Category Archives: Female Vocals

“FEMALE VOCALS” is a category that is added to other styles because outstanding female vocals make the listener overlook everything else.

As Divine Grace

This interview with Jukka appeared in issue #12

It is a pleasure to come across masters of poetry. Couldst thou explain why thy CD insert shows only one printed line for each song? I know that the heavenly operatic vocals are easily deciphered if the ear is open. “You faded away like a line drawn on the water.”
The idea for that was that the CD cover art looks better with those lines than whole lyrics, and also, we had two different types of writers. Hanna Kalske, our vocalist, and Jan Mekitanta, our bass player. We decided to put only those lines that put things in balance. We have got more info from fans, and now it’s possible to get them (ed. – lyrics) from the Internet

The vocals are a highlight, but there is a more powerful tool that makes thee craft immense catchiness. It is the lead guitar. It is a combination of a savory tone, choice of notes, and picking style that works magic on the listener. Couldst thou tell more of the ingredients, such as how the sound was processed? It seems very close to chorus and flanging, but not quite.
Hey, I made about fifty interviews, and you are the first one to ask me about guitars! Perhaps the main thing that made the lead guitars sounding like they sound was that we used much time to arrange suitable guitar parts on each guitar. We used about twelve different guitars. Those very processed guitar sounds are made by using analog type machine called “vocoder” that I have from the ‘70s. It’s Roland, and absolutely great! With vocoder, you mix two sounds, like vocals and guitar, and get sound like guitar could talk. You control your guitar sound by singing. About keyboards – I used fifteen pieces that contain the old stuff, like Honher clarinet from the ‘70s, electric piano from DDR, two analog synths… Korg Polysix and Jen SX1000, sampler, and et cetera.

Thy songs are darkly atmospheric and rather exquisitely detailed. When I listen to thy masterpieces, I cannot help but to wonder how this beauty was created. Where does it all begin? How painfully is the music composed? It has soul-crushing build-ups and resolutions.
The process of creating over sixty minutes of music took the band nearly three years. The present sound is a blend of metal roots and various other forms of music that have influenced the members through the years. The aim is to write timeless music. The songwriting period is always very painful.

When putting the band together, was there an advertisement for a vocalist, or was Hanna known? Her voice is quite perfect for the music.
The truth about that is that Hannah was the girlfriend of Ari’s friend, and the guy came up to us and told us that there is one girl that is fucking great singer, so we asked her to come and try to sing to tape, and that was it! I agree with you 100% that Hannah is the best kind of singer for our music.

When I first heard that thy band had a female singer, I expected a higher register, but I did not let this prejudice me. I set the CD aside until I was in the proper mood, and then I listened without any prophesy. A similar magic overcame me with Straus when I heard “Biem Schlafengehen” which started flat, but it lulled me into a state in which I became defenseless against the crescendo. The lure of thy band is that there is no dominant talent that overshadows the other instruments. Each musician is contributing something to intensify the sorrowful beauty.
You know, here in Finland, everybody have some kind of base element of thinking things melancholic. It’s perhaps because of our long dark winter.

jesus, the Daughter of god
jesus, the Daughter of god

Die Verbanten Kinder Evas

Tania Borsky / Mara Sol (ex-Summoning, ex-Die verbannten Kinder Evas) -  Photos | Facebook

Interview with Tania Borsky conducted by Bill Zebub

When I first heard your voice I lost the world. I felt a pain in my chest and my breath was caught in the cage of my lungs. My hand stopped the song, and I prepared to hear you again in a more fitting way. Plugging in the most expensive headphones on the market, turning off the lights, and laying on my bed, I closed my eyes and heard you again. Your voice touched me deeply. Yes, you are schooled in the art of singing. But beyond the techniques that you have sharpened, there is in your voice a sorrow that has drawn me. Please tell me that this sorrow you bear is real, and not an act. You affected me more than you can ever know. I would like to hear that my emotions were drawn by an honest lure. Tell me that your voice is more than melody. Tell me it is a soul that I hear.
I absolutely agree with you that that for certain kinds of music it is very important to create the right atmosphere to be able to understand the feelings inside of it. Of course it is even more important to create such an atmosphere when I sing and interpret a tune with as much passion as possible. Music is for me a kind of valve where I can let of all the pain I feel inside of me sometimes. While I sing a tune I really forget the world around me and only the tune becomes reality. Some people act out their feelings and sorrows by aggressions or sports, but music is my way to deal with this. For me sad and depressive music is the best way for this; in opposite to the common opinion that depressive music makes a person depressed. I think that it is the best form of music to get ride of those negative thoughts. In contrary happy, commercial music makes me depressive, because it is just a fake mask in front of a crying face.

I only have “In Darkness Let Me Dwell” – but I crave everything that has your voice. Your voice is beauty. If only I could remain in your spell forever. You take me away from time. So now I ask if there is anything else that I can buy. Everything that you have done I want to own. I would pay with my life if that is the price, so long as I could hear you as I die. I have written in a secret place that if there is a funeral service for me, it is your music that must be played while I lay in the casket. Even those who hate me would be made to weep. So tell me, what can I buy from you that I do not already have?
Sorry but for now there is only one DVKE CD existing where I sing.

After repeated listening, I was able to open up the CD booklet to discover what the lyrics were. I had not done this earlier because your voice was all that mattered to me – and of course your music was too intense for me to sit and read along. So I read the lyrics when the music was not playing, and I fell into deeper admiration for you when I learned your words. Let me cite some for the readers of this interview: “The color from the flower is gone, which, like thy sweet eyes, smiled on me. The odor from the flower is flown, which breathes of thee and only thee. A withered, lifeless, vacant form – it lies on my abandoned breast and mocks the heart which yet is warm, with cold and silent rest. I weep, my tears revive it not. I sigh, it breathes no more on me. Its mute and uncomplaining lot is such as mine should be.” How fitting for me to read this, for you did not intend for me to fall in love with you, but that is what I feel, and although your voice is my heaven, love for you is also painful for me to bear, and I envy stones and anything barren of thought, for they can never carry the woes now laid upon me.
I agree with you that the words from the song “On A Fade Violet” are really amazing and touched my heart very much. These words are from Percy Bysshe Shelley. By the way. Shelley died in the same place in Italy where I am going to spend my next holidays in a few weeks. I wouldn’t describe me as a poet, but as a musician so I need the help of talented poets to create the right symbiosis between music and lyrics.

In the CD booklet there are no lyrics for “From Silent Night” – is it possible to obtain them?
This time the lyrics are from “Downland” who was a lute-song composer of the Renaissance and also wrote the lyrics for his songs.

There is yet another trait of yours that binds my heart to you. You were also born in Czechoslovakia, and like me, you also moved to a new country while very young. Do you permit me to dream that you and I will both return to our homeland and be wed? Yes, I know it is a dream, and I will hear your lyrics in a special way because of this dream of mine. “Oh sweet love, help her hands.” Or am I the dying Tristan? “Grief, alas, though all in vain, her restless anguish must reveal. She alone my wound shall know… though she will not heal.”
I have never heard such compliments before. I am confused and abashed.

Vanishing Kids

Interview with Nichole Drohomyreky and Jason Hartman conducted by Bill Zebub for the Grimoire of Exalted Deeds magazine.

Nichole, I must begin this interview by confessing how lost I have become in your voice.  I cannot compare you to anyone else.  You have truly developed a new style.  Is there anything that you would like to share about your approach?  

(Nichole)Thank you. I know my voice is not for everyone and I have a hard time hearing it myself… on voicemail, or even played back in the studio…But this body of music was a very cathartic experience for me to write. I hope the listener feels the experience too. It was a strange time for Jason and m moving back to Wisconsin from PDX and being new parents. A lot of emotion was flowing out of me, and may have inadvertently affected or cultivated the  style.  

The song “Heavy Dreamer” is magical.  I have listened to it fifteen times in a row and could have gone longer if I did not have to attend to some biological functions.  I think that it is impossible to tire of it.  I even daydream about it.  It’s impossible to ask just one question about it, so I hope that you don’t mind it taking up a larger portion of the interview.  Let’s begin with the singing.  Your voice invites me into the world of the song, and it really does feel like I am in another place.  Nichole, you guide me in with a an otherworldly voice, serene and wizened, and you launch into intense emotion.  It’s quite an experience to hear you.  You go up and down in feeling, and the melancholy parts are beautiful.  How did you come upon this mastery?  You sang to my soul.

(Nichole) Oh man that means a lot that you connected to this song. I love this song too, and its still super fun to perform. Oddly I wrote the chorus first on this one, which is in reverse of how I usually put songs together. I honestly don’t even remember how the “Child in Time” thing came into it. It’s been referenced much,almost comically, and I do love that song deeply, so it may have subconsciously snuck into the work. Another song that didn’t make the album was absolutely inspired by Deep Purple and not sure when we will release that one. I’m a sucker for a ballad and LOVE to write them. I could easily see myself releasing nothing but ballad albums. If I can keep the guys enlisted (laughs) The song is very personal but I really tried to open the lyrics to share with others to have their own experience. It was,however, inspired by my daughter, and the great love, admiration, and inspiration I have for her and her true spirit. It means a lot to hear that other’s are feeling deeply connected to it, as I, and the band do too. I have to give credit to Hart,our drummer, for writing the back up vocal production on this song, and Rachel Catherine Kent and I performed it on the recording. It’s lower in the mix and behind the main vocal, but when you hear it, it is quite lovely. Rachel Catherine Kent has been playing shows with us since the album’s release, which has been a thrill to hear that stuff live, and changed in a really great way. She sang in a band called ‘No Hoax‘ here in Madison and completely blew me away. The song would never be as majestic if it weren’t for the incredible guitars work of Jason -my favorite solo on the album, and the tasteful, skilled playing of Jerry Sofran and Hart A. Miller. Such a dream to play with such killer musicians.

Jason, the guitar in “Heavy Dreamer” is another spellbinding part.  The distortion is quite a deep fuzz, but is is also the playing that makes it seem like each strum of a chord is played like it is sound to be savored.  The chords also spring upon the vocals like a flourish meant to enhance all of the song elements.  It seems like this song was lovingly crafted.  What was in your mind?  Surely this was not meant to be simply a tune.  It feels like each part of the music was chosen to ensnare any person capable of deep emotion.

(Jason) Nikki deserves most of the credit on “Heavy Dreamer” the song AND the album. She wrote the majority of the songs. The song “Heavy Dreamer” was written by her on organ and synthesizer in its entirety before I added the guitar. So I had those instruments as a guide, as well as the vocal melody. So yes, the guitar is built around her ideas vocally/ musically/ emotionally. I usually have a lot of different ideas and try to incorporate the best ones. It is usually pretty easy to decide what to choose and Nikki generally likes my input. We have played together for so long and grown musically together in the same directions, it is sometimes uncanny. I tend to want to make things busier than needed at times and I’ve been working on simplifying, just using the necessary notes for maximum emotion. Nikki is also a busy player so we have to leave room for each other. Jerry Sofran (bass) and Hart Allan Miller (drums) laid back on this one and kept the rhythm section open which was needed for this I think. 

Would you like to talk about the production of the album?  I am specifically intrigued by the choices in modulation and echo.  I don’t dare guess whether you favor delay or reverb.  I’d also like to know how you achieved such dimension.

(Nichole) Our drummer Hart Allan Miller is a very talented engineer/ producer. We recorded the drum,some guitars, keys at a local studio called Blast House with Dustin Sisson, and the rest was done by Hart at his studio, “Nightmare House”. He engineered and produced the album with us. Also, Rachel Catherine Kent  performed some vocals on tracks, ‘Creation,” and ” Heavy Dreamer.” Jason and I have always been heavy effects users and I could literally drown in reverb and love it… interesting dilemma with sound engineers particularly at live shows! Hart worked relentlessly  on this album and I agree, his choices to feature certain instrumentation,like the keys and effects at times were very thoughtful and absolutely made a band as “dense” as ours have balance and not turn to mud. We’ve always went to expensive studios that were really over our heads and budgets really, so much was compromised. Dimension was honestly realized this time by the sheer work and dedication from Hart as an engineer and producer, but also we worked really long and hard on writing these songs too.

I noticed that the official videos show, shall we say, the band in sort of after-images, visual trails – this suits the psychedelic aspect, but is it a statement that the music is to be heard and for the sound to create the visuals?  I know that in my case, whether my eyes are open or close, I no longer see the earth when I listen to “Heavy Dreamer.”

(Nichole)I think that’s exactly how I feel about the videos. I want visual imagery and sound to come together to create an experience together, rather than they being separate which I think a lot of bands do with video -and can be done well, but I definitely prefer the more artful approach. We wanted darkness to meet beauty and largely I feel that came across. We ended up enlisting a very talented videographer, Aaron Hall, from Rockford, Illinois, who filmed and edited the videos. Aaron really brought the ideas to life, gorgeous footage, and incorporating very creative effects,. Was a thrill watching the ballet dancers, skaters, and transforming a warehouse, bedroom, and a roller rink into dreamy worlds. As an artist, having the ability to add imagery and movement to your sound is a thrilling and symbiotic concept.

I thought that your band was surely from another country.  Have you been told that you don’t sound American?  There is just too much creativity at work in your music.

(Nichole) (laughs) No. Well, at least don’t think so. I’ve definitely had people be off guard that we are from Wisconsin, but have not heard that before.

(Jason) I have heard that before. Even our bassist Jerry has said that was one of the things that drew him to us, that our sound was very un- American. Jerry is a fan of a lot of German music from the Kraut Rock of Amon Duul 2, Can, Neu , . as well as hard rockers The Scorpions, Accept to thrashers Kreator, Destruction as well as electronic music of Kraftwerk. A lot of great music from there. We targeted European record labels to release this album because we thought they might understand it or at least accept it as I think it is more open minded and creative over there in general. We ended up picking Svart out of Finland, an incredible and diverse label. We hope to get over there soon. 

Jason, I was surprised that you had known about me before this interview.  Are you surprised that I am not making any jokes?  Well, you know, as a reader of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds, that I don’t joke with people when the music is vital, like in my King Diamond interviews.

(Jason) I am a reader of the Grimoire! Your questions and interaction have been so heartfelt that I felt no apprehension or worry about jokes! It’s part of the fun!

The keyboards sometimes are prominent, and sometimes drop in volume, which I think is cool.  It seems like each component in a song takes turns being accented, and of course, there is the mastery of the parts coming together to for greatest effect, building each other up.  Do you write songs almost like creating an adventure for the listener?

(Nichole) As a group, we all tried our best to write our parts thoughtfully, thus giving space when needed and vice versa. Laying back during solos and vocals et cetera. Jerry is a masterful bassist – always serving the song so beautifully, and Hart and Jason both shred and pull back when needed. Really was important to us and took awhile to construct and choose what should be highlighted at particular points in each song. 

I noticed that the album didn’t come with lyrics.  Is that intentional?  I wonder if it is a proclamation of art – that the listener should hear what he or she wants to perceive.

(Nichole) We did release the lyrics with the vinyl, but it’s funny you mention that, as I really did open my lyrics up in a more, deliberate and  broad way in hopes to share the experience with others. Still personal and abstract though.


It’s funny that even as I ask these questions, I can’t get ‘Heavy Dreamer” out of my mind.  I am working on a black metal documentary, and I am tempted to include an excerpt of that song.  I think that it is so incredible that it will turn on anyone, no matter what the clique or musical preferences are.  Have you noticed that your fans are diverse?  Are there any examples of people who surprised you when they revealed their appreciation?

(Nichole) I’ve not noticed a huge commonality with our fans yet, except that the most enthusiastic and passionate responses have been from men. I was hoping to reach more women, especially since I’m such an emotional creature I’ve actually been surprised by the metal following, as we’re not the most brutal band in the world (laughs). I and the band all have a nicely varied musical palette. We all do love metal though, and the Cure, and Pink Floyd, et cetera. so I greatly appreciate anyone who can see through the need to pigeonhole a sound and ‘genre-ify‘ it? Is that a word? We’ve always, as a band, sort of existed between worlds. We’re not metal enough, goth enough, psych, et cetera or too much in one way for others. So thank you to anyone who can just listen to it and appreciate it without needing to label it.

I want the world to know about you.  If I didn’t have a radio show and a magazine, I wonder if I would have discovered “Vanishing Kids.”  Your album is too important to die unknown.  What are some ways that I can help, and what challenges hurt your climb to the top?

(Nichole)Oh man, just truly listening and feeling the music means more than you’ll ever know. Our attention spans as a species are changing and people give music a 5-10 second chance on their crappy computer speakers. So many bands put so much heart, money, and time into their work and it’s literally just dismissed quickly. Remember the albums that we had to listen to over and over and then it hits you like a ton of bricks?! Certainly happened for me with bands like Sonic Youth, Voivod, and Rush…Or HAVING to actually go to a venue to check out a band. Please truly listen to music before dismissing it. Music is personal, and I promise you that I and my bandmates put our whole hearts and soul into what we do. To write and perform music is my most favorite thing in the world, next to my family. .If you are truly paying attention that is the greatest contribution. Spreading the word is greatly appreciated too, and check out a show in your area if you can. Its hard for us to tour and a big endeavor when we can make it happen – this,means a lot to see fans.

Plug any site or anything you wish. 

(Jason) You can get “Heavy Dreamer” at or at   Although it is 90% sold out! I hope they repress. Nik and I are writing the new album currently and hope to have that recorded over the winter. Nik and I are also working on a more traditional 80’s hard rock EP under the name Diati. Also I wrote a song on the new Thor album “Hammer Of Justice.” The song is called “Wotan”. I played guitar, Nikki did back up vocals and our drummer Hart played drums, bass and recorded it. 

Metal bands demonstrate humor

You may have heard that some bands promote the pussification of metal. like BENIGHTED, which some people call “Be-Nutted” – but the following video shows metal people who have no fear of humor.

Please support bands that promote independence, not conformity and cowardice.


Sarah Longfield – Disparity (Season of Mist)

This is not a metal album, but it deserves a review here because it is odd, and because it is creative.  The music also has a lot of impressive guitar playing, so those who might get a whiff of something commercial should be glad that even if this were a mainstream offering, guitar is prominent, not absent, as it is in pop.  I must state that this cannot possibly be a contrived commercial album but I can understand if you detect some aspects that of hit music, but the execution is just too bizarre for simpleton mainstreamers to embrace.

Each song is a different adventure into Kookoo Land, so it’s not like one tune can define the album.  The part of me that loves novelty music is stimulated by what I hear, but so is the musician, and of course, I can’t help but admire the exploration and creativity.

I will include a sample here, but you should understand that this is only one song.  I didn’t find a video for one of the more dexterous songs, but I suppose that if nothing of this sample resonates with you then you will probably not be a good candidate for the reward of the rest of the album.


Interview with Carmen Elise Espenæs conducted by Bill Zebub

Carmen Elise Espenæs
Carmen Elise Espenæs of Midnattsol

Have you undergone any kind of vocal training between your last album and Nordlys? I almost got into a car accident when I listened to the CD for the first time. I was not expecting operatic vocals and such beautiful sadness in your voice.
Oh my. I am so sorry to hear that!!! I could never forgive myself being the reason for a car accident!! I hope everything is fine with you! I didn`t plan to change my voice in a more operatic direction or use more technique or something like that . I think very less when it comes to music – I feel more. I felt that I had less breath, so I found out that I don`t have so much volume in my lungs and had to get some sprays to be able to breathe better. I didn`t want to have chemistry in my body and I went to a singer with a lot of experience and asked her how I could breath in a better way. She taught me that, and it is almost too good to be true, after one or two hours, both she and I were so shocked about the differences we heard in my voice that we were speechless. I am so happy about the changes, I have even more fun with singing and I don`t get dizzy after some songs, like before. Now I have more volume and depth and I can use my voice in many more different ways, lower tones, higher tones, whispering, loud – everything feels so easy after these few changes, but I truly hope it will not cause any more troubles.


I will suffer any trouble in the world for your voice! Is it stressful to be the sister of Liv Kristine? Do you feel like you must try very hard to make your own flavor of vocals so that people do not think that you are using your sisterhood as a selling point?
I love being Liv’s sister – she is so gorgeous and I could never live without her! We had a special relationship since I can remember, always helping each other out and supporting each other. We are soulmates – in every meaning of the word! Regarding the music, I wouldn’t say it is stressful – it has brought much more positive effect than negative for Midnattsol!! I mean, Liv is well known in this business and is touring a lot, so through her a lot of people got to know about us. In other words, for the promotion it opened many doors. And of course, it is positive to have the connections – through her I have since I was a teenager the chance to meet great people in the music business. In the beginning, I got totally shocked that people really cared so much about it or even said I just tried to be her or something – I was quite sad about it. But now, I look on the bright side of it like the song taught me. The people that knows us know that we hadn’t come where we are now, if we wouldn’t work hard every day, burning for what we are doing and having that quality of the music, lyrics, artwork and so on. It is so difficult to get a good record deal today, it is definitely not enough just to have the same last name as a well-known person – it is the whole package that you have to deliver. And concerning me as a person, I don`t need statements from the outside to be happy with myself, so I just do my thing calm and relaxed and people can think what they want .

Carmen Elise Espenæs and Liv Kristine
Carmen Elise Espenæs and Liv Kristine

I have been commanding people to listen to the second track, “Skogens Lengsel” because it is a perfect song, and I feel that anyone who hears this will immediately want to buy the Nordlys album. When I hear your voice on that song I have to stop everything that I am doing. I’m absolutely paralyzed. Are you aware of how powerfully your voice affects people like me?

Wow, man, what shall I say to such a special and beautiful compliment? I have no words, you really got me speechless, and believe me, that is really not happening often. I am really not a person walking around with the nose in the sky,  so you will not hear fantastic words about me coming from my mouth. But the fantastic fans are really so kind, spending a lot of their precious time writing and supporting me, so I have to admit that I get the impression that they like what they hear. I just wish I would have more time to write straight back to them, but my life is so hectic at the moment! But I really try my best showing how much it means to me and I try to answer everyone. Thanks again to you for your kindness. I will not forget  your words!

Carmen Elise Espenæs
Carmen Elise Espenæs

I do not speak your language but I was nonetheless deeply affected by “Skogens Lengsel.” I think that words, in songs that have such high emotional, are not necessary for the enjoyment. It is like hearing a goddess cry. No words are needed for my heart to be siezed. But of course, when I discover the translations of certain operas I love the songs even more because of the poetry. Will I find your translation to be poetic, or should I forget all words and just dream of your voice?
Wow, I honestly have to say that you speak in such a beautiful way. I am totally affected by it. Thank you so much for the compliments. I am really really honored!

You know, I am more of that opinion that one should not analyze or think too much about rules – I just think that one should write what you want to write and transmit the feelings and thoughts that are inside the lyrics. Poetry without content so-to-say is nothing for me. I don`t try to do certain rhymes and so on, but of course I do my best to find words that can express in a good way what I want to say. So my lyrics are honest, real, and filled with emotions. Many people tell me that my lyrics are poetic, but I think each one should decide that for themselves. And an important thing to remember is that when you translate it, it has not the same effect as in the original language. To be honest, I want to avoid it, because you can`t translate the special atmosphere of the individual language. It is really not the same when you read these lyrics in English.

But of course, I love languages and I can understand that is interesting to understand what I am actually singing about. Here is a little description of what the song is about: The setting of Skogens Lengsel  – The longing of the woods – is in the deep deep untouched woods in Norway. There is a little house hidden in these woods and inside there is laying a person waiting for someone, or something, to come. It is a deep longing, because the person needs it so badly, but it never came, so the person sends his/her longing words out and can almost see feelshe longs for so near, but still, it is so far away…


How coincidental, for you see, the song made me long for you, and I know that I will carry a heavy stone for the rest of my life. You gave me the dream of loving you.  We can never meet,  and so the only feeling I will have is that of adoration from afar.

Is there a chance that you will tour the States?

I never actually had the chance to go the states, and people that have been there are telling about the fantastic landscape and the great variety. It would be so fantastic to experience your country!! But unfortunately, we haven`t planned anything concrete yet, so I don`t think it will be in the nearest future. But who knows? Let’s hope it won`t be that far away! We will keep you informed about where we are going to play live on our homepage , which now is in English as well.

Carmen Elise Espenæs
Carmen Elise Espenæs

You have recently lost a band member. As you search for a replacement, do you wish for the band to go into a darker direction? I think that if you make an album of pure sorrow I will have to journey to Norway and give myself to you as a slave for as long as I live.

I have no words to express my sadness about the leaving of Chris. It was a huge shock for all of us. But we stay friends and keep the good memories. That is the most important thing. We all wish him the best in life and are so grateful for everything that he has done for Midnattsol. About the futural direction of Midnattsol, is too early to say right now . We just have to wait and see how things develop. But anyway, you are always welcome to come to Norway and be my slave- (laughs)


Be careful with your words, goddess, for I could leave everything for you. Do you advise a warning to be placed on the “Nordlys” album, like “Do not drive or operate heavy machinery?” I think there may be some injuries otherwise.

Yes exactly, and we also write it with big warning letters and signs on our homepage! No, just kidding! You are so cool, man.

Carmen Elise Espenæs
Carmen Elise Espenæs

Are there any female vocalists whom you would like to talk about?

For me, great singers are able to give you something really special through their voices. This happens in a very high level when it comes to my absolute favorite singer – Lisa Gerard. She has such a strong, powerful and incredible voice. She gives me so much. When I listen to her, I feel almost kind of another dimension. Enya is also one of my favorites, beautiful voice. I just bought her “best of” album. For some weeks ago I discovered a Norwegian woman that is very successful in Norway at the moment, Elvira Nickolaisen, and I simply can`t stop listen to her deep emotional voice filled with so much volume. Her music is not metal, but I love her voice!


I shall find the Norwegian singer’s albums now. I am already very familiar with Lisa Gerard and I agree with you about her. Maybe we do not have enough in common to get married, but even if we shared every trait, relationships ion which the woman is so much smarter than the man are always doomed. Therefore I can only be your slave, not your companion.

Is my reaction to Nordlys uncommon? What I mean is, have other people told you that Nordlys is ten million times better than your first album?

Thank you so much! It has to be mentioned that we as individus and also as a whole band have developed enormously. Musically; the new cd is more complex and has a lot more details and extras for the listeners. In our opinion you can also, after several times listening, hear something new from the instruments or the vocals that you hadn`t noticed before.  And I can assure you that your reaction is not uncommon, not at all!

Gaze upon her at your own risk


interview with Christofer Johnsson conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #31 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine


You may not remember this, but many years ago I interviewed you for the first issue of this magazine. Back then it was just a fanzine that was photocopied and stapled in the corner. I will again ask you the very first question that I have ever asked you to see if your answer is different, and then we’ll get on to the serious interview. Are you ready?



If there were a warmth emanating from thy buttocks, what would it be?

A fart.


Yes! That was the same answer, so now I know that you are an honest person. In the early days there were some cover songs that appeared on albums, like the Judas Priest cover. When I saw your show at BB King’s, one of the encores were  Mercyful Fate’s “Black Funeral.” Did you ever record “Black Funeral” in the studio?

We never recorded it.


There was an Orff cover on one of the albums. I was wondering if you were ever tempted to do something in the same vein from Strauss, like “Biem Shlafengehen” or the Commendatore finale song from “Don Giavanni.”

Anybody can do classical covers, but the most  interesting thing is to break new ground. 


In America there are television commercials for a breakfast cereal simply called “Shredded Wheat.” On one side there’s frosting and on the other side there isn’t. The commercials show that people are divided. Some people like the sugary side and others like the unfrosted side. Same thing with beer. Half of the country supposedly likes it because it tastes great. The other half likes it because it’s less filling. Those people probably like the unfrosted side, but I doubt that people carve their breakfast bits in half. In Therion, I personally prefer the opera over the prog side.

That’s very gay. I caught you.


(In total shock) That’s so funny. You insulted me before I insulted you!

Well I’m gay too. We can go to Denmark and get married. It’s legal there. (pause) But it’s  interesting that people in metal actually prefer that side. We make the classical and the opera more accessible because they don’t really have, for lack of better words, the capacity to go deep into all of this musical information that some opera contains. If you listen to a metal album, or rock, or pop, or whatever – there’s a couple of riffs in each song – and it doesn’t really contain much musical information. You can pretty much judge the album by one listening if it’s a regular rock album. If it’s a metal album than you can judge by a few listenings.  But even a very short song in opera contains so much more musical data than, let’s say, five or six metal albums. A lot of people don’t really have the energy, or whatever, to actually take the time it requires to penetrate  the surface and go deep into this sort of music. So what we do is actually a shortcut that, because we have the rock structure with classical content as well. It’s a shortcut to opera and classical, which is very convenient for people. Maybe they could like a few highlights. They might buy a CD with Ride of the Valkyrie or some highlight part from an Italian opera, but they wouldn’t sit and listen to opera for a few hours. I think that we’re filling a function for people who could be potentially really interested. So we can start stuff with this, and if they get really enthusiastic they could find a way to more  sophisticated music.


You are the gateway to opera.

A few people might take the next step.


There was a very irritating record label publicist who said that every band that has female operatic vocals or orchestral instruments is influenced by Celtic Frost because they were the ones who apparently tried that first. 

I don’t really think that bands these days pay homage to such distant albums. You shouldn’t underestimate what Celtic Frost did. Into the Pandemonium – you have The Gathering, Therion, Tiamat, Paradise lost – all with Celtic Frost influence. We, in our turn, influenced other bands. So we can say that they (Celtic Frost) are indirectly influencing this whole wave. But on the other hand, what did they get their influences from? Everything comes from somewhere.



Have you heard Elend?

Yeah. A very long time ago somebody made me a cassette. They’re French, aren’t they?


French. Austrian. One of the members of Korovakill is in it. If you heard the right album, it’s a blue album (the re-release with bonus tracks is red). Instead of bringing operatic vocals and orchestral instruments into metal, they brought death metal vocals into opera. But these days they don’t have the death metal vocals anymore.

That’s a brilliant idea. But that’s precisely what I didn’t like about it. (The death metal vocals).  


When I listen to opera, I prefer the very dark opera. It’s vary sad. I was always hoping  that there would be that sort of opera presence in Therion, and I was wondering if there is any way for that to happen. I know that you are a live band and you like to create a certain mood for that. But could there be a song or two, not meant for live performance, that delves into the realms of sorrow?

There might be. But the thing is, the way that we write songs is very spontaneous. I’m hopelessly trapped with whatever I write. If someone said to me, “I’ll give you five million bucks if you write a ballad. You have a weekend. Here’s a  guitar.” I would write ballad, but it would be the most miserable piece of shit ballad you will ever hear in your life. That’s how it works. I cannot shit on command. I write what I write. It’s what I’m stuck with and what everyone else gets.


If there is a way for me to send you some music, hopefully on some level it will influence you.

Actually there is a lot of sad opera that I like. (editor’s note – We discussed opera, which to you would seem like an inside conversation. Rather than make you feel like an outsider, I edited this part out. I now bring you to the last part of that hidden conversation. Christof went on and on to praise a particular soprano opera  singer). She is the best singer in the history of recorded music.  


Well, by that reasoning, if she can turn shit into gold, and if you force yourself to write a sad opera song and it will be shit, then she should sing on it so that she turns your shit into gold.

(laughs) By the way, have you seen this movie “Holy Mountain?” That describes the modern culture so well. You know the scene – it’s like  everybody gets color on their butts and then they put it on paper – it’s mass-produced art.  


It’s so strange that you, being the kind of artist that you are, watched a movie by that kind of director.

Naked Lunch would be one of my favorite movies. Brasil too. Along with that I also like Nightmare Before Christmas.


A long time ago I did try to contact you to hopefully be able to send you some music, but the only Email address on the website is for the webmaster. There is some sort of explanation about that along the lines of, if any band member’s Email were to be  known, you would get overwhelmed.

That’s true. But it’s  usually not a problem  for people from the press to get it. ( editor’s update – After this interview, I asked the lazy twat at Nuclear Blast for the Email, and all I received were excuses for her not doing her job.  Eventually, the incompetence resulted in my severing ties from the American office of laziness)  If I gave my Email out  then I would have to  get a new one every month. I got so many  Emails every day. 


Were the Emails about penis enlargement?

I wish it was. It’s  more about boring questions like, “When will you come to my town?


In Sweden is penis size very important?

No. They’re all American companies who Email me.


I had heard that Sweden has even more concern about penis size and that  it has spread to veterinary science as well, with penis enlargement programs for dogs and  cats.

No. That’ completely wrong. That’s totally American.


I did notice that there’s a tremendous  difference between the audience at a Therion show and a crowd that sees any other band, and that difference was the  extreme level of respect. It was also your respect toward the fans. I was told that you  did not want the usual barricade between  the fans and the stage. And the end of the  performance was the metal equivalent to a  standing ovation. Is that a common reaction throughout the world?

Yeah. We’re very spoiled. But I think that is  related to people having bought the records and  they had been waiting ever since. They never thought that we would come. For a lot of people  it was more than just a concert. It’s something  more special. The same thing happens in  Europe when we play countries we never had  before. Same thing with Latin America. We get  an explosive reaction. In many countries they  have a really tough life, so when people go to a  show they switch off their daily problems for a  while. It’s almost like a religion.


Your main opera singer – what is her  name? I hope you don’t take this the wrong  way, but the way she puts on make-up is  sort of the mistake that a little girl makes  when she puts on make-up for the first time  in her life. Is that the look that she was  going for?

She’s the only one who’s a trained opera singer so I told her to make something very theatrical.


Oh, so that’s why she walks on stage like  she’s a Gestapo officer patrolling the concentration  camp.

That is what is turning you on. (laughs) She  has nothing to do with metal. She doesn’t listen  to metal. She’s just doing her thing to our stuff.


There’s a blonde to the far right, if you  have the same set-up every night – I was  wondering if you could have her in the front  instead.

Well, that’s an idea.


She’s Swedish, right?

She’s Finnish but she lives in Sweden. We’re  going to sell tickets on the next tour to the back stage.


Can you let her know that I love her?

Yes, I will do that.


Some people say that Sweden is very conservative and some people say that it is very liberal.

Conservative? Are you fucking kidding? Our conservatives would be condemned as being too liberal. Ralph Nader would call our conservatives liberals.


I learned that when I ask someone about a country, it’s almost like asking someone in America what America is like. It’s not a true representation.

If you ask a communist, of course he will say  that we are conservative. But if ask someone who is somehow in the middle, politically, it is hilarious. We had a social democrat ruling this  country in the second world war. It’s like a one party state. But you have a one-party state too.  You just have two names for it. 


Actually, we are owned by Israel. (Editor’s note – for the new readers of this magazine, there is a lot of sarcasm and baiting.  I, in real life, know absolutely nothing about politics, and I don’t care.  I just use it to evoke.)

We were speaking of parties. Maybe they own the party. That’s maybe your opinion. 


No. I don’t know enough about politics to talk about it seriously.

You don’t need to know much. Just know the  fact that your choice is like buying Coca Cola or Pepsi. The difference between democrats and  republicans is that republicans piss in your face and they say. “Hey, we pissed in your face. We’re happy about that.” Democrats will piss in your face and if you ask them about they’ll say, “No, we never pissed in your face.”


You mentioned Cocoa Cola before. I have not verified this, but I have heard that in  France they have passed a law which protects  their language. On television they  cannot use non-French words, especially  slang, and the term “Cocoa Cola” is one of the no-no words. In direct opposite thinking, America, because it is so sales-driven, has allowed the most niggery language to be on TV.  People leave out verbs. It’s almost like hearing Tarzan talk. Poor grammar, nigger-slang, and simplified language.

The American version of English is now completely destroyed. We learn Oxford English in school.


Is Sweden protecting its language?

Protect the Swedish language? Are you kidding?  That would be racist!


Yes, Snowy Shaw and I had a conversation about how the Swedes are pussies.

Yeah, I read that. Those things you cannot say in Sweden. I showed that interview to a band and they thought that Snowy is joking. If you do that interview in a Swedish magazine then your career is over.


In America it’s very trendy to think of the French as pussies, but I look at them as heroes. The French deserve respect for  standing up for their culture. 

I’m very conservative when it comes to things like culture. A lot of things are better these days, but I don’t understand why you have to ruin everything from the past. A lot of liberal  ideas are very good, like equal rights for women.  And in interracial marriage, it’s up to people what they want to do with their lives and if they want to have those kinds of kids. But there comes a  point when you fulfill the  rights of minorities and  start to go in the other way.


We’re in the other end  of the swing.

In Sweden we completely crossed that line a long long  time ago, and maybe that’s  the reason why we went  from being #1 to… (editor’s note – I laugh so loudly that I cannot  hear the rest of that sentence)


I’m sorry, you made me laugh.

What else can you do  about it?


“Lucid Dreaming” was  an album that I had to  buy because it was at that time that I found out  that what I had experienced  actually had a  term, and that other people  had similar dreams.  Many years later a girl I  know interviewed you  and she said that you had  out of body experiences.  Is that true?

That’s correct.


What came first with  you, the lucid dreaming  or the out of body experiences?

The astral projection came  first


Was this something that you learned or something  that happened accidentally  when you were  falling asleep?

It happened accidentally. It has happened to  many people who have had their first out of  body experiences that they are in their room outside of their bodies. Actually, I didn’t even look  at my body. I was looking through the window, and was drawn outside, out over the woods. And I had a very strange feeling that I can’t really  explain these colors.


You are able to induce these now.



Did you learn that on your own?

I’ve been a member of the Order of the Dragon  for some years now. They collect ideas and  develop techniques.


When I found out that my lucid dreams had a name, I discovered a scientist, Stephen  LaBerge, and he had developed techniques, and one night I actually had three lucid  dreams in a row. It was crazy. But prior to  having had experienced lucid dreams, I had  thought that out of body experiences were  a hoax.

Very easy to think that if you are a rational person  and if you never had that.


Right, but there are parallels between  lucid dreams and out of body experiences.  In fact, lucid dreams are the perfect launch  pad to out of body experiences.

That’s actually how I most often do it. I usually  find a gate, like a mirror or window, and I project  through that.


Lucid dreaming, to me, is a purely mental  phenomenon because although I am aware that I am  dreaming within the dream and  I control everything around me,  it is still a dream. Do you think that an out  of body an actual phenomenon in which your awareness somehow  extends beyond your body,  or is it a mental state?

When I thought about the matter, whether it is internal or external, it doesn’t really make a difference.  So I haven’t really made up  my mind because the experience  remains the same.


In Sweden, do you have the  Christmas carol “Tis the  Season to Be Jolly?”

Yeah, we do. But our main songs are about the yule, which has nothing to do with Christianity.


In the song I asked about,  being that you are a musician, I  was oping that you could help  educate Americans. They are probably the most ignorant people in the world, judging from the interviews I have done with people all over the  world. Stupidity is our #1  export.

Your big companies don’t want  people to think. They want people to work for minimum wage and to  pay taxes and to consume a lot.  Here, we pay 33% in taxes but  hospitals are free. If you are  unemployed you get money that  you can actually live on, and so on and so on. 


Americans are not interested in  the rest of the world, and for those  that are interested, they look at  the worlds thinking it’s the same as it is here (editor’s note – I meant that Americans generally cannot accept that other people think in different ways and that other cultures have different attitudes).

It’s really bad that your education system is that way because that makes people that  much more unable to have opinions about international affairs. There are a lot of similarities with the Roman empire. You can  see a lot of degeneration in empires that are  falling, but it won’t be a few centuries. Here we are talking about only a few decades, maximum.  You import a lot more than you export.  And there’s a lot of loans. You consider yourself  the richest country on the planet, which is correct on paper, but if all the international investment would be withdrawn from the United States…


Interesting. But if you look at America’s capital city, it looks like a third world country.  Washington D.C. But getting back to the “Tis the Season to be Jolly” – the end of that song is “fa la la la la la la la la.” I would like  you to tell me the notes of the major scale of C.

I am happily uneducated musician.


Really? It’s C -D -E- F- G- A -B -C.

I’m very thickheaded to learn things unless I am interested. If I am interested I learn very quickly. Notes and stuff like this is like learning Latin.


I will still ask you the question. The  scale that I just told you, in other countries is DO- RE- MI- FA- SO- LA- T-I DO.

Your B is called H in Germany.


Getting back to DO RE MI, when you sing  the fa la la la la, it should actually be the  notes F and A. But they’re not sung as F and A, and I would like to know if this is some sort of conspiracy.

But you can write a song any way you like. 


Certain things should not be intentionally  misinterpreted. You Wouldn’t have a guitar that is  shaped like a swastika, right?

Not on stage, but it would be fun to own one.  I‘d like one like a banana, and one with a hammer  and a sickle.


But you know what I mean. The swastika  is a cool symbol and it meant something else prior to world war two, and now if you see it you cannot remove the associations that define it.

If you were playing India it would be very popular.


It’s really not easy to interview you.

Well, you do not have an easy magazine.


But anyway, if I were to use FA and LA as  lyrics, I would make sure that they were sung in the right pitch! 

But music doesn’t need to follow rules. 


The Alphabet Song must also obey this  rule. When you sing A B C D E F G A B, do it in the right pitch. And what happened to  that word “god” being in the pledge of allegiance?  America is a theocracy! Do you, as  a Swede, see America as being too religious?

Yes. In Sweden only 2% of the population consider  themselves Christian.


You have heard of moslims (editor’s note – that is the correct speling of the word)who blow themselves up believing that they will be rewarded with virgins. Well first of all, if  you’re in the afterlife, you can’t do anything  with corporeal things. And even if you  could, why would you have sex with virgins.  They are not good in bed.

It’s not just a moslim concept. Christians  thought they would get rewarded if they died in  the Crusade


If you play in Israel, would you go on stage  with a backpack that has a lit fuse on the bottom?

That would be a pretty cool effect, but it wouldn’t be worth it.


Getting back to the moslim thing. I don’t think it’s really a good reward to be given  virgins. Virgins are terrible lovers. 

It’s much better to be a rock star (instead of a suicide bomber) because it’s very easy. You  don’t have to blow up yourself. Just learn how to  play guitar. But define “terrorism.” According to the term, the United States is a terrorist state. You bombed Iraq while there was no war declaration. If you don’t declare war and bomb the country, you’re a terrorist.


Don’t say “you” – I’m not an American.

Ok, so you’re not responsible then.



Draconian – Sovran (Napalm Records)

When I heard the first song i thought that the singer from WITHIN TEMPTATION had switched bands.  I intentionally never read the press releases or album notes before I listen because I my impression needs to be based on what I hear.  Getting back to the vocals, I really did think that there was a guest-vocal appearance which gave Draconian a new flavor.  Afterward, i discovered that the band actually has a new vocalist.  Despite singing in the same style as her WITHIN TEMPTATION counterpart, she beautifies the songs.  If you haven’t heard DRACONIAN before, they combine several ideas, often melancholic, but not adhering to any on style, like doom or goth.  It’s a hybrid that works very well.  The contrast between angelic female vocals and gruff male vocals is not as stark as in early THEATRE OF TRAGEDY.  You can discern every word, which brings the poetry to you for easier ingestion.   I have enjoyed every DRACONIAN album and was pleasantly surprised by the change of vocals.  The voice is quite beautiful. Each album has moments that stay in the imagination for a long time. If you enjoy being haunted by songs, then take a chance on this band.

Draconian - Sovran
Draconian – Sovran

Madder Mortem – Red in Tooth and Claw (Dark Essence)

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…..”


LEAVES EYES interview with Elina and Alex

This is an interview with Alexander Krull and new singer Elina Siirala.

Please do not drive or operate machinery after watching this because you will fall in love with Elina and will be unable to pay attention to anything else for a long time after watching this.