Interview: Golden Core (Norway)

Interview conducted by Carcassbomb

Golden Core are a duo from Oslo, Norway. Their latest album, Fimbultýr, dazzled me earlier in 2019 with their genre defying blend of progressive and stoner metal styles. If you are not familiar then it is a fine entry point into the bands discography and will no doubt provide every kind of metalhead with something interesting and something new. The album appeared on my 2019 End Of Year List and I reviewed the album in more detail earlier in the year, so I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to the interview them.

Golden Core

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Hello, thank you for talking with Noob Heavy, Fimbultýr has been getting a lot of playtime from me. The lineup is Johannes Thor Sandal (Drums, Vocals) and Simen Jakobsen Harstad (Guitars, Keyboards) and you started this project at ages 9 & 11. What got you into making music so young?

(Johannes Thor) We both grew up in musical homes with lots of music around us. We’ve always been interested in music. The interest in metal came early. I think I was four years old when I was at my first Iron Maiden concert with my dad. I really can’t remember, but already then my goal was to form a metal band.

Both photos used in this article are by Silje Storm Drabitius

It’s a fantastic sounding album that puts a lot of full bands to shame, as a duo you both take on dual roles, what kind of gear setup was used for making Fimbultýr?

(Johannes Thor) Thanks. We used mostly our standard rehearsal and live gear for making Fimbultýr. The drum set is a Gretsch Catalina Club Rock, kick 26″, rack 13″ floor 16″ and 18″ and a TAMA 14″x6,5″ snare. I use DW 5000 double kick pedals. The cymbals are Sabian 17″ AAX Dark crash and 18” AAX X-Plosion crash, Sabian 22” Paragon ride and a 22” Istanbul Mikael Z Tribute ride. I used an Istanbul 13″ Hi-Hat on the recording, but have recently replaced this one with a Sabian 15″ Fat Hats.

(Simen) For guitars I mainly used my good old trusty Fender HH blacktop telecaster and for some overlays my first real full size guitar, Epiphone les Paul 100. Those went into an Orange OR 120 and Sound City 120 for the guitar sound. For the bass sounds I used my old trusty Trace Elliot gp11 that sadly blew up at a live gig after the recording. That amp growled into one of my two Old HH 2×15 cabs. The guitar amps powered an Orange 4×12 with vintage30 speakers and a Marshall cab loaded with G12m70 drivers. Big cabs and amps make Big Sound and a lot of headroom with warm massive doomy lows! With a little bit of amp crunch, a Proco Rat was placed in front of every amp. In my opinion it is one of the best pedals ever made, and you can say this is the whole signature guitar sound for Golden Core. Live I use the exact same set up as in the studio just with a little bit of change in cabs and other stuff. I have started using a Black arts pharaoh fuzz after the Rat that I can kick in at the parts witch need more feedback and not necessarily need to Sound so tight, but more drony. It is a lot more pedals used, but none of them as influential on the Sound as the Rat, even through all of them is needed to complete a Golden Core set. I can also mention that without my two trusty Orange amp detonator ABY-pedals that I use to switch between 3 amps live and in the studio, Golden Core wouldn’t be the same.

Norway is widely considered a hub for metal, how has growing up in the Oslo music scene been for you?

(Johannes Thor) The underground and metal scene in Oslo is fantastic and very supportive. We had our first proper concert in 2016 at a club called AyeAyeClub and shorty after we where asked to support Napalm Death at our favourite venue BLÅ. Since then we’ve done like a 100 shows. The Oslo music scene is a good place to grow up in.

Fimbultýr has an intriguing album cover, who did the art for this one?

(Simen) It is our Icelandic friend Hrafnsunna Ross who did the artwork for Fimbultýr. She is a great artist who also did the artwork on our 7” EP See You In The Shadow. We met her when we first played at the Norðanpaunk-festival in Iceland in 2017.

Cover of Fimbultýr
Cover of See You In The Shadow

The lyrics are in Norwegian language and google translate isn’t very reliable, but I see some mention of elves, runes and the use of some poems. What is the story going on in this album?

(Johannes Thor) Fimbultýr is a concept album about the Norse god Óðinn, the mythology, knowledge, rune magic, curse, death and war. Fimbultýr is one of Óðinn many names. The lyrics are in Old Norse and mostly processed from the Poetic Edda and Old Norse skaldic poetry.

What are some of your favourite metal albums?

Årabrot and their album The Gospel, Obzen by Meshuggah, Roots with Sepultura and Gaahls WYRDs GastiR – Ghosts Invited are some great metal albums.

You’ve played quite a few live shows and I see you are booked in for Inferno Metal Festival 2020 which must be very exciting. What are some of your most memorable live experiences?

(Johannes Thor) We did some decent shows in 2019. The most memorable show is the concert we did at Midgardsblot last summer. It is the most beautiful festival in Norway and the crowd was totally awesome. The release concert we did at BLÅ last November was wonderful and by:Larm Black at Vulkan was really cool. And of course Bloodstock Open Air in UK and Eistnaflug festival in Iceland was very exciting.

Is the live gear set up much different from the recording set up?

(Simen) Not that much. Of course we did some overlays in the studio, some organ, synths, and percussion we don’t do live, but most of what you hear on the album we’re capable of doing live.

What are some of your favourite non-metal albums?

Not far from metal, but non-metal albums we really enjoy are, Shadows Of the Sun by Ulver and Futha by Heilung. We like all kind of music actually. You will find a good album within almost every genre.

What can you tell me about the future of Golden Core?

(Johannes Thor) If we only knew that. We have a few shows coming up in Denmark and Norway, and hopefully in the future, we will be able to bring pure Norwegian darkness to the rest of the world.

My readership is largely from Australia where I live, so I always get a kick out of asking foreign bands about it. Do you hear much about us over there? Any bands or other media you know from Australia?

(Johannes Thor) We both grew up with AC/DC of course. They were one of our first inspirations to rock’n’roll. Then you have Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds who really is a great artist. And I had a crush on Kylie Minogue when I was in kindergarten haha

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, I hope many people get some enjoyment by listening to Fimbultýr today, it is a great album.

Tusen takk.

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