"Satyricon - Dark Carnival"
Interview with Satyr from "Terrorizer" magazine (# 29)
One of the élite scene leaders in Norwegian Black Metal, Satyricon are the sound of the world turned upside down. Well, the medieval world, anyway. Satpal Kalsi is awoken by a highly opinionated Satyr and hears all about the trio's third album "Nemesis Divina" and why Satyricon eschew politics for the wonders and emotions of place. With two highly acclaimed Black Metal albums and a split CD with Enslaved behind them, Norwegian trio Satyricon are on the verge of unleashing their next opus monumentus, "Nemesis Divina". Following on from last year's "The Shadowthrone" and their debut "Dark Medieval Times", it's undoubtedly a major release from one of the major bands in the Norwegian scene. Of course, sometimes, it's actually very hard to know what being "a major band in the Norwegian scene" really means, simply because all these groups seem to put out so many other projects and albums. The fact that founding member Satyr also pieced together the Wongraven side-project and that a former member, Carl Michael, left for first Ulver and then Ved Buens Ende, probably doesn't help matters, but the truth remains that Satyricon are definitely part of the muchmentioned élite. So élite, in fact, that Satyr decided to call me up at the witching hour of midnight Norwegian time to do this interview. Groggy with sleep, I talked to him about keeping ahead of the field as well as about his label Moonfog, through whose good offices the CD is released.
Firstly, I should say I'm one of those people that always looks at the political side of things and had to get a few things off my chest - while giving the guy the benefit of my doubt. After all, we all know how dodgy some of these bands can get. His answer would decide the tone of my interview. We all know Black Metal is bassically a religious thing, championing the war against Christ and Christianity, but is Satyricon's music about racial issues as well?
"Music is music," Satyr begins in a pleasant, laid-back tone. "It should be neither racial or religious. People are stupid. That simple - no matter how banal it sounds. People are stupid. Who are they to accuse us? They know nothing about the Viking heritage. Like the people from Germany - what do they know? Nothing. Stupid Germans. We really try to ignore that because it's so much bullshit."
However, listening to Satyr talk about Norway, I did wonder about nationalism, if it can be called that. Are Satyricon nationalist?
Politics is stupid, and all this stuff with immigration, it's not my concern. I'm a musician and like to be creative. I don't want to think about things like that. So I wouldn't say that."
So the pride Satyr feels in Norway is not really to do with a crude xenophobia but is cultivated by a deep suspicion of the modern age. An age that marches forward at breackneck speed, in the process discarding society's sense of Place and belonging.
"Sure. That's why we are getting towards Armageddon, I believe. Things are going too fast and people forget about culture and heritage. They're only obsessed by technology and getting one step ahead all the time. Of course, that can be helpful, but in the end it will fall back on ourselves".
Anyone who has got a copy of "The Shadowthrone" will not fail to see the constant reference to landscapes - or more importantly Norwegian landscapes in state of primeval energy - fuelled by twilight's glimmer and the fading rays of Sol. Satyricon are all about such a landscape and such a sence of place.
"We do have a Viking heritage. I myself feel a very strong relationship to that. We do have a very interesting history and culture which we could have learned a lot from. Due to Christianity we can't because it rules the country. Christianity is against the laws of Nature. That's why nothing works here. We're not a political band, but you've got to have one goal at a time, because it would not be realistic to get rid of Christianity. I won't live that long anyway. At least I've contributed to the War. Since we're in a leading position with three or four other bands, we do have a lot of influence, but we don't take violent action."
Their video, for the song "Mother North" (of the "Nemesis Divina" CD) is their visual; testament to Norway.
"First of all, this mediaval thing we're brought into the music, into Black Metal - no one did that before, so we're quite proud of that. Secondly, we try to use elements both in the melody and the lyrics that have a relationship to the country we come from and our culture. Well, there are hundreds of bands that do that today, but when we started with the thing [their second demo from 1995, "The Forest Is My Throne", is released as a split CD with Enslaved] no one did it. We started a trend, but whether it's positive or negative, I don't know. But at least we were at the forefront. I'd like to say we're extremely satisfied with the video. It turned out to be very good. It was shot on location in the forests, it was quite interesting to work in a way that tried to expres the music visually. We used elements like everything from landscape shots to a scene with this pretty girl, naked, with a very Norwegian, Nordic look symbolising the beauty of Norwegian nature. There's fire breathing to the most grotesque scenes with blood and axes. We just tried to visualise the atmosphere of the song."
And how does the sound on the new CD "Nemesis Divina" differ from previous releases?
"Much harder, rougher, with more bass and more agressive mix."
Satyr feels that the atmospheric nature of today's Black Metal has had its day. "Nemesis Divina" is released on Moonfog, a label which was germinated from Satyr's values.
"Well, it was me who started Moonfog in the beginning of 1993 with the cooperation of Tatra Productions which is a veteran élite label here in Norway. I felt we needed an élite label in Norway and now I set up a profile for the label and handled the design for the ads and all that; and together with another guy who works on the distribution and financial side. Tatra Productions take care of all that because I'm an artist not a businessman, so I don't have the time to take care of all that. We have our eyes on all three bands. They are major bands, no? I would say they are among the best Black metal bands around. But Moonfog is not strictly a Black Metal label; we could release hard Trance today, Techno tomorrow, next day a Black Metal album [as will be happening with the new Dark Throne effort]. I don't have any limits as long as it appeals to me."
Though embarking on a substantial European tour with Dissection and Gorgoroth, and with eyes set towards short stints in Japan and Australia, old Blighty is definitely a no no.
"It's hopeless in England. You either have to be an English band or a foreign band signed to an English label, because Englishmen are so conservative. Take, for example us and Immortal which sell a lot of albums in Europe, but in England we sell nothing. People here in Norway hate England... take Darkthrone: when they were signed to Peaceville they had interviews in "Metal Hammer" and everyone was so interested. When they signed to Moonfog no one wanted interviews."
Well, perhaps the English underground can prove him wrong. But fear not lads, England is not a total loss.
"Though we're not very interested, we'll try and watch a game with Liverpool from the Premier League."
Finally, I asked Satyr for a final statement for our fellow readers.
"Fuck your conservatism!" he says quite simply.
Taken from: Terrorizer
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