Reverend Kriss Hades (Sadistik Exekution)
by Niklas Göransson
Visual artist Reverend Kriss Hades, mostly known as guitar player for Sadistik Exekution, descends on Sweden in characteristic chaos – the chronicling of which grants unique insight into the borderlands between genius and madness.
In September 2016, I was tipped off that Reverend Kriss Hades of SADISTIK EXEKUTION was due to spend a week in Uppsala, preparing for an art exhibition at Swedish festival Mörkaste Småland. The Australian guitar player and artist was to be hosted by Kolgrim from UNPURE and Pelle Forsberg of WATAIN, who share a big house in a rural area on the outskirts of Uppsala. Needless to say, this spectacle had to be documented. As part of my groundwork I spoke to SAD-EX vocalist Rok, who didn’t believe me at first when I told him who was coming.
– I was talking to Dave Slave about Kriss going over there, and we’d be surprised if he even gets to the airport on time to catch his flight. Then if he makes it we would be even more surprised if anything goes to plan, especially if he’s on his own. No matter where we went, we always tried to keep him away from spirits but one way or another he always finds someone to supply him.
This bodes well, since his hosts are neither temperate nor particularly sane individuals.
– Beware man, he does have a tendency to grab things like knives and forks, and attempt to stab either people or objects. He’s mostly harmless and safe, but verging on dangerous. He can really go mental when drinking spirits, rum and so on – very crazy, believe me!
I later learned how similar conclusions had been drawn in the Forsberg–Kolgrim residence following the first evening of welcoming festivities. Two days after Kriss’ arrival, I head to Uppsala for a barbecue. Kolgrim had mentioned earlier in the day how their guest had been up and about all night – either fiddling around with his guitar or watching, quote, ‘strange Russian movies’ for artistic inspiration.
The two musicians’ abode is a two-story house with the most Swedish of aesthetics – red walls with white borders. A decidedly less Swedish vibe emanates from their flagpole, which proudly flies the banner of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Kolgrim brought it back from a 2009 visit to Pyongyang, where he attended the Mass Games. In the garden, Kriss Hades is speaking to WATAIN vocalist Erik Danielsson. The duo are hosting an exhibition together and will spend the following week creating artwork for it. After some introductory pleasantries, I enquire how intercontinental travel treated him – this being the first time he’s left Australia in more than twenty years.
– Getting through Sydney airport was intense, oh my God it was intense. The system they’ve got worked out – it’s fucked, and you can’t be carrying anything. I was forced to make sure I had nothing sharp, nothing weird, no cocaine. ’Cause I found my bag on the street; it could be stolen, it could have cocaine.
I must say that, contrary to his reputation, Kriss has thus far proven rather sociable.
– It’s only the alcohol making me sociable. The drinking also blocks out the tinnitus – I was born with it, so I know.
How does that even happen?
– Well, some people are born with one leg. You can be born with all sorts of shit – even leprosy if you’re unlucky, and then you’ve got a real problem.
Kriss joined SADISTIK EXEKUTION back in 1986, after having answered an ad for a guitar player in his local record shop. It’s interesting to reflect over how much it altered the course of his life, coming across this notice.
– That was what I wanted, I was looking to join an extreme heavy metal band. I’d done similar things way before; I began composing what you’d call black metal noise art in the late seventies.
A somewhat incredulous Erik asks:
– What, when did you say this was?
– Hmm, eighty … six? Seventy … whatever. The thing is, there … Look! That’s a picture of Nibiru. Planet X.
I see someone’s been reading Zecharia Sitchin.
– He’s okay but a bit of a dickhead, you know – I wouldn’t hang out with him. But I like his tenacity, I must say.
While Kriss’ capacity for chaos is widely documented, he’s equally renowned for his guitar playing – generally considered one of the fastest players in extreme metal. Having observed the man in action for a while now, I’m quite frankly curious to know how the hell this happened.
– Practice, practice, practice. Plus selling your soul to the Devil is a good idea. But I didn’t – nearly did … I smashed my first guitar when I was about … I don’t know, ten? See, my brothers are … were, they were bigger than me. They were mean and used to beat me up, do terrible things. So one day I said, ‘That’s it!’ I crossed my own line. You know how you draw a line in the sand?
Kriss draws a defiant line through the air in front of him.
– I told them; ‘Cross that line, and this is what’s going to happen’, then I smashed the acoustic guitar so violently they never came near me again. It felt good to break my own things.
I can’t help but think growing up with such brothers would have prepared him for his future cohorts in SADISTIK EXEKUTION.
– Not really, SAD-EX are more mental. They’ve got this evil thing goin’ on that’s just so weird, man. Just when you think they’re normal, they’ll do something strange that sort of reinvents friendship again. They would never hang out with other bands.
I actually had a long conversation with Rok not long before this, and he was perfectly calm and cordial.
– That’s what scares me about him, he’s too calm. Doesn’t get angry, he just … snaps. Like he … he’s got black eyes. There’s no colour in those eyes. You don’t know if he’s angry, or if he’s … Rok’s too calm for me. Because I’ve seen him when he snaps …
Kriss clicks his fingers with a nervous laugh.
– He gets mad. I broke his ribs a couple of times. Dave Slave hospitalised me … twice? Nearly three times. Dave is the most violent … he’s fucked in the head. His real name is Diamentas Testiforada, which means ‘Diamond Ironhead’. His head is made of iron, I found that out the hard way. He went mental on tour in Europe, and we basically had to kill him. Oh, but I broke his … I injured his leg really badly; pulled all the tendons. He couldn’t walk, it was beautiful.
Ah, the 1995 European tour with IMPALED NAZARENE and ABSU – could you share some of your fondest memories?
– There is no fond memory, only horrible ones. I brought an amp … which suddenly all the bands had to use, ’cause theirs all got stolen or broke. So if I hadn’t brought mine, the tour would have been completely fucked. It was a Marshall Valvestate. It’s solid, they don’t break.
So it survived the tour?
– Yes, and then it was stolen when I got back.
Another barbecue guest interjects:
– Any girls on the tour?
– No, Kriss replies hesitantly, well … one … vaguely. I got in trouble for taking a girl on the bus … nothing happened, it just … Rok and Dave said, ‘Kriss, you can’t take a girl on the bus! You can’t take girls on the bus.’ And I go, ‘Why not?’ ’Cause … I don’t know. They steal things.’
So, breaking your hand on Dave Slave’s head – would you care to tell that one?
– No! But I shall tell it anyway. Fuck, yes. First things first though, I need more alcohol – let us go to the bar.
Besides the actual residential house and a large workshop, the property also has a free-standing building that’s been furnished like a pub. Kriss sets off towards it. Erik groans and shakes his head. After some regrettable knife-related escapades on the night of his arrival, Kriss has been banned from drinking hard liquor on the premises. As I enter the bar, he’s humming a cheerful melody while rummaging through the drink cabinet before pulling out a bottle of gin.
– It’s the best bar in the Meadows! What’s this? It’ll do. I did warn Erik that if there’s alcohol in the house … I will find it and I will drink it. Chin-chin! Oh, I can feel the alcohol already. That’s mental. Okay! This is going well.
Just as I try to steer the conversation back on track, Kriss starts digging through a pile of DVD’s.
– See, this is my life … looking for things. And I’m blind! Deaf and blind. I didn’t sleep last night, so I just watched all of those movies there. Caligula … everything! I think I’ve had about two hours sleep since I got here on Thursday. What day is it now?
– Found it! Aha! Now this is a good sign. See this DVD, I will put it on. It’s got … silent spaces. I like the silence, it creeps people out even more if there’s nothing on for a while. Okay! This is going better than expected. What was the question?
The broken hand …
– Indeed! The hand, to that. Hm-hmm. Lighter? See, now I’ve got to find something else. The lighter. I believe we had the lighter here just a moment ago… we could just do this all day! Search for things we had a minute before. So where did you last see the blue lighter?
We both lower our gazes to the bar table between us, where the elusive azure kindling lurks in plain sight.
– Look at that! There it is. See, this is what my world is like; can’t see anything; can’t hear anything … What? Yes, yes – to the hand, of course. Because it was broken really badly, I said; ‘That’s it! I’m not fighting any more. That’s terrible.’ But Mika (Luttinen, IMPALED NAZARENE) says, ‘Kriss, I have the most powerful painkillers … But they are suppositories; you must shove them up your ass!’
Kriss cackles with laughter.
– And I just thought he was being a pervert, because they’re pretty perverted. I said, ‘You just want to get me to stick things up my ass, you poofter!’ Then we kept calling them poofters all the time; they didn’t know what it meant. And Mika goes, ‘What is this thing? Poofter! What does it mean? You keep calling us that every day! What is poofter?’ So I told him, and he got really angry … and then he walks onstage next day and goes; ‘You are all associated with poofterisms!’ He’s really strange, I like that guy.
Kriss played the remaining three shows pleasantly numb by way of southern comfort. Alas, once he’d returned home from the tour and the drugs and booze wore off, he was in so much agony that he was forced to seek medical attention.
– I sought out the best hand doctor in town and he asked, ‘How did you do it?’ I said, ‘I was in a fight’ and he went, ‘That’s it! You deserve it. I’m not fixing it.’ I thought that was pretty unfair. The nurse told me to see this other guy in North Shore. I went there and passed out in the waiting room, ’cause I had the flu … and they fixed it straight away. The hand that is, they had to re-break it.
Afterwards, Kriss was told that this flu was in fact blood poisoning – and that he was lucky to be alive.
– Apparently, one of the nurses passed out during the operation but I didn’t. I don’t go under from anaesthetics. I’ve got my eyes closed but I’m aware of everything.
That sounds dreadful.
– It is! So you sort of float above the operating table … you know what’s going on. It’s hard. Unfortunately, I can see the future sometimes. I used to do séances for people … contact the dead for them.
At this point I’ve started paying attention to the DVD he’s playing, which besides various seizure-inducing visuals features the kind of ambient guitar music he usually performs live. It’s actually really good.
– Thank you! Oh dear, that’s odd – one difference between Australia and Europe is that the Australian never compliments anyone on anything. It’s from “Damascus Orthodox” (his unreleased 2003 solo-album) and it’s a black mass. That’s why we can’t release it, ’cause people would use it for wrong reasons.
Having decided a few years ago to focus on his visual art, Kriss began financing his master plan by playing a number of solo concerts in Australia – including one at the esteemed Sydney Opera House.
– I organised a fundraiser and lost a lot of money. Well, we didn’t make money. It cost more money than it brought in. I just spent all the money – ten thousand dollars; I bought guitars and a fax…
Wait – what, you bought a fax?
– No; eff-ects, effects for the guitar. A fax would’ve been good in case I wanted to do the Eastern Bloc as well. Anyway, I saved up, stopped drinking and quit smoking … for nearly a year and a half. Two years? Saved a fortune. Hmm. I had all this cash, and I’m going, ‘Fuck!’ So we decided… meaning, my advisors – how can I put this without sounding like a complete nut case? Aliens.
As in, extra-terrestrials?
– That’s one thing we all have in common with SADISTIK… except I don’t know about Sloth. The last time I met aliens? They pulled me apart, atomically. Fixed something and then put me back together, it was absolutely ridiculous.
Hades and his intergalactic counsel decided that he must venture forth into Europe, to promote their artwork.
– There was a man called Alastair … Gilfillan or something? He’s like a genius. Coder. So, he sort of mentioned something to me … ‘Oh, you’ve got a gig with Erik in Sweden.’ I go, ‘What? I’ve only got five dollars and not even a valid passport. What are you talking about?’ He went, ‘No, no. It’s happening.’ Then he disappeared and was never heard from again.
Kriss says he then somehow got in contact with Erik through Sarah, one of his ex-managers.
– A shame, she was pretty tolerant. Yep, I break managers. I tell them, ‘Don’t talk to me, talk to my manager!’ … shit like that, I can’t help myself and so they quit. It’s not me! It’s just the … the fans are like zombies looking for brains. I have to stop doing this. This is mental. So after manager number … three? She’s gone and so I have to find a new one.
Have you tried going without one?
– Hmm. I can’t manage for myself, I’m completely useless. My brain can only handle so much thought organising. Case in point, I’ve spent half of today looking for things I put down just moments before.
Kriss claims his flights were only booked two weeks ago. He didn’t handle it himself, but refuses to divulge his co-conspirator.
– Oh, someone who will remain unnamed did it. They don’t want to be photographed or talked about, a bit like Quorthon and Boss actually. Remember how he talked about Boss? I think it was his father, maybe. Rok was obsessed with Quorthon. He’d go into epileptic fits at the mere mention of him in a magazine, he had every little tiny picture cut out. We played a BATHORY cover on SADISTIK’s first gig.
– “Total Destruction”. Rok spent a lot of time practising the ‘desssstruccchtöööön’ over and over again. He started vomiting, he’s just mental. You know, like Tommy G has his, ‘Uhh!’ So, Rok sits in his bedroom practising vomit-noises, and he has the weirdest bedroom out of everyone… well, besides Dave Slave – he’s the weirdest. Apparently, I was the normal one in the band.
I’m curious to what extent Kriss follows his local scene, if he at least knows of the biggest names – PORTAL, DESTRÖYER 666, and so forth.
– Yeah, I’ve known about them from when I did a lot of research. At one stage I knew every single metal band in the world, but there’s too many of them now so I just don’t bother. There are a lot of them in Australia though. We’re important! HOBB’S ANGEL OF DEATH, MORTAL SIN, SLAUGHTER LORD… who else? I don’t know.
– I’m a fucking angel.
The full article, which is more than twice as long, can be found in Bardo Methodology #2. Besides the remaining interview, it also features an eye-witness account of Kriss’ adventures at a Swedish metal festival.
All illustrations by Kriss Hades, two of them taken from his diary. Steel weapons by Kriss and Pelle Forsberg.