Interviews and Streaming

[scroll down for more interviews with Satyricon, Loits, Mork, Maniac, Selbst, David Thierree]



••• THE INFERNAL SEA STREAM BRAND NEW 7" PLUS  INTERVIEW•••



English black metal outfit The Infernal Sea formed back in 2009, self-releasing their first album Call Of The Augur in 2012 in highly limited numbers to equally limited fanfare. An EP, The Crypt Sessions was released the following year, and two split seven-inches followed (with Disinterred and Old Corpse Road), all raising the band’s profile steadily within the UK underground. However, it was undoubtedly the 2015 release of their sophomore album, entitled The Great Mortality, that really put the group on the map and brought them to the attention of a wider audience.

Released via Cacophonous Records – a recently-resurrected label made famous in the 90s thanks to early releases by acts such as Cradle Of Filth, Sigh and Dimmu Borgir – this plague-themed opus bore a distinctive and memorable cover design and an equally memorable aural assault. The basic template was admittedly a familiar combination of high-paced percussion and second wave black metal riffs, but the furious delivery and conviction within the songwriting, as well as some suitably vitriolic vocals and well-judged guitar leads, marked the band as one to watch.



Since then, the band has continued to step up their live activities, in terms of both quality and quantity. Frequent performances have seen the band improve before our eyes (we at Cult Never Dies have seen them five times this year at various shows and festivals, and even invited them to play with Mork at the Norwegian’s debut UK show last month) and the group have gained considerable presence live, with musicians and non-musical participants alike crowding the stage in masked attire.


Now the band have made a return to the studio, crafting a two song 7” entitled Agents Of Satan, which is presented in luxurious picture disc format. You can preview this in full on the stream below, while reading some words with bassist and spokesman Chris Revett…





Cult Never Dies: Let’s begin by talking about the material we are streaming…

Chris Revett: “The 7” picture disc contains two tracks, one new and one old. They both share themes around ‘Satanic’ ritual killings. ‘Agents Of Satan’ focuses on the infamous ‘Ripper Crew’ from Chicago and their grotesque, murderous exploits throughout the 1980s. ‘Skinwalker’ tells the tale of Peter Stumpp, who in his grim 16th Century existence claimed to be a werewolf, with the power to transform into such a beast through wearing a magical belt given to him by Satan. He killed and ate numerous animals and humans alike, including his own son. ‘Agents Of Satan’ has been in the live set for the past year or so, helping to coin the name of our onstage lantern bearers. ‘Skinwalker’ was originally released on The Crypt Sessions EP and has been re-recorded for this release.”
Picture discs are not particularly common within the black metal scene these days, what made you choose this format? And if we can ask, what stage is the band at regarding the third album release?
“We are fans of the 7” format and felt that releasing a picture disc would allow us to create something unique and special. Having already released two 7” splits, our intentions were to continue the trend of putting our music on exclusive formats.


The next album is underway in terms of writing, we have a bunch of tracks that we will be focusing on as soon as we finish up the last shows of 2017. The next album will once again be a concept album with a theme set in the Dark Ages. Anticipation for finishing what we have started creating is high in the Infernal camp...”



2017 has been a very busy year for you in terms of live shows, and you’ve managed to earn yourself a reputation as one of the most essential black metal bands from the UK as much thanks to this as your recorded output. Can we expect the band to continue playing regularly after 2017 and do you foresee any changes to your fairly ambitious and elaborate performances?

After the last shows of 2017, which take place this month, we shall take a break to concentrate on writing and recording the follow up to The Great Mortality. When we make our return to the stage in the summer of 2018 we will be showcasing the new material. We think the new ‘base level’ of our performances has been set: There is definitely more room for the grandiosity of our performances to increase and this is something we shall implement in our future shows.”
How would you compare the new songs you're writing now to those on The Great Mortality?


The new album will have its own lyrical concept much like The Great Mortality; this particular theme is to be disclosed at a much later date. Musically you can expect to hear a natural progression to our sound whilst maintaining that Infernal Sea trademark groove. The Agents Of Satan 7” is a good indicator of where the sound is headed; a more stripped back approach, more breathing space. The new songs are in their infancy and will grow naturally until they capture what we are looking to achieve with this next record.”


You can order the new Infernal Sea vinyl HERE

– Interview posted November 2017 –



••• SATYRICON INTERVIEW EXCERPT FROM THE BLACK METAL: THE CULT NEVER DIES VOLUME ONE BOOK •••




  

With Satyricon having recently released their Deep Calleth Upon Deep album and it also being a whole quarter century since the first demo release by the group, we thought it fitting to provide an interview excerpt from our 2015 book Black Metal: The Cult Never Dies Volume One. One of the longest interviews we have yet released, this large chunk below remarkably only represents a fraction of the final 10,000 word chapter, and focuses on the very earliest days of the group – so early in fact that it begins before Satyr or Frost, the two cornerstones of the band for the last 24 years, had even met.

The book is of course still available to buy (signed) in both standalone edition and as a 2 book boxset from CultNeverDies.myshopify.com – you can also buy a US hardback edition from our friends at Decibel.

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Within the black metal pantheon there are few bands as iconic – or as successful – as Satyricon. Now over two decades old, they are rightly considered one of the more influential names within the Norwegian scene – indeed, for anyone present during black metal’s reinvention in the 90s, their profound impact upon the burgeoning movement needs little elaboration. A genuinely exciting outfit, they quickly made a name for themselves with their fiery combination of aggression and melody - not to mention their sense of drama, taste for the epic and what can only be described as a sort of apocalyptic swagger. Since that time, they have of course become one of the biggest names within black metal, their success putting them alongside the likes of Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth as one of a handful of bands able to break through the genre’s glass ceiling and reach the wider metal community.

Unlike the aforementioned bands, Satyricon’s music has remained largely untouched by gothic and symphonic elements, their punchy (yet at times remarkably bleak) assault instead harnessing a growing hard rock influence as the years have gone by. In contrast to this steady musical evolution has been the stability of their line-up: Despite the presence of additional musicians and guest appearances the band has now revolved around the same two individuals for over twenty years. Like Darkthrone’s pairing of Nocturno Culto and Fenriz (no chance comparison since, as we shall see, there has been a significant crossing of paths between the two groups), the personalities of vocalist/guitarist Satyr (born Sigurd Wongraven) and drummer Frost (Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad) are so ingrained within the group’s identity that it would be almost impossible to imagine the band continuing with one of them absent.

With that in mind, it’s interesting to note that there was a very brief time where neither member was a part of the line-up, albeit at an extremely early period in the group’s existence. While Satyr’s name is literally embedded within the band, at the point he entered the picture he was actually joining a trio of musicians who had already been working together for some time. Within this line-up was guitarist Håvard ‘Lemarchand’ Jørgensen, a bass player known as ‘Wargod’ and the drummer Carl-Michael Eide (or ‘Exhurtum’ as called himself during his period within the band). Carl-Michael has reported in interviews that before Satyr’s appearance the band was known as Eczema, the three young musicians even playing several shows under this name. In the intervening years he has of course found fame via the black thrash of Aura Noir and Infernö, as well as the more avant-garde work of acts such as Ved Buens Ende, Dødheimsgard and Virus. In early 1991 however, such bands had yet to be formed and Norway’s small underground metal community was still in the midst of a dramatic conversion from death to black metal.



“In 1991 there were a few bands like Beyond Dawn and Dementia,” begins Satyr, his tone typically serious and carefully-considered. A man of concrete opinions and lengthy sentences, the Satyricon frontman remains polite, eloquent, perhaps a little emotionally-detached and yet very much focussed on the topics at hand during our three-hour interview. “All these bands were, at the time, slightly more death metal-orientated - Dementia were heavily Autopsy-inspired for example. They were demo bands all going to the same high school as me, and some of them were taking notes at an instrument store, [and one note] said something like, ‘Thrash/death/black metal group, seeking singer’. So they said to me, ‘Why don’t you go and try?’ and I said, ‘Why would I want to that? I don’t sing, I play guitar’, and they said, ‘Because you need to be in an extreme band, you can’t just play by yourself’. They just kept pushing me to contact this band and I thought, ‘Okay, fucking hell, I will try’. This band didn’t have a name and were mostly playing covers as well as a few new songs that stylistically I would describe as not-really-black metal; to me it was more thrash or death. I played with these guys on a regular basis and the drummer would change the name of the band about once a month, until one day I talked to the guitar player and said, ‘Let’s find a proper name’, which was Satyricon.”


It was in fact Lemarchand who came up with the group’s new moniker, taking the name ‘Satyricon’ from a risqué piece of First Century Roman satire credited to one Titus Petronius. As well as being a relatively (in)famous piece of literature, the work also inspired a well-known film made in 1969 by Italian director Federico Fellini. Given the exploration of vulgarity, gross opulence and debauchery (including copious sexual content, both heterosexual and homosexual) it is either a curious or apt name for a black metal band, depending on your sensibilities.

“I don’t think it was so much [Lemarchand] being a fan of Petronius or Fellini,” Satyr admits. “He was thinking about it because I was telling him about the idea of using the name ‘Satyr’ as an artist name and he suggested it as a possible band name. But I guess I felt it was too short - like calling a band ‘Frost’ or ‘Satyr’ would make no sense. Other bands had… grander names to me. When he picked up on the ‘Satyricon’ name his explanation was rather weak and to be honest there was never a real consensus for what ‘Satyricon’ means. But the interpretation that stuck with me was the idea of it as an ‘icon’, with the ‘satyr’ being traditionally half-man/half-beast and these incredible musicians that would spellbind people and creatures with their amazing musical abilities and who were also considered gods of the woods. We liked that interpretation and decided on that name. It would perhaps have been a more thorough discussion intellectually if we’d made that decision at thirty rather than sixteen or whatever, but regardless as to why we ended up there, I’m glad we did.”

It was under this name that the band issued their debut demo, a self-titled/nameless cassette recorded bang in the middle of 1992 and now generally referred to as the ‘All Evil’ demo, probably because two versions of the track account for fifty percent of the content. An unpolished piece of work to say the least, it is nonetheless a surprisingly listenable tape with enough attitude-soaked riffs, groove and changes of pace to make it not entirely unrecognisable within the context of what the band would become - perhaps odd considering the fact that Satyr was not driving the writing process at that time. This release would mark the last time the four men would work together however, with Satyr taking a more commanding role and consciously pushing the band into a new direction, a process that resulted in a cull within the line-up that left only himself and Lemarchand.


“At the time the guitar player and the drummer were spearheading the songwriting,” explains Satyr, “which in itself I felt was absolutely fine, but I was getting more and more hardcore, and metaphorically - and literally - my hair was getting constantly longer and blacker, spikes and bullet belts were getting bigger and more of them, and I considered the approach to this band to be like a lame teenage-hobby thing. I wanted to do something more along the lines of Mayhem or Darkthrone, in terms of being completely committed, not only to playing music, but to black metal as a lifestyle. It became overly apparent pretty quickly that this was not anything the bass player - or the drummer in particular - would be ready to commit to, so we let him go and the bass player left himself.”

Like so many of his peers, Satyr was now utterly bewitched by the black metal phenomenon that was exploding within the country and quickly began connecting to the movement, both musically and socially. A good four-to-seven years younger than the ‘first generation’ black metal musicians of Norway, his introduction to the scene had come – as with so many of his peers – as a young customer at the legendary Helvete store.

“Probably the first guy that I would speak to in that scene would be Euronymous,” Satyr confirms. “That was as a customer buying demo cassettes and the odd t-shirt. He’d be the guy sitting behind the counter and I talked to him about music like you would in any record store, though there was nothing ordinary about that record store and nothing ordinary about that guy. He was very theatrical and dramatic when he explained something and that was interesting and fun to encounter. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh yeah we have this demo, it’s really interesting, you should check it out’. It was like, ‘Oh yeah, this band are dark, evil Satanists and they have made something which is a maelstrom of evil, this could accompany any ritual you want’,” he laughs. “So it made it very intriguing and exciting. I mean he was a few years older, so that made an impression on me and the whole visual imagery was so hardcore.”



“There weren’t really office hours at the shop,” he continues, “they had opening hours but it was pretty much open when it was ready to open and closed when it was ready to close. It was not just a record store but a society really - there were people living in the back office and the basement and people hanging out in the room behind the merchandise - and I later became one of those guys myself. But you would see Euronymous working on his music or his mail order and then people like Hellhammer and Faust would look after the store. I gradually befriended them and then in the fall of ‘92 I got to know [Darkthrone’s] Fenriz. I had seen him many times, but that’s when we got talking and that was the beginning of a relationship that lasted until, I don’t know, I guess I lost touch with him in the mid-2000s. And he was different back then, he had very long black hair, fingernails painted black, skinny, lots of rings and necklaces. He looked the part. He was also renowned for his mystical disappearances. He never said goodbye, you’d be sitting talking to him and then he would literally disappear. He kept doing it for years and years. I had great fun one day frustrating him; I decided I wouldn’t let him go, I didn’t even go to the bathroom so he was forced to leave, to be spotted leaving, it was hilarious. I also exchanged some messages with Immortal and met the Emperor guys, Ivar from Enslaved and Nocturno Culto around that time.”

It was with such musicians and scene figures that Satyr really identified and so he began to seek similar talent for the reshaping of his own group. With Wargod seemingly leaving the music scene altogether (reportedly to become a UN soldier, which would certainly be fairly apt given his nom-de-guerre), and Carl-Michael forming Aura Noir and joining Ulver (sticking with the latter just long enough to appear on their legendary Vargnatt demo), the remaining duo now required a replacement percussionist if they were to progress with the group. Bard ‘Faust’ Eithun of Emperor and Thorns fame was briefly considered as a temporary solution, though it would in fact be a friend from his hometown of Lillehammer that would ultimately enter the fray.

“I wanted to bring a black metal drummer in, not just some random guy from [the same] part of the city,” Satyr explains, “I was in contact with all the major bands, so I talked to Faust who was in Emperor at the time and he said, ‘Realistically, I can help you record, but I can’t really be in your band’. I talked to Hellhammer, and other people, and everyone was basically doing their own thing. Then Faust one day said, ‘Listen, I have a friend who plays drums who just quit recently, maybe you will change his mind, and if it works you will have a guy of your own, and if not I will help you with the recording’. And that person was obviously Frost.”


This chapter continues in the book below available at CultNeverDies.myshopify.com



– Interview posted October 2017 –




••• ESTONIA'S CONTROVERSIAL LOITS: FILM PREMIERE AND EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW •••



Tentatively formed in 1996 and launching themselves in a more official fashion with 2001 debut album Ei Kahetse Midagi [No Regrets], Estonia’s Loits made their name over the years that followed with a notably groove-fuelled take on the black metal template. Combining Nordic black metal inspirations with unusually catchy riffs and melodies, they quickly adopted the term ‘Flak ‘n’ Roll’, thereby acknowledging both their inherent hard rock overtones and their military history fascinations, specifically those relating to their country’s own complicated and troubled history.

Released a decade ago, third LP Must Album [Black Album] was arguably the band’s crowning achievement, but also sadly their final full-length studio offering to date, with live shows likewise ceasing in 2011. It was a therefore a surprise to many when the group returned to play a small number of live shows at the tail end of 2016 and in summer 2017, perhaps most notably an appearance at Estonian festival Hard Rock Laager, alongside the likes of Asphyx and Arcturus. For those who missed it, this event was thankfully captured in style by director Sebastian Dörner, and you can see the results below alongside a brand new interview with founding member Lembetu. For those looking for more video material, we also include Sebastian’s recent Estonian metal documentary, Tallinn Under The Horns – A Journey To The "Other" Estonia, below the interview for your viewing enjoyment.




Cult Never Dies: Loits has once again been hitting the stage in recent times, can we therefore consider the band to be back in something approaching a full-time capacity and should we raise our hopes for new studio material?

“Loits, as we all know it, has come to an end. This particular concert at Hard Rock Laager was somewhat a farewell. Things just didn’t work out that way anymore. We could have struggled on like most of the local veteran metal bands around here, who hold a concert with a questionable value once a year and release an album every few years (mostly for their own fun), but that is not Loits’ way of doing it. It was the right time to draw the line and, to be honest, dead Loits is still more active than the artists mentioned beforehand. If feeling the right way again, I’ll return with new forces. I suspect it’ll happen sooner or later. No rush. If returning, then at full steam.”

So I guess the obvious question is; what is stopping you from reactivating Loits right now?

“The band, in this line-up, could not move forward any longer. Too much energy was needed keeping Loits together. Too many obstacles were faced to go on at a good pace. And if that’s not possible, then we shouldn’t pretend that the band is still alive. We didn’t go through a creativity crisis. We could’ve released a record a year without a problem, but an album made without side work is just not acceptable. I guess you could also call it kind of motivational crisis. During one of our longer hiatuses (2011 - 2016) I tried reforming Loits a couple of times, but changing the machinery bit by bit did not wind up successful. Now I have made the decision to draw the line, take some time, gather new ideas and companions around and when the time is right, start all over again with a clean slate.”



Foto: Kristel Sergo / Olevus Art


As well as being captured at the Hard Rock Laager festival, you also appear in Sebastian’s recent documentary about the Estonian underground. Can you explain how this came about?

“In the beginning of this year Sebastian and his companions visited the Howls Of Winter festival in Tallinn, and based on that made a road trip/black metal documentary called Tallinn Under The Horns - A Journey To The "Other" Estonia. I performed at the said festival as a member of the group Sorts, which is mostly formed by the members of Loits, so I also got caught on Sebastian’s camera. The film briefly touches on the local black metal scene, but it is enough to understand that here things go otherwise here than elsewhere. What is dying out in Western Europe keeps on living in here.”

At this point what do you feel the immediate future holds for both yourself as a musician and for Loits?

“It’s been just a couple of months since the separation of Loits, but already I feel calm and restless simultaneously. It feels good not having to worry about the band every day. I’ve reached the point of observing from a distance. The picture is getting clearer and I can now see what I couldn’t while in it. But a certain type of unrest is arising out of that. I’m eager to start something new. I play my guitar every day, and every time something comes out of it – now the boundaries of the old Loits have been eliminated, it is easier to create something new. On the other hand, Loits has been a part of my life for more than 21 years and has led me to where I am in the present. My work takes up most of my time nowadays (almost 24/7), but that won’t last forever and then I’ll be back at creating and with 99% certainty under the name of Loits. Only time will tell who will share this next journey with me. But have a listen to other acts associated with Loits such as Sorts (black metal), Põhjast (Bathory worship), Aghor (punky death) and why not Tharaphita (black metal)? In those bands Loits still lives on. More in some, less in others...”

A much longer interview with Loits can be found within the book Black Metal: Into The Abyss, alongside interviews with such bands as 1349, Furia, Vemod, Hypothermia and Forgotten Woods. You can order the book or find out more [HERE]



Cult Never Dies also still has a few copies of its exclusive Loits shirt [HERE]



You can watch Tallinn Under The Horns – A Journey To The "Other" Estonia below:




– Interview posted October 2017 –



••• RISING NORWEGIAN BLACK METAL ACT MORK: NEW VIDEO AND INTERVIEW EXCERPT FROM THE 'CULT NEVER DIES: THE MEGA ZINE' BOOK •••





Cult Never Dies is proud to present a preview from Eremittens Dal, the new album by rising Norwegian black metal outfit Mork released September 29th, in the shape of a lyric video to the song 'Mørkets Alter'. 



 


And after you have digested that, we present a short excerpt from their recent interview in our book Cult Never Dies: The Mega Zine...



Cult Never Dies: You mentioned that it was 2014 when the band became a live act?

“Late 2014 I summoned the first edition of the Mork live band; Lucass, Alex and Kent. We rehearsed the rest of that year and Mork made its live debut late January 2015, in Olsztyn, Poland. It was an annual festival in memory of the passings of Vader and Decapitated members (if I remember correctly) and Mork played in front of about 300 people. Kent left shortly after that show and I invited Rob to join, who is here to this day. The rest of 2015 became a rather slow year on the live-front: In May we did a ‘battle of the bands’ thing in Oslo. A total fiasco – bad equipment, venue and overall a bad move. First and last time, ever [laughs]. We also played a private barbeque party in the summer, and that was basically it for live shows.”

“Behind the scenes it was a busy year though. I always work with the music and other stuff. HSP-Productions released the EP Fortid Og Fremtid on CD early to mid-2015 and I released I Sluket Av Myra digitally around Christmas. Fenriz actually chose the track for his ‘band of the week’ Facebook page and later he played another new track on his radio show. 2016 was to be the most active year as a live band. We kicked of with four shows alongside Norwegian band Order and the first of these shows was the release party for the new album. We then got booked for the Inferno festival and later the Tons Of Rock festival, with several shows in between. We felt things were happening. Both albums had been well received by fans and critics, so this felt like a good shot. In July we departed the country to embark on our very first tour and spent two weeks in Canada with the bands Morgue and Svaldbar. Good times.”


We’ve mentioned the members of Darkthrone a couple of times and Nocturno Culto himself appears on the second album. How did that come about and how was the experience?

“I got to know Ted through my friend Kjell (aka Hudbreider, Darkthrone-house/studio-owner). Me, Hudbreider and his brother Fjelldverg (Stein Åge) drove to Porsgrunn, Norway to participate as extras in a movie called Saga, which stars Ted (it premiered in October 2016 actually). Ted’s other band Sarke played an intimate show on set and I got to talk to him afterwards. After this we stayed in touch. I had this idea about making a tribute to my friend, Hudbreider, since his house was the reason that I made the debut and the fact that he introduced me to Ted. So I asked Ted if he would be interested in contributing vocals. He said yes, and later sent me a CD in the mail. It was a strange moment for me to play back that track knowing it was Nocturno Culto’s voice, recorded at their Necrohell studio. The song ended up way better then intended – I did not quite know what to do with it when I first recorded it. It was the very first track made after Isebakke, and it was a but off-putting. But it all fell in to place and I have gotten texts from Ted where he tells me how much he likes the album – that’s a great and surreal compliment. They have, after all, been a huge influence on Mork’s music, the biggest influence.”

As mentioned, Den Vandrende Skygge feels like a more individualistic work than the predecessor and I was interested by what seems to be some overtones of rock, punk, post-punk and post-black metal present within the Darkthrone/Burzum template? Is this perhaps related to the music you were playing prior to concentrating on Mork?

“It’s a bit hard for me to draw lines between this album and other things. Burzum and Darkthrone are strong influences obviously. I usually sit down in my studio and what comes out, comes out. I never intentionally write and record anything with a direct influence, other than ‘I Sluket Av Myra’ and ‘Enden Ligger Ved Berget’ which are both Burzum tributes, the latter with the main riff at least. The verses and main riff of ‘Ravnens Natterike Kaller’ was actually a deliberate try to make a similar but different ‘Inn I De Dype Skogers Favn’ (Darkthrone) vibe… but I failed [laughs]. The end riff of the last track ‘Invertert Korsfestelse’ is inspired by Mayhem’s ‘Illuminate Eliminate’, but I realised it after the fact. I know I did have Celtic Frost in the back of my mind sometimes, but can’t say it really sounds like it when listening to it now. That’s the magic of creativity, I guess, I never know where parts come from. Overall, all the music on this album is made to have an atmosphere. Actually I was recently in contact with a label who didn’t favour the production on the album. But without that precise sound and production, I would not have achieved that same atmosphere.”




What was the issue there? They liked your music but wanted you to use more ‘professional’ recording methods?

“There were no objections about me doing it my way and on my own, but they were wanting stuff to be more audible. They did not want anything to be ‘polished’, but a bit cleaner, I guess. But my point is that Den Vandrende Skygge needs to sound the way it does. My next record will sound a bit different. Each album has character. If you had cleaned up Den Vandrende Skygge or Isebakke you would have lost the feel and atmosphere, that’s my opinion. It does not have to be 1994 to make an album like that.”

I think sometimes people forget that the ideal production for a record is not necessarily the biggest or most technically impressive, but rather the one that best suits the songs. And although some people may see it as a cliché, it must be said that murky, unclear and somewhat mysterious sound is often perfect for complimenting the more mystical and obscure atmosphere within black metal.

“Yeah – you know it’s ‘True Norwegian Black Metal’ not ‘Fake Norwegian Black Metal’ [laughs]. But, hey, I do understand that more people will be able to swallow the product when it’s more commercial-sounding. ‘Commercial’ is not a negative word to me, but the type of song needs to fit that sound. I won’t go out and say that people don’t understand, but they don’t think ‘necro’ will sell. And I do agree. It probably won’t break a band out of the underground.”


“I’ll be honest; my next album will be a bit more audible. Not polished or sell out, but audible. If a band makes the same-sounding album time after time just because they must have a necro sound, that, to me, is fake. If I write songs that would fit a bit more audible sound, then that is progress and evolving. As long as the recording and sound has nerve, it is cool to me. But it must be said that it depends on the atmosphere. If I record a progressive and rocking song with distinctive riffs, it probably would sound crap with a reverb-filled necro sound.”


The rest of this interview is available in the full-length book Cult Never Dies: The Mega Zine, available from HERE





• You can order the new Mork album from Peaceville Records HERE

• And finally the exclusive Mork shirt 'Dead And Buried' is still available from Cult Never Dies HERE



– Interview posted September 2017 –





••• EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MANIAC (SKITLIV/EX-MAYHEM) ABOUT HIS DAMAGE INC ZINE AND NEW 'ULTRA DAMAGED' ANTHOLOGY BOOK •••


“Call me an angry old school man of the world, but I can't continuously read stuff online without getting frustrated and pissed off… I tend to enjoy a book or a magazine that still smells like a book or a magazine. What does an online book smell like?”

Maniac


Sven-Erik Kristiansen, better known to the world by the memorable (and sometimes apt) pseudonym ‘Maniac’ is a man with a long and notable CV. Growing up in an isolated village in the mountains of Telemark, some 200km or so from Norway’s capital city, his first forays into music were captured via a delicately-titled solo project entitled Septic Cunts, the 1986 demo cassette of which was demented enough for Mayhem’s Euronymous to offer an invitation into the band.

An appearance on the band’s now legendary Deathcrush EP followed, and Maniac would return to the band as a full-time vocalist seven years later when the group reformed following Euronymous’ murder in 1993. He would front the band for a decade, during which time he was involved with three significant studio releases and numerous tours. Upon leaving he would form Skitliv, combining black metal, doom metal and electronic elements and collaborating with the likes of Niklas Kvarforth (Shining), Tore Moren (Arcturus), David Tibet (Current 93) and Attila Csihar (Mayhem). These two bands represent only the tip of the iceberg though, and over the years he has participated in black metal outfit Wurdulak, noise project Sehnsucht and hardcore punk entity Bomberos… to name but a few.

But predating every one of these audial endeavours was Damage Inc., an underground metal/hardcore zine named after the iconic Metallica song, which he founded in 1985 and wrote and edited. In fact, Metallica themselves would be interviewed in the zine, along such emerging talent as Cryptic Slaughter, Sepultura, Necrophagia, and, of course, Mayhem. The zine ran for only two issues however, and though a third was announced in the 1987 issue, it never saw the light of the day.

But curiously, no less than thirty years after the series came to a close, Maniac has returned to his first passion and released a third issue of Damage Inc this month. Featuring the likes of Darkthrone, Clandestine Blaze and Teitanblood, it is as underground a read as ever while also reflecting the years that have passed, being a somewhat darker and more esoteric read than before. As well as handling the text, the layout has been created by hand by Maniac himself in true cut-and-paste tradition, and perhaps reflecting its creator’s unique mind with its use of apocalyptic and religious imagery.

To celebrate this return Cult Never Dies has released an anthology book collecting all three issues and including a long discussion with the man himself [signed copies are available to order HERE]. Below is an exclusive conversation about the project…




Cult Never Dies: For those who have yet to read the new book, can you give a little bit of introduction to the Damage Inc. zine and tell us how this project began in the first place?

Maniac: “Well, it started in 1985, maybe even earlier, but that was when I read my first issue of Slayer mag. I had read fanzines before this, but not with bands that spoke that much to me or triggered such a vast avalanche of interest in a certain scene. It was still okay to read Kerrang! or rags like that, but this was different and it also showed me that it was something I could do myself. My life at this time was filled with bands like Discharge, Hellhammer, Venom, Bathory, The Exploited, Metallica, GBH, Misfits, Amebix and so on, but then there was layer upon layer, with bands beneath these bands that were even more obscure and extreme. Wow! I still truly enjoyed all the aforementioned bands but I wanted to read about the smaller bands too and those were the bands I wanted to get in touch with and write about. So I decided to do my own magazine and I released my first copy in 1986. Most of the bands I loved back then are still with me.” 


It's not unusual for zine writers to be involved in making music in some capacity, but rarely do we see a known musician returning to the medium after playing in bands. What was it that made you want to create a fanzine again all these years later, particularly in this increasingly digital age of webzines and blogs?

“You said the magic words; ‘digital age’. Or maybe these are rather the days of Black Sabbath’s ‘digital bitch’ [laughs]… anyway, I think it was the lack of these kind of magazines and something to do with opposing all the stuff written online. Call me an angry old school man of the world, but I can't continuously read stuff online without getting frustrated and pissed off. I tend to enjoy a book or a magazine that still smells like a book or a magazine. What does an online book smell like? Also I really wanted to write about bands from the Japanese underground scene, which to me might just be the strongest underground scene in the world, but one that is a bit closed to us foreigners. And maybe most importantly I wanted to interview Teitanblood [laughs].”





Obviously some of us still believe very strongly in print, but today it is of course not the necessity it once was. What do you see as the role of fanzines today?

“I think it's still important and it still has the unifying effect it once did – maybe not as strongly as back in the days, but I really do think it still has some of that effect. It is also a media that presents bands in a very different way from online presentations. At least to me, it's more real.”

Your first issue of Damage Inc. from 1986 features Mayhem on the cover, which was a bold move bearing in mind that they were only a demo band at the time and given that you had interviewed none other than Metallica in the same issue. How did the Mayhem interview come together and what led you to put them on the cover when you actually had several bigger bands in the zine?


“When I first bought Slayer mag there was an interview with Mayhem and there was an address. I wrote to them and Euronymous and I became friends quite fast. I was so thrilled that there was a band with this attitude and vision in Norway. It was one of the main reasons to start Damage Inc., just to spread the word on Mayhem. Of course that was not the only reason and I obviously wanted to promote all the underground bands I truly liked. Too bad Hellhammer was already over as a band by then as they were so important both for me and for Mayhem…”

“Anyway, me and my American friend Gary, who had a driving license, drove from Rauland to Langhus just to interview Mayhem, experience one of their great ‘pig-house rehearsals’ and just talk about music. It was a four and a half hour drive. We took some great photos of Mayhem on the day of the rehearsal. It was just fucking perfect. Yeah, sure I could have put Metallica on the front page, but come on, what band do you think was most important for me? I'll never forget the sound of Necro and Euronymous’ bass and guitar as the sound went from fuzz to distortion to waking up dead pigs in the ground outside. Fuck me!”

By the 1987 issue you are providing vocals for the band and of course that same year you took part in the recordings for the band’s now-legendary EP Deathcrush. At what point did you become Mayhem’s vocalist and how did that take place?

“I do not remember the exact date I became a member of Mayhem. I sent Euronymous the Septic Cunts tape in ‘86 and he replied with utter disbelief and perhaps a scornful glee. Anyway, he truly enjoyed that tape and it was a bit back and forth before it was decided that I would become their singer. Mostly because I lived so far away.” 




Reading the first two issues today of Damage Inc. is perhaps as much about soaking up the vibe of the period as the interviews themselves. One of the things that I think both the original issues capture (especially when placed next to issue three) is the degree to which underground metal/music in the 80s was defined by youthful exuberance and even naivety. Does looking at these fanzines again three decades later bring back certain memories of the time?

“You are right. There is no cynicism or avant-garde negativity, just the youthful spirit of ‘fuck the rest of the world’ and ‘into battle we march for our union’. What strikes me is how easy the world was back then. Of course I did not think so at the time, but looking back now there was a certain innocence – even if we still had the Cold War and consumerism, it was easier to see who your enemies were. The last 15-20 years has thoroughly raped the world and the human race. I don't think egoism ever thrived better than today, and ‘honour’ is a word kids today just don't seem to understand. Sometimes I miss the friendship and the strong feeling of a community, but then again, I am way too old to find many positive things about humans anymore. Life took that away [laughs]. Now it's basically a matter of ‘hating everyone equally’, to quote Slayer.” 

How do you feel about the finished Ultra Damaged anthology book now you have it in your hands?

“I was surprised to see the continuity in there. The same fucking way of presenting bands, short intro then interrogation of the band [laughs]. It was interesting to see them like this. It also gives me a bit perspective and a lot of ideas of how to do the next issue. I'm certain there will be a few changes, but on the other hand the magazine was never meant to be an outlet for my own personal writings, and neither was it to be like some kinda biography (that's your job...) I think the book version looks very beautiful with a nice texture and a good layout that makes the single issues stand out and yet presents a singular body of work. 

Hehe. Sound like a Sunday paper ad…” 




– Interview posted September 2017 –



••• EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BLACK METAL BAND SELBST •••



I can say that my music saved me from insanity…
N, Selbst.




Based on the northern coast of South America, Venezuela is perhaps better known for its biodiversity and natural beauty than it is for black metal. Nevertheless, it was in this country that Selbst’s creator – a multi-instrumentalist known only by the initial N – formed the band in 2010, initially working with vocalist and fellow native Frozen
also the driving force behind the outfits Aversio Humanitatis, Eohl and Nihil. Together the duo would craft a demo (Veritas Filia Temporis), two split records and an EP (An Ominous Landscape) in the years between 2011 and 2015.

Today, it is N. Onfray of Chilean black metal outfit Animus Mortis who handles the vocals within the group, and in fact both the band and its founder are relocated to Chile. The move seems to have done Selbst no harm at all, the band recording their self-titled debut LP and releasing it this summer as a limited digipack CD via Sun & Moon Records. Cold and calculating, it is a highly compelling work that is full of intense and raw emotion but which channels the passion and anguish present through twisting and progressive song structures.


In conjunction with both band and label Cult Never Dies presents a stream of the new album, found above. Meanwhile we speak to N for a little more insight on Selbst – the record and the band – to better place this bold new work in context…


Cult Never Dies: Your self-titled debut LP is a considerable tour-de-force, undeniably powerful in spirit, but also restrained and carefully expressed through challenging and inventive songs. What were your aims with the record personally, and how would you describe it for those new to the band?

N: “My main objective was to take my music to another level, in every
possible aspect. I was really concerned with presentation (cover art, illustrations, printing process, materials, etc.), and the recording was [carefully] thought-out and planned from the first moment, the songs [being] made and re-made. I think all that is evident in the final result. It's a dynamic album, true to my composition style… but more atmospheric and progressive. To describe the music of Selbst, I could say I have no words for that, this is just my soul made music, a cavernous isolated dark sound.”


How are the black / underground metal scenes in Venezuela and Chile from your point of view, and how do they differ? South American metal is of course given much respect by most in the international underground, though it seems fair to say that your sound and approach is untypical for the region…

N: “That is a comment I have heard several times, that my
composing way does not fit with the typical South American sound. But if you take a look, there are several bands doing the same, I just think that across the pond people usually know the most rancid and old school bands.


Personally, the Chilean scene seems much more respected and has [reached a higher] level than Venezuela to me. We are still just getting started. Even so, things has been greatly improved in my country (in terms of black metal) in recent years, with more and better bands getting known outside our borders.”

Despite the new record’s very contemporary feel, your press sheet makes clear to distance the band from the current trends in the black metal movement (the line “no hooded black metal imitators, no liturgical orthodox harlequinade” raised a smile in these parts). Would you say that you feel somewhat apart from what is going on in the genre right now, and are there any bands you consider peers or feel a musical or ideological kinship with?

N: “For nobody it is a secret that everything we hear right now seems to be
the result of a formula that worked once, and thousands more are copying it. I feel that my music may be result of that, but I do not take it to the extreme. I feel it more as the ramification of a conscientious learning.

I have gradually added technical elements as I have been learning. The words you read were the idea of the label, it's their way of working promotion (and it also caused a bit of laughter in me), but it is precisely what I liked, the opinion my music inspires in them feels good. It means that my music has something special, something that although it may sound similar to this or that, also has a unique, distinctive touch. That's how I like to see what I do.”

It is certainly a distinctive and emotive listen, and seemingly a very personal one, avoiding the potential dryness of the obvious technicalities. Can you give some explanation of the musical and lyrical inspirations that lie this opus and whether there is an overriding concept at work?

N: “To realise this album I went through a hurtful and tedious process,
but at the same time a cathartic one. I was able to empty my soul and shape it into this (for me) artistic project. I've been struggling with some very personal problems, doing battle against depression, apart from all that is implied in starting from scratch in a new country. Fighting against myself and losing. Seeing myself stuck in a system that forces me to always work to live, etc. It was not easy.

But I can say that my music saved me from insanity, it has been an escape. That's why I consider that the lyrics are so personal, so fucking much that it became impossible to give the album a name. I decided to name it eponymously, because the word ‘Selbst’ encompasses many things; it is like personifying the self, and what is in the depths of my psyche. If there's something behind these letters, it is the result of anguish, anxiety, hatred towards myself and that which I've had to live and suffer for years, as a result of a lifetime of shit. I think there are a lot of people out there feeling that way, and they can find themselves highly identifying with what I wrote. It’s something that feels good, although basically [something that], like almost everything I live, I care little or nothing about.”

[Useful links below. Tell them Cult Never Dies sent you.]




CD available here:
https://www.discogs.com/seller/morphinewaltz/profile
https://www.discogs.com/seller/maskoftheslave/profile


Digital Album available here:
https://selbst.bandcamp.com/album/selbst

Selbst Website: http://selbst.atwebpages.com
Selbst Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/selbstbm
Sun & Moon Records Website: http://www.sunandmoonrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/sunandmoonrecordstransylvania




– Interview posted August 2017 –






••• EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BLACK METAL/FANTASY ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE DAVID THIÉRRÉE •••

It is little over a month since Cult Never Dies and Crypt Publications released the epic collection of occult and fantasy art, Owls, Trolls & Dead Kings' Skulls: The Art Of David Thiérrée [available here] . Containing approximately 200 works by the titular French artist, the book tracks David from his stark and monochromatic early 90s contributions to black metal bands such as Behemoth, Strid and Gorgoroth,  through to his extremely complex dark folk/fantasy creations of more recent years, coming full circle with contemporary illustrations for underground artists such as Celestia, Phazm, Satanic Warmaster, Warloghe, Manes, Kjeld and Mortiis.

In recent times David has kept himself as busy as ever, appearing at France’s famous Hellfest and the private black metal festival Les Feux De Beltane, while also preparing for a number of new exhibitions. Meanwhile the book has already attracted praise and attention from such varied corners as Metal Rules, Zero Tolerance, Metal Hammer,  Rock & Folk, Noise Magazine, The Crypt Of The Red Cat as well as readers and metal artists such as Alvenrad, Allfader and Nergal of Behemoth. We interrupted the artist to catch up and find out more about recent developments.

Cult Never Dies: You were of course very anxious to make sure that Owls, Trolls & Dead Kings' Skulls: The Art Of David Thiérrée was as good as it could possibly be before approving it for publication. How do you feel about the finished book now you’ve had the chance to spend a month or so with it?

David Thiérrée: “The final result is beyond my expectations. In France we say that a good book, has a ‘good hand’. It's a subtle brew of a good weight, a solid binding, and the correct ratio between size and number of pages. It's hard to define, but it's a book you want to grab and open. The printing quality is great, the paper is thick and it's a pleasure to read."


Do you remember how it felt to finally hold it in your hands after so much time and work spent on the project? And do you have a sense of how reactions have been to the release so far from readers?

David: “Some people around me talked about a kind of achievement. I really can't agree with this, although I understand their point of view. It's more like stepping aside from the road, getting your breath back, stretching your legs for a few minutes, and watching the path you walked, then watching the path that remains to walk, before standing up and going back to your journey. As it works when I finish a piece, I don't look back at the time spent, I only try to realise the drawing is my own work, that I made it with my own hands. The same goes for the book. It's now here, it exists, and I have to realise that this is my work and my name on it.”

Everyone that ordered it so far is delighted and astonished with the amount of images, they did not expect the book to be that big. Watching an image on a screen and watching it inside a book aren't the same experience. Once people have the book in their hand, they most of the time buy it.”



Right, and you have begun to take the book to the people, so to speak, by exhibiting and showcasing it and your work generally. Can you tell me a bit about this and how you decide what work to show at events, given how vast your portfolio is now?

David: “Well, it depends on where I go and which space and facilities are available to me. I can focus on past album cover releases through framed prints (as most of the original works are sold or lost), or propose original works that are more diverse and fantasy/folklore focused. I've always been switching from works for music, and more fantasy-based art, but sometimes it's both, and my favourite way of doing things is when a band is choosing some work I made ‘freely’.

I've shown my work in several places, went five times in United States, for example, to show my work, make some artist talks, even do workshops. Most of the time my work is travelling to foreign countries, but not me, mostly when only a piece or two are featured. But it's really important to come and meet people, whether it's an art exhibition, or a music festival. I try to show what it available at the moment, considering that most of the time once the piece is made, it's sold. So I have to constantly create new pieces.”

I understand that at Hellfest you finally met face-to-face with Nergal of Behemoth, who is interviewed in the book about the covers you created for him in the early/mid-90s. How was that meeting, considering your first creative collaboration was about a quarter century ago?

David: “Yes it was quite a moment. We know each other for 23 years now, and we managed to keep in touch since, through mail, email, Myspace, Facebook, etc., despite the growing fame of the band, and the huge amount of work he put into his career. I had the chance to thank him again for the kind words he wrote in the book, and talk briefly about the past. But most of the time we spent was spent talking about the future… But I can't say more about this for the moment.”



You have always avoided promoting yourself overtly – do you feel this book has made your portfolio more accessible and has it raised your profile in a sense? And are you comfortable with that?

David: “I think it has raised my profile yes, but in a good way, as people are coming to me now. I'm really not at ease when it comes to selling myself, as I have difficulties to say to people, ‘Hey, folks! I'm the best drawer around, you should hire me or buy my stuff instead of the work from this guy other there!’ It may be stupid, but doing some publicity and waving around, jumping amongst people while throwing my business cards at their faces, talking constantly about my genius, is something that I can't do.

I respect people and their liberty to choose, so if they once see my work, it's their responsibility to take a pen and write my name somewhere, or bookmark my name in their browser – it's their choice to be curious or not. They're not stupid. The best I can do is slowly building my network by accepting peoples requests on my official ‘Athlete’ facebook page (as I find "artist" page a bit too pompous), hoping that people will help me by spreading my work and talk about me, as they do with the bands they love. I never ask for work, or get in touch with bands, rather bands are coming to me. The rare times I asked, I got rejected. As you said, the book, and the folks that will love it and talk about it, besides the album covers I create, are my best soldiers, my invincible army.”


If we can ask you to select three or four of your favourite works from the book, what would they be and why?

David: “I think I'll choose my favourite works based on the feedback I got about them from other people, and the impact they had on them. To see people react and tell me what they see and feel is my best reward. This is why I do what I do, and this is what makes me feel like a musician, or a cook, or a dancer: we're here to create emotions, to make people feel.

1. Trollskogen: A big watercolour and gouache piece.
2. Sanctuaire - Le Sang sur l'Acier. A pencil work enhanced with a bit of color layers. This drawing was named ‘Draugadrottin’, which is one of Odin's names. Odin as the lord of the ones who were bounded to him, and follow him after death in the Wild Hunt.
3. Giant Steps: Another pencil work, that's very evocative to people.
4. And finally, from the west, a rider, who wielded a great hammer of war. Metal jokes apart (yes, I love old Manowar) it is Sventevith, one of the two covers I did for Behemoth, which, as Nergal says, expresses perfectly the spirit of the album. The drawing is very old, but people still love it and consider it a bit as a ‘cult’ drawing.”


Finally, can you tell us a bit about your plans for the rest of the year?

David: “Well, after Hellfest in June, which was a blast, I'll do two exhibitions this August at Midgardsblot and Beyond the Gates festivals in Norway, where there will be an artist talk, and signing sessions too. Some more features are on the way, which I can't talk about right now. I also hope to put my feet once again in England, maybe in London. Stay tuned!”

Signed copies of Owls, Trolls & Dead Kings' Skulls: The Art Of David Thiérrée are available to buy at CultNeverDies.myshopify.com



– Interview posted July 2017 –