Black Witchery III

Black Witchery III

by Niklas Göransson

As the final chapter of the Black Witchery saga unfolds, a key member departs. Following a split album with Revenge, their relentless pursuit of black metal extremity spirals into violence, industry blacklisting, and death.

Artwork: By Force Propaganda


IMPURATH: We didn’t wilfully release Tregenda from his duties or anything. He was a total maniac but also an older guy. Constantly working twelve-hour days combined with an extreme metal lifestyle… let’s just say he’d been burning himself out. Tregenda needed a change of scenery, so he went to Missouri where his family lives.

In the summer of 2013, after sixteen years in the band, Tregenda left BLACK WITCHERY and moved back to his home state.

VAZ: We got wind that Tregenda was quitting the band and were like,’ Holy shit! What the fuck?’ I believe I was the last of us to see him. I went over there and noticed the moving truck outside, and that’s when I met his mom and sister for the first time. It was fucked up – he was in rough shape, man.

IMPURATH: This happened on pretty short notice, and we had a gig lined up in Tampa. Fortunately, A.X. from NYOGTHAEBLISZ and HELLVETRON was ready to step in, so we were able to play the show – which is what Tregenda wanted.

A.X: BLACK WITCHERY has been one of my favourite black metal bands ever since high school. Impurath and I started corresponding in 2006, and I felt honoured to know them. They offered me the guitarist position – and knowing the respect these guys had for my bands, I immediately accepted.

Were you able to learn the entire set on a week’s notice?

A.X: Yes. Mentally, I more or less knew all their songs already. As soon as I sat down with a guitar, many of the riffs came to me naturally. The first show we played together went pretty much flawlessly.


After a few more US dates, BLACK WITCHERY performed at the 2014 edition of Inferno Festival in Norway.

A.X: That was my first time playing overseas. Crazy, crazy weekend. I arrived first; the others weren’t flying in until the next day, and I had no idea how to get anything going. I ran into Ryan Förster outside the hotel, and he invited me to go bar-hopping with the BLASPHEMY guys. Then, the next day, I got to experience them live. I also saw bands like WATAIN, NECROS CHRISTOS, and MYSTIFIER; it was an amazing experience.

Like Ryan Förster of CONQUEROR and BLASPHEMY, Armando Beelzeebubth of Brazilian veterans MYSTIFIER has been an ally of BLACK WITCHERY from the early days. During MYSTIFIER’s set at Inferno that year, Impurath appeared as guest vocalist on a SARCÓFAGO cover.

IMPURATH: Great memories. I liked being onstage with MYSTIFIER, even though Armando’s somewhat unexpected banter when introducing me might’ve been a bit long-winded. But it was good to finally meet the guy in person after being in touch for several decades. He kinda reminds me of Bill Cosby a little bit, when he ain’t got his shades on.

A.X. retained his position as BLACK WITCHERY’s guitarist, participating on “Holocaustic Death March to Humanity’s Doom” – a 2015 split album with REVENGE released by Nuclear War Now! Productions.

IMPURATH: The pre-production of “Holocaustic Death March…” was done in Vaz’s home studio but the final recordings took place at Death Oracle in El Paso, Texas, with our friend X.S. of NYOGTHAEBLISZ.

VAZ: It wasn’t really a choice so much as a necessity – because when you record, everybody’s gotta be at one and the same location. And if you go out of town, you’re not doing anything except for that. There’s no ‘I’ll be right over!’ and then not showing up type-shit, which prolonged a lot of stuff in the past.

IMPURATH: We went to Death Oracle to get a fresh set of ears, and X.S. is one of the few people who can be entrusted with such a task. He did a great job; I think it’s our best-sounding release.

VAZ: To me, it’s good old-fashioned BLACK WITCHERY, if you know what I’m saying? A recipe for fucking disaster.


Did Tregenda hear the split?

IMPURATH: Yeah. He really liked it, actually. Tregenda and I were in good contact after he left the band. Once he got his head straight, we even talked a bit about him returning to BLACK WITCHERY. But at that point, it was a logistics problem because he’d already relocated to Missouri.

VAZ: Tregenda started a new band there called GRANDIOSE MALICE, which was really fucking cool. You know, hearing it for the first time, I went, ‘How come he never busted out any of this when I was around? Like, what the actual fuck?’ I literally had that thought.

IMPURATH: I remember a photo Tregenda sent me of the new sound system in his work van. He’d strapped in a huge 80s home stereo speaker, like a boom box or something, and rigged it into the tape player. I don’t know what the hell was going on, but he was totally metal – just a proper fucking maniac. I was actually in the next state over, Kansas, when Tregenda met his untimely end.

In February 2016, Tregenda was driving home from work when he suffered a head-on collision with another vehicle. He survived the impact but ended up trapped in the wreckage, gravely injured. Tregenda remained alive for more than an hour after the crash, but it was too late once paramedics arrived.

VAZ: Enduring all that, only to pass away. I mean, that’s fucked. Especially after going home, cleaning yourself up, and pursuing things you should’ve been doing from the start.

IMPURATH: It’s still a pretty hard subject for me; I’d never lost a close friend before. Tregenda was fiercely loyal, both as a comrade and a bandmate – ready to play a show at a moment’s notice. He’d drop anything he had going for BLACK WITCHERY. I always wanted him back in the band.

VAZ: I think about Tregenda all the time, man. Not a day goes by without me saying something that relates to the time of his being. He was just such a fucking metal giant.

IMPURATH: Tregenda was totally dedicated and just a straight-up honest person. That man gave one hundred per cent to everything he did. And he had not a malicious bone in his body – unless you crossed him. Or us. Tregenda was a great ally. Honestly, I’ve never met anyone quite like him. We’d have been best friends even if it wasn’t for BLACK WITCHERY. And we’re still best friends, even after his death.

Tregenda was a long-time underground stalwart with many contacts in the European and US metal scenes. His passing sparked quite an outpouring of grief from both sides of the Atlantic.

IMPURATH: The ARCHGOAT guys had a deep and unique bond with Tregenda. Black Winds and Caller of the Storms from BLASPHEMY were also close to him. I think Yosuke (Nuclear War Now!) took Tregenda’s passing really hard, too. In a sense, he was like an older brother to me and Vaz, so his death came as a big blow to us both.

VAZ: Now, bear in mind that I’d already lost a real sibling back in ’93; that’s what got me down to Florida. I gotta say, it’s funny how tragedy can set things in motion. Because if not for my brother dying – as horrible as that sounds – there would be no BLACK WITCHERY, and this interview would not be happening. All I know is that these things happen for a reason.

IMPURATH: We keep Tregenda’s spirit burning with every show we play, and that’s another reason the band forges on. Vaz and I will keep Tregenda in the soul of BLACK WITCHERY eternally because he was there from the start – as a man who lived and breathed and died for metal.


In October 2017, the year following Tregenda’s passing, BLACK WITCHERY toured Europe with NYOGTHAEBLISZ and POSSESSION.

A.X: A lot of people were running around beforehand, claiming that BLACK WITCHERY didn’t have what they used to. Some even said the band was pretty much done. As soon as I heard about this, I took it… not as an offence, but it lit a fire in me. Like, ‘You know what? This is our time to get out there and prove that we’re anything but done – that BLACK WITCHERY still carry the flame.’

Ryan Förster resides in Germany these days, so when the tour came along, he took the opportunity to catch up with his old friends.

RYAN FÖRSTER: BLACK WITCHERY and CONQUEROR share a long history. We have a lot to thank Impurath for, as he pushed us to the right people and got our name out there. CONQUEROR surely would’ve just disappeared otherwise, because J Read and I had exhausted all our contacts trying to get “War.Cult…” released. We’d already broken up the band and moved to separate cities.

Soon after Ryan Förster and James Read recorded “War.Cult.Supremacy” in late 1996, Evil Omen Records – a division of Osmose Productionswent bankrupt, leaving CONQUEROR’s debut album in limbo. When BLACK WITCHERY signed with Full Moon Productions in 1999, Impurath ‘nothing short of harassed’ the label owner, Jon, to step in.

IMPURATH: I’m proud of the part I played in CONQUEROR getting some well-deserved recognition. They’ve always been close friends of ours; Ryan has even written a few tracks for us.

RYAN: In return, I wrote some savage songs for BLACK WITCHERY: “Chaostorms of Demonic Hate”, “Blood Oath”, and “Hellstorm of Evil Vengeance”. 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. We’d planned to play several BLASPHEMY covers and a BLACK WITCHERY song, “Command of the Iron Baphomet”, in tribute to Tregenda.

Towards the end of BLACK WITCHERY’s set at Helvete Metal Club in Oberhausen, Ryan came on stage as guest guitarist.

RYAN: 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.


As can be seen in the video, the gentleman in question attempted to climb on stage, leaving Ryan no choice but to boot him back into the audience – still playing the song.

RYAN: 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.

VAZ: I caught wind of this; that’s when you can see me start hitting the ride cymbal, facing Ryan’s direction, trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. I zeroed in, identified the disturbance, and then went into problem-solving mode.

RYAN: 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.

At this point, Vaz stopped playing and proceeded to throw his drumstick at the nuisance.

VAZ: You know, I’m not a big fan of people who wanna fucking mangle your shit while you’re paying tribute to your dead guitarist. Am I being unreasonable? I was like, ‘Okay, this guy is getting taken the fuck out.’ And I guarantee you: I nailed him right between the eyes. I pride myself on being a good shot. Then I thought, ‘You know what? Fuck it, I’m going in.’ I went to fetch my drumstick, essentially. But I wasn’t really going after my drumstick; I was gonna beat this motherfucker’s ass.

IMPURATH: My main concern was the fact that we had a guitarist on stage we’d never even rehearsed with. So, I was focusing on listening to both guitars when the hi-hat suddenly crashed to the floor.

While vacating the drum set, Vaz tripped over his hi-hat. Before getting back up, he grabbed the fallen cymbal stand and hurled it at the assailant.

VAZ: I was like, ‘Here, you’re gonna need this for defence.’ And if you watch the video, you’ll see him throwing it back up at me as I jump off the stage. The moment I got down there, some enormous fucker came from behind and put me in a chokehold. Like, ‘Dude, it’s okay – he’s gone.’ But then it got a bit chaotic because A.X. came out swinging.

A.X: I realised something had gone wrong when the cymbal stand came flying across the stage. Then I saw Vaz making his way into the crowd, so I just put down my guitar, jumped in, and started slugging people.

IMPURATH: Before I could even react, A.X. waded in and began pummelling a couple of drunken German morons – which are very common in that city, it seems.

A.X: At first, I kinda targeted those who were causing the problem. I went straight after the guy who’d messed with Ryan but never got to him. However, I was still confused about the whole situation, so I just punched whoever got too close. Some of them kept yelling, like, ‘Hey! No, no – it’s not us.’

VAZ: A.X. didn’t know what was going on; he just saw me in a situation and started dropping people. That’s the kind of soldier we like to recruit!

A.X: Soon after that, I climbed back up on stage, picked up my guitar, and we finished our set.

IMPURATH: I missed the whole thing, so I feel like I let my bandmates down by not jumping in and kicking some people. We tried to find them after the show but, of course, they’d left by then.

VAZ: The bottom line is that I had to take care of business. It’s quite simple: don’t fuck with motherfuckers while they’re playing. Well, go ahead and try that with us and see what happens.

Speaking of which, there are quite a few videos of Impurath chastising audience members who intrude on the live performance.

IMPURATH: I guess my most famous assault was at Maryland Deathfest – that guy in the fucking chicken suit. Yeah, don’t ask. Or the many knuckles I’ve cracked under my boots. It’s never a good idea to get on stage with the wrong band. I remember when Selim from THE DEVIL’S BLOOD sessioned for WATAIN; he attacked some Orlando idiot who tried to grab his guitar. Actually, Selim was a personal friend of mine and an artist I deeply respect.

A.X: Our tour with POSSESSION is one of the experiences I value the most because we were able to challenge ourselves and rekindle that fire live: we stuck together as brothers and came through every evening. Being on the road is exhausting – especially for people like us who party our asses off but still get up the next day and go hit another place to play.


Another notorious BLACK WITCHERY adventure from the same era was an encounter with a prominent Scandinavian band.

VAZ: Oh, I’d love to clear the air because nobody knows it quite like I do. This was the night before the festival started. I usually don’t drink, but we were in Belgium where they only have the best beer on the fucking planet. Fifteen or so Trappists in, I went out for a smoke.

A.X: Yeah, okay. Let me refresh my memory on this one. We were hanging out in the hotel bar when that band showed up. At first, they seemed like really good guys. They sat down, talked about metal, and even bought us two rounds of beers. After a while, Impurath, Vaz, and I excused ourselves to smoke a cigarette outside.

VAZ: When I came back, my girlfriend was just being her usual outgoing self and turned to this guy at their table. ‘Hey, how are you doing? Blah, blah, blah.’ And dude is like, ‘Oh yeah?’, reaches between her legs, and pulls the chair right up to him. That’s all I needed to see. Now, I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think the others were there when it started.

Impurath said that he and A.X. were still outside, talking to a friend from IMPIETY, as things kicked off.

VAZ: Yeah, that’s exactly what happened. Anyway, I singled out the biggest motherfucker at their table and told him, ‘You better escort your bandmate back to his room; you’re not part of this, and I would strongly suggest that you don’t become part of it. Take your little motherfucker and go. Get!’ But they didn’t wanna leave. ‘Alright, dude. Now you’re asking for it. You really want to see the rhino? Then you’re gonna see the fucking rhino.’

There are claims that Vaz made some rather distasteful remarks about a member of the band who’d recently passed away.

VAZ: I don’t even know what to say about this; it came out automatically, like remote-controlled. It’s very odd. I guess I was aware that he’d died or something. I’m honestly not sure how that happened, but I believe I was just trying to get these guys to come at me. Like, good old Jersey style: start the fight, but don’t throw the first punch. And then end it, if you know what I mean?

Did it work?

VAZ: Nope, so I launched a beer at him instead – caught him square in the fucking face. Did I mention that I’m an excellent shot? It actually bounced off his head, hit the ceiling, broke, and then came showering down over them. And rightfully so, because they had plenty of chances to back off.

IMPURATH: A.X. and I looked in through the window and saw Vaz wrestling with their guitarist, who was already bleeding profusely. Apparently, Vaz had thrown a glass, and it bounced off the guy’s face.

VAZ: If you’re messing with me and I issue a warning, rest assured it’s the real deal; I’m not gonna be fucking around. When a man tries to humiliate me like that and then, ignorantly, some other drunk bastard gets up in this asshole’s defence… well, then he also goes down in his defence because I whooped that motherfucker’s ass. It took several of them to knock me out.

A.X: When we got back to the bar, all of them were wailing on Vaz – beating him up. Of course, I reacted instantly and… I don’t know; I just wanted to get those guys off him. Impurath and I pretty much ran in there and tried to stop the situation.

And how did that work out for you?

A.X: Well, we didn’t stop the situation because I got mad too. And that’s why I became part of the fight and started hitting people. There was a big back-and-forth where we’d stop for a moment and then begin brawling again… bottles and shit were being thrown around. I think their guitarist got his nose broken and stuff like that.

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