– Hello, thanks for taking your time. How are you holding up? Has the pandemic affected the band’s activity in any way?
Not enough death and destruction for my liking. Ride the whirlwind into the storm of pestilence. Sure, it has fucked some aspects of what we were planning but new opportunities have arisen instead. Satan works in mysterious ways…
-Last year you released your newest album, “To the Death”. First off; what’s the significance behind the album’s title? What role plays Death on it?
It is a statement of intent. We are Vassafor tuturu, and we will never stop. No matter what. I also worship old Voivod a lot, so can be seen as a tribute of sorts. Hail Blacky the greatest of all bass demons!
-And the same goes for Satanism, since it’s a subject always present in your body of work. Is He a means of aesthetic? A theme that belongs in Black Metal? Or is it rather linked to a spiritual belief for you?
It can’t be Black Metal without the devotional element of Satanism. Not just dark themes or morbid content. Not a guitar sound or vocal style. Without Satan there is no Black Metal. Now as for what Satanism IS to others, well that’s a long discussion with many differing opinions…as it should be. So I think it is on the surface an aesthetic but the essence permeates much deeper, well it should anyway
-I read you started the songwriting process after coming back home from the Never Surrender festival. Why? What did it happen there that fuelled your creativity?
Once we came back from Europe the ideas were pouring out of me and I had a lot of music together in the next months, that were then forged into much of the material that became the new album. We were possessed to create in Vassafor’s name. A lot of energy was sent forth thru the conduit in Berlin, and ever since all our live performances have continued to be at a high intensity. That flows through into rehearsals and the Egregore we add to each time we practice has fuelled even more electricity. It’s like a chain reaction getting stronger and deeper and spiraling out of control.
-And how was the songwriting process like? Have the songs on the album been through different incarnations until they found their final form?
I receive the pieces as blocks and then work out on instruments and then Ben and I piece it together but yes, it can go thru many versions as trial and error until finding its final form. Some songs arrive fully formed. Elegy of the Accurser was a song that I had written (mostly) inside of an hour, it just vomited out and was only slightly tweaked after. Some songs like Archeonaut’s Return took over 15 years to get to its final form on Obsidian Codex….so there are many pathways possible to the final version of any song. Each has its own unique creation and turbulent shaping…
-What are some of the lyrics based on (books, real life experiences…) and what are your main non-musical influences?
Mostly books and meditations or dreams. Sometimes it’s the meditational imagery I will see when listening to the song as it forms. Sometimes the vision is first and then the music is trying to describe the text. But most have come from things I am encountered in books or film or artwork that fires other imagery inside my head
-It specially caught my attention the song “Singularity”. It contains indeed a quite singular part, or sounds. Would you mind to elaborate a little bit on this and on the story of this tune?
That song was amongst the first to start on but the final song to finish musically. It went thru many twists and turns, but the lyrics were written by our close ally Carl Nordblom. He channeled the kinds of feeling in the music to write his set of lyrics, originally entitled Star Slayer. I already had the title of Singularity in mind due to the nature of the music and placement on the record and what it represents as the apotheosis of To the Death as an album, so the lyrics fit the preordained title perfectly. Carl is a genius and we were very proud to have him as part of our record
-The production is just superb. Now that a lot of bands seem to emulate a certain year in music for their productions, how do you get this organic, thick sound without seeming to be stuck in the past?
Thank you. Really it is how we sound in the rehearsal room and then other elements get added that sit underneath the surface of the mix. I just wanted to get away from the current trend of either ultra sterile and overly separated tracks on the one side and the other current concept of recording a huge amount of guitar tracks to make things “thicker”. It usually results in a very bland and undymanic sound that maybe “huge” but is (almost) never actually vicious or violent. So its usually just one track of guitars per side (with 2 mics on each cabinet) and the drums are bashed by Ben instead of tapping bullshit. So its basically as someone in our room would hear as we practice, or if they would see us live. We generate a lot of power when we play, so we discharge all of that as we record as well. I hear what you are saying about so many bands wanting to sound like 1986 Noise records, or 1994 Norse BM etc, and I think it’s a very narrow avenue to navigate and nail. Most of my favourite albums were often completely outside the current norm when released. Like Drawing Down the Moon or Fallen Angel of Doom or Scorn Defeat or Scarlet Evil Witching Black. As far as I’m concerned, if we sounded like a clone of any band or era then our recordings would be a failure to our ears. I know Ben and I feel very strongly that we only want to sound like us, but I’m sure plenty of our influences are there to hear for listeners to pick out
-How come you didn’t do the master yourself this time around? How did you work on this?
By the end of the mixing process I was pretty worn out (I also did the mix and master of the Temple Nightside album during the same period because I apparently am a glutton for sonic punishment!) and had wanted to work with Greg Chandler for a long time as Esoteric are a one of my favourite bands musically and sonically. So it was the right time to do it. We were very pleased with the result…even though I was a very fussy bastard about it haha. Greg is a sonic alchemist and really can’t say enough good things about his craft. Just wait til you hear the Qrixkuor album he recorded, mixed and mastered…it’s a fucking beast!
-On the album there are several guest artists. Who are they and why did you decide to have them on board? What have they brought with their cooperation?
Every person involved in the album, whether contributing lyrics or vocals or guitars or mastering, artwork and layout are ALL close comrades of Vassafor, extended family even. No one without a connection to the band was involved in the record. Same reason why we always work with Patrick/Iron Bonehead. These are people WE trust and understand why we are what we are. To us there is no outside of Vassafor, this is who and what we are and nothing exists outside this of any real importance. So when others become involved it is in a devotional way, which is why it fits so perfectly into the record
-Nordvargr has also contributed in different aspects of the album. How did everything arise?
Our paths initially crossed after we contributed the MZ412 cover to the CMI tribute album we did with Temple Nightside, Grave Upheaval, Sinistrous Diabolus, Spire and Antediluvian. After we received our records back we sent copies over to Nordvargr as a sign of respect and he and Ben established contact from there. We were asked to do a remix of a track of his on a recent album after that so we thought we’d approach him to be involved. He went above and beyond our expectations. And he subsequently had the cover art from Vika Imago Mortis tattooed on his back so I imagine he was pleased with the result…
-All this about “To the Death” being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?
Total Fucking Satan
-And finally, what are now your near-future plans in these uncertain times?
We continue working on more music. It never stops. We have been able to play several shows here in New Zealand in the last half of 2020 with Ulcerate and we plan to do more performances as opportunities arise. Our other band Arcane Relic will be releasing music this year after our debut demo was put out last year. More bass onslaughts in the vein of Necromantia, old Barathrum, etc.
– That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add some final words, feel free to do it.
Thanks for the interview and support of Vassafor. Hail Satan, to the death!