As Black As They Wanna Be
CoC interviews Vassago of Lord Belial
by: Drew Snow
After much delay, the sophomore effort of harsh-yet-melodic Swedish black metallers Lord Belial, entitled _Enter the Moonlight Gate_, is finally out. Reviewed in these pages months ago, the advance 4-song tape under scrutiny then was only a mere half of the full-length album, and the newer material does not disappoint at all. Swinging back and forth from violent outbursts of pure speed and aggression, to mid-paced walks through luscious fields of melody enveloped by flute, _EtMG_ is definitely a high-quality release. Guitarist Vassago took some time off to answer our questions.

CoC: Since your new album _Enter the Moonlight Gate_ was recently released, what have you been doing in the meantime?

Vassago: We have been recording some demo tracks for our next album and we have recorded "Come to the Sabbath" by Mercyful Fate. This cover-version will be featured on a Mercyful Fate-compilation released by Listenable Records. We recorded it in Andy LaRocque's studio, and we are pleased with the result. We will most probably record our next album with Andy. He is great to work with.

CoC: Why was there such a delay between the recording of the album (April '96) and its eventual release (July '97)?

V: No Fashion signed a lot of bands during a short period of time. This resulted in a chaotic handling of their releases. That is why it was delayed over and over again.

CoC: After releasing two albums on No Fashion Records, what is your feeling towards the label? Are you satisfied with them?

V: Well, let me assure you; they have not bothered one bit about us until this last month (July '97). The guy who handles us is not involved in the scene at all, he is just a clerk who knows nothing about metal. The staff at House of Kicks is the same staff that runs a mail order company called Sound Pollution; and the distribution of albums in Sweden/Scandinavia, plus No Fashion, Chaos Records, and five or six more small record labels. In my opinion, they should be five times as many people to be able to handle the situation properly. But then they won't make as much money as they are doing at the moment, so I suppose they have decided to stomp on the bands instead. We are -not- satisfied with them. They recently fucked up a tour with Emperor for us. They neglected to answer on time because the clerk that is supposed to run our business was ON VACATION!!! AAAAARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!! There are a few other labels that want to sign us, and they were so fucking angry when they heard about this, they said "Ahhh, come on, you MUST leave No Fashion now, we will pay the tour at ONCE if you sign for us!"

CoC: In music, and especially it seems in metal, maintaining a steady band lineup is sometimes difficult, yet the four members of Lord Belial have been together since the beginning, in '92. Is the band lineup as strong now as it was then?

V: Well, actually it is stronger. The bass player has never been involved in metal, that is why he has such a unique style in bass playing, but he has grown into his position completely. We have never been as strong as we are now, and we are getting better and stronger all the time!

CoC: It seems that although the new trend is to be retro and very 80s, Lord Belial has remained solidly in the realm of black metal. What's your view of the retro uprising?

V: Ha, I suppose it's the kids that grew up with the flood of black metal music that have thought "I wonder what these guys were listening to when they started" and are now finding it cool to plagiarize the "original" metal. I think Lord Belial have some sounds from the 80s as well, though. My personal influences lie in this era.

CoC: The band has a great talent for writing majestic melodies, for both the guitar and flute, yet you place them right next to violent, fast sections of the songs, structurally. Which do you find more difficult to write, and which do you prefer, the melodic or the violent?

V: Well, the melodies are mostly made by Dark, while I like it more brutal, so my riffs tend to be less melodic. I like it raw and straightforward, but the contrast makes it much better.

CoC: Lord Belial is unique in that you incorporate flutes into a harsh black metal environment. Do you foresee use of the flute in the future?

V: Oh, I am assured we will use flute on our next album as well, along with a few other "different" instruments.

CoC: You placed some female vocals in Enter the Moonlight Gate as well. Can you explain the decision to use them?

V: It was Dark's idea. His girlfriend is a singer in a choir, so he came up with this idea to make the contrast between melody and aggression even bigger.

CoC: Do you view the band, and music in general, as an emotional attachment to you, or more as a form of self-expression, or both?

V: Since Dark finds it difficult to use mine or Sin's lyrics, he generally uses his own nowadays, so I can no longer say that I can express anything in particular more than just feelings in the music. Sometimes, I have a totally different vision in my head than what Dark sings about, though. But mostly, it works very good.

CoC: How satisfied are you with Lord Belial's two albums?

V: I do not listen so much to _Kiss the Goat_, maybe once every second month. I don't think that this album is representative for Lord Belial anymore. _Enter the Moonlight Gate_, however, is. I was satisfied with _Kiss the Goat_ for one week, then we entered the studio with Vassago to create some pure violent music. _Kiss the Goat_ has its good sides, though. I am quite pleased with _Enter..._, but I know that our next album will be the best we have ever made!

CoC: What have you got planned for the next album? Will it continue in the same vein as _Enter the Moonlight Gate_?

V: We have five freshly written songs and they sparkle with energy, yet it is not the same drumming, it is much more varied. Sometimes, it is MUCH faster, but it is more mixed with heaviness. The people that have heard our new material think that it is in the vein of _Enter..._, but better still.

CoC: What's planned for the rest of this year?

V: Rehearsals!!! And hopefully a tour. We are VERY eager to go on tour. We have the album on digi-pack now, but it will also come out on vinyl. We have t-shirts and long sleeves, and they look excellent. Actually, they are the most beautiful shirts on the market, and this is no bragging, it is stating of a fact. <snickers> Personally, I will go on tour with Sacramentum later on as well.

CoC: That's the end, Vassago, thanks a lot. Take this space to say what you wish...

V: Buy our works of music and art. It is not just a piece of metal, it is a new world that awaits to be explored! Thanks for the interview. Die Hard!!!

(article submitted 14/9/1997)

11/7/2008 J Smit 7 Lord Belial - The Black Curse
6/10/2007 J Smit 5.5 Lord Belial - Revelations
11/24/2005 J Smit 8 Lord Belial - Nocturnal Beast
8/11/2004 J Smit 5 Lord Belial - The Seal of Belial
2/4/1997 D Schinzel 9 Lord Belial - Enter the Moonlight Gate
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