GORGOROTH – King Ov Hell

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Interview Conducted By Robert Williams

Videography Courtesy Of Sandra Torres



Belgian artist Peter Lathouwers recently completed a painting featuring bassist King ov Hell (real name: Tom Cato Visnes) and vocalist Gaahl (real name: Kristian Espedal) of the Norwegian black metal band GORGOROTH.

Commented Lathouwers: "When certain musicians come together, magic happens. They seem to have a way of making parts of their personalities coincide with each other. It’s as if they speak a different language which outsiders can’t understand. Not even other musicians. There has to be a personal link between them and not only on a musical level.

"When these kinds of artists part ways, their band or project will not sound the same anymore. I think of Blackie Lawless and Chris Holmes [of W.A.S.P.] for instance, Simon and Garfunkel, CARCASS without Ken Owen. Anyway, my point is: in order for it to have that extra uniqueness, the personalities inside the project or band need to have a certain type of extraordinary indefinable link between them.

"The painter, or ‘watcher,’ so to speak, is to me, an extension of that musical art. If the music of certain individuals provides that extraordinary indefinable spark in the mind of the painter, then the extent of the musicians will be translated onto the canvas. The painter is a third party in the process of creating art in its totality: music, words and painting. Not a band member, but a distant watcher, contemplator and visionary.”

Why the Gaahl/King painting?

"I was drawn to GORGOROTH quite early in their career. I think ‘Pentagram’ was the first album I bought. The sound of GORGOROTH has always been very unique in its genre, past and present.

"Of course, GORGOROTH was, and is, one of the most evil-looking and sounding bands from this day and before, so it was natural for me to get a bit deeper into them. I’ve read the magazines, saw the videos, heard all of the bullshit and commotion going on lately and something all of a sudden struck me.

"With the up rise of the Internet and youtube, GORGOROTH didn’t seem so distant and unreachable anymore. One could look beyond the painted faces now. And what I saw amazed me. Here you have one of the most notorious members of lack metal in Norway who, without the paint, has a look in his eyes of innocence and when he talks he speaks the language of the wiseman, a side of him which I believe very little people actually see.

"Many of us look, but only a few really see. That’s the painter’s job.

"I see many characters hiding in that one face being Gaahl. The same goes for King. On stage, he is pure hell on earth: evil, grim-looking, threatening and violent. But when you look closer, without the corpse paint, you see something totally different; an artist, a rock ‘n’ roll kid having fun by just playing rock ‘n’ roll and a true musical genius. And that is what I think attracts me the most in them. Their music, which goes without saying, but also the fact that their personalities just happen to compliment each other in order to make the magic of GORGOROTH happen.

"Gaahl simply is not Gaahl without the paint, but to me that is the beauty of it all.

"When painting the Gaahl/King canvas, I felt so close to them both it was as if they could come in at anytime, have a coffee and we’d sit down and talk as if we were friends for over twenty years while in reality we have barely spoken. It’s a strange but welcome feeling. I guess their music just provided me that indefinable spark."