Blackdeath II

Blackdeath II

by Niklas Göransson

The year 2005 ushered in a new era for Abysslooker and Para Bellum. After finding fresh hosts and gaining a foothold in Russia, Blackdeath began creeping into neighbouring countries before eventually reaching continental Europe.


PARA BELLUM: In a roundabout way, Doommaker came to us thanks to our old drummer, Ereth. Doommaker, in turn, brought along his comrade, Krieger. Both had their own projects and held old-school black metal views, so we deemed them fully tolerable. Perhaps the four of us were even ‘friends’ for a while there. Something new was in the air: BLACKDEATH got a second wind.

The autumn of 2005 did indeed mark a new phase for BLACKDEATH. After drafting two new collaborators – Doommaker on drums and Krieger as bassist – Abysslooker and Para Bellum found themselves back in a rehearsal room.

PARA BELLUM: Those two certainly popped up in the right place at the right time. After all these years of hunting for suitable musicians all over St Petersburg, my brother and I found not just one but two in our hometown. We don’t live in the city itself but in a small suburb called Lomonosov, or Oranienbaum. This became the second resurrection of BLACKDEATH.

The first rebirth occurred back in 2001 when MarcellDarkmoonSpaller of Germany’s Sombre Records breathed new life into the project. After three years of trying but failing to find someone willing to release their debut album, “Saturn Sector”, BLACKDEATH was on the verge of disbanding until Sombre intervened.

When sending the brothers their “Saturn Sector” LPs, Spaller included several hundred Deutsche Marks to cover the next studio recording. This was during the Ruble crisis – a steep economic downturn that saw the Russian currency plummet – and essentially saved the band from financial ruin.

PARA BELLUM: Neither of us ever met him in person – we didn’t even have passports back then – yet Darkmoon’s obsession with black metal was evident even from his letters. We kept in regular touch during those days but weren’t necessarily close friends.


In the spring of 2006, Abysslooker and Para Bellum learned that Spaller had been hospitalised.

PARA BELLUM: To tell you the truth, I didn’t take it seriously at first; we weren’t even aware that he’d fallen ill. On the contrary, Darkmoon seemed full of ideas concerning future Sombre releases. Only when his text messages turned into obvious delirium did Abysslooker and I become suspicious.

Weren’t BLACKDEATH supposed to be featured on “Black Metal Endsieg Part IV”?

PARA BELLUM: Yes, and this process clearly demonstrated that Darkmoon wasn’t quite right in the head. The participants kept fluctuating; on several occasions, we received emails and text messages announcing different bands. There were four complete change-ups, but I can only recall two versions: NACHTMYSTIUM, BLACKDEATH, NEBIROS, and MORANON… then us, STORM LEGION, AZAGHAL, and EXORIAL.

Darkmoon’s increasingly erratic conduct led many of his contacts to sense that something was amiss. As it turned out, he had a brain tumour. Cancer in the brain can significantly affect an individual’s cognitive and emotional stability, leading to behaviour that might appear as irrational or peculiar.

A friend of mine told me, ‘His final letter to me was surreal. Marcell was dying in a hospital bed, yet he talked about training martial arts, making plans for Sombre releases, and whatnot. Two weeks later, the man was dead.’

PARA BELLUM: We received an SMS from his friend, Herr Rastenburg, informing us that Darkmoon had passed away. We were more surprised than shocked, but it was another hard loss for us. All of this felt like some conspiracy of the universe.


Just before Darkmoon’s passing, the brothers lost another steadfast BLACKDEATH supporter – their close friend CyrilKillZakharov.

PARA BELLUM: For a long time, Abysslooker and Cyril were into amateur orienteering. You know, this type of sport where you navigate with a compass through forests, fields, and swamps, searching for control points. They entered a number of such competitions, one of which took place on the night of February 5, 2006.

February is the dead of Russian winter. In the region BLACKDEATH hails from, nighttime temperatures typically reach around negative twenty-five degrees Celsius (-13°F).

PARA BELLUM: While crossing a frozen river, Abysslooker somehow managed to fall through the ice. He later told me that, upon climbing out of the water, he felt just like the poor T-1000 from Terminator 2 when it’s been doused in liquid nitrogen. In the blink of an eye, the brutal cold transformed Abysslooker’s soaked clothes into blocks of ice. Needless to say, he had to urgently return to base.

In such a situation, the only way to avoid lethal hypothermia is to keep running. Pausing even briefly to catch one’s breath can be a death sentence.

PARA BELLUM: Since they were competing as a team, Cyril had to accompany my brother back to base. But first, Cyril decided to take the last control point, thereby allowing them to avoid dropping out of the race. As Abysslooker began shuffling along the railroad, Cyril set off in the opposite direction, vowing to catch up soon.

Trains passed by, but the competition rules prohibited any use of transport. The duo still hoped to finish the race without being disqualified, so they had to make it back on foot.

PARA BELLUM: My brother jogged at a slow pace for two hours, but Cyril never caught up. When Abysslooker finally reached base, he was informed that Cyril had been hit by a train and died. So, after his own ordeal, he faced such devastating news. And then Darkmoon passed away the following month. For a while there, my brother and I questioned whether we’d been too careless with death. But eventually, this feeling faded.


Personal setbacks aside, the band persevered. After recording a rehearsal demo called “Fanatical” with the new line-up, BLACKDEATH made a long-awaited stage return.

PARA BELLUM: I wouldn’t necessarily say that we’d in any way ‘missed’ playing concerts. Given the catastrophic nature of our first attempt, we lacked proper experience in such matters. The crucial point was that we’d started evolving into a real band.

How did you go about getting gigs?

PARA BELLUM: Social media networks had yet to become popular in 2006, so the BLACKDEATH website was the spark of our activity. Sometimes, we posted rehearsal photos there, so it should’ve been clear to the public that we were ready for concerts. One day, HPJ Records – a label unknown to us – asked us to perform in Moscow.

In November 2006, BLACKDEATH travelled to the nation’s capital to open for BLACK SHADOW from nearby Podolsk. The show was billed as a release party for their fourth album, “Ада возмездие лжепророчным тварям”.

PARA BELLUM: Truth be told, we held very low opinions of BLACK SHADOW, and the organiser seemed to us like a joke. But in those years, the ‘true or false’ compartmentalisation no longer worked; besides, we had to start somewhere. So, BLACKDEATH accepted the invitation. When we arrived at the venue, there was no electricity anywhere in the building.

The power outage turned out to be a simple technical failure; however, it postponed the gig by two hours.

PARA BELLUM: While we waited, the BLACK SHADOW members – alarmed by our appearance, since we no longer had long hair – demanded to read my lyrics. Nothing could be simpler; I’d brought printouts to refresh my memory before the performance, so I handed them over.

Complicating matters somewhat was that ever since their 2004 album, “Satan macht frei”, BLACKDEATH uses German lyrics exclusively.

PARA BELLUM: BLACK SHADOW couldn’t understand German and didn’t bother asking us; they simply drew their own conclusions, refused to perform with BLACKDEATH, and left. For a minute there, we were almost stricken by panic, but that HPJ Records guy was pretty resourceful. He renamed the event Black Metal Fest, invited two bands who had no problems with us – STIGMATIC CHORUS and THUNDERSTORM – and… voilà! We stood on stage as the opening band.

How was the show?

PARA BELLUM: Due to all the stress beforehand, we were more tired than nervous – which worked to our benefit. In addition, there was a big joint waiting for us backstage. The audience eagerly supported us, because they came to see BLACKDEATH. Most people left the club after our set, and the other two bands performed only in front of their friends. So, in a sense, after almost ten years, we took revenge for our debut concert.

HPJ Records later released a DVD-R called Black Metal Fest: 23 November Moscow.

PARA BELLUM: He confirmed with the two other bands but never consulted us, so we declared it ‘partially unofficial’. I do own a copy of this DVD-R, but nothing could force me to watch it now. Afterwards, it turned out that BLACK SHADOW were spreading rumours about our ‘ideology’. We wanted to confront them but, of course, they refused to meet. Since then, we have always published translations of my lyrics on the BLACKDEATH website.


Six months later, BLACKDEATH played Murmansk – a city located above the Arctic Circle, about 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) north of St Petersburg. The show featured another band from their hometown: КОЩУНЫ, or KOSCHUNY, which is an archaic Russian term for ‘blasphemers’.

PARA BELLUM: КОЩУНЫ had a drummer, Maya, whom Abysslooker and I immediately identified as the band’s most organised member. Before their performance, she literally ran around the venue to gather the others. We already faced disciplinary infractions from Doommaker, so witnessing this brought a certain element of envy.

BLACKDEATH returned to Sound Line Studio in September 2007, with a full line-up at last. To be perfectly honest, the outcome – “Vortex”, released on CD by Omega Recordings and on LP through Northern Heritage – doesn’t quite capture the sense of vibrant redemption one might expect.

PARA BELLUM: Being equally honest, I don’t understand what ‘redemption’ could be expected from a straightforward and true-to-the-backbone black metal band – which is how we regarded ourselves. Nonetheless, I will concede that organic drums didn’t exactly herald an epochal change to our sound. Why? Well, Doommaker was no percussion virtuoso, to say the least – a sad reality that became undeniable from his failure to follow the metronome.

Due to Doommaker’s unorthodox sense of timing and rhythm, the drums had to be heavily obscured in the mix.

PARA BELLUM: I wouldn’t describe “Vortex” as poorly conceived, though. Abysslooker and I devoted considerable effort to the material; it was just poorly executed. Indeed, the real drums – flawed as they were – did enable us to vary the song structures and overall compositions. But I freely admit that our failure to realise some ideas stemmed from the subpar delivery.


Perhaps not entirely unrelated to the outcome is that both Doommaker and Krieger left BLACKDEATH in the midst of recording “Vortex”.

PARA BELLUM: I must say something about these two who deserted us in the thick of battle. Doommaker clearly overestimated himself as a drummer; he also feared hard and serious work. He saw BLACKDEATH as a kind of springboard for his own career – which, as time would show, failed miserably. Krieger only joined because of Doommaker and didn’t really like our music. Anyway, both of them fulfilled their purpose.

Would it be unreasonable to suggest that you and your brother are difficult to work with, creatively?

PARA BELLUM: Abysslooker and I rarely encounter any collaboration issues when it comes to BLACKDEATH. For virtually the entire existence of our band, we’ve had separate responsibilities. He is the principal composer, while I write the lyrics. Such a system fosters stability – although, naturally, disagreements can occur. But nothing compared to the early days.

A bit more spirited teamwork in your youth?

PARA BELLUM: Correct. In the initial phase, and particularly with projects preceding DRAUGWATH, we’d often come to blows during the creative process. Cyril used to say that Abysslooker and I were constantly fighting each other – and when we got bored of that, we’d just go beat up someone else. Of course, this was a long time ago.

Was violence a regular part of your lives?

PARA BELLUM: In those days, yes. I remember when my brother and I, both drunk and stoned, went to a GRAZHDANSKAYA OBORONA gig – which, by the way, ended up cancelled. From memory, we managed to get into three fights before even arriving at the venue. Not with punks at all, just ordinary people who happened to be in our way.


Instead of reverting back to a studio project, BLACKDEATH resumed their quest for suitable personnel. This time, the brothers struck gold, drafting the aforementioned Maya on drums. They also brought in a bass player known as P. Ch. 14.

PARA BELLUM: According to local rumours, Maya was lured into BLACKDEATH. This is not true: only after she left КОЩУНЫ did Abysslooker and I approach her. Before that, we auditioned a different guy. Actually, in the early 2000s, Maya phoned us to ask if we were still searching for a drummer, but I refused her. And then, many years later, I had to implore the same individual to join our band. Fortunately, Maya is not a vindictive person, although she will occasionally remind us of this shameful incident.

Seeing as how Maya still remains part of BLACKDEATH, she appears to be made of sterner stuff than her predecessors. This lady brings a lot to the band, so perhaps the twins tone down some of the madness to avoid driving her off.

PARA BELLUM: Definitely not. I’m entirely incapable of ‘toning down’ anything, as is my crazy brother. Maya has a completely different character – she is nothing like us, luckily. But Maya is a very strong person. All people have their own idiosyncrasies, and she is no exception. This continues to be very helpful in our artistic collaboration.

As far as I could determine, BLACKDEATH played their first show abroad in December 2007 – at Strike of Winter Fest II in Minsk, Belarus.

PARA BELLUM: Not quite. As Russians – especially of our generation, who remember the Soviet Union – we cannot possibly perceive Minsk as being ‘abroad’. Yes, we acknowledge that Belarus is a sovereign country. But for us, it was just a ‘slightly different Russia’.

How was the crowd in comparison to home?

PARA BELLUM: Fantastic; we were met with an unprecedented level of enthusiasm. By then, the Russian audience had become spoilt – but in Belarus, black metal concerts continued to be a novelty. In hindsight, that festival was a significant event for us.


The following month, January 2008, sealed the now-classic BLACKDEATH trio. P. Ch. 14 was removed, while Maya became a full member. Para Bellum – having only served as orator and lyricist since the 2002 “Fucking Fullmoon Foundation” – resumed his original position as bass player.

PARA BELLUM: I always found it embarrassing to be merely a singer. When analysing the genre’s history – and even more so all these black metal ‘wars’ in our past – I realised that a vocalist without an instrument is typically the band’s least appealing character. Really, he can only shout into the microphone while claiming to be the most important member. Posers in the full sense of the word!

I’m sure there is an argument to be made for charismatic frontmen.

PARA BELLUM: Sure, on stage it should be like that – but many maintain this attitude in every facet of creativity. I didn’t want to become one of those. But it wasn’t easy for me to return to playing bass as I constantly found myself in the grip of various emotions.


In February 2010, following a thirteen-year residency at Sound Line, BLACKDEATH entered RP Studio to record “Katharsis: kalte Lieder aus der Hölle”. The title translates to ‘Catharsis: Cold Songs from Hell’ and was suggested by Abysslooker.

PARA BELLUM: This album signified exactly that: a catharsis, or purification from our past. We’d grown more confident, and RP was a far superior studio to Sound Line. But most importantly, my brother and I no longer smoked cannabis throughout the entire recording process. Previously, we regarded it as an essential part; I can now acknowledge that we were mistaken.

By this point, BLACKDEATH played domestic shows on a semi-regular basis. Their second gig abroad took place in April 2010 at Finland’s Black Curse Over Hellsinki.

PARA BELLUM: Correction; as far as we’re concerned, this was our first gig abroad. BLACKDEATH has Mikko Aspa of Northern Heritage to thank for getting us on the festival. Abysslooker and I met him – and other old Finnish contacts – in person there. Ah, I also remember the bitter disappointment when one of them asked us about PURGEN albums.

I’ve heard an eyewitness account of this performance. Apparently, BLACKDEATH wore medieval plague masks – the type with long noses – on stage. A few songs into their set, Para Bellum found the mask too hot and pulled it up to his forehead, reportedly giving him a striking resemblance to a crazed Russian unicorn.

PARA BELLUM: Ah, yes. This plague mask might not have been our finest moment; we were simply hoping to create an original image. I was the only member who wore one, and now I can confess that I felt somewhat foolish. The klobuk I’d used in the past looked much better.

The klobuk is a headdress worn by Orthodox Christian clergy – it consists of a black cylindrical hat topped with a veil that drapes over the shoulders and back.

PARA BELLUM: I borrowed this idea from Milan Fras of LAIBACH. In fact, I bought my klobuk at one of their concerts here in St Petersburg. Then, I handed it to a tailor and asked him to embroider our logo on the front. We all appreciated this look for some time but soon realised that, for black metal, nothing is superior to traditional corpse paint.


In February 2011, BLACKDEATH performed a domestic mini-tour called Die kalte Tournee. The Yekaterinburg leg of the tour was disrupted by hostile elements – which I initially assumed were conservative Christians.

PARA BELLUM: No, no; what happened had nothing to do with religion or politics. It was ‘gopniks’ – a Russian subculture similar to American rednecks or British chavs, but more aggressive. The further away you get from Moscow, the more likely you are to encounter a situation such as ours. Gopniks typically dislike all other subcultures, and during our concert, several of these savages came to the venue and acted provocatively.

Fortunately, to my understanding, Russian metalheads are not entirely defenceless.

PARA BELLUM: True. In fact, it’s hard for me to imagine a Russian black metal gig bringing together ‘friendly’ individuals. Perhaps they’ll be sociable towards old comrades, but certainly not with everybody on whom their eye falls. Back then, the laws concerning bladed weapons were not so strict in Russia, so many carried knives. Me too.

log in to keep reading

The second half of this article is reserved for subscribers of the Bardo Methodology online archive. To keep reading, sign up or log in below.