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The Rainy Day Issue
Part of a page from Sarcofago Arckanum’s sigillum Nattefrost, Carpathian Forest
Even though Varg Vikernes has been in jail for the past ten years, having his books published by his mother and with no intentions what so ever of ever making black metal music again (ever), Burzum is still one of the first words from every newbie metalist’s mouth when it comes to black metal. Mayhem follows (thanks to the gruesome history), and Satyricon, who has signed to EMI and get play-listed on Norwegian radio. But along comes a beautifully contemptuous band like Pest, who could easily change that overnight. They’re a good old-fashioned, two-piece black metal machine, with all the qualities of underground superstars. They don’t play live, their biography is two sentences long and their music is all mayhem hatred and epicondylitis guitars with absolutely no keyboards. But like any good old-fashioned black metal act Pest are completely paranoid about press, and they won’t to talk to us, even though we told them we really like them and that the questions are easy. Of course, we’re still going to play their new album, In Total Contempt, to death.
When black metal pencil artist French got of his plane at Arlanda last week to get to his first ever exhibition, one of the first people he saw was Darkthrone’s Fenriz. When he discovered Pågen bread (“Unholy Pagan bread aaaahhh!!!”) in a regular kitchen, he knew he was in a truly evil place. Right now French is part of the group exhibition “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” that will be showing until 3 July at Loyal Gallery in Stockholm (go to www.loyalmagazine.com for more information). He also says he hasn’t seen an ugly girl since he arrived.
If you prefer raw, unhinged madness, another great activity for this summer is going to see Taake live in Norway. Taake’s U. Høst with band will be performing at Bergen’s Hole in the Sky festival (24-27 August, go to www.holeinthesky.no), and the True Norwegian Black Metal legends will be putting the fun back in funeral with some unmatched hostility at what seems to be their going away concert. After finishing their trilogy about Bergen with the last and brilliantly evil Doedskvad we’ve been hearing talk about them taking some time off, ad infinitum. The previous albums in the trilogy, Nattestid and Bjoergvin, both concern “death, Norway and the Devil in man,” according to Høst. All albums mix old school black metal with Nordic folk music and regular thrash, and Taake end up sounding both true to their roots and totally revolutionary at the same time. Anyway, a band that dare to hold Kate Bush and a-ha as some of their main influences will always have a special place in our tiny, dark hearts.
Up until Hole in the Sky, summer is bound to be slow, like one record label rep said “Nobody really buys black metal in June.” Carpathian Forest will be off to South America all of July, but their live DVD should be in stores by then. It’s packed with perversions, monstrosities, obese nude dancing (male and female), darkness, creepy shit and completely thrashing live recordings, filmed in Krakow and at the Wacken Open Air Festival. There’s also a short documentary about the making of Defending the Throne of Evil—which is dull apart from when Nattefrost goes nuts with a jew’s-harp—and an interview, which is awesome. Singer Nattefrost introduces his dancers, and explains that one of them, a woman in her 70s, can read cards. “From old people you can hear so many interesting stories,” he says “and if people think that is strange, then again, fuck off.” When asked about death metal he says, “Death metal should only be about death, with murderous themes and lyrics.” The interviewer interrupts with “I’m sorry, but it’s not! It’s also about war and killings.” In the end they agree to agree. Vrangsinn has had some health problems, which has kept him almost paralyzed, but now he is back on stage and looks as grim as ever in his tiny jockstrap.
Swedish one-man-band Arckanum is one of our favourite D.I.Y. soldiers. Arckanum’s Shamaatae writes the songs, plays all the instruments and does his own sleeve artwork; even the calligraphy is done by hand. He’s path is more primitive than evil, but he still ends up in a forest full of axe wielding Vikings, chaos and Satanism, far away from civilization and commercial interests. And he shares our musical preferences, “I do not try to perform as complex and adept as possible; because I think that my music style shall be dirty & thrashing.” says Shamaatae. As a true believer in chaos he is celebrating his 11-year anniversary with just that, an album filled with some, but not all, previously unreleased dirty thrash.
Another recent release is the new black metal picture book Sarcofago. The book is a tribute to the Brazilian band with the same name, even the logo is similar, but with fewer crosses. The artist, Ragnar Persson, has picked drawings he’s done over a year, and the book also contains some lyrics written by the Swedish poet Johan Nordbeck. It’s not entirely kosher, more art than black metal, but there are still some really nice, dark drawings to flip through if you need something to take you through a sunny day. For more information, go to www.konstig.se.
Also, Nifelheim are playing violent old school black metal live around the Nordic regions, though we haven’t heard anything about new recordings, while Sarcofago favourites Watain are focusing on getting new material ready. But if you can’t wait for the Armageddon, you can catch them in Oslo on 2 July.