Haunting The Chapel

Satanic Warmaster: The Haunting The Chapel Interview

Satanic Warmaster, the longtime Finnish black metal project of Satanic Tyrant Werwolf, recently released his first full-length in five years, Nachzerer. Not as long a pause as previous interview subject Varg Vikernes, and not as notorious a figure to the non-metal public, but I couldn’t help drawing parallels in my head when I got news of the record. Like Vikernes, STW (aka Lauri Penttilä) has had his share of NSBM accusations thrown his way. Unlike Vikernes, he hasn’t come out with any statements that strike me as more than Marilyn Manson-like controversy-baiting. His press release describes him as “notorious” and “close-minded,” but with nothing specific to back that up. As I told HTML GIANT, who asked me about liberal people listening to certain strains of black metal after reading the comments to a HTC Drudkh post: “It basically [comes] down to my ability (or disability?) to disassociate, to enjoy the music even if I don’t believe in the philosophy behind it.” (I went into this in the Burzum interview, too …. I tend to like difficult art.) So, right or wrong, I didn’t spend the entire time interrogating Satanic Warmaster about splits he’s done with groups like Aryan Blood (though he does discuss it in an aside), live shows with Absurd and Der Stürmer, and/or the wrongheaded statements he’s made to Finnish newspapers about 9/11, etc. As I noted in that HTML Giant Q&A: “[M]ost of the bands who get that NSBM, or whatever tag, are really difficult to pin down on what it is they actually believe…” (That said, as an aside, when the net is too widely cast, obviously non-NSBM projects like KRIEG are labeled NSBM for doing splits with Satanic Warmaster, Nachtmystium called NSBM for working with KRIEG and certain labels … If we followed this logic, the indie label Mexican Summer would also be NSBM for previously releasing the vinyl edition of Nachtmystium’s Worldfall EP, etc.) As far as STW tells it, everything he does is in the name of Satan, and he’s said his worldview is 100% Satanic. I asked him about NSBM, sure, tried to get some kind of straight statement, but otherwise focused on the new collection, which ranks with 2005’s Carelian Satanist Madness as one of his best. It’s up to you if you keep reading.

STEREOGUM: Nachzerer is your first album in five years. The black metal ‘scene” has shifted a lot during that time. What are your thoughts on BM’s mainstream crossover? (I know you’ve released splits, etc., but this feels like the first complete document since CSM.)

SATANIC TYRANT WERWOLF: In my eyes nothing much has changed. Maybe there have been some motions for Black Metal I am unaware of, but for me things have remained more or less the same as they were five years ago. Black Metal was a part of the “mainstream” metal already in the ’90s.

STEREOGUM: Do you have any thoughts on the contemporary Finnish scene? Norway? Sweden? How about American black metal? You have early ties with KRIEG, etc. And, as far as North America, Akitsa. This came earlier than other Northern European BM bands were giving North America a chance.

STW: I really don’t have much to say about national scenes at this time. There are some noteworthy bands in most countries, and dozens upon dozens of bands that most likely couldn’t get a demo tape released on their own, not to mention deserving to release anything more high profile. I’ve always been into U.S. Black Metal. Bands like Masochist, Winds Of The Black Mountains, Grand Belial’s Key, Von, Inquisition, etc., are some of the best bands I’ve ever heard.

STEREOGUM: Speaking of splits, you’ve done quite a few. What’s your interest in that format?

STW: The whole concept of split releases has been inflated by excessive use of it without any real reasons behind. This is why there won’t be many split releases from Satanic Warmaster in the future. I used to do split releases because of a certain real contact with the bands I did them with, to share a common ground even if being musically/aesthetically/philosophically different and to underline the vast spectrum of approaches Black Metal was supposed to be about.

STEREOGUM: Nachzerer is recorded in a primitive old-school BM style. I thought maybe the 4-track approach was a direct response to the popularization of black metal and its various progressive/etc offshoots. (I hear this in the new Profanatica, too.)

STW: I have just progressed in a way of my own. For some people progress might mean gimmicks like computerized recording and clinical technical performance, for me it means going much deeper into the atmosphere, perfecting the compositions and trying to reach pure emotion.

STEREOGUM: Despite the mainstream crossover of black metal, one area that remains taboo, of course, is NSBM. Can you discuss? Your name is often associated with it, random quotes pulled out, but I’ve never seen you open up explicitly about those ties.

STW: I’d like to point out that these childish speculations and taking my words from their context are not something I will keep myself accountable for … If people cannot think any deeper after hearing some “wrong” words, and think this is something that it’s not, well, it’s their disgrace … and they seem to yearn for that disgrace a lot.

STEREOGUM: Any thoughts on Burzum’s return? What does it mean for ‘the scene’ (or lack of ‘scene’)?

STW: Let’s just say Burzum, unlike basically all rest of the old guard of Norwegian Black Metal, didn’t totally disappoint me with their new album.

STEREOGUM: Nachzerer is a song cycle, correct? What’s the storyline? I gleaned this: “The mythology of European vampiric nightbeings…” I can read the song titles, but I’m curious about the specifics/how you envisioned the narrative.

STW: I didn’t plan any cycle for the songs of the album, but now that you mention it, one could think that there is some kind of a cycle of being unchained, strife and death within the album songs also.

STEREOGUM: How does the cover art tie into it?

STW: The wolf in man exists also in the werewolf symbolism, and we all know about the “to walk as wolf among the sheep” thing.

STEREOGUM: I’m curious about the submerged, claustrophobic sounds of the “Intro.” How did you record it? What sort of feeling did you hope to evoke?

STW: It was recorded in a totally impulsive manner in my basement with chains, iron, leather, rust and blood. I wanted to evoke the feeling of a tomb being crushed from the inside, and release devilish forces.

STEREOGUM: What are those screeching sounds at the beginning of “Vampires”?

STW: Bats.

STEREOGUM: As far as sound: “One Shining Star” is almost restful, meditative. It’s followed by “Bestial Darkness,” maybe the “catchiest” song on the album. The album’s sequencing has a lot of push and pull in this way. It’s maybe the most accessible SW to date. Intentional? Or does that just happen with experience/age?

STW: For me things like this come naturally. I only create something I’d want to hear myself. It might be easily accessible, but years have proven that to understand it is a totally different thing.

STEREOGUM: “Warmaster Returns” feels like a fight song. Does it fit with the rest of the cycle or is it an announcement of your own return? “In times of strife / A fire burns / Warmaster returns…”

STW: I think it fits perfectly to the supposed cycle.

STEREOGUM: What’s the concept behind “Utug-Hul”? The lyrics were written by Black Funeral’s Akhtya Nachttoter? How’d that come about?

STW: I’ve always adored the two first Black Funeral albums, and it was a honor to have him write a lyric for Satanic Warmaster when he approved of my request to contribute.

STEREOGUM: Any plans for live shows?

STW: We’ve only agreed on playing Norway in November and Mexico in December, other than that nothing is set.

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Satanic Warmaster – “Bestial Darkness”

Nachzehrer is out via Werewolf (CD) and Northern Heritage (vinyl). The tracklisting:

01 “Intro”
02 “Satan’s Werewolf”
03 “Vampires”
04 “Warmaster Returns
05 “One Shining Star
06 “Bestial Darkness
07 “Rotting Raven’s Blood
08 “Utug-Hul”

Satanic Warmaster - Nachzehrer