Deströyer 666 X
by Niklas Göransson
As we turn the last page of the decalogy, KK Warslut stands alone at the helm. Channelling doubt into fuel, drawing from equal parts defiance and discipline, the sole remaining torchbearer of Deströyer 666 conjured Wildfire.
IAN SHRAPNEL: When we did the tour with ENTHRONED, all of us got visas valid for two years. US working visas are a massive pain in the arse; they’re time-consuming and cost a fortune. But the idea is that you get two tours out of them, and the second was gonna be with DESTRUCTION. Everything was all set to go.
How did you get that slot in the first place?
SHRAPNEL: I think Keith knew Schmier. They were in contact.
KK WARSLUT: Well, I’d spent some time with DESTRUCTION when I followed them on tour back in 2000, during my first trip to Europe. I believe they approached us about touring together.
SHRAPNEL: Being offered to open for DESTRUCTION was pretty fucking exciting. However, Keith had issues with his knee and worried he might not be physically able to do it – or of starting the tour and then aggravating the injury.
PERRA KARLSSON: Since I had my American visa from the ENTHRONED tour, I was supposed to do this one, too. I flew over to London at some point in early 2011, and we sat down to talk about it. Keith said, ‘Sorry boys, I can’t tour right now – it’s just not possible.’ We all sat there gaping, jaws on the floor. ‘What the hell are you saying? ‘
WARSLUT: Sometimes, your body dictates what happens. It can be mind over matter to a certain extent – but when you hit the wall, you hit the fucking wall. There’s no mind over matter there. It is what it is.
In February 2011, it was announced that all scheduled live dates – most of which were in North America – were cancelled due to Keith having a torn ACL.
SHRAPNEL: Ultimately, Keith pulled a pin on it, which I believe was a mistake. But he really struggled with his knee and was convinced that he’d have to get surgery – which he never did. A big opportunity was missed there; touring with DESTRUCTION would’ve brought us even more attention in the States. But what can you do? Such is life.
PERRA: For Keith to cancel a tour opening for DESTRUCTION, one of his absolute favourite bands… I didn’t even think it was possible. It felt very strange. Unfortunately, they ended up replacing us with an American thrash band called HEATHEN. That was terribly bitter.
WARSLUT: I was gutted, of course – especially since I knew that such a chance wouldn’t ever come again. I also felt bad having to say no to the DESTRUCTION lads. But I don’t wanna talk too much about injuries; it was a recurring issue for a while, but it’s been good for a long time now.
Around the same time, Ian was having problems with his hands from playing the guitar too much.
SHRAPNEL: I’d get pins and needles in my hands, which might have been the early onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes it would happen mid-show; I’d be playing but without being able to feel the strings. I couldn’t feel anything, almost as if my hands were someone else’s hands; it was fucking horrible. That shit started occurring quite often – but thankfully, it kind of went away.
Just by itself?
SHRAPNEL: I think most of it came down to improved technique; I’d been gripping too tense with the left hand, so I consciously learned to play a lot lighter. You shouldn’t be fatigued when you’re playing guitar; even though the music is violent, you don’t wanna be too aggressive with your hands. You need a light grip – it took me years to figure that out.
In June 2011, DESTRÖYER 666 declared that the band was on hiatus while they dealt with several legal issues and personal commitments. On a lighter note, it was also announced that KK had started composing again.
WARSLUT: Both Ian and I wrote a lot of material during that period. Ian’s stuff was really good, but not entirely suited for DESTRÖYER. It reminded me more of the technical thrash that bands like TESTAMENT played on their comeback albums. I’d always ask him, ‘Where do you expect me to sing on this?’ and he’d point out like, ‘There, there, and there.’ ‘Right. Well, that’s three fucking words you’re giving me, mate.’
CHRIS MERSUS: Ian was very creative and wrote a lot of material, but we didn’t put it together into songs. We probably only had half a track ready to go – not even a finished one. There simply wasn’t enough time; we were always busy preparing for upcoming shows.
WARSLUT: That was the beginning of my and Ian’s divergence of musical taste, but also our abilities. Ian had become a very proficient guitarist, which brought his material in a much less DESTRÖYER-like direction. I’m not sure how people would’ve reacted if we’d actually released any of it. We might’ve gained some new fans, but I reckon we’d have lost a bunch as well. Of course, I’m just speculating – it’s impossible to say. But yeah, too technical is the short of it.
MERSUS: All of a sudden, it was like a soap opera. I couldn’t really understand where this was coming from. We just ended up in one useless argument after another. I tried to ignore the… let’s say, overall back-and-forth mood coming in from London. I did all the background work with merch accounting, booking arrangements, and whatnot. I was doing it day in and day out, not really thinking about all the squabbling.
In May 2012, DESTRÖYER 666 sprung back into action. After a London show with GRAVE MIASMA and LVCIFYRE, they announced a whole slew of club and festival shows.
MERSUS: That summer, we were constantly playing at festivals with shit lineups. It started feeling like a job, and we took everything too seriously – which ultimately ruined the whole band experience for me.
Had the aforementioned personal commitments and legal issues been dealt with by then?
SHRAPNEL: No, not really.
MERSUS: Once again, the actual shows went absolutely great. They were powerful, seething with rage – we really let it rip. But you could easily tell that everyone was going their own way; we just didn’t want to hang out with each other so much anymore. I believe you got a taste of that at Deathkult.
Two weeks after the London show, DESTRÖYER 666 performed at Germany’s Deathkult Open Air. In the early morning hours, I happened to be in the same hotel shuttle as the band when a fight erupted – first in the vehicle, then spilling out onto the side of the road. Once the scrap was over, the combatants shrugged it off and undertook the remaining trip in relative peace.
SHRAPNEL: Were you in the van? That was a difficult evening for all kinds of reasons.
WARSLUT: You might remember that they kicked me out of the van, and I rolled down the embankment into some fucking roadside ditch. But! I managed to keep my beer glass held up the whole fucking way – out the van, down the embankment, and not a drop spilt. It was quite a marvel testimony to my acrobatic skills.
Was that type of swift conflict resolution common in the band?
WARSLUT: It wasn’t every week, but it happened. I think the reason why DESTRÖYER never had any festering internal issues was because things came to a head quite fast, and all the steam was let off. I’ve always been a big believer in that: get it out straight away and spare everyone the lingering resentment. It’s just done and dusted. There might be some details to sort out in the morning – but usually, ya got the anger outta your system, and nothing needs discussing.
SHRAPNEL: Matt and Keith have had a good couple of punch-ups, but it wasn’t really common for me to… hmm, thinking back, there have been a few occasions with me involved. I suppose we were the kind of band where that happened. It wasn’t an everyday thing, but sometimes mates fight.
WARSLUT: Physical violence puts a lot of things into perspective, I’ve found. You can feel a bit of stress about an appointment or something – but smash your thumb with a hammer and suddenly, being ten minutes late for a meeting doesn’t mean so much.
MERSUS: We were having a lot of discussions like the one you witnessed. I told the guys that I had other things going on, particularly with building up my professional life. I’d invested a lot of money into my studio and worked hard to establish myself in that field. I also wanted to be creatively fulfilled and contribute something meaningful to the music, but it just wasn’t happening with DESTRÖYER. So, something needed to change.
Three months after Deathkult, I flew to London to attend the Southern Cross Fest at The Dome. DESTRÖYER 666 performed alongside classic Australian thrashers HOBBS’ ANGEL OF DEATH, as well as GOSPEL OF THE HORNS and Simon Berserker’s post-DESTRÖYER band, ASSAULTER.
SHRAPNEL: That was an idea we had – to get a bunch of Aussie bands playing in London together – and it went really well.
SIMON BERSERKER: I think it was the brainchild of Pierre (StrataNael) and Keith. No one really knew ASSAULTER, but we were gonna be in Europe anyway.
MERSUS: I really loved the whole concept of this show, and it was great to see so many people coming over from abroad.
WARSLUT: Peter Hobbs was in town, as were ASSAULTER, so I thought that putting on a little Aussie fest would be a great way to bring everyone together. Of course, it was also an honour for me to play with HOBBS’. Killer gigs, great turnout. Everything worked really well.
BERSERKER: We opened the show, and if memory serves me, there were a good amount of people in attendance. Keith was like, ‘HOBBS’ must play last, it’s important!’ – because he has great respect for Peter Hobbs.
MERSUS: I also remember Keith suggesting that GOSPEL should co-headline with HOBBS’ that night because DESTRÖYER had already played London dozens of times before. I said, ‘It doesn’t matter to me. I have to play two shows in a row either way – same with Matt.’
By then, both Chris Mersus and Matt Razor had joined GOSPEL OF THE HORNS.
WARSLUT: Oh, they did, didn’t they? I forgot about that. I can’t remember how I reacted. I mean, Ryan Marauder was filling in for us while he played in GOSPEL. I’m not sure I thought anything in particular.
VOMITOR were originally on the bill but had to cancel. Nonetheless, Rob Death Dealer graced the stage for guest vocals on “Satanic Speed Metal”. Rob and KK plus Mark Howitzer and Matt Razor – who had RAZOR OF OCCAM up and running by then – meant that no less than four Whyalla natives from just as many prominent Aussie bands performed at the Dome in London that night.
WARSLUT: There was something about that old town, mate. Like I’ve told you before, there were only 20,000 residents, but just that little twenty-person scene created all these different bands. It’s quite something.
BERSERKER: Once DESTRÖYER finished, everyone took off to the after-party. Then Hobbsie came on stage, like, ‘Oi! <triumphant roar>’ – in front of thirty people. I remember turning to Rob Reijnders (LUCIFERICON) and going, ‘Man, there’s no one here’, ‘Yeah, Europeans don’t really care for this.’ I think it would’ve been better if DESTRÖYER played last.
MERSUS: I had a great time with Peter Hobbs, but it was sad to see him in such a fragile state. I hadn’t spoken to Peter in ages – but whenever we were in touch, he was always super honest. He told me straight up that he wasn’t feeling well. I said, ‘Man, this doesn’t sound good at all. Take care of yourself.’ But Peter decided to keep doing what he loved the most – playing metal.
BERSERKER: We stayed at the same hostel as Hobbs, and that was a comedy session unto itself. <hoarse voice> ‘Alright boys, time to go!’ and then his bandmates all came trotting out, carrying their instruments. Tom (ASSAULTER) goes, ‘It’s like a Benny Hill skit.’ Then Hobbsie starts raging, ‘Someone took me fucken shampoo!’ – that kind of shit. And he was limping too. The old man.
Peter Hobbs – who passed away in 2019 – was not the only one with health issues. When I spoke to Ian at Southern Cross Fest, he mentioned similar concerns.
SHRAPNEL: I’d started tiring of all the hangovers; there was just no escaping them. Like, the music came first and foremost… the partying was always there, but the scales were tipping a bit – more so than I felt comfortable with. You know, I love indulging, but it was simply getting too much. I needed to get away from it.
MERSUS: The same night, Ian suddenly told me that he was moving back to Australia – which obviously meant leaving DESTRÖYER. It was quite bizarre; I didn’t even know what to say. The next day, I went to him, ‘Okay, see you when I see you’, and that was pretty much it.
Just days later, it was announced that the Southern Cross Fest would be Shrapnel’s last performance with DESTRÖYER 666. Since this led to the cancellation of an upcoming gig in Italy, I suspect that the decision wasn’t final when the summer shows were booked.
SHRAPNEL: Not final, but definitely in the works. The Italian promoter begged me to play, but… I had a lot of personal matters to deal with, so that was the least of my worries. Ending it at The Dome in front of all my friends seemed like the right thing to do.
MERSUS: When I told Keith that I was also leaving, he refused to believe me at first. But I assured him that I was serious.
WARSLUT: I’m finding it hard to remember now. But obviously, after Ian’s departure, Mersus following suit would’ve been a massive blow. I mean, I’d just moved to London to be closer to the band – and for other reasons, of course. But then Ian quits, as does Chris… yep, next phase. You play the cards you’re dealt, mate.
MERSUS: A few weeks later, Matt called me to discuss the upcoming shows that were already scheduled and confirmed. I said, ‘Nah, not gonna happen – I’m out.’ Matt asked if Keith knew about my decision, and I said, ‘He should. I told him face-to-face. It was really awkward, but when Ian leaves the band, it’s all over for me.
MERSUS: Well, my time with DESTRÖYER was a constant back-and-forth of different mental breakdowns from various members. It’s understandable, considering we were all great friends with a lot of shared history. But for me, considering all the efforts involved, it was clear that if Ian left, then so would I. Besides, his leads were always the trademark guitar sound of DESTRÖYER – the melodic lines in particular.
MICHAEL BERBERIAN: I just felt sadness. Look, in all the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll that surrounded this band, it was Ian who’d always be faithful and trustworthy, never allowing things to go too far. He’s a genuinely good guy – great to be around. I knew that Keith is DESTRÖYER 666… but if anyone else was too, it would’ve been Ian.
BERSERKER: I remember asking Matt, ‘So, that’s it then: the end of DESTRÖYER?’ ‘Nah mate, we’ll keep going.’ I had my reservations about that because Ian was such an integral part of their sound. The way I saw it, it was like removing Keith from the band. And then Mersus leaving at the same time… but you know – much to their credit – they soldiered on.
WARSLUT: Afterwards… yeah, I felt a bit down and dejected – natural stuff, really. I went through the doldrums with an extended period of inactivity. I wasn’t sure what to do or how to move forward. I can’t recall how long this process took, but there was a sense of obligation and duty to honour all the hard work we put in over the years. ‘I can’t just quit like this; I gotta keep going. I owe it to Ian, and I owe it to myself. For both of our sakes, I should do at least one more album.’
At the time, the general consensus among former members, friends, and fans alike was that DESTRÖYER were done. Given KK’s inherently contrarian and antagonistic nature, I wouldn’t be surprised if all the naysayers spurred him on.
WARSLUT: Oh, absolutely. The more people tell me that I can’t, or won’t, or shouldn’t do something – the more I think, ‘You know what? Fuck you, motherfuckers. Now I’ll do it just to spite ya.’ Never underestimate the power of spite as motivation.
MERSUS: The thing is, Keith even told me, ‘DESTRÖYER is all over now. I’m done with this.’ I said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. You will keep going – and I’d be more than happy to support you in whatever way I can.’ Eventually, we bumped into each other somewhere, and Keith mentioned that he might have a new studio lineup ready. I said, ‘Oh, great. So, who is it?’
R.C. from GRAVE MIASMA filled the void left by Ian Shrapnel. Bass player Matt Razor moved on in 2014 and was replaced by Felipe Plaza Kutzbach of PROCESSION. Mersus’ successor behind the kit was a familiar face.
PERRA: When I heard that Mersus didn’t want to keep going, I immediately told Keith, ‘If you ever need a drummer, give me a call.’ Keith said, ‘Be careful what you wish for, Perra.’ Unfortunately, Ian had already left when I joined; I would’ve loved to play with him again. But at least he ended up doing some guitarwork for PERRACIDE.
In 2022, Perra Karlsson formed a passion project called PERRACIDE. The idea was to pay tribute to bands he’s played with in the past by recording his own interpretations of their work. The debut album, “Underdog”, was released in June 2023 and features appearances by Rob Reijnders, KK Warslut, and Ian Shrapnel. Besides a number of covers – such as “Satanic Speed Metal” and “Raped” by DESTRÖYER 666 – it also contains five original songs, one of which Shrapnel contributed to.
SHRAPNEL: Perra contacted me and asked if I wanted to be part of his new project. I said ‘Sure’, and he sent me a track to work on. I wrote some leads for it. There’s not much else to say, really – Perra liked what I came up with, which was great.
Did you ever use any of the post-“Defiance” material you wrote?
SHRAPNEL: No. I have an old computer full of stuff that Keith and I worked on after he moved to London, but I’m not sure if any of it is even worth mentioning.
WARSLUT: Before Ian left, our goal was to write a classic metal album. We didn’t care about being the darkest or the blackest, or the fastest or the heaviest; we had no interest in any of that. Our sole ambition was to create some classic fuckin’ metal. So, once I got my mind straight, I pretty much dedicated every waking hour to it. I lived in a room in London and had nothing else going on. I’d lift weights, train, play guitar, and write music – for years, that’s all I did.
Did you use any of the material you wrote with Ian?
WARSLUT: No, only stuff I came up with myself. I think at least three of my song ideas from the “Defiance” sessions ended up on “Wildfire”. There’s one part I’m still trying to revive: I wrote a killer SLAYER-esque melody that Ian put some chords over and laid down the foundations for a riff. I can’t remember what else we did, though.
MERSUS: Keith came over to my place to record some demo tracks and see if he’d feel comfortable with me as a studio engineer. During his stay, we talked a lot about life in general and whether he was still up for running DESTRÖYER. I could tell that there had been a significant shift in his thinking. Eventually, I was lucky enough to be picked as the producer of “Wildfire”.
WARSLUT: Of course, that was the obvious choice. Mersus knew the band, his studio was killer, and he’d become a really good engineer by then. And you know, he’s an old mate. I’ve always loved Chris.
PERRA: After Keith and I had been working on song ideas like crazy for nearly two years – during which I constantly flew back and forth to London – we finally managed to get the material recorded. In the late summer of 2015, we entered Mersus’ Underworld Studios in Solingen, Germany.
MERSUS: Soon after the band arrived, I felt as if something was missing. When they showed me the material, I wasn’t at all convinced. I couldn’t quite put it into words at first, but I said to Keith. ‘Is this really the spirit of DESTRÖYER now? Come on.’ I eventually realised that the missing link was in the connection between members – it didn’t have that edginess and antagonism of the love-hate dynamic. It felt almost a bit tepid.
Referring to songs like “Black City” and “A Breed Apart” – some of the band’s most popular live material emerged after discharges of their constant adversarial energies. Mersus’ concern was that they were now getting along too well and lacked the volatile vibrancy that characterised the previous lineup.
WARSLUT: <laughs> I don’t know – I think maybe I just got older. Also, the new members just weren’t as… prone to violence as the old band. Which, arguably, could be a good thing.
MERSUS: We worked tirelessly to bring the songs into great shape and, I believe, managed to address my initial concerns over the following weeks. It was like capturing what KK wanted the DESTRÖYER of today to sound like. I enjoyed the recording sessions, even though I was no longer behind the drumkit. I also love Perra, both as a person and as a drummer, so working with him was an absolute dream.
PERRA: For me, it felt incredibly special since “Wildfire” was my first studio recording with DESTRÖYER 666. Mersus producing it felt natural – not just because he’s a good friend, but also because he was the one who I replaced in the band. So, I knew he wouldn’t let any half-arsed shit slip through. In summary, I think “Wildfire” turned out great.
MERSUS: I’d never call “Wildfire” DESTRÖYER’s best work, but considering what Keith brought to the table – and his lineup at the time – it stands strong on its own. It also carries a different timestamp, if you will.
How are your relations these days?
MERSUS: Believe me, Niklas – Keith and I have a profound love-and-hate storyline going back decades. It’s a dynamic that clicked between us, and we’ve learned so much from each other. To me, this is precisely the meaning of a deep and authentic friendship; that’s what it’s all about.
WARSLUT: I’ve got a genuine love for everyone who’s been in the band. Well, apart from a couple of drummers who we used out of necessity – but anyone I’ve spent a long time with, I have a genuine love for. I mean that in the literal sense of the word; they become your pack. I’m actually going to Chris’ wedding tomorrow afternoon.
In terms of legacy, what place in the collective underground metal memory will DESTRÖYER occupy?
MERSUS: That’s a tough question. For me, “Unchain the Wolves” is the foremost legacy of the Australian underground. It’s a timeless record that will be revered even decades from now – of this, I am very, very sure. I mean, it has so much variety but always with the right energy. It’s never been easy to categorise DESTRÖYER 666; there’s something unique about the band, which is highly evident from its discography.
WARSLUT: I love the musical evolution of DESTRÖYER. I mean, it’s not something I actively think about – I just write what comes out, and that’s it. If I sat down and tried to replicate something we did in the past, I’d find it very frustrating, unsatisfying, and gravely stifling. I’d be like, ‘What am I doing with my life? What is my purpose here?’ I’d start asking existential questions.
Are you being sarcastic?
WARSLUT: Not at all. Not to labour the point, but I’d definitely get existential. ‘What am I trying to achieve here?’ I don’t wanna live off former glories or try to recreate them. I know we all try to cling to the past somehow, but I’m not sure it ever works. You just keep going forward, mate. If people like it, they’ll be along for the ride. If not, then so be it.
SHRAPNEL: Hopefully, DESTRÖYER 666 will be known as a group with an unwavering conviction and relentless drive. We were dedicated and hardworking, and that’s what set us apart. When you look at bands that achieved a lot, it’s usually the ones who put in the extra effort, made sacrifices, and took risks beyond what others would. We were no exception.
BERSERKER: DESTRÖYER will always have a legacy as the band that did everything on their own terms, no matter what. I don’t think anyone could argue with that. What success they’ve enjoyed – however you measure that – is really commendable because it was all done by themselves. No trends, no fads; just really hard work.
WARSLUT: It’s been a long, slow march; everything has kind of accumulated over the years. And in all honesty, I’d say we’re probably more popular now than ever before.
SHRAPNEL: Most people would never have done what we did back in the early 2000s. For instance, that Austrian festival where we drove for twenty-four hours just to play one show. We were hungry and determined; DESTRÖYER was far more dedicated than a lot of other bands that treated it as more of a hobby. Whereas for us, it wasn’t a hobby at all, you know? We lived and breathed it, mate.
WARSLUT: Now, I truly hope people don’t get the wrong impression here. With all the tour antics and general craziness isolated, one might think that’s all we fucking did – which couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean, Ian and I went to the gym three to five times per week; weightlifting was a major part of our lives for the entire duration that we played together. This continued when Ro (R.C.) took over solo duties, and the same tradition is upheld by our current lead player, Bez – who incidentally trains with Ro nowadays.
R.C. left the band on amicable terms in 2020. After a stint as session guitarist for live shows, Bez became a permanent member of DESTRÖYER 666 in 2022. As a result, he vacated his position as bass player in ADORIOR – and was replaced by R.C.
WARSLUT: Training is a grounding factor in life. Whenever you get a bit off track, it’s lifting weights that brings ya back to earth – back to yourself, back to basics. I’ve always had the notion that if you sing about wolves, then you should fuckin’ look and act like one. This was an idea I heard reflected when I told Traditional Sodomizer (ex-BLASPHEMY) what a massive influence their music and physique had on me and Rob. He replied, ‘Yeah, we looked like we sounded.’
BERBERIAN: Whether the band would continue was a big question mark for me, but KK pulled it off. In the end, he proved who is the driving force behind DESTRÖYER 666. But it also came down to bringing in worthy replacements. Who was the guy from GRAVE MIASMA? Yeah, Ro – great player, looked good. I mean, Keith attracts his own. He finds like-minded guys who are as crazy and rough and raw as he is. I’ve learned that whenever you meet a new DESTRÖYER member, you know what to expect.
Upon its February 2016 release, “Wildfire” was better received than “Defiance”, both by critics and fans. This was reflected not only in online streams but also in sales – which is a feat unto itself, considering the stark drop in demand for physical media during the seven years that passed between albums.
WARSLUT: I don’t really ask about sales numbers. I’ve started doing so now – but ordinarily, I just wait for them to tell me. But that can take a year or two, which means I typically find these things out in retrospect. Like, ‘Oh, you had a great period back then.’ I would’ve gotten a lot more happiness and mental fucking positivity out of it if I’d known at the time.
Did it ever occur to you how rare it is for a metal artist to write and release one of his most successful albums twenty-five years into his career?
WARSLUT: Well, I have a theory about this. Seeing as how I’ve always been a terrible guitar player, it was hard for me to get worse. Even with a modicum of practice, I could only improve. So, let that be a lesson to you kids out there. Don’t get too good in the beginning because once ya reach the top – say, around the age of twenty-two – the only way from there is fuckin’ down. Slow and easy, mate. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
BERBERIAN: First off, “Wildfire” is simply a better record. Keith was far more involved in the songwriting, and that clearly shows. But also, their status in the metal scene changed. After years of havoc and Keith putting his money where his mouth is – he not only talks the talk but also walks the walk – DESTRÖYER are seen as the ‘real’ bad boys. The heavy metal outlaws. Like the infamous MetalSucks incident and so on.
In the summer of 2016, MetalSucks and a few closely aligned outlets waged an ill-fated campaign – fuelled by guilt-by-association and outright lies of almost impressive audacity – against DESTRÖYER 666. Ultimately, the whole affair concluded with MetalSucks retracting all their smear pieces and issuing a public apology to KK Warslut.
BERBERIAN: DESTRÖYER’s reputation is undoubtedly a major part of their later success. You don’t need to ask where they stand on… fill-in-the-blank. Whatever it is, you know they’re against it. DESTRÖYER 666 is dick-swinging toxic masculinity, and proudly so. I discussed this recently with Keith – (Canadian rapper) Tom McDonald is more rebellious than anyone in today’s metal scene.
WARSLUT: Yeah, the last three years have been… I wanna say deeply disappointing, but I guess the positive spin is that it was profoundly eye-opening on the state of metal. I realised that we’re not all in this together. It’s certain people who have enough wits about them to know that whatever the mainstream is pedalling – nine times outta ten, it’s utter bullshit. And if you haven’t figured this out by now, there’s nothing I can say that will ever change your mind.
BERBERIAN: Most extreme metal bands are either lost in philosophical bullshit, pretending to be deep and clever, or as rebellious as a CNN anchor… telling you to wear a mask and get the jab, with a profile pic of whatever flag one is supposed to put on Facebook that day. Metal really has become ‘Rage against everyone who is against the machine’.
WARSLUT: You know, in one way or another, most disappointments and agitations are your own fault. I can’t help but think it was my naivety – my love and passion for the metal culture – which led me to believe that things were in any other way different. Ya see what I’m saying?
You were disappointed that metalheads aren’t more like you?
WARSLUT: Not like me, necessarily – but at least somewhere in the same ballpark on their mistrust of governments and contempt for mainstream society. Not to mention an utter disgust at the to-ing and fro-ing between both political extremes. I thought there was kind of a consensus among underground metalheads that you just can’t trust these motherfuckers.
Can you be a bit more specific?
WARSLUT: None of the people in control can be trusted. Not one fucking bit: none of our institutions, none of the politicians. I used to say that the only thing you can watch on TV with any degree of veracity is the weather. But I think recent events have shown that not even the fucking weather can be trusted! <laughs> The entire weatherboard is lit up with red and orange flames when it’s a normal summer day.
What would be your advice then?
WARSLUT: Abandon the system altogether. Above all, don’t base your dreams and aspirations solely within it. Yes, this is the world we dwell in – the world in which we must operate – but if that’s your only avenue, then you’ll be severely disappointed and compromised in the years to come. Before 2030, it’s all coming to a head. It’s happening daily as we speak. It’s gonna be tough, but you find your own groove. Start training, grow more resilient, build mental and physical strength. And stop believing these motherfuckers.
I know this journey is far from over, but what would you like DESTRÖYER 666 to be remembered for?
WARSLUT: Well, everything I’ve just outlined. Doing things your own way. Avoiding compromise to the greatest possible extent. Having a message and a belief system and fucking sticking to it. It’s not just about creating spooky atmospheres – you just become part of the distraction machine. It’s nothing but a grand declaration of cowardice. Metal bands shouldn’t be picking paper tigers.
WARSLUT: To begin with, stop using inverted crosses and fucking question why you’re allowed – encouraged, almost – to be anti-Christian but none of the other Abrahamic religions. Why can you say, ‘Fuck Jesus Christ’, but nothing else? Ask yourself these questions. I take rebellion seriously, and like Nietzsche said: ‘Revalue all values.’
Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘Umwertung aller Werte’ concept calls for all individuals to form their own morals in the face of the ‘death of God’: the existential vacuum that follows disillusionment with Christianity. He saw the danger of nihilism – a lack of values – as an inevitable consequence and proposed the ‘revaluation of all values’ as the antidote. This process is fundamental to Nietzsche’s vision of the Übermensch as someone who rises above the herd mentality to forge a personal worldview that affirms both life and vitality.
WARSLUT: The grand irony of my life is that the biggest legacy of DESTRÖYER 666 will probably be “Satanic Speed Metal”, which is essentially ‘Get pissed and fuck the world!’ <laughs>. But I’ve always had a penchant for simple protest songs with some kind of message. That’s in the forefront of my mind when I write music. Not every song, obviously; let’s not be fucking silly about it. Nevertheless, “I am the Wargod” was certainly my version of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”.
WARSLUT: All these things come into play. To bring it all back down to the street level… I guess that, in the end, you wanna be remembered as a good metal band that wrote memorable songs. But also as someone who contributed something positive along the way. I couldn’t ask for more, and to be honest, I’ve never asked.