Last week's second annual Live Evil festival was even better than last year's first annual Live Evil festival. One of the many bands who excelled were a young band from the mountains of Norway called, simply, Black Magic. I first heard them back in 2008 when they were still a black metal band. Their 2010 demo Reap Of Evil really made me think that they could become something special. I contacted the band's chief songwriter, Jon Stenson, about an interview last year. Kind as he was, he was too nervous to do one as he'd never done one before.
Fast forward to October 2011, and I managed to get not one, but TWO interviews out of him - one before the fest, and one after. So technically I gave him his first and second interviews, but whatever, here is an amalgamation of both. By the way, Jon is like Daniel LaRusso or something. He had the most PMA of anyone ever to land in London for the first time with nowhere to crash. He is a bona fide metal apprentice worthy of claiming the throne one day. Here he is, speaking.
VICE: Jon-san! How was it travelling to London? I hear you have a great fear of flying.
Jon: It's just the classic 'nowhere to escape' reason. But I can tell you what you do when you hate flying – you realise the drinks are free, you drink them, you accept death, and you listen to Heavy Load.
Haha, OK. Did you enjoy your first time playing in London?
I did, yeah. Playing in London was actually a dream come true, I couldn't be more happy about getting that opportunity. And although my playing was a little more shabby than I would want it to be, I think we put on a good show. Free beer, nice people and good music – couldn't ask for more. We all had a blast.
You started the show standing on some amp covers. What was that all about?
The boxes were there to make us feel like metal gods. Being big Judas Priest fans and obsessed with old Slayer clips from '83, we just had to do it.
Did you have a decent place to crash in the end?
Haha, I was actually kicked out of the "hostel" the other guys were staying at after only a couple of hours sleep on a bean bag. Angry, drunk and confused, I was heading towards the airport when I suddenly realised that we hadn't played the show yet. Hahaha!
HAHA! No WAY, dude, that is incredible. So what did you do?
I found my way back to Camden Town and bought a fake Casio watch. It's really nice.
Unorthodox, but effective, especially if it has a date display function. So let's backtrack a little. Let's talk about the band's origin.
In 2006, I had an old band which Cato of Deathhammer liked, and when I went down to the south to visit a girl in his town I contacted him. We met up and jammed and listened to music – it was the first time I'd heard Exodus' Bonded by Blood – and we decided to form Black Magic. So Exodus had a profound effect on you then?
Ah, no, we listened to lots of different stuff. The Black Magic you hear today is more influenced by heavy metal and old Slayer, compared to that earlier Reap Of Evil demo. Yes, I was going to say. That is very much black metal-influenced, then the second demo is thrashier, yet the new material is more heavy/ speed metal-based.
Reap Of Evil was more influenced by Hellhammer and Sabbat, but of course it had some elements of heavy metal to it as well. "Voodoo Curse" is probably a good song to describe our current sound. So tell me, you compose all the tracks yourself, and then have Sadomancer of Deathhammer record drums, and Salsten, also of Deathhammer, join live?
Yeah, I compose the tracks. Sadomancer has made two riffs for the new album, but Salsten refuses to record bass because he thinks I'm better at it, haha. But yeah, me and Sadomancer write the lyrics and he plays the drums, too. Nice. He is a wizard that guy. A true master of evil.
Haha, the master of evil lives in our minds and the wizard holds the key to our music.
Profound. So, aside from Judas Priest videos, what else inspires the sound and lyrics of Black Magic?
SHOW NO MERCY! Iron Maiden too. Satan, I guess. I really don't think people will hear all my influences but I get inspired by bands like Camel and Rainbow, anything really, not just the riffs but different "moods".
Will there be a tour of any sort after the album's release?
There will be no one to tour for because once they hear our album they will be dead, ha ha ha [evil laughter]. The people of London and around the world better be there when we play! Nice. Thanks again Jon-san, you are soon to be the master, not the apprentice.
Listen: Black Magic - "Voodoo Curse"