Last pick from issue #9 is Satanic Warmaster. Although this Finnish wolfpack didn’t fit totally this issue’s themes about cultural awareness, I found it interesting to see how Satanic Tyrant Werwolf thinks about his heritage. Also their latest album at that time, Nachzehrer, was interesting enough to raise many questions and opinions: walking on the triangle edge of aggression, Finnish melancholy and the legacy of the raw first strike of Norwegian black metal, this album was a good follower to Carelian Satanist Madness.
But what next? Three years have passed, and during this time S.T. Werwolf has treated us with a primitive 7″ trilogy. However, the next album will be – again – totally something else – “It is going to fuck many of you up”, as the Meister himself puts it. You can have a sneak peek behind this link while you’re reading where Satanic Warmaster was standing in 2010.
(originally published in Kaleidoscope #9 2010)
Warmaster returns… It’s quite surprising to notice that five long years have passed since Satanic Warmaster’s previous full-length Satanic Carelian Madness, which still visits my record player regularly. It feels that herr Satanic Tyrant Werwolf hasn’t been in the shadows after all – maybe the reason for this can be found from those numerous news articles and problems with the all too sensitive Antifa groups which have always been where Satanic Warmaster has played and spread its strong and controversial propaganda. Through albums or live performances, there is some kind of ageless fire burning in Satanic Warmaster’s aura, and therefore years can’t lay their dust on it.
And if this new album, Nachzehrer, doesn’t contain such lyrical embers like SCM’s My Dreams of 8, it surely keeps Satanic Warmaster on the map of black metal with its raw and emotional offerings. This album is like a gathering of all the relevant elements in raw true black metal; be it the berserk rage from South America or the freezing grandeur of Norwegian legends. It’s the whole legacy of black metal that has been given to Satanic Tyrant Werwolf, who has chewed and brooded it and now gives it back to us in a traditional but striking form.
As said, a lot of time has passed since Satanic Carelian Madness, but as we all know, Satanic Tyrant Werwolf hasn’t just sat in his chair during these years but there has been action on many fronts. But let’s concentrate on Satanic Warmaster – how have these years gone by from Satanic Tyrant Werwolf’s view?
- Those five years that passed since the release of Carelian Satanist Madness have been, as they always have been, a struggle to rejuvenate my art and creation to make it worthy of existing in the first place. Most of the material that came out under the banner of Satanic Warmaster during those five years was more or less old material, and on those approximately ten releases there were only perhaps a half a dozen new songs. I was considering and rewriting a lot of material that was meant to be on Nachzehrer, which was even left off from C.S.M. because of various reasons, and also some material was still left unreleased, because of not fitting the atmosphere or the concept or other reasons important only to myself to be honest. Looking at the overload of useless “black” metal that the “underground” is pushing out like a leaking abscess it was more than justified to prepare Nachzehrer for that half of a decade.
As you mentioned, these years haven’t been barren release-wise – Satanic Warmaster has shared space on vinyl with many bands. How have all these split releases affected your music? Maybe you have learned a lesson or two?
- Yes, I’ve learned enough to be even more selective when it comes to split releases in the future.
Although this interview will concentrate on Satanic Warmaster mostly, I’d like to ask the effect of these other projects on SW (no names needed, you know if you know) – do you keep these separate from Satanic Warmaster, or do you just let the ideas and riffs feed each of these other projects?
- I’ve been trying to make it extremely clear that I want all my musical creations to stand on their own – there is no justification for a musical creation of a different nature to be acknowledged just because of “someone’s” participation. Of course between my black metal projects there are some similar influences, but conceptually I still make very clear separation (at least for myself).
So, now Satanic Warmaster has returned, and your new album, too, is some sort of a return to the old days of black metal. Or could we say that you have returned to the old – maybe your music has always existed in the “old” realm?
- I have always sought for something new in the past, and never in the future as the only thing that will surely meet expectations in the future are the gates of the majesty death. I see myself as a lonesome creature wandering an old forest night after another, and always discovering something that wasn’t there the night before. The nature doesn’t change much in its basic essence during a man’s lifetime, and neither does my creation. Even in the bark of the most aged tree there can be found patterns never seen before.
When I read through the lyrics of Warmaster Returns for example, I get a feeling that you’re fed up with all the multileveled tricksters and pseudo-intellectualism and now you’re back with a vengeance and a clear message. So do you think that the black metal scene has recently alienated itself from the essence of black metal, and if so, why has it happened?
- What can you expect from a mass of people who (at best) took their “ideologies” straight from the aesthetics of the music that was only something that was able to light an ember to seek out something hidden? Black metal has become trivialized by people who have no interest in it other than musically, and people who think they have something to contribute to it have even further perverted the unchained spirit of black metal with their “subgenres” which almost without an exception have nothing to do with the satanic essence that used to be the only vague factor that defined black metal. The underground has become a disgusting business opportunity for many, who then again inflate the value of the music with undeserving bands being released, sold cheap and repeated a million times to ensure there will not be a generation of bands who actually would have to work for their CD deals or who would learn how to craft their music and present it on their own to get acknowledged, and follow the path of creating a destiny for yourself.
I also think that primitive and very brutal songs like Vampires and Bestial Darkness could be taken as statements musically – how would you comment the role of these songs on your new album?
- I sought to incorporate something much more morbid and wolfish in my music, and through acknowledging more certain influences and attitudes I reached levels of power I had not explored before. There was a much more intense aura of darkness around bands like Necrodeath, Morbid, Tormentor (Hun), Treblinka, Sarcofago, Parabellum and Exterminator than many who are more widely considered to be musical paragons of most bands existing now. In a certain sense it was also simply to re-emphasize the fact that black metal to me is also, to a high extent, METAL. Black metal still isn’t some artistic crossover platform for any random hippie faggot to mess with.
Besides these aggressive and raw elements I find lots of Norwegian influences here and there – echoed shrieks similar to Forgotten Woods, Emperor-like fast riffing etc. Well, you have been addicted to Norwegian black metal already in your early years, but how do you see these legendary bands and albums and the whole phenomenon today?
- It has been also a part of my personal development as a person to learn the hard way that the only truth you can find in black metal’s aesthetics and spirit is the illusion and the flame it enlightens within yourself. Nothing is more certain that the actual reality behind all that can guide your mind into beyond is still just reality, and can never meet the expectations the visions the music can create in you. Yet, it is my choice not to let things like these diminish the feelings I experience.
- It is a known fact that most the bands that created those brilliant albums in the early/mid ‘90s in Norway weren’t so deep into what they preached and/or were corrupted and evolved into musical directions that were nothing alike their early works anymore. Still, despite the obvious disappointments it might have caused a decade ago, it doesn’t matter, as we all create our own reality and to me matters only the illusion and visions of something that no music business can ever corrupt. I’ve been listening lately to albums such as The Shadowthrone and Nemesis Divina by Satyricon, In Times Before the Light by Covenant, Born of the Flickering by Old Man’s Child, Kronet Till Konge by Dodheimsgard etc. and I must say some of these albums turn out to be even better now than they were when they were released, when compared to the mass of inane crap that gets released now.
Although many good bands and quality releases were coming from Finland during the early 90’s, Finland was overstepped by Norway somehow. You weren’t there to witness the progress of Finnish black metal back then, but do you have any idea why black metal didn’t grow into such a powerful and notorious movement in Finland as it did in Norway?
- I don’t know if there’s much point in speculating the reasons why the first guard of Finnish black metal didn’t create similar hype around itself as the bands from Norway did. Still the reasons are evident: The first generation bands from Finland, no matter how great they were musically, did not identify themselves by anything more than being a step towards darkness compared to the dominant death metal scene, whereas the Norwegian/Swedish/Polish bands took the most visible step away from being just a music scene to be synonymous to utterly evil and Satanic behaviour through fire, death and hostility.
- When I became more profoundly initiated by the mid ‘90s, things started to escalate in terms of black metal terror in Finland as well. Those things never gained such attention in the eyes of the wider public or music media, but for me there was (and still is) similar mayhemic force to Finnish black metal, as we all saw with the persecution of death (read: life) metal wimps, grave desecration, church arson (attempts) and even in some occasions suicide and homicide. Also bands like Azazel, Wanderer, Vornat, Nidhoggr, (Sigillum) Diaboli, Thy Serpent, Darkwoods My Betrothed, Wintermoon, Curse etc. might not have been the most acknowledged ones in the underground when they emerged, but they still had an impact on people, and I still consider their works to be important, even though they’re now forgotten by many.
On the other hand it seems that Finland didn’t go through depreciation in this: black metal and the old kings have become media’s pets in Norway nowadays, and only a few bands have kept their integrity and seriousness – a terrifying beast has been turned into a circus bear. Finland has kept its edge, be it even old bands (Impaled Nazarene, Beherit). Comments?
- As said before, the attention Norwegian Black Metal gained at its peak also attracted opportunists (just as it still does), and was bound to corrupt the whole magickal scape there used to be around many of the bands. There is no doubt about the fact that most of their integrity is gone. It’s true that f.ex. the mentioned Finnish bands have kept their act much better together, even though Beherit was gone for many years, but still did a fairly convincing return. I must say I hail Impaled Nazarene for taking their own nihilistic path and keeping it true the way it was meant to be.
At the same time a legion of bands strongly connected together has spawned from the Finnish soil, bands like Behexen, Sargeist, Baptism, Horna and of course Satanic Warmaster. For an outsider there are obvious differences between these bands but a clear common ground is also shared, be it music or views. How would you describe this “movement” and its ideology (if there even is any)?
- I wouldn’t speak of a “movement” or a common ideology as I hardly think there exists any in that sense.
Satanic Warmaster has declared its national pride many times, but how Finnish is your creation in your opinion? Or is this national awareness only an interphase, and the pagan roots can be found deeper?
- As much as I acknowledge the soil my roots are in and the lineage I come from, I guess you can also refer to some certain statements where I would’ve declared my “national pride” as I hardly recall any? What straightforward pride is there to take for a nation that prioritizes everything but its own sons and daughters than its own survival? Yet, I was given this land half a millenium ago, and cherish it as my own and don’t want to see it destroyed by the corrupt ways of the modern world.
Are you interested in Finnish culture/literature/mythology in general?
- The gods that live in the tales of the “Finnish” samoyedic people are not the gods of my blood.
How about Finnish touch and tone in Satanic Warmaster’s music and lyrics – for example I could find When Eternity Awaits somehow Finnish-sounding, or are we talking about more personal and universal melancholy here?
- I wouldn’t see Satanic Warmaster as anything that is “Finnish” essence, firstly because of the obvious distance I have taken from the Finnish “culture” as most people see it, and also for the fact that I feel that all the emotions I channel into my music are much more primal and originate from things buried much deeper within my heart and blood than this country. For me, there exists a much deeper emotion for Where Eternity Awaits than some melancholy which could be superficially labeled as something that would be inherent for “Finns”. This song is like a long spiritual stare into a snowfall, a vision that travels deeper and deeper into the night for hours, in search for the final silent throne. Almost like a reflection of life itself.
This melancholic side of Satanic Warmaster goes quite well with the aggressive and war-like side. Do you try to find opposites this way, or do they play together as the different sides of the same emotional coin?
- Contrast is one of the most crucial aspects of that which constitutes us and drives us to be what we’re meant to be. Without contrast, there is no motion that would shape us into a direction our will and dreams push us to. Anxiety and terror walk hand in hand with strife, and the more you feast on blood, the more hungry you become, and thus the cycle continues on an on. Only for people not being able to even understand their own emotions and actions, strong contrasts like the self-evident truths like the ability/necessity to feel immense joy in a life of anguish and hostility are never unveiled.
But back to the culture… The usual paradigm is to perceive that there is a common source for Western culture, which is based on different pagan myths and beliefs. Do you believe that the cultural branches of Scandinavia, Greece, Germany etc. have sprung from the same trunk and this could also be a fertile ground for the new world order?
- The archetypes that were presented under various names and faces are what is one of the most vital things for the European tribes. Unlike those who never had the need to evolve and to look into the future to survive, we were given gods that would reflect what we were as men. Not only creative, but also destructive. Not only kind, but also cruel. Not only fair, but also abhorrent. All that we are now as well. Once we return back into a tribal state, the horns and the runes shall return to guide us.
Besides melancholy, war has also been one strong theme in Satanic Warmaster from the very start, for example you shouted your rage over the world with Raging Winter about ten years ago. But how has the world changed and how have your views on war changed in all these years?
- The reality and necessity of conflict has been in my blood for hundreds of years already, and I am not here to change something that has forged the men of my family into what we are now. My ancestors were given their land for the virtues in war, and so did my grandfather give me a much deeper insight on war he and his coevals fought to keep what was theirs. The nature of the conflict always changes, and it is certain, that the next one we will fight will be on our own streets, against those who love the world rather than those they should be taking care of. I felt the same ten years ago, and if anything, I feel even stronger about that now as I have more to defend than back then.
“I don’t want to change the world, and I don’t want the world to change me”, sang Ozzy back in the day. What is the situation with you, are you here to change the world with your music, and if the answer is yes, do you think there has been any progression?
- In a very small scale, I guess you could say that I’ve made an impact with my music, but I’ve learned the hard way to build any imaginary schemes of a future that would be different only because of the art I’ve created.
How about you personally, do you still think you’re the same guy you were ten years earlier – what has remained, and what has changed the most (as a musician and as a person)?
- I am not the same person I was last week, so sure as fuck I am not the same person I was ten years ago. I might not be the right person to say anything about this… You tell me?
Well, maybe this question will be answered some other time, and we can conclude this loooong talk with a look into the future… Nachzehrer is out, and another chapter – again more complete and confident than the other chapters – starts to live its life. Do you think that you have achieved a stable state with Satanic Warmaster, or is transforming an obligatory factor in your music?
- As I’ve always done, I will lay down the S.W. banner unless I am able to rejuvenate its spirit over and over again and to see a point in its existence. If I’d reach a “stable state”, there would be no reason to continue any more, as the hunt for something new and the secrets to be found would have no driving force anymore. I have no need to continue something in which could be superseded by something completely new.