Ryan Förster (Death Worship, Blasphemy)

Ryan Förster (Death Worship, Blasphemy)

by Niklas Göransson

Blasphemy guitarist Ryan Förster heralds the endtimes with a new Death Worship EP. The Canadian underground veteran speaks of literal on-stage combat, as well as how he once forfeited a lucrative career to dedicate himself to black metal.

This article can also be found in Bardo Archivology Vol. 2, a printed anthology with selected features from the online archive. Additional content includes NÅSTROND, VOMITOR, NOCTURNUS, XIBALBA ITZAES, ANGELCORPSE, THE RUINS OF BEVERAST, ASCENSION, MALOKARPATAN, Manhunter: The Story of the Swedish Occultist and Serial Killer Thurneman, WARDRUNA, FORGOTTEN WOODS, LIFVSLEDA, SEIGNEUR VOLAND, and WOLCENSMEN – all presented in ambitious aesthetics with plenty of custom artwork. More information here.

– When entering Fiasco Brothers Studio this time around, we were more prepared in every aspect of the process. We knew what we wanted from Len – the studio owner and sound engineer, who also produced BLASPHEMY’s “Fallen Angel of Doom….”, “Gods of War”, and “Blood upon the Altar” – and he knew what to expect from us. The process went well, except for one small idea which took us down a rabbit hole and almost gorked the whole sound. We wanted that precise mix where the guitars are as punishing in sound as the drums and kept tweaking knobs, without success. Instead, everything just became increasingly muddled and we were losing the plot. The sound was already quite good just off the initial recording, without having to do anything at all, but we tried pushing it.

Luckily, since the studio uses modern audio software, they were able to undo all changes and restore the mix to how it sounded after the initial recordings.

– All of this remixing delayed the release. I hate missing deadlines but, still, I’m glad we were able to step back and ensure that the recording was as satisfactory as possible. And speaking of delays: once the masters were sent to Nuclear War Now! for printing, Yosuke started running into problems. The pressing plant was backed up because of this Record Store Day trend; all the major labels wanted to release something by their top-selling bands, hoping to cash in on the collector’s obsession, so a small and insignificant release like “End Times” got pushed to the end of the line.

Metal Archives have both yourself and BLASPHEMY vocalist Black Winds listed on guitar and bass; I’m assuming this is incorrect?

– Complete disinformation, Nocturnal Grave Desecrater and Black Winds only performed backing vocals – both on this EP and “Extermination Mass”. I wanted his demoniac roars on these recordings and he really delivered! All guitars and bass parts are my doing. I don’t know why websites such as Metal Archives publish false claims without first checking the facts? Just a few minutes of research or asking around would really help to attain and maintain accurate data. I recently looked up my artist profile on that site and noticed they list me as playing guitar on a REVENGE recording, which is also untrue. I’ve never played on any REVENGE release; I contributed some songwriting to the early material, but Vermin is their axe destructor and should be credited accordingly.


As for the cover artwork – with another photo montage depicting what I presume to be the Great Leveller himself, one could certainly say it bears some resemblance to its predecessor, “Extermination Mass”.

– Yes, both covers depict ‘The Desolator’. The subject matter stems from an idea I had; I wanted an actual photograph on the cover, as I feel it brings some realism to the overall impression. This goes back to my time in CONQUEROR, when we came up with that ‘Holocaust Angel’ photograph; from the very moment we draped the Pooley Angel at Ross Bay Cemetery in a gas mask and bullet belts, I knew we were on to something totally cult!

The first DEATH WORSHIP release was their 2016 EP, the aforementioned “Extermination Mass”. In conjunction with both this and the new twelve-inch, there were some grumblings among critics and listeners alike about how anything involving BLASPHEMY members receives the instant vinyl treatment.

– This is something people don’t know the full story behind. Both myself and James Read, the DEATH WORSHIP drummer, live on different continents. We can only get together to rehearse and record if certain conditions are met, or if we have money backing us. Nuclear War Now! Productions were able to finance “End Times” by releasing the EP version of our “Extermination Mass” demo as well as a number of t-shirt designs. In order to adapt to the reality of today, bands and labels must come up with new ways of doing things. BLASPHEMY and related bands might get instant vinyl treatment from NWN!, but that’s because he’s a massive fan of our music and has the resources to do so. Only the best for his children, haha!

The plethora of latter-year BLASPHEMY re-releases appears to have elicited similar grievances.

– If BLASPHEMY and Nuclear War Now! weren’t getting these releases pressed, bootleggers would be all over them. There are so many BLASPHEMY bootlegs in circulation now…  while money going into some scumbag’s pocket might be one thing, control over the product is an entirely different matter. That’s the worst – when you have no say in either layout or final sound, only to then have that inferior product passed off under the name of your band. NWN! may have flooded the market a little more than we expected but, in the end, it’s for the best. If bands don’t want to keep getting exploited, they’ll have no choice but to change their way of doing things.

Photo: Photophobia


As was discussed in our 2017 conversation, as well as the massive BLASPHEMY interview in Bardo Methodology #5, Ryan was invited to join the Canadian black metal skinhead legends in 1999.

– From 1999 to 2001, BLASPHEMY were quite active with both rehearsals and performing live shows. We rehearsed every week and were getting things well on track. Unfortunately, Caller of the Storms’ house – which also served as our practice spot – was raided by the police so 3 Black Hearts, the old drummer, refused to go there anymore. We also lost our bass player, Bestial Saviour of the Undead Legions. Consequently, I was in a situation where I could focus on my career instead of music. Without a band to rehearse with, I suddenly had all this free time; so, I began climbing the so-called ‘corporate ladder’ and ended up running several restaurants throughout the Vancouver area. I had a downtown apartment overlooking the ocean and saw the other BLASPHEMY guys only sporadically, maybe at live shows or some type of visit if there was time.

Ryan still collected music and his Ross Bay Cult label was doing rather well, but primary focus was on his professional career. So, when BLASPHEMY started up again around 2008, Ryan held a lucrative employment and lived in a nice area of the city.

– I could’ve had an easy ride for the rest of my life, jumping through hoops the company set in front of me. But, come 2009, when BLASPHEMY did those shows in Montreal and Finland, I really felt as if my job was holding me back. The company demanded my full attention, but, with my mind firmly back on music, I just couldn’t give it to them any longer. And I could try to trick myself all I wanted, but I’m just not someone who jumps through hoops. At this time, in 2009 to 2010, it really seemed as if BLASPHEMY were going to go full out and record an album, do tours, play festivals, etcetera. But, once again, chaos prevailed and the plans didn’t go as far as I’d envisioned them to.

That must’ve been pretty frustrating after dropping your career?

– I don’t regret this decision, not even for one second. I’m not a money-hungry person; I don’t have any children and I feel little need to impress anyone. It was due to this attitude I managed to get DEATH WORSHIP started, move to Germany, and experience life in a whole new way! If I was still stuck in the corporate trap, I’d just be one zombie in a long line of zombies following their daily steps into the mundane – and that’s just not for me.


In October 2017, BLACK WITCHERY played the German city of Oberhausen. A video clip from the evening shows complete chaos erupt after Ryan, who made a guest appearance on guitar, kicks a meddling drunkard off stage. I can’t help but think that one would have to be some special kind of stupid to disrupt not only a BLACK WITCHERY set, but one guested by a BLASPHEMY member.

– That was a strange evening. Before the tour, Impurath and I had been talking – since I was attending one of their German dates, they wanted me to join them on stage.

BLACK WITCHERY and I have a long history together; we were in contact during the mid-90s and they even contributed to rescuing CONQUEROR’s “War.Cult.Supremacy” from eternal obscurity. I’ve helped them write some songs and Vaz, the drummer, played with BLASPHEMY on a number of shows. Furthermore, we had BLACK WITCHERY with us for the first round of shows in 2000 and 2001. At this Oberhausen gig, we’d planned to play several BLASPHEMY covers and a BLACK WITCHERY song, “Command of the Iron Baphomet”, in tribute to Tregenda.

Tregenda, the BLACK WITCHERY guitarist of sixteen years, passed away in a car accident in February 2016.

– Some guy right in front of me kept getting increasingly belligerent. No problem, I’m used to such situations; this is violent music, and our shows attract aggressive people. He was yelling and spazzing out about something, but I just dismissed it as drunkenness. Then he reached for my guitar! I stepped back, closer to the stacked cabinets, so he couldn’t reach me. I just wanted to play these songs with my brothers and had no interest in being accosted by some strange drunk.

Ryan first assumed his relocation strategy had solved the problem. No such luck, as the gentleman in question now attempted to climb on stage, leaving Ryan no choice but to boot him back into the audience – all the while playing the song.

– Didn’t miss a note either. I needed to do something efficient, so I wouldn’t have to stop the whole show just to fight one bozo. I kicked him square in the chest, his centre of gravity, and he went down straight away. When he landed back in the crowd, I could see his face turn from complete shock to total anger! <laughs> It was very interesting to watch this complete transformation from surprise to rage. Of course, he tried to get back on stage, so I had to boot him again.

Judging from the video, after Ryan evicts the inebriated annoyance for the second time, Vaz first hurls his drumstick at the assailant, then comes tumbling over the cymbal stand and finally leaps off stage.

Vaz was in the audience throwing fists before anyone else understood what had happened. After seeing the entire situation unfold from behind the drum kit, Vaz decided to administer an attitude adjustment. This whole thing was something I never expected, I just wanted to play the damn songs. If my mood was different then maybe that whole thing would’ve been much worse; there are many occasions where I just want to cave someone’s face in. How do you think I get inspiration to write songs in CONQUEROR and DEATH WORSHIP? That’s me channelling this overwhelming hatred and anger. But that night wasn’t one of those times; I only wanted to have a few drinks with old friends and play with my brothers on stage.

On that note, in this day and age, I can’t help but find it almost nostalgically refreshing with rowdy and quarrelsome audience members. Such carrying-on was far more common back when I first met Ryan.

– There has definitely been a complete change over the decades. We can skip the local underground shows I was attending at sixteen years of age, because the city I grew up in had an almost non-existent metal scene. At the shows, there were us long-haired thrashers and some old burnt out punk-rockers. But we never mixed. They stuck to themselves, as did we. When I moved to Vancouver and ended up in a much larger scene, I noticed it was mostly other men at the shows and only a handful of women scattered here and there… most of which had been dragged there by their boyfriends. But these metal guys definitely had a passion for the music. In the Vancouver area circa ’99 to 2000, there were mostly jokers and joke bands. So many people there liked these ‘fun-grind’ bands who just played stupid shit for a laugh. Consequently, whenever something with a more serious take on music passed through, one of these joke bands would get on the bill and bring their joke audience with them. So, even this wasn’t much to get nostalgic about.

Photo: StarSpawn


What Ryan has to compare to was playing with GODLESS NORTH on their 2001 European mini-tour alongside KRIEG and INQUISITION.

– That’s where I got a taste of the European black metal scene; I met many people who took this music seriously and were able to put on shows with like-minded people in attendance. So, I can at least compare Germany of the year 2001 to the Germany of today, and I see a clear difference. Back then it was a very intense event, and you felt as if you were among people attending because a power or something bigger drew them there. It was really word of mouth and only dedicated maniacs came to the shows, because information wasn’t as widespread as it is today with the internet.

I attended three of the German dates of this tour, one of which took place in Festung Bitterfeld – without comparison the best venue for an underground metal gig I’ve ever set foot in. It was, if I recall correctly, an old abandoned industrial building and looked much like something out of post-apocalypse themed fiction.

– I was extremely sick that particular day. Tour flu! But yes, I remember the compound: really cool and perfect for black metal. The back of the club had a bunk room which looked like soldier’s barracks, with one long bed every band had to sleep on. It was like ten meters long! Really good turnout as well. I also remember the biker gang we had as security detail because Akhenaten of JUDAS ISCARIOT, who organised the tour, was afraid someone would try to attack him. There were guns brought there for additional protection too. The bikers were called Saxon Riders and I had one of them on stage right beside me, standing guard, while we were playing.

As it happens, just about the first thing I witnessed upon entering the venue was an agitated Wolf from ABSURD come stampeding past me and commence clobbering a certain German scene personality associated with the tour.

– I remember a scuffle and that the Saxon Riders jumped in quickly. It didn’t amount to much while I was there. But right after the GODLESS NORTH set, I went to the barracks and crashed out; I was too sick to stay awake, so I don’t know how things went after that. Good times! These days, it seems like just another fun night for the local vacuous oaf. Even at the REVENGE and MGŁA shows I attended recently, there were some people I’d never expect to see at such a show. I can’t figure out how this music speaks to them in any way. Especially REVENGE. In fact, there were two different audiences for this tour. For sure there were maniacs who were there just for REVENGE and had no interest in MGŁA, but mostly the other way around. MGŁA seem to appeal to a much wider crowd. And these days it’s nothing but phones in the air filming and Instagram selfies in front of the stage. Maybe some of these clowns were at those German shows back in 2001? If so, they were far less noticeable. With social media and online streaming, it moved away from the more ‘ritual gathering’ and more into a contest of showing off online. And never mind turning everything into a political situation and trying to get shows banned and fucking up great underground promoters for virtue-signalling posts on their favourite corporate-run social media platform. If anything seemed special about underground black metal over these last thirty years, it’s now been all but destroyed.

This article can also be found in Bardo Archivology Vol. 2, a printed anthology with selected features from the online archive. Additional content includes NÅSTROND, VOMITOR, NOCTURNUS, XIBALBA ITZAES, ANGELCORPSE, THE RUINS OF BEVERAST, ASCENSION, MALOKARPATAN, Manhunter: The Story of the Swedish Occultist and Serial Killer Thurneman, WARDRUNA, FORGOTTEN WOODS, LIFVSLEDA, SEIGNEUR VOLAND, and WOLCENSMEN – all presented in ambitious aesthetics with plenty of custom artwork. More information here.