Satyricon -  - 24/03/2007

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, Alissa Balfoort & Rik van Gageldonk did an interview with Frost, read carefully what he had to say.

For more information see Alissa’s website : www.alissaphotography.com

 

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, a coincidence?

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 along?

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 earlier albums.

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 black metal.

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 outfits’.

(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…


Customized outfit?

(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 1349?

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

 


Current members

Satyr - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard, Bass  

Frost - Drums

 

Former members

Kveldulv a.k.a. Nocturno Culto - Guitar

Vargen - Guitar  

Samoth - Bass  

Torden - Keyboards  

Wargod - Bass  

PrimeEvil - Drums  

Morfar Blodtann - Percussion  

Lord Deadmeat - Bass

Exhurtum - Drums

 

Albums

1993 - Dark Medieval Times

1994 - The Shadowthrone

1996 - Nemesis Divina

1999 - Rebel Extravaganza

2002 - Volcano

2006 - Now, Diabolical