a potential vocalist, quit Omegashift, we were left without important elements of the band. We had secured an incredible bassist, Tor Eivind, an old-timer in Kristiansand, and was lucky enough to be paired with Jorunn. At first, she was just doing the vocals as a favor. We agreed upon a given number of rehearsals to do the vocals on this recording, but it appeared that she enjoyed herself, and she kept coming back every week and even managed to find her way through the strange music, positioning herself as an important part of the sound.

We have never been a group that was into cover songs. Always an original material band. Personally, I’ve never seen the point in being in an outfit playing other people’s work. And if we ever do a cover song, I guess ‘Love Bites’ by Nevermore is a hint of what to expect; to make a song your own, not copying.

Had some of the ideas and material that constitute Doctrine of Dust had been lying around for years prior to you recording the songs, i.e. did any of the members compose some of the tunes before Omegashift was ever a thing?

Yngve: Nope, they were all composed and hammered out from the early days of the band and towards the recording. Some ideas have been tossed, picked up again, re-arranged and arranged, but everything has been made during the last years …

How did you guys go about composing and arranging the EP and was it a team effort? Doctrine of Dust has such an organic feel and an abundance of dynamics to it that it sounds as if you guys have rehearsed and played these tunes together many times as opposed to working remotely and sending ideas back and forth digitally, but perhaps I am way off here? 

Yngve: You’re frighteningly accurate 😊. It is a matter of band effort. Bjørnar makes the riffs, ideas, and song sketches, and then the rest of the group throws them around, adding our colour, details, and sometimes re-arrange some of the bits. As a drummer I sometimes need to change stuff in order to get a drum-friendly solution, to get the changes and transitions working. From Bjørnar’s idea to the final song, we do have a lot of fun, but there is hardship as well given that his material has an odd signature.

We recorded the EP live with the excellent help of a friend (Anders Elle). The drums, bass, and the one guitar are live – no cuts, no buts, no coconuts. And no click tracks! We wanted to capture what the band was like on a good day. I would often say, “What we can, not what we can’t”, hinting towards the insane amounts of bands “cheating”, using so many tools to weed out the errors. A lot of weak bands release great albums. Omegashift has released a recording showing exactly what we do at a good rehearsal, and we are an organic band, enjoying life with the pluses and the negatives. You will find errors when listening to Doctrine of Dust, but most important to us is that you’ll find heart and honesty. Some people have been spoiled, not coping when a recording isn’t polished, big, and flawless – and those people won’t like us.

Tor Eivind: We built the songs like a dough where the ingredients decide the outcome. The songs are worked, rolled, seasoned, and if too spicey, milk and sugar are added. We work the songs over time, some parts are removed, some added until they’re done. Our songs are a result of dedication to heavy metal, friendship, and fun, and the music is based on a uniqueness of challenging the traditional tone and rhythms. We didn’t expect the final product this way.

Despite the various individual ways of expressing music, we see great value in combining our experiences, creating music in a different and new fashion. It makes the music grow. It makes us grow, and we believe it will appeal to a few people out there as well.

What wretched things out there inspire you when it comes to penning lyrics? Life, society, and people in general or something else entirely? What about books, paintings, movies, poetry, and so on and so forth?

Bjørnar: As I am the one writing the lyrics, I need to say first off that the members in the band hold different beliefs and values. Because of that I try to find a ‘common ground’ with respect to the lyrics so that no one feels disrespected or not being able to stand behind the songs. For me, I write from a Christian worldview and hope to share living water in this scorching season … into the storms of death and loss tearing so much to pieces at an ever-growing pace.

The most wretched thing inspiring the lyrics is mainly the heart of man and the state this puts him in.

Driven by pride and the never-ending chase for autonomy, man will never find peace or salvation that lasts … only the counsel of fools and a path of deception.

These words are the first lyrics I have ever done, but I think they worked out fine within the structure of the songs. Each composition came into itself very nicely, and the music and the lyrics managed to carry strength and individuality both to each song while also conjuring up a ‘sound’ from the band as a whole.

I have been writing poems and different texts for some years now, and poetry is a beautiful way to express thoughts and depths.

Not so much inspired by films or books or music but certainly inspired by the powers beneath those kinds of expressions.

What are some of the band’s shared musical influences? Where do you all “meet” so to say? 

Yngve: Ha-ha, that’s a tough question. The three male members do have a similar taste in metal, and we are all 50+ but with a taste for both the old and the new. Jorunn is the oddball and was never a metal chick, so for her it is Etta James, Portishead … She has done a lot of rhythm ’n blues and soul prior to Omegashift. That’s what makes the band a bit strange with those two worlds colliding. I know she has shown interest in bands that we have told her about, like Madder Mortem for instance, which is a band that I feel we have some musical links to.

As to the name of the band and the rather evocative title that is Doctrine of Dust, what exactly do they signify or refer to? Are there any deeper meanings or clues to be revealed? 

Bjørnar: The name Omegashift is a word pointing to the Omega as the end and that a shift towards the last of days is coming. As we are dust, we will return to dust. We need to humble ourselves and not strut around in this embarrassing hubris that we are in control and so weirdly proud over our weak models and structures explaining why there is nothing from nothing and order from chaos. It is to our benefit that we do not grow comfortable in a world destined for decay.

What is next for Omegashift and what does this year hold for the group? Any exciting plans with respect to touring in Norway and/or writing a new batch of songs?

Yngve: Omegashift moves slowly. Life is life, I work a lot, busy all the time, Bjørnar has managed to become a father in his early 50s, but we do aim for a gig soon. And we do rehearse new material, so hopefully we can get a deal or release another self-financed item next year. As to touring, ha-ha, I’m not a fan of playing live, so I guess the band needs to find a stand-in drummer, which will benefit the next batch of band photos as well. But seriously, Omegashift do plan a gig, honestly!

Thanks once again for your time. Much appreciated.  

Yngve: No problem, my friend. We really appreciate you giving us the opportunity to share some info on the band. If anyone is interested, check us out on Facebook or Bandcamp.

Jens Nepper
Jens Nepper
Born and raised in Denmark, currently living in Norway, and hopelessly addicted to coffee and Black Sabbath.

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