Efraim Juntunen of Swedish black metal pioneers Naglfar takes you on board for a journey down the long and winding rapids of black metal drums. From the steady doom-like beats to the rampant, grinding tirades and violent outbursts in fills, Juntunen steers his vessel with one firm and central idea: keeping it simple and to the point.
“To me, a steady and consistent beat is key. A lot of times, I hear drummers go off and completely lose track of the song. Especially in a songwriting scenario, when all you’re looking for is the perfect beat, something too busy can be a real hurdle. I have intentionally left all of that out and made a collection of grooves tailored for songwriting,” he commented.
Just like on a canvas, it’s easier to add than to take away what’s already there. Start forging your next piece of black metal today.
Works with EZdrummer, EZdrummer 2 and Superior Drummer 2 (optimized for 1 kick, 1 snare, 3 rack toms, 1 floor tom, 4 crash cymbals, 1 ride cymbal).
When and how did you realize you had a passion for music?
– It started as a listener from very young age, probably five years old or so. My parents used to put on these old vinyls, stuff like Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull…and it would just leave me totally mesmerized, daydreaming into another world. I couldn’t play any instrument, but when I got a little older I discovered computers, and that you could actually make music on them. I learned a few chords on the guitar and then experimented extensively transforming those onto the screen. I didn’t know any real music theory at the time but I found I had a pretty good ear for what sounded “right”. I was hooked on making music, one way or the other.
…and how come you ended up behind the drums?
– A teacher at school saw that I had a knack for rhythms so she recommended that I take drum lessons to develop my skill. Luckily, I tried it and liked it, so I continued with the lessons for a few years. Eventually. I started playing with other people, formed my first band, and from there on there was no turning back. Drumming was my thing.
What is your connection to the black metal genre, growing up and now?
– Growing up, you were always on the look-out for heavier bands, new things… Going from thrash metal to death metal, grind core etc, I eventually came across black metal too. Bands like Dark Throne, Immortal, Emperor, Dissection…the ’90s scene. I was not into the whole tape trading thing other than ordering a few demos here and there, but I kept an ear out for what was happening. I guess I still am, although there are just too many bands to keep track of these days.
If you would name a few drummers that inspire you on a general level, who would you pick?
– There are many, But to keep it short, I’d say Gene Hoglan for bass drumming and crazy fills, Pete Sandoval for speed and intensity, Tomas Haake for complexity and Morgan Ågren for, well, everything.
And for this collection of grooves, what bands and drummers would you say inspired you?
– Frost/Satyricon, Horg/Immortal, the slower stuff from Burzum and the first two Dissection albums in general.
What was the general train of thought behind this collection of grooves?
– To make a wide selection of beats and fills ranging from slow to fast. Keeping them all fairly basic so that you have a good solid base to build on for creating music. Not painting yourself into a corner with something that would feel too flavored of this or that band/subgenre.
You’re also a member of Swedish black metal pioneers Naglfar. What’s next on your agenda?
– Naglfar might do a few shows next year, but nothing’s set in stone yet. I believe the focus right now is creating new music.
Uriah Heep – “Demons and Wizards”. My first music-related memory. Hearing this album became the soundtrack to the movie I would make up in my head reading (or more like looking at) old comic books. U.D.O. – “Faceless World”. A friend’s older brother gave me a tape with this one on the A-side and Judas Priest’s “Ram it Down” on the B-side. Not a bad tape. It stuck with me, it sounded like nothing else. I remember being really impressed by the overall sound, especially the layered backing vocals. Entombed – “Left Hand Path”. Total death. Not only a genre-defining classic, but there’s also some really cool innovative drumming on here. This one spun endlessly on my Walkman to the point where the tape broke. Dissection – “The Somberlain”. For me, death/black metal doesn’t get much better than this. It is the perfect blend of aggression and melody, wrapped in an ice-cold draping. It’s technically not perfect by any means but the feeling is there, and that’s what matters. As with many outcomes of this era. Strapping Young Lad – “City”. My introduction to Devin Townsend. And wow, this was one pissed off lad. Everything about this album knocked me off my feet – the vocals, the drumming, the production… It just builds and builds and leaves you in a wet pile of “what the hell was that?”.
Here are some classic songs and bands that either laid the foundation to black metal as a whole or keep pushing the boundries of the genre today.
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