The moment I was informed by the people from Season Of Mist that the
tour for the promotion of "Ordo Ad Chao" would take place in the
absence of a tour manager, I envisioned my chances of doing an
interview with Mayhem's axeman Blasphemer slowly fading away.
With a stroke of luck only to be found in the
movies, I managed to find myself in the backstage area of the
Islington Academy where, on the evening of the 21st of February
2008, I conducted what can be described one of my most pleasurable
interviews to date.
With disarming honesty, the main composer of Mayhem
described the experience that led to the creation of Mayhem's last
opus, his unique musical relationship with vocalist/legend Attila
Csihar and explained why none of you should be really surprised if
you were to see...Bugs Bunny on stage during a Mayhem show!
Hi there, Blasphemer - I finally managed to find you. That was
not easy, especially in the absence of a tour manager. By the way,
why have you chosen not to employ one for this current tour?
Blasphemer: That is a long and very complicated story - better not
go there (laughs).
I am really happy to be doing this interview with you because I
found "Ordo Ad Chao" to be as exciting and as impressive as "Grand
Declaration Of War" - an album that I simply adore, much to the
dismay of many of our subscribers and Black Metal fans alike.
Let's start by me congratulating you for the recently acquired
your native Spellemann award of "Best Metal Album" for "Ordo Ad
Chao". You must be particularly pleased as the composer of the
Blasphemer: Ahhh...I guess that I should
say yes, but not really because these things...I don't want to sound
arrogant but I don't really need anyone to tell me that I wrote a
good composition when I already know that for myself.
It is enough for me to know that I have achieved it
- I don't really need people to give me trophies to put on my walls.
It is good because it has boosted our album sales again at it will
hopefully make those people who decided to write off "Ordo Ad Chao"
in the first place to try listening to the album once again and
maybe even change their minds.
There is definitely something good about this
release; still I was quite surprised to find out that we won the
award. Having said that, though, I kind of had a feeling that we
would win the award this year, especially after I found out that we
were nominated for it. I though "this is now or never" for us and it
looks like I was right. It doesn't mean that much for me simply
because I do what I do for myself - I don't need a guy who is
sitting in an office in Oslo to tell me that I have achieved
Do correct me if I am wrong here, but you have been the sole
composer of Mayhem material since the days of "Wolf's Lair Abyss". I
never understood the reasons behind that.
Blasphemer: I don't know - it could be several different reasons.
Unfortunately it is in my nature to want to take control of things
Well, somebody has to do it, I guess...
Blasphemer: ...exactly (laughs). I have always been very determined,
I always knew what I wanted to hear and when I know that I can make
things work I do everything in my power to achieve that result. I
have the tools around me that help towards that goal and I also
happen to be the guitar player, which is the person that will
eventually come up with the riffs.
As soon as I came into the band and we did "Wolf's
Lair Abyss", this 'rebellious' thing that we have released, I
started to have more input into what was happening, I blocked
everything out and it helped the fact that the other guys trusted me
to do it. The whole thing happened very naturally - as I said, it's
in my nature to do this seeing as I am a very creative person.
Thing are definitely working very well, if you allow me to say
Blasphemer: Thank you. Yes, so far, so good. They normally like my
ideas but of course there are times when I come up with something
weird and they all go "what the fu*k is this" - they don't just
think about it but they also say it out loud (laughs). They were a
bit sceptic with "Grand Declaration Of War" and same was with "Ordo
Ad Chao" but they do know that everything that happens is as a
result of a certain plan - nothing happens randomly, even though it
seems like this is the case sometimes.
The only thing that happens in that respect is the
process we follow in the studio and that is due to my use of
overdubs and the creation of different layers of music for each
composition. That pretty much depends on how I feel at each given
moment. The skeleton of each song is tightly connected and well
thought through, based on a specific plan.
Allow me to drift through a little bit and make a connection
between "Grand Declaration Of War" and "Into The Pandemonium". In
Celtic Frost's case, it took ten years before people finally
accepted and respected the innovative nature of this album. Maybe
"Grand Declaration Of War" needs to undergo a similar stage of
'maturity' in the consciousness of Black Metal fans.
Blasphemer: People are just happy to follow every trend that is
dictated to them. We are aware of that and we are also aware that
some of the things that we do will not become accepted straight
Strangely enough, "Ordo Ad Chao" was more or less
accepted straight away by the so-called 'elite' of our fans. They
embraced it, much to my surprise, seeing as this album was
completely over the top. We held nothing back. We released
everything out of our systems and there are no musical rules
whatsoever in that album.
Having said that, the title "Ordo Ad Chao" sounds more relevant
to me than ever before!
Blasphemer: That was
exactly the point we were trying to make. I don't want to sound
snobbish but there is not much music, especially in Black Metal,
that I find appealing nowadays - music that I feel has a certain
'mission'. I almost get pissed off every time I put a Black Metal on
because most bands try to play things that everybody else did back
in the early 90s. Who cares about that stuff, you know? These are
some of the reasons why I amazed to see "Ordo Ad Chao" receiving the
response that it did.
Sometimes we feel as if we're in the 'twilight
zone' or something similar to that (laughs). Although "Grand
Declaration Of War" is a harder 'nut to crack', I believe that the
same 'rules' applied for that album. For me "Grand Declaration Of
War" sits on one side of our musical spectrum, "Ordo Ad Chao" sits
on the exact opposite and "Chimera" is somewhere in the middle.
"Chimera" can only be described as a 'non-sane' album for me because
I felt like cleaning my musical 'closet' when creating it.
That was important in allowing me to maintain
Mayhem as a band - it was not a ground breaking release in any
respect, but it helped us continue breathing what it is that we
breathe in order to allow us to still exist as a band. It was a
decent release and very purposely good as well. It was what I would
describe as the 'calm before the storm'.
Blasphemer, one more clarification for us, if you may.
Necrobutcher has been credited as having recorded the bass tunes on
"Ordo Ad Chao" but I am sure that I read somewhere that it was
actually you that performed such duties. Is that indeed the case and
if yes, why?
Blasphemer: Well, I understand that such things can be quite
confusing but this is not really a big deal seeing as things like
that happen to bands all the time. In this specific case we had to
create an album that included many different tones and constant
changes in rhythm, the creation of a real mess if you choose, plus
most of the parts were finished in the chair of the recording studio
- what you could describe, I suppose, as the final nail in the
We made, of course, plenty of rehearsals for this
album but not the complete versions of each song, seeing as each
composition continued to evolve in my head during those rehearsals,
so instead of having to 'teach' everything to Nercrobutcher in a
short period of time, we decided to follow the easy way out which
included me recording the bass guitar.
I wasn't really trying to make anything out of this - it's just that
this decision of yours looked slightly weird!
Blasphemer: Yes, I can see why that is (laughs). Necrobutcher did
record a few parts, though, on "Ordo Ad Chao".
How would you describe your working relationship with Attila
Csihar - the guy whose vocals can be heard in the classic "De
Mysteriis Dom Sathanas". Would you, in retrospect, describe the
whole process of creating an album with him as limiting or
Blasphemer: I understand that what I am going to say will shock
quite a few people but I knew that having him back in the band will
finally provide me with the opportunity to push "De Mysteriis Dom
Sathanas" off the shelves (laughs). A lot of people will not agree
with what I just said but I really don't care. My opinion is that "Ordo
Ad Chao" is a darker album than "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas".
Of course, having said that, "De Mysteriis Dom
Sathanas" is the milestone that it is because it started something
back in the early 90s and that cannot be taken away from it, but all
the dark and fu*ked up elements that can be found in "Ordo Ad Chao"
make it a deeper and darker album in comparison. As soon as I got
Attila back in the band, I knew that I could challenge things, get
further and deeper in terms of feeling than ever before.
So, to answer your question, I believe that it was
indeed quite a liberating experience working with him. Attila is a
very talented person and we managed to connect immediately, seeing
as we share the same kind of fu*ked up ideas.
It was a pleasure because I felt that I finally
found someone who could match me and work with me. "Grand
Declaration of War" was a product of the collaboration between
Maniac (ex vocalist) and myself but with "Chimera" it was more a
case of me dictating how things should happen.
Maniac was totally fu*ked up during that period,
arriving at the studio totally drunk with no intention of
rehearsing. I actually had to indicate to him which parts he was to
sing and even how to sing. Now, I finally managed to find my
counterpart - a colleague that can also push my creative limits. It
was not a case of me sitting on my chair and dictating how things
should happen - we were sitting opposite each other, on equal
chairs, exchanging ideas back and forth and in doing so expanded the
vision of this album.
For me, working with Attila was a great pleasure.
We both knew from the very beginning that we were not going to do
another "De Mysteriis...", seeing as this album was recorded back in
the 90s and there was no point in trying to recreate a similar
atmosphere. Attila was also very young when that album was recorded
and has created many different things since then. So, I told him
from the very beginning that I knew what people were expecting but
that they were not going to get it, mainly because I am really keen
on retaining my integrity as an artist, and he totally agreed with
That's when we started working on all these crazy
ideas. We really felt like we managed to hit a certain nerve that
went against everything, you know, so we really moved deep towards
that new direction. I remember the rehearsals at the time being
really hard to the point that I was feeling really uncomfortable
with the whole situation.
Attila was drinking a lot at the time because we
all felt really depressed after each rehearsal when we had to go
home. When you have to deal with sounds that are not 'suited' to
you, the result really affects you - music really affects you in
that respect. You understand, of course, the 'reaction' that happens
when our music meets with the natural flow of things - we all became
slightly depressed, having a really hard time to cope with things.
You almost felt the presence of a 'black cloud' - one that was
approaching further down towards you.
We decided to stay focused while the recordings
took place, not only for the sake of the record, but also in order
to retain that dark feeling that surrounded us at the time. I am the
one, of course, that creates the music, but this album would
definitely not have sounded the way it did had Attila not been part
of the picture. He pushed me, I pushed him and "Ordo Ad Chao" became
the result of this great collaboration.
I really enjoy reading reviews of Mayhem albums because I
normally tend to find the use there of some really interesting
adjectives such as "unorthodox" (I laugh). To me, it feels that
people treat your releases either with fear or respect. Putting the
fans aside for a minute, did you find the reaction of the music
press to be a positive one - not that you should really care!
Blasphemer: (laughs). Not to confuse you with what I mentioned in
the beginning of this interview, but I do pay attention to the
reviews that are written and it is always cool to get great reviews
- we are not that 'anti-everything' (laughs).
I was really happy to see that people did manage to
'click' on the album and that we had coverage even in more
'mainstream' magazines. Then, all of a sudden "Ordo Ad Chao" began
to feature amongst many people's 'best album' lists and that
culminated in us winning the Spellemann Awards in Norway.
I remember thinking "what the fu*k - did they even
listen to the album?" (laughs). I mean, if you listen to it, it will
definitely drag you down, so how come did we end up winning an award
for it - for an album that releases total negativity?
That is very interesting indeed. I also like the
fact that things are not deemed to be over yet in terms of the
positive reaction that the album has received. There are still
people that are getting into the album as we speak, maybe because
there were so many people that thought that "Ordo Ad Chao" was
really cool but didn't really know what they were talking about,
having not really understood what it stands for. There are also a
few people who believe that this album is a piece of sh*t because of
the sound and the overall production - opinions which I have read in
a few reviews.
If I remember correctly, we got some really
mediocre reviews in the States and I have a theory why this was the
case. Because the scene is very young in the States, people tend to
now discover bands, which sound as Satyricon did back in 1994 and
they believe that what they heard was the best thing ever recorded.
Mayhem as a band has gone much further than that and things will
never be the same ever again - to us it's all about breaking the
fu*king rules, and...
...and believe me when I say that you could not have said
anything that could make me feel happier than I do now!
To me, at least, there is a certain sense of coherence between
the compositions that put together "Ordo Ad Chao" - a feeling that I
normally tend to find in concept albums. Is "Ordo Ad Chao" a concept
release in either the loose or strict sense of the term?
Blasphemer: The intention behind "Ordo Ad Chao" is such that I guess
you can treat it as a concept album. All the songs came out with a
similar intention in mind, and so they are connected in a certain
Yeah, there is something that you cannot really define but which
certainly brings each song closer together.
Blasphemer: Exactly right. This can also be attributed to the
production that we made for the album, which was deliberately
created in the way it was. This makes also sense in the translation
of the album title "Ordo Ad Chao", following a path towards chaos
and that is as far as we can draw parallels with a concept in mind.
I also did a few things deliberately in the album in order to
enhance that feeling. The closing riff of "Wall Of Water" for
instance sounds exactly like the opening theme of "Great Works Of
Ages" which then follows. I knew at the time that this is how things
True, still it is not just riffs that create such a sense of
coherence, but also many background sounds or vocal themes that work
towards such a result.
Blasphemer: Yes, exactly. The result is 100% solid - no water
'leaking', you know what I mean?
Do you feel that any of the songs that are featured in "Ordo Ad
Chao" have what it takes to be treated as Mayhem classics one day?
For me "Illuminate Eliminate" is a great example of a composition
that deserves such credit.
Blasphemer: I believe that this could be indeed the case some day.
There is something about these songs all of which drew much strength
from me, both physical and mental in order to create.
We created something that cannot be described as
'worldly' so I want to believe that these 'beastly children' of mine
will manage to live for a long time (laughs). I cannot, of course,
say whether they will be able to one day compete with classics such
as "Freezing Moon" seeing as that is not really for me to decide. I
guess that we will both have to wait and see what happens (laughs).
In relation to live performances, have many things have changed now
that Attila is behind the microphone? Are we to expect something
Blasphemer: I believe that we have also gone over the top with the
way we come across in a live environment now that Attila is back. We
have a certain understanding between us when it comes to things like
that and Attila and I are capable of spending hours over the phone
talking about things like that in order to decide what to do.
Things are really well thought through with regards
to live performances and not simply a case of us plugging our
guitars and going on stage. In order to appear the way we do on
stage, we have already spent several hours talking about it
beforehand (laughs). Have you heard anything about the costumes that
we have been using lately on stage?
No, not really!
Blasphemer: Oh, that's great then that you ask me this thing because
I can definitely tell you that you will be very surprised by
tonight's show and I don't know if you are going to like it, but our
job is not to find out either (laughs). If you like it, you like it
- if you don't, you don't!
I am spellbound - cannot wait for the show to begin!
Blasphemer: We have made a series of shows till now which can be
described as 'over the edge' seeing as we are constantly trying to
test people's limitations with what we present on stage and with
their view of what they should expect to see from us.
We are trying to challenge people's perception of
what Black Metal really is. Is it the whole make up thing, is it the
environment? We like to push things in that respect so as to see how
people will react - especially when promoting an album such as "Ordo
Ad Chao" which is so...'unorthodox' (laughs).
This is not a regular release in any shape or form
and what we try to do is paint images and vision on stage so as to
give justice to this material and also to ensure that you will go
home having endured a really bad nightmare (laughs).
This will either be the most unique or the worst
thing that you have ever seen. Anyway, to answer your question and
seeing as it is really not a huge secret anyway, what has been
happening is that Attila has been playing many different characters
on stage, some of which have been completely over the top.
I don't really remember how this whole thing
started...actually I do remember! We were playing in Sicily and were
supposed to take the first plane to Milan to do our next show when
we found out that Attila's suitcase went missing. While sitting in
my hotel room trying to figure out what to do, we decided to
improvise. We got some strange clothes, which included a swimming
Things start to sound really weird here...(I laugh)
Blasphemer:...believe me, it gets much weirder!. This thing kind of
kicked something in me also because, to be entirely honest, things
were starting to become too monotonous on stage for me. We need
challenges - people need challenges and should embrace
them...anyway, that show kick-started everything.
In Israel, Attila came on stage dressed as a German
officer, holding a Globe and candles looking like a deranged
dominator/dictator, in St.Petersburg he dressed up as Rasputin, in
Athens he was portrayed as a mad Philosopher, wearing a huge upside
down cross featuring Christ as a reptile. The worst of all, though,
was in Bordeaux France when, after a really fu*ked up day, Attila
decided to get on stage dressed up as Bugs Bunny...
(note: at this point there was a break of two minutes when both I
and Blasphemer suffered from uncontrollable laughter, after which we
finally managed to find the strength required to finish this
Blasphemer (continues): ...it is funny but it also creates a very
strange environment as people tend to stare with their mouth open
while we continue playing this really bad music (laughs).
That was completely over the top and indeed left
quite a few people with a question such as "what the fu*k is going
on here"...believe me - it was really priceless to see people's face
during that show.
They were expecting something very specific,
especially after heaving heard an intro that was building a certain
tension...most people didn't know whether they should laugh or cry
and I believe that we experienced both that night (laughs).
One of the best characters that Attila ever used
was that of the French Chef, where we even had a table on stage, so
I guess that you will agree with me when I say that we have
something very special for you tonight.
Blasphemer, one more question and I will let you go. Most of the
people I know who were informed of this upcoming interview have
asked whether there were any plans for releasing a DVD with Attila
behind the microphone - what is your response to that?
Blasphemer: It's definitely part of our plans to record a DVD, but
this will have to be a special release - not just another sh*ty DVD.
Our intention is to make it be a statement of what Mayhem stand for
in the year 2008. It is still quite 'loose' as a concept, but it is
definitely there somewhere. We will simply have to find the right
location, which, under the right circumstances, will make this an
unforgettable DVD - a release that will be as good as "Ordo Ad
Blasphemer, it's been a real pleasure talking to you - I hope
that you enjoy tonight's show!
Blasphemer: Thank you - likewise!
Interview © February 2008 John Stefanis
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