27.4.2011

Morbid Angel interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)


The Transcending Spirit

Interview: Kuronen

Always more than a ‘relevant’ band item in the musical sense, Floridian death metal high achievers Morbid Angel have at all times had a spiritual disposition behind their serpentine guitar sprawls that’s as astounding as, say, the first four bars of “Maze of Torment”. In their world, death metal has hardly ever, at least not after the early days with David Vincent, come to mean so much an act of destruction as creation. Irrefutably, this outlook does not converge with the widely held paradigms of the genre. Morbid Angel guitar deity Trey Azagthoth does not care about the typical death metal claptrap, insisting on drawing his personal conclusions from this, that and t’other thing.

“To me, to destroy is only useful if you’re trying to clear a path so that you can build,” Azagthoth states. “Tearing down to build only makes sense. Tearing down just to tear down doesn’t make too much sense to me. I think that we find joy in building and creating. I think that’s more exciting. But sometimes there are things that block us. Sometimes we have to break out of the chains; we have to get tough and use a lot of force to break free. But once we’re free we should realise that now it’s up to us to decide where we’re going to direct our thinking and how we’re going to direct our lives. I think it’s more useful to direct our lives towards something that is more about love and joy and fun. How about fun, haha? Had any good times? I think that’s what we all really want to decide… to have fun in our own way.

“Death metal is usually about people who are kind of unhappy about some things and they’re basically rebelling in some way, tearing down stuff that is in their way. It’s some kind of violence associated with stuff like that. People are unhappy only because they have basically some gods over them. We create our own reality. That’s what I believe. I think some people use death metal as a way of venting out their frustration. I’m into the music just because it’s powerful and exciting. I’m not interested in crushing anything to be honest with you.”
                     
In Trey’s mind death metal, his variation of it, links itself strongly with the notion of self-determination. It is always on his own inner self that a man relies on, and hence the art of death metal is also the art of subjectivism.

“Basically it is about doing things the way you want and not having to fit into any guidelines. Not having any rules other than the rules you make. Not being concerned with any genres. Just writing music as a more pure experience, and to me this music is that kind of thing. It’s only limited to the limits of the artist, and it allows openness for anything that’s possible to manifest. So that’s the way I interpret it.  I think of it as a way to really go for it and explode and not have any rules that say, ‘Oh, that’s too much’.

“It’s a way to be yourself and be able to continue that way. I haven’t had to work a job. This music supports me in my life. It’s comfortable, it’s okay. I don’t make millions of dollars by any means but I don’t have to work at a car wash either. So basically it allows me to just continue being a free artist and not having to deal with silly things you might have to deal with, some job you have to do or someone tells you to do. Nobody tells me what to do. So it really supports my freedom. I think that’s probably the coolest thing about it.”

For what today seems like an eternity, Morbid Angel have been the objects of a deafening amount of reverence and adulation from death metal trainees the world over. Whether it has been the voluptuously evil vocal spitting of David Vincent, the phenomenal rhythm acrobatics of sticksman Pete Sandoval or, indeed, the ornate guitar wizardry of Trey Azagthoth, fanatics and professionals alike have soaked up every transcendent resonance the band have produced with a distinctive feel of respect. For Trey, there is nothing extraordinary as such about what he does with Morbid Angel, other than that to him it serves as a tremendous source of energy.

“It’s just what I do. It’s just normal, daily stuff. It’s just ‘a day in the life of…’ Not all that spectacular. It is the kind of music that I’m into. It is representing what I think it is about and the kind of thing I’m into. For me to say that it is spectacular would be arrogant to talk like that. It’s just what I do. I just do it. And everybody can do it. I’m not any better that anybody else. It’s just my decisions. I make certain decisions and choices with the way I look at things and what I believe and what I do. That gets me to where I am. I mean, there it is, haha. Without any intervention of spirit it would probably just be boring. But to me it’s a blow of the creator. And that’s my purpose—to play the instrument to allow things come through and maybe that’s why it has some other dimensions.”

When it gets to the ideas that manoeuvre the whole organism, Trey opines Morbid Angel is not so much about all those things it is so often associated with—mysticism, an aura of intellect, occult interests, Lovecraftian ethos and Sumerian philosophy—as it is about the simple dictum of ‘thinking for yourself’.

“Think for yourself, form your own truths and realise that there’s no meaning to anything other than that which you give to it. That’s really about it. The rest of it is just a bunch of babbling, haha. It’s a bunch of information. People can take it however they wish. We’re not telling people of a new way of living or a new doctrine or anything like that. It’s just the same old stuff. People have been talking about it as long as they’ve been talking. So it’s all the way back to Plato’s story about the allegory of chaos. There’s a lot of power in thinking for yourself. It helps people to find their higher self and flow with the universe. Connect on a high level with all things and find this wonderful joy. That’s kind of what it is for me.

“It’s more fun to think of oneself as the one truly responsible for their own worlds as opposed to saying like, ‘Well, my world is screwed up because of all of these things outside of me’. I don’t know, maybe that’s the way I push others. There’s a lot of different people who listen to what I’m talking about and in the end they might use it for their own. But I really do believe that reality is in our minds. It’s inside the mind. And I think it’s all about interpretation.

“I only hope to inspire people to search out on their own and not to accept any of my stuff as some kind of truth because it is not, really. I don’t believe that there are really any truths anyway.  I think that it’s basically just suggestions, ideas and it’s only to inspire people to search within their own heart and find their own ideas and truths and create their own worlds because I think that’s, as a person of human, our gift. To be able to use our mind. And our mind is so powerful it will be able to create all these great things but it can also cause us to live in prison and cause us lots of harm if we don’t think in a useful way. What’s a useful way? I can’t tell you or anyone else, I can only share my insights and that’s about where I leave us.”


Morbid Angel’s most recent studio album, their eighth in all (if you count in Abominations of Desolation), is called Heretic. Two years in the waiting, the album makes a much stronger case musically than its predecessor, the sadly average Gateways to Annihilation. It still isn’t the Works, but it might be getting there. Thematically, Heretic is said to take a particular interest in numerology. How is that? Enlighten us, Trey.

“Numerology is a little part of the record for sure. It’s not what the whole record is about, it’s basically just a small part of it. Actually numerology is some form of order. You can study numerology on the web and there are all different types of interpretations but it’s basically just a sequence, a form of statistics. It’s made by people, it’s not real. It’s just like the alphabet, maths and all that. It’s a big generalisation of association in some hidden underlining way. In other words, you take the letters of a word, transform the letters of the word to numbers and then you take another word and transform it to numbers and in some way it has a connection. It’s kind of like that.

“It’s just systems. I think systems are there for us to play with. It’s just a way of communicating with other people. It certainly isn’t needed in communicating with the creator. The best way to communicate with the creator is silence.”

If we have numerology as a representative form of order in the blue corner, then it only follows that we have the bulky, endless figure of chaos as its opposite force in the red corner.

“It’s a dualism, like hot and cold, good and evil, right and wrong,” Trey notes. But: “I suggest to look beyond this. Chaos is something that is unsorted and full of surprises. It’s not boring because it’s always dynamic and changing. It’s like an adventure. The thing with order is that it’s kind of like a routine and then you become bored and repetitious, kind of like a robot. To me, there should be guidelines. I don’t think people should hurt each other, okay? I think that if anything would be considered bad it’s people hurting each other. I think that when people come from their heart there is no intention to hurt anybody. That’s the only guideline I think that is worthwhile. Just not hurt each other; somehow just accept people being like they are. Chaos is the opposite of order, it’s exciting. The universe is chaotic I think; how can you really measure the things that are going out there? At best, it’s all based on what we believe. But we change our belief; we change what we feel. Chaos is just stuff that’s unpredictable and slithering around and bent rather than straight… different, you know. I think chaos is pretty exciting.”

In Trey’s philosophy there is a clear dissociation between the Ego and the Spirit, and to him the Spirit is the consciousness of the mind. Essentially, what drives the guitarist to this consciousness?

“I don’t know any other way,” he candidly replies. “I kind of always somewhat had this kind of thing going on. I’ve always been interested in that. I’ve spend a lot of time by myself, to be honest. I’ve been away from the distraction of society. Someone who goes out to the deserts to meditate, they start to get a little closer to nature I think. A little further away from the thoughts of man. I’ve spent a lot of my life like that. I’ve come to my own conclusions. But I do believe that what I am is pure spirit. I just play the role of the human. I have belief but I am not my belief. I have a personality but that’s not what I am. I have ideas but I am not the ideas. I am not the total of my ideas. I’m the one who can think of all ideas. Not just me but all people. A human being is not how he manifests. He is the manifesto. So it’s something for everybody. In theory we are all the same; we’re not better or worse. There is no superiority or inferiority. We are all the same and there’s nothing to separate us. There’s no difference. It’s just that through our decisions and choices do we manifest different in life.”

Listening to Trey’s calm, deadpan words spoken with a great conviction, I notice the hair on my arms goes through a sudden electric treatment; surely a sign of encountering a man with an indisputable Vision. But from one type of signs to another; at some point Trey has made mention of the ancient ones—which hold a key position in the works of Morbid Angel—being mere titles, self-created entities. Then, what are the intuitions behind these marks of communication that he tries to bring forth, I ask. What is behind the surface?


The coming of age—the age of innocence
 

“Only trying to inspire others”, comes the response. “Like I said, the whole message: there’s nothing more than just to think for oneself; to break free from the idea that there are, as society likes to tell us, such things as facts and that if you don’t do it this way you’re sick, you’re feared and so on—like the Christian crusades. They burnt and took people to prison if they didn’t believe in God. That stuff happens today, in a different way: you really don’t get burned at the stake, but there’s the same kind of thing going on. ‘We’re right and you’re wrong’. That whole way of thinking is limiting. I’m only just doing my little part, I’m not the only one. It depends on where you’re looking but there’s all kinds of people. Basically, we have the potential to create all things imagined. Our belief has a big impact on our world. Whatever we believe is like our perception filters, like the floodgate to our potential. It’s like programs in a computer. You have a really fast computer but you’re running some really old, ancient programs and you can’t really reach the potential of your hardware because your software is so old. You know what I mean?”

It’s a good way of putting it.

“The mind is amazing, better than any computer imagined. So I’m just doing my little part. I’m not only interested in or concerned with my own reality or my own world. But I’m not trying to change the world either. I’m only just trying to add my little insights of things like many others have—like Deepak Chopra, Plato and all these different people. There’s something about sharing with other people. I’m only sharing concepts and ideas. I’m not saying that what I say is right. It’s stupid to say that, I think. I’m just sharing my insights—not that I want people to believe what I say or follow me by any means. I would never want that. I only want people to maybe ask some questions and find their own part. If people already have it, that’s great. It’s not for everybody; it’s not like I think everybody’s lost by any means, that Deepak Chopra thinks that everybody’s lost, Plato thinks that everybody’s lost—I don’t think so. There’s something about sharing that you feel propelled to because it’s love. I guess that’s why I talk about these things. If I’m going to talk at all, I want to talk about something that’s interesting and exciting. To me there’s nothing more interesting than creating and tapping into power, or however you want to call it. So I guess that’s where it is.”

It would seem to the outsider, by perusal of interviews dating from the period between Covenant and Domination, that the guitarist was going through a shift of sorts in his thinking during those days, reshaping some of his earlier ideas about existence and how to absorb and understand the world. Looking at it from a much closer seat to the proverbial ring, Trey isn’t quite of the same opinion.

“I think I’m always growing and changing. Maybe I just didn’t do as many interviews during that span of time. Then I came out and had some different things to say. Me and David were sharing a lot of the interviews at that time and then during Formulas I pretty much did all the interviews myself. I think change is the only thing that is normal to begin with. I mean, change is continuous and dynamic. Growing is important and good. I think it’s just the ego that would say ‘Oh no no no, I’m not going to change, and I’m a little stupid’. I don’t believe I can. Other people could say that, but does that mean that I’ve changed? No. Because it’s only the way that I appear to other people and it’s determined by their reference, interpretation and reality. Is their reality mine? No it’s not. They have the right to think whatever they want. So basically yes, I am always changing and I’m sure I’m going to change even more. I hope so. I hope this is not it. I hope there’s a lot more and I’m sure there is. Maybe you can help me find it?”

Ceeertainly. What are some of the things you’ve learnt within the last few years?

“The last few years? Um… I was studying Deepak Chopra a couple of years ago and it was pretty strong stuff for me. So I would say the past few years I’ve been digesting it, heh, really contemplating it and seeing how it really works in my life. I don’t know what I’ve really learnt other than just maybe becoming more aware or realising the information that I’ve studied years ago. Seeing it clearer. So maybe I’ve been learning stuff that I read years ago and were kind of confused about. Sometimes it takes time, like with the Qabbalah. Any book about the Qabbalah says that you shouldn’t get into its message until you’re at least somewhat of an adult. This is a generalisation, but teenagers seem not to have had enough experiences to really take in what the Qabbalah has to teach. Maybe people need to be on this earth for a little longer or be around more things to really see what it’s talking about, to relate to it. I’ll put it that way. So sure, I think it’s the same thing for me with Deepak Chopra. What he says is pretty wild sounding at first for a Western being. I think he takes Eastern philosophies and puts a Western coding on them; a mix of science and things like that. It’s the Eastern stuff that’s pretty strange for us in the West because we have different ways of life and our cultures are different. Basically, to understand something you have to have some kind of reference or else it’s just flies in a soup, haha.”

With the notions of stillness/activeness, ego/spirit, unmanifest/manifest, there seems often to be a rather dualistic line to Trey’s thinking. In some ways, this polarisation he constructs appears to be at odds with the open-minded and appreciative spirituality he also cherishes. Any idea as to what is the source of this seeming dualism in your mindset, Trey?

“We exist on multiple levels or planes at the same time,” he says. “There’s the ego, there’s the soul and there’s the spirit. People can divide them as they will but for me it was useful to put them like that. Water is water. Water doesn’t recognise that it is in different cups or different containers, separated by space. It’s like when you come from a place, time or space, the ego, that’s when you notice that there’s a difference. So when you come from the place of water, water is water no matter how much time or space is between it. It’s still water. When you come from the high place of spirit, then you’re just one with everything and there are no words. There is no dualism. Everything is the same; things just work. That’s the way it is. It’s indescribable. If anything, we use words to help try paint a picture of our experiences. But the words are not the experiences. The words will not take another person to the experience, they will only maybe point him in the right direction. They will need to find it on their own and they might even use different words to describe the experience. Spirit becomes soul because the ego is involved separately. But spirit and soul are one. It just depends on where you come from. And of course, these are my words, my ways of looking at it. In other words, spirit is the water. Soul is the ego recognising that there is some distance between these two cups. It’s water and now it’s split apart and contained in these different containers and they’re meters away from each other. That’s the ego thinking. It thinks along those lines, it notices those things. But the spirit doesn’t. The spirit transcends them. Does that make any sense?”

21.4.2011

Rotting Christ interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)


μέταλλο εγγλέζοσ

Interview: Kuronen

Conventionally, Brazilians and Germans do it best. It is a string of catastrophes concerning syntax, word formation and vocabulary. It comes with angular pronunciation. It is brutal, unexpected and often innovative to the point of visionary. It is metalenglish (μέταλλο εγγλέζοσ, Metallenglisch), as showcased here by the 1993 Rotting Christ song “His Sleeping Majesty”, which reads beautifully like a broken Celtic Frost lyric. “True poetic” might be an appropriate verdict.

Broken faces behind the idol
Self sacrifice believers once (betrayed)
Those who disregarded (authorities)
In deadly position they offend

The junless domain
For ages and ages
Where his sleeping majesty
Under the black sand

Skeletoned shapes look lifeless
Thrones disappear in dusty (old centuries)
Where glory hide the myth
Nothing to see those who died

The junless domain
For ages and ages
Where his sleeping majesty
Under the black sand

Invaders who follow the legends
Spread mouth to mouth
Approach the phenomically quiet graveyard

Well hidden lonny sentinels
Around his sandy dwelling
Out of date carnivorous suvivorous
They offend his sleeping majesty

The events can be said by human words
So strength so hate to those who dare
They break the frontiers and they come
Now dust of melting bones
Mixed with the Sandy land

Broken faces behind the idol
Self sacrifce believers once (betrayed)
Those who disregarded (authorities)
In deadly position they offend


A couple of years ago there was an assortment of well-humoured heavy metal fanatics who wanted to have metalenglish recognised as a genuine minority language. Sakis Tolis of the band in question is ready to ponder Rotting Christ’s achievements in this language, but sadly, he does not quite grasp the finer, warmer sides of this dialect, instead concentrating on its deficiencies.

“We as Rotting Christ sometimes have this problem. Some of our lyrics sound very messy, especially in the early days. That happened because English is not our mother tongue. We are very forced to write lyrics. Even now, my English is not so good. My accent is not good at all. This is the Greek way. I like the lyrics because it’s spontaneous and comes from the heart. It’s not music only for people with knowledge about language. Music is something that unites and makes us feel exactly the same. I’ve toured with Brazilian bands whose lyrics are very bad and messy but I know that people really enjoy that. The soul counts more than anything.

“Some people would call us exotic. But we go ahead with that. It is very easy to recognise us just like it may be to recognise somebody coming from Finland,” the singer-guitarist touts defensively.

Recognise who, me? Stratovarius? Impaled Nazarene? Or Peer Günt?

Summon Glohithia/Saako vielä viskiä split 7”?

With gems like these, heavy metal will never be died.

19.4.2011

Alex Kurtagic (Supernal Music) interview from Qvadrivivm #4 (2001)


A Micro-be Discussion

Interview: Arkadin

This winter of the new millennium, inspired by grey, withered trees, glistening snow, frozen creeks, icicles, and magenta sunsets, it was my pleasure to get in touch with Supernal Music’s Head of Lettuce, the venerable Alex Kurtagic. Delightfully witty and sarcastic as I had expected, some of his responses were certainly not as I expected.  But what good would come from an interview if the answers were to always conform to one’s expectations? It would be a prosaic interview, that’s what it would be. 

So to begin with, let us, gentlemen, analyse the nature, the first principle, the arche, if you will, of the Supernal canon, if it in fact has one. Let us examine this propensity to sign, thus far, only bands that are, as it has been illustrated in the label’s Aesthetic Manifesto, “of a love-it-or-hate-it proposition.”

As you have used the term yourself, Alex, and given the nature of so many of your releases, what meaning does the word ‘commercial’ exactly have in your mind, in its application towards music and the underground world in particular? Does it carry a negative connotation for you, or a positive one, and why? Is there a particular reason why you have decided to work with the uncommercial rather than the commercial bands for your company?

“Commercial has neither a positive nor a negative connotation in my mind,” Alex explains, beginning our discussion. “It can be good or bad, depending on your perspective and the subject. As a businessman, commercial is good. As an artist, it depends.

“As to why I decided to work with ‘uncommercial’ bands (and here I mean ‘uncommercial’ not as ‘niche’ but as ‘graveyard stock’), the answer is that because I was foolish. Thankfully, I eventually woke up from that stupor.”

Interesting. It was the sales that woke you from that stupor, then?  Which items in your distribution tend to sell the most?  And conversely, which items sell the worst? What have you had most success with on the Supernal label in particular?

“CD’s sell the most. The worst performing items are those for which there is little interest…”

Aha. Thanks for clearing that up! For those who are not familiar, Supernal Music is a label divided into four subsidies, each with its own specific purpose: Supernal works with odd, avant-garde metal, Conquistador Records signs extreme metal from South America, Nazgul’s Eyrie has been a black metal label, and Cruentous Aadorns, finally, is reserved for unleashing cult and limited edition versions of established classics in the genre. How do you organize the promotion of these sub-divisions? Are all equally active today? Or is there a tendency to focus on one more than another? Is it a capricious, ad hoc arrangement?

“As we are going to focus exclusively on mail ordering and online ordering for the next two to three years, most label activities have all been put on ice. There are one or two releases pending on Conquistador, which were recorded last year, but, after those have been dealt with, we will release very little indeed.”

Shame, as you had an interesting array of bands in the line-up. Does this decision have some correlation to the recent dismissal of two of your artists? What are the stories, many people are interested in knowing, with Deinonychus, and Fleurety departing from Supernal? Was it unexpected from your side?

“Deinonychus: personality problems.

“Fleurety (and all the other bands, save The Meads of Asphodel): a strategic company review, whereby our existing label activities no longer fitted in with what we wanted to do.”

Yikes. How much of your time do you generally spend working on and promoting your distribution?

“I spend most of my waking hours working on the mail order. The parts I like working on the most are the parts which require me to learn something new - especially if it involves increasing productivity and maximising efficiency through information technology.”

Is it your chief source of income?

“My chief source of income is grey and gelatinous.”

Fascinating. And submissions? Do you still receive submissions from ambitious artists desiring to get signed by an established label? How do you handle their volume, if so?

“As I am no longer signing new bands, and as my time is also severely limited, I regret to say that I end up not even acknowledging receipt. I also have an artistic project of my own, so I know most artists would like a written response from each label they send promos to; unfortunately, however, when you are the label, you realise it is simply not practical, efficient, or possible to do so.”

Understood. But generally, if and when a new band is selected, how are contracts drawn? Is there a standard process?

“I used to send a standard contract, which would initiate a period of questions and answers. Eventually, in every case both parties decided they were in agreement and the documents were signed.”

Signed in blood, I reckon. Magic vanishing blood in the case of Fleurety and Deinonychus, sadly. But what was done was done. Is there any band or bands you feel have been terribly ignored in the underground and deserve more recognition? Any unsigned bands that have impressed you?  Anything you’d like to plug?

“I recently came across Open Grave, from the U.S.A. They had some MP3’s in mp3.com. They and Black Witchery are worth noting.”

What would you recommend to someone who was preparing to start a distribution of his own? For example, what would be the first step for one to secure one’s own label, and to be treated seriously in the underground and abroad?

“The former boss of Jungle.com puts it rather well: ‘get big, get niche, or get out’.”

Quite pithy, if I do say so.

Now if your head was torn off in a violent accident, and you were given the choice of remaining alive as a disembodied head, with no autonomous means of transportation, or to expire, which would you pick? And assuming that your head was in fact kept alive in a jar, say, where would you prefer to spend your days in such a dependent and subordinate position? How would you spend your time?  Most importantly, would you continue your work in Supernal Music?

“If this were to happen in a future when technology is much more advanced, I would opt to live, since it would be possible to regrow a new body from a sample of DNA. I am assuming I would be able to afford this procedure, of course.”

Are you still involved in your Astral Metal project, Benighted Leams?  Have you written anything new since the last release? 

“Benighted Leams: There is material for a third album, codenamed ‘Ferly Centesms’ for now. I have not had the time to record it and I have been too tired to think of the lyrics.”

What were some of the most colourful responses and opinions you’ve received concerning this project?

“Responses to my music ranged from dithyrambic praise to scornful dismissal without a listen. The usual.”

Let’s dwell a bit deeper. I understand, especially given your band and its conceptual themes, your working with such interesting entities as Messier object 87, that you have an interest in matters of astronomy and physics. What do you think has drawn you to these subjects? Do you consider yourself an empiricist when it comes to science, the nature and origin of the universe? Do you find it at all peculiar that the absurd idea of god is still not discounted even though advances in cosmology and physics today have all but entirely demolished the idea of a definite beginning to the universe? That these outdated and largely obsolete modes of Aristotelian reasoning are still strong in peoples’ minds given the nihilistic indeterminacy of quantum physics?

“I suppose you will want me to go into rant about religion here, won’t you.”

Mhh. Not necessarily…

“After all, this is what this question seems designed to do, and it would work if asked to someone else. But you won’t be fooling me.”

“Religion fulfils an anthropological function,” Alex asserts, “in that it establishes the boundaries of a society. As these boundaries are usually based on irrational fears common to the human condition, it is an effective instrument in preventing societies from falling apart, given that fear is an involuntary emotion. As we, as a species, have not yet advanced sufficiently to ascertain whether religion is just a tool that becomes obsolete when a certain level of evolution is reached, I am not in any position to say that it has become completely unnecessary. I guess it still is, since there are many who follow it in its various modalities. Yet, it is clear that it is not a perfect instrument, because it is divisive, backward, stifling, and oppressive. I personally don’t require religion in my life.”

I believe you have missed out on the generality of my question; i.e. the modern applicability of Aristotelian reasoning, the total incompatibility of outdated concepts with known reality.  But no matter…

I’ll ask you a different set of questions. Is there any unknown variable that boggles your mind most in the science world today?  Do you have any interest in exobiology, the search for extraterrestrial life? What are your thoughts, for example, on the SETI program? Do you believe it is even a wise idea for human beings to continue searching for sentient and complex life in the universe today given the fact that morally and emotionally most human beings are still living in the Stone Age? What are some of the ramifications you can imagine of a situation where alien life was found and proven to exist? What if they were to come to visit us?

Alex: “Whether I think it is a good idea to search for sentient and complex life, I think yes, because it is only when we are confronted with challenges that we supersede ourselves. The idea that we should not do something because ‘we are too stupid’ is absurd. If we are too stupid, then we should do whatever it is so that we can learn and not be so stupid. Receiving a kick in the teeth usefully relieves one of his / her ignorance - at least in most cases.

“I don’t see the usefulness in speculating about ramifications of an event that cannot be predicted or understood before it actually takes place. We can only prepare for the worst (which we will most likely not do), and hope for the best, as always.”

OK. I swallow my pride. Perhaps I should have paraphrased the first part of my question. But as for the second, I respect your view, but I think you are being a tad unrealistic when you claim that we must ‘learn and not be stupid’ if we are ‘too stupid’.  If most people who are stupid understood that they are stupid, then they would strive on their own to conquer their stupidity and, ergo, would no longer be stupid. The fact that the majority of humans are stupid has been illustrated time and time again through history. No need to cite examples. 

But let me continue on from this stupid question on to another. Of all the artists on Supernal Music (or those outside, for that matter) which do you think alien organisms would find most in common with?

“Most alien organisms are likely to be microbes, so it would be difficult to answer this question without insulting all of the artists that are and used to be on the label. Maybe, because you are a sensationalist journalist aspiring to a glittering career in a sleazy tabloid, this was the intent behind your question. Don’t tell me this is not true.”

Well, now you are simply being presumptuous, my friend. That most alien organisms are microbes is most likely true… but not unconditionally true. And besides, as you’ve said yourself, how are we to predict or understand something before it takes place?  Don’t tell me you didn’t get the gist of my question, which was never meant to be taken literally to begin with. You’re just trying to rouse my ire, aren’t you? 

Here’s one that should hit closer to home, as the saying goes. What is your opinion of Stephen Hawking, the British physicist, how the media has so focused on his ALS rather than his scientific accomplishments? 

“I don’t have an opinion about Stephen Hawking, since just reading someone’s book is not enough to form an opinion about the person.

“I enjoyed A Brief History of Time. I don’t think the media has focused on Hawking’s ALS, to be honest.  Quite the opposite. Perhaps your question betrays the fact that you have focused on this man’s condition.”

Funny. I’ve never met Galileo, Newton, Plato or Jesus for that matter, but I can still freely speculate on what they’ve written, done or discovered. Perhaps we should all stay quiet regarding figures we’ve never met personally. So much for Einstein’s Theory of Relavity; never met the man, right? What about Newton’s laws of gravitation? Neither of us met him. We must stay silent, right? But wait, you didn’t honestly think I was inquiring about Hawking’s personality per se, if he’s the type of person you would want to have a cup of tea with?!  Uh, you’re just trying to make me angry, aren’t you? I won’t allow you that liberty.

I’ll rather change the topic to someone you should be much more familiar with. What was the last dream that you have had that you remember? Can you recall the most terrifying nightmare that you’ve ever had in your life?

“A couple of months ago I dreamt that someone I knew was getting married and part of the ritual involved amputating the bride’s arms, legs, and every sensual part of her anatomy, while she lied on a straw cradle, patient and conscious, before the ceremony. I walked in while this act of barbarism was being performed, with a bread knife. I think that I went to bed remembering a news report I saw about female genital mutilation, as practiced in some African countries, and thinking how pathetic it was.”

Interesting one. I’ll tell you one of mine. I once had an agonizing dream of a machine slowly crawling up the stairs, set on killing me; reminiscent of the fighting machine that Paul Atreides fights at the beginning of the film, Dune, if you’ve seen it.  Actually, when I think back, it was more like R2-D2 from Star Wars, with spikes and swords protruding from its body. I think so? Oh, what does it matter… it was disturbing, any way you look at it. I had to get up and read a bit to fall back to sleep; that’s how bad it was. 

You seem particularly well read, Alex... What were some of the last books that you have read?

“I mostly read technical computer literature right now, to be honest. There is a lot to learn and I don’t really have any time left for feelings and frivolities.

“While I was on holiday recently my father gave me his spare copy of UML in a Nutshell, by Sinan Si Alhir…”

Fascinating (yawn).

“What I have read so far is quite dry. UML is used mostly by software developers, although it can be applied in other areas.”

I’d apply it somewhere, all right, though my modest nature forbids me of saying so at the moment…

Tell me, what are some of the things you would change if you had the authority to do so in a government or sovereignty?  I would really like to know.

“I am not sure you can just dictatorially decree change and expect something to work better immediately.”

Just answer the bloody question!

“Societies are extremely complex, and one action in one area can have a wide range of unexpected repercussions in a wide range of unexpected areas, which will elicit, most likely, a whole range of unexpected problems.  Still, there are things that would vastly improve the world, like the absence of house dust, for example. But then, what would the poor spiders eat?”

It’s something I have been contemplating myself.  There is an incredible surplus lately of house dust, and I fear it will be the end of all of us: some, perhaps, earlier than others, dependent upon our allergic susceptibility. Indeed, it is a problem of far-reaching, dire consequences. Could it be a case for the United Nations to solve…? Should the US interfere?  Deliberations are still in effect. One thing is for sure, however: arachnids have rights too. And don’t any one of you forget it.

My thanks to Alex Kurtagic for his time…

The Supernal Music Aesthetic Manifesto, from their Internet site:
   
“Supernal Music focuses on extreme Metal which is odd, avantgarde, and, preferrably (but not necessarily), too obscure to be in the mainstream of this ever-expanding genre. Hence, the music we offer will inevitably be a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, and if you find originality, unpredictability, and risk unpalatable, you should exit this page immediately and check out the website of a bigger label with more commercial bands.”

Alex’s favorite episode of Mr. Bean:

“The one where he re-decorates his flat. To save himself the effort of painting the walls, he leaves everything where it is, but wraps it in tinfoil, even the fruit in the bowl by the door, steps outside, closes the door, and detonates a bunch of firecrackers inside a bucket of paint.”

12.4.2011

Eisefen interview from Qvadrivivm #4 (2001)


A Walk in the Triangle Forest

Interview: Kuronen & Arkadin

Where the junipers carry and the night sings, there a free spirit trickles in the highs and lows of the evergreen forest. The person’s mind glimmering of strength, restrained fury and unconditional ambition, he is destined to reach the peripheries of the forest once. But not yet and not for some time, as the terrain is rough and filled with eclectic questions, all-embracing interests, probing and everything in between. All of which should cohere with each other in the end. Flora and fauna too. These branches and leaves are meant to steal the sun from the sky, the moon from its lair where it sleeps during daytime.

And the object of this rather symbolic trope is Jouni Kettu, of Eisefen fame. He who is the paternal figure behind this rather unknown extravaganza of nature mysticism and sentimentalist heaven painted with acoustic instruments. I am guessing that extravaganza is the right word. But you should all try it for yourselves, whether it be so that the To Die and to Bloom and Promo ’99 releases do fit the images. Only few of you have thus far, which is a dying shame. The multitude of emotions, unusually harmonic as it is, deserves infinitely much more. As for instance, it deserves an interview (the standards of which the following is meant to surpass).

Jouni, are you ready to accept this little quest where every word longs for a meaning greater than the one before? How are you feeling? Did you get a good sleep last night and do you assume that you will get one the night after?

“I am probably never fully prepared to accept interviews,” Jouni begins almost apologetically, “for I am such an idle person that these sort of things are always very arduous to pull out. Nonetheless I am feeling rather good at the moment. Since the day has passed quite nicely it appears that I, indeed, did get a good sleep last night. Speaking of which, I’ve seen both nightmares and pleasant dreams as of late. I reckon the coming night may bring about something that makes the dream unique, that makes it one of a kind. My assumption is that that dream will almost certainly be a happy one. Not for a 100 per cent certainty, but something in that direction.”

As those who know anything of Eisefen are likely aware of, the band mirrors an almost intact collection of nature related sentiments and imagery; so, seemingly it would be interesting to know first of all, what was the most profound experience that Jouni himself has had in the woods? I have been told that Nuuksio is a place that amasses a lot of people who are attracted by the chant of nature that goes a little deeper than standing in a traffic jam inhaling the wonderful incense smog. What other places are there, and do you travel a lot?

“At times there have been creatures visible in the woods. Also, we’ve had quite thrilling experiences there with flashes of lightning striking so intensely that we’ve been thrown off the path to the undergrowth. Nuuksio is probably the largest area of nature in the capital region, and close to it there is Luukki, which is the place we have been visiting. In addition, there is a small village in the archipelago which, for the reason of it having maintained its special atmosphere, has been the greatest of inspiration for me as far as places are concerned. I think that it’s strange that people want to gather all this materia round them so that when a place of rest is needed, a forest for instance, everybody has to have at least one hundred acres of it for themselves. I am contented with a smaller place in which I can phase out the wonders of modern technology, etc. That’s a lot, for every tree and every bush holds everything in itself. I do not travel a lot; the places I’ve been to have mostly been cities across
Europe such as London, Paris and Barcelona. One should travel, nought more can I say.”

To venture short-term estrangement or to avoid it, I add. Then where in art has the true influence and essence of nature been most strikingly captured in the past, in Jouni’s opinion? How highly does he think Eisefen has succeeded in this context, transferring the very storming or not so storming heart of nature?

Voices Kettu: “I’d say that Indian traditional music is quite adept at conveying this essence to the listener. I could also mention the Saamish chanter Mari Boine, and also (says In-something Ring) which represents Eisefen perhaps more than the aforementioned do altogether. I would believe that I have managed to capture the atmosphere I aim at portraying quite well, and in this there’s certainly been development of the highest order in the last few years. The leaps forward have always taken place at once, followed then by a lengthier hiatus. In art you can achieve so much by being honest to yourself and sort of ‘letting go’; by constraining yourself as little as possible. In addition, to succeed in transforming this one has to have some kind of savvy, which comes from… who knows where it comes from.”

The Sun Rises and with It Everything Else

Musically, Jouni first began with the every minimalist’s favourite doom drone Pohakka, and did one demonstration tape entitled Minä kävelen vetten päällä four years ago in 1997. This is a release that has been praised by many and not understood or misinterpreted by equally many. What is the fate of Pohakka today? You have sworn on many occasions that Pohakka has been put to rest for good. If one day someone appeared and said he wants to re-print the demo on vinyl or CD, would you consent to that?

“This project has met ways with its end,” Jouni confirms. “At the very least regarding its musical style of the time. If somebody wanted to re-print the demo I guess that would be quite alright. If someone wants to listen to the kind of music that Pohakka exhibits, if this is the case, that’s always good to hear. Someone may be going through that stage in his musical progress, and that’s okay then I guess.”

An accurate sign of indifference, if nothing else. Heading towards the Eisefen proceedings and ‘staff issues’ in particular, both Ilkka Salminen and Eleonora Lundell of Tenhi performed on the promo ‘99 release, and prior to that the former even helped you with the Pohakka demo. What is the relationship like between you and the members of Tenhi? Personally, do you play in any other bands or projects?

“Ilkka is a boy from the neighbourhood and a childhood’s friend who’s now dropped out due to all his hurries. Eleonora likewise was probably in for the completion of that release only. I need a new guitarist at the moment. As for the relationship to Tenhi, I am not the greatest friend of the band’s music. I do play in all sorts of combinations myself; I’ve now played drums in this one prog rock group practicing in the spirit of Frank Zappa; then there’s one theatre thing, and also an ethno band of a friend of mine that I should soon be playing in. At some point some projects of my own may come into question, but before that I should get Eisefen in function again. So, that guitarist is needed…”

You have told me that in the future most Eisefen lyrics will be in your native tongue, in Finnish, since in so “they can be much more profound as well as more poetic”. Are you discontent with what you have achieved in English? Do you suppose that you will be able to surpass all the possibly appearing terrifying trivialities when writing in your native tongue? There was the infamous “Kuinka niin hellä suudelma voi tehdä haavan?” ending on the Pohakka track, which almost managed to ruin the entire lyric. What I am getting at is that if one chooses to write in Finnish, the lyrics most certainly have to be made impenetrable, for at least within these borders they will go under some serious scrutiny and every verse will be weighed individually, and no errata is of course expected to be found… In addition: on its own, Finnish is not a highly viable option if one hopes for lyrics that are to multiply the poetic effect…

“To me Finnish is the language, no question. As a matter of fact, I wonder why the Finnish language is criticised so much here, for haven’t many foreign poets that have learned Finnish and started to write poems in Finnish said that the language of ours is a poetic language? I do think that Finnish is indeed a very poetic language and offers a way to get somehow deeper, if you will. When it’s the native tongue of one, at least it’s certain that one will get deeper. I am going towards writing lyrics in Finnish for Eisefen, but I still write things in English as well. It depends always on the words; of which some may come out in English and some in Finnish.”

The title track of To Die and to Bloom shows a curious way of thinking: “Now I see how everything grows to die, to die and to bloom / I can see how we are all falling to death, to die and to bloom / How the rocks are waiting to crumble away, to die and to bloom / And the flowers wanting to wither away, to die and to bloom” Is it that in order to live again, one has to perish first?

“Well, I am of the opinion that creatures do not disappear but merely change their shape and form in the cradle of demise. So there. I wouldn’t want to think of what animal to be, were I to be reincarnated. No. I only want to be, and I do not know… Not to be, why not… Why yes?”

Indeed. - If ever an argument could be based upon reactions in true Beckettian fashion… Afternoonsong, the spoken introduction of the promo ‘99 release, was one of the most remarkable openers I have personally heard in a very long time. It catches the attention instantly and almost demands to have a deeper meaning behind it, as it is so touching and personal and brave and excellent and… So does it have one, a particular story behind creating that piece of magic?

Explains Jouni, “Afternoonsong was born on my own balcony on one of those springtime days when gazing afar and noticing that here should be one piece of the whole cosmic treasure. Sometimes I am able to open the entire treasure, which means that a part of myself has to change or to disappear. Perhaps it disappears there in between. Why would it disappear there in between?”

See above mark on Beckett.


“Red is death / Yellow is life / Blue is the bond between these two.”
What is the colour of Eisefen?

“My favourite colour has always been violet, and that is also the colour of Eisefen. It’s always fascinated me with its mystique. What I find in it in particular is depth and profundity. It is as though a black hole which you can seek to sink in.”

Do you think that you will ever deviate from your current style of writing lyrics, the romanticising of nature and one’s world of emotions? In which direction could you consider heading? The style used at present is almost impossible for anyone to ‘crack open’, so to say… Any endeavour may end in a disastrous misconception. Was this something that you reached for consciously? Have you got any spare time to consume on literature? If yes, what kind of literature do you perceive as the most interesting?

“My way of writing consists of writing honest sentiments and reflections about something. These thoughts verse and arrive from something, and I’d say that they are going to stay invariable, too, even though the matters I write about may be related to just about anything to a certain extent. I believe that what I am approaching is a change provided by the switch of going from writing in English to writing in Finnish; that the Finnish language will immediately bring in some novelty factors. Of course, this change may also sweep away something old with it. I am not sure if I have on any particular level aimed at any abstruse output that no one may understand the idea of. I’ve aimed at honesty and purity, that’s what I aim at. And also a feeling of freshness which may or may not have anything to do with this. Freshness and purity are some rather high values for me, some of the highest. And I do have time, it’s just a question of what you use that time on. I rarely use it on reading. I’ve always been a pretty indolent reader, but I’ve read something. The best reading experience was simultaneously reading Winnie the Pooh and Tao and Schopenhauer’s Über den Tod und sein Verhältnis zur Unzerstörbarkeit unseres Wesens an sich. Those were two works that supported each other and together sparkled a very nice reading sensation. That I can recommend.”

I postulate that you are interested in photography. What kind of a function does it fulfil in you - what do you ‘seek for’ when you photograph, what kind of emotion does it bring forth in you? What can you tell about your equipment and methods concerning photography?

“It’s a dear friend of mine who has taken the photographs I believe you have seen. I am not a photographer myself and know nothing at all of cameras, so I cannot really say. However, if I were to photograph I would probably photograph something small. Details, still-life photographs and thematic series of sorts.”

Musing on Anti-Musics


To go on into entirely different areas, do you consider yourself a nationalist and to what extent would you defend your country from oncoming peril? Where else would you have preferred to have been born if not in
Finland, and why? Do you think this subject is of great importance, personally? What does freedom mean to you?

“I wouldn’t call myself a nationalist, for as a word ‘nationalist’ contains so much that is disturbing to me On the other hand, it also contains something that suits me, as for instance love towards Finnish nature. But that is of course also love towards the whole world… I love the world… How
Finland differs from this is merely in that it is my native country and I am used to it and perhaps more dependent on it. I have not served in the army, so in that sense I am free, and freedom obviously means very much. Maybe, as in practice I’ve always had the possibility of being free, it’s not very easy to see the importance of freedom in full capacity. The circumstances have been good. Freedom is probably one of the most important things to me. Creatures are not be repressed.”

Would you call yourself a reticent person? The music you do with Eisefen quite extensively hints at such behaviour. Do you see yourself as a person that views at others from the outside, like someone gazing over everybody else from far above, floating in the air or something akin to that?

“I can’t deny that I am an observer. That’s probably the best expression to use in this connection. I observe people and, in a manner of speaking, float somewhere else, there… In a way… Then again, I am also very open and benevolent. Yet I float.”

The thing, person or group that wins most of your respect in the world today? And the opposite, what do you detest the most, i.e. what would you change?

“I am not an avid follower of any groups and can’t say anything about them because they are often so full of decay. However, on the level of individuals I think highly of someone who is honest to himself and acts, or at the very least tries to act with the best of intentions towards the cosmos. I appreciate those who live in peace and those who preserve correctly such important matters as nature. Naturally I also have respect for singers and in general for everyone who in one way or another shares that honesty, joy, and love. To put it in short; I respect honest and sharing persons.

“As to what I would change, I would explicitly change people’s stances on freedom. People could and should be more open-minded. Somehow I get the feeling that we’re stuck to this something which does not exist, which is worshipped although it doesn’t exist. This something creates a mass of sorts, but if you take one particle out of that mass, that one particle doesn’t represent the mass either. In that mass it’s nothing but thoughts of no contents that rise head and shoulders above others.”

It is fairly plain to perceive that religion today is, roughly said, devoid of all meaning to individuals such as yourself, but what would you consider are some matters that could replace the meaning that religion has, which only generations ago was still of great value to certain types of people? What would you imagine, in your case, has replaced religion? Could art have some part in that?

“In one respect I think that quality art already as such contains the thought of religion on some level. At least to myself art constitutes a wider concept which, almost automatically, includes the world that locates behind the piece of art itself. And that’s the precise individual world. Every one of us has a system of some kind in his head; it’s a question of what you want to let in to that world. Some are content with what they believe themselves, while some others do not perhaps have enough trust in their own ideas and instead choose a path that is supported by a larger group of people.”

Kind of like Solstice put it, “Save these truths for a weaker man.”

“The most important thing in my opinion is to understand that all religions per se are exquisite for their cultural differences. Yet, they are only a part of cultural moral tradition and separate thoughts scattered here and there. Guess it’s easy to find just about any contradicting ideals printed in books. In a way it’s all a mix of different things.”

How much does the aural and visual world mean to you? How would you spend a day if you had lost all your hearing or sight?

“Just the other day, I was thinking of how it would truly be horrible if I lost my sense of hearing. I wouldn’t know how to have the strength to go on. But speculating that I would get accustomed to it or something, that I could find a solution as to what to do, probably I would just sit still and think. Then if I could not see, I would presumably play my guitar and listen to the noises and sounds around me.”

What do you think of people who decide to live their lives in a thoroughly linear way and who refuse to accept any other possibilities and deny others of them as well?

“These sort of people are naturally free to live as pleases them most, and in a sense even my own life moves in the kind of orbit that doesn’t necessarily bounce anywhere. Though on the other hand it always does, so I don’t know. Maybe I, however, would not take an entire life and try to pinpoint the reasons for why that life is the way it is. It is inevitable that a vast amount of things do occur in everyone’s life, perhaps not all of us just analyse and attempt to learn from it in the way that others do.”

H e u t e  F u t u r e,  S u p p l e m e n t a l  I n q u i r i e s

Will drums become a part of Eisefen in the future? I cannot remember for sure, but I think that you once said that they will. Fusing ethnic elements with Eisefen has also been mentioned as a part of the ongoing progress… Would you care to elaborate? What other new elements will there be in future Eisefen material?

“Eisefen will in fact face quite a large number of changes. There are the Indian tabla drums, which I’ve been playing a lot in recent times; they’ll be a part of it. As will probably other percussions as well, for those are mostly the ones I can play myself; others I cannot handle as well. Besides that I perhaps know how to compose music. I also play the piano, which will be added in the forthcoming material. The instrument was actually used in the very first and yet to be properly recorded Eisefen songs. I’m also in need of a flautist, as the flute and wind instruments in general are to be more extensively used in the future. Then there are of course the Finnish lyrics and bass guitar, which shall be yet some more new elements as compared to the old. I’ll possibly use additional string instruments as well… All of these things. The spectrum may be musically more variant, meaning that it can be virtually anything, as I listen to so many different sorts of good music. Folk and traditional music from one end to the other. Mostly acoustic music.”

Thus far, World Serpent from
England has been mentioned as the most potential channel to release an Eisefen full-length album in the future, or at least so it was said last year. Have any notable changes occurred since then? What are the chances of you releasing more self-financed material before putting your name under a contract with some record label?

“I would not mention World Serpent with any greater significance at this point. I wouldn’t mention anything else either because nothing’s ever certain. World Serpent might on some level be a possible medium for releasing Eisefen music, but I don’t know. What I have first in mind right now is to get the possibility of recording an album in a professional way. To have a decent sound of some sort at least; to get to record a good album. I will then send it around someplace, and if I don’t succeed in obtaining a record deal, I’ll probably release it on my own. On some level, at least - so that the few chosen ones will at least get it.”

Something that one artist pursues and another finds absolutely horrid is that one’s backing should come from a wider field of supporters than just the ‘same old, same old’ - in our case namely the average metal folk. Since the Pohakka days, has Jouni noticed that an alteration has taken place concerning the people who turn out to be friends of his music?

“I’m not sure, as I am not too aware of who my fans actually are. The only ones I know of them are my friends, so I don’t know. This is probably true of course, for it is a giant leap from Pohakka to Eisefen. It’s natural that the audience would change.”

The Last Bow

Now that we have reached this point in our conversation, there is little left to ask. A fact has to be confessed, and that is that you were quite the difficult character to think of questions for. Please tell if you have any final remarks on this interview.

“To advertise a bit, the Pohakka demo is still available for 20FIM and US$3, or whatever it is according to the exchange rates. If desperately needed, Eisefen’s both releases on one CD may also be obtainable. That would be sixty minutes of music for the price of something like 40 to 50 Finnish marks and seven to eight US dollars.

“It might be that this was the wrong time for an interview… Moments do roam under constant change, however.”

There you have it. This interview shall hereby be brought to a close by an aphorism that I have seen many to use in recent times: “The day I got my computer was the worst day of my life.” And this is probably not a far cry from the truth, for all its positive sides, a computer causes misery of the sort that may not be detected by the human eye. What would be greater than abandoning all computers and modern devices and flee to a life in nature? To most of us this will never happen, which is a great pity. But the thought of that utopia can be a never-dying dream, a dream to be cherished. That is the dream am I talking about.

The eye shall close now.

7.4.2011

Abigor interview from Qvadrivivm #1 (1999)

Interview: Arkadin

ABIGOR - Grand duke of Hell. He is shown in the form of a handsome knight, bearing lance or sceptre. He is a demon of the superior order, and responds readily to questions concerning war. He can foretell the future, and instructs the leaders on how to make themselves respected by the soldiers. Sixty of the infernal legions are at his command.

First of all, can you please fill in some of the details of Silenius' sudden departure from the band? I've heard of some dissention plaguing the studio recording sessions for some time, but what happened precisely that made him leave?

P.K.: -Well, we already were in the studio, it was the date for his vocal lines... He went into the recording room, remained there a few minutes then he came up and just said, 'No, it's senseless, I won't sing anymore'. Of course, we asked him twice, but in he wasn't able to find suitable vocal lines at all, because he never really thought of it, and the other reason was that he can't identify himself with ABIGOR nor Black-Metal anymore. Firstly because ABIGOR's Black-Metal grows into a more and more complex direction and that's not how he defines Black-Metal, and the other point was that he doesn't listen to Black-Metal for more then two years. So what's left to say, it was simply the one and only, as well the best solution for both sides that Silenius leave the band. 

I've always found appealing the use of photographs of cosmic masses in the layout of Abigor releases, as, for instance, the pictures of nebulae found in Opus IV and Supreme Immortal Art. Is this fascination purely for aesthetic reasons, or is there some genuine interest in cosmology, astronomy and so on?

-Mainly because of our personal interest in cosmology and astronomy, but also because of aesthetic reasons, because such pictures turns finally out very fascinating. Anyway, cosmology represents a very familiar but also a very unknown, yet terrible 'sphere of existence', as well it all influences us subconsciously, or those who know consciously, even those who think to be a part of reality by all it means. Those ignore it's influence and that's the problem. They block their way of spiritual awakening. But, to be honest, who cares?! I mean, those (we) who are interested in know how to use it's influence ('constellations') to get the achieved aim, and the rest can exist in the boxes of weak-minded remnants, like for the past 2000 years, as christianity infected the heart of Europe.

What is your opinion of astrology, alchemy and other "alternative sciences" that were especially popular during the middle ages, some of which are extant to this day? Again, do you see these studies as matters of aesthetic interest, or do you actually believe in some of them? Your view of supernaturalism in general?


-The middle ages are still very interesting but not concerning 'alternative sciences', because in my opinion the middle ages were a degeneration of knowledge and wisdom people already knew for thousand of years. But because of it's moral and laws it was not possible that scientists extend their wisdom on all matters. Anyhow, some of these paranormal or supernatural phenomena and experiences are for sure not more then lies, but I believe in several of these studies, because they're based on mathematics and physical (natural) laws, and one can't it explain it in a better way then 'paranormal'.

Do you feel that the issue of the Devil vs. God has already been plagiarized and used ad nauseam in this particular style of music? I understand it's a fundamental premise of much of black metal, but somehow many bands refuse to incorporate a fresh new slant into it, and only rarely do certain bands break from the very simplistic eschatological dichotomy of the inevitabilities of Hell and Heaven. Do you feel that Abigor is perpetuating this stereotype in some way?


-This dualism as I'd like to call it is a part of our genetic and moral values, a part of today's society, that's the only problem. Dualism states that there's a battle between good (in our case heaven) and evil (hell), but it's a fact that never really existed, in my opinion. It's all a kind of equilibrium; there exist energies, forces, God, Satan, Fenris or however you might call them, and which mythology you prefer. But you can use and guide these energies and the direction you like and how you use them for and with your work (magic) and these forms of force guide you as well. It's hard to describe and I am really tired of explaining it, but I agree that this stereotype of God vs. Satan has become a main part of the music, and in some ways it's for sure great that there's an opposite - a few of thinking individuals vs. those who live through and for the norm. Even I really doubt that too much of all those 'evil Black-Metallers ever understood anything they're fighting for. Anyway, concerning ABIGOR, it's a Black-Metal band therefore we support all extreme and violent values but the difference is that we all have very different beliefs and philosophies that we unleash through ABIGOR's art, no matter if it's accepted or it can be seen as battle of God vs. Satan, it became very personal through the years.

Now focusing on the music of the band, the latest release, Channeling the Quintessence of Satan can be easily considered as the most brutal output of the band yet. Are you satisfied with the outcome? And what do you have to say of critics that are arguing that Abigor is losing focus and originality? I personally don't feel this is true, but just for the sake of curiosity…?


-We're very satisfied with Channeling..., but we don't see it as the most brutal release yet, even it's really a compliment, because it's Black-Metal so what the hell do people expect?! The only thing that's left to say for those ignorants that proclaim that ABIGOR lost originality is just a nice 'fuck off', because we simply follow our own way, and to be not a part of the mass-consumer Black-Metal doesn't mean that one loses originality!

I understand you've chosen not to wear the traditional makeup in the future. Was there any particular and conscious reason for this change? What does wearing the corpse paint essentially mean to you? Some people have obvious difficulty grasping the concept of the image associated with black metal.


-I guess you got that in a wrong way, because we'll still wear corpse paint as well, but we never set us any real directions. Anyway, if we don't wear corpse paint it doesn't mean that we don't support Black-Metal and it's mental values anymore - that's bullshit! Finally it depends on our mental attitudes and not on the outlook nor image.

A more banal question for you: is there any decision on a live show being taken into consideration? There is an excellent cathedral located several minutes from where I live that would probably be ideal for a live Abigor performance, especially towards nighttime as the view of the sky is excellent from the vantage point. You are most definitely invited, even if I am the only one there to watch!


-We haven't played live yet, and I really doubt that we ever will. Even we got a lot of very good offers within the last year, but it's a problem of realization, spare time and money.

How do you feel about Ulver's new direction and the new wave of experimental, techno-black metal that is surfacing in the underground? Is this a desecration of a sacred artform, or is it something to be accepted with open arms?


-It's a refreshing wind in today's flood of worthless releases in my opinion, and I'm not only focused on Black-Metal so I really don't care if it's a desecration of any 'set' values concerning Black-Metal or how this and that has to sound! It depends on every band and every artist how he/she feels the need or how the bands likes to compose and realize new material and not how the masses would like to hear it! That's a fact, but because too many bands sold their souls to the major labels it's caused a sell out of the entire musical genre. People simply forget that, and 90% of the bands have no real identity anymore in my opinion!

What's in store for the future? Tell us about this 7" that is due to be released sometime soon.


-This second 7" is in planning but I won't make any conclusions on what the content will be. Maybe some two rare, unreleased songs, but it'll be earliest released in mid 2000, keep it in your mind. Beside that nothing new will happen, we'll do a info/interview break from late October on to concentrate fully on the work for a new album that'll be released in late 2000. So that's it, watch out for an upcoming album, it'll be the ultimate experience.

Last words for our readers? Thank you for the interview and fulfilling one of the greatest desires of a journalist to conduct an interview with one of his favorite bands!


-Thanx for your support and interest in ABIGOR, and check out Channeling The Quintessence Of Satan! We bear the milleniums pain!

There you have it; a small but delectable discussion with still-to-this-day one of the best black metal bands on earth. My only gripe is that the interview was too short. But this is something that only I am to be layed blame for. In the future, our discussions will be longer, and much more interesting issues will be resolved, as for instance, the unsettling rumors of plagiarized lyrics and the source of the interesting sound clip from Kingdom of Darkness (Yes, I AM an admirer of the works of Ingmar Bergman!). I promise this to you, my heathen brothers… in the meantime, continue the war. And keep in mind the Scottish proverb: "The devil's boots don't creak..."


A review of Channelling the Quintessence of Satan from the same issue:

ABIGOR: Channeling The Quintessence Of Satan (Napalm 1999)
If you've been following Abigor through the length of their prolific careers, you will know to expect nothing short of excellence. With each Abigor album I've bought in the past, there would be a moment of hesitation before pressing the Play button… indeed, a moment of fear! There is no exception with "Channeling The Quintessence of Satan". Abigor fans will be delighted to hear that no compromises were made; the sound is still very much Abigor. However, all of the majesty, all the grandiose keyboard and flute segments you can say goodbye to - the master Satan has whisked them away without so much as a second consideration. The only mercy given to you on "Channeling…" are the ambient interludes. The drumming is splendid as always, the guitars rapacious, but the vocals have degraded slightly. Silenius is out of the band and devoting most of his energy to Summoning. Thurisaz is the permanent (?) replacement, and a fairly good one, although, in my view, lacking the range of Silenius. I suppose it was only best that the change would happen now, as the music has become more Bathory-influenced as it is. For an Abigor release, this is fairly disappointing, but for a black metal record, it's another incredible addition.
(Yury Arkadin)