MARKUS STOCK

VINTERSORG

BAL-SAGOTH

ALDRAHN

AGHORA

DALEK

THE OCEAN

EPHEL DUATH

THE AXIS OF PERDITION

CONTROL HUMAN DELETE

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA

Technical Progressive Death Metal Pt. 1

Reviews from HAVOC UNIT, PIN-UP WENT DOWN, MESHUGGAH,

BRAINDRILL / ORIGIN, SEPTIC FLESH, TO-MERA, SATANOCHIO,

SLOUGH FEG, MONSTERWORKS, SOLEFALD, UMBAH, G.F.P.S.,

ACHENAR, PICA FIERCE, VOLKMAR, EMPHASIS & VINTERSORG

No. 2

05/08

Bal Sagoth Ephel Duath The Ocean Markus Stock

DJ Astral Dog

On Planet B 8-18:

ALDRAHN

magazine

Weirdos and freaks,

scientists and philosophers,

libertines and mavericks of metal music!

It´s time for the second issue of our Avantgarde

Metal Magazine. Much has happened

since the first issue. Three new writers have

joined our crew: mang tsze from the underground,

  1. L. Edwards from California and

Martin Cermak from the Czech Republic who

also writes for the Spark mag. (the leading

Czech/Slovak hard & heavy magazine), the

more alternative side project Spike mag and

the sci-fi & fantasy

mag Ikarie. A fine selection of his interviews

with some of the most sparkling brains of

the scene can be read here.

Another change has happened. Since

mommy and daddy of agm.com have moved

to another city and are without internet for

quite a time, aVoid and Bernd are taking

care of the weekly updates now. We are very

proud that they are doing this so well in

close, engaged and amical symbiosis with

our great team. We’d like to thank each single

one of you for keeping the spirit up so

well!

We hope you’ll enjoy travelling through this

mag. Your thoughts, comments and suggestions

are always warmly welcome in our forum

“The Freak Zone” or per email. We

thank you for reading –

Always stay avantgarde!

Katja & Chrystof

4th of May 2008

Index

Interviews

MARKUS STOCK 1

(EMPYRIUM, TVB, NOEKK,…)

Der Knabe Im Moor

AGHORA 10

The Acoustic Release

Of Energy Cultivation

DÄLEK 15

Apocalyptic Hip Hop: The Beginning Of

The End

THE OCEAN 17

Lulled By The Stormy Ocean

CONTROL HUMAN DELETE 25

The Band At The End Of The Universe

VINTERSORG 30

The World Is Not A Simple Thing

ALDRAHN (EX-DHG, THORNS,

DEATHTRIP) 35

DJ Astral Dog On Planet B8 – – 18

EPHEL DUATH 48

All You Need To Know About Pain

THE AXIS OF PERDITION 56

Modelation Of The Absolute Uncertainty

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA 61

Dirty Dancing With Diablo

BAL-SAGOTH 65

15 Years Of Blazing Swords, Crimson

Rain And Majestic Vistas.

Technical Progressive Death

Metal Part I 81

Reviews

Releases 07/08 84

1

MARKUS STOCK

(EMPYRIUM, TVB, NOEKK,…)

Der Knabe Im Moor

By Ulv

To the reader: while preparing for this

interview I kept in mind the fact I worried

more about other interviews- sometimes

they were to plastic and emphasized

only some lines of ones personality

or rather repeated some facts all over

again. I decided to execute the interview

in a more natural form, closer to a real

dialogue, rather than following the question-

answer-question-answer cliché. It

seems that it went down that road, but

it’s for you to judge. Thank you for understanding

my attempt.

Markus Stock, a figure known for a number

of bands linked to nature and Prophecy

Productions, somehow ended up,

while touring with his band THE VISION

BLEAK as a backup for Therion, in my

country’s capital Zagreb. The day was

quite rainy, the grey clouds were hanging

low in the sky, not letting the dusk

penetrate them and grant us one of the

last colored sunsets before the “wintry

grey”. As my train, a great accomplishment

of civilization, was rolling towards

the capital, I was looking at the overgrown

flatland, flooded with water and

wrapped into a slight veil of mist that

usually covers the area at dusk. The

crows were sitting on their branches not

minding the “civilized” noise of the train.

I received a message on my cell-phone:

“It seems that we will be having dinner

from 17-18. So could we do the interview

after the performance?”. It was

from Markus.

Everything would have been fine if I didn’t

have some exams the next day. We

managed to compromise around the subject,

so the interview was due to at 18 o’

clock. In order to apologize for disturbing

the man’s plans, I bought him a black

wine, frankly I don’t remember which.

We met a few minutes before 6 at the

venue. We decided to do the interview

there instead of the bus, I don’t like

“small” spaces. We sat down and I offered

him the wine, which he thankfully

accepted. Instead of the “god nectar” we

cracked open two beers, Slovenian beers

and started.

“So, I’ve seen you on Wacken this year”,

I started, “and it was quite weird for me,

because you really or never preformed

with EMPYRIUM…”Never actually”, he

interrupted. “Ok, so it was a “surprise”

to see you on tour now. Is it just because

EMPYRIUM’s music is more individual,

and THE VISION BLEAK is more

“moving” or…”, I continued. “Exactly”,

he went on, “THE VISION BLEAK’s music

works on stage and it works with a normal

band, as with EMPYRIUM you have

to get the music properly, and you need

a lot of musicians to perform it properly.

I’ve always thought of doing an

EMPYRIUM gig, but the thing is I wanted

to have all the things right, real string,

real mellotron, all the things we’ve used

for the record, but it has always been an

issue of time and the right setting, because

we couldn’t afford investing like 15

000 € for one gig…”, “It’s too much, it

wouldn’t pay off”, “Yeah that’s right,

haha!”. “How Old were you anyway when

you started EMPYRIUM? I mean, you

seem quite young in the “Wintersunset”

booklet.” “Yeah, I was 17 then, I guess

when we recorded the demo I was just

  1. I’m 29 now.” “And have you had any

bands before you started with EMPYRIUM?”

“Yeah, but it was the usual in

the garage stuff…” “The highschool thing

;)…” “Well, we actually played black

metal, or some sort of BM, like a mixture

of Samael and slower Darkthrone…no

one was able to play drums so fast.”

“Yeah, the blasts….and have you learned

to play drums yourself, or?” “No, no,

drums are the only instrument I was

taught, the only one I took lessons

in…But it was more in the orchestral

2

style, only snare drums, and then I quit

because I wanted to play Iron Maiden

and stuff like that.” “Haha, now that

you’ve mentioned Iron Maiden, what do

you listen usually?!”

Most people seem to think that musicians

like Markus adore exclusively melancholic

music, wouldn’t it be a surprise

for some to see what music actually

formed this artist, where do all THE

VISION BLEAK’s thrashy riffs come

from?!

“Well among a lot of stuff I like Iron

Maiden, they’re one of my favorite

bands, and Metallica and Slayer, because

that’s the stuff I’ve grown up with. I also

really enjoy the Norwegian black metal

stuff, the early stuff..and yeah, speaking

of avant-garde metal, stuff like Arcturus

and Ulver, one of my all time favs. as

well….”, I was waiting for the last one.

“Yeah, because somehow I’ve got the

idea that you’ve got a bit of influence…”

“Definitely…”, “…especially on “Where at

night…”, “Definitely, I was a very big fan

of Ulver back then, because I admired

the thing that they did everything in full

consequence; you know; first they did

the “Kvledssanger” album, only acoustic

which was very unusual at that time, and

then they did “Nattens Madrigal which

was very ferocious and raw, and that

was what I really admired about them.

That’s what I wanted to do with Empyrium

too. If you really want to be consequent

in doing atmospherical music

and if you really want to do it right, if

you don’t want it to suffer from electric

guitars – I thought it was a really good

idea.” “And speaking about your influences,

I remember SUN OF THE

SLEEPLESS, a great band of yours. You

did a Burzum cover (Dunkelheit) and a

reinterpretation of Darkthrone’s “En As i

Dype Skogen”…”

“Yes, yes right, those were probably my

two favorite BM-bands, a big inspiration,

especially “Transylvanian Hunger”. It’s

still one of my favorite albums. I mean I

really listen to it, because it’s not an album

for every day, but once in a while I

really get in the mood for listening to it.

It has such a unique atmosphere, no

other black metal album has ever captured

such an atmosphere like Dark did

on that album….” “But, what would you

like to listen to on a day like this; rainy,

cloudy…does the day influence what you

listen to, because it sometimes works for

me…” “Yeah, well, usually for days like

this, and when I’m away from home (I’m

always a little homesick), and my wife is

pregnant”…”Congratulations”, I interrupted

him. Here is another good reason

for my wine, I thought, “…so on days

like this I listen to music like Dead can

Dance, calming and beautiful music…”,

“And you covered them (with Noekk)”, I

remembered, “Yeah, also one of my favorite

bands”, he concluded.

“Anyway, when you reinterpreted Darkthrone,

you used a drum machine, I

mean, an electronic beat, quite an unusual

idea for covering DT…”, I started

“Well, it was actually a beat I played

myself, then I slowed it down so I got

that strange

sound with a lot

of reverb on it

and then looped

it…” “Yeah”, I

was starting to

get a bit enthusiastic,

” because,

almost all

of the beats I’ve

listened to tend

to be moving,

and this one

is…”, I was trying

to find the

word, “moody?”

“Yeah, yeah, precisely, when I started

doing the cover version, I really wanted

to totally concentrate on the atmosphere

of that particular song. I started with

that beat and I thought it really works

well. Because, as you said, it was very

atmospheric, it was a good foundation

for that track…” “And “Spring 99″…why

that title?!”, it could be obvious, but I

had to inquire. “Because..ha-ha… I didn’t

have a title for the song, and I composed

in spring of ’99, very obvious

one!”, he laughed. “Yeah…”, really obvious,

“well, I remember that year as one

of the last normal ones, with a normal

spring, summer, winter, not this global

warming shit…and concerning TVB, how

did you come to the idea to start with

that?” “Well it was because I know

EMPYRIUM was pretty much…not dead,

3

but I wanted to quit with it after doing

the “Weiland” album…and I always

wanted to come back to playing guitars,

electric guitars, getting a bit more energy…”

“The new TVB album seems a bit

thrashy…” “Yeah, definitely, you know

that’s what we’ve been listening to in our

youth, the oldschool

thrash…like everybody used to

listen to Testament, Slayer,

Metallica and so on. In a certain

period of my life, when I was

around thirteen ’till sixteen I

listened a lot to such music, I

never did music myself that

wasn’t at least a little bit like

that and sooner or later it wants

to get out of you. That’s how

TVB started although it wasn’t

so thrashy from the beginning.

The horror thing I planned to

even do with SOTS back den, I

even had the idea of doing a

maybe a more trip-hop based

stuff.”

“That’s a great idea, because I personally

like the trip-hop stuff you did for

SOTS, like “Neunter November” for example…”

“That thing..”, he started enthusiastically,

“…is one of the best

things I have ever done for Sun of the

Sleepless. But most people don’t care

about it. I think that song is pitch dark,

maybe it’s too simple for some, I don’t

know…” “Did you record the “by gods

will, let churches burn” sample yourself

or?!” “No, it’s actually from Transylvanian

Hunger. On the second last song

there is a backwards thing going on at

the end, so I took that and turned it

back- there it was…and a funny thing

about that song is…well the song speaks

of terror, because the ninth of November

is the Kristallnacht in Germany. And I’ve

always been terribly frightened of terror

of any form..so the funny thing is that I

first wanted to name the song 9.11.

(9/11), that’s almost prophetic, isn’t it?!”

“9/11 (the ninth of September) is actually

my birth date…”, I had to add this, I

always do! Now came the time to ask the

question that interested me the most.

“Is SUN OF THE SLEEPLESS dead,

or…?”. I grew a great fascination towards

that band, I was even a bit unwilling

to know the real answer at that moment….

“I’ve always had at the back of my

mind”, he uses his right arm to gesture

the location, “…. that I would like to do

it again one day sooner or later. But you

know now for me TVB is the top priority.

I want to put all the ideas in that band

now. But if we say we’d have a break for

a year or two then I would

maybe have time to do a

new SUN OF THE

SLEEPLESS record.”

He lights up a cigarette…

Maybe I was surprised

by the action, but

suddenly I remembered a

photo of him from the mid

nineties holding a cigarette…

it wasn’t a real surprise,

but again some people

keep forgetting that the

persons behind all the godlike

music are just like us,

so does it mater if the man

smokes, or does it matter if Therion are

eating somewhere behind my back?! You

people should get rid of your illusions…

A funny thing is that SOTS did a split

with NACHTMAHR, another band of

yours…”, this was interrupted by laughs,

“…only with Helm this time, right?”

“Yes, Helm is writing all the music and

I’m just playing on it and making arrangements,

so it’s not really like it’s the

same band you know.” “I like both

bands, in my eyes they’re quite similar,

only that SUNOF THE SLEEPLESS has a

more hmmm….blurry sound, and

NACHTMAHR is more intense and raw…”

“I think NACHTMAHR is a lot more…

yeah, raw than SOTS, but also not as

obviously atmospheric…”, “yeah never

mind the clean guitar parts”, I

finished.

Quite a lot of similarities with Markus’

projects I found in the poetry of Georg

Trakl, when I first discovered his writings

a year ago. I managed to get my hands

on a collection of his works in German.

So I had the best possible basis to compare

the lyrics and the poetry, as the

expressionist motives of fear and being

lost are quite often in Markus’ poetry as

well. Although not copying his texts or

even his style certain poetic images

evoke similar atmosphere and pictures,

4

for example “the blue mist of the night”

and Trakl’s nocturnal poetry. Lyrics are

one of the important elements for music

like the one Markus creates. So I felt this

topic around which thousands artists

bled and devoted their life’s to achieve

pure perfection, must not be discarded.

Imagine the world without decent poets:

no one is there to intensify your feelings

during a sunset, or a tempest, no one to

describe your anger, your fears….except

you are a poet yourself. But…what does

it mean…being a poet?

“And I see

you like Georg

Trakl”, this

was the first

time I managed

to start

a conversation

with someone

about Trakl

(save our

webmaster

Chrystof). I

knew Markus

liked Trakl, but I wanted to know more

about his connection with him…

“Oh, yes! One of the most talented German

writers ever, but very underrated…”

“I like him…when I was in Vienna

this summer I bought a collection

of his writings. So when I started to read

I noticed a lot of similarities…even a

thing that may be a coincidence…”, I

really don’t think Markus wouldn’t go

copying poets as some artist shamelessly

tend to do”… a line in his poem “Die

Sonne”, begins with “Schoen ist der

Wald”…” “Yeah well, sometimes it’s

funny because I read a lot of poetry

when I want to relax. So it’s sometimes

hidden in the back of your mind, so you

don’t even recognize it. Then two years

after you read it again and think “shit, I

used it in my lyric”…” “Well yeah, German

is a language in which some things

and constructions may sound very similar,

I know it from my school writings…”,

and really the 4 words have nothing to

do with “Die Sonne”, as the images and

the atmosphere are completely different,

like day and night! “And you “covered”,

let say, Trakl’s “Romanze zur Nacht”…

for SUN OF THE SLEEPLESS…” “Yes, yes,

that’s one of my favorite poems by Trakl,

ever. Do you understand every word

written..(“no..”).. because he uses a

very unusual German. There is one line

that is so brilliant in that poem. For me

that poem has focus on the bad things of

humanity and how he was disappointed,

because it’s praise for the pureness of

the child, against all the wrong with

man…” “And what is the line you like so

much in that poem?” “It’s the:

Sehr friedlich schaut zur Nacht das Kind

Mit Augen, die ganz wahrhaft sind …

“Yeah, I think you even sang it twice! I

just asked myself the question today

why did you sing it twice, now I know.

I’ve always thought you might be influenced

by such poets, like maybe Rilke

and…” “Well, not him very much. He has

also great stuff, but I’ve always really

enjoyed, it’s obvious, Goethe. I mean,

he could write a poem with, I don’t

know, four lines and it would be much

better than the ones whose writing goes

on for ages.” “While talking about poets,

you used the poem “Der Knabe im Moor”

in the “Songs of Moors..” booklet…”. It’s

another very picturesque poem, a ballad,

I recommend you to read it, especially if

you know German. “It’s another funny

thing, because in the region I’ve been

born in and raised we have this landscape

district called the black moor, up

in the highlands, and when I was there

for the first time I was blown away by

the beauty of it. There were signs explaining

how the wildlife in the moor

functions, and on one of them there was

this poem written on it. I read it there

for the first time and it was just brilliant.”

“It’s a strong impression to read something

like that on the very place…”

“Yeah because it totally brings the mood

of the moorland: the boy getting lost, it’s

like a nightmare, and if you still perceive

things like a child it’s a very strong impression.”

“And concerning getting lost,

“Waldpoesie” is also about it…” “Yes,

and “heimwaerts” too, I seem to be very

afraid of getting lost.” “What happened

to me once is that I was in a forest at

night, and I suddenly saw this creature

from Slavic mythology (a Lesnik) I read

about a few weeks before. I had been

laughing then, how could people be

afraid of such a small treelike crea5

ture…”, I lifted my hand a meter, above

the floor, gesturing the word “such” to

show the height of that creature “…but

when you find yourself in that forest it’s

all different, and frightening…I

mean…he was following me!”

“I had a very similar experience

once…half a year ago I had drunk a little

bit and decided to go into the forest. It’s

directly there where I live, and I went

some five hundred meters

in, and suddenly something

was in front of me. It had

some eyes, it could have

been a boar or a deer or

whatever. But I was so

scared, and then I noticed,

because it was so dark, that

your mind is playing tricks

on you…and that is maybe

one of the strongest emotions

that you can experience.”

It is now known that not only the beautiful

and slender, but also the ugly is a

great inspiration to arts. The fear of getting

lost and being overwhelmed by nature

is one of man’s ancient, primal

fears. Some have lost that notion, thus it

leads us to ruin nature, and by ruining

nature one runs himself. How can someone

not feel fear and respect towards

nature when he experiences such a failure

of human senses and instincts in a

forest at night….o pity man, go crawl

into a hole! I continue the conversation

with Markus Stock after only a few seconds

of silence, which lasted a week for

most of you”

“Have you ever wanted to live in another

period of history?!” “I’m really twominded,

because I really enjoy technology.

I have an iPhone, two laptops, so

I’m very much into technology. But I

think it would be very interesting to live

in a time when there was no industry

and such technology, no matter when,

just to experience for a few days, this

life where you can’t go to the supermarket

and buy meat, but you have to go to

the forest and pick mushrooms…” “..and

hunt your meat..” “yeah, hunt, or whatever”

“Do you eat meat” “Yeah, I eat

meat. I love animals, I really love animals.”

“Yeah me too, I always sign all

the petitions and stuff but…” “Are you

vegetarian?”, he asked me

“No, no I’m not” “I never buy meat in

the supermarket when it’s all packed and

so, I go to a butcher and I buy my meat

there!” “Yeah, once when I was in Norway

my friend bought some heavily

spiced meat in the supermarket, and

later on it was not the best for my guts,

if you know what I mean ;)…and do you

travel a lot when not touring?!” “No, to

be honest,

I’m very

homesick,

tied to the

place where

my family

and wife are.

Always when

we go on

tour, I mean,

I really enjoy

playing live

but hanging

around nowhere

the whole day- you think you

could be as well home with your wife and

have a nice day. I only travel to places

where I am safe. I’m not the adventurous

guy, who goes to I don’t know Afghanistan,

or whatever, I only go to Austria

to hike in the mountains twice a

year. I don’t need to go to foreign

places.” “Yeah well, I personally love

traveling. For example I love to go to

Prague, but being in the streets there at

night is sometimes dangerous…and then

again, Berlin seems quite a safe town!

“Well depends on the part of the city, in

Kreuzberg, for example, you shouldn’t be

in the wrong streets at night!” Kreuzberg-

the first association were the Turkish

people living there. “And what do you

think of NS black metal?!” “That’s so

stupid, that I can’t comment it..” “I think

you can’t combine something like BM

with politics…” “That’s the first reason,

and then the whole NS idea is dumb.

Even combining politics with music is a

dumb idea. I think music should be for

your soul and not for the rational part of

your mind” “And when you listen to

some music, is it important for you who

makes it!” “No, no, it’s one thing I emphasized

a lot of times in interviews.

That’s why I have the artist name, to

make difference between my person and

6

the art. And I don’t care, because Lovecraft

for example is said to have been a

racist but it doesn’t change his writings…”

“Burzum also….” “Precisely…a

lot of people have been associated with

stuff I don’t understand!”

“Even Guenther Grass was in Hitlerjugend…”

“Yeah, he confessed it a couple

of years ago.” “And was it on Transylvanian

Hunger the…” “Yes, the “Norsk

Arisk Svart Metal” …” “Do you speak

Norwegian?” “Well only from translating

the lyrics back then. I know a couple of

words.” “Oh, and by the way have you

walked through Zagreb?!” “We walked a

little bit around today, but I think the

center’s a bit too far”, he motioned with

his hand to his right.. “The centre is actually

there”, I motioned to his left.

“That was our mistake because we went

there…we walked for like three or four

hours, then we went to a big thing in the

underground..it was called something

like “Center Importante” or..” “Aaaah,

“Importane Center”, that’s a shopping

mall”…laughs…”the centre is just above

it!” “But we’ve seen some quite nice

buildings while walking….” “OK, I don’t

know that part very well…but then tomorrow

you’re going to Belgrade which

is said to be a nice city..” “Hmm..well

I’m a bit nervous because of the political

thing happening right know (the Kosovo

issue)..maybe I’m just a bit paranoid”

“Well concerning where Kosovo is, nothing

could happen in Belgrade on such a

short notice. But even I am afraid of another

war happening. I remember the

last time so….then I think of bands mentioning

war, the glory of war in their

songs…” “It’s a stupid idea, because if

war was going on they would shut up

and run away. I think I have a very good

sense of humor, but there are things

that are not funny at all. And they are

not very inspirational. I can find no

inspiration in war.” “War is another

manifestation of human stupidity”,

this was quite cheesy of me. “Definitely,

yeah”. “Are you religious”, I

wondered. “In a way I am…..but

sometimes I’m very two

minded…sometimes I have moments…

hmm…I’ve been raised

Catholic…and sometimes when

that comes out..my heart says it’s

right, but my mind says it’s

wrong.” “I personally think religion

is a very ticklish subject, if you understand”,

I always discuss this

topic with people, “…the idea is

OK,..” “Yeah, in some religions

gods are some..parts of nature”, he continued.

“Like certain manifestations of

nature, yes…” “But the idea of one god

sitting and…well, for example the thing

we do with THE VISION BLEAK, when we

sing about Kathulu, is even a bit of a

religious thing…we don’t believe in that

being, but it’s an archetype for

evil…what most people think is evil is

not really evil, I think there is definitely

some negative energy inside our brains”

“Yeah, because I personally think that

nature doesn’t know evil, because when

a wolf eats a lamb (simply said) you

cannot perceive it as evil, but only a part

of the natural cycle.

Humanity seems to have invented evil as

a result of its over-selfishness.” “The bad

thing about it is what the catholic religion

sees as evil is mostly not evil…” “It’s

actually more like hedonism”, I bumped

in… “It’s something I’m particularly..”

“What’s good for your body is good for

your soul!” “What did you study…I

mean…what kind of education do you

have?” “That’s a good question, because

I went to a lot of schools. In my youth I

was a very wild character. I even went

from home for a couple of days and shit

like that. I didn’t study much. I wanted

to do my Abitur (German for graduation),

but I didn’t do that, I quit it. I

went to four different schools but I’ve

been kicked out. I have the, what we call

“Mittlere Reife”. It’s when you have 10

grades of school, it’s the second level of

school, but I didn’t finish it for my Abi7

tur.” “So you finished the school, but you

didn’t get the Abitur?” “That’s correct.”

“How did you start your own studio anyway?”

“It’s totally connected with the

money I got from the EMPYRIUM records.

They sold good back in that days,

and from the money I always bought

equipment. I never bought anything that

didn’t have to do with the band. When I

finished school I just wanted to do my

mother a favor and start earning my own

money. So I got a job, but after half a

year I realized that was not for me. Then

I had all this equipment at home where I

recorded my friend’s demos and stuff so

I thought to try out how a studio would

work.” “Yeah I have a quite long list of

bands you worked with here, and looking

at it I remember the fact that most people

name you as one of the best German

producers…” “Maybe not the best, but

one of the biggest…” “Yeah, because this

list is quite long…and what about your

connection with Prophecy Productions?!

They released the first EMPYRIUM album.”

“Martin wanted to start the label back

then. I didn’t know him before, but he

wrote me that he wanted to start it, and

he really wanted to release it. Nowadays

Martin is a very good friend of mine..”

“They have some really great bands: all

of your bands, then Tenhi, Elend…”

“And Arcturus…”, he bumped in, “even if

it was the worst album they did.” “Sham

Mirrors, isn’t it? What about the new

one?” “Ok that one and The Sham Mirrors

I don’t like….I rather prefer TSM to

the new one, because Garm sings on it.”

“My favorite one is “La Masquerade Infernale”..

maybe one of my favorite albums

of all time (no offence ha-ha)”

“Yeah, well not my favorite, but it is

among my top ten definitely.” “I also

love “Written in Waters” by Ved Buens

Ende” “It’s a great record as well, it’s

very, very avant-garde with their weird

harmonies…”, “It’s very dissonant”, I

jumped in, “..yeah, when you listen to if

for the first time it’s very surprising.”

At this point we started talking about

musical talent, mostly me talking to be

as talented for music as a frog.

“I read an interview on your site where a

guy asked you why you enjoyed melancholy

so much, and you replied “Why do

you like Hamburgers so much?” I think it

was a great comparison….it seems that

quite a lot of persons imagine bands like

EMPYRIUM or ULVER sitting in a forest

and I don’t know, writing music or whatever.”

“It’s a question I can’t answer,

why I like such music, atmospheric

and melancholic…

I don’t know, it just

attracts me…maybe because

you must have a very sane

mind, if you understand…you

can go to a mental hospital

where you would expect they

sing sad songs and such, but

they’re singing “Hallelujah”

and fun stuff. But if your a

sane mind it’s more normal

to find a good balance between

such feelings. I have a

very good sense of humor. I

like to enjoy, but I have to

find a balance within myself.

I think it’s good to allow

yourself to have those “negative”

emotions. Melancholy is

a very inspiring mood…”, “Yes, it’s true,

I tend to write allot then, but later it

turns out like shit to me…”, I snapped

in, being yet again a bit frustrated by

that fact. “But such things happen to me

as well… I awake when I can’t sleep at

night and then I have a great line in my

head. It seems like the best thing I’ve

ever written. Then I wake up and read it,

but it seems like shit then.” “I’m never

satisfied with my writings, and I write

quite allot. Even when some people say

8

my reviews are good I’m still not satisfied…

maybe it’s a problem with me….so

you mentioned before you are a fun person…”

“Yeah, well, but when I’m away

from home I can be very moody, from

the whole band I’m the most *makes a

very sad and disappointed face*, but

when I’m home I’m quite a cheerful person!”

“So do you like some funny music

like…” “No, no , I don’t like fun music..

maybe if I’d drink one bottle of

Vodka I might enjoy it….” “Yeah bands

like Municipal Waste and such, they’re

fun to watch, but I could never listen to

it to relax or something….” “It’s fun,

then you drink beer and laugh about

it..that’s cool, but at home I would never

go and put on Onkel Tom or whatever…”,

a few seconds of laughter.

The conversation here went a bit astray

for a minute or two while talking about

two sides of one personality liking fun

stuff and being inspired by melancholy at

the same time.

“For a musician, for an artist the most

important thing is that you have to save

the mood for sometime later, and then

just rebuild it…” “Yeah, because you

don’t go out to the forest dragging a piano

or whatever..” “Exactly, that’s why

you have to capture those moods for

later!” “Maybe that’s why I like photography…

but it’s very hard sometimes to

capture the right picture and the right

mood…if you want someone to feel that

atmosphere you should bring him there

and show it to him.” “Yes but, I took

Stefan, who wrote the biography for the

“A Retrospective”, to the black moor and

I’ve shown him all the things that inspired

me, and when he was there I had

the impression he was very underwhelmed.

In my world it’s just the most

beautiful place…and it depends how

you’ve seen it for the first time. For example

I’ve been to Italy, in the mountain

area, with my parents when I was a little

child and back it was dead boring then.

Two years ago I drove there with my

wife and realized that I have a lot of

beautiful memories and pictures of that

place, and I was totally overwhelmed

then.” “And why did you choose to recreate

“Fraconian woods in wintersilence”

for the retrospective album?” “Because I

think it’s the prototype of a perfect

EMPYRIUM song…back then it wasn’t

perfect, even now it isn’t perfect. It was

the prototype of all that we did later.”

“It’s a great song….its lyrics are one of

my personal EMPYRIUM favorites!”

“So, very simple….” “Yes very simple,

but again…like Trakl, he has a relatively

simple style, but the impression is so

strong.” “Not much words, but everything’s

brought so precisely to the point”

“How much time do we have left?”

“Hmmm, maybe some ten minutes or

so…is it OK with you?” “Oh, no problem…

you have a concert to do.” “Yeah,

we have to do the soundcheck now.

When I hear the first sounds I’ll go

down….” “What about Thomas Helm!

Where did you get to know him?!”

“Funny story again – at the place where I

tried to work! So we talked there, we

loved the same stuff and from there it

went on….” “And why are the songs on

the last NOEKK albums so …polarized?! I

mean, some parts are very silent, and

some are loud.” “We wanted to make a

big contrast…just like it would be in a

more natural context, just as if someone

played a piano and sung and then a rock

band started playing – there would be a

huge difference in volume. And we didn’t

want people to listen to it in the car!”

“Hahaa, why?” “It’s not driving music or

whatever….”

“And you’ve been a guest for SECRETS

OF THE MOON on their “The Exhibitions”

EP, on the “Under a Funereal Moon”

cover…” “They finished the cover version

and they asked me if I wanted to sing on

  1. I just said “yes”. I already knew the

lyrics by heart so it wasn’t a problem.”

“Do you like romantic arts, paintings?”

“Of course, there is the Norwegian artist

Theodor Kittelsen, then the German

painter Caspar David Friedrich…” “And

on the contrary what do you think about

9

modern art?” “Well, I really can’t understand

  1. Maybe there are people who

really understand a blue dot on a white

wall…” “Well I think it doesn’t need to

have any meaning. Everyone in the

world wants to find a meaning for something,

even if it’s very simple…just like

when I asked you where the title for

“Spring ’99” came from!” Tobias

Schoenemann suddenly pops in and

speak to Markus….I don’t want to transcribe

the stuff about the soundcheck.

“Where did you meet him?”, I was just

curious. “I met him back in ’99 when he

was recording with his previous band

Nox Mortis in my studio. The first thing I

thought was “Wow, what a brilliant

drummer he is”…now he’s my best

friend.” “So it’s time to end now…”

“Yeah, if it’s OK with you…” “Ok, let me

do a corny conclusion then….back to

Trakl! Are you a hunter or a shepherd

(From Trakl’s “Die Sonne” :

“Der Mensch- Jaeger oder Hirt”)?

“It depends what mood I’m in. I’m the

hunter when I’m in some kind of

moods..when I feel…hmm..” “When

you’re on the stage?” “Yes, precisely…

then I’m more the shepherd when I’m

yearning for tranquility.” “Ok, I think this

was all I think….thanx very much!!!”

“Thank you for the interview!” The chitchat

goes on for a minute or two, while

taking photos and having a few laughs..

Having done the interview I started

walking to the train station, thinking of

going home and start writing down the

conversation. It was nighttime, but no

stars were to be seen on the sky above

Zagreb.

Some rain was dripping very slowly, and

the sky was of a sick grey-yellow color,

the hue of rain and the dim city lights.

Then I remembered a question I forgot

to ask him, not one of big importance,

but never mind…I took out my cellphone

and started typing: “What do you think

about the new Darkthrone albums?” The

reply came a few minutes afterwards,

just when I was passing through the

mentioned “Importane Center” to get to

the train station. “I don’t care about

them at all”, he wrote.

I came back to the

surface…

the sick sky

stopped raining.

Noch mal bin ich einsam

unter dem sterbenden Himmel…..

10

AGHORA

The Acoustic Release

Of Energy Cultivation

By Trident

My very first interview for ag-m.com and

hopefully the first in a long series of interesting

stories for you, our reader, to

read. There is no beating around the

bush with Santiago Dobles, mastermind

behind Florida-based prog genius Aghora

whose albums I reviewed a couple of

weeks ago. Learn about the way of the

monk, how to cultivate your body energy

flow and what he thinks of the fans that

thought Aghora was supposed to be a

Cynic clone.

A look on a list of free time activities

of the regular metal guitar player

doesn’t always reveal things like

yoga, qi gong, pencak silat and the

many other things you do. To what

extent do they help you in the creative

process? And how did you come

in touch with the music?

Well I have always, since little, believed

in the way of a monk. So I always

wanted to learn a good martial art, internal

energy work (meditation, yoga/qi

gong, tenaga dalam, healing) and then

music of course. I do a little of everything

daily, but I will have one that I do

a lot throughout the day or for whatever

time frame I am focusing on to get better.

Energy work is the base of everything;

for me without energy there is

NOTHING, and you need it to learn,

grow, heal improve – no matter what you

do in life.

In which ways is music a very important

element in the way of the

monk?

All shaolin/buddhist or taoist monks train

the Yang and the Yin. Music and playing

an instrument falls under learning the

Yin side of art.

Do you think that a fan in the crowd

can access the same level of spiritual

ecstasy and ascension as the

musicians on stage or the practitioner

of any sort of meditation by just

going completely crazy on the music.

Is the enjoyment of music just as

much a spiritual art as the making?

I think the listener will get as well. Everyone

will use Aghora and its music to

uplift them somehow whether it be on

their quests as a musician or to help to

express better their personal art or path.

Aghora is the catalyst to make others

better no matter what they do. I think

the music attracts a certain type of person.

Usually it’s someone involved in the

arts or likes to think. It is music that

stimulates on a deep mental and emotional

primal level.

How and when did you discover your

affinity for oriental philosophy and

the physical/mental exercises connected

to it?

Sixteen, after reading Siddhartha.

A post in your forum revealed to me

that you are familiar with the work

of Dr. Masaru Emoto who has conducted

some interesting experiments

on water. The water that received

a blessing from a Zen Master

i.e. consisted of nice and regular

looking water crystals. The water

submitted to rock and metal music

however took a shape that wouldn’t

cause a positive reaction with most

people. I was wondering what you

thought about the overall effect

11

metal music has on the body and

soul of a regular person, taking into

account that we consist to 70% of

water.

Well it all depends on the INTENT or energy

behind something. A real master

can make a piece of shit something

beautiful. It’s all about integration, sublimation,

and transmutation….ALCHEMY.

When I play live I am pumping the room

with reiki and chi as I perform. I do the

same thing when I train or teach martial

arts, or qi gong or guitar lesson.

Is the reiki and the chi you pump

into your surrounding during your

performance something that can be

caught on a recording and redistributed

in a completely different place

on earth?

Chi = Bio energy

Reiki = is also energy but a focused energy

for healing. It means universal life

force.

Both are one in the same, but you can

have many different types of energy. Yes

it has been proven in China that CHI

projected from a practitioners hand is a

sub harmonic frequency roughly about

14 – 16 hz sometimes even MUCH lower.

Energy is vibration or subtle movement

of air molecules and light. So even

though you would not “hear” it with human

ears it is still being caught on tape

or video. Energy can permeate time and

space in a flash of a moment. I have

done reiki on people all over the world

from my bedroom and they have noticed

and stated that their ailments and troubles

seem to fade away. So yes energy

can be recorded, stored and used for a

later date anywhere on earth. When I do

reiki daily I send energy to the Earth’s

core, to friends and family, to various

folks who are in need (on a global scale),

people in power to help influence their

choices so they will hopefully make

choices for the greater good. The cleaner

and more energized our fish tank is the

longer we will all live.

When will your European fans be

submitted to a reiki and chi induced

performance?

As soon as our promoter and booking

agent makes it happen. We are working

on it.

Do you find it hard to focus your

mind and ease the temper with the

present political situation in your

country? 😉

HAHA My answer is… My reiki and chi

permeates the walls and hallways of

those that are in control on a daily basis.

So hopefully it might one day make

someone change for the better. I have a

big list of people in power that I send

healing daily. So they are reminded to

do better for Mother Earth and humanity.

Eventually Karma will catch up with the

assholes in charge that fuck things up for

the good folks who work hard every day.

Unless it is a secret to your recording

you do not wish to reveal:

are there actual techniques with

which you can truly summon and

transfer energy to the listener?

Yes of course. Your mind is a very powerful

thing. It can permeate anything, it

can be in to places at once (your brain

and body can’t, but YOUR MIND and

IMAGINATION CAN!). What you believe

and have foundation in will ultimately

manifest in the real time or real world.

The first most basic method of energizing

something is as follows:

You focus on your crown chakra (note

from writer: situated at your head)

as you inhale with the belly, hold the

breath slightly as you form and intent as

to where you want that cosmic/divine

universal energy to go. Then put your

palm out and imagine the target (person,

place or thing) you would like to

send the energy to. Now it’s like anything

else: the more you do it the more

you get better at it.

This is the basic premise of reiki and

other forms of Qi Gong Healing. Instead

of using your own energy that will deplete

your energy structure you draw

from the universe and its abundance. As

you get better you learn to cultivate

more energy for your self and for healing

others. Then you also learn to draw specific

energies from

12

the five elements (earth, water, fire, air,

void), the earth, cosmic powers (Planetary

Logos, Deities, etc.) to work at a

finer level. One experiment to do is the

simple water one: Take two glasses of

water from the tap or faucet. Taste them

both. Then give only one of the glasses

of water energy from your crown center

as I showed before for 10 min straight

asking the universe to bless, enhance,

sweeten and turn the water in one of the

glasses into an elixir (make sure you do

long deep breathing). After the 10 minutes

taste both waters, see and feel the

difference. With more and more practice

you will be amazed at what you can do

and as you cultivate more the universe

and higher forces that are begin to work

more through you. When I play guitar I

project energy from my fingers and guitar

with each breath. I draw from the

raw healing cosmic energies that inspire

me and I pump them out through me.

There are more specific ways but just

the technique above alone can really

make things happen. The most important

thing is to learn to develop your

dainties and to improve your energy cultivation.

Personally I think there is a growing

stalemate in “mainstream” metal

and was wondering if that is because

the material sources of inspiration

reach depletion. Do you believe

that the general quality of

creative output would improve if

more musicians spent time on their

body energy flow?

Absolutely. If we flow like the universe

we find that we have abundance and

never run out. However I notice that the

people in power and decision makers

want to make sure the individual does

not have such power. Not even in their

art etc. Most bands and musicians are

asleep, they are not aware of what or

who is making their music.

Occasionally a band will come around

that taps into a real source of power and

all of a sudden they create a movement.

Take Tool for example.

They know EXACTLY how to channel

such power.

Energy is neutral it is the intent that

makes it good or bad etc.

13

To what extent does the rest of the

band share your lifestyle or the exercises

you do?

Giann (drums) is hardcore into his

physical training. He trains his body hard

by running and body weight exercises. I

have taught him the basics of Reiki, and

qi gong energy circulations. He has noticed

a huge improvement of involving

his energy work into his drumming and

performance. It really changes things

when you add mind intent and juice (chi)

to whatever you are doing.

Diana (vocals) and Alan (bass) are

always asking me to do reiki on them

cause it really relieves physical pains,

and disturbances of energy etc. They

cultivate their instrument. That in itself

is a spiritual art.

To my ears, “Aghora” sounded a little

more progressive then the follow

  1. The songs on “Formless” have a

stronger live edge. Would you agree

with that statement? If yes, was it a

natural process and what happened

over those seven years that drove

your sound in that direction.

No.

Formless has more complexity to it. It’s

just more subtle and takes analyzing.

There is a lot more poly rhythms, poly

meters, odd time etc. At first glance no

one notices… That is the TANTRIC in

me.

You recorded your debut with one of

the most recognized rhythm section

in the metal genre. Did you choose

to replace Sean Reinert and Sean

Malone because they were too busy

with the Cynic reunion? How do Alan

and Giann live with/up to the legacy

since I presume that a notable

amount of your fans must have been

a little disappointed when they saw

that Sean Malone wasn’t and Sean

Reinert just to some extent involved

in the recording of “Formless”?

Both Seans are great musicians. Sean

Reinert and I are very close friends. He

has always been involved in the Aghora

family since day one. Malone was just

work for hire. Frankly I am over the bullshit

that I disappointed fans by not having

Malone. Malone is a one dimensional

bassist. He is great at that dimension

and that is about it. I am tired of hearing

“oh they don’t sound like CYNIC”…

EXACTLY we were never meant to! Giann

can certainly hold his own and is for a 21

year old way ahead of the game. And

Alan is a real monster on bass.

Alan, hands down, has more chops, soul

and better performance skills than most

pro bass players. So I personally was not

disappointed.

Aghora is not about the chops its just

music. Can I square off with a metronome

and play 32 notes at 100 bpm?

Sure but is that the point?

NO!

Can Giann play 16th notes at 300bpm on

his snare? Sure but is that the point?

NO!

People in “Prog” need to grow up and

realize that the “technical” means nothing

with out soul and seasoning.

14

Play from your heart: that is what matters!

Do you plan on making the Aghorafans

wait for another 7 years

until your next output?

No maybe 3 at the most 😉

You practice Pencak Silat if I am

rightly informed. All I personally

know about it is that it’s probably

the most direct and effective self

defense there is and quite brutal as

well. Not quite what someone would

expect from someone seemingly

spending every free minute of his

day to balance his qi and chakras. Is

the exertion of such seemingly contradictory

activities something you

try to reflect in your music, I mean

themewise or what is the driving

energy behind the alternations between

soft and hard in your songs?

Yoga was a warrior art before it became

a “peace and love” thing. Buddha was a

warrior trained in the warrior caste.

You can’t have balance without yin and

yang. Martial arts keeps you grounded.

Combat can teach you much faster about

breath control, meditation, enlightenment

than sitting at an ashram, blissed

out, incapable of paying your bills and

living a normal life in society.

Believe me I have done both paths. I

prefer the path of a warrior. It’s not to

say the other path is not valid. It just

takes longer. The warrior path to

enlightenment HAS TO WORK OR YOU

DIE! What was passed on throughout the

ages is the stuff that actually worked.

What didn’t work was thrown by the

waste side. You will be surprised how

fast your kundalini can open or your

chakras can open when you train your

energy AND martial arts! In the ancient

days the warriors where the priests as

well and the healers. That is what a

Pendekar is in silat: a true PROTECTOR

of his village and tribe.

You mentioned yin & yang. Does that

mean you believe in the duality of

things or them just being the constituting

parts of singularity? I am asking

because the Hindu don’t believe

in duality and the aghori are a sub

branch of the Hindu which is where

your band name is inspired from no?

The Hindus do believe in duality…

SHIVA/SHAKTI.

The ultimate reality is that there is no

duality. But in the raw physical world or

plane we exist in, in order to get to the

singularity, you have to understand the

duality otherwise you would seize to exist

on this plane of reality.

Your body contains both yin and yang,

shiva and shakti. You have to learn to

take these two polarities and flow them

together in order to have one magnetic

force.

Have you had any experiences with

drugs? Do you believe that in long

term they can help the mind transcend

the conscious and the unconscious

and lead to enlightenment or

to a state similar to it or do you believe

that only meditation and other

techniques can lead to it?

I stay away from all of them. I believe all

you need is in your body and the air you

breath. I tried pot and mushrooms once

and I didn’t care for it. It reminded me

slightly of what I could already do in

meditation or with qi gong. So I was not

impressed. It can certainly be a tool but

eventually you do not need any tools.

Any book suggestions for our readers

that got interested in the yoga,

qi gong, pencak silat, reiki and so

on?

For Silat check out Guru Cliff Stewart or

Guru Stevan Plinck.

For Qi Gong/Kundalini: Dr. Glenn Morris’s

books “Path Notes” and “Shadow

Strategies”, umaatantra.com. Also look

into “Mantak Chia”, “Qi Gong Empowerment”

by Shou Yu Liang.

For yoga “The Complete Yoga Book” by

James Hewitt… This book was recommended

to me by Steve Vai once backstage.

For reiki “The Complete Reiki

Book” by Daniel Stein.

Santiago, thank you very much for

your time and answers!

Thanks brother, best wishes to you for

the holidays!

15

DÄLEK

Apocalyptic Hip Hop: The Beginning Of

The End

By James Slone

New Jersey’s Dälek have been marketed

as the “sound of the urban apocalypse,”

and for once the hype matches the content.

A hiphop outfit that channels both

disparate musical forms (political hip

hop, industrial, shoegaze, metal, grind

noise, kraut and jazz) and the old spirits

of forgotten history, especially the fragmented

and lost history of African America,

Dälek meld violent, angry dissonance

with a sad, elegiac dirge. When

the bombast and discord finally falter, all

that is left is a lingering sigh of resignation.

MC Dälek fronts the group, with a voice

that can attack with intense urgency or

linger despondent in the background, a

dry throaty sound that suggests the

cigarettes and smokestacks of the northeastern

rustbelt. His voice is never too

dull or deadened, but always suggests

deep sadness or hostile indignation. At

times he sounds like a beaten down and

nearly broken man lashing out one last

time, at others, he’s measured, soft,

didactic- wise.

MC Dälek’s lyrics are inseparable from

his voice, possessing both the hypercritical

severity of Crass or Napalm Death

and the righteous incredulousness of the

Coup or Public Enemy. There is also a

creeping esoteric spirituality, Caribbean

religion, lost black history and plenty of

pan-African ideology, but the idealism is

always muted by a feeling of dread and

an all too real sense of failure, as though

the wisdom of the past can barely

breathe in the rotten corruption of the

present.

The sound is provided by Oktopus, who

draws heavily on industrial and shoegaze,

combining layers of noisy guitar

feedback, jazz and hip hop bass loops,

pounding beats, and samples. The sound

can be extremely loud, rivaling industrial

noise, grindcore, and shoegaze for pure

noise output (Einzurzende Neubauten,

Godflesh, and My Bloody Valentine are

often used as points of reference); but

the volume never diminishes the form.

The sound is mostly musical, tied down

by tight rhythms and given to lilting

melody, often in the quasi-Oriental style

pioneered by jazz artists (John and Alice

Coltrane) and more popularly, 1960s

psychedelic rock. It’s important to note

at this point that Dälek does not have a

live band; the sound, like most hip hop,

is meticulously constructed out of samples;

some are recorded by Oktopus, but

all of it is mixed and processed, and

even scratched out on the turntable. The

technique works, making the band’s music

uncommonly dense and powerful.

Together, the two artists have produced

a great body of work, discovering a new

musical language by welding together

genres that have generally ignored each

other. Dälek marry the paranoid alienation

long associated with industrial and

metal with the righteous indignation of

political hip hop, and have the decency

to serve it to the masses with healthy

lump of psychedelic transcendence, a

subtle sense of melody and dope beats.

Below is a short summary of their work:

Negro Necro Nekros (1998)

Experimental and

heady, the first

album doesn’t

have the production

or subtlety of

future releases,

but already stands

head and shoulders

above most of

what passes for experimental music,

bridging the gap between hip hop song

craft and turbulent noise. Unusually rock

oriented.

From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots

(2002)

Dälek hit their stride early with an album

that’s both amply caustic and beautifully

melodic. Pan-African spiritualism and

black nihilism collide in an album that is

as much kraut as it is hardcore political

hip hop. Fans of Swervedriver, Neu!,

Paris, and Emperor will all find something

to enjoy here. Long “instrumental”

16

passages and dense lyrics presage what

is to come next.

Derbe Respect, Adler (2004)

After touring Europe, Dälek hook up with

kraut rock legends Faust. The music is

mostly provided by Faust, reflecting that

band’s proclivity for strange, snakelike

melodies and industrial grade power drill

rhythms. Despite the sound and fury, the

album is unusually organic and, dare I

say, pretty for Dälek. Mature stuff.

Absence (2005)

Their angriest album, it’s also their loudest.

Brutally heavy beats and machine

calibrated guitar feedback rain down

upon the listener, while hypnotic jazz

bass lines writhe, churning their way in

and around the music like a snake on a

treadmill. This is the sound of the urban

apocalypse: unremitting, pummeling,

and as bleak as rust red puddles in the

ruins of a steel mill. These are the last

days of American power.

Abandoned Language (2007)

The latest and some would say the

greatest. Lyrically more introverted and

didactic, the music is considerably less

heavy and a lot more melodic- very polished.

Still, the sound is robust and

deeply textured, if perhaps more atmospheric

than aggro, tending to linger in

the mind instead of blowing it. It’s progress.

Not because it’s quieter, but because

it’s more subtle and thoughtful,

with the kind of melodic musicality unusual

both in experimental music and

hardcore rap. It bodes well for the future.

17

THE OCEAN

Lulled By The Stormy Ocean

by Martin Cermak

There is a big bang of young European

bands that are a kind of answer to the

Isis/Neurosis style on one hand, The

Dillinger Escape Plan discursiveness on

the other, also a bit linked to Meshuggah’s

unique path, but of course developing

their own way. Bands like Textures,

Gojira, Hacride, Kruger, Cult of

Luna… and The Ocean – a multifaceted

project from German capital city Berlin.

Their new concept “Precambrian / Hadean

/ Archaean” became an important

musical event of the 2007/2008 break.

As I follow this band carefully yet for

some years, I really looked forward to

their new effort and the subsequent interview

with Robin Staps – a thoughtful

leader of this multimember collective…

You have a collectivistic way of

band’s functioning. Can you tell

about the advantages, disadvantages

and limits of this artistic collectivism?

The good thing about working as a collective

is the wide variety of ideas that

we can draw from. Album artwork, live

concept, videos, t-shirt designs… all

those creative processes involve several

people in changing constellations working

on things and thus reflect more than

just the ever-same ideas of just one individual.

This is something you won’t get

in a classic four-piece band.

A bad thing about being a collective is

that logistically, things become pretty

difficult. We’d love to go on tour with

reeds, brass and string section plus a

few more singers but there’s just no way

we could afford renting a van for like 15

people. Also, when it comes to make

appointments for, say, shooting photos,

it’s hard to find one date that’s suitable

for everyone who wants to be on the

pictures. It sure is difficult, but that’s

part of the challenge. Apparently, there

are a lot of problems co-ordinating

things, planning tours and gigs, even

rehearsing. But then again, not necessary

hat everyone is always there. That’s

part of the idea of the collective, that

there is a (limited) core of people that

are essential for the functioning of the

band, and an (unlimited) number of

people that are loosely associated to this

core — they come in whenever they want

to and whenever we need them. There’s

a number of classical musicians that we

call upon for recordings, or sometimes

for selected live-appearances in Berlin.

There are graphic and web-designers,

visual artists, all types of people who

contribute in one way or another.

Do you observe/follow another “collectivistic”

bands (like Laibach, Disillusion

or Residents) that are connected

with a large circle of artists

of all kinds…? I mean follow not

only music wise, but also the whole

creative side…

Not really, to be honest. My day just

doesn’t have enough hours to do that, I

have not even been listening to much

music apart from my own in the last few

months, because I was so busy with this

album… and when you come home after

a 10 hours studio day, some silence is

much appreciated, you don’t want pop in

another record really… I spend way too

many hours in front of a computer

screen anyway so I try to keep everything

that doesn’t have to do with the

ocean at a minimum…

Although you are a collective, you

are the “one”, creative boss, responsible

for song writing and musical

direction. Isn’t it a little paradox?

I don’t think it is. The term “collective”

refers to our organizational structure. We

have a core-lineup of fix members that

are always there, that keep the band

functioning. Apart from that, we have a

number of loosely associated people who

we call upon when we need them – there

are violin, cello, clarinet and trombone

18

players, for example. Also, there are

video and web designers in the Ocean

collective; all of them work for free because

they affiliate themselves with the

band and the collective idea. So everyone

has his task, and my task happens

to be writing the songs… it has been like

that from the beginning and I have specifically

looked for people who were willing

to play in a band where the songwriting

is in the hands of one person.

I also enjoy jamming out with friends

and I have another band where I do

that, where everybody takes part in the

writing – but with The Ocean it’s a different

approach, and we all know that if it

wasn’t like that, if we were a jam band

as well, an album like ‘Precambrian’

would simply never have come together.

There are 26 people playing on the album,

you have to have someone to coordinate

that and plan it, otherwise it

would just end up as a big mess. So in a

creative aspect, The Ocean is 100%

composed music, but in a work and organization

aspect, we are collective

where many people partake and where

everyone has his specific job.

It is interesting that this tendency to

the collective creativity is typical for

Germanic art (we can name Bauhaus

in architecture or some expressionist

painters). What is the reason in

your opinion?

I don’t know man. I think you find it

anywhere. I don’t think collectivism is

particularly a part of German culture or

history, it has existed and is still existing

everywhere in the Western world where

people try to work together in an

autonomous microcosm to achieve their

common artistic or political goals.

German art gave to the world a term

“Gesamtkunstwerk” (I guess since

Wagner’s operas). Do you feel you

are linked to this “multimedial” or

multiartistic approach directly?

In a way, what we’re trying to offer is a

Gesamtkunstwerk… according to the

Wagnerian definition this term subsumes

any attempt to unite different forms of

and approaches to art and put all of

them under a common cause.

The Ocean, as a whole, is a multimedia

experience that functions on many different

artistic levels: apparently there is

the audio-level at the core, but there is

also a strong visual component to it,

both on album, where we pay great attention

to album artwork and packaging,

which also includes working with different

materials and printing techniques to

create something unique, and in a live

environment as well, where we work

with visuals and a conceptual, MIDItriggered

light-show that is synchronized

to the music. Each realm demands a lot

of time and work in itself. I would never

use this term myself though because it

has such a pompous, pretentious connotation

nowadays…

You are from Berlin, a town that is

known by a very extensive alternative

and underground culture, connected

with such bands as Einstürzende

Neubauten. How is the nowadays

Berlin artistic life – still same

as we can read in some books, biographies,

memories etc (very diverse,

with a lot of chances and strange

interesting people)?

The whole squat scene that was so huge

in the 80s is still here, but not as strong

anymore. Still, it’s quite easy to find a

cheap place to live, food is ridiculously

cheap everywhere, so you don’t have to

work so many hours to sustain yourself,

and I think that’s the main reason why

so many artists and musicians move

here. The scene for heavy music is really

divided though, just like in almost any

bigger city. There’s a classic metal scene

that we don’t really care much about,

there’s a fairly big hardcore community,

metalcore is still getting bigger, there’s

also a lot of DIY hardcore things and

19

there’s still a good squatter / punk scene

here.

In general, how do you feel the

changes, metamorphoses and evolution

in Berlin during the last years,

after the fall of the wall and reuniting?

Is it possible to describe the

atmosphere of Berlin today? What is

most typical (or exceptional) for this

town, what do you like there?

This city has been intriguing for me from

the beginning, that’s why i moved here

in the first place. it wasn’t so much the

metal scene that attracted me, but that

whole vibe of run-down, decrepit oldeastern

buildings, and people making

use of the fact that investors were turning

a blind eye on large parts of the city,

which spawned the evolution of a vibrant

art scene and countless pubs, bars and

small, illegal venues and happening

places. for a couple of years it felt like

NYC must have been like in the thirties.

Berlin does not have such an urban feel

to it at all, and that’s one thing i love

about it. you don’t have a city centre

with a CBD that is dead at night time,

and suburbs. Berlin is more like a few

different villages, all with their own distinct

identity, thrown together. it is huge

in spatial dimensions and even after 7

years of living here i still discover cool

places where I’ve never been before.

The Ocean would probably not exist

without Berlin. We are rehearsing in a

huge former aluminium factory where

they produced panels for submarines in

WW2. When we moved in there, no one

had been down there for 50 years. we

spent a good 3 months making this place

accessible, it was tough. But we basically

get it for free now, being able to rehearse

in a +120 square meters subterranean

factory hall, where we established

our own studio, with sleeping

rooms, storage rooms, control and rehearsal

rooms… this whole, threatening

ambience down there with all the tubes

and nooks and corners has largely influenced

our sound. We would have probably

never come up with the idea to use

junk percussion if it wasn’t for this place,

with all its old metal bars and panels…

Are there in Germany still so deeply

perceived differences between east

and west? Do you have an idea what

could help to reduce this rupture?

Not so much anymore. Especially in Berlin,

nowadays many of the former Eastern

parts of town are really hip, rents

are rising fast and people from the West

start moving to the East because there’s

more going on. I’ve been living in the

Eastern part of town ever since I moved

here, and apart from Kreuzberg, I think

I’ve been in the Western part of the city

only 4 or 5 times in 7 years…

So the image of the East has changed a

lot, but of course the further out of town

you get and the more rural it gets,

there’s still a large discrepancy in terms

of life standards, wages, etc as compared

to western Germany. They have

pumped billions of euro into building up

the East and it has helped certain regions

but others were completely left in

the dark for years, and there are parts

like the Lausitz where the population is

declining rapidly, because every young

person moves away from there as soon

as he can because of unemployment and

no perspectives, so only the old people

remain and they are dying away

quickly… in the end this is an intriguing

thought, but there will soon be ghost

cities in certain parts of eastern Germany,

nature will eventually reclaim the

land…

20

In poetry decadents like Poe and

Rimbaud inspire you. In visual art

surrealists like Dali and Magritte are

amongst your favourites. What is for

you so close and attractive right in

these artistic directions? And although

you are German, do you have

a strong affinity for example to the

Francophone culture, which is very

different from yours?

When it comes to art, I don’t think much

in terms of origin, nationality or heritage.

I have been digging into musicians, artists

and writers from about any European

culture and I go with what I like,

with what touches and inspires me, and

that includes French writers as much as

Czech writers or German writers. It is by

chance that I ended up employing a lot

of French poets and writers with the

ocean, but it’s not just that, Nietzsche’s

“Untimely Meditations”. II’ have left their

mark on the song “Rhyacian”, and the

song “Ectasian / De Profundis” is a poem

by Georg Trakl. We are generally in

great favour of plagiarism.

I think it is totally legitimate to take from

long-gone artists, poets and writers and

make them shine again by putting their

work into an entirely new context. There

is nothing genuinely new under the sun

anyway, so anything new is to be a new

combination of known elements. And

when there are so many brilliant poems

and texts out there, free to use, forgotten

by most, why would I always come

up with my own mental effusions then?

The last album was influenced by

comte de Lautreaumont and his

“Chants de Maldoror”. Which aspects

of this exceptional literary work attracted

you the most? And how did

you work with his words, ideas and

feelings in the framework of your

band?

Lautreamont is certainly the biggest lyrical

influence on this album. His “Chants

of Maldoror” is probably the most striking

and relentless war with words I have

ever dipped my nose into. It is so full of

spite, passion, dark irony and profound

hatred of man and his virtues, so to

speak, that it appeared to me at one

point that this album that I was making

here seemed like a soundtrack to the

Chants… so it was only natural to try

and fit some of those blasphemous

words onto the music, and I ended up

having 2 songs exclusively employing

entire passages of the “Chants”:

“Mesoarchaean / Legions of Winged Octopi”

and “Neoarchaean / To Burn The

Duck of Doubt”, both on “Hadean / Archaean”.

There are more parts here and

there and in addition, the booklet of

“Proterozoic” is interspersed with quotes

from the “Chants”, some of them using

great oceanic metaphor: “You will not in

my last hours, find me surrounded by

priests. I want to die lulled by the waves

of the stormy sea.”

Do you work intensively with surreal

view, dreams and fantasies in the

level of music and lyrics during the

creative process?

Not so much as I used to

anymore… Sometimes

when I write lyrics, I follow

that scheme that

surrealists used to call

“psychic automatism”,

which basically describes

a process where your

thoughts and associations

roam freely without

boundaries and you write

down whatever comes to

mind, ideally under

heavy drug influence, to

end up at a completely

different place then

where you were origi21

nally heading for… this can be very exciting.

Our lyrics are introvert and abstract

at times, but very outspoken and

clear at other times. Generally I think it

is more interesting to preserve some sort

of room for interpretation. That way everyone

who reads them has the chance to

discover something in them that applies

to his own life and experience, and this

is the point where lyrics become really

meaningful. There is a lot of political

comment in them, but not in the typical,

obvious, fingerpointing way – a line can

be so much more powerful and striking if

it is delivered with the bitterness of sarcasm.

There is also a lot of dark irony in

what I write.

All the mentioned

artists were bright

individualists, opposite

to collectivism.

Is it for you an interesting

tension?

Individualism and collectivism

are not opponents,

as frequently

claimed. It is true that

collectivism attributes

more importance to the

interest of the community

than to that of the

individual, but every

community consists of

individuals in a utilitarian

sense. In consequentialist

ethics and

according to utilitarianism,

collective fulfilment

can be understood

as the aggregation of individual

fulfilment. Art is always more than anything

a form of individual expression.

When you see an outstanding band, you

see individual musicians on stage that

play together in the context of the great

whole, but still maintain their individuality

and their individual expression. It is

no different in our case, the everchanging

line-up brings with it completely

different live-experiences due to

the difference between the individual

characters. I write my music and everyone

else is interpreting what I write –

but there is so much room for expression

in interpretation, if you look at classical

music for example, the only room for

creative display here lies in interpretation,

since everything is composed…

most classical musicians that I know do

not understand that as a limitation, but

as a vast and exiting universe..

Seems you work a lot with “natural”

and “elemental” themes or symbols.

Yet the album titles: Aeolian (derived

from winds…), Precambrian

(as the primal period of Earth geological

evolution)… Can you develop

it more and tell me? Is there inside

some hyperconcept?

It is true that there’s a meta-concept

behind all our albums that is linked to

the 4 elements. “Fogdiver”

was our earth-album,

“Fluxion” was our wateralbum,

“Aeolian” was our

wind-album and “Precambrian”

is essentially our

fire-album… just look at

the individual artworks and

packaging and you will see.

Now that we’ve covered

that, we will venture into

different territories with the

next album.

With no doubt you are

conceptual band that

has a very elaborated

multimedia expression

and well considered topics

of songs/albums that

overstep a banal rock or

metal works. But on the

other hand, in metal music

there is still quite a

lot of conceptual bands, so I would

like to ask, what differs you (in your

eyes) and your concept from the

others “metal concepts”? How do

you define and search for your own

way in this conceptual field?

There have been many interesting concept

albums in recent times, Mastodon’s

“Leviathan”, Meshuggah’s “Catch 33”

and Thrice’s latest 4xEP album being

some of the most interesting ones… We

don’t think so much about what others

are doing though; we just do what feels

good to us. The idea of a concept album

is nothing new at all, the concept album

evolved in the 60’s and 70’s, in a rock

22

context, and all of these bands, including

us, draw from that time. We are trying

to offer something more than just a

loose array of songs, we believe in the

idea of the album and try to offer and

album that musically airs this aura of

inevitability, that makes you as a listener

not want to skip a single track, but listen

through the album from the beginning to

the end. To support that, we offer a lyrical

and an overall artistic concept, for

those people who want to dig a little

deeper – but at the same time it is of

great importance to us that the music

speaks for itself, you can still pick certain

songs and enjoy their own specific musical

qualities, without knowing anything

about the Precambrian or geological

eons… So what we offer is something

that comes on top of the music, for everyone

who is interested, but it is not crucial

for understanding and / or appreciating

the music itself.

Seems that in the last years bands

like Neurosis or Isis are very popular.

Would you say it’s a nowadaysleading

style of the metal alternative?

Don’t you have a fear that soon

the scene will be overloaded by such

bands/music?

I don’t know and I don’t care. The mentioned

bands are great in what they do

and there is an abundance of cheap copies,

just like anywhere else in music. I

listen to all different kinds of music, from

arab pop to Aethiopian Jazz / Fusion

stuff like Mulatu Astatke, to a lot of classical

music to contemporary progressive

metal and rock… been listening to a lot

of 70’s prog lately, and I think you can

hear that on “Proterozoic”.

About this whole post-rock / posthardcore

thing, I do like a lot of bands

that get stigmatized with that silly term

(Cult of Luna, Capricorns, Taint.. for example).

For me, what these bands, and

ourselves as well, are doing, is essentially

just another word for “prog”. No

one wanted to label themselves “prog”

for a good many years, but in more recent

times the term is having sort of a

renaissance I think… it’s funny when

bands like Opeth say they are not

“prog”, I think they are and they’d be

better off accepting it, and claiming it!

The “post-” part in “postrock” or

“post-hardcore” should be also connected

with postmodern era and its

art. Don’t you think

bands like The Ocean

could be named as

fine representatives

of postmodern music?

Then I am even more

sceptical about it: since

postmodernism, with

its claims for diversity

rather than unity, is

exactly what is so rampant

in the music world

of today, and this is

exactly what we take a

stance against: the

philosophical base and

justification of the

MySpace generation, with its focus on

billions of random songs, rather than

albums, and an average attention span

of about 10 seconds, before a mouseclick

takes you on to another site… if

Lyotard, with his exquisite taste of music,

had known that his muttering would

initiate the end of the album, maybe he

would had thought twice!

And finally, the kind of composed music

that we do is more construction than

deconstruction, I think… we are not

“post-” or “pre-” something, we are just

here, right now, in the present tense…

23

Some of your songs are an “analyse”

of the modern society, its consumerism

etc. What offends, annoys and

worries you in the world around you

mostly – what are for you the key

“problems”?

We’re living in a society based on commodities,

wage-work, material success

and control, leading outlined lives for the

sake of career and affluence… we go to

kindergarten, to school, to university, to

work, and by the time we get out of the

sweep through the institutions we’re old

and tired. We’re being passed on from

one institution to the next and we never

actually pause and live life in the present

tense, in a rewarding way.

A lot of times we don’t even seem to

know what is rewarding to us, our desires

have been crippled so much by the

permanent exposure to the billboards

and commercials of companies that take

great pains to tell us what our desires

are (how fucking absurd!) that we don’t

even know what is ours and what is external,

what is real and what is not, that

we don’t know what we want anymore.

And thus it’s easy to convince us that we

want anything and everything, and of

course, everything comes at a price, and

here, the cycle closes. The strategy of

promise and refusal of fulfillment brings

about that we don’t even know what we

want anymore. Hence we are content

with almost everything — working shitty

jobs doing things we don’t enjoy in order

of earning money to buy things we don’t

need.

Bands like The Ocean contribute to

the “intellectualisation” and cultivation

of the metal music and scene,

often perceived as something

“primitive”… Is it (almost subconsciously)

some of your goals? Do

you have an experience that someone

“upbraided” you for being to

intellectual in metal? Btw, how do

your studies or work occupation project

into the topics elaborated and

expressed artistically through The

Ocean?

Apparently when you look at the typical

metal themes or the Hatebreed-style

“Can’t-hold-me-down” kind of thing,

we’re different from that. Stuff like that

just bores me stiff, personally, I am beyond

that phase in my life when I’m constantly

fighting against my environment

and people who try to hold me down… I

still am, at times, but I don’t feel any

desire to write about that. So I’m trying

to focus on the things that make me tick,

and that is generally broader, more philosophical

reflections on life, death and

certain experiences I have made in my

life.

I do see the danger in intellectualizing

emotional matter, which can result in

those emotions not being transferred

and the thinking subject running in circles

and ending up miserable and knowing

actually less than before… Music, our

music, is essentially emotional matter,

more than everything else, so it is a

danger we must face and be aware of. I

don’t think we have succumbed to that

danger though, because as I said before,

the concept that we offer is something

that comes on top of the music, in a

way. It is not necessary for understanding

and appreciating the music. You can

pick out any song and it is an entity of

its own. In the content of the hole, it

might gain a new meaning, but it will

also work stand-alone.

Every time I listen to you or see you

on stage, I can see there is a lot of

hard work hidden behind the band

and its performance or expression.

If you sum it up, what did you need

to sacrifice on behalf of band’s functioning

and growth or developing?

What is for you the “sign” that all

this really “pays off”, what is the

biggest satisfaction?

I had to sacrifice my life for this band.

I’m not doing much else apart from this

band, just working some jobs here and

there. The band pretty much eats up all

my free time, but I’m not complaining

about that, I chose this way of living and

I love it, I wouldn’t want do anything

else at this point. I love touring, I love

writing and recording music, and when

you see that it reaches people around

the globe, that a lot of people find something

in my music that they can relate to

and that speaks to them, that’s great

and gives me the strength to carry on, to

24

lock myself up in my basement and stare

at a computer screen for fucking 14

hours a day…

How is the position of The Ocean in

Germany (traditionally much more

oriented to power metal or gothic)?

How the audience there “bears up”

your experiments and artistic attitude?

Did you hear yet the opinion

that you are surprisingly talented

and quality when compared to the

standard German metal output?

Yeah there’s a lot of prejudice about the

German metal scene, and I can totally

see where it’s coming from. Honestly, I

don’t give a fuck about the German

metal scene. We’re not a power-metal

band; we’re not a metalcore band either.

I don’t have strong ties to any of these

scenes and there are few German bands

that I care about. We actually come from

a more noise/hardcore type of background,

bands that I’ve been growing up

with were Unbroken, Groundwork,

Starkweather, Neurosis, and later I got

really interested in more experimental

hardcore/metal types of bands such as

Botch, Converge, The Dillinger Escape

Plan. There has always been a scene for

this type of music here, but strangely

enough mostly a scene of “listeners”, not

of “partakers”. Germany has not really

spawned any good bands playing this

type of music, so we feel a bit isolated in

our own country… German media are

very conservative. They don’t support

local bands a lot; it’s not like in the UK

or in Scandinavia, for example. They

don’t appreciate bands that try to reinvent

themselves with every record; this

is confusing to many of them. It is

strange but true that in the beginning,

we were getting a lot more attention

from British, French or Scandinavian

(and Greek!) media than from German.

Right now, this is changing a lot, and a

lot of magazines and writers pretend like

they had supported us from the beginning,

when they really didn’t give a shit

for years…

Many thx for your answers on this so

long intie, if I forgot to ask for

something important, here is your

place…

You covered more than everything

man…

25

CONTROL HUMAN DELETE

The Band At The End Of The Universe

by Martin Cermak

CONTROL HUMAN DELETE is a fresh

blood of the avant-garde extreme scene.

Their extravagant combination of the

contemporary technical post-black/death

metal with industrial apocalypse is musically

very impressive. Not less interesting

is the knot of ideas behind (or in the

base) of the whole project. The band is a

monstrous monolith or organism living

on its own and offering a lot of inspiration

and stimulation to think and listen.

Let’s have a talk about the freezing, raw,

but beautifully aberrant album “Terminal

World Perspective” and about all the perspectives

that can be seen in the world

of CHD with the speculative and reflective

singer and lyricist Void…

Your lyrics describe a complex cycle

of genesis, evolution, destruction,

reshaping etc. Your music is a perfect

soundtrack for this. And your

artwork is a perfect illustration of all

the ideas and feelings coming out of

your songs. Do you take your way of

creation as conceptual? I mean not a

“standard” concept album, but an

overwhelming concept penetrating

and pervading all that you are doing.

I see our, or I would rather say CHD’s

way of creation, indeed as a conceptual

one. The individuals who work for CHD

share their passion for the dark sides of

history, myths, science and art. Those

themes have formed and will always

form the backbone of CHD’s concepts

that are indeed penetrating and pervading

everything that she is doing.

Therefore I would rather speak of CHD

as an organism on itself, fed by everything

that is surrounding her. The translation

and machinery is respectively done

and made by us; the human characters

employed by CHD.

If I take your album, your lyrics and

its time axis (also represented in

your website) as a basic scale, we

can say that just now we are in the

middle of this evolution. Do you

think it is a “one-way” process? We

have yet overstepped the point of no

return? Or we have still some possibilities

of choice and different scenarios?

I think there is always plenty of choice

for every single one of us. Nothing is

already doomed nor determined. Although

I must admit that I like the idea,

fact is that we’ve got pretty much rid of

it thanks to quantum physics. The idea

of the time axis is that we, as humans,

are just a little life cycle with patterns

emerging again and again, surrounded

by this vast universe. Birth and dead,

build and demolished; There are enough

metaphors that can be found in it, which

is the beauty of it in my opinion. As for

the storyboard as a whole I feel the need

to say a bit more about CHD’s points of

view; To begin with the storyboard describes

several stages that the inhabitants

of the earth undergo on their

planet, subdivided into the 9 soundtracks

that the listener will undergo.

Through those stages of “development”

(which could or maybe should be redefined

in this context) mankind wonders

about the nature of their own existence

and the wonders of what they call “reality”.

It represents mankind’s timeline

from beginning to end according to a

somewhat altered world view, adopted

by CHD and inspired by philosophies and

ideas that treat some subjects from out

a different perspective… a different

world perspective, terminal if you like.

Now, this would be one of the most important

and underlying motives behind

the “TWP” concept: It is not meant to

destroy believes of any nature whatsoever

or to convince people of some

other. On the contrary it shows how important

and fascinating all those religions

are, that have been altered and/or

evolved during the whole process, and

moreover how they relate to each other.

It is about looking at things using a different

perspective and to open minds

represented by the storyboard given to

26

you. This is just one scenario. Containing

more scenarios? As for it, I think there is

an infinite amount of scenarios, maybe

already here or somewhere out there,

who knows.

Do you believe that there is a possibility

to understand and recognize

our reality, world and truth? From

your lyrics I feel a bit a touch of agnosticism

and relativism, maybe

even nihilism. Do you believe in

something (I mean belief not only in

metaphysical or transcendental

sense)?

Understand or recognize our reality? Interesting

indeed, but then we first have

to determine for us what reality means

to us, which is a subject in itself. But to

take it more general, I don’t think it is

possible for us to understand reality, we

can get close but never reach it. As the

universe is expanding, our reality is getting

more complex as well, which is quite

an ambitious thing for us humans to get

grip on. Therefore I think you come

pretty close with the three philosophical

strands you mention there. I’m not religious

in classical terms and reject all

forms of institutionalised religion.

Though I feel strongly attracted to science,

philosophy and everything that is

trying to explain things through reasoning.

Do you take your conception also in

a relative way – as one of products

of post-modern way of thinking? Do

you take your ideas, imprinted in

your lyrics, more as an art, or as science,

as philosophy, divination or

so…?

Yes, I think our concept should be taken

relative as I explained previously. As for

the art/science/philosophy, above everything

we take our creations as art. But

because of our great interest in both

science and philosophy (those two

strands are twins btw in my opinion)

they both have great influence on our

work as well. I think the best way to look

at it is like reading a novel from writers

like Asimov, who used to play with fiction,

scientific reasoning and other philosophies.

If I am not mistaken, one of the basic

themes is the incompatibility of

mankind and nature. What is the

reason, in your opinion? I mean the

basic reason, basic mistake of this

incompatibility? Is not the mankind

a part of nature? Of the whole creation

around? Or a wrong element?

How do you imagine the aftermath

of all this mess?

In a somewhat negative way we like to

play with the idea of incompatibility of

mankind. I mean some things that happened

on this planet are so fucked up

and still are; wars, religious doctrine,

wars, racism, intolerance, coca cola, oil,

more oil and more wars!! It makes me

feel really uncomfortable and then I

really think we suffer from incompetence.

We are already in the aftermath,

the aftermath of the mess and confusion

from our ancestors. We will have to deal

with it and the generations after us have

to clean up the mess that WE have created.

In the process of it we get a bit

closer in understanding our reality. Till a

point it all is going to collapse? Don’t

know hard to tell; sometimes you might

think we truly deserve it.

Another big theme for your concept

is the theory about the supernatural

and extraterrestrial intelligence,

controlling and intervening in the

“deal” of mankind. Is it? Do you take

(in this theory) the “divine” and the

“extraterrestrial” (alien) as one and

the same? How do you imagine this

27

control and influence? And what do

you find attractive and credible in

these theories?

Yes it is. Taking the divine and extraterrestrial

as one is inspired on theories

from amongst others Zecharia Sitchin

and Erich von Däniken. I think it is quite

interesting to think about those possibilities

because they study ancient cultures,

religions and myths and connect them

together along with our increasing

knowledge about space travel. I like the

idea of a god-entity of flesh and blood so

to speak, which is nothing to really belief

in but something to take into consideration.

Along with the mystery surrounding

it, it makes it quite tempting to use.

An important source for your “studies”

are also the myths, divine texts

and others ancient stories. Which

answers do you find there, which

moments or coincidences did attract

your attention?

I find the similarities between several

religions and above all the ancient ones

with there cultures like the Maya’s,

Sumerians and of course Egyptians very

interesting. One coincidences if you like

is the Deluge or great flood, as part of

the TWP concept as well, which is described

in several ancient writings and

seemed to had a great impact on the

earth and its inhabitants. To move further

I think modern science and its reasoning

had a great deal of influence.

Which scenarios for the “end of the

world” do you consider as probable?

A collapsing universe would be quite

wicked 😉 omega point energy… all that

kind of stuff, awesome!

How did you invent your name Control

Human Delete? Was it a difficult

and wise process, or by chance? Was

it for you intentional that (beside

“ctrl+al+del allusion”) there is also

CHD as common abbreviation for

Coronary Heart Disease? It offers

interesting parallels with your concept…

Spectre came up with it one day if I remember

correctly. We were at the starting

point of forming and creating CHD as

it is right now and we found the name

Control Human Delete quite fitting for

how our ideas and musical directions

where evolving. The Coronary Heart Disease

is mere coincidence as far as I

28

know, but it does offer interesting parallels

indeed… then again so do a lot of

other things.

I have read in some biographical

notes, that in the beginning you had

different opinions about your style

and direction, so it was a reason of

some delay in releasing music. How

did you reach this result? What did

help you to accord on something and

to create all this complex and complicated

musical and ideological

“building”?

I think it is purely a logical process for a

band, or the creation that CHD is. A

process is taking you somewhere it is

willing to go and with it you will have the

work out some issues. That is what is

making CHD what it is and what makes

the music and intentions really strong.

We constantly criticize everything what

happens around CHD and the music that

is emerging, which is typically for CHD

and a really important quality.

How and where do you want to push

the borders of music? Do you take

yourself as extreme in extreme?

(Not only in the sense of heaviness

of course…) Which kinds of experiments

do you like and try in your

musical laboratory? Do you want

also to provoke or shock a bit?

CHD is all about pushing musical borders

and provocation: Extreme in a sense of

using more non-traditional metal influences

to achieve a stronger atmosphere

that is so typical for the roots of black

metal. We like to experiment with everything

that comes to mind when composing

for CHD, from jazz, trip-hop, electronic

and new age to breakcore, death

and black metal.

How do you see the role and position

of this post-black wave on the extreme

scene? I mean the evolution

started by bands like Dodheimsgard,

Thorns and Satyricon, continued by

Aborym, Axis Of Perdition, Blut Aus

Nord or Spektr etc.? And what is in

your opinion your personal contribution

to this genre?

I think it is a highly interesting musical

evolution where CHD did start off. It is

interesting to see how from a really

minimalist kind of music, what black

metal is essentially, an exponent like

post-black is emerging with more complex

arrangements and modern influences.

That is for me the most interesting

part of music in general, no matter

what kind of music. Dodheimsgard,

Thorns and Satyricon are all important

influences for CHD and we are aware of

the fact that we sometimes sound alike.

In our opinion it is a starting point for

CHD from which she will evolve according

her own will.

Do you feel strongly connected to

the Dutch metal tradition? Your

scene always offered some interesting

and unclassifiable bands, like

Phlebotomized, Pestilence, Gorefest,

Orphanage or Textures. Which kind

of spirit provides this amount of

creativity and forward thinking?

Not really to be honest. I always felt to

be a bit of an outcast in the Dutch metal

scene when we first started off, some

are a bit conservative in a way, which I

regret sometimes. I don’t think the

bands you mention have had influence

on CHD, as in being creative or such.

Maybe I can identify a bit more with

something like The Gathering, also

emerged from the Dutch metal scene.

Which non-metal influences were for

you crucial? Some of the sounds re29

minded me “Spiral” from Vangelis,

or the atmosphere of “Blade Runner”,

maybe also older J. M. Jarre.

What do you prefer from the nowadays

ambient and industrial scene?

This part is always my favourite, thank

you. Vangelis and Jarre as well as Mike

Oldfield and Alan Parsons have influenced

our music, especially the ambient

and electronic parts, Spectre listens to

their music a lot. As for other non-metal

influences, things like Biosphere, Godspeed

You Black Emperor, Massive Attack,

Venetian Snares (and other breakcore),

maybe things like VNV Nation and

Apoptygma Berzerk. Other music for me

personally would be old Jazz stuff, raw

rock ‘n roll and actually everything which

is honest, raw, pure and intense.

Would you like to try it once again

with the “living” drummer? Or you

are yet so used on software drums

that you cannot imagine a normal

drum kit in your music? How would

you describe the special touch and

feeling given by the artificial drumming?

Not at this point. We are quite happy

with our artificial drum kit from hell. And

I think it fits us very well, it delivers that

extra vibe the music wants to express,

cold, harsh, and indeed inhuman.

Isn’t this also a mark of your tendency

to the “inhuman” view on the

world – a little piece of misanthropy?

What is your relation to humans

– pro-social, or anti-social?

My relation to humans is quite prosocial,

I try to haha, but sometimes it is

a bit difficult as I explained previously,

which makes me want to scream. I

guess that is why I ended up in CHD in

the first place.

Despite all this machinery and artificialism,

your music is also full of

strong and extreme feelings and

emotions. Which ones are for you

and your art the most important and

how are they executed or expressed?

I think there has to be a connection to

the mood and temperament of the creators

and the music they create. If we

were feeling happy all time, we would

make happy music. There is something

in every member of CHD that has the

urge to create music with strong dark,

hateful and other twisted emotions.

Maybe there is some kind of bitterness in

the way we look at things and end up in

something that is called Control Human

Delete.

Many thanx for your answers, if I

forgot to ask to something important,

here is your place…

Thank you very much as well. It was a

pleasure answering your highly interesting

questions, maybe we can discuss it a

bit more one day, who knows!

30

VINTERSORG

The World Is Not A Simple Thing

by Martin Cermak

After the tricky album “The Focusing

Blur” (a luscious dessert for all the lovers

of metal extravaganza) Swedish mastermind

Vintersorg came with its follower

“Solens Rotter”. Being maybe a more

acceptable material for a larger circle of

listeners. The recording (all sung in

Swedish) offers enough uncommon and

clever moments, in the same time we

can hear there a bit of creative modulation

and calming. The traditional approaches

and roots of Scandinavian art

are mixed with black metal atmosphere

in one hand and progressive feeling on

the other. All in all, Andreas Hedlund aka

Vintersorg still have a fancy to release a

pleasant stuff. But my main goal for this

interview was to talk a bit about his remarkable

and sophisticated way of seeing

and cognition of our world, projected

into his art…

Beside musician

you’re

also a university-

educated

pedagogue.

What pushes

you into this

sphere of occupation

(which impulsions

and motivations)

and

what do you

like about

teaching and

educating?

I’ll teach in all

subjects, as I’ll

work with quite

young children from1st to 5th grade.

Why I’ve choose this path is that I’m

very curious how we learn things and on

what conditions we do it, what terms

that drives us towards or against a specific

target of knowledge. I’m also very

interested on how didactics makes the

taught subject meaning or not, what

kind of methodology is the most effective…

and then the use of mind and

body interaction. I’m also very amazed

how you people have an open mind regarding

the world.

Once you said: “When you see people

still fighting and killing each

other for really minor things, that’s

fucking Stone Age thinking.” A majority

of teachers (almost in a

younger age) are idealists. Do you

believe in men, in some possibility of

spiritual and moral renaissance,

driven also by education and formation?

The moral evolution is very much possible.

I mean, if you learn how to behave

in a group from a young age, you understand

that your own progression can’t be

done to the expanse of others feeling,

physical being or mental health. It’s very

simple from my perspective actually – a

civilised community is based on the right

to express your self but also to respect

others.

How does the fact that you teach

and study teaching influence your

music and lyrics (more generally

your way of doing art, your creative

process)? And as we speak about

reaching some knowledge and cognition,

do you think that music can

be some kind of “cognitive artefact”

(beside its aesthetic function)?

31

I don’t think that my studies have that

huge impact on my art; of course if I feel

inspired in my studying, I feel inspired in

my life and also in my art. I’ve always

studied the subject that I’m interested

in, as science, nature, human nature

etc., so my music has in that scenario

always been inspired by my studies.

Music can have a cognitive aspect,

though it is still a lot about emotions.

But to understand what you’re feeling is

a cognitive process in a way, so I feel

there’s a connection. I like music combined

with lyrics that has a conscious

approach and not just created from formalistic

angle. Some substance must be

there to make me interested.

It is well known that your lyrics are

very complex trials or endeavours to

handle the world around us. Could

you please try to shortly explain

your methods of exploration, your

main views of our space and man’s

position inside it?

This matter is huge and I can talk about

for hours and pages… I find myself that

I always write about the relation between

man and nature, but dig into it

from a different kind of angle each time.

We, as human, think of ourselves as the

lords of the universe, even if we’re just a

tiny grain of sand in the cosmological

desert of planets – that’s quite pathetic

from my view. We also have the knowledge

to understand that we have dependency

of the nature on Earth, still we

exploit it the fastest we can – which is

even more pathetic and terrifying. Nature

also comes in many form, from the

cosmological to the close in our surroundings,

we’re a product of it and

therefore can never overcome or overrule

this system. Space is a beautiful

playground for thoughts to dwell within

and also a chaotic and infernal battleground

for nuclear events, so it has all

the components to be interesting.

In your lyrics you ask a lot of questions

about let’s said (both literally

and scientifically) “theory of everything”.

Are you successful in finding

the answers?

I’m not finding the answers and I guess

my intention isn’t really to do that. I like

to think about it and that helps me a lot

to form my life and world. I just feel a

necessity to ponder about it as it helps

me to structure my set of thought and

feed my inspiration. The more I learn,

the more I kind of slips away from simple

answers, it’s so complex and so enchanting

that it just keeps me continuing

with it.

Is it possible that this effort to understand

the world around us with

all his complexity and universality is

deeply connected with the traditional

Nordic/Scandinavian way of

thinking (mirrored for example in

the mythology of this region)?

I guess you can find that connection.

Many mythologies have space issues

incorporated in them, but mainly through

a romantic vista. Watching skywards has

always been a part of man’s exploration

I think. Personally I’ve been interested in

cosmic themes since childhood, right

from where I got my first telescope to

stargaze (I think I was like 7–8 years

old). Of course it has been many different

sides of it that has occupied my interest

throughout different periods in my

life. I don’t ever get bored with it, as it’s

so diverse…

Where are in your opinion the limits

of cognition? Do you believe we will

one day discover the secret of space,

mind, brain etc.?

I guess it will always be some form of

mystery for us to wonder about, as when

you discover one process or “riddle”, it

leads to yet another crossroad of matters

to be discovered. I think that’s just

wonderful, I don’t want to know everything.

It is the progression of knowledge

and ideas that’s interesting from my per32

spective. Still our cognitive potential is

much unexplored, so we don’t have to

worry about finding out too much… The

only risk I see is that we use the knowledge

in a destructive way, so we have at

some degree to be modest with it.

Are you familiar with the theory of

fractals? Do you think that it is a

good way how to describe the structure

of world?

Well it depends how you look the world –

If you see it as endless repetition with

chaos as only disturbing element, I

guess it is a “simple” way to ease you

mind. But if you look upon every single

event as a new process, working under

certain rules, of course it gets more

complicated. I don’t expect the universe

to be simple, so I have a hard time to

accept some of the fractal theory based

propositions.

What do you think about depth psychology

theories who try to explore

the role of subconscious and nonconscious

processes of mind? Is the

man connected through some collective

non-conscience with the larger

array, do you believe in something

like cosmic conscience and a possibility

to transcend this way?

I think Jung’s theory about a collective

consciousness is interesting, but in the

same time it’s quite unlike to be true. Of

course we can’t understand our own

mind, as we can’t access the unconscious

(then it wouldn’t be unconscious).

At some degree we may open up for a

more transcending frequency, but still

we’re limited to be humans… It’s hard to

really understand what’s conscious and

unconscious, if we start to think that we

can reach unconscious areas, anyway.

Your views of the world are often

very theoretical and abstract. Do you

try to make some practical applications,

derived from these theories?

Even if I like to philosophise about stuff,

I still live as a human on this planet. But

I’m very careful with how I live my life

and what kind of effect it has on the surrounding,

cause I’m a nature freak. I

don’t try to spread propaganda though,

as I think we can close in on these subjects

leaving politics aside.

In the past, it was very common that

an inventive philosopher was in the

same time an excellent mathematician,

physicist, biologist… sometimes

also an artist. Now we see

that the human and biological (exact)

sciences are mutually isolated a

lot and taken as “opposite” domains,

the same goes for the art and science.

It is interesting that through

your art I feel a will to reunite these

perspectives in one.

33

I don’t have such high goals… (Laughs)

I think the split is because of the complexity

we see nowadays in science.

When we were watching flowers through

a microscope and thought that we had

discovered it all, it was much simpler to

have a wider range in your research. But

when stuff goes into molecular level, it’s

very hard to be specialized in every

genre.

I think a term, which is in an explicit

or implicit way omnipresent in your

art, is a “harmony”. What helps you

to reach it (as a person, but also an

artist, scientist…)? Do you consider

yourself to be harmonic?

Yes and No. I try to live in harmony with

nature and my surroundings, but of

course I run into conflicts as well as

every other human being. Conflict, if

treated properly, is a good source to actually

learn stuff, but of course I reject

every form of conflict that involves violence.

I’m talking about a collision of

theories here, when the outcome is

richer than the pieces involved. The sum

is larger than the parts.

Is for you important that people understand

your lyrics, or you write it

more for yourself, without thinking

about the accessibility for the others?

Some of the poetic images,

metaphors and ideas hidden inside

are very hard to access and understand,

due to their abstractness…

I write mainly for my own pleasure to

philosophise and ponder about stuff that

I meet and see. If people like it, that’s a

great bonus.

Evidently you like the musical and

lyrical extravagance in metal. What

is the reason of this taste – are you

also an extravagant person?

I’m a nonconformist in many aspects,

but still I can socialize with people that

are labeled “mainstream”. Actually I

think it is many time more interesting to

talk with the mainstream guy and try to

stir his/her world with depth and meaning.

The only other permanent member

of Vintersorg is Mattias Marklund,

your best friend. How would you describe

his role in the band? Didn’t

you have a fear that running a band

together could influence your relationship

in a negative way?

We’ve got a strong relationship that goes

much deeper than the music we create

together. His role is to support and come

up with ideas regarding arrangements

etc., but we understand each other so

well that we don’t ever run into conflict…

It is a perfect balance between us.

Can you tell me something about the

brand new album “Solens Rotter” in

the context of the whole Vintersogian

creation? I mean how you

linked to the previous albums and

where did you move…

34

We’re the same but not. With every new

album we try to explore new side of our

musical visions and try to dig into different

areas that we haven’t really expressed

before. But we still have a dense

core, from which this is coordinated. So

the next album will again be a bit different,

even if I don’t know yet how… It’s a

constant and ongoing process. We don’t

work from any given formula; instead we

aspire a flow that’s inside us.

You returned to the “Swedish-only”

lyrics on the new album. In general,

do you think that the everyday protection

and propagation of the native

language is necessary, or it will

survive always?

I don’t think that protecting languages

really have anything to preserve them.

It’s only by talking the language it’ll be

protected. You can’t govern it with

laws… The ultimate thing is a language

that everybody can understand – that

would help to reduce the risk of conflicts.

35

ALDRAHN (EX-DHG, THORNS,

DEATHTRIP)

DJ Astral Dog On Planet B8 – – 18

By Olivier Côté

It’s been a long time since we all heard

of Bjørn Dencker aka Aldrahn or BIKJA,

whose passionate invocations from

Kronet til Konge, For All Tid, Old

Man’s Child, Monumental Possession

and Zyklon-B to late-days 666 International,

Thorns and The DeathTrip

still feel as fresh, edgy and open-minded

as they were back then and now are.

This is why I had to contact the man and

take a chance to enter his present-day

world views. All kinds of mental radars

and chemical inspirations helped us to go

through his memories as well. I feel it’s

good to go back in order to know where

we’re going. It’s like psy trance, which is

old-school tribal converted into innovative

astral paths. Lucky I’ve been, because

I honestly believe we both had a

good time giving shape to our conversations.

One of the most strikingly original

Black metal vocalist out there, simple as

that. – Doggy salutes to you all!

Hey Aldrahn, how and what are you

doing these days in your part of

Norway? I hope all is well for you

and your family! From what I can

make out of your hometown pictures,

I believe you live in a far retired

place, surrounded by beautiful,

rural landscapes and together with a

dog’s colony. I remember Yusaf saying

that at some point in time you

apparently moved far away; what

led you there, and could we say, you

know, that this was some kind of a

shift of mood in your life or something?

YOHO, I’m doing fine, thanks for asking.

Yes, you’re right about where I live. I’ve

always dreamt about living close to natural

surroundings. With few or no

neighbors. Surrounded by the calm

presence of nature. And just enjoy my

self and my life in this kind of element.

As I’ve always been a great fan of nature

and spending time, whether it’s in the

forests or in the mountains. I truly come

alive when I’m there. Life becomes richer

and fuller. Existence becomes meaningful,

and I feel like a totally fresh person

with no trouble inside. It’s the outmost

freedom for me. And being able to do

this with my dogs makes it complete.

So, my wife and I were lucky to find a

house very perfectly located in a big forest

area with the woods all around us,

though it’s also quite central as it’s no

more than about 1,5 km to the nearest

facilities. Where we can buy what we

want, where we got restaurants, entertainment,

schools, library, etc. So I’m

very happy with my life and very glad to

have met a woman who shares the same

interest for occupation and everyday life

as I do. So you can say that, after our

daughter was born and we felt the need

of settling down, we really wanted to

realize this dream, and get away from

the city and all the things that the both

of us find quite meaningless. I’ve lived in

lots of cities over the years and I can

only say that ::: FINALLY I CAN

BREATHE.

By the way, before we get going,

where is the name Aldrahn coming

from and what does it mean? And

also, back in Satanic Art era, why

were you considered as Mr. Always

Safe and Sound?

(Laughs) Funny you should ask that.

Well, the name Aldrahn is taken from Old

Norse language. Very close to the spoken

language in Iceland. It’s originally

written without the H – Aldran – and it

means DEATH. I took the name in 1994,

added the – H – to give it my own touch,

and it has been with me ever since.

Concerning the Mr. Always Safe and

Sound, it was a very ironic description of

36

me at that time of my life. I was constantly

high on LSD, and as a result of

that I was very uneasy, very visible so to

speak in every aspect of my life. For example

if I was standing in a subway tunnel

waiting for the train, I could be dancing

around people on the platform, singing

and screaming for no apparent reason.

Wherever I was, I was always gesticulating

a lot, screaming and shouting

like a demented overgrown baby

(laughs). I believe I was a great deal of

confusion and also a big pain in the ass

for my surroundings, friends and family

at that time.

I’m curious: now that you look back

at yourself, what did you learn from

LSD?

Hmm, I’m very eager to say nothing at

all. But that would be too easy I guess. I

think that the most important thing I

learned from using LSD over a large period

of time in my life, was that things

aren’t always what they seem. I mean

that the world is endraped in illusions

and cunning ways to draw people’s attention

away from the real thing. That

underneath all the focus on money, politics,

religion, etc., there’s usually a

greater picture and a nature that’s very

unsimilar to the things we take for sure,

and the things we all call reality.

I’ve learned that you can never be too

sure about anything, as anything might

happen around the corner which you

didn’t expect. I’ve learned that people

who seem to speak the truth very often

are lying, either to their surroundings,

themselves or in the worst case: both.

I’ve learned to interprete my surroundings

in a bigger scale than I might have

done if I didn’t go through all those crazy

moments. Hard to say these things. I’ve

also learned that taking drugs can be

highly destructive and very dangerous to

the mind and to the body. It’s all too

easy to get crushed by these things.

Back when I did these kinds of drugs, I

totally ignored that fact, as young people

often do. Luckily I went through it all

with few scratches. But that is not the

reality for loads of people who try this

out. I’m saying this in case there’re any

young readers out there reading this

right now. Be careful in your choices,

things aren’t always what they seem to

  1. And you can easily be destroyed by

something more cruel than you can possibly

imagine.

You seem to have quite a close relation

to the world of dogs. Are you

like raising them only to sell them

later on, or are they definitely part

of your daily family? And only between

the two of us, haven’t they

taught you how to develop some of

your uniquely barking vocalizations

(laughs)?

Most definitely!!! I remember very well

the first dog I owned. I named him

Pablo, and we actually became so close

at times that it felt like we swapped personalities.

I became him and he became

  1. I’m really not joking. It’s a fact that

we had something special going on, as

very often he could sit on the chair

watching me sniffing around in my

apartment, though I’ve always been very

touchy on smells and scents.

I was given the nick name BIKJA (slang

for DOG) by my friends I hung around

with, and Yusaf even came up to my

birthday with two packages. One for me

and one for Pablo. I opened mine and

Pablo tored his open. And I got dog food

and Pablo got a chess board. I laughed

my head off. This was indeed intentional

and a great deal of fun for Yusaf.

I’ve always been very fond of dogs. It

began when I was very little, and my

37

uncle had a German shepherd that I

played around with and became incredibly

fond of. He was the nicest dog you’d

ever come across. And he became my

first true friend in life. Actually he is the

very first thing I can remember. I’ve

thought about it lot’s of times and he is

truly my very first memory as a human

being. And I can recall all too well the

day he died. He had accidentally chased

a flock of sheep out on thin ice, resulting

in them all falling through the ice and

drown. Because of this, he had to be put

to death due to the law. I remember I

cried my eyes out. I was sitting above a

newspaper and it was just soaked in

tears. And even today I still cry like a

baby when I think about my good friend

REX.

Anyway, my dogs now are a big part of

my life and I’m racing them to be my

closest friends whom I also can show the

same devotion to, as long as we are

alive together. My life would lack quite a

bit without these creatures by my side.

For the last year many old-school

DHG fans have been discovering

with delight your new The Deathtrip

project on MySpace. Even though all

the songs are presently displayed

only with a demo sound quality, I

think what I hear is for sure promising.

I’d say, to make it short, that

the music is really hypnotic after a

while. Lyrically and vocally, how is

The Deathtrip different from what

you’ve done before? What kinds of

emotions or atmospheres are you

trying to convey within this particular

project?

Thanks. Well, to tell you about that I first

have to say that my way of writing isn’t

and has never been meant to transmit

any just or absolute meaning. It is and

has always been meant to transmit feelings

and moods in the sense of emotional

recognition without logical

thoughts. I write about what I think, and

I think about my life, my surroundings

and how it’s all connected and bound

together.

As for The Deathtrip lyrics I believe I

write in a much more coherent way than

I’ve ever done before. I’m trying to

manifest a dark tribal, trancelike atmosphere,

consisting of elements from the

human origins, from the old ways of

worshipping divinity. The laws and symbols

of prehistoric times, where we were

a lot closer to nature and the ideas we

had of our existence. Before electronics,

science and modern religion made it into

something else.

I try to capture some of the darker sides

of the TRIBAL SPIRIT. The spirit or the

essence of ancient human history. I try

to conjure the primal senses: animal

nature combined with human nature to

visualize the similarities. I also write a

lot about things I will describe as pure

fantasy and science-fiction inside my

brain. Not to be taken too seriously, but

to be taken as entertainment. At least

that’s what it is to me.

I’m often greatly fascinated by my own

way of putting down words, and I often

hum and laugh when I write, as it usually

comes pouring out of me. I seldom

use more than an hour writing each lyric.

And as I write I can visualize what I

write about and my whole reality becomes

like the distorted circus of a mad

fool.

I really enjoy writing in this way. It humors

me and entertains me a lot. And

often when I read them a while after

they are written, I find deep and profound

details in them which I didn’t recognize

when I wrote it. This is of course

very personal, and I don’t expect other

people to find or recognize the same

things. But it seems like other people

recognize things that I have little or no

relations to when writing it. So it seems

like people who read my lyrics enjoy it

too, much in the same way as my self.

And that’s really something I’m very

thankful for. It means a lot to me to get

38

all the wonderful feedback I get from all

of you out there. And it really warms me

to get such inspiring credentials from

people I’ve never even met.

So, therefore I’ll continue to enclose my

lyrics in the booklets of every release I’m

part of. This way they can hopefully continue

to entertain all of you who like

them. In there lies the whole message

behind my lyrics.

Then, musically speaking, do you

think The Deathtrip is like a road

back in time to both Kronet Til

Konge and Monumental Possession,

or is it a lot more than that?

For me personally it’s very much the

music I would have continued making in

DØDHEIMSGARD, if I were the only

composer, and if Yusaf didn’t infect the

nature of the band (laughs). So, you can

definitely say that this is like a continuance

of Kronet Til Konge for me alone.

But you have to understand that I am

not the composer of the music in The

Deathtrip. That’s a man who calls himself

Host. And as far as I’m concerned, he’s a

genious when it comes to composing this

kind of “back-to-the-roots” Black Metal.

So I’m very glad I met up with him, and

started this cooperation, as I now feel

that with this band I can express all the

things I had in mind in the early Kronet

Til Konge days, but didn’t get the chance

  1. I feel very much at home in this picture

of sound, and I’m really enjoying

my self being a part of this construction.

Are you in the studio with The

Deathtrip nowadays? I wouldn’t expect

you, being the singer and lyricist,

to mix and master the album in

the studio, but I’m pretty sure you

do have a sound picture in mind. Will

you go as raw-sounding as on the

demo, or are you expecting to head

towards a more, let’s say, wellproduced

approach? And isn’t there

already an album title?

We have been recording the album for

the last three months. So most of the

guitars, bass and drums are finished.

Note that we don’t have a drum machine

on the album recordings. They are highly

organic and are played by a man called

Dan STORM Mullins. We just need to tidy

up some parts, and then it remains for

me to record the vocals. Hopefully I can

start on that during the month of march.

Snorre will be helping out as the engineer

and co-producer, so we need to get

our schedules syncronized. Soundwise

we wanna capture much of the same

feeling as on the demo songs, though try

to enhance it a bit. It’s very important

for us to maintain the raw, naked, unpolished

sound. We want the grimness to

reach the bone (laughs).

We will, in addition to the album, release

a cassette demo, prior to the album release.

With low-fi sound and crappy

black and white cover, limited to 60 copies,

containing a bonus track, only to be

featured on the demo. Plus a couple of

new songs that we haven’t put out on

MySpace, and also a new vocal track on

MAKING ME (one of the songs on the

MySpace profile). The demo is called

“DEMO 08”. Very simple, the way we like

  1. And it is a treat for the old schoolers,

and for everyone else who would want

this nostalgic piece of item. Very limited

supply, though.

The album will be entitled “DEEP DRONE

MASTER”. Hopefully we’ll get a deal with

a Norwegian label, as that would be best

suitable. But none has yet been particularly

interested, so we might sign on a

foreign label.

We’re in 1994 and Darkthrone are at

their career’s peek – how the hell did

you get Fenriz involved on Kronet Til

Konge?

I don’t quite remember really. I think it

was due to the company we shared at

the ELM STREET ROCK CAFÉ (which was

every BM person’s place of gathering

39

back then), where he was a part of the

conversations Yusaf and I had about the

band. Whether we asked him or he more

or less fell into the role by nature, I

really can’t say for sure. It’s beginning to

be a long time ago. But I do however

remember well our rehearsals. Fenriz

seemed to enjoy playing bass alot.

We were rehearsing in a VERY small

room, with no air conditioning, and I

remember how Yusaf and I stripped

down to our underwear each time we

rehearsed during the summer season.

And how all the guys next door, who

were people from Satyricon, Demonic

and all others, got displayed a setting

they seemed not to understand (laughs).

It was quite a laugh! We did function

well as a band the three of us. Though

Fenriz left the band for personal issues,

which I know nothing about.

It’s never been clear as to who did

what before 666 International. To

which extent did you compose music

for Dødheimsgard, from Kronet til

Konge all the way up to Satanic Art?

Okay, I would have to say that Kronet Til

Konge and DØDHEIMSGARD were very

much MY devotion, and I composed

about 80% of that album, along with

writing all the lyrics and performing

them. Gradually Yusaf became more and

more involved. So at the time we recorded

Monumental Possession, Yusaf

and me had composed about 50/50% I

think. Further on DØDHEIMSGARD became

more Yusaf’s devotion. I think that

Satanic Art was the turning point where

he more or less took over the ship. And

from that day on it has been more or

less his thing. Which I think is good, as I

don’t know if DØDHEIMSGARD would

have been an existing band if he hadn’t.

You see, when I came across the world

of psychedelics, goa trance, psy parties

and such, I became very consumed by it,

resulting in me neglecting

DØDHEIMSGARD very much. I think in

many ways I laid it down to die. But

Yusaf picked it up and kept it well alive.

Would you say you are a daring

dancer or is it the more mental side

of psychedelic goa trance that you

feel at home with? I’m asking because

in psy parties, there are people

grooving, dancing and screaming

everywhere, among which, however,

you can find individuals with both

their eyes closed, daydreaming and

hypnotised from the inside but not

physically moving very much.

I was all of them!!! Concerning dancing,

I was against that kind of activity (as the

juvenile black metaller I was), until it

was Fenriz who introduced me to psy

trance. When I then got that music under

my skin, I started to dance like a

crazy man. The sounds just entered my

body like nothing else, and I was totally

bewitched by it all. In a good way I have

to add. I never knew that moving your

body in this way to rhythm and sound

could feel so wonderful and relieving.

Being at one with the sound, just letting

40

the music enter me totally and move to

the groove. It’s just too much to explain.

It has to be experienced. It’s much in

the same nature as having sex, I can tell

you that.

Nowadays, when I listen to goa trance, I

still get the dancing vibe, but not that

often. Now it has become more something

I listen to for the sake of the music

mostly.

You previously told me that you

wanted to get yourself a couple of

turntables, in order to create your

very own trance mixes. Has that

happened yet? And do you think it

could be pleasurable, by your standards,

to act as a DJ and transmit

your tribal mixes in psy parties?

I got my self a couple of turntables

yes (Vestax pdx 2000),

but I sold them again as very

little psy trance records are

being released on vinyl, and

those that are, are also released

on cd. I think it would

have been great to mix psy

trance for people if one was to

get hold of the proper audience,

as there are few people

I know that listen to psy

trance in Norway. Though it has always

been a dream of mine to do so. Anyway,

I would have to get my self a CD mixer,

and there’re always things to be prioritized

when it comes to money. For the

time being, I got enough as it is to spend

money on so it will be a while until that

would happen. But hey, what would life

be if one didn’t lust for anything or didn’t

have any passion?

Lust and passion, right. Well your

freestyle and alien performances on

666 International, one could argue,

certainly made a major impression

on a black metal scene which is usually

more concerned by its juvenile

evil shock-value than by artistic innovation,

whereas you proved that

experimentation and a wild eccentricity

both have their own rights

upon the darker forms of metal.

What was your state of mind when

recording such an out-there and

emotionally charged album? There

even were rumors that most of your

vocals had been promptly improvised

in the studio; now, how true is

that?

666 International was a very amusing

record to be a part of and a record I’m

very glad I’ve taken part in. It’s very

true that most of the vocals were highly

improvised. I recorded one song per day

over a period of two weeks I believe.

And the performance was a result of my

state of mind at that time. I expressed

much of the things I had inside of me

due to several years tripping on LSD.

Listening to loads of psychedelic music,

Devil Doll and experiencing years of psychedelic

moments. And I wanted to experiment

with my voice all that I could,

as I found it totally uninteresting to sing

in a more fashion-like black metal way. I

had too much going

on inside, and I’m

very glad I did it. I

can now look back at

it and plot out things

I like a lot and use

them in a more structured,

and for me,

functional way.

Do you remember

people’s reactions

to what you accomplished on there?

We know the magazine reviews, but

both your friends and family must

have been quite surprised (laughs)!

This was a powerful record if there

ever was one.

My uncle had a big laugh when he saw

the pictures on the back and said he

thought the music was cool. The rest of

my family was more or less like everybody

else: they didn’t understand it.

I’m glad though, to see that the album

has begun to grow in people’s ears, as I

remember on the 1999 tour with Dimmu

Borgir, none of the people in the audience

did seem to grasp any of it. We got

the finger, people were shouting “fuck

off” at us. And very few people seemed

to appreciate it then. There was however

a handful at every gig that did dig us.

Four or five people that truly liked what

we were doing, and stood out from the

rest of the crowd. You know who you

41

are. Special greetings go to all of you

from me.

Two years later we found you performing

for and with experimental

guitarist Snorre Ruch, Thorns mastermind,

on his band’s first official

self-titled record released on Moonfog

Records. Also present was, of

course, Satyricon’s famous Satyr

whose vocals also took the lead on a

few songs which were then compiled

with some of your own vocal expressions.

How did you get involved in

the famous Thorns rebirth?

Well, I was living in a place called

ÅLESUND at that time, a place far west

of Norway on the coastline. I was studying

to become a hairdresser there when I

think it was Snorre who gave me a

phone call, saying he had been in touch

with Satyr about me as a vocalist, and

whether I was interested in working with

him on that album.

It was actually very convenient as

Snorre and I didn’t live too far from each

others. By coincidence we had moved to

the same spot of the country for school

the both of us. Anyway, I said that I was

interested and it didn’t take long before

we met with each others and started to

work out some thoughts. Luckily we

found the “Good Vibe” very quickly and

became rather good friends, which is a

friendship that has continued to grow

ever since. I’m very glad to be a part of

THORNS and have become more and

more dedicated to it. We share a lot of

the same thoughts for the music and

Snorre is a very nice and easy man to

work with.

A new, upcoming Thorns album is in

the works. Have you written all the

lyrics this time around? Are there

some specific themes, or let’s say,

mental orientations that you think

you’re going through along the way?

Any new song titles you’d like to reveal?

I’m sure a great deal of fans

from all over the world really are

excited about the upcoming album.

Yeah, I certainly hope so, as I think it

will turn out rather well. Sounds to me

like it will be entertaining for people who

enjoy extreme music in general. I’ve

written almost all the lyrics except two

pieces that I’ve done together with

Snorre. And without telling too much I

would have to say that they are kinda

violent, frenetic and transmitting mental

disorientation. And I’m doing all the vocals

this time.

As things have evolved and settled

down, I am now the vocalist in THORNS.

The rest of the lineup is also very altered.

There’s a new drummer and a

new second guitarist. None of them have

had any particular experience within the

field of Black Metal before or metal for

that matter. I don’t know them all that

well, but as far as I know they come

from more settled musical backgrounds,

such as Jazz and things like that. And

when it comes to revealing song titles,

I’m afraid that no such thing is yet set as

for sure. The creation of this album is a

very slow-moving process to say the

least. I don’t know how many times I’ve

felt ants running around in my ass because

of the tempo of this band. But I’ve

had to learn that this is the way this

band functions. So the more I stress

down, the more I meet its normal pace

and progress.

Alright man, let’s all stress down our

impatient expectations then

(laughs)! How different would you

say it is to work either with Snorre

or with Yusaf? I mean, you’ve obvi42

ously got two very creative guitarists

there!

It’s really not that different. As you say

they are both skilled musicians. I do

however find the co-work with Snorre

very appealing and comfortable, as the

music is very straight-forward and right

  1. It’s a more defined environment for

me to be in, and that’s very pleasant. It

makes it easier to focus

on what I’m doing.

And the outcome becomes

more stable and

strong I think. But I

wouldn’t be surprised if

Yusaf and myself

shared path again

somewhere in the future,

making whatever

kind of sound.

I know you have

shared the stage

presence with DHG

last year. How did

that go? Do you like

performing live? Is

this where you can

act out the tribal

spirit you were talking

about earlier?

The European tour

you had with Dimmu

Borgir in 1999, according

to Yusaf,

was a complete disaster. Would you

also go as far as to say that?

(Laughs) Yes, in fact it was, by my

knowledge, the worst tour I’ve ever

heard of. (Laughs) Looking back at it

now, it was also a very fun trip through

Europe. Beside the live performances,

which were pretty much like shit, we had

a great deal of good fun on that journey.

Lot’s of great friendship, lots of laughter

and fightings with each others. Nice

sleep every night (never felt better than

in that constant moving bus, like a cradle).

Free food every day, without having

to do the dishes.

But yes, unfortunately it’s very true that

the gigs themselves went to hell. I guess

it was due to several issues. We hadn’t

practiced as a band in years, and we got

five days to get into it before we set off.

And as for my self, I totally burned out

my voice during these rehearsal days.

So, I really didn’t have any decent voice

for one and a half month. I was whispering

and having huge trouble with my

voice throughout the whole tour. And

that made it very difficult to rise any

particular excitement on stage and of

course also very hard to get any voice

out to the audience. I actually didn’t get

my voice perfectly

restored until six

or seven months

after we returned

home. Anyway,

that’s something I

could have easily

been without if I

had taken more

care of my voice in

the beginning.“

One learns as long

as one is alive”.

As for stage performances,

I really

enjoy that when

things come into

place, when the

band is well adjusted

due to routines

and things

like that. Then I

feel safe and I can

express what I

want without hesitation.

And that’s really a great feeling. I

do believe that I try to express my inner

self on stage and the essence of things I

think is important to me. Both the tribal

spirit and the hidden human themes are

definitely some of my high priorities.

Your image, so to speak, in the 666

International booklet and on numerous

stages among Europe, was

something special to say the least!

Was this yours and Yusaf’s vision of

what Dødheimsgard should be presented

as? Does the image, in a

black metal world, have any strong

significance for you? Were there any

guidelines at all? I always thought

that Apollyon, without of course

speaking against him, was a bit out

of place, particularly in that more

experimental era of the band.

43

Apollyon, or GYM POSE as I call him

(gymnastic bag), was, I believe, the

most traditional one of us. And I think he

fit in nicely because of that, as

DØDHEIMSGARD do come from a rather

traditional BM ground. I can understand

what you mean though.

I think that basically the image hasn’t a

strong relevance concerning the music.

It’s just clothes and hairstyles really. But

I do find it rather funny to dress out and

wear something that changes my appearance

into something quite extraordinary.

And on stage it does make a

stronger impression of the band, their

ideas and such. But what I mean is that

you don’t need fancy outfits or crazy

textiles to make soulful music.

We didn’t have

any guidelines

  1. It started up

with a gig we

were playing in

1996 I believe,

where it was unthinkable

to dress

up in corpse

paint. Personally,

I had gone a long

way from where I

did fancy that

kind of tradition

and, to me, very

boring style. So we had to come up with

something else, and that’s when it

started. I remember I put on some kind

of simple war paint and later on I started

to paint my self in red, with flames coming

out of my mouth. Later on, red facial

paint with Chinese robes and all kinds of

strange stuff I could find, all related to

the image of red, as red is my favorite

colour and I think it fits fine with black.

We discussed the meaning of your

lyrics earlier on, but I would like to

know a bit more about your collaborative

friend FOG, with whom you

wrote a couple of lyrics throughout

the years, among which Final Conquest

from 666 International and

The Beast from Ravishing Grimness

probably are the most well-known.

Do you still write with him? And do

you usually write side by side or are

you more like exchanging lyrical

snippets whenever you meet each

others?

FOG is a guy I spent lots of time with on

the second half of the 90’s. We did alot

of tripping together, partying and all that

stuff. So, I guess it only became natural

for us to write some lines together, as he

is a good writer himself. Not a very

metal person in particular though, but

more a music figure in general, with

strong roots in Hiphop and Rap.

I only wrote those two lyrics with FOG

(as far as I can remember). He was very

much into DØDHEIMSGARD and also a

huge fan of DARKTHRONE. We shared

lots of great times together, and I will

never forget it.

I seldom write side by side lyrics with

other people. It’s usually a thing I

wouldn’t do. Unless it pops up something

out of the ordinary which is exciting and

something special. It usually works in

the way that one starts to write a sentence

or a verse and then passes it over

to the other person, for example by mail.

And then the other one gets his ideas

and follows the lines, sends it back to

the first one, and so on it continues until

it’s finished.

What about Dimmu Borgir? You

seem to have been friends from the

early days, as I remember you singing

on their first album and also

writing many lyrics for them back

then. To tell you the truth, I even

witnessed a 1995 concert where you

were their frontman and singer. Now

were you in the band? Unorthodox

Manifesto is also a song you wrote

with Sven Atle in 2003: in fact, do

you enjoy what they’ve been up to?

Ah, Dimmu… Yes, I’ve known Stian,

Kenneth and Tommy (Shagrath, Tjodalv

and Galder) from way back when we

were young Skaters listening to Dead

Kennedys and Sex Pistols. Stian and I

attended the same school class in

highschool. We were good friends before

any of us had even heard of Black Metal.

So you can absolutely say that we have

known each others for a long time. Together

all of us eventually slided into the

44

field of Death and Black Metal. And I got

lots of good memories from those days.

When Dimmu then was formed, I guess

it was a natural thing for me to take part

in some way. And the live gig you speak

of with me as a front man was a gig in

east Germany. I was only singing on one

song though (OVER BLEKNEDE BLÅNER

TIL DOMMEDAG). And it’s a gig I remember

well (laughs). So, no, I wasn’t

in the band as a line-up member. But

still, I have taken a little part here and

there on their releases, such as Unorthodox

Manifesto and several other lyrics

too.

I must say that I’m very PROUD of my

old friends. Happy for them, and I truly

think they deserve their success more

than anyone else, as I know that they

have worked harder for their cause than

most BM bands have. For instance, when

I and many other black metallers from

the 90’s began exploring drugs and alternative

lifestyles, cracking our heads

open every night, partying and ending

up in an ashtray the day after, Stian and

the gang kept on focusing on the band

and their music.

I find many of their songs appealing to

me, though it’s not entirely MY thing.

Anyway, that’s rather irrelevant. I think

they deserve the honour they get for

their performance and dedication.

Though I must say that I was very sad to

see that they didn’t give me the credentials

I got the rights to on the re-release

of STORMBLÅST, where I in fact wrote

the title song plus one more (VINDER

FRA EN ENSOM GRAV). I’m not mentioned

anywhere as the writer of those

ones. That hurts me, I must

say.

Now that we’re regressing

in time, are you still in

touch with Carl-Michael

and O.J., Aura Noir’s

thrash conquerors but also

ex-DHG mongos? I’m asking

because it seems that after 666

International, all of you guys kind of

lost sight of each others, at least

musically so!

Yes, I believe we did fall from each others.

I really can’t remember any valuable

moments after that era. I’m not sure

why. But speaking for my self, I moved

rather far away, aiming for new things to

experience. I guess I lost touch with

them when I fled out of the capitol city

of Norway, where I had all my memories

with this gang. I got the impression that

for lot’s of people, especially people who

are closely connected to Oslo from childbirth,

it’s like everything outside of Oslo

is a nonexisting place. So if you move

away to a more desolate place in Norway,

people seem to think that you’re

either gone, or don’t exist for some reason.

Anyway, moving away from Oslo was the

best thing I ever did. That’s when I met

my woman who later on became my

wife. Which later on led to the birth of

my wonderful daughter child. And which

has led to a life I’m very thankful for and

a life I hold greater

than anything else

in this world.

And is your wife

also into black

metal? If not, she

must have been

quite surprised to

hear what her new beloved man was

up to in his spare time!

Oh, my wife. She’s called Camilla, by the

way. No, she had no background in black

metal or in any metal genre what so

ever when I met her. She was more a

hip hop/rap girl, with background from

those things. And we connected nicely,

much due to our dissimilarities, as I

think we found each others very unique

and interesting. We had the

same thoughts about lots of

other things in life. We could

easily relate to each others

even though we came from

two so different worlds.

Lucky for me, she’s very

much into the things I’m

working with and very supportive.

Not that she has too much interest

for Metal, but she’s interested in

backing me up.

So, you can say that she wasn’t at all

surprised with me. In fact, I believe, I

45

was the more surprised one, that someone

with so good understanding about

things I found important in life could hail

from a background such as that. Not that

I look down at Rap and Hip Hop. But I

always thought of that as rather superficial

and not a very spiritual cult.

What do you do in life nowadays?

Are you a professional hairdresser? I

also heard that you were doing tattoos

but I don’t really know how

true that is.

No, I never became a hairdresser, as it

went to prove more and more that I had

bet my money on the wrong horse. I did

find the creative part of the profession

quite interesting, so schooltime was ok.

But when I went out in salons to put the

skill into work and everyday life, I eventually

began feeling that I was at the

wrong place. I thought that it became

too much vanity involved. What shampoo

one should use for this and that

condition, what coulour to dye your hair

with related to what kind of colour your

eyes are and so on. It just became too

much nonsense. And eventually I lost my

interest in it and got out.

Later on I began to rehearse the tattoo

art. I opened my own tattoo studio some

years after that. But it didn’t work out

the way I had hoped for. So I put down

the business, yet I still do some tattoos

in between, just as a hobby thing

though.

My income today is based on several

things. Beside the music (which doesn’t

pay off too much) I work steadily as a

support contact in my community, helping

out disabled people with their daily

life. And I also paint which contributes a

bit to the money drawer.

I was wondering about something.

We all know how black metal have

been and still is, at least to some

extent, related to a mostly darker

form of self-expression, even sometimes

a quite hateful, despaired, rebellious

and destructive energy

channeling. How can a man as happy

and content as you presently are still

feel the need to dive himself into

such a decaying atmosphere? I

know you’re not 16 years old anymore;

therefore your 1994 vision of

black metal must have changed and

evolved. What is still attracting you

back to this particular art?

It’s who I am and what I know best. I’ve

always been a part of metal music in

some form. I think I need it as much as

it needs me. It makes me focus, and

relieves me from things that would become

seriously sickening and hurtful if I

didn’t have it. Which I guess would ruin

my life and leave me endlessly miserable

and unhappy. I guess it’s my channel in

life where I can create a product of the

darker aspects of my being, and present

it as something entertaining both to my

self and others. And at the same time I

have lots of fun doing it. It leaves me

with a great feeling of contemptement

and confidence, knowing that I have accomplished

something out of the ordinary.

And that I’m capable of doing

something that not everyone else can

do.

The way it has evolved and changed

since my early teenage years is in the

sense of becoming more a thing I understand

and can more easily relate to. Now

it’s much more a thing I wanna do more

precisely and seriously.

It’s like art to me now, and not some

juvenile thing to mock society with, or

some thing to be utterly deranged from

because of not being able to separate

things from each others. So to answer

your question in short terms: Black Metal

is one of the important things I need in

life to keep going on.

Last week or so, Kvohst announced

that he finally decided to quit DHG

for personal reasons. Did you personally

enjoy his performance on

Supervillain Outcast? There have

been people complaining about your

absence on this album so I just

wanted to know what the most concerned

man here does think about

his own absence.

I think Kvohst did a marvelous effort in

taking my place. Concerning all the complaints

about me not being there, I really

have to say it warms me alot, and it

46

makes me glad to get all these “annoyed”

comments (laughs). As for my

absence, as you put it, I have many

times wished that I hadn’t left, but I did

that because of something I thought was

way worth more.

My daughter was born and I wanted to

spend all my time and put all of my energy

into her baby steps, instead of focusing

on the band and traveling around

the globe. Knowing that she and her

mother were home alone without my

support… I could always return to the

music in some way, but I would never

get back to that precious time in my

daughter’s life.

As many fans out there are starting

to wet dream at night regarding an

eventual reunion, well, I guess it’s

quite fair to ask if you would like to

re-join your astral forces together

with Yusaf in DHG.

As Yoda so gallantly puts it: “hard to see

the future, always in motion the future

is”. I really can’t tell, or predict anything

about that matter. I’m very content with

my place in THORNS and The

DEATHTRIP though.

We have been doing this interview

under the convenience of a webzine

admittedly interested by avantgarde

metal in general. What do you

think you and your own breed of

musicians have created thus far?

Electronics are indeed a new driving

force, but to me, it seems that we

are even getting further and greater

than both the eighties and the nineties

together. Or do you think we’ll

never surpass what’s been done?

Are Thorns and DHG, for examples,

re-shaping metal so to speak, and is

this what avant-garde metal is all

about?

Well I don’t know about that. And I really

can’t relate to the term Avant-Garde

Black Metal at all. It tumbles in my

mouth when I say it. I don’t really see

why it has to be tagged so dramatic and

advanced. To me it’s still just Black

Metal, but the genre has become greater

and more evolved. It’s the same thing

anywhere else in the world. Everything

evolves, that’s the fact of life. And nothing

stays unaltered forever. Everything

changes. But we don’t call it an AVANTGARDE

HUMAN RACE because we have

evolved from being stone agers or Vikings.

We still tag ourselves as humans.

And we don’t say AVANT-GARDE CARS,

even though cars have been modified

and expanded greatly. I really don’t like

too much labels in life, and I think it’s

very unnecessary. It takes away some of

the magic in things.

I think I’ve been one of the people who

have contributed a bit to this kind of development

within a small part of the

world of music. Because of my diehard

interest and devotion to metal, and Black

Metal in general, along with all the others,

I have made a difference in this

small field of profession, which makes

me strong and proud to think about.

And it is also a fact of life that everything

has a tendency to repeat itself. But when

it does, it does so in a slightly different

way. Everything comes to a certain level

of stretching, when it snaps and starts all

over again. Just think about the jeans

they used in the sixties, with the wide

ending around the legs.

I remember that when I was 13 or 14

years old, they returned, but this time

they came with the widening being more

drastic. Up till then, the sixties jeans

style had been gone for twenty years or

  1. So, I think that it’s the same with all

kinds of experimental and extreme music.

It reaches a highlight, where it must

stop by natural laws, and then return to

its origin in some way.

I got your point and I would say it’s

interesting to see it this way, though

I wish there were more black metal

47

related people who shared your

views about these matters. I mean,

it’s always been only individuals

who pushed further the genre, while

hundreds of followers were recycling

the same ideas over and over. Anyway!

Thank you so much for your

time Captain Aldrahn, it was as

much an honour to get to know you

better as it was a real pleasure to do

  1. As a finale, what was one of the

craziest thing that ever happened to

you throughout all these years of

creativity and self-exploration,

something that made you literally

loose your mind for a while?

Well, I’m sorry if I sound boring, but like

many others, my problems have been

related to women. Falling in love with

the wrong girls and things like that. Not

being mature enough to deal with the

situation, and letting it become loads of

suppressed emotions. That one day can

get down to such a heavy burden that it

fucks you up badly. I think I’ve learned

that there’s only one thing which is

worse than dealing with your problems,

and that’s not doing it.

Strange that so many mental and emotional

disasters in life are related to

women. The power they got to bring a

man to his outmost despair… They are

truly what life is all about. Without them

I wouldn’t have bothered getting up in

the morning.

48

EPHEL DUATH

All You Need To Know About Pain

By Martin Cermak

Bands like this bring the light, search for

the paths and push the boundaries of

what is possible in extreme music. In

case of EPHEL DUATH they do this with

nobleness, intelligence, significant aesthetics

and sense for every form of art…

The “Phormula” album by EPHEL DUATH

was an experimental sympho-black

punch in the face, back in 2000. Its follower

“The Painter’s Palette” catapulted

this Italian combo to the prominent position

of the avant-garde metal platoon in

  1. The last regular release “Pain Necessary

to Know” moved the band’s expression

even in the more extreme corners,

the musicians emphasized the contours

of such genres as noise, math-core

and of course free jazz/fusion.

The band’s leader, main composer and

guitarist Davide Tiso is as always very

reflective and sensitive, what gives his

art significant touches and impulsions.

You absorbed a lot of jazzy feeling,

tricks and arrangements in your music.

Do you think that it is a deal and

destiny for the majority of the top

quality metal bands that they start

to tend (sooner or later) to combine

metal with jazz?

Is it the right way how metal music

can survive?

In my opinion the contamination with

jazz represents only an interesting way

to combine metal with another genre.

Metal can really survive better if using

such contaminations, and not only jazzy.

There are lots of great examples of interesting

fusions also with electronic,

industrial, hardcore, noise, and others. I

am trustful regarding the future of the

extreme music; it’s not yet a time to talk

about an exhausted scene.

Ephel Duath had always a sense and

talent for using the elements of the

above mentioned electronic music,

as well. In the “Palette” album we

can hear some jungle or acid loops.

The “Rephormula” album was full of

programmed rhythms, instruments

and sounds to make the appropriate

atmosphere. There are also some

great remixes with a dark and suggestive

non-human atmosphere. And

recently you even released “Pain

Remixes to Know” as a

drumm’n’bass appendix to the last

album “Pain Necessary to

Know”…

The remixes, for example, are

in fact a great experience. It

always permits us to approach

to the Ephel Duath’s music

from a different perspective.

What I really appreciate on

them and consider as important

is the complete twist of

our musical structures: in

these remixes they are more

cold and cynic, have different

colour and mood, even if the

roots of the songs are the

same. I hope that in the future

there will be a possibility to

repeat this experience, maybe

with others musicians or DJs.

Does the electronic face still have

some importance for Ephel Duath’s

music, or you are much more into

the live instruments now?

Computers and synthesizers are an additional

colour of our music, they haven’t a

main role, but they are really important

to emphasize grooves and psychedelic

stuff. We want to continue with these

49

expedients to offer our music more variety

– it is also an interesting another

way how to destabilize our sound.

Some of the metal fans are known

by a bit lower tolerance to the others

genres, for example electronic

music or jazz. And from the other

side, the fans of non-metal genres

scorn and flout when it comes to the

metal music; they consider it is

something for primitives. Do you

think Ephel Duath can help destroy

these barriers?

Barriers are only a form of restrictions

that people put in front of their eyes for

a no specific reason. Obviously it’s not

the right way to think about music. I

don’t see restrictions or limits defined by

genres, so I think about my music always

with a very open mind and attitude.

I like the avant-garde metal bands

and I’m into this side of metal since our

beginning. For example the evolution of

the bands like Manes and Ulver is amazing.

It is similar to Ephel Duath – they

started with strong black metal influences

and ended up with so personal,

recognizable and amazing new sound. I

love the bands that reinvent their style

and I think that this attitude is the only

option for Ephel Duath as well. But, I

only try to compose music to satisfy my

desire to express myself. I don’t have

any ambitions to became a sort of guide

for the others bands or fans.

Let’s start digging in your biography

in the moment between the debut

“Phormula” (“Rephormula”) and the

second album – “The Painter’s Palette”.

It was with no doubt a crucial

moment for the whole band and its

direction. The former duo did split

up; you gathered a completely new

line-up and totally twisted the direction

of Ephel Duath’s music – from

some kind of technical sympho-black

metal to the original mix of jazz, fusion,

noise, hardcore, metal, grindcore,

mathcore, progressive and who

50

knows what else… How do you remember

these times when everything

was changing and moving?

After the “Rephormula” release I’ve

started to compose new material with a

great determination. In few months I

wrote the guitars and the structures for

six songs and recorded the new compositions

in a small studio. The sound engineer

said me that a typical metal drummer

would be a disaster for this so various

material, so he gave me a contact to

Davide Piovesan, a jazz/prog/blues musician.

I was in a very difficult period,

crushed between the will to be bold and

the fear to be not supported by our label

for a so audacious choice. But I followed

my instinct and in few weeks I was in

studio with this crazy 47 years old

drummer and a friend of him, a double

bass player. Unfortunately the bassist

left later, but his help has been fundamental:

I understood that this was the

right way to create something of new. In

few days we found another great bass

player, Fabio Fecchio, who had a

funky/pop/fusion background, so the

rhythm section was done. To find the

right singer was more difficult, but after

various auditions the line up was complete.

After hundreds of hours spent in

our studio together the work took shape.

Is it very different for you, if you

compare the work in a duo and with

the team of for example five people?

Work in a duo is easier; you have to control

only two points of view. A lot of different

processes are quicker. Moreover

there is a possibility to create a sort of

“magic” or “alchemy” between the two

ones. That is difficult to find in a full lineup.

On the other hand, the continual

musical growth allowed by the constant

comparison with the other members is

also an exciting factor.

Can you enlighten a bit more the departure

of your initial bandmate

Giuliano Mogicato who composed

and recorded together with you the

cult debut album “Phormula”?

We have been a great communion for a

lot of years, but after the “Phormula”

recording session, my bandmate Giuliano

became completely confused regarding

the Ephel Duath’s future. He wanted to

move the new sound to some “antimetal”

form; Ephel Duath in his conception

would be an instrumental band with

percussion, cello and others acoustic

instruments. I preferred to continue

alone, because I thought he would destroy

the spirit of the band. So I decided

to create a full line-up to offer Ephel

Duath a new brilliant skin, and also to

give my music a chance for live exposition.

What are the main differences between

Ephel Duath live on stage and

Ephel Duath in studio?

51

Our songs in a live dimension are a little

bit more direct and minimal (also because

we play with only one guitar). We

needed to adapt some parts for the live

version and give them a different arrangement:

It’s a new and important

aspect how to absorb our music and I

love it. The response of the audience is

really positive as well. They are usually a

bit still, but they seem to appreciate and

understand our music.

Let’s go back to the “Painter’s Palette”

album, your second one. You

play with colours on this album. It

seems to be a creative fusion of music

and visual arts, is it?

“The Painter’s Palette” wanted to be a

sublimation of the free interpretations

and colours are, in my opinion, a perfect

way to symbolize and express this desire.

Have you ever notice how many

various and curious effects have the view

of the same colour on different sensibilities?

During the composition, intimately,

I have fused our music with pigments

and, to fully express myself, I have reported

it in the titles. I did choose the

colours to combine them with songs following

my senses, and not with a rational

search. Also it is not a “guide”:

that’s the reason for the black & white

artwork. Nine rays of the colours that

you are searching in these compositions

would try to hit you; absorb them with

the largest perception possible, and it

will complete you the sense of our work.

All the booklets of your albums are

very minimalist. It suggests an idea

that you expect the fans with a lot of

fantasy and imagination, who can

complete the impression from your

art inside their brains. Is the point

that your music cannot be accepted

and understood by the people without

fantasy?

There isn’t a formula to enter in Ephel

Duath’s music, also because there aren’t

things that need to be understood in our

compositions. The only important thing is

to feel what we create, and to have an

open mind. People without fantasy would

reach probably different musical inputs

from the others, nothing else…

In your lyrics we find a lot of terms

from the visual arts. Was it one of

your intentions to show people how

music can be directly connected and

related to the others spheres of art,

mainly the painting and the visualisation?

Terms from the visual arts and paintings

that you can find in my lyrics have been

used to create a closer connection with

the concept around “The Painter’s Palette”.

A lot of the images that are present

in my words are fused with an artistic

attitude that better defines my personality,

moreover it could be considered

also as a kind of a little tribute that I

offer to the mysterious figure of the

painter.

Which of the

painters inspire

you mostly?

My favourites are

Chagall and Miró.

They have offered a

new dimension to

colours, and their

technical search has

been really illuminating

for my artistic

formation. I love

also Magritte, Dalí

and Pollock for their

innovative and crazy

attitude…

52

Did you follow some artistic studies,

besides being an active musician?

I was a student of the “artistic conservation”

at the University of Venice, but I

left the studies to compose and record

“The Painter’s Palette”. But it doesn’t

mean I don’t want to continue this parallel

career; I’m really interested in various

artistic fields.

How was the lyrical side of “Palette”

connected to its musical and visual

aspect?

The lyrics are really intimate, introspective

and pure. They contain a lot of

negative inputs captured by my personal

life and filtered through images that I try

to make poetic. The goal is to open these

ones to all possible interpretations and to

offer the listener/reader a more active

role.

I can give you some examples: In “The

Other’s Touch”, to express a sense of

emptiness, I wrote: “View is overturning

to this internal abyss when my withered

leaves are burning and mirrors have

nothing to reflect”.

Sometimes the images that I use are

also very direct and cutting – for example

in “Ruins”, to express the difficulties

that I face being in contact with a lot of

people when the sudden sense of fury

guides my mind, I wrote:

“And in poor seconds the filthy figures

surrounding me became obstacles. Intoxicated

eyes, madly, are searching for

the obscure calm, but the partial blindness

doesn’t relieve and viscid words are

shoved to the fury: my hostile guide”.

My lyrics have a strong lenitive power

and impact on me; they permit to me to

understand a lot of different aspects of

my ego.

Let’s move to the (for the moment

last one) album “Pain Necessary to

Know”. I can offer you a metaphor –

on “Palette” you were a music

painter, on “Pain” you are a music

architect. Are you for?

I love your metaphor! I totally agree

with you, the “Pain…” album shows my

deep interest about the various musical

levels of songs. Moreover the rhythmical

approach on “Pain Necessary to Know”

(that builds and destroys oblique parts)

contributes to the architectural mood

present in the album.

When thinking about your evolution

between “Palette” and “Pain” I had

the following first impression: The

newer album is more mathematic,

while the previous has more colours.

Where did you want to move from

the “Palette” to the new one?

I wanted to compose an album with

more dynamics, a clear no-direction and

fewer messages fuse together. I’m still

interested in the crossover side of the

band, but now I’m searching to give life

to real monolith music with a clear unidentity.

Are you familiar with the mathematic

dimension of music? Not only

that one subgenre (near to your expression)

is called math-core, but

also you use the word “vector” in

your song titles. Mathematics is

connected with the order, but your

expression is also very chaotic (the

first song on the album is called

“New Disorder”). Do you feel that

this tension between the precision/

order and disorder is somehow

basic for your thinking in music?

Every Ephel Duath song is born from a

guitar skeleton that is composed with the

most spontaneity and impulsivity possible.

Math comes after, when I propose

my parts to the rhythm section and we

restart the whole structure’s process.

The mix between my absolutely nontheoretical

attitude and the technical and

deep hearted contribution of the bass

player Fabio was one of the most interesting

Ephel Duath’s sides.

What do you mean about the current

strong wave of the math-core, noisecore,

jazzy grind etc.? Do you think

it is really growing (and why)?

I deeply respect these genres and I consider

math-core to be a very intelligent

chance that the current metal scene has

to evolve itself. There are nerves, chaos,

53

irony and tons of feelings inside: everything

what the today’s metal, related to

this poor society, needs.

The “Pain…” album is more extreme

in every meaning – more jazzy, more

noise, more rhythmic etc. What

pushes you to search and explore

the extremes? Which others extremes

do you see in your evolution?

I want to completely free our music from

all typical restrictions of the genres. I try

to offer Ephel Duath the freedom of contemporary

music, destroying the song’s

classical structure and giving a new idea

of the repetitions of riffs. At the same

time I want to enlarge our public as

much as possible: this is the challenge

that I see for our future.

Although each of your albums is

quite different, the last two are musically

neighbouring, comparing

them to “Rephormula”. So I think

you did successfully define your

style. Can you turn back and try to

sum up what is typical for the nowadays

Ephel Duath, which elements of

its current expression are the most

important for you?

Till our origins, contrasts are one of the

Ephel Duath’s most important elements.

In the first album we used to fuse

together extreme metal and symphonic

or electro stuff, with second one using

jazz and metal, today we develop this

factor in a full or empty way, with cries

and caresses. Screaming help us to underline

this will, it explode and immediately

hide itself like a wolf in the forest.

The well balanced fusion between these

elements creates our style, and to emphasize

this aspect I’m putting

as much attention as possible

to the dynamics and volumes.

Your guitar and its sound

and production differ very

much, album by album. The

last recording has a very

jagged, noisy, raw, nervous

and a bit untypical sound.

Why did you choose it and

how did you reach it?

To record “Pain Necessary to

Know” I have used the same

amplifier, a simple Fender Hot

Rod Deluxe combo, an old

Boogie head, and an Orange

head and cabinet. I tried to go to the

roots of my guitar’s sound, to the most

natural possible, everything combined

with a strong use of effects where necessary.

You can clearly listen to the valve

in my sound, at the same time the pick

that touch the strings is on your face. I

deeply love this sound, even if I will try

to better my low frequencies, especially

on live dimension.

You did choose a very uncomfortable

sound and music “layout” of the

whole recording. What is so attractive

for you on this musical uncomfortableness?

In my opinion the possibility to create a

personal way to think about the extreme

music passes also through an apparent

non-comfort.

Did the reactions on the “Pain” album

somehow deeply differ from the

reactions on “Palette”?

Reactions on “The Painter’s Palette” has

been simply astonishing. It was an ambitious

album that permitted to the band

to enlarge its public. In that period it

seems that listeners of a very wide spectrum

of genres appreciated the band! A

horrible situation for me… (Laughs)

The reactions on “Pain Necessary to

Know” were more interesting. Today it’s

clear who loves us and who doesn’t appreciate

our jump into the experimental

54

side of music. Those, who love us, follow

every Ephel Duath choices and changes

of direction.

We spoke yet about “Painter’s Palette”

being closely connected to the

visual arts; but how about the new

album? The key word for this one is

“Pain”. Does it mean that this album

deals more with the feelings, emotions,

moods, states of body and

mind?

New album is deeply in contact with my

inner obscurity. Probably it has less artistic

visualisation than “The Painter’s

Palette” due to the fact that its prevalent

colour is black and the others are black’s

shades. Anyway I’m pretty sure that the

new songs would be perfect with some

minimal visual animation; if there will be

economical possibilities, we’ll try to do

something in this direction.

The musical structure of “Pain” album

seems to me more rational. Is it

also a case of the lyrics, are they

connected less with the artistic/

aesthetic aspect and in the contrary

more with the real world,

ground, human deal etc.?

When I write the Ephel Duath’s lyrics, I

start from simple things that gravitate

around my life, using a lot of images and

metaphors. “Pain Necessary to Know”

lyrics focus the attention to all the masks

that we have to put on our faces to live

our days. We use the figure of the medusa’s

tentacles present in the artwork

to symbolize the title of the album. You

can’t say you know medusa, if you haven’t

a sign of its touch around your

body. You can’t say you have a distant

idea of what is the better life for you, if

you don’t have the signs of pain around

your thoughts. In my opinion “pain is

necessary to know”. The whole album

has been influenced also by my new

residence, Venice, and by its dirty water

and strange temporal density. I fell to

float and not to live here.

Three songs have “Vector” in the

title. Which concept lies behind?

The “Vector’s saga” starts from some

inner thoughts regarding the necessity to

change my impulsive side and to ponder

every choice. I’ve connected this song

with others two compositions created in

the same period and in the same mood.

It made an interesting combination.

55

Then the chronology of this trilogy has

been destroyed to exalt the track list.

Is the chaotic face of Ephel Duath’s

music a reflection (a mirror) of the

more and more chaotic world

around, overloaded by information,

impossible to catch easily?

My music is a concrete way to escape

from the rules and models of this society

that don’t represent me. The chaos present

in it reflects my personality that is,

on the other hand, obviously influenced

by the world around me.

We spoke yet about the building of

the new line-up before recording

“Palette”. Unfortunately you had

some line-up difficulties again. What

is the reason that it is so hard to

keep the band stable and fixed?

The singer Davide Tolomei left the band

for personal reasons during “The

Painter’s Palette” promotion. It has been

a very difficult situation because we were

heading for the Norway’s Quart Festival.

We were forced then to rearrange the

whole set list in few days.

Regarding our ex-drummer Davide Piovesan,

it was impossible for him to continue

with Ephel Duath. The band’s economical

situation doesn’t permit us to

live of our music; we are very distant

from it. He understood it during the tour

with The Dillinger Escape Plan and Poison

the Well: probably in that occasion

he decided to quit us. We have given the

final arrangements to the “Pain…”

songs, recorded it in studio, and immediately

after the drum sessions he wrote

me a letter talking about his will.

Unfortunately, it was not the end.

The bassist Fabio Fecchio left us in 2007.

But we are ready now to explore some

even more experimental dimensions of

the music. I want to add something

more… I put my life in this project. The

band has become a sort of inner language

for me: it’s impossible to play with

Ephel Duath not considering this particular.

If someone realizes (for various different

reasons) that he is not able to

offer all his strength to the band, he

usually leaves us.

Your band’s image is very serious –

ties, well cut lounge suits and shirts

etc. Was there some

connection between the

evolution of your musical

style and your dressing?

Since our beginnings we

have tried to offer an elegant

image to the band. It

is connected to the sophisticated

way how we try to

create music. So it’s not a

choice related only to

some concrete album or

band’s musical style in

some period, but it represents

the only way how

Ephel Duath members can

present themselves.

How do you spend your

free time when you don’t compose

music?

My free time is usually filled with books,

movies, art, alcohol and few others

things… I love movies, especially the

works of Kieslowski, Amenábar, Polanski,

Antonioni, Joel Coen, Tarantino, Guy

Ritchie, Lars Von Trier, Scorsese and

Kusturica. In literature my favourites are

Bukowski, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck

Palahniuk, Kundera, Tibor Fischer and J.

  1. Leroy above all.

56

THE AXIS OF PERDITION

Modelation Of The Absolute Uncertainty

By Martin Cermak

What the hell. British THE AXIS OF

PERDITION are one of the weirdest formations

that ever crawled out from the

underworld. They absorbed different

shapes of extreme music (be it black

metal, dark ambient or industrial), processed

and transformed it into their own

original, non-human, excessive sound for

apocalypse. It penetrates into the marrow

of your bones and brings an instant

anxiety. You need to live and survive this

experience…

Our guide (whose words will help you,

touch you, confuse you, enlighten you at

one dash) is the multi-instrumentalist

Mike Blenkarn. We spoke together

mainly about their last full-length nightmare

“Deleted Scenes from the Transition

Hospital”, but the fans can yet soon

look forward the new terrible effort of

The Axis of Perdition. You were warned…

The overall artistic expression of

your band is quite bizarre. What is

the most attractive for you on this

bizarreness?

Art in general that exists on a knife-edge

at the furthest outreaches of acceptability

tends to be both divisive and compelling,

and offers great potential for manipulating

and feeding off the preconceptions

of the consumer to cultivate strong

emotional and physical reactions. The

bizarre side of The Axis of Perdition

mainly derives from the joy of exploration

into the unknown and to keep surprising

and provoking reactions in us as

much as anyone else.

I think the key characteristic in our music

is a continuous conflict between repulsion

and attraction, and we try to

keep the music full of physical sensations

and textures, make it an evocative environment

that you could almost touch or

taste (while wishing that you couldn’t),

but make it something that you can’t

help but explore out of simple fascination.

The bottom line is that in order to

work with a fairly continuous set of materials

and keep maintaining a strong

feeling you just have to keep challenging

yourself, and in Axis, the feeling is everything.

Are you studying, describing, and

expressing the states of psychic abnormality

and psychic diseases

through your art? Your music sounds

quite psychotic, no doubts…

The horrific mood of The Axis of Perdition’s

art is based on playing with concepts

of psychological disorders, yes.

Fundamentally, we’re trying to suggest

an environment where your perception is

not to be trusted and you must continually

question your surroundings and the

integrity of your sanity.

By mixing up identifiable, accountable

sounds in our ambient parts, like machine

sounds, metal dragging, liquid

flowing etc., and contrasting them with

processed and manipulated sounds to

create the hypothetical sounds of horrible,

unearthly things, we’re trying to

present the listener with a “catch 22

situation”: either accept that all the

sounds are real, and let your imagination

loose in constructing ideas of what could

be making the stranger sounds, or decide

that none of them are real, and

have to question everything that you

perceive. This mimics the kind of effect

that some psychoses and disorders can

have on people, and the deep dread and

fear that can come with not being able to

rely on your senses to tell you what is

real anymore, which is undoubtedly very

frightening.

If the listener is interacting with the music

wholeheartedly then either approach

should have the kind of unnerving effect

that we’re trying to create, but if you can

accept the unreality and allow your mind

to just run free with it, then I think that’s

a lot more enriching and you’ll find the

music more rewarding. The act of listening

to Axis is definitely interactive and

what you get out of the music is going to

depend on what you bring to it in the

first place.

How do you define normality?

57

Do you consider yourself as normal?

That’s a tough one. I think a lot of people

would consider it abnormal to dwell

on the things that go into The Axis of

Perdition as intensively and obsessively

as we do, but I think to be able to appreciate

the sheer power and inherent

fascination of the things that inspire us is

really a blessing. We’re just really passionate

about music and horror and doing

our best to unify the two. To be honest,

I think to just submit to the grey 9

to 5 routine that society tries to impose

on you and stick to the blandest, most

predictable and most contrived forms of

lowest-common-denominator art that

lots of people seem to be content with

and consider to be the benchmarks of

“normal” and “acceptable” is completely

abnormal. We’re in a wealthy and privileged

society with all our needs essentially

catered for, so people have no excuse

not to find things to be passionate

about and not try and challenge themselves.

Do you study your own “inside”,

your mind, psychic states etc.?

Definitely yes. What probably keeps Axis

compelling to us and others is the fact

that we’re developing our work by trying

to shock ourselves, explore our own

fears and consciousness, and make ourselves

feel the visceral sensations and

emotions we are trying to create. We

have to put faith in our own reactions

and consistently try and intensify the

impact the music has on us as listeners

ourselves – it keeps things very honest,

instinctive and uncontrived. With this

kind of music, as soon as you try and

over-think and try and manipulate things

too much, you can extinguish the spirit

of it all too easily.

Can you tell me the main story behind

“Deleted Scenes from the Transition

Hospital “, and how did you

develop the basic idea…?

Essentially, “Deleted Scenes” concerns

an unnamed protagonist, who wakes up

in a dark, claustrophobic, derelict building

that initially appears to be an abandoned

hospital, and which he appears to

be completely trapped in. Alone and

completely unable to remember how he

came to be there, his only choice is to

try and explore the place and find the

way out. The further in he goes, the

darker, danker and more derelict the

place becomes, growing filthier and more

treacherous to navigate. He’s not alone

and that there are… things nearby, observing

him, stalking him. Is the place

even like a hospital any longer, is it becoming

a distorted and horrific labyrinth

that makes no sense and couldn’t possibly

exist in a sane reality? His mental

state deteriorates, but he has to keep

moving, to escape, and to find out ultimately

what he’s doing there, even if the

knowledge destroys his mind. Why he’s

there, what he encounters on the journey

and all the details I’ll leave to your

imagination. If we gave you too much

information it probably wouldn’t engage

you as much.

Are you inspired and

familiar with the artists

like von Trier or

Lynch whose feeling

(and the milieu or

background, which

they describe) is

close to yours? The

word “scenes”

evokes the relation to

movies.

Lynch, very much so.

The lounge music buried

under the static and

noises at the end of

“Pendulum Prey” is a

58

minor homage to Lynch’s work, as you

could probably have guessed. Lynch’s

attention to detail, the sheer emotional

gravity of his films, uncompromising devotion

to his art and a vision that can

only be called breathtaking are all a

great inspiration for anyone who takes

their work seriously. Like Lynch though,

you’ll be hard pressed to get us to explain

our work in too much detail, because

the mystery preserves something

that might be lost otherwise. I’ve also

heard great things about Von Trier’s

“Riget”, and that’s on my list of things to

check out.

From which state to which one occurs

the “transition”? Is it something

like from “being” to “nonbeing”

(or another state)?

That could be one. The transition doesn’t

have to mean to move from one concrete

state to another as much as to illustrate

the process of continuous

change, evolution and devolution. It

could be the distortion of the human

mind and body into something darker

under the influence of The Axis of Perdition,

equally it could describe how the

apparent “hospital” illustrated in the

story slowly becomes something else. It

could be any change in your perceptions

before, during and after listening to the

album… We have our own explanations,

of course, but who’s to say ours are necessarily

more valid than yours?

Do you work with your topics in a

more abstract / transcendent way,

or in the contrary you catch (metaphorically)

the real world?

We’re interested in the real world to the

extent that we can take inspiration from

real derelict environments, real dark

places, genuine psychopathology, psycho-

geography, and urban mythology

and the like. As for world problems, politics,

and the black & white realities of

life, we’re not really concerned with that

at all. Our work is set in an abstract,

imaginative horror environment that behaves

to the rules we set it and derives

from film and literature in the like, so it’s

set in deliberate contrast to, and in preference

to, the real world. The imagination

is so much more fertile and rich in

possibility, to keep our feet “on the

ground” would be boring. I’m not keen

on the word escapism, but it covers a lot

of what I’m trying to say.

Are you interested in hospitals (or

even mental hospitals, bedlams)?

Did you visit these places to search

for some inspiration?

Real exploration of derelict environments

and recording found sounds on location

is becoming a greater part of The Axis of

Perdition all the time. To keep focus on

creating visceral, textural sounds and

stimulate ourselves there’s nothing better

than looking round such places.

Derelict buildings, particularly asylums

and the like, are just that evocative, exciting,

enticing and fascinating that I

could never see enough of them, they’re

just endlessly beguiling and powerful.

Seeing a building in that state seems to

intensify the emotion and atmosphere

within it to such a degree that they’re

absolutely perfect backdrops for exploring

the repulsion vs. attraction paradigm

that I mentioned earlier. They’re the

postmodern equivalent of ruins, or like

naturally evolving sculpture, and I think

they should be celebrated as such, with

respect rather than being cordoned off,

hushed up and torn down by a society

obsessed with new shiny things, pretending

nothing exists but the bright and

new and comfortable, unconcerned by

learning from the changes that it’s been

through and the realities of urban decay.

The atmosphere of your songs is

59

sometimes quite eschatological. Are

you interested in the human “last

things”, “end of the road”, and life

after death?

Our first album dealt with apocalyptic

themes as much as we wanted to, our

long term interests are in lower key,

idiosyncratic, person-centred “stories”.

We’re interested in death in the context

of how fear can be promoted and cultivated

by threat of death and especially

about the intrinsic human fear of the

unknown, of which death is foremost. So

while I can say death is an important

tool to The Axis of Perdition, we’re focused

on creating these frightening stories

first and foremost so we use it as

and when the story requires it, not as an

object on its own.

Are feelings very important for you?

I can feel fear, an abstract anxiety,

incertitude and roughness in your

music. Are your feelings coming

from it?

It’s ultimately fear in all its different

forms and degrees of subtlety and

uniquely different impacts that we’re

exploring. All our artistic concerns are

bound up in stimulating it, presenting

evocative scenarios and stories for the

listeners to involve themselves in, and

exploring dread and the unearthly

through psychological and cinematic

methodologies. We want the sounds to

stimulate the senses and travel deep into

the strange territories between repulsion

and fascination. The other feelings you

cite are things we’d consider within this

broad model of fear, and the fear derives

from this sense of psychological uncertainty,

the constant need to question the

evidence of the senses and the integrity

of the mind, the descent into the chaos,

darkness and confusion of what could

either be a diseased mind or a nightmare

world of genuine horror, or both.

Are you very familiar with the dark

ambient and industrial music? Do

you think that The Axis of Perdition

is still metal music, or yet more nonmetal?

Sometimes I am not sure…

Axis is probably best described as a dark

ambient band that uses metal as part of

a range of textures. The metal parts are

developed and executed with an ambient

sense of aesthetics and structures, emphasising

continuous flow and maintaining

mood rather than trying to satisfy

pop sensibilities with catchy hooks and

the like. The overall idea is to unify dark

ambient and metal into a style that’s

both and neither. Most of the criticism

we get is from people who are either

unable to accept that we’re not trying to

win them over within five seconds with a

fat riff and play up to their self-satisfied

expectations and inability to deviate

from comfortable patterns, or think that

we’re misguided to try and meld the

genres like this and think they know better.

Both are quite amusing – in fact the

way millions of people in the world over

think that an internet connection gives

them instant authority on any subject is

downright hilarious – but it’s not something

we waste too much thought on. It’s

not our problem. We seem to be getting

through to some people though. If they

say that they’ve really been affected and

moved by our work, it is very gratifying

and very humbling. Oh, and very weird!

Which bands and projects would you

name as most inspiring for The Axis

of Perdition?

There are loads of ambient stuff that has

been important before and/or that is

influencing me now though, too much to

list. Maeror Tri’s “Emotional Engramm”

has always been a huge inspiration,

though on the surface there are little

similarities. It’s a great album though,

and most importantly it was my first

ambient album and opened me up to a

whole new world of musical possibilities.

After that, Megaptera, Raison d’etre,

60

Sephiroth, and recently Atrium Carceri

and Gruntsplatter have all played their

parts.

In terms of metal, Emperor were an influence

in the beginning, Blut Aus Nord

have been a huge influence, and

Meshuggah too, but mostly the more

we’ve built up a body of work, the more

we’ve derived inspiration and ideas just

by reviewing our previous work and

thinking about different places we can

take the style that we’ve personally developed.

Just recently I’ve been enjoying

the Deathspell Omega, too, though

whether this’ll impact on the band, I

don’t know.

What do you think about the current

so-called post-black wave? Your

band is considered as one of the

leading acts of this genre…

I think post-black metal is a pretty crap

umbrella term, really. There’s no unifying

philosophy or style to the bands that

get called post-black metal, and some (I

put Axis forward as a particular example)

have no relation to black metal anyway.

It just seems a lazy and unjustified way

of tidying up what’s perceived to be a

cluttered scene, as if it were as simple as

that. I think there’s very little comparison

to be made between any of the

“post-black” bands; Blut Aus Nord is the

only one that we feel any kind of artistic

and aesthetic kinship with. I should think

the others bands don’t appreciate such

comparisons any more than I do. These

sort of meaningless and half-baked

genre ideas are really something to be

actively discouraged as much as possible.

A short idea about your musical future…?

We’re just going to keep at what we’ve

already been doing, as before, but trying

to challenge ourselves, do everything

better, and make the experience even

more vivid and engaging and detailed

than before. I do feel that we found

about the right balance on “Deleted

Scenes” with it being a straight 50-50

split between metal and ambient, so I

suppose that’s something that might

stay the same.

61

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA

Dirty Dancing With Diablo

By Martin Cermak

The fresh young Swedish blood DIABLO

SWING ORCHESTRA is one of the bands

that cannot sink into average. If you

hear them once, you either like them or

hate them, but you cannot mess them

with anything other. Of course, what else

can you expect from the people who are

able to combine elegantly such genres as

swing, tango or flamenco with metal and

opera. When listening to their songs on

their debut album “Butcher’s Ballroom”,

nothing is sure nor guaranteed, so you

must be ready and alerted every minute.

Just now, we will not yet dance with

devil himself, but with one of his legate –

the guitarist Daniel Hakansson…

Your music is quite a “wild mix” of

everything possible; sometimes the

particular components are very distant

one from another. How do you

manage it and stick together, so that

the final result sounds coherent? Is

it difficult to keep the consistent and

cohesive expression if you work this

method?

To make it work I think it is important to

actually like these particular styles of

music. Otherwise it can easily just become

gimmick. We truly enjoy flamenco,

swing and oriental music for instance

and this is our way of showing our influences.

The problem of making it work

does not lie within writing the song, but

finding a sound that fits them. So this

was the most challenging aspect that we

worked a lot on in the studio. I actually

think we succeeded.

You work with the “retro” music

styles and sounds. You have even

“swing” in the name of the band.

What means for you those styles and

retro atmosphere, what do you find

there so attractive for you?

The swing tag is more connected to the

fact that we make music to dance rather.

Anyway, we don’t use the different elements

because of strive to be different,

but because we simply enjoy them. We

haven’t set up any rules for something

that we won’t use. We are pretty openminded

and will at least try every idea

that comes up once.

You use the operatic female voices

(among others). Don’t you have a

fear that it will be considered as a

cliché by the fans and reviewers,

because of the overabundance and

abuse of this kind of vocals in metal

music (mainly in the gothic bands)?

When we started the band, we were unaware

of the fact that there exist so

many female-fronted bands in metal.

Our influence comes from the different

reasons. My mother was an opera singer

in her youth and this connection to our

music has nothing to do with the fact

that many other bands use female lead

vocals. But to be honest, I think we are

one of the few that has a professional

opera singer as a full-time member.

Generally how is your musical

grounding? Are you metalheads exploring

as vide as possible the others

genres? Or in the contrary you

started with something completely

62

different and reached metal face

later?

I got an upbringing filled with operas and

choir works. I wasn’t paying to much

attention at the time, but when I later

got into music, it had clearly made an

impact on me. I picked up the guitar

when I turned 16 and few years later I

“rediscovered” classical music and ideas

started to take shape. We are all into

metal however, in various forms, so I

guess that’s what ties us together musically.

How long time did “crystallize” the

original musical style of DSO? Can

you describe this process of taking

shape and crystallization of your expression?

I cannot emphasize enough the impact

the studio work had on our sound. It

took a long time before we finally got a

sound that fitted. Prior to the recording

we sound more like a “garage-version”

of ourselves; it wasn’t until the songs

had been recorded, we realized how special

they sounded.

We didn’t have any trumpets or flutes at

the rehearsal, so we just had to imagine

them at certain passages and it was a

relief to finally get to hear them. We are

certainly very pleased with the results of

our efforts. We were all in all in the studio

for about 12 weeks during a period of

half a year. The humorous aspect of the

music actually came to life in the studio

and came very much from the fact that

we enjoyed ourselves a lot.

What did you absorb from the Scandinavian

musical and cultural background?

Did you draw this typical

Swedish melodic feeling or atmosphere?

Me myself have taken an impression

from a lot of folk music around the world

including the Swedish one. Don’t know

how we would sound if we were from

another country but I’m sure the fact

that Sweden has a good reputation for

putting out quality music has helped us

along the way.

You are with no doubt an innovative

band, in the best tradition of the experimental

Scandinavian metal

wave. What are in your opinion the

current “needs” of metal music –

what helps it to survive and evolve?

I think the vital is that people approach

music for what it is. Progression in any

kind of music is only natural and hopefully

we can broad some people senses

of what good music is. Genres are uninteresting

and hopefully that mentality

can spread more and more to the metal

scene. That said I must say that the underground

metal scene is a vital as ever

with a lot of cool bands such as Unexpect,

To-Mera and Stolen Babies. It

seems like people are looking for something

new and fresh and for now we

seem to fill that void for them.

Do you have an idea what is your

personal contribution to the scene?

I would hope that it would be that we

influence other bands to incorporate all

different kinds of elements into their music.

And also that we can bring together

people that normally don’t listen to the

same kind of music.

How did you reach the deal? Was it

difficult, or easy? By chance, or

through the hard work?

I spoke to the founder of Candlelight rec.

Lee Barret on a forum and he expressed

some interest to help us to find a deal.

When he later became the A&R for Candlelight,

he asked once again, if we want

to come onboard. As for now, we have

only a licence agreement with them and

we’ll see what the future has to bring,

but we are very satisfied with the collaboration

so far.

How important is for you the “image”

of the band – costumes, design,

setting/decor etc.? How do you

work with it?

Since we play a sort of theatrical music,

we can’t show up wearing jeans and tshirts

for a show. It just won’t suit the

music. Our bassist Andy works as an art

director and comes up with most of the

visual ideas connected to our image/

style or whatever it should be called.

63

Your biography is very nice – one of

the best I ever read, with a really

nice, uncommon story! Tell me – is

this history a complete “fairy-tale”

(very well written and narrated), a

half-truth/half tale… or a truth?

Well, the answer depends on how much

you know about Swedish history. The

other official biography states that we all

started the band to finance our mutual

gambling addiction…

The conversation ends here, but the

story just begins. Let’s jump 500

years back…

The Diablo Swing Orchestra dates back

to 1501 in Sweden, where history tells

the tale of an orchestra that played like

no other. With music so seductive and

divine that the ensemble overwhelmed

audiences all over the country, and people

from all social classes took them to

their hearts. Their performances rapidly

earned a reputation of being feral and

vigorous and gained the orchestra a devoted

crowd that followed them around.

During the later half of the 16’th century

the criticism against the royal crown dictatorial

ruling had intensified. Gifts and

tenancies had made the church extremely

wealthy, and since the money

merely was used to strengthen their

power the discontent among the people

was growing. To many people the orchestra

presented them to a new view

upon things and a way to cope with everyday

life.

The church witnessed how their influence

over the people decreased and began to

depict the orchestra as treacherous, saying

their intentions were anything but

righteous. The orchestras’ extensive use

of the prohibited tritonus interval in their

music as well as their excessive lifestyles

was facts that were not looked mildly

upon. During church services priests

slandered the music saying it was an

insult to Christ himself. However, when

this attempt to reduce the orchestras’

popularity failed, the church began to

use more desperate measures in order to

regain its former power.

The Devils orchestra became the slogan

they used and the members were accused

of being everything from devil

worshippers to the spawn of Satan. This

catchphrase eventually caught on and

became the popular name of the orchestra.

When even these efforts shown futile

the church ultimately framed the orchestra

members for a murder and a ruthless

manhunt began. The following two years

the orchestra lead the lives of outlaws

and were forced to perform in barns and

outhouses, where only a strictly limited

number of people were allowed to attend.

Luckily generous people provided

them with food and somewhere to sleep.

In order to capture the orchestra the

church issued a reward to the person

that could provide such information that

lead to the capture of the orchestra. The

sum was so large that the orchestra,

tired and weary of living as fugitives,

realised that it all had come to and end.

They knew that sooner or later someone

would reveal their whereabouts and the

decided to go down in style.

But before doing so they all signed a

pact saying that their descendants were

given the task of reuniting the orchestra

in 500 years and continue their work of

spreading thought-provoking music. Six

envelopes were therefore sealed and

given to trustees of the orchestra to pass

on to family members. They announced

their final concert publicly as a grandeur

finale. Thousands of people showed up

and even though it was almost no one

64

who could actually hear the music, the

massive sing-along of the crowd granted

the performance to be the most talked

about in history. Thanks to the huge

amount of people the orchestra was allowed

to play until their last song when

armed guards finally managed to storm

the stage and arrest the musicians. They

were sent prison and later sentenced to

death by hanging.

Stockholm 2003, by mere accident two

of the original orchestra descendants

meet in a music shop and began to discuss

music. It later shows that they both

have received a strange letter from some

ancient relative containing instructions

on how to reunite The Devils Orchestra.

They both become very excited and

though some genealogy they managed

to find all of the remaining successors in

a period of three months.

Unfortunate all of the original scores

were confiscated and burned by the

church back in 1503. So music-wise the

new orchestra were left with no directions

on what to play. After some meticulous

discussions it was agreed upon

that the music should be like a modern

version of the old orchestra. Annlouice

was chosen to front the band, her angelic

yet powerful operatic voice was

perfect to bring a bombastic feeling to

the music. Pontus dance-influences and

programming skills came in handy since

the orchestra wanted the arrangements

to sound a bit more futuristic. He shares

guitar duties with Daniel who also is the

main composer in the band. Andy

brought some groove to the mix adding

powerful slapping and funk-oriented bass

licks, while Andreas’s energetic drumming

made sure the songs are driven

and pulsating. Together with Anders, he

lays the solid swinging foundation of the

band. Johannes’s theoretical knowledge

and stunning technique combined with

an emotive cello-playing style made him

essential to the bands sound.

65

BAL-SAGOTH

15 Years Of Blazing Swords, Crimson

Rain And Majestic Vistas.

By aVoid

There is bombast, and then there is

bombast. Epic, majestic, call it whatever

– many try, most fail. From the British

Isles comes BAL-SAGOTH, for a decade

and a half over and over again setting

even higher standards in narrative

conceptuality and the aforementioned

adjectives. “Too many trumpets”.

“Sounds like a comic book”. The taunts

have been many, yet none that may

touch these infamous warrior kings. You

may worship them, you may detest

them, but one truth is constant – over

their 15 years of existence, they have

trodden their own singular path,

fearlessly looking forward into the

unknown, granting blissful wonders to

those who dare to follow. In my search

for illumination, I conjured up a spiritual

connection to the ultimate driving force

behind Bal-Sagoth, Lord Byron

Roberts, and one of the masterminds

behind the music, Jonny Maudling.

(Additional queries phrased by Trident.)

PREFACE:

RECOLLECTIONS AND FOREBODINGS

It has now been about 1½ years

since The Chthonic Chronicles was

released, and it has received great

acclaim from many magazines

(including this). It feels though as a

sort of summary, gathering different

aspects from its five predecessors,

and at the end returning to Hatheg-

Kla where A Black Moon Broods Over

Lemuria once began. What is

happening in Bal-Sagoth these days?

Are you blissfully dreaming of the

splendours of youth, or gathering

forces to strike again when the stars

are right?

BYRON: Well there are currently no firm

plans to release a seventh album. That

doesn’t mean that it will never happen,

it’s just that we’re not planning on it at

any point in the immediately foreseeable

future. There’s certainly no shortage of

inspiration or material, it’s just that at

this point in the legend of Bal-Sagoth

(15 years old in 2008!) I feel that if

there are ever to be any further albums,

then a number of conditions simply

MUST be right. One of them is that a

really dedicated and suitable label must

be ready and willing to release the work.

I will never allow Bal-Sagoth to go down

the “self-released” road, as that would

clearly be a backward step, and would

tarnish the mystique and reputation of

the band.

66

Sure, that method might work fine for

some bands, and good luck to them, but

it’s not for Bal-Sagoth. Any theoretical

future deal that we sign would have to

be tailored very specifically to the band

before I even think of licensing any

further material. At this stage, we can

make our own schedule, our own plan of

attack, our own strategy. We’ve proved

that we’re not some flash-in-the-pan

band with a sell-by date. We’re an

enduring force in extreme metal, and we

could potentially leave it another 10

years before we released another album,

and we’d still find an audience for it. We

will not bow to the pressures of the

music industry or play exclusively by its

rules. That’s one of the prime Bal-Sagoth

mandates. Another factor would be that

the material would have to be 100%

perfect and suitable before it’s even

considered for release. This band is an

extreme metal band, I always envisioned

it as such, and any future output would

accordingly be extreme. Over the years,

in certain respects, we may have lost

sight of that directive somewhat

regarding the music. There won’t be any

such compromise for any theoretical

future material. Rest assured, we are

watching… and waiting. If and when the

time is right, we will let the world know

accordingly.

I’m also working on various short stories

and graphic novels based on my lyrics,

which are being illustrated by the artist

Martin Hanford. There are plans to

publish those. And of course, in the

meantime you may well hear new stuff

from Jonny (keyboards) or Chris (guitar)

not under the Bal-Sagoth name. They’re

not exclusively chained to Bal-Sagoth

after all, so they could easily release side

projects until such time as we think

about the possibility of another album.

Another plan is to do some shows in

2008 around Europe and the rest of the

world. We’re certainly open to any offers

from promoters who may be interested

in booking Bal-Sagoth, so anyone can

submit a proposal and it will be

considered. So, basically we’re currently

not under any pressure to do anything

and are ruling our vast empire

unopposed.

Yes, you seem to have had some

problems with record labels – your

first three albums were released by

Cacophonous (of whom no band

seem to have anything nice to say),

and the latter trilogy through

Nuclear Blast, whom I believed you

attacked pretty fiercely in a

statement on your website a few

years ago. What have the exact

problems been (if you are willing to

enlighten us)?

You don’t seem to be the only band

having issues with these two labels.

B: I can’t remember attacking NB on the

site at all… I might have been drunk!

There were never really any major

problems with NB. They left us alone to

do our thing, which is always important.

No, for the most part the labels did

pretty much the best they could do (or

were prepared to do) for us. The

problems we’ve had with labels has been

pretty much the standard stuff which

most bands experience. Nothing new or

out of the ordinary. Cacophonous was a

small label with limited resources, who

didn’t like parting with money. I

remember they made us use the same

tape reels and record over the first

album when we were in the studio for

the second one, instead of just buying

new reels! And NB was a big label with

limited time to devote to us.

I think that NB could have done a lot

more to promote the sixth album,

particularly after it got such good

reviews around the world. And the

promotion in USA for it was practically

zero. Also they didn’t do anything at all

to help us when Armageddon Music

fucked up the Bal-Sagoth tracks on the

Wacken 2004 CD. But whatever. This is

all par for the course in the music

industry.

You say that you have in certain

67

respects lost sight of the extremity

in your music. Would you have

wished the albums you released at

the end of the century to have been

more extreme?

B: Perhaps, but only in certain respects.

I think maybe the third, fourth and fifth

albums would have benefited from

having a more extreme essence in the

compositions and a more brutal, nasty

edge to the music overall.

You use, among others, the term

“avant-garde” to describe Bal-

Sagoth’s music. In the sphere of

metal, how do you think this term

should be used? What does it mean

to you? How long have you used it?

And the silly question for which the

answer is apparent – what makes

Bal-Sagoth avant-garde?

B: That was just one of many adjectives

that has been employed to describe our

material over the years. In truth, it’s

probably no more or less appropriate

than any number of other descriptors or

superlatives. I would suppose that the

thing which makes us in any way avantgarde

is that we have always striven to

push the boundaries, take risks, and

experiment boldly with our art. We never

looked at what anyone else was doing,

rather we always thought it was

important to carve our own original and

innovative niche. The passing of time

and the judgement of history will

ultimately decide whether or not we

were successful.

Bal-Sagoth seems for some to be

quite hard to get into. What advice

do you have for those interested?

Where is the proper place to begin

exploring Bal-Sagoth? For many the

Battle Magic album seems like an

introduction (especially A Tale From

The Deep Woods, which was the first

song I heard).

B: Well I would recommend starting with

the first album and moving to the sixth.

Progress in a chronological fashion.

Although the stories certainly aren’t

presented chronologically over the

course of the six albums, it’s still best to

listen to them in the order they were

released, so that you can see the

musical journey of the band.

OF MYTHOS & A GATHERING OF THE

STRANGELY MALEFIC

Your canon of writings

encompassing all lyrics of Bal-

Sagoth and much more is a truly

immense creation, rather hard to

summarize in a few sentences for

someone who is not the creator of it.

Fortunately, you are the creator of

  1. Tell us, or at least tell those

ignorant of Bal-Sagoth; what are

your creations, this epic (to say the

least) body of work? A brief

overview?

B: Well, the world of the lyrics is a vast

place, complete with its own history,

cosmology, theology, evolutionary

record, etc. It spans countless millennia,

and the stories are roughly divided into

several eras, including the antediluvian

period in which all the “sword & sorcery”

stories are set, the historical period

which chronicles various ages of

mankind up to and including the present

day, and the future era, during which all

the “science-fiction” oriented lyrics take

place. All the stories are connected, all

are different chapters of the same

overall saga. The lyrical world is in

essence built upon a foundation of

denied primacy, and the underlying

theme of the stories is at heart quite

nihilistic. Certain ancient cosmic deities

are recurring characters in all the Bal-

Sagoth albums, and the six albums

constitute a condensed history of this

alternate universe, albeit being but a

small part of a much larger body of

work. I’ve written a newly expanded A-Z

glossary of all the primary elements of

68

the lyrics, which will make everything

much clearer for both the dedicated and

casual reader alike.

Yes, when will that updated glossary

be published? I’ve been waiting for

it since 2001!

B: Yeah, sorry for the long wait! I’m just

waiting for all the accompanying

illustrations to be finished, and then I’ll

start deciding what format in which to

make it available. Thanks to everyone

for their continued patience!

The graphic novels you mentioned

above has indeed been long awaited

by the Bal-Sagoth supporters. Have

you ever though about publishing

your works in standard book format,

as a collection of short stories like

the Silmarillion, covering all you

have written?

B: Yes indeed, that’s one of the projects

I’m working on even now. It will be

illustrated with a series of fantastic

character illustrations by Martin Hanford,

and will also feature some stuff from the

artist Samuel Santos. Getting it all

together is a slow process, which is why

things have taken so long.

Let’s move back a decade. The

biggest step for Bal-Sagoth lyricwise

seem to have been from the

first to the second album, from a

more standard metal lyric layout to

the vast sagas of the Obsidian

Crown for example. What happened

in between? Were the stories

already there or did your creativity

explode in 1995?

B: Well, really it was just a case of

finding out how much I could get away

with regarding pushing the boundaries of

structure and presentation. No other

band had really done that “extra

content” aspect of the lyrics in that way

before, or at least not to that degree,

and I wasn’t sure if people would

embrace it or not. (Some people still

complain that they can’t easily read

along to the songs because there’s so

much additional prose in the booklets!) I

wasn’t even sure if the label would go for

  1. But they did. The stories already

existed, but there’s still a limit to how

much you can fit into a 20 page lyric

booklet, and I still had to cut out a lot of

content from all the albums. I just

figured that if I was going to tell these

stories, I might as well do it in a way

that was interesting and even

challenging.

You are, apparently, extremely

gifted in the using of words. For how

long have you written? Do you only

write things connected to the Bal-

Sagoth universe?

B: I first started writing my own stuff

when I was a kid, inspired by Marvel

comics and similar things. Over the

years I created a lot of my own fantasy

worlds which were all linked to some

degree by a common narrative thread.

At university I continued with a lot of

creative writing and just added to the

whole mythos. What appears in the lyric

booklets of the albums is only a very

small percentage of the overall body of

work. Everything I write tends to be set

within the same alternate reality

universe, albeit dealing with varying eras

and periods of history.

Do you perceive any truth behind

your fantastic ideas – antediluvian

(pre)human civilisations interfering

with evolution (as in Clarke), stellar

69

beings superior to man (as in

Lovecraft), etc? Or are you as

Lovecraft, a completely atheistic

materialist channelling “ordinary”

feelings and dreams into fantastic

writing? Are there any underlying

“political” values, beside the

apparent anti- monotheistic ones?

B: Yes indeed, a great deal of my

writings are inspired by my own beliefs

concerning the true origin of mankind

and the nature of the universe. There

are countless great mysteries waiting to

be solved, countless secrets waiting to

be uncovered… we need only be wary of

those who guard such ancient

knowledge! Yes, certain political

concepts are explored in the lyrics too,

albeit in a very allegorical and veiled

manner.

As a writer and as a vocalist, what

inspires your specific outlets? I’m

thinking more of the poetic side of

your texts (such as Of Carnage & A

Gathering Of Wolves) rather than

the larger constructions of the Bal-

Sagoth multiverse.

B: All my inspirations are summoned

more or less from the same sources,

regardless of the ultimate form or style

which the work takes. Pulp sci-fi, fantasy

and horror stories are primary

influences, as are comic books and

fantastic & imaginative media in general.

Mythology, history, the occult, and

science also provide me with a large

amount of inspiration.

How and when did you start to read

weird fiction? When did you began

to write your own? And the natural

following question, how and when

did you get into extreme metal?

What was it in these two (not too

dissimilar) worlds that got you

hooked?

B: I guess I first started reading weird

fiction in the comic book format as a

young child, and then graduated to prose

stories from there. Comic books actually

helped me to learn to read. If I came

across a word in a comic I didn’t

understand, I’d look it up and learn it!

Going from comics to the prose stories

was the next step in the education. I got

into metal much later, during my early

teenage years. My favourite kinds of

metal bands were those that had

fantastic and weird lyrical topics and

themes, so certainly the connection was

embodied in that way. Imagination,

dynamism, excitement, power, horror…

all these things should be present in both

the best weird fiction and the best metal.

Please, tell us which are your

favourite works of the weird and

wonderful (any medium; short

stories, novels, videogames, graphic

novels etc). A completely arbitrary

choice which one should not have

lived without experiencing.

B: For literature (both prose and comic

format), these are essential authors:

Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar

Rice Burroughs, Jack Kirby, J.R.R.

Tolkien, Frank Herbert, Clark Ashton

Smith, David Gemmell, E.E. “Doc” Smith,

Arthur C. Clarke. Any fan of fantasy, scifi

and horror should have books by these

masters on their bookshelf! Sure, you

can read new stuff by contemporary

authors, but you should always check

out the legendary masters of the genre

and experience the genius of the true

innovators and craftsmen.

70

What do you feel about the

underlying Christianity in a lot of

mainstream fantasy? Both CS Lewis

and George Lucas are/were open

Christians, and I’ve seen horrifyingly

messianic interpretations of both

Aragorn and that little British wizard

brat. The struggle between good and

evil is of course older than Jesus

Christ, but I at least feel that it has

been slightly tainted by those who

yield to the cruciform phallic symbol.

How do you feel about that? Which

side prevails in your Multiverse?

B: It’s just an inevitable result of our

monotheistic society that great works of

literature should be in parts inspired by

and interpreted from such a theological

standpoint. However, the LOTR can just

as easily be read and enjoyed from a

heathen perspective as it can from

monotheistic one. Tolkien summoned the

vast majority of his inspiration from

Northern European mythology, drawing

particularly heavily from the rich

wellspring of Anglo-Saxon heathen myth,

which has a great deal in common with

both Germanic and Norse mythology.

Lewis also filled his Narnia books with

iconic pagan creatures and suchlike.

Similarly, Lucas deliberately made the

concept behind The Force a very vague

one, incorporating elements from many

strands of world myth and polytheistic

belief into his saga. Lucas infused the

SW saga with elements as diverse as

Zen Buddhism, European shamanism,

Native American beliefs, Shintoism, the

Oriental belief in the Chi, and much

more.

I can’t comment on Harry Potter because

I’ve never read any of those books.

In my own multiverse, the gods and

cosmic entities are many in number, and

the malefic ones invariably prevail. Many

of the stories are told from the point of

view of the villains, because after all a

villain is just a hero with different

motivations.

How do you incorporate other’s

creations into your own mythos? I’m

referring to Stan Lee’s Silver Surfer

in The Scourge Of The Fourth

Celestial Host on Power Cosmic and

most recently Lovecraft’s Cthulhu in

Shackled To The Trilithon Of Kutulu

on The Chthonic Chronicles.

B: The Silver Surfer song is a standalone

piece, and is not considered to be part of

the overall lyrical mythos. It’s just a

tribute to the creative genius of Lee and

Kirby. Same with the Cthulhu song, as

Lovecraft’s work is such a great

inspiration to me.

T: The theme of war is really strong

in your lyrics. Would you consider

yourself a war enthusiast, or is it the

values like bravery and brotherhood,

that seems to have been lost in

today’s world, that fascinates you

about the whole theme of war?

B: I’m not a war enthusiast as such, but

I’ve always been captivated by tales of

wars, battles, campaigns, et al. The

grand theatre of battle is such a rich and

varied backdrop of adventure and

excitement, replete with all the best and

worst elements of humanity such as

heroism, idealism, genius, brutality,

betrayal, etc. The rise and fall of nations

and empires is to me a fascinating

subject, as is the impetus behind conflict

and the mindsets of those involved. The

skill of great strategists and leaders is

compelling, as are the political and

cultural elements which underpin war

and the causes of war. For good or ill,

humanity’s history has always been

shaped by conflict.

T: To what extent does the

multiverse of Bal-Sagoth collude

with our world? Is it completely

external? I ask since you implement

71

events and cites of our world into

your lyrics like Angkor Wat or the

fire of 1666 that destroyed most of

London back then.

B: The period of the lyrical universe

which deals with the events of recorded

human history is intended to be a sort of

mirror universe to our own, an alternate

reality which resembles ours in almost

every respect. The idea is that it’s a

reality very close to ours, almost

indistinguishably close, except for a few

pivotal details throughout history. Many

of the changes are minor, which a

dimensional traveller familiar with the

“real” course of history probably wouldn’t

even notice if he/she were to visit the

lyrical universe, whereas some other

changes/variations are considerably

more pivotal. For all intents and

purposes, the historical epochs of the

lyrical universe are designed to be

integrated seamlessly with the more

blatantly fictional eras to form one

contiguous timeline. When I write about

real world events and places in the

lyrics, they are essentially intended to

represent the genuine articles, albeit

existing in the alternate universe of the

lyrical world.

There’s been an upswing of

mainstream fantasy and comic book

related movies the last couple of

years – Tolkien, Lewis, Stan Lee,

Potter, Beo- wulf etc. Being a vehicle

for quite elaborate fantasy/weird

fiction writ- ings, has this affected

Bal- Sagoth in any way, and if so,

how? Why do you think this has

happened just in the last ten-or-so

years?

B: Things tend to go in cycles in the

movie world, and right now it looks like

we’re in the closing phases of the latest

fantasy resurgence in cinema. Back in

the early to mid 80’s there was a similar

fantasy boom, when the world was still

basking in the afterglow of the

revolutionary Star Wars event. Certainly

the advent of CGI in the movie world in

the last 15 years or so has allowed

filmmakers to create fantastic worlds to

a much more expansive degree than was

ever previously possible, and many

creators have taken advantage of this to

present truly epic and immersive fantasy

experiences.

This is all good, as it means that some of

the world’s best loved fantasy and sci-fi

literary properties can finally be adapted

72

to cinema on the grand scale which they

require. Whether it’s movie versions of

fantasy novels, comic books or game

adaptations, the current wave of genre

releases is certainly a glorious spectacle.

The only danger is that the market will

become saturated with a succession of

poorly made projects which fail at the

box office, which will ultimately mean

studios will stop funding such pictures

again. One thing that really bugs me is

the current trend of remaking classic scifi

and horror movies. I hope that’s a

trend that will soon cease.

To spare the sanity of the frail minds of

our esteemed readers, the chronicles are

here abandoned… But do not despair,

for soon the conclusion will come, with

diabolic revelations and horrendous

foreseeings of the dim future, as THE

KEYMASTER RETURNS!

Live photos (hooded Byron) taken in

Helsinki, Finland, courtesy of Anna,

moremetal.org. Thank you!

Thus follows the second part of the

interrogation of the Anglo-Saxon kings of

glorious battle magic and the

malevolently sublime… Bal-Sagoth!

AGAINST THE WORLD, AGAINST THE

LIFE

Over the years has Bal-Sagoth fallen

between genres, especially today

when you seem to be too symphonic

for extreme metal and vice versa.

What would you choose, to belong to

one group or remain an outsider?

Were you ever part of any

U.K./Europe scene (considering the

doomy aspects of A Black Moon

Broods Over Lemuria and Gian

Pyres’ guest solo, as well as your

early tours with Scandinavian black

metal bands)?

Are there any bands today that you

feel you have any connection to

(considering the number of bands

today combining symphonic

elements with fantastic lyrics, no

matter how cheesy they may be)?

B: From the very beginning it was

always important for me to keep Bal-

Sagoth as a very misanthropic, solitary

and insular band. I deliberately avoided

73

close ties with other bands, and always

tried to stay at the edge of any local or

national “scenes” or genre classifications.

However, at its heart, Bal-Sagoth is a

symphonic black metal band. It always

has been, and always will be. Black and

death metal were the primary genres

which inspired me to create this band,

and the core of Bal-Sagoth will always be

such. However, over the years we often

tended to stray quite far from that black

essence with regard to the music, and

along the way we apparently picked up a

lot of fans of power metal and Prog

metal. A great deal of that was down to

the fact that I’m the only one in the

band who really listened to black and

death metal to any great degree.

For instance, Jonny who writes the music

in the band, doesn’t really listen to any

black metal, and his favourite bands are

stuff like The Police, Clannad, Tangerine

Dream, etc.

But whatever the case, I think such a

diverse array of influences has certainly

forged this band into the original entity

which it is today, and originality was

certainly always one of my prime

directives and goals with Bal-Sagoth. As

for whether we feel we have any

connection to any current bands, the

answer would be a firm “no”.

What do you think of extreme music

(metal) today? Is there anything

worthwhile?

B: I don’t really listen to any new stuff, I

just tend to listen to my old favourite

bands such as Bathory, Celtic Frost,

Slayer, Morbid Angel, Sabbat, Deicide,

old Metallica, etc. I remember that NB

used to send me a box of new releases

from their roster a couple of times a

year, and 99% of the stuff was just

absolute garbage. But I’ve heard some

bits and pieces of new stuff recently, and

there is some cool material out there. I

read Zero Tolerance (UK’s best extreme

metal magazine) and some of the stuff

on their cover mount CD is pretty good.

How has Bal-Sagoth been received

through the years? Who

understands, and who ridicules

(since fantasy and science fiction

always has been a source of ridicule

I suppose you unfortunately have

had your fair share)? I suppose you

have a strong core of supporters –

what sort of people do you attract?

Ordinary metalheads, fantasy

enthusiasts, role-players…?

B: Our fan base seems to be made up of

a combination of extreme metal fans,

comic book fans, role-players, fantasy &

sci-fi fans, history and mythology

enthusiasts, and fans of epic movies and

their soundtracks. Some people get into

the band exclusively because they like

the lyrics, the mythological aspect, and

the fantasy/sci-fi imagery, and then they

go on to discover other extreme metal

bands as a result.

Other fans are attracted to the music

initially and then discover an

appreciation for sci-fi, fantasy and

mythology accordingly. Our die-hard

fans are very, very dedicated and take

an intense interest in every aspect of the

mythos. I would say that Bal-Sagoth has

always been a band that has inspired

extreme reactions either way, in that

people either love us or hate us. There is

seldom a middle ground! Certainly we’ve

had our share of abuse over the years.

74

There are many people out there who

simply just don’t get this band, and they

never will. For some people, it’s just too

idiosyncratic and off the wall for them to

be able to understand it. These people

invariably tend to be simple-minded and

rather lacking in imagination, I’ve

noticed. Some deluded people just don’t

like the idea that a band such as this

even exists.

Much of the negative criticism seems to

centre of what the idiots call “too many

trumpets” in the music. Or that “it all

sounds too happy”. Other people hate

the stuff because they think it’s all too

much like a cartoon or a comic book.

Ironically, it’s that way by design. I’ve

always said that it takes a special kind of

person to be able to understand Bal-

Sagoth fully. Our fan base is an elite

cult. Morons and trend-followers need

not apply.

THE RETURN OF THE KEYMASTER:

FLOURISH AND ALARUM

Please tell us of how a “typical” Bal-

Sagoth song comes to life. What

comes first? How does the creative

work evolve?

B: OK, here’s how the process goes. I

call it the “synergy” method, as that’s

the best way to describe it. The lyrics are

always written well in advance of the

music being composed. However, the

other members don’t get to see the

actual lyrics until well after the fact.

Instead, I always prepare a conceptual

synopsis concerning the narrative outline

of the album which I then give to Jonny

as a reference. This synopsis includes

information on which stories will be

included on the album, what the required

themes and moods should be, the

general emotional essence a piece

should convey, etc. For instance, for the

song The Fallen Kingdoms of the Abyssal

Plain, I told Jonny that I needed a piece

which conveyed the feeling of a journey

to the bottom of the ocean, down

through the various levels of the marine

depths, to the very sea floor where we

would see the ruins of ancient nonhuman

underwater cities.

Often the details provided will be much

more extensive, as in the case of epic

centrepiece songs such as the second

chapter in the Obsidian Crown saga. In

that case a synopsis will include much

greater information, such as a broad

outline of the events in the actual story,

the key occurrences, what kind of music

is required for a certain event, etc. We

find this method generally works best.

Often, after countless agonizing hours

hunched over the keyboard, Jonny will

just write something completely

unconnected to any outline and present

that to me, too. It varies. The good thing

is that now, everyone in the band

understands the Bal-Sagoth thematic

parameters, and they instinctively know

what compositions would or would not be

suitable as Bal-Sagoth songs.

For instance, it would be utterly

ridiculous if someone wrote a riff that

sounded like a nu-metal or emo style

song. That would clearly not be suitable

for a Bal-Sagoth song. But stuff like that

rarely ever happened, and for the most

part, the synergy method has served us

well. The process of refining and

perfecting a composition then proceeds

over a period of weeks and months, with

any number of different versions of a

song exchanged as MP3s, until

everything ultimately comes together in

the recording studio. And that’s the Bal-

Sagoth way of writing songs.

If you hadn’t found the Maudling

bros, where would you be today?

Could you consider doing vocals in a

band not connected to your writings,

or are your visions always superior

to your vocals?

B: I would have started Bal-Sagoth

anyway, only with different people. I had

75

tried to get the project off the ground

several times prior to meeting the

Maudling brothers, but in each case the

people weren’t interested in the high

concept. It’s lucky that the Maudlings

were willing to take the risk, because

otherwise Bal-Sagoth would certainly

have sounded completely different if I’d

enlisted other people. But no, I wouldn’t

be interested in doing vocals in any band

other than my own project.

Jonny and Chris might go on to do side

projects or solo projects, but I will

always helm Bal-Sagoth exclusively, until

the end.

Byron now having had his say for

quite a while, I turn to the keyhandling

Maudling, often remaining

in obscurity. When and how did you

start playing instruments and

composing music?

JONNY: I have musicians as parents and

they sent me for piano lessons from the

age of five. I didn’t start composing

music seriously until I was playing in

bands at school. The composing aspect

developed over time. My father lived

opposite a record store when I was a kid

and he was constantly getting records

given to him which I mostly played. They

were soundtrack albums and classical

stuff which I played religiously.

Where you into fantasy/weird fiction

in any way before you met Byron?

J: Listening to Richard Wagner, Operas

and Romantic era music opened up a lot

of fantasy and mythology to me. Like

say the ring cycle, most of which is

Germanic based on myths. It was

interesting reading up on that.

Literature-wise, I was a fan of Tolkien,

and during my teenage years I was into

all of the fantasy films and adventure

games of the time. My main interests

were music, video games and science

fiction. I was a big fan of the original

Star Wars movies too.

How did Byron’s concept strike you

when you first came in touch with

him?

J: I was never initially made aware of

any concept. When I first met him we

76

were a death metal outfit, aspiring to the

likes of Morbid Angel, Carcass and

Deicide, so the lyrics and stuff he had in

mind didn’t surface until later. We could

never hear what he was saying back

then anyway as our rehearsal sound and

equipment was awful. He kind of kept his

ideas to himself anyway. When we

ditched those old ideas and became Bal-

Sagoth, the majority of the music was

written by myself with Byron doing

handling the lyrics. We always work

independently. On the first album we did

bring odd ideas together at band

practices, using old death metal riffs we

had. I don’t remember any stories being

outlined as such. I used to read his lyrics

at practices which he had written and

was always impressed by his skills in

English, but I didn’t really know what it

was all about. I often had to ask him

what odd words meant. I had no idea

what blazing fire jewels were, or where

Valusia or Lemuria was. I’d never really

taken lyrics that seriously, generally

considering them secondary to the

music, so I was more focused on getting

compositions right. At the time I was

just happy that we had found a frontman/

vocalist that could take care of all

that. He also brought image to a band

which had an identity crisis. My lyrical

claim to fame up to that point was a

song called Vikings which I had written

in a previous band, and it was pretty

below par. When we found our style,

probably around the writing of the Star-

Fire album, the marriage between the

music and lyrics worked really well,

certainly beyond my expectations.

What would you have been doing

musically the past 15 years if you

hadn’t been in Bal-Sagoth? Other

bands? Concerning your extra-

Sagoth activities, you’ve done some

videogame soundtracks right?

J: Hard question, I have no idea,

hopefully it would have been something

in music. I’ve done a couple of games

and soundtracks and stuff. Ive always

been into recording. I probably would

have become a composer or worked in a

studio in Sheffield. I really don’t know.

What does the creative procedure

look like from your perspective?

What happens after you get a

story/synopsis from Byron?

J: Byron doesn’t give me a script or story

or anything. We work independently. I

write the music, do a rough recording,

then send the track to him so he can

work his lyrics to it. Most of the time, I

don’t want to know what the story is

because I don’t want to tie a composition

down to something. It works better if I

write the music and let him work out

which story would suit. Obviously

though, with some of the stuff, like the

Hyperborean Empire part 3, or Imperium

tracks, it works more like a film score

with the reprising of themes etc. I take

loose pointers from him, but not too

much. He doesn’t give me enough

information anyway and I don’t want it.

Other times I may come up with

something and say to him “I have this

riff that sounds like a circus” and he’ll

say “strange, I have got a song about

that, it’s set at the Roman Colosseum

and called Circus Maximus”. I may write

something that musically relates to a

song done on a previous album because

of key or style, like say the Catacombs

77

Of Ur track, and so we will have another

chapter related to that story. On a whole

though I have no idea what Byron is

going to do until it is recorded. It works

best that way.

Judging from the recent couple of

albums your brother Chris doesn’t

seem so involved in the composing

anymore. How come?

J: No that is incorrect, nothing has

changed. Chris is always involved in the

development, mainly with the guitar

stuff. He is more of a rhythm writer for

the guitar. Obviously being brothers we

fight quite much over riffs. He finds

arranging quite difficult so generally

these days I do the bulk of it. Our

writing styles have changed that

drastically over the years that I cannot

bolt on a riff to the song and make it fit

anymore. So lately I’ve generally let him

have the last song on the last couple of

albums to do with what he wishes.

Where do all the melodies and

arrangements come from? What

inspires you?

J: Much of my early life was spent

listening to soundtrack albums like Geoff

Love and his orchestra and James Last.

The former would take contemporary

film and television shows and interpret

them using a symphony orchestra with a

drum kit, bass and electric guitars and

analogue synths. I always thought this

sounded great, and I guess that was

always there at the back of my mind

when arranging and writing the music.

I generally do not want to repeat myself

musically either. As each album is

passed, it becomes more challenging to

come up with new ideas while at the

same time trying to stay on mark.

I guess with the keyboard “songs” on

each album, I am not as restricted by

the Sagoth style if you like. Generally

inspiration comes from anywhere.

Having an unhealthy imagination helps

and constantly trying new things is what

keeps me interested. You draw musical

inspiration from everything that you

have ever heard or learnt. As the writing

style for the band emerged, I would try

to steer away from it to keep stuff fresh.

I try to let the compositions reveal the

style in another form rather than me

saying to myself “Ah this is a Bal-Sagoth

sounding song”. I often trash

compositions that do that in fear of

repetition.

How do you respond to the negative

criticism toward Bal-Sagoth? People

thinking you have “too many

trumpets”, as Byron put it.

J: When you do something slightly

different you are going to get criticism.

To say there are too many trumpets is a

stupid thing to say anyway. Do they

mean too loud? Many big mainstream

bands I could mention have copied this

so called “flaw” and they get away with

it.

I can see why people may have said it

initially, and the first time I started using

brass instruments, it made me nervous

because I was the first in this genre if

you like to do so. I knew it would raise a

few eyebrows.

On earlier albums, the brass may have

been a little too high in the mix for my

liking. I wasn’t satisfied with early mixes

as I prefer the keyboards to be more of

a compliment to the guitar rather than

dominating. It should be a very integral

affair, like an orchestra.

We would be doing something wrong if

everyone did like it anyway. It was

always my intention of creating

something which was a bit different and

new, because to me, that is the point

isn’t it? When you do that though, you

are going to get negative comments and

confusion. It sometimes interests me to

read reviews from critics that find the

stuff so outlandish, it’s blatantly obvious

78

they have no idea what is going on,

proving that it is too far removed from

what they want it to be. There is never a

standard criticism either, more or less

every aspect of the band has been

criticised.

You own and run a private studio,

where you recorded The Chthonic

Chronicles. Tell us a bit about that!

J: I started building the Wayland’s Forge

recording studio from old analogue

equipment sold to me by Keith from

Academy Studios where our albums used

to be recorded. I wanted some half

decent equipment back then for

composing and testing ideas. The gear

built up and up and soon I had a fully

professional studio with more power than

before. Later, when the studio went

digital, I decided to make it available for

bands wanting to record there as a kind

of sideline. Ultimately the studio is used

for composition and audio work. We

recorded the Chthonic Chronicles there

because of the freedoms it brought. The

making of that album was an on-going

process. I had quite a few problems with

my then sound cards which started to

die during the mixing process. Mixes I

had done were inaccurate. As a result it

became a very time consuming process

realising that album. Byron again chose

to do his vocals at our old studio again, I

don’t know why, maybe it was out of

pride or trust in my abilities as I had

never recorded him before, you’d have

to ask him. I made sure though when I

appended his vocals into my studio

projects, he was as high as possible in

the mix. I was sick to death of people

saying “I can’t tell what he’s on about”.

If I could, I would remix every album,

making the sound-scape bigger and

settling the brass etc. Black Moon

incidentally can only be re-mastered

though because our first label

(Cacophonous) thought it wise to use the

Back Moons master tapes to record Star-

Fire, by which saving money.

For those interested in technology –

what equipment do you use for Bal-

Sagoth? Hardware vs. software

synths, effects, etc?

J: It depends. These days in the live

environment I like to keep it as simple as

possible. I just use a Roland Fantom X7.

There isn’t much time to be pressing

buttons etc on stage, and I don’t like it

when bands mime or play along to

backing tracks, so I’ve always tried to

play the stuff for real. I will be using the

pads on the Fantom to trigger sounds

and effects however, but that’s about it.

In the studio I’m a real technology freak,

and like to keep up on software

synths/plug-ins and new hardware. The

technology for making music these days

is a million miles away from what it was

ten years ago, making life much easier

for the composer. The song-writing still

comes first though, and I spend a lot of

time getting that right before I even

think about what module etc I will use.

THE FINAL BATTLE: FORESIGHTS, AS

GRIM DESTINY APPROACHES

Which Bal-Sagoth album would you

consider your favourite, contentwise

and sentimentally? Has the

outcome of each album been as you

envisioned and wished for, or have

they been restricted because of lack

of budget etc?

B: It’s always very difficult to choose a

favourite album, as I like them all for

79

different reasons. Certainly, with a larger

budget, all of the albums could have

turned out closer to the ideal concept

that was in our minds as we created

them, but even so, no artist ever attains

that impossible perfection that they

strive for, and that is ultimately a good

thing, I think.

J: I’m proud of all our albums and what

we have been fortunate enough to do,

but looking back from a musical point of

view, my least favourite album If I had

to pick is probably Black Moon because I

don’t feel musically I was firing on four

cylinders, I was kind of blind, in an

unknown place testing the waters and I

was an unconfident drummer. There are

some great tracks on Black Moon though

and initially I loved it. After that I love

every album equally as I

poured 110% of my soul

into each one. It is always a

surprise to hear what Byron

has done with his placing of

the lyrics to the songs as I

am never there when he is

doing it. The only thing that

ever bothers me is the mix

or the way something has

been played because I know

that the compositions are

right. The mix and delivery

is very important because if

wrong you can get

comments like the “too

many trumpets” one. Joe

Public isn’t going to

understand unless it’s

perfect. And if the mix is

perfect and someone says to

me “I don’t like it” then they

are basically right i.e. they really don’t

like it! I cannot sit down individually with

everyone that hears our recordings and

explain what is going on. I guess you get

it or you don’t and anyway the mix

should explain it.

There is as of yet no follow-up for

The Chthonic Chronicles planned,

but still – have you got any ideas for

new Bal-Sagoth compositions –

themes, melodies, skeletal

arrangements? Any idea of how it

may sound, what direction it will

take? The instrumental songs on The

Chthonic Chronicles have some

electronic elements – might this be a

new path for the future (not

implying that Bal-Sagoth will turn

cyber/techno metal, that is)?

J: I write music all the time, and the

stuff evolves. Some of it becomes

incorporated into the band, other stuff

just gets saved for future/other projects

or the like. On Chronicles, much of the

elements on the instrumental tracks

were of an old analogue nature. I have

always liked synthesised sounds, and

some of those abstract instrumentals

leaned toward that direction, so it was

kind of second nature for me to work

with them. There is never any great

scheme or plan to make something

sound a certain way until the track is

composed anyway.

Is the Legion Of The

Black Moon still in

activity?

B: Yes, although it was

always more of an ideal

than an actual concrete

entity. That was just the

name I gave to those who

wrote to me to be added

to the mailing list. I

thought about turning it

into a real fan club, with

regular newsletters and

everything, but I

ultimately decided that

the band didn’t need that

kind of thing. It still

doesn’t. The Legions are

today, as they always

have been, an elite group

of Bal-Sagoth supporters, united in their

knowledge that they share a dedication

to the peerless power of Bal-Sagoth. The

Legions of the Black Moon are eternal!

At the end of January, you played

two shows in Finland; your first visit

to Hyperborea I believe. How where

you greeted of these Northern

warrior-tribes? Will you return to

this part of Europe anytime soon

(living in Sweden, I find this quite

relevant…)?

J: We were greeted with great warmth

and respect, and those shows were good

80

to play. I got to chat with many fans of

the band after the gig and they were all

very grateful we had made the effort to

come over. I personally had a good time,

and from what I saw of Finland, I found

it a country of great natural beauty.

There will be more shows in Scandinavia

this year.

Speaking of live shows, you seem to

have completely dropped the swords

and stuff (at Wacken 2004 you

blamed the German costumes for not

allowing letting in a yard of deadly

steel into their realms). How come?

B: We’ve reintroduced the theatrical

element somewhat for recent shows. It’s

always been very, very difficult to get

the other members to participate in the

whole theatrical element. Over the years

they just thought it was silly, but

recently, they’ve finally started doing it

more. So, there will once again be some

of the old war-paint and stuff at future

gigs. The theatrical element was never

as extensive as people tend to think it

was. One of the only problems of taking

swords and axes to foreign countries is

the airlines and customs. Maybe the

situation is better now, I don’t know.

Being a heathen metal warrior king,

the question is inevitable… why did

you rid yourself of the long hair?

B: The sentient mop crawled away one

night while I was sleeping. It now rules

its own Follicle Empire.

Have you found the Yellow Sign?

B: That glyph is not to be sought lightly!

A swarm of gratitude for answering

these feeble questions… Blodu Ok

Jarna! Blod och Järn! Thrice hail!

Now, as the veils of mysterious fog

surrounds us anew and the end of

our séance is nigh, have you any

ultimate inspiring thoughts of

malevolent starry wisdom

fathomable for us puny mortals to

spare?

B: Many thanks indeed for these

extensive questions. It’s always very

gratifying when someone is interested in

our work, and we salute you. Greetings

also to all the Bal-Sagoth supporters

reading this.

Check out the official MySpace page at

http://www.myspace.com/balsagoth, and also

the official website at http://www.balsagoth.

co.uk and http://www.bal-sagoth.com.

IMPERIUS REX! BLODU OK JARNA!

Live photo (keymaster+bass) taken in

Helsinki, Finland, courtesy of Anna,

moremetal.org. Thank you!

81

TECHNICAL PROGRESSIVE DEATH METAL

ERA 1: ORIGINS ( 1988 – 1998 )

By Suleimann

This article will attempt to shed some light on one of the most vibrant and original metal

the planet has ever seen. For ease of discussion, a wide spectrum of bands and sounds

have been grouped under the umbrella term of Technical-Progressive Death Metal,

whereas in reality there is no single genre that can cater to the variety of the bands

mentioned here. I will also touch on a number of bands that helped shape the trends and

sounds of the metal scene as a whole and thus affected the tech-death phenomena as

well.

First, there was metal and hardcore, and

metalheads saw it was good. Then there was the

need for speed and evilness. Metalheads found it

was great. Then came a seasoned breed of metal

players who attempted to combine the speed and

ferocity of speed metal/hardcore (Venom,

Discharge, Motorhead etc) with the technical

dexterity and odd structures of progressive and

experimental rock (Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd

etc). Thus was born thrash, and more precisely

technical thrash metal (Metallica, Sadus, Voivod,

Forbidden , Infernal Majesty, Rigor Mortis etc).

As the thrash scene morphed into the crushing

sonics of death metal (Obituary, Entombed, Morbid

Angel, Death, Carcass), it was inevitable that a new

generation of metal musicians would infuse it with

the same proficiency of technical chops and bizarre time signatures. This signaled the

true birth of technical/progressive death metal.

The first warriors of this ‘advance guard’ were real innovators and brave musicians, who

played against the grain, and had to withstand a ton of critical and commercial backlash

for their headier leanings. But as the maturity and appreciation of the musical aspects of

the death metal scene grew, they found a devoted but small following. The above

description applies rather aptly to Atheist (who were doing their own technical and

savage metal bombast from the beginning) as well as Death (who evolved from a more

proto-typical death metal outfit to a

efficient killing machine of beauty and

grace) along with the short lived Cynic

(who nailed their cosmic metal sound in

matter of a couple of demos and 1

album, setting a standard that remains

till today). There was Nocturnus, a

monstrous outfit combining great lead

playing and synthesizers in their metal

of death.

Though each of these bands sounded

different from each other, they all had

some features in common : a love of

hypnotic morphing riffs with melodic

leads galore, odd non-typical time

signatures, fantastic playing by all musicians involved, hints of jazz and progressive rock,

82

strange ambiences and non-conventional (for death metal) topics and to top it all off, a

decimating heaviness of sound. Bands like Pestilence joined the club with winning albums

(that lost more fans than they gained). A darker breed of the chop heavy death metal

was inaugurated by the one and only Morbid Angel that allied frenetic odd playing, with

positively diabolical imagery showing that there was room for technicality in traditional

death metal.

There were other bands who walked paths all their own. Mindrot combined sludgy

apocalyptic death metal with gothic melodicism and progressive tendencies to

devastating effect but went under the metal radar and disbanded after three releases.

Disharmonic Orchestra developed their sound to a surreal death/grind hybrid with an arty

bizarre touch over numerous demos and EPs as well as three excellent albums before

disapearing into obscurity.

Bands like Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation (though not technical or progressive) took

the brutality and speed of death metal to ridiculous levels thus in turn making the second

wave of tech-death do the same, except injecting it with the properties of technicality.

There was the Canadian abomination called Kataklysm, who in their enthusiastic mixing

of spiritual and bizarre themes and love of chaos, unintentionally created two

masterpeices of proto-tech death insanity. It is technical and progressive in its attempts

to cross metaphysical barriers and sound limits as well as structural restrictions.

Gorguts came onto the scene with a unique sound all their own, and were not afraid to

experiment in song-writing and riffing. Their experimentation peaked on Obscura ,

possibly the ugliest most bizarre death metal album ever. Meshuggah upped the

technical thrash ante with their early groundbreaking work (stop start riffing galore and

bizarre timing with odd leads) and that along with Cryptopsy albums like None So Vile

and Whisper Supremacy (frentically fast,technical and brutal death metal) ushered a new

era of technical death metal, one where the brutality and

speed was upped by notches, structures were all over the

place and the sound became an all-encompassing sonic

insanity.

Meanwhile the elements of melody and traditional as well

as progressive metal took on a new context in the maiden

worshipping death metal of Europe (particularly Sweden).

The harmonized melodic leads, thrashy riffing, raspy vocals

and pounding attacks were not vey progressive in

themselves but influenced a plethora of bands of the

second era who took a step further to combine it with jazz

tonalities and the non-traditional time signatures for some

vigorous new sounds.

In summary, as the 90’s came to an end the brutal and fast

got even uglier and faster (Deeds of the Flesh, Disgorge etc

as a well a barrage of grindcore), the melodic got even

more so (In Flames, Soil Work etc to the point of no longer

being remotely extreme metal), the progressive got even more so (Opeth almost starting

a 70’s prog rock revival, and Edge of Sanity attempting Yes influenced concept albums).

All of this profoundly affected the developement of technical progressive death metal.

Enter Nile, Necrophagist, Origin…….

The second era will be covered in part 2 next issue.

To illustrate the sequence of sonic terrorism that defined the movement, below is a

83

simple timeline diagram representing the bands and albums for the period 1988 – 1998.

Notice the releases in grey are technical / progressive death metal albums while the

white ones are big influences on the genre without coming into it themselves. Note: The

diagram or the article is in no way exhaustive and I would appreciate any feedback in

terms of inclusions, exclusions or criticism.

85

HAVOC UNIT – H.IV+

(Hoarse Industrial Viremia)

(Vendulus Records, 2008– Finland)

Avantgenre: Machine Butcher Metal

…AND OCEANS are dead. Yet, its

members continue under the name of

HAVOC UNIT. And a change of name is

appropriate, for what these creative

people deliver on “h.IV+” has nothing to

do with …AND OCEANS at all. Who

thought that HAVOC UNIT would

continue the kind of disco-industrial

metal they celebrated under the old

name on “Cypher” is terribly wrong.

Gone are the pleasant, danceable

melodies and beats. The first track

“Vermicide” jumps right in your face with

really ugly industrial metal – raw,

menacing and evil. A cyber-demonized

version of MESHUGGAH or a slower, but

heavier version of THE AMENTA – that’s

what comes to my mind when listening

to HAVOC UNIT these days, with a sound

directly from the factories of 21st –

century-hell. As the tracklist implies,

HAVOC UNIT’s lyrics deal with the

perversions of the last decades to batter

them relentless back in the face of

mankind. And battering is the word that

describes their music best – The

screamed vocals, the machine-gun riffing

and the stomping of the machine-beats

hurt and is definitely not for the fainthearted

who seek beautiful melodies. For

that matter, even people who seek ANY

melody will be disappointed. “h.IV+” is

one big rhythm-monster with samples,

menacing synths and some slower

intermezzi; it is a spirit of wrath; the

embodiment of the pits of the human

psyche.

And for that, I love it. It is cold,

aggressive and inhuman; much like

DHG’s “Supervillain Outcast”. There is

only one downside: it is a little bit

unvaried. If you’d play me a track, I

could not say which one it is, only that it

is on “h.IV+”. And I wouldn’t listen to it

the whole day, for I am one of these

people who like a good melody once in a

while. But then there is “Ignoratio

Elenchi [Reversed Genesis]” to make up

for it, which is, simply put, brilliant. That

is mostly due to the voice of SOLEFALD’s

Cornelius, but not only that, the track

has a dreamy and dark atmosphere

which gives you goosebumps. It might

be a bit unfair to say that this (and only

this) track sounds like a SOLEFALD-song

(and not only due to Cornelius’ voice),

but that’s the way it is… And there also

is “Kristallnacht [From Revolution to

Reconstruction]”, a soothing piano piece.

All in all, I am positively surprised. No,

not really surprised, because I didn’t

know what to excpect from HAVOC UNIT

now in the first place, only that the name

change must have had SOME impact on

the music. It is surely interesting to hear

HAVOC UNIT explore regions of acoustic

brutality other than speed, for brutal it

  1. A perfect soundtrack for the devil’s

abbatoir, a mix of rust and blood.

Tentakel P.

F.P.G.S. – Am Abgrund

(Self-Released, 2007– Austria)

Avantgenre: Psychopathological Metal

This has been one of the sickest ugliest

and most depressing albums I have

heard in the last few years. Whether it’s

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the concept, the execution or some

combination thereof, I don’t know. All I

know is that upon listening to it, one

gets slowly but surely submerged in the

dark waters of despair, alienation and

self-loathing. And yet it is nothing like

the two recent genres trying hard for

said emotions : funeral doom and

suicidal depressing black metal.

This avoids the hissy / necro (read crap)

production as well as the plodding nature

of the above bands. Instead, it goes for

a thick and clear production that makes

each nuance discernable yet harkens to

the sound of more experimental death

metal bands form the early 90’s. The

tempo shifts are many, as are the

structural shifts in the four ‘songs’ on

display here.

The concept involves the rather sad and

pitiful life of a mentally unstable (and

eventually suicidal) individual, who is

besotted with psychological problems

from an early age. As his experience

with his environment grows, he is further

plunged into neurosis and eventual

suicide. The four “songs” essentially are

chapters in a psychological case study.

Coming back to the music, we have

some unique Black / Death metal with

doom influences. I could find a reference

point for the band’s strange an

disturbing sound. It has slow, dirgey

sections, blast beats, weird interludes

and hypnotic repetitive riffing as well as

near technical atonal licks and riffs.

Maybe, there are synths (its hard to tell

when your drowning in filth). The vocals

are a reverbed growl straight from the

90’s DM underground, pierced with black

metal shrieks. Though the first couple of

listens find it hard to grasp at any hooks

and song identifiers amongst the tracks,

but repeated listens do reward with

familiarity.

It is the atmosphere (oh what

atmosphere )that makes this special. It

makes the listener feel unclean and

mentally unhealthy which is no mean

feat if said listener is a metalhead. It

suffocates one’s positive emotions

without resorting to cheap metal

gimmicks. It crushes with negativity.

There is almost the feeling that one gets

when watching badly depressing

/downward spiral movies like Bad

Lieutenant or even Falling Down. You

feel like a voyeur of someone’s

destruction.

All in all, a welcome and original addition

to the pantheons of dark depressing

metal. A new modus operandi has been

created. Amen for that.

Suleiman

MESHUGGAH – ObZen

(Nuclear Blast, 2008– Sweden)

Avantgenre: Meshuggah.

Again the machinery rumbles. The

malignant cogwheel pulses anew at

rhythms undecipherable to ordinary

human senses. Mechanical war-beasts

somewhere between the ravaging

monsters of the early VoïVod albums and

the superhuman sterility of Kraftwerk’s

Man-machines, devoid of human flaws

and erroneous emotions, enlightened

with a merciless bare-scraped logic,

marching from their non-Euclidan

dimensions. Or, the new Meshuggah

album. Cold and antihumanly brutal, but

with the melancholy of Fredrik

Thordendahl’s guitar leads haunting over

this organized chaos like some wailing

ghost of races extinct by their own

inventiveness and greed – the same path

mankind is walking down. Or maybe I’m

just reading too much science fiction.

Anyhow, Meshuggah has returned to the

album format they’ve left untouched

since 2002’s Nothing (no, Catch 33 is not

a full-length, it’s a song divided into

tracks with names, rather than a

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collection with individual songs, which is

what defines an album). They have

refined and perfected their particular

type of metal (see my review of Nothing

for further explanations, or just listen to

them while doing some head-counting),

brilliantly infusing ObZen with all the

traits of it’s predecessors – the black

sludge of Nothing, Chaosphere’s fierce

attack, the thrashy catchiness of Destroy

Erase Improve. Every snare hits like a

jackhammer to the skull, each scream a

monster tearing your face of. And the

riffs… still as nonsensical as always;

microtonal bends, impossible timesignatures,

subsonic heaviness on a

tectonic scale. Yes, it is more melodic

than for example Nothing, if ‘using more

tones in a riff’ equals ‘melodic’. Someone

might in lack of faith cry ‘wimp-out!

Cheesy bitches!’, but I swear, the

melodies only makes it nastier. ObZen

has more ‘face’ than Nothing, but it’s not

a pretty, nor human one. Listen to the

deranged epic nine-minute finale

“Dancers to a Discordant System” – it’s

downright scary, far from the cosy

tonality usually force-fed to us as ‘evil’.

No kidding, this is seriously dark, far

from the humanities we usually

encounter in this blessed world of metal.

Initially, it seems as if the opening and

closing triads of songs are the peaks of

obZen, leaving the title track and its

adjacent pieces in a slightly unfocused

blur of massive yet rather uninspired

Nothing-like riffs, a bit faceless

compared to the other, quite

progressive, tracks. They only needed

some more time to digest, of course,

after a couple of more sit-throughs

ultimately unfurling their stark menacing

splendour – the title track is particularly

bludgeoning. Or why not the break and

swift turn three minutes into ‘This

Spiteful Snake,’ adding a new dimension

into what would otherwise be the nadir

of the album? I must also congratulate

Meshuggah at finally using artwork that

doesn’t quite frankly suck – the first

good-looking cover since their debut EP

from 1989. The meditating man covered

in blood is a symbol for what this album

– and Meshuggah’s lyrical theme in

general – is about: in obscenity, the

lowly human finds her harmony, her

Zen. Thus the title obZen was a bit more

profound than the first impression of a

cheap word game. A mistake many seem

to do when dealing with Meshuggah,

which I frown upon, is to focus on the

physical and technical aspects. It is often

the case of people worshipping them or

despising them for the musicianship,

rather than the musicality. Yes, they are

of course skilled to a degree beyond

most musicians, but still – the point of

Meshuggah isn’t how stupendously

complex Thomas Haake’s drum patterns

are. It is the feeling, the inhuman – and

equally antihuman – machinelike

malevolent gloom and brute force that

makes Meshuggah what they are. The

odd time signatures and weird

incomprehensible rhythms are means to

achieve a certain goal, not the goal

itself. It isn’t technical for its own sake,

and if you think so you’re doing yourself

– and Meshuggah – a major disfavour,

regardless whether you laude or taunt

them. And while I’m at it, I thought I’d

give some specific kudos to Mårten

Hagström, the guitarist too often

forgotten behind Thordendahl’s and

Haake’s fame. Not to say that they don’t

deserve being hailed as master

musicians, but it must not be forgotten

that Haake rarely writes any of the

music. It is Thordendahl and Hagström

who writes the music, telling Haake what

to play (mostly). He is indeed a damn

monster behind the kit, but Hagström

must not be overlooked as a major part

of the creative core of Meshuggah.

If you haven’t given Meshuggah a

chance before, then ObZen is the place

to start before back-tracking. If you

don’t like this album, there might be a

big chance you’ll never enjoy

Meshuggah. Eerie (oh! the lead in ‘Pineal

Gland Optics’!), bludgeoning (oh! the

opening of ‘Bleed’!), and most of all

dynamic (oh! the whole damn album!),

this might very well turn out to be, if

allowed to ripen for a few months, the

strongest and most perfect Meshuggah

release as of yet, elevating their legacy

into new levels. But only time will reveal

whether or not this is a fact or just the

ambitious statement of an overzealous

reviewer. Until then, just listen to obZen,

at a seriously high volume, and prepare

to be beaten into a bloody pulp.

aVoid

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BRAIN DRILL / ORIGIN

Apocalyptic Feasting / Antithesis

(Relapse, 2008 – USA)

Avantgenre: Monsters Of Tech-Death

In the year of 2008

After a rather long wait

Finally they arrive,

By grace of fate.

The two albums come,

With fireworks and fanfare.

They promise salvation,

To those who are aware.

The first, a record

By the outfit called Braindrill

The second, by Origin

Settings set to “kill”.

Braindrill’s release

a follow-up to the EP Parasites.

The new one is sick

and technically even more tight.

The production’s even more crisp,

And the new songs sounds great.

Wonderful wankery, and

songs about killing and hate.

The imagery and packaging

are all brutal to the extreme

Its the playing and the structures

That makes this the cream of the cream

While you sing along to

Force Fed Human Shit

You can marvel at technicality

and at the musical wit

The older tracks and the new ones

gel together fine

Showing the band was mature

Way before its time

Moving on to Origin

and Antithesis’s greatness

Its safe to say

That death metal is blessed

Blessed with the return

of cosmic brutality

And themes of a more

Universal reality

The ridiculous sweeps

and the triple vocal attack

Will reel you in,

There’s no turning back.

The beautiful songs

and amazing rhythms

will take you to nirvana

and to hades with them.

The album is a winner

by the kings of the underground

and even has progression

With melodic leads and new sounds

But it remains Origin

Even in the epic title track

At nine minutes plus

It will still have you coming back

The album will leave you

Battered and dead

It is half-an-hour

But an aeon in the head.

So endeth my verses

About these new cd’s

if you are into tech death

You need to get these

They do not compromise

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The death metal atmosphere

Yet go so much forward

where others fear

There are no breakdowns

No boring parts

Just a frentic insanity

Straight from the heart.

Here’s to a really good extreme metal

year !!!

Suleiman

PIN-UP WENT DOWN / 2 Unlimited

(Ascendance Records, 2008 – France)

Avantgenre: Avantgarde*

Pin-Up Went Down are a new French

duo…- let it start at the beginning.

The whole story started with a myspace

friend request. Nowadays I’m getting

tired of them due to the continuous indie

bands’ request; wanting me to be their

fan. And these guys just appeared from

the unknown. Oh my god…another one

*click*….. OH MY GOD!…so this is it. I

was sceptic and became surprised like

hell, that this is a great band. I asked

them for a promo and they sent me one.

Thank you!

-…a new French duo consisting Asphodel,

the mistress of female activities and

Alexis who is responsible for all the

instruments can be heard in their music

– guitar, bass, keys, electronics, etc. The

project started less than one year ago as

Carnival in Coal split up and former live

drummer Alexis Damien launched this

new project, called that time Esthete

Piggie. Soon he was joined by Asphodel

who can be known from Penubmra or

Nowonmai. So I was surprised even

more when I saw that big Ascendance

Records banner on their profile, I

couldn’t believe in my eyes. Ascendance

Recs. is a label with the aim of collecting

the progressive, experimental or just

talented acts having a female voice. It’s

a rather new label but already made

deals with bands like Stolen Babies and

unexpecT. So the name may sound

familiar to some of you. – Get to the

band!

The name itself (which was created in

the December 2007) evokes the era(s)

of models who got into fashion and

became covergirls posing in front of the

camera. The words in the name can be

considered as an oxymoron (up/down).

And the second part of the name has the

negative side, the final outcome is the

fall of these beautiful creatures. The

cover is unusual for an experimental/AG

metal band but I suppose I just got used

to weird, mindfucking artwork. I would

say this is “mirror-avantgarde” quoting

Tentakel P.’s Sigh review. It already

gives a bit of music, it truly has a gothic

line and this cover would perfectly fit a

gothic metal band’s album of high

standard. Seeing it we will notice the

cold, metallic colours. The second thing

one sees the vase with a sip of dirty

water and the flower. Flower, really? No.

It’s a piece of wire put in this glass

vase…love is never easy. In the

background a left hand’s shadow can be

observed trying to grab the heart which

is created by mirroring the title’s 2 to the

left side. Contrary to the dominating

rigid colours, the title is full of life and

power with its bloody red appearance.

And the music. So as it is written before,

it surprised me. The first bit of this mass

was a song I have listened on their

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myspace named Nearly Dead Bat Make

  1. up. Particularly, the vocals were the

most interesting and outstanding. While

listening to it I felt I am in a kind of

wonderland. Asphodel is one of the most

talented singers I have ever heard. She

can sing rigidly, violently but on the

other hand she has a definitive gothic

background which teaches the girls to

sing in a method can be recognized with

ease (this style of singing can be heard

near the end of the song). But.

Yes…these buts. But she has a unique

jazzy, though profile and another diverse

which is something undefinable, smooth

and soft disco styled one and not forget

mentioning her childish one. And it’s just

the tip of the iceberg. I can’t tell another

girl who are able to sing in these

ranges…and she combines it with

continuous changing of the pitch. Alexis

delivers aggressive guitars and drums

along with male growled/shouted vocals.

I would highlight one moment: under the

bridge, Asphodel sings in her disco styled

while Alexis growls in the backgrounds

and the whole thing explodes as guitars

and the shouted vocals come in to form

the chorus.

Some lyrics have allusions to the various

parts of (music) history. Nearly Dead Bat

Make up also has a reference to the band

Kiss and the people who believed them

Satanists and Nazis. Another interesting

part of this song is the very beginning,

with the lyrics of “Be (-shuuMuut-)

obscene, be-be aggressive“. It’s a

reference to Marilyn Manson’s

mOBSCENE which has almost the same

female lines originally stolen from Faith

No More’s Be Aggressive. (-shuuMuut-)

= (shut up M arilyn M anson).

On the other hand, some of the lyrics

may seem absurd like Pussy Worship

which is built around the question girls

ask themselves: What is it like being a

man while having sex?. Only Some

Shitty Chemical Stuff explains love only

as a hormonal procession. The lyrics

aren’t about one theme and message,

they call up for situations, characters

and images. Due to this, the music

always changes differently and evolves,

it follows the lyrics. There isn’t a central

style, except the rock and metal basics.

Pussy Worship is like pussy pop-punk

with a gospel-like inlay. Only Some

Shitty Chemical Stuff is an electronical,

industrial metal song and first reminded

me of the grotesque attitude to love

presented in vocals and atmosphere one

may know from the music of Rammstein.

However, it becomes an acoustical ballad

later.

To sum up Pin-Up Went Down’s musical

debut I must say I am extremely happy

to know these two talented musicians

with weird fantasies to turn them into

reality. Their first album is surprisingly

eclectic and delivered with overwhelming

musical and vocal production, it’s one of

the most promising first-time debut

releases of all time of avantgarde music.

Not joking.

Revon

SEPTIC FLESH / Communion

(Season Of Mist, 2008 – Greece)

Avantgenre: Cosmic Dark Metal Epic

The masters are back from the dark

abyss, and they peer deep into the

darkness – inside and out – to bring you

tales of blackest despair and death,

crafted into some of the most majestic

yet evil tunes ever put to record. The

album lets rip with “Lovecraft’s Death”, a

song that will have you headbanging

away within a few bars after the intro,

with great atmospherics courtesy of a

full 80 piece orchestra and a complete

choir section. The combination of

crushing diabolical metal and authentic

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dramatics works to great effect, as it

does throughout the album. “Annubis”

harkens to the melodicism of Revolution

DNA with arrangements that will have

jaws dropping, and somber choruses

that you can hum during that special

ritual killing. The choir/ blast beats

juxtaposition of the title track gives

Therion a good run for their money, and

as far as I can see Septic Flesh are

pretty much at the top of their game,

making them peerless in their orchestral

brutality. Spiro’s growls are as demonic

as ever, and here he proves he is a vocal

force without match. Its great to know

that Septic Flesh (like fellow countrymen

Rotting Christ) continue to progress with

each release yet never let go of the

inherent darkness of the music as well as

the factors that made their sound such a

success in the first place.

“Babel’s Gate” will utterly crush aside all

pretenders with the power punch of

death metal done right flowing on the

wings of a string section possessed and

choirs galore. It’s always a pleasure to

hear songs that one can remember as

much as for the unique atmosphere as

for the musicianship and choruses. “We

the Gods” continues the trend of full

throttle moody metal madness. This is a

soundtrack to a movie about the Elder

Ones in the act of destroying a mystical

Sumerian civilization. It also has that

special quality of creeping out listeners

(under isolated conditions). Strange how

just as the horror gets unbearable, a

song like “Sunlight Moonlight” comes in,

again showing the slower more melodic

side of the band. How many bands can

you name that can cover such a broad

spectrum of sonics yet make it

streamlined enough to write great

songs?

“Persepolis” has a Middle Eastern yet

Hellenistic twang to it that is now a

patent with these guys. The mix is

amazing, with the warmth of the string

and brass sections nicely filling out (and

in some cases leading) the thick, tasty

extreme metal brew. The imagery

conjured up is majestic and evil, yet

never going headfirst into the penny

dreadful theatretics of mid period COF or

the extra cheese bombast of Bal Sagoth,

instead being a force within the song.

The humming at beginning of “Sangreal”

is again chilly, and the track explodes

with symphonic grace and galloping

triplets only to go into a wonderful

harmonized riff based verse (dual

vocals). “Narcissus” works as an album

closer, the unique melodies swarming

your head. I could go on and on, but

suffice to say: Get it NOW!!

Like wine, Septic Flesh only gets better

with age, and this is undoubtedly one of

the best (comeback) albums of the year.

With Origin also finally releasing a new

record, this is going to be hell of a year

for forward thinking metal. Combining

the best elements of their rich

discography, the Greeks have come up

with a winner. Perfection!

Suleiman

TO-MERA / Delusions

(Candlelight, 2008 – UK)

Avantgenre: Prog Jazz Perfectionism

To-mera is one of those bands who have

the profound ability to pick up the best

their influences offer and form a great

album, delicious to your ears, eyes and

other scenes. Therefore I shall present

you the way of cooking the best dish in

the world: the soup a la to – mera.

The ingredients are following:

1/2 kg of musical skill

1/2 kg of composing skills

knifetip of Dream Theater sound

200 g of Emperor influence

200 g of Opeth + Pain of Salvation

(shaken not stirred)

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500 g of complex rhythmical structures

100 g of jazzy female vocals

150 g of Debusyesque ideas

one Dilinger Escape Plan gig

The secret of building a great band lies

in the last mentioned ingredient: the

DEP gig where Julie Kiss and Lee Barret

met. When the rest of the line-up was

carefully chosen and cleaned from other

musical ideas one can start recording. To

start recording the Delusions album, one

must add ½ kg of musical skills and

250g of complex rhymical structures to

the rehearsalroom and give it a good stir

so it mixes completely and forms a great

rhythm section of this bad. Furthermore,

add a big part of the musical skills to the

keyboardist, who is one of the brightest

spots of this soup…sorry…band! In

order to get the great guitars one must

add the rest of complex rhythmical

structures. When talking about the

vocals one must realize that these are

not the standard female vocals you can

find in various gothic/prog bands, as

Julie’s vocals range from some very

powerful passages to warm colored jazzy

intermezzos.

A standard progressive metal album?!

Not at all, mon ami. But why?! The taste

this album leaves after consummation

isn’t the one of the typical contemporary

Dream Theater albums: of shredding and

boredom, but the one of technicality and

atmosphere. Not just the mentioned, but

the variety of influences found on this

release range from Emperoric riffs, to

free jazz (!!!) atmospheres.

It’s very hard to choose a highlight of

this album, but I would dare to point to

“A Sorrow to Kill”, a very melancholic,

but powerful track which will knock you

off your feet.

For the best listening of this album I

would propose a Bang&Olufsen

soundsystem, in lack of witch you can

use any good old Japanese sound

devices, or you could experiment with a

surround system. Listen loud, inhale the

music, exhale perfection!

Ulv

SATANOCHIO /

Vagrant Matter Heritage EP

(Self Released, 2007 – Romania)

Avantgenre: Progressive Black Death

Sorry for being such a lazy bum, for this

should have been reviewed almost 2

months ago. An intense little slab of

noise, this will entrance from beginning

to end. This is a big progression from I

am Satanochio for it ventures further

into the dysfunctional and unknown. The

artwork and packaging is immaculate,

and the lyrics are hateful while being

witty and intelligent. The overall

impression of the packaging is an intense

and focused cross-over of arty death/

black with the crust/grind aesthetic (

especially the art and the lyrics ).

The first two songs have very interesting

structures and benefit form repeated

spins, as they gradually show more of

themselves. Gone is the relentless

blasting of the past, and in its place we

find a more chop heavy Satanochio.

Nevertheless, it is still dark and

aggressive as hell, just more textured,

and therefore may take longer to get

into, but once you are hooked, there is

no turning back. The production is clear

with a nice groovy bottom end yet

individual enough to stand out from the

hordes. The third track is a black metal

acid trip, reminiscent of some of the

more arty moments from the kings of

early 90’s black metal. Strangely the

production on this track is also much

different from the other two, with way

more reverb and a more distant sound

which wells in this context.

93

All in all it’s a welcome addition to the

Satanochio cannon and may come as a

surprise to some fans of the older

material. It is hard to wait for the

massacre that promises to be their next

full length album.

Suleiman

SLOUGH FEG / Hardworlder

(Cruz Del Sur Music, 2007 – USA)

Avantgenre: Manopeace

When I grew up, I was a regular reader

of the German Metalhammer-Magazine. I

remember reading the editorials of Götz

Kühnemund and always wondered how

his living room might look like and what

he kept in the fruit bowl on the low table

between the television and the couch.

Same thing happened to me whilst

listening to this album which actually

should be considered ‘avantgarde’ only if

hell freezes. Quite similar to the

Amazon-feature “People who bought this

also bought…” I can exclusively present

to you a “People who listen to song #x

also like”-image list. Enjoy. Visual

feedback appreciated.

When I finished listening to the album

David Bowies “The boys keep swinging”

came to my mind.

Jonny Lignano

94

VOLKMAR / Overture Macabre Demo

(Self-Released, 2007 – Australia)

Avantgenre: Evil Rock

A nice short demo that amply

demonstrates this up and coming band’s

arsenal. This is an interesting exercise in

rocking gloomy metal. There is a cloak of

darkness over the entire thing, and

rather than coming across like the

whining and sad caterwauling of typical

gothic metal, this sounds threatening.

You know, like those bands from the

mid-80’s that had an undercurrent of

violence in their taut guitar bass drum

(and synth) setup. This also benefits

from a sense of history as the band

appears to have heard the 90’s dark and

black metal boom (Moonspell, Samael,

Enslaved), besides the obvious bows at

the altars of Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus

and Fields of Nephilim.

“Eyes Sewn Shut” begins the assault

with driving backbone and rewards with

calmer yet blacker mid-section before

returning to the beat/ riff barrage. “Walk

with Me” continues the gothic mosh, with

a vintage dark chord progression.

“Journey Below” shows another side to

the band’s sound. A bit slower, a bit

moodier with an esoteric anthemic

chorus you may find yourself humming

at the next black mass. The guitars are

simple and straightforward but perfect

for the rather catchy and dark

songwriting. When the crunchy noir-riffs

are complemented with the spooky

synths and the vintage drumkit, it is

indeed an enjoyable spin, with the singer

painting tales of horror, the occult and

morbidity in his rather grim yet melodic

baritone, we have a little gem of modern

goth. There are only four songs (plus

one short horror movie mood piece at

the end) but it gets the job done. I have

heard that the debut album proper will

have a much better production. If so,

Vision Bleak et al should get ready for

the competition.

Suleiman

UMBAH / Trilobeth

(Self-Released, 2007 – UK)

Avantgenre: Metal Electrophernia

The man’s proficiency knows no bounds.

He is back with another amazing release,

and to boot it could be his best work yet.

Taking the bizarre twisting industrial

extreme metal sound from his previous

albums, Cal morphs it into a thing of

dystopian beauty. This is musical

insanity in its truest form. I will now

dissect some of the album’s hi-light

tracks to try and get your feeble brains

to comprehend the genius at work here.

A Zen Horizon – References some older

Umbah material, but manages to be

disturbing in its minimalism, which lends

the occasional strange samples and

the eerie background synths even more

potency. The vocals are mangled by

multi-stage processing in places, and the

song structure will make most metal

musicians weep blood. Strangely, despite

the complexity, the main motif sticks like

glue.

Beehive – This could be the lead video

single in a world where MTV stood for

Masticating Teleportation Visuals. A

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massive track that shows Cal sculpting

an insanely catchy tune, with some dark

twining riffing and synthy rhythms that

explode into rage and similarly back and

forth. Great sense of timing and in no

time this will have you shouting ‘I think

its a robotic beehive, I think Im only

human left alive.’ If there was any

justice in the world, this could break into

more mainstream metal since its the

closest thing to accessible on this album,

while remaining very much an Umbah

song.

Mesoria a Larkara – Continuing this newfound

vitality of fresh sounds, this

sounds plain epic, and veers into

sympho-metal territory (if the orchestra

was conducted by Skinny Puppy). It rips

through the heart of a million bands

pretending artistic integrity via a couple

of violas. The juxtaposition of discordant

stop start riffing, rich synths, insane

screeches, beautiful piano runs and

squeaky violas will leave you breathless.

I was thinking of Umbah progressing but

did not expect this. Wow!

Sheep of Sad Fate – More upfront brutal

than the other tracks, this shreds in

classic Umbah style, but gain it has a

doomy underbelly to the lightning fast

grind death framework. Riffing is top

notch all the way. And what is it with the

drums? In most places it sounds like

someone is actually playing/bashing a

drumkit instead of programming it. This

guy just rips apart digital drum

programming. The atonal riffing layers

attack and slay yet remain faithful to the

song, and the outro is absolutely nuts,

with the haunting sounds and funky

drums.

Trilobeth – The heaviest song on the

record, and an absolute head smasher of

a track. The soundtrack to a mad aliencyborg

killing spree, this once again

raises the bar for death metal, with its

aggression, guitar work, structure and

vocals.

To a Somber Place – A soundtrack to a

non-existent 70’s euro-art thriller, with

some very authentic tones and textures.

Takes cues from jazz and avant garde

classic and takes it to new heights.

Torn Again – More overtly industrial than

some of the other tracks, this is a

disturbing looping morphing slice of

insanity. Imagine Skinny Puppy and

Controlled Bleeding jamming, and take it

from there.

The tracks I have not mentioned are just

as awesome, and it is hard to choose a

favourite. In a nutshell, if you are

already familiar with Umbah, prepare to

be pleasantly surprised at the evolution,

and if you are not, prepare to have your

socks blown off and brains melted. As

ever, the whole thing is available for free

download at:

http://www.umbah.co.uk/cybergrind/mp

3z.htm

I actually feel guilty for downloading it

because it blows most of the albums I

paid for out of the water. This is further

proof that the best avant garde metal is

still being created in the darkest

recesses of the underground, and has

little to do with monetary concerns.

Suleiman

SOLEFALD / The Circular Drain

(Von Jackhelln Inhuman, 2007 –

Norway)

Avantgenre: Avantsampler

This is no real “new” album but a rerelease

of the fist SOLEFALD-Demo

“Jernlov” from 1996 as well as a

compilation of several artists

contributing their versions of SOLEFALDsongs

from over a decade. Due to the

nature of this enterprise (different

96

artists, styles and so on) I’ll take on this

CD step by step.

Jernlov:

Being lucky to own the original tape, I

was already familiar with the two songs

that did not make their way to “The

Linear Scaffold”. Yet you can hear the

trademarks that would later be used on

aforementioned album: SOLEFALD’s

weird harmonies, the quiet interludiums

(either clean guitars or synths, on

“Sivilisasjonens Slør – Ravnens Fall” you

have even a bagpipe) in exchange with

screeching Black Metal. And then there

is, of course, Cornelius’ unmistakeable

vocal work which was great even back

then. The only difference is that

everything seems to have been

remastered; the drums are more clear

and louder and everything else is better

audible as well. Oh, and “When The

Moon Is On The Wave” contains an audio

error, some kind of suction noise at 3:41

which has not been there on the tape.

The Circular Drain (in order of

appearance, a review drawn in

sketches):

Exorcise –

Red For Fire + Black For Death

A dark beginning. A cold, repetive

soundscape, erupting into a beatinferno;

cold, mechanical, impelling. An

inhuman, factory-like void, focusing on

the darker side of SOLEFALD and one of

my favourite tracks.

The Bombs Of Enduring Freedom –

Survival Of The Outlaw

The driving (nearly jungle) beats of this

track continue on the debris the last

track has left behind. A wild

rollercoaster-ride through the same

factory, with the occasional samples of

Cornelius’ screams. A short pause with

the clean singing part, and on we are

again when THE BOMBS OF ENDURING

FREEDOM throw us off the coaster

suddenly and without warning. Another

favourite of mine.

Dj:!!j Lazare: Fluorescent

(The Total Orchestra)

Just in time to be picked up by DJ:!!J

LAZARE, which is – you probably guessed

– Lazare himself. One of the weaker

tracks, starts with some kind of

“gangsta’s paradise” SOLEFALD-style

and continues even worse with a kind of

house-hymn and “Yeah, yeah” shouting.

Not my cup of tea, although the track

gets better to the end.

Havoc Unit: Sun I Call

The renamed …AND OCEANS are behind

this, and with an adequate and calm

conversion of the intro of the Icelandic

Saga. Accompanied by slow beats and

the one or the other synth-intermission,

this track does more than justice to the

mood of the original version; HAVOC

UNIT take their time and don’t try to

push it too far too fast. Very good job.

The Extreme Zweizz Fuckover:

There Is Need

Sorry but this is not for me. This is just

noise. And I mean noise. No music, only

soundscapes of brrrrm and wwwwwth

and eeeeeek and woooooosh and

btbtbtbtbtbtbtb… This might be art, this

might be crap. I am not to judge it. I

just don’t like it.

Half Sherman : CK II Chanel no 6

“Survival of the fittes”, jungle-like. A

new atmosphere, a new more friendly

approach to a strange and dark song.

Yet not very much stays besides the the

fact that HALF SHERMAN like to

experiment with beats while focusing on

one melody. Okay with me, but not very

impressing.

Red Sector A: A Motion Picture

Does anyone remember The Descent

(old PC-game) soundtrack? Well, this

could have been on it. A very spheric

version of the weirdest song on

“Neonism”. Calm, futuristic and great.

Could under other circumstances be

heard on Goa-parties in the chilloutzone.

Recommended.

Havoc Unit: Bragi (Prayer Of A Son)

And again HAVOC UNIT. Darker, hostile,

more impending and alien this time. A

trip beyond the stars to corners where

even Jean-Luc has not been before.

Another highlight.

G.U.T.: When The Moon Is On The Wave

Last but not least the man himself:

97

Cornelius with his side-project G.U.T.

(no, NOT the porn-grinders). A slow,

dark and menacing version of Lord

Byron’s poem. And strangely the least

electronic sounding track on this CD.

This could pass as a slower, more

relaxed version of the original track.

Very good job as well.

Resumee:

Far more listenable hommage to an

important norwegian band than ULVER’s

exploration into the same regions a few

years ago. The concept is the same, but

where ULVER have dug out artists who

think throwing canaries into a fan, record

this, then playing it again backwards on

double speed while doing the hoovering

and record that AGAIN is funny, this

tribute (except for ZWEIZZ who has

probably no canaries left and PETA on

his trail) is listenable and very well done

for the most part. This is for the openminded

SOLEFALD-fan (which I guess

you are anyway by liking SOLEFALD in

the first place) and ventures into more

electronic regions. But even then there is

a fair amount of distortion for the

average metalhead, and getting the

hands on the “Jernlov”-demo wich only

turns up so often on Ebay for high prices

is a not a bad thing either.

Tentakel P.

MONSTERWORKS / Spacial

Operations

(Self-Released, 2007 – New Zealand)

Avantgenre: Space Rebel Metal

Opening with a majestic intro that shows

the band to be clearly influenced by

bombastic progressive hard rock, it

explodes into the first song proper

‘Firefight’. This lies somewhere at a

crossroads between hevy devy metal (its

a genre), 70’s hard rock, melodic death

metal and prog/power metal. A very

fresh sound indeed, which is surprising

how hackneyed the inspirations have

become. This has a passion and a sense

of honesty often missing in musicians

and albums of such virtuosity. The

vocalist is like a one man war between

the aforementioned Devin (minus the

reverb OD) and impaled Nazarene.

Lovely atmospheric keyboards drench

the proceedings but never intrude on the

seriously riff-alicious guitars. Thankfully

the leads avoid the dreaded Maiden

syndrome as well as the abhorred

pretty-ness or the Amotts.Instead the

guitars and the organic song structures

evoke the free flowing spirit of 70’s

metal (as on “November”) and the

classic (doomy) metal rumblings of

“Stars Malign”. This tranverses the entire

classic and extreme metal spectrum in

its 48 minutes, without once sounding

forced or contrived. “Defenders of the

Southern Cross” is another masterpiece

but its all good really. Its great the way

the same instruments (guitars, drums,

bass, keys) and the same genre (metal)

can still sound so fresh and vital, without

resorting to non-traditional composition

techniques. The way the band makes

Lynrd Skynrd collide head on with

Strapping Young Lad has to be heard to

be believed.

This band has single handedly revived

my faith in progressive metal, infusing it

with an almost punk enthusiasm and a

true sense of adventure. For those who

have had enough of the navel-gazing

bloat metal of Opeth or the sheer gayness

of Dream Theatre, give this a spin

to see what you have been missing. My

only regret is that this could not be

included on my AGM Top Ten. The way

the free-bird-seque acoustics of “Lonely

Crown” erupts into the raging wall of

sound and how the composition

continues will give any metal fan the

shivers.”Paralellysis” is another heartfelt

acoustic interlude leading to another

monstrous track “Alliance”. Overall the

vocals are some of the most passionate I

have heard in a while (though very

98

occasionally interspersed with a more

generic growl) while the instrumentation

takes the best elements of progressive

and extreme metal (as well as 70’s

southern rock) and comes up with a

winning mix. I could go on and on but

suffice to say get it now.

This is a concept record, being

something of an action-space-drama, but

the cohesive concept is only the icing on

the cake, because the music stands tall

on its own. And finally the cherry on this

monster metal sundae – its available for

free download (hi quality mp3) directly

from the band’s site here:

http://www.supermetal.net/Main.html

Somehow its fitting that this is from New

Zealand. You can almost smell the warp

speed engine running on diesel and

Fosters here.

Suleiman

PICA FIERCE / Pica Fierce

(Self-Released, 2007 – Norway)

Avantgenre: Thrashy Spaced Death

Metal

PICA FIERCE are a band from Norway,

formed in 1999 and, as far as my

researches have led me, have been and

are not involved in any other band.

There is always one more surprise in for

you: A norwegian band without

involvement in any other bands. Please

read this sentence carefully and repeat it

over and over, because I doubt you’ll

read it somewhere else soon again.

I found out about them when I was

dealing with friend requests on MySpace,

and though I normally don’t listen to the

various mp3’s on the requesters sites

this time I am glad I did. The great

“Swan Song” was what I heard, and I

was very surprised. This band labels

itself Thrash? Okay, marginally that fits,

but that was only one of the faces of

PICA FIERCE I discovered. It turned out

that after three demos PICA FIERCE

were about to release their debut right at

the time I contacted them, so I asked for

a promo to find out more about these

“Thrashers” who were able to write such

epic songs.

First things first: The technical

implementation leaves no wishes

unfulfilled. A great and moody green

artwork, a professional sharp and clean

sound from various studios throughout

Sweden and Norway and skillful

musicians. Overall an appealing

presentation. A great presentation, if you

take into account that the band had to

do everything on its own due to the lack

of a label.

Now on to the music. Yes, the basis is

deathened (melodic) Thrash-metal, and

it is maybe not as avantgardistic as I

thought it might be while listening to

“Swan Song” (which is by far the best

song on the album), but nevertheless

this has become a great album. It

features mostly deep and shredding

rhythm-guitars, a skill- and playful

drummer who is able to do some

intricate drum-patterns as well as

straight attacks, a diversified shouter

and a coequal adept bass-player. Yet,

one flaw of the album is that sometimes

the songs tend to sound a bit similar for

my taste, and that is mainly when the

band writes parts based on technical

rythms with every instrument focusing

on it with – at least for my tasteexchangeable

melodies. But the

moments when PICA FIERCE write based

on melodies and not on rhythm, when

they experiment (which they do quite

often), make more than up for that.

Choirs, Black-Metal screeching, distorted

and disharmonic melodies, great solos,

samples, and citing most of the Metalgenres

(from Heavy, Doom, Death,

Thrash to Black, Gothic, and whatever…)

99

create a steady vessel to float on the

river of PICA FIERCE. Moments like in

the aforementioned “Swan Song” (which

remains my favourite song) come up

every once in a while, great and epic

moments. Sometimes (for example, the

last song “A New Beginning”) they even

sound like SOLEFALD meets SLAYER…

PICA FIERCE get big bonus points from

me for pushing one of the most

conservative genres in Metal (namely

Thrash Metal) beyond its boundaries,

and for succeeding with the effort. I

sincerely hope that soon some labels will

show interest for them – with this album,

they deserve it. Oh and did I mention:

They are a norwegian band without

involvement in any other bands. I just

can’t get over that. Would you believe

that, please?

Tentakel P.

ACHENAR / All Will Change

(Earthen Records, 2007 – UK)

Avantgenre: Avant Garde Music

Just as I breathed a sigh of relief upon

completion of the Cervix review, I looked

at the Achenar album with some

trepidation. Upon playing my fears were

intensified as it begins with some

interesting sample that are quickly

overtaken by noise. As I was cursing and

thinking that this was punishment from

the boss (Chrystof) for something, it

turned into some of the darkest

arpeggios I have heard in while. I sat

entranced as the sheer weighty

atmosphere overtook me, complimented

by suitably moody and strange synths.

The vocals are somewhere between

chanting and choir work but suitably

infused with a gothic sensibility. The

textures are layered to a climax and a

sudden stop, making “Survive Yourself”

a very memorable first song (following

the earlier intro mentioned “Origin”). The

second track is much more insane,

taking cues from Skinny Puppy and

Merzbow. Yes it has some harsh

frequencies and a ton of noise, but it

also has a rather alien sense of

songwriting, and at least a small family

of crystal meth fed monkeys jumping all

over the keys and buttons of a sampler.

More bizarre and rather scary

soundscapes lead to “Verify Me”. In

terms of atmosphere and sheer weight

this smokes most of the dark stuff I have

heard this year. The rhythms created out

all over the record are pure genius,

utilizing electro-industrial drumkits as

well as all kinds of found sounds to

mesmerizing effect. The lyrics are also

sufficiently ambiguous yet threatening

enough to mantain a near-constant

mood of unknown fear. Songs like “Re-

Everate” take the rougher sounds of

bands like In Strict Confidence, and then

rape them to produce alien-hybrid

offspring.

Project mastermind, Scotsman Duncan

Hemingway, proves to be a true

expressionist of post-modern avant

garde composition on tracks like the

enthralling “Sojourn”. It came to the

point where I was actually looking

forward to what madness each track

would bring, and to say the least, it does

not disapoint a fan of avant garde music.

Honestly, even as a musician it scares

me as to how a piece like “Let Us Help

You” is composed, much less created.

What sort of mental dichotomy leads one

to be equally enthusiastic in making

rhythmic barrage of noise and samples

on one end, and the neo-goth brilliance

of a song like “With Conviction” (infact a

few places reflect the experimentation of

euro-BM bands as they expanded their

wings). It all ends with the alternately

haunting and bitter sweet strain of

“1+0=10”. Highly recommended for

anyone claiming to be into avant garde

music.

Suleiman

100

EMPHASIS / Elements Of Morrow

(KU – RAC, 2007 – Croatia)

Avantgenre: Neon-nocturnal Post Metal

Dream Machine

Not avant-garde in the scence of

groundbreaking sound architecture, but

so spontaneous when approaching their

music, a psychedelic and experimental

manner packed in a post-metal sound.

The music is calm, but screaming from

the inside, screaming because of the fear

what will the future bring….the music

itself is played from the future; seconds

before we know it, these simple sounds

exist eternally, they are the part of

yesterday and the sound of “now”, they

are the “Elements of Morrow” Free from

lyrical intervention the music itself

becomes the media through which the

artist yearns to contact or common

consciousness, and really the music is

both individual and universal, it’s a form

of art given to you to finish, there may

be millions of sounds like this in the

universe, each finished form will be

completely different. I almost forgot how

a purely instrumental expression can be

strong. The only intervention of human

voice are spoken samples on the opening

of the album and on the final track. The

music ranges from some quiet ambient

parts often enriched by guitar reverb and

electronical samples. Even though the

dynamics of these passages is somewhat

lower, they remain as expressive and

energic as the rest of the recordings.

Tranquillity and anxiety are the two

keywords of this recording, the harmony

between the “calm” and “disturbing”

parts can be compared with waves of

paranoia when dreaming, like some

foreign voices and noises you hear when

sleeping but you just can’t wake up.

“Elements of Morrow” has a nocturnal

aspect, not the romantic one of twilight

and storm, but the nocturno of a modern

surrounding, the burning pain of neon

lights, empty hallways in the

underground, dimly lit parks, and a few

unknown people walking away….

The instrumentation is simple but strong,

some keys and electronics occasionally

turn up to enrich the atmosphere along

with the mentioned reverb sound of the

guitars. A great surprise is a very simple

but effective drumming. Everything was

played in order to emphasize the

atmosphere of the music, not to turn

your attention to the playing itself, that’s

why it is difficult to describe such a

record only with words. Can there be a

drawback on this record?! Well maybe

the bass is a bit too silent in the mix, it’s

sound is dim so the drawback is maybe

just my imagination, because the

production of the record is clear and

almost perfect. If you prefer calming

music, if you prefer a music you can

shape after your own will, this record will

bring in a great new palette of

psychedelic and melancholy to your

sences….shape it after your own will….

“Like we are masters of our world

making shapes that we prefer”

Ulv

101

VINTERSORG / Solens Rötter

(Napalm Records, 2007 – Sweden)

Avantgenre: Disharmonic Force Of Gaia

I did not like the previous VINTERSORGalbums

that much; for my taste they

both were, compared to the first albums,

a bit too far out in space both lyrically

and musically. They were nevertheless

good without question, but somehow

they lacked something the first albums

had. So I did not expect album-of-theyear-

material when I bought “Solens

Rötter”. I expected a good album, not

less, but also not more. And at first it

seemed as if it was exactly that – a good

album. Then, after listening to it some

time more, I found that it was indeed a

very good album. Something that I had

felt was missing on the previous outputs

of VINTERSORG was back;

reminiscences of the good ol’ times of

“Till Fjälls” became obvious and some of

its magic sparkled anew, together with

some new elements. It seemed as if Mr.

Vintersorg merged his “old” with his

“modern” style; to join the positive

aspects of his other albums so far

(maybe added a bit of his experience

with BORKNAGAR) to record “Solens

Rötter”. But SR is far more than a

collection of all the elements that

VINTERSORG is made of. If you know

the band you know and you expect that

you’ll hear beautiful acoustic-guitar

parts; Mr. Vintersorgs unmistakeably

clean voice as well as his growling and

screaming; straight, blasting drum

patterns as much as progressive beats

which are sometimes on the edge of

being drum-solos; calm melodies which

interchange with impelling shredding

guitars; and last but not least the one or

the other sample or sound-effect or

other gimmicks. This time there is more

to it; in every song there is something

underlining which adds a magical note to

the album. Sometimes with melodies,

sometimes with effects and strange

instruments (I could swear I heard a

Marimba somewhere). There are flutes,

bongos, synths, chimes, a harp, violins

and more, you name it, it’s probably on

“Solens Rötter”. I guess most of them

are artifical (prove me wrong?) but even

if the songs are stuffed with these

elements, they don’t obtrude

themselves, you barely recognize them

in the first place (hint: try listening with

headphones, it’s worth it). The melodies

are calm, epic, monumental, simply

beautiful. This is a positive album and I

don’t mean cheesy. Some of the

melodies are really weird (best example

would be the calm intermission in “Från

Materia Till Ande” and the instrumental

“Vad Aftonvindens Andning Viskar” which

is gorgeously spaced-out) but that is

what makes “Solens Rötter” unique; the

approach to harmonies and disharmonies

are seldom heard and somehow –

enlightened. The only thing that comes

to my mind which could be compared to

that somehow is IHSAHN’s “The

Adversary” which could be called the Yin

of the bright Yang that is “Solens Rötter”

for both albums have a similar approach

to brilliant compositions; IHSAHN’s TA

being the darker album. And now please

don’t make me explain the last sentence,

just listen to “Solens Rötter” (best listen

to “The Adversary” as well) and feel it.

Tentakel P.

2nd Print Edition of

Avantgarde Metal Magazine

4th of May 2008

Imprint:

Chief editor:

Chrystof Niederwieser

PDF design and layout:

Katja Honeywine van de Barrel

Mag-Cover made by Bernd Grünwald

Webmaster:

Bernd Grünwald

Articles written by:

aVoid, Olivier Côté, Jobst,

Jonny Lignano, James Slone, Polygon,

Tentakel P., revon, Suleiman Ali,

Trident, Ulv, Martin Cermak

Contact:

Visit the “about” section of

WWW.AVANTGARDE-METAL.COM

to get in contact with the crew members!

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