When we catch up with Morten “Teloch” Iversen to chat about his latest album with Nidingr, The High Heat Licks Against Heaven, he’s in the midst of juggling his roles in two bands. It’s not exactly his fault: Nidingr’s first full-length in five years was supposed to arrive shortly after its completion last year, but scheduling conflicts delayed its release to earlier this month. The timing was terrible: Nidingr’s most epic and accessible effort to date hit shelves in the middle of an ongoing, highly-anticipated North American tour by Teloch’s other band, Mayhem, commemorating their classic 1994 album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Teloch’s been a part of that pioneering Norwegian black metal outfit since 2011, when he filled the vacancy opened by longstanding axeman Rune “Blasphemer” Eriksen.
The 47-year-old Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and producer spent his formative years amidst the country’s black metal renaissance in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and has been playing music in a host of groups for over a quarter-century. It started in his late teens, when he picked up the guitar and bass and began recording on his own, marking his formal entry into the musical dark arts. In 1992, he founded Audr, a one-man venture named for the Old Norse meaning “desolate” or “empty.” But this lone wolf was a pack animal at heart—and so, four years later, his gloomy solo project blossomed into a fearsome, full-bodied band with a new name, Nidingr, similarly plucked from the Vikings (it’s an Old Norse insult, typically lobbed at scoundrels and villains). Five albums and two decades later in 2017, he may be as well known for his work with Mayhem as he is for Nidingr, or his creative partnerships with Amalie “Myrkur” Bruun, the black metal dynamo whose mystery-enshrouded debut M Teloch co-produced alongside another leaden luminary, Ulver founder Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg.