Abigor, part I
by Niklas Göransson
For Abigor’s TT, black metal is serious business. In a retrospective analysis, we hear of the icons and deeds that shaped this art form – and how it is employed by the Devil to shepherd his flock.
What began with slightly antagonistic questions escalated into a series of rhetorical skirmishes followed by a gruelling trench warfare, the duration of which rendered three articles worth of material. You are currently reading one of them, part II will be published next week and the third will be featured in a printed publication coming later in 2017.
Meet TT of ABIGOR. I must say that it is spectacularly refreshing to behold an early nineties black metal veteran who still stands by the art’s essence with such fervour and conviction; ’the fire still burns’, as a wise man once put it. But before we get to that – today, February 22, signifies the release of the long-awaited split album featuring ABIGOR, NIGHTBRINGER, THY DARKENED SHADE and MORTUUS.
– Each participant obviously shares a firm belief in various manifestations of the divine sinister force. These are not merely people with a vague idea of the mythological Satan, but individuals who have accumulated significant mileage on the Left Hand Path and can offer radical interpretations. There are many differences in our beliefs and religious practices – actually, none of the four bands involved represent the same current or theological school of thought, yet there is common ground.
The album is narrated with one long continuous lyric which binds all the songs together. TT explains how this would not have been possible without a certain ’spiritual congruence’.
– Musically, the idea was to unite the contributions of four bands to create one continuous work together. We wanted each band to represent a certain musical heritage, but also share a well-structured sound to make it work compositionally.
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Since coming across the 1995 ”Orkblut – The Retaliation” EP, I have always associated ABIGOR with that triumphant, epic and ethereal feeling I first identified in the “Battlefield Orphans” melody. This atmosphere became especially prevalent on second album “Nachthymnen (From the Twilight Kingdom)”, released later that year.
– I would like to believe these sentiments deeply rooted in the archetypical core within us, they lie dormant in our subconscious and we tap into this spring through the means of our art. This is the same current that in the early nineties spurred young black metal guys to pose with medieval weapons in ancient castle ruins, or parade around the forest with torches lit. Far transcending simple photo shoots, the entire procedure had a strong emotional impact on us.
It became a quest to ascertain why they, as Satanists, resonated so strongly with energies perceived as ‘pagan’. TT believes it was searching for the source of this bewitchment which led them to stumble upon a Jungian collective unconscious of sorts.
– This was the reason why we, and by that I mean the entire early nineties black metal movement, explored these ’blut und boden’ concepts – coupled with an approach similar to that of nineteenth century German Romanticism. Note that I’m not referring to NS glorification as a means of praising all that is negative and anti-human, which is how one should interpret escapades like EMPEROR´s flirtations with fascism, and DARKTHRONE´s ’Aryan this and Jewish that’.
Using another Norwegian example, he mentions a collaboration between the aforementioned DARKTHRONE’s Fenriz and Satyr from SATYRICON; the national romantic ’folk metal’ project STORM, which released an album called “Nordavind” in 1995.
– What black metal presented here was not only the worship of all things negative and destructive, but simultaneously a glorification and search for a ’positive’ and profound feeling in the shape of these romantic notions. I’m trying to analyse the influences and habitat of a scene mainly consisting of seventeen to twenty-year-olds, searching for ’roots’ and thrusting with urgency against political correctness – trying so hard to embrace extremism that it was at points hilarious.
TT concludes that in retrospect, many of these ideas were a bit naïve.
– Most of what we found – even stripped from their most radical excesses, was transfigured, glorified and distorted; the reality of history turned out to be vastly different from our fantastical interpretations. Anyway, this could be one source for certain ’triumphant’ undertones. Regardless, what I can assure everyone who was too young back then, is that something happened between 1992 and ‘95.
Here we go.
– I certainly don’t find notions such as nexions opening and energies flowing to be in the least bit of an over-mystification or exaggeration. The atmosphere manifested in black metal at the time, if I may talk about our general early history, was not only about the atmosphere on the mini-album you mentioned; thousands of young men were simultaneously prepared to go all the way, at any cost.
’All the way’; meaning a few church burnings, murders of homosexuals and intra-group violence – in twenty-five years. ISIS appear to do that multiple times per day.
– The Islamic State does a good job of raising chaos on earth – they sacrifice enough psychopathic fire on the altar of madness, don´t you think? But really, why dwell on such yellow press 1993 Kerrang! headlines – why should Satan accept every low-level human act of homicide as a valuable sacrifice?
Call me a hopeless romantic, but I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of reason to expect a slightly higher body count from this alleged horde of rabid devil-worshippers willing to accept any consequence. Especially given the amount of choral decrees of global murder that acts as soundtrack.
– Is it still like that though – isn’t it by now a nineties thing to be a devotee of global murder, as you call it? Today is the era of the green humanist harm-not-one-branch black metal that’s pushed by the media – not to mention the ’abracadabra, search for the incense stick under my robe’ BATUSHKAs preaching peaceful messages of contemplation. I don´t read anything hostile in black metal interviews these days, people are too busy becoming enlightened!
Heavens forbid. The diabolical hostility then; examining the deeds where it would make sense to say that the spirit of black metal guided someone’s hand in malice, there’s really not all that many that would appear to have furthered the Devil’s agenda on earth to any greater extent.
– True; a closer look often reveals that the intentions for violence were weak emanations from pitiful regions of the mind, having little to do with spiritual strength or dominance. There are a few exceptions maybe – I can´t remember how Angramain’yo of the legendary AZHUBHAM HAANI executed his deed.
From my anecdotal memory, he was at a party when a few scene personalities accused him of not being evil enough – which he attempted to disprove by heading out and stabbing a man in the throat, almost killing him. The next day, the instigators called the police and told them who did it.
– You mentioned crimes within black metal, let us take the most famous one; the murder of Euronymous (MAYHEM). Dispel the shroud of mystery and you will find that not one bit of glory remains. The only conclusion one can draw is that Grishnackh´s (BURZUM) killing was a textbook backstabbing in the most cowardly of ways, followed by a torrent of craven excuses about why he had to knife someone wearing nothing but his underwear in the back – after calling him out of bed at three ‘o’clock in the morning.
Being slightly out of practice from not having debated this matter for some fifteen years, I opt to sit back and relish the surge of scorn.
– Oh, it gets worse; then follows twenty-five years of self-declared black metal warriors praising the knife-in-the-back-attack by using Grishnackh´s photo like some repulsively smirking role-model in those intolerably idiotic memes. People make slick remarks about Euronymous, but in real life these sissies would flee head over heels at first sign of confrontation.
TT says that while only a few murders took place, anyone who was there could attest to the fiery fatality raging through the entire scene.
– Even amongst one and the same band there were feelings of knives drawn at any moment. What’s relevant for satanic art though – why we discuss this topic in the first place; it’s not as if everyone into black metal has to execute psychopathic crimes for the sake of it, rather the art requires a certain dangerous, discomforting and unpredictable mind-set. Whether you have killed is besides the point, it is how you carry yourself and your morals.
He explains that the primary benefit of both the deeds and subsequent widespread scene-support for their perpetrators, is how it served as a protective filter against mainstream interest.
– That´s why I have welcomed them all. This element of hostility and extremism of all kinds is feared by the payroll metal-business workers, who will try to eradicate all they can’t control – and by that, salt the once-fruitful soil where not just intellectually valuable music but also truly inspired art once thrived.
TT mentions that most of the Europeans drawn to the fledging black metal phenomena came from relatively free, socially secure and comfortable upbringings.
–We took our eighties roots, developed and radicalised the content and understood it as an uncompromisingly aggressive Satanic movement. We were all adolescent, thousands of like-minded at an age where you just didn’t need to give a fuck.
Had the lot of them been in their sensible forties back then, he adds, black metal as we know it would have never happened.
– We had no clearly defined or well-developed idea of the Devil, but we were recklessly and wholeheartedly celebrating everything deemed ’Satanic’. If all this talk about that certain energy is just bollocks, then why is everyone praising those old records as the most exceptional black metal ever produced? To this day, no one has been able to touch what was achieved with a few power chords and mediocre musicianship.
Right, so let’s for argument’s sake go along with this scenario; with infernal powers manifested into the Unreedemer calling his flock through the art of black metal. I still struggle to grasp what purpose this could possibly serve – what the movement has accomplished that would be in Satan’s interest.
– We must now, if only for a moment, distinguish what we usually try to unite – everything superficially ’evil’ judged by average moral standards on one hand, and something very complex; a spiritually valuable contribution sacrificed to the deity which you called ’Satan´s interest’.
I remain unenlightened as to why the adversarial majesty would take active involvement in an obscure genre with the adolescent middle class as prime vehicle. Music styles boasting a larger audience with greater firepower and higher proclivity for fatal violence would make more sense – perhaps rap music, or Southern rock.
– It´s not that a godly intelligence searches for teenagers to enlighten and then has them set fire to a wooden church. All this was important for black metal, but not in the capacity of servitude to sinister powers. The dark deity simply is.
In the eyes of this entity, says TT, my silly little timeframe of twenty five years is an irrelevant factor.
– To fully answer your question, we would have to discuss nothing less than the mysteries of existence and time, which goes a wee bit beyond the scope here, right?
Fair enough, next time.
– On a higher spiritual level and with the genuine commitment of an uncompromising offering of one’s soul to be devoured by the maw of the Devil. Now this is a much greater achievement than an animal-like physical tussle, a dabsy teenage courage test gone wrong, or a narcissist backstabbing.
The act of worship requires much insight and spiritual footwork, he says. It is therefore highly unadvisable to offer up something one has no firm understanding of, to someone whose very nature defies comprehension.
– First there must be a precise vision of what ’the soul’ and ’the Devil’ actually mean – and trying to define that now would again be going too far. It comes down to separating that which really matters from what is simply indulging the public demand for melodrama
This takes us on yet another trip down nostalgia lane.
– Grishnack´s knife-in-the-back was not a worthy contribution to the glory of Satan. It was how he acknowledged and worshipped the deity in early interviews, and influenced thousands of people to intensify their bonds with black metal, and in continuation, the Devil.
TT says he has known quite a few people who began their esoteric pursuit as fans of early BURZUM records, who read the early interviews and went on to become devout Left Hand Path practitioners.
– This was his actual satanic achievement, not the sensationalism that catapulted him into stardom. Young Grishnackh was himself inspired by the freshly developed thoughts on how ’black metal Satanism’ was to be understood – as promulgated by Euronymous and Dead (MAYHEM/MORBID), Jon Nödtveidt (DISSECTION), IT (OPHTHALAMIA, ABRUPTUM), together with a handful of others who publicly experimented with radical thoughts as early as in 1991.
TT claims that in a short moment of lucid awareness, Vikernes realised the true nature of the Devil.
– There are interviews where it’s clearly stated that he ’studies the Golden Dawn system of magick’. You can see related book-spines in the background of an old photo, and he even used Aleister Crowley´s A.A. sigil as cover for his 1991 “Demo II”. Not to give Crowley´s belief much credit in this context, but there were many more relevant factors that shaped BURZUM and the course of black metal than people want to acknowledge today.
I must confess I’d be quite curious to hear Vikernes’ own thoughts on this analysis.
– Remember how he continuously, in many interviews, called Satan an existing divinity and not just a metaphor? His… and I quote, ’Lord and master’ whom he worships – even calling him ’Lucifer the fallen light bearer’ in one interview, which shows remarkable perceptiveness in a time when the focus was on all things blasphemous and anti-Christian. All this has now been forgotten, ignored and reinterpreted since it contradicts everything that Varg became after Grishnackh died.
Thus, he proclaims, seeking the source of seeds planted by Satan in souls of young black metal fanatics – it is to interviews and music of the time one should look, not contemporary revisionist history.
– And here we have it, the truly worthy sacrifice. That he backstabbed Euronymous made him an awkward pop cultural celebrity like Ché Guevara and Charles Manson, but everything truly great was done when he worshipped the horned Lord between late 1991 and early 1993, preceding his conversion to pro-life Odinism.
He adds that this is not an official ABIGOR stance, but rather his personal opinion on the matter.
– PK has a rather different view as far as I know, and values Varg´s ideas of tribal survivalism.
Since the aforementioned gentleman has defected from the infernal cadres, along with his teens, I’m curious how many true believers remain for the storm of evil; diabolical devotees with anywhere near the religious fervour to that of Hare Krishnas, Buddhist or Christian monks, and so on. True zealots who would forfeit all distractions of the flesh in order to wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to Lord Satan’s service.
– I don´t think such decisions necessarily mean renouncing earthly pleasures. Monastery life, including the discipline and asceticism, is precisely what I imagine many seek out by preference. By just stimulating the physical body it becomes exactly that; mundane, earthly and profane.
In the right setting, he says, it’s possible to live as an ascetic on one’s own.
– I have been enjoying such a lifestyle for some months myself, the whole isolated routine becomes very satisfying over time. I count myself as one of those who absolutely can´t subordinate to any authority – try to force order upon me and my resistance only becomes that much stronger.
Like with everything else, he says, only a small percentage of those who claim to be holy men really fit the ideal and do what they do for the right reasons.
– Let´s not forget a very unromantic but nonetheless real occurrence; we know that in the past – poor people sent their children to such outfits, either for educational or economic reasons. Not all who pose as spiritual fanatics are deeply self-engrossed seekers with a strong vision of the divine and willingness to sacrifice all earthly bonds.
Abandoning the monastic example then, perhaps a comparison to roaming ascetics like the Tibetan Naljorpa, or Indian Brahmins. Show me the black metal pilgrims who would forfeit their vinyl collection to wander the earth, seeking the Devil’s gnosis.
– If you end up as Aghori Sadhu or a black metal musician with a job and suit is maybe just determined by your surroundings, not your true conviction and devotion. Actually, I must say that your question reeks with doubt that black metal people are capable of such dedicated spiritual life.
The thought has occurred to me, I must confess. On that note, equalling initiated Aghori to an ordinary civilian with a music hobby is like comparing Stalingrad veterans to ‘war metal’ musicians who have never been in a streetfight.
– I assure you that the true children of the Devil who make up the serious core of this scene are no less devoted. Besides, it´s easier to go through the initiation process of an established religion or old cult – entering the institutionalised structures, facilities or settings that most of them offer. Satanism as we know it doesn’t really have an ongoing, organised, linear history; much has to be deciphered, linked from its many roots and foundations, and re-evaluated from a certain point of view.
Essentially, the Satanist needs to do all the spiritual footwork on his own accord.
– Each and every one of us had to start almost at zero, with little guidance and ability to discern whom to learn from and what to ignore. As a Satanist, your source pool is huge – almost endless; bits are scattered across so many cultures, religions and systems. You find valuable clues in ancient scriptures that don’t correspond with your own beliefs.
Seclusion and silence, he says, is not how one acquires insight into the mysteries of the Devil.
– Nothing makes sense without the right vision – not cloistered life, no fraternities. All you could gain is a certain order´s grade, subjective experiences, mental hygiene dressed up as magick and ego-stimuli disguised as the contrary. This fundamentally distinguishes our faith from that of organised religion, and maybe that´s the quality and strength of the path that a theistic Satanist in present day has to walk on.
Part II of this conversation can be found here.