The album began with odd time signatures, which compelled me, but the buildup seemed to fizz instead of resolving. This was jarring, but not as much as when I heard the harbingers of faggotry. The riffing took on the massively gay style of dance-friendly metal, so much so that I predicted that, if there were to be death metal vocals, the delivery would be fake, either as a mainstream person’s attempt at real brutality, or as a weakling’s inability to deliver. Whatever the reason for the pseudo-death vocals, my dismay soon focused on the clean vocals that bordered on the gay realm of the poser. I tried my best to give this a chance, but each additional moment took me farther away from metal. This felt like a contrived and pretentious album specifically made for girls who rather dance than read, and for guys who like guys. The final test came when I was going to see what the band members looked like. I predicted, based on the songs, that the members would be distinctly non metal, and highly gay.. Isn’t it sad that this band is so predictable?
I have long been aware of demo songs from Sanctuary. I begged Warrel Dane for copies but he resisted. Alas, my wish was finally granted in this polished version.
Of course I had to select “Battle Angels” as the first song to experience. I was among the lucky ones in the past who received an e.p. of live songs, and “Battle Angels” was on there when Warrel Dane hit the tough notes.
The demo version of the song far exceeded my expectations, both in production value and in performance. Warrel Dane’s falsetto was strong and true. I remember that day long ago when I heard this song on the radio for the first time and I had to pull over. As soon as the disc jockey identified the band, I drove to a record store. Hearing the demo version was a similar experience. It was like renewing my vows.
The demo version differed slightly from the version that was on the “Refuge Denied album. This is especially enjoyable – not only do I hear a different performance – I also enjoy an alternate structure. This is quite the gift for a fan.
There is also material that is completely new to my ears. The song “Dream of the Incubus” features an astounding falsetto performance. it was an intense listening experience, so much so that i had to hear the song a few times before moving on. It was just too good to leave.
This is unquestionably a mandatory purchase. “Inception” is so good that I would dare say that it can be mind-blowing to a person who has never heard Sanctuary before. I strongly urge you to drop what you are doing and to get this album immediately.
INterview with Trey conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #6
Thy attitude, as a band, has come under a lot of scrutiny. Dave Vincent has made some bold comments when asked about how involved he is in thy local scene. He responded with, “What scene? There is no scene. There’s only Morbid Angel!’ Dost thou think that such assertions hinder thee?
Um … Not really.
But how canst thou say that? A lot of bands have taken tremendous offense to that.
Really? Like who?
I am not at liberty to mention. But let us step away from thy peers. Fans have found the arrogant statements to be distasteful. It is not really an attitude that they admire. But then there are those who worship thee and praise thy airs.
Well, let me put it this way – we just feel that what we say is accurate to what’s going on as far as fact. When you blow all the smoke away, we’re talking about what’s standing – a secure thing that’s real. There’s a lot of hype and stuff like that surrounding a lot of bands. We’re just talking about actually what’s the music all about – what’s going into it, you know, without any extra fluff ‘n stuff that people would talk about that really has nothing to do with music. We only just talk about our music and how powerful it is and how we feel that it’s the most powerful music there is. It’s just what we feel. It goes beyond just music. It goes in just about everything. There’s a lot of people who. . . their whole career is just based on hype and fluff talk and all that kind of stuff, and fronts. Our career is based on serious material that we put a lot of time and effort into. So we just believe in ourselves and believe in our stuff.
Didst thou find it to be humiliating to be dropped from Giant Records?
What is the next step?
As far as labels, we don’t know. We’re just gonna see who gives us the best offer. As far as music, I don’t see us changing really, anymore than it’s changed with all the previous records.
Thou art very proud of incorporating certain extreme tempo notes in thy arrangements. I have heard thee say that not many musicians are capable of such feats. Dost thou care to expound?
What is it about the Morbid Angel guitar that cannot be duplicated?
Well, I think really it’s not the playing – it’s the creativity. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s the vision that is behind the riffing. I’m not saying that people can’t figure out our stuff, or be shown and mechanically play it. But what I’m saying is that I don’t see any other band coming up with as many different types of rhythms and song struc tures as we have on our records, and covered as much ground. That’s what I think is the difference. This band has a little bit more creativity, imagination, and we create so much new stuff in this type of music as far as all the different songs. . . when you take them and dissect them for what they are, there’s a lot coming from one band. The two videos that we put on MTV, like, Rapture and God of Emptiness – those two songs are, like, totally different from one another. One is, like, really fast and brutal, and hyper speed. The other is , like, down-tuned and slow and really heavy and all that. They’re totally different. But they’re from the same band. I don’t see any other band that is producing such a broad range of music. I haven’t heard it.
Thou art heavily into the Sumerian gods?
Is that because of what thou hast read of Lovecraft’s fiction, or is it because thou dost possess an actual anthropological interest?
Well, I haven’t really read any H.P. Lovecraft. David has. Fiction… you know, fact… I pretty much study the actual books that are translations from the old. . . uh. . . I can say “scriptures’ and stuff like that, in those areas. It’s like, you know, fiction or . . . myth. Myths are, like, based on what people believed You could say, or I could say, that all religion is fiction because there’s nothing really physically factual about it. It’s just all belief. Belief is the power. You can invent your own kind of religion, and if you believe in it strong enough and anchor in a reality to it, then you give it power, and it is powerful. So it’s kind of a question between, like, something being all fiction, and then something being, like, factual religion. I mean, all religion is basically, you know, people’s ideas and what they would say about a belief about some kind of power or something that’s beyond the physical realm. It’s all intangible. It’s not really something like a car or, like, food, or something that you can see and hold and touch. It’s something that you believe in. It’s something that gets your spiritual powers going. Myself, the stuff that I’ve read, that was, like, very interesting to me. That’s the way I live my life. I choose things that I like myself . . . what do I feel a part of or what can I feel a part of.
Vincent says that his interest is pure belief. Is that the same with thee? Or is it just an area of study?
Um. . . I don’t know. Maybe both.
Dost thou think that it is absurd to adopt a culture that is not thine? How canst thou be seen as authentic in thy belief if it is not only a foreign civilization, but a civilization long dead?
Well, when you say, “to be seen. . .’ to be seen by who? By myself?
By others, of course.
Well, see, I don’t care what other people think. I don’t base anything on what other people say is cool or what other people say is norm because I create my own cool and my own standards. I really don’t base any- thing by other people’s ideas of what’s right and wrong.
But if thou truly did not care what other people thought, thou wouldst not profess thy unusual tastes to the world. Thou wouldst just dismiss prying questions with “no comment” or “this is not appropriate for discussion.’ Thou calls thyself by a pseudonym that is from that culture. So that would lead people to ask thee about it. Dost thou not think that thou art baiting people?
I just think that I’m living my life the way I choose, which is Satanism. See, I don’t think of it like that. I just do whatever I feel is best for myself. When I get the opportunity to say what I got to say, I say it. People listen to it. Great if they don’t. Big Deal! It doesn’t affect me much either way.
When thou did say “Satanism,’ Didst thou refer to the Anton LaVey school of Satanism? Or is it what occultists call “Christian Satanism?’
I’m talking about my interpretation of Satanism.
Wouldst thou care to share a couple of things about that view?
Well, to me, Satanism is believing in yourself and making your own decisions, and pretty much controlling the way you live your life and what you do and what you think… you know, doing it for yourself and doing things because you want to and not because other people expect it out of you or other people are gonna think it’s gonna be cool or whatever. But really, actually, you can do that too if that’s important to you. The bottom line is, doing what’s important to you.
Is there anything evil about Satanism?
Evil? How do you describe evil? Is that just the opposite of holiness?
No. Evil as in hatred, acts that hurt others. . . perhaps it is the common idea of evil than thy own. I know evil is a relative term. But understand that I will always use common conventions, as I am not aware of thy own definitions.
…probably. I’m full of hatred. But I don’t live my life trying to hurt other people.
How about horrific? Is there anything horrifying about thy version of Satanism?
To me, or to other people?
To others, obviously.
I would say that Christians would. Average people, you know, maybe not. It depends on the individual, really, because, see, I’m beyond that. I think of people as Individuals, and maybe sometimes they’re a little more sheep-ish than others because they wanna follow the leader or follow and be part of something as opposed to, you know, letting themselves be by themselves in a decision or idea. I would say that it depends. You take a group of people and you might have out of ten, 3 people are saying one thing and the rest are saying something else. It’s hard to say. I didn’t really spend my time thinking about what other people think that much because that’s their job. I’m more concerned with what I think and what I do. I just do what I feel is best for myself.
Is there rivalry between Glen Benton and Dave Vincent?
Well, I don’t think there’s any really from David. See, what it is, is, I mean, it all boils down to people and the way they are and their values and what they think. See, us. . .we’re always asked questions about that band and other bands and whatever. “Oh. What do you think about their latest record?” See, part of Satanism too, by our definition, is to speak what you feel is the truth for you. What is your reality? Say it boldly. Don’t kiss ass and say, “They’re cool.” and then by yourself you’re thinking , “Oh they really suck. Oh I don’t really like them. But I’m gonna say they”re coot because I wanna be cool” I don’t care about being cool. That doesn’t mean anything to me. So we just say what we think, and people don’t like that. So. . . whatever. But see, I know also that they say what they think, and they say things about our band, and you know, to me, when you look at the music, I don’t really see that it can be compared. I think there’s a big difference between our records and their records as far as accomplishments and as far as creativity and, you know, you throw away all the hype and you get to the music and you just listen to it and what it does it do… I just feel that our music does a lot more.
But philosophically, are they opposed diametrically, Glen and Dave?
I don’t know. I guess you have to ask him. I know, myself, I’m actually very supportive of Deicide these days because I personally think that the drummer and Glen… I think they do a great job, you know, what they do. I think the vocals are really very creative and I think the drummin’s really solid. But you know, for me, I just always kind of felt that the music was lacking something. I just didn’t really get much out of the actual songs from one song to the next. But I really hope Deicide stays around because I think that the scene or whatever needs more bands right now, it seems like it’s just us that is really doing something and selling records and making things happen. But I really hope that Deicide stays around. I don’t have any beef with them at all. I just think that besides maybe talking and making all this hype up or whatever, they should maybe think about their music a little bit more. But whatever. I mean, they’re doin’ what they wanna do.
With regard to the Satanic element, it has been observed that most people who are very loud about proclaiming themselves as Satanic are often of puny stature and that they only pretend that they are Satanists to compensate for their physical weakness. Wouldst thou say that this applies to thee?
As far as proclaiming that I’m a Satanist?
It has been suggested that thou and Tommy from Motley Crue are the same person, making fun of thy skinny arms, and stating that the only reason thou art in the occult is to create some sort of macho image because thy physical presence cannot possibly do so.
Well, I can tell you one thing. I’m not, like, in the Ultimate Fighting Championship or some kind of prize boxer. So I’m certainly not trying to be some kind of massive macho fighter or whatever. I’m a guitar player. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m offering these people. . . is my guitar playing. I put a lot of time and effort into that, and I think that in that I’m very powerful and I’ve accomplished a lot. I don’t really know what that’s supposed to mean.
Has anyone ever hugged thee and loved the and called the ‘George Emanuelle?”
Has anyone done what now?
Has anyone hugged thee and loved thee and called the “George?”
Not that I remember.
If thou ever played baseball, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
I don’t know.
If thou wert having gay sex with thy manager, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
Well, I don’t know. That sounds pretty weak to me.
Thy hecklers are may.
That’s the thing. Why aren’t these people who are saying all this stuff. . . how come they’re not, like, writing music that’s gonna just make our band nothing? I don’t get that. It’s easy to say a mouthful of nothing. But it’s a lot more work to create music and product, because that’s what a band is. A band is music. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about making music and creating a statement, and devastating with chord structures and timing sequences and things like that. All this other stuff.. it means nothing.
This album is mortal to my ears, for it makes me a dead man, ebbing in a slow tide, rife with dread. The drone lulls me into a blackness where mere moments ago I beheld the world, and now my eyes are organs of the mind. On this stark canvas, the music makes a brush of every instrument, and woeful colors depict such scenes as only could be made by the feelings this album inspires.
The slow, plodding rhythm appears harmless, but it guides the imagination into depths without noting the passage of consciousness, and then the altered state is achieved without memory of the inner journey. This is when the theater of the mind opens, and no one can possibly know the same experience.
No such descent can remain without a guide, and the rumble of a demon god assures no joy can be felt in this sinking plane. So terrible is the tone, yet the voice deepens the trance. It is as a flame that causes no flesh to recoil.
All the while, despair overtakes the heart, and the pulse becomes a drum which compels life to move toward death. Amid the crushing threnody rides soprano so haunting that the sky could have released black angels and even they could not match the impact of the voices. This, coupled with the morose synthesizer, creates such despair that the only thing preventing suicide is the longing to hear the music again.
This band has made a grand contribution to atmospheric doom, introducing fresh elements and exhibiting a rare creativity that I hope will become appreciated by people who otherwise see nothing in such dark music. Hasten to the vendor, for it would be a painful regret to have missed the opportunity to know this music. How many things have you let fall between your fingers, out of your grasp forever?
I am the herald who sounds the warning
Whenever I’ve read of Darkthrone in the older issues when the ‘90’s black metal scene first erupted, there was talk of a “Jewish conspiracy”. But it was never explained.
Maybe it’s the music business. (laughs) I don’t know. Fuck all that shit. I mean, the old black metal stuff weren’t really based on conspiration (editor’s note – he said that word) theories like that. When I think about the old days, that’s not what I’m thinking about at all.
But do you know what Grishnak was speaking of when he was mentioning a Jewish conspiracy?
Who knows what he’s all about? He’s really deep into that stuff, you know? He’s politically engaged, and I’m not. Music has been taking over my life totally. So music is larger than life for me. I’m not into that. It’s OK that he has interests, but I have my interests.
You are also of the reputation as some sort of evil racist.
Doh! (in a mock Homer Simpson/Spanky exclamation) (laughs) Evil racist? Well, the only time I ever was convicted for anything was like, for a demonstration against apartheid
Yeah. But that was a phase of socialism. Then I went through a phase of being really angry with other races. And now I’m back to normal… totally unengaged in political issues. I went from one extreme to another extreme, and then I went totally uninterested in the whole damn thing.
Speaking of changing from extremes… I first heard the demo, the songs of which later became Soulside Journey, and I was very blown away by that album. It’s a very solid death metal album.
We had a solid theory behind our riffs and everything too. We were deep into that death metal thing, and we had our own theory, like every riff should be… it should be possible to play the riffs on synthesizer cello, or whatever, to fit to a horror movie… a typical horror movie style. From there on, that was death metal to us, and it’s easy to hear… you know of course the “Reign in Blood” album, I’d say that the vocalist, when he does his part, the riffs underneath are totally thrash. But the riffs that are under the leads there, those are death metal riffs. Total death metal riffs. You can take those riffs, play them slower on a synthesizer, and you would have, like, totally horror.
I was told that the extremely drastic change after that album was the result of you being commanded by members of Mayhem.
(in a robot voice) Yes, I am on-ly a com-pu-ter. I on-ly take or-ders from May-hem peo-ple. Next ques-tion please. (we laugh and he speaks normally again) Oh no, it weren’t like that. It was like, we were really fed up with the whole death metal thing anyway. Of course, Euronymous had always pointed that out, because whenever I would even bring him, like, first Autopsy demo to his house, like in ‘88/’89, and I’d play it and like, “Listen to this! This rules!” he would be more like, “Well, it’s OK” and he would just put on some Mutilated, you know, from France. He was always quick to point out. But he was total all the time totally untrendy dude. But we didn’t change because anyone told us to. It was more like, we saw old albums in a new light, and it was the black metal feeling came. And you really couldn’t continue playing technical death metal, so-to-say. I was totally uninterested in making riffs that were 7/8 rhythms, or 14/16 rhythms and things like this. We just made decision to become primitive, or to play what basically we were listening to. And we still play that style. Totally primitive (burps) shit.
The media made it sound as if Grishnak had a grand plan… that he was going to play the really gay kind of black metal and that you were going to play the aggressive sort of black metal.
Oh yeah? You always listen to the media? I would rather listen to Eric Cartman than the media, man.
Yeah, I’m here to say that the media should never be trusted. But all right, how about the rumor that you are wearing silver pants these days?
Oh! These days… these days I’m listening to bass nova and Cuban music and deep jazz house. Well, whatever. I wore silver pants in, like ‘95. Yes. On some occasions. And even ‘96. But you know, that’s all cool. I was just talking to some Germans… I was staying with some guys in Mysticum. Of course, the Mysticum guys are really cool. They’re, like, totally freaked out. And this German was like, saying he’s been into the scene for a while. These totally evil German guys that were two years ago listening to hip hop. These guys were 27, so it’s not kids we’re talking about. Suddenly they go from being totally asshole dudes with inverted crosses, the biggest… their bellies, you know? That’s fuckin’ scary trend shit. What I’m saying is that it’s fuckin’ cool to do fuckin’ silver pants than to be fuckin’ trendy. I never did music or whatever to oppose or to be a rebel. But I tend to naturally go against the grain. You know what I’m saying? So when I’m suddenly seeing an ocean of stereotypes, black metallers, around me, I feel maybe a little bit weird about that because, in the beginning, there was just six of us here in Oslo, in ‘91. So that’s why maybe I am freaked out a little bit. I had this fuckin’ style now for so long now that it’s hard to shake.
You are involved in some non-brutal projects, are you not?
Are we so brutal?
You know what I mean.
If I want brutal I listen to fuckin’ Carcass or Extreme Noise Terror… old Napalm Death, or something like that. But I’d say all my shit is non-brutal. I can’t really play fast enough to be brutal on the drums. Sorry about that.
It’s all right.
It depends. A christian guy who just likes Bach, he would probably say that Darkthrone sounds brutal. When I’m making Darkthrone riffs and shit, I don’t think “brutal”. I think in very special way. Old Bathory shit. that’s what we’re here for… to help Quorthon stay alive by doing nothing. I mean, we must have sold a lot of records for Bathory, man, if you know what I mean.
Has Darkthrone ever been endorsed by any musical instrument companies?
No. I could care less about what I’m playing on. (editor’s note – The expression should be COULDN’T care less – please try not to spread the gay version of the expression) My drum kit now is, like, total crap, man. It strikes me as a bit weird that Pearl hadn’t made a kit like “Pearl Harbor” because that sounds really like (in a black metal voice he rasps the word “war”). I’d like to play on a fuckin’ Pearl Harbor kit, man. If they make it, send some here.
Has Darkthrone ever been endorsed by Maybeline or Revlon?
Oh! Well… Revlon? I’d like to be endorsed by my aftershave. It’s imported from Amalia. It fuckin’ rules. It’s subtle.
What of these rumors that Darkthrone has ended? Where did these come from?
I think it was George from Seinfeld that said that in an interview.
Which is part of the Jewish conspiracy.
(he laughs a good long time) That’s a good one, man! No… of course, when we’re not doing anything for a while, people say that we end. But what is to keep a project alive anyway? I mean, we have a new album out, so we obviously haven’t ended. When we went into the studio this time, I just realized that I forgot to bring the album that I should bring for the sound engineer, because that’s something you do. For instance, for our Under the Funeral Moon album, we brought Blood, Fire, Death by Bathory and the first Black Sabbath album so that the sound engineer would understand where we were heading, sound-wise. This time we were supposed to bring The Return album by Bathory. That’s, like, the essence of black metal if you ask me. And I forgot it. So what I said was, “Well, I’ll just bring it next time.” (laughs) We’re not going anywhere, sound-wise.
How do you feel about the scene that you helped to form?
It’s become a parade now. I feel like an old Greek dude, sitting in the street, having a drink. We have to show that old school black metal can survive.
What do you think of Dimmu Borgir?
Hey, they’re cool guys. I’m doing this great project with Jamie… that’s Astennu, called “Vombator”. We have this great vocalist from England that sounds just like John Tardy. Really into the first Obituary album. So we’re total friends, and those guys are old school but they play new school. I have nothing against those, but I like better the rehearsals from ‘94. I really dig that. I was listening to that throughout ‘94. That, and Beastie Boys. It’s too flashy for me, for my taste. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. You put on Darkthrone, you put on Dimmu… there’s a certain difference. But I like their old stuff so much that I want to make an undercompany and release it.
Is “Dimmu” Norwegian for “veggie”?
No, it’s Icelandic for “black castle”. Finally, a question I was informative about! That was amazing!
How do you feel about keyboards in black metal?
You don’t really… well, what can’t you put on a pizza these days? (explodes into psychotic laughter) Well, I don’t like pineapple on a pizza, man! And keyboards in metal are like pineapple on a pizza. But you Americans mostly don’t like the anchovies on a pizza, I hear. The idea is weird, but we had some keyboards even on our Soulside Journey album. But that just was more, like, eerie. I’m little bit opposed to that (he gives a vocal impression of Dimmu keyboards) because it basically sounds like some Bach with some (the word he spoke is indecipherable).
How do you feel about the kids all over the world who believed all the ridiculous media hype of the black metal explosion?
Well, the media just take it a long way, and when you blow it up like that… when you heat it up like that, the bare essence is maybe lost. The thing is, the people that hang in there… they know. But when it’s just a phase for someone, and it’s not the real love, then fuck it. But what I feel… I don’t know these people knew the hype. It’s great, though, to have a myth around a musical style. You know what is called the “jazz bug”? They start buying books about jazz and they become totally into it. I think this is great. It’s mystery. It’s myth. But what’s the bare essence of the jazz lost? The myth in black metal is stronger. I’d say it’s a bad thing for me. It’s easier to get into something that’s myth-ridden because it’s exciting. But for me, black metal ain’t that sort of exciting, flashy, circus stuff. It’s not like that. It’s just like fucking darkness and listening to nostalgic… like, The Return, from Bathory.
It seems to me that black metal flourished the same way that christianity did with the myth of the resurrection.
Goddamnit! Well, that’s going a little bit too far, but hey, we were seeing that death metal started to become awfully non-brutal, and maybe that’s what’s been happening today, even though I don’t think that Darkthrone is brutal. But there’s at least some sort of essence. But the christianity portion? I don’t know. That’s Alpha Omega. I if you start liking fish, then it’s totally weird.
I agree that at that time the commercial death metal bands were weak, but I always tell people who say that they find death metal boring to dig a little deeper because there’s always great stuff in the true underground. There was never a dry spell for it.
No, not in black metal either. There’s a lot of great black metal bands around now too. It’s always in the underground, man. I still like bigger death metal, like, I like new Morbid Angel. I find them to make really brave decisions sound-wise, and I don’t think they’re commercial at all. I don’t know why they sell a lot of albums.
Maybe because the guitar player is homosexual.
If they didn’t have a name they wouldn’t sell more than we because I really feel that that music is totally uncommercial. It’s really hard to listen to.
Do you respect their publicists for hiding the homosexuality of the guitar player so well?
Well…. do they have a publicist?
Cool! I’ve got to get a hold of that manager!
Well, Trey has a pretty good hold of the manager, if you know what I mean.
(laughs) Well, I don’t care, man. I couldn’t care less, actually. (editor’s note – Bravo! He said it right!) I’m not really that homophobic.
So you would hang out with Trey drunk, no problem?
I don’t know. I don’t like to hang out with drunk people unless I’m drunk myself. And then, anything could happen. (explodes into laughter)
The myths of black metal inspired people all over the world, especially with the fierce nationalism. It seemed like an elitism was going on in Norway. There are some labels that say to other labels, “We cannot trade you one CD for one CD. Our CD’s are so elite that one of our CD’s is worth one and a half of yours.” How do you feel about that attitude?
I don’t know who the hell want to listen to more metal now… (laughs) No, what I mean is, I never heard of that specific sort of example. I really listen to stuff that people send me. You know? But basically, I feel like, “This is not gonna be good.” But sometimes it happens. It wasn’t long time since some young Norwegian approached me with some project and I just looked at it, thinking, “This is going to be really awful, man.” But I just listened to it, and listened to it twice, and start to dig it. So if I were real elitist I wouldn’t even bother to listen to it. I think it’s a lot of being tired. You know? Burned out… you’re not really interested in listening to new stuff. I can totally understand that. It’s different for a band that’s been playing since ‘97… and we’ve been into metal since the start of the ‘80’s. The new generation is, of course, a bit more enthusiastic. Like we said, it started in Norway with that typical whatever… and people say that they made a sort of Norwegian black metal up. I can point out for you what is typical Norwegian black metal riff. I could do that. But people really don’t know what that typical sort of riffing is because that was the guitarist from Thorns Nora (ed – that’s what is sounded like he said) and Euronymous that started that whole sort of riffing. Then everyone said, “No. We’re tired of Norwegian black metal.” But Norwegian black metal was not existing at that time! Since ‘92 everyone went their own way. Probably, in rehearsal places in ‘91-’92, we were basically playing the same stuff – all the bands. But we quickly went own ways. That’s what I’m thinking. But I don’t have any problems saying, of course, that we were leading at that time, and other nations had problems making music that was as solid black metal as we did. But I think that the style that comes from America is totally different. The style that comes from Greece is totally different. They’re really not the same thing. But I would say England had a real problem. England had a problem even making a great thrash metal band. They had problems making a great death metal band. You know, they had Carcass, and more crustier shit. They were great at that. But they also had problems making black metal. So why wouldn’t we say that? A lot of other nations with a lot of more people than Norway having huge problems in making solid death metal that would make our blood freeze… that’s where all this elitism comes from. I would say, “Hey! We’re onto something here! And we’re way ahead!” It was the only time that we were ever way ahead… except for the Vikings.
Well, did not the Vikings become conquered by the christians?
(he wails) Don’t mention that! You get me severely depressed.
Darkthrone had lyrics in Norwegian.
Yeah, we started that, actually. It was the guys from Vomit – they came up to us at a gig in ‘89 or something, and said, (in a mock drunken stoner voice) “Hey man, (hiccup) someone should start singing in Norwegian.” And we were thinking about that for years, and all of a sudden I started to write a lyric and it turned out really cool. Well, “cool” is not the right word in black metal. But anyway – I’m watching too much Seinfeld now – so we tried it out and it worked. That’s one of the things that we started with. Other people probably had the same idea, but we were there first. (he giggles like the Pillsbury Doughboy).
I just thought it was strange that all those who waved the flag of elitism all spoke English.
We all speak English in Norway. We grow up with this language. We start learning it when we’re, like, eight, in school.
It must’ve been after England conquered Scandinavia.
English rules, man. You have words like “flabbergasted” and “boggled”. Boggle, boggle.
You like those sounds? Is it true that in Norway your nickname is “Freeze Miser”?
No. I never even heard that.
Really? You don’t have a t-shirt that says “I’m Mr. Freeze Miser. Whatever I touch turns to ice in my clutch”?
That’s fuckin’ ridiculous, man! That’s way out there. I mean, I heard a lot of silly rumors in my day, but hey, you’ve been surfing on the internet too much.
OK, back to the Viking culture and elitism.
Well, it’s just one more thing that needs to be cleared up. I heard that it is very important what sort of cup a Norwegian man drinks from.
As far as it’s beer, who gives a fuck! You know?
What does peanut butter mean to you?
Peanut butter? Oh, that’s, like, American culture. I never had peanut butter, myself. But when I see it in the store, I go like, “Typical American, man”
Because what I heard is, Vikings did not drink mead, which is beer boiled with honey.
Yeah, I know.
They drank a drink that was made from fermented peanut butter.
Well you probably know more about Viking culture than I do. It definitely sounds like that.
Well this is where it became personal… What’s that band that you had a problem with? I’m trying to remember…
I never had a problem with a band.
You never had a problem with a band?
Are you sure?
Yeah I’m sure. Well, I know that “All” or something from Abryptum was angry with me because of something like… the scene almost split, attitude-wise, because of who’s rooting for Count Grishnak and who’s rooting for Euronymous. So that was the problem. And everyone was figuring that I didn’t give a fuck about Euronymous. But I liked both guys. You know?
Alright, this makes a lot of sense because I heard it was the other way around. (he burps long and loudly while I am talking) You were angry with All because…
No, I weren’t.
You have a particular cup, according to this rumor, that you drink your peanut butter from…
(he bursts into deafening laughter) That’s a fabulous rumor.
…and it is called “Fenriz’s Peanut Butter Cup”. And “All” took it.
“All” took it? Oh! (in the voice of a child who had its lollipop taken away) “Oh, he stole it from me!” Well, that’s that. Hey, he was really angry with me, and it was rumored all around that he was really gonna wipe me out. Once, I got a call at my job, “All’s at M’s now, and he wants to meet you.” And I was, like, “Fuck! I got to bite the bullet and go there.” And I guess I was a bit nervous, but when I came he weren’t there, so… after that I hadn’t heard squat.
Is he taller than you?
I don’t know.
He’s only four feet tall.
Everyone says he’s tiny. But tiny people can fight with cannon. You know?
So, is the rumor with a person who works at Necropolis Records, named “Joker”, true?
Huh? I don’t have a problem with Necropolis Records.
Not even with Joker, the man with the cannon?
The man with the cannon? Man, you Americans are totally weird!
All right, let me ask you this. Did a black man ever get his chocolate in your peanut butter?
No. I never had any interference with black man.
Or peanut butter?
No. I never even tasted it.
Anything you’d like to say about your new album?
Yeah, it’s totally Darkthrone, as usual. It’s fuckin’ old school, and that’s what we’ve been all along. So there.
Would you like your address at the end of this interview?
No, because I don’t write anymore, man. I don’t have fuckin’ time for it. You should see my schedule. At least the hobby I got with forests…
(I start laughing)
That’s nothing to laugh about! I take that very seriously! I’m hours in the forest all the fuckin’ time.
With the mosquitoes?
No, it’s fuckin’ serious. Now I’m finding obscure… I have a book, and you stamp the book for obscure places in the forest that day. It’s hard to explain. But there is a lot of forests around this place. So we have a lot to do there.
Do you know what a tick is?
Yeah, I know a tick. I don’t have any, though. I’m totally scared of it because it’s fucking shitty animal, man. It just bites into you, and you gotta twist and turn to get it out. But usually there’s more of them along coastlines, and not really in a lot of forest areas that I’m visiting.
I heard that in Norway, because there’s a lot of mysticism, and the peasants exaggerate what they see, ticks have been called “sprites” over there… like the little faerie creatures.
Well, never trust a farmer.
I heard that they carry a disease called “Lime-on Disease” (goofing on the taste of the lemon/lime-flavored soft drink called “Sprite”).
They carry disease, yeah, because if you don’t find it, serious shit could happen to you. You don’t have ticks in America? Don’t tell me that!
No, they’ve been outlawed, actually.
You can’t outlaw them!
Yes you can! The government can outlaw anything!
It takes all kinds to make the world a more shitty place.
I have to thank you for having a sense of humor. I was told that you would not tolerate any silly jokes.
Satyr talked me into this. I’ll tell you why I’m doing all these interviews now. I probably should shut up because the people that are escaping to Darkthrone because they don’t like where things are going… they will be very pissed off at all these funny interviews I’m doing now. But the point is, when they sent out that tribute album, they sent out with a press release that said, “Do you want interview? Call here!” I didn’t know about this. Suddenly the office called and is like, “Hey, interview, interview, interview.” I’m was like, “What’s all this with interviews?” And Satyr’s like, “Can’t you do some interviews? And be nice!” And I’m like, “OK, I’ll do interviews and be nice… and even be funny!” (in a South Park impersonation) “Kick the baby!”
This interview with Quorthon was conducted for Issue #5. I kept in contact with him, and we had talked about him participating in my black metal documentary. He was to videotape himself answering my questions and then send me the footage, but he died of a heart attack.
Dost thou acknowledge that thou art the father of black metal?
In Sweden we have an expression that goes, “Everybody knows the monkey, but the monkey doesn’t know anybody”. What I am trying to say is that, if somebody comes up to me and says, “God man, your music has been such an influence on me and my buddies, and there are two million bands copying your music, and you have such importance on the metal scene for all these years” who the hell am I to say, “Yeah!” because I’m sitting here in my kitchen playing a couple of songs on my acoustic guitar?” I go into the studio to record it….. having a great time/// don’t think much about it. Once the album is released – twelve years later you have a lot of people telling you that your stuff was so great and has meant so much. There are no scales by which you can match your influence. We all sound different anyway.
Thou wert not contacted by the “Inner Circle?’
… inner what?
Those bad boys in Norway.
Oh yeah! Those guys! They wrote a lot of letters to me when they were young – when they were big, big, big, big Bathory fans, and they even had a magazine. I don’t remember the name. But they were heavily into the Satanic shit that we were doing. Once, a couple of these guys were arrested for the things that they did – you know, burning down churches, killing people. They told the police that they were influenced by my music. So I had a letter from the Norwegian police asking some questions – a truly weird situation. All we’re dealing with here is music and fantasy.
They speak of some jewish conspiracy. I was wondering if that’s just their own personal political philosophy, or is it entirely a Norwegian way of thought.
To begin with, without mentioning any names or try to mock down on anybody personally, or a group of people – I think there’s something completely wrong with you if you mix Odinism with Nazism and Satanism. All of these three things don’t have anything in common. If you’re a Satanist you couldn’t be a son of Odin because Odinism doesn’t believe in earthly values in the way that the Satanists are. If you’re a neo-Nazi you wouldn’t be able to play death metal and have long hair. So what we’re talking about here is total ignorance.
I was wondering if Scandinavia was an anti-semitic community, based on the rantings of the Inner Circle.
Well, a lot of people have preconceived notions about Scandinavia. Certainly some American people I talked to when I was over there – they think Stockholm is like a suburb of Moscow or something. The thing is, I was fucking a Portuguese girl a couple of years ago,and she had this truly weird opinion about Swedish and Norwegian people. She thought we were the same type of people. The language is basically the same, like British English and America English. Norway is very conservative and old-fashioned, and a very christian country. They’re like four-and-a-half/five-million people, and we’re like eight-million people. That’s fly shit in the universe, compared to what’s out there. Sweden is a very liberal country, and all values are accepted – except neo-Nazi and anti-semitism. Sure, there are groups like that all over. You have this “New Order” in the United States, and all these church knuckle-heads over there. So I think it’s a universal thing. Everybody needs to blame anything on anybody. In Sweden, when christianity came around destroying a lot of the European culture, a lot of the stuff that has been going on for thousands of years… was destroyed. We don’t know too much about our own history. If you don’t know the past, you cannot master the future. If some young guy is into some heavy music… has the idea “Shit, man! We don’t like the church, and we have to get into something that is against the church”
. Now we know there are no golden thrones above the clouds, and so on.So I think they’re just picking up on anything that’s against society and the establishment and most of all, the church.
The Satanists who are from the Anton LaVey circle use the term “christian Satanist” to define bands like Deicide. I am not sure if thou hast heard of them.
Sure. I worked as head of the security when they were playing in Stockholm, and they probably didn’t know who I were. Two or three Bathory fans recognized me. Nobody else recognized me. So…
The Satanism that thou used for lyrical ideas is ‘christian Satanism,’ the kind that is evident in bands like Deicide. It is not from the LaVey school.
Basically, it was very innocent. I don’t know if you had it over there, but in Sweden during the early ’70’s we had a magazine or horror book called ‘Shock’ with Vampirela, Dracula, Frankenstein, and all that shit. We were very interested, when we first started, in the darker side of life, not necessarily the evil side of life. At one point we wanted to make a statement against the establishment, or christianity, because it’s old and dull and square and blah, blah, blah. We didn’t know what to write about. In bands like Saxon and Motorhead, they were thinking about motorcycles going down the road at 200 miles per hour, whiskey, and fucking women. We came straight out of school. We just turned to what we were interested in, which was the mysterious. Everybody is interested in that at a certain point in your life. I don’t think that we wanted to make a statement except for trying to be upsetting people in a very innocent fashion. We were very far away from the academic in any sense. We didn’t know shit. Really. We didn’t. As soon as I wanted to get deep down into it, I read the Bible. I read everything about Satanism. I read the Black Bible and blah, blah, blah. All that happened was, I came to the conclusion that it was all bullshit. I mean, we know there are no heaven. There is no hell. There are no golden thrones up there. There is no god. There are no devils. Nothing happens to you when you die. So you’re just an electrified organism. When you die, you go back to earth. That’s it. Man, from the dawn of time – we invented gods – and old gods became new gods in new religions. Christianity – the only reason why it has stayed so long is because christianity conquered the Western Hemisphere, which technically, is more advanced – and more advanced a thousand years ago than Africa or Asia. The christian man stood on the moon in 1969. Praise jesus christ. Sure.
Getting back to thy more physical out-look on life...
Art thou familiar with the philosopher “Descartes?’
I think, therefore I am. Dost thou remember?
No. I just read scientific magazines.
Well, his thought is what scientific method is based on – the observable and what can be proved, as in – if a result is achieved once, it should be duplicated another time under the same conditions. It seems that thou hast the same way of thinking.
I didn’t mean to sound so cool, you know? I mean, anything I say could be interpreted as the result of reading the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher.
His work is reputed to be tampered with by his sister who survived him.
Yeah. That’s true. Not all of the work. But most of it. Some of the stuff was published while he was still alive. He was famous even in his young years.
But dost thu not think that his suffering influenced his thinking, what with the diarrhea and constant nausea?
I think a lot of what he did was the result of his mental illness. But if you have a mental disorder, or if you’re truly koo-koo in your head, 500 years ago they would be called saints. We had a truly weird woman in Sweden 600 years ago. She’s the only saint we had in Sweden – the Holy Begetta. If she would be alive today, she would be locked up somewhere.
There is thy video…
(laughs) You bastard! There’s a love and hate thing going on there. I spent between $3,000 and $5,000 on that video out of my own money, and we had 16 hours of film. Once the whole thing was supposedly mixed together. There was so little time because I was going on a promotion tour in Europe for six weeks. We had so little time to do the video properly before we went out. So I said, “O.K. Let’s wait. I’ll take care of all that when I get back to Stockholm.” But sometime when I was out there, someone put the whole thing together and just started to distribute it – and it was not meant to be that way. I should say first that I have never seen the video myself. I refuse to see it. The guy who was filming that thing – six months after recording that video, nobody heard from him anymore. He owes us a lot of money and all that. I spent two weeks organizing – renting horses, uniforms, armor, swords, people, food, driving people – everything. I paid a lot of money and I wasn’t even allowed to be there when the whole thing was mixed. We had 16 hours of film, and I wasn’t even allowed to see one second.
Thou art one who uses a drum machine.
It’s 50/50. The snare drum, and I believe the “ride’ is a drum machine. Then the drum rolls and some of the crashes on the high hat is the real thing. The reason you use most of the time a drum machine for the snare drum is – you can never get a real good sound out of a real snare drum. It’s very hard. But I mean, everybody is working with sample technique today anyway. So…
I Interviewed someone who’s been sentenced to 53 years in prison. He was part of the ‘Diabolical Skinheads,” as the press referred to them. The reason I interviewed him was because of the coverage by the media of the black metal violence.
Everything does not have to be attached to the label “black metal violence.” You cannot blame an entire genre for what a couple of people are doing. We’re voting politicians into power for four or five years, and they’re the guys who start world wars and drop atomic bombs. I’ve yet to see a death metal fan start a world war or kill six million jews or pollute our oceans.
So stop me at any time. “…these bands don’t actually practice the rites of the left hand path, not at all. They just merely claim to so as to snare the uneducated child (who so desperately seeks an idol) into purchasing their fallacious CD release. The band ‘Bathory’ comes to mind when thinking along these lines. Consider the many occult/pagan claims Quarthon has made in the past, and the atheistic view he now holds, and the blonde hair dye, or is that really his natural hair color? Well, like his integrity, one never knows. Seemingly rock star jewelry, or shall we call it Jew-ery? One can easily see the many transitions a poseur goes through when the poseur is tired of acting one way, so begins to act another way.
Well, as far as the blonde shit goes, my hair is “natural.’ Over there you’d probably call it “blonde.” But over here, it’s just natural, or golden brown, or whatever you want to call it. 99% of the city’s population have golden brown hair. Actually, I used to dye my hair black because my jackets were black, and it makes a great outfit. Does he anywhere explain what the right thing is? I mean, he was just pissing off a lot of people by saying they’re wrong. What’s HIS philosophy on life? What’s the true way? You said a ‘skinhead.’ Is he neo-Nazi or a Satanist or an anti-jewish guy or what?
His ideas I have never encountered before.
Let me make a parallel here. When I was, shall we say, the cock-sucking slave of Satan 15 years back, I would fuck off bands like Celtic Frost and Volvod – Celtic Frost because I didn’t like their sound or the way they looked. I didn’t think they were enough Satanists, if you know what I mean. I thought that they were more into art and the academic way of it. I didn’t like Volvod because they were doing the space shit thing. I was too ignorant. I didn’t know shit. It wasn’t until years later that I started to listen to Voivod as a professional, realizing that these guys really had something. They were pioneers. I still hate Celtic Frost. Nobody is allowed to mock anybody else down. I still hate them, and I stand for that. But I shouldn’t mock down a band because I don’t like them. I may not understand it. But there are people who are in love with Celtic Frost’s music and people who like my music. There’s just one planet, and there’s room for everybody here. What goes on in your mind is ten million times bigger than the universe. And my political views and my religious views will not affect anybody as long as I keep it inside my head. But if I don’t deal with my values and compare it to what man has achieved as far as science is concerned… and medicine – the way we progress as individuals and as a species – come up in a truly weird soup – and one of these days, if you have an ounce of hate in you, all that shit will explode. If you put a bomb in a state building, if you kill a friend – as in Norway or whatever – kill a homosexual, or blow the brains out of a jew – we shouldn’t try to label all these actions as racism or an act of religious defiance. What we should label it as is purely “crime.’ We shouldn’t label ourselves death metal bands, black metal gods, or rock idols wearing jewelry. We should just label ourselves as musicians and individuals. In ten years, nothing of this will even matter. So I think it’s very pointless to make comments of something a person says, who, first of all, has never met me and probably never met any of the other people he was referring to. So it’s just pointless. I will answer him in a letter or something, if that’s what he wants. But if you make a comment to a person like that, you just give him too much importance. When we were kids, I grew up listening to KISS, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles. I didn’t know shit – what kind of drugs these guys were taking, what it felt like to sit down on a motorcycle going down the highway, what it felt like to be fucking girls in a limousine. I’ve done all that now. I’ve fucked a girl in the lavatory of a 747. I’ve done all that, and it’s not because I am the son of Satan. I didn’t do it because I was the greatest guitar player in the world, or I had the best face, or the longest hair, or whatever. I was able to be a part of something that just happened – the underground movement. Kids wanted a music for themselves. Then someone comes along 15 years later doing something and they lock him up away in jail for life, and he starts to make statements about something he’s never been a part of and doesn’t understand the situation of working-class kids in Europe. He should just shut up and not make any comments about anybody. And YOU shouldn’t make comments about what he has to say about other people! You give him too much importance. The world is full of knuckle heads anyway.
I was turned off by the muddy production at first, but as I listened I realized that i wasn’t going to hear something cliche or easy to define. What had initially been deemed hazy became atmospheric. This made me want to hear more, and so I knew that the lights had to be turned off. It was time for an inner journey.
The guitars created a wall of sound, Rather than sadden with melody, they chilled with icy notes. This wasn’t a flow. This was an ever-present moment of agony. These weren’t riffs, per se, but musical accompaniments to inner horror. Ghastly chords chimed hauntingly as I was pulled deeper. This music created a mental place.
Whenever there was melody, it was never a repeated theme – more like remembrance of dark times, as if I were recalling moments of pain, each summoned memory replacing the one that was re-lived moments before..
Stertorous voices expressed the torture of the words. As I descended into madness, there came a passage in “Ashes in Bloom” that was like the parting of clouds, but the sky behind was more terrifying. Inside this new patch of sound, the voice suddenly changed to that of an intensely emotional bard. I felt as if the song had purposely prepared me to be crushed. This is mastery.
As powerful as the ideas are, the methods are not used for each song. The heartfelt singing does not burst into every song, nor does it bear the same qualities upon every appearance. The only predictable thing about this album is that it will immerse the listener in gloom.
“Sing, oh children of loss, your cracked hands grasping for wonder in emptiness”
This is a bit of an unusual album with almost every song bearing its own style, and in some cases, the styles change withing the songs.
The (female) singer reminded me of Grace Slick. This is because her strong voice can soften when needed, and she can adeptly ride through all manner of riffs, changing as needed.
The first song demonstrates her range quite well. When I first heard it, there was a phenomenon – the female essence caressing the receptors in my male brain, so-to-speak. Such smooth coursing of notes was easy to love, but these were often disrupted by sudden bursts of power. This woman can conjure up quite the scream. As I mentioned, this singer has several techniques, coloring the songs in many ways. Add to this the poetic lyrics that are clearly understood, delivered by a wizened voice – it is like hearing a soul bleed the words.
That experience was just the first song “Blood and the sand.” I’ll jump ahead to the last song, “Underdogs” and must inform you that the album is worth the price if it just contains these two songs. Of course, you get a lot more than that, but these two are the most savory.
“Underdogs” is superbly dynamic, riding emotional tones deftly, stitching together forms that ultimately create the feeling of a beginning seeing its end. The sense of a mad story finally resolving is quite a feat to experience.
As for the music, you must be warned that Madder Mortem is a band that has its own style, or should I state, MANY styles. Don’t go into this with any other expectation than to go into new territory that sometimes feels distantly familiar. Treat yourself to an adventure. When was the last time that you had to listen to an album for a few months in order to unlock its man aural secrets?
“Make from the ghosts that crowd my mind a single thing…..”
When I first played DISHONORED on PS3, I did so in order to relive the extreme fun of THIEF, a game that i had played on XBOX years earlier. Unfortunately, this didn’t have the same feeling, and I didn’t like the gameplay at all. DISHONORED had a lot of character abilities that negated the sense of tension. In THIEF (the old game), the character was distinctly human and had to rely on stealth. Everything could kick his ass easily. In DISHONORED, the character had supernatural abilities which made him seem almost invulnerable, at least compared to the beloved THIEF game. As much as I hated the differences, I grew to love DISHONORED as a game unto itself. If I stopped comparing it to THIEF, then it was fun as its own thing.
Surprisingly, THIEF came out for PS3 that year. I actually cancelled all other plans for the first week, but I did so seemingly for nothing. The new version of THIEF had exactly the same gameplay as DISHONORED. I almost threw the game into the wall. It’s as if the same game “engine’ was just transferred to a different story.
I performed a cursory search to find an explanation for this insult. Apparently THIEF was under new management, so-to-speak. The new company did not seem to realize what had made THIEF on Xbox so amazing.
I continued playing the new THIEF, hating the stupid changes, but eventually I learned to discard my love of the earlier version and to accept that such a game might never exist again. This helped me to enjoy the game and I finished it with a hunger for more.
This brings us to DISHONORED 2 (for PS4). I purchased this on the very first day of release, and have only now finished it, some weeks later. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I had no preconceived notions to dispel.
This time around i decided to use stealth only as a means to kill. In the very early THIEF, the character was not an assassin per se. The goals were largely non-lethal. The DISHONORED games make the character that yo play able to easily fight opponents, so I used stealth only as a sort of cheating method to exact revenge.
Let me explain. If the fiction shows that a kind ruler were usurped by a brutal one, why would his officers remain? Wouldn’t they flee, or pretend to go along with the new rules until they could do something positive?
Further, if the officers of the new regime were brutal as well, following orders instead of trying to rescue the the benevolent ruler who was imprisoned, should my character spare them? The story in the game disallowed those characters from reverting to their nicer ways. Why leave that kind of character alive, who would stop at nothing to prevent the rescue?
I became the vengeful hero, or anti-hero, depending on how you see things. on the gamer side of the decision. The game was not like THIEF (the earlier version) in an important difference. in THIEF I had to use stealth to survive,. In DISHONORED, DISHONORED 2, and the New THIEF, stealth just provides different rewards. It is not necessary for life. The tension is not caused by fear of death – it is fear of game status.
I must confess that it was fun to play this way. I may play again in a few months, trying to take the nonlethal approach. But even if I never play again, this experience was worth the $50.