A blog dedicated to everything black metal.
n. 1. A philosophical proposition, doctrine, or principle of reasoning.
NEW interview with Varg Vikernes and his wife!
Varg looks pretty fucking old. Worth a watch.
Here’s the interview with the legendary Kim Carlsson(Lifelover, Hypothermia, Life is Pain, Kyla, etc.) that I’ve long been promising! I was pretty honoured when I got the interview, with Kim being one of the main men in depressive black metal. Enjoy.
1) When somebody mentions “depressive black metal” as a genre, some of the first bands to be named are Lifelover and Hypothermia. Why is it that your bands all under this category as opposed to orthodox black metal? Is there something in the depressive sound that resonates within you?
What we have been doing over the years is very specific while at the same time highly adaptable to the various moods and ideas that flows through people on a constant basis. As you know a lot of people are either depressed, got difficulties in their life or have someone in their surrounding that are affected by such things. This leads to that people are associating sounds of a bleak nature to their mood and finds a way to categorize things accordingly. In other words it’s music that people under strained conditions are associating with which leads to such categorizations for others that are drawn to music with such or similar characteristics. People also tend to have a need of identifying themselves with different movements and beliefs.
You can essentially find something depressive or depressing in anything, you’re just finding what you’re searching for and it makes it easier to find something to be bad for you when others have decided it for you. We haven’t really done anything different from what we otherwise do and simply doing what we feel is right and worthwhile. But it happens to be different from the generalized idea that defines what is good or happy etc. When you see someone with a cut up body the first thought in your head is usually not that the person is having a good time, so you associate it with something bad, and for someone that isn’t getting something constructive out of their depression anything that is associated with it’s something bad rather than good. Self-harm can be fun!
2) All of your projects are very distinguishable and unique. Who are your biggest influences when it comes to music?
I tend to get more influenced by talking a walk for some hours and/or hearing various sounds than any artists. I believe that every artist is acting as a vessel for the devil be it consciously or not, it’s a very potent form manifesting an energy in a way that everyone can be affected by. This is why so many people have their own or someone elses idea of what my projects are because it’s made to be adapted to the conscious and subconscious of individuals.
3) Do you listen to much music outside of metal? If so, can you give us some examples?
I don’t listen to much music for the reason that besides having a constant flow of sound in my mind often consisting of Hypothermia in progress, there is more interesting sounds occuring in the nature around me than what most composers won’t get near in beauty or complexity.
4) In 2010 Hypothermia realeased the amazing Skogens hjärta. In my opinion it’s your best piece of music to date, but what lead to the decision of the song being 1hr 8 minutes long, instead of a few different tracks?
When I started the process of putting SH together it was initially two parts, the fourth riff in the middle of the song is what ties the parts together. It’s merged because I want people to listen to it in its entirely because it’s then that you get the most out of the song. Hypothermia is not some mere audial entertainment but ritualistic meditative soundscapes that can be used in many ways which benefits from a longer timespan.
5) Skogen’s hjärta is very different(but even better, in my opinion) from your previous releases. Did you intentionally opt for the change in style, or was it something that just happened as you wrote it?
Before the recording of SH we had been rehearsing and performing our other album “Svenskt Vemod” for a long time which was manifested before SH, with the difference that it consists of individual tracks composed as A/B/C/D sides of two vinyls. The A side being instrumental, the B side featuring vocals and a bit more variation in songstructure (it’s this part of the album that we so far have shared online), the C side features a longer more repetitive ritualistic song of minimalism and the D side features our first interpretation of a song by another band. This so that the different pieces can be adapted to the needs of the user, and it is from this way of making arrangements in songs that the form of SH was decided when I was putting its pieces together. So it’s a very conscious decision.
I don’t really consider any of these compositions as any change in style and you can notice this evolving in the previous album “Rakbladsvalsen” where the first song is performed in a very specific way for an A side while the second and third song are much different and the last song only being an acoustic jam-session of the first song. This was seven years ago, which by most means wouldn’t be considered new and it’s certainly not any change of style in composition, but a natural course of evolving in terms of composing sounds.
6) For you, what is the appeal in writing music? Is it kathartic or is just something that interests you(a hobby, in a way)?
It’s something I’ve been chosen to do.
7) Out of all the different artists you’ve worked with(Trist, Ondskapt, Nachzeit, etc.) who was the most interesting, and did you learn anything from them?
There has been many interesting times with all of them which is why we work and/or have worked together. It wouldn’t make any sense to work with anyone that wouldn’t further my progression as an artist, so I’m somewhat picky about who I work with to make sure it leads to something mutually useful.
8) Will there ever be another release from Life is Pain? If no, why not?
We got something waiting for the right moment, but besides that it is what it was and we want to leave it at that- We have talked about doing something together in the future with another name and when we got something ready I’m pretty sure that you will notice it.
9) What is the status of Horns Emerging? I remember you were looking for a female vocalist in early 2011, but I’ve not seen any news since then.
Since it’s beginning in 2009 it’s been something that I’ve been working on from time to time and I let it take the time it needs for everything to turn out as good as possible. The more vocalists that I’ve been in contact with has only lead to noticing that my ideas require several vocalists for the atmosphere to be right, so I’m negotiating with some choirs. Later in the year when some more progress is made the first single will be released while finishing the vocal work for the rest of the first album which was recorded 2010. I have since then written the material for the second album which I will try to record at the end of the year if the work on the first album gets finished as intended.
10) What are your plans for the future? Not just musically, but in your life. What do you hope to achieve?
This year we will record and release a series of ep’s entitled “Rituell Minimalism” which translates to “Ritualistic minimalism” and they will be recorded somewhere special that will be revealed when the time for the recordings are decided.
Next year I will begin an education in pottery and start searching for a house in the woods where I besides making chalices and other ritual tools will be able to put together a little studio with a intimate atmosphere designed for live-recordings.
11) And a philosophical question for you to end the interview… for what do you live for, and for what would you die?
An interview with Graf von Baphomet of Psychonaut 4! Brought to you by Philosopheme!
After multiple requests from my followers for such an interview, I managed to get one with Graf, the frontman of the very narcotic-orientated suicidal black metal band - Psychonaut 4. Enjoy!
1. Let’s start with your name! It’s relatively unusual pseudonym, though that’s not to say it’s a bad one. Could you explain it to us?
Greetings! So, about the name: the word Psychonaut means a guy who likes psychodelic drugs and the “4” is the number of plateaus of Dextromethorphan (DXM). I came up with “Psychonaut” and Andre thought of the “4”.
2. Your first release shared a strange title: “40%”. What’s the meaning behind this?
We called our demo tape “40%” - the percentage of alcohol in vodka. I think it’s the best name for demo tape of a band “influenced” by alcohol.
3. Some time ago you were trying to tour with Hypothermia. Is that still going to happen?
Yes, we’re gonna tour with Hypothermia over Europe, but because of several reasons the tour was moved from October to March/April.
4. And whilst we’re on the subject, what band would you MOST like to tour with?
I don’t know. Hypothermia is a great band to tour with, but it’s hard to say about other bands because I need to know them personally. I think it would be great if we toured with Pergale, I know them and they’re great guys!
5. I’ve noticed your music shares a lot of traits with bands like Lifelover and Apati. Are there any bands, metal or otherwise, that you are influenced by?
We’re influenced by a lot of metal, but not only metal bands. We have some influences from post punk, DSBM and poetry.
6. Out of all your songs, which one is the most meaningful to you, and what’s the story behind it?
My favourite song of ours is Drop by Drop. This song is very personal to me. I’ve put all my senses and emotions into it - this song is full of pain and hate.
7. Psychonaut 4 have been dubbed “Modern Suicidal Narcotic Depressive Black Metal”. Is this something you’re okay with, and how are you different from your average DSBM band?
We’re simply Post Suicidal Black Metal. Fans can dub our style as they wish.
8. Why do drugs and alcohol play such a big role in your music?
It’s difficult to answer, we used to live as we live, our way of life is reflected in our music.
9. I think we’ll finish off with the simple question: what’s your favourite drug and what’s your favourite drink?
Good question. Vodka and mushrooms(Psilocybe Cubensis) and LSD.
Thanks for interviewing us, and have a nice trip!
You can find their official Facebook page right here. Please message me with any requests for bands to interview. I’ll do my best!
Someone told me I should get an interview with them, aaand I love my followers… so it’s happening. If you have any questions for them just send them here.
An interview with Morbid and Karmageddon of Happy Days! Brought to you by Philosopheme and forestofnihilism!
With a bit effort, contacts, and lots of good fortune, me and forestofnihilism got to arrange an interview with the two brilliant men who make up the legendary DSBM band - Happy Days! We offered them 9 questions which they very kindly answered. Here you go!
1. (Morbid) You’ve worked on quite a few projects that I personally love;
Photophobia, Secretly In Pain, Nostalgie and more. Which of these past or current projects have given you more to learn and work with?
Those projects you mentioned were just a one-time thing. The current bands that I am currently doing work for, that are active, are Happy Days, Withering Night and Xylactic. It was like a process of experimenting and learning more in regards to the mixing and mastering and trying out different tunings on guitar or themes based on my aspects of life.
2. (Morbid) Which of your albums with Happy Days do you personally consider as your best work - your masterpiece?
Each one is a very special release. Despite the quality sound of the first 3 ones, they are each very personal to me. But as for the fans I think they will appreciate the newest 4th full length a lot more due to the musicianship and the sound quality of the production.
3. (Karmageddon) Over the time the band has progressed, I noticed
in the newest album you use blast beats(“Industrial Melancholy”).
What do you feel about this evolution? Do you enjoy it better than the past?
Or would you consider it a necessary evolution as a musician?
I never felt the need to incorporate that style of drumming up until the song “Too Sick to Speak” from the Eindig split. I have always enjoyed playing at higher tempos for other projects or jam sessions but most of the material Morbid writes for Happy Days wouldn’t sound right with blast beats backing it. I write the drum patterns and beats that i feel best fit the overall feeling of the song.
4. (Karmageddon) Are there any drummers you draw particular inspiration from, or admire?
I thoroughly enjoy the styles of George Kollias (Nile), Gavin Harirson, and Mario Duplantier (Gojira) at the moment. As far as inspiraton for drumming goes I think that just comes with experimentation and the drummers I listen to on a day to day basis.
5. (Karmageddon & Morbid) Happy Days have done two splits, I believe! But if you could collaborate with any band out there - even if they’re no longer going - who would it be?
Man, where do I begin… Bethlehem, Drudkh, Insidious Omen, Portal, Horna, Sargeist, Dodsferd, Nortt, Abyssic Hate, Trist, Kanashimi, Mortualia, Elitist, Trancelike Void, Andrarahk, I’m In A Coffin, and so much more that I can’t think of at the moment…
6. (Morbid & Karmageddon) My favourite song from your latest album is Abigail. It’s an instrumental piece, but at the beginning there’s a sample from a film. What was the thought behind this? Did you feel it just added to the atmosphere of the song, or was there a deeper meaning?
That song is very personal and it was written about a certain someone. Needless to say it was very hard for me to record those two songs without breaking down. What the song is about speaks for itself.
7. (Morbid) Your new project “Xylactic” what fuels this new idea? It’s actually pretty good and quite different from the work we’ve seen from you in the DSBM area, tell us more about this if you may.
I decided to experiment with a more traditional black metal sound considering my drummer from Happy Days is currently busy with personal matters. It’s a one man band that I started and its kinda of like my alter ego and its influence is in a way derived from many aspects of music. It’s very new so I am hoping to do more with it.
8. Are there any future plans for Happy Days? Touring around, some collaborations perhaps or something?
We are dying to tour or do any collaborations with any bands. We are currently accepting offers. We are ready to take anything. A lot of our fans have been dying to see us live. We hope that some label or someone sees this interview.
9. Have you guys ever heard of Tumblr?
Yes, but we don’t have one and don’t plan on it. Facebook and Myspace is enough.
10. Any words for your fans and followers in The Black Circle?
Thanks to all of you who have been with us from the beginning. Also thanks to the fans who have recently discovered us and are fans now. We hope to someday meet all the faces that support us.
It’s been a pleasure, and thanks for letting us have the interview! All of your fans wish all of you the best of luck with your future work - we await it all eagerly!
So, there we have it! Our interview with the legendary Morbid and Karmageddon! Go like their official Facebook page HERE!
We’ve got another interview lined up for later on this week, so keep checking back! Remember to like The Black Circle’s facebook page!
Yep, that’s fucking right. We’re interviewing two brilliant DSBM bands, and one of the biggest black metal vocalists still going - Attila fucking Csihar!
Myself and Forestofnihilism have been working pretty hard to get these interviews, and if you have any questions that you’d like to ask Attila, please send them my way! We’ll take a look at them and add any of those we think are especially good.
We both hope you’re looking forward to the interview as much as we are!
An interview with A Forest of Stars(Mister Curse & The Gentleman), brought to you by Philosopheme!
Without a doubt two of the most interesting musicians I’ve ever spoken too.
Hello, and thank you very much for agreeing to the interview! Hmm, I think this is a good place to start. Myself, and many others, really enjoy the Victorian aesthetic of A Forest of Stars - it’s a fresh take on black metal! How did this Victorian theme come to be?
The Gentleman: That was entirely my doing, and thus I apologise profusely for spewing such effrontery and fatigue on the world when it has much better things it could be doing with its time. I know I could. As for how it came to be, well, I’ve always possessed an unhealthy love and fascination for the 19th Century since I was a small child, and now some might argue it has finally possessed me. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I don’t know. But all that aside, it seemed a natural way to frame the band; to hold together the separate elements of music, lyrics, imagery, art, live shows, videos and photos. It gave a unity to the band – to our minds, at least! One question in and I’ve already reached unprecedented levels of pretention. Good gods.
2) When it comes to describing your style, steampunk is often mentioned. It’s an understandable link to make, but what’s your stand on this? Do you embrace or reject the notion?
The Gentleman: Here’s the thing: we’re not steampunk at all, but I have no problem with the genre (or indeed its denizens), and can see where the connection is made. If anything we are Victoriana, but more than that, we are trying to go further and create own little private universe that works within its own rules. Of course we are complete charlatans and have no clue what we’re doing, hence the confusion! I’m very fond of Steampunk and welcome it with open arms, but it is absolutely not what we are. We’re more a Victorian occult club that’s imbibed far too much and woken up hung over inside a very badly written fairytale. Or something.
Curse: I can see why people would make that assumption, but it was never our intention to create ‘steampunk black metal’ – our aim was simply to infuse the band with Victorian (in)sensibility!
3) Moving more onto the topic of your actual music… unique is a very fitting word! Have any other bands influenced your style at all? If not, are there any bands you listen to a lot in your spare time?
The Gentleman: Many bands have influenced us, right across the spectrum. The more obvious (Emperor, Burzum, Arcturus, In the Woods…, Sigh, Ulver, Ved Beuns Ende, GSY!BE) and the less so (Kate Bush, Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Steeleye Span, Blut Aus Nord, DsO) and that’s just for starters. Long lists are boring so I’ll stop now, but the initial idea was to do our own thing, inspired by that mid/late nineties breakout when Black Metal decided there were no boundaries any longer and anything was game. It is that spirit we sought to emulate, rather than any particular band. In our spare time, we all listen to lots of different genres, so even if it’s not conscious, I have no doubt the influences seep in to our music somewhere along the line.
Curse: Many bands have influenced me personally. To give a short list: Darkthrone, Skyclad, Swans, New Model Army, Ved Buens Ende… there are so many it is impossible to list them all. I spend much of my free time listening to music. I am currently under the influence of the new Mgła album.
4) The violin is a very prominent instrument in multiple songs of yours. What triggered the idea of incoroporating it into your music? I think it’s brilliant!
The Gentleman: The violin is a fantastic, expressive instrument, and we formed this band with it at the core, from day one. It was not added later, and Katheryne contributed writing just as equally as the rest of us, but from her violin point of view, instead of a guitar or piano. I suppose that could explain why sometimes it feels a little different, as we’re coning at it from an oblique angle?
Curse: The violin was an instrument we incorporated from day one, simply because we feel that it is a wonderful, haunting instrument, and I think that it adds immense weight and feeling to our music.
5) Do you intend on sticking to the long ambient songs found on both The Corpse of Rebirth and Opportunistic Thieves of Spring? I think you really perfected the atmospheric factor of your music.
The Gentleman: Put it this way, the new album has twice as many songs as our debut, but in the same amount of time. The idea was to try and distil our ideas down into only what was absolutely necessary, and we feel it is much better for it as a result. There are still plenty of atmospheric moments, and calm before storms. Of course, we are very proud of what we’ve done in the past, but equally, we wanted to challenge ourselves and do new things. Whether or not we’ve succeeded, only time will tell!
Curse: I would say that we have continued somewhat in that vein, I was intending to write less lyrics for this recording, though I seem to have somehow written more than previously. Whoops!
6) Can you give us an idea of what we can we expect from your upcoming album? The preview hints at more ambient/atmospheric pieces, but we can only guess!
The Gentleman: The new album is our first, fully proper attempt at a concept album. That is to say, not just a story recited over a series of random songs, but a full piece of music, with a beginning, middle and end. The songs are interconnected, and reference each other, with certain themes and melodies criss-crossing and reoccurring throughout the album. At least, that was the idea. It’s not really up to us to decide if we’ve managed to achieve anything as ambitious that. We tend to always get ideas above our station and bite off more than we can chew, so we’ll see. It could just a big mess to everyone’s ears. In terms of the actual music, there’s a lot more variety than on the previous two albums, lots of light and shade, and heavier and mellower parts. It’s an extension of what’s gone before, but certainly not an abandonment. We just like exploring!
Curse: This album is a little more direct than those preceding it, though we have attempted to instil plenty of mood altering sections. Lyrically, this album attempts to tell the story of a man at odds with himself and everything else, and his pretty tragic attempt at life. We follow him from cradle to other peoples’ graves, until he eventually arrives at his own undoing.
7) What would you class your music as? There’s so many genres floating around these days!
The Gentleman: God knows. Over-Indulgent Crap? Hideously Pretentious mess? Feebly Pathetic Attempt at Watered Down Black Metal? Any of those would do…
Curse: It is quitehard to say - I labelled us as ‘Unorthodox Black Metal’ in another interview, and I think that fits us well! We are a bit of whatever pleases us, and rather a lot of different music is guilty of this. I suppose you could call us ‘a mixed bag’ (just don’t ask what’s in the bag…)
8) Soon you’ll be releasing your third album. You’ve come a long way since 2008, when The Corpse of Rebirth was released. On Last.fm alone, you have over 16,000 listeners. First of all, how does that make you feel?
The Gentleman: Err, I have no idea, really! That I should possess a considerably larger sum of money in my bank account than the flea bitten dregs that currently reside within?
Curse: It is a fantastic feeling to have had the opportunity to create the music we want, and to find that others like it too. Apart from that, I am quite surprised to find ourselves at this point, wherever this is.
9) Secondly, what do you hope to achieve in the next four years?
The Gentleman: We’re averaging an album every two years, so hopefully we can excrete a couple more in that time frame – we’ve written quite a lot of new stuff already; I’d like to get the cycle down to 18 months, but that’s probably too ambitious. Other than that, just to tour more and visit wonderful people in interesting places. And to devour a lot of rich food. And maybe have a couple of drinks. But not too many; I’m getting old now.
Curse: I think we shall keep stumbling on and see where we end up. It is always a pleasure to create music, so I hope that we will continue to do so. I’ll drink your drinks.
10) It’s been a pleasure. To conclude the interview, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
The Gentleman: Well, thank you for taking the time to interview us. And to the people who like us: What the hell were you thinking, encouraging us? No good will come of it…
Curse: Thank you for taking the time to interview us. Oh, and the shadows are the place to look.
Check out their band page on Facebook, and obviously, I recommend their full discography!
Also, if you haven’t seen it, give the Xasthur interview a read in my Interviews page!
An interview with Scott Connor(Malefic, of Xasthur), brought to you by forestofnihilism and Philosopheme!
So, lately, forestofnihilism and myself have been talking with Scott Connor of Nocturnal Poisoning and ex-Xasthur. After talking for a while, we asked if we could get an interview from him. Since there haven’t been any interviews regarding Nocturnal Poisoning, we were sure his fans would love to hear what Scott has been cooking for these last few years. Forestofnihilism set up the interview, and we formed a couple of questions regarding Scott’s new project - just for you!
1). Well to start off, I have just one question concerning Xasthur; which was the most meaningful album for you? And if you don’t mind sharing, why?
Defective Epitaph, probably because I worked the hardest on that one, all the songs seemed really different from each other but also came together as a long piece; I knew that I did everything that I could have done. It was more like a time where the album title, a theme of sorts and idea came to mind early on while making it, so that gave the making of it a lot of fuel.
2). Now I know Xasthur got boring to you, but besides that, what really feeds the creation of Nocturnal Poisoning?
I would say discovering how many forms of other music I enjoy and enjoy trying to play, old and new. Over a few years ago, I started becoming fascinated with listening and playing blues, bluegrass, 60’s-70’s rock music, folk, gothic, a few older country songs, classical, ‘psychedelic’, doom and things like this. I refuse to use the word “influence” or name drop other bands to draw attention to my own. There are two colors that black metal bands paint with, gray and darker gray, but nowadays I’m feeling like I have a whole new box of colors, more to work with now, some of them ‘beautiful’, some of them ‘ugly’ to paint with, or, to paint a different picture with, with more contrasts between the dark and light, both setting each other up for bigger falls and drops and also bigger things rising. I think that I’m better at playing this sort of thing, acoustically, than I ever was at playing ‘black metal’.
3). I think this question is really intriguing for those that are really looking up to NP; will Nocturnal Poisoning always be a solo project, or will there be other members? If you intend on working with others, do you have anybody in mind?
At this moment, literally, I do worry that Nocturnal Poisoning might have to be a solo project, whether I like it or not. But yes, I have intentions of working with others, because it’s just getting too difficult and limiting in some areas to continue working on my own. I’m trying to get back to the place where I spent some time last winter because I have at least a second guitarist and a drummer there, a couple guys who play for a band called Gravesideservice. They are quite open minded and willing towards other music and you can tell by giving a few of their songs a chance.
4). Also, will Nocturnal Poisoning be a touring band?
That is definitely a big goal. I was not able to do that with the previous band for so many reasons. But I have to turn this into a live band or I will be up shit creek without a paddle. Making an album, only, doesn’t mean a damn thing anymore and does not do much for the band making it, it used to really be something, but today it’s not enough, not for the band and probably not for the listeners either.
5). You’ve been working on NP for quite some time now, you should let The Black Circle hear some of it, hahaha. No, but seriously; are your fans close to finally tasting this different side of Scott?
Maybe I should, probably I shouldn’t. When the time comes, I like people to listen to albums as a whole and not just a sample or two. Also, when I pressed the final Xasthur album myself, I finally did very well with it because there was no labels or “friends” to spoil it with free samples. I don’t trust anyone to have it until it’s on disc, for many reasons, actually. I’ve been burned several times with ‘leaked’ songs, maybe other musicians and bands can afford that, but I can’t. After the album comes out, I’m sure everyone will take the liberty of stealing it and ‘sharing’ it….but in the meantime, she’s mine. The album is getting close though, I have a problem with going too long without doing anything new and I won’t be able to run my mouth for very long.
6). Do you plan on including vocals on NP? And if so, will they be haunting and grim like we heard on Xasthur, or would you be using a clean vocalist? And if so, what lyrical themes do you wish to explore?
Having a vocalist is something I have just about given up on, it became so frustrating and also so many problems to deal with that I’m thinking of keeping it mainly an instrumental band. The more time that has gone by without finding a vocalist, the more I’ve made the songs complex enough to be good enough and listenable without vocals. If the right kind of vocalist falls into place someday, then great, but there’s no dire need for it. There were no plans of having any ‘haunting or grim’ vocals for this, by the way. If I were to explore any lyrical themes, I’m not really sure what they would be, I’d be open to many things, except writing about the same old shit I used to write about, I suppose. That was something else that needed to change but since I’m currently writing and recording everything myself, I was hoping to write ‘with’ someone, bounce some ideas back and forth, like get a little help in that area, but you see, now we’re back to the vocalist thing again, so fuck it.
7). To end our awesome interview between 2 awesome people, haha, have you heard of Tumblr before? (my favourite question)
I’m not sure, is that a band, Tumblr?
8). Any words for your fans and followers in The Black Circle?
Yes, I’m not going to be giving the same ‘minimalist’ alternative to black metal. And I think this is the first Nocturnal Poisoning interview.
So this is what’s going on with Nocturnal Poisoning! For more info and updates by Scott himself you should definitely like his official page on Facebook HERE.
Stay tuned, ‘cause we’ve got a few more interviews coming up!
Alternatively read the article here.
How does the commentary track thing work? Are you talking over the music in real-time or is the commentary track spliced in after it’s finalized?
Fenriz: Lord have mercy! Just listening to Viking’s Do or Die album from ‘87 on vinyl and starting the interview. Well, it works like a commentary track on a movie—I only heard the Futurama commentary, so I figured it would have to be a bit informative and funny perhaps—I reckon. I listen to the album the week before or day before or what have you, and then I plug my mic into my mixer and record my voice on Vinyl Studio recording program while listening to the album on rather low volume in headphones via a CD player. Ain’t nothing more to it. [Laughs] Splicing? We never/I never spliced anything in my entire life, we always did everything we could in real time. I don’t know any fancy tricks and I doubt Ted knows either on the studio we had since ’05, we only use the basic functions. If Saxon or Sadus didn’t need any more, we don’t either.
Can you give us a commentary peek? Maybe something you said about the track “Vinterskugge” or “Storm of Evil”?
Fenriz: What, you want me to listen to my own commentary disc? That’s perverse! [Laughs] No, I just cross (inverted?) my fingers and hope I said something festive and infotainment-like. It could be anything as far as I remember. I did quite a lot of them already, and on top of that I went up to Trysil area where Ted now lives again (he also lived there before, he [had already] moved away from the black metal circle in Oslo in December ’91, I think) and did three more albums with him there.
Can you separate the three Isengard demos and talk about what they mean in context of Vinterskugge?
A. Spectres over Gorgoroth
Well, I never meant for Vinterskugge (Winter Shadow) to be a usual album, it was bound to be a round-up of tracks from the get go. I always thought the Spectres over Gorgoroth demo from summer of ‘89 was too good to just wither away on some tapes, gathering dust in the global underground. Great to have it out on a real CD. The demo came to be because I had decided to quit doing vocals in Darkthrone, but I always wanted to do vocals, so I continued with the Isengard project. I also had some influences that didn’t fit into the new technical death metal direction of Darkthrone at the time. Isengard was a bit more groovy and primitive. I also had the chance that summer to fool around with Valhall’s 4-track studio (later known as Necrohell for Darkthrone) and learn to record and rig and engineer everything myself. So, it was a very true [Laughs] solo project, as I did everything myself. Calling the whole album Vinterskugge was a small tribute to the excellent Treblinka (or was it Tiamat?) demo A Winter Shadow, which seemed almost forgotten at the time. And also it was a very fitting title for the front cover and for the whole “Norwegian Language into the Metal Realm” -line many of us had at the time.
** OK, now I switched to Vio-Lence’s Eternal Nightmare album from ‘88, had to remove a bug from the grooves, one can do that with ones nails. The reason a vinyl usually skips is because some little bug is stuck in the grooves, real scratches are seldom. Still many people sadly don’t know this. I had that album when it came out but didn’t dig it much, Ivar had Necrophagia’s Season of the Dead, but he didn’t dig that much, I had already gotten that via tape trading from Nicke A. from Nihilist, So I knew it was good, so we traded. Later, I gave that vinyl away to an ex-girlfriend. During the last decade I had to buy them both back. Almost never get rid of vinyl—that’s the lesson learned. Oh well. Where were we? **
Oh yeah, the demo came out in secrecy, with a secret contact address, so no one could know it was me. It was also added as extra bonus demo on Valhall’s second demo Amalgamation. But nothing really came of it. I also had to quit Valhall and put Isengard on hold late in ’89, as we were landing a record deal with Darkthrone and I had to concentrate solely on Darkthrone, something I never regretted much. [Laughs]
** Shit, now I gotta get my ass out of the bed to actually get the promo CD (I lost the real CD to Vinterskugge about 15 years ago and always only had the promo). [Laughs] **
Horizons are the tracks that were very different. Maybe I was uncertain of these tracks, but three of them turned out to be some of the seminal Isengard tracks—it’s easy to say in hindsight. “The Fog” was recorded in early ’91, I think. I was having a craving for playing black metal, although the track…well, OK, it actually is black metal, perhaps the first black metal track I ever made and recorded. I can remember another one that was very noisy and chaotic inspired by first Mayhem demo. It was recorded, but I decided to scrap it, could have been in January ‘91 or something. “The Fog” was the first attempt at making black metal anyway. “Storm of Evil” is still the track that stands out and I will always look upon it as real Isengard-kind of Sisters of Mercy inspired and then the totally killer metal riffs in the middle part there. Uh! Execute! Then, the last track must have been me being never satisfied with the drum sound I could get out of one mic—all Isengard drums are recorded with one mic, also Transilvanian Hunger and Panzerfaust drums were recorded like that—so, I probably tried something else, but the drum sound is so fucked that I thought no one would like the track perhaps, and promptly put it in the very end of the album as a joker. In the ‘00s, a lot of veterans with very cool taste in metal and doom told me that this was their fave track. Oh well, I probably talk about these things a lot in the commentary tracks anyway.
Maybe I did think of doing an Isengard album anyway? ’Cuz this, the first chapter is in a way the album. Don’t know why. I thought it was all hunky dory and fresh at the time I recorded it (perhaps ‘92-‘93), but now I think it is very, very uneven. But wait! I talk about this in the commentary tracks too, of course. And I probably only really dislike that “Fanden Lokker Til Stupet” track, and not super happy with the Viking metal either. But it turns out that this was the reason Isengard sold and sold and sold constantly, and inspired many to-be folk metal acts. God, I hate folk metal. I was inspired by Bathory’s Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods a bit, but mostly my inspirations for the Norwegian notes in Isengard was me just being Norwegian, playing and singing with a Norwegian twist. Everyone in mine and earlier generations heard traditional Norwegian music, so we can probably play something in this style if you hand us a guitar or a vocal mic. So, that was that.
4. Do you know why track sequence is in mixed chronology? You start off with the Vandreren demo and follow it with the Spectres over Gorgoroth demo.
Fenriz: Yeah, I don’t see why it should be anything within some set of rules. I am a DJ and I spread it out like I know how. And according to sales and how inspirational it became, it was probably right to start with what I thought was my freshest material at the time. As explained above, I think a lot of the other tracks were more daring and fresh now, but that’s the way it was.
A lot of people say they hear Joy Division in post-”Spectres over Gorgoroth” Isengard. Were they influences?
Fenriz: [Laughs] Great question! No, hadn’t even heard them at the time. I acknowledge them, but my fave Joy Division track is a cover song of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Squarepusher. It’s sacrilege to say that, I know, but it’s the truth and I can’t lie, so. Not my fave band, nor is Throbbing Gristle or that band who had that “The Wait” song…Killing Joke? I first heard that song covered by Metallica. Metallica did a lot to try to make people understand where their ‘extreme metal’ came from, but no one took heed. Same with Slayer. They did an entire punk album to get the point across, but to this day there are millions of metal people denying that ‘80s metal came from punk and prog rock; and heavy rock dating back to the ‘60s even. I’m talking about grown men here. For shame.
Why did you decide to perform Isengard by yourself? Was it more who was available or unavailable at the time?
Fenriz: No, I had solo projects since I could. Summer of ‘87 I started that shit. Making a song on guitar. Then having that song in my head while playing and recording drums onto a tape deck. Then playing that tape with the drums on stereo in the reh[earsal] place while playing the guitar stuff to it and growling while it was recorded on the cassette deck again. Sounded horrible. And got caught up in Darkthrone after that. But I did two demos (luckily lost) that way before starting Darkthrone in late ‘87. So, then I took it easy with the solo shit until I could learn the Valhall studio in ‘89 and so do the Isengard demo. I remember I had around nine inspirational sources written down for Isengard at the time. Nihilist, Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Necrophagia, first Immolation demo (those two tracks still rule in hell!), Candlemass (last riff on the demo), and then I don’t remember any more now.
** Gotta go turn the Vio-Lence album over…Intense stuff, like Viking too, but the new Nekromantheon [click HERE to stream a cut] album is the best all-intense thrash album ever recorded. Nothing slow on it. Even Darkness Descends has a slow song… **
I think the Vandreren demo became kind of a blueprint for folk metal. Not just the stuff that’s currently making the rounds, but at the time nationalism (whether extreme or not) was sweeping underground music. Do think Isengard (and then perhaps more concretely Storm) was one of many catalysts for folk metal as it exists today? Of course, Bathory predated Isengard a bit and had more of a profile.
Fenriz: Wasn’t a demo, that was recorded for the Peaceville underlabel Dreamtime. I think maybe, or was it called Deaf? Yeah, Quorthon went totally against the grain and did two slow Viking metal albums when no one else even thought along those lines. That’s why he is one of the few in the scene I always respected. So, he deserves a lot of credit. Then there was Skyclad, but I wasn’t inspired by them, you see. They were so pro anyway, but it was a bit too jolly or merry if you like, and that’s where most of those making folk metal fucked up. Soon, it sounded like some up-metalled Irish folk music, very bad taste. So, I always just stuck to ‘70s folk rock and those two Bathory albums, because that was all that was out there. Except Skyclad. Which was OK. But after Storm, I didn’t listen to any other upcoming bands of the style, except to the extent that I had to take it off my player in dismay. Later, I came to like a project by that guy also playing in Zemial. That was decent Viking/folk. I’m sure there are many out there that doesn’t suck, but triggered bass drums fucked up most of that genre as well, I’m afraid. Gonna shut up about it now.
Do you remember why you (and other members of the Norwegian black metal scene) were so elusive to the press? Did it have to do with the way the media treated the murder of Øystein Aarseth and the church burnings? In his METALION: The Slayer Mag Diaries book Jon Kristiansen hints that the media and the police brutalized the naiveté of then-young black metallers to get what they wanted.
Fenriz: Metalion was the press, but remember I’d been doing the UG [underground] thing since all ’87, ‘88 and ‘89 and ‘90, and I was fucking tired of it in ’91, so I needed a break. Also no journos understood black metal in ‘91 or ‘92, but when shit hit the fan in ‘93—oh, suddenly, everyone was covering it. The style they didn’t understand. They would have needed to listen to first Sodom and early Bathory a lot before writing. But most did not. So, I took a long break. Which led to a lot of rumors and misunderstandings that I started sorting out through interviews starting ‘98 and I never stopped since then. I did some interviews ‘91-’97, but not many. Having a regular job (which I still have since ‘88) in that media circus wasn’t exactly a field day. It was a pretty dire situation over here, I can tell you. But I held court in public at the Elm Street Rock Café [in] downtown Oslo all those years (‘91-‘97) when I didn’t do many interviews, so people could meet me face to face and also people started visiting there from literally all around the world from ‘94 and forward until I pulled away year by year ‘01-’05. I had enough of that circus as well. In ‘05, as you know, I started doing a lot of work for real metal in the global underground again, like I did in ‘87-’91, but now I could promote other bands even more, which now has culminated in the three years and running Band of the Week bonanza and Live Evil festival in England; and now my own vinyl series BotW Fenriz Presents by Cargo Records Germany. The most important thing about interviews is always were people talk about other bands. That’s how I often felt.
** Gotta go change record again. Hmm…be right back…Ah, Endless Pain by Kreator, that’s never wrong. Got it as back patch on one of my three metal vests, woohoo!! **
When Vinterskugge (and let’s not forget the Neptune Towers debut) came out in ’94, it kind of shocked many Darkthrone fans to the core. I remember reading ‘zines and many editors couldn’t get past the fact you were doing music different from Darkthrone. What do you recall as far as feedback was concerned?
Fenriz: I can recall nothing, doing interviews since ‘88 I didn’t often ask for a copy myself as many were in languages I didn’t understand and also I was too busy recording albums and working shifts full-time and spending a lot of time at Elm Street. I probably also thought it was wimpy to always wanting to read about oneself. I got royalties and spent it on beer and taxis and my girls over those years. ’95, I also got interested in DJ-ing, not only thrash metal (one of the styles I know best), but buying turntables and learning how to beat mix, making DJ mix tapes from ‘95 and onwards… Still DJ-ing all kinds of stuff, one night isn’t like the next one, to say it carefully. [Laughs] Anyway up here, it was always encouraged to be open-minded. Liking only one style was a rare exception from the rule. In horror, I would slowly learn that metallers from many other countries were only into metal and felt it was a war against other music. I was always open-minded as hell. Evil has no boundaries and if they wanted to chain me I would break those chains. People should break their musical head-chains. Wow, that came out clumsily. [Laughs] So, I don’t remember feedback from Isengard, just got plenty of royalties. Satanic royalties. [Laughs] Midnight reference, his new album, good song.
In a ’94 issue of Terrorizer you were interviewed by Rob Clymo and said, “As I said, we [Darkthrone] don’t give any interviews and we don’t want to talk about anything, especially the Isengard album which is not an especially interesting piece of music.” Still true?
Fenriz: Well, I had other things on my mind. Recording other albums, for instance. I always forged ahead, and what is most interesting is that when I started doing interviews in ‘88 and I sometimes got the magazines like let’s say three months after, I was like, “Did I say that?!” Oh boy. I always change so fast, and this still happens a lot. Like it will with this intie, too. If I read it again in half a year I would go, “Who’s that rookie talking?” [Laughs] Anyway, I figure I was right in just not commenting on the album. It went fine on its own. Still does, I reckon. But thank you for caring and interviewing me! Don’t forget to listen to Manilla Road.
** Peaceville has re-issued both Isengard albums as 2-CD sets, with a bonus commentary disc. You can order them HERE. Trust us, if this little ditty above, where Fenriz stars as himself, is entertaining to you, the commentary discs for Isengard are damn near comedy gold. Fenriz stand-up world tour, opening for a reunited Dark Angel? That would be sweet!