by Niklas Göransson
Artistry, addiction, and antagonism – Swedish psychedelic black metal band Reveal! have evoked the Scissorgod. Frontman Crakk grants a rare glimpse into life on the proverbial wild side.
– To me, to us – REVEAL! – music has never been something one approaches with cold and calculating reason. I believe our best work is born from just playing and feeling; it might be weird or dumb or emotionally jagged, but at least it’s honest and, therefore, not entirely worthless.
“Scissorgod”, the third album of Uppsala’s REVEAL!, was released by Sepulchral Voice Records in November 2019. As could be expected, it’s a rather strange affair in pretty much every conceivable aspect.
– If you want to analyse it from a musical perspective, you can clearly detect many of our influences… KATHARSIS, MAYHEM, SCRATCH ACID, METALLICA, and so on and so forth. When I was a young worm, I believe it was Hampus (DEGIAL, WATAIN) who taught me that even though extreme metal, especially black metal, has this very special vibe – it feels like what the ritual of a god SHOULD feel like, spiritual and powerful – the exact same vibe can be found in all kinds of rock music. I learned that you don’t need to separate the two by subgenre definition, but rather by how powerful the tunes are. Therefore, for me, MAYHEM’s ”Live in in Leipzig” would be listened to in a dark room with candles lit, immediately followed by ALICE COOPER’s ”Halo of Flies”, THE MONKS’ ”I Hate You”, or THE STOOGES’ ”Dirt”; it would be all God, or the Devil… this never did matter. So, I guess what I’m saying is that, in terms of genres, our sources are mixed but connect through us very well since they all carry the same resonance.
What is that thing on the cover photo?
– Nothing. The cover sculpture is no more. When the album was released, we destroyed him in splendorous fashion; we ganged up on him and tore him to shreds and all that was left was a pile of knives, confetti, and cum stains. Unfortunately, inside the shell-encased box there was an original MORBID “December Moon” cassette that accidentally broke in the carnage. Whoops…
Presumably, the inclusion of the tape was some manner of homage – Crakk has previously spoken of his deep reverence for the late MORBID vocalist, Dead.
– I don’t think I can put my relation to him in words. I’ve only ever been obsessed with three or four people during my life, but I had to dig up every little secret and any piece of trivia was a treasure. I think a lot of people can relate. Per Yngve Ohlin was one of those people who mattered most of all during a couple of years. He had an extreme poetic gift and artistic quality about him and was somehow able to convey his own world with great ease, so you could feel its vibe. I do believe I benefited from this fixation, as well as lost something – everything comes at a cost, and so on. That said, I think there’s a certain type of person who can relate to this… it’s a trait with great sensitivity, like a snake with freshly shed skin; you can just slightly sense other worlds, or other people’s vibes. Then again, it might just all be in your own head and that is just tedious and makes it very easy to lose yourself, and then the world teaches you that you must numb yourself. At least it’s colourful! Anyway, I don’t want to promote this kind of obsession, there’s something indulging about it and that’s dangerous.
Crakk explains that if one wants to analyse “Scissorgod” conceptually, he thinks of it very much as a three – in a symbolical rather than numerological sense.
– There is no one, two is the first number. With only one present, there is nothing because each half needs contrast to define itself. But when there are two, they can join together to form very extensive and complicated patterns which become the third. Landing us at three, obviously. Think of it as a man-made digitalised version of our world. Like everything digital, it consists of ones and zeroes, ON or OFF. Two opposites, contrast. The same goes for the old Nordic creation myth; there’s this big nothingness, Ginnungagap, and then you have ice from Nifelheim and flames from Muspelheim. Two extremes, two polar opposites mingling and mixing to birth a third – the world. So, it’s a bit like this for us. “Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth” (2011) is the first, our roots, whereas “Flystrips” (2016) was our fuck off to everything, including ourselves. I don’t necessarily expect this to make any sense but what I’m trying to express is what “Scissorgod” feels like to me. Like two fists, each with ’love’ and ’hate’ tattooed, both fisting your mother but in extremely sophisticated patterns. Anyway, when I myself was a worm, my mother told me about Urðr, Skuld and Verðandi. One weaves the thread, one tangles it, and one sits with the scissor… snip snap snap.
In Norse mythology, Urðr, Skuld, and Verðandi are the three most prominent Norns – the female entities who govern the destiny of both gods and men, similar to what in other European cultures would be known as Fates. I’d wager that exceptionally few average Swedes are familiar with any of these terms, let alone heard about them from their mother, which implies to me that Crakk’s childhood might’ve been somewhat unorthodox.
– Not really. I think I had a pretty standard upbringing, a typical Swedish suburban horunge (whore-child). Perhaps drugs and shit at an unusually early age… I started drinking when I was around ten, and it quickly became an obsession. I’m too sensitive in general, I think. I pick up vibes from everywhere – it’s very painful and so I prefer the numbness. Also, I did too many rituals and shit at far too young of an age, and that really fucked me in the head. It’s not so much about conscious decisions as it is pure magnetism and poor character; if the possibility of doing something bad was there, I almost always had to do it. As the years go by, this amounts to a lot of fucked up things and, honestly, in the end, you get real tired deep in the horunge-soul. But that drive is still there. I don’t really want to stop yet though, I regard it as character-building, hah. I’ve always lived exactly how I wanted to, with Death looming over my shoulder.
Unsurprisingly, this approach has led to some complications along the way. For instance, Crakk has previously battled major opioid addiction – mostly tramadol, which is a heavy-duty painkiller, but also heroin.
– I also love speed, acid, and mushrooms; preferably all together. I’ve always been into Lyrica and booze too. I haven’t really been sober one single day for the last two or three years now, I just take less opiates. I got a bit sick of them after about the tenth time I woke up at the hospital after having an epileptic seizure in the street. Also, one time, I died for several minutes. But that shit is just tiresome, boring, and – let’s be honest – a bit pathetic. I remember the “Flystrips” tour in 2017, when I ran out of opioids around half-way through; genius! When everything hurts and you hate every little inch of yourself but there’s nowhere to hide and you can’t ever be even the slightest bit comfortable… and then you have to get up on stage and perform in front of eyes that sear like lasers. Withdrawal fucks with your self-hatred and self-image so, besides everything feeling horrid all the time, it makes someone who’s already demented even more demented. The soul is of course intact but the bridge between spirit and body, the mind or mentality, becomes distorted. Especially the ego becomes out of balance. Anyway, addiction in itself isn’t that interesting, it’s mostly just intimately connected with the physical sensation of pain and the soulless empty shell of a piss-world theatre. So, moral of the story, either be on drugs and have a shitload of them or stay off entirely and, perhaps, don’t get hooked on the worst thing you can possibly get addicted to.
My first recollection of seeing REVEAL! was in Stockholm around 2011, supporting NIFELHEIM at Debaser. If I remember correctly, it was something robed and MORTUARY DRAPE-sounding. Inspecting both the music and visual representation of “Scissorgod”, it’s hard to believe this was even the same band.
– My memory is like a house of cards in the midst of a cyclone, but we probably did play Debaser in 2011. We’ve been playing since we were worms, starting in 2007 or something – and things change, which is good. Stagnation is probably one of the most worthless things you can suffer from, in the sense that there’s not really anything useful or valuable to be gained or learned from the experience, other than to avoid it. There’s this quote by William Blake, ’He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence’; meaning, people who lack any form of drive but still have will and ambitions tend to end up real ugly, petty, or mean. Either do something or give up and die inside, cowboy.
Inspecting the shift in aesthetics and soundscape between the debut album and “Flystrips” – the latter having already been referred to as their ‘fuck off to everything’ – I’m guessing it served as somewhat of a divider amongst the fanbase.
– Yeah, well, we didn’t have the biggest of fanbases in the first place. However, the one we have now makes up for that. Honestly, I’m not aware of any other half-unknown band outside of certain circles which has the same calibre of wonderfully fucked up fans… maniacs who tattoo REVEAL! lyrics and symbols, travel halfway across the world for a show, or make fan artwork that’s even better than what we produce. Despite some of them being outright fucking scary, they really do make everything worthwhile and, quite frankly, I find all this humbling.
My second time seeing REVEAL! would’ve been at Kraken in 2016, with CULT OF FIRE and HEAD OF THE DEMON. My strongest memory from the set was a lot of mirrors being smashed, so I’m a bit curious what the point of this little performance was.
– I don’t know what the point of that particular little performance was, probably the same point as all of our other little performances. Maybe to manifest our music? Or just to make a hole in the world, ride the vibrations as our deeper selves, and see if there are any others like us. Maybe to express something… or to prove to ourselves, our gods, and this world that we aren’t just another bag of flesh in the oven. Perhaps to celebrate the horrors of this mortal existence we get ground down into every day. Either way, most likely we wanted to play our music for people. I remember scourging all the local second-hand shops for mirrors… let’s say, thirty, give or take. We then painted them with runes, pieces of poetry – like ’A smile cracked from ear to ear’, or ’The cut worm forgives the plough’ – random insults at random people, invocations of someone’s mother, and so on. Essentially, whatever we felt the night demanded.
After the mirrors had been decorated, they were placed on stage facing the audience. A few were broken during the set, the rest in its conclusion.
– There’s something very interesting about mirrors, such as the behaviour of people when they can suddenly see themselves, especially in a crowd, and come to realise their own unique individual ugliness. People might laugh at the stupid cat fighting with its own reflection, but most of them already do the same, or similar, in their own head. There’s a reason why hospital wards dedicated to the mentally fucked usually have no mirrors, they can even be deadly if placed amongst those with serious eating disorders and such. Also, mirrors can either represent the ability to see your outer shell – the material representation of your very being – or serve as gateways to somewhere else. Take vodou, for example; one of the most striking aspects of that religion to me was always the Bizango statues.
The Bizango statues take their name after one of the many Haitian underground societies which came to thrive since the country’s independence from France in 1804. During the Haitian Revolution – which was sparked by an August 1791 vodou ceremony, where a priest sacrificed an animal and declared war on the French – secret societies played an important role in the insurgency. The Bizango statues are believed to embody the rage of the slaves rising up against their enslavers; mirror fragments are placed as body armour and in the eye sockets, meant to shield the fighters from evil spirits.
– Or the great, big vodou ceremonial mirrors, often crowned with a devilish horned head. I once had the opportunity to see a room full of them and they were fucking vibrating. The edges were blurry; no matter how hard I focused or how bright the light, they were that intense. I don’t think I’m alone in having seen some really fucked up shit in mirrors, especially in the corner of my eyes. You know something is there no matter how many logical explanations you come up with, or how hard your rationality squeals. Anyway, after we’d played the show, I remember that something like twenty people came up and complained about getting glass in their eyes, which made me happy. Actually, there was another serious idea with the mirrors – to see how much bad luck we could incur by the end of the set if we smashed all of them. Seven years for each mirror, and we had thirty or something of them. Spine (guitar) and I actually got into a spicy fight regarding whether the time of bad luck would stack, as in seven times thirty, resulting in 210 years total of base-level bad luck… OR if the severity of our ill fortune would grow increasingly intense for each mirror, but all within the same time-span. Resulting in really, really, really shitty luck… but ’only’ for seven years. Ultimately, I think both Spine and I were right because we’re now riding a wave of the shittiest fucking mirror-luck and I guess we have something like 204 years remaining.