At the turn of the year 1991/92 black
metal still seems to be unknown and non-existant to most people in
Norway. Meanwhile, Norwegian underground activity is extensive. One of
the very active and ambitious bands bears the name Satyricon. In
1993 they released their
first album, ‘Dark Medieval Times’; and starting a black metal sub-genre
dubbed "medieval metal." The album showed off the fascination Satyricon
had with the Middle Ages, along with the raw black metal with blastbeats
produced by Frost mixed with acoustic guitar and flute. On the next
album ‘The Shadowthrone’ this medieval spirit was preserved.
Regarding one of their latest albums,
‘Volcano’, the frontman of the band, Satyr, stated in a press
release/biography, published on their homepage, that "the music is rock
based but more extreme; it is black metal pushing the boundaries that
began with bands like Venom and Bathory, reinventing ourselves based on
a foundation of rock oriented Black Metal is our philosophy." It
resulted in a total of 4 Awards for Volcano being, the Norwegian Grammy
for "Best Metal Album", an Alarm award for "Fuel For Hatred" in the
category for "Song of the Year", as well as The Alarm Award for "Metal
Album of the Year" and The Oslo awards for "Best Overall Album".
In 2006 the band released a new studio
album, ‘Now, Diabolical’. The album is generating a great degree of
controversy in the black-metal underground, due to its straightforward,
"radio-friendly" take on the genre. The album is selling extraordinarily
well, however, even outside of black-metal circles.
Still on tour to promote the
‘Now, Diabolical’ album,
& Rik van Gageldonk did an interview with Frost, read carefully
what he had to say.
For more information see Alissa’s website :
How is the tour going so far?
Tonight is the last show in Holland, how did the other two go?
Very well, there are a lot of people
going to the shows and the feedback is very good. There have been a lot
of sold out shows. Last night in Rotterdam as well, it was so crowded
and so hot that it was almost unbearable to play, but the feedback was
so intense that we were able to give more than a 100%.
The tour started on September 11th,
Yes it is.
Speaking of the USA, on the last tour you had some problems with your
VISA. Is this settled by now?
Actually, I applied for a VISA at the
American embassy a couple of days before I left, and I think there will
be weeks or months of processing… We just hope that it will be alright.
We will be touring the USA after the Scandinavian leg of the tour, in
January or February.
You’ll be bringing a brass section
Only in Oslo, yes. We will record a
bit of the concert on tape and see what happens. I guess we’re going to
film several concerts (on the Scandinavian leg) and watch it afterwards…
Pick out the highlights.
The new CD ‘Now, Diabolical’ has
been out for about a year now, looking back are you satisfied with the
results and the reactions?
I have to be! In general the feedback
is very good and we ourselves are very satisfied with the album. We’ve
used everything we’ve learned and gathered over our fourteen years of
existence and really used it and taken it to a final conclusion.
In another interview you said that
you consider your new style of drumming to be better than the old one?
I think that we develop and improve
all the time, both Satyr and me. Satyr as a composer and a creating
artist while I always search for improvements in every field as far as
my drumming goes. I take this very seriously I’ve put a lot of effort in
it, I do get better and I do get a better understanding of my own work
and my own art. I have a much more respectful attitude and I think it
pays off. I couldn’t have done the drumming on Now, Diabolical on
There are two different reasons. One
is the technical part; I think that (in the earlier days) I would have
had problems with putting up with the combination of skills and
precision. The other part is actually understanding what you are doing
when playing the drums. In the early years when creating my drumbeats I
wanted something that sounded okay with the rest of the music and the
rest was build around my own expression. Now the point is to find the
drumbeat that really adds to the music and most of the time this optimal
drumbeat is actually pretty simple. I think it takes a lot of conscience
and experience to realise that the best things are often simple and not
necessarily impressive in technical terms.
It’s also a logical development for
Satyricon, considering the fact that Satyr is going back to the roots of
Blast beats just don’t belong to this
album, it would’ve been just as out of place as blast beats on an old
Bathory record, or an old Slayer record, or an old Celtic Frost record
for that matter. Perhaps it’s important to release an album in 2006 that
isn’t designed to have a lot of blast beats on it. People tend to draw
strict parallels between black metal and blast beats and I don’t think
it benefits the genre in any way.
In another interview you spoke of
taking a certain responsibility in the Black Metal scene, about steering
Black Metal in the right direction, or to put it more directly, steer it
away from the gothic scene. Do you think you succeeded and do you plan
to continue this in the future?
I think we made a very clear point
with Rebel Extravaganza and at that time it was needed the most. Around
1997 one band after the other went into the gothic direction and the
bands that chose to stay more brutal went into the death metal
direction. It left the black metal scene in a void where the substantial
bands with a certain darkness and edge were disappearing. We chose to
stay in black metal with both our feet and created something very cold,
unfriendly and hostile. Created a less melodic and less harmonic sound…
I’m sure it was the right thing to do back then.
We took a look at the artwork for
your latest CD and it looks a bit simpler than previous records. To suit
the simple, rock and roll style of the music?
We create artwork we consider fitting
for the album. We don’t make it more artistic all the time, we try to
make it simple and direct but with a certain class to it.
Right. The booklet also says that you wear ‘customized, Diesel powered
(laughs) Yeah, see these things around
here… (Points at laundry hanging around in the room) It fits this rock
and roll style that we have now, each member has its own…
(laughs) Yeah, I think it balances
perfectly on having a little extra without going over the top.
We’ve watched the video for “KING”
and “The Pentagram Burns…”.
Let’s speak about the “The Pentagram
Burns” video instead of the “KING” video.
You prefer that one over the other?
It’s a lot better. The communication
between the band and the video director was better and Satyr also took
part in the final editing of the video. He best understands the flow of
energy in the music and thus knows how to translate that to the video.
We couldn’t be there to do the editing of “KING” and the video is not
entirely parallel to the music.
We’ve read that you wrote lyrics on
the 1349 album Hellfire.
Is there a specific reason why you do write
songs and lyrics for 1349 and not for Satyricon?
I guess there is, I have more
influential power in 1349. Satyricon is more the result of Satyrs
ingenious creativity and I’m there helping him fulfil his musical ideas
and visions. Which means that I’m a very important factor in the band
but it’s not my place to decide what we’re going to do.1349 is more or
less my channel of expressing what I do not express in Satyricon as a
drummer, as a musician and as a poet.
What are your future plans with
We hope to enter the studio next
summer. When we work with this band the process usually goes pretty fast
because we work extremely hard and vicious. We have to motivation to
practise five times a week if we consider it necessary.
Did you sign for one record again?
That’s what we usually do. We have to
see if we’re happy with the cooperation and that goes for both parts I
guess. They have to see if the band is doing well on the label while
it’s important for us to see that they are doing the work that they’re
supposed to do for us and if both parties are happy we will probably
renew the contract. It seems Roadrunner is doing the work they should
do, promotional, financial etc, so that we can concentrate on making the
music. I’m pretty happy with the situation right now.
Thank you for your time!
Alissa Balfoort & Rik van Gageldonk
Satyr - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard, Bass
Frost - Drums
Kveldulv a.k.a. Nocturno Culto -
Vargen - Guitar
Samoth - Bass
Torden - Keyboards
Wargod - Bass
PrimeEvil - Drums
Morfar Blodtann - Percussion
Lord Deadmeat - Bass
Exhurtum - Drums
1993 - Dark Medieval Times
1994 - The Shadowthrone
1996 - Nemesis Divina
1999 - Rebel Extravaganza
2002 - Volcano
2006 - Now, Diabolical