Of the many genres of Metal, I think Black Metal may be one of the hardest to do consistently well. One of the things that always impresses me about a good Black Metal band is their ability to conjure up and maintain the kind of ferocity that the music demands. And when a band takes on the moniker Satanic Black Metal, things become even more intense. As you wade through the muck to sort out who is just shouting Satan for shock value and who picks up the dark arts as a way of life. The thing that separates the dark hordes from the posers is the ability to use Satanism not just for shock value, but as a way to encourage the listener to cast off shackles of organized religion and embrace free thought even if it is only for a moment. Not just the glorification of evil, even though that's always fun.Sothis , Woe and the sorely missed Dissection are bands that immediately come to mind when I think of Black Metal at its best. Now I can happily addNecrophobic to that list. Their new album Death to All is nothing short of brilliant.They are unapologetic and brutal as they expound their view of the world. The music is their way of connecting to this world and the worlds beyond. Yet they don't use it the scare the masses, well not intentionally anyway. Its a declaration of who they are, the listener can either run from it or embrace. But no matter what you wont be able to ignore it. I've recently had the pleasure to talk guitarist Sebastian Ramstedt about Death to All, Satanism and all manner of things Metal. Enjoy
Your music is full of Satanic imagery. Are you all practicing Satanists?
Sebastian: In the bible Satan is the one who questions the authority. He chooses to go his own way even if that means there will be blood, both his own and others. Even if I’m not a Christian or Christian Satanist I support the way of the Devil fully. To me It’s not a matter if God exists as a physical person/power or not. As long as a majority of the people on earth live by the rules of religion God’s message will rule. In these terms I will stand proud as a Satanist and fight the ones following “God”. Practicing I guess you mean participating in magic rituals. In these matters I think it’s a bit narrow minded to concentrate on Satan. I practice dark magic to gain knowledge and power. To me it’s a free zone from all of the world religions and there’s more interesting things to explore than just Satan. I don’t practice magic to fight “God” even if the outcome of rituals can strengthen your ability to fight religion in your physical life.
There are bands out there that use Satanism as a gimmick. Do you think using Satanism as a toy hurts bands that want to put out music that revels in darkness?
Sebastian: This is very interesting. Writing music is for me purely ritual art. I go deep into myself to find the inspiration to write both music and lyrics. Even the design and concept of the whole product that is the album is something that reflect your thoughts and beliefs. Bands going through all of this without actually supporting the message is pretty dumb. If you have the channel to say something and you waste it on spreading words you don’t believe in then I think you missed the point. But, performing live is another thing. The audience is mainly there to be entertained. This rhymes bad with the message of serious Satanism. If you want to make a change then you don’t gather a bunch of drunkslamdancing guys and try to spread the message. Live performances must be seen as self developing rituals and can at best make the audience feel that they are a part of something bigger. Therefore I don’t think bands using Satanism as a toy hurts us. Satanism is strong within but powerless as an commercial product. Bands faking It makes us look more serious though.
I've run into a few bands over the years that write their music to be used with a duel purpose putting out kick ass Black Metal and use during Black Magic. When you're writing do you come to the process with any kind of set agenda?
Sebastian: No. The actual writing is the ritual. The outcome is a bonus that we choose to share with the audience. They can use it as they want. I don’t care.
The cover art for Death to All is brilliant. The image of Pan sitting on high over the masses is stunning. Its the kind of picture that seems to be a part of a larger story. Whats the story behind the cover art? Who did you line up to create the cover?
Sebastian: The cover is made by Erik Danielsson of Watain. We wanted an image of the Dark lord summoning the forces before world annihilation. We wanted to use human soldiers and concrete instead of the usual “Tolkien” environment withorchs and forests. This is now, the war is now and we wanted the listener to get the feeling of being a part of this. Not illustrating some ancient battle before time as we know it. Erik did a great job.
The title track, Death to All, is broken into 3 parts. Almost like an opera. Are these songs going to be used as part of a greater project down the road? Why did you decide to break that song
Sebastian: The intro is actually just another version of the outro. I made “..and jesus wept” first but thought it sounded to weak and harmonic. I recorded both versions and talk with my friend Necro (Pest) about which version to use. He thought I should use both. Normally this is not the way Necrophobic work with long progressive songs so I had to come up with an idea. Thinking of it as a concept in three acts made it possible to keep all the riffs and still stay within the frames I like to work with. This also gives us the opportunity to only perform a part of it live. The whole act “death to all” will be hard to make justice for live but the mid “Triumph of the Horned” will be great live.
La Satisima Muerete, is a great song. If my crappy Spanish is right it translates to The Death of Satanism. Do you Satanism or Black Metal as you see it taking a turn for the worse?
Sebastian: Funny how everyone gets this title wrong. It’s “la SANTISIMA muerte”. HOLY Death. Something they celebrate in Mexico for gaining succes and wealth. The thought of Death as something good is taken away from Christianity as it seem to negative but it’s still celebrated in Mexico. Tobias started to work on this lyrics after a week of dark rituals in Mexico City last year.
For Those Who Stayed Satanic is another great track. What was going on with you as a band to inspire such of whole hearted thank you to your fans?
Sebastian: It’s rather a thank to the bands we like staying true to their roots but of course also a to all the people in the metal scene not giving up. I don’t know where Tobias got the inspiration for this but I guess he started to think about how many persons that actually have left the scene since the late 80’s and thought that the ones left deserved some kind of applaud.
Are there any plans to tour with Death to All?
Sebastian: Yeah of course. We are booking gigs right now. For sure Europe will be covered but hopefully we will come abroad.
How would you describe what you want to accomplish with your music?
Sebastian: Turn it around. Music is what we accomplish.
Anything you want to add before we wrap?
Sebastian: Death to all!