Emperor Interview

Emperor
Interview with Faust
2000

You told me you were attending classes in prison, so tell me about the environment on a daily basis and what is it that you are studying? In addition of lifting weights and taking care of your mail, are you busy with any other sort of doings? How many years do you still have to serve?

I am soon attending the seventh year as a (prison) student by now. The first three were only secondary education years though, but, since 1997, I have been undertaking university courses. This spring I’ve finished a primary course in the history of thinking, which basically means West-European philosophy, religion, art, science, politics, literature, etc. – from the Greek antiquity till today. I will do the intermediate level from autumn till Christmas. Also, I am working towards a grade (cand. mag.) that allows me to take the main subject in either the history of thinking, or in the history of religions – if I ever should feel the need for that. The prison-school is simply a room consisting of a few inmates, reading whatever education they are attending. I have no tutor or lecturer, as I am doing all the courses entirely on my own.
Besides training and working on the courses I am doing, I don’t do much, really. Usually, I listen to music, write lyrics, or just relax – the opportunities limit themselves. I still have like 2 and half years to go before I am up for parole (I have then served nearly 10 years in prison).


How, when and why did you become involved in the underground and what led you to create your former fanzine, Orcustus – The Shadow of the Golden Fire? Did the mix of occult pieces with musical articles had to do with your growing interest in the former area (that even ended with you sending a letter to the Norwegian branch of the O.T.O.)?

The first two basic reasons for me to start involving myself in the underground were the fact that I wrote (and were answered) to Euronymous (Mayhem) and Alex, from the French Thrash Metal band Aggressor (now reformed). The thrill was very present when I received the Deathcrush demo from Euronymous (and some obscure demo I do not remember the name of), plus an Aggressor t-shirt from Alex some days after I wrote the letters. I guess these were the basic reasons why I started writing people around. It is kind of fascinating because, through the years I was active in the underground, I corresponded (or were by coincidence in short contact) with bands like Rotting Christ, Samael, Exmortis, Grave, Merciless, Nocturnus, Paradise Lost, Massacre (Colombia), Necromantia, Sarcofago, Blasphemy, The Gathering, Alastis, Ancient Rites, Primordial, Decayed, Dissection, Unleashed, Darkthrone, Dr. Shrinker, Invocator, Monumentum, Nunslaughter and probably dozens more. Bands that today are either big or derived a cult status (it is strange how things develop, really).
The reason for mixing a musically-orientated magazine with articles about the occult (short stories and such) was that, in my opinion, the ‘zine scene had stagnated with a too narrow concentration on music only. Remember that, at the time, there were not the same amount of bands as today, so most of the magazines included more or less the same bands, so I figured it would be a good idea to include other topics as well, which were not based on Music but still on something people would find interesting; besides, most of this non-musical stuff was indirectly linked to music, since it involved the concepts and fundamentals that many of the bands were basing their music on (occultism, dark mysticism, etc.). Also, I was in contact with a guy called Oliver Bruss, from Germany (who did a magazine called Codeine) and he was already somewhat doing this thing, so that inspired me a lot. The word Orcustus means the inner circle of Hell, where Lucifer resides on his throne, by the way.
The ever so mentioned letter to Ordo Templi Orientis was something I wrote after seeing an interview with Simen Midgard in a magazine dealing with the Unknown, UFOs, the Occult and such. Simen Midgard made a big issue about it in the Lords of Chaos book (so much for lodge confidentiality…).


What can you tell me about Thorns and did you and Snorre did actually accomplish anything from your short reform inside prison? What is your judgement about the split with Emperor?

As I see it, Thorns has always been, and will always be, constituted by Snorre only. All questions regarding music, lyrics and band name, should be directed at him, not me, as I am not really qualified to answer these questions.
As for the so-called reformation during incarceration, it was equal to zero, really.
The split with Emperor was an interesting affair. The best tracks were Aerie Descent (by both bands), Melas Khole and The Discipline of Earth (by Thorns); the others are too abstract for me, as I like simplicity in music. Thus March the Nightspirit is not a concept for me whatsoever.


You played the drums for a number of years (both in Thorns and Emperor) but I reckon that you sang in a group with Alver (Emperor’s former bassist). Did you have any musical education? And what was your original drum-kit?

Yeah, well, this band you refer to was me on vocals, Alver on bass and Frost (Satyricon) on drums. Look out for a reunion and release-party on Rockefeller in Oslo and a possible co-headlining world tour with my other prehistoric band Decomposed Cunt. Seriously, I did session drums for Impostor once, but it was only during a short period.
My original drum-kit was a black 5-piece Tama set. I received drum lessons once in my early teens or something, by a Jazz-influenced drummer, but due to the level of boredom during the lesson there was never a second one.


How and when did you become a member of Emperor and why did Mortiis depart shortly after? What do you remember from your time recording with Emperor and did you enjoy working with Pytten? Also, what drum-kit did you use for the recording of In the Nightside Eclipse?

I joined Emperor during the autumn of 1992 and Mortiis departed during December of the same year due to an agreement within the band – as simple as that and, probably, a finished chapter now, soon to be 8 years after the incident.
The recordings of Emperor and As the Shadows Rise were quite simple, really. They were done during 3 days in a local studio, just north of Oslo. Fortunately, it was not the first studio experience for any of us, so the outcome was okay, I think. The mini-album is still especially regarded by many as a cult release, which represented something fresh within Norwegian Black Metal at the time. The recording of In the Nightside Eclipse was a bit more thorough, since we had a bigger budget than on the previous recordings. Pytten was easy to work with. He already had a good reputation at that time since he had worked with bands like Mayhem, Immortal, Burzum and Hades, but for any equipment related answers Ihsahn and Samoth would be better suited to answer them, since I am, merely, “just” a drummer. The drum-set I used was my blood-red Pearl DLX, with 1 snare, 4 toms, double bass, 3 crashes, 2 China crashes, 2 rides, 1 splash and 1 hi-ate.


Most people misunderstand the reasons behind serial and mass-homicides and just accredit them to mental illnesses or other sort of bizarre psychosis. Would you agree that covetousness is, possibly, one of the main drives? If so, were you subconsciously coveting something when you killed Andreassen (even if subconsciously) or were you sentient of it? By knowing your interest on World War II, have you ever read a book called The Crematoriums in Auschwitz (famous for his graphical images)?

Even though serial-killers and mass-murderers have certain patterns and show signs of being archetypes, I think there are a number of reasons why someone decides to take out specimens of their own specie and it can hardly be reduced down to a single keyword, I think. Everyone has their reasons for acting as they do, as there will always lay a motive behind every single move that man makes. Sure, it could be covetousness but, then again, covetousness after what? The questions are numerous and every new answer will lead to 10 new questions.
Yeah, I have read the book The Crematoriums in Auschwitz, which presented a well-documented biography of the death camp. Apart from that, my interest in World War II lays in the fact that war in itself is unique in world history, since no nation has so thoroughly planned to exterminate an ethnic group so utterly.


“Remembrance is externalised in lunacy”: do you agree? Might that come from unmaterialised urges or is there something more insightful than that? Why do you think that people tend to agree that fear is the ultimate source for action related to murder of any kind? Nietzsche once said that when we abhor someone it is due to the fact that we see him or her above us, do you agree?

Even though I have a lot of respect for Nietzsche and, especially, his ideas on Christian slave morality, religion in general and his attempt at evaluating values and redefining the terms “good” and “evil”, things are seldom as black and white as most philosophers present them.
I cannot comment the specific quote you mentioned, since I do not know the context. But give me your definitions on “remembrance” and “lunacy” and I will answer your question.


I read that you owned genuine copies of the unique Grimoire that lays in a museum in London, which might be the original Solomon’s Key (unlike Crowley’s). Tell me about your interest in this and, supposedly, about your consequent curiosity for secret cults and orders, as well as parapsychology.

Well, it is nothing dramatic, really, but I obtained a Xeroxed book from an occultist in the States, called Singh, in the beginning of the 90s. It is supposed to be a fragment of the original Solomon’s Key found in a museum in London, but I do not know the validity of this.
I do not have any out of the ordinary interest in secret cults and orders, it is just that I am very fascinated by millenarian and apocalyptic cults who awaited – and still await – something spectacular in connection with the change of the millennium. It is not only their world-view that fascinates me, but also the psychological approach; why certain dogmatic beliefs attract people in the way they do and make them, for example, commit suicide with hundreds of other cult-members, or hand over their personal life into the hands of their leader(s)? I was once very much into the supernatural and parapsychology and I devoured everything I crossed upon the subject. I think that there is more between heaven and Earth than we could possibly imagine. Man likes to think of himself as the highlight of the ladder of evolution; he has conquered the Universe, fights diseases with biological and physiological knowledge or, in short, he has brought mankind into another dimension with technology, but the fact of the matter is that Man has not even conquered all parts of his own body yet. The human brain remains an unsolved mystery and contains a lot more than anyone could ever imagine, I think. Tests have proved that we normally do not use more than (at most) 25% of the brain capacity being available – imagine if the remaining 75% could be brought forth! I think a lot of the so-called supernatural and parapsychological events can be reduced down to forces in connection with the human mind and brain. I think mind-power controls our lives more than we comprehend.
As for experiences, I once heard a doppelgänger, but that is also one of the events I think can be traced down to human mind-power.


What are your thoughts on the following subjects?:

– Nationalism: a healthy sense of Nationalism can be fortunate in the process of preservation of the races.
– Astrology: I do not let the positions and movements of astrological bodies influence my life on the minor Earth.
– Surrealism: I have no interest in Surrealism, further than that seeing paintings of Salvador Dali can be quite amusing.
– “The Dread Canvas” (i.e. Baudelaire’s metaphor for Life): I have no relationship to Baudelaire whatsoever.
– Slaughter movies: Do you mean Snuff movies? They are decent, as a documentary of the cynicism and coldness of Man.


There has been a new upsurge of experimental and electronic crossovers within the Black Metal genre. Do you think this will take the original spirit to unexplored heights or rather the opposite?

Even if I don’t really listen to much Black Metal any longer, I must say I respect and appreciate the open-mindedness the scene has brought within the last couple of years. Bands like DHG, Behemoth, Thorns, Aborym, Red Harvest, Borknagar, Mayhem and others, are taking it up to new levels and dimensions.


Recently, Samoth has told me that he has renewed Zyklon-B (now under the name of Zyklon) and that you were going to write down the lyrics under his direction, so how are things developing? Also, what’s your outlook on the Blood Must Be Shed release today?

Yeah, Zyklon is the project of Samoth, which in a way is a furthering of the old Zyklon-B. It is not that I exactly write under his direction, but Samoth knows my fascination for the apocalyptic and millenarian subjects and, since I had already done a lyric (Bloodsoil) for Zyklon-B, I guess it was natural for him to ask me over again. I will write all the 9 lyrics for their upcoming album and they will be all based around apocalyptic and millenarian sects with a little hint of criticism on Christian dogmas and doctrines in it.
Blood Must Be Shed was good for a start, as the point was to create a misanthropic concept based around human depravity in general. The Bloodsoil lyric is based around the murder I am sentenced for and displays it in a symbolic way. I will also be writing some lyrics for Aborym in the future.


Emperor

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