With two unforgettable releases under their belt on the Candlelight Records label, An Eternal Dark Horizon, and the latest Helvete/Det Iskalde Morket, Norway's Throne of Katarsis are proving that old school styled cold,atmospheric black metal is still alive and well. Sea of Tranquility's Pete Pardo caught up with Throne of Katarsis drummer Vardalv to talk about the band's history, classic black metal, the new CD, live plans, and their place in the genre.
SoT: Besides for the music, not much is known about Throne of Katarsis. Can you talk a little bit about the band, how you came together, influences, the black metal scene in Norway today, and what your future goals are?
Vardalv: Me and Infamroth met at a party some years ago and later on we met at an oil platform in the north sea when we decided to hang out in the rehearsal room. We pretty soon found out that we shared the same opinions of black metal and we had the right connection. We both have been following black metal for many many years and it's no secret that we both are weak for early nineties black metal. The first recordings of bands like Darkthrone, Mayhem, Isengard, Gorgoroth, Dødheimsgard, Burzum, Immortal, Thorns, Emperor and Satyricon has for eternity poisoned our minds. Today's underground black metal scene in Norway is still worth of support though. I support the TNBM-movement with a few exceptions and bands like Urgehal, Krypt, Orcustus, Koldbrann, Taake, Gehenna, Carpathian Forest ad Nattefrost are bands and individuals I truly support. We will continue on the dark path that we have started on.
SoT: An Eternal Dark Horizon and the latest Helvete/Det Iskalde Morket are both examples of brutal, old school styled Norwegian black metal. It's a style that both your band and 1349 seem to be spearheading these days alongside some of the remaining acts of the genre, like Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Marduk, and Dark Funeral, who have obviously been around for many years. What is your take on these veteran bands, as well as the more symphonic acts, in addition to the BM scene in the US, Sweden, France, and Finland?
Vardalv: Can`t really see how we are comparable to 1349. It's a good band, but their style is way more bombastic and brutal than ours. In fact i don't consider our music to be brutal, we focus more on atmosphere and coldness and our music is a bit more varied than 1349 I believe. The first three albums of Gorgoroth are true classics of old evil Norwegian black metal and I also like the "Incipit Satan" album. Marduk has always been a good band and especially their first 4 albums and their 2 latest albums are really great.
Old Dark Funeral stuff is ok. Mayhem released a great album in 2007. "Ordo Ad Chao" was an exciting piece of obscure dark black metal, but their definite classic will always first and foremost be "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas".
Anyway, i don't feel we are comparable to any of those bands. There will never be symphonic elements in our music and i don't like that crap. Don't really know why i bother to talk about it, but Sweden and Finland has some great black metal bands nowadays. Watain, Craft, Ondskapt, Dimhymn, Funeral Mist, Malign, Nifelheim, , Ofermod and kill are great Swedish bands and Satanic Warmaster, Clandestine Blaze, Baptism, Vordr, Behexen, etc rules the Finnish underground scene. I'm weak for the typical grim and ugly Finnish sound combined with the melancholic riffs. In fact, I think Finland has
the best and most interesting black metal scene these days. France has bands like Darvulia, Deathspell Omega, Gestapo 666, Antaeus, Hell Militia and so on. Magnificent bands!
Inquisition, Cult Of Daath, Leviathan, Typhus, Havohej/Profanatica etc are bands I like from the US. But we are not comparable to any of those bands as we are searching our own sound and style.
SoT: Can you talk about the recording of the new CD, and the lyrical content behind some of the songs?
Vardalv: The recording of "Helvete - Det Iskalde Mørket" took place in Black Dimension studio, just where we recorded our debut album too. Black dimension studio is run by our session bassist. We felt the sound was much better this time with a clearer, yet darker, heavier and rawer sound. We are extremely satisfied with the sound because
we feel that the sound suits our material nearly at perfection this time. Next time maybe we change recording place though, we won't copy ourselves. There are some special
plans for the recording process next time, but nothing I would reveal at this point.
I don't have to much to say about the lyrics and I can't really say anything about Infamroth`s lyrics, but I also wrote some lyric for this album and generally our lyrics deal with different occult themes, darkness, coldness and hellish visions.
SoT: In your opinion, does occult and satanic imagery have to be a required element of true black metal?
Vardalv: Yes, no doubt about it. Both music, lyrics, sound, attitude and imagery has to be bound together and it must be satanic in order to be called black metal.
SoT: Throne of Katarsis seems to favor long, epic songs that leave plenty of room for intense musical arrangements as well as dark atmospheric passages utilizing acoustic guitars and sound effects. How important is it to vary the arrangements rather than have a non-stop assault of blast beats and raging guitar riffs?
Vardalv: We never have any plans of how long our songs will be, it just comes natural for us. Anyway, we think ultra fast blast beat songs that last for 3 minutes are really boring.
We want to represent some depth and atmosphere to the songs and when we start writing a song it just floats naturally and it's not important if the songs last for 5 minutes
or 15 minutes. The point is that we are satisfied and have some variation in the songs. We try to combine variation with more hypnotic ambient-like parts where we maybe can
repeat a riff or a part of a song for a long time.
SoT: Does the band have any touring plans to support the new CD?
Vardalv: We have played only one gig after the release of our new album, and that was maybe our best live performance yet. The gig was in Bergen. For now, there are no concrete plans for a tour but we have some offers from different bands to play. We always want to perform our music live, because we feel our music really suits a live performance. The darkness, the intensity....
SoT: What does the band's line-up look like, as far as who works in the studio and who travels with the band for live gigs?
Vardalv: The main core of the band has always been, and will always be myself and Infamroth. But we are really in a need for our session musicians in the band too. We have Godhate on session guitar and Lord Imalas on session bass. Those do not participate in the writing process and do not perform any instruments in the recording process; those are first and foremost our live members in a live situation.
SoT: Production on both the most recent CD's have a raw, cavernous quality to them. Are you consciously trying to get that old school, raw, primal production quality?
Vardalv: In general I think the sound plays an extremely important role in black metal. In my opinion the sound is just as important as the music and lyrics itself. And yeah, we are very strict and focused around our sound and we always have a vision of how it shall sound. It's important to evolve though, and next time our sound maybe differ from latest effort. Our first album is good sound wise, but we think the sound was a bit to thin and weak so we were pretty focused to get a rawer and darker production this time. Generally i think that black metal has to sound dark and ugly and has to have this sharp and rusty sound in order to make it sound bestial.
SoT: Has there been any talk of bringing the band over the US for some live shows?
Vardalv: No, there has at least for now not been any talk of that. But if the right offer and timing is correct maybe it could happen.
SoT: Is there any message you'd like to send to our loyal black metal readers?
Vardalv: Hyll den sanne mester! Hyll det evige mørket! Ave satan!!! Thanks for the interview and thanks for supporting true black metal.
The Unholy Norwegian Black Metal Cult
(Click here to read our review of Helvete/Det Iskalde Morket)