BLASPHEMY INTERVIEW: Crime (And Powerlifting) Pays


Crime (And Powerlifting) Pays

Blasphemy headlined last year’s ZT-sponsored Nuclear War Now! Festival in Berlin. By all accounts devastating nearly everyone in attendance last November, there’s no disputing that the Canadian band are underground legends. Their two sole albums, 1990’s Fallen Angel Of Doom and 1993’s Gods Of War, are jointly considered the benchmark for black/death barbarity – and rightly so. Since their respective times of release, both albums have influenced countless hordes across the globe, but it hasn’t been until this past decade, arguably, that Blasphemy have wielded their widest and most profound influence: not only in sheer terms of sound, but equally so in terms of presentation and aesthetics, to the point where bestial metal’s recently become nearly as aped ‘n’ regurgitated as religious black metal or one-man BM. But I might just be talking outa my ass…at least the Satanic Skinheads seem to think so, as this exclusive exchange (prior to their festival appearance) with founding vocalist Nocturnal Grave Desecrator And Black Winds and guitarist DeathLord Of Abomination And War Apocalypse reveals. –NATHAN T. BIRK

An edited version of this interview was published in Zero Tolerance Magazine issue 037. Back issues are available to buy here. Do the right thing and support the printed word.

Both Blasphemy albums are equally classic in my opinion, but why do you think Fallen Angel Of Doom resounds so powerfully with so many people over a number of generations?

DeathLord: Blasphemy were focused only on Blasphemy during the Fallen Angel Of Doom era. Soon after that, even as early as the Gods Of War era, their energies were spread to other interests.

Black Winds: Let me put it to you this way – I wrote the song ‘Blood Upon The Altar’ from Gods Of War after a bottle and a half of tequila!

Is it gratifying to be heralded as legends so many years later, or frustrating in the sense of ‘where were you then?’

DeathLord: Blasphemy were noticed as soon as they hit the scene with the Blood Upon The Altar demo tape in 1989. The population of the underground was smaller back, then but Blasphemy were well regarded by most. There was even a fan-club established in Europe, and Blasphemy appeared in all the legendary underground fanzines at the time – the best form of promotion at the time. I don’t think there has to be a “where were you then?” question. They were always here!

Black Winds: The scene has just gotten bigger with the internet. Word spreads more quickly with a computer. Now people talk about awesome bands like Black Witchery, Proclamation, Archgoat, Revenge and too many more to mention…our black metal brothers.

So, why is Blasphemy so feted in 2010 instead of 2000? What about the current metal-underground climate engenders this?

Black Winds: Because the black metal scene wasn’t as big back then.

DeathLord: To add to that, back in 2000, there were people considering Blasphemy as one of their favourite bands just like today. People were traveling from the USA and as far as Australia to see our live rituals in Vancouver, and guess what? People are still willing to do this today, so I personally don’t think there’s a difference, at least since I’ve been in the band. I can’t grasp what you are getting at, as I’ve been here in the scene for over 20 years now and I’ve been getting LPs/demos from bands with a heavy Blasphemy influence without interruption for each and every one of those years. Beherit…Bestial Warlust…Abominator…Mystifier…Goatpenis…Black Witchery…. This bestial style has been part of the underground since Venom. There’s nothing “current” about this style and if you are trying to say that people are just catching on, then you are wrong. Bestial black metal has been here the whole time. Have you heard [Sodom’s] In The Sign Of Evil? Or [Bathory’s] The Return…? It doesn’t get more bestial than those albums! I don’t think the spotlight has gotten any brighter in the last 10 years.

Obviously, Blasphemy have influenced a number of generations of bands – even not long after that first album come out – but especially in the last decade, that influence has had its most profound effect on bands in that ‘bestial’ idiom. Is this a healthy thing, for the posterity of metal barbarity, or is it a sign of (paradoxically) inverse trendiness?

DeathLord: I know that it’s been blown out of proportion of how many Blasphemy clones there are in the scene today, but no one can name 25 active bands. As for the health of the scene, I have yet to be convinced that the scene is an ‘organic’ entity that needs to be fed originality to stay alive. It comes down to this – if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it.

Black Winds: How can you get sick of this type of music? The more bands in this style, the better!

But what about bands straight-up ripping off the Blasphemy sound and style? Charges of such have been frequently leveled at Proclamation, and yet they’re supported by Ross Bay Cult….

DeathLord: Proclamation are total barbarians both on and off the stage! Of course, they would be supported by the Ross Bay Cult! Now I know that you are insinuating that Proclamation are nothing but a Blasphemy rip-off band, but they take the formula and add their own ‘demonism’ to it.

Black Winds: I don’t think that Proclamation are a rip-off of our music! They just play black metal in the right style! We never told them to play in a certain way! They are our black metal brothers like Archgoat and Black Witchery!

Or what about bands following a similarly, er, ‘sparse’ career path, such as Black Witchery?

DeathLord: Black Witchery are our eternal brothers and are definitely Ross Bay Cult supported! I’d rather have two killer LPs from a band than one killer LP and five so-so ones. No need to rush out releases just because. Black Witchery are keeping their name alive with no problem, as far as I can see. They are doing shows every year in both Europe and the USA.

Black Winds: Once again, they are our very best friends in the black metal scene! They come up and hang out with us from Florida from time to time when they can. They might play ‘Ritual’, but we don’t think they rip us off! They wear black robes. We don’t wear black robes! They stage their own setup!

While Blasphemy have certainly wielded a global influence on new generations of black/death metal, it seems the biggest pockets of influence are situated in the US, Canada, Australia, and parts of South America and South East Asia – to what do you attribute this to? That Blasphemy wield influence on countries that are…well, less purely ‘white’?

DeathLord: Where do you get this information?! I can find you 25 Burzum clones from Brazil and another 10 from Australia! Also, Burzum record sales are better than Blasphemy record sales in every country you mentioned, so explain why these “less purely white” people are into that style? All metal, all genres, is a worldwide phenomenon. You are obviously speaking about Europe in this question, yet we get the most requests to bring our live ritual out there and I get the most orders for Blasphemy merchandise from there, too. And to add to this, it doesn’t get more ‘white’ than Finland, yet I hear Beherit, Satanic Evil, early Impaled Nazarene, Archgoat, and newer bands like OfDoom and Black Feast, etc, that have a distinct bestial sound with a Blasphemy influence. Blasphemy are indeed “global” and equally listened to, per capita, in all regions of the world. I know this firsthand through my distro and contacts.

Black Winds: The South Americans are probably the biggest black metallers in the world. If we played a show down there with Mystifier or Impurity or someone, there would be thousands there! Traditional Sodomizer’s band Tyrants Blood just played down there, and it was crazy! We don’t notice skin colour, only how black metal people are.

And while they went on a comparatively more divergent sonic path, your old brother(s) Beherit made a comeback record last year with Engram that was still distinctly them but retained a certain modern freshness, as well…have you guys heard it? If so, honest thoughts?

DeathLord: I generally stop buying bands’ records once they lose their original intent. I haven’t given new Beherit much chance yet, but I can say that today’s Beherit doesn’t touch ‘Paradise Of Thy Demonic Host’ or ‘Six Days With Sadistic Slayer’, so it might take a while for me to get into this release.

Black Winds: Personally, I only listened to it once, and I had a few beers under my belt! We were partying with about 12 other black metallers, so what I did hear, I wish I could have heard a bit better to give an honest opinion.

Speaking of comebacks, Blasphemy have played (more or less) ‘reunion’ shows in 2000, 2001, last year and now this year. However, aside from the 2001 rehearsal, you guys haven’t recorded anything new since 1993. Ultimately, what is the purpose of such shows since there’s no remotely new release at hand?

Black Winds: Why not?

DeathLord: The millennium rituals were to be a new start for Blasphemy, but it didn’t quite work out that way once some things came to realisation. But the rituals in 2009 were to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the release of Blood Upon The Altar and this one at the Nuclear War Now! festival is the 20th anniversary of the release of Fallen Angel Of Doom…do we need a better reason that that for our live rituals? I think not.

Equally big question: will there be new material from Blasphemy forthcoming? Despite it comprising old songs, the 2001 rehearsal sonically suggested that a new Blasphemy record could be devastating…

Black Winds: Yes. We are hoping to work on new music when we’re done with the blood orgy in Berlin.

So, how would you address charges of Blasphemy ‘resting on your laurels’? Meaning, playing those reunion shows but without any new material in almost two decades…?

Black Winds: Tough. If you don’t like it, don’t come and see it.

DeathLord: Have you ever noticed that people go crazy at a show when the band plays their old songs and are bored to tears when they do a set of newer material? Well, we don’t only hype up the crowd with a few old tunes, we play them ALL! They are eaten up with total frenzy for the entire duration of the live ritual! But, to answer your question, we’re Blasphemy and we do whatever the fuck we want! We don’t answer to any “charges” against us.

Is it fair to stay, then, that Blasphemy is an ‘active’ band or is it an IDEA(L)?

Black Winds: No, we’re not just an idea. We had a few breaks over the years we know, but when we can, we’ll do new songs.

Also, it seems Blasphemy have an unusually large following amongst folks of a more, er, ‘dubious’ political affiliation – “unusually large” because it’s disproportionate to Caller of the Storms being black, although a number of knuckleheads have made an exception to his color – so what would you attribute this to?

Black Winds: We don’t know why. I guess they like good music.

DeathLord: Blasphemy have one of the harshest and most extreme images, and the music to back it up, in metal. I can see why extremists would be attracted to the band, but the truth is the truth – a black person is the co-creator of Blasphemy. I can’t actually answer for any of these fools, as I have no idea why they would be stupid enough to embrace a moronic idea like ‘white power’ or politics in the first place. I can only guess that they have to continually make justifications for themselves, as their philosophy is so fucking ridiculous. You’d have to constantly lie to yourself in order to trick yourself into following such dead ideas.

Thus, please clarify the ‘Satanic Skinheads’ tag. I met Bestial Saviour of the Undead Legions a couple years ago, and he talked about beating up Nazis, how you all tried driving them out of the scene, back when Blasphemy was active…

Black Winds: Satanic Skinheads was our own idea. We just thought that we should be original. Sure, we shaved our heads, but we were always listening to metal, not bands like Skrewdriver or whatever.

The Ross Bay Cult is likewise mimed and misappropriated by others. It’s currently a record label and distro, yes, and it’s also a mindset – but who decides who’s true? You guys or…?

DeathLord: Ross Bay Cult is an outlet for Blasphemy merchandise and our support to bands that we show respect for. No ‘true’ crap. If we like the band, we support the band. Very uncomplicated.

Since the first two reunion shows, Blasphemy have worked with NWN! on vinyl reissues of your two albums and the demo as well as a CD version of FAOD. Why did you decide to work with Yosuke? What are

DeathLord: Nuclear War Now! is the best label for underground extreme metal around today. Some people find this hard to accept, but it is the raw truth. Prove me otherwise. Strengths? Yosuke isn’t into this for the money or ‘scene credit.’ He has always been into this for his own satisfaction and works his label as a fan and not a business man.

Charges have been leveled at NWN! for riding the coattails of your legendry in the underground. However, it could also be argued that the label had some sway with introducing Blasphemy to a whole new, much-younger generation of metalheads – your thoughts on the matter?

DeathLord: Who are making these charges about Nuclear War Now!? Internet-forum clowns? Yeah, NWN! got our name spread to new people, of course, but you have to remember that Osmose Productions has been circulating the Gods Of War/Blood Upon The Altar CD/LP for 17 years now. People always seem to make their way back to the roots of metal whether they discovered the music last month or 30 years ago, so following that path will lead them to Blasphemy eventually.

Similarly, Blasphemy have been influential on a great majority of bands that NWN! releases, most NWN! bands at least bearing some strain of influence from you guys – ever feel like you guys have come full circle in some way? Like, here you are essentially (now) affiliated with this label that’s largely comprised of your ‘seed’?

Black Winds: Are there really a lot of Blasphemy-style bands on NWN? Two or three…? We’re listening to Blasphemophagher right now, actually! It’s great to see that Blasphemy influenced a lot of black metallers today, but we don’t feel like we should take the credit for it. We didn’t personally coach any of these bestial bands; they got it done all on

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