Heavy rock band Jaggu released their sophomore album ‘Rites for the Damned’ on January 27th

Photo: Thea Torgersen

The band from Oslo, Norway was formed in 2018. ‘Rites for the damned’, their second full length, has been written, recorded and mixed during the global pandemic. ‘Carnage’, ‘Earth Murder’, ‘Enthralled’ – the eight tracks of the album based on the theme of the horrors in humanity’s destructive nature. The band says they wanted to make a really grim and heavy album. And here they have more than succeeded.

Read the interview with Asbjørn Halsten of Jaggu about the band’ heavy sound, their atmospheric studio at old Fornebu airport and working with Russel Mills, the artist behind all the Nine Inch Nails records.

You released your debut album in 2019. And now ‘Rites for the Damned’ came – your second full length. So Jaggu is a quite new name on the music scene. Could you tell us how the band was formed?

Marius was looking for some people to jam with in his Red Line Studio, Fornebu outside Oslo. Through friends he got, recommended a drummer, Nona Simpson from North England, who works as an Arborist here in Norway, and soon needed a bassist. Marius met me at a bar in Oslo over a music quiz, and we found mutual interest in music. Soon after, we started playing all three together at Red Line Studio and JAGGU was quickly formed. We do everything in the studio, from jamming, practice, write songs and record.  

Jaggu’s sound is the mix of doom/stoner metal, prog psych and some power vibes. For you personally, what is the greatest thing about heavy music? And could you mention some bands that probably inspire you the most?

The feeling of pumping heavy rock is one of a kind. It takes the ugly side of human emotion into something cool, and beautiful. Sometimes it makes you feel pumped and really wanna go, and sometimes it makes you almost hypnotized and forgets the world around you like an escape from the daily stress, like meditation and therapy. Between the three of us, we really listen to so much different music that it’s hard to put into a list, but we like everything from Kate Bush to Cannibal Corpse. We get inspired by everything in between, but if I have to mention something, I can say Devin Townsend, High On Fire, Chelsea Wolfe, Mastodon, Sleep and Ledfoot.  

If ‘Revenantian’, your debut album, was inspired by Japanese folklore, ‘Rites for the Damned’ “is based on the theme of the horrors in humanity’s destructive nature”. What determines the choice of the main theme of an album?

We go back and forth with ideas, and when we feel “this is it”, we go for it. “Revenantian” was a concept album about a protagonist being haunted by the female demon Hannya, and escapes life through a mystical forest called Green Sea, after being reborn through death. With the new album we basically wanted to skip the concept album thing, and just make a really grim and heavy album. The lyrics shaped up to have this red thread anyway.

You say that “this album contains some of the band’s most personal lyrics from the members’ private lives”. Could you tell us a little more about it?

Well, Carnage is a track about abortion. Some personal stuff regarding mental health, and just frustrations about money and injustice in the world, when we wrote the album, all weird shit happened like Corona, and a world in lockdown, it felt like the apocalypse, and suddenly war in Ukraine and nuclear threats that followed, so a lot of the lyrics are based on fear, anger and how messy the world view is. On our first album we just told a fictional story. On this album the lyrics are from our personal point of view.

How did you actually start working with Russell Mills, who made the album’ artwork?

Nona has this buddy in England that knows Russ, and it was basically just to ask kindly if he would be interested, and we were stoked that he actually said “yes”. He listened to our songs and read the lyrics, and felt at home with the overall vibe. We gave him full freedom to do whatever he wanted, and the result was a good fit.

You’re writing and recording your music at your Red Line Studio at old Fornebu airport. I’m pretty sure this place adds a lot of extra vibes to each song.

Indeed! We rehearse in a room with a full horizon view, which can be really atmospheric with the different seasons. And when we have breaks in the summer, we climb around the roof of the old airport.

By the way, are you going to keep the concept with all three members on vocals?

Two albums in doing it, we don’t see why we should stop. We are not trained vocalists, and it shows. Playing the stuff we do, and trying to sing at the same time, is hard and very challenging! But that is also what makes it even more fun. We get better at it everytime we play.

So ‘Rites for the Damned’ was released on January 27th. What are your next plans?

We want to release something on Halloween this year, we have one spooky song ready, maybe it becomes an EP.  Also more live shows in promotion of our new album all over Norway, and maybe abroad. We aspire to start working on our third album this year as well.

Asbjørn “Asbear” Halsten – bass, vocals
Marius “Mario” Melleby – guitar, vocals
Nona Simpson – drums, vocals

‘Rites for the Damned’
Recorded and mixed by Marius Melleby
at Red Line Studio
Mastered by Ruben Willem, Caliban Studio
Artwork by Russell Mills

Listen to the album and get your copy on vinyl/cassette at