This interview with Samoth appeared in issue #12
Thy band refers to itself as intelligent black metal. I hope that it is not too cliche for me to ask thee to explain this term.
It is an attack on people, black metal or not, who either look upon black metal as something pathetic, or black metal people who often tend to make the genre look pathetic. We want to distance ourselves from the pseudo-evil, non-musical, and non-artistic side of black metal. We demand a certain standard and insight.
The Laveyans say that Satan has been the best friend the christians ever had because he has kept them in business. Cannot the church burnings also be the best advertisement that the christians ever had?
Yes! It can! It’s obvious that christians feel they have to keep strong together after such tragic events.. Anyway, the church burning was, in my point of view, more of a statement rather than a real attempt to destroy christianity. I mean, it takes more than burning a few churches to get rid of the whole belief system.
In the past, black metal bands were ridiculing commercial death metal, but now, I hear black metal bands are cannibalizing their scene, directing criticism upon their own kind. What is thy assessment of the scene that thou hast helped to create? Dost thou think that a wrong message was sent by the forefathers when they insulted commercial death metal without making the distinction that true death metal was in no way life metal?
I think people got bored with the death metal trend, and that led to black metal getting back again with full extremity. A lot of those death metal bands got away from the real death metal concept, and certain people in the black metal scene made it an image to mock such bands, and by doing so, also making black metal more extreme. Anyway, black metal has now gotten just as popular as death metal, and has kind of topped itself with a lot of moronic bands offering nothing but bad music quality and, in many ways, an infantile attitude. I think that’s why a lot of people are getting influenced by death metal again. I think metalheads rather should stay together rather than spending unnecessary energy on putting sticks in each other’s wheels.
The extreme pride in Norse heritage inspired similar loyalties across continents. In America, a land without culture, confused people became attracted to Odinism even though they have no Scandinavian blood. Dost thou see this as weakness?
It should be natural for Scandinavian people to honor their past history, because it’s our heritage, but I feel it’s rather ridiculous when bands, let’s say, from Italy, write lyrics in ancient Norse, especially when they have such a rich cultural history themselves. Well, I guess some American people can actually link their blood to the Scandinavian heritage, as their past family might have emigrated from the north… anyway, we see a lot of stupid people claiming to be this or that, and it makes no sense.
It was rumored that Emperor could not play the Metalfest because a certain felonious church-burner was not granted a visa. I know that the reaction to thee at the Metalfest would be one of worship.
I am still not granted any visa, simply because I did not apply for one. Nothing has been straightened out, actually. We’re taking the risk of being refused to get in. The people who booked us are aware of that. Worst case scenario is that Emperor will not play because some fucker at the airport causes trouble. Yeah, it seems everybody is waiting for Emperor to arrive in the States. We feel, of course, a little pressure, because people have such great expectation. When people have great expectations, it’s easy to be disappointed. It is impossible to deliver the same atmosphere as on the CD in a live situation. We also hope for a good audience who shows that they like the music. Emperor are not in favor of the I’m-too-evil-to-headbang attitude.
Obviously, thy albums are produced with particular preferences. I am wondering why the guitar is so low in the mix, and why the instruments seem too tightly compressed. There is a feeling that there is no space between notes.
Are you referring to the Anthems album? I do not agree with you. The guitars are not that low in the mix. I do not think the Anthems production is perfect… neither are Nightside. You learn as you live. Next time we’ll definitely try to get a clearer sound with more fine balance between all instruments.
Is it true that spandex is worn on stage?
No. That was one of Kerrang’s attempts to mock us after our live appearance in London. Ihsahn had black tights on. They might have been cheesy-looking, but it was not pink spandex, as the fucker wrote.