This interview was originally conducted for Iron Fist Magazine which is now out and available in all good newsagents and online. Check out the link at the bottom and grab a copy of the most unadulterated metal mag you will find on the shelves anywhere. Naturally the band had plenty more to say than space limitations allowed for so here is the full unexpurgated interview for you to read through. Questions answered by vocalist / guitarist Prime Evil aka Svartravn.
Firstly congratulations on the new album, it’s definitely a blast!
Thank you very much! I’m glad you like it. MYSTICUM is extremely satisfied and we are proud of this album right into our bones and we definitely hold this one high among our works. We consider Planet Satan to be the grand jewel of MYSTICUM so far, where we really have gotten what we wished for.
Q: I’m sure you are sick of answering this so let’s get it out the way first. Why so long between debut album Streams Of The Inferno and Planet Satan, it took 18 years. Was it a case of life getting in the way?
Honestly we got tired! – Tired of the whole scene and where it was heading with shitty bands and no respect among the true ones in the scene, and the scene turned into a wildfire of shitty bands that grew big all over with their rip-off crap black metal. Suddenly shitty newbie black metal bands were popping up everywhere around the world trying to sound Norwegian and dressed up as fucking panda bear clowns so we got so fucking tired and ashamed of the whole thing the scene became, and started to hold back more and more and in the end we decided to wait and put the whole thing on hold. We waited 6+6+6 years and focused on that magical number and power, visualizing the reality with Planet Satan orbiting in the back of our minds (laughing).
I had a dream some years ago which had a strong message and, and even riffs were playing in loops, total armageddon and doom to it. I suddenly woke up with my pulse and heart beating 666 beats per minute (laughing), this was in the middle of the night and I rushed over and picked up my dusty guitar and started to play this riff I dreamed of, and from there it was done, riffs were popping out of my guitar every day and I decided to get in touch with the other members of the band and arranged meetings with them. Our close friend Mathias who also is our coordinator / manager was in contact with both me and Dr. Best and he started to check with different record labels for a deal to sign so that we could have something to work towards.
Q: There were long periods of inactivity for the band, did you all stay in touch with each other over that time?
After we decided to hold back from the scene we haven’t been too much in contact in the last years before coming together as one again. We had a lot of fucked up times after we “split” of course, you know we are psychonauts and we were floating in our universes many-many times (laughing) so we had some pretty fucked up partying after Mysticum too (laughing).
Q: Were any of you actively involved in anything else musical during this period aside from Prime Evil who contributed vocally to Aborym for several years?
No. I was the only member of MYSTICUM to be part of other projects and I was part of the Norwegian band Amok (Bergen) for a few years. I also contributed on Aborym’s album Generator. I was over in Rome for a short visit with the guys there and lived at Nysrok’s house during my visit for the recording of that album. I think.
Q: I wondered where your interest in industrial music developed from, was it perhaps going back to the Kraut rock scene and through bands such as SPK, Einstürzende Neubauten, Laibach etc, or maybe groups like Ministry, RevCo, Front 242, Godflesh, or even hard techno and gabba? What was it that influenced you to bring this side of things into your sound?
I’m not a big listener to music at all to be honest, but some of the mentioned ones here I do like, like Einstürzende Neubauten, Laibach and Godflesh..also Converter and Death prod is bad ass industrial. I think Herr General Cerastes is much more into industrial music than me and Dr. Best. Industrial ambient is something I value in the genre of industrial music.
Q: Naturally you grew up around the developing black metal scene in Norway, what did you take from that and what are your memories and involvement within this?
There was of course a lot of partying with many different types of substances and of course a lot of crazy things were happening under the influence of these substances too, but I am not going into that now. MYSTICUM was also very much linked to the Swedish black metal scene and our friends there were bands like Abruptum, Marduk, Dissection, and we were involved with the so called “inner circle” of the scene. Hail to you It and All (Gubbe javlar kom nu….det ar kaffe och macka på köjket (laughing).
Q: You are looked upon as innovators for having merged the two styles together, what gave you the original idea of doing so. Did it all come together naturally and work for you straight away or was it a big learning curve?
When we got the drum machine in the early nineties at that time we really liked the sound of it because it had no human feel; totally sterile and robotic, and with that sound and sterile drum patterns mixed with our guitar style and sound it got more industrial sounding, and from there we played industrial black metal of course.
Q: Did you find the technology that you used early on made it easy to get the sound you were looking for, was equipment quite basic at the time and how have you found this has changed over the years between albums. Was it a lot easier to work on Planet Satan with newer technology available?
The early technology we used in the beginning was a Roland drum machine and it was very simple for programming drum patterns. Later we got a sampler and a Roland sound module too which opened quite a few more windows to the MYSTICUM electronic universe, and at that time we used a PC program called Cakewalk. Now we use New drum machines (Maschine) and PC programs like Pro Tools. It was not easy to learn how to abuse the new technology and that is also why it took three years to make Planet Satan after we came back….so our next coming album won’t take that much time to make (laughing).
Q: You put together some tracks that were supposedly written for Planet Satan a lot earlier back apparently but they were never released. Were you unhappy with the results and when did work seriously start on the album we have today and what was the process like to record it? Were things done a lot over the internet and how long did you spend in the studio?
Yes we made many tracks and almost a whole album, but we were not satisfied with it and only kept the best riffs. Some of the songs are on the new album Planet Satan, and those are songs like Fist of Satan and All Must End which has changed in title and time…LSD (Lucifer in the Skies with Demons) is also from that time but suddenly got changed a lot with new riffs and some are transformed. The lyric of LSD and its original title that was Lucifer in the Skies with Demons was written back in the late nineties and mister Stian Olsen Culto from bands like Perdition Hearse, Mayhem and Shadow Dancers participated on the first few lines of it, but that is also changed a bit now. So from our old material we have more or less three songs that are now on the Planet Satan album.
Q: It’s got to be said Planet Satan sounds phenomenal and really strikes as having everything on it pushed to the limits as far as bludgeoning the listener to bits with its pace. Did you always intend making it sound quite so ferocious and how would you compare it to ‘Streams Of The Inferno’ as a natural evolution or a completely separate entity?
We had some of the songs already done and many of the riffs are from the past so there is a mix of new and old riffs here and there, but much of the album was made in the last months before entering FiasCo Studios with Sverre SlobRock Daehlie and much of the drums, samples and synths were also developed in the studio. We know what Mr. SlobRock is good for in tuning sound and mixing it through our recording earlier with our track Black Magic Mushrooms, so we felt safe in his professional hands and next time he will be the one mastering it too, so it will be all his touch and fingerprints on our next album. Planet Satan is a perfect jewel for us and for me it is the best we’ve done so far, and I’m sure the other two members agree with me. In the Streams of Inferno is also a treasure and more of an un-cut diamond – cold freezing steel.
Q: It would be interesting to know what you think of your earlier work now especially as it has recently been given a new lease of life by Peaceville?
The reissues we’re very satisfied with, and were extremely well mastered by Tom Thrawsvoll and Mathias Løken. Tom is the man with the equipment and Mathias is for sure the one with the ears in those jobs. Fucking great work guys!
Q: You only played a handful of shows 24 or so I believe. I was lucky enough to catch the London show on the 96 Heaven Shall Burn tour with Marduk and Gehenna. You may be interested to know that due to the overtly blasphemous nature of the bands and the blood drinking from the headliners the Catholic owned club actually stopped putting on shows of this nature for a while after this. What are your memories of this and the shows and why is it something you were not more actively involved in?
Yes the Heaven Shall Burn tour was pretty heavy, and abuse of all kinds of substances was a daily meal for us and beers and drinks were to quench our thirst…fuck, we were drunk and drugged every fucking day and there is not so much to remember actually. I can’t even remember Marduk were drinking blood in their show (laughing). We played one show in New York and two in Mexico right after the Heaven Shall Burn tour. By the way we have not heard anything about any club being closed for doing black metal shows and it is so fucking typical of religious pigs like Catholics (laughing). Is it not wrong for people representing Christianity to be sinners, in this case having a club where they sell booze and beers to people – so they are committing sins (laughing). Well that just shows how fucking two faced they really are, totally fake people sinning at night and asking for forgiveness during the day. They will burn in Hell with all of us and they know it (laughing).
Q: Speaking of Satanism and there is no avoiding it as far as the new album is concerned is it something more than just a theme for you? Is Satanism in some form something you practice as a doctrine?
Our anti-christian/anti-religious message is based on our understanding of the concept of Satan, which literally means “the opposer”. Satan to us is the pure fire within ourselves rebelling against any lord or suppressor. Refusing to acknowledge a higher being to whom we should obey or follow. The whole idea of having a master in life or death is unsound. Satan is the force of our will, battling with the whole concept of god and the followers of it. The only certainty is death, and from there-on only the dead know. If there were to be a Hell/heaven dimension in the afterlife, you can be sure to find us in the frontline tearing down the slaving institution of god. We don’t preach anything, rather giving out an ass-kick for the listener to wake up and think for yourself. Seducers we can go along with.
Q: Drugs seem to open the musical floodgates too, mushrooms, L.S.D so are they still important in the grand scheme of things? While you were working on the earlier stuff I read with some amusement about your wild past and poisoning the otherwise pretty anti-drugs scene.
Drug, drugs, drugs everywhere MYSTICUM goes it’s either the nose in some shiny crystals or paper on the tongue, or graze like a goat in the tussock terrain (laughing) – personally I prefer the last one with the goat, hailz!! – (Laughing). Actually fly agaric (amanita muscaria) is a good choice too and we’ll be having a few of those on our release party since this mushroom is allowed to be consumed in most parts of the world and there is no rule against consuming it here in Norway as well 😉 Anti-drug scene, where??? Go fuck yourself pussies and bring on some krokodil for your ticket inside the realm of Lucifer’s mystery (laughing).
Q: As far as industrial black metal is concerned there are but a handful of bands who truly went on to develop things after you, Diabolicum, Dodheimsgard, Aborym, Diabolos Rising, Raism and Black Lodge to name a few. Is it something you keep an interest in and why do you think it’s a style that is quite limited?
I have only heard one of your mentioned industrial black metal bands that truly stays in my heart and a few others of your mentioned I’ve heard but that would be just once or twice I guess, because for me Aborym is number 1 of other industrial black metal bands other than our own band, and it was a huge honour for me when I was asked to do vocals for them. I am fucking proud of being part of their album Generator that totally kicks Christ’s ass in Hell.
Q: Did you ever feel pressure to record a follow up album from fans, label and how do you feel now that Planet Satan is being released, has it taken a weight off your minds and are you keen to see what reaction it will get?
Of course we had some kind of pressure, but most of all our own pressure to complete it in time and, that task was a relief to get through. Planet Satan has always been in the back of our minds so to finally give life to this long awaited album was a relief and victory, because in the end before we got together I kind of got the feeling of doubt from time to time, but still knowing it would be done. Hails Satan!
Q: Do you see this as something that has re-energized you all and do you expect to be following Planet Satan up with further recordings and even live shows or are you likely to disappear into the shadows once again?
One thing is for sure and that is that we will not disappear into “the shadows” again. We have obtained great inspiration making Planet Satan and have much-much more to deliver – some lyrics are already written and a couple of songs ready with basic drum patterns, so yes, we’re already on our way into a future album. Right now we are rehearsing for future live shows too and a stage show is being planned as we speak.
Q: Thanks for your time, any parting words you would care to share?
Thank you for this interview Pete and I’ll hope MYSTICUM will return to the UK very soon blasting off Catholic clubs. Hail Satan!
(Interview Pete Woods)