“This paper will focus on two case studies that examine the bands Spear of Longinus and Deströyer 666. Using paratextual analysis and readings of their song lyrics and interviews, we capture and understand what ideologies are held by these artists and how these are communicated to and received by fans. This analysis specifically explores how these ideologies are expressed through music, coded language and symbols, and the personae of black metal performers. Often, this coded language takes a form colloquially referred to as ‘dog-whistling’ which refers to speaking in a way that a target audience understands your meaning while others remain unaware of the implications of your speech and symbols (Haney-Lopez 2015). Later sections of the paper will consider the interaction between ideology and genre, using a range of frameworks such as Kahn-Harris’ reflexive antireflexivity (2007) and Lesourd’s black metal as Gesamtkunstwerk (2013). These frameworks allow us to examine how such ideologies operate within their respective scenes and how the social infrastructure of the Australian black metal scene produces and sustains those who hold far right-wing political views. We will conclude by demonstrating the connection between the musical and the social through an examination of how these performers’ views are deployed by their fans, reinforcing the link between alt-right political ideology and musical expression.”
“Whilst some sociologists have taken deep personal risks to interview neo-Nazis by infiltration (Hamm 1993; Hamm and Spaaij 2017), we follow the tradition of others such as Potter (2005), Cotter (1999) and Brown (2004), who focus on the lyrical and historical relevance of neo-Nazi and fascist music. However, where relevant, our reading of texts and paratexts is further supplemented by interviews with members of the Australian metal scene as identified by the authors and the authors’ own observations attending gigs and participating in metal and other alternative music scenes around Australia.”
“Most notable is the subgenre National Socialist Black Metal (hereafter NSBM), which typically connotes bands who explicitly advocate for fascist politics in their music (Olsen 2011). For example, the split CD release Unsere Krieg (‘Our War’) (Acclaim Records/Ancient Legacy Productions, 2008) between the bands 88, Iron Youth 88 and Moloch features two uses of 88, with 88 being a veiled reference to ‘Heil Hitler’ (the logic behind this is that the eighth letter of the alphabet is H, therefore 88 = HH = Heil Hitler). The band 88 stylizes their name with runes that resemble the flag of the Nazi Schutzstaffel (or SS), demonstrating how explicit NSBM bands are with their affiliations with neo-Nazi movements.”
“Olsen (2011) notes that whilst NSBM bands hold racist ideologies, they are not marginal but highly influential in global black metal scenes. Nazi symbolism is appropriated for a hyper-transgression, defining and redefining the boundaries of transgression within black metal.”
“While there are examples of proto-metal bands in Australia, such as Buffalo in the 1970s, the first true metal scene did not emerge until the 1980s, based in Melbourne (Calpakdijan 2014, Hillier 2019a). This scene gravitated around the Metal for Melbourne record store and consisted of classic heavy metal bands such as Taipan, S.A.S, and Ion Drive, who were heavily influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (hereafter NWOBHM).”
“Extreme metal developed later in the 1980s, beginning with thrash metal bands such as Renegade, Mortal Sin, and Hobbs’ Angel of Death. Similarly, Armoured Angel are frequently credited as the pioneers of Australian death metal, whilst Slaughter Lord are heavily reminiscent of the first wave black metal in the vein of Swedish band Bathory (Calpakdijan 2014; Giffin 2015).”
“While there are musical, ideological, and personal links between these Australian bands and international metal scenes that have similar ideological frameworks, this article will only consider how these views manifest in Australian bands and how their manifestation affects the wider Australian metal scene.”
“Hoad (2016) extends Phillipov’s points regarding race in Australian metal, looking at how whiteness is constructed in Australian metal scenes. Australian metal is characterized as ‘banal nationalism’ that fetishizes ‘white sameness’ and enables the exclusion of ‘Otherness’ from (Australian) extreme metal.”
“An example of this is the expression of larrikinism within Australian surf culture, which is then embodied through metal, metalcore and hardcore bands such as Parkway Drive, who personify the ‘ideal’ image of the Australian male (Whiting, Klimentou and Rogers 2019).”
“The emphasis on larrikinism is especially problematic for bands that advocate extreme-right and fascist views in their music because this gives band members a means of deniability where they can argue that their music is not completely serious.”
“Many of these bands do not participate in mainstream music scenes or conventional underground metal scenes in their local area, creating a sub-underground scene, which runs parallel to local metal scenes. Our observations of the Tasmanian metal scene demonstrate that it is rare to see NSBM bands perform at mainstream community venues, due to genre crossovers with punk and metal (Hickam and Wallach 2011; Piper 2013; Kennedy 2018).”
“For example, one especially puzzling example of coded language in the Australian extreme metal scene is the insistence by some Australian NSBM groups on referring to Tasmania as ‘Van Diemen’s Land’, the name used for the state from 1825-1856 (Rattenkönig 2019). The reason for this is not presently clear, though it seems to be a deliberate attempt to ground these groups’ sense of place explicitly within Australia’s colonial past. Due to the insular nature of neo-Nazi and fascist groups, band members perform in several bands at once and perform together frequently or on neo-fascist music labels (Southern Poverty Law Center 2020). Larger festivals or performances, such as the annual Recrucify the Bastard festival held in Launceston, Tasmania, are comparatively rare.”
“The first case study is based around the band Spear of Longinus, who make extensive and explicit references to Nazism throughout their body of work, and are perhaps the most overt example of fascist and Nazi sentiment within the Australian metal scene”
“The cover of Spear of Longinus’ demo Nazi Occult Metal (1995) invokes several common NSBM tropes (beyond the title). The album cover recalls various NSBM aesthetics, using poorly drawn figures and a colour scheme dominated by black and red. Norse runes are appropriated to spell both the bands’ initials on the horizontal sides of the tape (here as S.O.L) and the title ‘Nazi Occult Metal’ on the vertical sides, a common reference in NSBM circles to Aryan heritage and appropriated Norse and neo-pagan religious practices (Olsen 2011).” “the vocals are remarkably clear by black and war metal standards such that the lyrics are fairly easily understood.” “Given the heavily ideological content of the lyrics, this seems a deliberate choice to make the lyrics more intelligible than other examples within their subgenre, allowing the ideological content to be absorbed by the listener more easily.”
“Following from this are Spear of Longinus’ albums The Yoga of National Socialism (hereafter TYONS) and …And the Swastikalotus. These albums make further references to various national socialist ideas in their titles and in their album artwork, demonstrating the ongoing pattern of infusing their political ideologies within their music”
“Beyond aesthetics, the lyrics of TYONS (Vinland Winds, 2002) introduce elements of Hinduism and Buddhism. This album draws heavily from stories and symbolism of Shiva, Vishnu and Buddha in addition to the references to Norse mythology.” Todo ocidental ultimado é um plagiário do Oriente.
“The Black Sun was used by the Nazis to represent divine salvation, an alternative for the swastika, carrying occult and Satanist connotations. (Goodrick-Clarke 2003). This collection includes the song World of Shit which references Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra and concludes with the lines ‘The World has never sunk so low / Rome sank to whoredom and became a stew / The Caesars became beasts / And God a Jew’ (Vinland Winds 2004).”
“This manifests as a misunderstanding of many aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy and Spear of Longinus’ references to Nietzschean ideas should be understood within this context.”
“The second case study is focused on the work of Deströyer 666. (…) While not as overt
with their fascist leanings as Spear of Longinus, several racist, nationalist, and sexist sentiments pervade both their textual and paratextual content. Notably, front man K.K. Warslut has faced several controversies for his conduct and comments at Deströyer 666 live performances. A performance in Denmark in 2016 prompted a public feud with magazine Metalsucks and their tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2019 was cancelled when their tour dates were protested. Protests arose following several magazines drawing links between the ideology professed by Deströyer 666 and that of the Christchurch Mosque Shooter (Hohen 2019; Mckenzie-King 2019)(*). In contrast to Spear of Longinus, Warslut consistently and vehemently denies that he holds or professes any views that could be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise problematic, often immediately after detailing these views during an interview (Kristiansen 2015; Göransson 2016).
(*) The Christchurch Mosque Shooter (Brenton Tarrant), a 28-year-old Australian with no
previous criminal history who was active on extreme-right internet forums, entered the Al
Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he allegedly shot dead 50 people and
injured 48 (Besley and Peters, 2020; Macklin, 2019).”
“It depicts a large white wolf baring its teeth and standing over the corpse of a smaller brown wolf, which has troubling implications in the context of how wolves are used by the band. Wolves are a common theme in the artwork and lyrics of Deströyer 666. Warslut has stated in an interview that the wolf on this cover represents ‘the spirit of the white man’ (Alternative Underground 2014; ‘@ndy’, 2016; Hohen 2019). In between the researching and final writing of this paper, the online copy of this interview was deleted from YouTube and is no longer available to be viewed. Several sources that linked to this interview (Alternative Underground, 2014; ‘@ndy’, 2016; Hohen, 2019) mention the specific comment about ‘the spirit of the white man’ and the authors can confirm that they have heard this interview and attest that this comment was made by Warslut. The original source appears to be the 2014 blog post on Alternative Underground, which also provides a transcript of some additional comments made by Warslut and records the blog writer’s interpretations of the interviewer’s reactions to Warslut’s statements.”
“While Christian churches were certainly involved in the invasion and colonisation of Australia, it was not white people that they were targeting as organized religion was brought to Australia by British colonial forces. Indeed, many Christian organizations directly aimed to subjugate Indigenous Australians and participated in the systematic eradication of their culture and spirituality through forced assimilation on church missions (see Moses 2000).”
“The first defence often made by extreme metal bands with problematic politics is to designate themselves as being apolitical, regardless of statements that they have made which are deliberately political. Ideas of reflexive, unreflexive, and anti-reflexive practices are integral to understanding how these designations operate in metal scenes.”
“For example, the Facebook page of Spear of Longinus contains the disclaimer that ‘Spear Of Longinus is not politically or racially motivated’ (Spear of Longinus 2020). In effect, Spear of Longinus are attempting to construe themselves as somehow being apolitical while explicitly, deliberately, and intentionally advocating fascist views in their music. We interpret this statement to act as a token disclaimer to provide the band with deniability should they be accused of violating the Terms of Service of a platform like Facebook.”
“The second manifestation of reflexive anti-reflexivity within Spear of Longinus’ body of work suggests that the elements of Gnostic Nazism are satirical or otherwise non-serious. This includes not taking themselves too seriously, an idea seemingly supported by song titles like ‘YHWH Penis Abominator’ from …And The Swastikalotus.”
“One example is seen in how Warslut responds to criticism of the cover of Deströyer 666’s EP Of Wolves Women And War (Satans Metal Records 2002), which features a werewolf sodomizing a naked woman who closely resembles Australian singer Kylie Minogue. There is a range of problematic elements present on this cover, although we will focus on two. One is the issue of consent, as we doubt Kylie Minogue endorsed her likeness being used in the context of this album cover, as no mention is made of it in the liner notes and the cover puts her into an explicitly sexualized position; given these dubious issues of consent, we have elected not to include an image of this cover in this paper but instead describe the image sufficiently to explain our point. Secondly, given the previous context in which wolves have been used by Deströyer 666 to represent ‘the spirit of the white man’, this cover appears to be communicating that the white man as a wolf exists to sexually dominate women. Warslut defends this cover by arguing that such an act of ‘lycanthropic buggery’ would not be endorsed by Adolf Hitler (Göransson 2016). Warslut argues that such ‘degeneracy’ (itself a dog whistle used by fascist groups) would not be approved by the Nazis, therefore he and his band cannot be expressing Nazi sentiments at all in their work (Göransson 2016).”
“There is recorded footage of Warslut [olha o nome do panaca] in 2012 at Deathkult Open Air Festival yelling to the crowd:
This one is for all the Muslim immigrants who are invading – who are invited to invade our fucking continent: fuck you Allah! Yeah, everyone’s busy being anti-Christian. Fuck being anti-Christian, let’s be fucking anti-Muslim for once! This is our fucking land! (Warslut, in GronSS 2012)”
“the arguments deployed by these bands to excuse their extreme ideologies are so thin that they collapse with only the smallest interrogation, and are clearly only being accepted by fans so that they are not required to surrender music that they otherwise enjoy.”
“more than a genre of music, [black metal] is a complete form of artistic and aesthetic expression, requiring musicians and artists to be inseparable from their creations.”Discordo.
“In this case, the categorisation of NSBM as a separate scene and subgenre relative to normal black metal scenes suggests that the most problematic and overtly fascist bands are understood to some degree as ‘not us’ by non-NSBM black metal bands and fans”
(*) “The celebration of Australia Day on January 26th has long been controversial, though there has been increasing public awareness and discussion of the date in recent years (Morgan, 2019). January 26th commemorates the official declaration of British sovereignty in Australia in 1788 (though it is commonly and incorrectly thought to mark the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove) and has been Federally recognized as a public holiday in Australian since 1994. For Indigenous Australians, in particular, this date represents a commemoration of British invasion, and is sometimes referred to as Invasion Day, with formal protests conducted on that date since 1988 (Morgan, 2019).”
“They also specifically align themselves against ‘leftist sooks’, who they construct as being the only people who care about Indigenous Australian culture (here reductively described as ‘painting dots in the dreamtime’).”
“A different response is possible. An international Red and Anarchist Black Metal (hereafter RABM) movement is steadily growing, following coverage of some of the more prominent bands gaining news attention, including a congregation of like-minded black metal musicians in dedicated RABM forums (Kelly 2018). Many of these bands are explicitly critical of the current international black metal scene, with bands such as Gaylord and Neckbeard Deathcamp releasing albums respectively titled The Black Metal Scene Needs to Be Destroyed (2018) and White Nationalism is for Basement-Dwelling Losers (2018). Other bands who operate within more mainstream or conventionally underground extreme metal scenes such as Iskra, Panopticon, and Dawn Ray’d are also associated with the movement (Kelly 2018).”
WIKI:“O RABM surgiu como uma resposta ao black metal nacional-socialista, pelo grupo argentino Profecium em 1993 (que era anarquista na época) e massificado pelo grupo canadense Iskra em meados de 2000. Nasceu das mãos de bandas radicadas no crust punk.” “O som das bandas RABM aparentemente também difere do Black metal comum, em muitos casos as bandas misturam o som do crust punk (principalmente anarquista) ou ambient black metal com elementos do post-rock (Panopticon, Wheels Within Wheels, All the Cold, Skagos, Adamennon), também há bandas que incorporam elementos do pagan metal e viking metal (Sorgsvart, Lake of Blood, Borgazur) e outras que incorporam elementos do shoegaze (Violet Cold) e do death metal (Hereticae, Vociferatus).”
Mais bandas do RABM:
Order of The Wolf
“While it is unlikely that far-right politics and NSBM will ever be completely removed from extreme metal, these are important steps in ensuring that fascist ideology within the scene is recognized and dealt with accordingly while developing a sense of social control and self-regulation within the scene.”
ÚLTIMA PRETENSÃO (DISCLAIMER): Quero “continuar” este livro, já que o autor ignorou algumas bandas e fez um sobrevôo por várias delas quando saíam do movimento black metal ou simplesmente chegava-se mais perto da contemporaneidade, supostamente por falta de espaço (afinal, um bom livro investigativo tem mesmo de ser mais profundo e delimitado, é o preço que se paga). Já que é assim, que tal se eu mesmo, com minhas fontes, puder descrever os álbuns 1990-atualidade do Venom, do Mercyful Fate, as bandas principais que ficaram de fora dos 50 capítulos, etc.? Não é um projeto de fácil nem rápida execução, mas fica aqui registrado o intuito, para que, se não se realizar, a culpa não possa ser atribuída a um “esquecimento casual”! Obs.: A idéia não é necessariamente escrever resenhas dos discos, mas tampouco me satisfaria apenas uma cronologia muito “individualizada” de cada banda, formato que este autor elegeu. Há um meio-caminho entre essas duas coisas passível de explorarmos! Esse approach eu deixo para a PARTE III, em que pretendo ir contando duma tacada só as principais evoluções do gênero nos anos 90, falando mais de Venom e Mercyful Fate. Neste segundo capítulo, ou segundo volume do “livro que não comecei mas que irei complementar”, dedico-me, por meio de várias seções incluindo entrevistas, overviews do impacto da banda na cultura cult extrema e, claro, notas pessoais pormenorizadas de cada álbum, o que fez muita falta no Evolution of The Cult que muitos passaram a conhecer lendo os trechos que publiquei no Seclusão. Outra sugestão, ainda não confirmada, para a parte IV, seria um artigo especial sobre o Black Metal finlandês, um dos meus prediletos. O sueco também não está fora de cogitação para uma possível parte V… Podem aguardar meses ou anos, mas sejam otimistas: dificilmente desisto dos meus projetos!
O Immortal foi formado quando uma nova banda na praça, o Amputation, começou a recrutar membros do Old Funeral em decomposição (e realmente amputações e funerais costumam desencadear com certa rapidez a ocorrência biológica ou literal desse fenômeno, decomposição). Ambos eram grupos noruegueses de death metal. Em 1988, Demonaz forma o Amputation com 2 ex-membros do Old Funeral. Abbath, um terceiro ex-integrante do Old Funeral, se juntaria ao trio logo em seguida para completar o então ainda ativo e ambicioso Amputation.
Uma característica de relevo quando se fala em Immortal e a cena incipiente norueguesa é que os membros deste grupo nunca se envolveram nas atividades controversas de muitos dos partícipes da segunda onda do black metal, constituída principalmente pelos jovens que freqüentavam a Helvete, loja de discos de Euronymous.
Tampouco os temas do Immortal giraram de alguma forma em torno de satanismo ou de apologias pagãs, muito menos posicionamentos políticos de qualquer natureza. Seu foco lírico é nas forças da escuridão, no mal como uma essência capturável e num gélido mundo fantástico cheio de nomes próprios e neologismos.
A primeira mudança realmente impactante na formação (embora os primeiros álbuns sejam recheados delas) foi a saída do membro fundador Demonaz do posto de guitarrista, em 1997, devido a um quadro severo de tendinite nos dois pulsos ao mesmo tempo. Ele seguiu na banda contribuindo com letras e ocasionalmente como empresário e agenciador. Conforme veremos, em 2013, surpreendendo a muitos, Demonaz, após uma ou mais cirurgias braçais e muita dedicação na recuperação total, voltou a empunhar o instrumento e a tocar no seu velho estilo ágil.
O primeiro hiato da banda se deu em 2003: Abbath, Demonaz e Horgh, o trio que então constituía o Immortal, decidiu parar temporariamente por certas divergências artísticas. Abbath começou a tocar numa banda cover de Motörhead pela mesma época, a Bömbers, na companhia de Tore Bratseth (antigo companheiro de Old Funeral, e também ex-Desekrator) e Pez; também data desta época o projeto-solo de Abbath que adotava uma linha mais comercial, de composição de heavy metal, intitulado minimalisticamente I (Eu).
O Immortal voltou de seu 1º hiato em junho de 2006 com a mesma formação e lançou mais um álbum de estúdio em 2009; em março de 2015, porém, as diferenças entre os membros se mostraram inconciliáveis, quando o grupo novamente se dissolveu. Abbath fundou uma banda com seu próprio nome para seguir a carreira.
A banda foi inusitadamente reativada poucos meses depois, em agosto, apenas com Demonaz e Horgh. Dizem que Abbath não licenciou o nome, dando a brecha para que seus ex-companheiros seguissem trabalhando sob a mesma alcunha. Apollyon seria posteriormente convidado para reestabelecer o power trio que configurou o Immortal na maioria de seu tempo inativo. Em 2018 esta formação lançou um álbum, até a data deste texto o último do Immortal.
Atualmente (já há mais de um ano), Demonaz e Horgh travam uma batalha judicial entre si pela propriedade exclusiva ou dividida do nome da banda, sem contar que Abbath nunca desistiu do assunto. Curioso que Demonaz insista no tema, haja vista considerar-se mais “qualificado” para sustentar o nome Immortal, sendo membro fundador. Horgh, que pulou no barco consideravelmente depois, considera que, embora Demonaz deva ser justamente reconhecido como associado à marca, também trabalhou o suficiente no projeto para compartilhar deste direito.
2. AMPUTATION: OS PRIMÓRDIOS
Sob a alcunha Amputation existem duas demos. É impossível determinar a residência norueguesa da banda pela sonoridade, já que ela se diferencia inclusive do som do Old Funeral, considerado bem genérico. Tampouco podem-se distinguir influências puras ou inspiração muito clara das verves sueca ou floridiana que então grassavam no death metal. Trata-se mais de um híbrido enfurecido de deathrash – na 1ª demo – similar ao que se produziu por aqui, no Brasil, em anos pretéritos, pelo Sarcófago e principalmente durante a fase Schizophrenia do Sepultura, não só nas composições mas até na atmosfera e na qualidade análoga da produção (como se não bastasse, Abbath consegue lembrar bastante o gutural do Max Cavaleira neste material!).
Na 2ª demo os elementos de death se sobrepujaram, diminuindo-se a velocidade e aumentando a ambientação, o que sinaliza claramente uma transição entre o death, ou pelo menos o BM de 1ª onda (característico dos anos 80), e o BM em si (de 2ª onda), se cotejamos com a primeira demo do já assim cognominado Immortal (i.e., com a 3ª demo desde a montagem do grupo, caso ele continuasse se chamando Amputation).
O que mais chama a atenção na primeiríssima demo são os vocais de Abbath, com balbuceios semi-gritados, cheios de interjeições à guisa de Tom G. Warrior – ewww!!!, ahhhhh!!, etc. –, risadas maníacas e uma série de esguichos primitivos. O inglês é entrecortado, nem todas as sílabas são pronunciadas, e o sotaque de Abbath é visivelmente estrangeiro, o que só aumenta o charme da exibição. Seria mais ou menos como fundir os estilos vocais do cantor do Incubus da primeira gravação do Serpent Temptation¹ e do Angel da brasileiríssima Vulcano.
¹ Lembrando que esta banda de deathrash gringa regravou este álbum com outro vocalista logo depois. Então, se você ouviu o disco, não necessariamente ouviu na voz em comento!
Na primeira demo o Amputation não economiza em velocidade e intensidade, com raros interlúdios mid-tempo com palm-mute na guitarra. Os solos estão bem-espalhados pelas composições e tornam o som ainda mais abrasivo. A bateria parece um cavalo de batalha. O blast beating é mandatório já nesta fase do death, ainda que estejamos falando de uma banda com um pé no thrash, sem se fechar num só subgênero. Portanto, podemos dizer que é um dos materiais mais extremos do death metal norueguês ainda em desenvolvimento naquele 1989.
Slaughtered in the Arms of God, o título da segunda demonstração, é o Amputated em continua mutação. Quem fizesse o download em duas ocasiões separadas poderia nem notar qualquer vínculo entre ambas as demos e julgar que a homonímia na autoria fosse só uma coincidência! A qualidade do material nos faz perguntar como raios o Old Funeral é hoje bem mais conhecido que o próprio Amputated… Talvez a razão não tenha qualquer fundamentação estética ou musical: lembremos que o OF contou com a breve presença de Varg Vikernes no baixo (já depois da saída de Abbath).
Se a primeira demo era um incontestável deathrash, a 2ª puxa mais para um dark death, resvalando inclusive no gótico, bem soturno e maligno. Embora o thrash não tenha sido completamente olvidado por contarmos com linhas de guitarra derivadas de Possessed e Autopsy, deu-se mais um passo para fugir do template amarradão do “metal mainstream”, se assim podemos dizer, numa cena que estava mudando tão rápido que de vanguarda em poucos anos o thrash estava se tornando a cada novo dia mais sinônimo de clichê. Os blast beats continuam, mas o ritmo não é tão frenético quanto o da primeira demo. O vocal segue na mesma linha, senão mais grave e cavernoso – é quase admirável que se trate do mesmo dono dos guinchos roucos e ásperos dos dois primeiros álbuns do Immortal (não que Abbath não tenha continuado por muitos e muitos discos como vocal, mas mudou, reconhecidamente, o estilo ainda mais, posteriormente, para algo um pouco mais parecido com um vocal death, o que ainda não é deixar seu terceiro estilo de canto condizente com o primeiro!). Não é exagero dizer que nesses registros Abbath pode ter mandado vocais mais baixos e graves que os do próprio Chris Barnes no começo do Cannibal Corpse – para que o leitor entenda o nível quase inumano de gutural aqui alcançado! Nessa “reformatada a meias” que a banda deu no seu estilo de uma demo para a outra, podemos dizer que desincorporou-se um pouco do Deathcrush (Mayhem) que estava injetado no grupo e injetou-se, em troca, mais de Morbid Angel.
Nesse som mais devagar, intenso e controlado, a banda quis transmitir, quiçá, uma maior coordenação sobre seus movimentos, maior domínio conceitual sobre cada instrumento, alterando a feição do som num lapso de poucos meses – com o fito de duas, uma: ou queriam divulgar inteligentemente e com esforços mínimos (6 canções) duas faces de seu versátil talento a fim de atrair o maior número possível de gravadoras; ou a evolução foi autêntica e sincera das unhas à raiz dos cabelos e os músicos treinaram e compuseram muito nessa época, buscando realmente deixar a sonoridade da 1ª demo completamente enterrada. A segunda demo é mais limitada que a irmã mais velha no quesito dimensão, pois apresenta somente 2 faixas. O mais engraçado é que a próxima demo, já como Immortal, será mais diferente da segunda do que a segunda era em relação à primeira: adentraremos no completo raw black metal sem meios-termos!
3. DESAMPUTADO E IMORTAL, MAS RESSAQUEADO?
Hervé Herbaut, dono da Osmose Productions, foi o primeiro representante de gravadora fisgado pelo som do Amputation e se lembra muito bem da transição do som da banda, que observou detidamente. Seria uma história de sucesso com 2 lados felizes: Immortal e Osmose estariam juntos por 6 full-lengths. “O que me atraiu em direção a eles foi esse deslocamento do death metal ao black metal em tão pouco tempo. Falava muito ao telefone com o Demonaz, que sempre nos prometia algo diferente do que ouvimos nas demos do Amputation, e isso foi cumprido quando saiu o primeiro disco do Immortal. Mudando de assunto, a primeira vez que eles vieram fazer entrevistas por telefone à imprensa especializada, no nosso antigo escritório, lembro que o Abbath não parava de vomitar de tão bêbado.”
4. A ERA TRVE–ANTI-TRVE: STORYLINE DA BANDA
A primeira demo do Immortal veio um ano depois da banda abraçar por completo o death metal sob a alcunha Amputation. Incrivelmente, o som estava mais primitivo do que nunca. Mais primitivo e, aliás, menos brutal – como mandava a estética do novo movimento. Não literalmente falando: a estética estava sendo criada, não era imposta, não existam ainda cânones, e o Immortal fez parte dessa forja que se tornaria legendária. O timbre da guitarra e o ritmo inclemente passam uma atmosfera de aspereza gelada, de som frio e setentrional. Esse sentimento inefável ao ouvir a técnica musical do grupo seria depois elevado a trademark do novo gênero, o True Black Metal (o True, em letra maiúscula, servindo para identificar o trio como norueguês, berço territorial da estética que seria exportada mundialmente).
Adeus definitivo aos vocais guturais e estupidamente abissais de Abbath: seu novo estilo era um silvo, ainda gutural, é lógico, agudo, que não vinha mais das entranhas mas da própria garganta, como se o ar não tivesse mais tempo de se elevar dos pulmões e tivesse de ser expelido imediatamente na cara do ouvinte, deparado com o sistema fonador de um ente alienígena alvinegro (referência a sua icônica maquiagem minimalista e monocromática inspirada no K.I.S.S., da qual ainda falaremos bastante). A produção não pode ser considerada perfeita para o mainstream listener, mas é exatamente o som que muitas bandas do reduto black procurariam ano após ano: muito reverb (eco), as notas das cordas e o bumbo tribal da bateria saindo abafados, como duma caverna mefítica. Das duas exíguas faixas dessa demo reinstauradora, Cold Winds Of Funeral Frost (rebatizada …Funeral Dust para o “álbum cheio” na seqüência) seria o destaque máximo.
O que pouca gente comenta é que o Immortal é cronologicamente a primeira banda de black metal norueguesa da second wave. Que me desculpem o maior relevo na cena do Mayhem e o óbvio primor de execuções primordiais (com as desculpas pelo trocadilho cacofônico) do próprio Mayhem (no template BM em si, no De Mysteriis, 1994) e de outros virtuoses como Emperor e Burzum – mas este patinho feio Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticismé quem merece os louros do pioneirismo mais bruto, tosco, cru daquele distante 1992. O som de catacumba das inúmeras demos do BM de garagem do Ildjarn já está todo aqui, em germe; parece que os membros da banda estão tocando a 20 metros do ouvinte, e cada um a pelo menos 5 ou 7m um do outro! A aura é inacreditável.
Dizem que a melhor aclimatação com este álbum (ou este tipo de álbum) só pode ser obtida ouvindo-se-o no meio de uma nevasca noturna. Infelizmente, nós habitantes de terras tropicais jamais saberemos o que é isso. Podemos, todavia, elogiar a sensação de sermos transportados para longe enquanto ouvimos suas faixas em pleno verão ou estação das secas em Brasília, como é o meu caso, e até à luz do sol de meio-dia.
Não que musicalmente seja algo tão inédito. Blood, Fire, Death e The Sign of the Black Mark, para citar só 2 obras do Bathory, têm certamente sua cota de influência nas composições de Fullmoon. Ainda assim, se é que há grande quantidade de imitadores por aí, é raro até os dias de hoje ouvir uma obra de BM que replique exatamente essa atmosfera.
Blashyrkh, uma espécie de nirvana macabro e horrendo, refúgio dos horrores da raça humana, onde se encontra a serenidade em face da imponência da natureza, com suas montanhas de gelo eterno e desertos de neve, espécie de dimensão não-euclidiana “acessada” pelos membros do Immortal e descrita esparsamente nas letras de quase todos os seus álbuns, surge modestamente em Fullmoon, num par de versos perto do final do disco. É na penúltima faixa, Blacker Then Darkness, talvez o ataque mais intenso (a segunda canção mais rápida, e certamente aquela com mais wall of sound e atmosfera mais ominosa) desferido no disco. Depois o conceito seria revelado mais integralmente aos fãs em canções como A Sign for the Norse Hordes to Ride (Pure Holocaust) e o tema-título de At The Heart of Winter, e ganharia seu próprio hino, Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark), epílogo do 3º disco, Battles in the North.
A explicação lógica para essa criação do imaginário vem de Demonaz: “Quando começamos nisso, nos sentíamos realmente sozinhos; era uma comunidade muito reduzida de pessoas no extreme black metal aqui em Bergen. Talvez 4 ou 5 pessoas, contando comigo e o Abbath. Nos sentíamos em antagonismo para com todos os outros. Já que quando nos reuníamos entrávamos no nosso próprio mundo, formamos o reino de Blashyrkh. Ele evoluiu ao longo dos anos, e de cada novo álbum, mas essencialmente ainda é o mesmo, se baseia no mesmo espírito. É um lugar que só nós temos a chave para abrir. Não é uma mitologia, uma criação literária, por exemplo. É uma forma de sentir o poder. Uma mística, uma experiência. São nossos lados negros, propriamente falando, que atravessam. O Immortal compõe dentro do Blashhyrkh. É nossa maneira sui generis de descrever nossos entornos e imediações.”
Até as efêmeras partes com guitarra acústica compõem maravilhosamente bem os interstícios de Fullmoon. Ao contrário de outros raw black metal, este disco possui até solos. Nada perto de Van Halen ou do thrash; mas nada tão repudiável como um risco de giz no quadro negro feito de sacanagem pelo professor que requer a atenção da turma, nem nada tão baixo ou encorpado como um solo de Pantera, que faria um fã de Immortal torcer o nariz. São mais melódicos e longos do que uma banda primitiva costuma acoplar a suas composições; entretanto, pode-se dizer que não são estranhos ao contexto.
Pesando todos os fatores, talvez seja este o canal mais acessível do forasteiro ao movimento True Norwegian Black Metal, pois há mais elementos do protoblack metal (anos 80) que nas demais bandas da cena (Gorgoroth, Enslaved, Darkthrone), o que não significa falta de inovação, já que teclados não eram solução comum em 92 para esse gênero tão iconoclasta, e o Outro (desfecho) do disco utiliza-o magistralmente para dar aquele toque de minimalismo e melancolia, não muito distante do timbre de guitarra mais depressivo e esquizofrênico de um Burzum, em termos de efeito ocasionado no ouvinte.
Aquele que se aventurar, eu diria, pelos 3 primeiros alguns do Immortal, deverá ser avisado: a ênfase está menos na memória individual das composições e mais no efeito hipnótico que a reprodução de todas as faixas em conjunto produz no ouvinte. Ia dizer no efeito hipnótico que desperta – mas seria uma contradição em termos. Ao ouvido destreinado ou intolerante, soará repetitivo, sem dúvida. Ninguém será visto assoviando riffs de Fullmoon Mysticism ou Pure Holocaust no meio da rua ou na fila do caixa…
Vale lembrar que Armagedda, baterista seminal da banda, gravou o Fullmoon mas já não estava no Pure Holocaust, de 93, cuja bateria foi gravada pelo próprio hiperativo Abbath, guitarras/vocais/batera da banda nestes tempos. Abbath não largaria a percussão até o 4º disco. Para apresentações ao vivo no período, foi recrutado Erick “Grim” Brødreskift, que se suicidaria em 1999 (ele também passou por outros grandes do gênero como o Gorgoroth). Em tributo, o Nargaroth compor-lhe-ia Erick, May Thou Rape The Angels (Erick, Que tu estupres os anjos). Singelo!
“O Pure Holocaust foi marcante pra mim”, diz Peter Tägtgren, frontman do Hypocrisy e produtor dos 4 álbuns do Immortal entre At The Heart of Winter e All Shall Fall (1999-2009), além de empunhador do baixo em algumas exibições ao vivo da banda no século XXI. “Sempre estive na cola da Osmose para tentar trazer os caras para minha gravadora. Por uma ou outra razão, nunca ‘captaram minha mensagem’, isso até que se passasse meia década.” Essa entrevista foi concedida em 2009. Do Pure Holocaust aos 5 anos citados, migramos, assim, de 93 a 98, ano em que Tägtgren finalmente firmou contrato com o Immortal.
Com sua capa branca cor da neve – faceta sem precedentes no black metal – Battles in The North (1995) cimentou a lenda Immortal – imortalizou os membros no hall da fama? Mais ou menos. Não é que o Immortal não tenha produzido e não produza sempre barulho, clamor e algazarra em discussões exaltadas sobre o BM. O que não está nunca garantido de antemão é se se trata de louvor do mais enaltecedor ou de puro repúdio e ojeriza. Numa palavra, o Immortal ingressou no hall da (in)fâm(i)a do black metal, por colidir com vários cânones do gênero (que eles ajudaram a fundar, veja a ironia). Sinceramente, a “capa branca de neve” foi só um pretexto para os fundamentalistas empilharem outras razões de “por que não vamos com a cara do Immortal”. Começaram a pipocar questões como: “Por que Euronymous (do Mayhem) ajudou esses caras? Eles não são satanistas de verdade, nem pagãos, nem fascistas, nem queimam igrejas! Não são homofóbicos, não ameaçam outros membros certinhos da cena, não brigam, não matam – eles só tocam música mesmo?! O que eles fazem usando a label black metal – e, pior, True Norwegian?! Quem o Abbath pensa que é pra inventar um novo estilo vocal no subgênero, esse coachar de sapo irritante? E que poses ridículas são essas nos clipes e apresentações? Eles são uma auto-sátira? Qual é a desse corpse paint mainstream e fanfarrão? Por que eles melhoraram a produção depois do 1º CD e agora incorporam elementos do ‘inimigo’ thrash?” Todas questões, como se vê, irrelevantíssimas ou boçais, se é que não meramente retóricas, posto que de respostas muito óbvias. Mas é justamente por isso que tais questões são de importância para o fã xiita da “cena underground”, o imbecil médio das legiões de adoradores (e odiadores, na maioria do tempo).
O videoclipe da música Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms, icônico até mesmo para comentaristas de Youtube deste 2022,não ajudou a diminuir a “polêmica” em torno do trio à época, ousando usar a paleta de cores “inversa” à preconizada pelos “metaleiros extremos”. Dizem que os ouvintes mais contumazes da banda podiam morrer de overdose de vocábulos como frostbitten (quando tecidos orgânicos ficam inutilizados ou gangrenados devido ao frio intenso) ou grim (vários adjetivos em português, todos eles ominosos – eis um deles!). Ou seja: bandas com personalidade e uma estética definida, se não fosse uma estética ou outra (de uma das outras três bandas trve do movimento, todas de Oslo ou Bergen), estavam terminantemente proibidas – “FORA IMMORTAL!!!”
A despeito do exagero [não era tão preto-no-branco (pun) assim, a banda sempre dividiu opiniões, mesmo nesses setores mais subterrâneos cheios de “opiniões instintivas”, i.e. acéfalas, nunca sendo consensualmente idolatrada ou execrada, para dizer a verdade e ser mais fiel aos fatos] que eu promovi nos 2 parágrafos anteriores, ele é simétrico ao exagero caricato dos críticos linha-dura, por isso o estilo histriônico veio bem a calhar para falar da singularidade chamada Immortal dentro desta outra singularidade chamada cena black-norueguesa. Seja como for, um elemento discreto que chama muito a atenção neste clipe minimalista acima citado é Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg, o baterista mais rodado da galáxia. Aparentemente ele não quis usar corpse paint para gravar – o que significa que ele achava coisa de poser o tipo de maquiagem adotado por Abbath e Demonaz… ou que isso fazia parte de alguma piada ou sarro do trio perante o público preconceituoso, ou nenhuma dessas duas coisas… Só estou aqui especulando para alimentar mais debates xiitas, cof cof… Fato é que o baterista em questão parece um Jesus Cristo deslocado no clipe! O que deve ter aumentado a raiva de alguns não-simpatizantes é que Hellhammer é tido por muitos (pelo menos na década de 90) como o baterista de técnica mais abençoada no gênero. Impossível ter alguém mais trve no kit, em outros termos. Quem acha que o Immortal não é trve, perdeu uma grande batalha ou recaiu em contradição quando meteu o pau no clipe…
O Battles In The North vem a ser o disco do Immortal favorito de Herbaut, chefão do estúdio que o lançou: “Foi arriscado lançar essa arte branca, fomos e ainda somos muito insultados por causa disso. Mas, musicalmente falando, eu estava totalmente boquiaberto com a direção que a banda adotou, e muito confiante nos resultados!”
Blizzard Beasts (1997) é a quarta obra de estúdio. A partir do processo de elaboração de BB e da turnê subseqüente, Horgh passou a ocupar o posto de baterista, onde se sedimentaria. Porém, não é segredo de ninguém que em muitas das gravações, tanto na deste quanto na de 2 dos discos pretéritos, Abbath é que “sujou as mãos” no kit. Este álbum é bastante criticado, e autocriticado, diríamos, pois assim se expressou Abbath sobre BB (em 2007): “Tentamos tocar rápido além da conta”. Até o fã de longa data e futuro produtor Tägtgren tende a concordar. “Blizzard Beasts foi um álbum caótico. Eu não conseguia acreditar nos meus ouvidos quando pus o disco para tocar a 1ª vez. Puta merda! Que porra é essa?! Era tudo muito intenso, muita coisa rolando, e o som estava uma merda! Eu fiquei sem entender!” Adianto que discordo ao extremo: Blizzard Beasts é meu favorito do Immortal. Mas chegaremos num espaço em que eu tenha mais espaço para emitir esses juízos pessoais, se é que me entendem…
Segundo a perspectiva da própria banda e do novo encarregado dos últimos retoques de estúdio, a obra seguinte, At The Heart of Winter (1999), foi a redenção, uma gélida e polar vingança do jeito que o Immortal gosta de promover. Foi neste ínterim que a grave tendinite de Demonaz arrancou-lhe a guitarra. Abbath tocaria, portanto, os dois instrumentos de cordas em estúdio. A crítica especializada gostou da injeção criativa que esta mudança não-planejada trouxe ao som: a conceituada Terrorizer deu nota 9/10 ao trabalho. “At The Heart of Winter não deixa de ser um ponto de transição para todos nós. O Peter nos ajudou a achar o som correto para a banda.”
Antes de gravar Damned in Black no ano seguinte, Abbath passou o baixo para Stian “Iscariah” Smørholm para se concentrar na guitarra e na voz. O pessoal também não curtiu muito este álbum “preto” (na estética de capa e no título) e “death”, i.e., conceitualmente oposto ao black como a água ao óleo ou o yin ao yang. Foi o capítulo de encerramento com a produtora Osmose. Herbaut diz que isso não teve nada a ver com qualquer discórdia, já que a decisão de sair foi da própria banda. “E a verdade é que nós não tínhamos a grana que eles pediram para renovar, o que eu acredito que fossem uns 280 mil euros, se não me engano.”
Como se já não abundassem os motivos para serem repelidos por facções ortodoxas do underground, o Immortal fechou com o selo mainNuclear Blast. Sua nova “casa” seriam os estúdios e as pastagens bem verdes de Donzdorf, Alemanha. Até hoje o contrato é confidencial, então ninguém sabe o vulto da grana envolvida. No começo de 2002 saiu o primeiro filho desta parceria, Sons of Northern Darkness, título que saiu de um verso da canção Storming Through Red Clouds and Holocaustwinds (Pure Holocaust, 1993). Considerou-se um “retorno ao acme” para os artistas. Mas seria a última gravação da banda por pelo menos 7 anos e meio.
No quesito “exaltar a magnitude das paisagens naturais”, talvez o Immortal seja a legítima primeira eco-black metal band, antecedendo-se em muito à hoje popular Wolves in The Throne Room e suas tantas loas à região setentrional da Cascádia (abrangendo o ecossistema de vários estados dos EUA e do Canadá), zona de proteção ambiental que seguirá tanto melhor quanto menos for tocada pelas oleosas mãos do homem capitalista. Ao todo, o Immortal compôs cânticos ecológicos e macabros (no sentido blackmetaliano) 15 anos mais cedo; mas por alguma razão insistem em se lembrar mais dos passinhos de caranguejo do Abbath…
“Eu não me envolvo com política ou religião, e o Immortal não é um palco ideológico ou um culto – isso é para bandas punk”, esclarece Demonaz. Nisso, Wolves inThe Throne Room são realmente outros quinhentos: eles são notórios anti-trumpistas, “esquerdopatas”. Os europeus são infinitamente mais comedidos nesse tocante. “O que nos mobiliza ou concerne são o épico, o apocalíptico, o sentido sombrio das coisas, que leve uma assinatura escandinava – sempre do ponto de vista da Escandinávia. Sou indiferente à religião; não tenho o que dizer sobre pessoas que pregam ou profetizam; nem contra ou a favor, porque esses fenômenos não me tocam, eu desconheço qualquer relação com esta esfera. Claro que eu posso dizer que me associo a humores diabólicos, a uma atmosfera nebulosa e densa, coisas que existem de verdade. Posso considerar como nosso tema a escuridão de um modo geral.”
Sobre a Mãe-natureza e seu lado imprevisível e decerto retaliador, Demonaz considera que não teremos tempo para testemunhar as piores hecatombes conscientemente: “Penso que as pessoas subestimam a natureza. Acho que a maioria esmagadora não tem qualquer conexão com ela, não a freqüenta nem a busca, portanto não a sente. A natureza não julga moralmente; não teria qualquer problema ou hesitação em destruir a humanidade de uma vez; pode acontecer de repente, a qualquer dia. Eu acho que de alguma forma nossa era é a era desse final, que se aproxima. É meu sentimento profundo. Quando penso nas coisas que o homem promoveu em larga escala, creio que, se pudesse encarnar emoções humanas, ter algum propósito, a natureza gostaria de executar uma vingança sobre nós. Esse aliás é o principal mote do nosso All Shall Fall (2009).”
Oitavo full-length desta incansável horda de guerreiros monocromáticos, construído sobre um pântano de riffagens monstruosas, degelos, abominações e as promo photos intencionalmente ridículas de sempre, ASF, dentre nós há mais de uma década, ainda pela Nuclear Blast, é um daqueles retornos comemorados ou contemplados com assombro. Não é só a mãe-natureza que parece ter uma agenda maligna por meio deste disco: o trio, saído de um exílio auto-imposto, parece querer congelar e brutalizar todo o público musical a seu alcance em mais uma empreitada.
Por que a banda jogou a toalha por tanto tempo? Abbath Doom Occulta (primeira vez que cito o nome artístico completo de Olve Eikemo, que também quase nunca é conhecido pelo seu nome de batismo!), guitarra e vocais, Reidar “Horgh” Horghagen, o baterista que acaba de entrar no seu radar, e Stian “Iscariah” Smørholm (ex-baixista, que não voltou com a formação do All Shall Fall) haviam decidido fechar as portas por tempo indeterminado, embora seguissem bastante ativos musicalmente. Cada um deles se dedicou a projetos paralelos de menor ou maior porte. Iscariah se incorporou ao Dead to This World, grupo de blackthrash. Horgh pulou no barco do Grimfist, um grupo de thrashers mais puristas (além de ter participado do Virus, álbum de 2005 dos compadres do Hypocrisy), e Abbath, por fim, fundou um supergrupo chamado I, como já antecipáramos. Só tinha faltado dizer que Armagedda, o primeiro baterista do próprio Immortal, voltou a trabalhar com Abbath. Demonaz que nunca abandonou o Immortal de verdade, estando sempre nas composições e nos bastidores após a séria lesão em seus braços, também empreendeu sua jornada individual-conquanto-em-equipe, i.e., decidiu colaborar novamente com seu grande amigo Abbath, que por sinal é também seu ex-cunhado (podendo-se dizer que o filho de Abbath sempre o chamará de tio, ou seja, que os dois, além de um vínculo artístico de décadas, são praticamente parentes de sangue). As letras do material gravado pelo I, portanto, são da pena de Demonaz. O único full até hoje, Between Two Worlds (2006), é elogiadíssimo.
“A verdade é que precisávamos dar um tempo. Há muitos porquês, mas não quero entrar em detalhes sobre isso. Não éramos inimigos internamente, mas lidávamos com um nível considerável de problemas, vindos sobretudo de fora, e isso repercutia em nossa relação, evidentemente. Nós 3 sabíamos, do fundo de nossos corações, que era só um hiato, não um fim, mas também não queríamos sair e divulgar isso para a imprensa, falar em datas, deixar pessoas na expectativa. Trabalhei no I e quando me apercebi já estávamos reunidos em estúdio gravando material novo, isto é, o Immortal estava ressuscitado. Eu sempre soube que esse dia chegaria, e não tive nenhuma ânsia, para que acontecesse de forma natural.”
“É fácil cair numa armadilha deixada por uma de dezenas de companhias e grandes gravadoras, e ver vários pedaços seus sendo abocanhados por manchetes insidiosas, uma pessoa aqui, outra ali. Os interesseiros. Não quisemos que o Immortal afundasse nesse ciclo. Antes que saísse do controle, preservaríamos a instituição.”
A propósito, já que essa entrevista da qual peguei a maioria das declarações dos membros do Immortal que traduzi foi realizada em 2009, ano do penúltimo álbum do artista, e já que todo blackmetaleiro gosta duma fofoca ordinária, Abbath foi perguntado sobre seu ex-colega Varg Vikernes, solto da prisão em maio de 2009. Depois de 16 anos de reclusão pelo assassinato do guitarrista Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, queriam saber do músico se ele já havia trocado uma idéia com o antigo companheiro de banda, o que ele gostaria de dizer a respeito disso tudo, etc.: “Não tenho nada contra o Varg; ele não fez nada comigo ou contra mim. O que ele fez, o que aconteceu, foi trágico; e não gostaria de tocar nesse assunto. Ele serviu seu tempo e está livre, e desejo que tome decisões melhores no restante de sua vida.” Inteligentemente, e sem ser grosseiro, Abbath mostrou que não tem nada a ver com os ‘feitos’ do outro, e a entrevista seguiu rumos mais objetivos!
“A capa do novo álbum (All Shall Fall) retrata os portões de Blashyrkh”, elucida Demonaz. É apenas o 2º disco da banda sem uma foto do grupo, com algo simbólico no lugar dos rostos dos músicos em maquiagem pesadíssima. O formato do portão é o de um corvo bicéfalo – portanto, temos a paleta de cores mais escura dessa vez, se alguém se importar. “Não foi demorado conversar com o Abbath sobre a arte e chegar à conclusão de que era hora de deixar o público conhecer um pouco mais de Blashyrkh, ainda que apenas o umbral, a entrada. Sempre gostei do conceito por trás de Beyond The Gates do Possessed. Acho que o espírito aqui é o mesmo.”
“Para mim a era da internet é a idade das trevas. As pessoas podem ver tudo sem se conectar com mais ninguém. Acho que isso esconde uma espécie de desespero generalizado. Muitos grupos musicais estão neste mesmo desespero. Farão qualquer coisa para ser notados. Não pensam duas vezes em se inscrever para programas como o American Idol, se expor numa variedade de reality shows… O limite da vida privada que eles expõem no MySpace ou Facebook quase não existe! Tudo, absolutamente tudo hoje, é na base da autoexposição. As pessoas são inseguras, estão lá, sentadas em casa, tirando centenas de fotos delas mesmas e publicando na internet. Acho que uma quantidade relevante de pessoas sente uma crise de identidade por tocar a vida dessa maneira.”
Depois de conseguir derrubar uma série de perfis do Facebook que se faziam passar por ele, Abbath concorda com a perspectiva de Demonaz sobre a Era da Interfossa, como chamam. “Não tenho redes sociais, só uso a internet para trocar e-mails. Fiz nosso agente postar no nosso site oficial sobre impostores: qualquer um que aparecer se dizendo o Abbath, que os fãs saibam que não sou eu, não dêem ibope. Não tenho problemas com o pessoal dos memes, do humor, que tira sarro da estética do grupo e tal. Mas somando iniciativas particulares tudo isso pode virar um oceano caótico. Tudo bem parar um pouco e se divertir, mas dedicar a vida a emular um determinado outro, ou a opinar sobre o outro? Essa é sua vida? Que porra é essa que o mundo virou?”
Demonaz é ligeiramente mais conciliador que seu parceiro: tem um MySpace (lembre-se de que a entrevista é de 2009) e, claro, um endereço eletrônico de caixa postal. Mas ele diz que o negócio é “não moscar” nesses espaços. “Lido com as novas tecnologias a minha maneira. Todos se deixam afetar demais por essa coisa toda; respiram a world wide web, não podem viver sem ou fora. Olha, me sinto muito feliz de ter crescido antes de tudo isso. Meu público, meu trabalho já estavam sedimentados quando começou essa era. Bom, diria que ter um equilíbrio na vida pessoal só ficou mais difícil nesse novo milênio – eu até diria que o Blashyrkh faz parte da nossa resposta para esse dilema, a busca de um equilíbrio pessoal, de uma integridade apesar da sociedade da informação lá fora.”
Pode-se dizer que a maquiagem do Immortal é a mais característica e marcante desde o K.I.S.S. Muitas vezes a “arte facial” de Abbath é sinônima de black metal em si, goste-se ou não. “É simples e direta. No comecinho da banda, usávamos só a parte branca da maquiagem. Um dia fiquei de frente para o espelho e comecei a experimentar uns lances. Fiz isso que você está vendo aí, uma coisa meio Gene Simmons mesmo, com a maquiagem preta, e encaixei no restante da maquiagem branca que já usava. Imediatamente senti que era isso! Mostrei pro Demonaz e ele foi tão rápido quanto eu em concordar. Muita gente acha graça, acha burlesco. A gente se fode pra isso. Nós damos a última risada sempre!”
Para Abbath, a “pintura de guerra” (corpse paint pode ser chamada também de war paint no estilo) é o que facilita sua transformação de Olve Eikemo para uma besta da tormenta parecendo um urso bípede de armadura ou um emissário do deus-trovão, uma espécie de Hermes que deve comungar com as massas: “A maquiagem me torna Abbath; eu sempre sonhei com isso, desde moleque. Como Alice Cooper diz que foi o caso dele no documentário Don’t Blame Me, sou do clube dos dupla-personalidade!”
Para Demonaz o ritual não é menos importante, embora no momento desta entrevista ele não subisse mais ao palco. “Mesmo assim eu ainda me maquio, como nos velhos tempos. A última vez foi para a sessão de fotos do All Shall Fall.” Talvez de um modo ainda mais crucial, a maquiagem demarca a separação dessas entidades, Demonaz e Abbath: Com o I e sua banda particular cover de Motörhead, Abbath não usa corpse paint. Demonaz, da mesma forma, está usando o rosto limpo nas promo photos do seu próximo projeto, dessa vez individual mesmo (sem Abbath), epônimo. (O álbum, March of The Norse, é de 2011, mas como eu-lírico de quem realizou recentemente uma entrevista, ficaria meio esquisito jogar a obra para um passado remoto!¹ Por razões que ficarão evidentes ao longo desta matéria, MoTN foi o único álbum do copyright Demonaz.)“Neste caso, o cosmético representa muita coisa: sem maquiagem, sem Immortal!”, ambos são concordes.
¹ Juízo pessoal acerca da obra: muita espuma para pouca qualidade. Um disco de power metal “sujo” e lento aparentemente apreciado pela crítica; para mim, riffs sem-graça repetidos ao longo de arrastados 40min. Dispensável. Veja este parágrafo de uma resenha: “É fato que escutar um mesmo padrão simplificado de novo e de novo pode causar ou induzir um estado de transe. Simples como são, as composições geram esse efeito. Após muitas ouvidas, cheguei à conclusão de que o efeito foi pensado antes da composição, este álbum foi planejado milimetricamente. É como se cada música fosse um riff e MotN se reduzisse a uma única canção com 9 riffs.” É exatamente isso: chatice – se planejada ou não, deixo a critério do ouvinte! Para encerrar, mais um fragmento, de outra resenha, para o pessoal técnico que entende de notação musical: “Eu posso jurar que, tirando a intro acústica e o interlúdio, TODA FAIXA DO DISCO TEM O MESMO 6/8 COM GALLOPS!”
“Nunca vou esquecer uma certa noite de 1991. Eu e o Abbath estávamos remando num barco da vó dele, do lugar que a gente morava até uma ilha. Usávamos maquiagem completa e caminhamos em terra a noite toda bebendo uísque quando chegamos. Nos separamos e trilhamos por uma hora até nos reencontrarmos. Queríamos sentir a atmosfera, aquele silêncio. Havia uns turistas lá e acho que nós demos um puta susto neles. O pânico deles era ver, na calada da noite, dois elementos que eles não compreendiam, que eles não esperavam em absoluto encontrar. Lá pelas 5 ou 6 da manhã, voltando para a casa do Abbath, vimos que as ruas estavam estranhamente desertas, ninguém por perto. Um ônibus escolar estava parado na estrada de terra, o motorista sozinho. Acho que se ele pudesse esconder o veículo no mato ele o teria feito, quando nos viu. Tudo isso foi porque aqueles turistas nos viram e logo espalharam a notícia que dois malucos, selvagens talvez, demônios, estavam andando por aí. Realmente é de se pensar: o que eles achavam que nós queríamos com eles ou o que nós estávamos fazendo de verdade?” Demonaz
Essas sessões de varar a noite com corpse paint se tornariam a base para a comunidade místico-xamanística que foi criada entre Abbath e Demonaz, sempre com um terceiro membro alternativo, em meio à atmosfera enclausurada do Immortal. No ano de 2009 os dois foram em setembro para uma espécie de “acampamento” ou “jornada” por Lofoten, nas regiões setentrionais mais remotas da Noruega. Esse é o conceito de férias (e nunca diga “férias de verão” quando o assunto for Immortal!) desta dupla! “É um lugar sensacional de onde se pesca praticamente todo o bacalhau norueguês”, Abbath esclarece. “Nós vamos a essas montanhas e sempre encontramos novas inspirações boreais para novas composições!”
Já divorciado, Abbath no entanto revela que mantém uma relação muito amistosa e próxima com a ex-mulher, irmã de Demonaz, conforme já situamos. Hoje (2022) o filho desse casamento tem 27 ou 28 anos. Para eles, parentesco genealógico é um de seus vínculos secundários ou casuais, em que quase nunca meditam. “Eu e o Demonaz compartilhamos da mesma cosmovisão, ele é minha outra metade; cruzamos a mesma encruzilhada – sempre foi, sempre será. Raramente nos desentendemos.” Mais adiante vamos ver que sinuosas curvas essa relação umbilical apresentou ao longo do tempo!
“O Abbath pode me ligar no meio da madrugada e sem esperar nenhuma frase eu vou interrompê-lo para dizer: ‘Caralho, eu tava pensando nuns riffs!’… E ele: ‘Pois é, foi por isso que eu te liguei!’. Estamos em diálogo sem estar, é assim continuamente. É quase telepático.”
Como dito, Demonaz teve uma séria lesão nos braços que o impossibilitou de continuar tocando em alto nível (ainda mais riffs de metal extremo) em 1999, mas ele nunca deixou de estar em todo show, no camarim, trabalhando com a banda, estabelecendo contatos, fazendo o social e participando da parte criativa em si: “E se eu não estiver lá na hora, o Abbath não vai tocar do mesmo jeito. Temos essa conexão espiritual. Trabalhamos juntos há pelo menos 20 anos, não é como se fosse uma coisa de ontem!”
“Não seria o Immortal sem o Demonaz e suas letras, então é bom tê-lo ao lado para os shows”, Abbath endossa. “Ele está sentado ao meu lado no hotel enquanto faço a maquiagem. Temos um papo, eu ponho Motörhead nos fones – eu sempre coloco Motörhead quando estou fazendo esse ritual pré-show. Durante o show ele fica entre o cara da mesa de som e o cara das luzes e vai controlando e gerenciando tudo de um ponto de vista privilegiado: ‘Mais fumaça! mais gelo seco, porra!’.”
Para Demonaz, esse ritual tão consagrado do amigo é “parte da magia”: “Um dos melhores momentos para mim sempre vai ser essa meia hora antes de uma apresentação, antes de subir no palco, quando o Abbath está retocando o rosto e estou por perto. Sentimos evidentemente aquele frio na barriga de mostrar ao mundo e aos interessados o nosso trabalho, as nossas entranhas. Adoro essa parte: eu gosto quando antes da batalha soam as trombetas!”
Em 2007, por exemplo, a banda, quase sempre em trio sem contar o “quarto elemento” Demonaz, isto é, a dupla fixa do Immortal mais 2 músicos de estúdio e de palco, preparava-se para expandir a irmandade dando as boas vindas a O.J. “Apollyon” Moe, numa das constantes mudanças de membros seja no baixo ou na bateria, os instrumentos não-originariamente manipulados por Abbath a não ser em caso de necessidade. Apollyon é mais conhecido por seu desempenho no posto de baixista com a banda de black-thrash de Oslo Aura Noir. “Foi um convite bem direto e informal do Abbath para me juntar à banda, e meu sim foi imediato. Immortal é uma das poucas bandas que me fariam dar esse aceite instantâneo, sem reflexão. Gosto de todas as fases do Immortal. Sobretudo nos shows – o Abbath é um rei do entretenimento, e o Horgh tem uma presença de palco inigualável. E em vez de recear a responsabilidade só me veio à mente: com tudo isso, eu não posso arruinar nada, vai dar certo com certeza!”
Como Apollyon mora a 10 horas de carro da sede dos ensaios do Immortal, eles não se reuniam tanto assim nessa formação. “Não, não fazemos tanto, no quesito quantidade, mas compensamos em intensidade quando por fim nos reunimos. Antes de um show específico ou uma turnê, faço uma viagem para ficar uma semana ‘enterrado’ no estúdio e ensaiamos todo santo dia. Mas é aquela coisa: somos veteranos, não precisamos mais ensaiar tanto como antigamente, tudo que cada um de nós faz já fez muito na vida! É até perigoso ensaiar demais porque você acaba cansando do seu material, e você pode identificar um músico enjoado de suas performances assistindo-o. É fácil notar a diferença do artista estimulado para aquele que não está. Então creio que esse é o melhor arranjo de todos.”
No momento dessa entrevista que transcrevo, a banda, curiosamente, antes mesmo da turnê do All Shall Fall, vislumbrava um rápido próximo disco, já contando com 4 canções inéditas. Não sei se saberemos um dia exatamente quais eram, nesse ponto. Abbath declarou àquela época que não levariam outros 8 anos para lançar mais uma obra. Ironias da vida… Abbath atribuía à mãe-natureza, de qualquer maneira, a última palavra, misturando, mais ou menos, o destino da banda, as letras do Immortal e o papo anterior sobre Juízo Final: “A humanidade nunca mudou tanto em tão pouco tempo. Não sei se veremos o fim do mundo, mas será definitivamente o fim do que costumava ser. Prepare-se para o caos com um belo sorriso no rosto – encare a coisa sem medo. Ouça Immortal.” O carrasco ou Anjo marqueteiro? Talvez. Carismático? Com toda a certeza!
Depois de ler tantas menções a uma relação transcendental de amizade e trabalho entre Abbath e Demonaz, aspecto que eu desconhecia antes de entrar nessa “terceira ou quarta” jornada de “Immortal da manhã à noite”, me propondo a pesquisar mais sobre a banda para completar a história do EVOLUTION OF THE CULT, fiquei ainda mais pasmo com o desenrolar dos últimos acontecimentos, i.e., o que aconteceu com o Immortal de 6, 7 anos pra cá. Vamos por partes!
“Sobre o Northern, se escutá-lo bem você entenderá por que não aposentamos a banda. Tivemos complicações e desentendimentos no passado, com o Abbath, em 2003, então o melhor foi parar por um tempo. Quando aconteceu uma segunda vez (2015), para mim ficou claro que tínhamos de seguir cada qual seu caminho. E confesso que esse álbum não estava nos planos[lembra que eles já estavam com este novo álbum semi-gravado?]. Quer dizer, na verdade, sempre que eu sento para criar e compor, com quem quer que eu esteja trabalhando, sempre sento para criar o álbum definitivo do Immortal. Com cada álbum foi assim. Estamos bem sem o Abbath, podemos lidar com isso. Aconteceu, e ele está em outra e nós estamos aqui, simples assim.”
Não acho que seja simples assim!…
“Não trabalhamos conceitualmente. Fomos gravando canção por canção. Tudo foi inspiração natural. Quando se fala em tocar guitarra, todo mundo tem um estilo que se desenvolve de acordo com os anos e se torna sua assinatura, de certa forma. Em nosso inconsciente, certamente queríamos trazer à tona algo que fosse 110% Immortal. Começamos do zero em 2015 com a faixa de abertura do novo álbum. Queríamos algo bem veloz. Daí nós seguimos o flow, criando o álbum composição por composição. Não havia planos prévios de forjar o material numa unidade de estilo assim ou assado, e acho que nunca estivemos tão focados no songwriting (na composição) como agora. Quando você faz parte duma banda, seu maior desejo é fazer uma gravação melhor ainda que a última em que trabalhou. Com este, não acho que deixamos o último (agora penúltimo) do Immortal para trás, acho que simplesmente nos deslocamos da estética de muitos deles. (Risos)¹ Tem muito de um feeling old school neste disco. Claro que, ao meu ver, este feeling brilha junto com nossas influências thrash de sempre.”²
¹ O que queria dizer Demonaz? Que ele não gostava das opções criativas de Abbath? Não ouvi essa entrevista, mas pelo texto sinto uma espécie de sarcasmo amargurado!
² Notou o paradoxo?! O Immortal já foi uma unidade, uma dualidade ou trindade, metamorfoseando-se muito no passado. (Abbath+Demonaz+alguém nos atribulados 1990, ou ainda Abbath+Horgh+Iscariah de 1999 a 2002 ou Abbath+Horgh+Apollyon de 2006 a 2015, a formação mais estável até hoje – Demonaz, desde 1997, por sinal, era apenas o “quarto elemento” nessa conjugação trinitária, atuando nos bastidores ou “das sombras”, com o beneplácito de Abbath, é claro; não uso “das sombras” aqui em qualquer sentido pejorativo, mas o fato é que devido a sua lesão ele não era membro oficial – ou pelo menos instrumentista – da banda, ele não subia aos palcos, exercia relativamente pouca influência e controle artisticamente falando; podemos dizer que um engenheiro de som possuía o mesmo peso que ele na banda, descontando as contribuições de lyrics, que, aí sim, são algo mais mensurável em termos de criação compositiva – parece-me que ele não criou hora alguma riffs ou solos de guitarra, p.ex.! A formação atual é tão descaracterizada que o Immortal, que quase sempre foi um trio – configuração já considerada exceção em bandas com guitarra e baixo –, atualmente – ou oficialmente até 2020, já que por ora o nome encontra-se impugnado, e não temos acesso a muito mais informação que isso – é constituído somente de Horgh e Demonaz, e Apollyon, o baixista das gravações de Northern Chaos Gods, saiu da banda antes do lançamento do álbum, ainda em 2017…) Agora que o matrimônio se esgotara, Demonaz tenta abstrair todo o passado, e, sobre aquela coisa de irmãos criativos, que trabalhavam por telepatia, nada mais resta – mas não engana ninguém, sabemos que ele compartilha muito do estilo estético do próprio Abbath. Criticá-lo seria fazer uma autocrítica. Elogiar o novo som da banda é a mesma coisa que elogiar as origens e os trabalhos com o Abbath – que sinuca de bico, hein, meu velho?! Para músicos que já passaram dos 50, é praticamente impossível, ainda mais mantendo-se no subgênero, reinventar-se, a essa altura do campeonato. Ele mesmo o sabe, pelo que declarou sobre como um guitarrista compõe e toca, mas não o admite abertamente – o marketing sempre fez e sempre fará parte do black metal, por mais autêntico que ele seja face a outros estilos “modinha”. Nós, a crítica, só estamos aqui para apontar essa contradição, que os fanáticos do gênero querem chutar para debaixo do tapete, mal disfarçando o volume de poeira! É claro que quando um décimo segundo jogador de um time entra em campo, ele vai ser vaiado ou aplaudido de acordo com o desempenho de toda a equipe, e o mérito ou a culpa nunca é todo(a) dele – é essa analogia que eu faço aqui.
“A banda aluga um espaço para ensaios, e os custos vinham sendo divididos entre os últimos três membros da banda, Abbath, Demonaz (Harald Naevdal) e Horgh (Horghagen Reidar). Harald e Reidar não queriam mais pagar sua parte do aluguel, já que a banda, na opinião deles, estava inativa. Olve (Abbath), como songwriter hegemônico da banda, dependia pessoalmente desse espaço, e manifestou interesse em continuar arcando com o aluguel sozinho. Os outros dois simplesmente abandonaram o arranjo e deixaram por isso. Olve entendeu esse gesto como uma dissolução da banda.”
Advogado de Abbath, via comunicado à imprensa.
Esta carta divulgada à imprensa ainda argumenta que Nævdal (Demonaz), por ter estado 18 anos sem tocar guitarra, e Horgh(agen), por ter-se limitado a tocar a bateria, não sendo compositor majoritário de canções, não poderiam responder em nome do Immortal. Além do mais, Abbath alega, e de forma muito convincente, aliás, que ele e seu pseudônimo se tornaram praticamente sinônimos da marca IMMORTAL™, sendo compositor principal e frontman, i.e., aquele que fala – além de cantar – pela banda – todos sabem que o vocalista é o mais filmado e visualizado, aquele que sai centralizado nas fotos de divulgação, etc., etc.! Co-fundou a banda e nunca esteve de fora de nenhum trabalho da mesma. Como musicista profissional, desta forma, Abbath, diz, não poderia viver, ou seria injusto e complicado viver, sem os dividendos resultantes do vínculo empregatício com o Immortal. Ou seja, para Abbath, quando os dois colegas saíram da jogada, a banda se dissolvera, mas ele ainda era a banda, e para ele estava fora de cogitação enterrá-la definitivamente.
A mesma carta, em outro trecho não-transcrito, ainda revelou que o Immortal estava obrigado por força de contrato a lançar mais um disco, mesmo após o lançamento de Northern Chaos Gods, pelo selo Nuclear Blast. Não só isso, mas que Abbath já teria quase completado um CD de canções inéditas, em parceria com outros músicos.
Mais um trecho:
“[A objeção de Nævdal e de Horghagen ao pleito de Eikemo de usar o nome da banda] soa como uma tentativa de vedar a prática da própria profissão a Olve Eikemo. Ele passou 25 anos incorporando o personagem Abbath e atrelando sua imagem e sua música à marca IMMORTAL. Não me parece razoável que ex-membros de uma banda possam prevenir Eikemo de registrar a marca IMMORTAL para si, especialmente uma vez que ele atende mais pré-requisitos para esta operação do que eles próprios, que presumivelmente, após o lançamento clandestino de um novo álbum, não têm planos para o futuro do nome da banda.”
Nævdal teria respondido o seguinte à divulgação da carta: “Eu li, e nosso advogado leu. Viremos com uma resposta. A carta [deles] contém informações equivocadas.”
Em 2008, em entrevista à revista Guitar World, Abbath comentou sobre a (primeira) ruptura da banda, a de 2003: “Claro que foi por razões pessoais. A banda é pessoal. Somos família. Somos irmãos. É como um casamento. Quando você se casa com alguém, você acredita no casamento. E quer continuar, mas às vezes precisa de um tempo. Muitas bandas só mamam os úberes (fazem dinheiro fácil). Podíamos ter continuado e feito muita grana. Mas nunca o fizemos. Foda-se o $$ e a fama. Nada disso significa alguma coisa se você não tem alma. E estávamos começando a perder aquela chama interior. Não somos estúpidos. Somos muito inteligentes quando se trata do nosso negócio, do que sabemos fazer melhor. Pensamos a longo prazo. Para citar Paul Stanley: ‘O K.I.S.S. não é a última moda, é um estilo de vida.’ O mesmo vale para o IMMORTAL. É da nossa vida que se trata.”
Aguardando ansiosamente pelas cenas dos próximos capítulos de “Immortal Inc. – o processo judicial”…
5. UM GOSTINHO DE CADA DISCO: PRÓS E CONTRAS, OU SÓ PRÓS E SÓ CONTRAS DE CADA ÁLBUM DOS IMORTAIS.
Primeiro, um reiteramento do que meio-mundo já sabe: comunidades, ainda mais no metal, para mim sempre tem um sentido pejorativo. Principalmente do lado crítico: tudo aquilo de que eles reclamam só tem interesse histórico para mim; normalmente ignoro ou sou veementemente contrário ao ponto de vista da dita “maioria”, ou de vozes barulhentas embora isoladas que acabo lendo ou escutando por aí. Quanto aos prós, podemos dar um desconto, e amiúde nos identificamos com as virtudes que os próprios xiitas apontam na banda, então serve como um bom norte, bússola ou termômetro (para ficarmos nas metáforas de temperatura, tão pertinentes à banda). Então como o tal do underground listener aprecia cada álbum da banda, cabendo uma pincelada minha no processo? É ao que se dedicam os próximos parágrafos. Como já falamos mais dos três primeiros álbuns na seção anterior, as informações novas mesmo surgirão a partir do 4º grupo de resenhas.
DIABOLICAL FULLMOON MYSTICISM
Em várias dimensões, escolhas estilísticas deste álbum foram usadas por outras bandas da cena (mais notadamente o Satyricon, cujo debute é bem similar – e não podemos negar a semelhança da técnica vocal entre Abbath e Satyr): as ternas e atmosféricas passagens acústicas, que não são longas, mas deixam sua marca nos exíguos ~35min desta obra-prima; a estética fantástica e ‘amadeirada’ (não, isso não é uma resenha de enólogo – em vez de sentir, como nos outros álbuns do Immortal, um frio congelante e a aspereza de uma localidade nefasta e remota, sente-se a estada num bosque ou em grutas mais cálidos, jamais pisados pelo homem), os teclados ‘barrocos’, pelo menos no sentido de evocar catedrais góticas. Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism nem parece um primeiro álbum de banda (finjamos por um momento que o Immortal não nasceu das cinzas de outras bandas do espectro extremo), possuindo certa maturidade composicional. As músicas fluem como se fossem suites de uma mesma canção, sem conotação alguma com a “monotonia dinâmica” do gênero progressivo, onde o termo suíte é muito usado. Diria que os próximos discos são mais focados na pureza do conceito e da expressão, enquanto esta é uma obra mais total, se é que me faço entender. Um belo cartão de apresentação.
Voltando ao tema das guitarras acústicas, me parece que o Ulver leva excessivo crédito pela sua implementação, quando cronológica e até qualitativamente vemos o Immortal antecedê-los e superá-los palpavelmente. O melhor é o contraste dessas passagens escolhidas a dedo com o tom mais “crunchy” (não gosto da tradução ao português “crocante”, que faz parecer que estamos analisando um cardápio de sorveteria e descrevendo pistaches) e sujo, confuso, embaralhado… A melodia acústica, portanto, torna-se o complemento perfeito, porque estranho, a cereja sobre as bolas deste sorvete artesanal. Além disso, esse tom mais “intimista” também contrasta com os secos blast beats da bateria, intensificando a sensação de prazer doloroso constante nos clássicos do BM. Os “whoa!” de Abbath também são uma peculiaridade que favorece a obra – a intervenção vocálica como puro instrumento, quando não comunica uma mensagem verbal, mas apenas um som esquisito e, por que não?, sinistro. Não é uma sessão de música comum, senão que ao mesmo tempo se configura como um ritual.
Armagedda, aliás, não é um baterista excepcional e brilhante; não que Abbath, o baterista improvisado das próximas gravações, tenha talento nesta posição, ou uma técnica comparável a um baterista nato, mas justamente pelo amadorismo de Abbath é que a bateria dos próximos discos é algo único e inimitável, superior às batidas de Fullmoon, um pouco presas e acanhadas, com medo de fazer mais que o básico. Terá sido apenas coincidência a saída precoce de Armagedda da banda? Obviamente temos que dar um desconto, pois a qualidade da gravação e mixagem é a mais pobre de toda a discografia do Immortal, tornando a comparação algo injusta. O reverb pode beneficiar a guitarra, o baixo, o eventual teclado e os vocais, mas tem um efeito deletério para a bateria, que parece obstruída por um tapume em relação aos outros músicos. É quase possível ter uma idéia geográfica dos artistas num estúdio bastante amplo e visualizar suas posições – embora tudo possa ser falso, e ao fim e ao cabo o estúdio pudesse se resumir a uma saleta com os três músicos bastante espremidos (vale lembrar que Abbath também gravou o baixo).
A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland, o ambicioso outro de 9min, talvez seja o destaque maior. Reminiscente dos experimentos minimalistas e envolventes de Quorthon no Bathory, é aqui que a brutalidade e o trecho acústico ao final, sem que se contradigam, mais brilham. Os riffs desta canção apresentam um caráter hipnótico (mais do que nas 5 canções anteriores, já hipnóticas em si), e há um solo de guitarra dos melhores da carreira de Demonaz. Em 1992 não era comum o uso de solos melódicos no BM, e esta pode ser considerada outra nuance em que o Immortal foi pioneiro.
Por fim, mesmo que soe repetitivo, tenho de exaltar aquele que rouba as atenções no disco: Abbath. Muito criticado pelo metaleiro médio por seus frog croacking vocals, vemos pela primeira vez (já que ele mudou seu estilo em relação ao grave do Amputation) como o estilo gutural seco pode se juntar aos instrumentos em vez de se chocar com eles, e pode retratar complexas emoções com a ajuda das letras, ao passo que outras bandas tentam copiar o estilo mas falham na parte da expressão de emoções via vocais. Abbath pode ter um alcance limitado em termos de freqüências ou notas, mas sem dúvida é convincente como ator. Não digo de forma pejorativa: o BM é o estilo de metal mais calcado na performance de palco, na incorporação de outras personas em suas apresentações, como no palco do teatro. Não só no gestual, mas nas cordas vocais, Abbath cumpre o requisito do “showman das trevas”. Tem alma, enquanto muitos outros vocalistas do gênero parecem zumbis desencarnados e unidimensionais.
Quase todas as capas do Immortal têm os rostos dos músicos estampados, mas Pure Holocaust se sobressai a todos no quesito “carisma”. É uma capa instantaneamente icônica. O mais irônico é que, apesar do amor da banda pelas paisagens nevoentas, justo nesta foto não há nada que evoque neve, e os fundamentalistas sem dúvida apreciam o fato de a cor predominante ser o preto.
Para compreender a proposta do novo álbum e o amadurecimento natural da banda é preciso voltar ao epílogo do primogênito, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, no formato da já enaltecida faixa A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland, cujo título inclusive trai todo o simbolismo que carrega como “portal” ou “marco” para a banda – uma passagem para algo muito mais insólito, que o grupo denominou Blashyrkh. A letra termina com a descrição do firmamento se abrindo para engolir o eu-lírico, transportando-o a outra dimensão, uma espécie de cemitério de almas não-euclidiano de gelo eterno.
Pure Holocaust é já esta dimensão não-euclidiana, espécie de alternativa igualmente assombrosa e carregada de inversões estéticas aos contos de terror de Lovecraft e a mitologia Cthullhu, com um matiz norueguês que lhe é todo original em relação ao escritor estadunidense. Temos a primeira versão do Immortal que se consagraria: o de um caos controlado em estúdio, diferente do approach atmosférico do primeiro álbum. Não que PH não seja atmosférico, em absoluto. Mas seria estereotipá-lo dizer que só se trata disso, uma vez que a violência musical cai como uma bigorna na cabeça dos ouvintes. Onde Fullmoon era uma meditação quase estóica e indiferente sobre a lúgubre condição humana, PH mais parece uma luta de machados em punho contra a única coisa que não se pode vencer: a própria natureza.
O tremolo das guitarras é quase incessante. A bateria é uma descarga de blast beats, com o jeito sui generis de um estranho à função de tocar o instrumento. É uma nevasca na tundra em formato sonoro. Talvez a única reminiscência dos experimentos semi-acústicos do primeiro álbum esteja na breve utilização de sintetizadores em As The Eternity Opens, sétima e penúltima faixa deste assalto de quase 34min.
Se DFM ajudou a moldar o gênero BM, PH é já uma exploração de seus limites possíveis, tão cedo quanto o ano de 1993 permitia. Simplificação é força e definição, neste caso: velocidade, aspereza vocal crescente, esta aura de “incômodo” voluntário ao ouvinte que tenta não lhe deixar qualquer zona de respiro. Até por isso é muito importante que este álbum não tenha excedido a quantia dos 40 minutos, ou seria declarado explicitamente como tortura pelos tribunais noruegueses!
Não tem-se muito o que falar de PH, na verdade: a fórmula foi repetida com cada vez mais intensidade nos dois próximos álbuns, por isso todo o template foi lançado aqui, e o que se disser sobre os 2 próximos trabalhos do Immortal no fundo também se aplica ao sophomore release.
BATTLES IN THE NORTH
“Não escute Batalhas no Norte casualmente: não vai descer bem. Sente-se à noitinha num canto frio da sua sala em plena estação invernal – ou, ok, se for atrapalhar demais e produzir sensações desagradáveis em seu corpo, sente-se numa poltrona perto da lareira, desde que num dia realmente gelado – e deixe que essa música mágica chegue até você.”
gradymayhem, Metallum Encyclopaedia
Muitos vêem essa obra como um passo atrás depois do elogiado porém pouco melódico e marcante, talvez homogêneo demais, Pure Holocaust, na minha opinião pessoal o pior (menos melhor!) da banda. Aqui temos 33 minutos em 10 canções que reviram os conceitos dos dois primeiros discos do avesso, muito embora hoje todas as características de BiTN sejam consideradas canônicas do black metal. Ou seja, quer dizer que o grupo evoluiu girando 180 graus, e todavia permaneceu nos moldes do subgênero de origem norueguesa. O tempo das músicas é extremamente acelerado e, se havia alguma referência ou alusão ocultista a Satanás e Belzebu antes, ela foi completamente abolida das letras deste álbum branco, cujo tema obsessivo é só e tão-só a neve, as tempestades e nevascas e a desolação abaixo de zero!
Uma solidez branca, sempiterna e polar, sem começo nem fim. Apenas um eterno estado de auto-realização no campo de batalha mais inóspito. Assim eu descreveria o sugestivo Batalhas no Norte. Propositalmente as músicas foram editadas para não terem “começo” ou “fim” lógicos. O ouvinte já está imerso no pântano absoluto de agressividade musical desde o primeiro segundo e não é possível prever quando será feito o arbitrário corte na composição, dando uma sensação de boxeador caluniado pelo árbitro: ele queria descansar entre 2 rounds, mas sem sequer ouvir o gongo descobriu que já tinha voltado a apanhar do adversário e ser empurrado às cordas, sem a menor transição. Uma bela duma ousadia aniquiladora de cânones da música!
Eu também achava este álbum quase impenetrável, de começo. Hoje suas melodias cravam fundo, vejo-o como “mais comercial” (se é possível dizer isso no BM ortodoxo ou que ainda estava sendo definido em sua ortodoxia!) que as empreitadas anteriores: as canções são instantaneamente memoráveis, pelo menos comparadas ao Pure Holocaust. O som é seco, muito seco. Parece com calotas polares que jamais derreterão. Sem dúvida uma das marcas registradas dos trabalhos do engenheiro de som e produtor Eirik Hundvin, mais conhecido apenas como Pytten. Abbath parece mais impessoal e inumano. Ao contrário do que muitos pensam, isso nada tem a ver com uma suposta deterioração vocal, muito menos com uma péssima escolha estilística (pelo menos na minha opinião) ou, o que é pior, e muitos alardeiam no BM, incompetência técnica. Este é o único tipo de vocal que parece poder habitar no Blashyrkh criado pela banda. Qualquer outro tipo de rendição de voz “humana” teria de ser criticada. Abbath, o abbathismo (seus croaking vocals únicos) e o Immortal “clássico” (diria que deste, o 3º, até o 6º disco, de onde tiro o quinto, não obstante – embora muitos creiam que o 5º é que é justamente a magnum opus da banda, juízo do qual sou obrigado a diferir) são uma Trindade indissociável. Um álbum sem Abbath (como o último da banda no momento em que escrevo) deveria ser crime…
Onde PH, numa espécie de transição, ainda usava algum reverb atmosférico, BiTN elimina qualquer indício de “atmosfera artificial” e aposta tudo no timbre espaçoso e hiper-crocante de guitarra-baixo para engolfar de vez o ouvinte. O que 2 anos não fazem na indústria musical – em 1993, Pure Holocaust parecia já ter chegado ao limite do estilo! Não seria crível que a banda optasse por um estilo ainda mais brutal que aquele – e dessa vez é mais pegajoso e marcante, quase um milagre… Coisas que devem acontecer em temperaturas extremas e negativas, tipo de “mágica” cujos bastidores o brasileiro se resigna a admirar, desconhecendo seus fundamentos.
Em contraste com as novas obras, portanto, é que finalmente DFM parece até caloroso e muito disciplinado – mas a percepção de quem ouvia a banda estreando, em 92, deve ter sido bem diferente. Só posso cogitar sobre isso, já que do prisma do século XXI é impossível ir além em especulações sócio-históricas deste tipo. Já conheci o Immortal completamente ultimado dos discos posteriores e incorporei esse som mais cedo do que o ritualístico Fullmoon em minhas funções cognitivas… Você que ouviu a discografia do Immortal na ordem linear e não tinha muito contato com o estilo –– quais são as suas próprias impressões a respeito da evolução da banda?
Respeitando as aspas que abrem a “resenha” deste disco, a primeira coisa a praticar antes de mergulhar em Battles in The North é: assista ao clipe de Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms, linkado mais acima! Um dos audiovisuais mais originais já produzidos… Curiosamente, a bateria que se escuta não é tocada pelo convidado do clipe. O notável Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg faz apenas uma representação cenográfica (e que representação, sem pedais, em meio a uma montanha desolada, vestindo roupas inapropriadas para o frio!). O áudio foi tirado dos esforços de Abbath na batera, e assim temos o segundo e último CD em que o cara acumula nada menos do que três funções: vocais – é claro! –, percussão e também o baixo.
É simbólico que o outro (décima canção – cada álbum vai se apresentando, na história inicial do Immortal, com cada vez mais faixas ou composições individualizadas, movimento que parece inteiramente orgânico e lógico)seja batizado Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark) (pronuncia-se BLAQUÍRK, aliás). É como se a banda finalmente dissesse: É, chegou a hora de intitular uma música com o nome de nosso recanto extra-dimensional; finalmente chegamos ao som que queríamos desde o início; os dois primeiros álbuns ainda não mereciam que este título figurasse diretamente no caput de nenhuma música, só na letra, discretamente… O tempo da música é o mais lento de todo o BiTN e a atmosfera torna-se mais épica do que nunca, a ponto de até os detratores do 3º disco, todos que conheço, confessarem: Blashyrkh (…) é uma das melhores canções da banda!
É muito comum para quem ainda está conhecendo o catálogo do Immortal pensar que acabou de pôr as mãos numa demo dos caras, tamanho é o caos deste trabalho. A wall of sound só vai ceder com o auxílio da disposição e interesse do ouvinte, e algumas necessárias repetições do bolachudo na vitrola. Ao contrário das primeiras impressões de inacessibilidade e desorganização, para gente como eu logo BiTN passará a ser considerado frio (no pun intended) e calculado em cada passo, criação de artistas entrando em seu apogeu e maturidade.
Embora as guitarras não sejam tão cheias quanto em PH, sem usar tantas tracks na gravação nem padrões intrincados no mesmo nível, Demonaz sabe para onde ruma com um verniz mais thrash infundido no black metal ortodoxo do Immortal (E por que thrash e não death? Porque a produção é menos pesada que no metal sueco old school e o jeito de tocar é um pouco mais dinâmico e solto que no 2º estilo). Power chords são a exceção, havendo tempestades de tremolo nos riffs, em perfeito contraste com a agressividade aparentemente irrefletida e incontível da batera semi-amadora sem constrangimento de meter blast beat atrás de blast beat (ideal para o contexto!) e a rispidez vocálica do mesmo homem (já o baixo, o terceiro instrumento de Abbath, é confessá-lo-ei, é humanamente inaudível!… claro, entretanto, que faz diferença como ‘eco’ da guitarra do parceiro Demonaz). Abbath, na realidade, parece gravar tão perto do microfone que o segredo de seu chiado raspado característico é praticamente revelado: um bom técnico vocal poderia dizer quais os movimentos que sua glote está fazendo, como ele está puxando o ar e quanto ele usa o nariz em cada estrofe, imagino, sem ter de recorrer a imagens! Porém, nem todos nós somos técnicos vocais: lembram que eu pedi para verem o clipe Grim and Frostbitten (…) antes? É muito importante para “pegar” o espírito dos vocais, já que no próprio clipe Abbath é mostrado em zoom facial, com seus dentes brancos, e mostraria as próprias cordas vocais se a pele do pescoço fosse transparente – a lente da câmera está no olho do furacão, salpicada de pingos de chuva, enquanto o rosto do frontman (nada menos que o rosto da entidade Immortal) é o foco indelével desta miniprodução.
Eu amo o fato de que nenhuma faixa se estenda por muito mais que 4 minutos. Também era essencial, como nos lançamentos anteriores, que essa “barragem” não chegasse a durar 40 minutos, ou o valor do álbum certamente diminuiria alguns pontos, pois nosso nível de concentração começaria a baixar. Um belo contraponto aos lançamentos de digipack com conteúdos bônus de hoje – BiTN envelheceu excepcionalmente bem para quem odeia as convenções da indústria fonográfica, i.e., qualquer black metaller sério!
Com a chegada de Dimmu Borgir e Cradle of Filth ao grande público em 1995, o vagão do black metal inteiro se aproximava perigosamente de um território kitsch e extravagante. Eu pessoalmente adoro Cradle of Filth. E o Immortal é considerado como visualmente ridículo por muitos fundamentalistas, então tem esse ponto em comum com is ingleses… Mas essa característica não deixa de merecer menção: Dimmu Borgir, preenchendo suas composições com teclados (ou, diria, afogando-as em teclados!), e Cradle of Filth, na Ilha da Rainha, alcançando imensa popularidade ao fundir elementos primitivos do BM ao gothic, ameaçavam, mesmo que involuntariamente, o futuro do BM sem polidez e destinado ao consumo underground, esse de que falamos aqui.
BiTN adquire ainda mais importância histórica tendo aparecido nesse estranho umbral que marca a metade dos anos 90… Diria que para o período foi o cume do cume do death black metal (standards de brutalidade auditiva aparentemente ainda não-superados), já que o pouco de thrash destilado na obra é tão furioso que acaba resvalando para o gênero extremo primo ou irmão mais velho do BM, ironicamente o território em que o Immortal começara sua carreira. Hoje, obviamente, temos marcos muito mais extremos desse mesmo deathened black metal, como Panzer Division Marduk do Marduk. Só que álbuns desse patamar só foram possíveis graças a Battles in The North, que ensinou-lhes o caminho. Por outro lado, a extensão atmosférica dessa exaltação da natureza (ainda que em seu pior, i.e., algo que oprime qualquer ser humano!) faz deste álbum uma perfeita contraparte para qualquer trabalho do Nargaroth, os reis da “ambiência” (rios correndo calmos, pássaros gorjeando). Obs: não escute faixas desse disco avulsas em “playlists” por aí – ouça-o inteiro e organicamente, como produto da natureza que é!
Esse petardo de 1997 vem a ser, no frigir dos ovos, ou no congelamento perpétuo das montanhas, como seria mais adequado em se falando de Immortal, meu favorito da banda. É o Immortal em seu auge criativo e igualmente na apoteose de sua fúria instrumental. Oito músicas precedidas por uma instrumental aclimatadora (intro) em escassos 29 minutos, o que significa que aqui as notas se conjugam de forma densa, cada segundo trazendo muita arte nas “costas”. Maioria das canções vai de 2 a 3 minutos e meio.
Horgh é o novo baterista, posição que ocupa até hoje. Demonaz começou a desenvolver sua tendinite mais ou menos nessa época, supomos que devido à incrível ferocidade dos riffs deste trabalho de estúdio. Segundo consta, para finalizarem o álbum, o Abbath já teria suprido algumas das partes de guitarra, com Demonaz levando como podia e, num ponto crítico, se aposentando da função após reiteradas consultas médicas, e após averiguar a gravidade de suas lesões, intratáveis para os recursos da época (embora já tenhamos visto que nada é tão irreversível assim quando se trata de lesões esportivas ou de artistas cuja performance tende a se nivelar com a dos melhores atletas de alta performance!).
Fato é que as guitarras do Immortal nunca foram tão técnicas e velozes como em BB. As influências de death metal começam a se fazer sentir, embora fossem totalmente relegadas para o próximo trabalho, voltando só no Damned in Black. As mais insanas e complexas melodias de Battles in The North são levadas ao extremo. A bateria está ainda mais alta na produção, embora comprimida em qualidade, o que acho que foi intencional. Novamente, para não fugir à regra, os vocais foram bem-masterizados na produção final.
Embora eu possa entender por que as pessoas costumam preferir álbuns mais tardios, com Abbath 100% cuidando das guitarras (e, nessa toada, possa até ver como conseqüência lógica por que At The Heart of Winter, o sucessor imediato, e Sons of Northern Darkness, tendem a ser tão populares na fan base), quando a banda se dirigiu a proporções mais épicas, dignas de tocar em festivais como o Wacken Open Air e atrair multidões de fora do movimento BM, se não existisse essa tetralogia de álbuns da era Demonaz como executor (e não só compositor e letrista) estou certo de que nada do futuro seria possível ou atingiria um tão alto nível, visto que constituem a base de todas as evoluções subseqüentes, e acho que nem pessoas como Peter Tägtgren entendem a dimensão dessa minha afirmação, pois denigrem o BB o quanto podem, como nas entrevistas acima.
Blizzard Beasts traz, embora com alguma maquiagem, influências dos riffs de Morbid Angel à tona. Trey Azagthot, em decorrência, deve ser visto como um dos maiores influenciadores deste trabalho magnânimo da banda. Só ouvindo após algumas vezes é que o verdadeiro apreciador poderá demarcar esses elementos death metal, que estão normalmente escondidos debaixo das camadas permanentes de neve das letras e dos furiosos ataques instrumentais! É realmente algo bem sutil, ou eu estou completamente equivocado e imaginando coisas…
A atmosfera congelada sempre foi um must para o Immortal, e desde o despontar dos 90 cada novo trabalho sempre conseguiu ser mais do que a soma de cada parte. Embora o debute, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, comparativamente falando, seja hoje sentido como um álbum mais ‘quente’, digamos que nada nele é verão: no máximo, é a transição outonal em que a secura do frio e o desaparecimento progressivo do sol ao longo dos dias da estação vai tomando perceptivelmente o lugar da umidade abafada e mormacenta mais ligada ao outono, i.e., não estamos, nem ali, subjetiva e cronologicamente distantes do inverno arquetípico.
Se o desenvolvimento da banda continuar sendo comparado ao ir e vir cíclico das estações, podemos dizer que Blizzard Beasts é o momento culminante e mais característico do inverno total. Não coincidentemente, depois dessa blitzkrieg na neve que não dava espaço para muitos outros matizes e emoções, a banda mudou para um conjunto mais focado no bom acabamento de composições individuais, começando a abandonar aos poucos a atmosfera opressiva e abraçar tecnicismos. Não significa mudar do vinho para a água ou entrar em decadência, apenas uma mudança de foco em que troca-se a percepção imersiva do disco como um todo por outras maravilhas com mais personalidade e impacto individual. São duas formas de uma banda extrema cativar seus consumidores. Muitas bandas nascem e morrem em um desses departamentos, sem saber desempenhar essa “transição outonal” que, em verdade, é um revigoramento, afinal as estações nunca cessam de passar e nenhum declínio deve ser entendido como outra coisa senão uma metáfora.
As faixas de BB consistem em uma série de barragens sonoras que acertam rapidamente no rosto, e comparando-se uma com a outra não se vêem muitas fissuras no gelo: tudo é muito consistente, internamente. Com um tempo de menos de meia hora para tudo se desenrolar isso se torna mais exeqüível. Mas quem disser que falta qualquer momento memorável que impregna na cabeça está se esquecendo de Mountains of Might, o grande hit de BB. Suas proporções épicas, prefigurando At The Heart (…), aliadas a um refrão monolítico, insistente e pegajoso, contrastam levemente com as demais faixas.
Ao passo que as canções são centradas em riffs de frente crocantes, o Immortal integra como ninguém as diversas instâncias que fazem uma composição, isto é, tornam o todo exuberante e melhor que as partes (ou movimentos ou ainda temas, se falássemos de música clássica – e cá entre nós, não é este o Immortal clássico no palco-estúdio?). Tremolos gelados representam algumas dessas ligações, afora solos épicos que só esta banda sabe fazer no BM inteiro, sem com isso escapolir do próprio gênero BM (não é uma banda híbrida com outros estilos, i.e., apesar de mesclar muito death e thrash, ninguém se refere ao Immortal como uma banda de death/black metal, porque todas as influências “estranhas” servem a um propósito uno: a grandiosidade e singularidade de seu black metal), e tudo isso em composições compactas, sem a duração esperada de behemoths do metal progressivo! Afinal, o ritmo da bateria e dos instrumentos de corda é lancinante demais para imaginarmos uma música de 12 minutos. Longas composições até existem na discogradia do Immortal, mas sempre que isso acontecem eles alternam a velocidade, chegando às fronteiras do doom – enquanto que em BB composições “golias” não têm vez.
As mais longas do CD, que não são longas, mas apenas relativamente maiores, cotejadas com suas irmãs efêmeras do disco, dão uma pista do que viria na seqüência. Falo de Nebular Ravens Winter (aperfeiçoada em 2016) e Battlefields, ainda mais coesas que a média do álbum, com nuances de um epic thrash a ser desenvolvido propriamente apenas na era …Winter, cuja descrição ocorre poucas linhas abaixo. Para dar uma imagem do que se pode estar ouvindo sem ter um conhecimento profundo de muitas bandas do estilo metal (extremo ou não) ou sem ter chegado a ouvir Blizzard Beasts antes de ler a resenha, o leitor e futuro ouvinte deverá primeiro ouvir Pleasure to Kill do Kreator e pensar como esta música ficaria se transportada para a cena norueguesa 10 anos depois. Mas ainda tem um toque mainstream, uma certa reminiscência do tom cheio, abrasivo, melodioso mas linearmente bronco, i.e., uma sensação de resistência do mesmo som apesar da necessidade da dinâmica interna, o que o Metallica realizou bastante bem em …And Justice for All (que tem 10 minutos de duração e, assim como a faixa do Kreator, batiza o próprio álbum em que apareceu). Alemanha mais Califórnia desemboca na Noruega. Tudo isso, claro, apenas subliminarmente, mais obscuro e glacial quando assimilado pelos músicos aqui em questão. Nos vocais, Abbath está mais para o Bathory mais precoce.
Simplesmente incompreensível o discurso hegemônico de que Blizzard Beasts é o patinho feio (corvo lindo e branco?) da discografia do grupo. Finalmente estabilizados na formação há algum tempo (o que, desafortunadamente não duraria demasiado), esta magnum opus é o resultado de dedicação, inspiração e um ataque frontal sem tergiversações, utilizando tudo que de mais demente e demolidor já tinha sido manifestado por bandas vinculadas de perto ou de longe ao movimento do metal negro.
AT THE HEART OF WINTER
Muitos consideram este trabalho o casamento (não o primeiro, mas um arquetípico) entre o (progressive) thrash e o black metal. Porém, onde muitos vêem o epítome da criatividade da banda e o capítulo mais proeminente dessa fusão, eu vejo sinais de estafa, como se sair do subgênero fosse a única maneira de gravar um álbum de inéditas àquela altura, ou como se, para não criar clones de trabalhos passados, mesclar um “thrash melancólico” à fórmula tivesse sido a única maneira encontrada de prestar dinamismo ao material. Explicando como posso, embora o thrash não seja um elemento estranho para o Immortal nem mesmo a essa altura, é sim a primeira vez que a metade thrash parece obliterar por completo a atmosfera ominosa do black metal norueguês – isso tem uma nomenclatura mais fácil do que a explicação, sem ouvir o disco: trata-se de thrash metal melódico, e não sua vertente mais negra, viril, de first wave BM e com aquela sujidade digna de um Bathory. Tem lá seus momentos. Confesso que devo ter tendências metafísicas a torcer o nariz para obras relativamente unânimes, ou de clamor exacerbado e imerecido.
Também não gosto tanto da divisão das músicas: apenas 6, com tempos que variam de 6:03 a 8:56, ou seja, uma ruptura completa com o que se via até BB. O tom da guitarra parece sempre o mesmo, uma espécie de cripto-acústico, evidentemente com a propriedade estética de nos transmitir uma sensação de degelo soturno. Falta espessura, faltam as estalactites da caverna. Acho que Blashyrkh acabou derretendo um pouco, ficando menos majestosa e mais pantanosa. Incidentalmente, chamam Sons of Northern Darkness, o clássico mais moderno da banda, de At The Heart of Winter mal-produzido, e com “mal-produzido”, entender: BEM-produzido! Como no black metal os valores se invertem, acham a produção muito… moderna, limpa, polida, e em detrimento dos valores do old school… Mas a verdade é que o estilo de ambos se parece, e entendo por que não estejam entre meus momentos favoritos do grupo.
O que eu mais detesto sobre At The Heart of Winter, a música-título, é que o riff central me parece uma antiga abertura de programa da Globo cagada e cuspida, um programa que por mais que me esforce não consigo me lembrar, nem encontrar qualquer comprovação na internet! Globo Comunidade ou qualquer coisa bem cult dos anos 90. Às vezes essas coincidências acontecem, qual é o problema? É que essa má impressão de ver o Immortal associado a algo de segunda classe nunca me abandona… Um comentário de resenha que me chamou muito a atenção, por conter o juízo exatamente oposto ao meu é: “Isso não é um epic black metal estéril e redundante repetindo as mesmas uma ou duas seções de novo e de novo por oito longos minutos; a música é dinâmica e nunca se demora demais no mesmo tema.” Mas o pior é que <as mesmas uma ou duas seções de novo e de novo por xxx longos minutos> são a melhor descrição que encontrei para ATHOW! Ao mesmo tempo em que os entusiastas tentam defender o álbum da acusação de esnobismo, comum quando uma banda produz algo muito mais “progressivo” e “dinâmico” para os próprios padrões, deixam escapar que na verdade estamos diante de uma peça de wankerismo puro e simples, pois “Abbath [guitarrista no disco pela 1ª vez] usa todo o espectro das notas musicais”. Tudo bem, mas essa não é necessariamente uma virtude nem mesmo num disco do Pink Floyd!
Como de praxe, nada a contestar sobre os vocais abbathianos. Numa nota alta, a segunda metade da faixa de encerramento, a otimamente batizada Years of Silent Sorrow, é meu destaque pessoal.
DAMNED IN BLACK
Um álbum “odiado” e que eu exalto com a ajuda de todas as minhas entranhas, só para variar! Adeus sacarina do mar de resenhas do álbum anterior (a internet está aí para se ver que eu sou realmente um estranho no ninho em relação ao Heart of Winter, uma lasca de gelo descolada do continente) – bem-vindos, de novo, os detratores de um suposto simplismo compositivo! E de volta com as capas icônicas e ainda mais absolutamente massacradas e ridicularizadas – ô, o Immortal voltou! Só faltava mesmo xingarem a capa por ser quase toda preta (Blackshyrk?), e destoar das picturizações invernais da banda, já que com Battles in The North o chilique foi o contrário!
Onde a proeminência cabia ao melodic thrash no trabalho anterior, vejo o mesmo destaque sendo dado à virulência de um bem-forjado death metal, achatando e comprimindo o rolo atmosférico com que a banda passa por cima dos deuses e do mundo, como um disco do Immortal tem de fazer (com faixas individuais num espectro de duração mais estreito de 3-7min). Uma das razões para uma paleta escura na capa já pode ser detectada nos títulos das faixas: nem tudo, dessa vez, gira cicloneamente em torno de neve e de borrascas e precipitações do céu carregado! Tudo soa como a continuação lógica de Blizzard Beasts, talvez do outro lado do espectro, já que yin-yangprecisam do branco e do preto para funcionar – é como se Heart of Winter nunca tivesse acontecido, mais ou menos o cumprimento retroativo de um desejo meu, que em 2000 ainda estava longe de conhecer o Immortal e, aliás, de começar a gostar de música, e música boa!
É interessante observar a hipocrisia do resenhista-médio de DiB: critica os blast beats unilaterais do álbum, mas há quantos deles o Immortal não apresenta a mesma bateria? Inclusive no mimado Heart of Winter – só que lá a produção tíbia jogava todo o ímpeto das viradas e pezadas incessantes para o fundo, sonicamente falando!
SONS OF NORTHERN DARKNESS
Entramos na era da internet – o que possibilitou a intensa popularidade do Immortal, mesmo entre a nova safra de metaleiros, mediante um trenzinho de memes nunca enjoativos! – e os já veteraníssimos noruegueses continuam empilhando bíblias (!) de composições do gênero que ajudaram a forjar. Seria impossível usar um medidor para situá-los entre o orthodox e o modern BM porque eles conseguem encastelar todo tipo de referência retrô com novos takes, experimentalismos e produção moderna sem que o jogo dos caras soe forçado ou deslocado em relação ao espírito da banda, sempre mutante – seja você mesmo, mas não seja sempre o mesmo, um amigo me dizia…
No comando dos riffs de guitarra mais uma vez, Abbath continua a roubar a cena e monopolizar os holofotes. Seu estilo no Sons of Northern Darkness em particular remete muito ao de Dave Mustaine no Rust in Peace, pelo menos em momentos definidos. Por mais estranha que essa observação pareça, ela é verdadeira: One by One possui gallops de guitarra idênticos a Take No Prisoners ou Polaris!
Além disso, para manter a tradição de álbuns realmente inéditos da banda, ao contrário de tantos grupos que se limitam a relançar o mesmo trabalho com letras diferentes e replicar a mesma e velha fórmula com micro-randomizações, as guitarras foram afinadas um tom inteiro abaixo (na linguagem técnica, D standard): isso mais os riffs reminiscentes do thrash dão ao álbum um quê de peso que o distingue de quase tudo do black metal gravado àquele tempo. É diferente até da secura dos adoráveis e repelentes ao mesmo tempo, se é que o fã entende, Blizzard Beasts e Battles in The North. A faixa Demonium parece mesmo uma revistada em BB com uma produção muito mais avantajada e classuda. A esse ponto na carreira, aliás, não é só a produção que adquiriu um “outro patamar”: ouso dizer que o Immortal chegou ao auge da maturidade em termos de intercalar momentos abrasivos e lentos com porradas inclementes nas composições. Destaque para o efeito de reverb nos vocais de Abbath em In My Kingdom Cold que fazem parecer que ele canta no meio da tempestade, decrescendo ainda mais a “temperatura do Himalaia”.
Era inegável que a simbiose do grupo com o produtor Peter Tägtgren crescia a cada trabalho. Dá para perceber, com menos rodadas do disco, cada nota e inovação. Sons of Northern Darkness agrada, portanto, aquela ala mais tolerante do BM que preza a técnica e uma guitarra bem-tocada e com boas possibilidades de ser ouvida em cada evolução. Para uma comprovação da afirmação, ouvir à antiteticamente batizada (porque a Antártida fica no sul!) Antarctica. Ou eu deveria dizer que ela não é o polar oposto de todas as letras sobre Blashyrkh? Uma grande curiosidade sobre este álbum para disfarçar o constrangimento pela piada inopo(lar)tuna: é o primeiro da banda na Nuclear Blast, i.e., Immortal praticamente“goes pop”! Dizem que a Nuclear Blast quase mudou de nome para Nuclear Blast Beats em 2002… Parece irônico que no começo mesmo dessa nova história a banda iria se dissolver pela primeira vez, ainda mais levando em conta a sincronia de estúdio – os músicos começam a se desentender justamente em meio ao processo criativo. Para se ver a que custo algumas obras de arte são paridas…
ALL SHALL FALL
Dizem que neste disco o Immortal se tornou menos metal, e nisso menos black metal, o que fãs dificilmente perdoam, e mais rock ‘n’ roll. Ou pelo menos black ‘n’ roll, para não acharmos que foi algo tão drástico ou mesmo facilmente detectável para ouvintes de primeira viagem. Os mais fanáticos dirão que foi o último prego no caixão da segunda onda do black metal, capitaneado pela Noruega. Quanto drama! O hiato forçoso da banda teria feito os músicos perderem a intimidade com os instrumentos e o entrosamento com os colegas, sem volta?! Ah, claro! Nenhuma narrativa de banda de black metal que desagrada os fãs após álbuns bombásticos está completa sem o capítulo de quando eles se venderam (ou quando compraram de volta a alma a um desapontado Lúcifer) ou efetuaram seu sold-out. E, francamente falando, isso acontece com – quase – todas as BM bands que eu tive o imenso prazer de conhecer, então se tornou um tropo ou clichê da relação destes músicos com estes seu exigente público. Público extremamente exigente, justificando o gênero a que dizem pertencer…
All Shall Fall já diz essa verdade íntima no próprio nome: tudo deve cair, desabar… Mas quer saber? Quem disse que não há quedas de pé e grandiosas? Essa expertise da banda para bons riffs e toda a sabedoria no songwriting não desaparece do dia para a noite, nem por causa de alguns anos em hibernação. Afirmemos e reafirmemos: All Shall Fall está longe de ser o melhor momento da instituição Immortal mas, se pensarmos no destino geral das bandas de 2nd wave, seja por demérito próprio ou apenas por difamação de ex-entusiastas, o Immortal parece ser o que leva a melhor. Não falemos daquele ex-ser humano que virou o Gandalf e renegou completamente o estilo. O Mayhem, de quem eu tanto gosto em sua fase contemporânea, incansável na arte de surpreender, é detonado pelos puritanos, que os consideram menos do que cinzas do que já foram. Na verdade não importa o que o Mayhem fizesse desde a morte do Euronymous, a recepção seria fatalmente a mesma. Quem sabe desde a morte ainda anterior do Dead! Bandas norueguesas da segunda onda que seguem quase todas ativas e inovando, mas, para os “autoproclamados especialistas”, que traíram ou saíram por completo do movimento. Chame-se-o de segunda onda ou não, eles não traíram nada, eles estão carregando a tocha e revitalizando o movimento em seu núcleo, independentemente da qualidade que surge na terceira onda, onde onde quer que nos encontremos neste momento (quarta onda? não faço idéia!). Mas esse é um papo para outro texto…
Sete anos. Número cabalístico. O que terão representado na vida dos músicos e na manutenção ou queda de qualidade de suas performances? Na verdade há certa contigüidade entre estes trabalhos tão distantes no tempo, assim mesmo: Sons of Northern Darkness já demonstrava certa tendência a incorporar cada vez mais interlúdios (que não são interlúdios reais, presentes na enumerção das faixas, i.e., estão dentro das músicas e não constituem produções independentes) limpos e outsiders. Isso só foi mais intensificado. Os maledicentes dirão que o supergrupo de Abbath montado no meio do caminho, que o fez curtir um “retorno ao rock” durante a paralisação da banda principal, a banda I, foi mais um degrau, antes de chegarmos a esse, nessa transição. Between Two Worlds (que não será resenhado aqui) parecia mais heavy metal, mas do tipo black ‘n’ roll, que uma dessas cartadas extremas que os membros do Immortal, como bons jogadores de pôquer, viviam dando. Antes de criticar a mudança, devemos pensar primeiro na pressão sobre os caras para “manter o nível”, surpreender ainda outra vez, et.. Conservadores ou não, Abbath & cia. resolveram apostar nas suas forças mais consolidadas e que não os trairiam nesse comeback: os riffs em profusão e sua concatenação meticulosa. É um trabalho de guitarra, principalmente. Saudosos da atmosfera reinante nos primeiros álbuns têm todos os motivos para se chatear! Quem liga pra eles? O novo Immortal, mais corpulento na produção e no volume sonoro, não podia fazer milagres e nada sacrificar aos deuses de Blashyrkh a fim de obter um novo trabalho nível “A”.
Enfim, vamos ser curtos e grossos: All Shall Fall é o mais hard rock dos álbuns do Immortal. Viva-se com isso. Mesmo assim, é raro ver hard rock com croak vocals! O croachar do sapo nunca morre… Confiram só o solo de Norden on Fire. Nada a ver com Diabolical Fullmoon, não é verdade? Não esqueçamos que essas coisas acontecem debaixo de nossas vistas e, quando não desejamos reconhecê-las, inconscientemente passam batidas. Pure Holocaust, a segunda obra, já parecia uma estreitada no som, para torná-lo mais mainstream, se comparada com o 1º trabalho de estúdio. Ninguém reclamou na época – e por quê? Porque ainda era demasiadamente black metal (mas quem afirma o que é ou não é black metal são os revisionistas, a cada ano!). Como se houvesse só um black metal! Talvez se reconhecesse isso. Mas quando a mudança se dirige a algo como o acessível hard rock e não a experimentalismos bárbaros e obscuros, sai de baixo! Menos pode não ser sempre mais, mas sem dúvida é uma tentativa válida, e cria novos discos inéditos. All Shall Fall é exatamente isso. E sem dúvida a Nuclear Blast gastou uma porção de dindim para manter o áudio perfeito para os caras. E não deve ter economizado no marketing, idem. Esse é o epítome do profissionalismo da banda, e isso alguns por aí não podem ignorar… Escutam, para depois apenas maldizer.
Claro que não é só isso que explica a recepção do álbum. Houve problemas. Problemas de verdade, os não-intencionais. O processo de composição foi indubitavelmente acelerado porque os integrantes voltaram a se bicar. Romperam em 2003, ficaram oficialmente desativados como banda por 3 anos até se reunirem, e o álbum durou um bom ciclo de “Copa do Mundo” para sair (4 anos). Significa que o trabalho em equipe se mostrou mais árduo do que eles mesmos, conhecendo o passado, esperavam. Nesses casos, muito do que acontece é chegarem ao seguinte plano de carreira: Olha, vamos nos concentrar em turnês, tocar nossos velhos hits, não precisamos matar uns aos outros agora enquanto criamos novas músicas, já que cada um tem um conceito sobre música, e sem dúvida o conceito de cada um mudou com o tempo, de forma diferente do conceito dos outros membros. Vamos aproveitar a fama e essa reunion da banda! Black metal nem sempre se resume a lançar novos trabalhos e superar-se a si mesmo sem a menor tolerância para deslizes… Façamos as coisas com calma, não somos iniciantes! Imagino que, se esse não rolou como papo, deve ter ficado ao menos subentendido entre eles…
E sobre a composição de material novo, lembrando que eles estavam sob contrato para fazê-lo, teve de acontecer em algum momento. Suspeito que um pouco “em cima demais” do deadline estabelecido pela gravadora, para azar deles e o nosso. Suponho que eles passaram no máximo 2 anos escrevendo estas 7 canções, porque tem ainda todas as semanas que envolvem gravá-las, mixá-las, masterizá-las e promover o álbum antes do lançamento, o dia designado pelos chefões da parte comercial! Dois anos não é um bom tempo de preparação para uma banda já veterana, que não precisa compor com tanta velocidade para se exibir ao mundo. Ainda mais com um álbum com poucas músicas. Cada uma tem de ser muito boa, ou as pontuações nas resenhas já sofrem consideravelmente. Além disso, nenhuma delas se tornou um novo clássico da banda, o que também não ajudou a estabelecer concessões ou contemporizações. Acabaram julgando o pacote de forma homogênea. Mas sem dúvida sempre há canções melhores, as que chamamos de canções para singles, para clipes, para abrir ou fechar o álbum, e outras consideradas mais medíocres ou menos chamativas. Normal.
Muitos fãs de longa data entram em negação e quase não consideram All Shall Fall como um episódio legítimo da trajetória da banda. Mas sem dúvida o público que compra lançamentos da Nuclear Blast não se resume a uma rodinha de cricris, então o Immortal foi à mídia e mostrou do que são capazes no estado pré-nova ruptura em que se encontravam (nunca diga “ruptura definitiva”!), como que dizendo nas entrelinhas: Se querem conhecer nosso catálogo, cheio de coisas ainda melhores, comece por aqui, e depois cave mais!
NORTHERN CHAOS GODS
O fim? Sem dúvida não há consenso nem para isso, não importa a perspectiva de quem resenhe ou acompanhe uma banda. Mas, na minha opinião, sem Abbath, este é “o álbum que não deveria existir”. Não se trata de qualidade vocálica nem qualquer detalhe mais específico, mas uma espécie de “conceito da banda”, que neste caso não pode funcionar sem uma figura multi-talentosa e longeva como Abbath. Demonaz não canta mal. É até mais energético que Abbath na função, e mais “black metal”, mas isso não significa que combine com o legado do Immortal. Em alguns momentos parece mesmo que Demonaz tenta imitar o estilo do ex-parceiro (cf. Into Battle Ride). Este com certeza é um álbum mais veloz que os dois últimos, mas falta algo. Where Mountains Rise chega inclusive a repetir o riff de At The Heart of Winter (a música), o que pra mim é bem revelador: nenhuma idéia nova, apenas saudosismo barato. Nesse ponto, a necessidade de fechar um álbum com uma track de maior duração já se tornou um clichê vergonhoso, veja só a duração da última canção!
Não deixe o papo simplista e bipolar dos fãs enganá-lo, contudo: não é o álbum para quem considerou o comeback de All Shall Fall fraco, nem muito menos o inverso. Podemos dizer com a segurança de quem não irá gerar polêmica que nem o último de Abbath nem o único sem Abbath têm o que os demais discos da discografia do Immortal oferecem. E é por isso que, para não encerrar a matéria numa nota baixa, recorro a mais uma curta resenha…
ABBATH, BY ABBATH, BANDA DO ABBATH
…Se um Immortal sem Abbath ainda pode ser considerado Immortal, é mais do que justo cobrir o outro terço do “núcleo da banda” (sem esquecer Tägtgren, Apollyon e outros que colaboraram nos registros mais recentes). Abbath continua produzindo um som derivativo do gélido black metal do Immortal e certamente ouviríamos essas canções sob esse moniker não fossem, por enquanto, os desdobramentos de uma batalha judicial que ora se mostra desfavorável ao músico, porém cujo desfecho é imprevisível. Por razões de “coerência” e “extensão”, não irei resenhar o segundo álbum do projeto-solo do Abbath, nem acrescentar o terceiro, que já está às vésperas de sair no momento em que redijo. Fica como um contraponto único ao Northern Chaos Gods, até por ser o meu favorito desta nova banda, pelo menos no momento atual, e, acessoriamente, por vir com a cara do Abbath estampada em close na capa – nada mais direto podia ligar essa maquiagem icônica ao legado do Immortal!
Álbuns de black metal super bem-produzidos: polêmicos, dividem a fanbase. No caso de Abbath, Abbath (2016), tirando os fanáticos, a crítica é positiva. Dag Erik Nygaard e Danial Bergstrand, os engenheiros de som, criaram uma wall of sound com muita distorção, preservando o senso melódico das guitarras, que poucos álbuns no estilo old school poderiam replicar. Esse tipo de produção mais clean permite que a sempre subestimada performance de Abbath como guitarrista brilhe em meio à escuridão temática e atmosférica de sua nova banda. Ao que consta, ele não é o lead guitar da formação, só cuida da guitarra-base, mas isso não o impede de soltar um ou outro solo mais trad metal que não vêm, esteja certo, em detrimento do resultado final. Outro instrumento sobressalente é a bateria muito bem-coordenada de Creature, que sabe revezar os blast beats com batidas estilo hard rock enriquecendo o trabalho – que podemos classificar como black ‘n’ roll mais uma vez, sem medo das vaias dos ouvintes ortodoxos. Acontece que em produções top-notch como essa na verdade perde o sentido falar de “instrumentos sobressalentes”, porque até o baixo de King ov Hell faz a diferença e é audível em inúmeros segmentos. Enfim, tudo que os músicos performam realmente aparece na gravação final. E é quase um alívio poder ouvir o baixo num álbum de metal em pleno 2016, já às portas da aposentadoria do Matusalém Black Sabbath (que parou em 2017), reconhecido até hoje como um dos únicos do gênero em que o baixo cumpre uma função de primeiro plano!
Sair – ou ser expulso – da marca Immortal parece não ter reduzido a auto-estima de Abbath Doom Oculta; antes, pelo contrário. Além da performance dual digna de crédito, não é justo que ele não recolha o mérito de, em pouco tempo, ter juntado músicos capazes e comprometidos com o projeto composicional em que, obviamente, ele é a força criadora principal, para que tudo fluísse em ordem (uma caótica ordem, em se tratando de um subgênero de black metal que bebe da fonte do Immortal).
A produção clean não deve nunca soar pejorativa mesmo num estilo tão subversivo, porque até as linhas de guitarra mais imundas ficam mais distinguíveis ao ouvido humano, ainda que percam alguns pontinhos insignificantes em termos de atmosfera. Significa que os riffs mais ortodoxos ganham certa aura de destaque em meio aos demais, mais próximos do heavy metal clássico. Os vocais de Abbath, embora muita gente diga que são estacionários, sempre evoluem de gravação para gravação. Mantêm o inconfundível tom raspado e contam com um minimal reverb para resultar diabólico e ameaçador.
Embora o Immortal desde sempre tenha prestado ênfase ao riff work, esse talvez seja o primeiro CD em muito tempo em que podemos dizer que o riff work conduz as composições acima de todo o resto e o resultado é tão superior (volto a me referir ao indelével Blizzard Beasts). Dessa forma, podemos detectar influências de death-thrash mais do que em qualquer outro trabalho-solo do homem (isto é, contando as seqüências a esse disco e o disco único do I), parecendo-se, em alguns momentos, com um Blizzard Beasts Vol. II.
Para os mais “classicistas”, Root of the Mountain fará um sorriso aparecer no rosto, com suas linhas de baixo indiscutivelmente derivadas do Deep Purple no seu auge (a referência clara é o petardo Black Night).
Winter Bane, por outro lado, tem os vocais mais versáteis de Abbath num longo período e um videoclipe de alto nível. São quase 7 minutos de peso e conservação de fôlego em meio a toda uma algazarra que não deixa a peteca cair. Ao contrário da iniciativa de Horgh e Demonaz, temos um trabalho com originalidade, não uma compostagem do que o Immortal já foi só para atender aos fãs menos críticos (e com menos críticos queremos dizer, paradoxalmente, aqueles que mais reclamam, mas de ninharias, evidente).
O estar-egg essencial dos ursos-coelhos em preto-e-branco é um cover de Nebular Ravens Winter, do inimitável – 3ª citação! – Blizzard Beasts (e é notável que no 4º verso dessa canção encontremos a expressão “Winters bane”, explicando a referência no contexto do álbum). Ainda tem um outro, menor: um cover de uma lado B do Judas Priest.
Para arrematar, o álbum é literalmente, em conteúdo, embora não formalmente, uma continuação do que a banda Immortal deveria seguir sendo.
“In the musical sphere, the gothic is not usually associated with the black metal scene, but rather with genres such as goth rock, darkwave, and post-punk. For example, Mick Mercer, an expert and prolific writer on gothic music, did not include Immortal in his encyclopaedia of goth-related bands and performers, titled Music to Die For (2009). Further, the concoction of the ‘gothic black metal’ sub-genre signifies the conventional separation of the 2 realms (the gothic and black metal). Notwithstanding these categorizations, this study suggests that Immortal’s lyrics represent a distinctive and situated form of gothic that reshapes traditional gothic tropes through Nordic and heroic themes.”
“Even within the narrow boundaries of the black metal genre, the gothic, the Nordic, and the heroic can appear as discrete entities that do not necessarily cross each other’s path. For example, the ‘heroic’ component can be inspired by historical or mythological deeds set in different geographical regions, that are not necessarily ‘Nordic’. Some popular black metal bands in this spectrum include SuidAkrA (Celtic mythology),The Elysian Fields (Greek mythology), and Melechesh (Mesopotamian/Sumerian mythology). Further, in bands defined as ‘gothic black metal’ (such as Cradle of Filth and, to a certain extent, Moonspell), dark beauty, vampirism, and horror are prominent themes, while ‘the North’ and the ‘the heroic’ are rather marginal and sporadic references. On the other hand, Immortal merge such themes in a cohesive and original style, here defined as Northeroic gothic.”
“This study is delimited to Immortal’s first 4 studio albums: Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1992), Pure Holocaust (1993), Battles in the North (1995) and Blizzard Beasts (1997). After these albums, Demonaz, guitarist and lyricist of the band, was diagnosed with a severe form of tendonitis, which prevented him from playing in subsequent releases of the band (http://www.immortalofficial.com). In an interview published on the webzine Chronicles of Chaos, Abbath, discussing the 5th album of the band titled At the Heart of Winter (1999), their first release without Demonaz in the official lineup, declared: He [Demonaz] offered to write the lyrics and I had a bunch of proposals to the lyrics, inspirations for the lyrics, but he’s the expert so I gave him all the credit for it. […] He will probably be working with me when it comes to lyrics in the future; I will do more myself, I am getting more trained now, I am getting better in English, to form sentences in the form of verses (http://www.chroniclesofchaos.com/articles.aspx?id=1-223).”
“The author decided to focus on the lyrics of the band in order to analyse the construction of Immortal’s own mythology, which is made more evident and explicit in the textual form, even if it is, by no means, limited to it.” Estudo auto-reconhecidamente forçado.
“In the article, songs are conventionally represented as [number of album-number of song]. For example, ‘At One With The Earth / Alone With Light In My Eyes’ [2-4] is an excerpt from the 4th song of Immortal’s 2nd album (see Appendix A). When the author cites song or album titles, this is plainly expressed in the text or as a complement to album-song numbers in brackets. For example, ‘Frozen By Icewinds’ [2-4, song title].”
“‘Gothic’ spaces or figures have […] always been symbolic locations into which groups of people can ideologically ‘throw’ what they would like to regard as ‘other’ than their desired current condition […] or what they want to see as the ‘true’, but now lost, foundations of their cultural positions (a return to primordial origins sometimes viewed as positive alternatives to – or at least forgotten roots of – the present world).”
“By celebrating the imaginary kingdom of Blashyrkh, Immortal construct their own gothic space from a ‘Northeroic’ perspective: a physical and spiritual site enshrined in a mythical North in which natural and supernatural forces recall a glorious past of epic battles amidst coldness and darkness. In this realm, darkness and the supernatural world are overarching gothic themes that permeate all elements. It is here advisable to note that it is not the author’s intention to oversimplify gothic themes to ‘darkness’ and ‘the supernatural world’. These 2 motifs emerged from the analysis as prominent themes of Immortal’s lyrics, but they are not intended to encompass the richness and subtlety of gothic preoccupations and research, nor to limit the band’s conceptual gamut.” Pouco convincente.
“This dark heroism, however, does not represent the ‘chivalrous’ deeds and aspirations of the heroes of classic gothic works, such as Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) or Richard Hole’s Arthur, or theNorthern Enchantment: A Poetical Romance (1789), the later rich in Norse references. It shows instead a beast-like pride and lust for battles and tragic endings in the mournful eternity of frost” Ou seja, tem PORRA NENHUMA de gótico.
“Far from being a mere geographical space, a cardinal direction, or a background setting, the North appears as an idealized place in which the natural world and the freezing climate define and permeate all elements.”
“In this colossal, freezing, and inhospitable place, the solitary outsider finds a realm to dwell in. The black metal persona, an individual standing apart from the rest of society, amplifies a typical trait of the Norwegian personality, that is a tendency to value solitude. In Immortal’s lyrics, this solitary (and voluntary) outcast experiences a deep and intimate connection with nature and its freezing climate (‘At One With The Earth / Alone With Light In My Eyes’ [2-4]; ‘Alone On The Mountainside / Breathing The Clearest Winds’ [4-6]), as they shape and influence each other”
“In the descriptions of nature, the abundant use of blurry and indeterminate words, such as cloud, fog, mist, nebula, shadow and twilight contributes to creating a gothic atmosphere of mystery, liminality, and suspenseful stillness, which gives rise to a sinister contrast with the ubiquitous storming of winds and blizzards (‘A thousand black clouds storms’ [1-3]; ‘At The Stormy Gates Of Mist’ [3-7], song title) and evokes a Nordic rendering of the sublime of the wilderness. In these descriptions, nature emerges as a pervasive, enigmatic, and powerful principle that permeates all elements, protecting, hiding, and isolating these majestic lands, and their unearthly creatures, from the rest of the world.”
“A powerful gothic symbol that connects the leading themes of Immortal’s lyrics is the raven: its colour is black (darkness), it can usually be found in cold regions (coldness), and it is a bird (natural world) with strong symbolic and mystical overtones (supernatural world: ‘Our Sacred Raven’ [3-1]). The raven also symbolizes the kingdom of Blashyrkh (‘Ravenrealm’ [3-1]; ‘Blashyrkh…Mighty Ravendark’ [3-10]; ‘The Elder Raventhrone’ [3-10]) and war (‘A Ravens Claws Lifted Towards The Sky / In A Sign For The Norse Hordes To Ride’ [2-2]). This unity of elements, which is a significant feature of Immortal’s lyrics, is also a fundamental quality of the gothic: a liminal locus in which the boundaries between the natural and the supernatural, life and death, light and darkness, are blurred, suspended, and fused in ghastly settings and tragic figures.”
“By further narrowing down the examination to smaller units of the discourse, the analysis unveiled one of the most original and fascinating elements of Immortal’s lyrics: an extensive use of closed compound words (2 or more words joined together in a single word) that merge the gothic, the North, and the heroic in striking unitary figures. Most of these compound words are neologisms, which is arguably inspired by the Norwegian language, which is very productive in the creation of 1-word compounds.
In order to understand if the integration of creative compound words (neologisms) was an original characteristic of Immortal’s lyrics, or, instead, a common feature of contemporary Norwegian black metal bands, the author also analysed the English lyrics of the first 4 studio albums of 3 of the most influential bands in the genre: Darkthrone (Soulside Journey, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under a Funeral Moon, and Transilvanian Hunger), Emperor (In the Nightside Eclipse, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, IX Equilibrium, and Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire and Demise), and Mayhem (Deathcrush, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Wolf’s Lair Abyss, and Grand Declaration of War). A total of 6 closed compound neologisms were found in Darkthrone’s lyrics (darkside, dreamking, fullmoon, goathorn, soulside, and tombworld), 4 in Emperor’s lyrics (blacksword, fullmoon, nightspirit, and nightsky), and 5 in Mayhem’s lyrics (bloodswords, deathcrush, gutsfuck, necrolust, and posercorpse). On the other hand, the lyrics of Immortal’s first 4 studio albums feature a total of 66 compound neologisms (some of them used across songs and albums), which makes this characteristic a unique trait of the band and a structural feature of their artistic production, functional in the construction of their distinctive style.”
“One of the most fascinating closed compounds found in the analysed texts (and the only occurrence of a verb + verb form) is ‘Dreamwatch’ [4-4]:
In The Forthcoming Breeze
With Tempted Eyes I Dreamwatch Dying Suns
In this context, ‘dreamwatch’ can be interpreted as a liminal verb suspended between dreaming and watching, which echoes the transitional state of the scene, surrounded by a forthcoming breeze (it is not yet there), awaiting with tempted eyes (which denotes intention, desire, and anticipation, but not yet action) the faith of dying (in flux from life to death) suns (the use of the plural contributes to an aura of indefiniteness and mystery). By creating and pervasively using closed compound words, a multiplicity of meanings is condensed into evocative symbols and representations that are gothic not only in their motifs, but also in their synthesis of such elements in hybrid and liminal figures.”
“The expressive power of the compound words created by Immortal seems to have influenced and inspired several heavy metal bands. An explorative analysis of band names (considering exclusively bands in the black metal genre whose first release was subsequent to Immortal’s use of the neologisms) revealed a total of 55 bands from 26 countries whose names could have been derived from 23 of the 66 closed compound neologisms found in Immortal’s first 4 albums (see Appendix D). Of course, this preliminary analysis does not demonstrate the direct origin of such band names, but it suggests that future research could be directed at investigating the cultural influence and generativity of Immortal’s themes and compound neologisms in the black metal scene and beyond.”
Tracklist of Immortal’s First Four Studio Albums (1992-1997)
 Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1992)
[1-2] The Call Of The Wintermoon
[1-3] Unholy Forces Of Evil
[1-4] Cryptic Winterstorms
[1-5] Cold Winds Of Funeral Dust
[1-6] Blacker Than Darkness
[1-7] A Perfect Vision Of The Rising Northland
 Pure Holocaust (1993)
[2-1] Unsilent Storms In The North Abyss
[2-2] A Sign For The Norse Hordes To Ride
[2-3] The Sun No Longer Rises
[2-4] Frozen By Icewinds
[2-5] Storming Through / Red Clouds And Holocaustwinds
[2-6] Eternal Years On The Path To The Cemetary Gates
[2-7] As The Eternity Opens
[2-8] Pure Holocaust
 Battles In The North (1995)
[3-1] Battles In The North
[3-2] Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms
[3-3] Descent Into Eminent Silence
[3-4] Throned By Blackstorms
[3-5] Moonrise Fields Of Sorrow
[3-6] Cursed Realms Of The Winterdemons
[3-7] At The Stormy Gates Of Mist
[3-8] Through The Halls Of Eternity
[3-9] Circling Above In Time Before Time
[3-10] Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)
 Blizzard Beasts (1997)
[4-2] Blizzard Beasts
[4-3] Nebular Ravens Winter
[4-4] Suns That Sank Below
[4-6] Mountains Of Might
[4-8] Winter Of The Ages
Closed Compound Words (Neologisms) in Immortal’s Lyrics and Subsequent Names of Black Metal Bands Band names in the black metal genre have been retrieved in June 2014 from the reference heavy metal website “Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives” (www.metal-archives.com).
Uma síntese dos trechos mais importantes da obra, muito compreensiva, pois abarca metade de todo o texto. É a melhor maneira para conhecer o conteúdo do livro de Patterson para quem não tem o hábito da leitura ou tempo de sobra!
Nome de banda conhecida pelo autor – negrito preto
Nome de álbum (demo, EP ou videoclip), conhecido ou não pelo autor – itálico vermelho
Nome de música – sempre em itálico
Nome de banda desconhecida pelo autor – negrito azul
Quando a banda é um nome de pessoa, e ela é citada a primeira vez no contexto biográfico e não discográfico, uso o vermelho, como nos meus outros posts – o mesmo vale para o compositor Richard Wagner, por exemplo, que tratamos como entidade histórica e não como foco deste livro.
Os grifos só são utilizados à primeira menção da música, do álbum, da pessoa ou da banda em questão, que depois são elementos normais do texto quando forem re-citados (exceto para o itálico).
Outros trechos de parágrafos destacados em itálico, negrito e vermelho, sem vínculo direto com citações de obras musicais – trechos considerados mais importantes que os demais. Em verde eu destaco, como sempre, o que acho cretino.
“EVER SINCE ITS BIRTH in the early 80s—and especially after its rebirth in the early nineties—black metal has proven itself to be the most consistently thought-provoking, exhilarating, and vital of all the many offshoots of heavy metal. Truly enduring, it is a multifaceted beast, at once fiercely conservative yet fearlessly groundbreaking, undeniably visceral yet at times thoroughly cerebral. Its combination of primal, philosophical, spiritual, cultural, and artistic qualities have allowed it to transcend even its own fascinating controversies to become one of the most important forms of modern music. If you don’t already agree with that statement, there’s even more reason for you to read this book.”
“By this point extreme metal already dominated my listening tastes thanks to bands such as Sepultura, Carcass, Bolt Thrower, and Entombed, but this (apparently) new genre appeared almost disturbingly radical and alien—in fact, I distinctly remember one of the most vocal of my metal contemporaries warning me not to listen to it. By the time I left school he had cut his hair and sold his metal collection, which probably says it all.”
“In that sense, while this tome was officially begun in 2009, in many ways its true genesis dates back almost a decade and a half earlier. From 2004 onwards I was interviewing bands on a fairly regular basis, first for a fanzine I put together called Crypt, and later for magazines including Terrorizer and then Metal Hammer, all of which allowed me to speak to a number of the genre’s key protagonists. Even so, I’ve realized that a major part of my motivation for writing this book was to satisfy my own curiosity and get a more rounded understanding of a phenomenon that has entranced me since my early teens.”
“As time passed and black metal grew beyond the confines of the underground, I noticed that more and more people were covering it in various forms of media, with varying degrees of care or accuracy. At one time it seemed to me that it was better not to have black metal discussed beyond its own perimeters, but by the end of the nineties, it was clear that horse had bolted. The problem was that many of the writers and filmmakers who covered black metal were either misinformed, or focused solely upon a few strong bands and personalities to the extent that they ultimately distorted the bigger picture.”
50 CAPÍTULOS – usar control+C, control+F para acessá-los mais abaixo:
1 Roots of Evil
3 Mercyful Fate
6 Celtic Frost
7 The First Wave of Black Thrash
10 Rotting Christ and Greek Black Metal
12 Master’s Hammer
15 Mayhem Part I
16 Mayhem Part II
17 (Re)Birth of a Movement: Norway Part I
18 A Fist in the Face of Christianity: Norway Part II
19 Death of a Legend: Norway Part III
[OBS.: Decepcionadíssimo com a falta de um capítulo para Immortal, Nargaroth e Satyricon, embora quanto a esta última pelo menos haja alguma informação condensada, sobretudo nos capítulos que citam a Moonfog Records…]
27 The Opus Magnum: Mayhem Part III
28 The Beast Reawakens: Mayhem Part IV
29 Cradle of Filth: Black Metal Enters the Mainstream Part I
30 Dimmu Borgir: Black Metal Enters the Mainstream Part II
31 Underground Ethics
32 Les Légions Noires
33 Marduk: Sweden Part I
34 Dissection and Watain: Sweden Part II
35 Shining: Sweden Part III
36 Politics, Poland, and the Rise of NSBM
37 Graveland and Infernum: Polish Black Metal Part I
38 Behemoth: Polish Black Metal Part II
39 Enslaved: Folk and Folklore in Black Metal Part I
40 Moonfog and Ulver: Folk and Folklore in Black Metal Part II
41 The Proliferation of Black Folk Metal: Folk and Folklore in Black Metal Part III
42 A Turn for the Weird: Part I
43 A Turn for the Weird: Part II
46 Mysticum: Industrial Black Metal Part I
47 Aborym: Industrial Black Metal Part II
48 Blacklodge: Industrial Black Metal Part III
49 Lifelover: Post-Black Metal Part I
50 Post-Black Metal Part II
1 Roots of Evil
“Did it all begin with Wagner’s Twilight of the Gods? Or with blues legend Robert Johnson selling his soul at the crossroads?”
“Like Purple and Zeppelin, Sabbath was heavily rooted in blues rock—indeed, the debut album contains 2 covers of blues rock numbers—but all the same, the release was a clear move toward darker and heavier territories. Whether this album marks an absolute year zero for the birth of heavy metal is naturally debatable, but there’s little doubt that it was a milestone recording, effectively kick-starting both the heavy metal genre as a whole and arguably black metal itself.”
“An often-reported story tells that a major turning point for the band came when bassist Geezer Butler witnessed a crowd lining up to watch the Boris Karloff horror flick Black Sabbath, and realized that people would happily pay money to be frightened out of their wits. However, by his own admission Butler was also studying subjects such as Satanism, black magic, and occultism.”
“In fact, American psychedelic rockers Coven were actually some way ahead of Black Sabbath, releasing their impressively titled debut Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls in 1969 and staking their claim to many elements of the metal archetype in the process. Among these were the use of the inverted cross and the <throwing of the horns> hand gesture, seemingly the first recorded example of either within rock culture.”
“Coming from a heavy blues rock background that was similar to Sabbath’s, Judas Priest would do much to refine metal during the seventies, releasing 5 studio albums during that decade, all of which saw a gradual decline in blues influence while simultaneously upping the pace and aggression. Priest were also responsible for adding the now-familiar dual guitar set-up adopted by many bands that followed, perhaps the most notable being Iron Maiden.”
“A final mention must go to glam metal stars Kiss, as strange as that may seem, if only for the fact that almost every Scandinavian musician interviewed here discovered heavy metal as a direct result of the group’s highly successful merchandising campaign. The fact that so many bands have adopted an appearance similar to the demonically face-painted and blood-spitting Gene Simmons suggests at least an underlying influence, even if it’s simply a trickle-down consequence of 80s groups such as Mercyful Fate.”
“for a time, Venom were arguably the heaviest, noisiest and most unpleasant metal band on the planet.”
“Formed in Newcastle in 1979, the group rose from the ashes of a number of earlier bands, most notably the short-lived 5-piece Guillotine. It was at a 1978 Judas Priest concert that the wheels were put in motion for Venom’s creation, when Guillotine guitarist Jeffrey Dunn, waiting at the bar for a drink, found himself chatting to a member of Oberon, another local band who were struggling with line-up difficulties. Recollections differ as to whether the Oberon member in question was guitarist Anthony Bray or vocalist Clive Archer, but either way, the meeting was highly fortuitous for all concerned. Before long, both Bray and Archer had joined the Guillotine ranks and the band name had changed to Venom, following a suggestion from a roadie. Two more line-up changes saw the addition of bassist Alan Winston and, more significantly, guitarist Conrad Lant, who had been playing in a band called Dwarfstar and was working as a tape operator at the nearby Impulse Studios. The transition from this incarnation to the one that would become famous was relatively swift. The group first stripped down to 4 members when Alan Winston departed, a move that forced second guitarist Conrad onto bass, a fateful change that would see the band stumbling upon a dirty, rumbling sound that became a staple of their style and influenced many who followed.”
“We didn’t have time to get another guy in and learn the songs, so I said that I’d basically just play all the root notes, and after the concert we’d get a proper bass player. But all I had to play my bass through was my guitar stack—a Marshall 4×12 plus effects pedals—and when I played the bass into the guitar stack… fucking hell, it was like, woooooorghbwwwrooooaaaaw, and that’s how the bulldozer bass was born. After the show the other guys were like, ‘Keep that, that sounds great,’ so I was like, ‘Okay, I’m now the bass player.’”
Cronos, a.k.a. Lant
“We grew up with the rock bands of the 70s, Cronos explains, from T. Rex to Status Quo to Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple to Judas Priest to AC/DC. But I was also a big punk fan, I loved the Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Clash, Sham 69, all that. I loved the imagery, the youth of it all. It was very much where we were mentally at that time. Living up in the northeast of England, punk was the voice for our frustration, because we were all leaving school and there was no work. But punk was over so quickly—like boom, a total flash in the pan—and the bands that I heard coming out of the back end of the 70s, the Saxons and Samsons and Def Leppards… I mean, to me rock music is the devil’s music, and it was like, ‘Wow, this is pop music, this is not rock ‘n’ roll.’ And I thought if we put the punk back into metal then we have a winning formula, ‘cos it’s about the youth, how you felt, how angry you are, and that’s something we wanted to put into the music ‘cos we weren’t hearing it anywhere else.”
“Bands would come in and say, ‘Can you make my guitar like Tony Iommi?’ or ‘Can you make my vocals like Rob Halford?’ and I thought ‘What the fuck…! These are all club bands, this is karaoke,’ so Venom’s goal was always to be different, to create something new, and that’s exactly what we did. We thought if we took all the best parts of all the greatest bands we could make the ultimate band. So we took the heaviness of Motörhead, the doomy, Satanic side of Black Sabbath, the leather and studs of Judas Priest, the pyrotechnic side of Kiss and combined it all.”
“Conrad became Cronos, Tony Bray became Abaddon, Jeff Dunn became Mantas, and vocalist Clive Archer—perhaps most outlandishly—adopted the stage name Jesus Christ.”
“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be good if we weren’t just called Conrad, Jeff, Clive, and Tony,’ Cronos laughs, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we put this band together with wild fucking stage names?’ and told them that David Bowie and Elton John’s names weren’t theirs.”
“My birthday’s in January, I’m a Capricorn, my star’s Saturn, and the god of Saturn is Cronos. So you see I wanted something that was mine, something relevant to me, my birthday, all that sort of crap. I thought the Father of Time would be… apt.”
“With this move the band inadvertently kick-started a tradition that would become almost mandatory within black metal, that of the Black Metal Persona—though Venom were perhaps more mindful to separate this from their offstage personalities than others have been.”
“As it turned out, however, the Demon demo was not only the first recording featuring Clive, but also the last. Some months after Demon was issued the band returned to the studio to record 6 more tracks, and Jeff—or Mantas as he was now known—having heard Cronos <messing around> with vocals for a new song entitled Live Like An Angel during rehearsal, suggested he might also try recording them. Very quickly it was decided that Cronos’ vocals were the most suitable for the job, and Clive departed amicably, leaving the band as a trio.”
“The reason there was 2 guitars and a separate singer in the first place was that Mantas, being such a big Judas Priest fan, thought it was the best formula for the band, Cronos considers. But 3-piece worked, and we said ‘look at Motörhead, look at Rush—fuck it, we’re a 3-piece.’ And the chemistry was there immediately. The first rehearsal, me and Mantas were jumping round like grasshoppers—there was so much room on stage not having the other 2 guys. We were running round striking a pose like nobody’s business. There was no way that line-up was gonna change, there was so much freedom and it sounded so fucking heavy with one guitar and one bass.”
“In 1981 the band released their first single, a double A-side comprising the songs In League With Satan and Live Like An Angel. Sales proved to be surprisingly good, and Neat—seeing that they were on to a good thing—asked the band if they had any more songs to offer. Replying in the affirmative, Cronos agreed to record all the songs written so far and soon provided Neat with a collection of roughly recorded demo tracks. To the band’s surprise, those same demo recordings were released later that year as their debut album Welcome to Hell. By far and away the most blasphemous metal album released up to that point, it was an opus fixated on Satanic themes, its iconic cover emblazoned with Cronos’ adaptation of the Sigil of Baphomet, an occult symbol dating back to the 18th century but made famous by LaVey’s Church of Satan. If any doubt were still in place as to the band’s intent, the album opened with Sons of Satan, while other notable numbers included Witching Hour and In League With Satan, whose lyrics clearly went some way further than anything that had come before in metal.”
“I’m a big Sabbath fan and I sing along to Ozzy’s lyrics, but it’s very obvious to me that he is the tortured soul. He’s singing, ‘Oh God help me!’ and ‘The witch is coming for me, the demons are gonna come and get me,’ and I thought, ‘Well, I want to be that witch, be that demon,’ you know, ‘I’m coming to get you!’ and that’s where we came from immediately, you know:
I’m in league with Satan
I was raised in hell
I walked the streets of Salem
Amongst the living dead.
I’m not gonna sing about Satanism in the third party, I’m going to fucking speak about it as if I’m the demon, or I’m Satan.”
“Cronos had been interested in the neo-pagan religion known as Wicca since going out with a girl who was interested in the subject, and the pseudonyms and cover art found within Venom’s work reveal at least a passing knowledge of and admiration for LaVey’s writings. All the same, Cronos chose not to draw on these subjects directly and instead wrote far more melodramatic, horror-style lyrics that drew on people’s fear of the dark side, rather than exploring the actual beliefs and activities of genuine practitioners.”
“When I was working in the studio I saw so many band arguments over timing, the slight movement of a snare drum, the slight coming in late of a bass guitar, and that’s got nothing to do with Venom. Venom’s all about feel and compulsion—never mind if it works on a scale or a graph. I don’t want Stephen Hawking or someone to analyze the music, I want some kid to drop to his knees with an air guitar and say, ‘Yeah, this is amazing.’ When we put the first album out and people were hearing glitches, errors, time fluctuations and even tuning issues, it was like, ‘Oh, these guys can’t play, blah blah…’ and we were like, ‘For fuck’s sake!’”
“a year later issued their second album, Black Metal, a milestone that managed to give a name to an entire genre while also contributing immensely to its development. To say that the band had <matured> would probably be stretching a point, but while the gloriously anarchic feel of the debut album was relatively intact, the band had certainly refined things considerably. Kerrang!’s Malcolm Dome described the album as ‘altogether more structured than its predecessor’”
“Doing Buried Alive, we were able to push the boat out even further and get the engineer to do mad things. When we wanted to do the burial scene I brought in a big bucket full of mud and some spades in cardboard boxes and said, ‘We want to recreate this burial scene, so if we put the microphones inside the cardboard box and shovel the mud into the box then as the mud gets deeper and deeper, you’ll hear the thud of the mud getting further away as the muck’s coming on top of the coffin.’ And this guy was like, ‘Hell, yeah, fucking great!’… The people in the studio were like, ‘What the fuck’s going on here, you’re turning the whole place upside down,’ but everybody was psyched, it was like, ‘This album’s going to be amazing.’”
“Years later when I met Dave Grohl (of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and later Probot, for whom Cronos provided guest vocals) I asked him, ‘Have you ever heard of The Magic Roundabout, the animated children’s program?‘Cos we wrote this song called Countess Bathory, which is a deadly serious Venom song and the riff is the theme for The Magic Roundabout. You know, da nana na na, da nana naa.And I asked, is this where you pinched the riff for Spirit of Fucking Whatever?‘Cos it’s exactly the same as the Countess Bathory riff, only backwards.’ He totally didn’t get what I was talking about—must be an English thing!”
“One distinctly English moment that sticks out like a sore thumb on the album even today is Teacher’s Pet, a bluesy number whose crass, tongue-in-cheek lyrics (which see the protagonist caught masturbating under the desk by his teacher) and chant of ‘get your tits out for the lads’ showed how the group’s approach differed from many bands that would claim them as an inspiration.”
“This isn’t Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, this is a rock band, so having something like Teacher’s Pet—it was the ‘wink,’ you know, to show we were human.”
“The band’s next album, At War With Satan, released in early 1984, would complete what most fans now regard as the classic Venom trilogy. It did so in a somewhat unexpected fashion, with a concept album based on a story Cronos had originally intended to release in book format. Given what had gone before, this somewhat more thoughtful approach turned more than a few heads, as did the fact that an entire side of the record was devoted to the opening title track.”
“No, fuck it, let’s freak them out and make one song that takes up the whole album ‘cos it’ll be what they don’t expect, ‘cos remember, ‘Venom can’t play, they’re crap!’”
“While the band played perhaps their most famous shows in the Seven Dates of Hell tour, taking with them an up-and-coming Los Angeles band called Metallica, the lifestyle that accompanied this tour started causing cracks in the once-close unit, with Mantas eventually departing the band altogether.”
“If you ever watch the Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster and see James Hetfield—that was Mantas. He just turned off. He wasn’t interested anymore. All demure, all attitude. ‘Have you got any ideas?’ Nah. ‘Any stage gear?’ Nah. It was like talking to a different bloke. Speaking to him years later I asked him what happened, and he said he felt under pressure to join in with everyone and didn’t want to. And I said, ‘For fuck’s sake, of all people, you could have had anything you’d wanted, if you’d wanted to go back to the hotel room you could have, you didn’t have to fuck that chick or whatever.’ I mean, me and Abaddon were just drinking the Jack and getting stuck in, but that wasn’t for him, because of doing all the fitness and the martial arts. In a way, it made me go the other way—I partied even harder as if to say ‘Look how great this is, this life we’re having, look how fantastic and happy I am.’ But I think that pushed him even further. I think if I’d straightened up, been a bit more sensible and not been off my fucking tits, I might have been able to communicate with him better.”
“The band recorded one final album with the Cronos/Mantas/Abaddon line-up, entitled Possessed, but it was a relatively disappointing effort, perhaps inevitable given that when the band reached the studio they had no songs rehearsed. Cronos explains that Mantas was relatively disinterested by this point, and as Abaddon had never contributed much in terms of songwriting, it essentially fell to the singer to teach the other members the songs. Perhaps as a result, there’s a definite chemistry missing from the album.
While Venom would release a wealth of material in the years that followed, with a variety of members—even reuniting the classic line-up for 1997’s Cast In Stone—there’s no doubt that it was their early career that really helped create the black metal movement. And of course, Venom will always be the band responsible for the term itself (alongside several others), even if the later bands that appropriated the phrase would interpret it somewhat differently.”
“When we started to see people like Eddie Van Halen doing guitar solos for Michael Jackson on the song Beat It—and then that song got into the Sounds ‘heavy metal chart’—we were just disgusted to tell you the truth. I mean I’ve got nothing against Jackson, but he’s not heavy metal. At that point it was like we are not heavy metal, if Jackson’s there we do not want to be in that chart… we are black metal, death metal, power metal, thrash metal, all of this, but not heavy metal. Coming up with a term like black metal or thrash metal, it was great when bands came along and used those titles. The Norwegians used the term black metal ten years later ‘cos they knew they would automatically be put into a category they wanted to be in.”
3 Mercyful Fate
“Mercyful Fate was really important. When I was listening to it I knew instinctively that it wasn’t normal heavy metal like Queensryche you know? You can’t really compare it, it had something extra, and that was the black metal extract.”
“Their musical style,” explains Diamond, “some of it was heavy metal, some of it was punk, but when I joined we made an agreement that this was going to be heavy metal, not punk, we were gonna write new stuff and only concentrate on that. We played a few shows and recorded demos for CBS for a new Brats album and when they heard our stuff they freaked out, they told us there was no way they were going to release that sort of stuff, that we had to go back to this more pop-oriented heavy metal, more accessible stuff in the style of the first album. That’s when me and Hank split and started looking for musicians to make our own band.”
“King Diamond proved more than capable of matching Priest vocalist Rob Halford’s impressive range, taking falsettos in metal to new extremes.”
“Deep Purple had influenced me to try to sing like Ian Gillan,” Diamond explains. “At one of our shows I remember one of our fans saying, ‘You should really work on your falsetto, ‘cos it sounds really cool those few times you used it.’I had no idea what the word meant, he had to explain to me what it really was. So then I started to work harder on it until I had better control of it and could hold the note and sing more relaxed, so I didn’t come home without a voice every time.”
“The band were invited to play the Friday Night Rock Show thanks to a friend who was helping to distribute their demo, and were given 8 hours in the studio to record 3 songs, namely Evil, Curse Of The Pharaohs and Satan’s Fall.”
“Compared to later material, however, the riffs reveal a greater hard rock influence, coupled with a definite NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) vibe. The recording is also notably rougher round the edges than later albums, a result, the vocalist explains, of a simple lack of time.”
“Hank, when he recorded the long intro solo for A Corpse Without Soul, he gave it a couple of shots and didn’t quite get it right, then the producer said, ‘Okay, we don’t have time for this shit, do it now and whatever you make that’s what’s going on, I’m sorry,’ and he did the one that’s on there now!”
“Melissa also replaces the melancholy found on albums such as Sad Wings of Destinywith a creepy malevolence that mirrors the album’s lyrics, the frequent use of the word Satan still standing out today, especially due to the clarity of Diamond’s vocals. From the beginning the focus is on the cruel and the macabre, the album’s opening song Evil telling the story of a mercenary raised from the cemetery—via hell itself—to murder and torment the living.”
“Don’t Break The Oath. Toning down the progressive blues rock overtones somewhat, the album, despite the addition of infrequent keyboards, proved a heavier and more aggressive listen than its predecessor, frequently entering thrash metal territory, while retaining the Judas Priest/Iron Maiden dual guitar attack. A fuller production—the result of 18 days in the studio, as opposed to the 12 used for Melissa—undoubtedly gives an additional punch to the already meaty riffs, and Diamond’s vocals remain hugely dramatic, his range as impressive as ever.”
“Despite the commercial and critical success of the 2 albums, however, Mercyful Fate turned out to be a fairly short-lived act [?], at least in its original incarnation. Following Don’t Break The Oath, Diamond departed (along with Michael Denner and Timi Hansen) to concentrate on a self-titled solo career, which continues to this day, utilizing a horror concept album formula to produce such classics as Abigail and “Them”. Hank, meanwhile, formed Fate, a hard rock band that continues today, though Hank himself departed after the band’s 2nd album.”
“It was Hank who changed his tastes a lot and I’m not putting him down, ’cos we’re the best of friends and he knows what happened. He was hanging with a certain crowd and there was a lot of disco stuff and watching funk bands, and he wanted to incorporate some Mother’s Finest-style funk into what we were doing and also make it a little poppy. We had a meeting and were presenting demos to each other and that was when we got a shock. Because Hank was a prankster—a few of us liked to play pranks on each other—and we thought it was a prank, like, ‘Okay, play the real stuff now, this is kinda funny, but come on now.’ And he was dead serious. And it was like, ‘You’re kidding? What the hell are you thinking of?’ Well, his intention was that maybe me and Michael Denner could write the music for one side—the ‘Mercy side’—and he would write the music for the other side, the Fate side. Like two different bands. Are you kidding? I would never do that, that would be like pissing on myself and my fans, I’m never going do something I couldn’t believe in. And it was the same from his side. So we parted on good terms. It would be no good if any of us were prostituting ourselves.”
“The band would eventually reform in 1992, with all of the original line-up save for drummer Ruzz appearing on 1993’s In The Shadows, an album that also saw Metallica’s Lars Ulrich (a long-time fan and fellow Dane) handling the drums on a re-recording of the demo-era song Return Of The Vampire. Two more albums, Time and Into The Unknown (1994 and 1996), were recorded minus bassist Hansen, and two more, Dead Again and 9 (1999) following the departure of Denner, before the band finished activities once again. More recently, the popularity of the hugely successful video game franchise Guitar Hero caused a resurrection of the <classic line-up> (again minus drummer Ruzz) to re-record tracks Evil and Curse of the Pharaohs for Guitar Hero: Metallicasince the original masters had been lost.”
“Bathory had a unique sound to them, totally. They always got the worst marks in the reviews, but they were maybe the most important band for the second wave of black metal. They were obscure, Satanic, they had a shit sound, a very cold production and the vocals were different to what everyone else was doing.”
—Apollyon (Aura Noir, Dødheimsgard)
“I’d say it was Venom who created black metal but the prototype of today’s black metal was created by Bathory.”
“If anyone says they are into black metal, but do not know or like Bathory, they do not know what black metal is or where it came from. Sure Venom and Hellhammer were important as well, but Bathory defined the sound of black metal as it is known today.”
“Whether or not the band were inspired by Venom is a question that has been floating around almost since their inception, even though such influence was passionately denied by the band’s creative force Tomas Forsberg—better known to the metal world by his nom-de-plume Quorthon—right until his untimely death in June 2004.”
“It was in 1983 (1p.m. on March 16 in fact, according to the official Bathory website) when the 3 founding members—Quorthon, Jonas ‘Vans McBurger’ Åkerlund, and Fredrick ‘Freddan’ Hanoi—first met.”
“It was very popular at the time to form bands, it was just what everybody did,” begins Jonas, who was 18 at the time. “We would change names every week, we tried all combinations and styles. It was me and the bass player, who was my cousin, we were looking for a guitarist, to be a 3-piece. We had the idea to play really, really fast metal and, like everybody else back then, we put our little advert in the record store where you had all the instruments. Quorthon called us and our rehearsal studio was not too far away, so we went straight there to try it out.”
“Years later on the official Bathory website, Quorthon would describe Bathory as an attempt to <amalgamate the gloom of Black Sabbath, sound of Motörhead and the newly found frenzy of GBH,> the latter being one of a number of pioneering English hardcore punk bands active at the time whose efforts were pushing into similarly ‘extreme’ territories.”
“The thing with Quorthon was that he wrote all the music and had been writing songs for forever, so he came with a catalogue of stuff. He was already banging it, on the very first day we started playing those songs. He brought so much to the table, because he was a genius musician. We really weren’t used to playing with someone like him, so he brought up the level to a higher scale than we were used to. He was a very different kind of guy, his creativity didn’t come from listening to other people. His creativity came from inside in a weird way.”
“There were a lot of things I never found out about him. We never really talked about other music, because once we started it was all about us, and where we wanted to go with it. It slowly became darker and darker and faster and faster. It felt like it was a completely different era; the combination of the punk rock and the dark bands like Sabbath and Quorthon’s guitar playing, it kinda fell into place in a way. But it wasn’t really the kind of music anyone else played at the time, especially in Sweden, there was a completely different scene going on.”
“While Quorthon maintained vehemently throughout his life that Boss was in no way related to him, it is generally believed that he was, in fact, Quorthon’s father. Certainly it cannot be denied that it was Boss who was responsible for giving Bathory their big break, allowing the then-unknown group to contribute two tracks to the 1984 compilation album Scandinavian Metal Attack, alongside more melodic and commercial Swedish heavy metal acts such as Oz and Trash.”
“A friend of mine bought Scandinavian Metal Attack and the first time I heard it I couldn’t believe my ears,” explains Necrobutcher of Norway legends Mayhem. “We hadn’t heard the techniques that he was using, singing through the guitar microphone to create this effect on his voice, how fast the music was, what the lyrics were about… we were just blown away.”
“Not long after the release of the compilation, Jonas and his cousin began to drift away from Bathory, moving from Sweden to stay in London for a while. Jonas also discovered a career in film, one that would eventually lead him to create full-length features, advertisements, and also music videos for the likes of Madonna, Metallica, and even Norwegian black metal act Satyricon. Coincidentally, one of his first efforts was a video for Swedish doom metal band Candlemass, and featured a young Per Ohlin—future singer of Mayhem—as a zombie extra.”
“It was a good 10 years before I realized what Bathory had become though. I see people with the goat head tattooed on them now—we had that very, very early, I think I had that on my bass drum, I don’t remember, but I think I did—and I mean, who would have thought that would happen back then?”
“Released via Black Mark Productions—a sub-label of Tyfon Grammofon set up especially for the release (with a ‘666-1’ serial number no less)—the album’s cover was emblazoned with the now-familiar goat’s head design. Though Quorthon is credited on the Bathory homepage, the image was in fact taken from a drawing by American illustrator Joseph Smith, and has become one of the most iconic images within black metal today. The reverse of the record was illustrated by a large pentagram.
Aesthetically speaking, the sleeve had much in common with the early Venom releases, with one important difference: a complete absence of band photos. This, coupled with the fact that only Quorthon and Boss were mentioned on the sleeve, meant that the element of mystery and anonymity had now well and truly been added to the black metal formula, a mystery made easier to retain due to the decision to keep the band as a studio-only project.”
“Prior to Bathory, one-man bands were pretty much unheard of within metal and there can be little doubt that the common perception of Bathory as a one-man outfit hugely legitimized the concept of the solo-driven, studio-only black metal band. It’s interesting to note just how many later bands in the movement, from Norway’s Burzum and Isengard to America’s Xasthur and Leviathan, would adopt this setup, something still largely unheard of in the thrash and death metal scenes.”
“If Quorthon didn’t hear the Black Metal album before recording the debut, one might have to assume some higher power was at work as not only do both albums have songs entitled Sacrifice, but the lyrics to Bathory’s Raise The Dead and the third song from Venom’s Black Metal, Buried Alive (which actually bleeds straight into a track entitled Raise The Dead), are startlingly similar, both describing being buried alive and explicitly including mention of a ‘gasp for air’, a ‘tear at the lid’, and the promise that the victim will arise again from the dead.”
“Indeed, aside from one track—Bestial Lust—the album had reduced the rock ‘n’ roll overtones present in the debut, making the Venom and Motörhead comparisons less relevant and leaving a collection of nastier and more punishing songs that some consider to be the first ‘true’ black metal album. And if The Return… didn’t create the black metal sound as we know it today, the album that followed it 2 years later undoubtedly did.”
“Under The Sign of The Black Mark had such a cold atmosphere, so fucking, freezing cold,” explains ex-Mayhem vocalist Maniac. “Of course you had the Satanic lyrics, but there was something within the music that was really capturing me, it was really cold, sometimes even scary, and it just nailed something there with the whole sound of it. It’s always very hard to talk about how music influences you, but it set off an avalanche of emotions, it was like Quorthon actually managed to give sound to something that was inside of you, in a very appropriate way.”
“Fast, aggressive metal was now becoming relatively commonplace, a total contrast to the situation only 3 or 4 years before.”
“The eighties was a decade in the metal scene where everything was compact, there was no monotony,” comments Fenriz of Norway’s Darkthrone. “If you played a riff 4 times, that was it, you move onto the next riff. 99% of the albums were like that. Then came Bathory”
“It was an incredible experience to listen to Under the Sign, as he was using some synthesizer, which was not common in that sort of music at the time and certainly that influenced Samael to have a keyboard later… it showed that you can have a lot of different ambiences and still keep the heaviness.”
“We were just three shit kids aged 17-8. We didn’t know a shit about life or death, let alone the stuff that metal and rock lyrics seemed to be made from. We’d never get to fuck bombshell bimbos, we’d never get to party all night long … We really couldn’t relate to those lyrics. We’d certainly listen to those NWOBHM albums, but when it came to write lyrics for our own material, we just picked up from the sources we thought seemed most graphic or effective… picking up the dark and evil themes was not a stand taken, a point of view made official, or a personal ideology expressed… It was quite simply… to irritate and to annoy those above-all know-all Christians, the church itself and the dictatorial Christian faith on a whole.”
“Bathory would also have the dubious honor of becoming the first in a long line of bands from the black metal scene to be accused of Nazi sympathies. Hammerheart fell into considerable hot water upon its release, due to the song Under The Runes, which partly related to Germany’s SS, the SS insignia utilizing two ‘Sig’ runes, hence the titular reference. This, coupled with the sleeve art’s use of a sun wheel, an ancient symbol appropriated by right-wing groups since the Second World War, led many to question and reassess the band’s use of Scandinavian themes.”
“For the rest of his career the only controversies that followed him were down to his musical decisions, with later albums such as Octagon departing from both the black metal and Viking styles, much to the horror of many fans. Of Bathory’s 12 albums, there’s little doubt that it was only the first 6 that had significant relevance within black metal.”
“The story of Hellhammer is, without a doubt, inseparable from that of its founder, vocalist, and guitarist Tom Gabriel Fischer, better known to the world as Tom G. Warrior. To him the band owes not only its existence, but also its dark and uncompromising nature, which reflects his musical technique and then-limited level of ability, as well as a personality shaped by the severe conditions of his youth.”
“I had a regular childhood until I was 6 years old,” Tom explains in his faultless and carefully measured English. “My parents then decided to divorce, and my mother took from the divorce a fantastic record collection. We moved to a tiny farm village of 1,500 inhabitants and my mother put the key around my neck and said, ‘You’re on your own now, I’m going to smuggle diamonds and watches over the world and you’re going to be alone for weeks on end.’ So that little 6 or 7-year old kid was left at home with no relatives, no friends, no nothing, in a village he didn’t know. The only thing I had was this record collection, so basically music became my best friend, that’s how it all started. I totally turned to music, I found my sanctuary there, it became my universe.”
“Later my mother gradually drifted into insanity and the living conditions in my home became unbearable. I became trapped. There was no family and because I was an outcast and the village was so small, everybody knew about my background and the other young people decided I was going to be the perfect punching bag, being all alone with no brothers or sisters, no father. So I encountered drastic violence every day in that village in my teenage years. Nobody gave a shit. Nowadays in a politically correct society everybody jumps at the chance to help somebody and you read about cases like this in the newspaper, but at that time—mid-1970s, tiny farm town—nobody really gave a shit. The teachers actually sided with the young people who put the violence on me and the farmers made me even more outcast with their comments and their reactions toward me. At home my mother acquired 90 cats that lived in a confined space, the same space I inhabited. I grew up in feces, urine, cockroaches, tapeworms, and maggots for years and when I stepped outside I was beaten violently—that was my youth and this is the direct link to why Hellhammer even existed. I’m not telling this to tell a tear-jerking story, it’s simply the background to why my music became so dark. Why a little kid from Switzerland—not really a rock ‘n’ roll country—plays music that barely even exists yet. That music was a reflection of my life at the time.”
“Tom visited England, the source of so much of the music that fascinated him. Making a pilgrimage to HMV in London’s Oxford Street, he discovered an entire wall of NWOBHM records, including In League With Satan, the debut single from Venom. It would prove to be an epiphany. <I had no idea what they sounded like, but I saw the photo on the back and felt this was the most extreme photo I had ever seen of a band>, he recalls. <So I bought it and took it home to Switzerland and was like, ‘I have found my revelation.’ It literally changed my life, these 2 tracks on this single completely changed my life.>”
“It was very difficult to get a proper instrument in Switzerland at that time and everything is very expensive here. I was in an apprenticeship as a mechanic and made hardly any money so I had to sign a installment plan for I don’t know how many years, to get the rate low. I was into Rush and Motörhead and so I wanted to have a Rickenbacker bass—at that point I didn’t think I would ever play a guitar, so I bought that and started paying it off. Having that instrument in my hands was magic beyond any description… I would be sitting in front of that instrument for hours, smelling the scent, touching it, looking at it. It was like some magical thing I had seen in record sleeves and magazines, and even though I didn’t know how to play it, the power that instrument had over me was amazing.”
“Grave Hill [bandas amadoras que depois se tornaram bandas centrais deste livro não serão citadas no índice de bandas ao final do post] proved to be a fairly amateurish affair, with all members having only a rudimentary ability on their chosen instruments and rehearsals taking place in Tom’s cramped bedroom. In fact, so difficult was it to find a guitarist who would take them seriously that the band were even forced to recruit a 2nd bass player and then put Tom’s bass through a distortion pedal (à la Venom) to make it sound more like a guitar. Ultimately the band was to be short-lived, but it did finally provide Tom—albeit indirectly—with a like-minded character named Urs Sprenger, soon to become the co-founder of Hellhammer.”
“I’d heard Venom’s In League With Satan, but it wasn’t heavy enough for me. The single was on 45 rpm and I played it at 33 rpm to make it heavier and we had some sort of a roadie—even though we never played any concerts, we had a hanger-on—and he was the only one who said, ‘Yeah, that sounds much better on 33 rpm.’ He listened to punk and listened to Venom, he was like me, so I asked if he wanted to join the band and at that point everyone left the band. They said, ‘Hey, these guys are crazy, that’s no longer music.’ So we felt we might as well form a new band and be dedicated in trying to be as extreme as possible, and that was the birth of Hellhammer in May 1982.”
“Sprenger took up the role of bass in the newly formed band, with Tom moving on to guitar and vocals. Inspired by a fellow apprentice whose surname was Krieger, German for warrior, the pair adopted the pseudonyms Tom Warrior and Steve Warrior. <It sounded cool,> explains Tom, <and we liked that a lot of the bands in England were brothers—like Raven, with the Gallagher brothers.> All that now remained was to find a drummer, a role they initially filled with an individual called Peter Stratton.”
“He was a million miles from us,” smiles Fischer. “Me and Steve were fanatics and he just wanted to be in a band—and to top it all off his parents were radical Catholics! As you can imagine that only lasted a few months, but it did give us a rehearsal space. The Catholic Church had some nuclear-hardened bunkers at their disposal for youth activities, and they didn’t really know what sort of band we were, so they gave us an affordable bunker which was only 50 euros a year, which is of course sensational. For us it was hard even to find that money, but at least we had a rehearsal room. We lost that drummer after a short while, but Steve and I went to a tiny heavy metal festival in a gym hall in the next city and there was a band, Moorhead, whose drummer was really good. So I went up to the guitarist and said, ‘Can you give me the number of your drummer?’ and the guy was stupid enough to do it. So I called the drummer and said, ‘Hello, my name is Tom Warrior, I’m here with the heaviest band in the world ever, do you want to be our drummer?’ and it worked. That was Bruce Day.”
“While other musicians also briefly played in the band, it was the core trio made up of Satanic Slaughter (Tom Warrior), Savage Damage (Steve Warrior), and Bruce Day (also known as ‘Bloodhunter’ and ‘Denial Fiend’) who first achieved a real impact with Hellhammer.”
“For example I picked up the Metal for Muthas compilation which had Angel Witch’s Baphomet, and that song became an icon for me. To this very day I’m trying to recreate something like that. So completely strange to think a single song might change my life, but it has done so several times.”
“There was absolutely no support, no encouragement, no nothing,” Tom sighs. “In spite of that we tried to be as professional as possible, in fact all the bands that had a name in Switzerland were actually far lazier than us. We said, ‘We need to have an image, a concept, a logo, a symbol,’ and since we had no support whatsoever, we did everything ourselves. We wrote the lyrics—at first blatant copies of Venom lyrics, then later we tried to make them more original—and worked extremely hard, without having a chance to really achieve anything. Steve Warrior was a massive punk fan and brought in a lot of punk aesthetic, but what shouldn’t be forgotten is that NWOBHM was such an underground movement that a lot of the singles were done in an almost pathetic manner, black-and-white, hand-drawn, and I think we took some of our aesthetic from there.”
“But my father told me that one of his friends was a sound engineer. I would see my father a few days a year because of a court order; they had told him that he had to see me every month, of course he didn’t do that, but I would see him a few times a year. A friend of his was a sound engineer, so I called that guy and said, ‘I’m Mr. Fischer’s kid, we have no money, could you do us a cheap recording?’ The guy said yes and came with a mobile recording unit, which was basically just a tiny tape machine, a four-track tape. Us being completely unprofessional, having never been into a studio, instead of using 4 tracks, we used 16 tracks, we were like, ‘let’s record everything!’ The sound engineer was sitting there wide-eyed and said, ‘Look, what you’re playing is absolutely terrible, it’s not music, has nothing to DO with music, this is a waste of tape, it’s awful.’ But we insisted. We said, ‘You have to mix it and give it to us, we’re dying to have it.’ So we waited while the tape was just languishing at his place. We waited for weeks until he said he had mixed it—even though he probably didn’t do anything to it—then he sent us a cassette. For years after I would hear from my father that he was still talking at the motorcycle magazine where they both were working as journalists, the guy would badmouth my music for years afterwards, saying, ‘This guy cannot play and his band is a joke.’ But at least we had our first demo.”
“We were going to release 2 demos originally, the first, Death Fiend, with the older songs, and Triumph of Death, which was going to be the newer songs. But when we listened to Death Fiend we realized ourselves that this was awful. By now it was 1983 and American bands were coming out like Metallica, we had heard the first Slayer demos and the Metal Church demos, and even the English bands had progressed massively. The trend was to go more commercial and get clean productions that sounded fantastic. Most of the singers tried to sing like Ronnie James Dio, they sang very high and had multiple-octave voices, and here we were with our shoddy little tape that sounded just like a bulldozer. So we felt really ashamed initially and we knew this wouldn’t go anywhere and everyone that heard it, they were laughing their asses off, nobody took it seriously.”
“Of course many years later it would be a habit to have bad productions—many of the Norwegian bands purposely wanted to have a production like that and it makes you get used to it after hearing this for almost 20 years. When you listen to Hellhammer production now it’s very fashionable, but if you see it in the context of the early 80s—when all the bands tried to improve and bands like Venom and even Motörhead were accused of not being musicians—it was extremely anachronistic. We were picking up a lot of reviews and I’m not exaggerating when I say that 99% of them were devastatingly bad.”
“I realized that even though Steve and I were as radical as one another, many other things between us didn’t match—Steve Warrior enjoyed certain drugs and lots of alcohol and he had problems progressing on his instrument, Fischer states. (…) Finding a replacement proved to be problematic and time-consuming but eventually the group resurfaced with a new bass player, Martin Stricker, known to fans as Martin Ain or Slayed Necros. It was around this time that Hellhammer experienced its first ray of hope.”
NA CONTA DO CHÁ: “They listened to it, looked at the photos—which were radical at the time—and based on the photos they said, ‘If you can come up with a better demo by the end of the year then you get your record deal.’ Of course that was something I never expected and it gave us immense energy in the few remaining months of the year, to come up with a better demo, and on the 31st December we had the demo finished and sent it to Germany.” “The 46-minute demo, which featured revamped numbers such as Messiah and Triumph of Death alongside new material, was enough to convince Noise, who promptly signed the band.”
“Of course the record deal was ridiculous—they gave us the chance to be on a compilation and maybe do an EP—but for me that was the biggest thing in the world.So we worked like maniacs day and night on this music. In my apprenticeship I started failing really badly, because I wasn’t doing any homework. I would come home stinking from cooling liquor from the tool machines and go straight to the rehearsal room, play until midnight, walk back home from village to village through the forest, listen to the music at home, then try to get 3 or 4 hours sleep, then start again. I failed at school, the CEO of the company where I did the apprenticeship ordered my parents to come and try to forbid me to play music. My whole life became disorganized and catastrophic just because of this musical dream.”
“More importantly, the same year also saw the release of the EP Apocalyptic Raids, which featured 4 songs recorded at the same session as the Death Metal tracks, including new numbers Horus/Aggressor and Massacra, a song that would end up being revisited by a wealth of black metal bands including Emperor, The Abyss, and Merrimack. Murky and primal in sound, the EP revealed its hardcore punk inspirations on fast-paced songs such as Massacra—particularly in the drumming, which featured a more primitive and idiosyncratic take on Discharge’s famous d-beat—while elsewhere featuring torturously slow and lingering passages, complete with pained screams, such as on the 10-minute-long Triumph of Death.”
“By now the first Slayer album had come out and the first Exciteralbum had come out and Metallica were much bigger, Megadeth and Metal Church were coming out and here we were with this EP, a million miles from the standards being set in America. Radical as we were, we said, ‘Instead of trying to reinvent the band a million times, let’s start from scratch,’ and on the night of May 31, 1984, Martin and I sat together in my room and spent the entire night drawing up the concept for the band, making it as detailed as possible. We designed 3 albums; we said what the covers would be, the song titles, what the lyrics would be about, we said what kind of photos we would choose for each album, we said how these could be promoted… everything. We put this in a handmade book—this was well before desktop publishing, so we wrote it all down with a typewriter and sketches—then sent it by snail mail to Berlin and said, ‘Hellhammer no longer exists, this is Celtic Frost and we’d like to take over the record deal with this new band.’And we thought they would never go for it. But to my huge surprise, once they got our little presentation they called me and said, ‘You don’t have to do a demo, let’s go for a minialbum. The whole thing sounds convincing.’ So on June 1, essentially—and retroactively—Celtic Frost was born.”
“I had finally freed myself from the world my mother had created where I was completely helpless, and I really did not want to be reminded of that for many years. For decades I pushed that era aside. I did not want to have anything to do with Hellhammer, even in a lighter sense. I was very glad to leave this behind and be in Celtic Frost and be a contemporary and not have to think about why Hellhammer really existed. It was only as I approached my 40s that I began to be able to assess that time realistically.”
“Eventually Tom, and his ex-Hellhammer bandmates, learned to not only accept Hellhammer but even celebrate it, and in 2009 the band’s complete discography was released in a collection entitled Demon Entrails. The following year saw a lavish book about the band released, entitled Only Death Is Real. Having now come to terms with the work and events of his past, Tom acknowledges just how significant those years were in shaping the man and musician he is today.”
“I’m a self-confident, grown-up musician now, who’s been in the music industry for a quarter of a century, and I think there’s a point where you have to stop making excuses, be an adult and take responsibility for your own actions. On the other hand, I cannot deny that the background I experienced as a kid has completely affected every detail of my life, my entire outlook, my infinite hatred for mankind, my radically violent reactions nowadays when someone looks at me even slightly the wrong way. Every time that happens a movie plays in my head… back then I was a little kid who wasn’t able to defend himself and as soon as I became an adult that turned completely and I would punish the person who exerted this on me by putting all the anger that had accumulated over all these years on that one person.”
“So I’m very torn between the intellectual who thinks it’s time to be different and the radical metal musician who almost enjoys that side of me.”
6 Celtic Frost
“This was the time of the Metallicas and Megadeths, smiles Tom, “and we wanted a name that wasn’t so ‘cliché-metal.’ Hellhammer had a name that completely defined our music, so we wanted a name that gave us total artistic freedom, that didn’t sound metal, that didn’t sound anything, so we could incorporate whatever we wanted into our music, from jazz to opera. We wanted the name to represent our lyrics—basically the apocalypse—and chose a civilization, the Celts, as we ourselves had Celtic backgrounds, and ‘frost’ which symbolized the end of the year, the end of a civilization, the end of a cycle. But a new cycle arises after the winter, just as with all civilizations. It was a very symbolic name.”
“All the same, Celtic Frost were clearly also utilizing a much wider spectrum of influence, including that of gothic rock acts such as Bauhaus and Christian Death, and were already beginning to demonstrate the decidedly innovative approach to songwriting (evident in the restrained but notable use of violin and female vocals) that would increasingly earn them the ‘avant-garde metal’ tag. The record was followed in early 1985 by Emperor’s Return, an EP that continued where its predecessor left off and saw the introduction of a permanent drummer Reed St. Mark, real name Reid Cruickshank.”
“We were in awe, he played like all these drummers we’d heard on American albums and we knew we had to have this guy, whereas he was quite bewildered by our appearance and by our music. But he needed a new gig, so he decided to give it a chance against his better judgment.”
“Vocally, Tom’s wonderfully distinct, almost alien handling of words continued to define the group’s sound, and as in Hellhammer he peppered his vocals with unexpected bursts of enthusiasm, often throwing in a hey, or, more famously, an uuuuuurgh!.”
“I first heard the ‘death grunt’ when I was a child, when I heard James Brown in the early 70s. During the seventies a lot of hard rock bands would do that as well, then NWOBHM bands like Diamond Head, Iron Maiden, and even Motörhead, I simply picked up on that. On the first Iron Maiden single there was a death grunt and we thought that was so unbelievably cool. Maybe I took it to a different level, maybe that’s the credit I deserve.”
“Occultism had always interested me and at times in Hellhammer and Celtic Frost we got a lot of first-hand experience of all that because our extreme music and lyrical topics attracted a lot of very serious people from both sides of the line: Catholic religious fanatics, national socialist Satanists, and everything in between. Some of those would want to literally kill us and some would try to turn us to their direction, it was a very weird time and it frequently still happens actually.At one point we had problems with a local grotto of Satanists that tried to infiltrate Hellhammer to convey their message. Since they also had National Socialist tendencies Martin and I completely blocked them off, which infuriated them no end, and they made very serious death threats. I’m actually friends with these people nowadays, and even though I disagree with their ideas I have to really deeply respect them. I respect a lot of radical people simply because they didn’t wimp out and cut their hair and become normal citizens, what can I say?”
“It was part of the music we grew up with,” Tom replies simply. “The record collection of my parents was very eclectic—classical, jazz, Beatles—and Martin had a background with a lot of new wave and a lot of church music. We were never a ‘small town-minded’ heavy metal band, we were always fascinated by music. We didn’t want to adhere to some invisible border that heavy metal bands had set for themselves, like, ‘You can’t have a keyboard on an album,’ and all the crap that was being said back then. We always felt it was about the music, and we thought it was much more courageous to be a musician and try to make an eclectic album, rather than adhere to a list of things you cannot do. We had a violin and female vocalist already on Morbid Tales, and the bigger the budgets became and the more experienced we became as musicians, the more we incorporated that.”
“Translating as The Great Beast, the title To Mega Therion was a biblical phrase adopted by occultist Aleister Crowley, an individual whose influence would surface throughout the band’s career. All the same, Tom is quick to point out that the man once dubbed ‘the most wicked man in England’ wasn’t the only inspiration for the album’s title.”
“For the first two albums we had this huge rock tied to our ankles—whenever we went to an interview or a record label or promoter, everyone would say, ‘Oh, it’s the Hellhammer guys, they can’t play and it’s crap,’ and it was an extremely difficult start for Celtic Frost. Our recipe to avoid this was to distance ourselves radically from Hellhammer; if you read period interviews, Martin and I are very often distancing ourselves just to get a chance with Celtic Frost, so people would recognize that we wanted to do something better. It took many years for Celtic Frost to be taken seriously. It began when we released Into the Pandemonium in 1987—that was basically our breakthrough album and the one where we started to get respect.”
“A revolutionary and highly influential effort, Into the Pandemonium would prove to be an even more bold and diverse effort than To Mega Therion. Taking the experimental streak even further, the album rarely stands still stylistically, shifting from upbeat hard-rock-tinged thrash (for example I Won’t Dance or the Wall of Voodoo cover Mexican Radio) to industrial/electronic efforts (One in Their Pride) to deeply melancholy metal numbers such as Mesmerizedand even, perhaps most provocatively, a classical piece with French female vocals, Tristesses de la Lune. Deeply haunting and epic in tone for the most part, the album also upped the orchestral ante thanks to a legion of session musicians, an addition that wasn’t without its challenges.”
“These guys came in and said the same old story: ‘What you guys are playing, it’s noise, not music.’ They were very reluctant to even try it, especially when they learnt that none of us could conduct, none of us could write scores and that we were mediocre musicians. They laughed at us, they didn’t realize they were taking part in something that was a pioneering album. And neither did we of course.”
“If you actually risk your career to do something new, even if it’s in a very small way, then it’s art. Especially heavy metal musicians who pose like they’re big, bad men in their leathers… a lot of those bands are so conservative and scared to ever deviate from their track… to me heavy metal itself is a powerful, energetic, courageous music. It’s a revolutionary music, or at least it was when it arose in the 70s and I cannot believe so many people are scared to go anywhere with that.”
“Unfortunately this achievement came with a heavy price. While the album was warmly received (although inevitably it would prove too challenging for some of the band’s more conservative listeners), and earned the band both new fans and critical acclaim, its creation would also directly help to destroy the band.”
“The record company, when we persisted with this album, turned toward open confrontation. They cancelled our video, they cancelled the tour support that they were contractually obligated to provide and they changed the album round in an attempt to make it a more traditional heavy metal album, which resulted in an exchange of attorney for 14 months and burdened us with a huge legal bill to regain our artistic freedom. These legal wranglings were one of the reasons the band split up. We were young at the time and didn’t have the legal backing, a proper management, the connections or the experience to withstand such an assault from a corporation, and even though we persisted with our principles and got rid of the contract and were free at the end, the free band was a band that no longer existed. It was our breakthrough album but the result was that Celtic Frost was over and done with… Into the Pandemonium is basically the epitaph of the original Celtic Frost.”
“even today the phrase Cold Lake is occasionally used by the metal press for <an irredeemable album by a once great band>, and although in retrospect its glam rock/melodic thrash crossover attempt doesn’t quite live up to its terrible reputation, it’s fair to say that it was deeply flawed and a great disappointment compared to what had come before.”
“I had also freshly fallen in love with the woman who would later be my wife and the end of that litigation and this never-ending hell and me being in love just conspired in me wanting to be happy, and wanting to do something colorful, something positive. And that’s all nice and dandy, but that’s not Celtic Frost. I should have done a solo album or whatever, but it should never have been a Celtic Frost album. It also made me relinquish control, I was way too much involved in my new relationship and left the studio for great periods of time and let the people do whatever they wanted to do.”
“The follow-up, Vanity/Nemesis, released in 1990 and featuring the return of Martin Ain, was a far stronger effort musically speaking, closer to the melodic but heavy thrash metal album that the band had originally envisioned for Cold Lake. It was not enough to fully rejuvenate the band, however; a compilation featuring unreleased and re-recorded material, Parched With Thirst Am I and Dying, was issued in 1992 and the band split for the second time the following year.”
“That’s probably because death metal has become very technical over the years,” Tom ponders. “We actually named ourselves death metal in an attempt to get away from the black metal tag, we also called ourselves doom metal, we felt very trapped by the tag ‘black metal.’ We were also involved, I think, in the thrash metal scene, that was music we loved and music we played, but you’re right, a lot of people focus on our connections to black metal and so be it.”
“One only need look at the pseudonyms used by Norway’s Mayhem, one of the 2nd wave’s most important bands, to see this influence: a member named Hellhammer, not to mention Messiah, Euronymous [anagram!], and Maniac—all Hellhammer song titles. Similarly, where Celtic Frost had boasted the songs Dethroned Emperor and Circle of the Tyrants, now there was a leading Norwegian band called Emperor with a release called Wrath of the Tyrant. Both bands are among the legion who have covered Hellhammer/Celtic Frost songs at some stage in their career.”
“Number one, I didn’t like all the black metal bands—I thought a lot of that music was repetitive and copyist, and very few bands seemed to me to do something original. Number two, I had a lot of problems with a lot of the things going on that were tied to the black metal scene. When the murders happened for example, all the journalists came up to me and said, ‘Well, the band Hellhammer has been mentioned in conjunction to Norway and the murders.’ It became extremely uncomfortable. So I avoided the black metal scene for a long time, it was absolutely impossible for me to listen to this with an open mind, there was too much personal baggage.”
“the 2006 comeback album Monotheist. Featuring Tom and Martin, along with guitarist Erol Inala and drummer Franco Sesa, perhaps leaned more toward doom than black musically, but was produced by premier 2nd-wave black metal producer Peter Tägtgren, and featured several appearances by vocalists from the Norwegian scene, such as Satyr of Satyricon and Ravn of 1349.”
“I have a hard time accepting modern death metal, it sounds very similar to me, every song uses the same guitar solo and so on, and that annoys me as an artist. Even though these guys can outplay me by a thousand times, it’s very one-dimensional music to me. Thrash music… it’s like NWOBHM, it was a product of its time and thrash metal as I define it no longer really exists. Black metal on the other hand has developed in very interesting directions. Who would have thought black metal and ambient could be merged and so on?”
“at first I was almost disappointed that they weren’t practicing Satanists. The one thing I noticed when I started to really involve myself in the black metal story is that so many protagonists have their own way to define what they mean by Satanism or black metal. When the black metal wave first came into recognition in the late 80s and early 90s, they all basically believed in Satan. But in the years since I’ve been exposed to so many explanations of what Satanism and black metal really is, that I find it extremely interesting. (…) In fact, I can’t help but wonder; most of my life Martin and I have fought the black metal association with Hellhammer and Celtic Frost and always made the point that our lyrics go much further than that … But at the end of the day when I listen to several of the explanations of the protagonists it comes down to nihilism and hatred against human beings, or rather the conduct of human beings, sometimes I think I’m just like them.”
“Though Monotheist was hugely acclaimed, making the number 2 slot on Terrorizer’s top albums of the decade [quanto exagero!] and leading to a number of highly successful international tours, the band’s resurrection was sadly not permanent. Following significant problems between Tom and drummer Franco, the frontman demanded a lineup change, a point that Martin was unwilling to accept, and in April 2008 Tom left the group, effectively bringing it to an end. It is a situation that seems unlikely to change anytime soon.”
“I feel betrayed—so much work, so much money went into bringing Celtic Frost back, it was such a gargantuan undertaking to work on this album for 5 ½ years, it was a risk at every level. I invested so much and in the end Martin lets it slip away, lets me stand there alone. How could I ever trust him again?”
“Thankfully, the spirit of Frost continues in the shape of Triptykon, a band whose first album contains material written as a direct follow-up to Monotheist and which features Tom along with a number of musicians, including V Santora (Victor Bullok) of contemporary black metal act Dark Fortress, who had previously performed as a live guitarist in Celtic Frost.”
“I formed Triptykon with the specific aim of continuing the music of Celtic Frost,” concludes Tom, “both to play the old songs which I love to perform and to write new songs in the same vein. It’s the same equipment—I bought all the equipment from Celtic Frost—it’s the same road crew, it’s the same 2 record labels, Prowling Death and Century Media, it’s the same management, it’s the same graphic designers, it’s exactly Celtic Frost… The only thing that’s different is the rhythm section and the lack of ego problems.”
7 The first wave of Black Thrash
“THE TRADITIONAL DIVISION of the black metal movement into the first and second ‘waves’ has long been a convenient way to distinguish between the bands from the eighties and the seemingly new movement that exploded in the early nineties—indeed, for reasons of clarity, this division is even used when appropriate within this book. However, this practice can also be somewhat misleading. Far from being 2 entirely separate entities, the ‘first wave’ gently bled into the ‘second wave’ as the 80s ended, and it was simply the sudden success, notoriety, and proliferation of bands in the early 90s that created the appearance of an entirely new scene. Norway’s Mayhem—the band at the center of much of this explosion—formed in the mid-eighties, a fact highlighting some of the confusion at work.”
“Again it should be emphasized that in many cases the band’s ‘black metal’ qualities remain a matter of interpretation, since the extreme metal scene at the time was simply too small for the sort of intense sub-genre labeling that goes on today.”
“The German trio of Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction, as well as the American act Slayer, are a perfect case in point. Formed in the early eighties, these three bands would increasingly be hailed as thrash icons as the decade continued, and are all still going strong today. Nevertheless, the early works of these three acts helped to inspire an entirely different movement, a fact attested to by Fenriz and Apollyon, two important figures in nineties Norwegian black metal who helped resurrect the early primal spirit of these Teutonic acts at a time when it had been all but forgotten, not least by the bands themselves. Still, it was perhaps Mayhem’s Euronymous who was most vocal in his admiration for those bands’ formative days (indeed, his label was named after Sodom’s Deathlike Silence song), as well as in his determination not to lose the black metal essence the way those bands had.”
“Formed in 1982 in the West German town of Gelsenkirchen by one Tom Angelripper (born Thomas Such), Sodom were heavily inspired by both Motörhead and Venom. They adopted a similar set-up, working as a trio with Angelripper handling vocals and bass, Aggressor (Frank Testegen) on guitar, and one Bloody Monster (Rainer Focke) handling drums. Later that same year Monster departed, to be replaced by Chris Witchhunter (real name Dudek), and the band recorded and released a 4-track demo entitled Witching Metal. One of the noisiest and most chaotic-sounding metal releases in existence at that time, the tape presents Sodom as perhaps Bathory’s only real competition in terms of early metal extremity—and bear in mind, this was 2 years before the Scandinavian Metal Attack compilation was released.”
“Another demo, Victims of Death, this time featuring 8 songs, followed in 1984, before the iconic In the Sign of Evil EP was issued later that year. Featuring a slightly clearer sound than the demos—but only just—the release remains an aggressive, rabid-sounding piece of work.”
“I mean, you’re allowed to have fun and care about the environment and so on in private, but there’s no need to sing about it. So I still prefer really simple stuff, primitive, Sodom-like lyrics. And Sodom really have the best lyrics ever. Like that Blasphemer song, ‘Spit at the church, Evil I get’…. yeah I’m all for that sort of stuff. You can hear they really want to play as fast as they can and as vicious as possible and it really has a punk attitude, so I prefer the first albums when it doesn’t sound technically brilliant, it doesn’t sound too controlled or well produced.”
“Sodom’s first full-length, Obsessed With Cruelty, was issued in 1986, following in a similarly violent vein while refining the band’s sound and including a lengthy atmospheric introduction.”
“Based in Essen, West Germany, Kreator formed in 1982 under the name of Tormentor, and featured the talents of vocalist/guitarist Miland ‘Mille’ Petrozza, bassist Roberto Florettie, and drummer/vocalist Jürgen ‘Ventor’ Reil.”
“Changing their name to Kreator the same year—a wise move given that there are a host of metal bands, past and present, called Tormentor—the group released Endless Pain in 1985.”
“Another 3-piece—consisting of bassist/vocalist Marcel ‘Schmier’ Schirmer, drummer Tommy Sandmann, and guitarist Mike Sifringer—Destruction originated from the southwest of Germany and originally bore the slightly odd name Knight of Demon. Though they formed in 1982—the same year as their Teutonic compatriots Sodom and Kreator—Destruction were the last of the three to issue a release, namely the EP Sentence of Death, which saw the light of day in 1984.”
“I know 6, 7, maybe 10 versions of that Bestial Invasion riff, laughs Apollyon. I think even Darkthrone have something similar on their Under A Funeral Moon album, so for us in the second wave that was, and still, is a major inspiration.”
“Within the metal scene—and perhaps even beyond—Slayer have earned a uniquely iconic status, and they remain arguably the most successful extreme metal band of all time. With humble beginnings as a cover band that celebrated the likes of Iron Maiden, the group got their initial break thanks to a compilation, Metal Blade Records’ 1983 Metal Massacre Vol. 3, which they opened with the song Aggressor Perfector.”
“Though the record was somewhat slower, less aggressive, and more melodic when compared to both their later recordings and the early eighties efforts of, say, Sodom or Bathory, the spirit was surely there, and the group emphasized a ‘Satanic’ image from the start, wearing leather, face paint, spikes, and inverted crosses. Show No Mercy itself features numerous Satanic references in classic songs such as Evil Has No Boundaries and The Antichrist, and its cover depicts a large inverted ‘pentagram’ composed of four swords, the one ‘missing’ sword wielded by a slightly comic-book-style goat-headed warrior.”
“Interestingly, unlike most of their contemporaries, the band have never entirely abandoned the Satanic/anti-Christian themes of their early works. Though their lyrics have expanded to embrace other subjects, albums such as 2001’s God Hates Us All (released, strangely, on September 11th and featuring a blood-splattered, nail-embedded Bible on its cover) and 2006’s Christ Illusion (whose cover depicted a mutilated Jesus in a sea of blood and severed heads) have continued to cause much controversy—especially since vocalist Tom Araya now claims to be a Catholic.”
“While North America and Germany certainly dominated the early thrash movement, South America would also prove something of a hotbed, particularly Brazil, the first country in the region to significantly embrace the genre. One of the earliest names was Vulcano, which started life as a hard rock band before reinventing itself a few years later.” “Vulcano’s Bloody Vengeance, released in 1986, is almost certainly South America’s first black metal album, and is still one of the most potent.”
“I joined Carli Cooper (bass) and Paulo Magrão (guitar) in ‘78 and together we created Astoroth, explains bassist/guitarist and co-founder Zhema Rodero. One year after we resolved to change the name to Vulcano, and in the following year I moved to Santos. There I reformed the band and we started to play in high schools, college, major events, etc. In 1983 we recorded our first single.”
“Like their German peers, Vulcano soon made a shift toward a more refined and less infernal thrash sound, partly because the famously corrupt police began hassling the band after drummer Laudir Piloni was photographed bringing human bones to a show. This change was noticeable from the Anthropophagy album, released just one year later, and a further two albums would follow before the group split in 1990. Happily, they would reform in 2004, and while Zhema is now the sole founding member, the group have kept in touch with their dark roots and have been embraced by new generations of fans thanks to members of significant second-wave bands such as Darkthrone and Mayhem quite literally wearing their influence on their sleeves. Sweden’s legendary Nifelheim even released a split with them, describing Vulcano as ‘one of the only remaining great and real black metal bands’.”
“Still Brazil’s most famous black metal practitioners, the infamous Sarcófago was co-founded by Wagner ‘Antichrist’ Lamounier back in 1985. The previous year had seen him installed as vocalist for the now hugely popular Sepultura (whose Bestial DevastationEP and Morbid Visions album, released 1985 and 1986 respectively, also demonstrated an influential proto black/thrash sound), but he had fallen out with the other members and left to begin his own project. Warming up with 3 demo cassettes (Satanic Lust and The Black Vomit from 1986 and Sepultado from 1987), the band would put themselves squarely on the map with 1987’s I.N.R.I.. A genuinely classic opus, the album drew influences from international acts such as Sodom, Bathory, and Hellhammer, putting a distinctive spin on them while maintaining the chaotic violence (the frantic blast-beats of drummer D.D. Crazy being of particular note) and boasting a slightly tighter sound than their contemporaries.”
“1989’s Rotted maintained the blasphemous intent, its cover painting depicting the grim reaper licking Christ’s face, but saw the band moving in a more technical direction, with longer songs and more complexity in the songwriting. By 1991’s The Laws of Scourge the band had undergone a fairly dramatic—if not unprecedented—reinvention, Wagner and co-founder Geraldo Minelli utilizing new members to create a more technical death/thrash sound, the lyrics covering more earthly subjects as opposed to the infernal topic of old. The band would find greater success with the formula, even getting some love from MTV, but ultimately split in 2000.”
“Black thrash, meanwhile, has had several resurgences in popularity over the years and maintains a dedicated fan base, with bands such as Bestial Mockery and Nifelheim (Sweden), Aura Noir and Vulture Lord (Norway), Destroyer 666 and Gospel of the Horns (Australia), and Sabbat and Abigail (Japan)”
“Canadian fanatics Blasphemy first made their mark upon the international black metal scene in 1989, courtesy of demo tape Blood Upon The Altar. But they began life as far back as 1984, when the band was formed by vocalist and bassist Gerry Joseph Buhl (otherwise known by the lengthy pseudonym ‘Nocturnal Grave Desecrator and Black Winds’) and drummer Sean Stone (‘Three Black Hearts of Damnation and Impurity’). Both were British Columbian teenagers who were rapidly engrossing themselves in both the music and lifestyle of extreme metal.”
“Trying out a number of band names, including Antichrist, Desaster, and Thrash Hammer, the group finally settled on Blasphemy, picking up a 4th member along the way in the form of Blake ‘Snake’ Cromwell (‘Black Priest of the Seven Satanic Blood Rituals’), a close friend of Icelandic origin who was ‘a pretty serious Satanist and demonologist’. Indeed, as the band name suggests, Satanism and demonology were interests held by all members of the group, whose ‘ritual names’ were more than grandiose-sounding pseudonyms, but rather the outcome of secret initiation rituals, many specific to Victoria’s notorious Ross Bay Cemetery, a location the band would help bring to international fame.”
“Heavily wooded and facing out onto the Pacific Ocean and the Ross Bay from which it takes its name, the historic cemetery has become well known for the occult activities that have taken place within it, having even featured in the notorious ‘Satanic ritual abuse’ book Michelle Remembers. It has also gained considerable fame thanks to Blasphemy themselves and interviews such as the one below, taken from Gallery of the Grotesque zine and featuring later guitarist Marco ‘The Traditional Sodomizer Of The Goddess Of Perversity’ Banco.”
“Victoria is one of the Satanic capitals of the world, explains Black Winds today. There was this club in this really hard-to-find, back-alley type place, and you’d walk in there and they’d usually be drinking from chalices what would look like blood, but was probably red wine for most. I remember they had their faces painted green, then they had the black war paint. There were also the Satanists we met at Ross Bay itself of course.”
“Indeed, in the years prior to their demo—and after that for that matter—the band built something of a reputation for trouble due to their taste for alcohol, drugs, bodybuilding, and fighting. As Black Winds remembers it, however, the band members themselves were never interested in initiating conflict with anyone, even if they weren’t ones for backing down once it occurred.”
“These conflicts also tended to follow the band to their own notorious live performances, which involved heavy use of barbed wire [arame farpado], candles, bullets, fire-breathing, blood-spitting, war paint, and even stolen tombstones. Blasphemy’s shows were not only chaotic on stage, but also saw frequent violence from the audience, a situation that ultimately led to the band being banned from many local venues.”
“Ultimately the tape would sell thousands of copies worldwide, and its success convinced the now infamous Wild Rags, a label run out of the Californian record store and clothes shop of the same name, to sign the band. Though they would release their 1990 debut album Fallen Angel of Doom, it was not to be a rewarding relationship from the band’s point of view, due to the label’s notoriously haphazard financial dealings—which saw the company closed down by the authorities some years later.”
“Those guys really fucked up, I mean they could fuck up a cup of coffee, those guys, Black Winds spits, the anger evident in his tone. I don’t know how they had bands sign, ’cos they were a bunch of lowlife degenerates. The guy was supposed to pay us a dollar per album he sold, per CD, per cassette, per shirt. Money was never a big thing for me, but when he calls up and says, ‘Black Winds, you’ll never believe this, we just sold 4,500 copies of the CD alone just in Europe, imagine how much we’ve sold—especially in other countries!’ And I was like, ‘Yeah must be fucking over hundreds of thousands.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah for sure!’ I’m like, ‘Well that’s cool,’ you know, ‘That’s nice,’ so I said, ‘You making lots of money on it?’ and he goes, ‘Oh yeah’ and I’m like, ‘So you think we’re gonna see our share?’‘Oh well, well, we’re gonna have to fucking reinvest er…’. You mean you’re not making enough money off of it to reinvest? You know, sure we’ve seen a few checks over the years, but nothing too large, I don’t think we’ve seen more than 4,500 dollars and when he says he sold that in less than a month in CDs alone… I mean he’s kinda telling me… And whenever we called to say, ‘Fire us up some dollars’, he would just ramble on. He was such a fucking fast-talking guy that we couldn’ … you know, you just couldn’t get a question in with the fucking guy. It’s a good thing he wasn’t based up here. We’d have had to go in and break some bones and shit like that.”
“Primal and aggressive, the album’s short songs are almost unrelenting bombardments that focus on a ferocious percussive blitzkrieg and deep reverberating vocals, the lightning-fast atonal riffs buried somewhere within the primitive production. Interestingly, despite its timeless quality the band were actually somewhat disappointed with the finished opus, due to a shift in sound that occurred—for reasons unknown—between the recording (which took part at Fiasco Bros. Studio, the same location used for the demo) and the mastering.”
“Another tagline included on the sleeve was ‘Black Metal Skinheads’, a concept that was new to many, but reflected the culture that the band were a part of in British Columbia.”
“Despite that, in a scene predominantly consisting of Caucasians, the very fact that Blasphemy featured a black member was something of a political point in itself. While people of color are fairly rare in metal generally, in black metal bands they are still almost all but completely absent (with notable exceptions including the Brazilian pioneers Mystifier). This drew attention to Blasphemy, particularly since racial concerns had begun to creep into some quarters of the scene.”
“It would be 3 years before the next Blasphemy recordings were released in the shape of Gods of War, a slightly less chaotic but similarly possessed-sounding release that also includes the Blood Upon the Altar demo due to its short 20-minute running time. By this point Traditional Sodomizer had departed, leaving all guitars to Caller of the Storms. The album also featured a new bass player, the memorably named ‘Ace Gustapo Necrosleezer and Vaginal Commands’. Released by French label Osmose (of whom the band still have good things to say) and benefiting from a less murky sound, the album was an improvement in some respects, though Black Winds maintains its predecessor was closer to the band’s vision.”
“Someone also fucked up the cover—it was supposed to be four goats pulling what looks like a woman, but it was like a skull-faced woman on the original picture we had, and the only colors were supposed to be black, red and white, so things kinda got changed on us here and there along the way.”
“I didn’t even go on the Fuck Christ tour. I was really pissed off about the first tour, how I let this bass player play for us… and I must have said to him ten times, ‘You got the box with all the bullets, all the hardware for the stage?’ ‘Yeah, yeah, I got it all, don’t worry,’ and while we’re flying over the Atlantic to Europe, sure enough he didn’t have them. And you know when I’m playing on stage without that stuff I feel like I’m fucking naked, I felt I couldn’t carry on with it. The look was as important as the music, so it was like, ‘I’m just fucking ending this for myself, if you want to go on and embarrass yourselves carry on,’ that was the end for me.”
“Eventually Ace and the band would go their separate ways, with Blasphemy receiving what Black Winds describes as a ‘rebirth’ at the beginning of the millennium. Since then the band have maintained their presence within the scene, headlining events such as Nuclear War Now festival with the aid of guitarist Ryan ‘Deathlord of Abomination and War Apocalypse’ Foster, also known for his work with fellow Ross Bay Cultists Conqueror. This, along with the proliferation of bands playing a similarly barbaric form of black metal—for example Spain’s Proclamation, who stay true to the band’s sound and aesthetic and are signed to the Ross Bay Cult label—keep the band from being forgotten, something that Black Winds has been kept acutely aware of, sometimes in surprising circumstances:
My daughter just graduated from high school, like maybe 3 years ago, and everybody at her school, they couldn’t believe I was her dad. I mean, she’s not into black metal, but all the older kids at the school had Blasphemy T-shirts and listened to Blasphemy—and of course other black metal bands—so when she would come over to my place and tell me stuff like this of course I was pretty surprised. And then I’d go to the gigs and they’d recognize me. And I’m like, ‘Holy fuck, these guys are 17, 18 years old.’ I’m just happy black metal didn’t die out or nothing, in fact if anything I think it’s gotten a lot bigger.
For his part, Black Winds has kept true to the cause, and musically—aside from the perhaps surprising inclusion of English 60s outfit The Animals—his listening habits tend to lean toward the bands who inspired Blasphemy and the bands who were, in turn, inspired by Blasphemy:
Black Witchery from Florida, Archgoat, Proclamation, Revenge,¹ Order From Chaos…Istill listen to a lot of Destruction, Hellhammer, Vulcano, Sarcófago, Adorior, Abominator, Venom’s Black Metal album, Sodom—old Sodom that is—, Sadistik Exekutionand Gospel of the Horns, Mortuary Drape, Discharge, and Warfare from England.”
“HAVING ALREADY GIVEN the world Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, Switzerland had one more highly significant contribution to make before the eighties came to a close. Formed in 1987 by Michael Locher, otherwise known as Vorphalack and later simply Vorph, Samael drew upon the primal magnificence of the early 80s black metal bands, who were by that point largely forgotten thanks to both the increasingly technical thrash scene prominent at the time and the burgeoning death metal scene that was fast emerging.”
“In the early days, Vorph took the leading role in the band, handling everything other than the drums, which were played by one Pat Charvet. Two rehearsal/demo tapes were issued, entitled Into The Infernal Storm of Evil and Macabre Operetta, before Pat was replaced by Vorph’s brother Alexandre, who was known as Xytraguptor, later shortening his pseudonym to the more pronounceable Xy.”
“He wanted to do a band of his own, in fact he had his own band with two other friends where he was actually playing guitar, but there were a couple of times when Pat didn’t want to come to the rehearsal and Xy was able to learn the songs in one week or so, so we soon had two songs that were perfect. We were not hanging out and it was probably only when my father died that we got closer and actually that’s when we started to play together.”
“In 1988 the duo recorded a 3-track EP entitled Medieval Prophecy, released at the end of that year, initially as a tape and then as a 7” vinyl. This well-received release contained 2 original compositions, namely Into The Pentagram and The Dark, as well as a cover of Third of the Storms by Hellhammer, a band from whom Samael had clearly taken much inspiration.”
“We recorded Medieval Prophecy in a home studio of a guy who didn’t have much clue about metal at all, but at least he had a place, so we tried to do the best we could. Of course, it was pretty pathetic, if you listen to it today, he had no knowledge about how to do things and neither did we, so we had to find ways to make our music as close as we could to what we expected. I think we recorded for 2 days and did the mix together at the same time. A few months later we had the copies of the 7” and 9 months after we received the first 1,000 copies we sold out, so we printed 200 more with different covers.
It is testament to the strength of the underground (as well the strength of the material) that the band were able to sell out of Medieval Prophecy in such a short amount of time, especially given that they were not yet playing live and were pretty much on their own, both stylistically and geographically. Though Samael had corresponded with Norway’s Mayhem since their early days (Euronymous was a great fan, and even suggested that he regretted not having them on his label), at this point there was nothing approaching a ‘black metal scene’. Instead it was a case of engaging with the small but varied collection of bands that inhabited the international metal underground.”
“Once we had the EP out we sent 10 or 20 copies to the biggest fanzines we knew and they made reviews and that’s how it spread. You spread flyers all over the place, and would get orders from South America, Japan, anywhere in the world. The flyers thing was the best way to have your own name somewhere else, you would spread your own flyers along with those of other bands that you got, everybody helped each other somehow. A lot of those bands don’t exist anymore, I don’t even remember all the names, but I remember trading with Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost, Lee Dorrian from Cathedral, Chris Reifert from Autopsy, Immolation, Nocturnus, Blasphemy, Beherit, and Carcass. Carcass were a fine example, because they already had an album out and it wasn’t a rule, but most bands when they had an album out, they would not waste time to trade stuff with people from the underground. But Carcass were one of the only bands who were signed but would take time out to check out what was coming onto the scene or happening in the underground.
Recognizing promising new talent, the newly formed Osmose Productions—a label which, a few years down the line, would gather one of the most impressive rosters in the black metal scene—quickly signed the band. Released on the auspicious date of April 1, 1991, Worship Him was not only the first album for the Swiss group, but also, in fact, the first full-length album released on the Osmose label. By now the band had become a trio, having been joined by Christophe ‘Masmiseim’ Mermod, a bassist who had previously played in black metal outfit Alastis and still remains with Samael today, some two decades later.”
“After the release of Worship Him, the band moved to Germany’s Century Media, another relatively small label that would grow massively in stature as the decade progressed. Vorph explains that the band were keen to join the label as they had noticed that bands already on the roster were touring heavily, something Samael were desperate to do, if only to counter the drawbacks of their geographical isolation. The decision paid off, and the band did indeed embark on their first European tour (with label-mates Unleashed and Tiamat) following the release of their second album, 1992’s Blood Ritual. Adorned with a stunning cover painting that positively oozed atmosphere, it was a record that saw the band finally working with a like-minded individual in the studio, namely Waldemar Sorychta, who produced almost every Samael album that followed.”
“A far bigger leap in style, however, would come with 1994’s Ceremony of Opposites, an album that once again came in a striking sleeve, this time featuring a red-bordered monochrome depiction of an eyeless Christ-like face with nails hammered into his head. A notably slicker effort musically, it boasted a significantly more polished production, as well as a fourth member, Rodolphe H., who handled keyboards and sampler. The album picked up the pace considerably, with driving and surprisingly catchy compositions that moved away from the cavernous primitivism of old in favor of a less archaic atmosphere, with orchestral flourishes used to great effect on numbers such as Baphomet’s Throne. It was a record that would surprise and even alienate many of those who had followed the band previously, but one that would also win the band many new fans. This shift in direction reflected a significant change within the workings of the band itself, and from this album onward Xy took over the writing of the music, as a surprisingly modest Vorph explains:
On that album I let him do what he wanted to, I wrote one song and that was enough. I felt a little bit relieved and that things were falling into place. When you learn to interact with other people, you learn to let something go. I mean, I had less control, but I felt better because I agreed that he was better than I am to write the songs. When Xy started to do the music it became more technical, because he’s a better guitarist than I am—still today in fact. I had to learn how to play the stuff he was composing, so I had to work a bit more but it also gave me more time to work on my lyrics and go deeper into the subject matter.”
“Some of the early industrial bands like Ministry, Godflesh, Pitchshifter, they had an influence on us at that time, definitely. Those were bands who were playing with the drum machine and trying different sounds. (…) Today there are still people who want the real thing, for us to have a drummer like every other band does, but that’s one of the things that makes us different and I don’t think we will go back to the original formula. We will stick to our guns.”
“Later albums would move more squarely into industrial/electronic metal territories and away, therefore, from the central focus of this book.”
10 Rotting Christ and Greek Black Metal
“While the Norwegians were good at making headlines and making sure their faces snuck into the frames of magazines, black and extreme metal was actually being shaped from the outside inwards, toward Norway. One of the major Southern European influences was Rotting Christ, with their unique brand of mid-tempo Bathory-esque mystique and eerie atmospheres. Totally unique and magical! And the fact that one of metal’s biggest disgraces, Dave Mustaine (eek!), stays away from festivals if they’re playing (because of the name), should award them some kind of honorary award.”
“At one time Thy Mighty Contract was the only black metal album that I was really into. The atmosphere of that album is really unique and it had an aura around it that was very different to the Norwegian cold sound.”
“If you want to listen to bands that are really original, then listen to Rotting Christ! Their music is so Dark, so BRUTAL! ARGH!!”
—Euronymous, Slayer Magazine
“Rotting Christ’s story bears many parallels to that of Samael. Both are hugely influential bands that formed in 1987, have a line-up based around a pair of brothers, and have exhibited a notable evolution between each and every record.
Unlike Samael, however, the path Rotting Christ walked in their early days had very little to do with black metal at all. Instead the band leaned toward grindcore, a point underlined by their demo Decline’s Return and the rehearsal tape Leprosy of Death, as well as their 1989 split 7-inch, which saw Sakis ‘Necromayhem’ Tolis (vocals and guitars), Themis ‘Necrosauron’ Tolis (drums), and Jim ‘Mutilator’ Patsouris (bass) cramming in 9 songs in less than 6 minutes. The other side of the record saw a similar display by fellow Greek death/grinders Sound Pollution, a short-lived project that also featured Sakis on vocals.
We didn’t expect big things back then, we were so poor that we were forced even to steal our instruments in order to start playing! I was feeling like a junkie that couldn’t get his smack, so I was forced to do that, something that I only recovered from years after by giving the money to the store and apologizing, because I have never ripped anyone off in my life. We were fans of grindcore back then, though not the grindcore sound you hear nowadays, but instead something really primitive with lots of noise. Maybe this is a result of being fans of the punk attitude back then.”
“I will be a liar if I don’t mention Iron Maiden, right? Also bands like
Motörhead, but we were really fascinated with the first-era black metal bands such as Venom, Bathory, Possessed,¹ Hellhammer, and Celtic Frost, and we were really influenced by them in our first steps. I remember when I listened to Hellhammer for the first time, I was actually scared. I couldn’t understand how music could sound so gloomy. Every night before I slept I was listening to it on my walkman—cassette of course—in order to have a really weird sleep. The same happened when I first listened to Bathory’s song Possessed… I suddenly discovered my dark side and since then I have been following its path. We were basically a company of guys that brought this extreme metal music back to our land in the late eighties and we really wanted to create a horde that would sound like our idols.
¹ Também não entendo como o autor pôde ignorar esta banda no livro!
The Satanas Tedeumdemo, released in mid-1989, clearly demonstrated this intent, not only in the title and cover art (which featured a new, more sinister logo and the inclusion of a pentagram) but also in sound. Boasting longer and darker songs, it has a primitive and cavernous sound, and a black thrash/old-school death metal vibe despite the use of keyboards—an inclusion still unusual at that time. The band then described their music as ‘Abyssic Death Metal’, though they explain quite rightly that this was ‘only because the term black metal was not yet established in the underground, and death and black metal were more or less interchangeable in those days.’”
“Back then I was in contact with almost all the bands that were around. That was a really important matter of my life, I became a freak and totally addicted to that. A new demo, a new fanzine, a new letter… I was expecting the postman everyday as if he were Santa Claus. He was bringing to me food for my soul. If he was bringing some demos then it was my day, if not I was falling into depression.”
“This new approach to the genre was defined by surprisingly melodic heavy metal riffs, the use of guitar harmonies, prominent bass, and a far less caustic and treble-heavy production than the one generally coming out of Northern Europe. Moreover, though the record featured a drum machine, it was a take on the genre that was noticeably ‘warm’ in tone—something frequently attributed to the sweltering region from whence it came and a trait that has become fairly traditional among the Greek bands that followed.”
“Indeed, a major catalyst for the creation of this ‘Greek template’ was the use of the band’s own Storm Studios, a location that would soon be used by many other bands in the local scene, many of whom would share members with Rotting Christ at one time or another.
It was the time that every band wanted to create its own sound, explains The Magus, keyboard player and second vocalist on Thy Mighty Contract. While he would not begin engineering Rotting Christ until the band’s second album, he had already engineered works by a number of other bands at Storm and would produce or engineer for bands such as Septicflesh, Kawir, Astarte, and Varathron as well as his own groups Necromantia and Thou Art Lord.”
“You see, in Greece the music was always more emotionally charged than the other scenes. It is in the Greek soul. Furthermore I come from a strong heavy metal background and it was kind of natural to go for the feeling, rather than a brutal ton-of-bricks sound. The funny thing is that the equipment we used was pretty cheap since there was not enough money and we were trying a lot of recipes and experiments until we got a decent sound. Combinations of various amplifiers, expensive microphones, cheap microphones, both combined and a lot more. We had to be inventive and creative!”
“The most important bands besides Necromantia and Rotting Christ were: Varathron, Septicemia, Septicflesh, Horrified, and Death Courier and later on Kawir, Zemial, and Nergal emerged with a strong impact. Like everywhere, only a few had serious interest in the dark side. Few were (and are still) involved in it. I proudly consider myself one of them. My quest through the Abyss has never stopped… For the wide majority it was the ‘heavy metal Satanism’ which attracted them. You know, a little bit of rebellion, sex, diversity… the usual. But still even this attitude is okay since it creates less sheep!”
“We were so close to doing a split LP with Burzum but Euronymous’ death meant this couldn’t be done. I was really good friends with Euronymous—in fact, the first-ever Mayhem show outside of Norway was actually supposed to take part in Greece. We had booked the show and we were waiting for the band in the train station to come from Norway, but due to the wrong understanding of a letter that was received by a relative of Euronymous when the band was on the road—we didn’t have mobiles or e-mails back then—the band was informed by mistake that they cannot play in Greece but in Turkey. I still can’t understand how this happened, but that’s why the first band’s show outside of Norway was in Turkey.”
“It was a great experience for us, though I only remember blurry things. We were not the band that drank alcohol a lot, we were more into smoking pot the whole day. We were stoned all the time and were also inexperienced kids facing first-time experiences. I remember shows were cancelled because of death threats from Christians, people in the audience were cutting their veins… every day was a new experience with strange things happening, a really primitive black metal era!”
“You can hear that Non Serviamhas a heavier, fuller sound than Thy Mighty Contract. It was the successor of a highly successful album and it had to be better! We recorded a lot more guitars and we tried a variation of guitar amplifiers—back then downtuning was not known so we had to record 6 guitars in order to choose the ones we wanted and mix them together. We also tried to make the cheap drum triggering sound a little bit better! We were really satisfied because we got the atmosphere we wanted and Sakis’ songwriting has started to shape and mature, thus creating more solid songs.”
“Indeed, in a pre-Internet age, there were many outside Greece who thought that the band had split up, simply because they never saw the appearance of the Non Serviam album, or at least not until many, many years later. The group’s reaction to such trials, however, should remain both an inspiration and a lesson for any band facing hard times.
A soldier never abandons the battlefield!, says Sakis. We got a car and drove the whole continent in order to give our recordings to labels by hand. Of course it was really hard, because we had no money for this travel and I remember we were sleeping in the car with the danger of losing our lives, especially when we were crossing the Alps. Our sleep there could easily have been our last, and an eternal one, because we almost froze.
Fortunately the hard work paid off and the group were soon signed by Century Media, who released 1996’s Triarchy of the Lost Lovers. As well as losing keyboard player The Magus (who found the band’s new direction too melodic and gothic in nature) and the drum machine—Necrosauron returning to the drum kit from this point on—the band also departed Storm, recording in Germany with Andy Classen of Teutonic thrashers Holy Moses. The result was a shift away from the black metal sound of old, toward a more traditional heavy metal-oriented approach, yet with the vocal aggression and much of the heaviness present on earlier recordings. The 1997 follow-up, A Dead Poem, would move even further away from the black metal scene, building upon the heavy metal dimension and combining it with gothic overtones, a fusion that saw the band reaching their biggest audiences to date.
The Magus meanwhile would concentrate on Necromantia, arguably Greece’s second biggest name in black metal and one that famously used 2 bass guitars (one 8-stringed) in place of any rhythm guitar, a trait they maintain even today. He would also continue to make music with Sakis in Thou Art Lord, creating what he describes as ‘pure thrash/death/black metal the old way’, and would also find an unlikely creative partner in Mika Luttinen of Finnish outfit Impaled Nazarene, with whom he would work on two industrial metal projects, Raism and Diabolos Rising.
Over the years, Rotting Christ would gradually return to heavier and more blackened territories, their 2007 album Theogonia even being hailed by some as their best work yet, introducing ethnic Greek elements that have remained in the records that have followed, the band making heavy use of traditional Greek choirs to impressive effect.
All in all, Rotting Christ have proved to be an ever-shifting entity musically, yet even now they remain defined, and even restricted, by their provocative band name, which over the years has offended many overzealous religious types. These include American politician and one-time Republican candidate Gary Bauer—a man with ties to evangelical Christian groups who famously criticized rap metal act Rage Against The Machine for being ‘anti-family and pro-terrorist’—as well as Megadeth frontman and born-again Christian Dave Mustaine, who demonstrated his own intolerance by having the band thrown off the bill of 2 large Greek festivals in 2005. Having braved the cold of the Alps in the name of his art, Sakis has little time for such individuals.”
“Black metal is a punch of resistance—or at least was back then—so what better than to choose a name that expressed our opinion about religion? Religions are rotting worldwide in our philosophy. Okay, it sounds extreme for many people and it closes doors, but our goal was never to be Metallica. Despite the many shows that were, and still are, cancelled, and the problems that occur with the distribution of our CDs, we kept this name. We are still proud of it. I do consider myself as a spiritual individual that has searched his personality in so many ideologies, including Satanism. I do consider myself more as anti-religion than a Satanist, but still believe that Satanism influences me in my everyday life. Back then we were rebels without reason. But nowadays we are with reason, and this name still represents our band philosophy.”
“Tormentor was such a unique band and some of the attraction was that they were from Hungary. Not that Hungary is the most obscure place on earth but at that time it was. Kinda like the Brazilian bands—the right influences but still making everything their own.”
—Metalion, Slayer Magazine
“FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, the name ‘Tormentor’ has been adopted by an unbelievable number of bands (at least 20 to date) throughout metal’s history, including, as we’ve seen, the trio that would eventually become Kreator. Of all the many bands calling themselves Tormentor, however, it is the Hungarian outfit that most black metal fans associate with the name, due in part to their charismatic frontman and vocalist Attila Csihar, who would later become the singer for Norway’s Mayhem.” 21 hoje (01/12/20) no metal-archives, e contando… Destaques: 2 bandas de thrash da Colômbia (!), 4 (!!) de thrash da Alemanha, uma de brutal death da sempre-presente-nessas-horas Indonésia, 2 de thrash metal da Malásia, 2 de thrash metal do México, e 2 dos EUA (1 de BM outra de speed-thrash). Tem até uma ocorrência “International”, por ser uma banda listada como sendo tanto alemã quanto inglesa ao mesmo tempo, de black-death (talvez seja a que este livro não contemplava, pois sua discografia consiste num full-length desse ano mesmo, 2020)!
“That these cassettes were able to make it into Scandinavia in the first place was no small achievement: Based in Hungary—a country then behind the Iron Curtain and thus under the control of the Soviet Union—the members of Tormentor faced restrictions that resulted in an almost total isolation from the global music scene. That said, Hungary was relatively liberal compared to many other countries in the Eastern Bloc, with music less heavily clamped down upon than in some neighboring states.”
“I got into music with AC/DC, Kiss and Motörhead. However Kiss was just one song, and I still don’t know what song, ‘cos my brother-in-law just recorded it from the radio. Hungary was separated back then, but he lived close to the western border so could get Austrian radio. Like most of us black metal musicians I was the kind of person looking for more and more extreme stuff, so I got into Iron Maiden, then the punk stuff like GBH and The Exploited, whatever I could find in Hungary back then. I remember I went to the store—Hungary was a little bit more open than the other countries and there was a private record store—and I said to the guy, ‘What’s the most extreme thing here? I have this hardcore music already, do you have anything else?’ And one guy was like, ‘Okay, give him the Venom record,’ and he put it on and within 10 seconds I was like ‘Okay, I like that!’”
“With local audiences hungry for any live music they could get their hands on, the band soon built a strong following, their shows attracting a wide collection of individuals including punks, skinheads, metal fans, and other miscellaneous troublemakers, a volatile combination that often resulted in bloodshed.”
“There was no way to think about touring the West—though we played one show in Slovakia and one show in Vienna—so we played a lot in Hungary. We were a ‘trouble’ band originally, almost like the Sex Pistols. People who liked trouble came to our show, so it was not just a metal audience, it was a ‘wrong people’ audience. There was no security back then either, but somehow it shaped out and of course we got famous. We had a lot of fans in Hungary actually, our crowd was always 500+ in the 80s.
In 1987 the band headed into a garage with a homemade mixer and recorded what was technically a demo tape, though one that boasted a surprisingly lengthy collection of material (9 songs over 51 minutes). Entitled The Seventh Day of Doom, it proved well-received by listeners, blending elements of thrash bands such as Slayer and Metallica with the more heavy metal leanings of Mercyful Fate and even Iron Maiden. Soon the band began work on a ‘proper’ album, investing a year in the writing and recording of their debut, Anno Domini, which benefited massively from being recorded in a professional studio.”
“the track that most embodied the group’s more grandiose leanings was the 4th song, Elisabeth Bathory, based around one of Hungary’s most famous historical figures. One in a long line of black metal tributes to the serial killer countess (following in the tradition of Venom and Bathory), the song is a melodic and mid-paced number, rich in dark feeling and deliciously epic thanks largely to a simple 3-chord, synth-accentuated, verse and a sinister, yet highly memorable chorus. Elsewhere songs such as Heaven and Damned Grave demonstrated the angrier, rawer, more chaotic side of the band.
Hailed as a classic by the underground, the record would provide no small amount of inspiration for the nineties black metal explosion that was only a few years away. Tragically, however, the album never saw official release—or at least not before the band split up. For reasons unknown, the head of the record label that was set to release the album vanished, taking the master tapes for Anno Domini with him. The band were left with nothing more than copies of the original recordings, which were issued on cassette tape as a self-release. In fact, it wouldn’t be until some 7 years later that the album would finally receive an official release courtesy of Norway’s Nocturnal Art Productions. Understandably disillusioned, the band split as the 80s came to a close, unaware that their work was picking up a legion of fans in other countries.”
“We were very young, I was 15 when we started and maybe 19 when we stopped, and all the other members were the same age, so we were just going with the flow. Now I would say it was a mistake to stop of course, but back then we felt it was over; we saw bands change in the West, Celtic Frost changed and became strange, Bathory had changed… even Destruction, and then all this glam metal and white metal was coming up. It was maybe 2 years after we split that I heard from Euronymous—in ‘91—and also this friend of mine sent me stuff from Mexico: I thought ‘What is this? Someone from Mexico writes about us?’. So we realized then there was something in the air, but the problem was the guitarist had to go to the military, so in the end we just fell apart.”
“The appreciation of their earlier works would only grow as the years went on, and in 2008 Anno Domini even received a re-release via Csihar’s own Saturnus Productions, featuring noticeably improved sound compared to the earlier release—supposedly due to the sound being taken from the original master tapes, which were finally located by Attila after many years missing.”
12 Master’s Hammer
“I often say—more like a joke, but it’s true—the first Norwegian Black Metal album is Ritual. It is in that style; the atmosphere, the types of riffs, a bit of the way to handle vocals…”
“Franta Štorm has one of the most—if not the most—insane vocals in all of extreme metal, extremely expressive and raw. Anyone interested in something unique should check out Master’s Hammer, there is nobody else quite like them.”
“HAILING FROM PRAGUE—then the capital of Czechoslovakia and now of the Czech Republic—Master’s Hammer never once toured or appeared live outside of their home country. Despite this, they would become immensely respected within the international scene thanks to their forward-thinking and hugely influential take on black metal. Indeed, as the quote by Fenriz above suggests, in many ways Master’s Hammer can be considered the first band in what is now seen as black metal’s second generation.
Originally formed in 1987, the group was created by František ‘Franz’ Štorm and Milan ‘Bathory’ Fibiger, school friends who were attending the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague, Štorm studying typography and graphic design, and Milan studying illustration, fields the two men still work in today. With Štorm handling guitar and vocals and Milan taking care of bass, the duo were joined by drummer Franta, Fečo, an individual Milan knew from their mutual home city, Mladá Boleslav, located some 50km north of Prague, where the band would rehearse in their early days.”
“We never learned to play any instruments before. I don’t know about notes even now. We fell in love in [sic] Bathory about 1986, King Diamond and Motörhead, and in our childhood we used to listen to ABBA and Kiss. But later on, we wanted to be the most radical of all bands, I’m not sure for what reason, perhaps as a subconscious reaction to a then-formed—and already glorified— underground scene. Here I don’t mean strictly the metal one, but more (of) rock and folk. We also liked dark things in general.”
“‘Radical’ is certainly an apt adjective for the band’s first demo, The Ritual Murder, which appeared soon after the band’s formation and was recorded by the aforementioned trio—though confusingly the cover features 6 individuals (‘just our friends’, explains Štorm, ‘mostly’s Fečo’s brothers who wanted to have a photo’). A demented and frantic half-hour effort, it remains a challenging listen, frequently threatening to overwhelm even the seasoned extreme metal fan with its fuzzy sound, thrashy riffing, and sporadic, eccentric vocals.
While the music on the tape might not always sound much like it by today’s standards, it’s interesting to note that the band had already begun using the term ‘black metal’, a decision inspired, Štorm explains, predominantly by Bathory. Czechoslovakia had at that time contributed only one band to the genre, Törr—with another, Root, forming later that year—making Master’s Hammer one of the first within Eastern Europe to really fly the flag for the movement. Not only does the demo include a number entitled Blak Métl, but the tape’s sleeve features a burning cross and the first appearance of the iconic and almost regal Master’s Hammer logo, complete with horned skull, inverted crucifixes, and pentagram. ‘It represents the essence of my idea of a brutal band logo’, Štorm explains of the design, ‘quite naïve after so many years, but naturally we’ll keep it forever.’”
“For the 1988 follow-up—another half-hour tape entitled Finished—the band would go one stage further, inverting an entire church for the cover design, hammering the point home with a woodcut image of Lucifer on the inner sleeve, a song of the same name, a Satan Records logo (which was there purely for design reasons, this being another self-release) and a backwards recording of the Lord’s Prayer.”
“The inspiration was quite simple: there was no true Satanic band in our country, and we made an effort to fill the gap. Except for some beer drinking with Root members, I haven’t noticed any Satanic circles and I’m in doubts if there even were any in my country. But Root’s founder Big Boss soon became a local head of The Church of Satan and I’ve illustrated LaVey’s Satanic Bible for my diploma work at the Academy in Prague.”
“Musically speaking the Finished demo was a far less bizarre listen than the first effort, and also a notably darker one. Kicking off affairs with a winds-and-church-bells introduction (by now a familiar formula within the genre), while adding some disturbing vocals for good measure, the opus was a move toward more cavernous, Bathory-esque territory and somewhat more traditional metal vocals, though a certain degree of eccentricity was preserved thanks to a number of odd, almost random-sounding guitar leads.”
“Soon after Finished was released, Ulric was replaced by Charles R. Apron, real name Karel Zástĕra, and it was with this line-up that the band played their very first live show, on May 18, 1989. Taking place not long before the peaceful revolutions that overthrew the country’s communist government and eventually led to democratic elections, the show was organized without permission from the authorities, and resulted in the band being summoned to explain themselves soon after.
That was rather funny. The secret police took me for some 3 hours interrogation before letting me go. The asshole behind the table was rather interested in the students’ movement, and sideways he showed me a huge collection of underground metal fanzines; today, he could have a very valuable, rare collection. I don’t believe that black metal ever really attracted the attention of authorities in our country though, this is not Norway.”
“In the nineties I wrote in one song God is our servant and Satan as
well, and I earned bad reactions from so-called Satanists. I’m tired of explaining that Satanism is not a goal by any means, it’s just a path. One of tens of thousands of possible paths.”
“The band also took on two new members at this time—the alarmingly named Necrocock (Tomáš Kohout) on guitar, and Silenthell (Honza Pribyl), who took over the timpani playing from Apron—both of whom would end up being longterm members. While Necrocock had contacted the band seeking to join, Silenthell was simply a regular face at the band’s local pub that was approached purely because of his appearance. Asked if he had ever played timpani before, he answered no, and—in a fine example of Master’s Hammer logic—was immediately inducted into the group.”
“The combination of new members, combined with the departure of Milan, who had co-written most of the material with Štorm, clearly had a big impact on the band’s sound. In late November 1990, they issued another half-hour demo entitled The Fall of Idol, an opus that demonstrated a sound both powerful and way ahead of its time. As Štorm comments, ‘The Fall was, to me, a step toward a new, very distinctive and original Master’s Hammer face, with almost no audible similarities to any other band.’
The demo was only available for a short time before a debut album entitled Ritual was recorded and released in 1991, the band signing to Monitor, which Štorm explains was the first independent label set up following the country’s Velvet Revolution. Featuring superior re-recordings of the 6 tracks on The Fall, as well as fairly significant re-workings of 4 songs from The Mass and 1 from Finished, Ritual largely pre-empted the Scandinavian second-wave explosion. The same earnest sense of purpose and sinister grandeur surrounds the epic compositions, the demonic vocals combining the sung and the screeched in a similarly otherworldly manner as those later used in Mayhem by fellow Eastern European Attila Csihar.”
“In 1990 there were just a few metal albums on the Czech market, so Monitor reached the sale of several thousand Ritual LPs. Hence you must regard this incredible number groundless on real fans’ acceptance—musically it only became popular in the late 90s. I have a deep feeling that our songs must mature by aging, like wine.
Interestingly, such was the prominence of the band at home that two songs on the Ritual album, namely Černá Svatozář and Géniové, were provided with promo videos. Wonderfully hammy and Venom-esque in nature, both are somewhat at odds with the mystical ambience of the album, though hugely entertaining. Both videos were made by dull directors in official TV studios without understanding our music, Štorm comments. They are just funny.”
“An ambitious work, The Jilemnice Occultist was a conceptual piece constructed as a ‘black metal operetta’, with Štorm’s lyrics giving voice to the various characters in the band’s native Czech language. Essentially based around a young character named Altrament, the story follows the protagonist as he arrives in the small town of Jilemnice and meets a fellow occultist, Kalamária, as well as Poebeldorf, a man masquerading as the captain of the town who throws the drunken Altrament in jail and attempts to make off with the local treasure.”
“Three years would pass before the band returned with their third album Šlágry. Featuring only Štorm and Voral, the record was, to say the least, a shock to the band’s fanbase. With the exception of the final song, the group had now moved away from black metal—indeed, any kind of metal—altogether. Instead, listeners were presented with a collection of irreverent and highly experimental covers of pre-existing compositions (among them Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Danceand Chuck Berry’s Rock & Roll Music) along with one other new composition, Indiánská Píseò Hrùzy, actually one of the stronger tracks on the album. A highly bizarre collection of music, the album has often been viewed as a prank of sorts, and indeed from Štorm’s words it does seem that the motivation was, at the very least, somewhat reactionary:
We needed to move outside a black metal cliché after rumors that we were a ‘living legend’ and similar nonsense. That album also captured the attention of non-metalists in our country, whereas orthodox fans were disgusted about the fall of their idols—that’s exactly what we wanted to achieve. The message was clear: don’t ever trust us, not one word, always go your own way. If this remains as the sole asset of Šlágry, I’m happy.
To this day rumors persist of a ‘lost’ black metal album recorded by the band between The Jilemnice Occultist and Šlágry, entitled Zaschla Krev. In interviews even Hervé Herbaut, owner of Osmose, has claimed that such a thing exists, though admits he has not heard it, and bootlegs have even been released featuring material purporting to be tracks from the very same work. On this subject Štorm is terse, stating simply:
I will not comment on unauthorized leaked material, but Zaschla Krev has nothing to do with Master’s Hammer. My computer is crowded by unused music which will never be released.
On this subject, the band’s official website adds only that Zaschla Krev was not intended for release, someone just picked a tape from [a] trash bin in a studio and misused it. We’ve never signed it, so most probably it’s not Master’s Hammer on it.
Following Šlágry, the band undertook a long, seemingly permanent, hiatus. Some members would begin to appear in their own side projects, most notably Necrocock, who would pursue a truly surreal death- and sex-drenched solo career in his eponymous outfit and the project Kaviar Kavalier. Utilizing laidback beats and seemingly tongue-in-cheek lyrics, he has penned numerous bizarre songs, such as Saigon Lady (‘suck me baby’) and Hong Kong, apparent odes to sex tourism that are complimented by somewhat voyeuristic music videos largely comprised of home videos of his holidays in the Far East and bemused local women in various states of undress.”
“while 2012’s Vracejte Konve na Místo (an album whose title is taken from Czech cemeteries and translates as ‘put watering cans back in their place’ and whose wonderfully idiosyncratic cover features said garden implement alongside an angel) showed lyrical playfulness, musically it was essentially a piece of avant-garde/progressive black metal, and indeed improved upon the sound of its predecessor in many respects.
What the future holds for Master’s Hammer is all but impossible to say. Though sadly the band have stated publicly that they will never play live again, the fact that they are active at all is surely cause for celebration.”
“I didn’t know about VON until Varg and that ‘name thing’… I’d heard them at his apartment but didn’t pay attention. Then after some years I started to listen to some tracks and thought, ‘Fuck, this is like Nitzer Ebb black metal!’ Simplistic, toneless…. it’s anti-music, it tries to do things you shouldn’t do in music and break some of the rules, maybe make it so simple, or ‘bad’ that it’s not necessarily very easy to listen to. I hope someone sees that in my music.”
—Snorre Ruch (Stigma Diabolicum/Thorns)
“Metal in the eighties was hectic, often complex and intense. Monotony was seldom heard, but one black metal album had just that—Bathory’s Under the Sign of the Black Mark. However, it was well ahead of its time, and didn’t ‘take’ as much as it could in 1986. The decade wasn’t ready for repetitive coldness.Five more years of hectic metal and the world was ready for it, we could feel it in the tiny Norwegian scene when VON’s demo hit our shores, and it cemented our belief that this could be elaborated upon. I think Burzum, Mayhem and Darkthrone all did it, and many that followed.”
“THERE CAN BE FEW BANDS in the world of metal with a history as convoluted and confusing as VON. Formed around 1987, the group were arguably the first black metal act in North America and proved both revolutionary and uncompromising, illuminating some listeners while simultaneously alienating many more, their truly barbaric primitivism proving unpalatable to the majority of heavy metal fans at that time. But despite that fact—or indeed because of it—in the years that followed their 3-letter, 1-syllable name would be spoken in the hushed tones of utmost respect. VON would take on an almost mythical status, not least because there was so much confusion about the people behind the band.
For almost two decades the only evidence of the outfit’s existence was a handful of live photos and a single demo entitled Satanic Blood. A 20-minute assault upon the senses, its short songs boast a level of barbarity that is still all but unheard of, even within black metal circles. Unrelenting, save for short snippets of strange spoken word poetry, the simplistic pounding of its backbeat provides the foundation for a combination of hypnotic riffing and possessed, guttural vocals, drenched in reverb. Needless to say, it has become mandatory listening in black metal circles.
While the band was ultimately short-lived, splitting—seemingly forever—in 1992, Satanic Blood would have a profound impact on generations to come. Though its release a few months before the band’s demise was limited to a few hundred cassettes, the 8 songs would nonetheless feature heavily on the tape-trading scene in the years that followed and would impact the emerging international black metal scene significantly, including that of Norway. Indeed, there’s no doubt that many people’s introduction to the band came courtesy Burzum’s Varg Vikernes, who not only mentioned the band in a now-infamous interview with Kerrang! (where he famously spelled out the name of the band for his interviewer as ‘V for Victory, O for Orgasm, N for Nazi,’ causing some readers to mistakenly believe this was what the band’s moniker stood for) but later wore a VON shirt during his well-publicized trial for murder and church-burning.” Insólito…
“From the mid-nineties onward the opus would be released in a number of seemingly official CD pressings, perhaps most famously as a split with Dark Funeral. The popularity of this mysterious group slowly grew, resulting in literally hundreds of cover versions including recordings by such high-profile names as Abigail, Nachtmystium, Dark Funeral, Urgehal, and Taake, not to mention Swedish outfit Watain, whose very name was taken from a VON song title. Hard facts regarding the group or the recording itself were all but non-existent, but the musicians detailed on the minimal sleeve art—namely Goat (guitar and vocals), Snake (drums), and Kill (bass)—naturally came to be considered the core members of VON, the sleeve’s brief text also revealing the band to be based in California. In fact, Kill would for a time become the only tangible element of the group since it was later revealed that he was none other than Joe Allen, bassist of death metal act Abscess/Autopsy.
But as it was revealed some two decades later when the band made a most unexpected return, the group’s genesis had taken place not in California, but in Oahu, Hawaii. It was here in the unlikely setting of a deli and bagel joint that the three founding members were brought together; ‘Snake’ (originally ‘Vennt’, first name Brent, surname currently lost to the sands of time) worked as a manager, and ‘Goat’ (originally ‘Von’, real name Shawn Calizo) was employed alongside his longtime friend, a bassist known as ‘Venien’ and born Jason Ventura. Shawn and Jason were both aspiring musicians who had met at school when Jason moved to Hawaii from San Francisco, and had played together in a short-lived band called Mesmeric, fueled by metal inspirations such as Venom, Slayer, and Sodom and hardcore punk bands, most notably Idaho’s Septic Death.”
“While Shawn naturally came to the fore and became the frontman, it was Jason who determined that the trio should return to his birthplace of San Francisco in order to become part of the famous Bay Area scene, a far cry from the beautiful but isolated existence that the island of Hawaii offered.”
“Brent, always the more practical and professional of the three, was a Californian-born surf enthusiast who adapted back to life in the city with reasonable ease, but Shawn and Jason often struggled to keep afloat, with drugs and young families proving awkward bedfellows.”
“Metallica and technical metal was popular, still is, but we wanted to be raw and simple… and not like anyone else if at all possible. Metal music was a crucial and important form of expression, as was the urban/punk and even tribal sounds that played in my head. The influence for me was the pit, the mosh pit, but the raw human condition, the brutal and psychotic mentality within us was what really drove me. I can only speak on what I feel I brought to VON, which was the raw, brutal, and overpoweringly loud aspect of bands like Septic Death, D.R.I., Black Flag, Christ on Parade, Cro-Mags, Venom, Sodom, Kreator, Slayer, Samhain, Misfits, and my personal favorite, Diamanda Galás, and more specifically her album Litanies of Satan”
“The trio played live at a few bars and gatherings but the reception was far from overwhelming; entirely at odds with the technical thrash and death metal prevalent at the time, VON, as with so many early black metal bands, found their efforts largely unappreciated.”
“As unhappy as the band’s situation was, worse was to come in late 90/early 91 when Jason’s mother was told by doctors that she had only a few months to live, forcing the bassist to return home to Hawaii. His bandmates were far from happy; having been persuaded to head out to California, they were already struggling to get shows and would now have to deal with losing a band member. The solution came from Joe Allen—whom Jason describes as his then-best friend who would later be the best man at his wedding—whom the bassist introduced as his temporary replacement while he sorted out the family situation back in Oahu. Some resentment over the situation clearly arose and VON sought to distance themselves from their departed bassist, with Shawn/Von becoming ‘Goat’, Brent/Vennt becoming ‘Snake’ (after his taste in pets) and Joe adopting the ‘Kill’ moniker. Furthermore the song that had been named after the bassist (something of a tradition, since Vennt and Von would also have songs named after them) was renamed from Venien (as listed on Satanic) to Veinen (as it appears on Satanic Blood). Venien himself was later described unflatteringly in interviews as ‘an unnamed bass player’.”
“Before their demise the group would record one more demo, Blood Angel, but this would go unreleased until many years later.”
“Indeed, Jason’s next move would prove confusing to many black metal fans. Forming a company to release new material, he issued a slew of publicity announcing the launch of ‘VON Music Group/VON Properties LLC’ and its possible distribution by Warners, the rather corporate presentation perhaps reflective of his two-decade absence from the scene and underground sensibilities. He also stated that earlier releases of VON material, including the most recent by the respected Nuclear War Now! were ‘bootlegs’. Given that most black metal fans had not yet learned of Jason’s role in the VON story, or even heard his name before, skepticism was rife, with many believing the entire thing to be a hoax.”
“If people think a guy doing everything DIY, his own cash, his own hands, recording, mixing, planning, and even illustrating every image for every album is corporate, they are misled and need to learn the basics of starting a record label.
While confusion reigned during this time, Jason had also managed to re-establish contact with Shawn and persuaded him to reform the band to record an EP and play a one-off reunion show at the Armageddon festival, a 2-day London event where Watain were launching their new album, Lawless Darkness.”
“Unfortunately, though the London show would at least prove that the whole affair had not been a hoax, it was not well received. While the playing was certainly not as tight as it could have been, much of the resentment from fans seemed to focus on the slower renditions of the songs and the lack of stage gear, the band simply playing in their street clothes without the blood or crosses. When I asked about this Shawn replied I think we grew as people, it’s been 20 years and you have to sort of fucking grow up… people grow up in different ways, different things take on more meaning and it boiled down more to the music I think.
A scheduled performance at Norway’s Hole in the Sky festival was quickly cancelled and Shawn soon decided to leave the band, making the 2010 Satanic Blood EP the only non-demo release to feature both Shawn and Jason (alongside J. Giblete Cuervo and Diego ‘Blood’ Arredondo). The two men would later follow their own musical projects, Shawn issuing new full-length albums with the aid of drummer Blood, guitarist J. Giblete Cuervo, Bone Awl bassist He Who Gnashes Teeth, and even session drummer Wrest of contemporary USBM heroes Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice. These slabs of intriguing psychedelic black metal would be issued via Nuclear War Now!, the label making peace with Shawn if not Jason.
For his part, the latter would take on a huge amount of work. Initially going under the name Von Venien, his solo project would revert to the more straightforward Venien and craft an ambitious double album entitled Tribal Blood,¹ featuring himself on vocals and bass, Giblete on guitars, and Anthony ‘Dirty FvKn! Pistols’ Mainiero, drummer of sludge metaller The Atlas Moth. VON itself would continue, meanwhile, under Jason’s leadership” Que confusão!
“Charlie [?] would then be replaced by Dirty FvKn! Pistols and several new guitarists, with whom VON would record another ambitious project, a trilogy of albums entitled Dark Gods, works that would wander quite far stylistically from the early compositions. Quite how the legacy of VON will be perceived following the band’s comeback remains to be seen. For his part, Jason is untroubled by whatever reactions may arise and continues upon a very determined and unusual creative path.”
“My current state of mind harbors no ill will toward ‘kvlt’ VON fans and Goat-worshippers and those that might react to Satanic Blood [a regravação moderna] and Dark Gods as blasphemy. Those new to it who listen to the screams of those holding on for dear life to a demo, well it’s up to them to think for themselves. I respectfully feel the albums will be received, in both camps, good and bad, it is the VON way. I have been in an uphill battle to get this out since the gatekeepers of the metal scene in the 80s told me it’s not really what’s going on right now, well, let’s see if its time is now.”
“Beherit were one of the bands who had a real mystique. Their sound was never really popularized so they’ve remained ‘cult,’ but their atmosphere of claustrophobic and pernicious ritual had a big impact on a generation of black metal. They represent a whole era when black metal felt vital, and even dangerous, in a way that was swiftly lost.”
—V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (Anaal Nathrakh)
“To be a Finnish person that started to listen to black metal in the early 90s, there is no other name that could be as influential as Beherit.”
—Mikko Aspa (Clandestine Blaze/owner of record label Northern Heritage)
“FORMED BACK IN 1989, Finland’s Beherit was another act that preceded, instigated, and then finally became a part of the second wave explosion. Even today their name carries enough cultish clout to rival almost any act in the extreme metal universe, thanks to the band’s fierce individualism, underground spirit, and refusal to follow prevalent trends. Consequently they have found themselves both revered and despised, which some might say is a true seal of black metal authenticity.
Originally called Horny Malformity, and then Pseudochrist, the band finally settled on the name Beherit—meaning ‘Satan’ in Syriac, a dialect of the Middle Aramaic language—having found it within the pages of LaVey’s Satanic Bible. The group itself came into existence thanks to Marko ‘Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance’ Laiho (guitars and vocals) and Jari ‘Daemon Fornication’ Vaarala (bass), with drummer Jari ‘Sodomatic Slaughter’ Pirinen joining the group soon after. All 3 musicians hailed from Rovaniemi, the capital of Finland’s northernmost province, Lapland.”
“The country’s first black metal band, Beherit drew inspiration from acts such as Venom, Slayer, Sodom, Possessed, Rotting Christ, Samael, Sarcófago, Bathory, and also Blasphemy, whose song War Command the group covered and who influenced both the band’s sound and their lengthy pseudonyms.”
“Quite why Turbo chose such a course of action remains unclear, though a long-running rumor states that the band were presented with the funds to record an album but, in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion, blew this advance on alcohol and drugs. On this subject Holocausto’s recollections are somewhat hazy, the frontman simply stating, I cannot say where those dollars—which were sent by postal mail in a 7-inch box—were spent, or how much it was in total, but definitely it was not enough to record a whole album in the studio.”
“Despite the continuing confusion, The Oath of Black Blood did manage to raise the profile of the band considerably. This was all the more impressive considering that Beherit was essentially swimming against the tide of metal fashion, combining 80s-inspired sounds with a similarly old school aesthetic comprised of spikes, inverted crosses, pentagrams, fire-breathing, and heavy black face paint.”
“In 1992, Beherit seem almost like an anachronism. Either that, or you’d have to admit that Black Metal is not dead after all but is slowly and painfully raising its head again. The new Darkthrone album A Blaze in the Northern Skycan be seen as an indication: pure Black Metal. So would I be right in saying that classic Black Metal is coming back? The Finnish view on the matter: ‘Black Metal was never dead! Unfortunately there’s a lot of bands who start playing Death Metal because it happens to be trendy.’ (Holocausto)”
German Metal Hammer magazine profetizando
O EAD SEMPRE EXISTIU: “I applied for enrollment as a student to Collegium Satanas, a correspondence course in Satanism founded by New Zealand Satanist organization Order of the Left Hand Path, Daemon told Sepulchral Voice, a Norwegian zine (produced, incidentally, by Stian ‘Occultus’ Johansen, later of Mayhem, in 1991). I should be qualified as a Satanist priest about in one month.”
“Holocausto’s interests in spirituality and the occult have clearly evolved as the years have passed but remain as strong as ever, and his interest in Vipassana meditation and Tibetan rituals has led him to travel the Far East quite extensively as part of a greater spiritual journey, one whose outcome may surprise many longtime fans.”
“After my Satanist youth and years in Odinism, I went to experience various hippie new age movements, paranormal lectures, channeling, and read all possible esoteric books. They had valid points but were too often based on superstitious belief. In the late nineties I finally went to the East and found Tao and Buddhism and the Tibetan Book of The Dead, which was a quite remarkable reading.”
“A feud soon spread between the two scenes, which became known in black metal circles as the ‘Dark War’. This has undoubtedly become somewhat bigger in legend than in reality, being relatively short-lived (partly thanks to Euronymous of Mayhem and Mika Luttinen of Impaled Nazarene sorting out their differences in 1993) and today the only real lasting sign of this conflict is an amusing note on the reverse art of Impaled Nazarene’s 1992 debut album, Tol Compt Norz Norz Norz, stating NO ORDERS FROM NORWAY ACCEPTED!!!!!!!!!!”
“A bizarre project called Fuck Beheritis frequently cited as further evidence of the hatred Beherit had earned in Norway, although the fact that the band covered Beherit material, and had a song entitled Beherit Are Gods, casts some doubt about the intentions of the group. Equally bizarrely, Holocausto was later accused in Isten zine of stirring up paranoia and sparking the Norwegian/Finnish feud by making late-night drunken prank calls to Samoth of Emperor and Mika of Impaled Nazarene, something he strongly denies, stating: That prank calls story is bullshit, written by liars of Isten magazine. Now a long time later, some dude perhaps saw that speculation important enough to add into such a reliable source as Wikipedia.”
“The following year, through new label Spinefarm, Beherit issued Drawing Down The Moon, a truly groundbreaking masterpiece that featured rerecorded versions of the 4 songs on the previous Promo 1992, alongside 9 entirely new numbers. Fittingly for an album named after an occult ceremony—in this case one from the Wiccan tradition (the band practiced witchcraft during this period)—Drawing was utterly ritualistic in nature, dripping with the atmosphere and primeval violence of the early recordings, while accentuating slower, more minimal songwriting and introducing synths and electronics to the mix, something all but unheard of at the time. Fulfilling—nay, exceeding—the promise of the 1992 tape, this release took rawness and primitiveness into almost avant-garde territories, showing contempt for traditional ideas of musicianship and production and in doing so crafting a truly powerful work.”
“Slow, hypnotic invocations such as The Gate Of Nanna (a reference from H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon) took the concept of a ‘stripped-down sound’ to new extremes, its ridiculously simple percussion and 2-riff structure making it a challenging listen for many. No less challenging were the spacey instrumentals such as Nuclear Girl, which were also scattered among the more traditionally barbaric assaults such as Nocturnal Evil or the memorably titled Werewolf, Semen and Blood. The result was a varied and immersive listening experience, unlike anything else available then or now, and is still greatly admired by fans and black metal musicians alike.”
I remember the old Norsk bands doing interviews shitting on these guys, recalled Blake Judd of USBM act Nachtmystium, yet I don’t think a single one of those bands ever made something as nightmare-inducing as Drawing Down The Moon.”
“Unable to find suitable musicians to join him and increasingly enthralled by electronic music and its ‘crossover’ possibilities with guitar music, Holocausto created 2 electronic albums under the Beherit name in 1994 and 1995. The first was the primitive H418ov21.C (the strange title taken, Holocausto explains, from Aleister Crowley) and the second was the better received Electric Doom Synthesis, which reintroduced guitars into the Beherit formula while remaining brooding and predominantly non-metal in nature.”
“After Electric Doom Synthesis, Laiho abandoned both the Beherit and Holocausto monikers altogether, continuing the electronic themes with a ‘metamusic’ project called Suuri Shamaani and creating hardcore techno under the name DJ Gamma-G. It would not be until 2009 that Beherit would return, with an album entitled Engram, which saw the band boasting a full line-up again, Laiho (as Holocausto again) working with original drummer Sodomatic Slaughter and two newcomers, guitarist Sami ‘Ancient Corpse Desekrator’ Tenetz (founder of Thy Serpent) and bassist Pasi ‘Abyss, Twisted Baptizer’ Kolehmainen.” “Stylistically the record was very much a return to black metal territories, though it made use of a far more powerful production than might have been expected from the band’s previous works. The result was cold, aggressive, and satisfying, but also hinted at the band’s minimalist and hypnotic past, as well as carrying an air of Bathory about it. The unexpected return was warmly received by fans”
“I think the Earth itself is a beautiful place and with Internet technology it’s so easy for people to study occultism, learn and enlighten their souls. But it makes me feel sad, when people are not taking their precious time more seriously. Fucking homosapien monkey shit, always with some latest trendy nonsense.”
15 Mayhem Part I
“I was first introduced to Mayhem in a local record shop here in Bergen around 1987. Back then metal was almost unknown in Bergen and to explore a brutal metal band from Norway was awesome. Metal is, in my eyes and ears, meant to be provoking and extreme, and the band is one of a kind, and has inspired me from day one. They were, and still are, revolutionary and artists on a high level, and their history is like the most exciting story you can wish for. Salute!”
—Jørn Inge Tunsber (Hades/Hades Almighty)
“While the band would make their greatest impact during the 90s, their initial formation took place much earlier, specifically 1984, a time when the group consisted of 3 musicians: bassist Jørn Stubberud, better known as Necrobutcher, drummer Kjetil Manheim, then known simply as Manheim, and guitarist Øystein Aarseth, whose stage-name Euronymous would become immortalized within black metal history and culture after his premature death in 1993.
So much gossip and speculation surrounds the band, even today, that it seemed critical for the story of their early days to come directly from the two surviving founding members: Manheim and Necrobutcher. Though separate interviews were conducted later, the initial discussion took place in person with both men. No longer in regular contact—Manheim left the band in 1987—it had been some time since the two had spoken. Nonetheless, a meeting between them and your author was eventually arranged in a bar close to the centre of Oslo, an establishment whose bizarre taxidermy-heavy décor proved to be a suitably macabre setting for the tale.”
“My first record was Procol Harum, I got it from my uncle and loved it. I never got into Kiss, which was big then, so my approach to it was more diverse. I liked a lot of different music, still do. But heavy metal, it was something that as soon as you heard it, you liked it, it was the energy around it.”
“We started in ‘84. The first months we were rehearsing cover tracks, and first song we wrote—Ghoul—I think was the beginning of ‘85. We just finished elementary school. Manheim and Euronymous went to high school and I went to a school that taught a craft, bricklaying, that sort of stuff. That year I dropped out of school, and the year after Euronymous more or less dropped out of school.”
“Actually I met one of my heroes on our last tour, Jello Biafra, he came backstage and said that… they found it very pure, as it was not touched by anyone else. It was us, it was them and they were proud of the product, which is why Dead Kennedys’ debut Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables has this special feeling, the bad production adds to the whole thing. He’s actually a collector and has all our records, he bought the box set. He was a hero to us in the 80s”
“They play some pretty good music, but we couldn’t give a shit about what they stand for.”
“When I recorded that tape my mother was sure I had lost any last remaining fragment of sanity I possessed. It was a horrible piece of noise but the voice was to Euronymous’ liking and very soon he asked me to join Mayhem. I lived a long away from Langhus so rehearsals were quite infrequent. We rehearsed in an old pigpen and I had to sing through a Peavey Bandit amp with a very lousy microphone, but it sounded so good back then. I still remember when Necro’s bass sound hit me in the guts like a wrecking ball and Euronymous’ guitar was more like the sound you get when you cut sheet metal. Electrifying. It was like entering a different plane of existence. When we went into the studio I was primed for the 3 newest tracks but Messiah helped me out with Pure Fucking Armageddon and Witching Hour and I just sang chorus on those tracks. The most amusing thing was that the studio technician was ready to record a reggae band if my memory serves me right. Necro had written most of the gory murderous lyrics and I only made small adjustments to them. It was quite an experience.”
“Yeah, they were laughing at us, saying that we were spoiling our talents, that this wasn’t going anywhere, so why didn’t we play new wave like everybody else?”
“To give you an example, our first performance was at a rock competition —there were 8 bands, and we came in last. The judges put us in last. There were 7 other bands and, you know, they never went anywhere, so that gives you an example of what was going on.”
“Though the first studio release by a Norwegian black metal band, Deathcrush itself is not generally considered a black metal recording, due partly to both the bloodthirsty gore-obsessed lyrics found on songs such as Chainsaw Gutsfuck, but also the music itself, which combines many thrash, death, and punk overtones into what was then a decidedly avant-garde sound.
Opening with an introduction track by Conrad Schnitzler of German electronic group Tangerine Dream (a coup achieved after Euronymous found Conrad’s home address and sat outside his house until his wife eventually invited him in) and featuring a stripped-down cover of Venom’s Witching Hour, Deathcrush is a surprisingly eclectic listen, especially considering that it clocks in at not much more than a quarter of an hour.”
“Despite this fact and its limited print run, the mini-album would appear in the top 20 on album charts within Kerrang! magazine. This was somewhat misleading, however, since the magazine took their sales information from one store in particular—the legendary Shades shop in Soho London, a favorite haunt of the band and one of the few stores that stocked the album. In fact, sales at the time were far from overwhelming and it was some years before the initial print run of 1,000 copies had sold out.
Deathcrush was undoubtedly far more abrasive in sound than most people were used to hearing or prepared to accept, even in the wake of the success of thrash metal albums such as Slayer’s Reign In Blood, released late the previous year. That included those involved in the music industry.”
“When we arrived at the studio, they said, ‘Where is your snare drum, you’re a reggae band right?’. We said, ‘No, we’re not a reggae band.’ They said, ‘Well what sort of music do you play?’ We said, ‘Well it’s better if we just rig up and you hear it.’ Because there was no definition for that sort of music at that time. I think the guy was used to pop rock.”
“That’s why people can feel it nowadays, it’s not been tampered with. There were no overdubs—bass, drums, and guitar are live and then we recorded the vocals after. Maniac was originally supposed to do everything but there were 2 songs he couldn’t do, so we called Billy [Messiah]. But I had forgotten the lyrics I wrote back home, so he just sat down and wrote new lyrics for Pure Fucking Armageddon in the studio. And then of course it became a bit political, with Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, so I rewrote it afterwards back to what it was before.”
“Despite this the punk overtones continued, since by accident or design, the sleeves for the initial run of records were printed in a lurid bright pink, rather than the intended dark red.”
“We had set the color codes and everything, so I think they did it on purpose, to make it pink instead of blood red. When I opened the first box, it was like, ‘What?!’ Then we were thinking they did us a favor, this is even worse now, so we accepted, rather than sending back. Also we had been waiting for this moment for many, many years, to hear the stylus come down on the vinyl, your own product, we’d never experienced that before. We just wanted to grab it and put it on. We sent everything through a Norwegian company. They had a printing company in Holland and first they didn’t want to print it ‘cos they thought the cover was ‘racist’, ‘cos it was two black hands hanging. It was two hands hanging in a marketplace in Mauritania on the Ivory Coast of Africa, as a warning to thieves to say, ‘okay, here you don’t steal.’ We actually never thought about it, we were like, ‘Racist? What the fuck? It’s just two hands.’ We didn’t think about what color the hands were, it was just so fucking cool.”
“At this time the band were still known for their humorous undercurrents, and in fact Necrobutcher and Euronymous had recently recorded a cassette called Metalion in the Park with Checker Patrol, a one-off joke project they created with members of Assassin and Sodom during a visit to Germany the previous year. Some of this humor was evident in Deathcrush: as well as the cow adorning the central sticker on the record itself, there were the ads that appeared in Slayer Magazine featuring Necrobutcher playing the piano surrounded by images of the cartoon cat Garfield. Then there was the minute-long unlisted final track—unsurprisingly removed from later pressings—which captured the band repeating the lyrics to a composition entitled (All the Little Flowers are) Happy in an increasingly demented fashion [Cliff Richardand the Young Ones].”
“We liked English humor, it’s sarcastic and dry. But all that disappeared. At that time it wasn’t that serious. It was ambitious, but it wasn’t that serious. In the early 90s I must say it was kind of scary to see a lot of people going into that and how serious they were about it. What Øystein was talking about; sitting together with him and hearing this extreme thinking and everything was so serious, you know—where’s the humor?”
“Just as Maniac and Messiah became estranged from the Mayhem camp before Deathcrush was released, so too did Manheim, who decided to move on from Mayhem shortly after the recording was completed. He would later return to making music, focusing on projects with electronic and experimental elements, most interestingly working with the aforementioned Conrad Schnitzler in an outfit called Big Robot.”
“What I do remember is that Øystein was really mad at me, ‘cos it meant that leaving the band was destroying the tour plans, as they had to replace me and that sets a band back, and he was probably right about that. But it was a shift in life, that’s how things are. My uncle is a musician and he told me, ‘If you are going to be a musician, be prepared to eat flatbread A LOT. If you’re prepared to eat flatbread, and do all that, then go ahead. If you’re not, do something else.’ And that was a turning point, I knew that I was good at other things.”
“And yes, we were broke for many, many years. I had to turn to crime, selling drugs and shit for many years to support myself. I couldn’t take a job ‘cos it would take away the focus.”
16 Mayhem Part II
“WITH MANHEIM, Messiah, and Maniac departing from Mayhem even before the band’s official debut was released, Euronymous and Necrobutcher were forced to set about the task of replacing them. They began by looking to a local extreme metal band called Vomit [Kvikksølvguttene],¹ and recruited two of its members: drummer Torben Grue (now an opera singer) and vocalist Kittil Kittilsen (now a devout Christian and retired from music). However, the line-up they formed would end up lasting only until the end of the year.
[¹ No metal-archives o Kvikksolvguttene é listado como o próprio Vomit.]
It wasn’t that the two were without merit. Indeed, in 1997 Necrobutcher and the latter two musicians regrouped under the name Kvikksølvguttene (Quicksilver Boys, a pun on Sølvguttene or ‘Silverboys’, a prepubescent Norwegian choir), an outfit Necrobutcher describes simply as ‘Mayhem, but under a different name’. Going so far as to tackle a ‘cover’ of the first Mayhem song written, Ghoul, the project would prove just as provocative, making use of artwork featuring the band’s stash of drugs and illegal live weapons (Necrobutcher would later serve time for possession of both) and a photo of a deceased woman in a mortuary taken by a trespassing friend of the group.”
“However, in 1988 two notably more suitable musicians had entered the scene, namely drummer Jan Axel Blomberg, better known by his apt pseudonym Hellhammer, and vocalist Per Yngve ‘Pelle’ Ohlin, otherwise known as Dead. Hellhammer’s entry into the group proved fairly straightforward. Impressed with Deathcrush, he learned that the band were looking for a drummer and managed to arrange a meeting through mutual friends, bringing with him a tape of his recordings. So obvious were his talents that he received a call the very next day to tell him that he had been accepted as a member of Mayhem, a situation that still stands over two decades later.
Amusingly, his hell-raising antics appear to have caused Euronymous some concern in the early years. In a letter to Morgan ‘Evil’ Håkansson of Marduk, he complains that the drummer ‘has disappeared again… he’s hanging out with glamrockers, [!] he seems to find it more important to drink with them than rehearse.’”
“Dead was—to put it mildly—a rather more complicated character. Hailing from Sweden, the 18-year-old (a year younger than Euronymous and Necrobutcher and a year older than Hellhammer) had already provided vocals for the Stockholm-based band Morbid, which also featured in its ranks Uffe Cederlund and L-G ‘Drutten’ Petrov, who would later appear in the pioneering death metal bands Nihilist and Entombed. As it turned out, ‘morbid’ was a pretty good description of Pelle himself, something that was obvious even from his unusual method of application, as Necrobutcher explains:
(…) Then Dead came to Oslo and it turned out he didn’t understand what we were saying… people who are Swedish don’t always understand the Norwegians and people from Stockholm are the worst. So he didn’t understand shit, and we didn’t understand shit that he was saying, so we had to speak English for the first week.”
“Previously, the members had lived in their parents’ homes, although Dead lived in a variety of places, including the band’s rehearsal space, a cabin, and supposedly even some woods on occasion. But in 1988 the group began renting a deserted house in a forest near Kråkstad, Ski, far from civilization. The dwelling soon acquired such a dubious reputation among locals that children were warned not to go nearby, and residents in the nearest town began to avoid the band members, perhaps not surprisingly given their strange attire and behavior.”
“Of course, living in close proximity with an eccentric like Dead was a challenge even to his bandmates, especially Euronymous. The two would sometimes come to blows, their fights even including knives. In one instance Dead stormed outside to sleep in the woods because Euronymous’ music was keeping him awake, only to find the guitarist further disturbing his peace by coming outside and firing his shotgun, a situation Dead reacted to by hurling a large rock at the guitarist, causing minor wounds to his chest. Much of the time, however, Dead would simply stay in his room, drawing or writing lyrics and generally keeping to himself.”
“He heard music and saw colors, and when he discovered some other people also had a similar thing and wrote books on it, he became superfascinated: read all the books, saw all the films, got in touch with people who had similar experiences, and based on that, came to the understanding that there was something more, a 3-dimensional thing. I mean he really believed that.”
“He’d also bury his clothes in the soil several days before the gig so that they were smelling of decomposition. I felt it was a little bit weird, but he had this black sense of humor around it and that made it alright. We were all laughing a little bit about it, but we didn’t mind, you know?”
“Most of the people in there were wimps and I don’t want them to watch our gigs! Before we began to play there was a crowd of about 300 in there, but in the 2nd song Necro Lust we began to throw around those pig heads. Only 50 were left, I liked that!”
“it was surely Dead’s use of what he described as corpsepaint (combined with the influence that Euronymous was beginning to have over the scene) that caused the technique to be adopted so widely.”
“With corpsepaint today, I don’t see any corpse… it’s to look cool or evil… With Dead it wasn’t like dark, it was green, decomposition colors, snot coming from the nose…”
“Sadly, in his 3 years with Mayhem, Dead recorded only 2 tracks in the studio: Freezing Moon and Carnage. Originally recorded for the compilation album Projections of a Stained Mind and later released separately, they have earned an iconic status among fans and even some ex-Mayhem members.”
“I was in the studio when Dead recorded his only studio vocals for Mayhem and I will never forget it. His dedication was something that was very hard to come by even then, let alone these days. I had to hold a bag of dead crows for him when he was singing so he could sniff it for the right atmosphere. These crows had been in the ground for quite some time when he dug them up. His voice was really of another world. Those two are still my favorite Mayhem tracks.”
“Weird is not the right word. I honestly think DEAD is mentally insane. (He knows I am writing this!) Which other way can you describe a guy who does not eat in order to get [a] starving wound? Or have a t-shirt with funeral announcements on it? I’ve always wanted to have a guy like that in the band.”
“His fragile state of mind was probably not helped by the fact that the band he had moved to Norway to participate in was continuing to struggle. Euronymous had been discussing a forthcoming album entitled De Mysteriis Dom Sathanasfor some time, but things were progressing extremely slowly, gigs were rare, and without other work the group often found themselves going without food, due to a lack of finances. Increasingly isolated from the world, Dead committed suicide on April 8, 1991”
“Black metal was now becoming a matter of life and death—or at least was being portrayed as such by Euronymous. Far from grieving, Euronymous appeared to be actively capitalizing on Dead’s death, something that disgusted Necrobutcher, the only member who traveled to Sweden for the funeral.”
“I think the way people took it was absolutely wrong. No one really had an idea what was going on, so it was hard for people to deal with this in a proper way. There was a lot of stupid stuff, like Euronymous and Hellhammer wearing those necklaces of his brain. I think that people put on a tough mask and really went with the black metal lifestyle.”
“The disrespect Euronymous showed toward Dead proved to be the final straw for Necrobutcher, who cut all ties with the guitarist.”
“First of all I grieved like hell ‘cos I loved the guy, he was my brother, one of my best friends. But the reaction from Øystein was not treating him like a friend, but as a piece of shit. He wanted to portray him as a crap idiot motherfucker. Didn’t want to go to the funeral, wanted to exploit the photos, all shit like that, so we were very divided in that way. Dead wasn’t just a fucking idiot, he was a really good friend, a really good guy, a lot of people loved him, so it devastated a lot of people. Pelle’s brother called me recently for the first time—he had plucked up the courage to call me 18 years later—and the whole family is still completely traumatized.”
“For his part, Necrobutcher explained to Euronymous that he didn’t wish to communicate with him as long as he was planning to use the photos of Dead’s corpse. In fact, these photos were never used on any official artwork, but did appear on the notorious live bootleg Dawn of the Black Hearts, released originally in limited-edition vinyl by Columbian label Warmaster Records—a label owned by the now-deceased Mauricio ‘Bull Metal’ Montoya, drummer of Columbian death metallers Masacre and a contact of Euronymous.”
“This was new: in the 80s Mayhem had not claimed the black metal tag, and nor had Euronymous, who actually described the band as ‘brutal, extreme death metal’ in an interview with a South American contact.”
“There was no black metal scene in 1991 when Darkthrone and Burzum revolted against the death metal trend and did something else instead. Euronymous called it black metal, because he—unlike me—was a Venom fan and they had used that as an album title, and that name has been used ever since.”
Varg marketeiro, Metal Hammer, 2010
“Soon as all the Mayhems and Burzums started coming out, I was like, ‘Yeah this is fucking great, another load of young mad kids’. It was off-the-wall, dirty, nasty, out-of-tune, out-of-time, exactly where we were coming from. But I just kept thinking, ‘Why have these guys not come up with their own title for something they created themselves?’ I don’t believe they sound like Venom—they were influenced by Venom, but I was influenced by Bowie and Jethro Tull and I don’t sound like them—so I just thought those guys should take more credit for what they’ve done. It’s great to hear you’ve influenced someone’s career, especially if they’re doing well, but at the same time I thought they could have had a title like ‘Norse Metal’ or something, that would have given them the respect I think they deserved for creating their own style.”
“What I don’t hear in any of these bands is songs like Teacher’s Pet or Poison or Buried Alive, it’s having that diversity within the style that makes it black metal.”
“Today the term ‘black metal’ is frequently used to describe extreme metal with certain musical characteristics: high-paced percussion, high-pitched ‘screamed’ vocals, fast tremolo picking on the guitars, an emphasis on atmosphere and feeling, and an unholy aesthetic. Indeed, this is the definition many black metal musicians seem most comfortable with and it’s one used (if only for the sake of clarity) at times in this book. Likewise, ‘death metal’ is now generally used to describe bands that emphasize brutality or technicality above atmosphere and use deeper ‘growling’ vocals and frequent riff changes.”
“There are only a handful of (mostly great) bands (in case someone hasn’t got it right—black metal has nothing to do with the music itself, both Blasphemy and Mercyful Fate are black metal, it’s the LYRICS, and they must be SATANIC. If not, it is NOT black metal) and what we choose to call LIFE METAL bands. Take a band like Therion. Their music is quite OK, it’s actually one of the best Swedish bands (even though that doesn’t say much), but their lyrics STINK. They are about society and pollution, what the fuck has that got to do with DEATH? If a band cultivates and worships death, then it’s death metal, no matter what KIND of metal it is. If a band cultivates and worships Satan, it’s black metal. And by saying ‘cultivating death’, I don’t think about thinking it’s funny, or being into gore. I’m thinking about being able to KILL just because they HATE LIFE. It’s people who enjoy to see wars because a lot of people get killed. How many bands think that way?”
“Furthermore, many of these bands had converted to the black metal cause after previously playing in death metal acts, albeit often ones with an atmospheric edge. Immortal and Hades, for example, had formed from the ashes of the bands Old Funeral and Amputation, Burzum also sprang from Old Funeral, Enslaved from Phobia, Emperor from Embrionic(sic –Embryonic) and Thou Shalt Suffer, while Mortem contained future members of Mayhem, Arcturus, and Stigma Diabolicum/Thorns. Perhaps most notably, Darkthrone underwent a dramatic transformation from a successful technical death metal band to a full-blown black metal outfit. As it turned out, Euronymous didn’t consider many of the bands that surrounded him to be black metal at all, even some bands that today are seen to epitomize the genre, such as Immortal.”
“Firstly Immortal is NOT a black metal band, as they are not Satanists. And this is something they say themselves. They are into the atmospheres and moods concerning Satanism. Their new look is just a way for them to go deeper into what they have always been into… And further, those who have cared to read the lyrics of Darkthrone’s Soulside Journeywill know that they are the same Satanic lyrics, which means that Soulside Journey IS a black metal album.”
Euronymous o contraditório ao zine Orcustus
“‘Sure.’ We just said yes to everything just because people are stupid enough to ask this sort of thing and we were just laughing. No, I don’t think Euronymous ‘believed’.”
“While Euronymous often presented black metal as merely a medium to manipulate, commenting that young musicians should become Satanic terrorists rather than form yet more new bands, there’s no doubt that music was in fact his first love. Indeed, though he stated that Enslaved and Immortal should not be considered black metal because they veered away from Satanic subject matter, he nonetheless provided both with advice and support.”
“He released Merciless, they weren’t black metal, and was planning releases with Masacre from Colombia, which was death metal.”
“It’s often imagined that the store was mainly selling black metal records, but at the time there simply weren’t enough of such items in existence to keep a store afloat, and Helvete stocked a great deal of material by bands that Euronymous himself had voiced a distaste for, such as Deicide and Napalm Death. While these helped pay the rent, the store nonetheless was geared toward attracting and nurturing underground metal fans, and was suitably decorated, the black walls adorned with inverted crucifixes, weapons, and records, though in some cases the latter had to be provided—and sold—by the regular customers themselves.”
“I donated 60 vinyl and that would be mainly boring thrash metal stuff.”
“Whoever was there worked behind the counter at some point, of the shop’s communal atmosphere. I mean I sold records myself.”
“Guys from Darkthrone were always there and Emperor… The socializing was the most important. We used to live in the basement of the store, and as you know the Inferno festival is now organizing tourist trips there… Oh well…”
“They had a horrible selection! They didn’t really have any distribution. I remember when the first black metal thing came out, the A Blaze in the Northern Sky album by Darkthrone, Helvete didn’t get it. They didn’t have the connections with distributors… it wasn’t like a proper shop. There was another shop called Hot Records, and I was there the day it came out… one of these Helvete ‘hangarounds’ came into the shop when I was there and when the owner turned his back, or was on the phone or something, he just nicked all the A blaze albums and ran down to Helvete! Obviously the owner just went to Helvete with the police and retrieved them… that was the kind of things these silly ‘hangarounds’ would do.”
“When I was out of the picture nobody knew who he was. So he could put on this fake thing. Put on this robe, paint his face white and say stuff that had no truth in it.”
“The HC (hardcore) pigs have correctly made themselves guardians of morality, but we must kick them in the face and become guardians of anti-morality.”
18 A Fist in the Face of Christianity:
Norway Part II
“Originally a member of death metal band Old Funeral, he had moved toward the black metal scene following the group’s dissolution. Like so many others, he had made some contact with the members of Mayhem prior to Dead’s death (in a bizarre twist, it was he who, as a Christmas gift, sent the shotgun shells Pelle would eventually use in his suicide), but it was only later that he really established himself among his peers.”
“I can understand that Øystein saw a protégé in him. He was very eager to play his music, was proud of finding him, was talking of this young guy who was a huge talent. I only met him a few times but I thought he was… just dumb. But he was young and I’m not sure if I mixed up ‘young’ and ‘dumb’. He wanted to go into the image and did so with force—it looked real but this is a kid who really wanted to be a part of something, it wasn’t coming from him, it was he who dressed up into it. He found that in this scene he could be someone and he certainly was, and still is, so full respect to that, but at that point I just found it ridiculous.”
“Marius (Thorns/Arcturus) and me took some distance from that, we thought it was too silly, for us it was rebellious criminal fascination, especially with Varg, Øystein, and Bård.”
“With a few exceptions, drugs were only notable in the scene by their absence, and though drinking was popular with some, it was not widespread at that time. Some members of the circle, such as Mortiis and Vikernes, didn’t drink or use drugs, and the use of intoxicants was criticized by several bands in interviews. Though certainly not true today, the Norwegian scene of the period could actually be quite militant and even puritanical, especially compared to most other youth music cultures, not least within metal itself.”
“I mean, to us drugs was something you saw in movies, it was almost as if they didn’t really exist.”
“Because most members of the scene were from atheist families, this also wasn’t a case of oppressed youths rebelling against overly religious parents. That said, as previously noted, Christianity is a heavily integrated part of Norwegian society, and one has to opt out of the church, rather than choose to be a part of it—something that caused much resentment in the black metal community.” “The not entirely inaccurate concept of Norway as a pagan land wrongly conquered by Christianity in centuries past became a popular one”
“I remember one call when they were going to burn one of the Viking churches, Borgund stave church, which is, you know, 1,000 years old. We had this discussion and I tried to explain this was stupid, this was culture, inheritance, why don’t you just go and burn some modern church that doesn’t mean anything to anyone? So I guess that’s the only time I reacted to the plans. Otherwise it was just, ‘Oh, okay do what you want, it’s not my thing.’” [The Borgund church was ultimately not burnt.]
“Euronymous in particular didn’t want black metal to become a trend. When we saw—in 1992—that all the failures from the death metal scene all of a sudden wanted to play black metal instead, making black metal the new trend, we did everything we could to make black metal too extreme for everybody else. By doing so we imagined that we could scare large groups of posers away from black metal. So, we used imagery and a language so extreme no sensible human beings out there would in theory want anything to do with us. This worked fine, of course, only we didn’t realize that there are so many insanely stupid human beings out there, who still wanted to be ‘evil’, and wanted to commit crimes to prove it to us, just to be accepted into our select group. Every time we saw that others still ‘liked us’ and wanted to become our ‘friends’, we had to step up the madness, so to speak, and go even further to alienate ourselves from them.”
“Whatever the motivations behind the acts, by 1992 the phenomenon of what was generally labeled ‘Satanic terrorism’ was spreading through Norway like wildfire, often beyond any direct connection to Varg, Euronymous, or members of the ‘Inner Circle’. This was evident even in the early days of the church burnings, since one of the first churches to suffer was the Revheim Church, in the relative isolation of the city of Stavanger. The attackers were unconnected to the Oslo or Bergen scenes, but were certainly a part of the black metal culture, and later formed another important band, Gehenna. Elsewhere on the south coast of Norway in Kristiansand, another faction of anti-Christian metallers was also in existence, a group who were later invited to visit Helvete and would become to some extent the ‘muscle’ of some of the operations discussed in Oslo.”
“As Terje confirms, the Kristiansand scene was notably extreme even by the standards of the time, with members attacking Christians in the street with knives in the middle of the day. Going some way beyond mere anti-Christian ideology or even straightforward antisocial behavior, these activities were entrenched in a destructive Satanic culture similar to the one that had grown up in Oslo. Like Mortiis (whom he would replace in Emperor), Terje admits a certain ‘saturation’ of extreme ideas. Even for Terje himself—no longer a Satanist and now married with children—this period is quite surreal to look back upon.”
“I remember that I passed out on the street on one occasion as I had been living off animal blood solely for quite some time.”
“The resulting interview described a young man living in an apartment with covered windows and Nazi and Satanic-related decor, the photos at the time also showing a large amount of Dungeons and Dragons role-playing material. [HAHAHAHA!] The overall impression was of a living space that would probably seem slightly less outlandish to anyone who’d seen a typical teenage metal fan’s bedroom than it seems to have been to Tønder. [o jornalista escandalizado, lembrando o policial dos anos 80 da série alemã Dark]”
“It’s not hard to see, particularly in a pre-Internet age, the magic that these mysterious, criminal, corpse-painted devil-worshippers held for some of those reading, many of whom were undoubtedly curious to discover exactly what this ‘new’ music actually sounded like.”
“I support all dictatorships. Stalin, Hitler, Ceaucescu… and I will become the dictator of Scandinavia myself. I’m a Viking and we’re supposed to fight… The only negative thing about murder is that when you kill someone they can no longer suffer.”
“If I had great enough reason to kill, I’d gladly serve 20 years in jail.”
19 Death of a Legend:
Norway Part III
“In the documentary Pure Fucking Mayhem, Anders ‘Neddo’ Odden of death metallers Cadaver and later Satyricon and Celtic Frost explains: ‘Øystein Aarseth was fed up with all the pranks and the attention that Vikernes drew to black metal and Helvete. He thought Vikernes commercialized it. He didn’t want any publicity. Øystein wanted it to be a closed cult system, unknown to outsiders. I met Aarseth in the summer of ‘93. He told me that he wanted to create a black metal movement that was based on the Hell’s Angels. As such, Vikernes had to go because of the commercializing. Vikernes had good reason to take this seriously.’”
“It’s also interesting to note that in later years two Israeli metal acts, [!!] Salem and Orphaned Land, have claimed that Varg sent them mail bombs in the early 90s. Curiously, Euronymous’ own fears appear to have been accentuated by a visit to a clairvoyant who predicted his death, seemingly at the hands of Varg.”
“A CD entitled Nordic Metal: A Tribute To Euronymous—incidentally perhaps the finest black metal compilation ever created—was later released featuring contributions from Norwegian acts Mayhem, Emperor, Mysticum, Enslaved, Mortiis (now working as a solo artist), Arcturus and—rather surprisingly—Thorns, as well as Swedes Abruptum, Marduk, and Dissection, 3 bands that strongly supported Euronymous in the feud. The booklet was full of quotes paying tribute to the deceased leader of the scene, and in some case even threatening Varg’s life.” “Other parties, such as Gorgoroth and Darkthrone—the latter having connections with both Varg and Euronymous—avoided becoming involved in the conflict altogether, choosing not to take sides.”
“Predating the Norwegian black metal revolution of the 90s, Thorns was the brainchild of guitarist Snorre Ruch, who formed the band while living in the Norwegian city of Trondheim. Musically he was primarily inspired by the thrash and first-generation black metal of the 80s, not that it would be particularly reflected in the highly distinctive playing style he developed between the years of 15 and 17.”
“I bought a guitar to see what I could make out of it. I guess I was finishing with WASP, Twisted Sister, and Iron Maiden and going for the harder thrash stuff like Slayer and Metallica and then further to Venom and Bathory. It was in that spirit that I bought the guitar to try and make some hard music. (…) There’s a big part of rock ‘n’ roll in it as well, people like to drink beer and go to concerts and party and all that, and I’m more like the Asperger kid who sits at home.”
“It was actually as an indirect result of Mayhem that Thorns—or rather Stigma Diabolicum, as the outfit was originally known—was formed in 1989, Snorre finding a like-minded comrade in the form of Marius Vold, an Oslo-based vocalist who was also active in the band Mortem, later to evolve into Arcturus.”
“Working under the tasteful pseudonyms of Pedophagia (Snorre: guitar, bass, synth) and Coprophagia (Marius: vocals and drum programming), the pair crafted their first release, a 3-track demo entitled Luna De Nocturnus that showcased an intense and challenging sound, the discordant guitars in particular communicating a heavy sense of creeping dread and often leading the music away from any sort of traditional song structure. Like most of their peers during this period, the darkness of the music was not yet totally mirrored by the band’s aesthetic, and a close look at the tape’s inlay reveals that the tongue-in-cheek pseudonyms are echoed by the credits list, which thank Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot… and Mayhem.
By 1990 the group had picked up a 3rd member in the form of drummer Fetophagia (real name Bård Guldvik Eithun, soon to be known as ‘Faust’), and during that year the trio would record a rehearsal tape(playing original material alongside Metallica and Slayer covers) and a live tape, recorded when the band played a metal event in Stjørdal, appearing instead of Marius’ other band Mortem, who were scheduled to play but had recently disbanded.”
“While the group seems to have been regarded by many as a death metal band at the time, their music was nonetheless a far cry from the brutality of the Swedish and American camps or even the more atmospheric efforts of Norwegian death metal bands such as Old Funeral or Thou Shalt Suffer. Nor did it have a great deal in common with anything from the world of 80s black metal. Instead, the song-writing bore a distinctly experimental approach, with creepy and discordant riffs disrupting the flow of the more aggressive passages in a seemingly intentional and almost confrontational manner.”
“The following year would prove a significant one for the band, at least in retrospect. At the time, things were moving slowly due to the significant distances between the members—no small issue in the pre-Internet age. So it was that the most famous recording by the band was created with only half its members present, Snorre and Harald crafting a humble tape whose influence upon the Norwegian black metal scene would be nothing less than acute. Consisting of 6 numbers, it featured 5 tracks from the Stigma Diabolicum days (Fall, Thule, Fairytales, You That Mingle May, and Into the Promised Land, curiously renamed Lovely Children), as well as a new number called Home, a song that would later become known as Ærie Descent, probably the band’s most famous song to date. The recording was named the Grymyrk tape, ‘Grymyrk’ being, as Snorre explained in a later webzine interview, ‘the grim world which all music and lyrics for the early material came from… a dead and silent world with its own strange logic. We even made a language for it… A 30-word dictionary.’”
“Truly groundbreaking, it remains difficult to pinpoint the musical influences that affected Snorre’s composition style, the only clue coming from the man himself, who reveals that the epic bridge on the tape’s one new number had a most unlikely source of inspiration. ‘We have never accepted to be influenced by other metal ‘cos we wanted to sound unique, so we say we’re influenced by children’s music and classical music and computer game musicand try to recode it into metal to get a new sound from it. I do remember that on Home I had a lack of parts, so I took one of my favorite songs of German synth-pop act Alphaville—A Victory of Love from the Forever Young album—and stole a part from that.’”
“The following year would see vocals and drums finally recorded under the Thorns name, these appearing thanks to the Trøndertun tape, another highly significant release, though again one that was both unofficial and lacking the presence of most band members. Named after the college Snorre was attending at the time, the tape contained the aforementioned Ærie Descent (now missing the Alphaville bridge) and a new song entitled Funeral Marches to the Grave. This time Snorre contributed both guitars and vocals, while assisted by fellow students Ronnie K. Prize (bass) and Terje M. Kråbøl (drums), the latter of whom later went on to work with metal bands such as Faustcoven and Antidepressive Delivery.
Proving that Snorre was a more than capable vocalist and also featuring a haunting use of synth, the recordings were somewhat less unorthodox in structure than their predecessors, but no less unique in nature. Indeed, the 2 songs remain largely unparalleled even today, the minimal but effective percussion and sparing use of bass capturing a truly gothic and archaic atmosphere, a tone mirrored by the occult and conspiratorial lyrics.”
“In fact, to this day the only recording under the Thorns name featuring either Marius or Bård is a 1992 rehearsal cassette known as
The Thule Tape, which was actually recorded before the move. ‘We never rehearsed!’ laughs Snorre. ‘After half a year I moved back to Trondheim. Maybe I was never that ambitious, I was very happy making riffs and music but didn’t necessarily need to complete things. I wanted to release a record though, but we never even got a place to rehearse, so you see it was a little difficult.’
With Thorns seemingly a doomed project, Bård decided to concentrate on his other band, Emperor, while Snorre joined his old friends Mayhem, taking on the Blackthorn pseudonym and contributing to the content of the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album with some old Thorns riffs. Of course, the events in the Norwegian black metal drama would soon drag both men into its chaotic and violent epicenter, the result being two lengthy sentences in connection to murder—in Snorre’s case, of Euronymous himself. For Snorre it was particularly unfortunate, since he had done his best to avoid the social and criminal side of the Norwegian scene.”
“For several years the band lay dormant, the only reminder of their existence being (somewhat ironically) the Nordic Metal: A Tribute To Euronymous compilation, which featured a slightly different version of Ærie Descent, recorded at Trøndertun college prior to the session that produced the 2 tracks included on the infamous rehearsal tape. The fact that Thorns now had 2 members in jail—including the group’s central creative force—certainly didn’t improve their prospects, and it began to look highly unlikely that the band would ever return to any significant activity. And indeed, that’s probably how things would have remained if not for the support of Satyricon frontman and Moonfog Records owner Sigurd ‘Satyr’ Wongraven.”
“We talked and it ended up with him giving me an offer that if I wanted to make metal again he could hook me up with a computer and sound equipment so I could make music in prison. I was thinking about putting the metal on the shelf and just having fun with synthesizer and whatnot, but he was like, ‘Give it another shot on metal and I will support you.’”
“The first part of the sentences are high security, Snorre explains, then after showing that you can be trusted, you are able to apply to more open forms of jails. There’s a jail in Tønsberg, which is where Varg was later able to escape from. It’s the sort of jail you are able to just walk out from, but no one wants to because you know you will have to serve your time anyway and there’s not much better places to serve it than an old military camp with nice surroundings and schools. So it was very free; we could walk around as we wanted and meet each other and discuss and play music and, he pauses and laughs before adding with a hint of irony, …yeah, have a jolly good time.”
“The Thorns half of the Emperor vs. Thornsalbum would feature 4 songs, lasting almost half an hour. These included an update of the signature song Ærie Descent (a track also covered by Emperor on the split), an update of the Trøndertun song Funeral Marches to the Grave (now renamed Melas Khole), a new song entitled The Discipline of Earth (written just prior to Snorre’s incarceration and drawing once again on the Grymyrk mythology), and Cosmic Keys, a cover of Emperor’s Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times, with some new and rather thought-provoking lyrics. Retaining the slow pace and eerie, depressive leanings—mirrored by the bleak metaphysical and quasi-scientific lyrics—the recordings showcased a bigger and more symphonic sound, with the orchestral synth work added in Oslo following Snorre’s release.”
“To support the release, Snorre was encouraged into giving a number of interviews, the guitarist now going under the pseudonym S.W. Krupp and sporting sunglasses and a shaved head, which initially caused some confusion among fans. One asked via the Moonfog website how the band functioned with both members in prison, to which Snorre memorably replied:
Thorns function excellent without those 2 villains. They were up to no good anyways, and did not contribute to what Thorns is all about. Namely positive thinking, good attitude and politeness!”
“The content of Thorns’ 2001 self-titled record would combine both sides of the group’s musical personality. Lacking the grandiose overtones of S.A. Titan’s orchestration, it is a record whose cold aggression and industrial overtones—evident in both the guitar sound and use of synths, samples, and programming—sit comfortably alongside other Moonfog releases of the period. At the same time, the angular immediacy of songs such as Existence and Stellar Master Elite is balanced by the more creeping malevolence of the 2-part Underneath the Universe and Shifting Channels, which give the slow, brooding feel of earlier material a more mechanized twist.”
“I guess my personal taste at the time was mainly Front 242, Nitzer Ebb—I thought that Front 242 was very hard in an electronic way and was inspired by that. I also listened a lot to Klaus Schulzeand Tangerine Dream, I was always a fan of analog synth and music that’s like… unearthly.”
“Despite the accolades the album received from the press—Terrorizer placed it at #2 in its album of the year list and in the top 40 of its album of the decade countdown—Snorre remains somewhat unhappy with the recording that would largely define him for over a decade afterward.
I think that a lot of industrialized metal sounds crappy and I don’t think the attempts we have made have been good enough to live on. I think metal I make in the future will always be more brutal and honest and to the core and as little produced as possible. I’m never happy with anything.”
“Despite the strong feedback the album received, it would sadly be the last Thorns release for some considerable time. In the year following its release, Snorre would instead collaborate with [The] 3rd and the Mortal guitarist Finn Olav Holthe to create an aural accompaniment to an exhibition by renowned Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard¹ (who has since angered members of the scene, notably Metalion, due to unauthorized use of images from Slayer Magazine), which included ‘modifications/mutilations’ of text, images, and music from earlier Thorns releases. Thorns Ltd.would be born from this venture, with Holthe and Snorre working alongside improvisational musician Jon T. Wesseltoft to create electronic ambient/noise music and sound for artists such as Banks Violette,² though Holthe would eventually leave the group in 2006.”
¹ Foda-se o ‘Metalion’, esse cara sim é importante: “Bjarne Melgaard (born 9 September 1967) is a Norwegian artist based in New York City. He has been described as ‘one of Norway’s most important artists’ and, following the 2014 publicity about his sculpture, Chair, ‘the most famous Norwegian artist since Edvard Munch’. (…) Melgaard appears in Until the Light Takes Us, a documentary about the Norwegian black metal scene in the 1990s. [O documentário em si é uma bosta, não recomendo a assistência!] The film featured in the 15th Athens International Film Festival (16–27 September 2009), screened at Danaos Cinema. In the film, an exhibition of Melgaard’s in a Stockholm gallery is extensively shown, along with his comments on black/death metal.”
² Artista plástico neo-gótico, também já colaborou com a banda Sunn O))).
“He has also kept close ties with Satyr over the years, providing guitars and song-writing to Satyricon on 1999’s Rebel Extravaganzaand again on The Age of Neroin 2008.”
“They have got a good relationship to their music, they are not too serious or stiff, they can do different stuff and have a glint in the eye which is very good. Maybe this is a little Norwegian thing, this little irony where you are overdoing your badassness just for fun almost, and people misunderstand a little…”
“HIGHLY PROLIFIC, frequently controversial, intensely focused on the past yet forever pushing forward in their own musical evolution, Darkthrone long ago established themselves as a black metal institution. Consistently imitated but never replicated, they have played a massive hand in creating the blueprint for raw Norse black metal, their influence still audible in new bands around the globe today. In fact, excluding the ‘first wave’ pioneers, the group are probably rivaled only by Burzum in terms of the sheer number of acts who have taken direct musical inspiration from their work. Yet despite all this, the band have refused to merely rest on their laurels and exploit their rich legacy. Instead they have carefully deconstructed a mythology that many bands would sell their souls for, and reinvented themselves with a sound and image that has challenged as many fans as it has enthralled.”
“For much of their existence—since 1993 in fact—the band has revolved around a partnership between guitarist, bassist, and vocalist Ted Skjellum, better known to the world as Nocturno Culto, and drummer and lyricist Gylve Nagell, otherwise known as Fenriz. Despite a much-voiced opposition to the mainstream and a general sense of misanthropy, the latter has become one of black metal’s more recognizable faces, as famous for his unusual sense of humor, near-encyclopedic knowledge of metal and eccentric manner as he is for his drumming.”
“While thankfully Fenriz did not suffer the same trauma in his youth, like Tom G. Warrior he seems to have discovered his path in life at a very early stage, thanks to a combination of heavy exposure to music and isolation, in this case geographical in nature.”
“I started musically with stuff like Waiting for the Sun by The Doors in ‘73. I was really young (I was born November 1971) but my uncle already understood that I wasn’t cut out to listen to normal children’s music at the age of 2 when he once played me some Pink Floyd, and so he started pushing other stuff on me, like Uriah Heep. We moved in ‘77 and so I didn’t get any more help from him, and I kind of started from scratch with AC/DC and KISS. That was a normal route, it was inevitable to get into KISS and the KISS trading cards ‘cos they came in candy bags and everyone wanted those.”
“But KISS weren’t any heavier than what I had listened to in Uriah Heep, so I was searching for that heaviness in the 70s, but I didn’t have anyone showing me Black Sabbath. The first time I heard them was in ‘81, then it was like, Eureka!”
“Fast-forward 5 years from this pivotal moment, and in 1986 the young drummer formed a band of his own called Black Death, alongside local guitarist Anders Risberget. A 5-track demo entitled Trash Core ‘87 was issued the following year, before the band were joined by a second guitarist, Ivar Enger, and a 2nd demo, Black is Beautiful, was released the same year. Featuring songs like Nasty Sausage and Pizza Breath,¹ it was a far cry from the band they would eventually become.”
¹ Letra muito boa!
“At that time we had discovered punk, which was one of the reasons for do-it-yourself. Bands that were really shabby in playing style, like Cryptic Slaughter, could put out albums, so we felt we could at least start to have a band. (…) So we started up and called it ‘trash core’—not like thrash, but trash, ‘cos it was so bad—and there was punk with the metal from day one in the band.”
“After 2 demos I understood instinctively that I would want to continue doing music more seriously than in Black Death, so in late ‘87 I changed the name to Darkthrone and we started writing a little bit more epic stuff. The name was inspired by the name of the Danish mag Blackthorn. From the get-go it was spelled in one word for me, later I would explain it more humorously by saying, ‘Like Whitesnake.’ The logo was in one word too, but when the new logo came, with help from Tomas Lindberg of Grotesque, and later refined by Tassilo Förg—the one everyone knows—there was confusion.”
“A debut demo entitled Land of Frost was issued in 1988, before the introduction of a new guitarist Ted Skjellum, who replaced Anders. Ted had grown up close to the other members, but only met with them after witnessing the band’s first performance (which included the one-off sight of Fenriz performing drums and vocals simultaneously) at Follorocken, the same annual ‘battle of the bands’ Mayhem had participated in 2 years previously.”
“Hitting 16 shortly afterward, Fenriz quit school and joined the post office, where he still works today, to help fund both his fervent music-collecting and Darkthrone itself. Doubling their efforts, the band rehearsed furiously in their cold-war bomb shelter rehearsal room (another interesting Hellhammer parallel) and released a promo tape in late 1988 entitled A New Dimension, featuring a song called Snowfall along with an introduction track.”
“Most bands—people that are self-taught—they need to rehearse for at least 2 years before they can make a recording that can portray them in a way that is any good. So we didn’t really have anything to show until late ‘88 with the Snowfall track, which showed we could at least play a little bit and do a long and epic song. The title A New Dimension explains how much we rehearsed and that we took a tiny quantum leap from our first shitty demo.”
“Though Fenriz was personally keen to further explore the epic side of metal, the band found themselves instead evolving into a more aggressive death/thrash direction, quickly crafting another demo called Thulcandra, issued in early 1989. Following the tape, Nocturno would take over vocal duties within the band, due to Fenriz being unhappy with his own efforts. During 1989 the band played a number of shows, one of which was shown on TV and also became the 4th tape, Cromlech. This was then sent to a number of labels including UK label Peaceville, with whom the band were especially happy to get a contract, firstly because it was an English label, and secondly because it featured both Autopsy and Paradise Lost on its roster.
The first result of the deal with Peaceville was the debut album Soulside Journey, recorded in Stockholm’s Sunlight studios in ‘90 with owner and producer Tomas Skogsberg. During the recording the band stayed with Swedish death metallers Entombed, who were able to offer advice as they had recently recorded their debut album Left Hand Path at Sunlight (guitarist Uffe Cederlund was ultimately credited with co-producing the guitars on Soulside). Released in January ‘91, the result was an effective death metal album that bore both a technical edge and a somewhat otherworldly atmosphere thanks to choice use of synth and an epic, slightly creepy approach to songwriting.”
“We were influenced by American bands, but the key to our sound was that every riff on that album—except one, that’s like a Celtic Frost riff—you could take and play on a synthesizer, and it would be horror movie music. When people make horror movie music they don’t use the blues scale, they use a certain scale and we made our riffs on this ‘horror scale’. So we would call our music ‘technical horror death metal,’ inspired by maybe Necrophagia, Nocturnus, early Massacre¹ and Death. I didn’t actually watch almost any horror movies at all but that was the philosophy behind the riffs, to make it sound eerie, and we had some science fiction creep in there too. So if it’s original that’s the reason.”
¹ Provavelmente a de death metal da Flórida.
“Notably, it was to be the last time that the group would compromise their artistic vision, and while Soulside Journey was an effective and well-received album, its musical approach would soon be confined to the past as the group underwent a radical transformation in 1991. Though the band had already found success with death metal, ¾ of the line-up had come to the conclusion that it was time to add their voice to the Norwegian black metal movement—despite the fact that it barely existed at that point—due to a disillusionment with the genre they were playing. Thus, Darkthrone ceased work on the death metal follow-up album Goatlord, instead preparing A Blaze In The Northern Sky, an opus that would become known as the very first Norwegian black metal album.”
“we had 13/16 beats and shit like that, it was almost jazz—and I was thinking in my head, ‘This professionalism has to go, I want to de-learn playing drums, I want to play primitive and simple, I don’t want to play like a drum solo all the time and make these complicated riffs.’”
“So we made 3 new black metal songs—Kathaarian Life Code, In the Shadow of the Horns, and Where Cold Winds Blow, and the rest would be Goatlord-ish material that was ‘blackened’ because of the studio sound we chose.”
“Fenriz was some 3 years younger than both Euronymous and Necrobutcher, no small amount of time at that age, but not an unbridgeable gap, as it turned out. ‘They would just pick me up in the car,’ he explains. ‘I was already in Black Death then and they—like any sane person would do—hated the band, but they understood that I was a hungry kid that wanted to learn.’”
“All the same, while Mayhem might have had a degree of influence, Fenriz is keen to correct the widely held perception that Darkthrone were somehow ‘converted’ to the black metal cause by Euronymous.”
“That’s a good part of black metal. If we didn’t have any sort of belief in that, a lot of it would feel wasted. Certainly that belief in a real hell and a real devil would be one of the things that pushed black metal to become what it became, and make it worshipped. I think if everyone thought it was really cartoonish it would never even be… I mean it would have no one worshipping, say, a Bathory album. You get a good demonic feeling in a lot of this stuff. I don’t think that, say, a really high-level atheist would start off something that would end up coming as black metal, there had to be something there.”
“I’m a loner basically, and that has to do with coincidences with living arrangements, where parents would move and not move. He was Euronymous, you know? He was the guy who had the best network in Norway together with Metalion, so it would be very natural to hook up with those people as fast as humanly possible, and I already did that in ‘87, so by ‘91 I was already one of the old guys in their eyes I reckon. Concerning Varg, again what I see of friendship is what you see on TV, you hang with persons for a lot of periods throughout your life. Well I never did that, so I think it’s different. We were musical persons, we were strange and maybe the strangeness kept us together, the interest in what we knew was a deviant music style. Apart from that you’d say hello, say a few words and not so much more, go about what you were doing. It’s typical Norwegian, we have a lot of space here and we keep to ourselves a lot.”
“Period interviews see them frequently paying respect to the band, and there’s no doubt that A Blaze in the Northern Sky did much to launch the Norwegian scene. However, it was, to put it mildly, somewhat less enthusiastically received by the band’s label Peaceville, and specifically its owner Hammy. Not only was the album a far more primitive-sounding affair than the technical death metal album that was hoped for, swapping challenging time signatures and complex arrangements for simple, catchy riffs and a genuinely demonic atmosphere, but the production was now icy and lo-fi in the extreme.”
“So we finally had an organic sound—we would bring Black Sabbath albums to the studio guy and say we didn’t want modern sound, that we wanted sharp and cold guitars—and Hammy went totally ballistic, he wanted us to rerecord. We had done something fresh. I don’t think Soulside Journey was that fresh and we can see which has stood the test of time. And it was a mistake that he couldn’t see the fire in Darkthrone at that time. He only stuck by it ‘cos I was like, ‘Fuck the contract, we’ll release it on Deathlike Silence Productions.’‘Cos it wasn’t important for us at that point to have money, we had entered the zone, where nothing mattered but to make ugly black metal, primitive stuff. We weren’t businessmen. What I remember is he said if a young band would just leave his label he would lose face, like some Japanese thing (He laughs and adopts a stern Japanese accent): ‘No! We lose face, we cannot do it!’ So he released it anyway, everyone’s happy.”
“It was as a trio that the band recorded their 3rd album, 1993’s Under A Funeral Moon, the first Darkthrone album Fenriz considers entirely black metal, since all material had been written specifically for the record. The difference is clearly audible, and where the previous album had made use of chunky Frost-influenced riffs, the successor leaned more toward a Bathory/VON/Burzum approach, introducing a more minimal, dissonant style, fast tremolo melodies, droning, hypnotic song structures, and higher-pitched, raspy vocals.
Equally importantly, the album made use of a shockingly raw production. In itself that was nothing new within black metal, but here was a signed, established band choosing to go with the most primitive sound possible, and it was an important aesthetic decision that would prove hugely influential. Indeed, since that time there have appeared many new bands who place a high value on lo-fi production—despite the increased ease with which one can now attain a ‘professional’ production—and argue, like Darkthrone, that this can be as integral to the aural experience as the composition of the songs themselves. It is a creative decision that is sadly much derided by those outside of the genre who fail to understand that what makes a production ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is entirely subjective, and that a clean, dynamic sound is not always the best medium for metal, nor the most effective way to achieve a powerful atmosphere.
Under a Funeral Moon would also mark the last appearance of Zephyrous, whose departure from the band coincided with his move away from Oslo, a relocation soon echoed by Ted, who was also tiring of life in the city.”
“these guys, especially Zephyrous, were the true misanthropes. They moved away and stopped rehearsing just ‘cos they thought, ‘Ah fuck, this is becoming stupid.’ They were like the hummingbirds in the coal mine shafts—if the air got bad the hummingbird died and the people get the hell out. We should have got the hell out of the black metal party at that time, but no, people just kept coming.”
“That’s how I felt with the thrash metal party, I got into it a bit late then lots of idiots came and I thought, ‘Fuck this, there must be something else.’ Then I went to the death metal party, ‘Yeah, this rocks,’ then all the idiots started gate-crashing that. Anyway their move started to make it a bit difficult to hang out as a band and rehearse, but we finished the album, then we didn’t do anything else. For the first time we didn’t start rehearsing new material after coming out of the studio.”
“As of 1991 I decided to quit the loner life. I had been very involved in the tape-trading scene from ‘87 to ‘90 and I needed a break, I needed to have my first beer, ‘cos I didn’t have a normal youth period where I would hang round with the gang and drink beers underage. I would just be Fenriz in the underground and I needed a break and the break was 15 years chugging beers and socializing.”
“in early 1994 the band released their 4th album, the iconic and infamous Transilvanian Hunger. Though following a similarly hypnotic and discordant approach in terms of composition, it also employed a sound that—amazingly—proved even colder and more primitive than its predecessor. If the 2 previous albums had been lo-fi in comparison to Soulside Journey, this opus was lo-fi in comparison to just about anything, boasting a gloriously hideous non-production that would have seemed rudimentary even on a demo.
Still, if the sound qualities caused some controversy, it was nothing compared to the furor initiated by other aspects of the release. Within the black metal community itself the album caused no little antagonism, since the lyrics for the latter half of the record were penned by the recently jailed Varg Vikernes, not a popular figure in a community still reeling from the death of Euronymous. Particularly aggravated were sections of the Swedish scene, including Jon of Dissection and It of Abruptum, who had been particularly vocal in his support of Euronymous and his hatred for Vikernes, and a few thinly veiled threats were issued via Slayer Magazine.”
“When Varg was jailed he had no means of communication. And I would say, ‘I have half the lyrics for my album, how about I give you the other half and you do what you want?’ and he wrote back and said ‘Yes, okay I’ll do it.’ And it came back without any message or anything like that, which was cool. Some people would say, ‘Hey, you gotta be careful, some guys are pretty angry with you’, but nothing happened. Maybe I was just lucky, you know, you always hear some rumor that some crazy guy has started on a journey from another country to get you, blah, blah, blah, but it never happens, just talk.”
“We would like to state that Transilvanian Hunger stands beyond any criticism. If any man should attempt to criticize this LP, he should be thoroughly patronized for his obvious Jewish behavior.
Taken aback, label Peaceville made a public statement distancing themselves from the band and then refused to promote or advertise the album, while nonetheless refusing to censor the band or cancel the release.
I regret it, admits Fenriz. The statement actually meant: ‘If you don’t know where black metal comes from, why the hell would you try to review it in your magazine? Are you doing it because you need the money?’ That is what I should have said. But I was young and my language was disgusting and flamboyant and very, very angry. As usual, the word ‘Jewish’ would be the prejudice you would use in jokes, but then it’s quite okay for the press that some people aren’t politically correct as long as they don’t express it.After this we lost distribution in most parts of Europe, and we didn’t have it back until many years later. They would boycott Transilvanian Hunger… now why is it not still boycotted, do you think? Why would something be boycotted, and then not boycotted anymore?Again, the money, let’s just leave it at that, again just seeing people running for the money.”
“…Darkthrone can only apologize for this tragic choice of words, but PLEASE let us explain this. You see, in Norway the word ‘Jew’ is used all the time to mean something that’s out of order. It’s always been like this… WHY it is impossible to say, because Norwegians have always liked Jews and racism is not a big issue in Norway. You could actually ask the entire Norwegian nation for an apology, because the ‘Jew’ expression is used negatively everyday in Norway… Also it must be said that NONE of our albums have ever contained any racism/fascism or Nazi slant at all. Everyone can check this out by simply reading our lyrics… Darkthrone is absolutely not a political band and we never were. We ask everyone involved to look to our albums for the final proof that we are as innocent as humanly possible…”
“For his part Fenriz has since explained that he was going through a phase of being ‘angry at several races’, after the left-wing phase of his early youth, which apparently once saw him arrested at an anti-Apartheid march, and he has since lost interest in politics altogether. Rightly or wrongly, the apology failed to convince many of the band’s intentions, especially since interviews with fanzines at the time had seen Fenriz claiming that the band were ‘fascist in outlook’. The Varg connection also probably didn’t help dispel the far-right accusations, and there was also the fact that the album sleeve carried the phrase ‘Norsk Arisk Black Metal’, which translates to ‘Norwegian Aryan Black Metal’.”
“The band’s next album, 1995’s Panzerfaust, was free of political content but confirmed that the band were in no mood to play it safe, once again featuring lyrical contributions from Varg (this time on a single song entitled Quintessence) and taking its name from an anti-tank weapon developed in Germany during World War II. Stylistically it followed neatly from the raw black metal sound of Transilvanian Hunger, perhaps not surprising since Fenriz wrote the entirety of both albums and, in the case of Panzerfaust, also handled all instruments. The album would be the first released on Moonfog Records, the band parting ways with Peaceville after their contract expired; not surprising, since things hadn’t ended on a good note.
Fenriz also collaborated with Satyr in a project called Storm in 1995, blending black metal with traditional Norwegian folk music, something he would also do with the previously death metal-oriented solo project Isengard, which also released its second full-length album, Høstmørke, in 1995. As if that wasn’t enough, in 1995 Fenriz also released Transmissions From Empire Algol, the second album of his ambient project Neptune Towers, played bass on Kronet Til Konge by Dødheimsgard, and played drums in Moonstoned, the debut album of Vallhall (sic –Valhall), another Norwegian black metal act.
Many of these efforts had been recorded in 1994, a year that Fenriz reports brought about both the end of his marriage and the beginning of the end of his love affair with black metal. Burnt out and disheartened by the direction the movement was taking, Fenriz found himself resentful of a scene that was suffering, as he saw it, from an influx of new bands and a move toward a more commercial sound.”
“Perhaps unsurprisingly, 1996 heralded something of an end of an era for the band, seeing the release of 6th album Total Death, a record on which Fenriz relinquished all lyric writing, the void filled by Nocturno Culto and the vocalists of various Norwegian acts such as Emperor, Satyricon, Ulver, and Ved Buens Ende. The much-delayed Goatlord—the aborted 2nd death metal album—was also released soon after. A hiatus then took place in the Darkthrone world, with Nocturno taking a break to spend time with his young family, and Fenriz hitting a period of depression which, combined with a general sense of disillusionment with the black metal scene, left him loath to continue with Darkthrone.
Darkthrone would continue, however, and in 1998 a resurrection of the group took place, primarily instigated by Nocturno Culto, who approached the band with a new drive, even taking over the non-musical responsibilities. For his part, Fenriz became far more vocal following the group’s resurrection, giving more regular interviews, since by this point a great deal of myth and legend had built up around the band. This is perhaps unsurprising given that fans only had a few words and a few demonic-looking photos from which to draw their conclusions.
Around 1994 the ‘blackpackers’ started coming from all over the world to Oslo, not even with an appointment, just coming to Elm Street, an Oslo bar frequented by musicians in the scene, to meet black metal people. Then they would act all strange because you were not living like a caveman. They would be like, ‘What, you’re laughing?’ Yeah. And you would hear a lot of strange rumors, so we started doing a lot of interviews in ‘98, ‘99, ‘cos I wanted to set the record straight. The horrible thing about being in a band is it’s like being in a house and you are trying to explain what’s in there. People in bands aren’t very good at communicating and when people aren’t communicating at all, that’s where the myths start. ‘What do they have in the house? What are they building in there?’”
“We actually played around 20-plus gigs, including Blitz in Oslo and even Kafe Strofal, a squat [uma invasão?], which no other metal band did as far as I know. I could write several books on why I don’t wish to play live now. But for one, I dreamt as a child of recording albums, not being up on stage.”
“The albums that followed the band’s return—1999’s Ravishing Grimness, 2001’s Plaguewielder, 2003’s Hate Them, and 2004’s Sardonic Wrath—took the mid-90s Darkthrone template but broadened it, adding increasing inspiration from older thrash, punk, and crossover outfits. It would not be until 2006, however, that the band would really bite the bullet and fully commit to such influences, the result being