...and Thus Spake the Dark Half
CoC talks to Frost of Satyricon
by: David Rocher
The logical follow-up to Satyr's two appearances in Chronicles of Chaos [interviews perpetrated by Paul in issues #38 and #44], this twenty-minute conversation with Satyricon's "dark half", namely the calm and mildly taciturn drummer Frost, will hopefully enlighten listeners further as to what the Norwegian duo intended to inject into their music with the release of the very provocative _Rebel Extravaganza_ [CoC #43]. This insight into Frost's mind was obtained just 24 hours after I had received the promo copy from Nuclear Blast, and therefore is essentially based on first impressions of what the anno 1999 Satyricon opus had to offer.

CoC: So, how's everything going?

Frost: I think things are going very well for us. Up to now, we have been receiving a lot of great reviews, and we are very pleased to see that the album is finally out.

CoC: How does _Rebel Extravaganza_ compare with your previous album, _Nemesis Divina_, and earlier Satyricon releases?

F: I would say we've been taking everything a step further, and also bringing a lot of new elements to our music; I think that we have created something that is really harder and blacker, and even more eerie and bizarre than we have ever done so far. And I'm really satisfied with the direction of the music!

CoC: I guess the first surprising point of the album to me was the distinctly un-black metal title...

F: Hmm... not necessarily, I would say -- it's very symptomatic of Satyricon, it's like almost a trademark -- and it pretty much describes Satyricon, in a nutshell. It's not a very "difficult" title anyway -- it just jumped into Satyr's head one day, and he knew that that would be the title of the album. There was actually no deep meaning behind the title, we just thought it was very descriptive of the band's attitude now, and it also [fitted] the music on the record.

CoC: It seems to me there are quite a lot of new "rock" influences in _Rebel Extravaganza_...

F: Yes, there's actually more rock 'n' roll thrown into the music, without it actually being rock 'n' roll. It's something that could make one suspicious, but actually I think it works more than well. Yeah, I'm very pleased with the way it works out.

CoC: You just said that to you, _Rebel Extravaganza_ sounds blacker than what Satyricon played before...

F: Yes, I think so. The feelings in our music are even blacker now than they have ever been before, and even the music is more hard-hitting.

CoC: Don't you think that _The Shadowthrone_, for instance, had a more "occult" atmosphere to it? As a concept, _Rebel Extravaganza_ does seem blacker, but rather less occult?

F: No, I don't think so. I think we have concentrated all those feelings and atmospheres that are typical to black metal, and I'm speaking here about the darkness, coldness and harshness of the music. I think all those "old" elements are taken even further on our new album, even with all those new elements we bring into the music -- at least, that's the feelings I get when I listen to it!

CoC: Well, precisely, talking about the "rock" tones of _Rebel Extravaganza_ -- what bands are you into at the moment?

F: As always, I'm very much into Darkthrone, Mayhem, old Bathory stuff, old Celtic Frost and Hellhammer, and also obscure stuff like Diamanda Galas and Klaus Schulze, you know? But I mostly listen to old black metal bands. [Which, in a bit of retrospect, doesn't enlighten me in the slightest as to the "rocking" tones of _Rebel Extravaganza_! --David]

CoC: And have any recent black metal releases caught your attention?

F: Well, I think the new Dodheimsgard album is actually very good, even if I had to listen to it for some time before I got into the music. And I also like the releases from Aura Noir and Inferno.

CoC: You just mentioned Mayhem -- as they were pretty emblematic of black metal at one time, what do you think of the way they've turned out since the death of Euronymous?

F: I think that musically, at least, all the stuff by Mayhem rules -- everything from the _Pure Fucking Armageddon_ demo to _Wolf's Lair Abyss_ -- and I have huge expectations for _A Grand Declaration of War_, their forthcoming album. And of course I was a little bit wary about what the new Mayhem would become after the departure and death of Euronymous, but they showed the metal world that they still have something really big going on.

CoC: Getting back to your album, how have the lyrics evolved with regard to the music? There are no Norwegian songs on _Rebel Extravaganza_...

F: No, no -- they came around better in English this time. Satyr is our lyricist, and as a poet, he has grown quite a lot over the years; and I think his poetry, that is his lyrics, have become a lot more direct and in your face now than they were earlier, even when being more poetic, you know? They are written in a very poetic manner, I think, but still the message comes across more directly than was the case earlier. There are very different topics on the album; some are to be looked upon as messages to the listener and to the reader of the lyrics, and then again, some lyrics are more like... hysterical aggression. <chuckles>

CoC: And there's something with the visual appearance of _Rebel Extravaganza_ -- for instance, your new make-up seems to overshoot the traditional visual black metal "thing".

F: Yes, you might say so, because that's actually how I feel myself. It's as black as black metal should be, but even then there's more to it; we have taken the style a bit further with this new album -- and those are quite big words, but I think we can stand behind them.

CoC: What was the new appearance designed to reflect?

F: We didn't strive to have a sombre feeling to this. What it meant for us was to try out a couple of ideas that we had, and the main idea for _Rebel Extravaganza_ was to make something very extreme, very sick and very hysterical... and I think we succeeded, and that's also the reason why we want to keep it that way.

CoC: _Nemesis Divina_ was released back in 1996, and _Rebel Extravaganza_ was actually a much-awaited album, so what was the pressure on you like before the release?

F: The pressure was enormous, and Satyr, as the songwriter, of course felt the pressure most. He felt that it was a -necessity- to make this album top what we had done so far, and I think that we have to conclude that we succeeded. The reason why _Rebel Extravaganza_ took so long to write was that the creative process was very hard work. We had to throw a lot of the material away, because we were very selective, and this had to be the absolute best -- and that takes time to do.

CoC: We were talking about the visual "codes" of black metal; back at the time of Satyricon's earlier works, Emperor's _In the Nightside Eclipse_, Immortal's _Pure Holocaust_, the stance and attitude of black metal musicians always had me wondering what their thought patterns could really be -- can you tell me more about this?

F: Well, I can only speak for myself, of course, because Satyr is evolving in a different way, and maybe he has "individual thought patterns", to use a Death title there -- but I'm still mostly listening to quality black metal stuff, living the black metal way, doing that kind of style, while Satyr is someone who always likes to explore new things. That's a bigger part of his life than of mine; I try to just go further on from where I started, and get deeper into it.

CoC: Exactly -- what does "living the black metal way" represent to you?

F: Well, you have the thing with clothing and stuff, the interest in music, and the dark ideology that lies behind -- which is a topic which would need a book for it to be explained thoroughly. It's the music, the style, the image and the ideology [combined] which can be seen as the basis for this style.

CoC: Concerning the ideology, what do you think of the way how things got out of hand a few years back, with the stories of Mayhem and Burzum, the church fires...?

F: You know, the scene at that time couldn't handle all this media attention, and a lot of the guys into the black metal scene didn't actually -feel- so much about the ideology that they represented. So, of course, when confronted with extremists, they blacked out and couldn't stand the extremity of some of the most involved persons -- and it's been like that all the time. The black metal ideology is quite extreme, and only very few people really have it, and that's how it's been all the time. But in the beginning, it seemed that a lot of people were into the ideology, when in fact only maybe ten or twenty people had a really heartfelt thing going on there. And that's still the situation today: a lot of people like the music, but only a few people are actually into the ideology of the music.

CoC: I personally view the black metal ideology as being something extremely misanthropic...

F: Yes, of course!

CoC: How then do you feel about black metal bands playing live, before an audience?

F: I see your point, of course. I would still say that doing concerts shouldn't be a problem for a band, because there is still a huge gap between the performer and the audience, and we are expressing a visual side of the band; and performing live, in addition to the music, of course, is not only meant to please our audience -- which we of course would like to do -- but it's also meant to please ourselves and help the band out, so that powers everything, I think. And I also would like to point out that being misanthropic doesn't necessarily mean you hate -all- people, but you hate, or are against, people -in general-.

CoC: So you view it like sticking with your kinfolk, I guess?

F: Exactly! That's the point.

CoC: The massive black metal upheaval a couple of years ago has now completely receded, and many bands have simply vanished from the scene, leaving only "reliable" bands like Marduk, Satyricon, Immortal...

F: That's exactly what you would expect, isn't it? It was the same thing with death metal -- a lot of people started playing death metal because it was up-and-growing metal, and I guess a lot of them also saw potential money earnings. Then it would become boring to them, and their dedication to the style wasn't that big, so... and it was -exactly- the same with black metal. A lot of bands playing death metal turned towards black metal because they couldn't get the attention they wanted when playing death metal. So some bands just started using corpsepaint, spikes, leather and stuff, and turned their music into black metal, just to get more attention. But of course, later on, they would see that they weren't that much into black metal either, and that their music was actually really boring, so then they just gave up.

CoC: Now that _Rebel Extravaganza_ has been released, will Satyricon be shooting any videos for it?

F: Yes, we will; it's planned, and we already have lots of ideas.

CoC: For what song?

F: We don't know yet, that's still to be decided.

CoC: Any ideas about a storyboard?

F: Nothing that I should tell you about now <chuckles> -- if I revealed it before we did the video, I would destroy a lot of the shock effect that may be there. <chuckles again>

CoC: Okay... any last words to conclude, Frost?

F: I usually don't give any last words... thanks, and good luck with your magazine.

(article submitted 15/1/2000)


CHATS
12/9/1999 P Schwarz Satyricon: In a Moment of Clarity, the Rebels Return
3/14/1999 P Schwarz Satyricon: An Extravagant Rebel Conquest
ALBUMS
11/11/2008 J Smit 8.5 Satyricon - The Age of Nero
3/26/2006 J Montague 2 Satyricon - Now, Diabolical
7/12/2003 Q Kalis 8.5 Satyricon - Volcano
10/12/1999 P Azevedo 9 Satyricon - Rebel Extravaganza
8/12/1999 A Wasylyk 8 Satyricon - Intermezzo II
9/14/1997 S Hoeltzel 4 Satyricon - Megiddo
8/12/1996 S Hoeltzel 5 Satyricon - Nemesis Divina: The Conquering
5/10/1996 S Hoeltzel 7 / 5 Satyricon - The Forest Is My Throne
Enslaved - Yggdrasill
GIGS
3/5/2000 M Noll Satyricon / Behemoth / Hecate Enthroned Untied Bronze Chains
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