I got some negative feedback for the Teitanblood interview in Serpentscope #1, because some people considered it a bit too much in the fanboy vein. I took that feedback to heart, but when I set their newest release, 16-minute MLP Purging Toungues for a first spin, I was again reminded of the piercing and commanding energy this band has. I truly think it's something few bands can parallel. Honestly, I hope someone takes the time to do a really in-depth interview with NSK at some point, because most of the interviews before and around the release of Seven Chalices were average at best. Even this interview didn't turn out quite as good as I had envisioned it, but it's one of my favourite pieces in Serpentscope #1 nonetheless.
An interview with NSK of Teitanblood.
Originally published in Serpentscope I, October 2009.
There are few albums this side of Drawing Down the Moon that make me bow my head as though in submission to something far greater, far more powerful, far more profound… Conjuring images of something omnipresent and primordial, albums like these aren’t meant to be listened but ingested through other senses, even felt in a surprisingly physical fashion. Even to a man with a healthy sense of self-worth like myself there are albums that make me feel unworthy somehow, let alone that I’d feel the words I’m trying to use here would suffice to capture its essence. Probably it’s just that; its essence can’t be confined in superfluous words. Violent and pious, earthy and transcendent, one such album is Teitanblood’s Seven Chalices.
So congratulations are in order for an outstanding debut album. The first time I was in contact with Nasko, he “warned” me that the cover art of the then-upcoming album would be something quite extraordinary, and so it has proven to be indeed! People in zines are always asking about the vibes and feelings while recording an album, but this time I wanted to ask Nasko about the vibes and feelings while designing the cover art. How was the co-operation with T. Ketola (or Jorge Oscar Sanchéz as he prefers to be called in this context)? What kind of initial aims did you have when starting this process, and what kind of emotions did you go through during this process?
- Hm, ominous coincidence (?) that he chose Jorge as first name for this context, anyway, thanks Antti for your words. Ok, sometimes album covers and lyrics are considered less important or just something complementary to the music. Seven Chalices’ vision did not consider these as mere complements, so, the initial aims with the artwork were to provide the same impression that the music does, something which you could dig into and getting stuck at it as the album goes by, also taking very much into account that the visuals are the introductive element of the whole work, so it really had to shock and motivate the listener to dive into a pool of vermin and filth without hesitation. My very first words to TK when I explained the purpose of this grimoire referred to think of an unreleased Dauthus issue (or rehearsal). Emotions experienced were from absolute jawdropping with the previews and final results delivered, to frustration, impatience and anger because of the time that it took, especially considering that all the music was ready-to-go and had to wait for a year for the artwork.
With every page and embedded word in the booklet giving ample reason for contemplation and scrutiny, it’s easy to agree with the statement made by Stewart Voegtlin in his laudable Teitanblood interview for TheLeftHandPath.com; that the effect of Seven Chalices is “almost fucking holistic.” As is the case with Seven Chalices’ obvious zine-world equivalent Dauthus, each piece of music, each word, each picture is employed for a reason and backed with ardent conviction. Looking at the (English) song titles on Seven Chalices, one can’t help but think that many of them seem, and this I mean in a good way, pretty traditional Death Metal song titles. However, somehow there is enormous power in these titles and in the words that are used in these titles. Would you say that by doing this you’re, in a way, channelling the energies of the Death Metal tradition? How do you see the song titles yourself?
- This is an unusual remark for which I’m glad that you found it worth of mentioning because I consider very challenging to wrap up the lyrics, the songs’ intensity and meaning into a significant headline or title which has to reflect that potence and energy within the song. Just like I mentioned above regarding the artwork, these are elements that should be attractive enough to indulge the listener to dig into the album.
As should be obvious by now, there is immense power in Seven Chalices. However, due to the album’s holistic nature, it’s somewhat difficult – inappropriate, even – to address one specific dimension of the work. One dimension I think it’s, more often than not, mundane to ask anything about is the production, but then again there’s a time and place for everything... In my opinion the artless production suits the album perfectly: it’s perhaps surprisingly “clear,” yet rather violent and pure as well as evocative. To my surprise, though, the production has been criticised (on internet forums, where else!) for being perhaps too clear and for the drums being too low in the mix. How much value do you give to the production yourself? Or would you consider it more like a tool, something too mundane to discuss in relation to the spiritual nature of the band?
- I think the production is very important because it will decide whether you feel comfortable or not with the whole sound. All that criticism is fine with me... everyone has an idea for their own perfect Death Metal or Black Metal album, but then you don’t see that perfect album being released anywhere. I’m not going to justify our sound or discuss any criticism. We speak through what we do, whoever likes it is more than welcome, whoever doesn’t he can listen to anything else.
This brings us to the core unit of this zine: Death Metal. T. Ketola, seldom as fittingly quoted as in a Teitanblood interview, stated in the recent issue of Isten fanzine (late ’08) that “Death metal is not “music”.” Listening to Seven Chalices, for example, it indeed does make me think that to talk about it, I need a whole different set of expressions and words than I do when discussing, for example, a classic Black Sabbath album. Do you see Teitanblood first and foremost as something else than music? And do you find it difficult to speak about Teitanblood in terms of music and music/metal journalism, for example?
- There’s a monumental (unacademic) black magic work portrayed in the lyrics and the artwork, aside from the music of course, but still, I’d like to point out music as the main vehicle here. I expect that this answers to your question. The difficulty to speak about the music resides in how the questions are focused and the person whom you speak with: I find it more comfortable and easy to speak with someone with a real metal background that has never heard of Teitanblood, rather than the average early 20s myspace user that is crazy about us, or the metal journalist or musician that asks about our tuning and shit like that.
In Teitanblood’s case, to be labelled as “something else than music” is definitely not just a way of saying the stuff is not musically interesting or valuable. What I’m trying to say is that bands like Beherit, and maybe Teitanblood as well, are often and too easily labelled “bestial, period.” To elucidate my point, some definitions of the word bestial include “lacking in intelligence or reason” and “marked by brutality or depravity.” When I ask Nasko how he sees Teitanblood’s music, he finds a most illuminating way to cut through my words.
- Reverse your logic rule, then non-bestial bands are more reasonable or intelligent? I know that your point is not that one, and I can agree with you. Let me explain: I think what we do, not only our music, shows a very primitive, obscure and violent approach in objective terms. For a more detailed answer I confirm that we are marked by brutality and depravity, and in terms of intelligence or reason: our whole work is intentionally anti-academic in its relation with the Occult and I’d rather provide an aura of insanity and chaos instead of intelligence, seriousness and order. But the main difference I see with that collective of bands you speak about, is that we call for the most unspeakable, and atrocious darkness from the unconscious, and others think it’s dangerous and scary enough to use superficial images of biped goats with bulletbelts. But hey, what do I know?
This was my point exactly, that too many so-called bestial bands take their assigned genre as an excuse for half-hearted music and beer-soaked image. As Nasko put it, it takes a lot more than bullet belts and goat jargon for a band to be bestial. The way Nasko explained Teitanblood’s stand as regards intelligence and academia versus depravity and – yes – bestiality, leaves perhaps little room for elaboration, but there are still a few points I wanted to discuss with him. I think Ronald of the Horrible Eyes ’zine puts it quite well in the aforementioned issue of Isten:
“It has always been quite a mystery to me, how many Metal people seem to relate their sex life with their musical experiences. Getting a hard-on when listening to a Bathory rehearsal? That did not even happen to me when I was 16! Such folks must be emotionally/mentally either quite restricted or indeed demented, if every emotion they bear alienates them so much that they cannot help themselves but to relate it to the low plane of profane sexuality.”
Would Nasko, then, see that there is any sort of role/place/meaning for such “low plane” emotions in Teitanblood? I mean, how much you work with and value instinct and intuition? Or are such emotions totally irrelevant if the true source of one’s creation lies outside human spheres?
- I’d like to start by subscribing what Ronald said but I must also claim that without instinct and intuition you cannot perceive that source that lies outside human spheres. All those less elaborated emotions are everything. I work in a very amateur/intuitive way, I don’t know about tuning in A or flat B, I don’t know about pedals, frequencies and all of that, and I don’t care. I search everything intuitively and it’s all about instinct play and being humble with yourself if it works or not. I’m definitely not a musician.
It’s precisely this intuitive way of working, exploring and finding that gives way to what Nasko himself referred to as the “what-the-fucking-hell?” reaction in the recent interview for TheLeftHandPath.com when he contemplated the connections that could be made between bands like Autopsy and Mercyful Fate. The moments on both Seven Chalices and Teitanblood’s earlier material that call for this very reaction are many, and maybe that is why it’s not too surprising that the band’s early demos were nearly improvised. Judging by how strong those songs are this might be surprising, though. How would you describe the atmosphere and situation while creating those songs? Was it different doing songs for Seven Chalices, or were the songs still more “channelled” than actually “composed”?
- Yes, the songs from the demo were basically done at random, but for all releases there’s always been a solid idea of how things should sound and the impression it must give to the listener. Eventually, there’s been a willing to complicate/develop things into more twisted an inhuman atmosphere.
Then again, how do you see the meaning of control or organisation – or the lack thereof – as regards Death/Black Metal and, in particular, Teitanblood? How does the idea of a totally controlled Death Metal band/album sound to you?
- I see it as a waste of time and energy. Nothing in this life is under control, and whoever believes in the contrary is just in a parallel illusory plane of which probably some day he’ll get out by an unpleasant surprise... but perhaps not! So, that’s up to anyone. The idea of controlled Death Metal sounds like a gentle and affectionate Rapist.
In Bloodaxe #9 (a slightly older interview from late 2005) Nasko actually criticised Black Metal for having grown deformed with all this extra emphasis on its philosophic / religious / ideological aspects: “the philosophic-religious-ideological aspect of BM has grown deformed already too much, and unfortunately, it’s devaluing music and the real Black Magick within.” Would you please elaborate a bit on your statement from a few years back: how would you describe the thing you call “the real Black Magick within”?
- This is something that has ceased to the detriment of the extra goodies and ultra-exclusive versions that come out with each release in order not to pay too much attention to the music itself. My point back then was (and is) that it does not matter how well do your lyrics talk about Satan or how smartass statements you make in interviews because the vibrations of the whole is what make it worth or not. There’s more “Satan” and “Evil” in albums like Bride of Insect or Mental Funeral rather than those bands that out of nothing dress up themselves as intellectual satanists.
In the same Bloodaxe interview Nasko stated that “it is not possible for every band to deal with the Evil Spirits of the Other Side, and open the gateways and make them real (intentionally or not!)” I’m aware that this is a rather personal question, the answer to which might be difficult to put in words, but what was it like when you first had an experience of “opening a gateway” – the experience of communing with something greater than man?
- Fuck, you’ve done your homework sir! Just like it’s not at the reach of anyone to communicate or to properly establish a connection with a spirit during a ritual, not everyone can grasp the unfathomable energy that resides in this music and make it real. I won’t speak about my experiments about esoteric practices, which, actually have been very short, but you can make a reasonable analogy to the day that you listened to De Mysteriis dom. Sathanas or A Blaze in the Northern Sky, that it was like....... well, yeah, rather difficult to explain with words, but I’m quite sure many know what I refer to.
Indeed, falling silent in awe, and calling it the “what-the-fucking-hell?” reaction might actually be the most accurate way of putting it after all.