keskiviikko 9. marraskuuta 2016

The Serpent Bearer 2 OUT NOW!

Do you believe in second comings?

Right on the heels of 2008's debut issue, I am proud to give you The Serpent Bearer II.

This eleven-headed beast bows to dark esoteric music and vows in the names of Black Widow, Brocas Helm, Dawn, Griftegård, Howls of Ebb, Jacula, Mellow Candle, Monumentum, Rome, Sacred Blade, Timeghoul and 22 others. Includes commissioned artwork from Glyn Smyth, Timo Ketola and Ismo Meinander.

"Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand."
(W.B. Yeats)

Individual copies go for:
Finland 8 euros (priority)
Europe 10 euros (priority)
ROW 15 euros (priority) / 10 euros (economy)

Postage is a killer.

Orders: serpentized @ hotmail . com

For now, I am only doing selected trades. Ask for very reasonable wholesale prices (5 copies minimum).

Brocas Helm
Black Widow
A Death Cinematic
Mellow Candle
Kraken Duumvirate
Howls of Ebb
Steel Mill
Sacred Blade
Alternative 4
Rogga Johansson
Portrait & Trial

maanantai 2. marraskuuta 2015

Don't take this a sign

In time...

Orfvs | Returning Home

For good and bad, nostalgia is a hellishly strong emotion. The Greek word nóstos, which the word nostalgia is partly derived from, literally means “returning home.”

Being a word of Greek origin, appropriately enough we’re talking about nostalgia with the Finnish band Orfvs who have taken their name from Orpheus, the musician and prophet in ancient Greek mythology. Considering that not only was Orpheus able to charm all living things and even stones with his music but was also one of the few characters in Greek mythology to visit the Underworld and return, Orfvs certainly makes a very fitting name for a black metal band.

Although the songs on Orfvs’ 7” EP (2011) already showed the band steering away from the mythological themes of Demo I (2010) into what Profundiis deems “more basic black metal themes,” it’s not like the man’s fascination with Greek mythology was short-lived. In fact, Profundiis remembers it dating back to the age of ten when he read the Odyssey for the first time.

Having spent most of the noughties playing drums for a number of bands in Central Finland, with Orfvs Profundiis finally finds a true creative outlet for himself. Musically, the band also takes him back to his roots as regards what originally got him into black metal.

– This was the kind of stuff I started with in my early days, but I got no chance to express myself musically via the right ways as the circumstances were not favourable to me back then. Later, I got involved with different bands and projects as a drummer and it took many years for me to start doing music on my own, not just playing songs that other people wrote for their bands. Now I am in a good situation, having two bands Funerary Bell and Orfvs with whom I can execute my musical passions, Funerary Bell being more a personally modern era project and Orfvs evolving from the past... Not that I underestimate other bands I’m involved in, but these two are the only ones I compose music and write lyrics for.

– I started composing songs in the summer of 2010 when I went through a serious health disorder after spending far too many years fucked up by my physical and mental condition. When resting and curing myself I had time to think about my past, present and the reasons which drove me to that state from different aspects, and during that self-examination process, a flame of inspiration caught fire within myself and I started to dig up old familiar feelings and emotions that I felt when I got into black metal music via the melodic kind of bands. I can tell you it is the feeling of nostalgia that plays a big role in Orfvs. Those early days of my history in black metal were not maybe too special or miraculous as I was mostly alone without the right kind of band mates sharing those similar visions with me, but now I am finally able to do this kind of music with the right people around.

With the melodic kind of bands Profundiis is referring to the likes of early Gehenna, Thy Serpent and Dimmu Borgir. Unlike those three bands, however, the concept of Orfvs seems to be less nature-oriented. Although there are some allusions to forests and so on, Orfvs would seem to be more inclined towards mythological and even alchemical themes, which Profundiis utilises in the song Union to drive home his point about modern humanity: “Letters fade from the pages / The ghost disappears into the oblivion / Mountains crumple [sic] to the ground / When truth becomes a legend / The union is dead and forgotten.”

– The song deals with the current modernization of humankind towards the more materialized world and values. Mankind has lost its conception of roots and origin whereas we are now disgustingly focused on secondary kind of things like money, (temporary and fading) authority and different earthly subjects. I would rather see people searching for the real reasons of our being and existence rather than fighting for frivolous things. I am happy that after all there are people who have a will to return to these forgotten but ultimate questions.

“Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.” (Albert Camus)

sunnuntai 11. marraskuuta 2012

Anniversary of sort...

I started this blog on 11/11/11, as I thought The Serpent Bearer #2 was nearing completion. Well, the Black Sabbath reunion that was announced this time last year didn't exactly happen either. Not much has happened since Tuesday when I declared the phase as 27/33. (Actually it's 28/33, but that's semantics, innit?) So this will take a while, but it'll be worth it in the end.

(The painting on the left is a commissioned piece by Ismo Meinander.)

tiistai 6. marraskuuta 2012

Shining - Death Unlimited

To be honest, there’s no excuse for the long hiatus I’ve taken from updating this blog. Yes, the death metal behemoth collaboration Serpentscope #2 was published a while, and yes, I’ve been slowly but steadily compiling material for The Serpent Bearer #2 as well. Right now, TSB #2 is in phase 27/33. Also, there’s no great wisdom behind returning with a Shining interview except that they just released a new album called Redefining Darkness. The interview below was done in the wake of their fifth full-length album Halmstad. Which just happens to be their best one to date, and the only one I still actually own. I totally love the bluesy guitar leads, the fantastic groove, the acoustic parts, the Moonlight Sonata interlude... Kvarforth's ughs are also darn convincing on this one. Just listen to Låt Oss Ta Allt Från Varandra or Neka Morgondagen, for example.

"Death Unlimited"
An interview with Niklas Kvarforth of Shining
Originally published in, April 2007.

During the years Shining has evolved musically to a direction I find more and more interesting. One could perhaps say that Shining today is more original and more accessible than your first recorded efforts. Has this evolution been a conscious one, are you consciously thriving to make Shining (self-destruction in audial form) more popular, so that it would hurt as many people as possible?

- I've always strived for evolution, as there is no reason in stagnating and I would never repeat myself by recording yet another "Livets Ändhållplats" or do something like that just to remain on the "safe" side, however, I also feel that there's quite a natural progression between all our albums. If you compare our second album to our third for example, or our third to our fourth that matter the "jump" doesn't feel that much exhagerated really. I have always had bigger plans for this band than just remaining in a state where we cannot reach more than a couple of thousand buyers you know, ok, so if the new album has reached, let's say 10.000 copies by now, and might even end up at 30.000 copies I still want more. It's not a quest for fame or anything like that, and most who have followed our career should know that, it's a mere question of reaching a larger amount of people who are willing to swallow my words and that way, give birth to as many future psychopaths and madmen as possible. 

I understand that you take it as a great honour if a person commits suicide under the influence of your music. But isn’t such a person (“Shining made me do it“) just plain weak, and might as well have committed suicide because his mother didn’t hug him enough?

- Of course I take honour in having people taking things that far as really ending their very own lives because of my work, any artist thinks the same, even though they might reverse their pride in media because of the controversy in drags along. It's the ultimate ego-trip I guess for any artist to have anyone outside of his/her own life taking his/her work so seriously that they actually act out of it. Nevertheless, concerning the topic suicide and whether it's an act out of weakness or strength, well, that varies. Once a person is being displayed a raw darkness they've probably never felt going through their system before, an easy way out could be found reliefing at the very moment, and yes that is definitely a act of weakness. Yet, if someone chooses to end his/her life because they, for instance, feel they have nothing more to give and that all their earthly errands have all been accomplished, then I would say it's an act out of strength. But I see where you going, and I agree, someone who kills himself because of my work is probably doing it out of weakness, yet, that's what Shining is here for, giving you the answer to your question, helping you taking that very last step of yours.

People who commit suicide always have their own reasons for doing it, but the bottom line is that they want to escape this world. Nevertheless, there are DIFFERENT reasons. Dissection’s Jon Nödtveidt thought that he’d accomplished all that he wanted to accomplish in this world. Then there are the usual “my girlfriend left me and I don’t want to live anymore“ kind of reasons. Do you think there are on the one hand “more honourable“ and on the other hand “more cowardly“ reasons for suicide? In other words, does it matter why one kills himself?

- As said above, the act of for example Jon Nødtveidt, I would consider an act out of strength and I find it truly refreshing that someone takes his mission and meaning that seriously, which I know he did, and also know most of the others who claim to be sincere with their intentions don't. In the end, it does not matter why and who dies really, it is all nothing but flesh in the end. However, my deep respect to Jon Nødveidt whom I had some contact with but unfortunately didn't have the time nor chance of getting to know better, and thank you for the magnificent "Reinkaos" album you, along with Davide and the others managed to produce as your last statement, might come as a surprise to many, but I actually consider that album the absolute highlight of last year, all categories.

Suicide is of course a rather common theme in metal music, and not just in the more extreme forms of metal, such as black and death metal. Bands like the Finnish Sentenced made a whole lot of songs about suicide, but they did so tongue-in-cheek, in a cathartic sort of fashion according to their own statements. Also, Ozzy Osbourne has explained that he hopes that his track “Suicide Solution“ gives strength to all people who think about committing suicide or have had people close to them committing suicide. I mean, there are probably people in the world who get this kind of strength from Shining’s music, and without your music they’d probably have committed suicide already. What do you think about this?

- I am fully aware of that for example, a person who have gone through alot of tough shit throughout their lives, thus having a bit of life-experience to carry on their shoulders, probably can find some sort of relief in the work I publish, however, I have never aimed towards this particular group of people. Shining have always had it's primary target set on the fan who does not apprecitate himself/herself, the fan who rely on ignorance and the fan who want something to rebel with against their parents. Why? Because this group are swallowing each word I, the emissary, am spewing out of my mouth, trying to act like me, feeding on my self-destructive and suicidal ideals which in the end WILL fuck them up. Because if you reach out for the darkness long enough, it will eventually swallow you, and so it does, or the person who have been infuenced by my work react in a more primitive way by hurting themselves and others, thus, creating a chain of reactions which probably drags a few more candidates along, prooving my point. I was nearly giving up my work a couple of years ago as I saw no reaction of such a nature, but I have been blind all the time as there are actually alot of people who I have inspired along the way, and it just keeps growing and growing.

The coin/term “suicidal black metal“ is pretty damn clever, because, as opposed to “dark metal“ these days, suicidal BM seems to sell more. Also, admit it or not (and intentional or not), the news about your alleged suicide and the controversial Halmstad gig were nothing short of an ingenious marketing strategy. You must be happy that suicide and sickness sell? What’s your attitude towards material good, money and so on?

- The only thing that saddens me really about this sub-genre I coincidentelly created back in 1996 is that most of the people who claim to perform this brand have completely misunderstood what my intentions were. Shining has never been about self-pity or fucking madeup anxiety, Shining has always been about extracting and glorifying the very core of negativity and force-feeding it to the listener.

- My "dissapearance" was not meant as a promotional strategy though, as it was a matter of me leaving everything and everyone behind instead of dying there on the spot, things were really bad then, and I didn't have any contact with anyone from my past whatsoever which obviously resulted in wild speculations. The actual "death" was never stated, but simply made up by media and each single black metal kidde with an access to a computer and some forum urls you know. The Halmstad gig wasn't really that extreme as media says it was, I mean, we've had gigs that have been three times worse, yet I guess when we hit the headlines all over sweden everyone knew that promotion as such can't be bought with money so, it was quite good that happened. As you say, suicide and sickness sells, ain't life grand? Currently, I have no place to live and I have barely any money to buy food and so on, and I got rid of all my earthly possessions before I left sweden, so I guess that answers your last question?

Many bands using the coin “suicidal black metal“ have drifted pretty far from BLACK metal, both musically and ideologically. What is the BLACK ingredient in Shining, what does Satan represent to you? Are self-mutilation and suicide somehow connected to your idea of religion, for example? What is your opinion about ritualistic self-mutilation, and is the idea of bleeding for Him in any way related to yourself?

- To begin with, the black metal scene doesn't interest me at all, and I can easily say I lost most of my interest many years ago when I realized there wasn't much action taking place with the exception for a few induviduals who took things "too far", you know. Don't get me wrong, it is when things are taken too far it starts getting interesting yet, I couldn't stand working in an enviroment where basically everyone just pretend. I stopped referring Shining to being a black metal band many years ago as well, because of what I said prior, and yes, in my point of view black metal should be performed by fanatic, homicidal devil-worshippers who live and breath through the Lord, doing his biddings on earth, and yet again, there are perhaps 5-10 acts out there doing that. I, on the other hand have no interest in discussing my religious self in magazines, interviews or anything connected to Shining overall really as I don't find it being a part of either what I do with this band or suitable as I am the only one in the band who actually have any "higher" beliefs concerning the matter.

There are ‘beautiful’ melodies, harmonies and themes on the new album (for example, the calm acoustic guitar and piano passages and many beautiful lead melodies). Do you see them as being beautiful? What do you see as beauty in this world, in general?

- I have always incorporated these elements in my music, but yes, they certainly do come through even more with this album, something which wasn't intentional, any music I write for Shining is never intentional, but this time around it came out that way. What you clearly can recognize when listening to the album though is that very particular, eerie Shining vibe going on, you know, you hear that this is Shining when the first chord opens the album. Back to your question, of course one could consider certain parts as beautiful, macabre, evil whatever, it's all in the eye of the beholder, or ears. It's just a matter of how fucked up you are I guess. What I consider as being beautiful varies from day to day, I can see beauty in drinking the urine of a woman from her nylonclothed feet one day, whilst the other I can see beauty in a decapitation. Everything varies from day to day.

What about having other people in the band in general? Shining is pretty much embodied in Kvarforth, Shining is your vision. How do you feel about involving other people in concretizing this vision, are they just a necessary evil or indeed help you to make Shining better and more damaging to the outsiders, in other words, listeners of Shining?

- Shining has, as you said, always been a portrait of Kvarforth, or at least of the most damanged parts of his psyche, others are still merely considered as being tools I use in order to perfectionize my vision. Without them, Shining would however never be able to play live for example, but then again, they are all replacable and I guess that's why I've had so many members throughout the years. What usually happens is that I have someone getting involved with the band, sharing my vision, or at least pretending too, and after some time has passed and these tools have been playing with the darkness for a while, they all of a sudden realize that it's not a game and either run for their lives or gets swallowed by the the great abyss they have dared staring right into. Now, I have a rather satisfying line-up behind my back so I am actually thinking of trying to let them contribute on the next album, just see where that would lead us, we'll just have to wait and see.  

In some interview I read that two of your current (at that time, at least) musical favourites were Coldplay and Kent. Kent I can understand, because they’re pretty melancholic and all, but what about Coldplay and their green humane, pro-life values? Or do you think that a person can listen to and like a band, but doesn’t necessarily have to support the message they’re conveying with the music? For instance, do you think that by buying a Coldplay album, you’re supporting their humane values?

- I can "enjoy" whatever music I find appealing, no matter what the message behind might be, as in the case of Coldplay with their disgusting green, humane mission. For example, one of my favourite records of all time, at least the A-side that is as the B-side tend to get a bit too much, is the christmas album by swedish singer Carola, a twisted, fanatic christian life-lover really, but for me this very recording brings out the absolute and definite darkness within. There is darkness to be found everywhere, you just have to dig deep enough and you can actually find that Carola can provoke the same atmosphere as let's say Burzum. As in the end it's all about atmosphere, right? 

Black metal of today is pretty much characterised by limited ‘kvlt’ releases, as if DEATH would come in limited edition!! Not that I think you’re in the least interested in the state of BM today, but what do you think about the idea of having limited releases?

- Man, that was the best expression I've heard in years! As if DEATH would come in a limited edition! I will steal that and use it for my own perverse purpose. Limiting your releases is quite stupid actually, at least according to me, but when it comes to for example a vinyl edition of a record you have already pressed in 20.000 copies on CD, then why not? I can assure you that 95% of the people who are buying the vinyl editions aren't listening to them but rather collecting them and showing them to their likewise stupid friends at parties, and what's the point of having something you don't use? Okay, I used to collect various things in the past but the problem with this is that it becomes an obsession after a while and you will wind up having your entire life based around some materialistic bullshit, something I made sure never again to repeat when I got rid off all my earthly goods. Back to the question, I see no reason in not limited certain releases to please these vultures and selling a few more couple of thousand units, as in the end, the money comes this way, not that way which means I can invest into something useful.

You hate life in all its perverse forms, but you also support and encourage the perversity in people. You must, then, love your hate, because that’s one of the key things that fuels you and Shining, right?

- Yes, it all becomes a paradox, as being oppossed life, meaning nature, people and even yourself. But it is also, as you say, the paradox it self that fuels the machinery as the paradox is a rather painful one, hating oneself, oppossing oneself, and yet trying to find strength enough to reverse these primitive emotions.

Do you think it would be ironic if you died from receiving a fractured skull after slipping in the shower?

- I'll answer this question in a few minutes, I have to go and have a shower.

Any last words / message to Shining fans in Finland, feel free to state it here.

- Black metal kiddies, remember... Death does not come in a limited edition.

Thank you very much for the interview!

- Thank you, actually, this is the best interview I've had the pleasure of answering along the entire promotional campaign.

keskiviikko 18. heinäkuuta 2012

Serpentscope #2 OUT NOW!

I trust the flyer and the front page do all the necessary talking. Order your copy NOW from the address above. Thank you.

perjantai 29. kesäkuuta 2012

Portal - The Horror!

As the release of Serpentscope TWO is getting closer, I thought it'd be a good time to publish my last remaining interview from issue ONE. Looking back, I still love all the bands I interviewed for that issue, so it's been a pleasure presenting the interviews online. Fittingly, the portal between issues ONE and TWO is served by - yes! - Portal. Damn would I like to witness this band live!
"The Horror!"
An interview with Illogium of Portal
Originally published in Serpentscope #1, October 2009.

"Weird, original, at times even technical death metal" wouldn't probably sell you on Portal. But what if I told you that these mad Australians are compelling like a combination Morbid Angel and Thergothon. Those two fit, because the feeling here is decidedly Lovecraftian but with what feels like less words. Unlike the labyrinths and catacombs of our beloved Howard Phillips, the looming depths of Portal don't take some dozen pages to manifest. Rather, it's like the last words of Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, or Apocalypse Now, if you will: "The horror! The horror!"

During the last 25 years death metal has come to mean certain things in terms of both music and aesthetics. Portal keeps to some of those, but simultaneously steps over those genre conventions. In a way it feels that Portal's expression apparently comes from "nowhere," as though only driven by the concept and aesthetics of death (metal), but not usual genre gimmicks. It is here that the illogical becomes logical, so lead guitarist Illogium, in your opinion, would Portal sound the way it does if it weren't for the past 25 years of death metal tradition?
- Probably not, but it is in other artforms such as literature, paintings and film which spawned the actual feeling of the occult cinematic, panorama's in our music. Death Metal made in the 80's and 90's had a massive imprint on us as musicians, you can forget any Death Metal recorded in the last 10 years having any influence on Portal.
- We had appreciated and still do appreciate Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Black Metal and Death Metal since childhood.

Portal feels both otherwordly and earthy at the same time. By no means are they a paradox, though, as is best evinced by their second album Outre'. Besides being the proverbial tunnel at the end of the light, Outre' might just be one of the very few albums which, despite being at times technical, doesn't fall into the traps of narcissism or self-indulgence. So how does it make you feel as a part of the creation process, for example, when you're writing and rehearsing the songs? In other words, would you please describe the state you’re in when you’re writing and rehearsing with Portal? I believe that you've played or still play in other, perhaps "more normal" bands, so what do you think are the biggest differences between Portal and other bands you've played in?
- When writing I can explain the feeling as hysterical when we know we've tapped into something exciting for us, rehearsing them is more of a trance like lucid state where the refining of said discovery becomes interesting.
- Speaking for myself, I have only ever recorded/played live in a very Occult Death Metal band and a Black Metal band, a few other members play in very warped and evil Death Metal bands presently.

Warped is a word one could definitely use with Portal as well. In a number of interviews (e.g. Nordic Vision #02), a kind of possession takes hold when Illogium is dealing with Portal. One just needs - in whatever order - to sit down, take a deep breath and listen to a song like Abysmill. I truly doubt that a John Smith would be able to provide his listeners with as horrific a glimpse of the abyss. When asked about his history with Portal, a certain member of Cauldron Black Ram said in this very zine that "None of us are in Portal though. In fact no-one is in Portal." At times I tend to get the same feeling: that no-one is in Portal. Metaphors and anecdotes aside, using pseudonyms probably helps Portal to get to a somewhat unconventional state of mind. But how conscious is the writing process with Portal?
- It is partly calculated when we decide to piece the organisms together and create the time signatures, but even that feels like a haze comes over us during the process.
- When we are just bringing sounds out of the guitars in the first stages of writing, that is unconscious creativity, seeing through another eye in my mind so to speak, a lot of the music sections are snippets of what I witness and will never sound close to the first time played, I have to come back down to make a conscious decision to repeat it otherwise I would just keep going on and on...

Granted, Portal has songs, not just subterranean jam sessions. The songs are complex and amoeba-like, sometimes even fairly technical, yet in no way is there a hint of egotism in the aura of the band. How important is it for you to keep egos out of Portal?
- We encourage the ego if it flows in the same direction therefore creating one. There is more than enough rewarding experience from creating this artform.

How do you see yourself and especially those musicians that are not full members - are you/they mere vehicles/tools/medium for a greater will or something?
- I have my tunnel mind and if others are travelling in the same way it will work, so far The Curator and Aphotic have stuck with it for years, they are consistant and stubborn also. We each have our own specialities and fields which are brought to Portal and it works well, I would say that Ignis Fatuus who has performed 3 shows with us and played on Swarth will be in it for the long run, as he has the same ideals.
- On Outre' we were lucky to have Monocular and Elsewhere play on the album and it made it really special sounding, they have been friends of ours for years but unfortunately they live too far away to make anything permanent happen, we are extemely happy with the members we are working with now.
- Past members who don't need mentioning were indeed apart of the greater will.

Ex-drummer Monocular does indeed deserve a mentioning for his work on Outre'. His ritualistic and doomful tom roll-fueled signatures are one key element that make the album different from basically any other album recorded in the 00's. Actually, make that any other metal album ever recorded. One way to describe Portal, then, is to use the word/concept Ancient in the sense that T. Ketola uses it in Dauthus ‘zine (#3 Appendix): "Listening to the doomy end parts of "Sudden Combustion“ on the Corpse Molestation demo ’92, I get to think this is old material – not ten or a dozen years, but thousands of years – it is the primordial breath of Tiamat’s demons." Do you ever get the feeling that Portal is about communing with and channeling, for lack of a better term, some kind of primordial energies?
- Definitely, there are no words for the human tongue to decribe this. It comes from deep within sick negativity.

So put that in a needle and stick it in your arm! Indeed, it would probably be anyone's first guess that without substance use it's impossible to attain such trance-like states. However, according to Illogium, he "can't recall anything special about any substance that may have been taken."

If we use the "ends of the scales" metaphor yet again, Portal's music sounds both progressive and regressive (yes, very relative terms) at the same time. If we then think of music as a journey, it would seem that Portal is headed toward primitive/primordial ritualistic pounding, which some people might consider a state of regression. How does Illogium see their development from Seepia to Outre’ and beyond – where is Portal heading?
- The problem with Death Metal is that it has lost its feeling and has become about level of skill and speed, we're interested in creating an atmosphere where you forget that it's actually created on instruments at all, the development from Seepia to Outre' is exactly that - a development for our ideal atmosphere. We're heading into more poisonous worlds but with even more potency, bands fall into a trap of trying to outdo themselves, when all that should matter is idealism and the piece of art at hand for the time.

In one interview – Nordic Vision #02 from late 2008 – Illogium stated that "Metal instruments are very limited in this way," referring to the fact that it’s not very common in rock and metal that the music ends up surprising you when you’re done working on it. How would he, then, elaborate on the limited quality of metal instruments? I mean, what is the biggest challenge they present to an artist in terms of achieving his musical/artistic aims? This is of course a hypothetical question, but how do you think a different selection of instruments would change the essence of Portal?
- We're forever attempting to imitate orchestral symphonies, we would like the opportunity to manipulate Horns, Strings and Percussion sections.

Third album Swarth is going to be released in October. Based on the sample track Larvae currently available on Portal's Myspace the album doesn't yet indulge Illogium's craving for classical instruments, but what it does is make Portal's attack more in-your-face than on either of its predecessors. What kind of initial aims did you have for the album? Can you tell anything concrete that you did to achieve even more "looming and depth," to quote you from the Nordic Vision interview once again?
- The initial aim for Swarth was to make the art even more direct, more so that our music can be heard far clearer than before, this has been achieved, and I must state that the guitar tone is fantastic. More Looming and Depth was achieved by using 8-string guitars with more depth of scale and submergence, the drumming is more spiraling and heavy.

As has been discussed in this very zine even, in recent years more and more death/black metal bands have been focusing on the occult, the image, the ideology and the lyrics. In other words, Lovecraftian themes aren't exactly in vogue when it comes to underground death/black metal. We shouldn't forget, though, that Portal isn't just any Lovecraft-inspired band nor do the Lovecraft influences in any be all and end all way define the band. Notwithstanding, one could say that with certain bands the obsession in the occult has gone too long already in that they're not giving any value to the true power, energy and Magick of Death Metal that originally spawned the genre through bands like Possessed and Mantas? What do you think, is there something in the very early death metal recordings that simply can't be amplified or made more powerful?

- I believe those bands were spawned at a very special time, the energy and aura was not a conscious premeditated motive, it was all in the flow of discovery, nowadays bands attempt to sound like the old classic bands and try to capture that same spirit instead of their own, I believe that retreading steps cannot wield as much power as the originators for certain. Magick in art is beyond consciousness or calculation. And then you have a plethora of bands using the Occult for aesthetic and yet fail to capture its prescence on the music itself.

Even Illogium has sometimes used the words "magical garbs" and "horror rituals" to refer to the band's attire and live gigs respectively. As said, those are pretty powerful words that are these days used anything but sparingly by black/death metal bands... How would you define magic and ritual in Portal's context?

- Indeed powerful affimations. These terms define the state of mind we enter during a performance, it is a ritual because we summon an energy that only we can summon and as we rarely play live it is very rewarding.

- The magic is our own and I can only describe it as an invisible unwritten force.

What about extremity, then. As you say above, all too many black/death metal bands are just trying to outdo themselves with speed, skill and so on. What does the word extreme bring to your mind these days as regards music? In what respect, if any, do you see Portal as extreme music?

- The bands I am referring to above... I would not call extreme in any way, shape or form, playing fast and technical in that style sounds well executed, tight and pretty and usually with a gay production with drum triggers etc (VOMIT).

- Extreme Metal should be ugly and horrible and in this way I would call Portal Extreme Death Metal! We are into something deeper than just trying to impress people with however many notes or beats per second, if we create a simple structure and really delve into the way it moves then that is what is important. The ultimate extreme music was created by Sadistik Exekution years ago, pure kaos and madness in every facet of the band.

I’d like to conclude with a favourite quote of mine from William Blake’s "Marriage of Heaven and Hell": "Good is the passive that obeys Reason: Evil is the active springing from Energy." To what extent, and at which stages, does reason come into play with Portal?

- Not reason, just total freedom to explore and contain the unbalanced.

tiistai 29. toukokuuta 2012

Watain - The Hollow World

I think it was in an interview with the Danish Evilution zine that Erik Danielsson stated that Black Metal and DVDs don't really match. About six years later, the latest drop from the grail that is Watain is precisely that - a live DVD. Not just any DVD, you might argue, but still a DVD. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to bitch about the band changing their mind and evolving. I for one respect Watain for following the path they've been called to follow.

However, there have been some things in Watain that I haven't been able to take at face value. But what appear to be commissioned and rather everyday photo shoots, awkward autograph sessions or plastic collector sets, are part of the holistic ritual for the members of Watain. And for anyone who might argue that, Danielsson is willing to expand his idea of a ritual to include beating up a journalist in the back alleys of Helsinki.

"The Hollow World"
An interview with Erik Danielsson of Watain
Originally published in, June 2010.

In a couple of earlier interviews you’ve spoken about “the trinity” of releases, the idea that many bands first put out three classic/great albums and then start to wind down somewhat. How did you make sure that Watain wouldn’t take the wrong path on your fourth album?

- The first three albums of Watain can be seen as a foundation, the completed triangle of Watain. We needed three albums to explore our own ability, to know ourselves and to erect our temple. A temple which stood ready with Sworn to the Dark, and that we can now use for what we came here to do; the Devil’s work. We have always aimed for being able to perform music and art with enough dignity to be linked with the power of our gods. This takes time, devotion and determination. As far as I am concerned, it took me three albums.

- The reason I can see for many bands loosing it around their third album is that the first phase of a band usually represent a vortex of energy and creativity, of emotions that demand to be expressed. For many artists, the end of that phase means arriving to a point of repetition, of stagnation or, in the worst case, to be drained of inspiration. Needless to say, it did not work that way for us.

The working title for Sworn to the Dark was No Return. What was the working title for Lawless Darkness and how did it guide your way through the writing and recording process this time around?

- There was no such working title I think, and neither was “No Return” really a lodestar as such. The way we compose is far more chaotic, like adding ingredients to a cauldron in which hell itself must eventually boil. Experimentation and experience in excess...

How much of a parallel is there between shedding skin musically, and the understanding that a Satanist will, little by little, destroy the restrains encoded in his human body? I mean, does Watain’s musical development necessitate religious/spiritual development?

- That parallel is constant and could not be anything else, since Watain has always been an outlet for our own spiritual experience and belief. Our own spiritual progression is always the reason for any relevant progression within the band, as an artistic outlet for the same.

You’ve stated in interviews pretty much from the beginning that bands like Metallica and Death SS, rather than usual suspects such as Darkthrone, are more of an influence on your work in Watain. Listening to some of the tracks on Lawless Darkness, I think that at times the Metallica influence comes through more than ever before. Would you tend to agree?

- Yes there might be a stronger traditional metal element to Lawless Darkness, which is nothing strange to me really. That aspect has always been a big part of our lives and it would be strange if it at some point did not show in our work as artist, considering how personal Watain is to us.

- However, to me Watain will always be a Black Metal band per se. The difference between a regular Heavy Metal band and us is that while they try to hide – or are unaware of – the fact that the Devil speaks through their music, while we are open about it.

There are definitely some soul-grabbing melodies on Lawless Darkness, especially on the closing track Waters of Ain. On the classic Metallica albums, one could pretty much memorize and sing along even the guitar solos, and I think that it’s the same with some of Watain’s most touching moments. What is the inner feeling like in studio or, especially, on stage, when this kind of melodies start playing? (I reckon you haven’t yet played Waters of Ain live, but there are earlier Watain songs and melodies that have a similar effect for me at least, The Serpent’s Chalice, for example.)

- Yes, I know the parts you are refering to, and they are indeed special. On Lawless Darkness we have got closer to the formula of creating them, and this is something we will always be striving for; Timeless music, worthy enough to place upon the altar of the Gods.
- The reactions in the studio are the same as those of any sane person hearing them; solemn delight, outbursts of madness, tears of pride, the urge to praise Satan.

In Sweden Rock Magazine you said that Waters of Ain is your “begravningslåt,” which obviously speaks volumes about the personal importance of the song. If you were to die tomorrow, would you be satisfied with the way Watain ended with Lawless Darkness?

- Yes, I’d say I would. But on the other hand I would have been “satisfied” if we ended with Sworn to the Dark as well, since we always give our everything. All I can say is that there are still an abyss to discover within Watain, that still yearns to be expressed through us, and that we still yearn to express. Many depths are yet to be ventured...

To what extent are you interested in leaving a legacy with Watain? I mean, what would it mean to you if Watain would be recognised alongside the likes of Mayhem, Celtic Frost and even Slayer one day?

- As far as I am concerned, Watain is already a legacy on it’s own. To us it has become a brotherhood, a holy mission and the very center of everything that Black Metal ever meant to us. If other people will look upon the band like that in the future, that would mean they reached an understanding similar to ours. But understanding of other people has never been our goal in the first place, and neither something we have been regularly blessed with, so to us it matters little. This is not a popularity contest, it is the relentless transcendence of the Devil’s sons.

Another question about the worldly dimension of things. You’ve stated that if people want to see the works of Satan in this world, all they need to do is look around, look to covetous world leaders and natural disasters. I can understand the natural disaster part, but have some difficulty with the world leaders part. After all, they’re mostly driven by very mundane desires like money and fame. How do these “vices” represent the transcendent nature of Satan?

- Sometimes I really regret even opening my mouth about these kind of things, because to speak about the nature of religion to people who are either non-religious or even anti-religious, is truly throwing pearls for swine. It is like trying to explain color to the colorblind. Singing songs for the deaf. Who then happily nod in confusion and misunderstanding.

- Of course it is not the mundane, pathethic desires of the puppets of the earth that i refer to when I speak of the manifestation of Satanic energy. “World leaders” equal “worms” to me, and there is as much of Satan in them as there is in my coffee. What I am refering to is of course the glowing dominance of true Tyrants and Executioners of history, the great white-eyed butcherers of mankind, who, in the name of religion, ideology or whatever it might have been, have carried out the Devil’s work. When the lust for dominance and will to eliminate your foes is driven to such degree that it reaches godlike qualities, then you can see the Devil shine in the eyes.

You state that rather than seeing people’s souls being fed with plastic shit culture, you prefer filling people’s souls with blood. How does a box set limited to 1,000 copies including a black candle fill souls with blood?

- Your childish and arrogant description of the Lawless Darkness box does not deserve an answer other than “Fuck You”. But, doing my best to ignore your inborn finnish stupidity, i’ll try to explain, as I would explain it to any child; Metal thrives on quality, determination, vision and strength. This is what I refered to as “blood”. Metal is however broken down and made insipid by unintelligence, weakness and lack of vision. This is what I refer to as “plastic shit culture”. You, and many other individuals and bands constituting todays scene, represent the latter. We, Watain, represent the first. The Lawless Darkness box is an attempt to bring about quality, thoughtfulness and artistic vision. The ideas behind the contents of the box are many and intricate, and I would gladly have explained them if you would not have revealed your lack of respect in the question. People who fail to see the value of this release are too caught up in their own false metal world where things such as box sets equals attempts to make money and satisfy collectors. But that is your ignorant and self-reflecting conception of things, not ours.

In the midst of soundchecks, traveling, the Bathory cover gig and exclusive photo sessions for Sweden Rock Magazine, Zero Tolerance and what not, so it would probably be easy to let it all go and just ride the wave of routine. Also, no matter how holistic the nature of Watain is, things like exclusive photo sessions could be seen as extracurricular activity at best. To what extent are you willing to serve the needs of, say, music magazines? In other words, can you justify things like the exclusive photo sessions to yourself on a deeper (spiritual) level?

- Everything we do with Watain, be it a photosession or beating up a journalist in a back-alley of Helsinki, is an extent of our artistic (=spiritual) expression. We would not do a photo-session if we did not have an idea for it or did not feel like it. However, we have many ideas, and we often feel like having them manifested. That is why we have a band, to be able to manifest our artistic ideas, no matter what they be. Without magazines wanting to publish photos, labels wanting to release albums, and magazines wanting to do interviews, the ability to have our ideas carried out and take their toll would be rather limited.

Is the path to world domination paved with good intentions?

- Not as far as I can see.

I was reading a slightly older Watain interview in Close-Up Magazine, where you talked the incidence that you’d had after the photo session for that interview. That is, when you were walking through the town after the photo shoot in your full gear and smeared with blood, you referred to the people’s (non-)reaction in the lines that even though people see a demon walking on the street, they don’t react, because “det blir på något sätt för mycket att ta in.” Do you ever get that same sense when you’re playing live, that even for the people who come to see you live, it’s somehow too much for them to take?

- The live shows is yet another outlet which we use to make the fire within our hearts come alive and manifest upon this earth. This is why they become very powerful experiences. To me this is nothing strange, Black Metal the way we perform it is very powerful and should not be underestimated. It has the power to alter ones state of mind and body and should not be approached lightly. I have seen people vomiting and crying during our performances. I respect their reactions fully, because at least they have been opening themselves enough to take in our art! I much rather shake hand with someone who has tears in the eyes after a concert, than some proud idiot who was too narrowminded and stupid to realize what was going on. Watain is a band for those who want something more than a regular concert experience, for the people who live and breath for the passion and the fire contained in the heart of the genre, the very fire of Satan.

If there’s anything you’d like to add, feel free to do so here. Thank you very much for the interview!

- Fuck you.