NAMM 2008: Conversations of Steel
I stepped outside briefly to have a cigarette. This woman with dark, black hair walked by and saw my Wacken long sleeve and gave me the horns. I stopped to chat with her and gave her two cds from my backpack. (I was passing out Texas metal cd’s by Magnus Thorsen and Nokturnel….yes I am aware that Nokturnel is originally from New Jersey. They relocated.)
She said that she’d love to chat but had to run to an appointment. So did I. I stepped back into the convention to find King Ov Hell who was supposed to make an appearance at the Peavey booth.
King was there and was surrounded by a small mob of black metal fans that had somehow gotten into the convention. On top of that Metal Sanaz, with her camera crew and very professional looking microphone (with Metal Sanaz logo) was interviewing King.
The dark haired woman I had visited with outside was there too. It turned out she was King’s manager, and arranged a sit down interview with King on the upper level industry-only section of the Peavey exhibit. Armed with my trusty Sony voice recorder and a 3×5 notecard with questions sticky labeled on it I sat and interviewed King. Next year I’ll be damned if I don’t have a camera crew. My conversation with Mr. Ov Hell is as follows:
King Ov Hell (Gorgoroth)
MR: What were the events that led to the split with Infernus?
The reason why we, we stopped working with him was basically because we had troubles. We are working on a professional level, and nothing personal against him as a person or anything, but when it came to …. it wasn’t possible to track or do the art we want to represent.
In 2007 we decided to continue to do it with me and Gaahl.
MR: Was it a difficult decision to decide to continue using the name of a band that you and Gaahl were not original members of?
We have put so much art into the name Gorgoroth. I can also understand why Infernus wants to keep the name because he’s like founder of the band, but you have to think that after spending 10 years of my life in this and also being the driving force musically for ten years and it feels natural for me to remain Gorgoroth.
MR: The members of Gorgoroth have been plagued by legal proceedings throughout the last several years including charges of blasphemy, rape, and grievous bodily harm. Is all the courtroom drama behind you now?
Yeah, basically, you can never predict the future of course, but at this point nobody is going to prison and nobody is charged for any criminal acts or anything. So hopefully it will continue like that. It’s a good thing too having this kind of controversy because it like it gets your name out. But on the other hand it’s also distracting because it’s …. you know, it doesn’t seem that way that Gaahl is always probably going to prison or being in prison or something. Hopefully it will be more calm and focused.
MR: How was it that you originally became a part of Gorgoroth?
Bergen is a very small city. The music scene is basically connected to one bar. So everybody knows who everybody is. I was friends with Infernus.
MR: Seeing as how the 2nd wave of black metal is almost exclusively a Norse thing, what’s your opinion when you see the American black metal bands with the corpse paint and the same kind of imagery playing music that sounds like it comes from Scandinavia?
I’m not alert of many bands trying to …. This whole heart of black metal is going your own way and in Norway you have bands like Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Immortal they have a very strong identity and have created their own sounds. I can tell that many bands are inspired and tried to adept into being like …. great Darkthrone riffs or Immortal riffs and they’re not right. That is not the essence of Satanism, it’s being me, being your own way, going your own path. If you’re trying to be someone else or copy something else it’s fake.
MR: Infernus labels himself as a Theistic Satanist, would you personally care to comment whether or not you view Satan as a physical deity?
I don’t believe in a force called Satan. Satan represents…. We use the word Satan to communicate with our enemies being Christians. For me Satan represents a god within me and also a god within man.
MR: In a recent interview Gaahl did with Terrorizer magazine he said that you and your ex bandmate, Infernus are more likely to be friends than you and him. What is your relationship with Gaahl like?
What he means is like me and Infernus is probably, have a more similar way of thinking. He (Gaahl) is more an Odinist than a Satanist, I am more a Satanist than an Odinist and I am maybe closer to Infernus in the Satanic part than Gaahl.
MR: Gorgoroth has undergone a musical facelift over the last several albums. Gone is the harsh and raw basement quality recordings of the bands early years, after the caustic soul cleansing that was the Destroyer (Or How To Philosophize With A Hammer) album the band employed more traditional song structuring and a slicker studio mix, Incipit Satan for example was a clear departure of the unpredictability of the groups earlier years, do you feel that being the chief songwriter for the past several years you have shaped Gorgoroth into a different beast?
Of course I think music in a different way than Infernus and what he did in the past. I feel like I have created a new voice for Gorgoroth.
MR: Where do you turn for inspiration when you are writing the music for Gorgoroth?
It’s hard to give an answer to that. It could be the moment or it could be an idea or whatever. I can’t explain like where a riff comes from you just like have to be there.
MR: What would we find in your record collection? Do you listen to black metal when you are not onstage playing it?
I hardly listen to metal. I listen to some bands, probably I’m more into seventies bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin stuff like that. So, that’s you know, where I come from.
MR: Is there a beef that you know of between Marduk and Gorgoroth? When Marduk toured the U.S. in 2000 I met the band and was wearing my Gorgoroth t-shirt and several band members from Marduk told me they did not like Gorgoroth….
I don’t care about Marduk.
MR: When B War (former Marduk bass player) moved to Austin he told me that there was links on the Gorgoroth website that is related to pedophilia (i.e. NAMBLA, Michael Jackson.com) would you care to comment on that?
It’s probably like humor going around. But we removed all the links that Infernus ….you know. We have removed every link, every link that’s on the site now is serious.
MR: You have a side project in the works with Robb Caggiano from Anthrax, how did that come about?
I met Rob Caggiano after a Gorgoroth concert actually, in London in 2005. He’s a great guitar player and actually interested to some of my idea’s in different kinds of bands. I’m in Sahg and I’m part of “I” with Abbath from Immortal and also this Rob Caggiano thing, and that also keeps Gorgoroth more pure I believe because I can, you know, get all of the other ideas out.
You have to….You are not like one track mind guy. You have many, many ways of thinking music and I have to express myself in different ways, but Gorgoroth is the only band that express more than music.